Word of the day


Bandersnatch – an imaginary wild animal of fierce disposition; a person of uncouth or unconventional habits, attitudes, etc., especially one considered a menace, nuisance, or the like.

Into the mouths of babes


A National Party human hoardings team was being boldly blue yesterday.

A teacher at a nearby day care centre was heard shouting “go Labour,” several times from the outside play area.

She had a number of pre-school children with her and they joined in shouting, “go Labour'”too.

She wasn’t heard coaching the children but it is difficult to imagine three and four year-old children coming up with those words, and that view, by themselves.

Putting political words into the mouths of babes is overstepping a line between professional behaviour and personal views.

If I was a parent of those children I’d be furious that they were being used in this way, regardless of which political party they were being encouraged to support.

Fair’s not fair with MMP


Proponents of MMP like to say it’s the fairest system because every vote counts.

The results contradict that.

National supporters whose votes allowed Peter Dunne into three successive Labour-led governments show that under MMP your vote can count for the opposite of what you intend.

People who voted for New Zealand First to get a Labour-led government in 1996 would be equally unhappy and the greater lack of unfairness is that MMP can allow the leader of a minor party to determine the government.

David Farrar points out in his Herald column that Winston Peters could get to choose the next Prime Minister.:

 If NZ First makes five per cent, then there is a reasonable chance Peters will hold the balance of power. His caucus will defer to him absolutely. . .

. . . if he holds the balance of power in 2011, make no mistake he will choose Phil Goff over John Key, and there will be a Government that can only pass a law if it can get the Greens, Winston, Hone, and the Maori Party to all agree to it.

The parliament might reflect how people some vote but I doubt that many would call the outcome for government fair.

He has not pledged to allow the largest party to govern. He has merely said they should be able to first try and form a Government. That may mean he’ll talk to them for ten minutes before he picks up the phone and makes Phil Goff Prime Minister.

Many New Zealanders, unaware of how MMP works in practice, will be shocked. They’ll say how can the guy who leads his party to a massive defeat, getting (for example) 6% less support than they got when thrown out in 2008, end up Prime Minister?

But this is a design feature of MMP, not a defect. MMP will more often than not require minor parties to decide after the election who will be Prime Minister. Sometimes their preferences will be known before the election, sometimes they will not be.

John Key and National have been up-front about coalition partners and have categorically ruled out Peters. Phil Goff and Labour have ruled out Hone Harawira and Mana but are saying maybe to Peters and New Zealand First.

Peters in his usual Humpty Dumpty manner has said something that will mean whatever he wishes it to should he be in a position to use the election results to his advantage.

What’s fairer, stating your intentions so voters are clear what they’re voting for before the election or waiting to do covert deals afterwards and leaving voters to find their votes have counted for something they don’t want?

What’s fairer, a system which gives power to the people or hands it to an individual?

MMP is perfect for demagogues such as Peters. He selects who will be on his party list, and they become MPs based on his personal popularity, despite the fact 99% of New Zealanders could not tell you who the top six candidates on his list are. Their loyalty is purely to him, not to the New Zealand public.

What’s fairer, a system that gives more power to parties or better representation for people?

MMP gives far too much power to parties, which in the case of more than one of the wee ones means the leader. That leaves people will poorer representation and that weakness is exacerbated by the geographical size of the electorates.

I wrote about that in a column for the ODT’s Paddock talk on Monday.

P.S. Motella illustrates the horror of what could happen next week.

Friday’s answers


Thursday’s questions were:

1. Who said: “The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic.”?

2. Who was the Greek god of liars and thieves?

3. It’s mentire in Italian, mentir in French and Spanish and kōrero parau in Maori, what is it in English?

4. How much does New Zealand First still owe us?

5. Can you name any other NZ First candidates apart from its leader?

Points for answers:

Andrei wins an electronic box of Rare Earth Jesey Bennies for a clean sweep with a bonus for the question.

James got four.

PDM got three and a wry grin for #2.

Grant got four with another grin for #2.

Adam got four with a bonus for being so adament for #5.

Answers follow the break:

Read the rest of this entry »



7/10 in the Herald’s changing world quiz.

Lab/Green policies encourage dairy conversion


Labour and Green policies for resource rentals would threaten arable farms and encourage more dairy conversion.

“Ten cents per cubic metres of water may sound like a drop in the bucket but for my arable and lamb finishing farm, it wipes out any surplus I’d make from farming,” says David Clark, Federated Farmers Mid-Canterbury Grain & Seed chairperson.

“Ten cents per cubic metre adds up to $234,000 per year and that sum is frightening.

“I’m an arable farmer so the crops I grow go into the bread people eat. Those crops rely on irrigated water but in Canterbury, much of that water is drawn from ground water.

“Having costed resource rentals and the near quarter of a million it would cost my business, the only way for me to keep farming is to build a milking platform and go dairying.

“I’m not sure that’s what Labour Leader Phil Goff wants but that’s the practical outcome of his party’s policy. Dairying would be the only way for arable farmers to keep up with the astronomical cost of resource rentals. As a country, we’d also have to import more grains too.

“It’s one example of why Federated Farmers warned the Labour and Green parties about their policies towards farming. These are policies that could make the family farm a folk memory and Federated Farmers doesn’t want that.

Labour and Green primary sector policies, like their general business ones, add costs without doing anything that will aid productivity.

This could result in what they will consider perverse outcomes including encouraging farm amalgamation to get economies of scale, more corporate ownership and more dairy conversions.

When life imitates satire


Tweet of the day:

He could be right, the campaign is decending to a farcial level in which Fred Dagg would have revelled.

Hat tip: Election 2011 Live

Morality and legality


Quote of the day:

Jolyon White, the man behind Green Party activists putting stickers on National billboards, is a social justice worker for the Anglican Church. You’d think he would know something about the morality of the action, if not the legalityTrans-Tasman.

November 18 in history


326 – Old St. Peter’s Basilica was consecrated.


1105 – Maginulf elected the Antipope Sylvester the IV.

1210 – Pope Innocent III excommunicated Holy Roman Emperor Otto IV.


1302 – Pope Boniface VIII issued the Papal bull Unam sanctam (One Faith).

1307 – William Tell shot an apple off of his son’s head.

1421 – A seawall at the Zuiderzee dike broke, flooding 72 villages and killing about 10,000 people.

1477 – William Caxton produced Dictes or Sayengis of the Philosophres, the first book printed on a printing press in England.


1493 – Christopher Columbus first sighted Puerto Rico.

1626 – St. Peter’s Basilica was consecrated.


1686 – Charles Francois Felix operated on King Louis XIV’s anal fistula after practicing the surgery on several peasants.

1730 – Frederick II (Frederick the Great), King of Prussia, was granted a royal pardon and released from confinement.


1785 David Wilkie, British artist, was born (d. 1841).

1793 – The Louvre was officially opened.


1803 – The Battle of Vertières, the last major battle of the Haitian Revolution, leading to the establishment of the Republic of Haiti, the first black republic in the Western Hemisphere.

1809 – In a naval action during the Napoleonic Wars, French frigates defeated British East Indiamen in the Bay of Bengal.
1836 Sir William S. Gilbert, British dramatist, was born (d. 1911).

1861 – Dorothy Dix, American journalist, was born (d. 1951).


1863 – King Christian IX of Denmark decided to sign the November constitution that declared Schleswig to be part of Denmark.


1865 – Mark Twain’s story The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County was published in the New York Saturday Press.


1874 – En route to Auckland with immigrants, the Cospatrick caught fire and sank off South Africa’s Cape of Good Hope.

Cospatrick fire kills 470

1883 – American and Canadian railroads instituted five standard continental time zones, ending the confusion of thousands of local times.

1903 – The Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty was signed by the United States and Panama, giving the United States exclusive rights over the Panama Canal Zone.

1904 – General Esteban Huertas step down after the government of Panama fears he wants to stage a coup.


1905 – Prince Carl of Denmark became King Haakon VII of Norway.


1909 – Two United States warships were sent to Nicaragua after 500 revolutionaries (including two Americans) were executed by order of José Santos Zelaya.

1916 – World War I: First Battle of the Somme ended– British Expeditionary Force commander Douglas Haig called off the battle.


1918 – Latvia declared its independence from Russia.

1926 – George Bernard Shaw refused to accept the money for his Nobel Prize, saying, “I can forgive Alfred Nobel for inventing dynamite, but only a fiend in human form could have invented the Nobel Prize.”


1928 – Release of the animated short Steamboat Willie, the first fully synchronized sound cartoon, directed by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks, featuring the third appearances of cartoon characters Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse.


1929 – 1929 Grand Banks earthquake: a Richter magnitude 7.2 submarine earthquake, centered on Grand Banks, broke 12 submarine transatlantic telegraph cables and triggered a tsunami that destroyed many south coast communities in the Burin Peninsula.


1930 – Sōka Kyōiku Gakkai, a Buddhist association later renamed Soka Gakkai, was founded by Japanese educators Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and Josei Toda.


1938 – Trade union members elected John L. Lewis as the first president of the Congress of Industrial Organisations.


1939 Margaret Atwood, Canadian writer, was born.


1940 – World War II: German leader Adolf Hitler and Italian Foreign Minister Galeazzo Ciano met to discuss Benito Mussolini’s disastrous invasion of Greece.

1940 – New York City’s Mad Bomber placed his first bomb at a Manhattan office building used by Consolidated Edison.

1942 Susan Sullivan, American actress, was born.


1943 – World War II: Battle of Berlin: 440 Royal Air Force planes bombed Berlin causing only light damage and killing 131. The RAF lost nine aircraft and 53 air crew.

1947 – The Ballantyne’s Department Store fire in Christchurch killed 41.

1949 – The Iva Valley Shootin after the coal miners of Enugu, Nigeria struck over withheld wages; 21 miners were shot dead and 51 wounded by police under the supervision of the British colonial administration of Nigeria.

1961 – United States President John F. Kennedy sent 18,000 military advisors to South Vietnam.

1963 – The first push-button telephone went into service.

1967 – The United Kingdom government devalued the Pound sterling from $2.80 to £2.40.

1970 – U.S. President Richard Nixon asked the U.S. Congress for $155 million USD in supplemental aid for the Cambodian government.

1978 – Jim Jones led his Peoples Temple cult to a mass murder-suicide that claimed 918 lives in all, 909 of them in Jonestown itself, including over 270 children. Congressman Leo J. Ryan was murdered by members of the Peoples Temple hours earlier.


1983 Jon Johansen, Norwegian software developer, was born.


1987 – Iran-Contra Affair: The U.S. Congress issuesdits final report on the Iran-Contra Affair.

1987 – King’s Cross fire: 31 people died in a fire at the city’s busiest underground station at King’s Cross St Pancras.


1988 – U.S. President Ronald Reagan signed a bill into law allowing the death penalty for drug traffickers.

1991 – Shiite Muslim kidnappers in Lebanon released Anglican Church envoys Terry Waite and Thomas Sutherland.


1991 – The Croatian city of Vukovar capitulates to the besieging Yugoslav People’s Army and allied Serb paramilitary forces.

1993 – North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was ratified by the USA House of Representatives.


1993 – In South Africa 21 political parties approved a new constitution.

1999 – In College Station, Texas, 12 were killed and 27 injured at Texas A&M University when the 59-foot-tall (18 m) Aggie Bonfire, under construction for the annual football game against the University of Texas, collapsed at 2:42am.


2002 – Iraq disarmament crisis: United Nations weapons inspectors led by Hans Blix arrived in Iraq.


2003 – In the United Kingdom, the Local Government Act 2003, repealing controversial anti-gay amendment Section 28, became effective.

2003 – In a 50-page, 4–3 decision, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that the state may not “deny the protections, benefits and obligations conferred by civil marriage to two individuals of the same sex who wish to marry.”

2004 – The Clinton Presidential Centre was opened in Little Rock, Arkansas, containing 2 million photographs and 80 million documents.


Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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