Word of the day

January 31, 2011

Querernt – a complainant, a plaintiff; one who inquires or seeks.


Would a far left party threaten Greens?

January 31, 2011

iPredict shows gains for National and the Green Party and a loss of support for Labour after their leaders’ state of the nation speeches:

This week’s snapshot from New Zealand’s prediction market, iPredict, suggests the National and Green parties both gained from their leaders’ “state of the nation” speeches last week, while the Labour Party went backwards. 

 National’s forecast share of the party vote has risen to 45.9% (from 45.6% last week), the Greens are up to 8.0% (from 7.5% last week) while Labour is down to 30.5% (from 32.0% last week). 

John Key would be able to continue as Prime Minister with the support of one of the Act, UnitedFuture or the Maori Party.  The probability of a new left-wing party has risen.

A snapshot of a prediction market is not a scientific survey. Where a few people are putting their money today won’t necessarily translate into where many more people put their ticks at the election which is still more than nine months away.

That said, the idea of a new left-wing party has gained more traction.

Talk of a new Left-wing party is gathering steam, with veteran activist Sue Bradford confirming behind-the-scenes discussions and revealing she would consider leading it if asked.

Kiwiblog points out this could pose challenges for National and Labour.

Dim Post makes the interesting observation it could also pose problems for the Green by taking away left wing support.

One of the Greens’ weaknesses has been their environmental foundations have often been buried beneath extreme left social and economic goals.

Had it been moderate on these issues it would have been in a position of great strength, sitting in the middle able to give support to National or Labour. But its radical position has kept it on the left and out of government.

The ipredict snapshot hasn’t recognised the launch of a new left wing party could threaten the Greens  – yet.


Accept something in government or nothing in opposition

January 31, 2011

Is the latest contretemps between Hone Harawira and the other Maori Party MPs the beginning of the end of the party?

Did the Maori Party’s MPs know just how much they were biting off when they decided to take on Hone Harawira?

Maybe not, because the strife now surrounding the party has the potential to tear it apart.

There wasn’t anything very different in what he said but it was the last straw for his colleagues.

This situation is partly the familiar problem small parties have when they sign coalition or support agreements with Labour or National.

To get some of the things they want, they have to go along with most of the Government’s agenda. . .

Sharples and Turia live in the real world of parliamentary politics.

This is the conundrum which faces all the wee parties. They can go into coalition and get something or stay in opposition and get nothing.

That is the real world of parliamentary politics and it’s a hard one.

A party which doesn’t do enough in its supporters’ view faces internal ructions. One which does too much is seen to be the tail wagging the dog, upsets the wider electorate and pays for it at the next election.

Big parties’ supporters become frustrated by the constraints of coalition politics too. But bigger parties achieve more in government than wee ones and have enough support to survive in opposition.

So far no wee parties which have been in government have survived opposition.

So what do they do – accept something in government in the knowledge it might kill them or stay in opposition where they achieve nothing?


Dye Hard

January 31, 2011

 

Dye Hard

  A morality play in an unknown number of acts.

Act 1

A simply but stylishly furnished living room of a country home. The smell of barbeque smoke lingers in the air and a lamb can be heard baaing off stage.

A grey-haired man sits at a paper-strewn desk with his head in his hands. A woman enters with a bowl of fruit and a bottle of chardonnay.

Phil: It’s no good, it doesn’t matter which way I do the numbers I know I’ll have to rely on . . .  rely on . . . [ he gulps]  rely on -

Mary: I’ve told you not to mention his name, dear, you know it’s not good for your blood pressure. [She puts fruit and bottle on the desk and pulls up a chair]

Phil: I know, I know, but look at the polls, the trend is clear. If I’m going to lead the next government it will have to be coalition with the Greens and the Maori Party and Peter and, and, and -

Mary:  No, don’t say it, you don’t really want to go back there, to the double speak, economic sabotage and corrup-

Phil: Not the C -word, dear, we’ve put that behind us, we’ve moved on.

Mary: Exactly and you can’t go back.

Phil: Yes, but I can’t go forward without him either.

Mary: Then don’t.

Phil: Don’t? What do you mean don’t?

Mary: Don’t do it. Don’t go into coalition with him, don’t even get close enough that you’d have to consider it. Stop trying.

Phil: Stop trying?

Mary: Yes. It’s the lesser of two evils – you lose the election and the party spends another term in Opposition or you win and cobble together a coalition of misfits beholden to -

Phil: No!

Mary: Exactly – you can’t do it and you shouldn’t do it.

Phil: But I can’t retire now, that would trigger another by-election. We got a hiding in Mana, we haven’t got a show in Botany, imagine the damage that might be inflicted in Mt Roskill.

Mary: That wasn’t what I meant. You stay on as leader but you stop trying to win the election.

Phil, smiling wryly: A lot of people would say that won’t be difficult.

Mary: Ah but the difficulty lies not just in losing but in how you lose. You don’t want to decimate the party. It wouldn’t hurt to lose a few of the dead wood club, but you want to make sure you retain a good base on which to build the revival to win in 2014.

Phil: But how do I do that?

Mary: Very carefully. We have to think of some policies that will appeal to bed rock labour supporters and throw in enough silly ones to scare away the floaters.

Phil: We’ve already started that with the promise to take GST of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Mary: Hmmm, that certainly fits the silly category. Even some of our supporters can see through that so we need to do something for them.

Phil:  Sock the rich and pat the poor on the head?

Mary: Exactly. How about making the first $5,000 of income tax free and tell everyone you’ll increase tax rates for the wealthy to cover it.

Phil:  But Michael ruled that out last time, he said it would do too little for too high a cost.

Mary: Michael isn’t in parliament any more and if he’d applied that sort of economic rigour to most of his other policies we wouldn’t be here now, having to do this.

Phil: But our opponents and the media will do the numbers and say it won’t work.

Mary: Of course they will, but we’re not talking facts, it’s emotion that wins votes. The deep red will love it but the pinky blues won’t.

Phil: Are you sure it will work?

Mary: It will if we cause a distraction at the same time.

Phil: A distraction?

Mary: Yes, a distraction.  Why don’t you talk to the principals and see if they’ve got an issue they could run with on the day of your state of the nation speech?

Phil: Well, when I was talking to Patrick the other day he mentioned a survey which said there were too many outlets for junk food near schools. I could suggest he call for a restriction on what dairies sell before and after school.

Mary:  Wonderful, I can hear the cries of nanny state already. And if we can find something to take the attention away from what you’re saying but still keeps the focus on you. Nothing major, just something trivial the media won’t be able to resist .  . .  um, [looks pensive then smiles] I know, you could dye your hair.

Phil: Dye my hair! Why on earth would I want to do that.

Mary: I don’t suppose you do want to dye it, dear but it will certainly provide a distraction, especially if you’re standing in front of a photo of your old grey self the first time people see it.

Phil: But reporters will ask me why I did it, what will I say then?

Mary: Well at first you won’t say anything constructive, prevaricate a bit, act petulant even.

Phil: I don’t usually do petulant.

Mary: I know you don’t dear, but it’s for the greater good.

Phil: Oh well, then, if you put it like that  I suppose I could tell them they have to ask Key first.

Mary: Perfect!

Phil: But he doesn’t dye his hair and that’s what he’ll say so what do I do then?

Mary: Blame it on me, say I suggested it, that way you won’t have to lie.

Phil: There’s some would say that would make a pleasant change.

Mary: Now, now dear, it’s not like you to be cynical.

Phil: It’s not like me to deliberately spout silly policy and dye my hair either. What would Michael say?

Mary: I’ve already told you he’s part of the problem.

Phil: Not that Michael, the other one. [His eyes shift to a sepia toned photo above the fire place].

Mary: He didn’t have to deal with MMP in the 1930s. Besides I think he’d understand you’re doing the right thing for the party and the country.

Phil: [smiling wryly]  Or at least the correct thing.

Mary:  Which is better than the wrong thing and that, sadly, is the alternative.

Phil: I suppose so, but it won’t be easy.

Mary: When has it ever been easy?

Phil: You’re right [sighs] Ask not what your country can do for you but what . . . .

Mary: It’s a far, far better thing  . . .

Phil: I don’t think either Kennedy or Dickens was thinking about hair dye.

Mary: No, but needs must. [Reaches for the bottle and pours wine into two glasses.] Here’s to the new you, what colour will you go.

Phil: [Takes the glass, clinks it against Mary's] – Why not red? If I’m dyeing for the party I might as well get the colour right.

[Curtain]

Act 2: New Lynn community centre. An audience of mostly elderly people sit facing the stage. Behind the lectern stands a life-size photo of Phil.

Phil [with newly dyed reddish hair enters stage left, smiles, waves]: Ladies and gentlemen  . . .

Hat Tip: I have a theory  at Dim Post.


January 31 in history

January 31, 2011

On January 31:

1606  Guy Fawkes was executed for his plotting against Parliament.

1673 Louis de Montfort, French catholic priest and saint, was born (d. 1716).

1747 The first venereal diseases clinic opened at London Lock Hospital.

1797 Franz Schubert, Austrian composer, was born (d. 1828). 

1814 Gervasio Antonio de Posadas becomes Supreme Director of Argentina.

1849 Corn Laws were abolished in the United Kingdom (following legislation in 1846).

1862 Alvan Graham Clark discovered the white dwarf star Sirius B, a companion of Sirius, through an eighteen inch telescope at Northwestern University.

 

1865 Confederate General Robert E. Lee became general-in-chief.

Robert E Lee Signature.svg

1865  Henri Desgrange, Founder of the Tour-de-France, was born (d. 1940).

1872 Zane Grey, American Western writer, was born.(1939)

1876 The United States ordered all Native Americans to move into reservations.

1881  Anna Pavlova, Russian ballerina was born  (d. 1931).

 

1884 Theodor Heuss, 1st President of Germany (Bundespräsident), was born (d. 1963).

1918 A series of accidental collisions on a misty Scottish night led to the loss of two Royal Navy submarines with over a hundred lives, and damage to another five British warships.

1919 The Battle of George Square took place in Glasgow.

 Mark I tanks and soldiers at the Glasgow Cattle Market in the Gallowgate

 1919  Jackie Robinson, American baseball player,  first black player in Major League Baseball, was born (d. 1972).

Waist-up portrait of black batter in his mid-thirties, in Brooklyn Dodgers uniform number 42, at end of swing with bat over left shoulder, looking at where a hit ball would be

1921 New Zealand’s first regular air mail service began with a flight by the Canterbury Aviation Company from Christchurch to Ashburton and Timaru.

NZ’s first regular airmail service begins

1921 Carol Channing, American actress and singer, was born.

1921 Mario Lanza, American singer was born (d. 1959).

1923 Norman Mailer, American writer and journalist, was born  (d. 2007).

 1929 The Soviet Union exiled Leon Trotsky.

1930 3M began marketing Scotch Tape.

 

1938 – Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, was born.

1943 German Field Marshall Friedrich Paulus surrendered to the Soviets at Stalingrad, followed 2 days later by the remainder of his Sixth Army, ending one of World War II’s fiercest battles.

1945 US Army private Eddie Slovik was executed for desertion, the first such execution of a US soldier since the Civil War.

1946 Terry Kath, American musician (Chicago), was born (d. 1978).

1946 Yugoslavia‘s new constitution, modelling the Soviet Union, established six constituent republics (Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia).

1950 President Harry S. Truman announced a programme to develop the hydrogen bomb.

 

1951 Harry Wayne Casey, American singer and musician (KC and the Sunshine Band), was born.

1953 A North Sea flood causes over 1,800 deaths in the Netherlands.

 

1956 John Lydon aka Johnny Rotten, English singer (Sex Pistols, Public Image Ltd.), was born.

1958  Explorer 1 – The first successful launch of an American satellite into orbit.

Explorer1.jpg
 

1958  James Van Allen discovered the Van Allen radiation belt.

1961 Mercury-Redstone 2Ham the Chimp travelled into outer space.

 

1966 The Soviet Union launched the unmanned Luna 9 spacecraft as part of the Luna programme.

Luna 9

1968 – Nauru became independent from Australia.

Flag Coat of arms

1971 Apollo 14 Mission – Astronauts Alan Shepard, Stuart Roosa, and Edgar Mitchell, aboard a Saturn V, lifted off for a mission to the Fra Mauro Highlands on the Moon.

The first Saturn V, AS-501, before the launch of Apollo 4

1971 – The Winter Soldier Investigation, organised by the Vietnam Veterans Against the War to publicise war crimes and atrocities by Americans and allies in Vietnam, began in Detroit.

1990 The first McDonald’s in the Soviet Union opened in Moscow.

McDonald's Golden Arches.svg

1995 President Bill Clinton authorised a $20 billion loan to Mexico to stabilize its economy.

1996 An explosives-filled truck rams into the gates of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka in Colombo killing at least 86 and injuring 1,400.

2000 Alaska Airlines flight 261 MD-83, experiencing horizontal stabilizer problems, crashes in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Point Mugu, California, killing all 88 persons aboard.

2001 In the Netherlands a Scottish court convicted a Libyan and acquitted another for their part in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 which crashed into Lockerbie in 1988.

2003 The Waterfall rail accident near Waterfall, New South Wales.

Waterfallrailcrash.jpg

2009 At least 113 people are killed and over 200 injured following an oil spillage ignition in Molo, Kenya.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.


Word of the day

January 30, 2011

Ideopraxist – one impelled to act by the force of an idea; one who devotes his/her energies to the carrying out of an idea; one who puts ideas into practice.


Would a Wool-X prize inspire winning idea?

January 30, 2011

I’m not a fan of the Sunday Star Times but one good thing it does do is provide space for a column by Federated Farmers president Don Nicolson.

That allows him to communicate with an audience which probably doesn’t read or listen to rural media and to promote good ideas like this week’s (which isn’t online).

It starts:

Imagine if we had a new green export that could generate more than $600 million a year – $100m more than The Hobbit’s economic contribution. Imagine if that export was 100% pure and derived from natural, renewable sources. That product exists – wool.

If ever there was a time to sell a product with those credentials it is now.

Maybe it’s also time for a “Wool-X prize” modelled on the X-Prize Foundation “making the impossible, possible”.

The word prize is key – Virgin Galactic is now in commercial evolution after Burt Rutan spent $25m to win a $10m prize to create a cheap and reusable space vehicle. Could a Wool-X prize similarly inspire enthusiasts in shed and the world’s biggest universities? If we retained the intellectual property, it could unlock new mass market products and industries.

Even if we didn’t retain the intellectual property it would help wool get to – and pass – the $2.8 billion industry it ought to be when adjusted for inflation.

Falling supply and rising demand are taking wool prices back to peaks last seen more than 20 years ago.

A Wool-X prize could inspire a winning idea, then imagine where prices could go if innovative new uses made high demand the norm.


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