More die of too much food than too little

“More die in the United States of too much food than of too little” 
 John Kenneth Galbraith

The same will apply in New Zealand too. This is one of the ironies of so much attention being given to poverty in New Zealand.

Perversely some claim obesity is partly due to poverty – poor people can’t afford healthy food so they eat cheap fattening food. That doesn’t address an obvious question – why do they eat so much?

New Zealand is fat and getting fatter.

International Business Times: New Zealand May Overtake US And Mexico As ‘Fattest Nation’

New Zealand is on track to become the fattest country in the world.  A bariatric surgeon from Canterbury wrote in The New Zealand Medical Journal that the country was about to overtake the United States and Mexico in terms of obesity rates.

But alternate views are express on in No surgery silver bullet for New Zealand’s obesity epidemic – GP

In the New Zealand Medical Journaltoday, Christchurch bariatric surgeons Steven Kelly and Richard Flint call for more weight-loss surgery, saying New Zealand is on track to be the fattest nation in the world in five years.

They say the surgery – most commonly sleeve gastrectomies or gastric bypasses – will pay for itself within a few years, in terms of savings on treatment for diabetes and other obesity-related health problems.

“Patients can expect an average of 50-70 per cent excess body weight loss that is maintained over several years,” the authors say in an editorial.


Bariatric surgery may not be the solution to New Zealand’s growing obesity problem, warns an Auckland GP who specialises in weight management.

Anne-Thea McGill from Herne Bay Medical Centre says GPs are picking up the pieces when bariatric surgery causes complications or patients regain weight lost after surgery.

Dr McGill says she has seen patients who are still vomiting years after surgery, who may be slim but have nutritional problems or who have a gastric band that has slipped.

Also, she says, there’s a big difference between obesity and metabolic problems such as diabetes and fatty liver, which gastric surgery may not solve.

I know from experience that weight management is a daily challenge but it’s possible for most people.

Dr McGill, who is also a senior lecturer in general practice and primary care at Auckland University, leads a Ministry of Health-contracted programme Supporting Weight Management in Primary Care in the Bay of Plenty.

She believes the answer for most is still weight management through diet and exercise, although she does support some increase in the number of weight-loss surgeries each year.

With good support and information surgery can work well and diabetes can be reversed but patients need to follow sound dietary advice, rather than simply eating smaller portions of bad foods, Dr McGill says.

It’s easy for me to say but I don’t like the idea of my healthy stomach being meddled with surgically.

One of the authors, Richard Flint, told New Zealand Doctor patients are given yearly follow-up appointments for the rest of their lives but inevitably the rate of attendance drops away over the years.

He says there are few complications with the modern weight-loss procedures, unlike the stomach-stapling operations of 20 years ago. After three years of follow-ups, now, very often, there is nothing to follow up.

He would be disappointed if GPs stopped recommending surgery on the basis of one or two cases where complications had arisen.

I’d still be concerned about both short term complications and long term effects (which we simply can’t know about yet).

Eating less and/or exercising more is safer, but unfortunately for an increasing number it’s too hard.

We live in a quick fix society – where people expect others to fix their problems.

Medicinal Cannabis and the return to work.

Of a particular frustration to the chronic pain community, is those that are able to return to part time work, but have so many flare ups and days off sick that they are not able to work to a schedule, and unreliable workers in that sense.  This is a personal issue I have with the ACC system, as most employers balk at the idea of an employee who can’t reliably manage a few short shifts per week, as there is no guarantee when the flare ups of the pain will occur. Below is a story by another sufferer of a chronic pain syndrome, that evolved from an excruciating event with a kidney stone. In this patients case  moderated Cannabis use has saved the Govt thousands in hospital admissions, another few hundred in prescriptions, and with the patient actively trying to return to the workforce thanks to the relief obtained with Cannabis, one would anticipate a 5 figures  per year or so saving  in sickness benefits would be paid out in future.

The night before my 20th birthday I was watching TV and I started getting what I thought were period pains. They kept on getting worse and worse until I rang Healthline and told them what was happening. They told me to go into A&E and there I was told I had a kidney stone.

That passed on its own no problems, then a few months later I had the pain again, went in and they said the same thing it’s a stone, don’t stress you’ll be sweet as, here have some more morphine.

The pain started coming more and more often until I was going into A&E a couple of times a month with pain that was out of control in my lower left abdomen.

Eventually I was diagnosed with a Chronic Pain Syndrome, a neurological condition where my wiring in my nerves send out pain signals for no reason. My GP referred me to Burwood Pain Clinic and there I saw Dr Alchin and the pain team. There I was put on gabapentin in combination with an anti-depressant called Venlafaxine. Apparently these 2 drugs work well together when it comes to relieving chronic pain. I also was referred to a psychiatrist and physiotherapist.

Nothing worked and the side effects of the venlafaxine were making me SO unwell. I was also prescribed Morphine, Tramadol, Codiene, pretty much every painkiller they have which all help the pain slightly for a little bit of time but cause horrible side effects like nausea, vomiting, BAD temper, bad dreams, bad memory, dizziness, stopping in the middle of a conversation and forgetting what we were talking about, leaving stuff behind ALL the time and a whole lot of other crap.

Then after awhile they said there wasn’t any more they could do and that I was just going to have to do my best to live with it.

Before all this started I was working as a nanny in Auckland and I had to quit as I was so unreliable, I had no idea when the pain would hit and when it did all I could do is ring 111 and ask for an ambulance. I tried working part time in a supermarket deli, was fired from that too because I was 2 unreliable and took 2 much time off sick.

For 3 years since my 20th I had been going to A&E about 2-3 times a month with very strong 10/10 uncontrollable pain. More than a few times I was told GO HOME YOU’RE NOTHING BUT A DRUG SEEKER. This is one of the worst things I think, as the pain was neurological, there was no other symptoms other than pain and raised pulse/BP, so they couldn’t find a source for the pain so obviously I was faking it for attention/to get opiates. When you are in that much pain and you get told you’re faking it, you do not usually react very well, your reaction is noted in your records and the next time you go to A&E in pain the exact same thing will happen.

I started reading up on a support group for people with chronic pain which is mostly based in the US and Canada. The people on the page had such amazing stories about how MMJ helped them with their chronic pain and I had to try it.

I researched methods of using it, as I was in this for the long haul, I didn’t want to smoke it and ruin my lungs.  I discovered many people were using vaporizers, the good ones have been tested and found to remove 90-95% of the extra crap that ends up in the lungs. Basically they work just be applying heat without flame to the material, and the active ingredients boil off and are inhaled, without burning the material. I have a portable one that allows me to discreetly get pain relief while out and about, allowing me to get more active without fear of being disabled by my pain while in the middle of town.

I started as soon as I could find some and I noticed my whole body relaxing as I was “vaping” it. My pain which was sitting at about 6/10 at the time went away almost completely.  I thought “nah surely it wouldn’t work that fast” but it really did.

After around 2 months, one day I realized OMG I haven’t been in a&e this month!! And I didn’t go back in for about 6 months. I was amazed and I’ve never looked back.

I’m turning 26 in March and I’ve been vaping regularly for 2 years, I am about to start looking for part time work!  I haven’t been into A&E for (around about) the last 6 months with the pain and the gaps between flares are getting bigger and bigger.

I personally don’t think it’s fair that someone who doesn’t even know me, has the authority to tell me “you can’t smoke that its illegal/bad for you” when it’s the only thing keeping me going!








Man exploits man

National minister Michael Woodhouse often posts ‘Political Quote For Today” on Facebook. His last one:

“Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism, it’s just the opposite.”

That’s attributed to John Kenneth Galbraith – here’s some more good quotes from him:

“The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable.”

“Economics is extremely useful as a form of employment for economists.”

“I am worried about our tendency to over invest in things and under invest in people.”

“The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.”

There’s many more from Galbraith, some might be good for posts of their own.

Russian provocation or UK over-reaction?

Some breaking news from the BBC is potentially a bit disturbing – Russian military jets ‘disrupted UK aviation’

Russian military planes flying near UK airspace caused “disruption to civil aviation” on Wednesday, the UK Foreign Office said.

It said the Russian aircraft did not enter UK airspace, but the manoeuvres were “part of increasing pattern of out-of-area operations” by Russia.

The planes were “escorted” by RAF jets “throughout the time they were in the UK area of interest”, officials added.

Russia’s ambassador has been summoned to “account for the incident”.

Diplomatic type language is used but for this to be reported and for the ambassador to be summoned it must be causing someone some concern.

More detail and comment from Reuters – Britain says fighter jets scrambled to intercept Russian bombers

British Typhoon fighter jets were scrambled to intercept two Russian Bear long-range bombers which had flown close to UK airspace, Britain’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) said on Thursday.

The Russian planes were detected flying over the Channel, south of England, on Wednesday and typhoons were launched from Royal Air Force (RAF) bases at Lossiemouth in Scotland and Coningsby in eastern England, the MoD said.

“The Russian planes were escorted by the RAF until they were out of the UK area of interest. At no time did the Russian military aircraft cross into UK sovereign airspace,” the Ministry of Defence said in a statement.

Last year, NATO conducted more than 100 intercepts of Russian aircraft, about three times as many as in 2013, amid sharply increased tensions between the West and Moscow over theUkraine crisis.

Elizabeth Quintana, a senior research fellow at defence think-tank the Royal United Services Institute said Wednesday’s incident was unusual however, and could be linked to Britain beginning an inquiry into the death nine years ago in London of Kremlin critic and ex-KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko.

“Normally Russian Bears come past Norway and down the North Sea. It could have been used to probe the RAF speed of reaction south,” she told the Daily Mail newspaper.

“Flying any military aircraft in or close to the sovereign airspace of another country signals displeasure or at worst aggression.”

And another side to the story: Russia Says Air Force Flight Near UK Complies With International Law

MOSCOW, January 29 (Sputnik) — Two Russian Air Force strategic bombers spotted near British airspace were conducting a planned 19-hour flight over the North Atlantic and did not breach international regulations or any nation’s borders, a Russian Air Force spokesman said Thursday.

“Two [Tupolev] Tu-95MS [Bear] strategic bombers… successfully completed the planned air patrols. The flight route passed through neutral waters near the Barents and Norwegian Seas, [as well as] the Atlantic Ocean. The flight duration was over 19 hours,” Col. Igor Klimov told RIA Novosti.

According to Klimov, Russian strategic bombers were planned to be escorted by RAF Typhoon aircraft, Norwegian F-16s and French Mirage fighters at different stages on their route.

The spokesman reiterated that the flight had been performed with strict adherence to international regulations on the use of airspace over neutral waters without violating states’ sovereign borders.

Complying with international law doesn’t mean it wasn’t deliberately provocative.

Or is the UK making more of this than it warrants?

Around what?

NASA discovered that there was a satellite rock orbiting the asteroid that passed close by Earth earlier this week.

NASA has discovered a tiny moon 70 meters (230 feet) in diameter circling the asteroid that passed very close to Earth earlier this week, a situation that occurs in just 16 percent of the cases of known asteroids.

The tiny moon is orbiting the asteroid, which itself is only 325 meters (about 1,060 feet) in diameter.

If this asteroid went close enough to the moon it could get trapped into orbit.

Then there would be a moon around a moon around the Moon.

Around Earth. Around the Sun. Around the Milky Way. Around the Universe.

Around what?

Free speech works both ways Mr Little

Amongst the widespread discussion about Eleanor Catton’s criticisms the issue of free speech has come up.

Kiwi singer leaps to Eleanor Catton’s defence after ‘shallow politicians’ outburst

Singer Elizabeth Marvelly has led the support for fellow Kiwi Eleanor Catton after the author came under fire for criticising the country’s politicians.

Ms Catton’s comments drew mixed reactions on Twitter, with some saying she shouldn’t live in New Zealand if that’s how she feels about those who run the country.

But others, including Marvelly, say Catton is fully entitled to her opinion and doesn’t deserve to be targeted for using freedom of speech – a right championed in New Zealand.

So why not champion the right to criticise her back. That’s also free speech.

Andrew Little also got involved as Stuff reports:

Labour leader Andrew Little said Catton was entitled to express her opinion about New Zealand and the country’s politicians

Everyone is entitled to express their opinions about politicians.

He said it was important to celebrate freedom of speech, especially after the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack in Paris.

“Two weeks on from one of the grossest tragedies in the world – which is all about freedom of speech – let’s celebrate freedom of speech, let’s celebrate and welcome what our writers have to contribute and to offer,” he said..

“Let’s actually listen to them, let’s not try and shout them down.”

Sure politicians and the rest of us should be prepared to listen. But we have the same right as Catton to criticise, and if we want to criticise her when she in effect slams New Zealand then we should.

Being shamed into shutting up instead of expressing ourselves is an attempt to control speech. It can be insidious.

Free speech works both ways or it’s not free.


Eleanor Catton’s perspective

Author Eleanour Catton has sparked social media discussions through her anti-Government comments in an interview while in India.

Live Mint: Eleanor Catton: In the last year, I’ve struggled with my identity as a New Zealand writer

Her controversial comment:

At the moment, New Zealand, like Australia and Canada, (I dominated by) these neo-liberal, profit-obsessed, very shallow, very money-hungry politicians who do not care about culture. They care about short-term gains. They would destroy the planet in order to be able to have the life they want. I feel very angry with my government.

Catton actively supported voting for the Greens in last year’s election. These sorts of ideas are not uncommon on the extreme Green side of politics.

This nis the whole section of the interview that led up to those comments:

On New Zealand discrediting its writers

New Zealand has the misfortune in not having a lot of confidence in the brains of its citizens. There is a lot of embarassment, a lot of discrediting that goes on in terms of the local writers.

I, for example, grew up just having a strange belief that New Zealand writers were automatically less great than writers from Britain and America, for example. Because we were some colonial backwater, we weren’t discovered, which I’m hoping will change.

The matter of having this kind of cultural embarrassment about your place in the world, we really need to actively resist that and be brave. I don’t think good literature can come about without bravery. The last thing you want is a whole country of embarrassed writers slinking around.

The good side of New Zealand is that there isn’t all that kind of shallow literary fame where everyone’s backstabbing each other. You kind of need a snobbery for those kinds of things to happen. But I think it is always a shame when people don’t stand up for what it is that they really believe.

And I do think the problem we face in New Zealand is that we are reluctant to express firm beliefs in anything.

An example would be, I was teaching in class in Auckland. I made up a statement with manifestoes from all over the world, different writers who all thought what writing should do or not do. I was going to give it out to my students and have them write about the one that spoke to them the most.

When I was putting this document together, I thought, hang on, I don’t have any New Zealand writers here. And I spent an entire day on the internet trying to find an aesthetic statement from a New Zealand writer and there was nothing. Hopefully in the future, we have more people being brave in that way.

We have this strange cultural phenomenon called “tall poppy syndrome”; if you stand out, you will be cut down.

One example is that the New Zealand Book Award that follows the announcement of the Man Booker Prize, in the year The Luminaries won it, there was this kind of thing that now you’ve won this prize from overseas, we’re not going to celebrate it here, we’re going to give the award to somebody else. If you get success overseas then very often the local population can suddenly be very hard on you.

Or the other problem is that the local population can take ownership of that success in a way that is strangely proprietal. So many people have talked in the media and me directly in ways of 2013 being the year that New Zealand won the Man Booker Prize. It betrays an attitude towards individual achievement which is very, uncomfortable. It has to belong to everybody or the country really doesn’t want to know about it.

I know I shouldn’t complain too much—I’m in such an extraordinary position—but at the same time I feel that in the last year I’ve really struggled with my identity as a New Zealand writer. I feel uncomfortable being an ambassador for my country when my country is not doing as much as it could, especially for the intellectual world. It’s sort of a complicated position to be in.

At the moment, New Zealand, like Australia and Canada, (I dominated by) these neo-liberal, profit-obsessed, very shallow, very money-hungry politicians who do not care about culture. They care about short-term gains. They would destroy the planet in order to be able to have the life they want. I feel very angry with my government.

Some curious comment followed:

On writing from someone else’s perspective

I don’t feel like the male perspective is alien to me. I understand what it would be like to be a man. I suppose from reading a lot of books from male points of view, I don’t feel like it’s completely foreign to me.

An odd claim.I don’t understand what it would be like to be many other men.

There is not ‘a male perspective’. There are a wide range of male perspectives. I’m certain that my perpsective is quite different to many other males – I know that the perspective of some other males is completely foreign to me.

It’s much more dangerous when a white writer writes from a non-white perspective than when people write across gender. That’s much more tricky territory, much more to do with the intentions of the person doing it.

If your intention is to be curious, to enlarge your sense of the world, that’s a wonderful thing. But if your intention is to pillage somebody else’s point of view in order to claim some sort of status from that, is very bad, very immoral.

I would never write a first person narrative from the point of view of somebody who had an experience that I had not been through.

Obviously she’s able to express her own views however she sees fit, but it’s just her perspective. Her controversial comments were written from a fairly extreme political perspective.

Her Green perspective is a minority perspective, about 11% of people currently vote Green in New Zealand.

From a poll in July last year “Greens are supported by 13.1 per cent of women compared with 6.6 per cent of men” so her green perspective doesn’t seem to be so popular amongst males.

Obviously she’s able to express her own views however she sees fit, but it’s just her political perspective, albeit shared by some other New Zealanders.

Views on Greece

Some differeing views on Greece at The Standard. Anthony Robins posted Greece to reclaim its future?

Greece now has an anti-austerity government after “the radical leftist Syriza” achieved a majority (by reaching an agreement with a small right-wing party). The result is very much a rebellion against long-standing problems in the Greek economy and the austerity measures put in place after the “global financial crisis”.

No doubt Greece will be looking to the Iceland precedent. In the wake of the crisis Iceland defaulted on its debts. There was short term pain, but in the longer term it is working out well for them (e.g. here here here here).

If Greece follows suit, perhaps voters in other debt=laden countries will start asking questions too…

There’s a few who seem to hope that this is the start of the anti-austerity/anti-neoliberal revolution. But not everyone, as Nadis responded:

The big difference between Iceland and Greece though is that Iceland had its own currency. Without the ability to devalue (Syriza has unequivocally stated they will remain in the Euro, and why not when they are subsidizing you in the 10s of billions per annum), Greece cannot follow the Icelandic model.

The Icelandic response was nothing more than a standard bank nationalisation, currency devaluation approach to a fiscal/balance of payments crisis which led to a period of high unemployment, high inflation but ultimately the devaluation led to the conditions for economic growth.. And they did add in some nice populist touches.

We’ve had the same thing here in NZ in the past as well as in numerous other countries.

Greece’s only option (based on announced Syriza policy) seem to be beg the EU for better terms on existing debt. Locked into an unsustainable currency, and without the ability to borrow Greece has no other options. Defaulting on debt would lead to what? A withdrawal of EU support, massive fiscal deficit and no ability to fund any domestic spending. And in return for being a good EU citizen they’ll probably get what they need – relief on EUR10 billion of debt repayments in the next 5 months, a face saving de-troika- ing, higher domestic taxes especially on the avoiders, subsidies for the very poor.

I actually think Tsipras’ toughest job will be meeting the expectations of the bulk of his supporters. Very easy being a radical in opposition, but whenyou are in charge of a bankrupt country with no resources, reliant on external charity – well that’s a bit harder.


Another difference between Iceland and Greece is the level of national indebtedness. Iceland was mostly bank debt, Greece is mostly sovereign debt. Sov debt is harder to default on and remain a connected member of the international community.

Note lso that the Icelandic crisis pushed Iceland closer to Europe with a formal EU application in addition to existing membership of EEA and NATO. On hold now while they wait for a referendum but it is supported by the largest left and right parties.


Greece has, is and likely will decide to continue to exist on the charity of the Germans. Unless they decide to man up, leave the Euro and regain the tools to manage their own economy, all this talk of “Greece taking contro;”, “Greece showing the EU who is boss” etc is fantasy, a dangerous fantasy that will continue to punish the poor of Greece.

Exit the Euro, devalue the currency by 50%, haircut Greek debt by 60%, and get on with being under-productive waiters for the rest of Europe – thats what Greece should do.

For a country with the tradition and intellect of Greece, it’s a disgrace where they are now, but that’s what widespread corruption and decades of living beyond your means on the charity of others does for you. London, Frankfurt, Paris and New York are full of extremely smart, well educated able Greeks who have voted with their feet.


They need to address a national culture of corruption which is why tax collection – the most fundamental government power – doesn’t properly exist in Greece.

Back to the hope for a revolution of the indebted. Pascal’s bookie:

If Greece goes, a precedent is set. Spain and Italy could go too.

Germany benefited greatly from having a periphery built in to the EU. Till it went pear shaped, not least due to Germany’s own short-termism. If your success is built in part on the debts you hold from crack addicts, it’s a problem you aren’t blameless in.

It could get messy and yes, it’s everyone’s problem there.

As the saying goes, if you owe the bank a thousand dollars and you’re broke you have a problem. If you owe the bank a billion dolars and you’re broke then ther bank has the problem.

There’s many varying opinions but one thing’s for sure, Greece and Europe have entered very interesting political and economic times.

Ego unchecked


I still find it amusing that Jesse Ryder has never heard of me.

When I heard he said that, I thought great it seems I’m up against a deaf and blind guy…shouldn’t be too hard.

Ego unchecked.

He sounds disappointed that he wasn’t given a political opponent.

He’s untested at boxing (Ryder won a fight three years ago) so is taking a big risk talking himself up so much.

I think he’s on a hiding to nothing. If he somehow knocks Ryder out then Ryder’s previous head injury is likely to be the big story. And of his own doing he has a lot of ego to lose.

Making Mars livable

Continuing on a space theme someone well know for other planet ideas makes a suggestion. In response to a link about  Latest Research Reveals a Bizarre and Vibrant Rosetta’s Comet a reply from Draco T Bastard:

We should be looking for ways to nudge those comets into Mars. Get enough mass there and Mars will become livable. It’s not at the moment due to the lack of atmosphere and electromagnetic field.

That’s probably more realistic than some of his politcal suggestions. UPDATE:

Molten core Magnetic field Of course, slamming Mars with asteroids and comets still may not be enough to re-heat it’s core and thus get its magnetic field going or replace it’s atmosphere. May have to nip out to the Kuiper Belt or the Oort Cloud and grab a dwarf planet or two.

Not to mention slamming comets into a planet is a fairly poor solution to making a planet livable.

Worked for Earth.

UPDATE 2: TheContrarian responded:

Earth’s magnetic field comes from it’s internal dynamo. There is nothing to suggest slamming a planet with comets will do anything about reheating its core and kicking off the dynamo. Least of all anything to do with mass (look at Venus – very similar mass to earth, tiny magnetic field)

“Worked for Earth.”

Firstly it wasn’t just being slammed with comets that made earth livable but, secondly, if you have a few hundreds of million years available then go right ahead.

“May have to nip out to the Kuiper Belt or the Oort Cloud and grab a dwarf planet or two.”

Wow…really? Just “nip” out there and shackle a dwarf planet, send it back to mars and slam it into it. Wow.

This is stupid even for you. These are events that are millions on millions on millions of the years in the making. I can’t even

I’m not sure if the reply was tongue in cheek or serious:

These are events that are millions on millions on millions of the years in the making. I can’t even

Yeah, typical RWNJ – just can’t think long term.

RWNJ = right wing nut job – very ironic, Draco would be a classic LWNJ..


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