Three Peace Moments – our history and our future

Three Peace Moments – our history and our future

This week is often referred to as “Peace Week” and this year on 11th November it is the 100th anniversary of the armistice of WW1 which ended most of the fighting in Europe making it especially notable.  Disgracefully, the various peace treaties which followed the armistice did little to settle the continent into a period of reconstruction. Read the rest of this entry »


The latest from A.C Stark

Hi Friends,

Here’s the latest I’ve received through WordPress from A.C. Stark of the UK.  Worth reading, I suggest.



The Greatest Gift that I Possess

Everywhere I look I see countless miniature empires. This makes sense when one considers the many necrophilous sectarians ostensibly populating Britain, as their morals seem to be founded (if Brexit is anything to go by) in the delusional glory of this little island’s historically imperial sovereignty. Small-man syndrome is a natural phenomenon, even at the state level. However, worryingly, even members of today’s ‘hipster’, left-wing subculture – cultural decedents of a cleaner living, hitchhiking, happy-go-lucky, hippy era – revel in the excesses of their individual realms. Today everyone is an emperor. Myopic, capitalistic narcissism is pervasive. It’s killing humanism and the planet with it.

Taken from his recent book, Happy (his recent and a fascinating serious prose on welfare philosophy), Derren Brown hits the nail on the head, when he says, “‘Get what you want’ remains a mantra of modern living, as if we each had the birthright to accumulate whatever we think will make us happy.” We’re programmed to desire, indoctrinated even. Society is set up to consume. Without our desires being quenched by consumption, we’re destined to be miserable. This is the message we’re sold.

As a result, we’re constantly seeking to expand our empires in the pursuit of something more addictive, more socially corrosive than crystal meth. Purchasing is the tool by which we seek our little hits of serotonin and dopamine, each dose a sparrows-step toward securing a peculiarly phantom mental state: happiness. Obsessively, most of us seek it, but in vain. The era of achieving happiness collaterally is long over. Now, we seek it as an end in itself. More fool us.

We’re so addicted to these minute hits of gratification that we don’t let anything or anyone get in the way of our attaining them. This is not a clean drug, its cut with numerous toxins. It kills. Collateral damages, in the form of physical (1, 2), mental, environmental (1, 2, 3, 4) and cultural sickness (1, 3, 2), have been normalised. It’s an unfortunate necessity but a necessity all the same; a small price to pay for “happiness”. Crucially, we reject that our pursuit of happiness is damningly self-defeating (perhaps through fear of self-loathing). Moreover, those that indiscriminately pursue happiness are often considered virtuous. This is despite their holding a complete disregard for traditional virtues such as moderation, wisdom, morality, or empathy and a sense of community.

Regretfully, and rather non-virtuously, Conspicuous and invidious consumption (purchasing goods to flaunt economic power and incite envy), the bread and butter of capitalism, affect us greatly (the recent #OOTD appeal is a hideous example). Products are designed and marketed specifically to create and then cure anxietynot to promote happiness – which stimulates us to indulge in further self-destructive retail therapy. Possessions are seen and brandished as symbols of identity, wealth and “happiness”. This is no conspiracy theory; it is advertising theory (1, 2). It’s business. As a result, western society has entered a mental health crisis (1, 2) as its free markets mass produce depression and narcissism, as we are all miss-sold happiness.

Social media compounds the issue, providing “short term, dopamine-driven feedback loops” (1, 2) which manipulate us into to further embellishing and flaunting our lively possessions – the flags of our empires – in the virtual world, as we unwittingly encourage one another to consume more still.

What is deeply disconcerting is that the means by which we might relearn the value of empathy, community and virtue, and consequently rediscover happiness as contentedness, is being dismantled. With central government stripping powers of discretionary spending from local councils and redirecting the cash to Whitehall, our communal infrastructure is rapidly disintegrating. With it go the remnants of a once humanistic, community-based Great British culture. Youth centres, libraries, care homes, parks and public gardens are being left to ruin, so that the state can financially compete on a global scale in order to recreate the illusion of a “Great British Empire”.

It’s difficult to decide which of Britain’s politico-economic ideologies are causing all this: sectarianism, capitalism or neo-liberalism? It could be any or all of them. However, all of them scream the same battle-cry, wealth and empire are all.

A.C. Stark

Recommended Reading
Happy; Out of the Wreckage; Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered;
The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World
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Submission on the proposed Zero Carbon Act NZ

This is a copy of the message you have sent via the form.

Name Richard Keller
Phone ….
Town / City Wellington
A Zero Carbon Act is important to me because… It’s getting late in the action period. Yes, it’s been 40 years since we in the West have become aware of where this was heading. Granted, since then facts have sharpened and understandings have become clearer, but there was opportunity to understand and get started on this globally 40 years ago but there has been a lot of obfuscation to prevent this beginning. All the more reason a hard structure and specific undertakings must be put into legislation. Otherwise there are those who would still want to stall. And that desperation may still win out. Or not.
Q1. What process should the Government use to set a new emissions reduction target in legislation? The Government should set a target for 2050 in legislation now. Let’s make that 2040 so as to give less time to find excuses (further obfuscations).
Q2. If the Government sets a 2050 target now, which is the best target for New Zealand? Before we get too excited here, it must be said again that we need more than just TARGETS (arrgh)! We need action.
The most ambitious target: reducing total greenhouse gases to net zero by 2050 (2040). I also support taking a science-based approach to ensure our efforts to reduce emissions are as impactful as possible: we should aim for negative levels of long-lived gases, while reducing short-lived gases to sustainable levels with continual evaluation of what ‘sustainable levels’ are for this context.
Q3. How should New Zealand meet its targets? The Emissions Trading Scheme has been a failure. In fact it has been one of those obfuscations, and thus cannot be resurrected – dead in the water – in the dust bin of history.

By using domestic emissions reductions only (including from new forest planting).

Q4. Should the Zero Carbon Bill allow the 2050 target to be revised if circumstances change? The 2050 (2040) target should not be altered in response to “economic changes” as this undermines its long-term certainty. Given the long term costs of climate change, “economic changes” would be just another desperate obfuscation. However, the ability to revise the 2050 (2040) target in light of natural disasters, major changes in scientific understanding or international agreements should be permitted.
Q5. The Government proposes that three emissions budgets of five years each (i.e. covering the next 15 years) be in place at any given time. Do you agree with this proposal? yes – I agree with 5-year budgets set 10-15 years in advance, so that 3 are in effect at all times. This will allow a more realistic long term understanding, both backward and forward, of progress.
Q6 – Q7. Should the Government be able to alter emissions budgets? No – emissions budgets should not be altered in response to “economic changes” as this undermines their long-term certainty. Given the long term costs of climate change, “economic changes” would be just another desperate obfuscation. However, the ability to revise the 2050 (2040) target in light of natural disasters, major changes in scientific understanding or international agreements should be permitted.
Q8. Do you agree with the proposed considerations that the Government and the Climate Commission will need to take into account when advising on and setting budgets? Note here that the “Climate Commission” is usually proposed as an evaluation and advisory body and will not be charged with the responsibility of action.

I agree that the Government and the Climate Commission should take the following factors into consideration when advising on and setting budgets:
• scientific knowledge regarding climate change
• technology relevant to climate change
• economic circumstances and the likely impact of a decision on the
economy, as well as the competitiveness of particular sectors of the economy
• fiscal circumstances and the likely impact of the decision on taxation, public spending and public borrowing
• social circumstances and the likely impact of a decision on fuel poverty
• energy policy and the likely impact of a decision on energy supplies and
the carbon and energy intensity of the economy.

Q9. Should the Zero Carbon Bill require Governments to set out plans within a certain timeframe to achieve the emissions budgets? Yes – we must learn from the mistakes of the UK’s Climate Change Act and specify a strict time frame for producing a plan.
Q10. What are the most important issues for the Government to consider in setting plans to meet budgets? For example, who do we need to work with, what else needs to be considered? The plans must be made with the understanding that there has been much obfuscation over 40 years and that baggage must be dropped before the scale and depth of plans required can be grasp.
The Government’s policy plans to meet emission budgets should be comprehensive, fair, cost-effective, environmentally sustainable, and reflect a commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
Q11. The Government has proposed that the Climate Change Commission advises on and monitors New Zealand’s progress towards its goals. Do you agree with these functions? While a Commission with decision-making powers might be possible, politicians must be the ones communicating with, and held accountable by, the public. Therefore, the Commission should probably not be a decision-making body. However, the Government should be legally required to consider and formally respond to the Commission’s advice, and to provide an explanation if they do not act on it.
Yes – monitoring must be of the highest scientific and technical standard so that political and moral thinking can be correctly informed.
Q12. What role do you think the Climate Change Commission should have in relation to the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (NZ ETS)? The NZ ETS has been a failure, and was always intended to be a significant part of the obfuscation. There is too much baggage carried by the NZ ETS and it should be dropped from consideration.
Q13. The Government has proposed that Climate Change Commissioners need to have a range of essential and desirable expertise. Do you agree with the proposed expertise? The Commissioners must have a range of essential and desirable expertise, and in order to communicate meaningfully with the government this must be informed by an in depth understanding of the political history of obfuscation over climate change which the government must and will be considering.

I agree with the following collective expertise:
• climate change policy (including emissions trading)
• resource economics and impacts (including social impacts, labour markets and distribution)
• te Tiriti o Waitangi, te reo me ona tikanga Māori and Māori interests
• climate and environmental science including mātauranga Māori
• experience with addressing adaptation challenges like planning, insurance and local
• risk management
• engineering and/or infrastructure
• community engagement and communications
Also, public health.

Q14. Do you think the Zero Carbon Bill should cover adapting to climate change? Yes. Adaptation strategies and projects will likely be at the top of the political agenda much of the time so it must be considered in the Zero Carbon Bill. It would be possible for the focus on Zero Carbon to be distracted by adaptation issues and keeping them together in the responsibilities of the government should help political forces keep them both in mind.

This may require a separate adaptation sub-committee within the Climate Commission, however.

Q15. The Government has proposed a number of new functions to help us adapt to climate change. Do you agree with the proposed functions? These functions can be monitored and informed in much the same way as the Zero Carbon actions.

I agree with the proposed functions below, but recognise that nuance is required in terms of how local councils are involved:
• a national climate change risk assessment
• a national adaptation plan
• regular review of progress towards implementing the national adaptation plan
• an adaptation reporting power

Q16. Should the Government explore setting up a targeted adaptation reporting power that could see some organisations share information on their exposure to climate change risks? Yes
Further comments • A target for net-zero carbon emissions by 2040 should be in the Act. And ability to act on them.
• Setting up a conversation where it is recognized that there has been much delay in getting going, obfuscation if fact, so that inertia can be overcome.
• The emissions from transport, industrial activity, agriculture, and all other sources should be included in the target. Even ‘short-lived’ gasses can have a huge effect on our climate and need to be reduced.
• Emissions budgets should be at least as important as fiscal budgets, and the Government should set plans to achieve them.
• An independent Climate Change Commission of experts should monitor emissions and give advice to keep New Zealand on-track for its emissions reduction goals.

Wellington Saints exciting win over Canterbury Rams in NBL

Hi Sam,

Yes, you missed a good one.  Here’s my summary of the excitement (I hope Saints fans really appreciated what they were seeing!?)

Saints had early lead (5 or 7), Majok Majok overcoming his lack of grace around the hoop by slamming it every time, but Rams chipped away and kept momentum going for a 6 point half time lead.  Too many turnovers as tall Rams had caught on to Saints tendencies.   In the 3rd quarter, first 7 or 8 minutes, Saints outscored Rams, first 13-1, then kept widening at 22-3 for a 13 point lead.  Ili given rest and the Rams tied it by end of quarter (!?!).  The last quarter was tense.  Ili had dominated the Saints offense throughout the game but perhaps tired a bit the second half.  Shaun Bruce took charge with 3’s, perhaps left alone by defence because he hasn’t been consistent at all this year, or earlier in this game either.  But he came through.  Last minute especially tense.  I suppose the key hoop was Ili again, pull-up midrange jumper, under intense pressure by a taller opponent, but he gave it more arch than usual and some how concentrated it into the net, no rim as normal.  Rams scored a two going to the hoop (their lithe ‘bigs’ were showing the high edge of their talent) coming within 2, then fouled Bruce.  He made two FT for a 4 point lead, then Rams scored the same way as before to get within 2 again, and again fouled Bruce.  Seconds left.  Bruce missed both and Rams came down, perhaps looking for the hoop again, but somehow didn’t find it, went for a three (and the win) instead, but off the rim, not close really, and buzzer.

Not the same as being there, but hope this helps.


Submission to GWRC on bus driver contract

To the GWRC – You have an obligation to ensure that bus drivers who are affected by your decision to change contractors do not lose their jobs or have their incomes reduced. Next year you will be standing to represent us and our communities. You need to show good faith now by protecting these drivers and their families.

It’s bad enough that you have shown the Council’s desperation so openly with your aggressively irrational removal of the trolley busses which had another perhaps 15 years of usefulness.  Treating the drivers honestly and respectfully would be chance for you to both make a comeback towards fairness, and to put the irrationality of the trolley decision into the background.  Do you want to continue to look desperate?

Richard Keller
Lyall Bay

plea to the Labour Government to stop dairy conversions (Mackenzie)


Hello Mr Parker and Mr O’Connor,

There is no action more desperate and more neo-liberal in this Post Truth Era in New Zealand than dairy conversions.  They are and have for years been an ideological crusade, a cry of anguish and terror that the exploitative mentality is finished.  We either become nurturers in the deepest sense (not only toward people but also the land) or we will follow this out of date exploitative mentality toward an uncertain new phase, but likely demise, of civilisation.

Richard Keller

The Unsettling of America – presentation to SATRS seminar

The Unsettling of America          by Wendell Berry, 1977 (Sierra Club Press)

Gary Snyder, noted American ‘poet, essayist, environmentalist’, wrote on the back cover of this printing (2015, Counterpoint Press, Berkeley):

“This book is about culture in the deep, ripe sense; a nurturing habitat. With unwavering focus, Wendell Berry shows what we lost of our real human American potential when we lost our commitment to living well, in place, on the land.” Read the rest of this entry »