Monday, 25 February 2013

Stuff that would amaze even Mr Ripley

Fact or fiction? Statistics or lies? Those are the questions on the lips of many Kiwis today; or at least they should be.

We awoke this morning to read a breathless account of how the ruling National Party – the one under whose stewardship we have seen a massive rise in unemployment, a huge drop in living standards and for the average worker, no increase in income - has scored a 51 percent approval rating in the latest 3News political poll. This is the same party that has presided over the school closures/non-closures debacle in Christchurch and signed off on and continued to persevere with the Nonopay method of not paying those teachers who still have a job. It is also the same party that bailed out finance companies and offered tasty deals to SkyCity Casinos in return for them building a massive convention centre while ignoring those at the bottom of the economic slag heap.

And let’s not forget the Stormtrooper tactics they employed against Kim Dotcom, a naturalised New Zealander whose privacy is supposed to be guaranteed, while trying to cuddle up to the FBI over charges they have yet to prove.  These are also the same people who have covered up one cock-up after another, developed a condition I shall call amnesia convenientus whenever they were nailed with some particularly damning evidence. They also tried, Stasi like, to muzzle a photographer who accidentally overheard a conversation that was held in public between two public figures, while flagrantly compromising the privacy of beneficiaries and ACC claimants.

And 51 percent of us approve of all this? I feel a fucking great Tui billboard coming on.

Of course what this simply proves is that you can’t trust these sorts of polls. They are completely unscientific although the pollsters would tell you otherwise. The pollsters live in the world of statistics and probabilities where everything can be answered by a mathematical equation. The trouble is, when you are dealing with people, that mathematical equation has so many more variables than anyone can sensibly ever take account of. If you were to factor in every possible variable that could affect a poll’s results you would soon realise that you cannot ever accurately project such results.

For example how do we know that 51 percent of respondents weren’t died in the wool National Party members or supporters? Or that the respondents weren’t simply taking the piss? The fact is we don’t and neither do the pollsters, because even if they were to ask the respondents such questions, there is no way they could ever verify the answers. They reckon they can extrapolate the results and even give us a ‘margin for error’. That too is a fiction because it is only a mathematical probability based upon previous observations which could have been equally inaccurate. It has often been said that the only poll that matters is the one on Election Day, and that is hard to argue with. It is the only one you can trust, (always providing there is no jiggery pokery going on at the polling booth).

I wouldn’t even bother commenting on this were it not for the fact that I think polls like this are influential. The sheeple out there in Godforsakenzone actually think these things are correct, and of course because they ARE sheeple they like to stay with the flock. Of course the fact this poll was conducted by 3News, a company owned by Mediaworks, a company that was given a $43M loan guarantee, by... let me see who was it now? Oh, yes; the National Government might explain a few things. I’m just sayin’.

However the slippery poll is not the only unbelievable thing to catch my eye in the last week. The one day cricket series between the Black Caps and England was another. To be fair this one was pointed out to me by my very observant wife who is not slow to see connections others often miss.

The series began as those of us sad individuals who want to cheer on the Black Caps had hoped but not expected, with a three wicket win by the Kiwis. We watched it free to air on Prime and enjoyed the tense finish. Then came the second match where the Black caps suffered a severe drubbing by the visitors and lost by eight wickets. The two performances by the Kiwis were so different that it was actually very frustrating to watch that game which was also shown on free to air on Prime, but as the commentators reminded us; this now set up the final game to be a thriller with the series standing at one apiece.

It was only when we checked the TV Times to see what time we could sit down and watch that decider that little doubts began to creep into our minds. The third one dayer was not scheduled to be shown free to air on Prime at all; it had always been planned to be shown only on SkySport for those who had a Sky subscription. Now there’s a coincidence. Of course England went on to win that match as well (this time by five wickets) which was totally in keeping with their form, and that of the Black Caps. 

Now call me a suspicious old bugger, but I can’t help feeling that it was extremely convenient for SkySport that the Black Caps should shock everyone by winning the first match that was free to air and lose the second which was also free to air leaving the ‘exciting’ decider to be shown only to paying viewers. All the more so, given the current fuss about match fixing in regards to cricket matches and given also that we were constantly shown a little graphic in the top left hand corner of the screen during the second match that showed the odds one particular agency was giving for England to win the game. I’m just sayin’.

And finally another item to deserve mention in Mr Ripley’s ripping tales is the ongoing saga of the Act(ing) Party and little Johnny Banksia. The short-arsed one is under the spotlight yet again for allegedly being less than honest. No! Surely not! This time it seems the diminutive career politician (I don’t care where as long as I am elected there) is under scrutiny in relation to statements made in the prospectus of finance company Huljich Wealth Management of which he had been described as an executive director. It seems the prospectus contained a number of things that misled investors. No! Surely not! Another of the company’s directors, Peter Huljich has already 'fessed up to the fact that the prospectus contained misleading information and he has been fined $112,500, which would be a pathetic slap on the wrist with a wet bus ticket for someone in his position. 

However the petite politician who was described as an executive director up until 2008, then later had his job description amended to simply director has now been asked to answer the allegations that he as an executive director was also liable for the veracity or otherwise of the statements in the prospectus. Interestingly his former partner in (political) crime, Dong Brash is facing the same allegations over the same prospectus. This all coincided with the Act(ing) Party’s national conference held at Allan Gibbs’ modest we two up two down, north of Auckland. There the miniature member managed to suck in the TV cameras to film him pretending to run up a hill, presumably to show that he was moving the party upwards. He enthusiastically told the reporter that Act could have six MPs if they get five percent at the next election (still clinging to the coat-tails rule). However he blithely ignored the fact that at the last election they Act(ually) got ONE percent and in the aforementioned 3News poll they got 0.1 percent. 

But given how inaccurate the latter might be that could just as easily be 0.0001 percent. I’m just sayin’.

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