Prawn goes from poacher to gamekeeper

May 17, 2009

Busted Blonde has signed off from Roarprawn.

She’s brought a unique and very well informed perspective to the blogosphere and I’ll miss her. Do check the predictions in her penultimate post, and mull on the reason she’s going:

The simple fact of the matter is that we are going to work for a Ministry full time. Yip a public servant gig. As my mum says – a real job…We start tomorrow.

And the State Services Act is a bit of a bitch if you want to be a political commentator. Now we are fairly well positioned as a National Govt cheer leader but from time to time we have to put down our pom poms and give them a piece of our mind and , well you cant do that when you are a public servant.

I wonder if everyone else shows the same respect for the States Services Act, or doesn’t it apply to the parliamentary library?


Danny Boy

May 17, 2009

Twenty years ago today we welcomed the arrival of our second son, Dan.

His then-four year old sister wasn’t impressed. She’d wanted a sister because she knew brothers died.

We didn’t know it then, but she was right. A few weeks later it was confirmed that Dan had the same brain disorder which had killed his brother Tom when he was just 20 weeks old.

Dan defied predictions and lived much longer, surviving until 10 days after his fifth birthday. But he passed none of the developmental milestones and could do no more the day he died than he could when he was born.

It’s now 20 years since he was born, almost fifteen since he died. A lot has happened since then, some of it wonderful, some very bad and most of it in between.

Every now and then we think about the boy and young man Dan might have been and we do so with rose tinted specs, because while children who die can’t do the good things parents hope they might, they don ’t do the bad things we dread either.

When Dan’s condition was diagnosed and after he died a lot of people said how lucky we were we had our daughter. I agreed, though not for the reasons most seemed to be thinking of. Children aren’t like pieces in a dinner set which, if one gets broken, can be replaced with another.

However, as well as letting me experience the joys of parenting, having another child also meant I didn’t suffer from any delusions that I’d be a perfect mother with perfect children. 

While I’ve blogged quite a bit about our sons, and called them by their names I say little about our daughter because I don’t think it’s fair to her. However, having made that comment about neither of us being perfect, I feel the need to clarify that that doesn’t mean we’ve had any major problems, just that she did the things normal children do, some of which parents wish they wouldn’t. 

But today I’m not thinking about those things, just remembering the wee baby meeting his four year old sister and the excitement and love we experienced 20 years ago. 

We named our baby Dan, not Daniel, and that’s what he was called, never Danny. But summer had gone and the roses were fading when he died which made this song even more appropriate for his funeral. 

Because it’s New Zealand Music Month, I’ve chosen the version sung by Hayley Westenra and dedicate it to all the other members of that non-exclusive club for bereaved parents.


Alexander Rybak Eurovision Winner

May 17, 2009

While we’ve been concentrating on New Zealand music this month, on the other side of the world attenion has been on the Eurovision Song Contest.

The final was held last night and won by Alexander Rybak, a fiddle player from Norway, who composed the song he sang, Fairytale.

TV3 has more news on the final.


When does politics affect ability to do job?

May 17, 2009

Can someone with strong political views work in a position where s/he’s required to help MPs whose philosophy and policies s/he opposes?

I don’t think so and support Whaleoil in asking how someone who blogged against National is now working in the Parliamentary Library where employees need to be non-partisan.

Has no-one learned from the Madeleine Setchell saga?

She was sacked from a public service appointment because her partner worked for John Key. Whether she shared her partner’s political views or what those views were wasn’t canvassed. The perception of conflict was enough to scuttle her appointment – even though she was explicit about her relationship when she was interviewed for the job.

I don’t think living with someone who works for a politician is necessarily a problem in the public service, but being actively engaged in working against a political party is definitely a problem in a staff member of parliament’s library.


Announcing The Mediocres

May 17, 2009

Had I attempted to file a story which cast aspersions on someone and included the statement “There is no evidence to support this impression,” the report says. when I was working for a newspaper I’d have been told to find some proof and re-read the law on defamation.

Had I attempted to file a story questioning the timing of a marriage I’d have been told that it is not a journalist’s job to seek and report on the feelings of grieving friends and relatives.

It’s only a few weeks since I asked what’s happened to the gatekeepers?

These two stories from the last couple of days are just the most recent examples which show that either the gatekeepers have gone or they’ve lost the ability to differentiate between news and gossip.

The Qantas Awards celebrate what’s supposed to be the best in New Zealand journalism. Cactus Kate questions that which made me think: the Skeptics have an annual Bent Spoon Award,  Fair Go has its Worst Ad Award,  is it time for a competition to find the lowest of the low in the media?

I think it is and am using the working title of  The Mediocres for them; but I’m open to a name which better illustrates that the award  is not for journalism which isn’t good, it’s for journalism which is really bad.

I’m open to suggestions of who could judge theses awards and the criteria to be used.

Macdoctor’s definition of spam journalism: The spurious use of sensational headlines to add spice to an otherwise pointless article would be a good starting point – he’s already up to #32 in his series. But there’s a lot more to bad journalism than headlines which aren’t supported by the facts in the story.

In the interests of inclusion there will be a category for blogs too.

Monkeywithtypewriter thinks it’s time to consider a voluntary code for blogs. I don’t think that would work because those likely to adhere to the code will blog responsibly anyway and those who don’t won’t. But a Mediocre would stick a badge of shame on the worst.

The award needs a name, judges, judging criteria and nominations – your views and suggestions are welcomed.

P.S. If there’s a category for published typso typos in blogs I’d have to nominate myself.


Tractor for sale, free farm on side update

May 17, 2009

News of the tractor for sale with a free farm on the side  has gone world wide.

Vendors Shelley and Allan Holland listed it on TradeMe with only $1 reserve, but the publicity has attracted bidders and the latest bid is $230,000 – approaching the $250,000 QV with a week still to go before the auction closes.

Shelley has undertaken to reply to questions and there’s already been hundreds of them.  I copied a few here yesterday, and here’s a few more:

Q: Does the Tractor have a beam? Good luck – I love people whom are bonkers!

A: High beam or “Beam me up” beam?

Q: hi if i win would the locals kick up a stink if i put a six lane motorway thru .and housing nz devepment appartment blocks on site

A: I think they may well impale you wiith a very sharp pitch fork dipped in acid and set on fire

Q: Hi there This is a great feel-good story. Interested in being Auckland Super mayor?

A: I don’t handle idiots too well, but thank you for the vote, Shell the mayor, Sounds cool

The vendors featured on TV3 News last night, the story’s here, the video’s here.


Kill the speed not the child – updated

May 17, 2009

A friend noticed a police car trailing a school bus on State Highway 1 recently, ticketing drivers who didn’t slow to 20 kms/hr which is the maximum for passing a school bus when it has stopped to pick up or let off children.

There’d have been rich pickings because although that’s the law, a lot of people don’t know it and it’s too easy for those who do to forget about it or simply not notice the buses.

Rural Women has been campaigning to raise awareness of the need to slow to 20 km/hr when passing stationary school buses.

“Now it’s time to act,” says Rural Women New Zealand National President, Margaret Chapman.  “We want to see 20km/h signs displayed on all school buses.  Too many people are either ignorant or this section of the Road Code, or simply ignore it.”

 RWNZ is also calling for flashing ‘wig wag’ lights to be installed on school buses, which would operate when the bus had stopped or is pulling away, alerting drivers that they are approaching a school bus.

 

The idea of flashing lights is a good idea because, although buses ought to be big enough to stand out, it’s too easy to approach them without realising they’ve stopped.

If you don’t realise the bus has stopped until you’re close to them it’s hard enough to slow to 20 kilometres when you’re in a 50 km/hr zone, it’s harder still on the open road when you’ve been doing 100 km/hr.

I was following a car last week when the driver jammed on the brakes, it was only after I’d slowed too that I noticed a school bus stopped on other side of the road.

A 12 year old boy was killed after getting off a school bus in Matamata on Friday. Nothing has been reported about the speed the car which hit him was travelling but the accident has prompted a warning from police about the need to slow down near school buses.

Rural Women’s slogan, kill the speed, not the child  is to the point, but until their suggestion of better signage and flashing lights on school buses is adopted, the message isn’t going to get through.

UPDATE: The Sunday Star Times (not on line) reprots that the bus had started driving off after the boy got off and had gone some distance.


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