Brian Edwards Media

Archive for July, 2013

Confessions of a sentimental socialist and unkind thoughts on Paula Bennett

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I generally define myself as ‘a Socialist’. This may seem at odds with living in the most expensive suburb in New Zealand, having no mortgage or other indebtedness, dining out on a regular basis, treating Rarotonga as you might treat a bach and, in general, being what people euphemistically call ‘comfortably off’.

If I were a supporter of the National Party, I’d probably argue that being ‘comfortably off’ was the product of more than seven decades of application and hard work and that, if I could do it, every other able-bodied and averagely intelligent Kiwi should be able to do the same. We aren’t a Third World country after all.

That would be a dishonest argument because I’m one of the laziest people you could hope to meet, rarely apply myself to anything for long and have got through life largely on my wits, a unique ability to read other people and, according to the late lamented Rob Muldoon, ‘an intriguing Irish accent’.

I can’t claim responsibility for any of those characteristics. Heredity and environment combined to make me what I am. I’m what they call a ‘hard determinist’. But that’s another story. Except for this: you can’t be a hard determinist and judge other people as if they were the authors of their own misfortunes – or fortunes.

If this sounds a bit nutty, the science of genetics is very much on my side. On almost a daily basis we are discovering that this or that characteristic, trait, predisposition, behaviour is genetically determined. Even the psychopath has a defence – there’s an important bit missing from his brain.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Patrick Gower Fan Club Quiz: Answer 10 simple questions and win an interview with Paddy. Winner Announced!

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Q1: What was the plot that Paddy famously lost?

Q2. What would Paddy like to be when he grows up?

a) Mary Wilson b) handsome c) a journalist?

Q3. Who picks up all the toys from Paddy’s cot?

Q4. What is Paddy’s ideal pet?

a.) pussy cat  b) lamb c) American pit bull terrier?

Q5. How old is Paddy?

a) 38  b) 42 c) 10?

Q6. In a previous incarnation Paddy was…?

a) Mother Teresa b) St Francis of Assisi c) Vlad the Impaler?

Q7. Which TV host/interviewer does Paddy most admire?

a) Ellen DeGeneres b) Graham Norton c ) Glenn Beck d) Paddy Gower?

Q8. What is Paddy’s preferred sauce?

a) HP Sauce b) Heinz Sauce c) any anonymous sauce?

Q9. Paddy’s boss wants him to…

a) take more care b) take more leave c) take more Ritalin?

Q10. If Paddy invites you to dinner, he’d like you to bring…

a) a nice bottle of wine b) a nice box of chocolates c) the head of David Shearer?

WINNER ANNOUNCED!

The winner of the Paddy Gower Fan Club Quiz is Mr W Peters from St Mary’s Bay, Auckland. Mr Peters is an MP (Master Plumber). He got the answers to all 10 questions right. Mr Peters said he was delighted to have won and was really looking forward to being interviewed by Paddy. He was confident, he said, that he would be able not to answer any of the TV interviewer’s questions.

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With the benefit of hindsight Charles Saatchi would probably not have choked his wife Nigella Lawson in a public place.

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Here’s a tip: The next time you hear someone use  the words ‘in hindsight’ or ‘with the benefit of hindsight’, assume they are about to try to excuse or at least mitigate some unacceptable or reprehensible previous behaviour.

I’ve come to this conclusion because of  the increasing frequency with which wrongdoers, particularly those in the public eye, tell us that ‘in hindsight’ or ‘with the benefit of hindsight’ they would have done things differently.

‘In hindsight’, for example, the owners and management of Pike River Coal would have had safety protocols and practices in place which would have avoided the deaths of 29 men. The ‘hindsight’ in this particular case resides in the subsequent deaths of those 29 men. ‘Now that 29 men have died, we can see that we were wrong not to implement those protocols and practices. We’re only human after all. We don’t have second sight.’

The truth is that greed for profit and a lack of care about the safety of their employees was the real reason for the unnecessary deaths of those 29 men, not an inability to reasonably predict the outcome of inadequate safety protocols and practices. The mine managers had that ability but found it convenient not to exercise it. They did not require ‘the benefit of hindsight’ to alert them to those dangers. They had that knowledge at the time.

This is almost invariably the case when people use ‘hindsight’ or the lack of it to justify or excuse their previous behaviour. It is the commonest rationale for having failed to take reasonable care, failed to consider the likely consequences of their actions, failed to invest the time and energy necessary to minimise risk and harm  to others. It applies with equal force to the directors of finance companies now facing the judgement of the courts as it does to the owners and management of Pike River Coal.

You cannot have hindsight on your current behaviour. That is a contradiction in terms. The hindsight excusers nonetheless invite us to forgive or at least understand their  previous actions on the grounds that they lacked an ability which none of us have – the ability to predict the future. ‘I’m not Superman. Don’t judge me.’

No one expects those whose decision-making impacts on others to be ‘Supermen’, nor to have second sight. But we are entitled to expect them to have the capacity to anticipate the consequences for themselves and others of a particular course of action.

So the next time you hear someone say, ‘In hindsight…’ or  ‘With the benefit of hindsight…’  in order to explain, excuse or minimise the impact of some  previous course of action, I suggest you ask yourself whether  their explanation rings true. My guess is you won’t have to wait long. You’ll have plenty of opportunities.

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