Shining light on human achievement

March 26, 2011

Let the luddites light their candles for Earth Hour.

The aim of treading lightly on the earth is a worthy one but I’d rather shine a light on human achievement.

I won’t go as far as Lucia Maria at NZ Conservative  who calls it turn on all the lights night.

I’d rather follow Motella in celebrating human achievement  . Although like Poneke, who reminds us that North Korea has “Earth Hour” all night every night, I will neither be using more or less power than I normally do.

I’ll simply be grateful for the many leaps of science and imagination which bring light and other improvements to our world.

Without them I wouldn’t have been able to read Will Type for Food where Tim T writes he isn’t submitting this poem  to the Earth Hour poems’ page:

The light is off I cannot see
The thingo where I write my verse
The whatsit I just stumbled on
That made me curse. . . 

Tim has more poems for earth hour, the first of which starts: And the second which beings

I think that I shall never see
After that tragic and avoidable incident during during Earth Hour . . .  

Word of the day

March 26, 2011

Obtenebrate – to cast a shadow over, to darken.


The politics of cake cutting

March 26, 2011

National: for every dollar in tax cuts there is also some expenditure on priority issues dear to the public’s heart – this is the nearest you’ll get to having your cake and eating it too.

Labour will take the cake you’ve baked, share it around and, when pressured, give you some of the leftovers.

ACT will provide no cake. They will however, give the tax cuts needed to enable you to purchase a dietary plan of your choice which depending on how well you manage your allowance may or may not include cake.

The Maori Party will hold a hui and invite you to share the cake you bring as koha.

New Zealand First will ask you to pay for cakes that it will sell, give away or eat themselves as its leader sees fit.

The Green Party will legislate so you have to make your own cake from low fat, low sugar, high fibre, home-grown, organic ingredients and share it with your neighbours. It will also tax any fun you have while doing it, nationalise all the bakeries then force you to eat state baked cake.

 The Libertarianz will ask, “Why do we have to have cake anyway?”


Labouring the list

March 26, 2011

Party lists are of great importance to the people on them.

That’s understandable for anyone not standing in an electorate, or standing with little or no chance of winning. But even those with safe seats often want a high place for ego’s sake if nothing else.

Those ranking the list labour over them trying to present a line-up which will appeal to voters without disrupting caucus and upsetting non-MP candidates which can be mutually exclusive goals.

But does anyone else, even political tragics, really pay much attention to them?

The lists are made public once they’ve been sorted but unless there is someone who is well known I’d be very surprised if many voters know, or care, about who is on them and in which order.

The only time after an election a list matters is if a list MP jumps or is pushed from parliament when the next person on the list is invited to take his or her place.

Sometimes,  a party has second thoughts about the ranking as Keeping Stock reminds us the Green Party did  when co-leader Russel Norman leapfrogged Catherine Delahunty and Mike Ward to get into parliament before the last election.

When the Labour list was ranked in 2008 the importance of not upsetting sitting MPs must have had at least some bearing but that is now causing them problems.  The next person on the list is former MP Judith Tizard who must be offered the place vacated by Darren Hughes. If she turns it down it’s offered to Mark Burton, Mahara Okeroa, Martin Gallagher and Dave Hereora, all former MPs who, Labour president Andrew Little told Mary Wilson on Checkpoint, will not be on this year’s list.

The next one on the list is Louisa Wall another former MP but one who is standing again.

It is possible that the next five people on Labour’s list won’t want to disrupt their lives to return to parliament for a few months. But, has anyone asked them if they’d like to return for longer? The Labour list has yet to be ranked so if one of the five made the sacrifice they could be offered a place which has the potential to keep them in parliament for the next term.

But from what Little said last night, that isn’t a consideration. Instead it looks like five people will be expected to not take the place which they are entitled to by the law giving a whole new meaning to the term labouring (or should that be Labouring?) the list.

UPDATE: Kiwiblog notes that the five could-be MPs would be turning down 11 months salary if they decline the chance to return to parliament.


No longer if but when and who

March 26, 2011

The leadership of a political party which has been scorned by voters after nine years in government is a poisoned chalice.

The public usually gives a new Prime Minister and administration a period of grace before it starts looking for alternatives, especially when the obvious one isn’t markedly different from the one they turfed out at the previous election.

Helen Clark announced her resignation on election night which meant any publicity Phil Goff might have got as Labour’s new leader was overshadowed by the establishment of the new National-led government.

Michael Cullen resigned soon after which gave Goff the opportunity to appoint a new finance spokesman but there weren’t enough other changes in the front bench to convince voters they could offer a fresh approach.

Since then the few faltering steps forward have been countered by mistakes and misjudgements by Goff or his MPs. But until now there hasn’t been any serious suggestions of a coup against him.

Why would anyone want to lead the party to almost certain defeat when he or she could wait until after the election and make a fresh start? The only reason would be the thought that a new leader might be able to reduce the damage which is likely to be inflicted at the polls if the current one stays.

The odds were always on Goff  going after the election they are now increasing on the chances  he might go sooner. It is no longer a matter of if he will go but when and who will replace him. Scoop suggests the answer to when? could be next week and who? will be David Parker. The link to the NBR in the last post yesterday makes a similar prediction.

Kiwiblog reckons the coup could happen even sooner.


March 26 in history

March 26, 2011

On March 26:

1026 Pope John XIX crowned Conrad II as Holy Roman Emperor.

 

1484 William Caxton printed his translation of Aesop’s Fables.

 

1516 Conrad Gessner, Swiss naturalist, was born  (d. 1565).

1552c Guru Amar Das became the Third Sikh Guru.

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1636 Utrecht University was founded in the Netherlands.

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1808  Charles IV of Spain abdicated in favor of his son, Ferdinand VII.

1812  An earthquake destroyed Caracas, Venezuela.

1830 The Book of Mormon was published in Palmyra, New York.

Book of Mormon 1830 edition reprint.jpg

1839  The first Henley Royal Regatta was held.

 

1859 Alfred Edward Housman, English poet, was born (d. 1936).

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1874 Robert Frost, American poet, was born  (d. 1963).

1881 Thessaly was freed and becomes part of Greece again.

1896 Rudolf Dassler, Founder of PUMA AG, was born.

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1896 The Brunner Mine Disaster killed 65 men.

Brunner mine disaster kills 65

1905 Viktor Frankl, Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist, was born (d. 1997).

1911 Tennessee Williams, American dramatist, was born  (d. 1983).

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1913 Balkan War: Bulgarian forces took Adrianople.

1917 First Battle of Gaza – British troops were halted after 17,000 Turks blocked their advance.

1931 Leonard Nimoy, American actor and director, was born.

 

1934  The driving test was introduced in the United Kingdom.

1942   Auschwitz received its first female prisoners.

1942  Erica Jong, American author, was born.

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1943 Bob Woodward, American journalist, was born.

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1944 Diana Ross, American singer (Supremes), was born.

1945  World War II: In Iwo Jima, US forces declared Iwo Jima secure.

1948  Richard Tandy, British keyboardist (Electric Light Orchestra), was born.

1948 Steven Tyler, American singer (Aerosmith), was born.

1953  Jonas Salk announced his polio vaccine.

1954 Curtis Sliwa, American founder of the Guardian Angels, anit-crime activist, was born.

1958  The United States Army launched Explorer 3.

1958  The African Regroupment Party (PRA) is launched at a meeting in Paris.

1967  Ten thousand people gathered for one of many Central Park Be-Ins in New York City.

1968 James Iha, American musician (The Smashing Pumpkins and A Perfect Circle), was born.

1971  East Pakistan declared its independence from Pakistan to form People’s Republic of Bangladesh and Bangladesh Liberation War began.

1973 Lawrence E. Page, American search engine pioneer, was born.

 

1974  Gaura Devi leads a group of 27 women of Laata village, Henwalghati, Garhwal Himalayas, to form circles around trees to stop them being felled, thus sparking the Chipko Movement in India.

 

1975  The Biological Weapons Convention entered into force.

1976  Queen Elizabeth II sent out the first royal email, from the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment.

1979  Anwar al-Sadat, Menachem Begin and Jimmy Carter signed the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty in Washington, D.C.

Begin, Carter and Sadat at Camp David 1978.jpg 

1982  A groundbreaking ceremony for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was held in Washington, D.C..

1991  Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay signed the Treaty of Asunción, establishing South Common Market (Mercosur its acronym in Spanish)

1995  The Schengen Treaty went into effect.

 

1996  The International Monetary Fund approved a $10.2 billion loan for Russia.

1997  Thirty-nine bodies found in the Heaven’s Gate cult suicides.

1998  Oued Bouaicha massacre in Algeria: 52 people killed with axes and knives, 32 of them babies under the age of 2.

1999 The “Melissa worm” infected Microsoft word processing and e-mail systems around the world.

2005 The Taiwanese government called on 1 million Taiwanese to demonstrate in Taipei, in opposition to the Anti-Secession Law of the People’s Republic of China. Around 200,000 to 300,000 attended the walk.

2006 In Scotland, the prohibition of smoking in all substantially enclosed public places went into force.

2006 The military junta ruling Burma officially named Naypyidaw, a new city in Mandalay Division, as the new capital. Yangon had formerly been the nation’s capital.

2010 – 46 died as a South Korean warship sank, allegedly after an attack by North Korea.

 Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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