Statistics that smack of spin by underground

Statistics are great! If you’ve got an opinion, how better than to back up your point of view with some supportive numbers. Statistics give you credibility. I often use some numbers to back up one of my many online rants on this here blog you are reading. It often goes like, “here’s what I think and here’s the numbers that prove my point. Now you cannot disagree with me. I win and you lose! Back to the drawing board, you …(add insult here.)

However, sometimes statistics can be less than conclusive. And sometimes both sides of an argument can claim a stat supports either side’s point. This is what happened when the Christian lobby group Family First commissioned a survey into Sue Bradford’s repealing of section 59 of the Crimes Act (or what is lazily, but more simply, referred to as the “Anti-Smacking” Law) Continue reading


“Use the (reasonable) force, Luke!” by underground

To accompany my blog on statistics used to support arguments, I thought I’d post a few thoughts on the repealing of section 59 of the Crimes Act, and on lobby groups in general. These thoughts are no doubt unpopular, but it’s good to disclose ones opinion! It is somewhat simplistic, there are a few generalisations and even an admission of ignorance. However this is far more honesty and sincerity than you would ever get from the deceitful lobby groups in this country. I’m not finished with them on this blog! Continue reading

Attack on democracy by underground

Alright, a little sensationalist, but, in my opinion, those who would have New Zealand revert back to first past the post from MMP are advocating a move away from democracy.

I’ve already covered this issue in a previous blog, however a recent poll has me concerned, as does John Key’s promise for a referendum on the issue if National are elected. So let me again outline why MMP is superior to FPP, which, in my humble opinion, can hardly be referred to as a form of democracy. Continue reading

“Show me the money!” cried the voters. by underground

Ah, budget day! The day the country waits, in anxious anticipation, with sweaty palms and racing heartbeats, hoping, wishing and/or praying to be delivered a tax cut by Dr Michael Cullen with his sack full of money. Alas, like Christmas, today he delivered the present that every adult had asked for on the wish list, and everyone rejoiced. Well not everyone. The National Party expectedly rubbished the budget, promising to deliver a greater “tax relief” package for voters. Was anyone surprised? Politics can be all too predictable!

I’m not really interested so much in the budget, but in the reactions and how it fits into the whole scheme of things for our election later this year.

I won’t pretend to understand economics, so will not be discussing the pros and cons of tax cuts nor the details of todays budget. I will instead look at the politics surrounding this momentous day. I will look at one issue that has led to me being more disillusioned with politics and political reporting: parties campaigning on vague, broad (and therefore meaningless) ideas, instead of detailed and disclosed policy. Continue reading

Atheism – The Musical by underground

Every week I like to post quotes I have come across that I find thought provoking or sum up my opinion on something succinctly, and with wit. Instead, for a change, I’m going to occasionally select half a dozen songs that reflect my views on some particular issue. I’m going to start with my favourite band, on a topic of interest to me.

Here is Bad Religion on faith, God and atheism.

Bad Religion, as the name might suggest, are fairly critical of religion in their songs. That is perhaps an understatement! But instead of the mindless anti-religious abuse some bands have popularised, Bad Religion’s objections are considered and reasoned. This may have something to do with the bands front man Greg Graffin having a doctorate in evolutionary biology, but even before he obtained his degree the band has made intelligent philosophical statements in their music. Song writing duties are split between vocalist Graffin and guitarist Brett Gurewitz, and both musicians are equally capable of writing thought provoking intelligent lyrics.

So perhaps in the way the religious people reaffirm their beliefs through song, Bad Religion has written the perfect hymns for non-believers. However, Greg says in the song “No direction”, “no Bad Religion song can make your life complete”. They can make you stop and think though.

I’ve decided to be quite selective and only choose half a dozen Bad Religion songs, although there are of course many more to choose from. I’ve chosen no more than one from any one album, and added my interpretation of what I feel the song conveys. Enjoy. Continue reading

George Orwell quotes by underground

Having had many respectful discussions with all sorts of people about religion and politics, I feel as though George Orwell was right when he said:

As with the Christian religion, the worst advertisement for Socialism is its adherents”.

The same of course could be said for any other political opinion or religious faith.

And in order to be balanced:

He was an embittered atheist, the sort of atheist who does not so much disbelieve in God as personally dislike Him”.

I must admit though, I have not ever met one of the atheists Orwell describes, as this person would not even be an atheist! I would have expected someone with the interest in language that Orwell had to have understood the definition of atheism. Perhaps he would appreciate even a fan such as myself challenging him on an error such as that!

Great tits cope well with warming by underground
May 10, 2008, 4:30 pm
Filed under: Journalism | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

How important is a good headline?

The most read BBC News story yesterday and today was titled “Great tits cope well with warming“.

Okay, I admit it, I read it! Needless to say, the article was not what I expected. I assume many others felt the same. Perhaps this shows how dirty minded BBC News readers are.

As it turned out, it was a fascinating read!