Leonard Cohen – Hallelujah


It’s Leonard Cohen’s birthday which provides an excuse for Hallelujah:

Prison population hits new peak


The prison population has reached 8509.

The number of prisoners behind bars in New Zealand is at its highest level ever, and underlines the urgent need to create extra prison capacity, Corrections Minister Judith Collins said today.

 It also underlines the need to address the underlying causes of crime and measures which might prevent criminal acts and reoffending.

A disproportionate number of prisoners have literacy and numeracy problems, too many are drug and alcohol addicts, and too many are repeat offenders.

Doing more to improve literacy and numeracy and treatment of drug and alcohol problems would be good places to start crime prevention.

It would be best to get to people before they commit crimes. However, it’s too late for some but once they’ve offended and are in prison they are literally a captive audience for education and treatment.

Prisons shouldn’t be holiday camps. But one of the aims of a sentence should be equipping a prisoner for a crime-free life on release.

Monday’s Quiz – updated


1. What were the surnames of Peter, Paul and Mary?

2. Who wrote Bums On Seats?

3. Who said: We are human beings as well as women, and our humanity must take precedence of our womanhood . . . We are New Zealanders, and therefore citizens, and whatever affects the well-being of the Commonwealth is our immediate concern.?

4. The Hakataramea is a tributary of which river?

5. Name the vice chancellors of three of New Zealand’s eight universities (the debate on whether that’s too many universities can wait for another time).

UPDATE: There’s a problem with question 5: I’m looking for the person who chairs the University Council not the chief executive (some universities call the chair  vice chancellor, some call her/him chancellor).

The mast falling down


Paul Tremewan added a comment to this morning’s look back at history pointing out:

On this day in 1981 New Zealand’s first ever foray into the Whtibread Round the World Yacht Race, came to a sudden halt when Peter Blakes’s ‘Ceramco’ lost its mast in the Southern Atlantic Ocean, bringing down the hopes of many with it. While they re-rigged the boat, Grant Dalton and his crew zoomed past on Flyer to win the leg and we zoomed past on ‘United Friendly’, not totally disappointed at Blakey’s bad luck! ‘The Mast Falling Down’ has been commemorated every year on this day since 21 September 1981.

He attached a photo of Ceramco under jury rig which didn’t copy so here it is:

dairy 10008

Me, myself, I


Joan Armatrading sang Me Myself I. Keeping Stock  used the three words together tongue in cheek to explain his use of we and us.

Both used the pronouns in tandem for a good reason and to good effect.

But why are so many people using myself by itself when they mean I or me, as a bloke on the radio just did?

Please correct me if I’m wrong, a little knowledge can induce you to state something as a fact when it’s not; but isn’t myself a reflexive pronoun not a subject or object one?

If I’m right, it may be used in sentences such as I did it myself or I washed myself. It isn’t interchangable with I or me in sentences such as X, Y and myself dagged 1000 ewes . . .  or those trees belong to myself.

You might say your good self  jokingly instead of you, but I don’t think you’d say X, Y and yourself dagged 1000 ewes  nor those trees belong to yourself.

Higher debt = less control


Fonterra shareholders weren’t keen on a public float of the cooperative because they didn’t want to lose control.

But if a business has a lot of debt, as Fonterra does,  it’s the banks not the shareholders who are in control.

Brian Gaynor says:

Those of us who were around in the 1980s are brutally aware that majority shareholders lose control when companies are highly leveraged and get themselves into trouble. In that situation the lenders take full control and shareholders have limited rights.

This is occurring with a number of companies at present, including PGG Wrightson.

Farmer resistance to outside capital could ultimately weaken their control because it forces Fonterra to borrow more and more and these lenders rank ahead of farmers, both in terms of their supplier and shareholder roles.

There is a strong argument that farmers would have more control of Fonterra if the co-operative issued new capital to outside shareholders, farmers continued to hold a clear majority of the shares and the new capital was used to repay debt.

If outside capital is used to repay debt then farmers are in a better position, particularly as far as their supplier role is concerned.

Cactus Kate also recognises the danger of too much debt:

Farmers are now likely to fund Fonterra’s restructuring after wide-spread rejection of an NZX listing.

We know what that effectively means. Something that was problematic in 1987 to New Zealanders – they will have to borrow more to buy shares.

The overseas banks will fund Fonterra’s restructuring.

She also suggests a solution:

Rather than limit the ownership of shareholding to farmers in New Zealand they could and should widen the issue to beneficiaries of family or trading trusts owning these farms. There must be thousands of such beneficiaries out there with spare cash earned in others sectors of the workforce to plug some of the gap.

That could effectively happen now if beneficiaries lent money to the farms. However, the shares wouldn’t be in the beneficiaries’ names and Kate thinks farmers might be too proud to ask for loans.

 So why not issue shares to the beneficiary instead of a loan? The beneficiary of the trust is related to the farm with an equitable interest in Fonterra, they are not entirely unrelated parties which would be saleable to farmers as there is no control interest lost or overseas take-over attempts possible.

The voting rights could remain with the farm to which the beneficiary is tied to, yet the equity be issued in the name of the beneficiary related. While it will not raise all the money required, surely reaching into the pockets of the wider Fonterra community is preferable to putting individual farms further at the mercy of overseas owned banks with more debt stresses?

She suggests that shares could also be issued to individuals who have an interest in dairy farms through corporate or collective ownership.

That could happen indirectly now if individuals lend to the farm but it would still be the supplier not the lender who owned the shares. Kate’s plan would allow the lenders who are already financially committed to farms to own shares as individuals.

Voting shares are tied to milk production so farmers would retain control but the catchment from which capital could be raised would be increased.

September 21 in history


On September 21:

1792 The National Convention declared France a republic and abolished the monarchy.

1756 Scottish engineer and road builder John McAdam was born.

1834 British troops were used in New Zealand for the first time when they rescued Betty Guard and her children who had been captured by maori after the wreck of the ship Harriet.

1866 English writer H.G. (Herbert George) Wells was born.

1874 English composer Gustav Holst was born.

1897 The Yes Virginia there is a Santa Claus letter was published in the New York Sun.


Francis Pharcellus Church, writer of the famous editorial.
1902 Allen Lane, founder of Penguin books, was born.
1931 US actor Larry Hagman was born.

1934 Canadian singer, songwriter Leonard Cohen was born.

1937 J.R.R. (John Ronald Reuel) Tolkien’s book The Hobbit was published.

Cover to the 1937 first edition
Cover of the 1937 first edition.

1947 US writer Stephen King was born.

1950 US actor Bill Murray was born.

Bill Murray Get Low TIFF09.jpg

1957 Australian Prime Minsiter Kevin Rudd was born.

1964 Malta gained its independence.

                  Coat of arms of Malta.svg

1968 US talk show host Ricki Lake was born.

1972  English singer Liam Gallagher was born.

1978 All Black Doug Howlett was born.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

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