You know what really grinds my gears?

In which your humble author vents his spleen indiscriminately about things that happen to be in the news.

As I age gracelessly toward my 40th birthday, I'm thinking that I need to start turning my mind to considering whether or not to adopt a new persona. The "young but promising" card really doesn't work anymore - claiming to be "young" is tricky when you're a fair way down the road that leads to a full monk's tonsure, while the "promising" bit is starting to look worringly empty. I could go in for a middle-age crisis, I guess, but frankly who has the time or the energy for that sort of nonsense ... plus Dunedin's climate doesn't really lend itself to a little red convertable sports car.

So all-in-all it might work best if I just skip to the grumpy old man stage of life for the next few decades and become a bit like a long-running Garth George, only minus the crazy. Hence the commencement of what may well become a regular series of irritated meandering comments on various things that caused me to splutter "oh, for goodness sake" over my morning coffee.

First up - the Act Party. I mean, it's bad enough that the "brains" behind your advertising strategy goes feral and sets off to single-handedly provoke a racial Ragnarök via the comments section of Kiwiblog, you then have to proudly announce the outgoing President of Federated Farmers, Don Nicolson, as one of your marquee signings for the 2011 campaign.

In the story on his candidacy announcement, Don Nicolson's referred to as a "climate change skeptic". This is slightly misleading, for as he himself explains here:

... climate change is real and it has influenced history and civilization. Undoubtedly, billions of human beings exasperate the earth’s natural climate cycles.  Not so much from emissions but from what each and every one of us consumes from the planet.

Setting aside the exasperation I share with Papatuanuku at some of the people on her face, how exactly taking stuff out of the earth changes the climate but pumping stuff into the atmosphere doesn't is one of the mysteries of the age. But don't go looking for a scientist to explain it to you, because they're all in on it.

In on what, you ask? Well, according to Don Nicolson (and this is, remember, a guy that the Act Party excitedly are holding forth as a person who they firmly believe can help shape the future destiny of our nation):


Asked if he thinks the Emmissions Trading Scheme is a con someone came up with, he replies: "I do think it is exactly like that."

It is part of a United Nations effort to move resources from developed to developing countries to grow them out of the poverty trap, he says. "It is about creating jobs to prevent anarchy."

So, a group of shadowy powerful people decided to make the ETS for job-creation? "Yes, but I'm not a conspiracy theorist. I don't know where the round table was that devised this scheme, but I think the genesis was in a green movement somewhere.

"I have to say the green movement has done a great job of getting into the hearts and minds of the international population. They have infiltrated everywhere."

Well, that's just peachy. And please note - Don Nicolson is not a conspiracy theorist. He just believes that the "green movement" has for the past several decades created an international web of lies, supported by virtually every research scientist looking at issues of climate change, that has been so successful that it has deluded virtually every national government ... into giving poor countries money their money so as to "prevent anarchy".

Party vote Act - or the shape-shifting lizards will win!

Second up - why can't Labour work out that when you make and distribute something that looks like an advertisement designed to help you win the election, it is an election advertisement and you have to put a promoter statement on it! In the interests of full disclosure, I wrongly have accused Labour of making this error in the past - see here - but this time around it is the Electoral Commission that is doing the accusing, so I feel a bit more comfortable climbing back up on this horse.

It really is pretty simple. Anything that looks like it is meant to sway people to vote for you (or not vote for your opponents) is an election advertisement. Election advertisements must contain a statement setting out the name and address of the person who has published, or caused to have published, the advertisement. And it simply doesn't matter how that advert is paid for - whether by the party or by parliamentary services.

What is more, this has been the law since at least 2007 (and arguably earlier than that ... but no-one was really thinking about the issue then). So to claim, as Phil Goff appeared to in the story, that it is a "new" requirement that was inadvertently overlooked is just plain wrong.

So c'mon people - sharpen the hell up!

Finally, lightbulbs. What the hell is it about people and lightbulbs? You may remember this little story.

Once upon a time, back in the darkest days of the previous Labour-led Government (if you can remember that socialist hell-hole without collapsing in fear), it was announced that new efficiency standards for lighting would be brought in. Because the old incandescent light bulb can't meet these standards - they really are very useless at their job - they would effectively be banned from sale as of late-2009.

Obviously this tyranny over the wasteful and wanton in the name of helping ease the load on a strained electricity generation and distribution network could not be allowed to come to pass, and so it was that the brave warriors against "The Nanny State" triumphed and Gerry Brownlee saved the humble incandescent lightbulb from the dustbin of history to the assumedly grateful cries of citizens everywhere (even though it turns out most of them thought that banning the things was a pretty smart move).

Well, it appears that New Zealand is not alone in making the incandescent light bulb - which is, I must again repeat, a quite hopeless means of producing illumination by comparison with what we have today - into a symbol of rampant governmental subjugation of the ordinary person in their homes. Republican members of the House of Representatives, prodded by their Tea Party base, are rising up to do battle in favour of people's right to waste electricity if they want to by seeking to repeal a law signed by President Bush in 2007 that would stop incandescent bulbs being sold from 2012.

Because, yes ... this really matters, people! Sure, the US may be facing a government debt default. It may still have some tens-of-thousands of troops engaged in active combat operations overseas. It may have nearly one-in-ten of its citizens out of work. But if they can take your lightbulbs - well, then, where will it ever end?

As the police in Christchurch well know ... but I don't dare post on THAT topic least I be "investigated".