Monday, January 31, 2011

'Partial Privatisation' of State Assets

Not a good idea, in my opinion.

And it's dishonest to try to spin this sell off of community resources built up by the taxpayers, as an opportunity for "Mom and Pop" investors to have shares.

Kiwi Mum and Dad already have a share. Those assets belong to us all, Mr Key.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Happy Birthday Robbie

Dunedin is a poet's city, looked over from its heart by the statue of a poet, Robert Burns. And fittingly, there was a birthday celebration for the late great Robert Burns today at the Dunedin Public Library. Dunedin poet Sue Wootton spoke about her experiences as Robert Burns Fellow at Dunedin's University of Otago, and read some of her poems. There were many poets in the audience too, appreciative of the fine reading. Then there was a ceremony celebrating the wnners of the 2011 Robert Burns Poetry Competition. Medals were presented to the three winners by Professor Liam McIlivanney. It was great to hear the poems read aloud by their authors.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Media Stranglehold

Switched on the telly this morning to catch the 7.30 am news on TV One. I would usually listen to such a news headline update on National Radio, but I had an idea that there might be some footage of yesterday's storms and floods in the North Island, so preferred to see the moving pictures.

Oh but I was sadly disappointed. Didn't they used to have news updates on the half hour? I was subjected to the cringe making sight and sound of our Prime Minister John Key being toadily interviewed in a soft happy friendly way. Pure PR. Cringe. Now I remember why I hardly watch TV One news any more. They are so clearly not just in the pocket of the right wing spin mongers, they ARE the right wing spin mongers.

Shudder. So I switch over quickly, quickly to National Radio. They'll be having a 7.30 news update. Surely it's in the charter?

But, Noooooooo! Simultaneously, also at half past the hour, the National Radio is playing a RECORDED INTERVIEW with John Key!! Noooooooo! I really have very little tolerance for yet more patsy interviewing of the Smiling Assassin, and it is sounding sickeningly sycophantic. So quickly, third resort: Channel 7 TV News update. Yes! They are having a news report.

But it is about the meeting at Ratana. And they are making it all about John Key! They are saying the Ratana Church has in the past had a big influence on the way their people vote, and that they used to lean towards Labour but now there is a swing to National. At least, the journalists think we will believe that Maori have suddenly opted for the right wing, if we are told it often enough. There's no mention of the fact that maybe there was a good reason for Maori to prefer Labour governments, then and now, because the Labour Government's policies were more beneficial for a wider range of people, not just pitched to enrich the already rich and to bolster the small and already powerful elites.

Then I wonder. 7.30 am on three major news broadcasters, and the same message is being beamed out. Nice Mr Key, everyone loves him, he's the most popular PM ever, and won't it be nice to elect him again this year, even the Maori people love him, and you know they used to mindlessly vote the way they were told to, but now they have a choice they'll go to the pro-National right wing Maori Party...

Is this an evil plot? Or just a coincidence? Are the docile news hacks just playing along with the strings being pulled by the big money PR strategists - or are they actively engaged in their own pro-right wing political campaign?

I've had similar experiences flicking around TV channels during ad breaks, finding the same jingle for a major product airing at the same time, so the poor viewer can't escape hive mind even if they attempt to avoid it by channel surfing. So now are the same tactics being beamed out at us masquerading as "news"?

No wonder so many of us cobble our news together online these days instead of "trusting" the "impartiality" of the national broadcaster. The "National" broadcaster really seems to be that, these days, sadly.

Funny thing is though, whether this was a deliberate attempt to flood the news media with positive feel-goods about the money marketeer-turned PM, or just a nauseating coincidence, it won't work.

It won't work. They're desperate, you see, and their edge of desperation is starting to show. The gap between what they are saying and what they are doing to poor old NZ all over again - selling us off, running us down, and throwing people out of work - is becoming apparent to more and more people.

Maybe not to the small carefully chosen over-polled portion of the populace, but to the rest of us. We are seeing through the hype, and, no, we are not going to vote National.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Longest Days

A lingering sunset a couple of days ago, photographed at about 10 past 10 pm. At this time of year the Southern New Zealand city of Dunedin gets almost an hour more daylight than the cosmopolitan northern city of Auckland. The delightful late twilights are one of the very good things about living here. There are many others. We don't have mosquitoes or ants here. We can see the Southern Lights and way more stars. We don't have to worry about volcanoes. I'm not in a mood to talk about the negatives. I'll get back to you about that in winter time (which could be next week...)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Setting sail on a sea of words

On the weekend I finally settled down and opened up this lovely Christmas present from a very dear friend who always knows exactly what to give me: ATLANTIC.

I'm a Simon Winchester fan. I have a row of his books, well not a literal row, they would be in a row if I didn't have to shelve them in different parts of the library, because of the variety of topics, and I shelve by category not author. He first came to my attention because he wrote about two of the things I love and will read about until the pussycats come home: dictionaries and volcanoes.

I'm not a great genre fiction reader, but if I want a gentle few hours of (edifying) escapism, I can think of nothing better than grabbing a lively narrative about the eruption of Tarawera or Krakatoa. I not long ago reread my collection of Tarawera books and was delighted one day recently to hear that there was a fresh piece of research about to take place: an underwater search for what happened to the famous Pink and White Terraces! Mapping of the Lake Tarawera floor starts on the 23rd January!

I can feel a Krakatoa binge coming on, just talking about it...

Now I can get a bit restless when I'm reading Simon Winchester, excitement junkie that I can be when the topic is volcanoes or anything that can get stormy (like arguments about language...)

He's so loquacious, and erudite, and thoughtful, and he paints his pictures on such a broad canvas, that he's like one of those storytellers you come across, and at first you're impatient, wanting to hurry them up, get on with the action, until you realise for this particular blend of educator/entertainer, the meandering side roads and the back stories just HAVE to be told, and you just have to let them set the scene, even if it takes a while, so you settle in, tune yourself to the steady pace and the measured voice. It's good for me, it calms me down. And he's not that vain, egotistical sort of floor-hugger who has got everything from wikipedia, he has earned the right to be listened to, on account of some real journeys and because of his own encounters with story and storytellers.

I just Googled to find a picture of the book, and discovered that Simon Winchester has his own website, and if I wanted I could follow him on Twitter and "Like" him on Facebook!

OK OK. But I want to read this new book first. So far I have only read the Preface which is a personal introduction; his first journey across the Atlantic at a young age. And I sneaked a peek at a later chapter just to make sure he wasn't going to annoy me with any nonsense about denying climate change. Phew. He seems overly polite about the 'controversy' (from my point of view), but pretty clear about the facts, as usual. No problem there.

Anyway, Shh now, I'm reading...

Friday, January 7, 2011

Anger Management

Wise Words from the Tabby Guru:

Good anger management depends on knowing the difference between a hiss and a bite.

A hiss is a warning than some situation is inappropriate. A bite, on the other hand, is intended to inflict pain.


"To be angry with the right person at the right time and in the right way and for the right reason, is not easy." ~ Aristotle

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Shooting fish in a barrel

FishUniversityPress RT @ BigFish "I don't think of myself as part of a school"

Also retweeted by:
@fishpie @fishballs @fatfish @fishdaily @modernfish @MinistryOfFish @Fisharts @sprat @tailfin @tailspin @stinkslikeafish @Fish_Council @fischious @ficism @fish_schism @fishnchips @SmallPondInstitute @FishItUp

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year

Beautiful little finches make dandelion flowers seem the size of sun umbrellas - and can provide a feast that is too much for one bird to consume. Hoping for this kind of bounty and this kind of beauty in 2011.