Joan Baez – We Shall Overcome


It’s 40 years since Woodstock opened.

This weekend I’ll be featuring some of the artists who sang there, beginning with Joan Baez singing We Shall Overcome.

Do you pay too?


Dear Supermarket,

You are now charging me 5 cents for plastic bags and donating the profit from this to environmental groups or projects.

It’s supposed to encourage me to use re-usable bags.

I was doing that anyway, when I remembered. Being charged hasn’t helped me remember any more often because the odd plastic bag is handy for lining the rubbish bin and five cents isn’t sufficient to persuade me to find an alternative.

But if customers are being charged for using more than we need, it seems a wee bit hypocritical that you’re still putting bunches of grapes on foam trays and wrapping them in plastic wrap.

Just wondering if you charge yourself more for that and donate the profit to a worthy green cause too.

Yours sincerely

A customer.

Just This


Reading Brian Turner’s poetry is to wander through tussock, under a big Central Otago sky, basking in the heat of a summer’s day or breathing the crisp, clear air of winter.

His latest volume of poems, Just This, takes the reader to other places too and describes people and relationships with an eye for detail and gift for choosing words which tell more with each reading.

 He explores Honesty and Fear, the First Day at School and Unfashionable Suggestions; he goes to a Shareholders Meeting, visits a South Dunedin Garden and the Matukituki; shows the view from High Windows; examines Celebrity and concludes The Earth is Enough. 

It’s a wonderful collection of poems from a master wordsmith.

 Just This

‘Find your place on the planet, dig in,

and take responsibility from there.’

         Gary Snyder


Affecting without affection, like the sere hills

then the early evening sky where Sirius dominates

for a time, then is joined by lesser lights,


stars indistinct as those seen through the canopies

of trees shaking in the wind. There’s this wish

to feel part of something wholly explicable


and irreplaceable, something enduring

and wholesome that suppresses the urge to fight . . .

or is there? Ah, the cosmic questions


that keep on coming like shooting stars

and will, until, and then what? All I can say

is that for me nothing hurts more


than leaving and nothing less than coming home

when a nor’wester’s gusting in the pines

like operatic laughter, and the roadside grasses


are laced with the blue and orange and pink

of bugloss, poppies and yarrow, all of them

swishing, dancing, bending as they do, as we do.

                 – Brian Turner –

Just This by Brian Turner, published by Victoria University Press, 2009, $24.99.

Breathe through your nose – UPDATED


The advice to breathe through your nose given to new MPs should also be taken by former MPs.

Sir Douglas Graham lost a lot of the respect many had for him with his comments on former MPs’ travel perks.

Helen Clark isn’t doing herself or the party she used to lead any favours by trying to continue her influence. Last week’s Listener reports she’s still very free with advice to the labour caucus and today’s Herald reports she tried talk one of her former colleagues, Dame Margaret Shields, out of accepting the title.

If she’s not trying to sabotage her party and her successor she really should stick to her new job and leave her former colleagues to get on with theirs.

UPDATE: A comment by JC made me realise I’d given the wrong link to comments by Doug Graham. The one above is to a reasonable explanation with which I sympathise. It was you better keep paying your taxes which did the damage.

However, any MP knows that governments give and governments take away and what might have seemed reasoanble and affordable in one set of circumstances might not in another.

Too many charities


Roarprawn reckons Kidscan should be canned.

I don’t think it’s the only charity of which that could be said and part of the problem is there are too many of them.

It starts with an itch and before it can get scratched someone’s formed a committee, found a name, created a brand, registered an incorporated society, claimed charitable status, set up an office, found staff, designed a letterhead . . . and is looking for money to pay for it all.

How much is left for the itch after all that?

Too often not enough which is why a bit of a cull is in order, or at least a straggle muster to bring some of the strays into the herd.

For example, if there’s a problem with hungry, unshod and underclothed children, wouldn’t established charities like Red Cross or Save the Children be able to help without incurring the overheads and other costs of establishing and maintaining a new organisation?

August 14 in history


On August 14:

1867 English novelest John Galsworthy was born.


1891 Petitions seeking the right to vote signed by 9000 women were presented to parliament.

1947 US novelist Danielle Steele  was born.

Sourced from Wikipedia and NZ History Online.

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