Household Guide To Dying


It’s not easy to write about death and dying. It is even more difficult to do it without becoming maudlin or resorting to cliches.

Debra Adelaide not only does it in The Household Guide to Dying she does it well.

Delia, the heroine of the story is the best-selling author of household guides. When she is diagnosed with terminal cancer she responds by writing about it with the same attention to detail she applied to domestic duties in her previous guides. The first-person account of living and dying is written with warmth, humour, depth of feeling and realism.

But realistic as it might be, The Household Guide is fiction. Over at Annie Fox, Anna Wolf is writing about real life dying. She not only does it well she does it without self pity. Her matter of fact approach to life with a brain tumour and her courage are both humbling and inspiring.

UMR asks its own questions – yeah right


Do you believe that the company hired by the Labour Party to poll on its behalf just happened to ask it’s own questions?

No, nor does Inventory 2 over at Keeping Stock.

…but it seems that UMR has been asking questions of voters without sanction from the party that it is contracted to…  

The relevant questions are over Helen Clark’s handling of Winston Peters and the donations debacle and include one on whether she has been frim enough.

UMR has a professional reputation to maintain. Which is more likely: it blotted it’s copy book by asking a few random questions of its own devices or Helen Clark mis-spoke when she said neither she, her staff nor the party had authorised such polling?

Still not sure? Think about what the big issue of last week was and whether a party would want to know what the public thought of how it was handling it.

Labour didn’t give instructions about questions on that issue. Yeah right.

Ag class report


The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry’s five year primary sector report card will be released tomorrow.

The  Situation and Outlook for New Zealand Agriculture and Forestry 2008 report  (Sonzaf) forecasts the trends and performance for the next five years.

While it’s looking ahead,  Owen Hembry  looks back:

And as for some recent performances, here’s the report card:

Well done Dairyton, keep up the good work, go to the top of the class.

Meatly, you’re full of ideas and have plenty of promise but you need to focus lad, focus.

Wineston, well done, results worth celebrating but don’t pop too many corks because your studies will get harder.

Woolley, very industrious, A for effort but poor results, put your cap on straight and don’t forget about the point of your assignments.

What’s wrong with letting us choose?


Labour won’t support  National’s plan to hold a referendum on MMP.

What are they afraid of?

A referendum is a very blunt instrument for a very important matter and I’d prefer a Royal Commission or something similar to investigate the options before it goes to the people, but I don’t have any problem with giving people a choice.

It’s our voting system and many people believe that we were promised a referendum two terms after MMP was introduced. We weren’t – all that was promised was a review which was done by the politicians who had most to lose by any change. However, the belief that we were promised a say persists and even if it didn’t, a chance to look at the pluses and minuses of MMP and alternatives such as Single Transferable Vote or Supplementary Member is welcome.

If MMP is working well and people are happy with it the referendum will give it a stronger mandate than the 1993 one which brought it in; if people have problems with it then we’ll get something which might be better.

Labour isn’t comfortable with giving people a say but that’s not surprising, they’ve spent nine years proving they think they know what’s best for us, whether or not we agree.

[Update: I’ve just found today’s Herald editorial which supports the referendum too. It’s here.]

An ode to hypocrisy


Winston Raymond Peters MP

Took great care of his donors so they were hard to see.

Wintson Raymond Peters MP said to his donors, said he,

The rules I expect from the others don’t have to apply to me.


Winston Raymond Peters MP

Said he would say what was what

But when the media came to the conference he called

He just said what was actually not.


Winston Raymond Peters MP

Said it’s you in the wrong it’s not me

You’re seeing black when it’s patently white,

You’re just biased that’s so plain to see.


Winston Raymond Peters MP

Said he’d explain when he saw Helen Clark

He gave her his word and she said that was fine

Even though she was still in the dark.


Winston Raymond Peters MP

Has my confidence she said, as by rote

But that was because he held the cards

And she still needed his vote.


Winston Raymond Peters MP

Stood in the House and declared

Other parties and MPs had broken the rules,

You can’t be trusted he sneered.


Winston Raymond Peters MP

Said he’d explain in the House what he’d done

He just ranted and raved, accused and denied

And straight answers he gave not a one.


Winston Raymond Peters MP

Keeps shouting conspiracy!

He won’t accept that the rest of us know

The problem’s hypocrisy.


Hat Tip and apologies to A.A. Milne.

Freedom requires trust


A friend was dropping me off for a meeting in parliament buildings. When I suggested she stop on the street so I could walk from there, she said no, she wanted to drop me right outside because she could, and weren’t we lucky to have that level of freedom.

She was right. We have very free access to parliament and MPs. For those of us who are party members that freedom extends to the opportunity for frequent casual chats and in depth discussions.

But that freedom requires trust which has now been broken. The secret recording of BIll English’s and Lockwood’s Smith’s comments at Friday’s conference cocktail party mean MPs will no longer be as relaxed or as open, even when they think they are among friends.

There is nothing mementous about Bill’s comments (which are transcribed on Kiwiblog); National’s policy has always been quite clear: no state asset sales in its first term and should it wish to sell something in a second term it will announce and campaign on that before the next election.

Lockwood’s comments  show the reality of MMP and he mentions going through a discussion document process so he’s not talking about ramming anything through without consultation.

But the abuse of trust is serious; our MPs will be less free with us as a consequence and we’ll all be losers because of that.

Tech tantrum #3


When I turned on the computer as I normally do first thing, this morning there was no internet connection.

I truned it off and unplugged everything, waited a minute, plugged everything back in, turned the computer on again, which is the limit of my technical ability, but still nothing.

The next step was to phone the help desk – but Orcon doesn’t open until 8am. Mutter muble, call that service?

We’ve got a backup with the laptop which has Telecom mobile, but 8am to 10.30 weekdays and 8am to 8pm weekend hours for Orcon’s help desk isn’t good enough in a 24 hour world.

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