Saturday 28 March 2015

Further rambling on Northland

So, it looks like Peters has this in the bag.  And even more importantly, it looks like ACT will get less than a hundred votes.  Now THAT is worth celebrating.

The triumph of Winston Peters, on the other hand, is not worth celebrating. I won’t be toasting a Peters’ victory. A Labour, Mana or Green victory, yes. But not one that is just going to extend John Key’s reign.

If people seriously think he won't immediately start working out an accommodation with Key, they are fools. Winston is winning it for Winston. He wants to be Minister of something or other. Why do the left never, ever learn from history? This is the farce to the prior tragedy!

Look, I know there is a desperate need on the left to see the words “National defeated” in any context. But this result will change nothing and – given the comparative ease with which Peters has managed it – it raises some troubling questions about Labour’s utter inability to challenge Key.

Sorry to spoil the party, but it isn’t our party. It is the party of Winston Peters, a self serving right wing demagogue. Nothing for progressives to celebrate here. You don’t think it is just a bit sad that we’re reduced to getting all excited about Winston Peters doing the job we’ve been totally incapable of doing?

Without, it must be noted, disturbing a hair of his perfectly coiffured head.

There has been some slightly odd talk of how Labour's 'strategy' has worked, as if setting Winston on Key was part of some grand plan.

What strategy?

The one that involved showing that Key and National are beatable, except by Labour?

I don't see this as a vistory-by-proxy for Labour or progressive politics. I think this is a long term disaster. It changes nothing, other than forcing Key and Peters to get used to working together, making it even less likely NZ First will look Labour’s way in 2017. And if we’re going to be stuck on 30% then, we’ll need the simpering glances of every coquette we can get.

But the likelihood is that, in 2017, our new Bestie will spurn our advances. Mr Key is no fool. He will doubtless recognise Peters – not Labour or the Greens – as the real danger and ensure he is stuffed full of baubles before the end of the week.

A message from the North

The Northland by-election count is under way.

Looks like Winston Peters is going to coast home.  He is already 1,500 votes ahead.

If he does win, I suspect the left will collectively go into a fresh fit of insanity.  You can almost understand.  Any sort of victory over John Key and National has been a long time coming.  Helen Clark couldn't do it.  Phil Goff couldn't do it.  David Shearer didn't get the chance to do it.  David Cunliffe couldn't do it.  Andrew Little, while coming across as affable and competent, hasn't thus far shown much sign of doing it.

Who else, then, but Winston, could do it?

But let's not get over-excited.  Yes, a Peters victory will see the National led government lose its majority.  But that is all.  The only difference is that Winston Peters will now be part of that government.

Don't, for a moment, delude yourself into thinking that Peters is one of us or that he will use his new power to bring the government down.  He isn't interested in that.  He wants to be the government.  He wants those baubles, and John Key will happily hand them out to him.

The message from Northland is not a warning to John Key that his time is up; it is really a bitter dispatch for Labour - If Peters can do this with noting but a twinkle in his eye and good hair, why the Hell have Labour found National so impervious?

War rape denial

There was an article in the Daily Mail today that, surprisingly, did not feature a Kardashian or EVUL MUZLUMZ.

It was about a genuinely newsworthy issue - a new study, which has suggested the number of women raped by American, British, and other forces in German may have been far higher than previously estimated.

The mass rapes and brutality of the Red Army has been well reported, but the perception has been that, by and large, the Western forces behaved fairly well.  The commentator in the Mail, Walter Guy, puts it thus:
One of the enduring narratives of World War II is that during the invasion of the Third Reich, British and American troops largely behaved well, and it was the soldiers of the Soviet Union's Red Army who raped hundreds of thousands of German females, aged from eight to 80.

However, a new book published in Germany makes the shocking and disturbing claim that the Americans raped a staggering 190,000 women in the decade from the invasion until West Germany became a sovereign country in 1955.

In When The Soldiers Came, historian Professor Miriam Gebhardt also suggests the British raped 45,000 German women, and the French a further 50,000.
That's the received wisdom; and it is the position that Guy sets out to defend.  Sadly, he does not do this by offering any real counter argument.  Instead, he sneers at Professor Gebhardt's credentials, noting "It should be stressed Dr Gebhardt is not a specialist World War II historian, but is better known for her works on other topics, such as the feminist movement in Germany, the philosopher Rudolf Steiner and the history of education."

(Guy Walter, in should be stressed, is not really much of a historian. He has written a few books of fiction and a couple of works tangentially associated with WW2 - see how easy it is to diminish someone's credibility if you are so minded.)

He continues, dismissing her research as "motivated more by some Leftist anti-American agenda than by proper historical inquiry."

Of course, there is no suggestion whatsoever of inappropriate bias or motivation in a piece published in the Daily Mail that sneers at the feminist movement as somehow unworthy of study, and churlishly describes a respected academic as a slave to prejudice.  Because there's none of that in the Daily Mail!

Walter's justifies his rejection by quoting a figure for reported rapes by American troops, and extrapolating from that to reach an estimate of the number of actual rapes:
According to the U.S. Army's figures, American troops carried out 552 rapes in Germany. Even if one applies the 'five per cent rule', then this would mean that the total figure is around 11,000. 
This is a shockingly high number, to be sure, but nowhere near that of nearly 200,000 by U.S. troops alone.
(The '5% rule' is the idea that only 5% of rapes are actually reported by the victims.)

But here, alas, Mr Walters comes undone.  He claims "American troops carried out 552 rapes in Germany" and extrapolates a likely figure for total rapes of 11,000.

But he neglects to mention that the figure of 522 reported rapes is for 1944 to 45 ONLY.  Whereas the study in question covers a ten year period, 1945 to 1955.

Extrapolating from the number of reported rapes and using the 5% rule, and assuming GIs raped at the same rate throughout that period (unlikely, but it is only as a example) the probable figure for reported and unreported rapes would be 110,000. So his central argument is cataclysmically wrong - whatever the figure is, it is likely to be far higher than the 11,000 he postulates.

Further, he rejects Gebhardt's methodology with out actually saying why he thinks it is flawed:
Dr Gebhardt has looked at childbirth statistics in West Germany, and has assumed that five per cent of the children born to unmarried women from 1945 until 1955 were as a result of rape. 
Of these, she says 1,900 were born to American men. 
Even if one were able to accept these assumptions, Dr Gebhardt then takes things to an implausible level. Estimating that for each of these 1,900 births there were 100 rapes, she arrives at her bizarre figure of a total of 190,000 German rape victims.
He doesn't say why he thinks her formula of 100 rapes per birth is too high - he simply says it is and that's that.

It's worth bearing in mind that Gebhardt was using unmarried women as representative of the whole female population - for every unmarried woman raped and impregnated, there would not just be several raped but not impregnated (condoms existed even then, after all) but also married women raped and impregnated, raped and not impregnated, and females either too young or too old to conceive who were raped.

With all this in mind, the figure of 190,000 may be high - but it does not seem as completely outlandish as Mr Walters would like us to think.

So, unless Mr Walters can furnish something more than specious attacks on a fellow academic, and actually explain why her studies are so offensive to reason, I think we can ignore him.

He is, after all, a writer of fictions.

Thursday 26 March 2015

UK inflation

Has just hit zero.

This is great if you are a pensioner or have money in the bank.

It isn't so great if you have debt. And UK household debt has just hit a record high:
Families have an average pile of debt of nearly £9,000 each, leaving millions vulnerable if interest rates start to rise, a new report has warned. 
The figure, which does not include mortgages, soared by £20billion or nine per cent last year to hit £239billion, the report from PwC found. 
After years of uncertainty about their jobs and finances through the economic downturn, families are now seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and are becoming more confident about borrowing again.
Could get interesting.

Politically, of course, this could be very bad for the British Labour Party. With an election weeks away, zero inflation could really screw up their 'Cost of living crisis' meme.

Which would be a real problem if Labour had not developed several other promising lines of attack.

Oh, wait a minute ...

Tuesday 3 March 2015

New Zealand - a word in your ear

Look, I know you are all fired up about this Asian foreign driver thing.  But just stop it.  Now.

You are the last nation on Earth to be complaining about foreign drivers.  You are the most reckless, selfish and unthinking drivers in all Creation.  Your banged up, dinted road-wreck 'cars' are a testament to your vehicular incompetence.

Yes, there have been a handful of terrible accidents.  It is not surprising that they have been concentrated in the last few weeks - of course tourists are going to come here in the summer.  Pass your mind over the following:
During the 2014/2015 Christmas holiday period there were 15 fatal crashes resulting in 17 deaths.

The deaths included:

7 drivers
7 passengers
3 motorcycle riders

12 of the fatal crashes occurred on the open road.

Provisional crash reports indicate that alcohol and/or speed contributed to 11 of the 15 fatal crashes. Driver fatigue is suspected for 2 of the fatal crashes
Drunk, careless New Zealanders, wrecking their own lives and others.  For what it is worth, foreigners accounted for 11 road traffic deaths in 2013.  Everyone of these deaths is tragic.  But the hysteria building around tourist driving stinks of a media beat up., but it is nothing compared to the 17 racked up over the 10 days or so of the holiday season.  Or the 300 (roughly) people are killed in road traffic accidents each year.  The vast majority of the drivers responsible for those deaths will be New Zealanders.  But we're tired of flagellating ourselves over our own useless selfish stupidity, and it is far more comforting to lash out at FOREIGNERS.

Rather than rushing about grabbing other people's keys in a display of vigilante b-a-bloody-legend machismo, you should be pounding your on out of shape so you can never drive again.  You aren't safe on the roads, New Zealand.  Face up to it and sort yourself out.


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