Will the son follow his father?

December 19, 2011

North Korean dictator Kim Jong II is dead.

His son Jong-un, has been groomed to succeed him.

If he follows his father’s leadership style and political philosophy there is little hope of improvement for the impoverished country and its people.



Word of the day

December 19, 2011

Munted – broken, broken, bent, scraped, splintered, shattered, crashed, crushed, smashed, snapped, squashed, lascerated, punctured, peirced, cracked, destroyed, burst,  demolished, trashed, disintegrated, fractured, fragmented, pounded, pulverized, slammed, squashed, squished, or ruined; abnormal or peculiar  (of a person) ; drunk or intoxicated.

This was chosen as the Word of the Year by Public Address readers.

“The word ‘munted’ isn’t new,” said Public Address founder Russell Brown, “But it felt like this was the year it found its destiny. ‘Munted’, in spirit and in sound, was the natural word for what happened to parts of Christchurch in the February earthquake. And when Mayor Bob Parker told journalists ‘Our main sewer trunk is seriously munted. I believe that is the technical term,’ that destiny was settled.”

The top 10, chosen from 44, were:

1. munted

2. nek minnit

3. ghost chips

4. = #eqnz

= Occupy

6. liquefaction

7. Arab Spring

8. 99%

9. fuckeulogy

10. red-stickered

Fresh blood but none on floor

December 19, 2011

Labour’s new front bench includes some fresh blood and there doesn’t appear to be any on the floor, for now.

Political tragics excercise themselves about rankings.

While the number isn’t irrelevant, especially for egos, how MPs perform and what they achieve is far more important than where they’re ranked.

The full list is:

MP Portfolios
1 David Shearer Leader Security Intelligence Service Science and Innovation
2 Grant Robertson Deputy Leader Environment Tertiary Education, Skills and Training
3 David Parker Finance
4 Jacinda Ardern Social Development
5 David Cunliffe Economic Development Associate Finance
6 Clayton Cosgrove SOEs Commerce Small Business Trade Negotiations Associate Finance
7 Shane Jones Regional Development Associate Finance Economic Development (Māori) Fisheries
8 Nanaia Mahuta Education Associate Māori Affairs (Social)
9 Maryan Street Health Disarmament and Arms Control Associate Foreign Affairs
10 Su’a William Sio Employment Pacific Island Affairs Inter-Faith Dialogue Associate Foreign Affairs
11 Phil Twyford Transport Auckland Issues Associate Environment
12 Trevor Mallard Shadow Leader of the House Associate Finance America’s Cup
13 Charles Chauvel Justice (incl Courts and Corrections) Attorney General Arts, Culture and Heritage
14 Lianne Dalziel Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Civil Defence and Emergency Management Earthquake Commission Consumer Rights and Standards Associate Justice
15 Chris Hipkins Senior Whip State Services Associate Education
16 Phil Goff Foreign Affairs and Trade
17 Annette King Housing Local Government
18 Darien Fenton Junior Whip Labour Immigration
19 Damien O’Connor Primary Industries Food Safety
20 Clare Curran Communications and Information Technology Broadcasting Open Government Disability Issues
Ruth Dyson Conservation Senior Citizens Internal Affairs
Parekura Horomia Māori Affairs Treaty Negotiations
Sue Moroney Early Childhood Education Womens  Affairs
Moana Mackey Energy Climate Change
Iain Lees-Galloway Defence Transport Safety Veterans Affairs Associate Health (Alcohol and Drugs)
Raymond Huo Building and Construction Statistics Land Information
Rajen Prasad Ethnic Affairs Associate Social Development
Kris Faafoi Police Customs Associate Health
Louisa Wall Sport and Recreation Community and Voluntary Sector
David Clark Revenue Associate Tertiary Education
Andrew Little ACC
Rino Tirikatene Tourism
Megan Woods Youth Affairs Associate Science & Innovation
Ross Robertson Nominee for Assistant Speaker Racing Associate Disarmament (Small Arms)


December needs another week

December 19, 2011

At this time every year I wonder if the end of the year would be easier to manage if there was another week between the end of November and Christmas.

In spite of the major efforts people wanting to sell me things make, Christmas stays firmly off my radar until well in to December.

The earlier the decorations and other reminders of the festive season appear, the more resolute I am about ignoring it until it’s almost upon me.

Our family has simplified Christmas – we don’t exchange gifts with siblings, stop giving to nieces and nephews when they get to 21; and we share the cooking so no-one has too much to do on the day.

But even so I find myself looking at the week ahead and wondering if it’s long enough for my list of things-to-do.

Having another week in December might make a difference, or then again it could just mean that I’d have another seven days ignoring the exhortations to prepare and still find Christmas approaching at a gallop.

Why bad theories never die

December 19, 2011

Quote of the day:

Why do I spend so much time arguing against such obvious rubbish, which should be both self-refuting and auto-satirizing the moment someone utters it? Why not just go and read a good book?

The problem is that nonsense can and does go by default. It wins the argument by sheer persistence, by inexhaustible re-iteration, by staying at the meeting when everyone else has gone home, by monomania, by boring people into submission and indifference. And the reward of monomania? Power. Theodore Dalrymple.

Taking democracy seriously

December 19, 2011

Radio New Zealand reports that voting irregularities, uncovered in the judicial recount in Waitakere, are not uncommon:

Chief Electoral Officer Robert Peden says un-enrolled voters account for about 10% of all special votes and this occurs in every electorate in every election.

Mr Peden also says duplicate votes are also unfortunately quite common, with 480 dual votes recorded in the 2008 elections.

He says 58 people have been referred to the police.

It wouldn’t be difficult to vote more than once, or to use someone else’s easy-vote card and vote in their place. But this report shows such actions are taken seriously, as they should be.

Our consistent reputation for lack of corruption doesn’t mean there’s no wrong-doing, it means that when there is those who do it are held to account.

PSA could have come in pollen

December 19, 2011

MAF has commissioned an independent review of its  its importing rules as part of ongoing work into how the kiwifruit vine disease Psa entered New Zealand.

Director General Wayne McNee says the review is a sensible step to ensure that MAF’s systems are as good as they can be and will be welcomed by the kiwifruit industry which had requested such an inquiry.

The review follows a series of investigations that MAF has undertaken since the outbreak of Psa in Bay of Plenty orchards.

He says in order to help the kiwifruit industry manage the disease’s spread, MAF has looked into a number of possible ways the bacterium could have entered New Zealand and has produced a report summarising the results of those investigations.

“The report does not identify a definite means of introduction, but does find there are a number of potential pathways, including people, equipment, and pollen.

It wasn’t known that pollen could carry Psa when rules were changed in 2007 to allow it to be imported.

MAF’s importing rules at the time of the Psa outbreak permitted imports of overseas kiwifruit pollen by the kiwifruit industry and others under strict conditions.

Any imported pollen had to have been sourced from unopened flowers to avoid any issues of bacterial contamination. At the time of granting pollen import permits, there was no internationally published science that indicated pollen was able to spread Psa.

“Given the new information that has emerged on the potential for pollen to spread the disease, I want to review our processes for assessing risk, and incorporating changing science. We still cannot categorically say that Psa in pollen can infect healthy vines – there’s more work to be done to prove that – so we still cannot definitively say that pollen was the way that Psa entered New Zealand,” Mr McNee says.

Imports of pollen were suspended at the time of the Psa outbreak.

The impact of PSA on the kiwifruit industry is as devastating as foot and mouth disease would be to livestock farming.

It is a reminder of how vulnerable agriculture and horticulture are and the importance of tough biosecurity rules.

Working out how Psa got here won’t help those affected but it could help prevent other incursions of pests and diseases.

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