Monday, 21 July 2008

skeptic alert

well, it's been a week of pleasant surprises.

saturday night i attended an event organised in hamilton with the theme "security for ethnic minority communities". the guest speaker was the erstwhile editor of indian newslink, one venkat raman. i've known mr raman for a few years now, and he has been extremely helpful in publishing various opinion pieces i've sent him over the years, as well as doing a write-up a few years back on the harassment faced by the muslim community in light of overseas events.

i have to admit i was dreading the saturday evening event, memories of the nz central indian association AGM fresh in my mind. i was steeling myself for another hardline stance on law'n'order, calling for the usual harsher sentences in cruel prisons and the like. but mr raman provided an extremely well-considered and researched presentation, refuting exaggerations and misconceptions. he was helped in having access to good information by sitting on some kind of asian liaison committee within the nz police.

it was really great to have some kind of rational discussion about community safety, and community involvement to ensure safety. a much more fruitful discussion, although there were still the usual concerns about parole and bail.

another pleasant surprise at an event in auckland on sunday. there was a cultural programme with the usual ethnic dances by young women in colourful costumes. but in the midst of it all, there was an performance by a group of chinese women. not one of them was under 65, but they all looked gorgeous not just because of their lovely costumes but more because of their demeanour. here was a bunch of women looking and feeling confident, and believe me, they brought the house down with their elegance and poise.

peter dunne is making noises again which makes me think that he is going all-out to target asians as his party's ticket back into parliament. today, he reckons that many migrants are using nz as a transit lounge, but decides the reason for this is that we are not providing enough settlement support for migrants. in fact, he goes so far as to say that we are not making them feel welcome (almost 2 minutes into the clip). i wonder where he's been the last 5 years, while the government has been implementing a $60 million settlement strategy? and I/S shows just how moot this point is, given that the number of overseas-born kiwis leaving are "actually lower than the equivalent proportion of the general population".

had to share this comment (I/S again) from a public address thread, about whether or not the herald write-up on john key over the weekend was truly an "unauthorised" biography:

But yes, Key can't reprise Brash and have a made-for-election biography published without it being considered an election advertisement. Nice of his mates at APN (the same mates he had heavy a journalistat the Northern Advocate for daring to actually quote him verbatim) to help out.

and as 3410 asked later in the thread: "how do you conduct an unauthorised interview [ie with the subject of the biography]?"

finally, thought this might be of interest to the skeptics amongst you. looks like a whole bunch of them are turning up in hamilton this september. us true believers had better watch out! however, i am interested in hearing "forensic physician Dr Felicity Goodyear-Smith [who] will point out the dangers of jumping to conclusions when diagnosing sexual abuse".

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