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Showing posts from June, 2010

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.

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 Mrs Tolley wants the paper withdrawn and rewritten.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.

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.

Ouch!

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

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.

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

Friday night free for all

Friday night. Time to chat. Drop in anytime.

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

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

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.

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.

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 stor

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 hin

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.

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

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

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 technologic

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

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 ru

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

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 u

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 b

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

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

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 pr

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

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?

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 .

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

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.

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!

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.

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?

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

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 imma

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 appropria

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.