Word of the day

December 3, 2012

Moiety -one of the portions into which something is divided; component; one of two social or ritual groups  into which a tribe or community is divided on the basis of unilineal descent.

Life lottery – where to be born next year

December 3, 2012

The Economist has worked out where the best place to be born in 2013 will be:

Its quality-of-life index links the results of subjective life-satisfaction surveys—how happy people say they are—to objective determinants of the quality of life across countries. Being rich helps more than anything else, but it is not all that counts; things like crime, trust in public institutions and the health of family life matter too. In all, the index takes 11 statistically significant indicators into account. They are a mixed bunch: some are fixed factors, such as geography; others change only very slowly over time (demography, many social and cultural characteristics); and some factors depend on policies and the state of the world economy.

A forward-looking element comes into play, too. Although many of the drivers of the quality of life are slow-changing, for this ranking some variables, such as income per head, need to be forecast. We use the EIU’s economic forecasts to 2030, which is roughly when children born in 2013 will reach adulthood. . .

The conclusion after taking into account all that is that the best place in the world to be born next year will be Switzerland, followed by Australia, Norway, Sweden, Denmark,  Singapore, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Canada and Hong Kong.

. . . Small economies dominate the top ten. Half of these are European, but only one, the Netherlands, is from the euro zone. The Nordic countries shine, whereas the crisis-ridden south of Europe (Greece, Portugal and Spain) lags behind despite the advantage of a favourable climate. The largest European economies (Germany, France and Britain) do not do particularly well.
America, where babies will inherit the large debts of the boomer generation, languishes back in 16th place. Despite their economic dynamism, none of the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) scores impressively. Among the 80 countries covered, Nigeria comes last: it is the worst place for a baby to enter the world in 2013. . .

Why test party pills on animals . . .

December 3, 2012

. . .  when there are plenty of human guinea pigs willing to try them?

I accept the place of animals for testing drugs which have the potential for human good, but party pills don’t come into that category.

I wouldn’t be quite as blunt as Gravedodger, but if the pills have to be tested, it is very tempting to suggest that the idiots who buy and sell them be given the opportunity  rather than sacrificing innocent animals.

Finlayson tops with Trans Tasman

December 3, 2012

Attorney General and Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson is Trans Tasman’s politician of the year:

. . . But when the votes were counted, Attorney-General Chris Finlayson’s outstanding work in pushing through Treaty of Waitangi settlement Bills and deals, and his growing reputation as a safe pair of hands got him the nod. His increasing stature as a politician and member of the inner circle was evident when John Key passed responsibility for the Department of Labour to him after Kate Wilkinson stepped down.
He was also charged with the role of informing the Pike River families of the outcome of the Royal Commission into the mining tragedy. He had been viewed as a back-room person, interested in the arts and on the fringe of the Government. He has now been pulled into a more overt political role, to go with his increasing confidence in the House. . .

The Trans Tasman roll call  ranks all MPs in parliament:

. . . As for the numbers, of National’s 59 MPs, 20 boosted their score, 18 went down, and 11 stayed the same. 29 of the 59 had scores of 5 or above. 10 MPs could not be compared with last year as they were new entrants.

In Labour’s ranks 9 MPs boosted their score, 12 went down and 8 stayed the same. 12 of 34 had scores of 5 or better. 5 new entrants could not be compared with last year.

Of the Maori Party’s three MPs, two went down, while one went up, all had scores over 5.

The Greens managed 2 higher scores, 2 lower scores, 3 stayed the same and just 2 rated 5 or better. 7 of their MPs were unable to be compared with last year.

For NZ First none of the 8 could be compared with last year and just one had a score better than 5.

The roll call is here



Dead rats or live maggots?

December 3, 2012

Politicians have to metaphorically swallow the odd dead rat, but literally swallowing live maggots would be a mouthful too far for most:

Eating a cricket may not have been too bad, it was the wriggling maggots Prime Minister John Key found hard to stomach.

Key was “briefly” and “incognito” in the audience at television survival star Bear Grylls live show in Auckland last night, along with son Max and wife Bronagh.

“He (Grylls) got me up on stage, and I had to eat a cricket, but the worst came when he gave me a huhu grub with … live maggots that were wriggling down the back of my throat,” Key told TVNZ’s Breakfast programme. . .

Bad old days are back

December 3, 2012

Remember when it used to take weeks to get a telephone connected?

Those bad old days are back.

Last month we applied for a connection for a new staff house on a dairy farm and were told someone would be out to do it a few days later.

He arrived when he was supposed to but took one look and said he couldn’t do the connection, someone else would have to do it.

We were told that someone would be out the following week.

That week came and went but no-one turned up.

My farmer phoned Telecom and was told someone would definitely be in touch the following morning.

No-one called so my farmer phoned again and was told that the job couldn’t be done. There wasn’t enough of whatever was needed at the exchange and it could be some months before there was.

Last week, about a week after that conversation, my farmer got a phone call, while we were driving to Christchurch, saying someone would be out to do something to a grey box in the middle of December.

He explained what we’d been told so far and asked if that meant that whatever was lacking at the exchange had been sorted.

I was in the car with him and could hear the conversation on the speaker.

We both got the impression she didn’t know anything about the exchange but before we could pursue the conversation, reception dropped.

As her number had been withheld we couldn’t call back and she  hasn’t tried calling us again.

That was five days ago and we still don’t know exactly when someone will be coming to do whatever needs to be done with the grey box nor whether if, when that’s done, the phone will be able to be connected.

Contrast that with the service from Sky.

Someone turned up at the designated time, put up a dish, connected the box and television – and it worked.

Connecting  a television and a telephone are different jobs but there’s no reason the service we’re getting from Telecom shouldn’t be up the standard as that we got from Sky.

Longer would be better

December 3, 2012

Why can’t we have longer parliamentary terms?

That was the question put by Mainfreight Managing Director Don Braid on Q & A yesterday.

Three years is too long with a government with which you disagree and not long enough for one you support, but a longer term would give us better governance.

Shorter parliamentary terms lead to short term thinking and short term policies.

In the first year in power a government is finding its feet and beginning to implement policy. In the second it starts making progress (or not depending on your point of view) then everything slows down for election year.

This is frustrating for anyone who has to deal with government and the public service.

It’s not just businesses which find the stop-start-stop of the three year cycle frustrating.

The CE of a charitable trust which gets contracts with a ministry said it is very, very difficult to do much in election year, especially in the last few months of the term.

A four-year term would also reduce costs – every 12 years there would be one fewer election to finance.

That would be good for taxpayers and for the volunteers who fund raise for political parties.

It would also help ratepayers because if parliament went to a four-year term then local government would too.

The idea of a four-year term has not in the past found majority support from the public. I think that is at least in part due to a suspicion of politicians.

But it is one of the matters under discussion the constitutional review which is taking place.

If that group of non-politicians recommended it, the idea might gain traction.

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