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INVESTIGATE October 2009:


The Swiss System  •  Marriage Study  •  Font Terror Issue 105

Are they still listening to you?

On smacking, climate change, MMP, maybe it’s time for the Swiss system here...

The story of your life

Spot the narcissists Miranda Devine’s guide to self lovers among us

A major new relationship study tracks life outcomes - how does yours compare? $8.30 October2009

Font Terror

Typewriters at 10 paces as accusations of thieving fly

Contents 30





30  Married With Children?

One of the biggest studies of its kind has stunning revelations about the outcomes for kids depending on the lifestyle choices their parents make. How did you turn out against your background? Compare your life to what the study found

40  Reclaiming New Zealand

Is the National Government already taking a ‘we know best’ line with the public? One who argues it is, is columnist AMY BROOKE who argues the Swiss system might give NZ voters power to rein in the politicians

46  The State Despotic

Dovetailing nicely with the previous article, MARK STEYN analyses the creeping re-emergence of des-

potism among governments and elected leaders who consider themselves rulers, rather than representatives, capable of forcing through elite agendas

52  The Fight For A Font

Every one of us has used the type font Times New Roman, but now a battle royal is brewing amid claims the font was stolen from its rightful creator a hundred years ago. JOEL ALAS has the fascinating story about the fight for control of the world’s most widely-used type font

60  Remembering 9/11

The eighth anniversary, in pictures from UPI photographers

Cover: NZPA




Editorial and opinion 06 Focal Point

Volume 9, Issue 105, ISSN 1175-1290


08 Vox-Populi

The roar of the crowd

18 Simply Devine

Miranda Devine on narcissism

20 Mark Steyn

The US health system


22 Global Warning

Modern warmth not unusual

24 Eyes Right

Richard Prosser on Maori seats

26 Line 1

Chris Carter on tea parties

28 Contra Mundum

Matt Flanagan on skepticism

Lifestyle 16 Poetry

Amy Brooke’s poem of the month

66 Money

Peter Hensley on property investing

68 Education

Amy Brooke on boys in girls clothes


70 Science

The non-existent space race

72 Technology

OmniPage 17 reviewed

74 Sport

Chris Forster on rowing

76 Health

Claire Morrow on pills

78 Alt.Health

Fuller Media Richa Fuller 09 522 7062

Contributing Writers: Melody Towns, Selwyn Parker, Amy Brooke, Chris Forster, Peter Hensley, Chris Carter, Mark Steyn, Chris Philpott, Michael Morrissey, Miranda Devine, Richard Prosser, Claire Morrow, James Morrow, Len Restall, Laura Wilson, and the worldwide resources of MCTribune Group, UPI and Newscom Art Direction Design & Layout

Heidi Wishart Bozidar Jokanovic

Tel: +64 9 373 3676 Fax: +64 9 373 3667 Investigate Magazine PO Box 188, Kaukapakapa Auckland 0843, NEW ZEALAND AUSTRALIAN Editor Ian Wishart Advertising Tel/Fax: 1-800 123 983 SUBSCRIPTIONS Online: By Phone: Australia 1-800 123 983 NZ 09 373 3676 By Post: To the PO Box NZ Edition: $85 Au Edition: A$96 EMAIL

88 Pages 92 Music

Investigate magazine Australasia is published by HATM Magazines Ltd

80 Travel Hong Kong

84 Food

James Morrow on Canberra truffles Michael Morrissey’s spring reads Chris Philpott’s CD reviews

94 Movies Broken Hill, 9


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Bring back the death penalty


nce again, the nation gnashes its teeth over the sentence handed down to a murderer, in this case Clayton “Chucky” Weatherston, who earned his nickname from prisoners who reckon he looks like the maniacal knifewielding doll from the horror movies. We agonise, because Weatherston received 18 years’ non-parole, a whopping one year above the minimum benchmark of 17 years. Whoopee. Justice Judith Potter clearly excelled herself when she came up with that figure. However, it raises again the question of the death penalty. For thousands of years, the traditional human penalty for coldblooded murder has been execution. A life for a life. In the 1960s, as liberalism took hold around the world and the permissive society’s adherents begged not to be judged for their sins, but simply “understood”, Hollywood and other media types took up the gauntlet to abolish the death penalty. It is true that some innocent people were executed, and that is truly a crime, but the solution to that was not to completely abolish the death penalty but to return to the actual biblical test for its imposition - there had to be witnesses. In many murders, you don’t get much past beyond reasonable doubt; you don’t get certainty. Police prosecutions are often based on flimsy forensic exhibits and speculation. I don’t think any reasonable person would argue in favour of execution for a criminal whose conviction rested solely on those foundations. However, Chucky Weatherston is a different kettle of fish. Here is a prime narcissist, not insane, who arrogantly and viciously ended the life of his young former girlfriend, carving her up in the process in front of her shocked mother. He showed no remorse, he seems secretly to have been quite proud of himself and the attention he garnered. More to the point, he was caught red-handed, by witnesses. If ever a candidate for execution existed, Weatherston would be it. I know that’s a terrible thing to tell his family, but frankly, that’s the reality. Do we really think that 18 years in the slammer is going to change Weatherston’s basic profile? Sure, he could find God and forgiveness in Christ, like some other murderers who genuinely 6  INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM  October 2009

repent, but that’s an issue of salvation, not punishment. The Jews who murdered in Old Testament times may well have been fervent believers, but the ordained punishment remained death by execution. Blood was to be paid with by blood; your spiritual status was something best regarded as between you and your maker, and something entirely separate from the court proceedings.. And that’s the way it should be. Let’s face it, we let the pendulum swing too far in abolishing the death penalty, and now we have a growing list of brutal killers like William Bell languishing at taxpayers’ expense until their eventual release and probable re-offending. Let’s see someone put forward a degrees of murder Bill, with the ultimate penalty returned. Bringing back the death penalty would send a very strong signal to narcissists that there are indeed limits on their behaviour, beyond sitting in a warm cell getting three square meals a day. Food for thought in more ways than one. Also exercising us is the Government’s seeming death wish for the country on climate change. At first I presumed Climate Change Minister Nick Smith was being devilishly clever in keeping everyong guessing while National figured a way out of the quagmire, but I’m increasingly leaning to the view that Smith was just being devilish, fullstop. Every piece of intelligence emanating from within cabinet suggests National has swallowed the UN climate line, and this daft belief that an ETS system will somehow make a difference to world climate. To counter this foolishness, we’ve launched a new, free climate magazine, downloadable from our Investigate website as a PDF. Additionally, a group of farmers and concerned citizens has set up a nationwide petition, approved by parliament for formal presentation to MPs at the end of the year, urging them to drop the ETS. You can download the petition forms from their website, www. If every Investigate reader collected just ten signatures, that would be somewhere between 700,000 to 900,000 signatures. Please sign. Your future depends on it.

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>  vox populi

Communiques The roar of the crowd

IT’S THE MAGNETIC FIELD It has been shown recently on TV the glaciers of Greenland rapidly flowing into the sea and breaking up. It seems that no one has considered the major factor that the earth’s magnetic field plays in controlling our environment. The Magnetic North pole is always wandering around the arctic area in general so we really cannot predict exactly where it will be at any specific time. This is of little significance unless you are trying to navigate around the planet. However, it is the Magnetic Field that seems to control the radiation from the sun, I believe it is something to do with the Van Allen belt. The MF also varies in strength over periods as well as moving. It may be that the MF at present over the area of the planet that is Greenland is not as strong as in former times, consequently allowing stronger radiation to affect the ice fields. If this is the case then the glaciers would start to melt; but only on the top. However, if the warmer core of the earth’s center were to affect the land mass beneath the ice then the glaciers would move more quickly. Having said that, we have to consider the ice mass. I recently wrote to Dr Nick Smith and our own Jacqui Dean MP asking why they (the government) perpetuated the myths of “Global Warming” having a devastating effect on the planet. I suggested that they take a two litre ice cream container and fill it with water, put it in the freezer and take it down to -8°C, then take the frozen solid mass and put it in the bath tub (probably the room with the most constant temperature in the house) and see just how long it takes to melt. With the land based ice masses of Greenland and Antarctica it would take a tremendous amount of heat over a long period of time for the melted ice to make any appreciable difference to the sea level. I think that Nick Smith’s assessment of a 600mm rise in the sea level in the next few years is really scare mongering. Is it possible that the warming effect is generally localised, ie Greenland now, North Russia next and so on due to MF variations? The MF has been known to “flip” on occasions and it has been suggested that the earths ‘wobble’ also has effects that we cannot determine. As an engineer, one of the ways we determine the age of rocks is to check the molecular alignment with the current magnetic field. This will give an approximate age of a stratum taken into account other factors in the layers. It may be possible to assess the location of the MF and the magnetic north pole when there was a climate change in the past. I have read through your book “Air Con” and find it very interesting. You must admit that Global Warming and Climate Change does happen BUT over geological times and hardly in the next few years. 8  INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM  October 2009

(Our climate changes every day, cold one day freezing the next). Thank you for your interesting articles, look forward to reading more. Dennis Oyston, via email

I DIDN’T GET IT WRONG Warrick Don (August 2009) congratulates me for getting things wrong regarding evolution. Only I didn’t. He said, ‘Evolution is not religion. Not only is it a legitimate (testable ) scientific concept but, as I have often stated, it is supported by a mountain of empirical evidence, so much so it can be regarded as a key component of objective reality.’ So…evolution is a concept, an idea. No argument. However, is it a ‘scientific’ idea? It depends what you mean by science. If you mean hard science, the testable, repeatable, refutable type of science dealing with stuff in the here and now – that put men on the moon etc, definitely not. If you mean historical or forensic science where observers look at things in the present and on the basis of a model try to decipher the past, well yeah, it fits that definition – but of course so does creation. Neither is hard science, but both can be termed ‘science’ in the latter sense and is why, contra Warwick, ‘creation science’ is not an oxymoron, any more or less than ‘evolution science’. It’s simply seeking to understand the history of the world on the basis of creationist assumptions. Actually, even hard science and scientific experiments can only be done on creationist assumptions, so even Warwick was actually a crypto-creationist when/if he did any hard science. He says ‘…as I have often stated…’ there is ‘…a mountain of empirical evidence’ for evolution. Two things: 1. The truth of the claim isn’t related to the number of times it is repeated. 2. He has not given us one piece of this claimed ‘mountain of evidence’. Then he objects to me saying evolution is ‘atheistic’, but says ‘Science [actually ‘naturalistic science’ RM] ignores the supernatural…’ Why does he object? The ignoring of ‘the supernatural’ is for all practical purposes, atheism. For atheists there is no supernature, only nature. Warwick also fudges re my claim that atheism is ‘at root meaningless and without purpose’. I never said that atheists don’t live their lives in terms of meaning and purpose. Of course they do. Everybody does. It’s inescapable. However that doesn’t mean everyone has a philosophical basis for the meaning and purpose in their life and emphatically atheists don’t have such a basis. All atheists are inconsistent/schizophrenic because their philosophy tells them

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everything is meaningless, but they live in terms of meaning! At root, the issue between evolution and creation is whether everything is the product of thought or not, and whether we can determine when something is the product of thought and when something is not. Let’s be clear. Evolution as envisaged by Darwin etc, is a naturalistic process. No thought is involved. So…there was a letter in the August Investigate which had the name ‘Warwick Don’ under it. Did this letter originate in the mind of a person purporting to be Warwick Don? You may think so. But perhaps it originated through random events in an Investigate computer, or down the line from the Investigate office to the printer, or perhaps even while in the mail or while sitting on the bookshop shelf! Not likely? Why not? Because everybody knows intuitively that codes and coded information do not arise spontaneously, independent of mind, either in computers or on paper and ink. Everyone recognizes coded information as a hallmark/indicator of thought – that a person has been at work. Life forms are stuffed full of coded information. Life runs on it. Yet Warwick, and all his fellow evolutionary travelers, despite having no naturalistic process by which coded information can arise spontaneously, and despite the universal human experience that coded information is always a product of thought, flies in the face of all of this and says the genetic code and information arose from non-thought! Now if that’s not certifiable, I don’t know what is! As a result of having no means to get coded information independent of mind, Warwick has no means whatsoever to get the postulated evolutionary first life up and running. But if life could not get going naturalistically, then evolution is dead on the starting blocks. No amount of huff and puff can salvage it, and everything that is taken to indicate later evolution, must by definition have been misunderstood and actually speak of something else. Yes, Warwick has seen some of these arguments before, but he’s never answered them. Renton Maclachlan, Porirua

WARWICK DON ANSWERS HIS CRITICS In response to my letter in the August issue, Jason Clark (September 2009) writes: ”…Warwick Don describes evolution as a ‘testable’ science. I think it fair that he provide evidence of this. After all he can’t just expect us to take it on faith”. Of course, I don’t. Mr Clark states, correctly, that one way of testing a scientific proposition is by means of prediction. However, before responding to his invitation to provide a “falsifiable prediction of evolution”, I should point out that his definition of evolution, far from being helpful, only muddies the waters. Organic evolution is not the same as the origin of life from nonliving matter. It pertains to what has taken place since. It is important to be clear about the meaning of ‘prediction’ in the current context. It has nothing to do with predicting the future, but means if a proposition is true, there should be predictable consequences, the existence of which can be sought in the natural world and, if found, can provide a test of the validity of the proposition. One such consequence is the nested hierarchy of living forms, the establishment of which Jason Clark correctly links with Linnaeus, a century before Darwin published his seminal work on evolution. Linnaeus, a creationist, understandably interpreted his classification of organisms largely with reference to his theistic 10  INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM  October 2009

religion. Once evolution had become generally accepted in the science community, it became clear that this nested hierarchy is an expected (predictable) consequence of evolution and provides further confirmation of its validity. Hence, Mr Clark is unjustified in his virtual dismissal of this prediction as really having nothing to do with evolution. Thus, there is really no need for me to present a “falsifiable prediction of evolution”. Jason Clark, albeit unintentionally, has done this for me. However, here’s one relating to the fossil record of vertebrates. If the record is complete enough, we should be able to find examples of species, each possessing a mixture of features strongly indicative of a close evolutionary relationship between two major groups. Many such transitional forms have been found and described in great detail. Mr Clark’s response to some comments I have made about atheism (August 2009) is muddled. When I stated that ”atheism is firmly anchored in the cosmic perspective as revealed by science”, I didn’t just mean evolutionary science. After all, I did refer to the cosmic perspective. Cosmology, for example, has provided us with enormous insight into our place in time and space, a naturalistic revelation far exceeding in detail and grandeur the extremely restricted view available to our pre-scientific forebears. And just because theological implications may be drawn from certain scientific findings, it doesn’t mean teaching the findings equates with religious proselytizing. The science belongs in the science classroom; any possible non-scientific implications belong in philosophy or theology courses. Malcolm Ford (September 2009) essentially is in denial concerning what I maintain is his misuse of quotations extracted from the evolutionary literature, as revealed in the April and June 2009 issues. Somewhat ironically, in an error-ridden response to my June letter, he misquotes me by interpolating in brackets the words ‘transitional intermediates’ immediately after the word ‘incompleteness’. I used this word with reference to the fossil record as a whole. He appears unfamiliar with the conventional use of square brackets to denote an interpolation within a quotation. Mr Ford attempts (without success) to sabotage the very idea of transitional forms, using the classic example of the Devonian fish Eusthenopteron. Confusion is rife. He begins by asking that we look at “the transition from fish to reptile”, when it should be “fish to amphibian”. He does name an amphibian group in the next sentence, but refers to “the fish/reptile dilemma” further on. He clearly thinks this fish is like any everyday fish. It’s not. It belongs to a group of bony fishes with lobe fins, a type of fin with a fleshy lobe strengthened by a bony skeleton and perfectly capable of supporting the fish out of water. (Most bony fish possess the far more flimsy ray fins.) What is more, several bones in the fin skeleton are homologous with bones in the tetrapod limb. (Other bones are also homologous with bones in primitive tetrapods.) This fin type is an ideal precursor of the tetrapod limb. Malcolm Ford clearly has no conception whatsoever of how many more exciting fossils of this kind have turned up recently; these and an increasing knowledge of ancient habitats have contributed to a far more detailed account of how, why and when the gradual transition from water-dweller to land tetrapod took place. It’s a pity Malcolm Ford has felt the need to conclude his letter with his own version of the Cinderella story in order to illustrate what he regards as “the nonsense of Darwinian evolution”, which he likens to “an adult fairytale”. Unfortunately, all he has succeeded in doing is to demonstrate once more an extremely limited

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understanding of the science and status of organic evolution. Warwick Don, Dunedin

THE MIDDLE OF THE END FOR ACC Since “The beginning of the end for ACC” (NZLawyer, issue 102, 28 November 2008), changes in public awareness about how ACC works and the legal options for those injured by accident has taken an immense step, direction undecided. ACC has also been subjected to a political change; elements all causing upheaval for the public as patient entitlements are rearranged. Currently at risk are the Woodhouse Principles, the foremost is the emphasis of financial direction being channelled away from rehabilitation and towards legal recourse, such as Formal Reviews and cases at all levels of the judicial system. Recent trends show Formal Reviews are being requested in rapidly ascending numbers by patients as their rehabilitation is stopped prior to reaching “rehabilitation to maximum practical level” by ACC clinical advisors (who do not see the patient). Citizens have exacted from the Courts affirmative results against ACC, winning on substantive matters that have considerable implications for all their fellows, such as Martin v ACC (7 August 2009, High Court, Wellington CIV 2008-485-2617, Justice Ronald Young). In Martin, the effect of Justice Ronald Young’s finding is that ACC’s employed assessors are not the sole arbiters of a patient’s health and welfare. Other expert medical opinion must be heard in any patient’s application for continued rehabilitation. Until this time, Ramsay v Accident Insurance Corporation (30 June 2006, High Court, Dunedin CIV 2005-412-795, Justice John Hansen) was the overriding case of precedence that acted as a counter to patients having recourse to all the medical information being considered in a legal fora. The effect of Martin means Primary Health Providers’ opinions will now be used with little impediment in evaluations as the clarification of law is administered. While this means the standard of opinion by a health provider may have to stand additional scrutiny of the law more frequently than in the past, it also alters profoundly the culture of ACC and the provider, as health professionals will not just have to treat patients, but return to the second value of the Hippocratic Oath and advocate for the patient on clinical matters. This may disturb some as the practical side becomes evident, but especially ACC as the perceived or real unilateral opinion of ACC’s assessors is put in perspective. Said Justice Young at [32]: “ To limit the appeal rights to the Review Officer and the District Court in this way would mean only a very narrow right of appeal and would effectively prohibit any appeal on the merits of the decision. This would leave the medical assessor’s opinion in the circumstances in an extremely powerful position.” The Barry Stewart case (R v Stewart [2009] NZCA 89), where an innocent man was jailed for so-called defrauding ACC also shows that justice under ACC has not been paramount. This credibility blow to ACC does not enhance its relationship with patients, nor does the potential compensation costs for this case and potential others create trust. At the Goddard Inquiry, ACC accepted physiotherapy submissions “that the patient comes first”, yet the ongoing legal cases belie this. Further historical cases linked to the failed Endorsed Provider Network experiment and precedent-setting hearings will modify 14  INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM  October 2009

how a monopoly insurance company can do business in the future. Unless there is implementation of the ‘either/or’ factor, either litigation or rehabilitation, as espoused by Sir Owen Woodhouse, the “middle of the end of ACC” is facing New Zealand, as the ‘both’ factor is unsustainable at the contemporary rate. Malcolm Hood, manipulative physiotherapist

LIBERAL TRICKLEDOWN So, it seems that escalating violence among very young children is causing shock and horror among those who were not expecting it. Naturally, the same types, desperate for a scapegoat, immediately come to the simplistic conclusion that parents are to blame. However, “The sins of the fathers shall be visited upon the sons” and ever since the mid 19th century advent of atheistic Marxism, generation after generation of parents and children alike have laboured under the unfolding curse of Left-wing “Liberalism”. Here, in this great, pandemic delusion, which, among its other sins, has obscured the true meaning of liberalism, lies the greater part of modern social ills. Together with a thousand other socially lethal mistakes that the “liberal” “progressives” continue to make is their endless campaign against any form of censorship - as a matter of “principle”. “We are adults” they reason, “We are free ; who should say what we can, or cannot, read, see, or do ? Yes, but children are not adults, and they too have been increasingly subjected, via every possible means of modern communication and “entertainment” to the most graphic depictions of violence and gratuitous sensuality - to mention but two examples of fashionable present-day decadence. “As the twig is bent so the tree grows”. How many people understand that to accurately portray evil is to evoke it ? Malcolm Muggeridge, among other prophetic voices, called ( pseudo ) liberalism the “death wish” of modern society. He was right. Colin Rawle, Dunedin

GOVERNMENT DISOBEDIENCE Last month, August 2009, the ‘government’ of New Zealand, aided and abetted by its ‘parliament’, rebelled against the people of New Zealand. The ‘government’ and the ‘parliament’ wilfully disobeyed the clearly expressed will of the people and refused to reverse out legislation that they had been told in opinion poll after opinion poll and by an overwhelming number of submissions to one of their ‘select committees’, was vehemently opposed by some 80% of the people of New Zealand. The progress of New Zealand society towards democracy has been seriously damaged by this event, and the refusal of the 122 citizens who claim membership of their ‘parliament’ to obey the will of over 1,200,000 citizens in the referendum represents a tragic ‘coup’ against the democratic aspirations of our nation. The same people who denounce what has happened in Fiji see nothing wrong in openly defying the mass of the people of this country. So what are we to do? Dominic Baron, Upper Hutt

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WAIKATO TAINUI I wish to comment on the “Deed of Settlement” and the subsequent report regarding the Waikato/Tainui and the Waikato Rivers planned co-management.. This deed sets out a proposed regime whereby a regulatory approach to the river, its catchments and all things associated with water entering the river, would be regulated in a manner that creates a form of environmental excellence. However, the present regulatory position is in terms of the Resource Management Act, that the social, economic and cultural wellbeing of the community is the criteria when making regulations which relates to the river and its catchments. At present the RMA gives us a holistic approach to regulation making, so that the river and the region are on an equal status. The Deed of Settlement creates a situation that the river takes precedence over the region. Therefore, any idea that the Deed of Settlement can be incorporated in any RMA document is a fallacy. At present the Deed is an agreement between the Crown and Tainui. The Crown is not Parliament; therefore the Crown cannot amend the RMA, yet it has signed a Deed of Settlement that can only be given effect if Parliament changes the RMA. In terms of Clause 1 of the 1688 Bill of Rights, the pretending of power without the consent of Parliament is illegal, as Sir Robert Muldoon found out in “Fitzgerald vs. Muldoon 1976.” Sir Robert Muldoon who was a minister of the Crown, instructed the commissioner of the IRD to stop collecting superannuation contributions before the legislation had been passed to abolish these compulsory contributions. The question now pending is Parliament going to severely modify the RMA to accommodate the Deed of Settlement? If it were to do so, then all New Zealand would be severely affected, as the principal of environmental excellence would curtail the right of production. I for one, have no problem of environmental improvement, but not environmental revolution. Donald Coles – Chairman, Property Rights in NZ Inc

Poetry Is it poetry? Then send submissions to Poetry Editor Amy SALUTE: TO THE PIONEERS OF CENTRAL OTAGO And shall we go to silences, to the musing golden hills and make a camp by a lonely pine where a snow-fed river rills ? To wander free by fragrant glades while a wheeling hawk on high writes his endless tribute to the spirit of the sky; where lichened fenceposts wave us on over tussock-cushioned road; we trail a phantom bullock train, our forebears at the goad. To Alex or old Bannockburn, sure hands upon the reins with flour and steel and hobnail boots and tools for miners’ claims. Was that the wind’s strange sigh I heard, or a chink in time’s great jest ? I saw a steel-tyred carrier’s dray, and Clydesdales at their rest. The strain of a mellow fiddle, well-struck by a practised bow, silhouettes of bearded men, against the campfire’s glow. A lilt of old-time accents murmured up from a leeward drift; scorched firestones cold and lonely where the restless gravels shift. The creak of leather harness, a whiff of navy cut. We left them to their company; that book for us is shut.


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I wandered all that spellbound day, the jewelled waters by, till dusk had donned her purple cloak , magic to the eye. The stooping sun seared darkling vales with holy blacksmith irons, and the tawny guardians of the day* lay down like sleeping lions. C.H.Rawle * The Central Otago hills

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>  simply devine

Miranda Devine It’s all about ME!


et’s play a game: who doesn’t have narcissistic personalEveryone’s a potential narcissist these days, as 15 minutes of ity disorder in our self-obsessed age? A surfeit of self-love is fame has become a 24/7 proposition. For instance, the average almost a prerequisite for success now, and the proliferation Australian woman is said to spend at least 3 ½ hours looking at of egomaniac sites, from Twitter and MySpace to Facebook herself in the mirror each week, according to a survey last month and YouTube, make the peer pressure to be grandiose and irratio- by the Bureau of Statistics. nally self-confident almost irresistible. The 26-year-old mistress of the recently resigned NSW Health When Brendan Nelson so deliciously diagnosed his leader, Minister, John Della Bosca, appears to have diagnosed her “spunky” Malcolm Turnbull, this month as being afflicted with the disor- former lover with similar symptoms, telling The Daily Telegraph: der, he spoke not just as a trained medical doctor but as a former ‘’I now realise … he liked me being in love with him because it Opposition leader with an axe to grind; or, as one internet wag was all about ego … It is incredulous [sic] that he thought the described it, “post-traumatic embitterment syndrome”. way he treated people would not have consequences.’’ After all, Turnbull never gave Nelson a chance. He abused him That’s narcissists for you. They never see the karma train coming. to his face and undermined him behind his back, as Nelson tells What’s more, narcissism is on the increase, becoming a pervait. He used poor opinion poll ratings to depose Nelson, and then sive condition of society, according to two American psycholopolled lower himself. gists, Jean Twenge and W. Keith Campbell, who published a book Turnbull has “narcissisthis year, The Narcissism tic personality disorder,” Epidemic. They include a That’s narcissists for you. They Nelson told interviewer Peter long-term study of 37,000 Hartcher. “He says the most American college students, never see the karma train coming. in which the incidence of appalling things and can’t understand why people get narcissistic personality traits What’s more, narcissism is on the upset. He has no empathy.’’ increased on a scale rivalling Nelson also told me obesity, accelerating in the increase, becoming a pervasive Turnbull was a narcissist, as past decade. demonstrated by the yes-men In 1982, 15 per cent of stucondition of society surrounding him. “Whatever dents scored highly for narjudgments he makes, he cissistic personality traits. appears not to make good judgments about people. He can’t By 2006 the percentage had climbed to 25. Twenge claims only read people. It’s part of his narcissism … There’s a risk he’ll blow 12 per cent of students in the 1950s agreed with the statement up one day.” ‘’I am an important person’’; by the late 1980s that percentage According to the psychiatrists’ bible, The Diagnostic and had climbed to 80. The reason for the explosion in narcissism in Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the disorder is characterised recent years, according to the Melbourne adolescent psycholoby: a grandiose sense of self-importance; preoccupation with fan- gist Michael Carr-Gregg, is not just the self-esteem movement tasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love; but poor parenting. a belief the person is ‘’special’’ and unique and should only associ“Parents are becoming increasingly self absorbed [believing] ‘the ate with other special people or institutions; a need for excessive single most important thing in the world is for me to work like admiration; a sense of entitlement; exploitative personal relation- a dog to get the house, the car and the holiday house’ and don’t ships; a lack of empathy; envy; and arrogant, haughty behaviour. … realise all their kids want is to be loved and to have one-onWhen things end badly for narcissists, they tend to do so one time with their parents.’’ He says an “epidemic of poor parspectacularly. enting” is to blame for a drastic rise in psychological problems Nelson has good reason to be critical of Turnbull. But his diag- in young people. “Generation Y is being ravaged by depression, nosis could equally apply to most people aged under 30, to poli- anxiety disorders and stress disorders.” ticians, entertainers, lawyers, business people and, no doubt, to a For narcissistic personality disorder to take root, a person has good number of byline-chasing journalists. to be born with a genetic “template” for over-sensitivity and over18  INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM  October 2009

reactivity. “Then something has to happen.” Carr-Gregg says parental abandonment, coupled with invalidation of the child’s corresponding emotional pain, triggers the disorder. “If you grew up in an environment with time-poor parents, you are brought up in a Lord of the Flies [type of ] emotional silo by other disaffected young people. It’s the psychologically blind leading the blind. “I see … kids who are overindulged from a very early age … and become incapable of delayed gratification. When I meet these kids in later life they tend to exaggerate their achievements and talents, tend to believe they are special and unique and interesting. They require excessive amounts of admiration and if they don’t get it, they’ll wipe you off the face of the planet.” Carr-Gregg - who coincidentally was three years behind Turnbull at Sydney Grammar - won’t comment publicly on the Nelson diagnosis. But, along with the psychometrician Simon Kinsella, he is working on a series of psychological profiles of famous Australians for an upcoming book, to identify personality structure and psychopathology in different professions, from politicians and journalists to creative artists and sports people. “I would give anything to do Malcolm Turnbull,” he says. It’s one way for Turnbull to prove Nelson wrong.



>  straight talk

Mark Steyn

US health system better than world claims


ome years ago, when I was a slip of a lad, I found myself go around hobbling in pain rather than divert “finite resources” commiserating with a distinguished American songwriter away from productive members of society to a useless old geeabout the death of one of his colleagues. My 23-year-old zer like you. girlfriend found all the condolence talk a bit of a bummer You would be surprised how quickly geezerdom kicks in: A couand was anxious to cut to the chase and get outta there. “Well,” ple of years back, some Quebec facilities attributed death from she said breezily. “He had a good innings. He was 85.” hospital-contracted infection of anyone over 55 to “old age.” Well, he had a good innings. He was 57. “That’s easy for you to say,” he said. “I’m 84.” This ought to be of particular concern to Americans. As is often That’s where Obamacare leads: You’re 84, and it’s easy for him to say. Easy for him to say what you need – or don’t need. Relax, he assured pointed out, U.S. life expectancy (78.06 years) lags behind other developed nations with government health care (United Kingdom an audience of puffball-lobbing plants in Portsmouth, N.H. By the way, when I mock “puffball-lobbing plants,” obviously all 78.7, Germany 78.95, Sweden 80.63). So proponents of Obamacare such events are stage-managed, but the trick is to make it not quite are all but offering an extra “full year” of Euro-Canadian geriatric so obvious. When Richard Nixon was campaigning in 1968, Roger leisure as a signing bonus “Life expectancy” is a very crude indicator. Afghanistan has a life Ailes would let a couple of dirty, no-good, long-haired peaceniks in so his candidate could swat ‘em down: It ginned up the crowd, expectancy of 43. Does this mean the geriatric wards of Kandahar made for better TV, and got the candidate pumped. “Thought it are full of Pushtun Jennifer Lopezes and Julia Robertses? No. What it means is that, if you manwent well tonight,” he would age to survive the country’s say. “Really socked it to those  The only way to “control costs” is appalling infant mortality hippies.” In essence, Mr. Ailes rates, you have a sporting stage-managed it to look to restrict access to treatment, and chance of eking out your un-stage-managed. three-score-and-10. To say If those who oppose oldsters are the easiest people to that people in Afghanistan Obamacare are merely a bunch can expect to live until 43 is of “un-American” “evil-mondeny treatment a bit like saying the couple gers” (according to, respecat 6 Elm Street are straight tively, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid), the cause would benefit from allowing the president to really and the couple at 8 are gay, so the entire street is bisexual. That brings us to the United States and its purportedly worst sock it to a couple of them once in a while. To retreat behind a wall of overly drooling sycophants does not help Mr. Obama at health system in the developed world. Here’s the reality: The longer you live in America, the longer you live. If you’re one of those this stage in the game. Anyway, there he was reassuring the crowd that provision for impressionable “Meet The Press” viewers who heard New York’s mandatory “end-of-life counseling” has “gotten spun into this idea Mayor Michael Bloomberg bemoaning U.S. life expectancy and of ‘death panels.’ I am not in favour of that.” Well, that’s good to you’re thinking, “Hey, I’m 77. Just about at the end, Americaknow. So good that a grateful audience applauded the president’s wise. Maybe it’s time to move up north or over to Europe, and pledge not to kill them. He has no plans, as he put it, to “pull the get a couple of bonus years,” don’t do it! If you’re old enough to be a “Meet The Press” viewer, your life expectancy is already way plug on Grandma.” The problem with government health systems is not that they up there. America is the Afghanistan of the Western world: That’s to say, pull the plug on Grandma. It’s that Grandma has a hell of a time getting plugged in to begin with. The only way to “control costs” it has a slightly higher infant mortality rate than other developed is to restrict access to treatment, and oldsters are the easiest peo- nations (for reasons I’ll discuss in another column). That figure depresses our overall “life expectancy at birth.” But, if you can ple to deny treatment. Don’t worry, it’s all very scientific. In Britain, they use a “Quality- make it out of diapers, you’ll live longer than you would pretty Adjusted Life Year” formula to decide that you don’t really need much anywhere else. By age 40, Americans’ life expectancy has that new knee because you’re going to die in a year or two, maybe caught up with Britons’. By 60, it equals Germany’s. At the age of a decade-and-a-half tops. So it’s in the national interest for you to 80, Americans have greater life expectancy than Swedes. 20  INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM  October 2009

>President Barack Obama pitches his health care proposals at a rally on Saturday, September 12 (Jeff Wheeler/Minneapolis Star Tribune/MCT)

How can this be? Well, amazingly, millions of freeborn citizens exercising their own judgment as to which of the latest drugs, tests and procedures suits their own best interests have given Americans a longer, better, more fulfilling old age to the point where entire states are designed to cater to it. (There is no Belgian or Scottish Florida.) I had an elderly British visitor this month who has had a recurring problem with her left hand. At one point it swelled up alarmingly and so we took her to Emergency. They did a CT scan, X-rays, blood samples, the works. In two hours at a small, rural, undistinguished, no-frills hospital in northern New Hampshire, this lady got more tests than she has had in the last decade in Britain – even though she goes to see her doctor once a month. He listens sympathetically, tells her old age often involves adjusting to the loss of mobility, and then advises her to take the British version of Tylenol and rest up. Anything else would use up those valuable “resources.” So, in two hours in New Hampshire, she got tested and diagnosed (with gout) and prescribed something to deal with it.

It’s the difference between health “care” (i.e., going to the doctor every month to no purpose) and health treatment – and on the latter America is the best in the world. Mr. Obama has wondered if this is a “sustainable model.” But, from your point of view, what counts is not whether the model is sustainable but whether you are. I am certainly in favor of reform. I would support a Singapore-style system of personal health accounts, and Singapore, for Mr. Bloomberg’s benefit, has the third-highest life expectancy in the world. But, under any government system that interjects a bureaucracy between you and your health, the elderly and not-so-elderly get denied treatment. And there’s nothing you can do about it because, ultimately, government health represents the nationalization of your body. You’re 84, 72, 63, 58, you’ve had a good innings. It’s easy for him to say. And even easier for his army of bureaucrats. Mark Steyn is the author of the New York Times best-seller America Alone. © 2009 Mark Steyn


>  global warning

Della Oppo

Sea just as warm in the past


new 2,000-year-long reconstruction of sea surface high latitude or high altitude terrestrial proxy records, such as temperatures (SST) from the Indo-Pacific warm pool tree rings and ice cores, from the Northern Hemisphere (NH). (IPWP) suggests that temperatures in the region may have Little pre-historical temperature data from tropical regions like the been as warm during the Medieval Warm Period as they IPWP has been incorporated into these analyses, and the global are today. extent of warm temperatures during this interval is unclear. As a The IPWP is the largest body of warm water in the world, result, conclusions regarding past global temperatures still have and, as a result, it is the largest source of heat and moisture to the some uncertainties. global atmosphere, and an important component of the planet’s Oppo comments, “Although there are significant uncertainties climate. Climate models suggest that global mean temperatures with our own reconstruction, our work raises the idea that perare particularly sensitive to sea surface temperatures in the IPWP. haps even the Northern Hemisphere temperature reconstructions Understanding the past history of the region is of great importance need to be looked at more closely.” for placing current warming trends in a global context. Comparisons The study is published in the journal Nature. The marine-based IPWP temperature reconstruction is in In a joint project with the Indonesian Ministry of Science and many ways similar to land temperature reconstructions from Technology (BPPT), the study’s authors, Delia Oppo, a paleo– the Northern Hemisphere (NH). Major trends observed in NH oceanographer with the temperature reconstrucWoods Hole Oceanographic tions, including the cool Accepted theories are holy writ, ing during the Little Ice Institution, and her colleagues Yair Rosenthal of Rutgers Age (~1500-1850 AD) and dogma never to be questioned and State University and Braddock the marked warming durK. Linsley of the University ing the late twentieth centhe “consensus” view is necessarily tury, are also observed in the at Albany-State University of New York, collected sediment IPWP. an established fact with no room cores along the continental “The more interesting margin of the Indonesian Seas and potentially controverfor debate and used chemical analyses to sial result is that our data estimate water past temperaindicate surface water temtures and date the sediment. The cruise included 13 US and 14 peratures during a part of the Medieval Warm Period that are Indonesian scientists. similar to today’s,” says Oppo. NH temperature reconstructions “This is the first record from the region that has really modern also suggest that temperatures warmed during this time period sediments and a record of the last two millennia, allowing us to between A.D. 1000 and A.D. 1250, but they were not as warm as place recent trends in a larger framework,” notes Oppo. modern temperatures. Oppo emphasizes, “Our results for this time Global temperature records are predominantly reconstructed period are really in stark contrast to the Northern Hemisphere from tree rings and ice cores.  Very little ocean data are used to reconstructions.” generate temperature reconstructions, and very little data from Reconstructing Historical Temperatures the tropics. “As palaeoclimatologists, we work to generate inforRecords of water temperature from instruments like thermommation from multiple sources to improve confidence in the global eters are only available back to the 1850s. In order to reconstruct temperature reconstructions, and our study contributes to scien- temperatures over the last 2,000 years, Oppo and her colleagues tists’ efforts towards that goal,” adds Oppo. used a proxy for temperature collected from the skeletons of marine Temperature reconstructions suggest that the Northern plankton in sediments in the Indo-Pacific Ocean. The ratio of Hemisphere may have been slightly cooler (by about 0.5 degrees magnesium to calcium in the hard outer shells of the planktonic Celsius) during the ‘Medieval Warm Period’ (~AD 800-1300) foraminifera Globigerinoides ruber varies depending on the surface than during the late-20th century. However, these temperature temperature of the water in which it grows. When the phytoplankreconstructions are based on, in large part, data compiled from ton dies, it falls to the bottom of the ocean and accumulates in 22  INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM  October 2009

sediments, recording the sea surface temperature in which it lived. “Marine sediments accumulate slowly in general -- approximately 3 cm/yr -- which makes it hard to overlap sediment record with instrumental record and compare that record to modern temperature records,” says Oppo. “That’s what is different about this study. The sediment accumulates fast enough in this region to give us enough material to sample and date to modern times.” The team generated a composite 2000-year record by combining published data from a piston core in the area with the data they collected using a gravity corer and a multi-corer.  Tubes on the bottom of the multi-corer collected the most recently deposited sediment, therefore enabling the comparison of sea surface temperature information recorded in the plankton shells to direct measurements from thermometers. Oppo cautions that the reconstruction contains some uncertainties. Information from three different cores was compiled in order to reconstruct a 2,000-year-long record. In addition sediment data have an inherent uncertainty associated with accurately dating samples. The SST variations they have reconstructed are very small, near the limit of the Mg/Ca dating method.  Even in light of these issues, the results from the reconstruction are of fundamental importance to the scientific community.

More Questions to Answer The overall similarity in trend between the Northern Hemisphere and the IPWP reconstructions suggests that that Indonesian SST is well correlated to global SST and air temperature. On the other hand, the finding that IPWP SSTs seem to have been approximately the same as today in the past, at a time when average Northern Hemisphere temperature appear to have been cooler than today, suggests changes in the coupling between IPWP and Northern Hemisphere or global temperatures have occurred in the past, for reasons that are not yet understood. “This work points in the direction of questions that we have to ask,” Oppo says. “This is only the first word, not the last word.” The US National Science Foundation and the WHOI Ocean and Climate Change Institute provided funding for this work. The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is a private, independent organization in Falmouth, Mass., dedicated to marine research, engineering, and higher education. Established in 1930 on a recommendation from the National Academy of Sciences, its primary mission is to understand the oceans and their interaction with the Earth as a whole, and to communicate a basic understanding of the oceans’ role in the changing global environment.


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>  eyes right

Richard Prosser He iwi, tahi tatou


he call for separate Maori seats on the proposed powering one, restricting those who choose to identify with it, to Auckland Supercity Council, and its predictable rejection never being anything more than a voice on the fringes of policy by the National Government, is one of the odder quirks of making. Maori, who comprise 15% of New Zealand’s populaNew Zealand’s unique racial and electoral makeup. That tion, could have a far stronger influence over the direction of the we have them at all in the nation’s Parliament is an oddity in itself, nation if they were to vote together within the mainstream - but a relic of our history which saw the Maori seats created on a tempo- then that, I think is the key to the matter. Maori don’t vote all rary basis – originally intended to be no longer than five years – way together as one, just like they don’t do anything else all together as back in 1867. In those early days of representative democracy in the one. Pre-European Maori were never one single homogenous group, brave new colony, voting rights were restricted to men – and to men let alone nation, and post-Colonial Maori are every bit as diverse and who owned property, at that. Since most Maori land was owned com- free thinking as any other component element of this melting pot we munally, few Maori qualified, and the Maori seats were created to call New Zealand. In the MMP environment, it could be argued that ensure that the Natives, in fair accordance with the rights and privi- Maori don’t need separate seats in order to ensure representation; but leges afforded them under the Treaty of Waitangi, would have access the reality is that, despite the MMP environment, most Maori don’t to some form of accountable representation, at least until they could even appear to be interested in separate representation, at least not learn to behave like good individual capitalists and take up land titles on racial grounds. For most Maori, the choice of who gets the tick in their own right. in the polling booth is about Since then of course many pragmatism, philosophy, eco For most Maori, the choice of who nomics, and personality, same things have changed; women got the vote as well, in 1893 – as it is for most everyone else. gets the tick in the polling booth though the right to stand for Maybe that’s why only 45% of Parliament had to wait until eligible Maori voters choose is about pragmatism, philosophy, 1919 – Maori did indeed take to enroll on the Maori roll, rather splendidly to capitalism, and why the Maori Party economics, and personality, same trading independently with the only attracts 1.5% of the popAustralian colonies just as they ular vote. as it is for most everyone else...only had done with the visiting sealThe creation of the Maori ers and whalers of the precedseats has been described by 45% of eligible Maori voters choose some commentators as a ing centuries; and the Treaty was rewritten, in meaning if cynical mechanism to conto enroll on the Maori roll not in actual words, time and tain and control Maori elecagain as its changing interpretoral influence, at a time tation suited various interests when Maori greatly outof the day. This process remains, as we know, a work in progress. numbered the settler population. Personally I think that’s an The seats, however, did not go the way of Victorian social con- uncharitable assessment; I believe the early Colonial Government ventions or pure Maori bloodlines, fading irrevocably into the past; did genuinely want the spirit of British rights to extend to all those instead, they remained, as a reminder perhaps that not everyone peoples to whom the Treaty had granted them, though I also think was happy with Lieutenant Governor Hobson’s proclamation that it is fair to say that the seats were probably preserved by vested “We are now one people” – or even with the other interpretation interests long after their intended purpose had been served, for of those famous words, that being “our people are now together.” precisely the reason hitherto mentioned. Indeed the preservation of the Maori seats is a clear indication that In the same manner, I believe that the supposed sanctity of the many, for various reasons, would like us to still be very separate. Maori seats today is promoted by similar vested interests, but this This writer doesn’t really understand why Maori appear to want time it is those who seek to benefit from their own guaranteed incluto keep the Maori seats in Parliament, or the Maori electoral roll. sion on the gravy train which is politics generally. I don’t doubt that Personally I think the concept of racial separatism is a disem- there are some who have represented Maori constituencies, whose 24  INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM  October 2009

genuine motivation was and is to serve their people; but at the same time, I think that too often, ordinary Maori are held back and held down by a system which entrenches the culture of the past, and which by its very nature espouses separateness, and thereby inequality and its inevitable accompanying sense of injustice. I hear the likes of Willie Jackson and John Tamihere talking about this sort of thing on the radio, and the irony is hilarious. Willie would probably label me an arch-racist for suggesting that Maori don’t need separate electoral representation, despite the fact that I could happily vote for JT if that was an option for me. The thing is, y’see, that me and people like me are not racists – and neither are the vast majority of Maori. I’d be happy to vote for JT because he’s a good straight-up-and-down Kiwi bloke, and he tells it like it is. But I’d never vote for Willie because he’s too much of a leftie pinko for my liking, and that’s about as simple as it gets. I couldn’t give a wet slap what colour a man is. It’s all about the person and their philosophy. Likewise I wouldn’t vote for Barack Obama, but I’d jump at the chance to give Ron Mark the big tick if he ever makes a comeback. There you have it, from the mouth of a self-confessed redneck; us right-wing whities don’t vote on racial grounds, and I don’t believe most modern Maori do either. Democracy has moved on from that sort of thinking. But separate Maori seats in Auckland aren’t about democracy, and they aren’t about ensuring a voice for the downtrodden brown underclass. They’re about tribalism, and an attempt to preserve the myth of the Treaty being a “partnership” – a term coined, to this writer’s recollection, by Michael Cullen in a speech back in the nineties, though I could be wildly wrong about that. Wherever the concept came from, it is a fact that no version of the Treaty, in either language, contains or even suggests the word “partner.” Interestingly however, only the late Sir Hugh Kawharu’s translation, back to English from the signed Maori text, states that Maori will receive the duties of citizenship (actually subject hood, back then, given that there were no citizens as such – everyone was a subject, and did as the Monarch commanded) along with the rights and privileges also conferred; an acceptance of which could have long since put paid to the current and ongoing bickering about whether or not the signatories really meant for the Queen to be in charge afterwards. But I digress. I caught up with an old mate from school recently. He’s a very brown chap with a very white name, and I have known him since the primers, but he never went past the 5th form and we lost touch, as happens all too often. Thanks to the Internet, he popped up again a few weeks back, living in Sydney where he’s been for the last twenty years or so. Currently he owns two companies and employs thirty-eight people. Not bad for a Maori boy who never got School C, eh. He could never, in his own words, have attained the heights in New Zealand that he has risen to in Australia; his family wouldn’t have let him. He would, by his own assessment, have remained the under-achiever his culture demanded, and probably ended up in trouble with the law along with it. If urban Maori today, in any Supercity-to-be, need special representation, then I would venture it is more likely to be useful if it is delivered via the likes of John Tamihere and his hands-on practical approach to modern socio-economic concerns, than by the special reservation of some elitist tribal appointment which is stuck in the past and distanced from mainstream reality. And that poses questions in itself; would the proposed seats be open to any Maori candidate, or would they be reserved for the

mana whenua tribes, and if so, why aren’t they being promoted as such? Would a Ngati Whatua or Tainui Councilor be there to represent all Maori in Auckland, and if so, why couldn’t anyone else do that? Will they be allowed to represent the interests, views, and wishes of non-Maori as well? Are we really so different as human beings, that issues concerning roads and rates and rubbish, pose different problems for people depending on their ethnicity? In truth I don’t really mind what Auckland ends up doing, because I don’t live there and it doesn’t affect me, other than in the sense that, Governments being what they are, whatever gets foisted on Auckland will almost certainly be foisted on the rest of us too…that and the fact that I was born a Westie, and I really wouldn’t like to see the place go down the gurgler. And I’m not against self-determination per se, for those who want it, at least not on a regionalised basis; if Tuhoe really want to create their own Republic in the Ureweras, I say good on them and good luck, and it’s no secret to anyone that I’m a supporter of self-government for the South Island. But if Auckland is to be united as one Supercity – and I’m yet to be persuaded that that’s necessarily a good idea - then it needs to be a union of all its peoples, and if the Treaty – or apartheid, come to that – have taught us anything, it’s that two systems for one place simply don’t work. Maori language, history, and culture, are special and important. But they’re not more special or important than anyone else’s language, history, or culture, and I think this is a truth of which Treaty revisionists and the promoters of elitist tribalism need reminding. Separate seats on the Supercity Council won’t help modern Maori with the problems which confront them, but they will further the bitterness and division which increasingly afflicts our fractured nation. If we truly desire to be One People, this is not the way to achieve it.

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Chris Carter The new tea parties


’ve been watching, absolutely fascinated, the American it too late to still be able to undo the economic damage to their Revolution. No, not filmed or photographed from days of country that’s already in place. yore, complete with Red-Coats and much flintlocked musCertainly, it now appears that American common sense has ketry, but rather the right up to date awakening on the part a chance to overcome probably the worst mistake the U.S. votof a now increasing majority that President Obama is little other ers ever made when electing a new President. The mere fact that Obama’s closest friends and associates, now mostly employed than an out and out Marxist. It first appeared that Obama’s plan to effectively nationalise the within the White House as “Czars” and advisers, have been recently U.S. health industry was the catalyst that caused quite ordinary unmasked as rabid revolutionaries, ex communists or even left of Americans to take to the streets in protest, but within almost days Joseph Stalin, has led any reasonable person to believe that Obama of the original turn out of hundreds of protesters, this number would be of similar ilk, with a very real likelihood of the man rapidly translated to hundreds of thousands as people quickly being actually dangerous to the American psyche or even the precame to realise that Obama’s White House political goon squad viously revered American whole way of life. Indeed the speeches and writings of Obama’s friends and close was off-handedly describing them as little more than fascists, lowassociates, now , for the first time starting to surface, should be life’s or even perhaps, mentally crippled. Obama’s fellow leftist acolytes even brayed that those who dis- causing nightmares to freedom lovers coast to coast . Obama had scarcely warmed his seat in agreed with the thoughts and the Oval Office before he wants of the new messiah had Obama had scarcely warmed started to create unelected to be racists at best and even positions of power (Czars) likely to be actual members of his seat before he started to creat and, naturally, giving these the Ku Klux Klan. Naturally, jobs to his old mates, none of this really settled that well with the outraged attend- unelected positions of power (Czars) many of whom a couple of decades back would ees of the ruling clique’s Town and, naturally, giving these jobs to have been behind bars as Hall meetings, who then, as terrorists, communists or a result of attending same, his old mates... for being just plain crazy. began to compare notes and Naturally, the long term swap ideas, thereby generating in a politically alarming fashion a genuine fear of the People, effects of surrounding oneself with people so far off the wall, by by the attending Congressmen and women, rather than the other comparison with the average voting citizen, is that eventually the whole administration and the President as the leader of that way around! Indeed, to say that people had suddenly woken up to the base administration will end up not only carrying the can for their plans of this new ultra left leaning cabal of the previously much unseemly actions and ideas, but will be thought to be actually revered Democratic Party appears to be a gross understatement, responsible for them. Also surprising, for such an obviously intelligent and charismatic and even worse the previously silver tongued Obama now appears to be incapable of persuading even his own mid range supporters leader, is failing to recognise that Chicago style politics, or rather of any veracity that his once well trumpeted plans may have ever the very shady tactics that have traditionally allowed the most had in the first place. That the projected national deficit under appalling people to run for office in that City are, in this age of the Obama regime has effectively doubled to 11 trillion dollars in mass personal communication, no longer secret. Controlling the a mere eight months, and that, without even considering Health media, being able to hide corruption and general political chicaCare “reform” and the economic emasculation shortly to come nery - since the advent of the Internet etc., information can no on line from his cap and trade, ‘’Save the planet” schemes, has longer be managed or hidden from public view, there being no suddenly turned the bulk of the American people from happily longer a few journalists to bribe or corrupt, there being instead singing “yes we can” to even louder chants of “no, we bloody well people from all walks of life posting all kinds of extremely damagcan’t”, hoping of course whilst they do so that they haven’t left ing information that in an instant is transmitted countrywide. As 26  INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM  October 2009

just one famous example it was the Internet that unmasked several people Obama wished to be in his Cabinet, as being tax cheats or in some other way to be obviously unsuitable to hold high office. All of which, now, having had the benefit of the time to reflect and to consider the flow of pertinent information available to the American public, probably explains the real possibility of Obama being tipped out of office in the very near future. A number of previous Presidents of the United States were perhaps very lucky that their various inadequacies were only transmitted to the people via the always corrupt American media who, with all kinds of reasons to manipulate or even conceal the truth, were, and many people think still, not to be trusted. The Internet has now opened up communications to the point where literally nothing can now be hidden or concealed. President Carter was clearly an idiot, Nixon a crook, Kennedy a creature of his father’s Chicago mate, Mafia Boss Sam Giancana who provided the votes for Kennedy to win over Nixon. None of these recent Presidents would have gotten away with half of what they were up to under the watchful eye of today’s Internet, which of course Obama well realises, probably leading to him now wishing “in times of emergency” to shut down the Net on his command. The legislation to enable this is working its way through Congress right now creating a huge public backlash, and if forced through would not only likely finish off Obama’s Presidency but would see the Democrats out of power for generations. The Americans aim to have their politicians scared of the voting public, and unlike us very laid back Kiwis it really doesn’t pay for politicians to upset them too much, especially as their Constitution allows them to be armed to the teeth. Shame we don’t have a similar Constitution I’ve often thought myself! And to think we frequently give our Parliamentarians a hard time, though alongside the poor old yanks, to quote Fred Dagg “we don’t know how lucky we are mate”. Imagine having that walking advertisement for plastic surgery, US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who’s plainly as mad as a snake, being third in line as our country’s leader. Then again, in Obama’s case with his “Yes we can” campaign to revolutionise everything he possibly can, having a nutter running the Senate probably would fit right into his plans, and that’s not to mention his somewhat mentally challenged Vice President Joe Biden. Why should the U.S. Being run broke by a bunch of leftist revolutionaries worry us? When it was all over for the Romans the Dark Ages began did they not? Love ‘em or hate ‘em, what do you consider will happen to trading nations such as ours if the biggest economy in the world turns up its toes? With the Yanks

gone, the most logical successor would have to be China, at which point, what if that great nation, needing desperately coal, minerals and extra food, simply decided to capture Australia and New Zealand and operate us as colonies? With the United States essentially stuffed what’s to stop them? Couldn’t happen? Yeah right, nothing like that ever happens does it, or have I just been reading too many politically incorrect history books. Virtually every war in History has been fought over territory and anyone that can’t see the vulnerability of Australia and New Zealand to eventual take over by our heavily populated neighbours in the Far North is kidding themselves. I know that it’s no longer taught in our schools but it was only around fifty years ago that the Yanks halted the intended Japanese invasion of Australia and then on to NZ at the Battle of the Coral Sea. Which is why what’s going on in the States at the moment is probably even more important to us than even our own elections. We cannot defend ourselves, it’s a simple fact, so love them or hate them, the Americans are really our best hope for our future security. Let’s therefore hope that Obama’s attempts to change the U.S. to the USSR do not succeed; after all, we in our own quiet way proved that it can be done, when we finally woke up to our own similarly popular, politically astute but extreme left winger, Helen Clark, who having near bankrupted our country, built a huge public service to pry and to interfere in everyone’s daily lives, finally shot off to the U.N. to stuff up the third world as an encore. Meantime, let us intone, with much feeling, the old prayer, God Save America!

Obama’s ‘Green jobs Czar’ Van Jones lost his job this month as a result of research by Investigate writer Trevor Loudon at his blog, PHOTO: MCT/NEWSCOM


>  contra mundum

Matthew Flannagan God, proof and faith


ince the 17th century one of the most common sceptical objections to the Christian faith is the claim that belief in God is irrational because his existence has never been successfully proven. For centuries theologians and philosophers have proposed a range of arguments for the existence of God; sceptics not only contend every one of these arguments fail but also that in the absence of such proof it is irrational to believe in God. The sceptic places the burden of proof squarely on the Christian; Anthony Flew’s famous presumption of atheism is a paradigmatic example of this, “[T]he debate about the existence of God should properly begin from the presumption of atheism, … the onus of proof must lie upon the theist…What the protagonist of my presumption of atheism wants to show is that the debate about the existence of God ought to be conducted in a particular way, and that the issue should be seen in a certain perspective. His thesis about the onus of The sceptic’s proof involves that it is up to the theist: first to introduce and own tail...[it] to defend his proposed concept of God; and second, to provide sufficient reason for believing that this concept of his does in fact have an application.1” John Mackie makes the same point, “If it is agreed that the central assertions of theism are literally meaningful, it must also be admitted that they are not directly verified or directly verifiable. It follows that any rational consideration of whether they are true or not will involve arguments . . . it [whether or not God exists] must be examined either by deductive or inductive reasoning or, if that yields no decision, by arguments to the best explanation; for in such a context nothing else can have any coherent bearing on the issue.2” Both writers contend that belief in God is rationally acceptable only if there is good evidence for it. In this context it is clear that the word evidence is being used synonymously with the idea of an argument or a proof. Flew talks of a “burden of proof;” if theism cannot be proven in the manner laid down he contends it is irrational. Mackie contends that the “rational consideration” of theism, which means belief in God, depends on the arguments that can be mustered in support of theism, if belief in God cannot be proven by the kind of arguments he suggests then it is irrational. 1. Antony Flew The Presumption of Atheism (London: Pemberton Publishing, 1976) 14-15. 2. John Mackie The Miracle of Theism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983) 4-6.


One way of responding to this charge is to try and meet Flew’s burden and provide cogent arguments for God’s existence. In this article I will not take that tack, instead I will call into question the assumption that underlies this objection; the objection assumes that it can only be rational to believe in God if there is a good argument for God’s existence. I am not convinced that we should assume this. It is important to note that not everything one believes needs to be proven in order for it to be rational for us to reasonably rely on it. I have two reasons in mind; first the claim that everything must be proven in order to be rationally believed leads to a regress problem. Roy Clouser notes, “If everything needs to be proven then the premises of every proof would need to be proven. But if you need a proof for every proof, you need a proof for your proof, and a proof for your proof of a proof and so on-forever. Thus it makes no sense to demand position eats its that everything be proven because an infinite regress of is incoherent proofs is impossible.3” A second problem is that there are many things that we believe quite rationally which cannot be proved such as memory. Consider my belief that I was in Newmarket yesterday. I reflect on what I did yesterday and automatically find myself strongly inclined to accept the belief ‘I was in Newmarket.’ I believe that ‘I was in Newmarket’ because I remember being there yet I am unable to provide any argument or proof for this claim but my memory. To prove my memory is reliable is difficult as any argument I might try to use is circular; to prove memory is reliable one has to rely on one’s memory to remember if one’s memory is usually accurate. Nevertheless, my belief that I was in Newmarket yesterday is rational. Similar problems arise with the belief that other people have thoughts and feelings, that objects we see actually exist independently of us, etc. We accept such concepts in spite of proof as we understand that not everything needs to be proven; given this, why then does belief in God need to be proven for it to be rational? This is not an idle question. The sceptic criticises Christians for believing certain propositions without good arguments for their truth. This criticism rests on certain premises. It is perfectly valid then to ask what arguments the sceptic has for these premises. If the sceptic asserts them without proof then the sceptic’s position 3. Roy Clouser Knowing With the Heart (IVP: Downers Grove, 1999) 69.

is prima facie incoherent. The sceptic claims, without argument, that other people should not believe without argument. If it is acceptable for the sceptic to believe this without proof, why then does the Christian need to provide proof in order to be rational? Atheist philosopher Kai Neilsen’s answer is typical; “All of us can agree, at least for a large range of cases, whether somebody is in pain, whether he’s thinking, feeling anxious or the like. We do in general agree about these things. Only a madman would claim that no one is ever in pain or that no one ever knows that another person is in pain. The same is true for thinking, feeling anxious or sad and the like… Now the situation is very different in religion.4” Neilsen’s point is essentially that religious beliefs are beliefs that not all people believe, whereas belief that other people have thoughts and feelings are beliefs that no sane person would doubt. Behind the seemingly innocuous claim that belief in God is irrational without proof lurks an implicit standard about what counts as a rational belief. A belief is rational only if it is accepted by all sane, intelligent people or it can be proven via some argument from premises that are acknowledged to be true by all sane people. When measured by this standard, all religious beliefs need to be proven by argument if they are to be rationally believed. I think something like this picture is behind much religious scepticism. I also think the picture is deeply flawed as it is self-contradictory. Take the standard for rational belief implicit in the above quotes and in much scepticism and turn it back on itself: not every one accepts this standard. Many sane, intelligent people reject it; they do not accept that all beliefs not accepted by everyone must be proven. So, if the sceptic standard is correct, no one should believe in it until someone offers a proof for its truth, to the best of my knowledge no one has done this, therefore no one can rationally believe in the sceptic standard itself. If the sceptic tries to escape this quandary he or she can only appeal to premises that are accepted by all sane, intelligent people. If some sane, intelligent people do not accept the premises then we will be required to disbelieve the premises and hence the proof, by the sceptic’s own argument. The sceptic’s position eats its own tail. There are, I think, two lessons to be learned here. The first is that some sceptics are inconsistent in their scepticism, they reject belief in God on the basis of certain claims or assumptions which, if true, are subject to the very objections and doubts they level against religion yet they do not question or doubt these assumptions. The second is that in any rational discussion one cannot avoid starting from presuppositions which are, in some sense, controversial; one starts with what one knows by faith and reasons from it to gain a comprehensive, coherent and accurate understanding of reality, to find answers to the fundamental and philosophical existential questions that we face. Sometimes our subsequent inquiry leads us to modify, abandon or revise the presuppositions we began with, other times our inquiry confirms it but the idea that every controversial, substantive claim one accepts needs to be proven in order to be rational is incoherent. Dr Matthew Flannagan holds a PhD in Theology from the University of Otago, a Masters with First Class Honours and a Bachelors in Philosophy from the University of Waikato. His area of expertise is Philosophy of Religion, Theology and Ethics. He blogs at MandM and runs fortnightly Apologetics seminars for the community through Thinking Matters Auckland 4. Kai Neilsen “The Skeptics Reply” in Faith and the Philosophers Ed. John Hick (London: Macmillan, 1964) 274.

Atheist Richard Dawkins: delusional? PHOTO: DPA




While social engineers routinely release reports claiming children are not affected by divorce or solo parenting, one of the world’s biggest meta-analysis studies shows the decision to get married, or not, can mean the difference between life and death, success or failure for children. As THE STUDY TEAM write, there are 21 staggering revelations that shed light on everything from child abuse to student riots


hat do we know about the importance of marriage for children, for adults and for society? There has been a sharp increase over the last two generations in the proportion of children who do not live with their own two married parents, spurred first largely by increases in divorce, and more recently by large jumps in unmarried or cohabiting childbearing. A vigorous public debate sparked by these changes in family structure has generated a growing body of social science literature on the consequences of family fragmentation. This report is an attempt to summarize this large body of scientific research into a succinct form useful to everyone on all sides of ongoing family debates — to report what we know about the importance of marriage in our families and social systems. Marriage has changed a great deal over the past two generations, including increased incidence and social acceptance of divorce, cohabitation, premarital sex, and unwed childbearing. Other important changes include dramatic increases in the proportion of working wives, reduced tolerance for domestic violence, and a change in gender roles. 30  INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM  October 2009

Over the past 40 years, both men and women have become increasingly likely to support greater participation by men in the household and women in the labour force, with less sharp differentiation between women’s and men’s roles. Yet when it comes to the benefits of marriage, research shows more impressive evidence of continuity than change or decline. Social science is better equipped to document whether certain social facts are true than to say why they are true. We can assert more definitively that marriage is associated with powerful social goods more definitively than we can say that marriage is the sole or main cause of these social goods. Good research seeks to tease out what scholars call “selection effects,” or the pre-existing differences between individuals who decide to divorce, marry, or become unwed parents. Does divorce cause poverty, for example, or is it simply that poor people are more likely to divorce? Good social science attempts in a variety of ways to distinguish between causal relationships and mere correlations. The studies cited here are for the most part based on large, nationally representative samples that control for race, family background, and other compounding factors. In many, but not


all cases, social scientists have been able to use longitudinal data to track individuals as they marry, divorce or stay single, increasing our confidence that marriage itself matters. Where we consider the evidence is, in our view, overwhelming that marriage causes increases in well-being, we say so. Where marriage probably does so, but the causal pathways are not as well understood, we are more cautious. We recognise the possibility that factors other than marriage, divorce or single parenting may be influencing outcomes. Relatively few family structure studies attempt to assess the role of genetics, reasonable scholars may and do disagree on the existence and extent of such selection effects, and the extent to which marriage is causally related to the better social outcomes reported here. And of course individual circumstances vary. While divorce is associated with serious increased psychological risks for children, for example, the majority of children of divorce are not mentally ill. While marriage is a social good, not all marriages are equal. Research does not generally support the idea that remarriage is better for children than living with a single mother. Marriages that are unhappy do not have the same benefits as the average marriage. Divorce or separation provides an important escape hatch for children and adults in violent or high-conflict marriages. Families, communities, and policy makers interested in distributing the benefits of marriage more equally must do more than merely discourage legal divorce. Social science is typically better equipped to answer general questions (eg., Are high rates of divorce and unwed childbearing likely to reduce overall child well-being?) than to answer questions facing individual parents (eg., Will my particular children in my particular circumstances be harmed or helped by divorce?). But we believe good social science, despite its inherent limitations, is a better guide to social policy than uninformed opinion or prejudice. The public and policy makers deserve to hear what research suggests about the consequences of marriage or its absence for children and adults. This report represents our best judgement of what the current social science evidence reveals about the importance of marriage in our social system. Here is our fundamental conclusion: Marriage is an important social good, associated with an impressively broad array of positive outcomes for children and adults alike. Family structure and processes are of course only one factor contributing to child and social well-being. Our discussion here is not meant to minimize the importance of other social and economic factors, such as poverty, child support, unemployment, neighbourhood safety, or the quality of education for both parents and children. Whether our society succeeds or fails in building a healthy marriage culture is clearly a matter of legitimate public concern.

parents divorced reported poor relationships with their mothers, compared to 16 percent of children whose parents stayed married. But children’s relationships with their fathers are at even greater risk. Sixtyfive percent of young adults whose parents divorced had poor relationships with their fathers (compared to 29 percent from nondivorced families). On average, children whose parents divorce or never marry see their fathers less frequently and have less affectionate relationships with their fathers than do children whose parents got married and stayed married. Divorce appears to have an even greater negative effect on relationships between fathers and their children than remaining in an unhappy marriage. As Pennsylvania State University Sociology Professor David Eggebeen has said, “The evidence is in and it is clear that fathers do matter for the lives of children. Hundreds of studies over the past two decades have shown a measurable impact on their children.” The harmful effects of fatherlessness have been well documented in “The Facts of Fatherlessness”.


Growing up outside an intact marriage increases the likelihood that children will themselves divorce or become unwed parents. Children whose parents divorce or fail to marry are more likely to become young unwed parents, to divorce themselves, and to have unhappy marriages and/or relationships. Daughters raised outside of intact marriages are approximately three times more likely to end up young, unwed mothers than are children whose parents married and stayed married. Parental divorce approximately doubles the odds that adult children will also divorce.


Marriage increases the likelihood that fathers have good relationships with their children. Mothers as well as fathers are affected by the absence of marriage. Single mothers on average report more conflict with and less monitoring of their children than do married mothers. As adults, children from intact marriages report being closer to their mothers on average than do children of divorce. In one nationally representative study, 30 percent of young adults whose 32  INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM  October 2009


Cohabitation is not the functional equivalent of marriage. As a group, cohabitors in the United States and Australia more closely resemble singles than married people. Children with cohabiting parents have outcomes more similar to the children living with single (or remarried) parents than children from intact marriages. Adults who live together are more similar to singles than to married couples in terms of physical health, emotional well-being and mental health, as well as in assets and earnings. Selection effects account for a large portion of the difference between married people and cohabitors. As a group, cohabitors (who are not engaged) have lower incomes and less education. Couples who live together also, on average, report relationships of lower quality than do married couples — with cohabitors reporting more conflict, more violence and lower levels of satisfaction and commitment. Even biological parents who cohabit have poorer quality relationships and are more likely to part than parents who marry. Cohabitation differs from marriage in part because couples who choose merely to live together are less committed to a lifelong relationship. Also, worldwide evidence demonstrates that existing cohabitations with children tend to break up at four- to five-fold the rate of marriages. Consider some research from New Zealand for example. In the Christchurch Child Development Study, cohabitation was found to be the foremost risk factor for breakdown of the child’s family in its first five years. 43.9 percent of de facto couples separated, compared to 10.9 percent of those who were married.


Divorce is apparently most likely to be transmitted across the generations when parents in relatively low-conflict marriages have divorced.


Marriage is a virtually universal human institution. Marriage exists in virtually every known human society. Exactly what family forms existed in prehistoric society is not known, and the shape of human marriage varies considerably in different cultural contexts, but at least since the beginning of recorded history, in all the flourishing varieties of human cultures documented by anthropologists, marriage has been a universal human institution. As avirtually universal human idea, marriage is about regulating the reproduction of children, families, and society. While marriage systems differ (and not every person or class within a society marries), marriage across societies is a publicly acknowledged and supported sexual union which creates kinship obligations and sharing of resources between men, women, and the children that their sexual union may produce.

that half of single parents are on welfare. The study showed that 52 percent of one-parent families are living in a household where the parent is not working. A more recent study also shows the damage of divorce to economic wellbeing. A joint report from AMP Life and Canberra University’s National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling says that divorce leaves both partners worse off economically, but women tend to experience the biggest fall in disposable income.


Divorce and unmarried childbearing increase poverty for both children and mothers. Research has consistently shown that both divorce and unmarried childbearing increase the economic vulnerability of both children and mothers. The effects of family structure on poverty remain powerful, even after controlling for race and family background. Changes in family structure are an important cause of new entries into poverty (although a decline in the earnings of the household head is the single most important cause). Child poverty rates are very high primarily because of the growth of single-parent families. When parents fail to marry and stay married, children are more likely to experience deep and persistent poverty, even after controlling for race and family background. The majority of children who grow up outside of intact married families experience at least one year of dire poverty (family incomes less than half the official poverty threshold). Divorce as well as unmarried childbearing plays a role: Between one-fifth and one-third of divorcing women end up in poverty following the divorce. In Australia, a study of 500 divorcees with children five to eight years after the separation, found that four in five divorced mothers were dependent on social security after their marriages dissolved. Also, mothers still suffer income losses of up to 26 per cent five to eight years after divorce. Moreover, figures from Monash University’s Centre for Population and Urban Research show that family break-up, rather than unemployment, is the main cause of the rise in poverty levels in Australia. Research from the Centre for Population and Urban Research at Monash University has further demonstrated this strong link between poverty and single-parent families. As of September 1996, 43.3 per cent of poor families were headed by lone parents. Recent research by the Australian Bureau of Statistics has found

Similarly, research on poverty in New Zealand has consistently illustrated that sole parents are relatively likely to lie toward the lower end of the income distribution. Moreover, the fiscal cost to the New Zealand taxpayer of family breakdown and decreasing marriage rates has been estimated at around $1 billion (around $300 per taxpayer) in 2008-09, even before we consider the potential for family breakdown and decreasing marriage rates to lead to foregone tax revenue.


Married couples seem to build more wealth on average than singles or cohabiting couples. Marriage seems to be a wealthcreating institution. Married couples build more wealth on average than do otherwise similar singles or cohabiting couples, even after controlling for income. The economic advantages of marINVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM  October 2009  33

riage stem from more than just access to two incomes. Marriage partners appear to build more wealth for some of the same reasons that partnerships in general are economically efficient, including economies of scale and specialization and exchange. Marital social norms that encourage healthy, productive behaviour and wealth accumulation (such as buying a home) also appear to play a role. Married parents also more often receive wealth transfers from both sets of grandparents than do cohabiting couples; single mothers almost never receive financial help from fathers’ kin. A survey conducted by the Australian National University found

that an unmarried person needs to earn $70,000 a year to be as happy as a married person on a family income of $20,000 a year. The survey also noted that money “is a less important ingredient of a satisfying life than marriage and churchgoing”. Also a Monash University study found that in economic terms, married couples are concentrated more amongst the affluent, while those from broken marriages, lone parents, and single people are concentrated more amongst the poor.


Married men earn more money than do single men with similar education and job histories. A large body of research, from a number of developed countries, finds that married men earn between 10 and 40 percent more than do single men with similar education and job histories. While selection effects may account for part of the marriage premium, the most sophisticated, recent research appears to confirm that marriage itself increases the earning power of men, in the order of 15 per cent. Why do married men earn more? The causes are not entirely understood, but married men appear to have greater work commitment, lower quit rates, and healthier and more stable personal routines (including sleep, diet and alcohol consumption). Husbands Photo: Frenchalso Navybenefit from both the work effort and emotional 34  INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM  October 2009

support they receive from their wives.


Parental divorce (or failure to marry) appears to increase children’s risk of school failure. Parental divorce or nonmarriage has a significant, longterm negative impact on children’s educational attainment. Children of divorced or unwed parents have lower grades and other measures of academic achievement, are more likely to be held back, and are more likely to drop out of high school. The effects of parental divorce or nonmarriage on children’s educational attainment remain significant even after controlling for race and family background. Children whose parents divorce end up with significantly lower levels of education than do children in single-mother families created by the death of the father. Children whose parents remarry do no better, on average, than do children who live with single mothers. An Australian survey of 512 children found that children of cohabiting couples were assessed by their teachers to be performing at lower levels in language, mathematics, social studies and sport than children of wedded parents. The Western Australian Child Health Survey in 1997 found that 30 per cent of children from sole-parent families were low academic performers, compared with 17 per cent from couple families. Australian research has also found that children from twoparent families have a better chance of getting a job than those from soleparent families. A study of Australian primary school children from three family types (married heterosexual couples, cohabiting heterosexual couples and homosexual couples) found that in every area of educational endeavour (language; mathematics; social studies; sport; class work, sociability and popularity; and attitudes to learning), children from married heterosexual couples performed better than the other two groups. The study concludes with these words: “Married couples seem to offer the best environment for a child’s social and educational development”. A Melbourne University study of 212 children found that fathers, even more than mothers, had a major beneficial influence on children in their first year of school. The study found that children with regular father involvement were more cooperative and selfreliant in school than children who did not have father involvement. The more regular involvement the father has with the child, the study’s author said, the better the child does in his or her first year of school.


Parental divorce reduces the likelihood that children will graduate from college and achieve high-status jobs. Parental divorce appears to have longterm consequences on children’s socioeconomic attainment. While most children of divorce do not drop out of high school or become unemployed, as adults, children of divorced parents have lower occupational status and earnings and have increased rates of unemployment and economic hardship. They are less likely to attend and graduate from college and also less likely to attend and graduate from four-year and highly selective colleges, even after con-

trolling for family background and academic and extracurricular achievements. “As adults, children of divorced parents have lower occupational status and earnings and have increased rates of unemployment.”


Children who live with their own two married parents enjoy better physical health, on average, than do children in other family forms. Divorce and unmarried childbearing appear to have negative effects on children’s physical health and life expectancy. Longitudinal research suggests that parental divorce increases the incidence of health problems in children. The health advantages of married homes remain, even after taking socioeconomic status into account. The health disadvantages associated with being raised outside of intact marriages persist long into adulthood. Even in Sweden, a country with extensive supports for single mothers and a nationalized health care system, adults raised in single-parent homes were more likely to report that their health was poor and/or to die (during the study period) than were those from intact homes; this finding remained after controlling for economic hardship. One study which followed a sample of academically gifted, middle-class children for 70 years found that parental divorce reduced a child’s life expectancy by four years, even after controlling for childhood health status and family background, as well as personality characteristics such as impulsiveness and emotional instability. Another analysis found that 40-year-old men whose parents had divorced were three times more likely to die than were 40-year-old men whose parents stayed married: “It does appear,” the researchers conclude, “that parental divorce sets off a negative chain of events, which contribute to a higher mortality risk among individuals from divorced homes . . .” A recent Australian study also confirms these findings. A researcher from the University of South Australia’s School of Health Sciences found that children from single families do less well than those from married families because they are less active and do not have as much opportunity for physical activity.


Parental marriage is associated with a sharply lower risk of infant mortality. Babies born to married parents have lower rates of infant mortality. On average, having an unmarried mother is associated with an approximately 50 percent increase in the risk of infant mortality. While parental marital status predicts infant mortality in both blacks and whites, the increased risk due to the mother’s marital status is greatest among the most advantaged: ie. white mothers over the age of 20. The cause of this relationship between marital status and infant mortality is not well known. There are many selection effects involved: Unmarried mothers are more likely to be young, black, less educated and poor than are married mothers. But even after controlling for age, race, and education, children born to unwed mothers generally have higher rates of infant mortality. While unmarried mothers are also less likely to get early prenatal care, infant mortality rates in these instances are higher not only in the neonatal period, but through infancy and even early childhood.

Children born to unmarried mothers have an increased incidence of both intentional and unintentional fatal injuries. Marital status remains a powerful predictor of infant mortality, even in countries with nationalized health care systems and strong supports for single mothers.


Marriage is associated with reduced rates of alcohol and substance abuse for both adults and teens. Married men and women have lower rates of alcohol consumption and abuse than do singles. Longitudinal research confirms that young adults who marry tend to reduce their rates of alcohol consumption and illegal drug use. Children whose parents marry and stay married also have lower rates of substance abuse, even after controlling for family background. Twice as many young teens in singlemother families and stepfamilies have tried marijuana (and young teens living with single fathers were three times as likely). Young teens whose parents stay married are also the least likely to experiment with tobacco or alcohol. Data from the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse shows that, even after controlling for age, race, gender, and family income, teens living with both biological parents are significantly less likely to use illicit drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. How does family fragmentation relate to teen drug use? Many pathways are probably involved, including increased family stress, reduced parental monitoring and weakened attachment to parents, especially fathers. John Embling, from the Melbourne-based Families in Distress Foundation, is well aware of the harmful effects on children of parental breakup. He has spent 30 years working with such children. Says Embling, “The children are in diabolical need. I could take you into these households and show you what it’s like for kids to try to cope when mum is on drugs or drink, there’s no bloke around worth a cracker and primary school kids have to get themselves up and off to school.”


Married people, especially married men, have longer life expectancies than do otherwise similar singles. Married people live longer than do otherwise similar people who are single or divorced. Husbands as well as wives live longer on average, even after controlling for race, income and family background. In most developed countries, middle-aged single, divorced, or widowed men are about twice as likely to die as married men, and nonmarried women face risks about one and a half times as great as those faced by married women. Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that the median age of death for non-married men in 1992 was 52.2 years, but the figure leaps to 72.5 years for married men. However, nevermarried Australian women live slightly longer than married women (74.2 years to 70.1 years). Findings of the Australian National Health Strategy show that: “Both men and women who are married have much lower standardised death rates than those who are not. Compared with their married counterparts, never married men have a death rate which is 124% higher and divorced/widowed men have a death rate which is 102% higher; never-married women have a death rate INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM  October 2009  35

which is 91% higher and divorced widowed women have a death rate which is 49% higher.” The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare study of 1994 found that never married and previously married people had mortality rates twice that of married people. An Australian Bureau of Statistics study reported the following: “In 1996 married people overall experienced lower death rates than those who were divorced, widowed or never married. Males aged between 20 and 69 years who had never married experienced death rates two to four times higher than those who were married.” And newer figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that marriage continues to make a huge difference in mortality rates. The figures show that married people live much longer than those who have never married, with single people almost twice as likely to die in any given year than their married counterparts.


Marriage is associated with better health and lower rates of injury, illness, and disability for both men and women. Both married men and women enjoy better health on average than do single or divorced individuals. Selection effects regarding divorce or remarriage may account for part of this differential, although research has found no consistent pattern of such selection. Married people appear to manage illness better, monitor each other’s health, have higher incomes and wealth, and adopt healthier lifestyles than do otherwise similar singles. A recent study of the health effects of marriage drawn from 9,333 respondents to the Health and Retirement Survey of Americans between the ages of 51 and 61 compared the incidence of major diseases, as well as functional disability, in married, cohabiting, divorced, widowed, and never-married individuals. “Without exception,” the authors report, “married persons have the lowest rates of morbidity for each of the diseases, impairments, functioning problems and disabilities.” Marital status differences in disability remained “dramatic” even after controlling for age, sex, and race/ethnicity. A major study conducted by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare in 1994 found that married people have less insomnia and are less nervous than previously married or never-married people. It also found that married people have less ulcers than the previously married, although about the same amount as the never married. Married people also smoked less and used less alcohol than never married or previously married people. A National Health Survey of 19,000 Australians released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in October 1997 found that separated, divorced and widowed people think they are in poorer health than their married and de facto contemporaries. Finally, an Australian study found that cancer, diabetes and heart disease are all about 40 per cent higher among previously married men and women.


Children whose parents divorce have higher rates of psychological distress and mental illness. Divorce typically causes children considerable emotional distress and increases the risk of serious mental illness. These mental health risks do not dissipate soon after the divorce. Instead, children of divorce remain at higher risk for depres36  INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM  October 2009

sion and other mental illness, in part because of reduced education attainment, increased risk of divorce, marital problems, and economic hardship. The psychological effects of divorce appear to differ, depending on the level of conflict between parents. When marital conflict is high and sustained, children benefit psychologically from divorce. While more research is needed, the majority of divorces appear to be taking place among lowconflict spouses.


Divorce appears significantly to increase the risk of suicide. High rates of family fragmentation are associated with an increased risk of suicide among both adults and adolescents. Divorced men and women are more than twice as likely as their married counterparts to attempt suicide. Although women have lower rates of suicide overall, married women were also substantially less likely to commit suicide than were divorced, widowed, or never-married women. In the last half century, suicide rates among teens and young adults have tripled. The single “most important explanatory variable,” according to one new study, “is the increased share of youths living in homes with a divorced parent”. The effect, note the researchers, “is large,” explaining “as much as two-thirds of the increase in youth suicides” over time. In Australia, a recent study found that “never-married men had [suicide] mortality levels 89-90% higher than the standard rates and married men 25-43% below the standard rates, while divorced and widowed men also had elevated [suicide] mortality levels.” Similar trends were found among women as well. Other research has found that suicide rates among men and women in Australia were three times higher than among married people. Figures from the ABS have shown that divorced males aged between 35 and 44 are the most likely to take their own life in Australia, while married people are the least likely to suicide, and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare study of 1994 found that never married and previously married people had three times the suicide rates of married people. More recent ABS figures point in the same direction. In the 1995-1997 period, married people (9 per 100,000 persons) were less likely to die from suicide than those who were never married (22), widowed (13) or divorced (26 per 100,000 persons). A recent study recorded in the Australian Medical Journal by Dr Chris Cantor of Griffith University found that separated males are six times more likely to commit suicide than married men. An even more recent study by the Institute of Health and Welfare found that divorced men are at least three times as likely to commit suicide as any other group.


Married mothers have lower rates of depression than do single or cohabiting mothers. The absence of marriage is a serious risk factor for maternal depression. Married mothers have lower rates of depression than do single or cohabiting mothers. One study of 2,300 urban adults found that, among parents of preschoolers, the risk of depression was substantially greater for unmarried as compared to married mothers. Marriage protects even older teen mothers from the risk of depression. In one nationally representative sample of 18- and 19- year-old mothers, 41 percent of single white mothers having their first child reported

high levels of depressive symptoms, compared to 28 percent of married white teen mothers in this age group. Longitudinal studies following young adults as they marry, divorce, and remain single indicate that marriage boosts mental and emotional wellbeing for both men and women. We have focused on maternal depression because it is both a serious mental health problem for women and a serious risk factor for children. Not only are single mothers more likely to be depressed, the consequences of maternal depression for child wellbeing are greater in single-parent families, probably because single parents have less support and also because children in disrupted families have less access to their (nondepressed) other parent. Australian research shows that in terms of mental health, “nevermarried men suffer more from not being married than never-married women. But in all other categories women show a higher level of benefit from marriage than men. Separated, widowed, and divorced men were 55 percent above the male average in rates of mental illness while the separated, widowed and divorced category of women had rates 67 percent above the women’s average.” The 1994 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare study found that married people are three times happier than previously married people, and twice as happy as never married people. More recent Australian data reveals the same findings. An Australian Unity Wellbeing Index released in July 2002 found that married people were those with the most happiness and greatest sense of wellbeing. Married people scored 77.7 per cent on the personal wellbeing test compared to 65.1 per cent for those who were separated.

And a University of Melbourne study has found that the institution of marriage generates greater life satisfaction. Researchers found that marriage itself is responsible for at least 61 percent of the positive effect of marriage on the subjective wellbeing of married men and women.


Boys raised in singleparent families are more likely to engage in delinquent and criminal behaviour. Even after controlling for factors such as race, mother’s education, neighbourhood quality, and cognitive ability, boys raised in single-parent homes are about twice as likely (and boys raised in stepfamilies are three times as likely) to have committed a crime that leads to incarceration by the time they reach their early thirties. Teens in both one-parent and remarried homes display more deviant behaviour and commit more delinquent acts than do teens whose parents stayed married. Teens in one-parent families are on average less attached to their parent’s opinions and more attached to their peer groups. Combined with lower levels of parental supervision, these attitudes appear to set the stage for delinquent behavior.118 The effects of marital status on delinquency may be stronger for whites than for African-Americans.119 In Australia, a recent book by Alan Tapper highlights this connection between broken families and crime. In a study of rising crime rates in Western Australia, Tapper suggests that “family breakdown in the form of divorce and separation is the main cause of the crime wave”. A longitudinal study of 512 Australian children found that there


are more offenders coming from families of cohabiting than married couples, and there are proportionally more offenders who become recidivists coming from families of cohabiting than married couples. The study concludes, “The relationship between cohabitation and delinquency is beyond contention: children of cohabiting couples are more likely to be found among offenders than children of married couples”. Those who work with juvenile offenders in Australia confirm these findings. John Smith of Care and Communication Concern in Melbourne has spent nearly two decades working with homeless youth and young offenders. He says that “almost 100 per cent” of these kids are from “single parent families or blended families”. And a recent New Zealand study found that 64.6 per cent of juvenile offenders had no birth father present. Also in New Zealand, a study of nearly 1000 children observed over a period of 15 years found that children who have watched their parents separate were twice as likely to use illegal drugs than those whose parents stayed together. The Christchurch School of Medicine study also featured other interesting findings. Compared with children from functioning two-parent families, those who were less than 5 years old at the time of their parents’ separation were twice as likely to become delinquent and over three times as likely to suffer from depression.


Marriage appears to reduce the risk that adults will be either perpetrators or victims of crime. Overall, single and divorced women are four to five times more likely to be victims of violent crime in any given year than are married women. Single and divorced women are almost ten times more likely than are wives to be raped, and about three times more likely to be the victims of aggravated assault. Similarly, compared to husbands, unmarried men are about four times as likely to become victims of violent crime. A study of 500 chronic juvenile offenders found that those who married and stayed married reduced their offense rate by twothirds, compared to criminals who did not marry or who did not establish good marriages. Married men spend more time with their wives, who discourage criminal behaviour, and less time 38  INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM  October 2009


with peers, who often do not. “Overall, single and divorced women are four to five times more likely to be victims of violent crime.” As one leading family expert has summarised the findings: “Australian studies with adequate samples have shown parental divorce to be a risk factor for a wide range of social and psychological problems in adolescence and adulthood, including poor academic achievement, low selfesteem, psychological distress, delinquency and recidivism, substance use and abuse, sexual precocity, adult criminal offending, depression, and suicidal behaviour.” He concludes: “There is no scientific justification for disregarding the public health significance of marital dissolution in Australia, especially with respect to mental health”.

Married women appear to have a lower risk of experiencing domestic violence than do cohabiting or dating women. Domestic violence remains a serious problem both inside and outside of marriage. While young women must recognize that marriage is not a good strategy for reforming violent men, a large body of research shows that being unmarried and especially living with a man outside of marriage, is associated with an increased risk of domestic abuse. One analysis of the US National Survey of Families and Households found that cohabitors were over three times more likely than spouses to say that arguments became physical over the last year (13 percent of cohabitors versus 4 percent of spouses). Even after controlling for race, age and education, people who live together are still more likely than married people to report violent arguments. Overall, as one scholar sums up the relevant research, “Regardless of methodology, the studies yielded similar results: Cohabitors engage in more violence than do spouses”. Selection effects play a powerful role. Women are less likely to marry and more likely to divorce, violent men. However, scholars suggest that the greater integration of married men into the community and the greater investment of spouses in each other, also play a role. Married men, for example, are more responsive to policies such as mandatory arrest policies, designed to signal strong disapproval of domestic violence.


A child who is not living with his or her own two married parents is at greater risk of child abuse. Children living with single mothers, stepfathers, or mother’s boyfriends are more likely to become victims of child abuse. Children living in single-mother homes have increased rates of death from intentional injuries. As Martin Daly and Margo Wilson report, “Living with a stepparent has turned out to be the most powerful predictor of severe child abuse yet”. One study found that a preschooler living with a stepfather was 40 times more likely to be sexually abused than one living with both of his or her biological parents. Another study found that, although boyfriends contribute less than 2 percent of nonparental childcare, they commit half of

all reported child abuse by nonparents. The researcher concludes that “a young child left alone with a mother’s boyfriend experiences elevated risk of physical abuse”. In Australia, former Human Rights Commissioner Brian Burdekin stated that there was an alarming 500 to 600 per cent increase in sexual abuse of girls in families where the adult male was not the natural father. A 1994-95 study by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found that more cases of child abuse involved children from single parent families (39%) than families with two natural parents (30%) or other two-parent families (such as families with a stepparent) (21%). Of neglect cases, 47% involved children from female single parent families compared with 26% from families with two natural parents. More recent Australian research has found that the typical child murderer is a young man in a defacto relationship with the victim’s mother. A recent study of 1998-1999 Victorian child abuse victims found that 45 per cent lived with single parents. The report, by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, found that children who lived in natural twoparent families had a relatively low risk of abuse. A more recent report from the same Institute entitled Child Protection Australia 1999-2000 reveals that children are most likely to be neglected or abused in singleparent families. It found that the ACT has the highest rate of maltreatment of children from female one-parent families (47 per cent), compared with 29 per cent in twoparent natural families and 18 per cent in step families or blended families. Also a newer report from the same body found that “a relatively high proportion of substantiations [of child abuse] involved children living in femaleheaded one-parent families and in two-parent step or blended families”. Finally, an Australian study of 900 coronial inquiries into child deaths found that children were far safer with their biological parents than with stepparents or no biological parents. Deakin University’s Greg Tooley said children living with a step-parent were 17 to 77 times more likely to die from intentional violence or accident.


Marriage is more than a private emotional relationship. It is also a social good. Not every person can or should marry, and not every child raised outside of marriage is damaged as a result. But communities where good-enough marriages are common have better outcomes for children, women, and men than do communities suffering from high rates of divorce, unmarried childbearing, and high-conflict or violent marriages. As policy makers concerned with social inequality and child wellbeing think about

how to strengthen marriage, more funding is needed for research into both the causes of the marriage gap in child and social wellbeing and ways to close that gap. Solid research is pointing the way toward new family and community interventions to help strengthen marriage. Ongoing, basic scientific research on marriage and marital dynamics contributes to the development of strategies and programs for helping to strengthen marriages and reduce unnecessary divorce. Who benefits from marriage and why? How can we prevent both divorce and the damage caused by divorce? How can families, counselors, communities, and public policy help at-risk and disadvantaged parents build healthy marriages? If marriage is not merely a private preference, but also a social good, then concerned members of our society, as well as academics, need and deserve answers to questions such as these. NOTE: The full report, including more than 100 references, is available from the website



SWISS CHEESE They might be smiling now, but could direct democracy bring NZ politicians to heel?

Politicians, socialism, and the deeply flawed concept of leadership provoked AMY BROOKE to investigate the way the Swiss control their parliament, and she thinks it could be the answer here 40  INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM  October 2009


“ Feeling good about government is like looking on the bright side of a catastrophe. When you quit looking on the bright side of a catastrophe, it is still there.” P.J. O’Rourke


here’s a recurring quip that if you want to know what’s wrong with our society, just ask a taxi driver. We could do worse. We could continue to leave it to politicians to dominate us, control us, to increasingly tell us what we can and can’t do, and to load us with more and more restrictions on businesses, professions and trades, social and financial rules and regulations, prohibitions, strictures, things to conform to - things that require the consent of central and local government. The latter has now become the extended tool of the former, issued with central government’s socialist instructions on what it must expect ratepayers to comply with - now loaded with feel-good but arguably damaging criteria which have nothing whatever to do with the basic business of supplying essential services in our towns and cities. The creeping state, reaching further and further into our lives, is rarely into the business of repealing legislation. Presided over by full-time politicians, it adds scores more edicts annually which we are expected to conform to. The IRD alone constantly revises its jargon-ridden, punitive rules and regulations, accumulatively incomprehensible and inaccessible to the average taxpayer - then threatens that ignorance of these is no excuse. Cab drivers have an obvious advantage over MPs. They have time to reflect, to listen, and to think. MPs deluged with hundred of emails daily, obliged to reply to constituents, to travel and speak constantly, rushing from meetings to meetings, their speeches written for them, have no time to read, research, nor think to any degree about the issues of the day. They have only to do what their party leaders tell them. Whipped into line like recalcitrant boys and girls, National Party MPs unanimously did just that when leader John Key gave them their orders at one of the most important tests of individual judgment and courage last year. Although it must have gone against the grain for many - against their own common sense and even their moral assessments - when newcomer party chief, the so-called smiling assassin John Key told them to jump, they jumped. The party that once stood for freedom of the individual touched its forelocks, did as it was told, and supported the marxist Sue Bradford, and her socialist sister, Helen Clark, in the attack on the right of ordinary parents to use their own judgment when disciplining ill-behaved children. A country too long under petticoat government, increasingly nannified and dominated with intimidated male followers falling into line, watched with dismay. For me, any illusions that John Key believes in democracy were put to rest. One determined individual wanted his own way and had no intention of listening to what the overwhelming majority of the electorate wanted on this issue. Key’s tendency to that form of autocracy which parallels arrogance had already been illustrated by the parliamentary wing’s trampling over the National Party’s own constitutional rules, pre-election. To achieve the Key administration’s own preferred 42  INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM  October 2009

List candidates who would be “loyal”, these rules were broken. The rights of local electorate List-ranking committees were simply ignored as Key’s advisers, presumably with the ear of their leader, decided on the first fifty List rankings, discarding protests. Some would not regard this as an auspicious start.

The Fatal Conceit Friedrich Hayek and William Warren Bartley’s The Fatal Conceit demonstrated that a free, democratic, economic and moral society is necessary to sustain modern civilization and that socialism, communism’s fraternal twin, is incompatible or unsustainable with this aim. The last two can only be achieved by the subjugation of a society to the wishes of the ambitious few who see themselves as its leaders. He labels as the “fatal conceit” the idea that “man is able to shape the world around him according to his wishes.” An equally fatal conceit is that leadership both today and throughout history has overwhelmingly been a positive, rather than a negative, concept. The young in our schools and elsewhere are constantly shoulder-tapped for courses in leadership which are very often simply indoctrination in the agenda of those supplying the courses. Our idealistic young have very few defences against being deliberately manipulated by those who wish to advance their own aims, their own interests, or their own misguided theories. Carbon credit peddler, Al Gore, running his multi-million dollar company to profit from his self-serving doomsday scenario of a threatened planet - merely undergoing one of its normal periodic climate fluctuations - is a very pertinent example. The University of Auckland appears to have three professors of leadership. Putting aside the hubris of such a concept, the fact that the claiming of leadership by the self-chosen or well-promoted few has historically been disastrous should give us pause for thought. Moreover, the notion of leadership implies an individual persuading or compelling others to follow. The damage this has done is written large on the pages of history. Societies have been oppressed or destroyed as leader after leader, tyrant after tyrant, utilizes them to further personal ambitions and ends. The argument that all selfpromoting leaders show the characteristics of dysfunctional, if not pathologically damaged personalities, is hard to refute. Wars, for example, might very well never occur without the actions and ambitions of individual leaders. Left to themselves, so-called ordinary people of every race and creed have, throughout history, focused primarily on providing for themselves and their families. It is their leaders who have persuaded or demanded from them that they should fulfill a superior obligation obeying a leader’s directives, vision, ambitions or aims. Along comes a Genghis Khan, a Napoleon, a Stalin, a Lenin, a Hitler, a Mao Tse tung, a Pol Pot - any of the numerous tyrants of history, paralleled by the murderous individuals, juntas, dictators of our own time - and once again their oppressed people, often initially per-

suaded by the oratorical skill of the demagogue, become pawns in their power games. Socialism is of course part of this oppression, that of a government led by a dominating individual overseeing an oppressive conformity to the state, intruding upon the lives and freedoms of individuals. At its worst, and for very many, it gradually crushes the spirit of a people, bringing that kind of weariness to a country which has a number of different effects, none of them healthy. It is essential that it controls an education system to achieve a largely un-educated or mis-educated public. It can induce people to leave; dissuade others from feeling that that they can make a useful contribution with regard to which directions a country should take; force some to find escape avenues: inordinate sport-watching rather than participation; celebrity spotting; addiction to soap operas, binge drinking, experimenting with drugs, and immersion in the mindlessness and bleak outcomes of the pop-rock scene. None of these displacement activities are indicative of a healthy society - any more than the almost uniform black clothing now worn throughout this once happier country - apparently a kind of group-think - at the very least a phenomenon worth investigating.

While we were sleeping…


s a cab driver recently said, “I’ve seen New Zealand as good as it’s ever been and will be. We’ve put the wrong restrictions on and taken the right ones off.” Recent Labour and National governments now have little to distinguish between them. Both rotate heavyhanded, determined leaders who conveniently ignore the wishes of the electorate when they want their own way. The former Prime Minister Helen Clark, a driven, junior common room graduate imbued with the kind of leftist hero worship

which idolized a Che Guevara and sent her to Nicaragua, became an anti-American apologist for that attack on the West centred on the pacifist Parliamentarians for Global Action. Boasting that New Zealand during her tenure was the only country in the world with a Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control, Marian Hobbs, Miss Clark high-handedly abolished the combat wing of our air force, while either devious or ignorant enough to claim that we live in “an extraordinarily benign environment”. It was not lost that she was strangely more at home with a murderous and oppressive totalitarian Chinese government than with the US, the melting pot of democracy which twice saved the free world at considerable cost to its own people in two major world wars. Clark and her finance minister, Michael Cullen, arguably did enormous damage between them not only to the social, but to the economic fabric of this country. Clark’s downgrading of our defence capabilities, together with Labour’s repudiating of the Anzus Treaty which now sees only the US and Australia co-operating on joint defence issues in this Pacific region, New Zealand excluded, was matched by her and Cullen’s apparent booby-trapping of the economy as they were rejected in 2008 by the electorate, mis-using a reported $6 billion surplus to turn it into a multi-billion deficit. Rumoured to ensure that National became a one-term government only, it has damagingly cost every New Zealander in higher taxation, low wages, unaffordable mortgages, job losses. Their actions were far from those of competent managers. Yet, scandalously in my view, National’s John Key lauded her extravagantly to the nations of the world reportedly, according to party insiders, to get rid of her - to get her out of the country. Where was the morality in this action - or in the promotion of the cynical Michael Cullen to the board of New Zealand Post? In assessing the latter’s parliamentary career, it is hard to look past the clues contained in his maiden speech to parliament, when he referred to his scholarship-funded education at a top private school. “I am proud of the fact that my secondary education was

Unpopular climate policies could be challenged under the Swiss system. NZPA INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM  October 2009  43

not paid for by the taxpayers of New Zealand but by the farmers of Canterbury and Hawke’s Bay. I ripped them off for five years then, and I shall get stuck into them again in the next few years.” Unfortunately, the funding of Dr Cullen’s education by (indeed taxpaying) farmers also extended to the funding of his career, which has been entirely at the taxpayers’ expense, still is, at New Zealand Post, and will continue to be so, with lavish freebies, until his eventual demise. It’s an interesting insight into the unpleasant mindset of a socialist politician that Michael Cullen should have boasted that the kindness of those who funded his private education would be met with such a malign return. A highly relevant question is whether he has been repaying the taxpayers of New Zealand, too, in similar fashion. His and Helen Clark’s mismanagement of the economy is regarded as considerably contributing to New Zealand’s now very low productivity rating. The specialty of socialists is not the encouragement of the creation of wealth but its distribution (not excluding what might fortunately accrue to them personally, from taxpayers’ pockets) with all its destructive consequences. Moreover, it is regarded as a truism that socialists’ loyalty is not to their own country, but to the movement, internationally. This would certainly explain a great deal of what has happened to New Zealand. The disillusion of the thinking public with politicians in general has reached an all-time high - as listed by the perception of the continual promotion and funding of race-based politics bleeding the economy, and the ongoing rort of tribal élites pushing for their own benefit “identity politics” - and reinventing already comprehensively litigated and past-settled claims. These have included a number of cases arguably fraudulent, but ill-handled by an under-resourced, under-informed Office of Treaty Negotiations essentially manipulated by the Waitangi Tribunal. Described as a Star Chamber, the latter denies the public access, and includes individuals with an interest in the settlements it advocates. Although the Maori economy is estimated as worth well upwards of $16.5 billion dollars, and postelection senior government ministers were stunned at a probable $2 billion-plus blowout in treaty claims, (part)-Maori politicians still inveigh against supposed Maori disadvantage - while tribal activists ensure that little if any of the benefits of the extraordinary settlements flow down to other (part)-Maori.

The way forward - reclaiming New Zealand


s with so many philosophical concepts, the Greeks first showed it to us by literally tagging individuals with a rope dipped in red paint to ensure they took part in the democratic political assemblies of the day. The answer to the growing blight of socialist government in this country by both major parties is the revival of the same notion of individual responsibility and individual action – an eminently manageable concept antithetic to that of self-elected leaders - the latter utterly rejected by the most successful democracy in the world, that of the Swiss people. What now we have now is virtual rule by politicians. We demonstrably don’t have a democracy, not when a party leader can tell the rest of the country he has no intention of listening to their over 80% combined voice - as with the infamous anti-smacking legislation. We have an oligarchy, where behind-the-scenes influential groups make trade-offs involving politicians, power and money 44  INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM  October 2009

the big three. We can finally throw out a government every three years: this does not equate to a genuine democracy – but rather to what is euphemistically called a parliamentary democracy. But we can claim back one for ourselves. There is a precedent, a highly successful example of a real democracy at work – the most prosperous and most successful one in the world, so successful that its politicians are merely part-time, maintaining their careers in business, farming, the trades, and so on. Nobody asked can tell me the name of the current Swiss President, which is healthy. This is because the top council of seven annually rotates the position, taking a lesson from the early Roman Republic which recognised the danger of power-seeking individuals becoming as entrenched as a Helen Clark. The Romans appointed two new consuls annually, each acting as a check and balance on the other with a right of veto. They made sure their temporary heads of government were the following year removed from temptation in the capital by subsequently sending them out to the provinces as pro-consuls, with considerable opportunity for self-enrichment proving a successful inducement. It is the limitations on centralised power which control autocratic tendencies in political parties and individuals.


n 1869, appreciating that they did not in fact have a genuine democracy, the Swiss people gave themselves a new constitution based on their wish for just this. In essence, the provision that ensures their actual democracy is one that we should now be working towards ourselves. Politicians will vigorously resist it, as it restricts their power. But New Zealanders will not find this notion at all unattractive. It is an idea whose time has well and truly come, and, like all great ideas, it is a simple one, one too long overlooked by those understandably calling for referenda on issues where the country has demonstrably disagreed with the agenda of political parties and determined individuals. Quite simply, politicians would no longer be able to ram through ill-conceived legislation against the wishes of the country. For 140 years now, the Swiss people have insisted on a 100 day moratorium on most new legislation. Parliament can pass what it likes. But in brief, laws cannot actually be put into operation until the Swiss people have three months, i.e. 100 days, to scrutinize and approve any new legislation. If it seems sensible, fine. If there is concern, then 50,000 people or eight cantons - not the excessive number of signatures needed in this small country for referenda our governments have no intention of taking any notice of - can insist on what is called a facultative, or optional referendum. The majority result is binding on the government - government in actual fact is by the people, for the people. Yet, the public can get issues wrong, but it can reverse them, too. Governments get issues very wrong indeed. The argument of one eminent ex-politician that it is hard enough for politicians to get things right, so the decisions of the day can’t possibly be trusted to the people at large, is ludicrous. The public is perfectly capable of taking responsibility for its own decisions - even for reversing them if need be. In a country with as simplified a political overlordship as in New Zealand, with no upper house to scrutinize legislation, it would be a very simple reform, given the political will. Moreover, we have all heard more common sense spoken on the issues of the day not only from cab drivers, but from builders, electricians, foresters, gardeners, plumbers, handymen, homemakers and trades people than we daily see reported from our

instant-expert celebrities, and other media and political figures. In addition to the provision for a three month, 100 day moratorium on any new legislation before it could be enforced, there would need to be two other factors: the right of government to govern directly in the case of emergencies - such as war - and an obligation on the taxpayer-funded media to present both sides of crucial debates - one simply ignored at present where media bias and ignorance continually contribute to an extraordinary lack of balance, as with the cargo cult of anthropogenic global warming. The usual objections can easily be met. The undeniable fact is that the three-month scrutiny period works, and has done for nearly 140 years. It has helped make a very smart country prosperous by lessening the influence of vested power groups and behind-the-scenes political accommodations. Although the Swiss political system is far different, in that it eschews top-down political edicts and legislation in favour of legislation coming up from the 26 semi-autonomous cantons (or states) with their four languages, its people have managed to live in harmony for generations. Designed to wrest power from political power groups, it has flourished without the centralization of state and economy associated with the modern world. However, New Zealanders do not need any major reforms to parallel the Swiss system. All that is needed is the acceptance by individuals that if they really want to count in a genuinely democratic system, if they want their values promoted, and to put an end to state domination of their lives and that of their families, the way forward is to stand up to be counted as individuals - to spread, debate and promote the concept of three months, i.e. 100 days to reclaim a democracy. One politician has claimed that if he votes on twenty-seven pieces of legislation a week, having twentyseven referenda would be unworkable. However, what this provision would ensure is that governments in future will have to be far more responsive to public feedback about what legislation they are promoting. Individuals who lead busy lives, caring for families, earning a living, and simply surviving in an increasingly complex social and political environment, are not going to be calling successions of referenda. Nor will they have any need to. One of the most important results of such a provision is the shot fired across the bows of radical activists coming from the basically marxist, socialist and separatist Left end of the political spectrum - and equally from the corporate far Right sector. Both of these minority groupings have done considerable damage to our national life, including to our small businesses, professions and trades. And although the Swiss peoples’ referenda are claimed by opponents to slow politics down, empirical scientific evidence has shown that this provision for citizens’ participation, essentially that of a direct democracy,

contributes to stability and happiness. Regardless of our party system, of MMP’s tailwagging the dog to allow convenient political compromises and the easy jettisoning of campaign promises - and contrary to the expectations of many in favour of reform, as with the fears of conservative Swiss - provisions for binding, citizen’s initiated referenda tend in fact to preserve a stable society. It would be impossible in such an environment for an activist politician such as Sue Bradford to have gained any traction for the anti-smacking legislation she proposed. Major parties, doing their initial polling, do not incur the wrath of the electorate by going against the wishes of the majority. In The March of Folly , prize-winning historian Barbara Tuchman highlights the sobering historical phenomenon that “governments get most issues wrong”. Would-be leaders always think they know best. We may be sure that right now the usual self-envisaged “eminent persons” will be industriously working behind-the-scenes, confident that they are the ones best fitted to draw up a new, disastrously bicultural constitution for New Zealanders. Another group will be planning to inflict on us yet another complicated form of voting such as STV. However, once again, these would be the infliction of top-down legislation. This is not the way forward for any democracy. Claiming back New Zealand, by insisting on a 100 day moratorium while government legislation is scrutinized, is simple, workable and a well-overdue move towards genuinely democratic outcomes. In recent years we have heard far too much specious nonsense about the tyranny of the majority, when, in fact, what we have at present is the tyranny of the minority. I ran this concept of reclaiming our democracy by providing for an obligatory 100 day moratorium as a check on activist legislation - after its passing by parliament –- past one of Australia’s top constitutional lawyers at the annual Summersounds Symposium to check for any possible flaw or fishhook in the thinking. After due reflection, his conclusion was that provided the stipulation was retained that government would have full power to act in time of emergency, he could not see any reason why it would not work for New Zealand. Different ages bring different challenges. It is arguably time to see more closely, for what it is, the concept of domination or control by leadership; for individuals to feel they count, and one by one to stand up to be counted. Committed people can and do change the world. In the words of Charles Haddon Spurgeon: “The greatest works are done by the ones. The hundreds do not often do much; the companies never: it is the units, the single individuals, that are the power and the might. Individual effort is after all, the grand thing.” It is also essential for a genuine democracy. We are well overdue to begin to reclaim ours. INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM  October 2009  45


Where once we were urged to rage, rage against the dying of the light, MARK STEYN now observes we’re helping extinguish the light ourselves, in this review of Paul A Rahe’s book Soft Despotism, Democracy’s Drift, describing it as “our gradual slide into servitude”



riving north out of New York the other day, I heard a caller to Mark Levin’s show discuss his excellent book Liberty and Tyranny. The word she kept using was “inevitable”: The republic felt exhausted, and there was an “inevitability” to what was happening. A quarter-millennium of liberty seemed to be about the best you could expect, and its waning was – again – “inevitable.” As she spoke, the rich farmland of Columbia County rolled past my window. To many of its residents, the caller would have sounded slightly kooky. Were any of the county’s first families suddenly to rematerialize from their centuries of slumber, they would recognize the general landscape, the settlements, the principal roads, and indeed many of the weathered farmhouses. And they would be struck by the comfort and prosperity of their successors in this land. So what’s all this talk about decay and decline? Ah, but I wonder if those early settlers would recognize the people, and their assumptions about the role of government. Mr. Levin’s listener was trying to articulate something profound but elusive. It’s not something you can sell the film rights for – there are no aliens vaporizing the White House, as in Independence Day; no God- zilla rampaging down Fifth Avenue and hurling the Empire State Building into the East River. No bangs, just the whimper of the same old same old civilizational ennui, as it gradually dawns that Admiral Yamamoto’s sleeping giant may be merely a supersized version of Monty Python’s dead parrot. Paul A. Rahe’s new book on the subject is called Soft Despotism, Democracy’s Drift, which nicely captures how soothing and beguiling the process is.[1] Today, the animating principles of the American idea are entirely absent from public discourse. To the new Administration, American exceptionalism means an exceptional effort to harness an exceptionally big government in the cause of exceptionally massive spending. The can-do spirit means Ty’Sheoma Bethea can do with some government money: A highschool student in Dillon, South Carolina, Miss Bethea wrote to the President to ask him to do something about the peeling paint in her classroom. He read the letter out approvingly in a televised address to Congress. Imagine if Miss Bethea gets her way, and the national bureaucracy in Washington becomes responsible for grade- school paint jobs from Maine to Hawaii. What size of government would be required for such a project? And is it compatible with a constitutional republic? Professor Rahe knows the answer to that. The first three-quarters of his book are about Montesquieu, Rousseau, and Tocqueville, which is to say they’re really about us. Montesquieu’s prediction that “in Europe the last sigh of liberty will be heaved by an Englishman” seemed self-evident after the totalitarian enthusiasms of the Continent in the twentieth century. Today? The last sigh will be heaved by England’s progeny, in the United States, or perhaps, given the galloping ambition of twenty-first-century American statism, in Australia. Is “the last sigh of liberty” inevitable? A progressivist would scoff at the utter codswallop of such a fancy. Why, modern man would not tolerate for a moment the encroachments his forebears took for granted! And so in the face of the careless assumption that social progress is like the internal combustion engine – once invented, it can never be uninvented – it is left to a trio of dead French blokes to anticipate the longterm temptations of a republic none had ever lived in, and which at that point was technologically all but impossible. The professor opens his study with a famous passage from M. de Tocqueville. Or, rather, it would be famous were he still widely 48  INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM  October 2009

read. For he knows us far better than we know him: “I would like to imagine with what new traits despotism could be produced in the world,” he wrote the best part of two centuries ago. He and his family had been on the sharp end of France’s violent convulsions, but he considered that, to a democratic republic, there were slyer seductions: I see an innumerable crowd of like and equal men who revolve on themselves without repose, procuring the small and vulgar pleasures with which they fill their souls. He didn’t foresee Dancing with the Stars or American Idol but, details aside, that’s pretty much on the money. He continues:

Over these is elevated an immense, tutelary power, which takes sole charge of assuring their enjoyment and of watching over their fate. It is absolute, attentive to detail, regular, provident, and gentle. It would resemble the paternal power if, like that power, it had as its object to prepare men for manhood, but it seeks, to the contrary, to keep them irrevocably fixed in childhood … it provides for their security, foresees and supplies their needs, guides them in their principal affairs… The sovereign extends its arms about the society as a whole; it covers its surface with a network of petty regulations – complicated, minute, and uniform – through which even the most original minds and the most vigorous souls know not how to make their way… it does

“The proposed European Constitution extends the laundry list: the constitutional right to clean water and environmental protection. Every right you could ever want, except the right to be free from undue intrusions by the state” INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM  October 2009  49

not break wills; it softens them, bends them, and directs them; rarely does it force one to act, but it constantly opposes itself to one’s acting on one’s own … it does not tyrannize, it gets in the way: it curtails, it enervates, it extinguishes, it stupefies, and finally reduces each nation to being nothing more than a herd of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd. Welcome to the twenty-first century. “It does not tyrannize, it gets in the way.” The all-pervasive micro-regulatory state “enervates,” but nicely, gradually, so after a while you don’t even notice. And in exchange for liberty it offers security: the “right” to health care; the “right” to housing; the “right” to a job – although who needs that once you’ve got all the others? The proposed European Constitution extends the laundry list: the constitutional right to clean water and environmental protection. Every right you could ever want, except the right to be free from undue intrusions by the state. M. Giscard d’Estaing, the former French president and chairman of the European constitutional convention, told me at the time that he had bought a copy of the U.S. Constitution at a bookstore in Washington and carried it around with him in his pocket. Try doing that with his Euro-constitution, and you’ll be walking with a limp after ten minutes and calling for a sedan chair after twenty: As Professor Rahe notes, it’s 450 pages long. And, when your “constitution” is that big, imagine how swollen the attendant bureaucracy and regulation is. The author points out that, in France, “80 per cent of the legislation passed by the National Assembly in Paris origi-

Thus, Tocqueville’s great insight – that what prevents the “state popular” from declining into a “state despotic” is the strength of the intermediary institutions between the sovereign and the individual. The French revolution abolished everything and subordinated all institutions to the rule of central authority. The New World was more fortunate: “The principle and lifeblood of American liberty” was, according to Tocqueville, municipal independence. “With the state government, they had limited contact; with the national government, they had almost none,” writes Professor Rahe: In New England, their world was the township; in the South, it was the county; and elsewhere it was one or the other or both… Self-government was the liberty that they had fought the War of Independence to retain, and this was a liberty that in considerable measure Americans in the age of Andrew Jackson still enjoyed. For Tocqueville, this is a critical distinction between America and the faux republics of his own continent. “It is in the township that the strengths of free peoples resides,” he wrote. “Municipal institutions are for liberty what primary schools are for science; they place it within reach of the people.” In America, democracy is supposed to be a participatory sport not a spectator one: In Europe, every five years you put an X on a piece of paper and subsequently discover which of the party candidates on the list at central office has been delegated to represent you in fast-tracking all those E.U. micro-regulations through the rubber-stamp legislature. By contrast, American democracy is a game to be

“Today, very little stands between the individual and the sovereign, which is why schoolgirls in Dillon, South Carolina think it entirely normal to beseech Good King Barack the Hopeychanger to do something about classroom maintenance” nates in Brussels” – that is, at the European Union’s civil service. Who drafts it? Who approves it? Who do you call to complain? Who do you run against and in what election? And where do you go to escape it? Not to the next town, not to the next county, not to the next country. In The Spirit of the Laws (1748), “the celebrated Montesquieu” (as both Madison and Hamilton called him) concluded that England had developed, in Professor Rahe’s summation, “a new form of government more conducive to liberty and graced with greater staying power than any polity theretofore even imagined.” The key words here, and the theme of Professor Rahe’s book, are “staying power.” Anyone can start a republic. The challenge that remains was posed by Ben Franklin: Can you “keep it”? Examining England’s “crowned republic” in the wake of Montesquieu and Rousseau, Tocqueville wrote that, from the seventeenth century on, you could find “the classes mixed up with one another … wealth become power, equality before the law, equality in taxation, freedom of the press, public debate – all new principles that the society of the Middle Ages did not know. But these are precisely the new things which, introduced little by little and with art into the old body, reanimated it without risking its dissolution.” Monarchies do not always evolve, and republics seek to put their theoretical perfection into practice too instantly. If you abolish, wrote Montesquieu, “the prerogatives of the lords, the clergy, the nobility & the towns,” you’re on a fast track to “a state popular – or, indeed, a state despotic.” 50  INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM  October 2009

played, not watched: You go to Town Meeting, you denounce the School Board budget, you vote to close a road, you run for cemetery commissioner. Does that distinction still hold? As Professor Rahe argues, in the twentieth century the intermediary institutions were belatedly hacked away – not just self-government at town, county, and state level, but other independent outposts: church, family, civic associations. Today, very little stands between the individual and the sovereign, which is why schoolgirls in Dillon, South Carolina think it entirely normal to beseech Good King Barack the Hopeychanger to do something about classroom maintenance. I say “Good King Barack,” but truly that does an injustice to ye medieval tyrants of yore. As Tocqueville wrote: “There was a time in Europe in which the law, as well as the consent of the people, clothed kings with a power almost without limits. But almost never did it happen that they made use of it.” His Majesty was an absolute tyrant – in theory. But in practice he was in his palace hundreds of miles away. A pantalooned emissary might come prancing into your dooryard once every half-decade and give you a hard time, but for the most part you got on with your life relatively undisturbed. “The details of social life and of individual existence ordinarily escaped his control,” wrote Tocqueville. But what would happen if administrative capability were to evolve to make it possible “to subject all of his subjects to the details of a uniform set of regulations”? That moment has now arrived. And administrative despotism

turns out to be very popular: Why, we need more standardized rules, from coast to coast – and on to the next coast. After all, if Europe can harmonize every trivial imposition on the citizen, why can’t the world? Would it even be possible to hold the American revolution today? The Boston Tea Party? Imagine if George III had been able to sit in his palace across the ocean, look at the security-camera footage, press a button, and freeze the bank accounts of everyone there. Oh, well, we won’t be needing another revolt, will we? But the consequence of funding the metastasization of government through the confiscation of the fruits of the citizen’s labor is the remorseless shriveling of liberty. Is it, as Mark Levin’s caller said, “inevitable”? No, not quite. But it seems like the way to bet. When President Bush used to promote the notion of democracy in the Muslim world, there was a line he liked to fall back on: “Freedom is the desire of every human heart.” Are you quite sure? It’s doubtful whether that’s actually the case in Gaza and Waziristan, but we know for absolute certain that it’s not in Paris and Stockholm, London and Toronto, Buffalo and New Orleans. The story of the Western world since 1945 is that, invited to choose between freedom and government “security,” large numbers of people vote to dump freedom every time – the freedom to make their own decisions about health care, education, property rights, and eventually (as we already see in Europe, Canada, American campuses, and the disgusting U.N. Human Rights Council) what you’re permitted to say and think. I’m often struck by how much of our language has become metaphorical: A few years ago, a Fleet Street colleague accidentally booked himself into a conference on “building bridges” assuming it would be some multiculti community outreach yakfest. It turned out to be a panel of engineers discussing bridge construction. Yet in an important sense the ability to build real bridges is indeed an attribute of community. A friend of mine is a New Hampshire “selectman,” one of those municipal offices Tocqueville found so admirable. In 2003, a state highway inspector rode through and condemned one of the town’s bridges, on a dirt road that serves maybe a dozen houses. That’s the bad news. The good news was the 80/20 state/town funding plan, under which, if you applied to Concord for a new bridge, the state would pay 80 percent of the cost, the town 20. So they did. The state estimated the cost at $320,000, so the town’s share would be $64,000. Great. So the town threw up a temporary bridge just down river from the condemned one, and waited for the state to get going. Six years later, the temporary bridge has worn out, and the latest revised estimate is $655,000, such that the town’s share would be $131,000. That’s the bad news. The good news is that, under the “stimulus” bill, they can put in for the 60/40 federal/state bridge funding plan, under which the feds pay 60 percent, and the state pays 40, and thus the town would be on the hook for 20 percent of the 40 percent, if you follow. If they applied for the program now, the bridge might be built by, oh, 2015, 2020, and it’ll only be $1.2 million, or $4 million, or $12 million, or whatever the estimate’ll be by then. But who knows? By 2015, there might be some 70/30 UN/federal bridge plan, under which the UN pays 70 percent, and the feds pay 30, and thus the town would only be liable for 20 percent of the state’s 40 percent of the feds’ 30 percent. And the estimate for the bridge will be a mere $2.7 billion. While the Select Board was pondering this, another bridge was

 Would it even be possible to hold the American revolution today?

condemned. The state’s estimate was $415,000, and, given that the previous bridge had been on the to-do list for six years, they weren’t ready to pencil this second one in on the schedule just yet. So instead the town put in a new bridge from a local contractor. Cost: $30,000. Don’t worry; it’s all up to code – and a lot safer than the worn-out temporary bridge still waiting for the 80/20/60/40/70/30 deal to kick in. As my friend said at the meeting: “Screw the state. Let’s do it ourselves.” “Screw the state” is not a Tocquevillian formulation, but he would have certainly agreed with the latter sentiment. When something goes wrong, a European demands to know what the government’s going to do about it. An American does it himself. Or he used to – in the Jacksonian America a farsighted Frenchman understood so well. “Human dignity,” writes Professor Rahe, “is bound up with taking responsibility for conducting one’s own affairs.” When the state annexes that responsibility, the citizenry are indeed mere sheep to the government shepherd. Paul Rahe concludes his brisk and trenchant examination of republican “staying power” with specific proposals to reclaim state and local power from Washington, and with a choice: “We can be what once we were, or we can settle for a gradual, gentle descent into servitude.” I wish I were more sanguine about how that vote would go.

Notes  1. Soft Despotism, Democracy’s Drift: Montesquieu, Rousseau, Tocqueville, and the Modern Prospect, by Paul A. Rahe; Yale University Press, 400 pages, $54 from Borders NZ 2. Mark Steyn’s review first appeared in the June issue of New Criterion  n INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM  October 2009  51



...was the font, and the font was Times New Roman. But who created it? JOEL ALAS discovers theft, lies and coverup surround the origins of the world’s most popular typeface INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM  October 2009  53


HE WORLD’S MOST popular typeface, Times New Roman, was once praised for looking as if it were designed by no-one at all. Now, the question of who designed it has developed into one of typography’s greatest controversies. The font’s commonly-accepted history is imbedded in its name – a new roman-style typeface produced for The Times of London in 1931. Yet a typographic expert has revealed a more sinister story behind the famous font, one involving theft, lies and cover-up. According to this alternative history, Times New Roman was drawn by American yacht designer William Starling Burgess in Boston in 1904, but was forgotten for almost three decades before being rediscovered and plagiarised by typographers for The Times. The Burgess theory is gathering acceptance, with even The Times newspaper itself conceding his possible authorship of the ubiquitous typeface. But the theory faces fierce criticism from the typographic vanguard, with some experts dismissing it as a hoax supported by flimsy information. Whatever the case, it is clear deception has been propagated – the only question is whether the lies were told eighty years ago or far more recently.


rom his warehouse apartment overlooking the fishing docks of Portland, Maine, Mike Parker was putting the final touches on a font, thinning a few obstinate serifs and thickening some delicate stems. The typeface was instantly recognisable, even to those with no interest in letterform. It was a clear likeness of Times New Roman, yet on Parker’s sample sheet it was marked by a different name. “I call it Starling, after the man who originally drew it,” said Parker. When he released Starling to the public in June this year, he presented not just a font, but a challenge. And after a lifetime spent in typography, Parker knew what kind of a fight he was in for. Though it presents a genteel exterior, typography is an artform punctuated by bitter rivalries and rampant plagiarism. Parker, aged 80, is one of the world’s leading experts on type. As the head of typographic development at the once-formidable Merganthaler Linotype company from the 1950s to the 1970s, Parker held enormous influence over the fonts available to the American public. It was his decision to introduce Helvetica to the Linotype library, creating a design legacy still evident today. 54  INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM  October 2009

Parker’s retirement years have been consumed by the hunt to solve a mystery, ever since he received a letter from a shadowy character inviting him to view some interesting archival material. That character was Gerald Giampa, an eccentric Canadian master printer who in 1987 purchased the remnants of the Lanston Monotype company. Giampa dove into the company’s rich archive, where he claims to have unearthed documents about a font called Number 54 – the font we now know as Times New Roman. Except these documents were dated from 1904, and they bore the name of a different designer - William Starling Burgess. “Gerald sent me some pattern plates and said, ‘Do these look familiar?’” Parker said, “I said yes, they’re Times Roman. He said ‘No, they’re much earlier than that.’” Burgess is no stranger to history books. Born into a wealthy Boston family in 1878, he is remembered as a legendary naval and aeronautical designer, builder of yachts for the America’s Cup and planes for the Wright Brothers. But prior to his stellar career on wind and water, Parker believes Burgess had a short but brilliant dalliance with typography. The Lanston Monotype archives allegedly contained correspondence with Burgess, who in 1904 ordered the manufacture of a font series to be used for company documents at his shipyard in Marblehead, Massachusetts. Before the order could be completed, Burgess witnessed an early flight by the Wright Brothers, and abandoned his interest in type in favour of aviation. His drawings were filed at Lanston as Number 54. Parker said the typographic company tried to sell Number 54 to a fledgling news-magazine called Time in 1921. When that failed, the drawings fell into the hands of Stanley Morison, a type consultant at the Monotype Corporation in Britain. Mike Parker inspects the crucial piece of evidence, the ‘ B’ plate. PHOTO: Joel Alas


n the early 1900s typography was progressing rapidly, but newspapers were failing to keep up with the advances. The Times of London used a chunky serif font that was hard on the eyes and wasteful of ink and paper. When Morison criticised the newspaper for its font in 1929, they challenged him to come up with something better.

In his writings, Morison tells us he looked to oldstyle fonts for inspiration, and set upon modifying a 16th century typeface called Plantin. A sketch sheet was handed to Victor Lardent, a staff illustrator for The Times, who finalized the design. The MorisonLardent drawings were accepted by the newspaper, and on October 3, 1932, The Times went to print with its proud new typeface. Yet other accounts reveal that the redesign was far more challenging than Morison admitted. He went through countless failed prototypes and even sought help from outside designers, including the eminent typographer Harry Carter, who sketched some proposals. Years later Carter’s son Matthew, himself a celebrated typographer, found those rejected sketch sheets languishing in his father’s sock-and-underwear drawer. “When I asked what happened to them, my father just laughed and said Morison had never said a word in reply,” Carter recalls. Parker believes he knows why Harry Carter’s drawings were turned down – Morison had by then been supplied with the pilfered designs of Number 54. “Morison knew no bounds,” said Parker, who has a basket of anecdotes about their many interactions which paint a picture of a cunning and devious manipulator. Gerald Giampa and his partner, behind the counter of their antiques store. Giampa passed away in June this year. PHOTO: Jasmine Park


orison never took credit for designing the font himself, but claims to have only ‘excogitated’ it. Years after its release, he wrote of the one and only font to carry his name: “It has the merit of not looking as if it had been designed by somebody in particular.” The secret history of Times New Roman was sealed years later, Parker tells us, when four representatives of the companies concerned met to sign a ‘bond of confidentiality’. That bond was one of the documents Giampa claimed to have found in the Lanston archive, and the reason he kept silent on the matter. Giampa said he believed the Monotype Corporation would take legal action against him should he reveal the truth behind their most profitable typeface. To date, no-one but Giampa and Parker have testified to viewing many of the documents that support the Burgess story. Sadly, the opportunity for third-party verification has been lost through a series of bizarre events. In 1918 a fire tore through Burgess’ shipyard, incinerating any documents that might have shed light on his activities during 1904, when Parker suggests he drew the font. On the other side of the Atlantic, a bomb blast near the Monotype headquarters in 1941 destroyed much information about Morison’s activities during The Times’ redesign. All that remained were the Lanston Monotype archives in Giampa’s possession, until he too met with disaster. In January 2000, a storm surge flooded his riverside house on Prince Edward Island, and nearly a century’s worth of invaluable printing history was lost. “The bulk of the files ended up in a dumpster,” Giampa said.

In a further rebuff to researchers, the last reserve of Monotype files have been indefinitely quarantined in The Smithsonian Institute in Washington. Parker visited The Smithsonian in 1996 and took copies of the Number 54 drawings, upon which he based the revival font he calls Starling. Today those drawings are off limits, as the Smithsonian’s archival warehouse has been declared contaminated by asbestos and lead. The Institute has no budget or timeline for reopening the facility. All the key players are now dead. The only surviving evidence is a brass pattern plate bearing a large capital letter ‘B’. Such plates were used by Lanston before, and not after, 1915, Parker tells us. He pilfered the plate from Giampa during a research visit to his home. The remaining plates were scrapped. If authentic, it is the sole piece of proof that the font we know as Times New Roman existed prior to its announced creation in 1932. It is upon this plate that Parker rests the Burgess theory, and in many ways, his considerable reputation.


n typography, there is no greater insult than the accusation of plagiarism. When Parker began circulating the Burgess theory, he was howled down by a chorus of critics. British author Nicolas Barker, Morison’s biographer, labelled it “a misguided attempt to adjust history.” “It’s the creation of Mike Parker, who did it partly as a practical joke, and partly to help his friend Gerald Giampa,” Barker said. “Giampa was the potential beneficiary. Had he been able to INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM  October 2009  55

Starling Burgess depicted in an etching around the turn of last century. RIGHT: some of the line drawings that remain from Burgess’ work on Series 54.

demonstrate that the design had predated the U.K. version, there was the possibility to establish a patentable right to the designs, at least in the U.S.A. That’s the only logical reason I can see for them wanting to produce this otherwise rather childish joke.” Barker and others say Parker failed to produce any conclusive proof of his theory, but only colourful speculations based on unseen documents. He questioned the existence of the ‘bond of confidentiality,’ and discarded as false Giampa’s claim that it bound him to silence. Other critics include Jim Rimmer, a Canadian type craftsman who has known Giampa for 35 years and labelled him a “prankster.” “He has a devious streak in him. He likes to deconstruct history and put a new spin on things,” said Rimmer from his printing workshop near Vancouver. Rimmer said Giampa fabricated the secret history of the font based on a handful of loose pattern plates found in his archives. As for Parker, Rimmer believes he was flatly deceived by Giampa from the moment of their first interaction.


ith so much hanging on such little evidence, most people opt for careful indecision when airing their opinion. Matthew Carter, designer of the fonts Georgia and Verdana, is among those who believe the Burgess theory is “very plausible.” He has strong memories of Stanley Morison, a man he believed would stoop to such levels of deception. “I knew Morison and the company (British Monotype), and they were the most arrogant organization in their hey-day,” Carter said, “Morison was a very complex character. He liked playing jokes. He was interested in power, and he liked working behind the scenes. I can believe – though I still don’t know the truth – that he would have enjoyed taking part in a ruse like this.” Carter said he had often wondered if Giampa had fed Parker fabricated information. But although the Canadian carries a “rascally reputation,” Carter said there are “a number of other things that do support what he is saying,” referring to the brass pattern plate. Indeed, proving the veracity of the plate seems almost impossible without sophisticated scientific testing, as “the people who knew about that sort of thing are no longer living,” Carter said. Burgess’ descendants were surprised by Parker’s theory. “Though of course we heard many stories about him from (his eldest daughter) Tasha Tudor, I never heard of any font or the term ‘typography,’” said Seth Tudor of Vermont, Burgess’ grand56  INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM  October 2009

son. “I am surprised to hear about the Starling font. I’m sure if Tasha were still alive, she’d be pleased to know.” The Times newspaper itself has begun accepting the possibility of an alternative history to its famous font. In 2007 the newspaper stated that Times New Roman was designed by Stanley Morison, Victor Lardent “and possibly Starling Burgess.”


or his part, Giampa remained forthright, up until his death by stroke in June 2009. Having been impoverished by the flooding of his home, and by a later tragedy in which his prize sailing boat was sunk in a ramming accident, he spent the last years of his life working behind the counter of an antique and curiosity shop on the Vancouver waterfront. “I had immense records,” Giampa said shortly before his death, “There were memos, there was a contract with Burgess and the company (Lanston) to do the face, there were letters from him to the firm, there were news clippings of the fire, correspondence to English Monotype, correspondence to salesmen from Time magazine.” Giampa said he did not release all the information prior to the flooding because of legal concerns. “English Monotype was alive and well… they were in the habit of suing people. It’s not a business as elegant as people think. Some companies make more money from lawsuits than typefaces.” When asked bluntly if he fabricated the information, he replied: “Absolutely not. It’s not something I could sell or use. I wouldn’t bother. There’s no real gain. Why would I do it?”


nd so to Parker, who in June released Starling to the public, after more than a decade of research and refinement. What does he think of Giampa, in the face of so much suspicion? Parker is furious at Giampa’s careless stewardship of invaluable historical archives, and believes much of what came from his mouth to be untrustworthy. In the twenty years since they met, their relationship swung from healthy collaboration to outright disdain. “Gerald is a flake’s flake,” Parker said, “I’ve only trusted him where he can produce things, like the pattern letters. Working with Gerald was a dirty job, but somebody had to do it. He was not that imaginative, either. There was no way he could have made up all of this out of the cloth.” His greatest moment of relief came in 1996, when Parker visited


Mike Parker: “ "Gerald is a flake’s flake.“ I’ve only trusted him where he can produce things, like the pattern letters. Working with Gerald was a dirty job, but somebody had to do it." FACING PAGE: Sample sheet of Parker’s new Starling font. PHOTO: Joel Alas the now-sealed archives of The Smithsonian Institute. There he found drawings of Number 54, confirming that the letter series did exist. The drawings did not carry dates or names, but their mere presence was enough to give Parker fortitude. Parker said he has weathered criticism for his views, but “from one source – the Monotype friends, who have an interest in it not being true.”


long with the Starling roman, Parker released a matching italic series. Parker says Burgess drew just five letters of an italic to accompany Number 54 before abandoning typography for aviation. He has taken it upon himself to finish the job. From his apartment in Portland, Parker has spent the last few years carefully drawing the graceful slanted figures of a rich italic. “Morison’s was a dog of an italic,” he said of the existing Times New Roman accompaniment, which he accepts was a MorisonLardent creation. “It didn’t match the roman at all. It was a standard Monotype italic.” Now Parker has set out to rectify this error by giving the world’s most popular font – no matter its name or creator – a deserving italic. Unlike Starling, this is not a look-alike. Aside from the five 58  INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM  October 2009

inspirational characters, this is wholly Parker’s own work, and, remarkably, his maiden typographic creation. Throughout his decades in the industry, Parker remained a creative administrator and researcher, but was never himself a typographer. And this, perhaps, is the driving force behind Parker’s enthusiasm for the Burgess story, his willingness to believe when others have scoffed, his faith in a thin thread of evidence, and his certainty despite painful criticism: Burgess has given him, for the first time, the chance to create his own font. So whether a hoax or the secret truth, the alternative story of Times New Roman has at least had this much of a lasting legacy. ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Joel Alas is a 26-year old Australian-Estonian journalist who lives in Berlin. A former newsroom journalist for The Courier-Mail in Brisbane, he has written freelance for The Times on Sunday and The Guardian. He is currently editor of B EAST magazine, an Eastern European culture journal. Alas travelled to London, New York, Washington and Portland to conduct research and interviews for this story, which grew out of his personal interest in typography. This is his first article for Investigate





A family member of a victim stands in the rain with tears rolling down her cheeks during the 8th Anniversary Commemoration Ceremony in New York at Ground Zero on September 11, 2009. UPI/Chris Hondros/POOL INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM  October 2009  61


Mourners of the victims of September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks pay their respects during the 8th Anniversary Commemoration Ceremony in New York at Ground Zero on September 11, 2009. UPI/Joel Cairo/Pool INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM  October 2009  63



think life | money

Rental pitfalls Peter Hensley wonders if property investors have considered all the angles Andrea dropped in on the off chance that Jim and Moira would be home. She had a couple of money issues she wanted to run by them. She arrived just after lunch as she knew that Jim had a regular task picking two of their favourite grandchildren up from school. It was his job to drop Michael off at music and take Tracy to swimming lessons. In reality Jim considered each of his grandchildren as favourite and it was a running joke with the grandies who was his latest favourite. It was Jim’s way of making each of them feel special. Moira did not approve, but that did not stop Jim and judging by their reaction it seemed to work. Jim had just finished clearing the lunch dishes because of the standing house rule whoever prepared the meal did not have to do the dishes. He was thrilled that Andrea turned up as he knew that Moira would bring out some of her special home baking. Ever since he had retired from full time employment, Jim had maintained his regular walking program. He had to really, Moira baked every second day and her reputation for having fresh cakes and 66  INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM  October 2009

cookies on hand attracted a steady stream of visitors. Jim and Moira had a reputation in their community of providing old fashion wisdom along with a hot drink and a biscuit to any and all who sought their sage advice. Jim ushered Andrea out to the conservatory which overlooked the sea. Jim and Moira had purposely planned for their retirement and had purchased their section before prices became out of touch with reality. Their section faced north east, overlooked the beach and could not be built out. The sunny day meant that the ranch slider could be left open as it was a perfect spring day. Jim inquired about Andrea’s husband Neville. She smiled and said that he was busy at home finishing off what he didn’t do yesterday. Jim felt compelled to ask what that was and she simply said, nothing. Jim then recalled that Neville was very skilled at that. Moira, who had been busy in the kitchen, joined them. She inquired about Andrea’s children. Jim knew that Moira would know each one by name, which school they were

at and their individual hobbies. Neville received a passing mention. Andrea brushed over talking about her children’s latest achievements as she was keen to ask Moira’s opinion about her latest retirement scheme. Once she had mentioned retirement Jim thoughts went immediately to KiwiSaver. He then launched in how they had signed up their latest grandchild. They were a bit delayed in doing so as Taylah’s mother had been a bit slow in obtaining an IRD number. This was important because an individual’s account is based on their IRD number. Jim was taking a quick breath planning to go into great detail explaining his spreadsheet and how much Taylah’s account could potentially grow to be when Moira gave him a quick glance and he knew that it was his turn to have another piece of home baking. Moira quietly put down her cup and asked Andrea what she had in mind. She produced the latest property guide and placed it on the glass top table. The picture on the front page was boldly circled in red felt tip pen. The headline screamed

huge investment potential, a rental property close to all amenities. Bus at the door, excellent tenants who were prepared to stay in the property once it was sold. The photo was great, it had been taken on a sunny day and as photo’s go it was awesome. Moira asked Jim to get her a blank sheet of paper and a pencil from the study. She drew a line down the centre of the page. At the top on the left hand side she wrote income and on the right hand side, expenses. She asked Andrea what the current rent was per week - $395 was the response and she wrote $20,000 under income. Andrea planned to use the current equity in their own home as the deposit and expected to borrow the full purchase price of $450k as a mortgage. Interest expense for one year on interest only would be $30,000. Moira then added rates, maintenance, insurance and incidentals and the right hand side soon totaled $35,000. Moira looked Andrea in the eye and said that they would have to fund the venture by chipping in $300 per week from their own pockets. Moira knew that Neville’s attitude of being good at doing nothing meant that he was unlikely to gain a pro-

motion or increase in pay which in turn put pressure on their personal budget. Andrea said that the real estate agent had told them they could claim the loss as a tax deduction which was true and they expected the price of the property to increase over time. Jim thought he had been silent long enough and wanted to contribute. In the olden days when he and Moira were growing up, people could normally expect to spend a year’s salary on a new car and a house would cost between 3 and 4 years’ salary. Now days a new car still sells for approximately one year’s salary yet a house is closer to eight times the average wage. Current prices are beyond what the average wage earner can afford to pay. Prices have risen because of demand and the prolific availability of debt. In the olden days one income was enough to maintain a lifestyle, pay off a home and prepare for retirement. Now days couples are struggling to do it on two incomes. In the old days inflation provided entrepreneurial property investors with a helping hand. Central government now has inflation under control. In the old days property investors experienced positive


cash flow from houses and commercial buildings. Cash returns of 10% were the rule as this allowed for a mortgage to be repaid and there was some profit left over to reward the investor for taking on the risk of tenant default. That was then and this is now, the pendulum has swung to the extreme in the other direction. There are little rewards for property investors today and instead of being cash flow positive, like they used to be, they are now cash flow negative. Old time property investors are currently being rewarded handsomely for the risks they took on years ago. The smart ones are banking their profits by selling to those who do not understand how to prepare a simple cash flow budget because if they did they would not be buying an asset with an unsustainable yield. Jim & Moira knew that Andrea needed time to do and fully comprehend her own cash flow analysis. She also needed to take in Jim’s parting comment that inflation allows people to live in a more expensive neighbourhood without having to move. Copyright © Peter J Hensley September 2009. A copy of Peter Hensley’s disclosure statement is available upon request and is free of charge.



“…the most politically incorrect book” in New Zealand. He is absolutely right…Prepare to be surprised and shocked. Wishart may ruffle a few feathers but his arguments are fair as his evidence proves. If you are looking for a stimulating mental challenge, or a cause to fight for, Eve’s Bite will definitely satisfy. – Wairarapa Times-Age

Wishart takes up the gauntlet laid down by Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion, and in fact, uses Dawkins own logic and methodology to launch a counter-attack against unbelief. Challenging…thought provoking…compelling –

Discover the truth for yourself. Get these two books today from Whitcoulls, Borders, PaperPlus, Dymocks, Take Note, and all good independent booksellers, or online at

I’m having a cracking good read of another cracking good read – The Divinity Code by Ian Wishart, his follow-up book to Eve’s Bite which was also a cracking good read – comment on “Being Frank” INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM  October 2009  67

think life | EDUCATION

Education, or estrogenation? Amy Brooke is unimpressed when a top boys’ college parades its young men as girls singing ‘Buttercup’ When will it be time to become disgusted with so many to whom the education of our children has been entrusted? Is it now, when the third-rate dominates thinking; 68  INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM  October 2009

when good teachers are discouraged, dismayed and overborne? Is it now horrified parents, looking at the deterioration in schools’ standards, the text bullying, the


aggressive, rude, even violent pupils and inappropriately sexed-up subject areas simply don’t want a bar of it all for their children? Politicised issues shoved into the

curriculum have long replaced real learning – there essentially as propaganda for the Left, spelling the end of so many parents’ chances and high hopes for their children. Isn’t the time right now? I recently looked at a photograph and news item in a local paper with disbelief that things were so bad. The first was of the winning Rutherford House choir at Nelson College, where a fourth form boy, dressed only in low--slung tight trousers and a bra stood in front of boys in uniform singing their hearts out. The head of the house, who would once have been a male teacher, the Housemaster, is a woman employed in the college’s accountancy department. The compulsory song required from each of the eight choirs was Build me up Buttercup. Check out the words, sheer drivel by a group called The Foundation. http://www. What are they doing to our boys, to our young men? How do these puerile pop lyrics – “…I need you (I need you)/More than anyone, darlin’/…To you I’m a toy/ but I could be the boy/You adore…”and more in the same vein, compare with the great songs from the past thundered out by schoolboy choirs, songs telling of strength and courage and conviction, of truth and hardships overcome, of nobility of character and great aims, of pride in things well done? But to the liberal Left, of course, these are now concepts to sneer at. No wonder we have the feminising and the demoralising of young men, and a lack of admirable male models showing up in a rootless, drifting younger generation. There are fine young faces among the boys in the photo. How many parents really think it’s all right to have schoolboy choirs given such rubbish to sing? If we’re not shocked, we should be. Since when was trash, actively promoted in our schools, good enough for our often quite wonderful children? Well, actually for a long time now, with the schools’ rubbishy pop/rock song quests actively promoting the road to dropoutdom. Its monotonously similar adolescent emoting and ridiculous distortions of the language (ah bin crahin’) centrestage a junk world whose alcoholic and drug-ridden exit-lanes lead to disillusionment, promiscuity, broken marriages, and, so often, despair. Is it really progress when schools run highly sexualised stage productions such as Cabaret or Grease and boys on the edge of manhood, as in the Nelson

College choirs, are required to sing: “Why do I need you so Baby, Baby…/ooh ooh ooh…” ? Is this really fair to, or good enough for them? Apparently, just as fair as the National Party’s predictable reneging on its promise of establishing genuine national standards to offer the best hope that children will be well-taught, not left to the vagaries or sheer incompetence of third-rate schools and teachers. Is it excessive to regard it as simply disgraceful that a school principal, such as Paul Heffernan of Auckland’s Laingholm Primary School, can wage war on the issue of accountability by writing on an Education Ministry website forum: “We are going to teach the easiest test we can find. We are going to re-teach and re-teach baby. We will even fudge the results big time. My school is going to be top school on the league table so that my community will know I run a brilliant school. Parents will flock to my door. To hell with anything creative. And don’t say this won’t happen. It sure did with NCEA.” It sure did. This school’s parents should simply withdraw their children. But what choice have they given school zoning, and so many other principals equally as challenged by the notion of accountability? However, the tide is well and truly turning overseas as communities protest, looking in disappointment at children who show no sign of being genuinely well-educated. The old is giving way to the new: the tenure of those promoting their own interests over that of their pupils is running out. In Britain, George Osborne, the Conservative Party’s Shadow Chancellor, has announced plans to break the state’s monopoly on free education using independent providers if it gets into power, calling for a radical overhaul of the state education sector to drive down costs. A champion of public sector reform, Osborne instances countries like Sweden, the United States and elsewhere as examples of how Britain can considerably improve the quality of the education children receive. The successful US reform of allowing parents to choose their children’s schools, using a voucher system, has persuaded schools to respond to parental choice, with the muchneeded result of competition between schools raising standards. Naturally our education bureaucracy has no intention of going down that path. But good things come to those who wait. Sweden’s introduction of independent

providers into the state education sector, as a way of coping with its financial crisis, has these negotiating better contracts for computers, textbooks and land, forcing the state bureaucracy to reduce its costs. Small, manageable-sized schools have sprung up, answering directly to parents and the community – compared, say, with the more than dubious size secondary schools as large as Avondale and Rangitoto Colleges, with two and a half to three thousand pupils have been allowed to grow. The results have more than vindicated what was seen initially as merely an interesting experiment. This new Scandinavian approach allowing parents’ groups, businesses, and charities to establish new schools has broken the state’s entrenched monopoly on the provision of state-funded education. “Education is still free for people, for children and parents: it’s just that not all teachers in the country are employed by the state.” Given the mounting debt crisis, returning power to private organisations and the community to far more efficiently manage their own education directions, instead of constantly imposing more layers of topheavy centralization with compounding costs, makes sense. That these initiatives are now working well for other countries will see us moving towards the same reform areas, to lessen costs. The state is a very bad and highly inefficient manager - particularly when it lacks genuine competition. Its bureaucracies favour, and are run by, the mediocre. New Zealand pupils who do well do so in spite of, not because of the state education establishment; in some cases because of inspired teachers; in others because of parental expectation and support, personal motivation and effort. But the bureaucracy has failed to deal with exceptionally gifted children, and equally with those who have none of the advantages which might help them achieve better results while an extraordinary number simply drop out. It even fails the essentially simple task of teaching many thousands of new entrants to read. The “reading recovery” programmes say it all. The real point is always - what is education for? A genuine education. © Copyright Amy Brooke brookeonline/ INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM  October 2009  69

think life | SCIENCE

Dark side of the moon shot Moon landing appears to be off NASA radar because of cost, report Mark K. Matthews and Robert Block When US President Barack Obama named a panel to review NASA’s manned space program, his aides said privately they were hoping the group would recommend scrapping NASA’s troubled Ares I rocket program and finding another, cheaper way to get humans back to the moon. But the Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee came to a troubling conclusion this past month: NASA’s current budget offers no hope of sending humans past the international space station for 20 years or more. And that confronts the administration with an enormous dilemma: how, in an era of trillion-dollar deficits, to find money to 70  INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM  October 2009

reinvigorate human space exploration and avoid pulling the plug on a programme that just celebrated the 40th anniversary of its first lunar landing. “The public was promised a Cadillac, or at least a Buick,” said one administration science official not authorized to speak for the White House. “There is some concern that we could end up with an Edsel.” Shaping the future of America’s space program began mid August, when members of the committee presented their preliminary findings to NASA chief Charlie Bolden and White House officials. Initial reports indicated the group agreed to retire the space shuttle in 2011, extend the space

station until 2020 and use more commercial rockets. They also liked the idea of exploring deep space – rather than landing on the moon. The panel said Constellation, NASA’s current back-to-the-moon program, is running US$50 billion over the current budget through 2020. But the alternatives presented are almost as expensive, requiring $20 billion to $30 billion more than the current budget through 2020. The outcome was not entirely unexpected. Even before Obama took office, officials had serious doubts about Constellation, particularly its Ares I rocket, which is

expected to shake violently as it climbs through the atmosphere. They especially questioned a rocket designed in part to take crew to the space station that wouldn’t be ready until 2015 – the same year the complex was supposed to be abandoned. “I might not have a technical background, but I can read budget and schedule charts, and I can tell you that there are things that don’t make sense,” Alan Ladwig, now a presidentially appointed policy adviser at NASA, told Florida space boosters last December. But Obama officials were reluctant to kill the Constellation program by decree. They preferred that an independent panel come to what they saw as the only logical conclusion: that Ares I was, as one put it, “infeasible.” But they didn’t expect that NASA’s budget would leave no room for another rocket capable of flying beyond the space station. Even the panel members themselves were surprised. Norm Augustine, the retired Lockheed Martin CEO who leads the 10-member panel, said he was shocked at its inability to find an option that would fit within NASA’s current manned space budget that the committee put at roughly $100 billion through 2020. “I certainly didn’t think it would miss by as much as it did,” Augustine said. “One of the things that have troubled NASA the most in recent years is having objectives that they don’t the resources to match.” That leaves the White House with a tough decision: back billions more for human space exploration or support an emasculated program that critics will call pointless. It is up to Obama, says Marcia Smith, formerly a space expert at the Congressional Research Service and now a consultant, to decide whether human space exploration is a worthy priority or an unaffordable luxury. “Giving NASA a couple more billion dollars a year for the next 20 years isn’t really going to affect the deficit that much, considering how huge the deficit is,” Smith said. “So it’s a matter of presidential policy and what Obama wants to do.” Committee members are trying to find ways to reduce the costs of some of their options to make them more palatable. But the most likely option would be a new rocket designed and operated by a com-

mercial company and purchased by the agency – a dramatic break from current practices where NASA designs and “owns” its rockets. And Congress might not go along because that would harm the contractors now working on the program. What’s more, any of the committee’s options would devastate Florida’s Space Coast, which faces an estimated 7,000 job losses at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., when NASA retires the space shuttle. That in turn could trigger the loss of 21,000 more jobs outside the Space Center. If the shuttle is retired in 2011, as now seems likely, it will be years before a new manned space rocket brings even some of those jobs back. “We need to see what the final outcome is,” said Lynda Weatherman, CEO of the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast. “Right now our strategy is to try to find work that supports a lunar mission. If it’s not lunar, then it will be something else. There will be work from whatever they come out with. We just have to be smart enough to take advantage.” But, she added, “it’s going to be a tough period.” For NASA allies on Capitol Hill, news that the agency does not have enough money to do what it wants is not so shocking. For years, members of congressional science committees have complained about underfunding. But in a time of enormous budget deficits, a major boost is seen as unlikely. “NASA is getting US$18 billion a year. That’s more than all the other [space] agencies in the world combined. It’s very difficult to make the argument for more money,” said Vincent Sabathier of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank. Sabathier said NASA’s best hope lies in giving a greater role to its international partners to develop key components of an exploration system, such as using a French rocket to launch a U.S. capsule. “If you cannot find more money, you must work more closely with the international partners,” he said. “Obama can use space as a foreign-policy tool, to rebuild its leadership in space.” LOST IN SPACE? Options presented to the White House by members of the Augustine Committee. Stay the course: Continue Constellation

“For NASA allies on Capitol Hill, news that the agency does not have enough money to do what it wants is not so shocking. For years, members of congressional science committees have complained about underfunding Program of Ares I rocket to ferry astronauts and Ares V heavy-lift rocket. Space shuttle retired in 2010-11. International space station closed in 2015. First moon orbit would be sometime after 2028. Cost: $99 billion through 2020; $205 billion through 2030 Extend space station: Retire shuttle in 2011, but keep the station until 2020. Use commercial rocket instead of Ares I. Develop Ares V “lite.” First moon orbit after 2028. Cost: $101 billion through 2020; $204 billion through 2030. Extend shuttle: Fly shuttle until 2015; extend station to 2020, with commercial rockets taking crew there. Build Ares V “lite” or a new “heavy lift” rocket from shuttle fuel tank, main engines and solid-rocket boosters to carry humans to lunar orbit and scouting missions. First moon orbit in early 2020s. No cost data available. 3 “flexible” deep-space exploration options with shuttle retired in 2011 and space station in 2020: 1. Build a shuttle-derived rocket; use orbiting fuel depots to orbit moon as soon as 2023; orbit asteroids in 2027; orbit Mars in 2029; land on moon by 2030. Cost: $123 billion through 2020; $266 billion through 2030. 2. Build a commercial heavy-lift rocket; use orbiting fuel depots to orbit moon in 2024, asteroids in 2026, Mars in 2028 and land on the moon in 2029. $123 billion through 2020; $256 billion through 2030. 3. Use commercial rockets to space station. Build Ares V “lite” to orbit moon in 2025, asteroids in 2030, Mars in 2034; land on moon in 2035. $126 billion through 2020; $272 billion through 2030. SOURCE: Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee, Aug. 12 data INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM  October 2009  71

think life | TECHNOLOGY

The name’s Page. OmniPage. Text recognition and document organising software is finally allowing offices and households to get on top of the ongoing paper war, writes Ian Wishart If novelist Ian Fleming had given James Bond the box of tricks that Nuance’s latest offering of OmniPage Professional 17 includes, book and movie reviewers of the 1960s and 70s would have called him a fantasist. But such is the rapid progress of computer technology in the early 21st century, that fantasy has become reality. Motorola gave as the “Star-Tac” flip-top mobile phone in the 1990s to emulate the communicators used in the TV show Star Trek. And now OmniPage delivers what could reasonably be described as the superspy’s toolkit – with the added bonus that it’s excellent around the home and office as well. Here’s why. As readers of this column may already be aware, OmniPage is probably the world’s best software for scanning incoming documents directly to archives, or into Microsoft Word format. Essentially, driven by a state of the art optical character recognition (OCR) engine, OmniPage Professional 17 can accurately read scanned typewritten documents and convert them instantly to ordinary text for MS Word. The paper copy of the incoming letter can be safely confined to an archive box or binned in “File 13”, thus reducing office clutter, while the digital copy of the letter is now stored on your computer in a file of your choosing. The software can be set up for one touch processing, so that pushing the scanner 72  INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM  October 2009

button sets in train a process where your incoming Bills, for example, can be automatically scanned, turned into PDF documents and saved in a folder marked “October bills”. In the office setting, OmniPage is effectively creating electronic in-trays for staff so documents can be moved off the desk and into organized electronic folders where – thanks to the beauty of OCR – the files are fully text searchable. You remember getting a letter from someone offering your company distribution rights on the new “McGuffin”, but can’t remember who sent it? Do a keyword search on McGuffin and the letter will pop straight up, saving you a fortune in time normally wasted ferreting through manila folders. OmniPage 17 Professional boasts accuracy of more than 99% in its text recognition, and the new version is significantly faster than the already fast previous incarnations. News agency DPA places Omnipage at the top of the scanning, converting and archiving tree, saying that while other programmes attempt to do the same, they “won’t be as accurate or preserve as much formatting” as the “heavy duty commercial OCR package…Omnipage”. Which is a useful point. It is heavy duty, it takes virtually anything you can throw at it, and it has more functions than a Swiss Army knife. Which is where James Bond comes in. Suppose you have your little fliptop mobile phone with its two megapixel

camera, and you see a document that you desperately want a copy of. Snap the photo on your mobile, download it to OmniPage 17 Professional when you get back to the office, and the programme is so good it can convert the text in the photograph from your cellphone into a Word document. Imagine the fun the KGB could have had with Omnipage 17. The software has built in correction for camera tilt or skew, based on its recognition that text should flow in straight lines so it digitally alters the image to render it scannable. Unlike other OCR programmes, this one retains much of and in many cases all of the layout and formatting of the original document, meaning context and accuracy is vastly improved. The programme doesn’t just rely on scanning, either. You can set it to automatically monitor incoming emails and process copies to specific people or folders. The inclusion of bundled versions of the award-winning PaperPort document organizing system, and PDF Create, makes OmniPage 17 Professional the complete package for organizing your home, home office or business environment to get rid of the paper clutter that builds up every day. Now you can biff much of the paper, secure in the knowledge that accurate digital copies are stored and instantly accessible. New Zealand agents Mistral Software have details of the retail outlets stocking OmniPage. Highly recommended.

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• Increased word accuracy • Improved layout and formatting accuracy • Faster launch times • Improved multi-core parallel processing • Easy loader • One-click toolbar in Microsoft Office • Asian language recognition • Automatic Asian language detection • Improved digital camera 3DC technology • Flexible interface • Improved “Quick convert” view • Improved PDF-MRC optimisation The Professional version of OmniPage 17 also includes the award-winning* desktop document management software, PaperPort and PDF Create software that allows you to create a 100% industry-standard PDF file from any application. With OmniPage Professional 17 you can automatically batch convert files; use multi-function printers to automatically scan and convert high-volumes of documents; monitor, recognise and convert files from incoming emails directly to your network; access scanned files from anywhere in your organisation; archive documents directly into Microsoft SharePoint; highlight and redact document data to improve collaboration; and maintain confidentiality. * PC Magazine Editor’s choice award

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aVailable frOm yOur Preferred sOftWare suPPlier, Or Via Our retail Partners: © 2009 Nuance Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. Nuance, the Nuance logo, OmniPage, PaperPort, and RealSpeak are trademarks or registered trademarks of Nuance Communications, Inc. or its affiliates in the United States and/or other countries. All other trademarks referenced herein are the property of their respective owners.


feel life | SPORT

Row to redemption It was an enduring, painful image from New Zealand’s Olympic campaign in Beijing. A distressed and drained Mahe Drysdale, stricken down by food poisoning, slumped over his oars and in need of urgent medical attention after his gut-busting drive for bronze. Like a true champion, the 31 year old rebounded for a gold medal at the recent World Championships, inspiring a record medal haul from a new-look team. Chris Forster finds Drysdale in a determined, triumphant mood in the long countdown to the 2012 games in London DRYSDALE is a man in demand. He should be. His world record time in Poznan, Poland in late August completed a record 4th successive world title in the single sculls. The Melbourne-born and Taurangaeducated colossus is a bona fide legend in a sport which has become an integral part of New Zealand’s sporting psyche in the 21st century. He’s got the sort of mana usually reserved for All Blacks greats, or Sarah Ulmer or the double gold medal winning rowers, the Evers-Swindell twins. Drysdale’s won the supreme Halberg Award in 2006 and Sportsman of the Year for 2007 and is one of the favourites to bag another honour for his 2009 achievements. He joined the New Zealand Order of Merit list in the New Year for services to rowing. He’s inspired a legion of top rowers, including the new breed which excelled in Poland in the year’s biggest regatta. Yet he remains a humble team player, dedicated to the Kiwi cause and hell-bent on adding Olympic glory to his list of achievements. “I’m very happy to start the new Olympic cycle like that. And even happier with what we’ve achieved as a team. This is our most 74  INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM  October 2009

successful ever World Championship. “Every time we come to these events we seem to step-up. Four golds and a bronze and a couple of close fourths .. that’s awesome”. He’s spot on with his facts, naturally. The haul actually surpasses that magic hour of four golds in Gifu, Japan in 2005, when Drysdale won his first world title. That was also the year after the Athens Olympics. It’s the time when veteran rowers hang up their oars and when new combinations are tried out with three years to build to the next pinnacle of sporting achievement. Drysdale’s a seasoned campaigner these days. Women’s single sculler Emma Twigg, who narrowly missed out on bronze in her medal race, describes him cheekily as the “Grand-daddy” of the team. “It’s a bit weird,” he admits. “All of the guys I’ve spend my time with in the last 7 years of rowing have moved on after Beijing. I’m the last one left. But it’s a strong team. It’s a close knit team. And we have a lot of fun together. “I think if you’d said we would have achieved this after the Olympics last year

that you would have been described as absolutely barmy”. Drysdale’s a natural off the water too. He’s a genuine enthusiast about his craft and his commitment to the country. Hard to believe New Zealand Rowing put their poster boy through the emotional torture of the Olympic qualifying campaign against 2000 Olympic sculling champion Rob Waddell. You hope and pray they won’t test his patience or loyalty again. He’s got rowing assignments in Europe and the States before settling back into the disciplined routine of getting his body in shape for another year at the top of his craft- and the immediate goal of a 5th World Championship crown on his home waters of Lake Karapiro in 2010. But London is the driving force in Drysdale’s life. The pain of his gastro enteritis ordeal in China will drive him for another three years. “The reason I came back after Beijing is to go for gold at another Olympics. It seems a long way away but I feel that I’m on track. But you’ve got to keep on improving to stay ahead of the field”. You sense more world records will fall

as Drysdale peaks towards his Olympic redemption. HAMISH BOND is another rower to make up for a crushing disappointment in China. He was part of the World Champion Coxless Four in 2007, and there were high hopes for a medal. But they struck out in the semi-final, as competing countries upped the ante in an Olympic year, and missed out totally on the medal race. The Dunedinite could have thrown his oars out of the boat at that stage. But after coaxing from super-coach, and notorious disciplinarian Dick Tonks, he formed a lightning quick partnership with Eric Murray (also from the fours) in the Coxless Pairs. The hard yakka has paid off. Big time. Bond and Murray were unbeaten in the

GLORY DAYS for NEW ZEALAND ROWING (2004-2009) 2004 Olympics - Athens: Gold Double sculls – Caroline and Georgina Evers-Swindell 2005 World Championships – Gifu, Japan: Gold – Double Sculls - Caroline and Georgina Evers-Swindell; Gold - Coxless Pairs – George Bridgewater and Nathan Twaddle; Gold – Single Sculls – Mahe Drysdale; Gold – Coxless Pairs – Nicky Coles and Juliette Haigh 2006 World Championships – Eton, England: Gold – Single Sculls – Mahe Drysdale; Gold – Lightweight Single Sculls – Duncan Grant; Silver – Coxless Pairs – George Bridgewater and Nathan Twaddle; Silver – Coxless Pairs - Nicky Coles and Juliette Haigh; Bronze – Double Sculls – Caroline and Georgina Evers-Swindell; Bronze – Coxed Fours – Dane Boswell, Steven Cottle, James Dallinger, Paul Genitson and Daniel Quigley 2007 World Championships – Munich, Germany: Gold - Single Sculls – Mahe Drysdale; Gold - Men’s Coxless Fours – Hamish Bond, Eric Murray, James Dallinger and Carl Meyer; Gold – Lightweight Single Sculls – Duncan Grant; Silver – Coxless Pairs – George Bridgewater and Nathan Twaddle; Silver – Double Sculls – Caroline and Georgina Evers-Swindell 2008 Olympics, Beijing: Gold – Double Sculls - Caroline and Georgina EversSwindell; Bronze - Single Sculls - Mahe Drysdale; Bronze – Coxless Pairs – George

World Cup circuit in Europe this year, then clinically controlled the medal race in Poland. “It’s more a weight off the shoulders than anything”, reflected Bond a couple of hours after bagging their gold. “You think about all the training you’ve done during the year more than anything. We were obviously favourites going into the race, and with that comes a bit of pressure and expectation. And that’s something we’ve not dealt with before, and it’s been weighing on our minds the last few days. Bond’s realistic about the standard, the year after the Olympics too. “If you look at every year since Athens, we’ve picked up at least two, three or four medals. Some countries may take it easier the year after the Games, but apart from Mahe, all or our crews are pretty new”.

London’s calling for Bond and his mate Murray too. But for the moment he’s taking a break from the repetitive and gruelling early morning training sessions that are essential to make a splash in world rowing. Still only 23, Bond’s eyeing up a crack at the single sculls before refocussing on his Olympic goals and a long term working partnership with his slightly older offsider. There’s competition in the wings too, maybe similar to the Drysdale and Waddell scenario – with Nathan Twaddle and George Bridgewater considering their options after their bronze medal in the coxless pair in Beijing. Another delicate balancing act is looming for New Zealand Rowing, who need to cash-in at Karapiro next year then time their run a little better in London than the three medal haul from Beijing.

Bridgewater and Nathan Twaddle 2009 World Championships – Poznan, Poland: Gold – Single Sculls (world record) - Mahe Drysdale; Gold – Coxless Pairs – Hamish Bond and Eric Murray;

Gold – Lightweight Pair - Peter Taylor and Storm Uru; Gold – Lightweight Single Sculls – Duncan Grant; Bronze – Coxless Pairs - Emma Feathery and Rebecca Scown

PHOTOS: Kosecki/Imago/Icon SMI/NEWSCOM


feel life | HEALTH

The dangers of self-medicating Mother’s little helpers don’t always have a desirable effect, warns Claire Morrow

Stressful day? What you need is a cup of tea, a Bex and a good lie down. So the advertising went, in the days of powders. When I worked in aged care it was not uncommon to come across an elderly woman, often very advanced in age indeed and generally with some degree of dementia, who was determined to have her “powders”. The poor woman in question would generally have a degree of renal damage and a host of prescriptions, and one wouldn’t want to be adding else anything to it, certainly not powders, which were – she would assure you – the only thing that would do, they were a sort of catch-all cure-all for boredom, headache, tummy ache, tiredness, malaise. They were just the thing. If the poor woman was very agitated, she could often be soothed with a weak glass of the type of fizzy drink that is made from powder, and an understanding nurse who agreed that the new formula wasn’t quite the same. My first impression was that “powders” were sedatives of the “mother’s little helper” variety, but the truth was stranger. APC powders, especially Vincent’s and Bex, were non-prescription remedies that were especially popular in Australia from 76  INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM  October 2009

the 1950s until legislation led to their withdrawal from the market in 1979. There were variations on a theme, but the powders were generally a combination of aspirin, phenacetin and caffeine, sometimes paracetamol or codeine. They were mostly harmless to the occasional user, slightly more effective than aspirin or paracetamol alone for treating a garden variety headache. But something funny happened. The received wisdom was that APC powders were harmless things, almost healthy, in some vague way. They were marketed aggressively and with little regulation as a general pick-me-up. You could buy APCs by the carton at the supermarket; factories provided them free for their workers. There was an epidemic of addiction. It’s difficult from today’s standpoint to imagine the innocence of the era; your doctor probably smoked, you could drink when you were pregnant, and medicines were assumed to be safe and good for you. There were no warning labels on your cigarettes, and there was no maximum dosage information on your APC powders. So a lot of people took a lot of powders, and a lot of people took them every few hours, every day, for years. What was the harm?

The harm was discovered almost by accident, by an Australian doctor, Priscilla Kincaid-Smith. Born in South Africa, she had trained in pathology and had a special interest in kidneys, working in the emerging field of nephrology in London, before coming to Australia. On her first visit to the autopsy room at The Alfred in Melbourne she saw a group of kidneys with a condition she’d never seen in London. She was not persuaded by the pathologist’s explanation that it was a common condition caused by infection. It was her husband, Dr Ken Fairley, who noticed that patients with gastric ulcers were more likely to get renal failure and suggested a correlation between over the counter analgesics and the specific type of renal failure they were seeing, subsequently called analgesic neuropathy. It is still uncertain whether Phenacetin (a non-opioid analgesic) was particularly bad for the kidneys, it’s generally agreed that it was the combination of phenacetin with aspirin and caffeine that made it particularly damaging in chemical terms. But the damage occurred, in real terms, because people took so much of it. The caffeine made it addictive, so once it wore off, you’d get a headache, or you’d feel not so good. So

you’d take more, and you’d feel better. Proof that it worked. And in the early 1960s the kidney doctors proved that it caused renal failure, then spent another 10 years lobbying for increased regulation. It was finally regulated in 1975, and pulled from the market in 1979. Analgesic neuropathy, once the most common form of renal failure in Australia, is virtually unheard of today. And today we are more aware, of course. Up to a point. This year the American FDA, which regulates medicines, conducted a review of acetaminophen, the most common cause of acute liver failure in the United States. Liver failure is generally caused by overdose, but about half of the overdoses are accidental, and can result from taking the maximum daily dose for many days. The FDA concluded little more than that patients should be educated on medicine safety. There is also increasing evidence that there is a link between the use of “safe”

amounts of acetaminophen in pregnancy and early childhood, and the development of asthma. Acetaminophen is the American name for paracetamol. We’re conditioned to the belief that medicines make us feel better, and no one likes feeling unwell. We tend to think that medicines in general are pretty safe, so medicines we can buy at the supermarket must be really safe. In many senses this is true, it is rare indeed for short term use of over the counter medicine at the recommended dose to do any harm. But any medicine that works has an impact on the body, it’s simply the nature of the beast, and something to consider before taking any. “Why?” is always a good question. Why give medicine to reduce a fever? Because high fevers are bad for you. But low fevers are not, they don’t need medicine. Did you try a tepid bath for the fever, a hot water bottle or tiger balm for the sore bit, a glass of water for the headache, eucalyptus lol-

lies for the sore throat? They may not work every time, but they’re worth a go. If they don’t work and the symptom/s you have are really bothering you, then it’s probably worth the (small) risk, you might want to take some medicine, and it might make you feel better. But medicine is not 100% guaranteed safe and effective and shouldn’t be a habitual first port of call. REFS AND READING ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed. Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DiscoveryPanel.Pubmed_ Discovery_RA&linkpos=5&log$=relatedreviews&logdbfro m=pubmed Story?id=7699582&page=3 asp


NEW BREAKTHROUGH IN ANTIBIOTICS  u  LUBBOCK, Texas, (UPI) -- A recently patented chemical additive could make old antibiotics effective again against resistant bacteria, a Texas Tech researcher said. A short chain of nucleic acid, called an aptamer, can stop antibiotic-resistant bacteria from breaking down antibiotics, said Robert Shaw, associate chairman of Texas Tech’s Department of Chemistry. Aptamers could invigorate beta-lactam antibiotics, such as penicillins, carbapenems and cephalosporins, which account for nearly $30 billion in annual sales in the United States and more worldwide, Shaw said in a release. Aptamers used with antibiotics kill bacteria that produce enzymes called metallo-beta-lactamase, which have been the most difficult enzymes for researchers to counteract, Shaw said. Bacteria become antibiotic-resistant when they exchange genetic information on how to make these enzymes, Shaw said in an edition of Chemical Biology and Drug Design covering the best presentations of the 2008 International Symposium on Organic Synthesis and Drug Discovery. EXERCISE BENEFITS HUMANS AND DOGS u  MANHATTAN, Kan., (UPI) -- People and their dogs need physical activity to fight obesity, a U.S. veterinarian said. However, Dr. Susan Nelson of Kansas State University in Manhattan said there are many benefits besides weight loss when humans and dogs exercise together. Exercising with your pet also promotes the human-animal bond, she said in a statement. People like dogs because of their unconditional love, and dogs are going to be very pleased to have their owners do something with them. Exercise benefits mental health for both. Nelson said dogs need an energy outlet and dogs receiving adequate exercise will be happier, more content and less likely to develop destructive behavior. Ideally, dog and owner should get out twice daily for exercise. Medium and large dogs typically make better long-distance running partners. If your dog can run longer than you are able, you may want to consider biking while having your dog run beside you on leash, Nelson said. Pay careful attention to safety if you choose this option. Smaller dogs are better suited for shorter distance running or walking. STEM CELL DRUG FAILS CLINICAL TESTS u  COLUMBIA, Md., (UPI) -- A U.S. drugmaker says its effort to produce the first drug derived from human stem cells has failed clinical trials. Osiris Therapeutics of Columbia, Md., announced Tuesday that a pair of clinical trials for its drug Prochymal revealed that it was no more effective than a placebo in treating bone marrow transplant complications, The New York Times reported. The results dashed hopes that Prochymal could become the first drug mass-produced from human stem cells obtained from the bone marrow of healthy adult donors. The drug was envisioned to be helpful in fighting graft-versus-host disease in bone marrow transplants, in which immune cells in donated marrow recognize the recipient’s organs as foreign tissue, the Times said. Osiris officials said that while the second clinical trial didn’t produce the hoped-for results, it did indicate that Prochymal provided a statistically meaningful benefit for graft-versus-host disease patients in treating their affected livers and gastrointestinal tracts. Prochymal is having a clear effect in the liver, and that is the most underserved patient population, C. Randal Mills, the company’s chief executive, told the newspaper.


feel life | ALT.HEALTH

Before and After The photo above shows hardening blood vessels. The photo below was taken after four weeks of Tebonin use. Ian Wishart has the story The battle to employ more natural ingredients – rather than synthetic chemicals – in the fight against disease and aging has taken a new twist with the latest research on a particular Ginkgo biloba extract. A German pharmaceutical company has perfected a concentrated optimum dose of the Ginkgo extract EGb 761, which has shown in medical studies to have a significant impact in support of anti-aging. While Ginkgo has generally received positive press about improving brain function, you could take bucketloads of the stuff and not see the kind of results that the new product Tebonin EGb 761 is achieving thanks to the way it has been extracted and optimized. In clinical studies, patients receiving Tebonin have displayed a marked improvement in blood flow to the brain – one of the critical areas in maintaining cognitive


ability and alertness. And that’s in comparison to other less potent types of Ginkgo. For those wanting the nitty gritty, a study by Schafer et al noted EGb761 has an “immediate intervention effect into plaque formation at the very earliest stages of arteriosclerosis” which, in English, means it can prevent the formation of plaque in your blood vessels thus maintaining circulation to your grey matter. The study concludes that EGb 761 is an effective preventive for “arteriosclerosis and aging” (in the blood vessel sense). By helping keep blood vessels clear, Tebonin reduces stress on the heart and circulatory system and helps tissue to stay healthy – a reduced blood flow would mean the peripheral edges close to the skin are not getting the optimum nutrients and oxygen, and thus start to degenerate (age) faster.

Tebonin’s main use, up to now, has been in treating the symptoms of tinnitus – ringing in the ears – and vertigo, but it’s the other benefits now coming to light that suggest it could be much more valuable to the wider population. Mental acuity has been shown to improve by up to 30% in EGb 761 users, which is a substantial jump on your competitors if being alert and on to it are important. Specific research has shown benefits for people working in front of computers, and there’s even research linking Tebonin use to a better golf game! Unlike most other natural remedies which, when clinically tested, fall over, Tebonin has repeatedly performed under scientific scrutiny. Natural ingredient, but intelligently designed for optimum effectiveness.

0800 872 455

77 Paerata Road,


taste life   travel

Eight great things in Hong Kong Places and things not to miss in the Chinese metropolis, reports Vivian Yan HONG KONG – I grew up hearing stories about Hong Kong. My parents lived there until they were teens, before moving overseas. I knew that before a typhoon, cockroaches flew like mad in the skies. I knew that you could toss coins down to a street vendor and they would throw up a snack to your apartment window. I knew that housing could be so cramped in H-shaped tenements that a whole floor might share a bathroom. But all of that was based on memories from my parents growing up in the ‘50s and ‘60s. So when I visited Hong Kong for the first time, I didn’t know what to expect. Did the street vendors still launch food up buildings? The coins themselves had probably changed, too, since the city has been returned to China. And after two weeks in the city, visiting both tourist hot spots and my parents’ old favourite haunts, I realize that I still don’t know what to expect, even now that I look back. Was riding out a typhoon on the 80  INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM  October 2009

40th floor of a skyscraper the most exciting event, or was it the fun of trying as many exotic-looking snacks as possible at the numerous 7-Elevens? I’ve narrowed the list down to a few places and events that anyone can experience, anytime. And so, at the risk of sounding like yet another tour guide/salesperson, I present my list of eight unforgettable moments. Why eight? For many Chinese people, the number eight holds an auspicious significance because the word for eight and the word for fortune rhyme, especially in the Cantonese language: baht and faht, respectively. With a city grounded in traditions yet reaching for the skies, what better way could there be to begin? 1. Fu Kee Restaurant I didn’t expect much when I walked into the small, crowded restaurant. It was the day after I’d landed in Hong Kong, and

so far I hadn’t been too impressed with the humidity, the loud voices yelling down the street in Cantonese, the violent drivers ... the humidity. But little did I know what awaited me in the one simple order I made that night: One bowl of barbecued pork, called cha siu in Cantonese, served over white rice. The man who took my order hollered across the room to the cooks. He didn’t have a pen or a pad. He probably would’ve been slowed down with one anyway, as the restaurant was packed with hungry customers packed around small tables. The food arrived. A line of cha siu lay on top of a generous amount of white rice. Up with the chopsticks, into my mouth with the pork. ... Wait. That couldn’t be right. I needed another bite to prove that the first bite wasn’t a fluke, that I hadn’t just imagined the taste due to my own hunger. But each mouthful was just as fabulous as the first, the rich flavors of the meat tempered by the white rice. In all my

forays through Rowland Heights and San Francisco, nothing has ever matched up with the cha siu at that small restaurant. Was I impressed now? Oh yes – impressed enough to come back at least four times over the course of my month-long trip to Hong Kong and southern China. 104-106 Fa Yuen Street, Mong Kok, Kowloon District. 2. Tian Tan Buddha At 650 metres above sea level and “sitting” 32 metres tall, the 250-ton landmark on Lantau Island is the world’s tallest bronze Buddha. I took the Ngong Ping 360, a gondola lift, up the mountain to reach the Tian Tan Buddha. Tian tan basically translates into Altar of Heaven. The Buddha is also known as the Po Lin Buddha for the nearby monastery of the same name. In a small car lifted high above the sea and green mountains, we drifted through cloud cover and over buildings and the international airport. From the lift’s terminal, we walked down a street lined with stores selling food and small statues of Buddhist and Chinese symbols. Visitors held umbrellas to block the sun as they popped in and out of doorways on the way down to the Buddha. Finally, we reached an open plaza, where the 268 stairs leading up to the Buddha’s lotus pedestal began their ascent. We joined the throng of people climbing the stairs, looking upward at the calm and benevolent face of the Buddha before us. Even at a distance, its presence was immense, its tranquil smile overlooking the trees and flowers bordering the stairs and the green mountains beyond. It was a long, hot climb, but the elevation made the site a thankful respite from the summer humidity. There is a lower level of the lotus pedestal, which the stairs leads to directly and is free to enter, and a higher level, where the Buddha actually sits. Reaching the upper level requires entering the base of the statue and going through the halls there. A curving staircase winds three floors upward, circling a huge bell with carvings of Buddhas. Exiting the halls took us to the very bottom of the Buddha, where my mother told me people would rub the bronze lotus petals the Buddha sat upon. Outside the wind had picked up strength to cool the heat from the sun, and even with a slight cover of clouds, the view down the mountain and out to the sea was unmistakably beautiful. Ngong Ping, Lantau Island,

“I sat on the second floor of a double-decker bus, holding onto the seatbeltless chairs and wondering if each thought was going to be my last. It felt like if I leaned too far over to look out the window, the whole bus just might topple over and down, taking one or two high-rise towers with us 3. Lui Yen Gai (Ladies’ Market) Ladies’ Market is named that for a reason: It’s heaven for the female shopper who knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to fight for it. The market is basically a long stretch of tall stalls on the street. Cars aren’t allowed to drive down the road, so shoppers need to worry only about pickpockets and bumping into people. Packed with loud voices and throngs of people, combined with the humidity and heat, the street is very claustrophobic and very much alive. Each stall specializes in different goods, from Bruce Lee T-shirts to belts and purses, but many stalls sell many similar items – and that is where the haggling comes in. Personally, I’m not much of a haggler, especially since I’m neither fluent nor adventurous with my Cantonese. So mostly I speak to storekeepers in a soft voice, which isn’t the optimal tone for arguing over prices. But nonetheless, Ladies’ Market was a sight to be remembered. Stall owners shout out for your attention, “Siu jie!” meaning Miss. At one corner was a pitchman – or pitchwoman, I should say – attracting a crowd as she demonstrated a wallet that you could open at either end, switching between Cantonese and English, depending on whoever stopped by. It was like a show – witness the amazing wallet as it wows the wandering passers-by! Southern end of Tung Choi Street, Mong Kok, Kowloon, 4. The bus ride to Victoria Peak Victoria Peak, known to most residents simply as “the Peak,” overlooks Victoria Harbor and the city below. It isn’t the

highest point in Hong Kong – but it’s well equipped for visitors, with a sweeping view of the Symphony of Lights, a show in which colored lights of the buildings below coordinate to form patterns, pictures and words. It’s still humid at the top but much cooler, with the Peak Tower nearby if you need some air conditioning and shopping. But despite the breathtaking view and the glow of the city lights, the most memorable part of the visit, by far, was the bus ride up. The road up to the Peak snakes along the mountain curves. A reasonable driver, a safe driver, would take his time navigating the twists and turns – but not these bus drivers. They attacked each stretch of road with a vigorous push on the gas, braking scarcely moments before certain collision. I sat on the second floor of a double-decker bus, holding onto the seatbelt-less chairs and wondering if each thought was going to be my last. It felt like if I leaned too far over to look out the window, the whole bus just might topple over and down, taking one or two high-rise towers with us. With this sort of life-threatening thrill readily available, I don’t know why they bothered to build the Dragon roller coaster at the nearby theme park, Ocean Park. 5. Avenue of Stars The Avenue of the Stars was opened in 2004 to honour Hong Kong’s early movie industry, with statues depicting the city’s history of film placed at intervals along the walkway overlooking Victoria Harbor. These statues, including a tall Hong Kong Film Awards sculpture at the entrance to the promenade, make the Avenue a nifty spot for fans of Cantonese film – or for fans of Bruce Lee. Forever ready for action in his classic fists-up stance, he stared down a distant menace while Japanese tourists and other visitors struck up their own kung-fu postures beside the martial-arts giant. The long walkway protruding into the harbor was not too crowded when I visited, making for a quiet relief from the bustle and crowds of many of Hong Kong’s tourist spots. Since it opened fairly recently, the avenue is comparatively cleaner than other areas, and much more visitor-friendly, with signs in Chinese and English. Three small shops with glass walls dotted the walkway, selling souvenirs and memorabilia. Hand imprints of Chinese celebrities such as Jackie Chan, Andy Lau and Jet Li were INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM  October 2009  81

“The Avenue of the Stars was opened in 2004 to honour Hong Kong’s early movie industry, with statues depicting the city’s history of film placed at intervals along the walkway overlooking Victoria Harbor just another highlight of the avenue’s homage to film. I went at night, with the skyscrapers of Hong Kong Island reflected in the bay and glowing in the water. Millions of glittering windows challenged the shine of small colored lights in the floor of the promenade, all highlighting an avenue of stars. Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade, Kowloon, 6. White dolphin searching in Tai O Guidebooks call Tai O the “Venice of Hong Kong.” Yet the small seaside town doesn’t try to attract tourists, though it’s certainly ready for them. The stores on one side of a street would sell to the locals, with freshly caught octopus and oysters, dried scallops and salted fish and other seafood products like shrimp paste. The other side of the street would lure visitors with enough jade trinkets, beaded bracelets, jewelry and Bruce Lee T-shirts to challenge even Ladies’ Market. Tourists who do come to Tai O often seek a glimpse of the Chinese white dolphin, so called for the pinkish-white hue of its body. The dolphin ranks “near threatened” according the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. It was nearly sunset as we headed out to a dock where several men stood nearby 82  INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM  October 2009

an orange boat with an overhead covering. The men were polite as they helped us enter the small boat, and then they flared up the engine and steered us out to the open sea. The men seemed as eager as we were to see a dolphin. The men would cut the engine and together, all of us would sit silently, holding our breaths, looking for a plume of white that might indicate the presence of dolphins. If there was nothing after a few minutes, the engine would roar back to life and we’d head out to another area and repeat the process. It must have been our lucky day; the weather was beautiful and the air comfortable. And as we waited in the boat, here and there light-colored bodies appeared in the water like magic, eluding each click of my camera but always returning to tease us again. Returning to the town, we could see the signs of the fire that destroyed numerous homes in July 2000, lingering in the ramshackle residences perched on stilts about the rivers and in the debris that littered the banks. Yet somehow the village, the land, sea and sky, and the quiet awe of the dolphins each had an undeniable beauty. Located on the western side of Lantau Island.

7. Kung Wo Dou Bun Chong Hong Kong is full of hidden gems – hidden even from street view. Getting to Kung Wo Dou Bun Chong requires a bit of hunting. After locating the street, we had to push through crowds at the street market then duck through a stall to reach the sidewalk, where we finally found our destination. This favorite spot has been around since my parents were teenagers in Hong Kong, and age doesn’t seem to have touched its popularity. The restaurant – could it be called a restaurant if it only served one food item, cooked in different ways? – did not have a front door but rather an open front. One half of the storefront was sectioned off by a stall at which a man was frying tofu and serving passers-by. Inside, people crowded in and sat small tables that were hastily wiped down after each use. Waiters leaned over the customers to reach bowls and spoons in cabinets overhead, and the sound of tofu beans being hand-ground added to the volume. Orders were shouted out and chairs shoved around in a frenzied bustle of activity, but when the food arrived, all focus went there. The order I went for, tofu bean curd, called dou fu fah in Cantonese, is a dessert consisting of tofu in sweet water, served either hot or cold. I’m typically not a fan, but in the grimy heat of summer the cool bowl of tofu was surprisingly welcome, and surprisingly delicious. It’s no wonder the restaurant has been around for so long. 118 Pei Ho Street, Sham Shui Po, Kowloon 8. Best chips at 7-Eleven 7-Elevens are all over in Hong Kong. Just like Starbucks in the States, any given street will have no less than three stores in the vicinity. And just like Starbucks, it can be difficult to not go in at least once a day. If you use the subway system, chances are you’re popping into a 7-Eleven to add more money to your subway card, or just dropping by to pick up a snack or drink. Most of these snacks are Asian brands, but even if you can’t read Chinese, the bright pictures and images always help. However, my favorite item at a Hong Kong 7-Eleven require hardly any Chinese – it’s all in the oval, brown-haired face that graces this tube of chips: pizza-flavored Pringles. I’d never seen that flavor before, so here it was a novelty: different, unique, and delicious. And if nothing else, the can is a keeper as a souvenir.

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taste life   FOOD

Who knew? James Morrow experiences the delights of the Canberra – yes, Canberra – truffle festival Canberra is not, as world cities go, the sort of place one associates with A Good Time. No one ever goes off to Canberra for a debauched long weekend of a buck’s party, any more than they would, say, spend their gap year in Albany, New York. Apart from being the southern hemisphere’s capital of roundabouts, and the sort of place where “fun” involves gangs of Parliamentary advisors in off-the-rack suits drinking way too much and playing Follow The Leader Then Knife Him in the Back, Canberra really does not have a lot going for it in the cuttin’ loose stakes. It’s a place whose most lively gathering takes place at the Qantas Club on Thursday evenings, when staffers and MPs smash the open bar before rushing onto their flights home for the long weekend. It’s everybody else in the Skyhooks song, “All My Friends Are Getting Married”. It’s safe as houses. 84  INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM  October 2009

It’s Canada on Mersyndol. It’s dull. But get out of town a little – or, do as we did, and drive a couple hours south-west of Sydney – and everything changes. First, the landscape: It’s not artificial, carved up by American architect Walter Burley Griffin’s fake lakes and bureaucrat’s boulevards. It’s more rolling, pastoral, and deeply Australian – not the forbidding outback Australia of Wake in Fright, but rather the warm and welcoming Australia of, say, the Heidelburg School. Second, the culture: Despite being barely on the other side of the Australian Capital Territory line, people have interests that go beyond who’s up and who’s down in the great game of Parliamentary politics. And, most important for our purposes, the area has developed one hell of a local food culture. Let’s back up a moment, to the Sydney Boutique Wine Festival, a tremendous

annual event which brings together some of the best small producers from New Zealand and Australia in one place to show their wares. Much of what occurred at the event is obscured in the mists of time, but one of the great acquisitions of the day was an invitation to lunch at the Canberra region’s Lark Hill winery, which in a few weeks hence would be hosting the closing event of the inaugural Canberra Country Truffle Festival. Yes, that’s right – I said truffles. And not just truffles flown in from Italy or France at great expense, but truffles grown locally, in the region, sniffed out and dug up by local dogs. (Pigs, apparently, are not trustworthy as they tend to get high on the farmer’s supply and snarfle half of what they find before it makes it into the basket). Nor is this the only region in the socalled New World where truffles, once a play food of the rich, are being grown for

market. Tasmania and Western Australia have been quietly working at the truffle game for years. Not to be outdone, New Zealand has been successfully growing truffles for years. Professor Ian Hall of the Invermay Agricultural Centre near Dunedin is perhaps the first pioneer of truffle growing in the Southern Hemisphere, and after first investigating the possibility in 1985 managed to harvest a few black Perigord truffles just two years later – a remarkable feat given the huge lead times normally required for these magical tubers to grow. Because the fact of the matter is, much of what we know and think about truffles remains a mystery. They have always been regarded as one of those super-luxury food items, up there in the same category as caviar and foie gras (the latter another product that really should be produced in our parts in the same way as it is in California and New York State). Their growing process is obscure, their taste is acquired, yet they are considered one of the great delicacies of all time. The composer Rossini is said to have cried three times in his adult life: When the audience booed his first opera, when he first heard Paganini play the violin, and when a truffled turkey fell overboard during a boating picnic. The question of course is, at a cost of several hundred dollars a kilo, are they worth it? Well, to a certain extent the same criticism can be made of truffles as of any other specialised treat: really, at the end of the day they aren’t, any more than a bottle of Penfold’s Grange is at the end of the day basically the same product as the $8 stuff that sits on the bottom shelf of the local bottle shop. And yet treated correctly, they are transcendent. The lunch at Lark Hill – a brilliant biodynamic producer run by husband and wife team Dr Dave and Sue Carpenter – was orchestrated by their excellent chef. Rather than simply walloping diners over the head with great lashings of truffle oil, the menu was a slow progression, with some real trick shots thrown in. Two stand-outs were a fresh free-form lasagne of pumpkin, sage and truffles which was accompanied by the unlikely but ultimately brilliant partner in the form of a glass of the winery’s rose, and a truffle ice cream which was all silk and sex on a plate. At the end of the meal the dining room was silent, save for the scraping of spoons on china; had one person dared to lick their plate, everyone would have thrown table manners to the wind.

FETTUCINI AL TARTUFOVO If one is lucky enough to come across a supply of truffles, it is best to treat them simply. One of my favourite truffle recipes comes from Buon Ricordo Restaurant in Sydney. You’ll need: 250g fettuccini 125g butter, chopped 200ml pouring cream 1 cup finely grated parmesan 2 truffled eggs, which have been kept in an air-tight container with your truffle for a couple of days extra parmesan and shaved truffle, to serve

Method Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; add pasta, stir well to ensure it does not stick. Meanwhile, heat butter and cream in a large frying pan until butter melts. Simmer gently until slightly reduced. Add parmesan and stir to combine. Season to taste. In a separate small frying pan; gently fry eggs until just cooked. Drain pasta; tip into cream mixture. Divide pasta between serving plates; top each serving with an egg. Chop egg through pasta and toss to combine. INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM  October 2009  85

touch life  >  toybox

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NOKIA 3720 CLASSIC Nokia has introduced the new Nokia 3720 Classic, an IP-54 certified mobile phone designed to resist water, dust and shock. Following the footsteps of Nokia’s highly popular ‘rugged’ devices of the past, the Nokia 3720 classic is encased in durable materials and is entirely sealed to protect the inner electronics. The Nokia 3720 Classic features a sealed, leak-proof design and durable materials in a range of colours. The battery cover, which protects both the battery and the internal circuitry of the device, is locked with a screw, making for worry-free usage in wet, dusty or muddy environments. As to be expected, the Nokia 3720 Classic also offers exceptional battery performance as well as an LED flashlight, to complement its rugged design. Additional add-ons include Nokia Maps, which comes pre-loaded on the 1 GB microSD memory card, and the large and bright 2.2” display is perfect for following the route even in unfamiliar terrain.


SAMSUNG TL220 & TL225 Samsung Electronics America has announced the Samsung DualView Cameras, the TL225 and TL220. These 12.2 mega-pixel, innovative compact digital cameras feature Dual LCD screens, with one LCD on the front of the camera, and a second one on the back of the camera, to give consumers the ability to truly step out from behind the camera and put themselves in the picture. Delivering an unrivalled user experience, the 1.5” LCD located on the front of the Samsung DualView Cameras now allows consumers to take first-rate photos whether they are behind the camera or in front of it. Samsung’s new TL225 also features a 3.5” wide touch-screen back LCD. At 1,152K resolution, the TL225’s LCD delivers almost four times more resolution than traditional cameras and also comes complete with haptic vibration feedback for ease of use.  A 12.2 mega-pixel CCD and 27mm wide-angle Schneider-KREUZNACH lens with 4.6x optical zoom gives a wider shooting range from a shorter distance, producing clear, clean images with balanced resolution from the center of the image to the edges.

BENW W6000 PROJECTOR The W6000 is home projection at its best, incorporating top technologies for luxury, cinema-class entertainment at home.  It rivals high-priced models in offering full 1080p HD video at 24 frames per second – the same format used for professional movie filming and editing, as well as in Blu-ray DVD players.  Movies are always pristine and immaculate without the degradation that inevitably occurs during the conversion process.  Likewise, sophisticated HQV processing not only renders HD video sources in true 1080p high definition, but enhances standard definition content to new levels of clarity and vibrancy.  Lower-resolution video sources such as 480i, whether analog or digital, are automatically converted to produce full HD-like image quality.

CANON DC420 CAMCORDER The DC420 combines the convenience of straight-to-DVD shooting with Megapixel video recording – for great image quality. With Canon’s unique Advanced Zoom system, get closer to all of the action. The combination of a genuine Canon Video Lens and the powerful DIGIC DV II processor brings a high magnification factor of 45x to widescreen recording. You’ll never miss a shot with Quick Start. Simply flip open the LCD screen to power the camcorder up from Standby mode in approximately one second. All key functions are easily accessed through the intuitive menu system, displayed on the LCD screen. The DC420 uses DVD-R Dual Layer media to record over an hour of footage on each DL disc. The camcorder is also compatible with High Capacity batteries, allowing you to keep on shooting for longer.


see life / pages

A good, keen, kindly Cheeta Michael Morrissey finds tabloid in a chimp’s ‘autobiography’ THE KINDLY ONES by Jonathan Littell, Chatto & Windus, $40 In an age of shallow texting and short attention spans, there is something about a serious 1000-page novel in small print that is heroic and monumental. Despite the extraordinary body of books, both fictional and historic, on the Holocaust, there always seems to be room for one more. Even in this well-crowded field, The Kindly Ones looks likely to dominate, to be the definitive study of this historic aberration. The result of five years’ research, and the reading of 200 books, plus a foot-slogging “pilgrimage” to various relevant sites and battlefields, the novel won for its American-born French-raised author, the prestigious Prix-Goncourt prize in 2006. Though originally forecast to sell no more than 5000 copies, it went on to sell a million plus copies and become a best seller in continental Europe. The Kindly Ones is the harrowing account, told in the first person, of Max Aue, an SS officer who begins his career of ethnic slaughter by killing Jews on the Eastern front. Minus the first 24 pages of justifying self profile, the next 200 or so pages are dominated by repetitive accounts of bloody butchery. The smell and presence of excrement that Aue alludes to many times - not to mention getting blood on his boots or gore splashing into officers’ faces when they shot their victims through the head - is unrelentingly grim. Yet it is curiously compulsive reading. Many famous Nazis pass through its pages such as Eichmann, Blobel, Heydrich, Himmler and Speer – most are described in unattractive physical detail - weasely or fat men with pale eyes and tics or whatever. There is no doubt these men were intelligent and often men of culture - but by any moral standards worthy of the name, were engaged in brutal evil. Aue, or if you prefer, the author, spends some time in analysing the psychological motives. There are the sadist types who enjoy their murderous work for psychosexual reasons; others did it as a duty – obeying the wish and 88  INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM  October 2009

the will of the Fuhrer even if the task was distasteful; nevertheless, they gained righteous pleasure from doing their duty; others killed mechanically as though slaughtering an animal. Whatever one or mixture of these motives applied, the killing proceeded methodically and mechanically. There is also a German obsession with keeping accurate records. Indeed, Aue is quizzed on the exactitude of the totals. At times, especially during a highly intellectual and ideological discussion between Aue and a Ukrainian Commissar about the difference between National Socialism and Communism (not a lot really except for the foundation on which they rest), the novel is reminiscent of Thomas Mann or even Dostoyevsky. Equally, the massive sweep of the novel’s encompass has prompted one critic to compare it to Tolstoy – though the book proffers unrelenting war without peace. The Kindly Ones is thus a far darker read than any of the great novelists referred to. Nevertheless, despite its lack of traditional novelist’s drama and staccato documentary style, which is often redeemed by both compelling monologues, and combative ideological dialogues, The Kindly Ones must be considered, frozen warts and all, a great novel. There is something dessicated and horribly oppressive about this novel’s bureaucratic monologues and the ingenious ideological claptrap spouted by the SS officers commingled with the sweat, filth, carnage, mud, urine, stink of death and excrement which makes war the most inglorious of activities. Rather than being set on the battlefield of the battlefield – though German defeats intrude more as the novel progresses - it is set in the battlefield of brutally enforced ideology ie ethnic murder and bureaucratic self absorption. It is also set in the grim arena of Aue’s poisonous psyche - as well as being a murderer, he is guilty of incest and the possible murder of his mother and step father - though this is shrouded in dark ambiguity. The remorseless pursuit by two dedicated police detectives convinced of Aue’s guilt, provides the only humour, albeit of the black variety. At various times – like the German army facing the worst win-

ter in decades plus Russian mud - I felt bogged down and had to give this enormous novel a break. But I kept doggedly returning to it. We follow Aue into the hellhole of the Stalingrad cauldron, through Auschwitz and eventually to the chaos of Berlin where savagely feral armed children roam the streets in quest of traitors. By this time, everything that was formerly orderly is now falling apart as the Soviets inexorably draw closer and use the same military tactics that the Germans used to initially defeat them in the earlier phase of the war. In the surprise conclusion (don’t read the next part of this sentence if you wish to save the surprise to the ending), Aue bites the nose of the Fuhrer in a cold rage - meaning what? Something grossly symbolic? Perplexing black comedy? Aue wishes to sign his own death warrant? The jury is out. Aue has one last murder to commit - that of his friend Thomas, who has been his staunch ally throughout - and with that his fate is sealed. Thus ends this grimmest of all novels. For anyone interested in this colossal and shameful sector of history, this novel is obligatory reading. VOODOO HISTORIES: The Role of the Conspiracy Theory in Shaping Modern History by David Aaronovitch, Jonathan Cape, $39.99 There’s nothing like a colourful conspiracy theory to jazz up history. Marilyn Monroe committed suicide? Of course not - she was murdered by the Mafia. The astronauts landed on the moon? Of course they didn’t – it was all faked in the Nevada desert. Muslim terrorists blew up the World Trade Centre Towers? Of course they didn’t - the United States government did it. Voodoo Histories, like this cynical reviewer, will have none of it. Indeed, to parody the words of Dr Goebbels, “Every time I hear the word conspiracy I feel like reaching for my revolver.” I suspect that rather than looking at the facts - whether real, smudged or faked - we should be looking at the psychology of the believers. Who among us does not enjoy being party to a secret? After all, that’s what gossip is – the revelation of secrets preferably those involving the famous. Correspondingly, there is surely no one alive who does not have a secret they would prefer stay that way. But, as we all know, there comes a time, perhaps late at night, after a few drinks, where one longs to reveal that secret. Doesn’t that make you wonder why a NASA employee - one of the estimated 400,000 involved - after a few highballs, hasn’t blown the whistle on the “fake” moon landings? No one has thus far. [I found the presence of several kilos of moon rocks brought back for testing in public universities quite compelling evidence for an actual landing, myself – Ed.] The one who knows a secret that others do not, feels superior. Surely spies enjoy the thrill of concealment and secretly relish the high stakes - where one slip could mean death. Another intriguing aspect is that many of the leading conspiracies which involve the United States (such as the three well-known examples mentioned above) also have the alleged truth revealed by fellow Americans. Surely this is democracy in action, for such voices would find it awfully difficult to make themselves heard in a totalitarian state. It’s almost as though the Americans want to catch up. Hey, the conspirators say (unconsciously), we’ve got bad guys who tell enormous lies, just like other countries. The increasing technology of morphing and other fake optical effects has brought an increasing growth in conspiracy theories.

Modern technology means that anything can be faked. Ergo, everything real might be a fake. Confused? As a countermeasure to conspiracy hysteria, Aaronovitch provides some down to earth sense. He begins his survey with that old much disproved chestnut The Protocols of the Elders of Zion in the late nineteenth century and takes us through several dark chapters of ideological bias, racial prejudice, and blinkered, not to say, paranoid, political and historical thought. Prior to the accusation linking Kennedy to Monroe, Franklin Delano Roosevelt came in for some heavy conspiracy bombardment from such notable figures as historian John Toland and Gore Vidal to the effect that he knew about the impending Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour but kept the information from his generals. Interestingly, and significantly, the Japanese deny the allegation - they maintain that they kept radio silence during the critical hours. While the treatment of FDR’s pre-invasion is full, the coverage of Senator McCarthy’s communist phobia is disappointingly thin. Aaronovitch quotes up to date computer simulation know-how to dispel the notion of the impossible magic bullet in the Kennedy assassination case. In other words, the Warren Commission findings and indeed the conclusion of the astute Norman Mailer, are, in his view correct - JFK was killed by lone gunman Lee Harvey Oswald and not by Texas oil millionaires, the Mafia or whoever. Other conspiracy-style beliefs that come in for heavy scorn are the Holy Grail theory that Mary Magdalene and Jesus had children, and the alleged murder of Princess Diana by the Royal family. It has been observed that once a conspiracy buff gets on the trail of a wayward belief no amount of evidence will budge them. Hence the issue becomes no longer a matter of historic or scientific evidence, but a mindset based on irrational faith rather than facts. Aaronovitch’s in the main, carefully researched book, is a good antidote. 100 ESSENTIAL NEW ZEALAND FILMS by Hamish McDouall, Awa Press, $40 In contrast to the learned A History of the New Zealand Feature Film by Professor Bruce Babington, Hamish McDouall’s book is a highly subjective selection of 100 key films. Here, the canvas - or should that be screen? - is wide enough to include not only full-length feature films but a goodly number of shorts – 34 at my count. The briefest is the lovingly restored The Departure of the Second Contingent For the Boer War, just 45 seconds of military pageantry. The repair of the fume-treated nitrate film stock, shot by film pioneer Alfred Whitehouse, the first New Zealander to use a Kinematograph camera, took 160 hours. The shorts include the historically important A Colour Box and Free Radicals by Len Lye and the hauntingly surreal Kitchen Sink with the highly talented Peter Tait who had a small part in Ian Mune’s TV film Life’s a Riot shown in a recent Sunday theatre spot. Films are a subject on which opinions are as fiercely held as in the political arena, so while I agree with much of McDouall’s selection, I would have dropped the pretentious In My Father’s Den, the melodramatic Mr Wrong, the dull Out of the Blue, the predictable The World’s Fastest Indian, the ponderous Skin Deep and the overdressed (and underdressed) Desperate Remedies. Two scandalous omissions are Costa Botes’s award-winning Stalin’s Sickle and Sima Urale’s superbly stylish Velvet Dreams, a study of the painting of usually partially unclad Polynesian maidens on black velvet. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Peter Jackson and Vincent Ward domiINVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM  October 2009  89

nate, with four films each. Geoff Murphy, Roger Donaldson, Ian Mune, and that extraordinarily gifted duo Don McLashan and Harry Sinclair, and of course the unforgettably charismatic Bruno Lawrence, our very own Marlon Brando, also prominently figure. McDouall is not afraid to dish out either high praise or brickbats. Thus Angel At My Table, he declares somewhat coyly to be “the finest feature ever made in New Zealand” though in my view that honour belongs to Forgotten Silver, a brilliant gem of a film - a dual effort of Peter Jackson and Costa Botes which aroused more controversy than any other film by perpetrating what McDouall calls a hoax, though interestingly enough, the label is disavowed by Botes who was responsible for many of the ideas in the film. McDouall acclaims Rena Owens who co-starred in Once Were Warriors as “arguably the best female performance in a New Zealand film” and I am of the view Temuera Morrison should have got an Oscar for the intensity of his performance as Jake. On the other hand, McDouall can be sardonically amusing when he says that Colin Broadley looked “like a knitwear model” in Runaway and of the highly likable Came A Hot Friday that, “Most of the female characters are drawn only as far as the hem of their skirts”. A helpful addition is a list of institutions and archives where some of the more obscure films can be accessed. Much as I enjoyed this book for provoking me by its occasional mistaken judgments, in the main, I agreed with the majority of McDouall’s assessments. An omission is not listing the leading actors in the film’s headline credits though they are of course inevitably mentioned in the text. Overall, this is an excellent introduction to the surprisingly extensive back list of New Zealand films and written in cheerfully opinionated, witty and lucid prose. A GOOD KEEN MAN by Barry Crump, Hodder Moa, $44.99 The time is 1960. Things are quiet. Suddenly there is a benign explosion. It is the arrival of A Good Keen Man. As with The Da Vinci Code in recent times, everyone was reading the book. And even if you weren’t sucked into the merry maelstrom, you could not be but be aware that some guy in a black singlet had kicked up a perfect storm. Being a coffee bar hanger-on, a city boy whose experience of wild pig was a slice of fatty bacon on a Saturday morning - and being a literary snob steeped in Sartre and Dostosyevsky - I decided Crumpy was not my camp fire brew. Fifty years on, here I am reading the great classic reissued as an exact replica (though the original maroon has acquired a bit of twenty first century gloss) – and, as far as it goes, enjoying it. I guess not a lot has changed. They tell me every weekend thousands of good keen men still go out pig sticking while I look for bacon in the local supermarket. But our self image has undergone modification. No longer is the typical kiwi a sheep shearer who speaks in laconic grunts, but a 90  INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM  October 2009

guy in a suit wiping away the froth from a flat white while sneaking a sideways glance at the share market fluctuation. No longer is the Prime Minister, a jack of all trades who quit school at 14, but an accountant or a lawyer. Good keen men now come in pinstripes. One of the questions at the time was - was Crumpy telling the truth? According to fellow deer culler turned author Jack Lasenby, Barry sometimes stretched a point for a good story. There were some who even - insult of insults – doubted that Crump had written the book. The subsequent outpouring would surely have killed off that jealous slander. Can Barry Crump write? For any author who can pen such gems as, “I felt as lonely as an empty billy in the ashes of a dead fire” or “It was as cold as the first bootful of water on a June morning,” the answer has to be a resounding yes. On the other hand, Barry wasn’t averse to using the odd cliche of the day. Essentially, Crump was an amiable yarn spinner lacking in literary pretension but who cannot be acclaimed “a great writer” as an enthusiastic but misguided Paul Holmes claimed when Barry handed in his .303 and knife and departed for the King Country in the sky. We can all recognise the character types - sleepy Phil, who often got lost and was a dead loss cook and a poor shooter; Dave, who had lots of up to date hunting gear, shot off lots of rounds and hit nothing; energetic Harry, who was a nice guy but also a terrible cook; game Jock, who was bowled by a hefty young boar but still had plenty of fight in him. And let us not forget the loyal, game and tough dogs that love their masters even if they kicked them occasionally. If Ernest Hemingway was world famous in the world, Barry Crump was world famous in New Zealand. And in 1960, that was no mean achievement. Good on ya, mate. ME CHEETA by James Lever, Fourth Estate, $24.99 Every so often a writer comes up with a colourful new idea and (presumably) other scribes clap their hands to their forehead and exclaim, “Now why I didn’t I think of that!” That was my reaction to the plot premise of Life of Pi which involved a zebra, a hyaena, an orangutan and a seasick Bengal tiger aboard a lifeboat with one hapless human shipwreck survivor. And I had much the same reaction on hearing about this novel which purports to be the autobiography of the world’s oldest living chimp, veteran of many Tarzan films and now living in retirement in Florida. Since we have heard about chimps using sign language to ask for more watermelon, it’s only a small stretch to one mastering English and writing a memoir. Yeah, right. Once the issue of incredulity is summarily dealt with, the reader, ever willing to suspend disbelief in the name of a good story, should sit back and enjoy the ride. Reading Me Cheeta is a bit like taking a quick browse through every issue of the National Enquirer. It’s packed with unsavoury scandal, gossip and naughty stories about Hollywood greats – though Johnny Weissmuller, the Sean Connery of Tarzans, comes out almost annoyingly squeaky clean. Here is Cheeta’s richly complex analysis of the smooth Rex Harrison, of Doctor Doolittle fame – “universally despised, impotent, alcoholic, cruel, vain, brittle, snobbish and mephitic but still under that carapace of protective acerbity, a very gentle and insecure human being”. Sounds like a few writers that I cannot name. Lever’s style is a fanciful dance reminiscent of that deceased vir-

tuoso Vladimir Nabokov. Here are some of Cheeta’s likes - “figs, moonfruit, a big yellowy-green fruit that fizzed when you ate it, passion flower buds, Victoria, Mama, holding onto Mama’s hair to ride her, playing with Fredrick, Gerard and Deanna, the taste of the leaves that Mama would chew into a little sponge to dab up fresh rainwater...” Taste buds and family loom large in Cheeta’s sensory memories. He didn’t like “termites, palm-nuts, the faces of baboons, Marilyn, whom Mama had to fight, the mewling of leopards, Stroheim” – the latter being a notorious Hollywood bully. Thus is Cheeta’s character revealed. Just as a reader might understandably get the idea that Cheeta’s frequently expressed contempt for poorly behaved Hollywood celebs might hint at a wider misanthropy (“f ******. bonobos”), he tells us that he really likes human beings - in fact, he seems to have a sentimental fondness for them, especially for the genial Mr Gentry, his special trainer as well as great admiration for the nobly upright Johnny Weissmuller. Cheeta takes pride in the fact that he gets 50 fan letters a week which is more than Rex, the wonder dog, receives. And he is all too aware that in order to survive in Hollywood and not be shunted off to a laboratory for use as medical experiments, he needs his fans. Me Cheeta is a joyous romp through the imagined inner life of a famous chimp during the golden age of Hollywood. Be prepared to learn some alarmingly personal facts about some of Hollywood’s former greats which, after all, only proves they were just as human as the rest of us. Younger readers might not have heard of former idols like Wallace Beery, Gilbert Roland, or John Gilbert but if they swing along on Cheeta’s gossipy vine, they will pick up more than a few titbits of cinematic history. Ideal as a Christmas stocking filler for the sixty pluses.


see life / music

Anchor me Chris Philpott samples the new Fat Freddy, and knows summer is coming LA ROUX La Roux You could be forgiven for thinking that the synth-pop sound had died an honourable death in the early 1990s, following the virtual demise of Neil Tennants’ the Pet Shop Boys and Annie Lennox going into more rock-centric territory with the Eurythmics. However, you’d be dead wrong – this month it’s back! The good news is it doesn’t sound too bad: British pair Elly Jackson and Ben Langmaid met in 2006 and formed La Roux, releasing their first hit single - “Quicksand” - in December last year before attracting international attention with follow-up singles, and really making a splash with their debut, self-titled album. Despite obvious limitations with the synth sound, the tracks here cover all the ground between dance-floor anthem (see: recent UK number 1 “Bulletproof ”) and soulful ballad (see: “Cover My Eyes”) - all the while showing off a knack for catchy rhythms and highlighting Jackson’s incredible vocal range. But while it might all sound the same at times, you have to give credit where it’s due: La Roux have managed to sound fresh by looking into the not-too-distant past, perhaps putting the spotlight on the audience’s use-once-and-destroy mentality and the tendency of musical styles to come back around again … and again … ARCTIC MONKEYS Humbug On paper, it looks like a fantastic combination: a massively successful British rock band looking to redefine themselves and hike off in search of new musical territory, produced by Josh Homme, frontman for one of this decades most successful ‘cult’ bands in Queens of the Stone Age, introducing the band to his American rock sensibilities. Luckily the band manage to remain true to their sound, retaining the awkward chord work and small-town inspired lyrical wit of Alex Turner that marked their previous work. The combination does work on occasion – for example, first 92  INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM  October 2009

single “Crying Lightning” would fit in on either of the groups previous works. Sadly, beyond a few sparse highlights, there isn’t much else to write home about. All too often the group get stuck relying on odd twanging guitar leads, bland keyboard work, and downbeat riffs that just serve to make the group sound like a bad impersonation of themselves. Further than that, Homme appears to be asleep at the wheel, content to let the band do whatever they want, while 3 tracks produced by James Ford (The Last Shadow Puppets), and sprinkled through the album, manage to make the album even more disjointed. FAT FREDDY’S DROP Dr Boondigga & the big BW Before I even got started listening to Dr Boondigga – the followup to the highest selling NZ album of the decade – I had 2 thoughts. First, why release during winter? If the group’s debut, Based on a True Story, showed us anything, it’s that the Drop were perfectly suited to Kiwi summer – why would the followup be any different? Secondly, what took so long? It seemed like Boondigga had been coming for a while, as a single hit the internet in the middle of last year, nearly a year before its release, and 4 years had passed since their epic debut. The truth started to become clear from the opening track: the group have truly indulged themselves with time, ensuring that every song here has been scrutinized over and again, meticulously recorded, listened to and mixed, until every member of the group is happy with the result. The end result is an album that has much in common with its predecessor, but is ultimately more upbeat and musically tighter, making it more enjoyable – even if there is only one track clocking in under 6 minutes. Despite its odd release date, make no mistake: this is the sound of the coming summer.

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see life / movies

Ocker movie highly rated Broken Hill a goer, 9 is the holiday cartoon to depress your kids with BROKEN HILL Starring: Luke Arnold, Alexa Vega, Timothy Hutton Directed by: Dagen Merrill Rated: PG for adult situations and language 102 minutes It only takes a few moments for director Dagen Merrill to reveal the composition of his "Broken Hill."

The camera pans at a slow tempo across a picturesque Australian landscape to reveal the efforts of a young man stringing up a wire fence to keep the family sheep from going on a walkabout. Notes of music begin to drift together to make full chords, measures and eventually a full movement. Tommy (Luke Arnold) stops his fence work to conduct an orchestra that magically begins to appear amid the flock and foliage. This continues until Tommy's no-nonsense father (a miscast Timothy Hutton) arrives and the moment is lost. With that one scene, Merrill's film begins to examine how music can be both an avenue of escape and a stumbling block. Tommy defies his father's instructions to forget music and concentrate on farming. He puts together a band, while doing community service work at the local penitentiary, to play his original composition. He needs a public performance of his work to land him a spot at a conservatory to study music. Just as Adrian Lyne did with "Flashdance," Merrill continuously contrasts his subject's blue-collar life with his elusive artistic dreams. That's particularly poignant in the prison scenes where even artistic dreams can come into conflict.


Merrill adds one final emotional layer with American student Kat Rogers, played with great maturity and passion by Alexa Vega. It is a rather typical story of boy meets girl, they fight and then they find the common cause that brings them together. But Vega and Arnold have such a nice chemistry that they make the familiar feel fresh. The film reaches a final act that is part "Rocky" and part "Mr. Holland's Opus," where the struggle to defeat impossible odds is driven by an uncontrollable passion for music. Like a well-written piece of music, "Broken Hill" builds to an amazing crescendo. Bravo. by Rick Bentley 9 Starring: Voices: Elijah Wood, Christopher Plummer, Martin Landau, John C. Reilly, Jennifer Connelly, Directed by: Shane Acker Rated: PG 13 for violence, scary images 79 minutes An animated sort of “Terminator”-meets-”Wall-E” for kids _ only, you know, not overly loud, long, dull and repetitive like this summer’s “Salvation” - “9” is a post-apocalyptic nightmare of a movie, about as far from the cuddly cartoons of yesteryear as one can get. Produced by Tim Burton and “Wanted” director Timur Bekmambetov, the film isn’t particularly original, but its dark mood, end-of-times landscape and unique characters will seem fresher to the young audience for which it’s aiming than to jaded sci-fi veterans.

A feature-length version of director Shane Acker’s Oscarnominated short film from 2005, “9” begins with our world’s end, our demise hastened by (stop me if you’ve heard this) our

mad obsession with technology. Just like Skynet in the original “Terminator,” “9’s” machines grew bloodthirsty and wiped out humankind. All that’s left is a small group of diminutive, vaguely doll-like creatures numbered 1 through 9 - the film’s Web site calls them “stitchpunk creations” - left to carry on the business of life, such as it is. They’re thwarted, however, by a murderous mechanical beast and an even more disturbing creation called the Great Machine, which are still bent on destruction. Our intrepid heroes have been led by 1 (voiced by the terrific Christopher Plummer, so effective earlier this year as the bad guy in “Up”), whose survival strategy has been to hide. But with the arrival of plucky 9 (Elijah Wood), things change. Other important numbers to remember: elderly inventor 2 (Martin Landau); fearless warrior 7 (Jennifer Connelly); friendly, uncertain 5 (John

see life / dvds THE BOAT THAT ROCKED Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bill Nighy, Rhys Darby Directed by: Richard Curtis Rated: M (for offensive language and nudity) 130 minutes

C. Reilly), and out-of-his mind 6 (Crispin Glover). The visuals are great and mostly distinct enough to make an old story feel somewhat fresh, and the film’s swift pacing ensures a lack of squirming. Acker’s strange little critters turn out to be oddly endearing, even if you get the feeling this battle has been fought before. By Connie Ogle

You can’t help wondering how much of the movie The Boat That Rocked is secretly based on the experiences of antipodean radio pirates on the good ship Tiri, bobbing around in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf in the swinging sixties. Radio Hauraki was one of the original maritime pirate radio stations in the world, the brainchild of David Gapes, Derek Lowe and a bunch of other young hopefuls who wanted to break the stranglehold of government-run radio by playing music for a younger, more politically active audience. For New Zealand, that meant boarding a boat and sailing out beyond the 12 mile limit into ‘international’ waters where, with the aid of a transmission mast on the deck and reel to reel tape recorders, rock music from the Beatles and Stones to Elvis could be beamed back to landlubbers. The Boat That Rocked is set off the English coast, and the movie written by New Zealand-born Richard Curtis, whose credits include Blackadder, The Vicar of Dibley, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Bridget Jones’ Diary and many other film and TV blockbusters of the past two decades. Although Curtis was only eight when Radio Hauraki began broadcasting from the Tiri in 1966, and although he spent most of the rest of his formative years in England, there’s still this ongoing nagging suspicion that Hauraki was the inspiration behind his movie. The Brits, of course, are convinced that the movie is based on UK pirate station Radio Caroline, which commenced its ship to shore broadcasts in 1964 and continued until the UK radio market was deregulated in 1990 – a staggering 20 years behind New Zealand - but Curtis has emphasized it’s largely an entertainment movie, fictionalized and based on no station in particular. The New Zealand links to the film extend beyond writer/director Curtis, with Rhys Darby of Flight of the Conchords fame featuring in the movie’s cast. As one who cut his teeth working in AM rock, and Radio Hauraki, I can appreciate the film, but - like its genre - it’s not a family flick. - reviewed by Ian Wishart INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM  October 2009  95

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Reporter becomes news State of Play another veteran performance from Russell Crowe, writes Christopher Kelly STATE OF PLAY Starring: Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, Robin Wright Penn, Helen Mirren, Jeff Daniels Directed by: Kevin Macdonald Rated: PG-13 (for some violence, language including sexual references, and brief drug content) 120 minutes With a tip of the hat to the classic All the President’s Men, Kevin Macdonald’s State of Play updates the investigative reporter thriller to a post-9/11 age, where corporate greed and war profiteering run amok. The movie doesn’t quite work – it’s neither as ruthless as it wants to be, nor as earnest as might have been – but even when it’s misfiring it has an engrossing, old-fashioned appeal. It’s a reminder that you never realize quite how much you’ve missed something until you get a taste of it once again. Russell Crowe plays Cal McAffrey, a Washington newspaper reporter of the old school: He costs too much; takes too long to write his stories; and has a particular disdain for the future of journalism, as represented by the newspaper’s perky twentysomething blogger, Della Frye (Rachel McAdams). While investigating a mysterious double homicide, Cal learns that an aide to Congressman Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck) has 96  INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM  October 2009

also been murdered – and he begins to suspect a connection. His editor (Helen Mirren), mindful of the new paper’s new corporate owners, who insist on turning a profit, would much rather pursue the juicy side of the story: The married Collins was having an affair with the aide, and now his attempts to bring down a Blackwaterlike defense contracting firm could be sabotaged. But Cal – who may or may not be trying to protect Collins, who just so happens to have been Cal’s college roommate – persuades her that there is a much bigger and more important story afoot. He sinks so completely into the investigation that he doesn’t realize that his personal moral lapses are rapidly muddying his journalistic ethics. He’s matched nicely by McAdams, who manages to humanize a woman who has been written as a walking, talking symbol of everything the newer generation of journalists could stand to learn from the old guard. For all that Macdonald gets right here, though, State of Play nonetheless seems plagued by a certain Hollywood-itis; in the pursuit of delivering popcorn-munching thrills, it steadily loses credibility. Affleck, for instance, is not just wildly miscast (at what university, other than one that contains a fountain of youth on the campus green, would he and Crowe have been roommates?). He also turns the congressman into a speechifying paragon of political self-righteousness, prone to pounding his fist on the table and demanding justice. In his scenes opposite the vastly more understated and intuitive Crowe, it feels as if we watching two different movies. Or perhaps just one very conflicted one. Indeed, the bigger problem here is that State of Play doesn’t really have the courage of its own cynical convictions. As the onion layers of the story are unpeeled, we learn that Cal has had an affair with Stephen’s wife Anne (Robin Wright Penn). He also makes a critical decision to ignore a clearly newsworthy aspect of the story, presumably to prevent Stephen further embarrassment. The screenplay begins to flirt with a very provocative idea, that Cal is just as corrupt as the journalists he’s covering; and that – in the modern media-industrial-political complex – everyone is so hopelessly interconnected that it’s impossible to distinguish between the good guys and the bad guys. In the final section of the movie, as a series of all-too-predictable reversals play out, Cal emerges as a traditional Hollywood hero. He even manages to stop the movie cold periodically to take a proud, Capra-esque stand for the ailing newspaper industry. With a screenplay credited to the three writers in Hollywood trying to resurrect the spirit of 1970s conspiracy thrillers, Matthew Michael Carnahan (The Kingdom), Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton) and Billy Ray (Shattered Glass), State of Play ends up feeling a little at odds with itself. It wants us implicate us on the characters’ transgressions and allow us to feel superior. See it regardless, for its taut pacing, for its gorgeously moody photography (the cinematography is by Rodrigo Prieto, who also did Brokeback Mountain), and for two startling interludes. One features Jason Bateman, who turns up briefly, electrically and unforgettable, as a slick, high-as-a-kite public relations agent, fearful for his life, who resolves a number of the story’s mysteries. The other is the closing credit sequence, which observes the process of the newspaper being laid out, printed and then loaded onto delivery trucks, as Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Long as I Can See the Light” plays on the soundtrack. The elegiac and the ironic come together exquisitely, and – better late than never – Macdonald seems to finally find the delicate tone he’s been searching for all along.

Investigate Oct 09  

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