No post today


Let’s not let facts get in the way of a good headline. The song I was thinking of was No Milk Today and it’s not today but Boxing Day, December 26th and the day after New Years Day, January 2, when there may be no mail.

Communications and IT Minister Steven Joyce says the government is suggesting no mail deliveries on those days because they fall on Saturdays and it will give posties a long weekend off.

With many businesses closed and lots of people on holiday volumes of mail are likely to be very light on those days so it shouldn’t inconvenience too many people.

Rural mail box holders haven’t had mail delivered on the Saturdays of any long weekends for some years and we get by which might have an unexpected consequence of boosting newspaper sales. Our papers come with the mail so when we don’t get mail we usually buy a paper if we’re in town.

Julie Andrews – Thoroughly Modern Millie


The search for something to mark Julie Andrew’s birthday led me to Thoroughly Modern Millie.

My best friend and I loved it when we saw it at the pictures, way back in the days when you stood for the National Anthem (which was then God Save The Queen) before the shorts which came on before the film.

You might prefer something from The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady or Mary Poppins.

Magazines for every interest


In spite of predictions of the demise of print media there seems to be a magazine to cater for every interest.

I spent last night at the Holiday Inn in Wellington and in the room found a copy of Beautiful You, subtitled New Zealand’s Beauty & Surgery Magazine.

I didn’t open it but the cover promised: Win! A $10,000 non surgical makeover; Cosmetic surgery Brow & Temple Tighten, After Baby Body; and Natural Beauty for You, Non Surgical, Injectables, Permanent Make up.

Two questions:

1. Are the people this magazine is aimed at self-obsessed or just sad?

2. If there’s a market for this magazine is there also one which helps people accept inner beauty is more attainable and more valuable than physical plastic pseudo-perfection?

Celebrating IDOP


It’s the International Day of Older People.

Actually, it’s really the International Day of Older Persons, but I reckon persons is an impersonal word best left in police statements – as in person or persons unknown.

But I digress.

Whatever you call it, today’s the day to celebrate the people who have passed the first flush of youth and several subsequent flushes. 

Minister for Senior Citizens John Carter says:

“The Day is an opportunity to say thank you for the huge contribution that older people make to society in every walk of life, as grandparents, friends, colleagues, and as mentors to the younger generations.”

While they accept being called older and maybe even old, many dislike being called elderly.

I have some sympathy for that view because the word elderly often comes with infirm in a sentence which is often not the case in life.

Many of the older people I know are fit, active and full of more life than lots of people many years their junior.

One of these works for us.

He came to do three days tractor work when he was 59 and has never left. That was nearly 20 years ago.

When he turned 70, my farmer suggested he might want to start work a little later. He turned up the following morning at 9am but the day after that was back at 8am. He said he’d done all he needed to do at home and was keen get to work.

We’re planning a celebration for his 80th birthday next year and there’s absolutely no suggestion it will be a retirement party.

Drovers Road – updated


Drovers Road by Joyce West is the first New Zealand novel I remember reading.

It is the story of four children, living with their uncle on a backblocks farm north of Gisborne.

I’d been brought up on British, Canadian and US authors and was very excited when this book showed me that New Zealanders could write books about New Zealand people and places.

dairy 10008

Drovers Road by Joyce West, published by J.M. Dent & Sons, 1963.

Day 1 of the book a day challenge for New Zealand Book Month.

book month


Over at In A Strange Land Deborah posts on the first book she read to her baby daughter, Dorothy Butler’s My Brown Bear Barney.

And Rob posts on The Stories of Frank Sargeson.

All Crafar farms to be inspected


Minister of Agriculture David Carter has ordered MAF to inspect all properties owned by or associated with Crafar Farms to ensure there are no more cases of animal neglect.

“I have spoken to Allan Crafar today and he is willing to co-operate fully with MAF inspectors visiting the properties.

“The Crafar operation is clearly facing some serious issues and it must face up to its obligations as responsible farmers. No farmer can shirk from these obligations.”

Twenty two farms is a very big operation and it is clear the Crafar’s systems and processes haven’t grown quickly enough to cope.

Animal neglect on one farm is the responsibility of that farm’s manager and doesn’t necessarily mean there will be problems on other farms in the Crafar group, but the Minister is right to make sure.



To get to an 8.30 meeting in Wellington this morning I could have got up at 4.45 (which thanks to daylight saving would have felt like 3.45), to drive for a couple of hours to fly from Timaru, fly back this evening and get home after 9pm.

Instead I flew up yesterday and as a bonus was able to go to the Backbencher pub for the filming of Back Benches.

Walking into a strange pub alone is a challenge for an introvert, but Matthew, a Young Nat, started chatting to me while I waited at the bar to order a drink, I then spotted David Farrar of Kiwiblog who was sitting with Will from goNZofreakpower. While I’m dropping names, we were joined by B.K. Drinkwater and a journo turned ministerial press secretary, whose name I won’t drop in case he prefers to remain anonymous.

Federated Farmers President Don Nicolson was there with Dairy section chair Lachlan McKenzie and High Country chair Donald Aubrey.

It’s parliamentary recess and the only MPs I spotted were those on the panel – Wairarapa MP John Hayes from National, United Future’s Peter Dunne and Labour’s Chris Chauvel.

They discussed whether or not New Zealand should become a republic – all three said yes and Will also gave a a considered view in support of that.

A discussion on cycling safety followed then Don got a soap box spot. He spoke on the ETS to which the people at the red tables showed their opposition.

Labour MP Sue Moroney spoke on her plan to increase paid parental leave. That was supported by Peter Dunne & Chris Chauvel but John Hayes pointed out that when we’re already borrowing so much to keep the country going, increasing paid parental leave is unaffordable.

A quiz question seeking the name of an MP went through several clues before a team effort at our table got it – David Farrar called out the answer and was presented with a photo of the Queen signed by the panelists. When asked what he’d do with it, he said he’d use it as a beer mat.

There weren’t many opposing voices but mine was one of them. I oppose it on principle – it’s the only benefit which gives more to people who have most. Women on the maximum wage gets the maximum payment, those on the minimum gets the minimum and women who don’t work enough hours a week, if at all,  get nothing regardless of how low the family income is. It’s a benefit which isn’t based on need.

Filming finished with the panelists speaking straight to camera. Peter Dunne patted himself on the back for extending daylight saving – I resisted the temptation to tackle him on that.

I’ve watched the programme a couple of times, being there was much more fun.

WSJ: NZ taxes itself for sake of being green


Just three weeks after saying our cap and trade rationale is a bunch of hot air, the Wall Street Journal has another opinion piece criticising us for taxing ourselves for the sake of being green.

. . . from an environmental perspective, it doesn’t really matter what New Zealand does. The island nation contributes 0.2% of total global emissions. The amended scheme isn’t expected to reduce even that already-miniscule figure much.

The government is right to be concerned about non-trade barriers which might be put up against our produce if we aren’t seen to be doing something.

But doing something isn’t the same thing as doing good.

That’s the problem with the Kyoto protocol – much of the response to meeting commitments will come at high social and environmental costs for little if any environmental gain.

The intent of the protocol may or may not have been worthy but its effects are much more about looking green than being green.

Hat Tip: Matthew Hooton.

October 1 in history


On October 1:

1843 The News of the World tabloid began publication in London.

1908 Ford put the Model T car on the market at a price of US$825


1920 US actor Walter Matthau was born.

1924 US President Jimmy Carter was born.

1935 actress Julie Andrews was born.

1936 Francisco Franco was named head of the Nationalist government of Spain.

Franco in the La guerra ha terminado painting

1945 US musician Donny Hathaway was born.

1946 Mensa International was founded.

Mensa Logo

1949 The People’s Republic of China was declared by Mao Zedong.

1960 Nigeria  gained independence.

1961 East and West Cameroon merged as the republic of Cameroon.

Vertical tricolor (green, red, yellow) with a five-pointed gold star in the center of the red. Tricolor shield before two crossed fasces. Its center is an inverted red kite shape covered with a purple outline of Cameroon below a gold star, with the scales of justice superimposed. Its left is green and its right is gold. Banners with fine print are above and below.

1978 Tuvalu gained independence.

1986 GST was introduced.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

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