Did you see the one about . . .


Skirt lengths as an economic indicator at Rob’s Bockhead .

Letter from the boss at Cactus Kate.

Lying on wait at Macdoctor.

Sorting the numbers and raising feminists at In A Strange Land.

Judas Tizard at goNZofreakpower.

It’s just art at Something Should Go Here.

Let’s hear it for the Ernies at NZ Conservative.

Stories like this fill me with joy at Laughy Kate.

And if you want a big read: Home & away by Karl du Fresne,

Could Kiwibank become a co-operative?


 The idea of the taxpayers owning a bank was such an anathema to me that I didn’t step foot in a post office for more than two years after Kiwibank was established. So deep is my aversion to it, I still enter one only when there is no alternative.

National made a pre-election pledge that it wouldn’t sell any assets this term and made it clear that if it had plans for any sales after that it would make that quite clear before the next elections so voters would know.

They have more than enough on their hands at the moment without worrying about a possible second term, but when they start to look ahead they ought to consider this suggestion from Peter Macdougall, chair of the NZ Cooperatives Association and a director of Ballance, in the association’s latest newsletter:

Before becoming the Government, National didn’t see why a government should be involved in banking. All the major trading banks in New Zealand, however, are owned offshore and their profits go to their investor shareholders.


If Kiwibank were to become a cooperative bank, expanded rapidly into the agriculture sector, would it be supported?


I believe it would, I believe it should, and the timing is clearly right – “Kiwibank, owned by New Zealanders for the benefit of its cooperative members”.

I don’t have a problem with foreign ownership but many people do so this idea is worth investigating because it would get the bank off the government’s books while still satisfying those who want it to stay in New Zealand hands.

Aiming at agriculture isn’t silly either because the growing demand for food means that primary producers are likely to lead the recovery from the recession.

There is already a very successful example of co-operative ownership of a bank which is active in rural financing. Rabobank , which is owned by the Dutch, has a triple A rating which shows the model could work.

UPDATE: Anti-Dismal says no and explains why.

Great minds . . .


Conspiracy theorists might see something sinister in the coincidence of  Garrick Tremain and Rod Emmerson coming up with a similar idea in today’s papers – the first in the ODT, the second in the NZ Herald.

I think it just shows that great cartoonists think alike.




By Rod Emmerson

You’ve gotta know when to hold up . . .


. . . know when to fold up, know when to walk away . . .


Garrick Tremain’s cartoon, printed several days ago, shows that then Otago District Health Board chair Richard Thomson didn’t heed the words of the Gambler.

He didn’t accept the invitation to walk so Health Minister Tony Ryall relieved him of his chairmanship.

The ODT doesn’t agree  with that decision:

While Mr Ryall’s demands for accountability are understandable, he picked the wrong scapegoat.

. . . It was other executives and senior staff who, surely, carried far more responsibility, particularly because warnings about Swann were not passed on.

But the Minister of Health has no control over any of these people so is it possible he’s using  one of few weapons in his armoury – the right to appoint, and disappoint, the chair – to encourage the board to take further action which he can’t?

The Minister of Corrections Judith Collins is similarly constrained over the continuing employment of Barry Matthews in spite of a damning report from the auditor general about the department he heads. He is answerable to her but she is not his employer so it is up to the State Services Commission to sack him, or not.

The Prime Minister supports his minister  :

“The New Zealand public is entitled to expect accountability, and quite frankly, that report made such damning reading they can have no confidence at this point that the department is following an approved set of procedures that they promised they would follow.”

The operative word is accountability.

It’s not blame or responsibility, and anyone with the ability to chair a board or lead a government department ought to understand that, and to know that it is better to fold up and walk with dignity than to wait to have your cards taken from you.

School isn’t fattening


Today’s correspondence page in the ODT had this gem:

The fact that the Minister of Education has removed the requirement for schools to only provide healthy food and drink options is correct. Yes, it is without doubt a school’s role to promote nutrition but it is not the school’s role to become the food police.

It would seem that your correspondents (16.2.09) want schools to be exactly that. As a parent, I believe that it is my responsibility what I feed my children and not the school’s business; and as a school principal, it is not my business to tell parents what they can and cannot geed their children. Sensible schools will have sensible guidelines in place for parents but, at the end of the day, it is about personal responsibility. I think you will find that going to school is non-fattening.

David Grant,  Principal, Big Rock Primary Schools, Brighton.

Word lovers of the world unite


The gatekeepers at Collins are discombobulated because there are too many words for their dictionary so they’re seeking to cull some of those which are seldom used.

The Times has taken up the cudgels for the words which are languishing on the list of linguistic losers –  or as it puts it, those in danger of fading into caliginosity – with a call for readers to rush to their rescue.

If you want to save one from what  Comment Central calls the semantic scrapheap you can go there to  vote for your favourite from a list of 24 which are doomed by the designers’ desire to detruncate the dictionary.

I can understand that there are financial and practical constraints on the size of a dictionary but I share the The Virtual Linguist’s  concerns:

I was surprised at some of the comments made by journalists and readers, many of whom had the attitude ‘So what? There are far too many words in English anyway’.  I was reminded of George Orwell’s Newspeak in Nineteen Eighty-Four, where undesirable words were eliminated from the language and ‘reduction of vocabulary was regarded as an end in itself, and no word that could be dispensed with was allowed to survive. Newspeak was designed not to extend but to diminish the range of thought, and this purpose was indirectly assisted by cutting the choice of words down to a minimum’ (from the appendix to Nineteen Eighty-Four).

I may not like the juxtaposition of rural and rustic with unpolished and uncouth in the definition of agrestic, but that’s no reason to vilipend it or regard it as recrement.

Breadth and depth of language are intrinsic parts of our ability to communicate and help us not just to articulate our thoughts and feelings but to recognise them in the first place.

Besides, if these words disappear from the dictionary where do you go to determine their definition when you come across them?

I went to Save The Words for guidence but found it a temporary state of apanthropinization.

Hat Tip: Jim Mora

It’s now the GFC


Do we have to worry or take it more seriously when something becomes an acronym?

Corin Dann said on Breakfast this morning that the global financial crisis is now the GFC.


Neil has pointed out in a comment below that I was wrong to use the term acronym. He’s right, an acronym is a word formed from the initial letters of other words and GFC isn’t a word.

SO question for word lovers: is there a word which I could have used for a collection of initial letters used instead of the words without forming a word?

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