Ski road access facts 2020

Why skiing is like religion

Here are some facts:

My rights are being violated.

Unless you have a Platinum Pass, your season or life pass provides you no more guarantee of access of parking than it has any other year. Your Fair Trading or Consumer Guarantee rights have not been violated. Perceived inconvenience due to change is not a violation.

While we’re on the subject, your season or life pass doesn’t give you any special rights at all. Further you’re not contributing nearly as usefully as your average casual snow tourist.

Be nice

The rights that you are guaranteed are in the NZ Bill of Rights. In essence, they say be nice to other people.

The staff at the ski fields, working on the roads, in the I-Sites and the Visitors’ Centre, in other local businesses and on social media are just doing their jobs. 17 generations of skiing on Ruapehu, season/life pass ownership, and/or an enhanced sense of entitlement do not give you any right or privilege to be rude, abusive or threatening.

It’s a public road – you can’t stop us.

The Bruce Road is not a public road. It is a special purpose road, managed under law by DOC, sub-delegated to TPP for operational management. Like Mangatepopo Road, it can be closed or otherwise controlled for any number of reasons, safety concerns are the most common reason.

We’ll walk up then

Attempting to walk up the Bruce Road from the barrier would probably deemed a safety issue when the snow berms obstructs the shoulder and vehicles are driving on ice and snow. Darwin will appreciate the validation though…

There’s no real problem

Everyone who has been saying there’s not really a problem is either in lala land or is a first time visitor. Since at least 2014, traffic congestion on SH48 and the Bruce Road has blocked access for visitors, commercial traffic and emergency services.

The ‘first in’ approach to parking has become less and less effective over the same period. As a result, more and more visitors have been departing overnight locations earlier and earlier to try to get a park. This means increasing number of vehicles on the roads above 900 metres where ice is most common and at the times it is most likely…just trying to get in for a park.

The sightseers are spoiling it for everyone.

The sightseers are now representative of ‘everyone’. The market has changed since Happy Valley was upgraded and the Snow Factory commissioned in 2017, and the Sky Waka was launched in 2019. Snow tourism and snow play are now more significant parts of the market – they are also better behaved and less rude.

We pay for parking already

Not yet you don’t. It costs DOC and RAL to maintain the car parks and the Bruce Road for non-commercial visitor traffic. Visitors to the ski fields only contribute to this indirectly via tax and passes.

Introducing a car park booking system was not the only option. It would have been as easy to close the Bruce Road to all but commercial vehicles and rerole the car parks for more profitable purposes eg skating, and require all visitors to catch commercial transport. This would have the side effect of reducing transport costs due to economies of bulk – when you bitch about the costs of transport services, be careful what you wish for.

You can’t stop us parking on the roadside.

Neither SH48 nor the Bruce Road have a road reserve. if you park off the road, you are technically parking inside the Park outside a designated parking area. DOC can and has enforced this in the past. For bonus points, if parking off the road, and if you are too tight to put your pets into a motel you will get zapped twice.

Tukino, here we come

How long do you think it will be before the management at Tukino starts to adopt similar practices to control numbers..? For the same reasons…

RAL is blocking access to the Park for hikers (and swimmers)

Access to Scoria Flat is not being blocked. However, such access has been abused by elements of the ski community previously. You do get that license plate numbers are being tracked this year? It’s not a big leap that vehicles that abuse this access will be restricted.

This will hurt locals

Most locals and local businesses favour the changes. I work and live here and yesterday’s statement from our Mayor Don Cameron sums up local sentiment:

Ruapehu Mayor Don Cameron said that the new Whakapapa and Turoa ski area car park booking system is part of the commitment to giving visitors the best possible experience while helping to manage other critical issues such as road safety, the environment and maintaining Kaitiakitanga (guardianship) and Manaakitanga (host) responsibilities.

If you’re going to claim that these changes will adversely affect local communities and businesses, be specific. State your sources. Identify which businesses you claim to be representing. I speak to dozens of locals and visitors every day. Your views are not the majority view, not by a good country kilometre…

Just book out all the parks, then don’t use them

You can free your booked parked if for some reason you cannot use it. There will probably be those that try to sabotage the system with false bookings. The Crimes Act covers this kind of offence. Abuse may lead to a requirement for a credit card to be register for purposes of identification. RAL hasn’t made any statement one way or another but it would be a reasonable assumption that frequent no-show offenders may be subject to some form of restriction.

Your choice

RAL had a less than stellar 2019. The Sky Waka construction prevented summer 18/19 being business as usual, a five week weather system caused an unusually long close period, and various issues and teething problems affected the later part of the season. Planning for the winter season was underway in February and March, just in time for all of the to be knocked back by COVID-19 and the lockdown. It’s a fair assumption that RAL is currently heavily influenced by its financiers, hindering its ability to make experience-based decisions.

COVID has affected all of us here on the Volcanic Plateau and we don’t really know what the future will bring. Visitor numbers in levels 3 and 4 have probably been better than expected but with no indication whether this is the new normal or just a slowly deflating bubble as new financial realities hit home.

The constant carping from the entitled and ignorant minority only undermines what we are doing in Ruapehu. If you don’t like it and feel that strongly, then don’t come…a small bitter minority will not be missed…

Cover me!

For many of us, “Cover me!!” means we’re about to do something that may not turn out well…not so much a military “Hold My Beer!” as this needs doing and I’m going to need to some help… Covering fire is a little more personal than the good old ‘Fire mission, Regiment’ and other such methods of registering one’s unhappiness with a given individual, object or grid square…

But there’s other ways of providing cover…

Be honest, you all had a snigger when you saw this one, like, der, man…

It would be nice to think that it would be possible to deter ANZ New Zealand with a massive show (or application – I was, after all, the Force Application lead for most of my four years in the Air Force) of force/might/power. Even it such force/might/power was available, poor old ANZ New Zealand is like a mega-dinosaur controlled by a myriad of different brains that don’t talk to each other that well, if at all…any effect registered by one is unlikely to affect the others…

With ANZ New Zealand, the only brain that counts is its ego, the bit that gets worried when it might look bad; the one whose worst nightmare is a world where all its bribes of super-low interest rates (coincidentally announced just after the release of the FMA/RBNZ report on banks’ conduct in New Zealand)  or the millions of look-good dollars that it invests into sports… Like the cool kids at school, looking bad is what ANZ New Zealand fears the most…it cancelled the auction of my home to prevent 1 News running the story on it…

The path to ANZ New Zealand’s main ego brain is indirect…for any direct approach to work the brain would have to care and the simple truth is that ANZ New Zealand doesn’t care what you say to it, because ‘the people’ are beneath it, beneath the executive team, beneath the board, beneath the CEO who ‘earns more in an hour’ than most Kiwis take home in a week…instead the path to ANZ New Zealand’s care factor is external and three-fold:

The Banking Ombudsman Nicola Sladden nicola.sladden@bankomb.org.nz and the Chair of the Banking Ombudsman Board Miriam Dean  miriam.dean@barrists.co.nz

The political realm, especially those elected representatives who have been supportive to date. They have been looking at the changes necessary to close off all the remaining loopholes relating to banks’ lending. 

The media who play a canny game of what to release when…

to be continued…(nothing worse that a looooong post….)

It’s actually not about covering me…it’s about covering each other…

Identity | The Daily Post

Find inspiration in one of the popular topics on Discover. For this week’s Discover Challenge, focus on identity. You may use it simply as a one-word prompt, or tell us what the word means to you. Or you might publish a sketch that represents who you are or how you feel today, a poem about identity in our digital age, or a personal essay about who you once were.

Source: Identity | The Daily Post

I began drafting this post around the time of one of the recent active shooter incidents in the US. It says so much that such incidents are now so frequent that I cannot remember which it was, possibly Orlando…

The aftermath of each of these incidents is marked by bitter ‘weapon’ versus ‘ideology’ outbursts and exchanges. I do not thing that either side really gets the issues: each tragedy is little more than an excuse for each camp to dust off (not dust-off which is a far more noble act) respective meme collections.

It is America’s right to have whatever laws, rights and responsibilities that it wants to inflict on itself. I have no more problem with the Second Amendment than I do with the Fifth although I would offer that the rights of the Second should be read and applied in the context of their context i.e. as the people’s contribution to a well-regulated militia…the key phrase being well-regulated.

The ‘right’ to espouse an ideology probably falls under the First Amendment…the one that protects free speech…but again that comes with responsibilities. We have probably all heard of, if not actually read or heard the actual words, Oliver Wendell Holmes “crying fire in a theatre” quote. For the record, this is what he actually said to give context to those words:

The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic. It does not even protect a man from an injunction against uttering words that may have all the effect of force. The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent. It is a question of proximity and degree.

Those legally bent or who just like to read some exceptionable well-written English can read Justice Holmes’ full opinion in the Cornell University Law School Legal Information Institute Web site.

Contrary to the good Justice’s opinion – the key work in his theatre analogy is ‘falsely’ – in the information domain, the random and rabid shotgunning of the information militia (plural) is as destructive regardless of whether it has elements of truth or fact or not.

Every time those ideological memes fly, their sole function, intended or not, is to fan the flames of ideological conflict. As much as I thought it needed work (thought #1, thought #2), what we are seeing is the phenomenon that David Kilcullen theorised in The Accidental Guerrilla: the more something is ‘fixed’, the worse it gets. This is the irony of irregular warfare.

With regard to the active shooter incidents in America, there is another factor in play that may not be present or which is certainly less present in incidents. A large element of American psyche identifies with the ‘main in the white hat’, ‘one riot, one ranger’, the rugged individual standing against all odds, etc. This ethic is quite commendable and certainly not unique to the US. What sets it about in the US though is the accompanying mindset that a gun is what you use to resolve an issue.

We’re not on any sort of moral high ground here or in Australia where the national equivalent is a punch in the head, or the desire to deliver such but that ‘message’ has to be delivered up close and personal, it cannot be delivered from across the street or even across the room; and it is far easier to neutralise. In the UK, or parts thereof, the local equivalent maybe a cloth cap or the good old ‘Liverpool kiss‘…again, attacks with limited projection or lethality from afar…

It is this overwhelming cultural drive that guns solve problems that is America’s challenge. It’s not how many guns you have or what sort they may be. It’s not what you believe or who you disagree with. It’s not how accessible guns or unsocial ideologies may be. Those may all be separate concerns  but, weapon or ideology, it’s the drive to resolve what angsts you with a gun that is the problem…

Jump to 1:02 The Lone Rider

I love those rugged individuals roles immortalised by Clint Eastwood, John Wayne, Jan Michael Vincent, etc etc but I don’t build my life around them. When I have a beef with the local council or my employer or the grit truck driver or the mailman, I don’t feel I have to to take a gun to resolve the issue or make myself feel better.

It is one thing when the line between reality and fiction becomes blurred. It is quite another when those worlds begin to overlap…where the ‘final option’ becomes the only option…

Having said that, we can hum ‘Imagine‘ all we like…COIN 101 reminds us that cultural shift happens over generations but being honest about the problem is the first step towards a solution…

Daily Prompt: Don’t You Forget About Me | The Daily Post

I used to have a jumper like that...

I used to have a jumper like that…

Daily Prompt: Don’t You Forget About Me | The Daily Post.

Just for a change, this post isn’t about me…well, maybe it is…

In Love Letters in the Attic, Caron mentions the destruction of what are now considered priceless items of cultural heritage…

“…I’ve been thinking about the idea that things must be saved for posterity since I was reminded recently of how much TV footage the BBC taped over or destroyed, including most of the British coverage of Apollo 11’s moon landing in 1969, which was the first time it had broadcast all night, for a start.

Today, it seems incomprehensible that the BBC also destroyed 97 early episodes of Dr Who in the 1960s and 1970s to save space…”

At the time, I intended (and still do) to base a post on the broader themes in her post, but these lines about the loss of early Doctor Who episodes has stuck with me in the month or so since Caron posted Love Letters in the Attic. There has been a lot of coverage of this issue since the recent recovery of some of the lost episodes from a vault in  Africa and this has highlighted the factors contributing to the loss of this material…

Ultimately, it seems that this was simply a case of the bureaucratic mindset the grows in monolithic organisations – not necessarily solely government-run agencies but they can provide lots of good case studies – when in the absence of a rule saying something is to occur, it simply doesn’t regardless of the short- or longer-term potential consequences. While at first glance, it may be considered that the commercial potential of older black and white material might have been minimal once colour television became common and affordable in the early 1970s, one only has to look across the Atlantic at the sheer quantity of American television that was archived in the same period and which is now still be both re-released AND watched, to wonder what exactly was being put into the water in the UK in the 60s and 70s…

While, in fairness, video tape in the early days of television, probably into the early 80s was a valuable AND reusable commodity, one would really thank that there might have been a plan to archive material onto film – and, that there would be a controlled environment storage vault for such archived material. In 1976, my school had a big fund-raiser activity to purchase its first video-based audio-visual system…I remember trudging door to door many afternoons after school selling chocolate bars for this. It wasn’t an unwanted task as I was highly incentivised by the prizes offered to the top sellers – I think I made the top ten – and what else was I going to do after school excerpt watch stuff like The Tomorrow People before Mum kicked us outside for fresh air and energy burning. The next year, one of our 3rd Form art projects was to make our own Doctor Who movie – I think, the class was split into groups of 5-6 for this and each ‘movie’ had to be around ten minutes long…move over, Sundance!!

I don’t remember much about our group’s version other than we filmed alot of it in the squash courts, a plotted struggle got out of hand and it featured the flaming demise of one of these…

RevellBoeingSSTPanAm BOX ART

…which I lamented for many years and. like many such Revell releases, it became a collector’s item until re-released a few years back (and, yes, there is one sitting safely in the garage stash!). Sadly, in true Beeb Doctor Who tradition, these creations were all erased at the end of the year so that the expensive video tape could be reused. I think that perhaps some photographs may have been taken of the screens as I have a vague memory still-shots of some of the scenes appearing perhaps in a school magazine around that period…

What prompted this post was the first screening of the rebooted The Tomorrow People series here last night. Having been a fan of the original series, I was dubious of how well it might survive translation into 21st Century television values i.e. ratings and profit, profit and ratings. While my jury is still out after the first episode, on doing a little research to jog my memory on the original this morning (I was looking for the same of the teleportation belts from the original series which have now been written out – jaunting belts, is what they were) I was surprised just how much of the original concepts have carried over. Even the inability of homo superior to kill (which I had rolled my eyes at last night as 21C ‘niceism’) was actually part of the original concept.

In reading the wiki on the original series, I came across mention of Timeslip which is a series that I have been trying to track down for a long time – another memory of 1970s black and white science fiction (although in our home in the 70s, ALL TV was B&W regardless of its source format!). I had been searching – not very hard admittedly – for variations on The Time Tunnel (which is, of course, the Irwin Allen series from the same stable as Lost in Space and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea). In reading the wiki piece about the almost total loss of the original colour videotape of the series, I though immediately again of Caron’s comment above…as it turns out, the wiki piece does not quite tell the whole story – how surprising – seeking a title image for this post, I discovered that the full 26 episode series is available via Amazon, albeit only in B&W but that’s not a biggie for me as that is how I remember it…

So…coming back on topic, I think that it is important that we do today preserve as much as we can as, just like the Beeb drones of the 60s and 70s, we don’t really have any idea of what value may be seen in today’s apparent dross in decades to come…

Who really knows what their legacy to the future may be…?

Defending an Open, Global, Secure, and Resilient Internet – Council on Foreign Relations

via Defending an Open, Global, Secure, and Resilient Internet – Council on Foreign Relations.

Sorry, but I’m not entirely concerned that an “…open, global, secure and resilient internet…” is altogether a good thing…The focus of the statement “…to encourage a global cyberspace that reflects shared values of free expression and free markets…” clearly is focussed on the very quantifiable value of free markets that is, and apologies to ABBA “...money, money, money, it’s a rich man’s world“…

My concern is for the other ‘value’, that of free expression. Noting the eye-level parity with free markets, I think that it is safe to assume that this really means freedom to express opinions that we agree with and opposed to anything remotely resembling true freedom of expression – and that may not be a particularly bad thing. While the internet may be the best thing since canned oysters and sliced bread for communications, sharing information and, of course, commerce aka making money, it also promotes the facilitation of immoral and criminal activities, often without much in the way of check, balances or accountability. Its ‘everyone has a voice‘ philosophy also contributes to the general dumbing down of all of us because ‘if it was on the internet, it must be true‘….

Let’s just be careful what we really wish for…

Bad boys, bad boys…

…whatcha gonna do, whatcha gonna do when they come for you…? 

Ready or not, here we come...

Ready or not, here we come…

Dear Unit 61398

How do you hack the guidance on a ‘dumb’ Mk.84 low drag bomb once it (and its friends) are spiralling down towards you?

Sincerely

The Hacked (Off)

In this era of informal conflict i.e. one in which one or more or even all of the actors are the regular formed units or formations that we remember from the good old days of the Fulda Gap, this becomes a valid question.

In the good old days (GOD for short), if someone actively and physically attacked or took some form of physical action against a nation’s physical infrastructure or commercial structures, there would be options under the DIME construct (more D, M or E than I perhaps) through which one might register one’s national concerns about such activities and encourage the perpetrators to cease and desist.

In the case of Unit 61398, despite its mundane designation (F-117 sounded mundane until 17 January 1991), we have an identified military unit conducting, with guns more smoking than Saddam’s WMDs, offensive actions against national and commercial infrastructure around the world but especially targeting the US. If Unit 61398 was an active service unit, regular or irregular, operating within the borders of any western, and most if not all other, nations, it could reasonably be expected to be hunted down and neutralised physically. Similarly, if  it was as openly offensive as Saddam’s SAMs during the decade of no fly zones, or Iran’s Boghammers during the Tanker War, something loud and bad would probably happen to them.

But (yes,yes, I know, never start a sentence with ‘but’) in the convolutions of informality the smoking gun justifications are not as clear regardless of provocation. Just as US- and UK-based UAS operators blithely commute between domestic homes and respective UAS remote operating bases with a strong sense of security and little of risk of threat (in the UK, the IRA must be rolling in its unmarked grave after the security awareness it forced upon the UK military in its heyday of terror), members of Unit 61398 probably cycle home with a similar sense of blithe innocence…

So will it be that one day,maybe one day soon, and in true Dale Brown style, the stars at 65,000 feet will ripple as payback soars over Shanghai and releases some unhackable cease and desist notices (Lucasfilm lawyers eat your hearts out!!)…?

Note: Lucasfilms/LucasArts are the people who not only brought you the three worst science fiction movies of all time (certainly when viewed sequentially) but who also have a rep for being the Galactic Empire of the known legal cease and desist notice universe…

An Ear To The Ground

Like many people, I opted not to comment on the 911 anniversary yesterday (it’s already six hours into September 12 here), although as one adversary pointed out, the date remains significant anyway as it marks the airing of the last ever Get Smart episode in 1970. The same pundit also reminded me that there are other such anniversaries that we do not remember so much…

It started to snow last night – finally, the first snow of the season and it’s spring already – and I got up early to check on things, well, really to see how heavy it was to determine if I could have a longer sleep-in this morning because the roads are closed…not such luck and it looks as thought the bulk of it missed us…

Anyway, now being awake, I couldn’t get back to sleep and so logged in to check emails etc before heading away for the day. Sitting there was an email from Ben Ianotta with whom I had done some work while he was editor of C4ISR Journal promoting a new venture, Deep Diver Intelligence. Always keen to check out new ventures and ideas, I had a look and hit the article on the renewal (or not) of the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) first…[access is free til 17 September, then I’m not sure so will post a PDF of the article if it drops offline] It’s a good article and worth reading and thing about…

It’s an interesting issue and I think that the key point that may be overlooked in all the Big Brother paranoia is that this type of data collection is happening already in the commercial/corporate arena. Google now quite openly ‘reads’ our emails in order to customise the advertisements that it subjects us – under its ‘do no harm’ philosophy, would/should Google withhold potentially useful information of a national security nature if it stumbles across it?

The genie is already out of the bottle and we need to look at how we deal with it not cry into our milk about how we can’t put it back in. At least the FISA discussions encourage that discussion. We live in an information age now and we need to accept that things will change in respect to our ‘rights’. This is nothing new and simply a fact of civilization’s evolution: the rights that we have now are nothing like those of two centuries ago when our nations were settled and explored…things change, we need to get used to that idea.

Unless we all totally give up access to electronic information and opt to live in a cave in the hills somewhere, the simple fact is that information is being collected on us all the time. When you really get down to it, a lot of that information has been collected for a long long time: what has changed is that we now have technologies that allow us to merge much of the information. It’s still largely aspirational that this merging will enable us to join the dots a la Person of Interest – in fact, that is one reason I don’t like this series: because it does present  such an omnipotent perspective that the story just becomes boring – much like the old Star Trek ‘get out of jail free’ cards of time travel or fiddling the transporter cache – but my point is that this data collection is really nothing new.

“You are being watched. The government has a secret system: a machine that spies on you every hour of every day. I know because I built it. I designed the machine to detect acts of terror, but it sees everything. Violent crimes involving ordinary people, people like you. Crimes the government considered irrelevant. They wouldn’t act, so I decided I would. But I needed a partner, someone with the skills to intervene. Hunted by the authorities, we work in secret. You’ll never find us, but victim or perpetrator, if your number’s up…we’ll find you.” ~ Person of Interest voiceover.

A theme through the article, reflective of more the attitudes of intelligence agencies than the author, in my opinion, is that FISA has failed because it has not been able to directly identify and interdict a major adversary action. A couple of thoughts on this…

First up, we seem to be thinking/hoping that major adversary actions will be in a forms that we recognise i.e. think the Arizona, the Twin Towers, or the invasion of Kuwait. One might ask who really manipulated who in the Arab Spring which resulted in the demise of a number of stability-promoting regional strong men; or why we expect the worst of ISAF forces in Afghanistan but so desperately seek the faintest glimmer of anything remotely redeemable in our adversaries there; or whether last year’s Notting Hill rampage was really just a spontaneous boil-over?

Second, we seem to have forgotten that, in the contemporary environment as opposed to the Fulda Gap, it may be impossible to winnow out from all the noise, the key information that points to an impending action. This is what I call ‘intelitis’: the overpowering desire of many intel analysts to be able to jab a finger at the map, preferably in front of their boss’ boss, and state that Third Shock or Eight Guards Army will do X at X time on X day. Uh-huh…whatever…where were you guys for the end of the Cold War, Fiji Coups 1-57 or the Falklands War…? Huh? More likely, in the contemporary environment, that accumulated data may serve as a foundation for a rapid and precise response (do people get the distinction between ‘response’ and ‘reaction’?) in much the same way as CRIMINT rarely predicts which dairy/bank/service station is going to get knocked over next but is able to quickly narrow down the likely candidates…

A bigger concern than FISA might be the continuance of the post-Cold War trend for private industry to be leaps and bounds ahead of public technology and to be now quite happily exploiting this data for its own commercial ends. In other words, repealing FISA and like legislation is much like opting to fly everywhere to counter an IED threat – all you are really doing is ceding a whole chunk of your operating environment to someone else. Just because contemporary adversaries don’t want to play by the rules we like, doesn’t mean that they are not going to invite us to their next conflict: the information environment is now as much an operating environment as air, land, sea or space – the key difference is that it is the one environment where we are being walked all over.

So, anyway, take the time if you have an intel bent to have a look at Deep Dive…interested in your thoughts…

The media look after their own

Oh, woe is me…the combination of Kiwi, stick and snake apparently works for leftos as well

There is a story in the Herald on Sunday on the Sumner Burstyn issue. Unfortunately it’s not a very good one and really only serves as a platform for Ms Burstyn to plead ‘oh, woe is me…why are people angry with me?” We wondered last night if the media lack of response to the issues were a case of them looking after their own and based on THIS article that would seem to be the case…

The author, Joanne Carroll, does not appear to have made any attempt to interview or seek comment from the creators of the page and seems happy enough to simply regurgitate what she has been told by Summy Bear, coupled with some lightweight comment from the defence Force which does not seem to have any opinion on whether it is OK or not for people to slag off fallen soldiers before their final journey is complete. And that is the real issue here, folks, NOT the hows or whyfores of New Zealand’s involvement in Afghanistan…

There is an email link at the end of the article and I would suggest that anyone with concerns about the standard of NZ media reporting on this and other issues, use it. Pick your 1200 characters carefully and, as always, keep it seemly and remember that soldiers are discplined but mobs and rabbles are not…

Dear Joanne

Thank you for making the effort to cover the erupting Summer Burstyn issue however I don’t believe that you have provided a balanced perspective at all and have simply latched onto the issue for some cheap ratings. You have made no effort to portray fairly the feelings of those who have expressed their outrage at her comments on Facebook and elsewhere online but have just focussed on the minority whose comments are aggressive. Is not the fact (if the Herald still deals in such?) that over 20,000 people have joined the FB page in less than two days an indicator of where public feeling lies on this issue? The NZ media was very quick to climb aboard when similar outrage was expressed occurred over the Kahui twins.

There was a belief expressed yesterday that the NZ media’s lack of response to this issue was a case of the media covering up for its own. Your article has done nothing the assuage that belief and merely provides a forum for more of Burstyn’s self-righteous self-pity.

I hope that the Herald and the rest of the NZ media community will get it together and offer a balanced view of what the issues are.

Here’s a view from the FB page that I think presents the balance absent from the article:

Sumner Burstyn: post an antiwar comment and get 120 death threats – funny how that works.

Barbara, the thing is, your comments were not antiwar comments (I greatly respect anyone’s right to make those). Instead they were a personal attack on a young dead female soldier just after her body was returned to New Zealand for burial.
While I am sorry that the responses from 20,000 of her closest friends and collegues became personal and in some instances threatening, surely you can see that they mirrored the language and feeling of YOUR original post.

While I respect your opinion, your target, tone and timing were highly inappropriate in any civilised society. Despite your apology we continue to see similar messages from you, including personal attacks on dead service personnel in your earlier posts. As a NZ Herald columnist I would have expected a more considered approach to posting such views. I guess that’s now a matter for your employer and tomorrow’s talk back radio callers to consider.

More words from activist filmaker Sumner Burstyn

More words from activist filmaker Sumner Burstyn.

This makes great reading. It derives from a comment made about  Lance-Corporal Jacinda Baker, one of the three Kiwi soldiers killed by an IED in Afghanistan last weekend:

After the first pushback from the community the comment was removed however as the exchange with a soldier on the link above shows, that wasn’t through any sense of remorse. It is really interesting to note, when reading this transcript that the socalled journalist very quickly descends into abuse while the infantry soldier continues to put his case in clear and articulate terms…

The issue is not whether or not we should or should not be in Afghanistan, or the whys or why nots of having a defence force; the issue is simply that someone has stooped to a vicious personal attack on a young woman who is no longer able to speak for herself – but there are, at the time of typing this, 13752 people prepared to speak on Jacinda Baker’s behalf.

While the freedom of the internet allows someone like Sumner Burstyn to publish her slander, it also allows for that slander to be challenged and not be allowed to become the new ‘truth’ and here a community has come together again to see that wrong righted.    I say ‘again’ because this is a very special community, one that spans across the world and across decades – there are names appearing here that I have not seen for years and years and that bring back such memories. We might not meet regularly or even often but we can carry on a conversation that started in a hole full of mud and bugs in South East Asia, or while shivering in the tussock of Waiouru as if that were only yesterday. And certainly we can come together again to speak on behalf of those who can no longer…

There is a lot of anger on the community page and there probably would be at any time but in this month, where we have lost five of our own, a lot of folks are venting. It isn’t an unreasonable expectation that the mollycoddled left leaning loony community couldn’t give it a rest at least til the funerals and grieving are done…

A sad day for New Zealand as Corporal Luke Tamatea, Lance Corporal Jacinda Baker and Private Richard Harris arrive back home. (c) NZDF 2012

Jim Hopkins of the NZ Herald ends an article yesterday:

Yet, somehow, we still get soldiers. Who don’t hide in other people’s houses or make self-serving speeches or expect everyone else to “do the right thing”. They do it themselves, whatever the cost. On the Stuff website, beneath its report on the death of SAS Corporal Doug Grant last year, readers have posted their comments. One says this: – “Rest in Peace – We shall remember them. If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you can read it in English, thank a soldier.”

That’s the essence of the debt every generation owes its troops – a debt unpaid by those who hide in embassies.

Six Bad Meeting Habits and How to Change Them


Through LinkedIn I am subscribed to a bunch of forums and other groups, one of which is the Best Practice Transfer Group. Normally a digest pops up in my inbox, I have a quick scan and if nothing really really grabs me it goes straight in the bin…this morning, as the work intranet is a little slow, I took a bit more time and those that this item for Connor Jordan’s Competitive Solutions was pretty apt and relates to something that bugs us all…meetings…there are some good idea here that might, just might, make life a little easier whether its for the PTA, darts club or megacorp conspiring the take over the world (don’t both – I have the insider running on world takeovers and Doc Karma is going to do it Tuesday the week after next)…

1) Poor Attendance / Late Arrivals – Nothing screams “waste of time” more than the actions of your supposed participants.  When people habitually arrive late (or not at all) then you should take this as a sign that your meeting isn’t of much value to those who should be attending.  A person’s actions (not their excuses) show their priorities.  If you often have empty seats, this indicates misalignment of priorities between you and your co-workers.   Talk with the prospective participants about the importance (or lack thereof) to determine if the meeting is even necessary.

Another way of looking at this is that if people are avoiding your meeting or playing down its importance or relevance, then you are possibly on to something…nothing shirks meetings more than the status quo’s urge for survival.

2) Straying from the Point – It’s easy to get into a lengthy discussion about a topic that somehow just “pops up” during the meeting.  If that topic is unrelated to the meeting’s purpose, then table it and have that topic discussed outside the meeting.  Two tools can help you keep your meetings on track.  First, never ever hold a meeting without a predefined agenda outlining the expected outcomes.  Second, use a parking lot list.  Any off-topic discussion can be halted, placed on the parking lot list and then dealt with once the scheduled meeting concludes.

An agenda is a must as is a clearly stated expectation that everyone will come to the meeting not just having read the agenda (and not just in the lift on the way up) but also having actually prepared for the items listed on it – silly, I know! The parking lot list is a good idea and you might want to take it another step further and see what items regularly get parked 0 are they ongoing red herrings or actually things you might want to be having a look at? We shouldn’t forget though that we need to be flexible in such things and occasionally, that off-topic issue will actually be a key issue that you need to bring to the fore and address.

3) Allowing Annoying Distractions – Candy, chewing gum, snacks and drinks are bad enough.  You should also eliminate productivity-busting interruptions.  Make, and enforce, rules about using laptops, cell phones, and blackberries.  If the temptation is too great for some participants, then place a 5-gallon bucket in the corner of the room.  Toss all such annoyances in it and close the lid.  Assign a technology gatekeeper to handle and screen any interruptions.  If there’s a real emergency, then the technology gatekeeper can attend the call and involve the appropriate person, instead of interrupting the entire team.

Anyone who really really needs to be contactable should be on to it enough to always have a back up contact plan…it’s interesting watching the dynamics hosting meetings in locations where cells etc are not allowed at all, especially over a period of time, when you see the dawning realisation that the sky actually won’t fall in if someone is offline for a while. Normally those that stress the most are simply micromanagers that never learned to trust and delegate.

4) Back-to-Back-to-Back Meetings – Ever get caught on a Meetings Treadmill?  Get off it!  Don’t accept or participate in multiple, back-to-back meetings.  You have to give yourself break in between meetings and schedule time for yourself to get your own work accomplished.

Yeah….maybe…equally, a day dedicated to (well-structured and -conducted) meetings is a great way of getting a bunch of work down (one assumes that you’re not going to meeting that aren’t actually anything to do with your job?) by allowing one ‘disrupted’ day as an enabler for more days of ‘undisrupted’ application.

5) Conversation Domination – Everyone has a different style when it comes to conversation and interaction in a group setting.  Most teams have at least one person who gets on a roll and takes over the conversation.  Be sure to include every participant in each agenda item discussion.  Make an effort to keep the meeting flowing, but allow your soft-spoken coworkers an opportunity to contribute as well.

Legal in most countries, dart guns are useful meeting tools….

6) Status Quo – So, your weekly meeting is terrible. However, you’ve begrudgingly resigned yourself into believing that “that’s the way it is.”  Nonsense!  Invite an Outside Facilitator to audit and adjust how you hold your meetings.  There’s no excuse for accepting failure in your meetings.  It’s too costly and time consuming not to take action and make some changes.

…and ask yourself if you are a meeting inflictor – do you call meetings because it makes you feel good about yourself or to drag everyone else’s productivity down to your level while looking like an achiever yourself…yes, everybody else probably does hate you but mindless meetings aren’t going to help that…

…and two more from me…

7) Take minutes. Useful minutes that will mean something to someone else when  you get moved on, minutes that actually record not just the fact of decisions and actions but the ‘why’ of them as well. If you don’t make any effort to enshrine the ‘why’ you can not cry or bleat when nothing ever seems to change and you feel like Bill Murray’s shorts in Groundhog Day….

8) Think outside the square. Consider whether an anomaly in the space-time continuum is affecting the conduct of your meetings…let me now handover to Dean from TWShiloh to discuss this point further in (drum roll) Homeland Disfunction – The true and astounding adventures of Peter Wesley part 2…enjoy…I did!

Edit: I think I am already committed 25 July (there are those that think I should be committed on a more permanent basis) but the webinar on scorecards might be interesting…I’m not a big scorecard fan as they alwasy seem to devolve into some arcane spreadsheet hell but am always interested in other people’s takes on how they might be done better…