Luddite Journo journo no more

April 30, 2009

Journalism student Sandra Dickson achieved what many more experienced journalists would envy – publication of her story on the rise and rise of blogging and comments on it in several papers and blogs including today’s ODT, Kiwiblog  and Roarprawn.

However, an internship at the Dominion Post has put her off journalism altogether.

She mentions a couple of incidents – a journalist talking to a child before talking to his parents and another pressuring a friend for an interview – which I wouldn’t be comfortable with but by themselves don’t explain why:

I finished my internship disgusted, and full of self-doubt about choosing to even try mainstream media.

David Young at Pundit has written a spririted  defence of journalism in response.


Literature

April 30, 2009

April is poetry month – I don’t know who decided that, but I read it somewhere  on the internet (exactly where I can’t remember). But I read it there so it must be so and because it’s so I’ve posted a poem a day as my contribution to the celebration of what my OED says is the elevated expression of elevated thought or feeling in metrical form.

I’m not sure if all the 29 poems I’ve selected so far have expressed elevated thoughts in an elevated manner and I’m not sure if today’s choice does that either. But both content and form appealed to me and since it’s called Literature it seemed an appropriate way to mark the final day of poetry month.

Literature by Michael Leunig is from Poems 1992 – 2002,  published by Viking.

Literature

 

The pen is mightier than the sword

And mightier than the literary award;

Without the pen we’d be unable

To leave those notes on the kitchen table:

Nothing lovelier ever penned

With three small crosses at the end,

Made for no one else to see,

The literature of you and me.

 

   - Michael Leunig –


Perspective

April 30, 2009

Drought or disease, which is worse?

The World health Organisation has increased its swine flu pandemic alert level to status five which is the second highest level.

Up to 159 people have died in Mexico and about 1300 more are being tested. In the United States, a boy, aged 22 months, has died in Texas while on a visit from Mexico.

Comparing disease with drought is comparing apples with bananas but to put the seriousness of  the swine flu outbreak so far into perspective, in India more than 1500 farmers have committed suicide after being driven into debt by crop failure.


Bad press for pigs depressing for pork farmers

April 30, 2009

New Zealand pig farmers are already concerned about the impact imports of pork and associated products will have on their business and now they’re worried that swine flu will put people off bacon, ham and pork altogether.

It’s already happening in the USA where the price of pigs has fallen and  several countries have taken the opportunity the outbreak offers to impose non-tarrif barriers by banning imports from Mexico and parts of the USA.

As goNZo Freakpower  noted:

You can’t get pig flu from eating pork, but banning imports does help favour domestic interests.

But fear doesn’t worry too much about the facts and if people are worried about swine flu they might take the better safe than sorry approach to pig meat regardless of where it comes from.

The European Union Health Commission is trying to stem the tide against pork by changing the flu’s name:

“Not to have a negative effect on our industry, we decided to call it novel flu from now on,” European Union Health Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou told reporters in Brussels.

I don’t think that will work. Swine flu strikes me as a very appropriate name for an illness which, what ever you call it is a pig of a thing and has already given rise to a rash of jokes .

Not that it’s a laughing matter and the over reaction in Egypt where an order has been made to cull all pigs  is no joke.

It’s not going to stop the spread of the virus and while it will certainly reduce the supply of pig meat, fear of flu will also depress demand – even though there is no risk of infection from eating pork.

There’s no comfort in that for pig farmers here, but their loss may lead to gains for sheep and beef farmers. Lamb sales increased when outbreaks of BSE put people off beef and people who stop eating pork because of swine flu might turn to beef and lamb instead.


Confidence up, OCR down

April 30, 2009

The National Bank Business Confidence survey  showed an improvement in March, the largest in nine years.

But while a net 15% now expect a deterioration in business conditions, down from a net 39% in February, it’s still more a case of things not being so bad rather than being good.

dairy-100012

There is a similar message from Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard:

“We expect the large decline in the OCR over the past year to pass through to more borrowers over coming quarters as existing fixed-rate mortgages come up for re-pricing. This, together with the stimulus from fiscal policy, will act to support the New Zealand economy and eventually see activity trough and pick up thereafter. However, the scale of the global financial crisis and domestic adjustments underway are such that it is likely to be some time before economic activity returns to robust and healthy levels.

 His comments accompanied his announcement that the Official Cash Rate has been reduced by 50 basis points to 2.5%. I think that’s around the rate when my parents bought their first house in the mid 1950s.

But it’s not just another fall in the OCR that’s significnat, it’s Bollard’s statement that he expects the rate to be at this level or “modestly lower”  until the latter part of next year.


Twitter Explains Super Fund

April 30, 2009

The government is sending pretty clear signals that it will suspend payments to the Super Fundd.

Speaking at the launch of the DeloitteSouth Island Index last night, Bill English said:

When it was set up, the idea of the Super Fund was to invest Budget surpluses. The Government was then in surplus and expected to stay in surplus for the foreseeable future. . .

Those Budget surpluses have disappeared. The Government will run a deficit this year, and will do so for the foreseeable future. That changes the whole picture.

The Government will have to borrow quite a lot of money to makes its full Super Fund contributions. Next year we would have to borrow around $2 billion, or around $40 million a week to put into the Fund, to be invested in what are currently uncertain global financial markets.

That’s why we’re considering this issue, and that’s why the Fund’s rules allow the Government to vary its contributions to reflect changing fiscal conditions.

 If the words don’t convince you suspending payments is a good idea, Garrick Tremain’s picture might:

dairy-13


Top 10 quintessential Kiwi songs

April 30, 2009

Watching the launch of The Great New Zealand Song Book  on Close Up this evening, and following on from the list of top 10 Kiwi foods I decided to compile a list of top 10 kiwi songs.

In random order, showing my age and a woeful ignorance of modern music, I came up with:

1. Pokarekare Ana

2.  Hine E Hine

3. Te Harinui

4. Ballad of the Waitaki

5. Now is the Hour (Po Atarau)

6. Ten Guitars

7. Poi E

8. Tauramanui on the Main Trunk Line

9. We Don’t Know How Lucky We Are

10. Click Go The Shears (which I think we borrowed from the other side of the Tasman).


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