Word of the day

October 4, 2011

Schlemiel – a stupid, awkward or unlucky person; a habitual bungler, a dolt.


October 4, 2011

9/10 in Stuff’s Argentina RWC quarter final  quiz . Five trips to and great affection for that country helped.

In case no-one’s noticed . . .

October 4, 2011

The Silver Ferns won the first of two netball tests against England last night.

The score was 62 – 40.

Reports here and here.

Last game most lopsided

October 4, 2011

One of the factors which made the first three Rugby World Cup matches in Dunedin so enjoyable was the way the spectators got behind one or other of the teams.

However, support on Sunday night was decidedly lopsided. The stadium was a sea of Irish green and while people cheered for Italy too the Irish definitely had the numbers and the volume.

Coach Brian O’Driscoll said it was better than some home games and the team rewarded fans with a 36-6 win and a place in the quarter finals.

It was the last world cup game in Dunedin and the sell-out crowd made it a wonderful one to be at.

If there was a world cup for enthusiastic support, it would be hard to beat the Irish and if there was an award for the best stadium it would be hard to beat Dunedin’s.

We had different seats at all four games and had good views from all of them. The weather was relatively mild for all but last week’s game but even when it was fine, the roof added to the comfort for spectators and players.

Quarter final games will be:

Saturday, 8 October:

18:00 – Ireland (Winners Pool C) v  Wales (Runners-up Pool D) at Wellington Regional Stadium

20:30 – England (Winners Pool B) v France (Runners-up Pool A) at Eden Park, Auckland

Sunday, 9 October:

18:00 – South Africa (Winners Pool D) v Australia (Runners-up Pool C) at Wellington Regional Stadium

20:30 – New Zealand (Winners Pool A) v Argentina (Runners-up Pool B) at Eden Park, Auckland

AA’s 10 point election plan for road safety

October 4, 2011

The AA has set out a 10 point action plan for improving road safety:

Safe drivers
•        Introduce saliva-based roadside drugged driving testing.
•       Increase rehabilitation treatment for recidivist drunk drivers.
•        Extend the minimum learner licence period to 12 months rather than six months.

Yes to the first two, but I am less enthusiastic about the third.

Now the licence age has been raised extending the learner period would make it difficult for young people in the country to get their full licence before they leave school which often means leaving home too.

Safe vehicles
•        Raise the safety standards of imported vehicles requiring new cars to have electronic stability control and a minimum NCAP crash rating of 4 stars and used cars to have at least a 3 star NCAP rating or meet suitable safety standards.

Safe roads and roadsides
•        Reprioritise transport spending so an extra $150 million a year is spent on low-cost road safety engineering improvements.
•        Dedicate any new traffic fine revenue to road safety initiatives.

A lot more median barriers would be helpful too.

I’d also like more attention paid to the placement of passing lanes.  It’s very dangerous when they run out on corners or the brow of a hill and it would be safer to have them in only one direction on any stretch of road without a median barrier.

Safe speeds
•        Make fixed speed cameras more visible to drivers and signpost fixed speed camera areas.
•        Introduce red light cameras in all major cities.

The suggestion to improve the visibility of fixed speed cameras was made recently and predictably got the response that all that does is slow people down until they’ve passed them.

The same argument might be made for mobile ones. The sight of a police car does tend to slow traffic down but it usually speeds up again when drivers think they’re out of range.

Trials suggest cameras do help prevent red light-jumping.

Deaths and injuries as a result of road accidents have human and financial costs. Safer drivers and safer roads should reduce both.

It’s Not Fair

October 4, 2011

The Labour Party has unveiled its new campaign slogan: It’s Not Fair.

“We think this will resonate with voters because we all know that life is inherently unfair,” the campaign’s creative director, Trevor Muddled said.

“It starts at the very beginning – only one sperm gets the egg, all the rest fail. It’s sink or swim from there, survival of the fittest and we want to show we’re there not just for the swimmers and the fit but the sinkers and the unfit too.

“We share their pain. We know what it’s like to be ignored and rejected, to be passed over and passed by. When we say it’s not fair we mean it because we’ve been there and done that and are still there and doing it.”

Mr Muddled said a lot of people feel inferior to a lot of other people and Labour was the party best-placed to relate to them.

“We know what it’s like when everyone else is better than you; when your opponents show you up as unprepared and undeserving; when they get opportunities denied to the rest of us, enjoy all the limelight and seize the initiative, leaving you feeling unwanted and unappreciated and we know it’s simply not fair.”

Mr Muddled said an important part of the campaign strategy would be to complain about their opponents .

“RadioLIVE gave John Key a whole hour of politics-free air time and he did it well. When he’s as popular as he is he didn’t need that opportunity to sound good and it’s not fair that he got it.”

“It’s irrelevant that the Electoral Commission said it had to be a politics-free zone. The Commission should have said he couldn’t do it at all unless our Phil could not just do it too, but do it as well as Key did. Since he couldn’t, it’s not fair to show him up by not letting him show up at all.”

Mr Muddled said the playing field was tilted against Labour and tilting further by the minute.

“They’ve got more members than us, and not just more but better members. They’ve got real, live individual people who choose to join. Most of our members are unions funded by people who don’t even realise they’ve joined.

“They’ve also got more money and more supporters than us. It’s simply not fair and there’s a lot of Kiwi voters who know what that’s like; people who feel like losers and we’re going to show them we know what it’s like to be losers too.

“Forget all that positive thinking and those aspirational messages. They’re for winners, people who want to go up. Once they’re up they turn they’re backs on us and that’s not fair.

That helping yourself and standing on your own two feet isn’t for the likes of us and the people we want to like us. We want them to sit at our feet and be grateful to us, say nice things about us and vote for us and it’s simply not fair that enough of them don’t.”

Too late for turn around?

October 4, 2011

 Chris Trotter thinks it’s too late for Labour to turn voters around:

What John Key’s managed to do over these last three years in make National in a way New Zealand or at least New Zealand as it is seen by nearly two thirds it would now appear of the voters. And those who are in the other parties in a strange way are almost now out of that definition and that it is an absolutely fatal place for a political party to find itself in and it makes it extremely difficult both for the party and the party’s leader to get back in the race.

I think you’ve got to go back to that 2005 to 2008 period, the last term of Helen Clark’s government,  when New Zealand really fell out of love with Labour. More and more people, even traditional Labour voters began to see Labour as not really representing them, whereas John Key’s performance really made him one of us, he’s our sort of guy, he really talks our language.

And that has just consolidated over the last three years to the point where it’s a flat line you know of National’s support and it’s you know about 20 percentage points above the flat line of Labour’s. . .  it’s quite an achievement on National’s part . . . it’s almost as if he’s made Don Brash’s statement of 2005,mainstream New Zealand is National, which was wrong then but is right now. . .

You really do get the impression that New Zealanders have looked at Labour, decided a) they don’t really sound very much like us, like me; and b) they’re just not ready, look at them, they’re all over the place. . .

John Key’s personal popularity, an acceptance that National has had an unprecedented series of serious events outside its control to deal with and the Kiwi sense of giving a first-term government a fair go are all conspiring against Labour.

But its failure to learn from the lesson the electorate gave it in 2008, disunity and ill-discipline have turned off all but its hard core supporters.

They have less than eight weeks to persuade voters to trust them. But how can a couple of months of words turn around opinions based on several years of  misguided and increasingly unpopular actions?

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