Wednesday, June 30, 2010

ZenTiger ETS TAX ETC

National have introduced a new tax 3 months ahead of the proposed GST tax increase. Sure, there will be a PAYE Tax reduction in three months time, but by then the new ETS will have pushed the general cost of energy and goods up and we will be feeling the bite from increases in property taxes (rates) at well above CPI.

How high can the GST go, even as other taxes kick in? The UK will be moving from 17.5% to 20% soon. This is done with the promise of offsetting other tax rates, but keep your eye on new taxes, and don't be surprised when they all creep up again as government spending continues unabated. When cuts are made in one area, you can be sure they are spending in yet another. It's a tornado of taxes, spiraling higher and faster leaving only destruction in its wake.

There are taxes on our freedoms too.

Lucia The Censored National Standards Report

This is the report that Anne Tolley wants rewritten because she finds it politically biased.
Education Minister Anne Tolley is to complain to the Speaker Lockwood Smith over a Parliamentary Library research paper on national standards in primary schools.

Mrs Tolley said the paper was “unprofessional”, “highly political” and so biased it could have been written by the union opposing the policy.

Mrs Tolley wants the paper withdrawn and rewritten.
The only "bias" I can see in reading it, is that it doesn't agree with the National Government on the National Standards. For that, it now doesn't exist at all on any Government website. I found it by searching for the name of the pdf and then using Google's HTML version of the document.

I find it highly disturbing that this document has been, in effect, censored by the Government because it disagrees with what the Government is doing.

Read it for yourself and decide.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

ZenTiger Taser Alternatives

The United Nations consider tasers a form of torture, and urge NZ Police not to use them on violent people not responding to the command to "stop".

The thing is that Police have a right to self defence and safety in their job, and I'd hazard a guess that violent people are not going to respect the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights in their interaction with the law at that juncture.

It's not that such people can plead ignorance of the concept of human rights. Once arrested, they seem to understand them chapter and verse.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Fletch Ouch!


I'm not a sports fan, but I saw this image on the net which made me think of the English.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

ZenTiger New Zealand's day of shame

Apparently not many people can sing our national anthem in more than one of our official languages and some-one is trying to raise an outcry. Oh the shame!

The anthem is now often sung first in Maori and then English at major events, and increasingly, not being able to sing in Maori is considered 'not PC'.

I think knowing or not knowing the anthem in two languages should not be used as an excuse to generate division, and to make issues where none need exist.

It continues to frame the debate in "us versus them", and it becomes elitist to demand entry to the club of real New Zealanders requires fluency in Te Reo.

This kind of discussion also ignores our third official language. Perhaps it is time we all learn to sign the national anthem? Let complaints fall on deaf ears, and more positive messages be a sign of the times.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Lucia What a contrast between Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott!

I enjoyed this piece from the NZ Herald today, contrasting Julia Gillard with Tony Abbott. Doesn't look like much of a contest to me... Tony Abbott looks like he's actually done stuff in a broader context than just politics, while as Julia Gillard can only face opponents when they are least expecting her. I wonder who the Australian public will choose?
The choice
Gillard, an unmarried female prime minister with no children, a hairdresser boyfriend and no religious commitment offers a radical alternative to the devout Catholic family man Abbott.

Voters may look at a choice between the God-fearing, rugby-playing, boxing, surf lifesaving triathlete and married father of three, and a career-minded woman who is clearly tough and effective.

Abbott - the "Mad Monk" of Australian politics who cheerfully once described himself as a "junkyard dog attacking the other side" - or Gillard, a skilful operator who has navigated the treacherous currents of Australian Labor Party politics.

Style
Both have the gift shared by the best Australian politicians to skewer rivals with withering insults. Abbott once said Gillard had a "shit-eating grin".

The new Prime Minister is no slouch herself. During the last election campaign, she called John Howard a "political parody of pantomime" and once labelled Abbott a "snivelling grub". She is said to have the mind of a lawyer and the mouth of a bricklayer.

Bare-knuckle talents
Fitness-freak Abbott is an obsessive cyclist and gym-nut. At Oxford University he took up boxing. In his first bout, against Cambridge University, he knocked out his opponent within the first minute. He made similarly short work of challengers in three other fights, employing an all-out attack he proudly called "the whirling dervisher".

Writing in the Melbourne Age newspaper, Annabel Crabb saw plenty to admire in Gillard's toolkit while she was still number two: "There really isn't any doubt any more about whether the deputy prime minister, Julia Gillard, has the killer instinct. The problem tends more to be how to drag her off the victim's body."

She is clearly comfortable wielding power and the more power she gets, the better she appears to perform.

On each other
Gillard: "I think I'm a much more normal person than Tony Abbott."

Abbott: "On those rare occasions when she lets her hair down she can be a charming companion. And I've certainly enjoyed her company a couple of times in a social context, and I think it would be good to see more of that side of Julia."

Qualities
Abbott's mother said her son - who at the age of 26 entered a Manly seminary but left before taking his vows - would either become Prime Minister or Pope. At university Abbott rescued a boy from drowning and once helped people from a burning house. He did not brag about his heroics. For many years Abbott wrestled with his conscience after a university girlfriend fell pregnant and adopted out the baby. When he found he was not the father, he was gracious toward the woman who had wrongly identified him as such.

In Gillard's first year as deputy, outspoken Liberal Senator Bill Heffernan said the Labor MP was unfit for leadership because she was "deliberately barren". Senator Heffernan was derided at the time, but Gillard accepted his apology. She later remarked: "I'm kind of full of admiration for women who can mix it together, working and having kids, but I'm not sure I could have."

The contest
Abbott must balance his instincts with his clear-eyed conservatism. His easy-going banter and ability to connect with the electorate are big assets. His Achilles' heel may be his impetuosity. Gillard, having endured taunts about her Nasal voice, hairstyle, dress sense and failure to embrace domestic life, must convince an electorate that it can trust a leader installed over the carcass of her predecessor, and win back voters who have become disenchanted with her party.
Related link : The face off: Julia Gillard v Tony Abbott

Friday, June 25, 2010

Lucia Friday night free for all

Friday night.

Time to chat.

Drop in anytime.

Lucia Deborah Hill Cone on National Standards [UPDATE]

After being given the fright of my day by the picture on the left (it almost looks like what isn't shown is an adult in a school girl's uniform), I read the article by Deborah Hill Cone (Herald business columnist!) on her experience with National Standards being applied to her five year old.

This is in line with what I've being saying all along (here, here and here)...
My daughter was apparently doing fine actually - as far as I could tell - but it was difficult to work this out as all the focus was on her areas of ineptitude. It seems this is what national standards do to you. She is 5. Let me say that a bit louder: SHE IS FIVE.

How did this craziness come to be? When I went to see the principal he said "Well there are National Standards now, you know."
Just to remind everyone, I have read the National Standards, and I totally disagree with the direction they have taken with six year olds, or those who have completed one year of school. So, it is a bit strange that Deborah's five year old is being measured against the Standards when she has only completed half a year of school.

Deborah is worried that the teachers, who in her school did not support the Standards, are taking out their "Standard" angst on her daughter and the other children.

The school previously had a sign outside saying it did not support the introduction of national standards, so presumably this was not being done with especially good grace. I can't help wondering whether teachers bringing in something like this reluctantly are actually going to do more harm than good - "sorry your child just got emotionally lacerated but it's not our fault - blame Anne Tolley".
It could be that there is some of that involved. However, I also think Deborah Hill Cone should read the Standards herself, just to see what is expected of children after one year of school. She'll find it's far more than she expects.
When do I get a chance to turn the teeny weeny table and give the teacher a "parent-led" conference? She can sit in judgment on my 5-year-old daughter yet I get no say about her performance as a teacher? I'd like to sit her down on a small chair. I would tell her it's most important to love kids and show them that learning is the coolest thrill they will have in life. I would tell her moods are contagious - if you have lots of positive energy kids will catch that. They are more likely to learn by having the best fun ever.

I would tell her that at 5 my daughter has boundless enthusiasm for trains and the World Cup and Uno and her Transformers scooter with light-up wheels.And yes, she likes reading books and having cuddles and sitting on the mat. And by those national standards, she is doing just fine.

You won't get that in NZ's schools anymore. If you want that, you'll just have to pull your daughter out and homeschool her.

Related link: Oh, to turn the tables on teachers ~ NZ Herald

UPDATE : 2nd link for my opposition to National Standards posts is fixed.

Lucia What has happened to HalfDone?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Lucia Interesting comment from John Key on Gillard becoming PM of Australia

Mr Key said he was the first leader to have spoken to Ms Gillard after Rudd stood down.

He did not expect the change to alter New Zealand's relationship with Australia and was encouraged by Ms Gillard's indication that she would try to push forward on the Emission Trading Scheme.
Considering that the ETS was responsible for the Tony Abott's leadership takeover of the Liberal Party, and that Rudd was unable to get enough support for implementing the ETS during the same period, I don't much like Gillard's chances.

John Key can dream, though.

Related link: Key congratulates Gillard ~ Stuff

ZenTiger Rudderless

Gillard to become Australia's first female prime minister as tearful Rudd stands aside...

From very popular PM to the first ever PM to be thrown out in the first term. Got to love a Labour voter. Apparently, he was too autocratic. I thought Labour voters were into that kind of thing. They still miss Helen Clark over here.

"A wider more consultative form of government is required" say the commenters, and at the same time call this a shift to the right wing, as if that's a threat. Well, the right happen to believe very strongly that the government works for us, not the other way around. Lesson learned, and the reports already trying to unlearn it.

An historic moment, and it will be interesting to see what happens next.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

ZenTiger A two edged sword

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.

--Aristotle

Think about your habits, and what you repeatedly do. Declare those acts you wish to define yourself by, and work them into habits.   Habits of excellence.

Conversely, chances are bad habits are holding you back. Until you recognise the battle ground, you may give up without a fight.

This is a message for me, but you are welcome to the idea too. Reminds me of the book I chose for the graphic. The ultimate, and perhaps the original of those "guide to life" books.

It's one of those books that might be very different from what you think it might be, should you take the time to read it. It packs a lot of insight into daily living, and the message is just as relevant today as it was back in the 15th century.

Lucia For Barnsely Bill

Here's the book I mentioned in the Friday Night Free For All.

Hopefully your local public library has it.

Oh yeah, and this is my first post using an Amazon link in this way.

Friday, June 18, 2010

ZenTiger Russel Norman - anti-abortionist?

Watching the video replay of Russel Norman being beaten up by what appeared to be Palestinian peace activists armed with only an umbrella, I'm trying to decide if the steps of Parliament can be considered international waters. Only last week, he was decrying the Israeli special forces team for landing on a boat, and here he is rappelling on to the main deck and not surprisingly being pushed overboard. It's lucky they were not the kind of peace activists that had knives and steel bars handy.

Or perhaps he thinks their personal space is a metaphor for a Japanese Whaler? And the Tibetan flag acid to destroy the harpoon?

In the video clip, it shows Russel as being aggressive and rude. If Russel were an anti-abortionist, and acted like that towards women walking into an abortion clinic, there would be zero sympathy for Russel. Is democracy allowed to be a little ugly, a little imperfect? I don't see a big deal either way here. Just hot headed opinions.


Russel storms the boat

ZenTiger Friday Night Free For All

My blogger profile is pretty simple:

Does it really matter who I am? Who are you? You only live for a finite number of days. What are you exchanging for a day of life today?

And therefore Fletcher's last post resonates with me. My iPhone too has stolen many spare moments on buses, or at the airport or in between appointments, and I've had to consciously wind it back. Even more important things vie for my time at the moment, and it's a challenge to figure out how to live up to work commitments, find time for family and find extra time for others who need it right now. So not as much blogging lately. Haven't even had time to watch a football match, and find out the scores hours or days later. Hopefully, I'll catch some action later next week.

Time. Does it even exist? I thought I saw a headline the other day suggesting it might not. Haven't had time to investigate that claim. How about you? Any time challenges in your life? Any time management hints?

Oh, and Russel Norman protesting well beyond the allowed protest zone? He hasn't learned the rules. It's not just about abusing credit cards...or do I have this wrong? On one hand, we have a peaceful "citizen" protesting and then getting assaulted. On the other, was there a cleared area where protesters had to be behind, and did Russel Norman have all appearances of looking like a mad protester in the danger zone? Was he provocative? Does anyone have the facts - I can only see a Green press statement, and they are not always willing to print the other side of the story.

Fletch Blocking Out The "Still, Small Voice"

I read an interesting article today in Harvard Business Review (wow, that makes me sound kind of intellectual doesn't it? :). In any case, the piece was written by a Peter Bregman, entitled "Why I Returned My iPad". And what was the reason?

It didn't take long for me to encounter the dark side of this revolutionary device: it's too good.
It's too easy. Too accessible. Both too fast and too long-lasting. Certainly there are some kinks, but nothing monumental. For the most part, it does everything I could want. Which, as it turns out, is a problem.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Fletch Churchill Becomes Non-smoker Via Airbrush

Apparently, a famous photograph of Winston Churchill giving his 'V for Victory' salute which graces the entranceway to a WWII London exhibit has had his famous cigar airbrushed out to match the non-smoking philosophy of the age. Not that I am for smoking - far from it - but revising history in this way is just plain stupid. Soon, the next generation won't know what was true. If it's kids they are worried about, I'd be more concerned by Lady Gaga music videos, including the image below where she is in prison wearing 'sunglasses' made of lit cigarettes.




ps, I didn't really want to get into Gaga and censorship, but I should mention the newest Lady Gaga video, which is basically S&M with writhing men and women, shows her in a red vinyl nuns habit, lying on her back swallowing rosary beads. Madonna's stuff was tame by comparison. One of the presenters on Good Morning today said there was only five seconds of the video they could show at that time of the morning.

Strange how Churchill's cigar can be censored, but no one seems to care about music videos which are far more damaging to children.

Lucia The Pope "Rethinks" Clerical Celibacy. In Order to Reinforce It

It is a modern belief that celibacy is harmful, that it creates a pathology that allows a man to abuse children. That it would be better that it be done away with. This is because the modern world in our sex saturated culture does not understand celibacy and what it signifies.

Many thought that in light of the priestly sex scandals the Pope would rethink clerical celibacy and remove the requirement. But instead, the Pope is reinforcing it. Celibacy, for Catholic priests is here is to stay.
ROME, June 15, 2010 – Benedict XVI has reached out to those who were expecting a "rethinking" of the rule of celibacy for the Latin clergy. But in his own way.

[...]

Celibacy – the pope said – is an anticipation "of the world of the resurrection." It is the sign "that God exists, that God is part of my life, that I can base my life on Christ, on the future life."

For this reason – he continued – celibacy "is a great scandal." Not only for today's world, "in which God has no place." But for Christianity itself, in which "God's future is no longer considered, and the now of this world alone seems sufficient."

Related link : The Pope "Rethinks" Clerical Celibacy. In Order to Reinforce It ~ Chiesa

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Lucia Evil runs rampant through the world

WASHINGTON, June 14, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) - “Satan is normally ‘hidden’ … but nowadays he is walking tall in powerful structures of sin like abortion, pornography, sex slavery, rapacious greed and terrorism,” writes pro-life leader, Catholic priest and exorcist Reverend Thomas J. Euteneuer in his new book, Exorcism and the Church Militant.

The devil, says the President of Human Life International, “flexes his muscles” with “pernicious ideologies like radical feminism and ‘pro-choice’ extremism, the militant homosexual movement and the aggressive mass media which is the ministry of propaganda for Satan and all his works and all his empty promises.”

Father Euteneuer has conducted exorcisms in several dioceses around the United States and spoken to thousands of people on the subject.

In the newly released book, Fr. Euteneuer warns: “Never in all of history have we seen evil promoted so effectively and the true good so roundly mocked and rejected as in this age of extreme technological prowess.” He explains, “the difference between the modern world and past generations is that Satan has a greater ability to use groups and institutions for increasing his wicked reach into human life and society.”

Far from hidden, suggests the exorcist, “Nowadays, objective evil is displayed out in the open air with impunity, celebrated in the public forum and strategized in plush board rooms.”

Fr. Euteneuer presents the case that “the devil's spiritual warfare on our flocks will intensify as the years proceed and that all Christians, but especially priests, will have no choice but to engage more deeply in the spiritual battle for souls.”

“The devil now,” he warns, “arrogates to himself the right to control the totality of human existence even in so-called free societies: from manipulating the very act of creation (in vitro fertilization, cloning, Human Genome); to the authority over life and death (abortion, embryonic stem cell research, euthanasia); to the definition of human sexuality and marriage (birth control, divorce, homosexual unions); to the very prospect of human annihilation (nuclear war, genocide and the impending New World Order). “

Along with Exorcism and the Church Militant, Father Euteneuer is also releasing Demonic Abortion, the first of two companion works. This 120-page booklet is a meditation on the evil nature of the abortion industry, from the perspective of a priest and exorcist who has been fighting in the pro-life trenches around the world for well over a decade. With a release date of July 7, 2010, Demonic Abortion is now available for pre-order.


More information about both Exorcism and the Church Militant and Demonic Abortion can be found at http://www.exorcismbook.com/.

The introduction to the book is available here.

Yep.

At times, it all gets a little overwhelming.

Related Link: Pro-Life Exorcist: “Never in All of History Have We Seen Evil Promoted So Effectively” ~ LifeSiteNews

Fletch Squabbling For Sure

I'm still trying to get a handle on this foreshore and seabed business, but it still seems to me that it was a good idea that it was owned by the Crown; and not so much 'owned' as 'administered'; it was owned by everyone and no one. I still think of the beach as a kind of "no man's land" that isn't sea and it isn't quite land, but something in-between that no one should be able to own.

Belonging to the Crown it was like the front passenger seat of a family car that kids have to take turns in using – the parent wisely oversees that it is shared. Getting rid of Crown ownership now opens up that seat to squabbling.

“It’s mine”

“No, it’s mine”

“But I was here first!”

“That doesn’t matter – you went away!”

“I used to sit in that seat driving with Dad before you were born”

“So? I’m here now. How does that make it fair? We’re both here now.”


I think Key has made a grave error. Now that there is no one to oversee, let the squabbling begin for sure... Perhaps I am mistaken, but this is my initial thought.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

ZenTiger MP Standards

Phil Goff has "demoted" the Labour shadow ministers who have misused their Parliamentary Service credit cards. Now they are merely backbencher MPs.

Another way of looking at this though is that the standards have been set for backbencher MPs. And the standards are low.

The good news in this whole affair is the ongoing, and one would hope, relentless, march towards greater transparency in government spending. The democratisation of data is a great thing. It needs to be tempered with context - not all of the expenses were as outrageous as first implied, but there were enough there where exaggeration only gets in the way of truth.

The issue now is seeing if the publishing of such data leads to a change in behaviour. A change in behaviour on things that are small (expenses) may ultimately yield a change in behaviour on things that are big (large scale spending of the public purse with little regard to the public value).

MacDoctor highlights the issues around the rules for spending, and the assessment of effectiveness. There are some solutions to this problem, and again, it will require a change of behaviour. The democratisation of data is a potential enabler to leading a change in behaviour. More on that later.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Lucia We have a climate change ambassador???

NZ has a "climate change ambassador". What an incredible waste of time and effort and money. We may as well have a "katipo protection ambassador" also, just to highlight the stupidity of the position.

But wait, there's more...

Our "climate change ambassador" has been appointed "Vice-Chair of the Kyoto Protocol Negotiations process".
International Climate Change Negotiations Minister Tim Groser says it is an "impressive achievement" for Macey [the climate change ambassador] and New Zealand and reflects the esteem in which Macey is held internationally.
Words fail me.

Related link : New role for NZ climate ambassador

Lucia Gladiator remains in England

How interesting!
(Reuters) – Archaeologists believe they may have found the world’s best-preserved gladiator cemetery after noticing animal bite marks and combat injuries on some of the 80, mainly headless, Roman skeletons unearthed at a site in the city of York in northern England.

Oddly Enough

"At present our lead theory is that many of these skeletons are those of Roman gladiators," said Kurt Hunter-Mann of York Archaeological Trust, who is leading the excavations.

Forensic anthropologist at the University of Central Lancashire, Michael Wysocki, who examined the remains, called the find an internationally significant discovery.

"We don’t have any other potential gladiator cemeteries with this level of preservation anywhere else in the world," he said.

Experts have puzzled over the human remains since the first group of skeletons were exhumed in 2003 in an area slated for a housing development just west of the city center.

Subsequent digs close to the site unearthed more skeletal remains, prompting various theories about their origin, including that they may have been victims of a 3rd century Roman political purge or executed criminals.

But the team of archaeologists leading the investigation say the fact most had been decapitated undermined the military connection, while ample grave goods found with the burials tended to rule out common villains.

Evidence that the cemetery had been used for over 200 years and that the bones dated from the late first century to the fourth also made the experts think again.

The breakthrough came when detailed forensic research showed bite marks and a number of bone injuries, healed and unhealed, that are consistent with gladiatorial combat.

"One of the most significant items of evidence is a large carnivore bite mark—probably inflicted by a lion, tiger or bear—an injury which must have been sustained in an arena context," Hunter-Mann said.

The fact that most of the remains were from well-built young males with evidence of much stronger right-arm muscular development also supported the arena link.

Roman historical records describe slaves beginning their training as gladiators in their teenage years.

Wysocki said nothing like the deep bite marks had ever been identified before on a Roman skeleton.

"It would seem highly unlikely that this individual was attacked by a tiger as he was walking home from the pub in York 2000 years ago," he said.


Found on WDTPRS

Lucia Libraries in a changing world

The other week the Dominion Post published a piece by Marie Russell, a "keen user" of Wellington's public libraries, on the future of public libraries in Wellington. Marie was alarmed to discover that "free libraries" appeared to be under threat from council funding cuts, but noticed there was plenty of money for what she called "Rugby World Cup-type circuses".

Here are some things the council may not want citizens to know: last year, the long-term plan decided on an increase in net expenditure on libraries to $20.99 million in 2010-11 - a 3.26 per cent increase on the previous year.

But the annual plan unilaterally supersedes that, with a massive decline in net expenditure on libraries in the coming year of 8.49 per cent to $19.2m.

[...]Tourism promotion spending is up by 10.26 per cent and events attraction and support gets a 6.8 per cent boost in the draft annual plan. Together, these amount to nearly $9m that will chiefly benefit hospitality businesses.
Marie asked where the cuts to library services would be made to meet the funding shortfall.

Enter Wellington Mayor, Kerry Prendergast, who comes out swinging with a counter-piece in Monday's Dominion Post.

I challenge Marie Russell's view that libraries, out of all Wellington City Council services, should be cocooned in cotton wool and protected from efficiency drives and budget cuts.

Ms Russell has raised concerns that the council is about to start closing branch libraries, start a programme of "service cuts", and make users pay for the remaining library services. She is wrong. We have no such plans.

Her opinion piece (Future of free libraries hangs in the balance, May 27) also seems to suggest that the council aims to sacrifice books and education in favour of events such as next year's Rugby World Cup. Again, she is wrong. We have no such plans.

How the council plans to cut back the costs to Wellington's libraries appears to be shrouded in the following paragraphs:
The world is an ever-changing place and library website usage has increased 120 per cent in two years, becoming our busiest "branch". It's not hard to see why, with most people no longer relying on libraries as their only source of knowledge.

Young people, especially, will go straight to the internet at home, and then perhaps to a library, to do research for a school assignment. In such a changing world, we would be remiss to claim our library services will never change.

Contemporary libraries are already vastly different from what they were even just 20 years ago. And the relentless advance of technology means they will continue to change even faster.

Our libraries manager, Jane Hill, is already working on our response to the expected mass take-up of e-books in the next few years. We're also looking at the future of our vast music and visual collections now that the community is starting to move away from "old" technology such as CDs and DVDs.

So, what Kerry is saying is that the internet is making libraries, and their huge collections of paper books semi-redundant. If we want to know something, we look for it on the internet, not in the library. The library is only there for backup if we need more information than the internet will tell us.

*

The cool thing about a book made of paper, is that you don't need more than the book itself and an ability to read in order to read it. Technological advances don't render it obsolete. I've lost track of how much information I've lost over the years because it only exists on data media that can no longer be read, except by very old computer machinery that no longer works, or works, but can't communicate with the more modern machines. So, I have more than an affection for the old-fashioned book. I see it as impervious to time and insurance against technological breakdown.

*

I am one of those people who look things up on the internet. I don't tend to go to the library much for myself any more. But, I still value the old paper and hardback. I use the internet to find the books I would like and then order them online from Amazon. If I could rely on my local library having access to the books I really want to read, I might not buy so many books, but so far, the library down the road has a very limited collection. Therefore, I grow my own collection of books instead.

*

When I was growing up, one of my favourite places was the old, wooden library just down the road from my home. Thinking back, I realise now that I was extremely fortunate having the library so near, so that any time I wanted to get books out, I'd just ask my Mum if I could go, and off I went, by myself, only needing a library card.

It was a warm, inviting place that is easily imagined by thinking of how private libraries in some wealthy person's mansion are depicted in the movies. Except that most of all the interior space, rather than being left open to be inhabited by leather armchairs was instead filled with wooden isles of bookshelves. The only exception was the children's reading area which was left open for a large woollen rug to sit on. There were no toys, no computers, no music collections, or DVDs.

If a book was overdue, you'd hardly get fined unless it was really overdue, and generally if you were an adult. Even then, you could easily get the fine waved when you returned the book. The fine was really more a way of ensuring books were returned, rather than a means of revenue gathering or punishment.

I would have read thousands of books in that library over the years that I grew up to be an adult.

*

Kerry Prendergast accuses Marie Russell of not wanting libraries to change.
Ms Russell has passionate views on the role of libraries and we agree with most of them. However, we don't agree with her apparent view that libraries are not allowed to change.
In fact, the way Kerry puts it, Marie is wanting to prevent libraries from doing something that is intrinsic to their nature. She's standing in the way of a libraries sense of self-determination. She's stopping the library from fully expressing itself. She's in a sense, persecuting the library!

Ok, maybe I am getting a little carried away. But that whole way of framing her opposition's argument that Kerry has I find intriguing and disturbing. It's emotive and designed to make the reader think that yes, a library should be allowed to change. Those people that are holding it back are just plain repressive.

I admit to being one of "those people" who find libraries altering their core mission of collecting books to .. I don't know, being an access portal to textual data? ... to be very unsettling. Libraries have traditionally been the repository of valuable information that has allowed civilisation to continue. Even when the Roman empire was wiped out, libraries of books from the past allowed the ancients to access valuable information from those who had gone before them. Having everything made electronic would not allow for the same type of retrieval were civilisation to fall again.

I also think that people such as Kerry Prendergast don't really value what a library is. To them, it's just another cost structure the people expect and it's a pain to have to keep it going along the same old lines, when new and exciting changes are just around the corner.

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe Kerry reads four novels a week from her local library and values books as much as Marie Russell does. But somehow I don't think so. For Kerry's counter to Marie's opinion piece seemed to be a massive deflection the main points. Which is, just how is the council going to save the nearly 2 million dollars that has been shaved off the budget for the libraries?

*

I don't borrow from the Wellington Libraries any more, but I do believe in libraries in general, so I found myself going through both pieces, Marie's and Kerry's to understand the arguments. And if it wasn't for Kerry Prendergast's use of the word "rubbish" in her article, I probably wouldn't have written this post. Now I'm interested as to what will happen next. Because a mayor that comes out swinging and doesn't answer the main criticism does tend to attract attention.

ZenTiger Creative suffering

Creativity is so important for people. If you're not creative, you suffer. If you are creative, you suffer in a more glorious way.
-- Emanuel Garcia

Friday, June 11, 2010

ZenTiger Let the games begin!


Not long to go now.  These are the kind of international battles worth having!  Good luck finalists, go play your hearts out.

FIFA Home page here

ZenTiger Friday Night Free for All

Evening all. Made it through the week! It was supposed to be a short week, but I had some deadlines, so spent Monday working on those instead of relaxing. A few late nights, but got through in the end, thanks to a little help from my friends (ooh, I get by with a little help from my friends)

And on the previous thread, we see one must be careful assaulting a white tail, lest it turn out to be a dangerous, but fully protected Katipo. You can be punished more severely for killing a Katipo than kicking a person in the head and killing them, if anyone reads the papers and takes note of a recent court case.

In the same paper, two men threaten a shop keeper with a knife, and he pulls out a machete and scares them off. The Police think he has no right to do this, and are considering pressing charges against the shop keeper. That will keep them too busy to investigate catching the two robbers who fled, but, hey, it's better than issuing speeding tickets.

In the same paper, a home invasion turned into more than burglary, when the two thugs took the time to beat some poor person senseless. I wonder if they were the same ones that were prevented from robbing the shop? The police may well praise the victim for taking the assault without a struggle. They'd probably give him a medal, but apparently, he is too traumatised to accept it.

So that leaves me with a cunning plan. I'm going to catch Katipo spiders, and sell them to shop owners. They hand over a bag of loot, conveniently filled with Katipos, and when the robbers open the bag, see the spiders crawling on their money, they'll kill them.

And then the police will act decisively, and the court will use it's full power to get these evil spider killing people off the streets and in a jail where they cannot hurt any other spiders.

Well, predictably, off for Pizza and a bit of Chinese food.

Lucia Spider protected. Is this a joke?

Killing New Zealand's most venomous spider could now earn culprits jail time or a $100,000 fine under changes to the law.

Giant weta, some weevils and beetles have also been given complete protection for the first time, but conservation advocates say the changes do not lessen the main threats to native species.

Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson announced changes to the protection status of more than 50 species yesterday. "Whether they are weevils, wetas or beetles they deserve an appropriate level of protection." Under changes to the Wildlife Act, katipo spiders go from not being protected to having "absolute protection", as the kereru and kiwi have.
Seriously. Killing bugs and spiders is now illegal? What planet is this National Government on? And what religion is Kate Wilkinson following - Buddhism? Because it certainly looks like it. Just not as obviously as the NZ Police are.


Related link: Don't squash the katipo - or you'll be off to prison

ZenTiger No expense spared

A very nice piece of satire from the DimPost, perhaps a winning entry for next years blogger awards? He apparently has what it takes to make a vast difference, if he could just show a tad more deference.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

ZenTiger No Water, No land of Milk and Honey

Russel Norman, Green Party Leader launches a new "Make It Real" slogan to (they hope) take the Greens over the 10 percent mark. There's ample pickings to be had, from dissatisfied National voters to Labour voters who simply like the new Green branding, and can't recall their leader's name anyway.

Norman adopts a simple message. If we don't have water, we die.

It's a nice change of pace. Normally we have too much stuff. Too much CO2, too many cows, too many people and too much focus on managing the economy in unnatural ways. The natural way is to water it. Water the economy, watch it grow, then prune like mad and when winter sets in, eat tinned yams.

Here's the full text, less the opening 10 minutes which was basically : Hello in two languages, Rod Donald is dead and buried nearby, so we Greens have spiritual ancestors too (I acknowledge our immediate spiritual ancestor, who is also buried in this land – Rod Donald, and a very big hello to Mount Cook and the Southern Alps, who he thanks for giving us the Canterbury Plains, and acknowledges that they are truly the indigenous ones. (I give greetings to the whenua. Aoraki and the Southern Alps, less than a million years ago the Pacific Ocean lapped at your feet. You gave us the magnificent Canterbury plains.)

The rest is standard fare, although perhaps I'd say superb stuff if I were a Green. As a political party, they are doing a good job of filling a niche position.

This is largely because the centre has been exposed as a soft gooey caramello, and the slightly more right wing chocolate nut bar, ACT, has failed to gain resonance under the shadow of the affable, choc mint John Key - affable to many, effable to a trifling minority of a constituency ignored by the media until such time as they need a scarecrow or some other straw man to frighten those beyond the stark clarity of Helen Clark's inner beltway, which Goff has inherited and doesn't know what to do with. Not surprising really.

Monday, June 7, 2010

ZenTiger Police Bring Out the Big Statistics

Police have announced they have saved 20% more lives by cracking down on speeding. This figure is based on a comparison from last years death toll.

I wouldn't mind more analysis than a one-to-one correlation.


What were the figures the year before?
Well, 10, which were the "worst figures in 13 years". So that could be an aberration, rather than the norm.

What were the figures the year before that?
Three. See what I mean?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

ZenTiger A Trek Through Wellington

An awesome depiction of Wellington, from the canvas of local artist (and friend) Julian Knap. If you ever wondered where I got my ZenTiger image from, wonder no longer. I've downloaded a low res image, so it might appear a little blurry. Go to Flickr and see the Wellington cityscape in greater detail: A trek through Wellington.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Fletch Does HIV really cause AIDS?

Ok, so I don't want this to come across like a 'conspiracy theory' post or something like that but it probably will. Like (I suppose) most people, I had the idea that the AIDS disease starts with someone contracting the HIV virus which then leads to AIDS; however, I stumbled across a website by accident yesterday which documents a different view, that -

There is no proof that the HIV virus is the cause of, or leads to AIDS.

In fact, HIV is a retrovirus ('an incomplete "side" of a DNA spiral ladder'). According to what I read "Viruses are larger and more complete replicable strands. Generally, the ones that can hurt us get into our cells and replicate themselves, and destroy the cells they get into. This has never been observed with a retrovirus, and certainly not with HIV". This is not just a theory proposed by crackpots, but by many actual scientists, including Dr. Peter Duesberg, professor of molecular biology and one of the world’s leading authorities on retroviruses (who has of course been ostracized by those who want to blame it all on HIV).

It's probably too complicated to post the whole argument here, suffice it to say that I have read enough to be convinced that there is a case to be made that there is no connection between HIV and AIDS. Also see the videos HERE. I was shocked watching this video, and then quite angry that this has been allowed to happen.

The point is made in the videos and the article that the drug that is given to people with suspected HIV (the drug is called AZT) is the most toxic drug every allowed to be given to humans and actually CAUSES a lot of the symptoms we associate with AIDS because the drug " "stops all cell division, not only cancerous cell division, and was never approved as a chemotherapy drug because of its side effects, which include myopathy, or muscular atrophy, and severe bone-marrow toxicity."

The upshot is that many people who have been diagnosed with HIV have been given this drug and killed by it, when there was actually nothing wrong with them (see the example in the video of the adopted "HIV infected" little girl who was taking the drug, complained of her "legs burning", and stopped taking the drugs on the advice of Dr Duesberg. She is fine today, unlike the others in her group who continued the drug and all died). As usual, it's all about MONEY.

Anyway, read the article, watch the video and see what you think...

ZenTiger Police Crack Down on Speeders to Enter New Phase


The recent "zero tolerance" on speeding is having little effect, and police suggest they may need to enter a new phase in order to save lives and reduce the carnage on the road.

This long holiday weekend the police issued 15,235 tickets in the first 4 hours of the holiday weekend to motorists found going over the speed limit by even 4 kph.

"We are ticketing people as fast as they can back out of the drive way", said Officer Paymore, "but the message doesn't seem to be sinking in. We've already had three speed related fatalities.

ZenTiger A taste of New Zealand

A long time reader of this blog who resides in Europe is interested in getting a simple description of New Zealand. I thought perhaps we could provide a view of New Zealand in a series of snapshots - a paragraph or two of some aspect of New Zealand and life in New Zealand that would build a picture for our foreign visitors.

Feel free to link to photos. List movies, books and paintings. Describe a quintessential Kiwi moment. What makes you proud to be a New Zealander? How do you feel as a Kiwi? Please, speak up!

ZenTiger Did you hear the one about...

Homepaddock has a charming story of three shop workers making a pact to give up smoking. The latest price rise had spurred them on. [Link: Price Rises Work]. I couldn't resist a comment:

If they thought a bit harder, only one person had to give up, and could have contributed a portion of their savings to the other two smokers so that all three saved money and two people could continue smoking.

That’s how socialism works.

Friday, June 4, 2010

ZenTiger iPhone caps lock hint

This drove me batty for a while with my new iPhone: The Shift key (caps lock) wouldn't stay down when I needed to type in caps for more than one letter. Then I discovered that there is actually a caps lock setting under settings.

Go to Settings, General, Keyboard and change the default for "Enable Caps Lock" from off to on. Simple. I wonder why the default isn't on though?

Once on, you can double tap the Shift Key to keep in caps lock mode, and the key turns a nice shade of blue. You can also hold the Shift Key down with one finger, and type a letter with another finger if you prefer.

What is your favourite iPhone hint?

ZenTiger Friday Night Free For All

I can see the headlines now:

"Brothel successfully sues neighbour for loss of business"

Yes, with brothels now "legally respectable", they have moved out of the red light districts and set up shop in the suburbs. This leads to problems. Many clients can knock on the wrong door in the middle of the night waking the neighbours.

Should an 80 year old granny answer the door, teeth out for the night, winter-warm cloth nightgown and fluffy pink slippers, the clients might make false assumptions, and flee screaming into the night. This could generate a downturn in revenue for the brothel and they would have to take legal action to ensure their neighbours are "the right sort". After all, the economy is at stake.

On the other hand, perhaps they should set up shop next door to the Directors of one of those failed finance companies that have ripped off millions. There's a common theme there somewhere.

And whilst we muse on that, evening all. How was the week? Weak? Or showing signs of sunshine? Winter is officially upon us, we can expect it to be cold, but it doesn't always have to be rainy.

Lucia Caregivers, society and government not enough for children

New Zealand children are being woefully let down by their caregivers, the Government and society, according to a new report commissioned by the Ministry of Health.
Children need parents - not "caregivers". Optimally, biological parents of the opposite sex who are committed through marriage to each other and their families for life. Anything less (and we are talking a sliding scale here), and children do not do so well. But anyone recognise this?
The Public Health Advisory report makes 21 recommendations to the Ministry of Health, and the ministry says work on them is well under way.

“The ministry's addressing probably two thirds of the recommendations that they make and some of those are well underway and some of them are in an early stage,” says Pat Tuohy.
I would love to know what those recommendations are. Somehow I doubt that encouraging young people to postpone sex until marriage is mentioned. Yet, early sexual experiences lead to many babies being born to immature and unmarried mothers, who then go on to live a life that jumps from boyfriend to boyfriend. Hardly conducive to raising healthy, stable children.

Related link : Kiwi kids being let down all round - report

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Lucia Teaching advisory group giving Minister bad advice

NEW teachers may be forced to study for at least another year under changes being considered by Education Minister, Anne Tolley.... A minister appointed industry work force advisory group has made the recommendations on how to attract the brightest, best students into teaching and keep them in front of classrooms. The group was set up last year and includes principals, universities and current teacher training providers.
Woah, check out the vested interests involved in this group!

Apparently, getting new teachers to study longer will attract "the brightest" to the profession.

How do I express the idiocy of this concept in a sentence or less?

Bright people tend to be a little better at working out cost benefit ratios than your average person. So, if a profession doesn't pay well and requires four to five years of expensive studying and doesn't guarantee the safety of those who engage it, the chances are that the bright will realise this, and choose the appropriate course of study that gives them a better lifestyle than the one being offered by teaching.

Is that not obvious to even those who are slower of mind???

Related article: Teachers to study long under training changes ~ Dominion Post, A9, 1 June, 2010.

Lucia Neutered men

Men getting "the snip" seems to be very common in NZ.

It's sad, really. They go from being full men, being capable of begetting, to half-men.

As a Catholic, I believe it is a grave evil to do this to yourself. But then, grave evils seem to be par for the course here in NZ.