Word of the day

October 12, 2011

Slick– smooth and glossy; sleek; smooth in manners, speech; suave; sly; shrewdly adroit; ingenious; cleverly devised; slippery, especially from being covered with ice, water, or oil;  floating film of oil; trail of garbage;  paddlelike tool for smoothing a surface,  implement used to make a surface slick, especially a chisel used for smoothing and polishing; a wide tyre without a tread, used in racing;  magazine, usually of large popular readership, printed on high-quality glossy paper; unarmed military aircraft, especially a helicopter; to make smooth, glossy, or oily;  make neat, trim, or tidy.

ACC levy reductions

October 12, 2011

A glimmer of light amidst the economic gloom – ACC levies will be reduced in the wake of ACC’s healthy surplus.

ACC Minister Nick Smith said:

Zealanders and will assist with our economic recovery,” ACC Minister Nick Smith said.

“The levy on wage and salary earners is reduced by 17% – or $170 a year for someone on the average wage. The levy on employers and the self-employed is reduced by 22% – a saving of $1120 a year for the average small business with seven employees.

“These levy reductions are possible because of the huge improvements in ACC finances from the deficits of $2.4 billion in 2007/08 and $4.8 billion in 2008/09, to surpluses in 2009/10 of $2.5 billion and today’s announcement of a $3.5 billion surplus in 2010/11.

“This financial turnaround and levy reductions has been achieved by major improvements in rehabilitation rates and better management of costs. Rehabilitation rates steadily declined from 2005 to 2008, but have consistently improved since with 20% fewer people on long-term compensation. ACC’s claim costs rose 58% from $1.93 billion in 2005 to $3.06 billion in 2008, but have since been trimmed back by 15% to $2.58 billion in 2010/11.”

ACC has been working with long term claimants and encouraging short-term ones back to work sooner.

As part of that businesses have been encouraged to help injured staff return to work, even if not to their usual role. The longer people are off-work the greater the chance of them not returning and this policy has helped ensure short term claimants don’t turn into long term dependents.

List MPs still seen as 2nd class

October 12, 2011

A letter to the editor of the Listener has a way to improve MMP:

There is little the matter with MMP that fine tuning will not fix. Fifty two of the 121 MPs are unelected, neither chosen nor approved the by public at large.

These list MPs represent only votes to their respective partier and there is really no need for their expensive presence in Wellington.

To judge from Freeview channel 22, few of them bother to attend Parliament, anyway. It is surely better to tell them to stay at home and save their largely unearned salaries.

It is difficult to detect irony on the written page. Whether or not this correspondent has his tongue in his cheek, he is making an oft repeated criticism of MMP.

While I’m no fan of the system, I think that criticism is unjustified. Some, probably most, list MPs work hard and not being in parliament when  television cameras are filming doesn’t mean they’re not doing something useful.

The import of the letter, though, is not what is says but what it shows – that after 15 years of MMP too many people don’t understand how it works and regard list MPs as second class representatives.

Match body parts to players

October 12, 2011

Good grief – what will they think of next? Stuff has a match the body parts to the players quiz – (it’s okay it’s safe for work).

I got 5/10, all but the one with the eyes were guesses.

They also have a Rugby World Cup facts quiz in which I managed only 7/2- – all but two of which were guesses.

And I got 13/15 in the kid’s quiz – I didn’t think about the insect question and  music let me down again.

Interim quake report requires higher standards

October 12, 2011

The Royal Commission on the Canterbury earthquakes has released its interim report.

Commission chair Justice Mark Cooper said:

The timing has, of necessity, meant that the Royal Commission has not been able to produce a lengthy list of recommendations. However, this Report does make some recommendations which reflect our view that urgent action is required in respect of some aspects of current building design practice, both in Christchurch and elsewhere, to make some buildings’ elements (particularly stairs and floors in multi-storey buildings) more resilient.

 The Royal Commission is also of the view that immediate action is necessary to strengthen parts of unreinforced masonry buildings that could fail, causing injury or loss of life, in earthquakes that are less severe than the Canterbury earthquakes were. We have made recommendations accordingly.

Its recommendations include  soil analysis and appropriate foundation design, changes to some structural design standards and construction practices, and use of new building technologies.

Other issues which will be addressed in the final report including lessons to be learned from the failures of the CTV and PGC buildings where the majority of victims of February’s quake died.

Some recommendations are directed only at Christchurch but others will apply to the rest of the country as well.

Earthquake strengthening requirements have often been regarded as overly onerous but the February earthquake demonstrated the importance of high standards for design and building.



ALCP gives reason to vote National

October 12, 2011

The Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party is telling drug using beneficiaries to vote for them or risk using their benefits:

Party Leader Michael Appleby said the only way for beneficiaries to continue using cannabis was to ensure the ALCP was elected on November 26 to fight for their rights.

The Government’s Welfare Working Group led by economist Paula Rebstock, aims to tackle drug addiction by introducing drug testing for those on the benefit.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said she supported the move.

“We expect it for people who are in work so why shouldn’t we expect it for people who are looking for work? Frankly, I don’t think that is too much to ask,” she said.

This plea might appeal to those beneficiaries who use cannabis.

But there will be a lot more people who work to pay the taxes that provide the benefits that support these people who will see it as a very good reason to vote National.

Expecting standards from teachers is bullying?

October 12, 2011

The Ministry of Education has been accused of bullying for expecting schools to meet their legal requirements to adopt National Standards.

Now Invercargill MP Eric Roy has been accused of bullying for expecting teachers to meet a very reasonable standard of behaviour.

Fernworth School teacher Terry Guyton asked candidates what they would do to “repair the damage caused by national standards”.

Mr Guyton said the standards were forcing teachers to label five-year-olds as failures.

Mr Roy took exception to Mr Guyton’s comment.

“If you are a teacher telling five-year-olds they are a failure you should not be teaching,” he said. “You should not even be testing them.”

What’s wrong with that?

Any teacher who tells a five year old he/she is failing is failing him/herself. But that’s not how Labour sees it:

Labour candidate Lesley Soper took the platform after Mr Roy and promptly accused him of bullying.

“You have just seen an example of the bullying … the Ministry of Education has used on teachers in this country.”

When did expecting anyone to do what’s legally required become bullying?

There could be many reasons for a child not reaching a standard but you have to know where they are before you can work out why and then help them.

The standards aren’t about passing or failure, they’re a tool to identify progress, or lack of it, which then enables the school and family to help children – and it’s working.

Just yesterday a father gave a story which shows this. His son’s first report was all about what a lovely child he was. The second, after the introduction of National Standards showed he had a reading problem. The school and parents gave him extra help and the third report showed he had caught up.

That is exactly how the standards should work, and will if teachers put the children’s education ahead of their own politics.

UPDATE: Mr Guyton’s father has a different view.

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