Herald poll: Willie Apiata greatest living NZer

The Herald has had a poll for the greatest living New Zealander – and it apparently showed Helen Clark to be the greatest. Now that doesn’t really make much sense, sure she’s been PM for a while but that hardly earns her the title. On further analysis, it would actually have been nearly mathematically impossible for anyone else to come out on top, regardless of who really is the greatest.

My reasoning is: Out of the top 6, who got over 1000 votes each, the average voter would be familiar enough with 3 names to consider voting for them (they may recognise others but not be familiar with what they have done). But every single voter would be familiar with Helen Clark, as her name has been all over the media for 9 years.

So what would happen if everyone voted at random for someone they were familiar with, assuming everyone is familiar with Helen Clark and 2 other names?

Person                    Random   Actual
Helen Clark              3559        3163
Willie Apiata             1424        2645
Sir Murray Halberg    1424        1467
Peter Jackson            1424        1340
Peter Snell                1424        1041
Colin Meads              1424        1021

Note that:

  • The random values are remarkably close to the actual votes – maybe people just did pick a name at random…
  • Helen Clark actually did worse than would be expected if people had just voted randomly.
  • Willie Apiata stands out as the only person who gained far more votes than would be expected if votes were randomised – he is therefore the winner of this poll in my mind.
  • Even if you assume people are familiar with 4 rather than 3 names you get a similar result.

The fact is that the true “greatest living New Zealander” is probably someone none of us have ever heard of, and probably will never hear of.

Hat tip: New Zealand Conservative

EDIT: I am very encouraged by Apiata’s excellent result in this poll, as it shows that despite the fascination with sportspeople in our culture, people still recognise that courage under fire is of far greater worth than an ability to throw a ball well.

Warning labels have no effect on smoking

A recent Ministry of Health survey has shown that there has been no change in smoking rates with the introduction of graphic labels on cigarette packets. 24.3% of the population smoked in 2006, and 23.9% in 2008, with the difference being not statistically significant. Not significant means that any very slight differences could be due to random variation, so the numbers are the same – about 24% in both years.

Now that should tell us that the labels aren’t working. But it isn’t being spun that way. The Press reports

“Warnings credited with smoking fall:
Graphic photographic warnings on cigarette packets are being credited with prompting a dramatic drop in smoking rates.”

That’s the first time I even heard no change being called a “dramatic drop”. But rather than quote the actual figures, they invent a blatant lie:

Two years ago, when the introduction of photographic health warnings on cigarette packets was announced, a quarter of New Zealanders smoked. Now, almost a year after the graphic reminders of the health risks of smoking were placed on every tobacco product sold, that has dropped to one in five.

No need to comment on that nonsense. The official press release at least quotes the actual figures, but also tries to make it sound like there is a change.

The 2008 New Zealand Tobacco Use Survey shows that, after adjusting for age, 23.9% of New Zealand adults, aged 15 to 64, are smokers. The Ministry of Health’s National Director of Tobacco Control, Dr Ashley Bloomfield says, “While the drop on the equivalent 2006 figure of 24.3% is not statistically significant, this result confirms the downward trend in smoking.”

That is ridiculous. If something is not statistically significant AND is obviously a very minor change, THERE IS NO CHANGE. I would expect a reporter to critically analyse the press release and show this – and that would have made a great story by the way. Yet instead they blindly believe it, ignore the stats and invent their own more impressive sounding figure (1/4 to 1/5) to make the stats fit the desired message. Come on – are you a reporter or a Ministry of Health PR spokesperson?

Hat tip: Bernard Darnton

Hamas opposing aid in Gaza

Israel is putting a lot of effort into getting aid into Gaza, but Hamas is making it difficult. The Jerusalem Post explains what is happening now with aid.

The IDF plans to open more crossing points into Gaza starting on Wednesday, in an effort to vastly increase aid to the civilian population. …

The IDF now hopes to open the grain chute at the Karni crossing, a major passage way for goods …

On Monday, the IDF opened the chute at Karni for a test run during which 23 truckloads of grain were sent into Gaza, according to Lerner.

It was shut on Tuesday, however, after the army found a tunnel on the Gaza side, meant to be used for a mine attack.

On Wednesday the IDF hopes to open the chute for the passage of 60 truckloads of grain.

That’s not quite what you hear in the media over here. Aren’t the Palestinians crying out for aid and the naughty Israeli’s letting them starve? Yet according to the J-post, it is Hamas standing in the way. Read on, and you’ll find out about Kerem Shalom, where much aid is sent through:

Nor is this a risk free operation, he said. Hamas has been known to shoot mortars over the wall.

Should there be an attack, he suggested that it would be wise to seek safety in the white concrete room at the edge of the lot.

“On one hand, we want to let the aid in, but it is a difficult situation when they start lobbing mortars at us,” he said.

Hamas also:

  • Steals trucks of food aid and sells it to the highest bidders.
  • Fires rockets from a school during a humanitarian cease-fire (intended to allow aid to be distributed).
  • Probably directly attacks UN aid convoys, killing some workers. The mainstream media initially blamed Israel for this incident but I haven’t seen any corrections published now more facts have emerged (who attacked them is still disputed but it certainly wasn’t an Israeli tank), so most of the world still thinks Israel has attacked the aid convoys.
  • Uses mosques and schools to attack Israel, and meets in a hospital, directly endangering their fellow Palestinians by requiring Israel to attack these sites if they are to attack Hamas.

I’ll stop the list there, but it would be easy to go on. Please, local media, some balance would be great.

America, guns, and Campbell Live

According to Campbell Live, Americans are panic-buying guns in the wake of Obama’s election. Business is up over 400% in some stores. Obama campaigned in part on tightening America’s gun laws, so this is completely understandable. I’d probably be doing exactly the same if our laws were about to be tightened (still further) here.

But how does Campbell Live illustrate what this is about? Using a survivor of the Virginia Tech shooting, calling for more restrictions to stop such events because guns are bad. Well pardon me, I thought that shooting occurred because guns were restricted on campus so no-one was able to stop the shooter. Virginia Tech is the perfect illustration of why America should NOT be tightening the gun laws. There are so many guns in circulation there that the criminals have no trouble obtaining them, so restricting guns just leaves their law-abiding victims defenceless. In New Zealand, with far more restrictive laws than the USA, criminals have no problem obtaining high-powered weapons. Think how much easier it would be in America.

Look out world, arguably the most powerful man in the world is now a socialist. We can expect a lot to change in the next four years.

We have an ETS

Labour’s emissions trading scheme has been passed into law. This is a sad day for New Zealand. And virtually no attention was given to this massive law, the biggest reform since Rogernomics, by the TV media – everyone was focussed on the Winston Peters scandal. That scandal is completely unimportant by comparison, it just made good headlines.

National could have prevented this law being passed, at least today, as they could have delayed it until tomorrow by which stage Winston Peters may be fired. But they appeared to make little effort to do this in parliament today, rather allowing it to go through.

This means New Zealand has ended up with a terribly faulty piece of rushed legislation, that could do immense damage to our economy. National may modify it somewhat, but it will still do a lot of damage.

But National allowed it to be passed today probably because this means they can blame any problems with it on Labour, rather than taking the blame themselves as they would have to if they introduced one.

This is blatant politicising, not working for the good of the country.

If you want this legislation repealed, as every person who cares about the environment and the economy should, there are only two parties that will push for this – The Family Party and Act.

I mention both parties, rather than just pushing the Family Party, because this issue is far too important to just use to gain votes. It could be the biggest issue affecting the country today. There are two parties who will seek to have it repealed, and together we may achieve this. It is too big for one minor party to tackle on their own.

But a vote for National is a vote to keep this disasterous legislation, with some minor tweaks.

EDIT:

Family Party press release on the ETS.

EDIT2:

Federated Farmers are justifiably annoyed with this, read their response here.

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