Monday, December 31, 2007

Last for the year

I shall resist the temptation to give a list of 'Best of' or 'Highlights' of 2007 and will certainly not be making any predictions for next year. There are loads of these around and they are for the most part facile at best. Perhaps a few thoughts on what has been wandering through my mind at a time of year when I would like to think that nothing is in there at all.

New Zealand drivers are dreadful. They are given the world's worst roads to drive on and a good proportion of them chose to drive an apology for the internal combustion engine so they are off to a great start. Driving licenses are given to kindergarten children who are then negligibly (negligently?) trained prior to sitting an ersatz test. The under prepared take dreadful cars onto worse roads to be greeted by a raft of traffic regulations only the most stupid of which are ever enforced. Park improperly or go 1 kmh above a speed limit on an open road and you are fined. Most of these 'offences' are committed by otherwise law abiding, middle class, 'Joe Average' citizens who wouldn't dream of breaking real laws. They tend to pay their fines and regard them like a bad haircut; an infrequent but nuisance part of life. Drive drunk in an unwarranted, unregistered uninsured car and you are also fined and get you license taken away. All good. Well no. People who tend to commit these far more serious offences tend to be complete wasters. They get fined and their license is suspended and they give society the fingers and go and do it again. And again, and again, and............ What does society do about it? Nothing. Hand wringing might get a look in but that is about it. How many people do we see who are appearing for a driving offence for the umpteenth time and already owe fines in the tens of thousands of dollars range? Eventually the judge (a distinct New Zealand species of mollusc or other invertebrate for the most part) gives in and wipes the telephone number fine in exchange for a few days of Community service - which they then don't do. Repeated drunk driving is a little different as alcoholism is usually involved here which obviously requires a different approach but even that is for the most part not follwed up.

Ok we have the framework for some really crass driving habits and what is the result for Mr Average as he drives about his business? I have never driven in a place where there is so much tailgaiting and so little indicating. Glancing in my rear view mirror I often wonder if I have inadvertently fitted a tow bar to the Jag and am trailing a Nissan Micra round the suburbs. Overtaking on the left. Apparently this is not illegal. Why on earth not? Maybe it is because the first edition of the New Zealand Highway Code (or whatever it is called) to deal with motorways got the lane designations wrong and put the slow lane on the right. This is how we got a de facto speed limit of 98 KMH in the right lane making the middle lane the fast lane - unless of course you require the left lane for warp factor twelve.

However my bete noir of NZ driving is the right turn. Not the daft priority at junctions crap which must have been dreamt up in a pub, but the actual mechanics of how NZ drivers make a right turn. Traffic lights are a good place to study this. Sit in the right lane at red waiting to turn right yourself and you are a panel beaters dream if you are at the front of the queue. People turning right on their green take it as a badge of manhood (or womanhood) to cut off as much of the corner as possible and come with in microns of your paintwork. This pertains whether you are lined up properly with your 'Stop' line or anything up to five metres behind it. I was taught that to turn right you get into your outside lane, progress to the centre of the lane into which you wish to move and then make your turn to the new point of the compass in a measured way, The 'New Zealand Way' is to start your turn ten metres before the intersection using the shortest possible route to the side road of choice. Traffic markings, road islands, commonsense or other vehicles are not to be regarded as a hindrance to your god given antipodean trajectory. I hate it. I make a point of turning right 'properly' and the area bounded by my route and 'The New Zealand Way' is large enough on which to erect a modest shopping centre.

Why is anybody bothering to watch the current New Zealand vs Bangladesh ODIs. In fact looking at the box not many people are - the grounds are empty. In general the standard of cricket we get in NZ is very poor but even by those low standards the current fare is drivel. Bangladesh are rubbish and New Zealand are not much better. However the amount of media coverage cricket gets here is phenomenal. Ball by ball radio commentary (even of completely inconsequential provincial games), full TV coverage and acres of newsprint. As a cricket lover I'll openly admit I get a free ride that is not warranted. If I were a follower of softball (which I am not - banal ersatz baseball) or motor racing (which I am not - good value high carbon emission fun) both of which are more popular than cricket I would feel very aggrieved at the relative lack of coverage for my interest. However at least there is excellent coverage of some proper cricket. How good are the current Australians - or the team before, or the one before that, or............ I was not alone in thinking that the Indians might give them a bit of a tickle up but the whole series was gone after the Indians' woeful first innings in Melbourne. No, Ponting and his boys are just way too good - in the top four inches and the six foot below that.

Why do people celebrate New Year? I can think of no more reason to get stuck into the recreational pharmacology in a big way tonight than I would on the 14th of April. The Scots apparently have an excuse which I have never been able to fathom, but why would anyone else do it? Tonight I will watch the three hour TopGear special which finishes at ten pm, pull on the jimjams, have a cup of cocoa and go to sleep.

See you next year.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

1953 Wisden

Forget the nice shiny Ping G10 driver that Santa left under the tree. By far and away the best Christmas present I received this morning was given to me by my daughters and is fifty four years old. They found a 1953 copy of Wisden's Cricketer's Almanack somewhere and it is now mine. I have every Wisden from 1974 to date (a puny collection I know) but to get one from just two years after I was born is a rare treat. Nothing useful will be done for days now. I dutifully buy a new one each year and give them a cursory glance but they none of them hold the magic of today's present.

Where do we start? The Wisden's Five Cricketers of the year are Harold Gimblett (then aged 39), W S Surridge, D S Sheppard, T W Graveney and F S Truman - not bad. The whole book is the cricket of my boyhood. It is marvelous. I can recall being taken to the Oval to watch David Sheppard in 1962 against Pakistan. He had given up the first class game to concentrate on his ecclesiastical studies and was ordained in 1955. He was persuaded to return in 1962. I can't remember why because England were creaming Pakistan and their top order could be chosen from Pullar, Cowdrey, Dexter, Graveney, Stewart and Barrington for starters. However Sheppard became the only ordained minister to play cricket for England. He died in 2005 as the Right Reverend Lord Sheppard of Liverpool and was once thought of as a front runner to become Archbishop of Canterbury.

Fred Truman in this Wisden was the young tyro only being used in short sharp full speed spells. It was thought that if well managed he could be a successor to take on Larwood's mantle.
Prophetic stuff indeed.Tom Graveney is a player of great promise and is applauded for his decision to turn down the opportunity to become a golf professional to concentrate on his cricket.

India were the Tourists in 1952 and there is picture of the scoreboard at the First Test at Headingly on the the third afternoon when they are 0 for 4. Attendance for the five days was 74,000 with gate takings of over £17,000. Another picture of the Fifth Test at the Oval with India 5 for 5 and Hutton has set six slips and two short legs for Trueman. Other matches at Lords feature, of course, Gentlemen vs Players (Players won by two runs) but also matches no longer mentioned (or even played). Look who played in the Army vs R.A.F match; Leading Aircraftsman J M Parks, Leading Aircraftsman R Illingworth, Aircraftsman F J Titmus, Aircraftsman F S Truman, Sapper M J Stewart, Gunner R J Carter. Don't forget this was a time when there was still National Service in Britain - we are only seven years post WW2. When Combined Services went to Lords to take on Public Schools the schoolboys had one E R Dexter (Radley) going in at number four (he made 8 and 43). M C Cowdrey bagged a pair playing for Oxford University against the M.C.C. There is no limited overs cricket (the Gillette Cup is still over ten years away) and certainly no coloured clothing or white balls.

As usual in old books the advertisements (not ads, please) make as interesting reading as the meat of the book. 'Men in the public eye prefer BRYLCREEM for clean grooming' complete with a picture of D C S Compton (Middlesex and England). Alf Gover's cricket school (one of my better coordinated school mates went there fifteen or so years later) is in 1953 called the East Hill Indoor Cricket School to be found at 172 East Hill, Wandsworth, SW 18. We are reminded that it is only 3 minutes from Clapham Junction (which in 1953 is still run by the Southern Railway) and is served by buses 39, 77A (I used to take the 77A to school), 37, 168 and by trolley buses 626, 628 and 630. All trolley buses (in South London anyway) had numbers in the six hundreds - 604 and 605 went past the end of my road. No mention anywhere of 'ample parking'. The Tavistock Banqueting Rooms situated at 18 Charing Cross Road, Leicester Square, WC2 - so we are talking a proper posh 'West End' location here - could organise your club's Annual Dinner and Dance for 10/- per head (or 8/6 per head for a Buffet Dance if you were a bit strapped for cash). Just phone the Catering Manger on GERrard 5928.

The whole tome is time warp stuff but back to an era with which I can identify not gas lamps and hansom cabs. Heroes of my boyhood summers, pounds, shillings and pence, trolley buses, the Southern Railway and Scotland Yard being at WHItehall 1212. Fred Trueman was in the Air Force and Ted Dexter was still at school.

Happy chappy.

Monday, December 24, 2007

That time of year again

Children coming home for a few days, an increase (if that were possible) of the frequency of road safety ads on the box, normally sane people walking round wearing flashing LED earrings, red noses and antlers on cars, people stocking up with food supplies until mid April even though the shops are only closed for a day, that bloody Snoopy song and a new Ping G10 driver under the tree. It must be Christmas.

I quite like Christmas but can't say I go overboard with waves of delirious happiness now that the festive season is upon us. A few days off work in the summer can't be all bad. I do sometimes think that the country shutting down for a couple of weeks is a bit much and I especially think that this year when the pool pump filter crapped out three days ago with no chance of getting a spare before mid January. I think I've effected a Heath Robinson repair with marine sealant and gib-stopper's tape and I just hope it holds up until the great unwashed return from the beach and I can get a replacement part.

I expect the frequency of posts here to drop off for a week or two but I'll be keeping my ear to the ground.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


I was delighted to see that Kirsty MacColl, my favourite artiste of all time (supplanting even the wonderful Grace), has made the news and is thumbing her nose from the grave at those who would bark at the moon.

'Fairytale of New York' is one of her less memorable efforts but it is being dragged out yet again as it is Xmas so that Shane MacGowan does not fall on even harder times. This song was first released for Xmas 1987 and has clogged the airwaves for a fortnight in mid December ever since. Yesterday the BBC decided that the drunken references to 'slut' and 'faggot' were offensive and had to be censored out. The absolutely correct public outcry to this forced them to reverse their decision within hours. As a bycatch this, of course, swells Mr McGowan's recreational pharmacology fund to a greater degree than is normal for this time of year.

What better time then to extoll the virtues of Ms MacColl. She is known for her quirky lyrics a lot of which revolve around men being liars. I find her very amusing and her words are set to very easy to listen to tunes. She has an album called Electric Landlady (Jimi Hendrix - Electric Ladyland - get it?) and songs with titles like 'There's a guy works down the chip shop swears he's Elvis' and 'In these shoes?'. In the later stages of her career she got bitten by a latin bug and that flavoured a lot of her music. For a starter I would recommend 'England 2 Columbia 0' as a good introduction to certainly the latter part of her career.

If you have been living on Mars and are not familiar with the wonderful and sadly departed Kirsty then you are missing a treat. An opportunity to post my first video on this blog. This is Kirsty MacColl at the peak of her powers. The evocation of late fifties and early sixties suburban Britain in this video is just superb

Isn't this backwards?

Unbelievable. This mob is beyond anybody's comprehension. The Electoral Finance Act has not yet been signed into Law and bloody Labour announce a review of Electoral Process. Shouldn't we have had that before the one party decision that we must have this odious legislation? We will have this stupid review which will make not a jot of difference to what is now the status quo. Amalgam Girl is in the thick of this. 'Justice Minister Annette King will choose an independent panel early next year to consider possible taxpayer funding of political parties'. More control - King will choose. I can see the list forming now - Attila the Hun (not), me (not), Tung, M. T. (yup), Trotsky, L. (yup), Key, J. (not), the lady from the Tofu bar (yup) and so on until she has one hundred and forty lickspittles. One hundred and forty - give me strength. How the hell are one hundred and forty people going to agree on anything? Well it doesn't matter does it because '[The panel] does not make decisions. It allows us to have a discussion and allows the public to have a say.'

So it is situation normal. The gummint choose a bunch of people of its liking to have a talk fest to give the pretence that they are taking public opinion board and then ignore what it says. They have been doing it for years so why should they change now. OK, so the Dental Nurse chooses these wallies and what are they to look into - State funding of political parties. If you don't see that this is payback to the Greens for ticking the 'Yes' box on Tuesday you are terminally daft.

This People's Jury nonsense of one hundred and forty people. John Ansell on Kiwiblog says all that needs to be said about this:

A people's jury! Brilliant!

But hang on…

…didn't I read that the Poms invented something suspiciously like a people's jury a while back? What was it called?

Oh yes… Parliament

Hone Harawera had it right with his uncharacteristic clarity I alluded to yesterday..

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Who said this?

'It's about the sweet scent of power, and the lust for control. It's about the decadence of corruption, the stench of deceit and the refusal to accept the reality of impending defeat'

The answer surprised me - its Hone Harawira

Bloody good quote, methinks

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Diversionary tactics - moi?

The repugnant Electoral Finance Bill will be the repugnant Electoral Finance Law by this evening. The venue for the final of the 2011 World Cup Final has been used as a diversionary tactic before (pledge cards) and if it ain't broke, don't fix it. So it was right on cue that the upgrade of Eden Park was wheeled out yesterday. We can all be spending the day talking about the idiotic way the latest finance package has been cobbled together whilst the thought police slip their latest manacles over our minds.

The new plans for Eden Park are just full of politician speak. The plans are 'better than ever before' and yet they are cheaper than before. Conclusion? They were lying before or they are lying now. $240 million is now the total cost (write that number down, you'll be needing it later) of which the NZRFU stumps up $10mil (good of them) and the Eden Park Redevelopment Board lighten their pockets to the tune of $12mil. Right $218 million to go. The Government has put it's hand up for $190mil (bet Bovver Boy was out taking a leak when it was time to put your hand up for that vote). Why? That leaves us $28 million short. If you are going to stump up about 90% of the dosh why leave the rest in the air. Clayton Cosgrove (current World Cup Minister) is 'confident' the shortfall can be met. From where, pray? Sponsors who will get naming rights to the place? I don't think so as the name will have to come off for the World Cup. Commercially very attractive - not. A John Banks run Auckland City Council? Yeah right. A sausage sizzle? Looking front runner at the moment. If the government is going to climb down and fund most of this why nut just eat your crusts and go the whole hog?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Pick me

You wouldn't think it would be so damned hard to give money away would you. If someone came up to me today and offered me $158,000 I would likely say 'Yes please'. If Winston walked up to me with the same offer I would like to think I would say 'Sod off you amoralistic grandstanding toad' but would more likely say 'Yes please' but threaten to kill him if he told anyone.

This man is a joke and the gratifying TV poll results reflect this. NZ First would cease to exist if there were an election tomorrow. Even more gratifyingly so would the useless Greens but I digress. I want everyone to write down a list of all the times Winston has admitted he was wrong. I'll hand out postage stamps and builder's pencils for the exercise. The pig headed arrogance of the bloke is astounding. For someone who changes his stance on anything like a chameleon just to keep himself where he wants to be, i.e. right up the front, he cannot lead his life the way does without making mistakes in breathtaking numbers.

He got the defying the Attorney General over the misappropriated dosh wrong but will he admit it? Will he buggery. What he did is not now technically illegal after the disgraceful retrospective legislation but still he won't admit he is even morally wrong - which he patently is. Fortunately his latest stunt would appear to have backfired with no one prepared to accept his tainted dosh - Parliamentary Services might take it, Winston. Tried them?

This stunt was as flawed as it was superficially cunning. Only some one with a warped mind could have thought they could get away with it. Nick some dosh, get found out, change the rules, tough it out for a bit, sort of give in and then abuse some more money to cheat on the answer and put yourself in a position where you can claim tax relief on the second lot. Brilliant.

I don't agree with paying income tax. Well I do really but just not so much especially if it is going to be wasted as it is here. Anyway I decide to not pay for a year. The Inland Revenue knock at the door and point out the error of my ways. I reluctantly see their point of view - well sort of. I tell them I'll pay the equivalent amount to Option4 and the slate will be clean. Well that is going to fly isn't it?

So Winston is not alone in finding out that the great unwashed do not have an insatiable appetite for bullshit. He joins Dear Leader in finding out that there are people who don't love them to bits whatever they do. A long way to go till next November but if you had asked me a year ago would I accept Labour 19% behind and Key as preferred Prime Minister at Xmas I would be asking you where do I sign.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

But there is more

Silly day, part two.

Another of my places of employment (what an itinerant fellow I am) is moving premises because they need bigger ones. A very nice slimming clinic has fallen on hard financial times and so their shed is up for grabs. We'll be in that. Slated to move into the new pleasure palace in March. Now how good is that? Move a whole business, a bit of construction, a lick of paint and be up and running in under three months; and that includes Christmas.

Not so fast says the man with the clipboard. I see you are putting in piped oxygen and suction lines. These are not in the original building use provisions and you will therefore have to go through, wait for it, a resource consent process. You little beauty. You can rely on the Jobsworths of the world to stuff up a good piece of pragmatism at any time or place. What in the name of hades has putting piped gases in a building got to do with managing the resources of anything?

New projected date for moving into the renovated premises? 'We cannot give you a reliable estimate as to when properly approved construction works may commence at this stage of the process' Translation: 'Dunno'

'Sod off'. No translation required.


Life not proceeding in the manner of which I approve at the moment. I am having to work too hard. Today is the third day in a row where I have to apply nose to grindstone after the sun has reached its zenith and it is beginning to take a toll. I have had no time to waste on here for starters. Today will be the worst of the lot with a 'business meeting' from 6 pm to 9 pm. Now this is silliness in spades. I am being lured with the prospect of food and all I can say is that it had better kick off with a pig with an apple in its mouth or I'll be off like a bride's nightie.

Most of this extra travail is at my secondary place of employment, the University and this really is a very strange place. I fortunately am able to plough my own local field using their liveried tractor for the most part and my trips to the main buildings are (mercifully) infrequent.

It really does employ people who wear socks with sandals (and lots of them to boot - pardon the pun) and I have never seen so many bone pendants in my life. It is a place that is absolutely swamped in process - nay strangled by the stuff. There are forms for absolutely everything - which is to be expected I suppose - but most of these forms achieve nothing at all. Best I saw yesterday was a University form pinned to a notice board (as required by regulations) which allowed the consumption of alcoholic beverages on University property. This form was a complete side of A4 and had sections for everything you could imagine that might surround a booze up (although I did not see a section that covered packets of crisps). Very prominent on the list was a section covering the expected numbers of attendees. This was dutifully filled in. Four. Someone had gone through all the process for four people to have a bottle of beer on University premises. The form had been approved and countersigned on top of that. I walked away shaking my head and had a cup of tea.

What does it take for someone to stand up and say 'Enough'. It is the usual black and white answer for a problem that can only be measured in shades of grey. You want to stop fifteen thousand people getting smashed in the lecture theatres and pulling down the clock tower so you get a form for four people who want a quiet beer after work in their office on a Friday night. This is the way of the left and the bureaucrats. They love to impose this upon us because it gives them control. It is bloody everywhere.

Monday, December 10, 2007

I'm a worried man

After my foray onto the government's sustainability website on Friday evening I found myself not racing straight past the green hued pages of the paper this morning - I actually paused, for oh - thirty seconds, before racing onto the editorial. Am I turning green? How do I get cured? Is there no hope for me at all? Is this what happens if you look at a Government website for even a few minutes? Is it like P, one puff and you're goneburger? Is it no use for me to say 'I am really sorry and I won't look again'? I only followed two links - honest.

I might be alright though. My thirty second dalliance on the Green pages just raised my circulating titres of bullshit antibodies to what I hope will be remedial levels. There was a section on green Xmas presents. Now this is a worry. The Herald has laudably been in the forefront of lambasting the gummint over the damned EFB and now here they are spouting the same bollocks as is on the Sustainability place. They were harping on about a sutainable Xmas, remember. I can only hope that the editorial suite of the Herald is geographically far removed from the nikau whare where the loonie green part of the paper is assembled.

Anyway back to the green Chrissie present. The tofu munching nutters ask this very pertinent question. Do your kids really need that trampoline? The inference is that you will answer no. The seeds for discontent are already sown. The alternative? A goat. Yup, a goat - or chickens. But there is more - this is a commercial after all. Little Johnny (and/or Jane) doesn't actually get the goat. A picture of a generic caprine beast is probably going to be the closest they get. The goat is given to a family in Burkina Faso - or Somalia, or Chad, or Kaiwaka. OK the scene is set. The stockings are put out and a glass of soya milk is placed by the hearth a fortnight tonight. Kids go to bed and leap up the next morning at dawn and pull the curtains back to gaze into the garden the new trampoline to behold. And what do they see? A picture of a goat. In Africa.

I thought we were trying to reduce family violence.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

A little something on a Sunday

Auckland summer weather is dire, golf is off and so a good opportunity to peruse the papers on line. Sunday is comments day and in the Sunday Star Times it is Chris Trotter's week so I won't be reading that. The Herald on Sunday has a column from Bill Ralston who is not really my cup of tea but he does pen a sentence worth repeating.


The story of the past eight years has been of a Government that has grandstanded on politically correct trivia and used the politicised machinery of the public service to put a rosy spin on its reign while beneath the surface the important infra-structure of government has slowly rotted with neglect.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Want a good vomit?

I am heartily sick of all the government funded advertising that assaults me at every turn of my daily perambulation through life. We are told what to eat, what not to eat, how fast to drive (or how slow, more like), how much to drink, how to spend our money, where to save it, how to climb ladders, what we must wear when climbing ladders, what light bulbs to buy, what cars to drive and so it goes on , and on, and on, and on, and......... Nanny state at every bloody turn in the road. And I have to pay for it all. The government would have to be the single largest spender of the advertising dollar in the whole land.

I have become numb to it; it has lost its impact. Whether that is because they have overplayed their hand and it is just no longer having an effect or it is because I make a conscious effort not to notice it I don't know.

However things have changed over the last few days. There is a new brand of Nanny in the paper and on the box. Sustainability. What the hell is this?. The Urban Dictionary has the most worrying definition. 'Sustainability is a lens through which to view all issues. The sustainability movement encompasses environmental justice and social justice, because one cannot be obtained without the other. It means living life to the fullest without compromising future generations' ability to do so. It respects the interconectedness of all life and acknowledges the responsibility that each person has to consider the effects that his actions have on other life forms, both living and to be born.'

'Sustainability is a lens through which to view all issues'. Hellfire, we are in trouble already - it covers everything. There is a 'sustainability movement'. It gets worse by the sentence. The rest of the definition is just bog standard lefty weird beard nonsense speak that just makes me puke all over the Axminster. 'It respects the interconectedness (there is no such word) of all life and acknowledges the respon.........' Spare me this bollocks.

Anyway this is just the sort of tosh that our Dear Leader and her sable hued minions of satan (got to use it twice in three days) would be in like a robber's dog. So much so that the adverts in the paper point you to a website that has suffix. This is official gummint stuff.

I was foolish enough to go to the website (I hope my web browser is stable enough to withstand this) and it is even worse than I imagined it would be. Try these riveting links for size:
Thinking about a sustainable Christmas? (No, since you asked)
Organic River festival 2008
Climate rescue carnival

I bravely clicked the Climate rescue bizzo (purely in the name of research you understand) and I am confronted with:

Hosted by Be The Change and featuring the Be The Change bus, the Climate Rescue Carnival will be a fun day for the whole family. There will be live music, organic food, a bio-diesel powered bouncy slide and the Be The Change bus will be on site.

Well won't that be vying for my attention as an alternative to a days gamefishing? I'm on a roll now and I clicked the link to the Be The Change tossers (I urge you not to do this - you won't like the result) and we hit pay dirt. These are some of things you can 'Pledge' to do:

Gift a green membership for Xmas - see where this is all leading?
Carpool to all the summer festivals - more of the Climate Rescue rubbish I'll be bound
Get to school without harming the planet - pulllease
How many cars do you need? - please don't ask me this, you won't like the answer
Get political - the link for this one does not lead to the Nats website

Get the idea? OK, onto their 'Bright ideas' - and I promise I am making none of these up:

Turn plastic bags into art
Electric power assist for your bike
Give a tree for Christmas
Go largely hydrocarbon free in you transport needs! (not sure what the exclamation mark is all about)
Stop using flyspray
Community edible gardens
Nappy free babies
Community edible babies (alright, I made that one up)

Now the government is endorsing, nay, actively promoting this crap with my money. It is firstly just complete and utter balderdash but it also has that all too familiar undertone of control all through it. A nasty smug 'we know best' and we are making it 'fun' for you to do as we want - at the moment. However, if you don't do as you are told on the fun filled biodiesel powered bouncy castle we'll bloody well make you do as you are told later.

Off to stain the Wilton.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Feminist geography

The wages of sloth. I only read the back and front pages of the Herald this morning and thought there was enough nonsense there for one day. But no. Having a peek inside I come across this cobblers. If it weren't all too true you could construe it as funny.

We start with a NCEA Level 3 Geography question.

Five photographs of scenes ranging from a park to a city's central business district were shown, and students were asked to explain how each image could be be viewed from a feminist perspective.

My answer to such an exam question would be to write 'Sod off' on my paper and be disappointed if I didn't get 95%. Some parents complained, with great justification I would think, and then the fun really starts.

Feminist geographer Dr Julie Cupples, of Canterbury University, said feminist geography had been around since the late 1970s.
It incorporated women's experience in a male-dominated area.
"It's really good if you can start to understand how gender shapes people's lives and our world in different ways," Dr Cupples said.
The suburbs could be highly gendered in that many women were at home with children "and the interesting stuff that is happening downtown they are excluded from".

What a load of bollocks; but we are only getting up to flying speed. We next hear from Dr Wendy Lawson, head of the geography department at Canterbury University. Now she should be really good at rivers, mountains, fertile terminal moraines and stuff like that. One would hope she wouldn't buy into this errant nonsense. No way.

She said the exam question, while sophisticated, was "perfectly legitimate".

She suspected parents who regarded the question as politically correct were "taking a certain definition of feminism, and feminist, that is a colloquial understanding of that term - rather than an academic or intellectual understanding of that term".

The exam question was 'sophisticated' - give me a break. It's nuts, stupid, crap. Right then, everyone in the University of Canterbury Geography Department is barking and the NZQA will rein them in a and tell them to stop messing about with kids education.

Fat chance. This from Bali Haq (who I always envisage bowling leg spinners for Pakistan) head honcho at the exam emporium.

The New Zealand Qualifications Authority said the question was in keeping with the standard for geography examination. Perspectives could include knowledge, practices and beliefs "such as Maori, indigenous, gender, scientific, environmental and post-colonial"

This crap has to stop. These loonies have been given their head for too long. The feminist geography department at Canterbury University should be shut down forthwith and geography should go back to rift valleys, wheat belts and rail heads in Rhodesia. Whilst they are at it they can close the Feminist Nuclear Physics Department at Waikato and the Rainbow Department of Soil Research at Otago. The Oppressed Indigenous Minority Department of Mechanical Engineering at Lincoln can then get the elbow to be closely followed by the Deaf Mute Department of Logical Positivism at Massey.

Stop all this bollocks at once - it's costing me money.


Sideswipe, that purveyor of trivia on the back of the Herald, is running a little series of Photoshop crimes at the moment. The main focus this week has been on the real estate business. Power lines and TV aerials disappearing off roofs, pristine gardens replacing half cleared building sites - that sort of thing. Someone has opined that far from being a minor inconvenience one could take legal action on grounds of misrepresentation.

The biggest Photoshop travesty that has been foisted on the country in the immediate past however has only this morning been pointed out. We as a country have been Photoshopped bigtime when it comes to Dear Leader.

A person any orthodontist would be dying to have as a patient - DB9s aren't cheap.

The 'truth' according to Pravda

Not Cyndi Lauper

The best measure of a man's true feelings is when he speaks in an unguarded moment or better yet when he makes statements in anger. Then you get to hear what he really feels. No time to sugar coat his thoughts with mots du weasel. No time for the saccharine spin. No time for ' I value your contribution to the debate' No, get a bloke angry and we get 'Rich prick'

Little did I think I would so early get an opportunity to use my new favourite expression but we had one of the sable hued minions of Satan spitting venom across the Beehive yesterday with Cullen (may he rot in his master's abode) throwing the invective at John Key. The cause of the outburst matters not, they are a badly behaved bunch at the best of times. But what we saw in those two words are what drives bloody Cullen. He hates success. He loathes people who have made something of their lives. He craves a world of mediocrity where he can dish out the largesse to the poor, faceless, obedient proles. We certainly saw in a few moments and two words the true colours of what drives this odious pitiable man and the organisation he represents and works for. He can't stand the sight of someone because he is rich.

And we want this sort of twisted green eyed monster to run our affairs? Well according to the past nine years we do - well you do. Those two words from the true soul of a man at the heart of the Labour Party have said more to me than anything this ghastly regime has uttered over the past years to bring my level of hatred of them to the level of almost all consuming.

Mallard is but a bit player and an amateur when it comes to ideological unpleasantness. He's not bright enough to do ideology. Ducky is just a thug with no manners and no sense of how people should behave in a civilised society. His refusal to apologise to someone he would have slandered had he said what he said outside the house is just true to form. I suppose she is lucky that he didn't hit her. Add to his lack of contrition the attempt to blame someone else for his blunder and the picture is complete.

There in one day we have two members of this hideous regime showing what Cyndi was talking about twenty years ago; true colours.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

More quotes on the EFB

I have said I don't like copying stuff from other places in this blog for reasons of appearing slothful but the Electoral Finance Bill travesty is throwing up heaps of comment some of which I think needs a wider audience. I therefore find myself posting someone else's writings for the second time in a week or so.

This from David Round posted on


Do you remember when former Prime Minister Robert Muldoon attempted to rewrite the electoral finance laws, how furious we all were – how the breast of every freedom-loving New Zealander swelled in indignant fury at the blatant attempt to rig the result of future general elections? Do you remember the marches, the huge, angry demonstrations and the blood on the streets?

No, you do not remember this, because it never happened. Muldoon never attempted such a thing. He was probably never even tempted to try, but if he had been, he would have known that any attempt would, indeed, have led to blood on the streets.

Had he attempted a fraction of what former finance minister Sir Roger Douglas's government did after 1987, however necessary much of that might have been, there would have been blood. Politics is not fair.

So why are all those freedom-loving New Zealanders not angrily protesting against the current Electoral Finance Bill? Why is a proposal acceptable when a Labour Government proposes it, but unacceptable if proposed by a National prime minister, even one, as we now see in retrospect, of comparatively socialist tendencies?

Even the Human Rights Commission, which I often despise for its Left-wing tendencies, has, to its great credit, denounced this bill very firmly. So where are the street marches?

In lists of the commonest lies, the prime candidates are usually promises of love, that the cheque is in the mail, and that a lady's fundament does not look large. I would add the statement attributed to Voltaire: "I disagree with what you say, but will fight to the death for your right to say it".

If you doubt me, say something politically incorrect about the Treaty of Waitangi and see what tolerance is offered by the apostles of freedom.

Historically, the Left – can we dignify the present Government with that label? – has had no monopoly on intolerance. Equally, the Left is not immune. Intolerant tendencies arise from a moralistic worldview.

"Error has no rights" a Catholic cardinal is alleged to have said, and if you see your political grouping as doing God's work and your opponents as the sable-hued minions of Satan, then it is unthinkable that your enemies should have the same rights that you do.

Of course, you believe in human rights, but that cannot apply to the patently wicked. Human rights are only for those who deserve them. That just happens to mean people like us.

In our own age, the Left tends more to this doctrinaire approach. They forget freedom has to mean the freedom to say things some people may not want to hear. (At least, they use that argument when arguing for further outrages to public decency by a degenerate television programme or art work, but refuse to accept its greater validity in political debate.)

The Left is right; everyone else is wrong. Intolerance is therefore justified. One can be a good freedom-loving person and refuse to respect the freedom of one's political opponents, who are also enemies of the public good.

Read Nicky Hager's The Hollow Men and you will see that the National Party's chief crime, in the author's eyes, was simply to exist.

I tell a lie when I say that no- one is protesting against the bill. In Christchurch, about 200 people demonstrated last Wednesday. It was a quiet and civilised protest. Too quiet, perhaps. Decency can be a disadvantage. To overcome our enemies – this is life's tragedy – we must become like them.

At times one has to admire the energy of French farmers pelting ministers with potatoes and dumping truckloads of dung outside government buildings. They get their point across.

True, some demonstrators were members of the National and ACT New Zealand parties. The Prime Minister dismissed the protests for this reason.

Hitherto, people of other political opinions also had rights. Hitherto, our electoral finance laws, like other parts of our basic constitutional arrangements, enjoyed general cross-party support. Hitherto, democracy meant ongoing popular engagement in the issues, not just casting a vote on election day after a year of comparative silence on all political issues from all but the incumbent government.

Our present Prime Minister ceased to resemble Muldoon some time ago. She now more resembles Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, gerrymandering his country's constitution to guarantee his own hold on power indefinitely. Both strut on the world stage. Helen Clark professes concern for human rights in Zimbabwe and Fiji. Why not here? The similarities extend even to a common tendency to insult monarchs.

As many dictators have learnt, when constitutional means for replacing a government are not available, only unconstitutional means are left. That is not good for a country.

Some good phrases in there as well. Don't you love the 'sable hued minions of satan'?

No way to do things

Leaving aside the substance of the damned Electoral Finance Bill (which is the only right and proper thing to do with it) the disastrous way it is being introduced into law speaks volumes about the Mickey Mouse way this country is run. We are witnessing a vile piece of repressive legislation being rammed through parliament and its wording is being made up on the hoof by a dental nurse. One hundred and fifty amendments to be discussed in a day. I couldn't discuss one hundred and fifty football results in a day and I would like to think I can think somewhat more logically than the coterie of failed school teachers, union leaders and list ne'er do wells that inhabit the Beehive. And to make things worse amalgam woman encourages those that are charged with enforcing this rubbish to 'overlook technical breaches' so it doesn't get too messy when it is all in place in less than a month. Basically she is saying 'Make sure the provisions that kneecap the National Party and give loads of centrally supplied dosh to the Labour Party are vigourously policed and ignore the megaphone on street corner stuff'

You wouldn't run a corner dairy like this let alone a country.

John Boscowan who is the public face of opposition to the EFB was accused in Parliament yesterday of being a poodle of the Business Round Table. Hardly like being a member of the KU Klux Klan I would think but no matter. John replies that although he is an associate member of the Round Table he is receiving no funds from them. I believe him but I also couldn't give a stuff if they were funding him. I am a full playing member of the North Shore Golf Club and a member of the Whangaroa Gamefishing Club. I am receiving no funds from either to write this blog.

You can believe me or not and I don't care either way.

Carbon, damned carbon

What did your mother tell you about lies when you were small? Apart from don't tell them that is. If you tell a little lie you will have to tell a bigger one to cover it up and and then a bigger one to disguise the second and so on.

If you base a policy on a basic untruth the sequelae from that will get more and more preposterous as time goes on. So it is with Kyoto and my power bill. SWMBO was doing the accounts last night whilst I was doing something much more entertaining (making marlin lures for Mozambique, since you asked) and she let out a low whistle at the magnitude of the demand from Genesis. This sudden increase was not because I had put the Obald backyard aluminium smelter on double time, it was because electricity is getting inexorably more expensive.

And it is about to get a whole lot worse. Someone in Gummint has the temerity to say that because New Zealand has to be seen as a 'world leader' (give me a break, we couldn't lead the world in brewery piss-up organising) in green power generation we will generate 90% of our power from renewable sources by 2025. It fails to point out that this is not possible and to get even close very expensive forms of power generation will have to be used to meet our emission targets - which are mandated by the bloody Kyoto nonsense. There is a big chinwag about all this in Bali (very nice) at the moment and clean green New Zealand is missing its Kyoto targets by 12-15%. Who cares? Well the gummint cares and in order to look good it announces that they will discourage the building of gas fired power stations. Power generators say 'sod off' we are going to build them because it is the only sensible way to generate power in the real world. The government returns to type and just bans them. Except when you have to have one because the touchy feely renewable ones don't work as there has been a stationary high over the country for three weeks. Or you can have a gas power station if you haven't got a dammable stream sitting at the bottom of the middle paddock. Oh, and you can have one if you run an aluminium smelter (so I'm alright then).

And, dear Mr Great Unwashed, all this bollocks is not going to cost you a bean because it is also introducing an emissions trading regime that would require large emitters like coal and gas fired power stations from 2010 to buy carbon credits to cover their emissions. Eh? And who is going to give the money to the power companies so they can buy these twenty first century vials of snake oil? I'll give you a few minutes to work it out for yourself.

It is just a complete load of crap. However you don't get much carbon belching out of nuclear power stations, do you?

Monday, December 3, 2007

A hiatus in Wellington

There is little that inspires the fingers to trip across the keys at the moment.

We are going to get this hideous electoral finance bill whether we like it or not - and a significant number and calibre of people are in the 'or not' camp. As I have opined before my only real hope of it is that paradoxically this turns out to be good news. It may just be the straw that does for the camel in those who are so blind they will not see. Perhaps the great unwashed will at last say enough is enough. You have told us how to bring up our kids, what to eat, how to spend out money, nicked great globs of that money off us to waste in all sorts of profligate ways and now you will stop us talking.

I was bored in Taihape on Friday night (what else is there to do in Taihape?) and borrowed a biography of Mao Tse Dung from my daughter to while away an hour or two. Mao was not a nice bloke. I only got about eighty pages through a six hundred page tome but the aggressively selfish way of thinking behind everything he did (including handling his mother's death) gave chilling reminders of what we are witnessing from Wellington with exponentially increasing frequency.

I was in Taihape as it was one of my fairly regular 'Wellington Weekends'. I really can't stand the place. It is just wrong. It was a 'glorious' weekend weather wise. Not a cloud in the sky for the first day of Summer and it was still cold. I wore shorts all weekend 'cos that is what you do in December but it wasn't really right. Everyone was attired in summer wear which just served to expose greater areas of goosebumps. The much lauded proximity of all the entertainment spots to each other is in reality just an excuse to gloss over the fact that the place is not planned at all and everything is lumped together in a great glob in the middle. The housing stock is crap and this appear to be being augmented by seemingly endless blocks of architecturally sterile apartment buildings situated 'within handy walking distance of the vibrant hub of Courtney Place' i.e. on top of everything else that is already there. Stupid. But I suppose there is no real choice as the present conurbation is hemmed in by the topography of the area.

The best thing that could happen to Wellington is for the earthquake to arrive. The whole lot falls into the sea and we can start again with a new capital somewhere sensible - like the Chathams. This would be best timed for Boxing Day. 1) My daughters would be safely in Auckland and 2) Boxing Day has a track record for being a popular day for major natural catastrophes.

What good about Wellington?1) See daughters. 2)The drive to get there and back. The hour between Taihape and Bulls through the Rangitikei on an early summers morning with not a cloud in the sky has to be one of the best drives around. 3) Beckham. Eh? It gives me hope that you can make something out of nothing. $1,000,000 a week for being good looking, being reasonably good at footy and having a thick wife. I'm ugly, am useless at footy but have a very smart wife. Therefore I should be able to rake in $333,000 a week by signing shirts in Wellington, right?

I'm not resigning my position in the fields just yet - but there must be a way.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Anatomy tutorial

My long held belief that you don't read newspapers for the acquisition of facts has been upheld this morning with the Royal New Zealand Herald branching out into anatomical drawings. The recognised doyen of this genre is Frank H Netter MD, an American who died in 1991. The Herald did not raid the vast library of Frank's work for its illustration to accompany the front page story of a jack the lad who had a 'miraculous escape' after an encounter with a tree branch.

I shall be extra vigilant when in the fields this morning. This is just plain wrong - or then again as it is in the Herald it must be right. And for thirty years I had been labouring under the apparently false impression that the oesphagus was a direct anterior relation of the vertebral column and posterior to the trachea. Silly me.

Off to insert a few gastroscopes into punters' 'windpipes' - give me a break.

Anyone believe the footy results?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

J M Hendrix

Jimi would have been sixty five today if he hadn't inhaled his vomit in London thirty five years ago or so. There is a bit of a rash of this stuff at the moment.

As an aside there are swag of videos on YouTube of Grace singing White Rabbit. They range from the great performance at Woodstock (when she was obviously practising what she was preaching) to a really naff one when she was Jefferson Starship. I never liked Starship and Grace is not looking at her gorgeous best in this performance - all eighties power dressing and hair.

And speaking of hair I also found a video of Marsh Hunt - now we are talking serious hair.

How sixties is this photo? - taken by Lord Lichfield, I think

Rugby World Cup Final 2011 to be held in Sydney


The Resource Management Act has today decided that New Zealand will not host the 2011 Rugby World Cup. The plans to alter the upgrade for Eden Park to include an extra Hot Dog stand in Reimers Avenue mean that the Resource Consent Process will have to be restarted. Aaron A Aardvark, a Librarian and longstanding resident of Reimers Avenue, complained to the Human Rights commission that the extra Hot Dog Stand breached his right to a tomato sauce free environment and the commission ordered the RMA hearings to be reconvened.

We have just heard from the IRB on this matter.

'The New Zealand Resource Management Act is a piece of legislation that has morphed into something that it was never intended to be and is making a laughing stock of your country . We had been given the tip by some bunch of jokers who wanted to run a street race in Auckland and Sir Mick Jagger told us about the wheel chair access required to the stage for Rolling Stones concerts. We frankly did not believe these reports but the Hot Dog stand nonsense leaves us with no alternative but to conclude that you are pack of wankers who couldn't organise a nun shoot in a convent. The 2011 World Cup will be held in the nearest sensible country and Australia fits the bill nicely'

Statement ends.

Fact not Fiction

For the terminally slow - read the world's governments and especially ours - Chris de Freitas does us all a favour this morning. I am not quite sure why today was chosen to publish his latest piece but reinforcing the message never goes amiss.

Monsieur de Freitas is a scientist who speaks on behalf of the sensible people in New Zealand who are the 'man is wrecking the planet' debunkers. I forget their exact name but they are the mob that the late Augie was in with. There is nothing new in his piece but it just is not getting through is it? There is no scientific evidence for all this political claptrap that is costing us squillions in the pocket and is running the real probability of making loads of people look like complete dicks. The fact that most of these people deserve such a fate is but small comfort.

I am not going to go through it all again but 1) Man made carbon dioxide has virtually nothing to do with climate change 2) The IPPC is a political body and is not the fount of all truth on anything scientific and 3) Hmm......I can't remember what that was. Man made climate change is a load of bollocks and you are all being conned will do.

de Freitas misquotes Voltaire so I will misquote a bit further and probably end up getting sued by Voltaire's estate. 'It is dangerous to stand up and be right if the government are wrong'. Well regular consumers of these ramblings will know how much I enjoy safety - especially the government mandated variety.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Ozzies turn left

They never miss a trick do they? The rousing of Howard over the ditch has been acclaimed by both sides of the political divide over here as a pointer to what will happen next year. Those who want Helengrad to march on to greater things hail it as indication that the world has seen through capitalist lies and that the way of the left is the only true road to salvation. Meanwhile those thinking people who want pragmatism and vastly overpowered cars to rule the roost say it shows that people get fed up of anything however good it may be and will vote for change however bad that may be. Therefore Helen should be looking at opening a tofu bar sometime next November.

As usual in these attempts to put a black and white solution onto a problem of an infinite number of shades of grey the answer lies somewhere in the middle. I suspect (hope?) that the latter scenario is nearer the truth and next year enough people will have had enough of this odious, all controlling regime we now have and give them the arse.

There is an article by a lawyer on the opinion page of the Herald this morning giving yet more reasons why the hated Electoral Finance Bill should be given the elbow. I've had enough of this. It is patently bad law being introduced for all sorts of vengeful self serving reasons. We all know this to be true. This law is something you do not want? Tough. We are going to get it anyway as they have the numbers to get it through. Today's doges point out that it will likely result in next year being an election campaign run by judges who are unsure as to how to rule on badly written law. If that is what they want they should be happy because that is what they will get.

As usual it matters not that this is not what the rest of us want.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

An Away Day

An away day today. Not a thing I do a lot of this ‘corporate fly somewhere for a meeting and fly back in the evening’ stuff. But I am sitting on a plane somewhere over the Waikato on the way to Christchurch for a meeting on affairs of state pleased to have a day off from the fields. Accompanied by a colleague who is currently reading a trout fishing magazine, the weather is glorious and there really is little wrong with the world. The plane is an hour and a half late and this before we leave the ground. Leaves on the line in Penge or some such is the excuse – who cares?

I don’t think I‘ve ever been to Christchurch. SWMBO says I spent a couple of days there a few years back when taking the kids skiing on Mt Hutt. She may well be right, she usually is, but that must have been in winter so doesn’t count. Anything in the winter in the South Island can’t count; it is too bloody cold by definition. Trout reader tells me it is like England. This makes me even more skeptical as I left there twenty-five years ago mainly because I no longer liked the place of my birth. This was very strange transformation. I was born and brought up in South London, went to University in Paddington, thought London was the centre of the universe and wogs started at Dover. I then spent two years in Papua New Guinea and realised that all these basic tenets of my existence were just plain wrong. I have now lived outside the UK for almost longer than I have lived in it. I wouldn't go back to live there if you paid me. Naff weather and too many people are just for openers.

Business meeting at midday went better than expected and next meeting is not until five o'clock. What to do? The choices are a half day conference registration for $270 to listen to a bloke from Oxford who talks like he has a pound of fruit and veg stuck in his throat prattle on about inflammatory bowel disease or a walk around town for no money at all? Tricky one, eh?

What town is not looking at its best under a cloudless sky on a late spring afternoon? Christchurch scrubs up pretty well. Excuse the camera phone images.

This is all very Oxford or Cambridge is it not? The speaker with the plum in his throat must think he has caught the early flight home. What we really need is some Japanese tourists being punted down the Avon by some joker wearing a boater.

A cup of tea under the willows watching all this pastoral stuff was pleasant enough but has as much relevance to to real life as listening to all the guff about complex small bowel immunology. No, Christchurch is not for me - where's the nearest blue water for starters? Trolling 14" lures for blue cod is not quite the same as putting them out for blue marlin is it?

Five o'clock meeting is slated to finish at six-ish. However our mob is ejected by the chairman (from Christchurch - rude sod; I'm definitely not relocating) and so it is back at the airport by six. Any chance of an earlier flight home? The leaves on the line at Penge earlier in the day are still making their presence felt and the schedules are a disaster. We easily find a seat on a delayed flight (for the normal punters) that gets us home two hours earlier than planned - all good.

Air New Zealand have taken away any pretense that internal air travel is any more than getting on a bus. No tea and biccies ( just to spite them I took two boiled sweets - both were horrible) and the seats are great if you are anorexic. The female in 19A was not by any stretch of the imagination anorexic. Her more than ample frame was intent on taking over most of 19B which meant I had to cuddle up much more closely than would appear right and proper to the gent in 19C. He was very smelly. Ms 19A (and a bit of 19B) decided to fill her flight by doing a crossword - it must have been the only hour this year she had not spent eating. She did the 'JUMBO' jous de mots from the NZ Women's Weekly. I had no choice but to join her in this literary pursuit as most of the grid was in the 19B bit of her space on the aircraft. I can report that the NZ Women's Weekly 'JUMBO' crossword is bloody easy. The longest word I could find was seven letters. However my voluminous companion made this really very easy conundrum unnecessarily hard for herself by exhibiting a quite staggering inability to spell. I mean she couldn't spell anything at all. She might have been able to manage the indefinite article but beyond that she was struggling.

Why would you chose doing crosswords as your intellectual press ups if you can't spell? It is like taking up jogging if you are a double amputee, indulging in a bit of bird spotting if you are blind, taking Baroque music appreciation classes if you are deaf. Barmy. Big Bertha was nothing if not persistent. By the time we had started our descent over Raglan she had the puzzle about two thirds complete - and it was about two thirds wrong. 'A beer like drink' - 'lagre'. 'Mechanical word entry' - 'Tipe'. Where the words crossed we got even worse nonsense. I can recall 'ch' and 'lm' occurring together without an intervening vowel. The whole thing was a disaster. However she seemed happy enough so why should I worry?

This all reminded me of another crossword and public transport story from many years ago. The London tube and a 'city gent' gets on the train and very ostentatiously pulls a copy of The Times from under his arm and folds it over to do the crossword. Now, The Times crossword is a few steps up the difficulty scale from the NZ Women's Weekly - JUMBO or not. Anyway gent pulls out his pencil thinks briefly and fills in the first clue. A few seconds more of careful thought and clues two and three are cracked. A brief pause at Ludgate Circus for breath and we are off again at a break neck lexicographical pace. A couple of stops later CG throws the paper down on the seat with the puzzle solved in six minutes flat and exits the train to take over a couple of multinational companies. Somewhat curious and a little in awe that I had been in the company of a literary genius for a couple of stops on the Circle Line I wandered over to glance at his work. He had filled in 'aardvark' as the answer to every clue. Class act.

Back at Obald Towers a couple of hours earlier than I had feared but still knackered. This international businessman lifestyle is not for me.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

From the Hawkes Bay

I very rarely publish extensive quotes from other sources (I regard it as idleness in the extreme) but this from Louis Pierard in an Editorial in Hawkes Bay Today very well encapsulates my own thoughts on the odious Electoral Finance Bill which, make no mistake, will be passed despite the tsunami of public condemnation of its contents.


WHEN the present Government departs office, it will do so with the martyr’s sigh that it has been profoundly misunderstood. There will be no recriminations and there will be no insightful reflections. There will be just the pious conviction that the electorate had got it hopelessly wrong.

It is that zealous commitment to one’s self that sustains politicians - of all stripes.

The election law is just such a case. Nothing in New Zealand’s recent political history has been so comprehensively panned as that partisan piece of legislation. Even the accountants’ professional body was moved to condemn it.

The Electoral Finance Bill was inspired by an instinctive hatred of personal wealth (especially when it benefits political opposition, as witnessed by the Exclusive Brethren’s ridiculous attack on Labour and the Greens) and resentment by the Government that it was unable to steal public funds for its election campaigning. However, the overarching impulse, revealed in the desire to raise the weights of any opposition, has been to legislate to remain in power.

Of course, the bill has been characterised as a struggle between simple goodness and the dark forces of mammon, or as Prime Minister Helen Clark put it “to get the hollow men and secret money out of politics”. It does neither.

In its revised form, the bill moderates the naked desire to clear the decks of political dissent. Plans to give Government advertising campaigns immunity and to suppress pressure groups were ditched (though the use of megaphones falls under the bill’s ambit and an 11-month restriction on political expression before an election is the longest for any western democracy).

But while the bill meets its intentions of hurting National, which received $1.7 million through trusts in the last election, “anonymous” donations of up to $240,000 are still allowed (tellingly, not far short of Labour’s anonymous donation haul in the last election).

If concerns about secret political funding were genuine - as they deserved to be - the bill’s ambition would have been for full and complete transparency of donations instead of a Byzantine contraption to kneecap political opponents.

Perversely, to the righteous, any opposition to such an enterprise merely endorses it. When political survival is predicated on the need to be self-serving, it is difficult to attribute any other motive to one’s critics. To the corrupt, all are corrupt.

Despite the changes to what many of its critics correctly deemed irredeemable, the bill remains an obnoxious piece of lawmaking for what has driven it, for the disdain it has shown to the principles of freedom of expression and fairness and for the loathing and contempt that it generates for those who, in principle anyway, we ought to be able to show at least a modicum of respect.

This editorial will likely be illegal come January 1st 2008.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Pass the metoclopramide

Tim Barnett's civil union got itself more coverage in a national newspaper yesterday than most events of this nature manage in the local rag.

We will gloss over the fact that I think civil unions are a crock especially when there are perfectly good marriage certificates available. Also I have no interest in the fact the other side of this joining doesn't sit down to have a pee - none of my business.

Barnett is British. However he had his big day on a marae wearing a shirt coverd in koru motifs and with a green stone pendant round his neck. The day was attended by a 'who's who' of the Labour party.

I can think of no set of circumstances that would bring on larger waves of nausea.

Here we go, here we go, here we go

The IPPC has put on its purveyor of doom and gloom hat and come out with more of its imprecise science. They have issued a bull and we are all doomed - again. This time I can't remember whether we all disappear in the conflagration by Thursday or sometime in 2050 - and that is one of their more precise predictions. Global temperatures will rise by between 1.1 and 4 degrees (margin of error there is approaching 400%) and this rise 'could' be 'abrupt' or 'irreversible'. We can stop/slow down/speed up - who cares? - this with only a 5.5% decrease in global GDP over five years (for those of use who don't have the precise grasp on hard sums that these wallies have we are told this is 1.1% per annum) or it could be done with an increase in GDP of 1%.

NCEA exams start today. If you were to put answers like that into any paper that required some sort of scientific precision even the 'no one must fail' mentality of our education system would biff you into the not achieved basket. It is lunacy. This is not the scientific fact that it is being advertised as at all. It is speculation from computer modeling and none of these models has yet to be born out in what eventually happens. There is a US$ 1 million prize out for anyone who can come up with a mathematical model that will predict what a gaseous/ liquid fluid interface (oceans and winds, that sort of stuff) will do over time. They will even pay out if it can be proved that such a model could exist. The money is still up for grabs so get your pencil out and look for the back of a discarded envelope.This pseudo-science cobblers is certainly not the sort of stuff you should be basing national and international policy on. And as usual the dements who run this country (and, to be fair, a lot of other nations) have bought it hook line and sinker because it suits their political (not scientific) purpose and are spending my money on it like drunken sailors.

What can I do about it? More than I do, I suspect. I write about it in these trivial columns and you must trust me that I will cast my vote wisely next year. But I was guilty of dereliction of duty at the weekend. I should have been in Queen Street on Saturday at the Kill The Bill march. I have never done anything like this in my life but I should have been there on Saturday. Leighton Smith went - good grief.

I played golf.

If I and other sensible people carry on like this we will continue to be ruled by this:

Now we really don't want that do we? Do we?