Saturday, November 17, 2007

This is news?

Fancy wanting to be a cutting-edge print-media journalist only to find yourself fossicking about in classroom rubbish bins for "shock-horror" stories.

And why is it always female researchers who bring us this absolute drivel?

I don't need "forcing" into seeing what my kids don't eat. They bring it home and it goes in MY bin. Perhaps I could sell the story of my rubbish bin to the Herald. No,no. What am I thinking. I'll go and tip it out myself, take a photo and blog it. My sitemeter will go through the roof!!

(I've got to go to cricket first though)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Running the show

My computer has developed a case of Cunliffitis - it's decided it's running the show.

Ever since it arrived at my house it's been churning away. Never shuts up. I don't know what it does all day but the drive is constantly chattering. To the point where it gets on my goat. There it goes again. Then this morning I'm in the middle of a post (OK it wasn't of earth shattering importance) and this thing tells me it's logging off. Hang on. I decide when I'm logging off. No you don't.

It wants to configure updates. But I'm busy right now. No your not. Configuring my updates is far more important.

Configuring. So I sit and stare at the screen as the hands move around the clock. Take your time. Don't mind me. I've got all the time in the world. You f-----. No you don't. Now it's shutting down. Hang on. Gone.

Then it whirs back into life. 'Welcome' it says. I'll f------ give you welcome. Where've you been? It wasn't me who left.

"Your last session crashed" it says. 'My session' didn't crash. How could it have been 'my session' when it's you who's running the show?

The cookie crumbles

Yesterday I heard some spokes-thingy on the radio saying the Griffin's factory closure in Lower Hutt, after 70 years manufacturing, was partly due to the obesity epidemic and warnings not to eat too much sugar.

Personally I'm not buying this - or Griffins products much. Griffins blame the closure on international competition. I'm not convinced about that either.

One thing I am sure of. It isn't because more people are home-baking!

When I buy biscuits I buy the ones that look home-made. Some come all the way from a bakery in Invercargill. I like plain wrapping so I can see what's inside. Trouble with Griffin's products is I know what's inside.

Lots of supermarkets have their own bakeries these days and turn out products that are more appetising than a vanilla wine biscuit.

Markets change. Griffins haven't kept up. It's that simple.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Garth George on the "gagging bill"

Garth George has written a great column today. Here are some excerpts...actually, no,I can't pick out the best bits so here is the whole thing;

If ever there were a reason to turf this Government out, it is the arrogance and hypocrisy of the Dear Leader in refusing point blank to scrap the despicable Electoral Finance Bill.

Here is a woman who has been blathering on about human rights ever since she became a public face, who rails against the military takeover in Fiji and demands a return to democracy there, and who gallivants round the world attending wartime anniversaries.

The irony seems to escape her that this bill, which has been written for no other reason than to give Labour an advantage during next year's election campaign, is the most serious attack on human rights in this country that has ever been mounted.

It is an assault on democracy every bit as dangerous as the antics of Frank Bainimarama, for it is the sort of legislation that prospective dictators force through to shut down public dissent.

And it is an insult to the thousands of New Zealanders who died in two world wars to turn back those who would have enslaved us and preserve our democracy and our human rights.

Helen Clark's visit to Gallipoli for the 90th anniversary of that campaign in 2005, and to the Somme for the similar commemoration of Passchendaele, look rather contemptible now, since the human right that those thousands died for is freedom of speech.

I have contempt, too, for the Labour running dogs who have indicated they will support this Government bill - the MPs of United Future, NZ First and the Greens.

I suppose it is expected of that master of self-interested compromise, Winston Peters, who is about to visit North Korea as our non-Cabinet Minister of Foreign Affairs.

If Kim Jong-il hears about the Electoral Finance Bill, he'll probably invite Winston to dinner.

Peter Dunne has never been anything but Labour lite and can be trusted only to lick the Government's boots.

But I must say I'm a bit surprised at the Greens. I would have thought blokes like Keith Locke and Nandor Tanczos, those champions of the underdog, would have cavilled at this piece of legislation. But no. Politics overrides principle yet again.

It is ironic, isn't it, that the excuse being used to put this bill forward is the activities of the leaders of an obscure religious cult during the last election campaign who wanted rid of Labour and the Greens and were prepared to put their money where their mouths were to the tune of $1.2 million.

Setting aside the fact that they were perfectly entitled to carry out this democratic activity, the irony is that it backfired on National and probably cost it that election.

The other thing, of course, that is pricking Clark and Co to go through with this bill - in spite of the opposition, some of it from Labour-friendly sources such as the Law and Human Rights Commissions - is simmering resentment over having to pay back $1.2 million for illegal taxpayer-funded election advertising last time.

So the Dear Leader and her minions are determined that next time advertising condemning or criticising the Government will be heavily restricted, while the Government will be able to spend what it likes promoting its own policies at no cost to the party.

If ever there was a misuse of political power, this is it. As this newspaper said in only its second front-page editorial in five years, "democracy is not a device to keep Labour in power".

But it is typically socialist and the longer this Government remains, the more its members see themselves as there to rule rather than simply to govern, persuaded that only they know what is best for the country.

But it is in reality only what is best for the rulers that matters; the exercise of power, through legislation and a powerful bureaucracy, becomes an addiction, and the thought of having to go without it becomes intolerable.

And, as with all addictions, the longer it is practised the worse it gets. Thus, the dumping of Labour a year from now would really be a humane act. Its members need saving from themselves.

I am intrigued that one of the Dear Leader's arguments in favour of the bill is that "the National Party benefits enormously from big money in New Zealand politics".

If that is true, how come National was almost wiped out in 2002 and failed to win Government in 2005?

Labour strategists seem to think that anger over this bill, if it becomes law in the next few weeks, will be forgotten come next year.

Not so. I, for one, certainly won't forget. But who knows?

Perhaps by then this column will be banned by law, too.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

IMPORTANT public notice

Stop the Labour/NZ First/Greens Electoral Finance "Gagging Bill"
What you can do:

Protest March: Auckland this Saturday 17 November from the Auckland Town Hall at 10.30am (assemble from 10am) Protest: Wellington next Wednesday, 21 November, for a march on Parliament.

This is to invite you to stand up and be counted.

ACT member John Boscawen is organising marches in Auckland and Wellington to protest the Labour led Government's attack on democracy.

The Electoral Finance Bill is designed to curb political activity.

Labour and NZ First with help from the Greens and United Future are about to ram through a law to gag free speech.

This despite vociferous objection from the Human Rights Commission, the Law Society, Grey Power and concerned citizens from every sector of New Zealand society.

The plan is to give Labour freedom to say what it likes in election year and gag everyone else.

Once the Gagging Bill goes through - possibly as soon as next week - it will be against the law for me to send an email such as this.

That's why the Human Rights Commission talks about a "chilling" impact on democracy.

That's why this is a Gagging Bill by any other name and must be stopped. Join the marches

If you want to help contact

'Where in the world are NZ's Dole Bludgers?'

The title is supplied by a commenter who can't distinguish between serious conjecture and 'musing' even after I spelled it out for his benefit.

In 2004 there were 12,838 Kiwis on an unemployment benefit in Australia, 52 percent were classed as long-term 'customers'.

Also in 2004 there were 14,853 Kiwis on a Parenting Payment for single parents.

In 2005 there were 11,068 Kiwis on a Disability Support Pension.

By the time you throw in those scattered across other benefits the total would probably reach 40,000. What does that look like? The population of Wanganui.

I wonder how many Aussies are customers of Work and Income. What's a bet it isn't anywhere near 40,000. There's only 60,000 living here!

Update; Coming ahead of the Kiwis on the benefit numbers on each count were the Poms. Now I see that NZ has overtaken the UK as Australia's main source of permanent migrants for the first time.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Aussie unemployment

NZ had 23,158 people on the unemployment benefit at September 2007. The official unemployment rate is 3.5 percent.

Australia's unemployment rate is 4.3 percent. In August they had 505,927 people on the unemployment benefit.

Australia's population is 5 times NZ's yet it has nearly 22 x the number of people on the dole.

The difference cannot be accounted for in incapacity benefits as NZ's rate of reliance is similar (if a little less) than the Aussies.

In Australia, from July 2006 new welfare-applicant single parents whose youngest child was 8 or more were directed to the unemployment benefit. This may be part of the anomaly, but certainly not all.

I wonder how many Kiwis are over there on the dole? (Those who were there before the 2000/01 rule change or have been there the two years required since the rule change?)

Back then the Aussie government said it was paying over a billion dollars to Kiwis on welfare benefits. By my reckoning that would be anywhere from 50-75,000 people.

If they were on the dole in NZ that would make the ratio about right.

Just musing.

Tell us something we don't know

Confirmation of what we all knew. in ten Pacific Island children and one in twenty Maori children aged 5 to 14 [is] likely to be extremely obese. But only one in 100 European or other ethnicity child is likely to fall into that category.

Which begs the question, why all the indiscriminate public health spending?

Do you know why the state operates this way? Why it doesn't properly name problems? Because it doesn't want to 'stigmatise' any one group.

It would rather spend bucket-loads of your money putting push-play balloons in suburban letterboxes where no Pacific Island people live than risk offence or bureaucratic job cuts. That's the financial cost of political correctness. And that's why the state should keep out of health. It is too tied up in its own human rights prescription to be effective or fair.

Meantime the bulk of people, who have eyes and brains, get more and more frustrated that they are hectored and hen-pecked at every turn about hyped-up problems which have nothing to do with their lives but everything to do with the rampant wastage of their money.

Monday, November 12, 2007

'Bah, humbug. There's no inclination to help the poor'

This article from the Sydney Morning Herald was reprinted in yesterday's SST. The headline is supplied by the SST.

My response;

Dear Editor

An article appeared in the SST November 11 headed, 'Bah, humbug. There's no inclination to help the poor.' It described decreasing support among Australian people for government redistribution of income from the better-off to the less well-off, which has fallen below 40 percent for the first time.

It does not follow that because people do not support welfare they do not want to help the poor. The decreasing support may very well demonstrate a growing understanding that welfare benefits do not necessarily help people. Often they demotivate and trap people.

At least 40 percent of those currently on the domestic purposes benefit started there as a teenager. Before they are old enough to finish their education or gain work skills young people are lured into what looks like an easy number. It isn't. Lives spent on the DPB are characterised by hardship and transience.

It may now be that there is more compassion inherent in opposing government income redistribution which can hardly be termed a raging success as a cure for 'poverty'.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


Can anyone get their head around this experiment conducted by a Canterbury University student?

The conclusion is dogs can read people's minds. But I cannot follow the methodology at all. Surely a smart dog would show a preference for the choice of the person they saw hiding something. How does it follow that the dog can read someone's mind? I am totally bamboozled.