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StephenFranks.co.nz



A New Zealand lawyer, ex-MP, farmer and enthusiast for life opines on law, politics and the universe



Last Build Date: Mon, 20 Nov 2017 06:50:17 +0000

 



My dog supports anthropomorphism

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 06:31:55 +0000

A report (linked through Flipboard) on research into brain activity associated with breath control asserts: “Humans’ ability to control and regulate their brain is unique: e.g., controlling emotions, deciding to stay awake despite being tired, or suppressing thoughts. These abilities are not trivial, nor do humans share them with many animals. Breathing is similar: animals […]



Why does the left hate Israel – it seems counterintuitive?

Wed, 08 Nov 2017 04:25:41 +0000

A Quora answer to that question was so crisp I wanted to record it somewhere I would remember. I don’t know anything about Tostig Godwinesson who answered, but it chimed with what I recall from being a young leftie, and when alongside them in Parliament. “You will undoubtedly get lots of complex and detailed, thoughtful answers […]



NZ’s productivity mystery not mysterious to me

Tue, 31 Oct 2017 01:07:59 +0000

I’ve been musing on the official puzzlement about our country’s woeful lack of productivity improvement. It turns out that for years our productivity has barely improved. In other words we are generating too little more per head than 20 years ago. Our GDP has grown, but disappointingly little more than population growth. We have a […]



Common sense we may not see in New Zealand for long three years

Thu, 26 Oct 2017 22:16:00 +0000

Allison Pearson in the Telegraph has a blistering response to the UK Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation‘s urging that the UK should welcome back young jihadists for integration. Entitled “How do you solve a problem like returning jihadis? I’ve got a pretty good idea” she excoriates Max Hill QC’s naivete. Allison celebrates instead the refreshing bluntness of the UK Minister […]



Stupid law – No 1 – coffee warnings

Tue, 24 Oct 2017 00:08:22 +0000

The Lost Angeles Times editorial of 30 September comments on a California law requirement that cafes with more than 10 employees expressly warn customers of the possible cancer risk from acrylamide in coffee. The fact that the risk may be tiny, and outweighed by potential anti-cancer effects of coffee drinking makes no difference. That warning […]



Dead store-keepers – a price of virtue signalling

Sat, 07 Oct 2017 08:50:21 +0000

Another guest post, this time from Auckland, from Prof Owen Young, Professor of Food Science at AUT. I find two things particularly interesting in this one. First that unlike many academics he is not just virtue signaling –  urging new rules because he can see something bad happening (smoking) without worrying about unintended consequences. Secondly, Prof Young wrote […]



Why no libertarian party rules (or thrives) anywhere

Thu, 05 Oct 2017 05:40:10 +0000

This article https://medium.com/zero-infinity/altruism-psychology-202641eade79 is a fragmentary popularisation of conclusions in scores of papers and studies. Excerpts: “Throughout history, there have been significant costs associated with appearing not to be altruistic. According to [a] paper in the Annual Review of Psychology, “Across cultures, people punish others who have violated moral norms, even when the violation leads to people being […]



Why just Kingmaker? Why not King?

Wed, 27 Sep 2017 22:48:11 +0000

The following is a guest post from my law colleague, Rob Ogilvie. Rob specializes in negotiation advice and strategy. At a Harvard course in negotiation many years ago, Trump cases were used to explore and illustrate successful negotiation approaches.  So to our astonishment early in Trump’s campaign Rob warned against dismissing his chances. Rob later won wagers taken […]



Counting our blessings – NZ still fending off the political tribalists

Wed, 27 Sep 2017 22:00:48 +0000

This  must-read is from Andrew Sullivan, a thoughtful leftist. It acknowledges and explains the blight settling over all the Anglo democracies, though thankfully not yet heavily in our lucky land. It is consistent with Helen Clark’s gracious warning to New Zealanders (her supporters) to respect the outcome of the election, reported in yesterday’s Stuff. The democratic blight has […]



Q.E.D. on spies, from the Minister responsible for our security intelligence sevices

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 00:09:53 +0000

Rarely, if ever in politics, does one get explicit, irrefutable proof of a risky and unpopular hypothesis within a week of venturing it. But Attorney General Hon Christopher Francis Finlayson provided such proof last night. Last week, after discussing on Radio NZ the Newsroom suspicions that NZ MP Jian Yang may be a spy for […]