Word of the day

August 9, 2011

Philosophunculist – one who pretends to know more than they do to impress others.


Why stand to lose?

August 9, 2011

During the 2002 election campaign we knew National’s chances of winning were slim but those of us working in Otago didn’t expect to lose the seat as well.

I could be wrong, but I’ve always thought Labour’s candidate, David Parker, didn’t rate his own chances very highly in the seat and possibly didn’t even want to win it. I’ve always wondered if he was standing to lose the seat but gain a toe in the door for a Dunedin seat when one of the city MPs retired.

However, whether or not he intended to win he did and served three years as an electorate MP before Jacqui Dean won the seat back for National in 2005.

Boundaries changed and the electorate’s name changed too. He stood in the new Waitaki electorate in 2008 and this time made it quite clear he wasn’t trying to win. He conceded to Jacqui  at a public meeting in Geraldine a couple of weeks before the election much to the consternation of Labour Party volunteers who were supporting him.

They made it clear to their party HQ that Parker wouldn’t be welcome back as a candidate. When he didn’t put his name forward to succeed Pete Hodgson in Dunedin North it was assumed he’d decided he preferred being a list MP. His decision to stand in Epsom doesn’t change that because he’s very unlikely to win.

Why, then, is he doing it?

Could it be because this seat will get a lot of media attention which will help his leadership aspirations? Could it also be that he’s not only looking for Phil Goff’s job but his seat as well?

Is he standing in Epsom not to win but to make a showing in Auckland and help his chances at selection in Mt Roskill when Goff retires?

P.S. His media release included this:

National and Act are taking the people of Epsom for granted and treating them like sheep to try and construct an outcome that brings MMP into disrepute . . .

That’s a bit rich when one of the aspects people most dislike about MMP is not accommodations made publicly between parties before elections, but that MPs voted out of an electorate come back on the list in exactly the way he did.


Might is wrong in London

August 9, 2011

Attacks from outside or from nature are bad enough but the riots which are spreading across London are from within.

The Guardian reports:

As disturbances entered a third day, the scale of civil disobedience reached unprecedented levels, with incidents in all corners of the capital.

The violence, which began in Tottenham, north London on Saturday spread south and east to Brixton, Streatham, Walthamstow, Edmonton, Enfield, Oxford Circus and Islington on Sunday.

By last night further outbreaks of disorder involving hundreds of hooded yobs had taken place in Hackney, Clapton, East Ham, Lewisham and Clapham Junction. Property and shops were set on fire in Peckham and Croydon . . .

. . . Riot officers, whose numbers had been quadrupled in anticipation of widespread violence, seemed largely powerless to intervene as they were outnumbered.

Other areas including Barking, Brent Cross, Palmers Green, Kilburn and Shepherds Bush were expecting violence as gangs of youths congregated. Shops across the capital closed early amid fears that the riots would spread further. Teams of riot officers were on standby in every borough in London.

West Midlands Police confirmed that extra officers were on patrol after the force became aware of a message circulated on social networking sites suggesting that Birmingham city centre would be targeted.

This isn’t politically motivated action against an evil regime. It’s mindless violence aimed at innocent property owners and people.

The BBC reports:

Metropolitan Police Commander Adrian Hanstock said: “This is not groups of people acting on behalf of communities or with any consent.

“This is individuals who are actually attacking communities, businesses, properties and houses and actually causing a huge amount of upset and criminality.”

The culprits are mostly young and Liberty Scott says they just want some free stuff:

. . . It is not because of the protest of the shooting of Mark Duggan, in a case that is now under investigation.   One can’t remotely claim that those rioting in Tottenham, Hackney, Wood Green, Enfield and now Lewisham are some response to the Police.  Petrol bombing shops, flats and buses, is not about some sort of protest.  There was a peaceful protest on Saturday about it, and Duggan’s family long called for an end to any violence . . .

These are looters, they are amoral, impulsive young men and women who have no conception of the rights of others, who have no respect for the property of others, who couldn’t care less if people lose their livelihoods, businesses or homes.   They are the output of a culture of entitlement that says if you want something you should have it, you don’t need to work or save for it, for either the state will pay for it, or someone will give it to you – or you just take it when you can.  A culture of hedonistic whim worshipping, that says if it feels good it’s ok and it doesn’t matter who or what you destroy or harm in the process – might is right.
 
Might in this case is wrong.
 
It is also a sign of people disconnected from society and the rules, standards and self-discipline required to keep it functioning and to keep people and property safe.

Bad business unsporting

August 9, 2011

Rebel Sport,  one of the All Blacks sponsors, is threatening to send All Black jerseys back to Adidas which also sponsors the team.

Rod Duke, general manager of Rebel Sport and Briscoes, told NewstalkZB’s Murray Deaker he was absolutely furious at the price difference between New Zealand and other overseas markets.

The Rugby World Cup edition of this year’s jersey costs $220 in most New Zealand retail outlets but the same jersey can be picked up for less than $105 online in the United States.

New Zealand has now been taken off destinations to which the jersies can be sent from at least one of the online outlets, worldrugbyshop.com.

Anyone with friends or family in another country will be able to get round that by directing the jersey via them but its still a really bad look for Adidas.

A price differential which takes into account GST and currency differences would be acceptable, but doubling the price at local retailers is just stupid.

It’s a lot more about business than sport. But sponsor vs sponsor and other retailers is bad business and it’s also unsporting.

Emmerson says it all in a single picture.

Hat Tip: Keeping Stock


The sky isn’t falling

August 9, 2011

Standard and Poor’s decision to downgrade the USA from AAA to AA+ has led to falls on share markets around the world.

But the sky isn’t falling.

Headlines have concentrated on prices which have dropped, but have ignored yields which generally seem to be reasonably healthy.

Falling prices are only a  real problem if you have to sell or are heavily leveraged. For everyone else they’re only a paper problem. With many investments, time is a friend and the price of most shares which have gone down will come up again.

I was a trustee of an organisation that had nearly $200m invested. Our advisors regularly provided us with graphs comparing investments which showed that over the long term, good shares provided the best return.

The trick is to know which are the good ones.

The downgrading is a government problem rather than a business one but that and the consequent share market falls will make businesses and those who bank them more risk averse. That in turn will slow down economic growth.

The volatility is unwelcome but New Zealand is well-placed to weather it:

“The downgrade of the US shows we continue to live in unusually risky and uncertain global environments,” Mr Key said at his post-cabinet press conference.

“The Government has focused on debt and managing spending, this approach has been in all three of our budgets and recent events are further evidence we have moved in the right direction.”

Mr Key said he didn’t think Treasury’s economic growth projections were going to be proved wrong because there were several factors favouring New Zealand, like the Christchurch rebuild and the Rugby World Cup.

He said he was “more optimistic” about the future than those who feared a deepening international recession.

Companies were in a better position now than they had been in the past.

And it’s not just the PM who isn’t pessimistic:

Market commentator Arthur Lim said the international uncertainty in recent years, with a seemingly endless stream of economic woes, had caused “a lot of retail investors simply to call it quits”, yesterday.

“The only way to describe it is panic selling by retail investors,” Lim said.

But the sharp fall was on light volumes. “If the market was falling precipitously on big volume then we really have something to worry about.”

Lim said New Zealand was well placed to capitalise on the global economic uncertainty. The economy was in reasonable shape and much more aligned with the fortunes of the growth economies of Asia, and [there would be] the cushioning effect of the Christchurch rebuild.

Key trading partner China was among other Asian countries looking to diversify their currency and country exposures away from the US.

“And New Zealand is a seen as a very attractive country to put some of their money in,” Lim said.

New Zealand had forged a great symbiotic relationship with China, which was now our second biggest trading partner, supplying agricultural-based products and services in return for consumer goods from televisions to shoes.

We can be grateful to this, and the previous government, for pursuing new trading opporutnities.  Australia is our biggest trading partner and China comes next. Both are better placed to withstand cool eocnomic winds than our traditional partners in Britain and Europe.

Commodity prices are expected to fall but they have been very high, and that’s not all bad news. A fall in the price of oil has already knocked three cents off the price of fuel here.


Labour’s little helpers short on facts

August 9, 2011

Quote of the week from Rob Hosking (print edition of NBR):

The PSA’s claim of political neutrality is a bit like the Japanese whalers’ claim they are only killing whales for scientific purposes. They have to say these things but there is no particular reason for the rest of us to believe them.

He goes on to show that Labour’s little helpers are long on emotion and short on facts. Public servants have done much better than the private sector over the last decade:

For 26 of the past 40 quarters, rises in public sector earnings outstripped those of the private sector.

What is more, in seven of those quarters, rises in the public sector were above 6$, something which never happened in the private sector in the entire decade. . .

But the fact is the public sector is not suffering anything like as badly as its professional bleaters would have you believe – and certainly not as badly as much of the private sector.

One of the reasons for New Zealand’s economic problems is the way Labour let the public service grow on the back of high tax takes. That was bad enough when the government was running surpluses, but it was unsustainable and one of the reasons its now running deficits.

The private sector is doing a lot of belt tightening. In spite of what the PSA would have us believe as they campaign for Labour put their case for higher taxes to keep them in the style to which they’ve been accustomed, the public sector has not been doing as much.


August 9 in history

August 9, 2011

48 BC Battle of Pharsalus – Julius Caesar decisively defeated Pompey at Pharsalus and Pompey fled to Egypt.

378 Gothic War: Battle of Adrianople – A large Roman army led by Emperor Valens was defeated by the Visigoths. Valens and more than half his army were killed.

681 Bulgaria was founded as a Khanate on the south bank of the Danube.

1173 Construction of the Tower of Pisa began.

 

1483 Opening of the Sistine Chapel

1631 John Dryden, English Poet Laureate, was born (d. 1700).

1814  Indian Wars: The Creek signed the Treaty of Fort Jackson, giving up huge parts of Alabama and Georgia. 

1842  Webster-Ashburton Treaty was signed, establishing the United States-Canada border east of the Rocky Mountains. 

1854  Henry David Thoreau published Walden.

1862  Battle of Cedar Mountain – General Stonewall Jackson narrowly defeated Union forces under General John Pope.

 

1877 Battle of Big Hole – A small band of Nez Percé Indians clash with the United States Army.

1892 Thomas Edison received a patent for a two-way telegraph.

 1896  Jean Piaget, Swiss psychologist, was born (d. 1980).

 

1899  P. L. Travers, Australian author, was born  (d. 1996).

1902  Edward VII and Alexandra of Denmark were crowned King and Queen of the United Kingdom. 

1908 The Great White Fleet – 16 American battleships and their escorts, under the command of Admiral C. S. Sperry – arrived in Auckland.

US 'Great White Fleet' arrives in Auckland

1922 Philip Larkin, English poet, was born (d. 1985).

1925  Kakori train robbery.

1930 George Nepia played his last test for the All Blacks.

George Nepia plays last All Blacks test

1936  Games of the XI Olympiad: Jesse Owens won his fourth gold medal at the games becoming the first American to win four medals in one Olympiad. 

1942 Mahatma Gandhi was arrested in Bombay by British forces, launching the Quit India Movement.

 

1942 Battle of Savo Island – Allied naval forces protecting their amphibious forces during the initial stages of the Battle of Guadalcanal are surprised and defeated by an Imperial Japanese Navy cruiser force.

 

1944  The United States Forest Service and the Wartime Advertising Council release posters featuring Smokey Bear for the first time. 

1944 Continuation war: Vyborg–Petrozavodsk Offensive, the largest offensive launched by Soviet Union against Finland during Second World War, ended in strategic stalemate. Both Finnish and Soviet troops at Finnish front dug to defensive positions, and the front remained stable until the end of the war. 

1945  The atomic bomb, “Fat Man“, was dropped on Nagasaki. 39,000 people were killed outright. 

1949 Jonathan Kellerman, American writer, was born.

1961 John Key, Prime Minister of New Zealand, was born.

 
A man with brown eyes and short, brown hair wearing a white shirt, purple tie, and a black jacket with white pin-stripes.

1963  Whitney Houston, American singer and actress. was born.

 

1965  Singapore seceded from Malaysia and gained independence.

1965  A fire at a Titan missile base near Searcy, Arkansas killed 53 construction workers.

1969  Members of a cult led by Charles Manson brutally murdered pregnant actress Sharon Tate, coffee heiress Abigail Folger, Polish actor Wojciech Frykowski, men’s hairstylist Jay Sebring, and recent high-school graduate Steven Parent.

1971  Internment in Northern Ireland: British security forces arrested hundreds of nationalists and detain them without trial in Long Kesh prison. Twenty people died in the riots that followed.

1974  Richard Nixon became the first President of the United States to resign from office. His Vice President, Gerald Ford, became president.

1977  The military-controlled Government of Uruguay announced that it will return the nation to civilian rule through general elections in 1981 for a President and Congress.

1993  The Liberal Democratic Party of Japan lost a 38-year hold on national leadership.

1999 Russian President Boris Yeltsin fired his Prime Minister, Sergei Stepashin, and for the fourth time fired his entire cabinet.

1999  The Diet of Japan enacted a law establishing the Hinomaru and Kimi Ga Yo as the official national flag and national anthem.

 

2001  US President George W. Bush announced his support for federal funding of limited research on embryonic stem cells

2007  Emergence of the Financial crisis of 2007-2008 when a liquidity crisis resulted from the Subprime mortgage crisis.

Sourced from NZ History Online &  Wikipedia


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