Word of the day

October 11, 2011

Ambulant –  continually active; walking or moving about from place to place, itinerant; able to walk, not confined to bed.


October 11, 2011

14/15 – which is a relief because it was Stuff’s kids’ quiz. I missed the music one.

Writing without reading is . . .

October 11, 2011

Discussion with Jim Mora on Critical Mass today began with a New Yorker piece by Macy Halford on whether you can write if you don’t read: Writing without reading is like. . .

Among the suggestions in the comments are: wanting to write without wanting to read is like wanting play a musical instrument without listening to music; wanting to sail without the wind; breathing without lungs; speak without listening and speak without thinking.

The second link Draw Happy is an on-going interactive project started by visual artist Catherine Young who realised one of the most universal and clearest way to record what made them happy was to draw. So far the website has 139 submissions from 45 countries.

None of those are from New Zealand which provides an opportunity and a challenge for someone to remedy that.

CPI changes reflect changing tastes and technology

October 11, 2011

Changes in taste and technology are reflected in the consumer price index which has been updated after Statistics New Zealand’s three yearly review of the goods and services in the CPI basket.

The CPI basket of representative goods and services was reselected to ensure it continues to reflect household spending patterns. As part of the latest review, goods added to the basket include tablet computers, external computer hard drives, e-books, and flatbread. Services added include alarm monitoring and delivery charges. Goods removed from the basket include unflued gas heaters, dictionaries, and envelopes.

The addition of tablets and e-books and removal of dictionaries and envelopes will be related.  An increase in electronic references, reading material and communication will have caused a decrease in the use of real books and snail mail.

Just before the survey ran, the economy emerged from a five-quarter recession. Consequently the 2011 CPI weights were affected by the economic situation at the time. There were decreases in the relative importance of the purchase of new housing, professional services associated with buying and selling houses, furniture, household appliances, and cars. The relative importance of food, rentals for housing, and electricity all increased.

Based on the household survey and other information, Statistics NZ estimates that of every $100 spent by households on goods and services covered by the CPI, $23.55 is spent on housing and household utilities, compared with $22.75 in 2008. This reflects increased spending on rent and higher electricity prices.

Food accounts for $18.79 of every $100 spent, compared with $17.83 in 2008. The increase reflects a 14 percent rise in food prices over the past three years.

Other groups declined in relative importance, including transport (down from $16.18 to $15.12 of every $100 spent), with lower spending on cars contributing to the fall.

The increase in the proportion of expenditure on food reflects a world-wide trend. It is good for the country when we produce so much but difficult for people on lower incomes.

Only political geeks interested in political leaders

October 11, 2011

The Otago Chamber of Commerce has cancelled its series of leaders debates owing to a lack of interest form from its members.

Chamber chief executive John Christie suggested many reasons why the response to the meetings by members had been low.  But in the end it came down to disinterest.   

“There’s a lot going on. The Rugby World Cup is full on and there seems to be a lot of reluctance by people to have anything to do with political leaders.”   

Some firms in Dunedin had stopped their workers from attending, citing company policy about attending any political meetings during work time, he said.

Even if the business environment wasn’t as difficult as it is, it’s understandable employers would rather have their staff at work than at political meetings – though we might make an exception for National MPs :).

Other members had expressed their satisfaction with the way things were going.   

If you’re happy with the government, why waste time listening to the opposition?

The lack of interest was not a reflection on the leaders; it was more the public not being interested, Mr Christie said.   University of Otago political scientist Bryce Edwards said it was disappointing the series had ended but he could understand that people were not interested in political leaders.   

 “If I was a normal citizen I would not bother going to see Phil Goff. Apart from political geeks like us, people are not interested in political leaders.”   

I started my journalism career in election year and had to cover election meetings. In those days under First Past the Post the leaders of National and Labour would attract hundreds of people, now under MMP we have more parties and leaders but most would be lucky to attract dozens to a meeting.

As an abnormal citizen, one of those political tragics, I sometimes attend a meeting addressed by politicians other than National ones, to find out how they perform in real life rather than through the media.

That more people don’t is a reflection of competing demands on time and a disengagement from politics and the political process.

That’s not good for democracy, especially under MMP which gives so much power to the wee parties.

Walking to victory

October 11, 2011

Invercargill MP Eric Roy always tries to do something a bit different with his election campaigns.

In 2008 he had a carbon zero campaign and launched it by planting native trees.

This time he’s walking to victory with a 360km trek through his electorate.

He expects to spend about three hours on the road each day and he’ll be multi-tasking. He’s taking his phone to deal with constituent matters while walking, meeting some en route and will complete each leg of the journey with an opportunity for the public to meet him over a cuppa.

A trek of this length isn’t for the faint-hearted or unfit but this is the bloke who walked several hours out of the bush with a broken leg and who celebrated his recovery from cancer by running the Kepler Pass.

Never’s a long time

October 11, 2011

United Future leader Peter Dunne wants to rule out Kiwibank, Radio New Zealand and the water supply from any future asset sales programmes.

“New Zealanders, I believe, are not definitively pro-asset sales, but under certain conditions, it is no longer the bogeyman issue that Labour would have you believe.” . . .

“New Zealanders, I believe, are not definitively pro-asset sales, but under certain conditions, it is no longer the bogeyman issue that Labour would have you believe.” . . .

“Let no one claim for any price what is ours as of right. There needs to be a blanket and clear undertaking that this will never be on the agenda,” Mr Dunne said. . .

The prospect of asset sales isn’t the bogeyman Labour is trying to scare voters with and there will be some assets that people feel more strongly about keeping in state hands than others.

The sale of Kiwibank, RadioNZ and water aren’t on any party’s agenda and I can’t see them being so.

But never is a very long time and it’s not wise to hobble future governments with policy prompted more by the hope of winning votes than fact-based analysis.


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