The last of the Kennedy brothers

26/08/2009

Where were you when you heard the news about Kennedy?

This is the question people a little older than me can answer easily. I have only vague memories of the announcement. My best friend and I were giggling when her father hushed us. He was listening to the news broadcast which said President John F. Kennedy had been shot.

That was 1963. The family suffered a second assassination five years later when John’s younger brother Robert was killed.

The third brother, Edward (Teddy) died today.


The blogs they are a changing

26/08/2009

Keeping Stock is going to work.

Barnsley Bill is going private.

Cactus Kate and Whale Oil are going together at Gotcha.


Down the back of the sofa

26/08/2009

Down the Back of the Chair is one of Margaret Mahy’s picture book gems.

In it Dad finds all sorts of weird and wonderful things, including a will which brings them a fortune.

My farmer didn’t find a fortune down the back of the sofa. But when he up-ended it last night, out fell $58.60 in New Zealand coins, an Australian 5 cent piece, a pencil, a peanut and some other detritus which suggest that someone ought to tip it up more often – and have a vacuum cleaner handy when s/he does so.


Mid-Week Music

26/08/2009

Andre Rieu performing Conquest of Paradise, written by Vangelis ( familiar to Crusader fans as the music of their rugby team):


Getting the measure of metrics

26/08/2009

Britain’s move to metrics upset some people so much they formed the Imperial Measures Preservation Society. They still drive in miles but seem to have adjsuted to other metric measures. The USA, however, still refuses to make the change.

 

I can’t understand why a country which has had decimal currency for centuries can’t contemplate ditching the complicated system of imperial measurements in favour of the relative simplicity of metrics.

 

July 10 1967, the day on which decimal currency was introduced is a date still fixed in my mind. This was partly due to the success of the advertising campaign which preceded it but mostly a reflection on the great relief with which I was able to close the door on old money.

 

I was 10 at the time and had already spent too long struggling over arithmetic lessons (we didn’t do maths back then) in which we were called on to do convoluted sums with pounds, shillings and pence to have any regrets about the change.

 

I can’t recall when weights and measures went metric but I shed no tears when grams, metres and litres replaced ounces, yards and pints.

 

I was never sure if it was 16 ounces in a pound and 14 pounds to the stone or the other way round and I was even more uncertain about the number of pints in a gallon. I generally got the figures relating to inches in feet and feet in yards right but struggled with conversions to miles or acres and computations concerning any of them were a nightmare.

 

When even one as mathematically challenged as I am can understand the logic of a system based on 10, those wishing to retain imperial measures haven’t a leg to stand on numerically speaking. However, I have some sympathy with them on linguistic grounds because even though we’ve been metric for years a miss is still as good as a mile but it will never be as good as a kilometre.

   

If I look after the cents the dollars may look after themselves but I still like to have my tuppence worth and while I might be in for a penny in for a pound, the decimal equivalent doesn’t trip off my tongue so lightly.

 

It’s not only expressions like these which don’t convert easily to modern measures. It is generally simple to calculate with metrics but it isn’t so easy to converse in them. I can follow recipes in metric or imperial measures but I still refer to a pound of butter rather than 500 grams and if I could still get a bottle of milk I’d call it a pint not 600 mls.

 

If you told me the day’s temperature in Fahrenheit I wouldn’t be sure whether to reach for my long johns or the sunscreen. If you asked me how to bake biscuits I’d probably suggest 350 degrees although I can bake with imperial and metric recipes.

 

Too many sorry mornings on the bathroom scales have enabled me to recognise my own weight in both stones and kilos but I’m not sure how big babies are unless they are weighed in pounds.  

 

I can understand the area of a farm in hectares but still talk about a thousand acre voice or stride. Similarly, while I might not be able to do anything worthwhile with a piece of four by two and a length of number eight wire they are still a lot more useful figuratively speaking than their metric equivalents.

 

So when I gauge myself against a linguistic yardstick I’m only slightly ahead of the imperial luddites. I might have the measure of metrics but I’m not prepared to go the extra kilometre by conversing in them.


If it weren’t for my gumboots . . .

26/08/2009

Getting a new product on the news is advertising money can’t buy.

It doesn’t happen very often and when it does it is usually for something a lot more glamorous than gumboots.

But Skellerup has made the news with its new five-star Quatrro.

Gumboots haven’t changed much since they were first made in rubber in the 1850s. Improvement has been a long time coming but Jamie McKay has been singing the praises of the Quatrros on the Farming Show where he’s been giving them away.

Woollen felt lining and moulded inner soles inside, tapered cleats to release mud and anti skid zones on the soles are a big improvement on what’s been keeping feet free from muck for generations. No doubt those who wear them every day, especially the people who spend hours standing round dairy sheds, will appreciate the added comfort. They will be able to justify paying $165 for them too.

But I only use gumboots for the rare emergency appearance in the dairy shed, an occasional stint as junior in the sheep yards and gardening which means I’ll be sticking to the old faithfuls.

They still, as John Clarke, aka Fred Dagg sang, keep out the water and keep in the smell; and for the amount of use mine get, that’s all I really need from them.


Is the headline just a wee bit slanted?

26/08/2009

It says Telecom defends outrageous executive salaries.

Cactus Kate has another view.

The NBR looks at  how Paul Reyonold’s pay stacks up against the competition.


Editorials on Maori seats

26/08/2009

The ODT says:

That Maori believe they are entitled to separate representation because of the treaty is a claim not tested in law, though it may yet be; that seats should be provided for them piecemeal, council by council, as a “gesture” is patronising and scarcely credible.

What next? That each tribe should have a seat? The Cabinet decision may appear to have effectively pre-empted change, but the issue will doubtless return when Parliament debates the legislation. The Government should not retreat from its position.

The Manawatu Standard  says Maori deserve better than this:

The Government’s decision to exclude Maori seats from the new Auckland super city council was the wrong one.

It is a victory for populism over courage, and political expediency over the much more arduous pursuit of justice. What is it that makes acknowledging that Maori hold a special status in this country as its indigenous people so utterly distasteful to so many? Why can we not see any further back than the myopia of Brash-era thinking and view the issue of Maori representation through a broader historical context?

If that were to happen, people like ACT leader Rodney Hide might cease his “one man, one vote” yammering and see an indigenous people whose sense of identity is inextricably linked to the land, and who were systematically marginalised as it was taken from them, divided up and sold for profit particularly in Auckland.

Is it such anathema to ensure they have input into how that land is governed now?

Just two editorials this morning on the issue and they have opposing views.

I’m with the ODT.

UPDATE:

The Nelson Mail says:

Maori are perfectly capable of being elected on their merits when they put themselves forward alongside people of other races. Special consultation is a good thing and already required of all councils by the local government legislation. Guaranteeing seats based on race is something else.

The Taranaki Daily News writes on giving up seats so they can stand:

Are they really so disparaging of their own political prowess that they feel they need a leg-up to compete with others in the political arena? . . . 

 . . . Prime Minister John Key’s announcement that Cabinet will not support separate Maori seats for the Auckland super city is a tip of the hat to the mature political force and nous within Maoridom, rather than a denigration of its status.

It is a recognition that a great deal has happened in the 140 years since Maori seats were established in Parliament in 1868, that much progress has been made to advance the Maori voice, and that they no longer need to stand on the shoulders of others to get noticed.

In fact, we would go so far as to say the idea that Maori need some kind of false apparatus or rigged game to secure their place at the table is patronising and potentially racist in its intentions, a colonial sop that gives the pretence of power while keeping the reins in the hands of the few.

That might have been appropriate 140 years ago, when Maori were a nascent political force still finding their way and learning the ropes.


Forget the trophies, solve the problems

26/08/2009

Maori parliamentary seats were established in 1867. That was the result of more than a decade of pressure for political representation from Maori who were granted the same rights and protections as other New Zealanders under the Treaty of Waitangi.

At that time there were three special seats for Otago and Westland gold miners and one for an Auckland Pensioners’ Settlement. Those seats went when the need for them ended, Maori seats continued, not for their benefit but from discrimination.

All Maori men aged 21 or more were granted the right to vote 12 years earlier than European men who, until 1879, had to own or lease property of a certain value before they could vote.

However, one of the reasons for establishing separate seats was a fear that Maori would swamp the Pakeha vote in some areas and their size meant second class representation from the start.

This was not the only discriminatory aspect of Maori franchise. Secret ballots had been introduced for general electorate in 1870 but Maori were required to vote by show of hands. This continued until 1910 when voting by show of hands was no longer compulsory however, it was not until 1937 that the requirement for secret ballot became law in Maori electorates.

From 1919 until 1951 Maori had to vote on a different day from the general election. They were not permitted to stand in European electorates until 1967, and they were then only able to register to vote in them if they identified themselves as “half-castes”.

The Royal Commission on MMP recommended that Maori seats be discontinued when the new voting system was introduced. That was disregarded and the number of seats has grown as more people choose to go on the Maori roll.

 There hasn’t been a corresponding improvement in statistics for Maori people. In too many social and economic measures they are still over represented in the negative ones and under represented in the positive ones

That isn’t because they are Maori. It’s because they are poorly educated, in poor health and have lower incomes.

If the Maori Party put their energy into addressing the root causes of those problems instead of worrying about trophies like Maori seats on a council, their people and our country would all be better for it.


August 26 in history

26/08/2009

On August 26:

1894 the second Maori King, Tukaroto Matutaera Potatau Te Wherowhero Tawhiao, died.

1898 US art collector Betty Guggenheim was born.

1910 Mother Teresa was born.

 

Mother Teresa of Calcutta
Agnesë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu

 

 1970 Betty Friedan led a women’s strike for equality.


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