Monday, February 28, 2011
The government rakes in millions of dollars every month in taxes and levies imposed by its ETS. Right now, there are far better uses for that money in New Zealand than throwing it into a bottomless pit offshore, especially when countries such as Australia have yet to commit to an ETS or a carbon tax.
So here's a suggestion for you Nick and John. Get in touch with whoever is on this money-go-round, and tell them that the automatic payment has been suspended. You can tell them that whilst New Zealand will always do its bit to save the planet, but that right at the moment, rebuilding shattered lives in our own backyard is our overriding priority.
The mechanisms are already in place to collect this money. All that is required is to turn off the tap, and stop it leaking offshore. Rediverting the money which is already being extracted from us makes way more sense than additional levies or anything else that the government might have in mind.
Come on John and Nick and Bill. Sheesh; do this, and we might even forgive you for introducing the ETS in the first place!
We received an e-mail last night from a friend alerting us to the plight of a Christchurch business, The T Shop. Now, from an early age, we have been tea drinkers. In our whare, the day began with a cup of tea, ended with a cup of tea, and a cup of tea was the cure for all ills in between. We still far prefer a good cup of tea to a fancy-Dan coffee. So this plaintive appeal resonated with us:
WE DO NEED YOUR HELPMarty and I have come through the quake safe as have our family . We are humbled by the number of inquiries from our customers about our welfare, thank you. Myself and my daughter were in our car in the city when the quake struck , images I will never forget , so many families now devastated. We have spent the best part of the last week helping families with the basics, water, nappies,food, digging silt giving random hugs etc. It is only now, one week on, that we have stopped and allowed ourselves to contemplate our own situation. We have lost our shop base, we have lost most of the cafes we supply in town not to mention friends who work in them . Its unlikely, I think that The T Shop can survive this one . My one wish however is that we may pay those Christchurch businesses we owe , before we make any decision to bow out so to speak. We have put some wonderful specials on the web site , if you are able to help at all with any order no matter how small , we thank you.
Please be aware that postage out of Canterbury is in a state of chaos , orders may not be received for up to two weeks , please be patient with this. We also have a shipment of new teas arriving in ten days, so some may not be sent out until then, it is clearly stated on the website, where this applies.
What particularly struck us here (and what prompted us to post this) was the desire of the owners of this business to pay their bills in the event that they have to close up shop. That suggests to us that the owners of The T Shop are people of integrity, and that's why we are only too happy to give them a shout-out. We'll be sending off an order later in the day as well, in the hope that they will do enough business in the next few days to see a light at the end of the tunnel, and that the business might survive.
The T Shop is but one of hundreds of Christchurch businesses whose future hangs by a thread this morning. It might take more than ONE cup of tea to solve their woes, but if the tea-drinkers of New Zealand and beyond respond, then maybe we can work a miracle for them; testament to the restorative properties of a good cuppa!
On 22 February 2011, Christchurch and the surrounding area were struck by an earthquake that caused severe damage and tragic casualties.
The New Zealand Government has launched an appeal to help the people of Christchurch and the Canterbury region during this time of great need. You can help make a difference by donating to the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal.
The donations will be used to help the communities, families and people of Christchurch and the Canterbury region.
You can make an immediate donation to the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal from your credit card by providing your details, the amount you wish to donate, and clicking Donate Now.
When you click Donate Now you will be taken through to a secure payment page. After payment, you will be issued a donation receipt containing your details. If you enter your email address, a tax receipt will be automatically sent to you.
In addition, John Key has made a video appeal to the world:
There are plenty of options as to how to donate; credit card, internet banking, text message, or directly at any Westpac branch. If you click on the banner at the top of this page, there's more information. We will certainly be supporting both this appeal, as well as a couple of causes which are much more personal to us.
We've reflected over the weekend on just how fortunate we are, and how crap life is for a number of other people just at the moment. Digging deep is the least that we can do; we hope that you might feel likewise.
Sunday, February 27, 2011
We saw the above picture on Twitter this morning. Taken moments after the quake from Christchurch's hill suburbs, it shows in a most dramatic way the devastation that was visited on Christchurch's CBD on Tuesday.
We know that there is enormous devastation in the suburbs. Staff have had their homes destroyed. An elderly aunt has been evacuated from her home due to the threat of rockfalls; she may never return. Cousins were given three minutes to grab what they could from their home on Wednesday; they learned yesterday that the building is to be demolished. What part of 60 years of life and memories can you grab in three minutes?
A pastor friend in Christchurch is run off his feet; his church is doing what it can to help people in Christchurch's eastern suburbs. Memeber of our family have spent the last couple of days digging liquefaction residue out from INSIDE another rellie's home.
There's not much else that we can say today. All we can offer today is our thoughts, our prayers and our aroha to all those who have been affected; both those known to us, and to everyone else. It's not often that we are lost for words, but the scale of Christchurch's disaster is beyond words.
Saturday, February 26, 2011
Amidst all the grim news surrounding Tuesday's earthquake came this gem - have a read of this, from The Press:
A groom who feared his bride-to-be would not live to see their wedding believes her survival was a sign the marriage was destiny.
Emma Howard and Chris Greenslade tied the knot today at the Christ the King Catholic Church in Burnside, after Howard was rescued from ruins of the Pyne Gould building on Tuesday.
Howard recounted today how she was trapped "in a foetal position" for a terrifying 6½ hours after she was thrown from her chair when the 6.3 magnitude quake struck at lunchtime on Tuesday.
The accountant said her decision not to crouch under her desk saved her life as a section of the concrete floor from above crashed down on to her work station.
"I'm so lucky I didn't get under my desk," she told Radio New Zealand today.
"My desk was crushed by the corner of the concrete floor roof above me that came down."
And Emma was one of the lucky ones who was able to get word out that she had survived - read on:
Trapped in the rubble, Ms Howard texted her fiance, fellow accountant Chris Greenslade, who raced to the building from his nearby workplace.
"He just ran to me, expecting to find me standing on the street, ready to take me home" she said.
Mr Greenslade dug among the remains, pulling out other people as he searched for his bride-to-be.
He was photographed carrying an injured woman to safety in one of the first images that emerged of rescue efforts after the quake.
The bride, whose strapless gown revealed multiple bruises from the ordeal, was lost for words amid the media scrum.
"There aren't words,'' she said.
Greenslade said there was no thought of cancelling the wedding.
''For me, it was just natural. She survived that [collapse], so it was meant to happen,'' he said.
We take this opportunity to wish Emma and Chris a long and prosperous life together. Yesterday will have been a day to remember for them in more ways than one, and they will have a remarkable tale to tell their children and grandchildren.
And speaking of Danny Watson's programme, huge kudos to Civil Defence Minister John Carter. Watson took a call yesterday from a bloke in his 80's, living in Barbadoes Street in central Christchurch, and isolated without power, water and food. Watson took Tom's cellphone number, and a number of callers rang in to offer help.
But within 10 minutes of Tom's call, John Carter himself rang in to Newstalk ZB (he is also Senior Citizens Minister), and said that his staff had contacted Tom to arrange for support for him.
John Carter has been one of many rocks through this crisis and the previous 'quake. We now reckon that he has earned his diplomatic posting to the Cook Islands when he retires from Parliament at the end of the year.
It hasn't been a good week. On Tuesday we got the news of the Christchurch earthquake, and the devastation that it has wrought. On Wednesday night we got some more horrible news; the suicide of a young person whose whanau we knew well.
We've had our share our issues with depression, over a number of years. Only once in our life however, Christmas 1993, after a marriage break-up have we ever felt so low that the thought of ending it all occurred to us. We're glad now that we didn't.
This death has apparently come right out of left field, and we cannot even begin to imagine the torment that the whanau must be going through. We will join them at their home marae today to honour a promising life that has ended far too soon, and to stand with them in their grief.
To anyone who has lost a loved one to suicide, we offer our deepest condolences. You will understand what our friends are experiencing just now. And to anyone who believes in the power of prayer, we'd ask that you offer one on behalf of this God-believing whanau today as they prepare to bury their dear child.
Kia kaha, kia maia, kia manawanui; Arohanui whanau.
Friday, February 25, 2011
This may offend some people, but we have no sympathy whatsoever for these specimens of humanity:
Two men arrested for allegedly stealing emergency power generators in earthquake-struck Christchurch have appeared in court.
The two men - 23-year-old Owen Anthony Jackson, a fisherman and Jed Wilson-Calver, 22, unemployed - were last night arrested after allegedly stealing three $6000 emergency power generators.
The generators, donated by TelstraClear, were being used to power roadside cabinets fed up to 500 landline and broadband customers.
Both were denied bail and remanded in custody to reappear on March 28.
We hope that the remands in custody are indicative of a hard line being taken by the judiciary towards those who take advantage of the situation in Christchurch by committing criminal acts. And these two sound like thoroughly unpleasant fellows - read on:
The two skin-headed men waved offensive hand gestures at photographers and court staff and media present in a makeshift courtroom at the Christchurch Police Station.
We had a thought last night. Whilst people such as Jackson and Wilson-Carver are in custody, we reckon that they should be given something productive to do. How about they report for work at the temporary mortuary at Burnham Military Camp for a couple of days to see first-hand the horror of Christchurch's disaster. Maybe then they would understand why even mild-mannered people such as ourselves are grossly offended and repulsed by their actions.
UPDATE: We have no sympathy whatsoever for this miscreant either ...
Maurice Williamson has decided that there is no way that the census could be completed, nor should it be; The Herald now has the story, and quotes Williamson thus:
"This is not the time to go door to door asking New Zealanders for information when they're dealing with the aftermath of the earthquake," Mr Williamson said.
"It's unthinkable that we would ask this of people. It would be an unfair burden and distraction at a time when they are grieving."
We agree. The numbers can be crunched any time. At the moment though, the more significant numbers are the numbers of dead, missing and displaced. That is where our attention should be focused.
And although it's completely unrelated to the topic above, and although we wouldn't normally quote from this source, this post from Brendon Burns on Red Alert is well worth reading. Politics seems especially trivial at the moment, but Burns' office was destroyed on Tuesday, and his is a poignant and personal account.
Talk about it if you like ...
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Having spent most of her life in Christchurch, She Who Must Be Obeyed has a big network of friends and contacts down there. She is already aware of several who are missing, including one in the CTV building. Also in the ruins of CTV is a woman we met when we were down in Christchurch in November; a senior CTV staffer, full of life and enthusiasm. And we heard last night of a person we know from out of Christchurch who happened to be in the PGG building at 12.51pm on Tuesday, and whose body has been recovered.
It is likely today that names will start to be released for those who died and who have been identified. And we suspect that it is then that we will realise just how small New Zealand is. Last year, 2 Degrees launched a clever advertising campaign on the number of degrees of separation that applies in New Zealand; everyone knows someone who knows someone.
We suspect that, as more deaths are confirmed, and as more names are released, for many of us there will be just one degree of separation. We are all going to be touched in a personal way by this terrible tragedy which has befallen not only Christchurch, but all of New Zealand.
a good solid and effective public service was always the backbone of New Zealands society and employment scene – that is until the neo-liberal dark lords of the sith fucked it over and reduced it to a shadow of its former self.
These people are essential and they should be valued.
And do remember boys and girls – just very very recently “dead eyes” key …. was proposing cuts in the public service. Perhaps the fuckwit may be realising that may have been premature.
Perhaps he could cut back on all the dollybirds in the PM’s department … it might help him keep his mind on the job at hand.
Mr Key will try to make capital out of this disaster – and if the electorate has any balls they wont let the conniving little lowlife gambler get away with it … he can make his impassioned speeches all he wants … the only people worth any accolades are the Cantabrians and those who are helping out … he is just an overdressed BMW buying piece of shit scraped off the bottom of the collective new zealand shoe.
While we all struggle – and Christchurch suffers – Johnny, Maxie, floosie and Bronagh can bugger off to Hawaii and then wait to go to the UK for the wedding … i mean shit happens – but hey i’ve got shitloads of money and the polls say people love me ….
Now interestingly, The Standard moderators have been at work overnight on this post; a comment made an hour later was moderated; but there has been no comment or deletion by them. We can only assume that they agree with Kultur's alternative view, or that they see nothing wrong with it. You be the judge.
We have taken the rare step of closing off comments on this thread. We merely want people to know, especially those who come on here and accuse right-leaning commenters of nastiness, that hate is a two-way street.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
It's her story, and it's Christchurch's story. We're not going to reproduce a word of it, apart from the title line, with a link embedded.
We got a phone call around 1pm yesterday alerting us to the devastating quake. Fortunately we were quickly able to contact close family down there. Our daughter was evacuated from the university, and yesterday has merely added to the trauma she's already suffered since September 4th. The in-laws were out having lunch when the earth moved; fortunately, a late change of plans saw them go elsewhere than the CBD as they had intended. They are tough, resilient people; the types who remain calm in a crisis. They were anything but calm when we spoke to them late last night, after the power came back on and they could charge phones up.
As day dawns, the extent of the tragedy is becoming apparent. Although the confirmed death toll has been revised down to 38, the number of bodies in mortuaries, it was chilling to hear a senior police officer say on Newstalk ZB that the streets of the CBD are"littered with bodies".
The scale of the tragedy is too big for us to get our heads around, so our observations today are personal. TVNZ is presently filming from outside the Carlton Hotel on the corner of Bealey Ave and Papanui Road; we ate there over the holidays. Mrs Inventory had to go to the urgent medical centre in Bealey Ave while we were on holiday; the chemist shop across the road had already relocated after Sept 4; the whole building lies in ruins this morning. We enjoyed a coffee at the atrium cafe at the Cathedral at New Year; shots we've seen of the Cathedral show a pile of rubble where the cafe was. The list goes on.
In the cold, hard light of day, the true extent of this tragedy is emerging. All we can offer this morning are our thoughts, our prayers and our aroha to all those who have been directly or indirectly affected by yesterday's tragic events.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
UPDATE: The situation in Christchurch is getting worse by the moment. Out of respect for everyone down there, blogging is on hold until tomorrow.
Another huge earthquake for Christchurch; 6.3, but only 5km deep, and much closer to town; it looks as though it has happened right beneath the Lyttleton Tunnel.
We've been on the phone to family and friends in Christchurch. Close family have been accounted for and are shaken but unharmed, although none were at home at the time. Our Darling Daughter is among the throng on the sports fields at the University, which was badly affected by the September 4th quake. Of more concern at the moment is the welfare of staff down there, whom we have been unable to contact.
The damage sounds severe this time around, and it is likely that there will be a human cost as well. Our thoughts and our fervent prayers are with everyone who has been affected by today's 'quake.
The Herald reports that President Muammar Gaddafi's regime has a tenuous hold on power after a 40-year reign. We doubt however that Gaddafi will roll over as easily as Hosni Mubarak did in Egypt. As we were driving to work this morning we heard reports that Gadaffi's troops have used helicopter gunships against the protesters. It was also suggested that although Libya's second city of Benghazi has fallen, Gaddafi will fight tooth and nail to defend Tripoli, which is his stronghold. There have also been reports of gunships being used by the government against key military installations to prevent them from falling into the hands of Gaddafi's opponents.
There are also unconfirmed and unofficial reports of widespread deaths in the Libyan conflict; we say "unconfirmed and unofficial" because the Libyan government is denying everything. But agencies working in Libya are reporting a death toll now in excess of 300 and likely to rise quickly. That Gaddafi's regime is treating its own people in this way comes as no surprise, but it does not make it any less repugnant. And this kind of rhetoric is just plain scary:
Gaddafi's son, Seif al-Islam, went on state TV in the early hours Monday with a sometimes confused speech of nearly 40 minutes, vowing to fight and warning that if protests continue, a civil war will erupt in which Libya's oil wealth "will be burned."
"Muammar Gaddafi, our leader, is leading the battle in Tripoli, and we are with him," he said. "The armed forces are with him. Tens of thousands are heading here to be with him. We will fight until the last man, the last woman, the last bullet." he said.
Fighting talk is the last thing we need to be hearing in that part of the world at the moment. Sadly, it looks likely that the situation in Libya will get significantly worse before it gets any better.
On his intro-editorial piece on Newstalk ZB this morning, Mike Hosking referred to Fawlty Towers, and we wouldn't argue, although we wonder if even the combined comic genii of John Cleese and Connie Booth could have conceived THIS mess. But the warning should be abundantly clear to John Key and his team. Ironically, Hosking claims to know the financial details of the deal negotiated by Labour, but is not allowed to disclose them due to commercial considerations. But he described it as a "brilliant" deal, and said that if people knew the details, they woulf think very differently.
Politics is all about perception. And this week, the perception has been that the Nats have not been on top of their game; not by a long way. The Nats need to pick their game up, and the lead needs to come from Key himself. Key's Chief of Staff Wayne Eagleson has offered his resignation which has not been accepted, but he and Key need to ensure that there are no such future glitches between now and the election.
We'll say one thing for sure; this would NOT have happened under Heather Simpson's reign as Helen Clark's right-hand woman. Perhaps Wayne Eagleson needs to give H2 a call in New York, and get a few tips.
Monday, February 21, 2011
The latest Roy Morgan poll is out, and it's not just bad news for Phil Goff and the Labour Party; it's really bad news. As we noted in our previous post today, this round of polls will have included the period around the respective leaders sharing their vision for election year. National's vision includes the partial sale of some state assets, without the government relinquishing its controlling stake. Apparently, that was going to be the circuit-breaker
Not so; check this out:
The latest New Zealand Roy Morgan Poll shows support for John Key’s National-led Government has risen to 55% (up 2%). Support for Prime Minister Key’s National Party is 52.5% (up 3.5%), the Maori Party 1.5% (down 1.5%), ACT NZ 0.5% (down 0.5%) and United Future 0.5% (up 0.5%).
Support for Opposition Parties has fallen to 45% (down 2%) with the Labour Party 33% (down 1.5%), Greens 8.5%, (up 2%), New Zealand First 2.5% (down 3%) and others 1% (up 0.5%).
If a National Election were held today the National Party would be returned to Government.
The Roy Morgan Government Confidence Rating has risen 6 points to 135.5 with 60% (up 3%) of New Zealanders saying New Zealand is ‘heading in the right direction’ compared to 24.5% (down 3%) that say New Zealand is ‘heading in the wrong direction.’
Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. Where does Labour go from here? Do they flag the 2011 election, as they have the Botany by-election as unwinnable, then roll Phil Goff post-election? Or do they ignore the Goff Accord, the agreement reached when Helen Clark stood aside that Phil Goff's leadership would be safe until the election, and install a new leadership team in the hope that the numbers change?
Labour MP's head back to Wellington tonight and tomorrow for the final week of the first Parliamentary sitting of the year. We have little doubt as to what will be being discussed in those little meetings that take place in offices and other places, especially by the Carter Seventeen.
Footnote: And whilst Roy Morgan might have bought bad news for Phil Goff, we are pleased that support for Winston Peters has more than halved in the last month. Long may that continue!
Te Atatu MP Chris Carter, who was expelled from the Labour Party last year, has struck a deal with the Greens that will see them cast his proxy vote when he is not at Parliament.
Mr Carter, who was expelled after criticising leader Phil Goff said he still considered himself a Labour MP "in values and philosophy" and would have preferred to cast his vote with his former party, " but this has proved impossible".
Following his expulsion from Labour, Mr Carter said he had notified the party's whips of his wish to keeping cast his vote with them but had receive no response and his vote had been irregularly cast.
"I realised that I had to seek some way for constituents to have a voice recorded in Parliament."
He approached the Greens early this month and they had agreed to assist.
What else can go wrong for Phil Goff? Labour's vote has just decreased by one, and after he and John Key made their opening statements to Parliament a fortnight ago, the polls suggest that Labour has gained little if any traction.
Now that the election date has been announced, the gap between the parties should be closing appreciably. But not even the threat of partial privitisation of some assets has been enough for TVNZ or TV3's polling companies to suggest anything but an outright win to National and John Key.
We'd suggest that there are some VERY nervous MP's in the Labour caucus today. Chris Carter reckons that he can (but won't!) name seventeen dissidents. Could Carter's move today be the start of a trend, and might the Greens end up as the main opposition party in the next Parliament?
Do we REALLY believe, given that National didn't trust Winston Peters in 2008, and given that National doesn't trust Winston Peters in 2011, that the government would offer him a diplomatic posting representing New Zealand?
Here's our answer to ourselves, in Winston Peters' own words:
There was a North and South article around 1992 entitled The Fantasy World of Winston Peters. It would appear that not much has changed.
Sunday, February 20, 2011
We've just watched a stirring performance from the local team Whangara mai Tawhiti, led and mentored by Derek Lardelli, the composer of the All Black haka Kapa o Pango. The vocal performance of this group was magnificent. We've sung in a few choirs and we know how much work goes into rehearsals; the blend of voices in this group was quite literally music to our ears!
It may be pouring with rain in Gisborne today, but there is a crowd of thousands in attendance. This is the very best of Maori culture on display. Each of the groups is performing original material. As we type this, there is a spirited haka being performed by the Waka Huia group calling for Maori to call a halt to the incidence of child, sexual and spousal abuse.
And we can't help but notice one irony; as these proud Maori perform with mana and aroha, veteran protester Titewhai Harawira is threatening to lead protests during the Rugby World Cup because it would "be a "grand opportunity" to make a political statement". On one hand you have hundreds of Maori who have worked for two years to showcase their talent and their tikanga this weekend; on the other hand you have the political opportunists. It's not hard to work out which one does Maori more credit.
So it's a big Keeping Stock "kia ora" to all the performers at Te Matatini o te Ra today, and for Maori Television for the coverage. It's wonderful entertainment, it's moving,and it's unique to New Zealand. Isn't that something to celebrate?
But they went out with a bang; a farewell tour, and a final concert at London's Hammersmith Apollo. And it's from that concert that this video comes; it's Delirious?'s signature song, and a signature live performance of it with a brief message in the middle, andcommunity worship at the end.
We've twice seen Delirious? play live, so this clip evokes a few memories, and technology means that the band's music and the messages behind the songs will live on, even though the band is no more. Delirous? was hugely influential in presenting the message of Christ to the young and the not-so-young during the band's 17-year career and although the band's members are too humble to admit it, they too have been History-makers.
Have a blessed day!
Jimmy Cowan's "Hollywood" that got Ma'a Nonu sent off on Friday night got up my nose a bit - and I wonder if the lawmakers need to have a look at it.
In football, they call it 'simulation' when footballers fall down in the penalty area or in general play and try and win a penalty or a free kick for their team.
Some people call it gamesmanship. I call it irritating when people like Jimmy Cowan get up afterwards, are clearly not hurt, and then start laughing about what he's got away with.
It changed the Hurricanes-Highlanders game. Nonu shoulder-charged Cowan, who was going for the ball, and it was a penalty. But that's all it was - and marginal at best.
Cowan went down as if he'd taken both barrels from an over-and-under shotgun. He lay there, face down, until Nonu had been sent off - and then got up grinning. It was a real p***-take.
I thought Nonu was hard done by and his first yellow card was also tough.
We agree. Nonu was the victim of a team caution on his first yellow card, and it is even debatable that he had committed a penalty offence. But teams have played enough under the refereeing of Australian Stu Dickinson to know that he is a pedant who sees things differently to most.
Having been yellow-carded though, Nonu would have known that he was walking a tightrope, and his shoulder-charge on Cowan was dumb. For that, there was no excuse. But we reckon that Cowan's actions should be scrutinised as well.
He was well aware of Nonu's tightrope act, and he milkeed the situation for all it was worth. He wasn't injured, even though he was playing dead. As soon as the red card had been brandished, he rose Lazarus-like, fully healed, and grinning like a Cheshire cat. Loe's use of the term "p***-take" was bang on.
There, right there arises a further irony. Cowan has good reason to know how whistle-happy Dickinson is, and how quickly he goes to the pocket, as they say nowdays. At Eden Park last year, he was sent off by the same referee for a supposed late tackle that was without venom, malice or intent.
There is no doubt whatsoever in our mind that Cowan pulled a fast one on Friday night. Unfortunately, Stu Dickinson will have seen the video by now; let's just keep our fingers crossed that the Australian whistleblower isn't involved in an All Black match at the business end of Rugby World Cup.
The floor is yours!
Saturday, February 19, 2011
When the Inventory children were born, we followed the example that our parents had set. We read to them pretty much from birth, and encouraged them to read once they could do so independantly of our help. Both are now at university, and we hope that our early encouragement to share our love of books helped their development.
So where is this leading? Books are in the news this week, or more to the point, book sellers, namely Borders and Whitcoulls. The Borders store in Christchurch is always on our list of places to visit when we are down there, and we usually spend more than intended. We don't go to Whitcoulls a lot, except when we are travelling and want to buy a book to read on the journey.
We haven't really discovered Fishpond yet. Mrs Inventory has however, and buys a lot of reference and professional development material there. And Ele from Homepaddock confesses to be a Fishpond customer; she's been musing on this subject as well.
We joined the iPad revolution at the end of last year, and ironically, our spend at Whitcoulls has increased significantly over the last few months as we buy e-books. We have a holiday in Australia planned in April, and we are already starting to stockpile holiday reading. Normally our luggage for a week away would include at least four books which adds to the bulk and the weight of the suitcase. This time around, all the reading we need will be sitting inside the laptop bag.
Steve Jobs and his Apple folks are very clever. But until the iPad smells and feels like a real book, it's always going to feel just a little strange. In the meantime we hope that the administrator of Whitcoulls and Borders can find a way forward for the stores, or find a buyer. Our love affair with books will continue, even if the format with which we read them changes.
As the song says, You can't beat Wellington on a good day. And although both the Hurricanes and the Wellington Phoenix were downed overnight, there's good news for Wellington today as the sun rises - the Dom-Post reports:
The Queen Elizabeth, one of the world's newest cruise ships, made an early entrance to Wellington this morning when it arrived an hour ahead of schedule.
It glided into Wellington harbour as the sun was rising about 6.45am, catching those who were planning to greet it at 7.45am by surprise.
Carrying more than 2000 passengers on its maiden trip to the Pacific, it will bring an expected cash injection to the city's economy of $1 million during its few hours here.
The new Queen Elizabeth is the second-largest ship to be built by Cunard, the company that built the Titanic.
The largest was the Queen Mary 2, launched in 2004, which held the record for the world's largest passenger ship for several years. At 294 metres long, the Queen Elizabeth is 50 metres shorter than the Queen Mary 2.
We took ourselves on a cruise a few years ago, and we're keen to repeat the experience sometime over the next year or two. We doubt that we'll ever get to sail on something as opulent as the Queen Elizabeth, but who knows?
But Wellington will certainly benefit from having 2000 extra folk patronising its cafes and shops today, and availing themselves of tourism options. The cruise industry is an ever-growing component of our tourism trade, worth as the Dom-Post story says later on, in excess of $300 million per annum.
That's not to be sniffed at. And so we hope that visitors to Wellington have a memorable day after a spectacular entrance to the harbour this morning, and we hope that the tills ring merrily for the duration of the Queen Elizabeth's stay; just don't mention rugby or football!
The long-running saga of Wellington's wharewaka has taken a new twist, with the city council conceding that the $12.5 million building is too small for one of the waka expected to be housed in it.
The admission comes as defiant Waiwhetu Maori ignore a council deadline to return Wellington's ceremonial waka, Te Raukura.
Oh dear. But that's not all; read on:
Wellington City Council admits Te Raukura's Hutt Valley sister waka, Te Aniwaniwa, will not fit in the wharewaka, but says it was never meant to.
Spokesman Richard MacLean said that, although the building was designed to house two waka, Te Aniwaniwa, the longer canoe, was not one of them.
"It appears whoever designed the thing, they obviously decided that, `No, it's not going to house the Hutt one'. It sounds like another dispute."
Oh dear, oh dear! Why would you go to the expense of building a wharewaka which was too nohinohi to house the largest, most impressive waka in the area? Isn't local government wonderful?
And it brings back memories of another measurement cock-up. The first Tri-Nations rugby competition was played in 1996 between New Zealand, South Africa and Australia. The All Blacks won the series when they beat the South Africans at Cape Town, and Sean Fitzpatrick was presented with an enormous cup. It wasn't supposed to be enornous; it's just that the jeweller who made it was used to working in inches, not centimetres, and the cup was 2.5 times its intended size, and has never been presented since!
I guess that we should at least be grateful that the builders contracted by the Wellington City Council didn't err that way!!
Friday, February 18, 2011
The ICC World Cup has had its official opening in Dacca, Bangladesh, and the first ball will be bowled tomorrow when one of the hosts, India takes on the Bangladeshis. New Zealand makes its first appearance on Sunday (5pm NZ time) against Kenya. From what we've seen in the warm-up matches, winning the toss and batting is going to be the formula. The pitches have been hugely spinner-friendly, especially in the latter half of matches. We are expecting that Vettori, Nathan McCullum, Styris and even Jesse Ryder will do a lot of the bowling, taking pace off the ball. And conditions are such that we will predict that this will not be one of the great World Cups; time will tell whether or not we are right. We'll also predict that a sub-continent team will win the tournament.
And as the cricket season ramps up, so begins the "new" iteration of Super Rugby. We will be watching the Hurricanes put the Highlanders to the sword tonight in perfect conditions at the Cake Tin. It is, of course, far too early to be playing rugby, but we'll be interested to see whether Mark Hammett will make a difference to our favourite Super Rugby team.
But the rugby tonight is just the curtainraiser. The Wellington Phoenix went to Adelaide a couple of weeks ago and came away with a rare on-the-road victory. We're hoping that history will repeat tonight in the first round of the A-League playoffs. It's sudden death for the 'Nix, and they will be back to full strength, with Paul Ifill likely to see some action off the bench. We're REALLY looking forward to seeing Ifill and Marco Rojas team up at some time in the future. Our tip for tonight (from the heart, not the head); The 'Nix by an odd goal.
And we couldn't sign off without a mention of Arsenal's brilliant come-from-behind victory over the mighty Barcelona at Emirates yesterday. Down 1-nil midway through the second half, two top-notch goals from Robin van Persie and Andrey Arshavin will see Arsenal head to the second leg at the Camp Nou on March 8th needing just a draw to advance to the last eight. Here's the goalscoring action from what was as good a match of football as you could want to see:
Go the Gunners! So that's it from us this week; what say you?
Embattled financier Mark Hotchin has apologised to investors who lost money when Hanover Finance collapsed but strenuously denied he was living a life of luxury in a live television interview this evening.
Hotchin appeared on TV One's Close Up programme in an interview with Mark Sainsbury tonight.
Hotchin, who has been widely criticised for "living the high life" in Australia while former investors are left out of pocket, repeatedly apologised for what happened.
"I felt sorry right the way through," he said. "This was never the plan."
But he vehemently denied living a life of luxury while investors suffered.
We are delighted that Hotchin now feels sorry, but pardon us if we doubt the sincerity of his apology. The measure of that will be his deeds going forward.
In excess of 15,000 people lost money when Hanover collapsed. Many people had trusted Hotchin and Watson with their lives' savings, seduced by the promise of strong returns, and the stentorian tones of former TVNZ newsreader Richard Long (who is reported to have lost $50,ooo himself) in Hanover's slick marketing.
It's comforting that Hotchin now acknowledges that his PDW's (public displays of wealth) in the wake of the Hanover collapse were upsetting to those who had contributed the $500 million that went down the tubes. His apology now is, in our considered opinion, far too little, and far too late.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Bailey Junior Kurariki is in the news again. Stuff reports:
One of the country's youngest convicted killers, Bailey Junior Kurariki, is having treatment for mental health problems.
But despite a plea to keep him in the community so he could attend a treatment centre, he was yesterday again put back behind bars after a judge refused to grant him bail for another string of charges from an alleged violent confrontation this month.
Kurariki's response to this was to give the fingers towards the courtroom and swear as he was led away by police.
Kurariki, 21, appeared in Manukau District Court yesterday to argue for bail on three charges of assault, theft and resisting police, relating to incidents this month.
We don't want to rehash Kurariki's previous form, because most people know his background. But here's a serious question; what DOES society do to/for an offender like him?
Since his release from prison in 2008, Kurariki has been backwards and forwards before the Courts on a series of anti-social offences. It is no surprise to learn now that he is mentally ill. He has been in and out of prison, and there is nothing to suggest that his offending will not continue.
So how should Kurariki be managed? We're guessing that at the age of 21, he is already institutionalised, and prison is unlikely to make any difference in terms of his likelihood of reoffending. What can be done to deal with recidivist offenders?
That, of course leads to the next question, and the one that is probably even more worrying; how many more Bailey Kurariki's are there out there?
Lydia Ko is potentially the best golfer New Zealand has produced for many a year, male or female. And remarkably, she's only 13 years old!
Ko recently made headlines in Australian golfing circles when she finished second in the NSW Open in Sydney. A couple of weeks later, she finished in a tie for 12th in the women's Australian Open in Melbourne, winning the trophy for the leading amateur player at the tournament, a first for a New Zealander.
Today she tees off in the Pegasus New Zealand Women's Open north of Christchurch. This tournament, like its Australian counterpart is co-sanctioned by the Ladies' European Tour, and has attracted a strong field. But Lydia Ko is the lead story on the Tour's website - read on:
It’s hard to believe that Lydia Ko, one of New Zealand’s leading chances for the Pegasus New Zealand Women’s Open Golf Championships, is only aged 13.
She’s taller than 12 months ago and now has pierced earrings (thanks to a promise from her mother if she played well last year). She’s more assured but still retains that delightful, bubbly, sense of humour of so many in this age group.
But that is on the surface. Deep down there is wisdom and determination.
Ko decided not to play in the Ladies Masters golf tournament in Queensland last weekend, even after posting a second in the New South Wales Open and a 12th in the Australian Open in the weeks previous.
“I wanted to be fresh for playing the Pegasus New Zealand Open and did not want to be too tired which was the way I felt after the Australian Open.”
Ko has talent to burn, but her on-course demeanour and course management are far and above what could be expected of one so young. She is articulate, and despite her onvious devotion to golf, seems to be a pretty regular 13-year-old.
She's already attracting the attention of here peers too - read on:
After her final round last year her playing partner, Iben Tinning, described the almost teenager as ‘being unbelievable already” while Cecilie Lundgreen, a veteran of 11 years on the circuit, said that “it was incredible how a 12-year-old seemed to be totally unfazed by everything that was going on around her.”
That’s a year ago, and going by recent results, Ko has come a long way in a short time. Not bad for a 13-year-old who has yet to have her first day at secondary school, something she is actually excited about.
Lydia Ko has the golfing world at her feet. So does comparative veteran Cecilia Cho (aged 16) who finished in a tie for 5th in the Asutralian Ladies' Masters last weekend against much the same field that she and Ko will face this week. We will be watching their respective performances with much interest, having had a sneaky peek at the Pegasus course over our Christmas holidays.
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has acknowledged a drift in trans-Tasman relations and promised to reinstate annual meetings with Prime Minister John Key to underscore her promise to usher in a new era.
Ms Gillard left New Zealand yesterday after her first prime ministerial visit, in which news about the death of a Kiwi soldier in Afghanistan broke as she prepared to deliver a historic speech to Parliament – the first foreign leader to do so.
In her speech, she drew heavily on a shared Anzac history and spoke about the special relationship New Zealand and Australia shared on the battlefield and elsewhere.
But she acknowledged the drift in recent years after a four-year gap since a full bilateral visit to New Zealand by an Australian prime minister.
We reckon that's a no-brainer. Australia is our most significant friend, on many levels. Our trade with Australia is our lifeblood. We love to take on the Australians on the sports field, and love it even more when we win! Australia is the favourite holiday destination for New Zealanders heading overseas. We've stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Australia in many spheres, but possibly none moreso than at Gallipoli in 1915; a tragedy which defined both of the emerging nations. Even our timezones are reasonably similar.
So it makes sense to us that the New Zealand and Australian governments have a strong relationship, starting at the top. As we join our West Island neighbours in the Trans-Pacific Partnership with the United States, it is important that there is a high level of accord between our respective leaders.
This week's visit by Julia Gillard seems to have been a great success. It was fitting that the ANZAC PM's were together when news broke of the tragic death of Private Kirifi Mila in Afghanistan; Australia has suffered significant losses there as well. Ms Gillard's address to Parliament yesterday was an historic moment and, we hope, a forerunner to a new level of partnership bteween New Zealand and Australia that will benefit all off us on both sides of The Ditch.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
We did however hear the moment where Ms Gillard announced that Australia will, in cricketing parlance accept the umpire's decision, and allow the importation of apples from New Zealand.
That is great news for the industry. One of our Facebook friends is closely involved in apple-growing, and she will doubtless be delighted with the Aussie PM's generous concession of defeat in this long-running stoush. Our horticultural friend from the deep south may wish to share his thoughts.
We'll have more to say on the speech in general once we have heard it, but we are certainly pleased for those who have pushed so hard on the apple issue.
The Government has splashed out on 34 new top-of-the-line BMWs that sell for more than $200,000 each.
The Green Party has called the ordering of the cars a disgrace.
But the Internal Affairs Department says it has been three years since the Government bought its last fleet, which will be sold when the new cars start to arrive later this year.
The 730Ld BMWs are not yet available in New Zealand, but the 730d models in the current VIP fleet sell for $203,500.
The cars are for transporting ministers, their guests, the leader of the Opposition and occasionally judges.
A spokesman for Prime Minister John Key said this was the same process that had happened for years. "It is standard for a progressive upgrade of the VIP fleet to happen every three years or when the vehicle reaches 90,000 kilometres."
This is, in our humble opinion, incredibly bad judgment by whoever has authorised the deal. Sure, fleet cars should be replaced regularly, but during an election campaign when everyone else is being asked to tighten their belts? No!
Commercial considerations and contracts are doubtless at play here. But perception is everything in politics, and the perception this morning is that the National-led government is no different from its predecessor, with a do-as-we-say-not-as-we-do attitude, and we're not happy about that.
As they say in the soft drink advert - smarten up!
Naturally, this decision has provoked a range of opinions from across the political spectrum. Despite a certain Green supporter who posts here's assertions to the contrary, much of that opinion has been critical of the Greens; sheesh, even Labour and Jim Anderton were happy to grant leave to John Key's motion. And if any party was to be concerned about sovereignty, you'd expect it to be the Maori Party, but no; they were happy too. That leaves the Greens as the lone dissenters.
And as Martin Kay notes at Stuff, the Greens have created a rod for their own backs - check this out:
I must say I was surprised to learn that Russel Norman would stop heroic Burmese freedom fighter Aung San Suu Kyi from addressing our Parliament if she ever succeeds in her fight for democracy and is elected leader of her people.
It seems a bit mean-spirited and hypocritical, given the massive public support the Greens have given her as she campaigns against the regime that has brutalised her homeland.
But that is the inevitable position that flows from the Greens' decision to block Aussie PM Julia Gillard from speaking to a formal session of Parliament tomorrow.
Norman says the Greens vetoed the speech - which will instead be made three hours before Parliament sits - because they did not want to set a precedent that would put us on a slippery slope which could undermine our "democratic sovereignty''.
Norman seems to be arguing that if the Greens let Gillard speak, then they've got to extend the same courtesy to every dictator, tin pot tyrant and dodgy leader who wants to address to Parliament, too.
Martin Kay nails it, in our ever-humble opinion. The Greens have now effectively initiated a blanket ban on ANY leader EVER addressing the New Zealand Parliament when it is in session. They themselves have created a precedent.
And as Kay notes, Russel Norman has boxed himself in now - read on:
Norman is letting principle get in the way of discretion.
There would be nothing stopping the Greens allowing Gillard to address Parliament and later vetoing leaders with whom they have a problem.
In fact, using the veto in some cases and not others would actually be much more symbolic.
It would draw attention to leaders who were stopped from addressing Parliament in the same way that former Greens leader Rod Donald, and more recently Norman himself, have drawn attention to human rights abuses in Tibet by waving Tibetan flags when Chinese leaders call on the Beehive.
We concur with that view. It is hard to imagine a country more friendly to New Zealand - in all senses of the word - than Australia. But by slamming the door in the face of our friend, Norman and the Greens have behaved in a manner which would be more in keeping with someone of the age of the poster-girl of their 2008 election campaign.
In the meantime, we look forward to watching Julia Gillard's historic address later today. MySky has already been programmed as we will be otherwise engaged at the historic moment. That's a shame, as we would have been able to watch it live at 2pm.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
We're up a little bit earlier than usual this morning. A busy day awaits; there's a good part of a day's work to be done this morning before Mrs Inventory heads off to have a wee operation later in the day.
After much consideration, we set up a group medical insurance plan for our staff a couple of years ago. We fund the basis hospital package, and staff are welcome to upgrade to additional coverage if they wish, at their own cost. As we have grown in number, the investment has grown, but it is a good investment; we want our staff to be healthy, and to be able to access surgery or procedures quickly when they are needed. We hadn't expected to be taking advantage of it ourselves quite so soon!
Accordingly, there may well be an outbreak of Bloggus Interruptus later today. At the very least, we may not respond to comments as quickly as some commenters might expect us to. Although we sit in front of the computer most of the day and some of the evening, we DO have a life beyond the blog!
Right; best we get moving then ...
And today, he's poked the borax at Supercity mayor Len Brown over the budget issues that the new council is facing. The analogy he's drawn is just a few words and with a picture is, in our humble opinion, the best cartoon we've seen for some time:
Keep 'em coming Rod!
Monday, February 14, 2011
The Greens are blocking Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard's speech to Parliament.
Ms Gillard arrives tomorrow for her two-day visit. On Wednesday she will become the first foreign leader to speak in Parliament's debating chamber, but Prime Minister John Key said there was some opposition to her proposed speech.
Green Party co-leader Russel Norman said no international head of state had ever addressed Parliament and allowing Ms Gillard to speak would set a precedent.
"The government of the day could invite all sorts of unpleasant people, like (former United States president) George Bush for example they had in Australia, that I think a lot of Members of Parliament would be uncomfortable with and so we thought the best thing was to keep a simple precedent."
Instead of that, Ms Gillard will speak tomorrow at an informal sitting of Parliament, because the Greens would not grant leave for history to be made.
We believe that this is an incredibly petty and short-sighted decision by Russel Norman and his fellow Greens. Given his reference to "unpleasant" former US President George Bush, we can only speculate that there is a political motivation behind this decision, given Australia's support for the US-led invasion of Iraq and participation in the war against the Taleban in Afghanistan.
A Facebook friend has made an interesting suggestion, saying:
If only enough people thought enough not to vote green - then we can block them from speaking in parliament also.
That's a very good thought. Wouldn't it be ironic if the Greens' determination to keep Parliament's debating chamber Kiwi-only led to the Greens losing their places in it? We'll keep everything crossed!
Please bear in mind though that caption contests are intended to be light-hearted, humorous, and pithy and offensive comments are likely to be binned
Right; over to you ...
We weren't great fans of Outrageous Fortune. We'll remember Frank Whitten more for his appearance in what became an iconic series of beer commercials, beginning with this one including the famous line "She's a hard job finding the perfect woman, boy":
RIP Frank Whitten. We will toast your life and your passing with a cold glass of James Speight's finest - good on ya mate!
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Wanganui has been alive too. The Masters Games has brought many visitors to the River City. Wherever we've been for a coffee or a bite to eat this week, and especially this weekend and last the crowds have been out and about, and local merchants have been all smiles. We had planned to partake in the Masters Games outselves, but illness intervened. But the way that the weather was on Thursday and Friday, being off the golf course might have been more pleasant than being on it!
We also drove off to the 'Naki this afternoon, and we've seldom seen the countryside looking so green in mid-February, especially around the sand country. Even the farmers are smiling! And the calm conditions today saw plenty of boats crossing the bar at the mouth of the Whanganui River. A good time is being had by all.
So don't tell anyone that Wanganui is one of New Zealand's hidden treasures. They might all want to come here, and then we'd never get Sunday brunch!
We'be battled away against a few issues of late. On the surface everything is fine, but there's turmoil not too far beneath that calm exterior. Being unwell have given us a bit of time to reflect. And the words below, the first two verses and the chorus of today's song have really resonated with us
I have fallen to my knees
As I sing a lullaby of pain
I'm feeling broken in my melody
As I sing to help the tears go away
Then I remember the pledge you made to me
I know you're always there
To hear my every prayer inside
I'm clinging to the promise of a lifetime
I hear the words you say
To never walk away from me and leave behind
The promise of a lifetime
Will you help me fall apart
Pick me up, take me in your arms
Find my way back from the storm
And you show me how to grow
Through the change
We post these songs primarily for our own benefit. But we know that God works in many and mysterious ways, and we k now that our song choices have touched people who've stumbled across them.
And so we hope and we pray that this song might do just that for someone who may be in need of the pick-me-up that it's given us. May you be richly blessed, today, and always.