Word of the day


Mansuetude –  meekness, tameness, gentleness  of manner, mildness; sweetness of temper.



6/10 in Stuff’s Biz Quiz.

How many dogs does it take to change a light bulb?


How many dogs does it take to change a light bulb? 

Border Collie: Just one. Then I’ll replace any wiring that’s not up to code. 

 Rottweiler: Make me!  

 Lab: Oh, me, me! Pleeease let me change the light bulb! Can I? Huh? Huh? 

 Dachshund: You know I can’t reach that stupid lamp! 

Jack Russell Terrier: I’ll just pop it in while I’m bouncing off the walls.

Greyhound: It isn’t moving. Who cares?

Cocker Spaniel: Why change it? The fridge light is bright enough to let you find my food.

Mastiff: Do it yourself! I’m not afraid of the dark.

Boxer: Who needs light? I can still play with my squeaky toys in the dark.

Pointer: I see it, there it is, there it is, right there!

Chihuahua: ¿Tu me quieres cambiar la bombilla?

Kelpie: First, I’ll round up all the light bulbs and get them in a circle…

Old English Sheep dog: Light bulb? That thing I just ate was a light bulb? 

Basset Hound: Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz…

Poodle: I’ll just blow in the Border Collie’s ear and he’ll do it. By the time he finishes rewiring the house, my nails will be dry. 

Golden Retriever: The sun is shining, the day is young, we’ve got our whole lives ahead of us, and you’re inside worrying about a stupid light bulb?



Only 5/10 in the Herald’s changing world quiz.

The size of the problem


John Armstrong illustrates the size of Labour’s problems:

While National was promising a brighter future, Labour was  offering a better past. But no-one lives there any more. Labour had lost touch with middle New Zealand. . .

Labour’s overall vote shrank by 15% at the 2008 election.  That was not unusual for a party that had been in power for nine years. But Saturday night’s result saw Labour’s vote shrink again, this time by 23% on the 2008 provisional result.   

All up, nearly 300,000 voters deserted Labour between 2005 and 2011 – that amounts to 35% of the party’s 2005 election  night tally.

The reasons for this are many.

John Key’s popularity and increasing support are among them but they are more symptoms than causes.

Labour had some really silly policies – GST off fruit and vegetables and not-working for families.

Even David Cunliffe admits that was stupid:

“People must always be able to earn more in work than welfare . . . “

Labour spent most of the election campaign attacking John Key and misrepresenting National’s mixed-ownership model for state assets policy as asset sales.

Phil Goff’s ratings improved as people saw more of them but the party went backwards.

After National’s disastrous defeat in the 2002 election the leader Bill English and president Judy Kirk with Steven Joyce’s assistance undertook a complete review of the party. A special constitutional conference re-wrote the rule book and provided the foundation for rebuilding the party.

Labour will have to do the same. Armstrong says:

The Labour Party can dither no longer. Some of its most sacred cows are in need of      slaughtering.   

The magnitude of last Saturday’s crushing defeat dictates that whichever David – Cunliffe or Shearer – emerges triumphant from the leadership tussle, his first action should be to initiate a rigorous, thorough and preferably independent top-to-bottom review of the party’s structure and practices.   

Nothing should be exempt from scrutiny. Not even that most delicate of subjects – the role of the party’s trade union affiliates.

Failure to do so won’t just make it difficult if not impossible to win the next election, it will gift the Green Party the opportunity to become the major party on the left.

Is he jumping or being pushed?


TVNZ says Pita Sharples will happily stand down as co-leader so new blood can come in.

TV3 has a different slant:

. . . it seems the Maori Party do not want Dr Sharples as co-leader any more and  his position will come up for grabs.

The male co-leadership will be contested by Te Ururoa Flavell – the only  other male MP in the Maori Party.

Sharples said before the election that this would be his last term and it makes sense to hand the co-leadership over in plenty of time for his successor to make his mark.

But being happy to stand down is not the same as not being wanted, so is he jumping or being pushed?

UPDATE: The Dom Post says internal struggles are plaguing the Maori Party but offers nothing in the story to back that up.

Could it be the media trying to find conflict where none exists?


Labour must lose unions


To my horror I think I might have once contributed to the Labour Party.

When I started my  first real job union membership was compulsory. Like it or not I was a member of the Journalists’ Union and I think it was probably affiliated to the Labour Party.

The rules of the JU’s successor, the EPMU include the promotion and protection of members, industrial, economic and social interests part of which is:

To affiliate to, federate with, amalgamate with, or otherwise combine with any trade or industrial union or association, or association of trade unions or any other organisation, institution or political party having objects similar to the objects of this Union, and to assist such organisations, with a view to advancing the interests of the union movement and working people.

I wonder how many journalists who are union members know this? Back in 1981 when I started work there was no website to check the rules and  I didn’t think to ask for a copy. Had I done so, it wouldn’t have got me anywhere, I had no choice about joining the union nor say in its affiliation.

While I can see the attraction of such affiliations for the money and people-power it gives the party and power it gives unions, I don’t think it’s good for members of either organisation.

Affiliation with Labour weakens the union voice. It can’t speak in the best interests of workers if  it’s hamstrung by its links to Labour when it wants to criticise that party or praise those which occupy different parts of the political spectrum.

The power of the affiliates within the party also disadvantages individual members whose voices and power can’t compete with the block votes of  unions.

If that was ever a good idea, this year’s Labour list and diminished caucus shows it no longer is. The unions used their power to get their preferred candidates in winnable places leaving the parliamentary wing full of deadwood and some of the newer MPs out of parliament.

Parties have far more power under MMP and they are supposed to be democratic in their processes, particularly in selecting their lists. A party which makes affiliates more equal than ordinary members isn’t democratic and it’s not just people on the right who think that affiliated memberships have had their day.

In rebuilding Labour without the unions, Chris Trotter writes:

When universal membership made trade unions the most representative institutions in New Zealand society, their affiliation to the Labour Party was an important part of our progressive and democratic political traditions. But the dramatic reduction in union density and the trend towards oligarchical control in union organisations renders their continuing attachment to a similarly reduced Labour Party highly problematic. The rejuvenation of the labour movement requires trade unions without electoral attachments. Affiliation has had its day. . .

Union affiliation and the power it gives to the few who control block votes has never been  democratic and it is even less so today when unions represent such a minority.

If  union affiliation to Labour affected only the party that would be their business, but when the party will return to government one day it affects all of us.

Political party membership should be the preserve of individual people, not organisations. Labour must lose the unions.

December 3 in history


1800 – War of the Second Coalition: Battle of Hohenlinden, French General Moreau defeated the Austrian Archduke John decisively, coupled with First Consul Napoleon Bonaparte’s victory at Marengo effectively forcing the Austrians to sign an armistice and ending the war.

1838  Octavia Hill, British housing and open-space activist, was born (d. 1912).

1842 Charles Alfred Pillsbury, American industrialist, was born  (d. 1899).

1854 – Eureka Stockade: More than 20 gold miners at Ballarat were killed by state troopers in an uprising over mining licences.

1857 Joseph Conrad, Polish-born British writer, was born (d. 1924).

1863 The Land Confiscation law was passed allowing the confiscation (raupatu) of Maori land as punishment of those North Island tribes who were deemed to have been in rebellion against the British Crown in the early 1860s.

Land confiscation law passed

1904 – The Jovian moon Himalia was discovered by Charles Dillon Perrine at California’s Lick Observatory.

1910 – Modern neon lighting was first demonstrated by Georges Claude at the Paris Motor Show.

1912 – Bulgaria, Greece, Montenegro, and Serbia (the Balkan League) signed an armistice with Turkey, ending the two-month long First Balkan War.

1912 – First Balkan War: The Naval Battle of Elli.

1917 –  Quebec Bridge opened to traffic.

1927 Andy Williams, American singer, was born.

1944 – Greek Civil War: Fighting in Athens between the ELAS and government forces supported by the British Army.

1948 Ozzy Osbourne, English singer, was born.

1949 Mickey Thomas, American singer (Jefferson Starship),was born.

1951  Nicky Stevens, British singer (Brotherhood of Man), was born.

1959 – The current flag of Singapore was adopted.

1964 – Berkeley Free Speech Movement: Police arrested over 800 students at the University of California, Berkeley, following their takeover and sit-in at the administration building in protest at the UC Regents’ decision to forbid protests on UC property.

1967 – At Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town a transplant team headed by Christiaan Barnard carried out the first heart transplant on a human (53-year-old Louis Washkansky).

1970 – October Crisis: In Montreal, Quebec, kidnapped British Trade Commissioner James Cross was released by the Front de libération du Québec terrorist group after being held hostage for 60 days.

1971 – Indo-Pakistani War of 1971: Pakistan launched pre-emptive strike against India and a full scale war began.

1973 –  Pioneer 10 sent back the first close-up images of Jupiter.

1976 –  Byron Kelleher, New Zealand rugby union footballer, was born.

1976 Mark Boucher, South African cricketer, was born.

1976 – An assassination attempt was made on Bob Marley.

1979 – In Cincinnati, Ohio, eleven fans were suffocated in a crush for seats on the concourse outside Riverfront Coliseum before a Who concert .

1982 – A soil sample was taken from Times Beach, Missouri that would be found to contain 300 times the safe level of dioxin.

1984 – Bhopal Disaster: A methyl isocyanate leak from a Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal  killed more than 3,800 people outright and injures 150,000–600,000 others (some 6,000 of whom would later die from their injuries) in one of the worst industrial disasters in history.

1990 – At Detroit Metropolitan Airport, Northwest Airlines Flight 1482 collided with Northwest Airlines Flight 299 on the runway, killing 7 passengers and 1 crew member aboard flight 1482.

1992 – UN Security Council Resolution 794 iwa unanimously passed, approving a coalition of United Nations peacekeepers led by the United States to form UNITAF, with the task of establishing peace and ensuring that humanitarian aid is distributed in Somalia.

1992 – The Greek oil tanker Aegean Sea, carrying 80,000 tonnes of crude oil, runs aground in a storm while approaching La Coruña, Spain, and spilt much of its cargo.

1997 – Representatives from 121 countries signed The Ottawa treaty prohibiting manufacture and deployment of anti-personnel landmines.

1999 – NASA lost radio contact with the Mars Polar Lander moments before the spacecraft enteredthe Martian atmosphere.

1999 – Six firefighters were killed in the Worcester Cold Storage Warehouse fire.

2005 – XCOR Aerospace made first manned rocket aircraft delivery of US Mail in Mojave, California.

2007 – Winter storms caused the Chehalis River to flood many cities in Lewis County, Washington, also closing a 20-mile portion of Interstate 5 for several days and casuing at least eight deaths and billions of dollars in damages.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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