Word of the day

January 19, 2014

Abodement – an omen; foreboding; foretelling; a sense of an evil that has not yet taken place but is to come.


Rural round-up

January 19, 2014

Farmers move to prepare properties for fire – Sophie Malcolm:

Farmers near the Grampians in Western Victoria have been moving stock and preparing their properties as a bushfire burns in the area.

Some farmers say the fire has already damaged their properties, with fencing and some pasture lost.

Green Lake farmer Glenn Mibus has been working at this brother’s farm since late Thursday night.

“A few hours sleep and I was back out here at half past five this morning, just the same stuff, blacking out and trying to get some edges done, so it doesn’t flare up again,” Mr Mibus said on Friday morning. . .

Rural contractors want school leavers:

Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) is taking the task of recruiting school leavers into their own hands.

The group that represents the interests of rural contractors is looking at the possibility of establishing several three-day or four-day training courses throughout the country this winter.

This would enable more local people to develop the necessary skills to work in the contracting industry and meet contractors’ staffing needs.

This comes after Southland RCNZ members held a field day near Invercargill last year, which attracted over 100 people. . .

Nature’s free irrigation helps – Andrew Ashton:

Farmers using North Otago irrigation schemes are well placed to work through any future dry spells this year, after some parts of the region received almost double the usual amount of rain last month.

In December, 114mm was recorded at Kauru, 22% above average for the month, Waikoura, near Duntroon, received 111.2mm, 91% above average, while the 111.2mm recorded in Oamaru was 102% above average.

Waitaki Irrigators Collective policy manager Elizabeth Soal said the wet start to the summer had resulted in irrigation schemes across North Otago and lower South Canterbury reporting a reduced demand for water. . .

A youthful lift for the face of Saskatchewan farming –  Morgan Modjeski:

The face of Saskatchewan farming could be getting younger.

Organizers of the Western Canadian Crop Production Show say they’ve seen more young people at the 2014 event than in the past, and believe it’s a result of a changing climate in agriculture.

“Agriculture is thriving in Saskatchewan and family farms are getting larger,” said trade show manager Lori Cates, who has been with the Saskatoon event for 10 years. . .

Youth in Agriculture:

And from Grammarly:

>Hay! Now that’s punny!


Put down the sherry

January 19, 2014

Andrea Vance calls time on the silly season:

Everyone, please, put down the sherry and get a hold of yourselves. A dose of reality is necessary as the political year really kicks off this week. In the vacuum of the summer season, some fantasies about the outcome of this year’s election have taken seed.

Smacking is not going to be a defining election issue just because Conservative Party leader Craig says it is. He is the leader of a minor party, outside of Parliament.

Once the election campaign proper starts, and the mainstream party machines kick into gear, Craig will find he has to do more than put on a tinfoil hat to get media attention.

Speaking of crackpot strategies, was it the electoral roll of a parallel universe that was going to return Martyn Bradbury ahead of cabinet minister Nikki Kaye or Labour high-flier Jacinda Ardern in Auckland Central?

And since when did left-wing activists like Bradbury start whoring themselves out to businessmen who want to use their vast wealth to exert influence over the political and justice system? . . .

But perhaps we could wait until his policies and candidates are unveiled before prophesising his likely effect on the polls? . . .

Thankfully other commentators have failed to swallow whatever it is that blinds some to Dotcom’s faults.

Duncan Garner also recognises the silly-season affect:

There’s a reason why Kim Dotcom, Brendan Horan and Colin Craig are getting so many headlines right now: All the other politicians are on holiday, and simply don’t give a stuff.

They’re either at their beach houses or overseas, and politics is the last thing on their mind. . . .

So, right now those three are taking their chances with the media, but they will soon have to compete with the big boys and girls for space. It will get that much harder. . .

An internet party got seven percent in Germany, so his Internet Party can’t be written off. But it’s had a woeful start with a hopelessly organised failed launch. Still, it kept him on the front page, I suppose.

The Internet Party will be a place to put your protest vote against John Key, the spies, the establishment and the ruling elite. It could well be a party for those that feel disconnected to the mainstream, disconnected to politics and disenfranchised overall. That makes it a potential threat. But what will it ever achieve? Who will lead it? If Bomber Bradbury is its main advisor – where the hell is it heading? . . .

Sean Plunket says the internet party is amateur and vain:

The imminent but aborted birth of the country’s newest political party this week has been one of the most bizarre non-events in recent political history.

From the first tweet-fuelled rumblings of the human headline that is Kim Dotcom to the ignominious cancellation of the launch party, it has been a study in the politics of naivety and a glowing example of the gullibility of certain sections of the New Zealand news media and public. . .

What shortens the odds however is an uncritical celebrity-obsessed media full of self-appointed pundits and commentators who seem more than happy to entertain the idea that Kim Dotcom and his cronies might actually represent some meaningful and significant change in New Zealand’s political landscape.

Whilst it might rob the tabloid headline writers and breathless young television reporters of meaningless fodder for their daily dross, the cruel truth is as it stands the Internet Party is little more than an amateurish exercise in vanity politics perpetrated by a publicity-seeking convicted criminal. . .

Colin Espiner also says vanity is driving him:

. . . behind the ice creams and the fireworks, the offers to fund our next America’s Cup challenge or a new submarine fibre-optic internet cable, the extravagant parties to which we’re all invited and promises of free wi-fi for all, lies a narcissist desperate for popularity, relevance, and above all, respect.

It’s my opinion that Dotcom’s constant quest for omnipotence stems from his desire to make us – and the rest of the world – understand the value of his achievements (and they are many) while forgetting his criminal past as a computer hacker and convicted fraudster. . .

Fortunately for him, there was a ready audience, thanks to worldwide alarm at the antics of the US over its multi-national bulk spying via mass data collector PRISM and its subsequent exposure by whistle-blower Edward Snowden – and other spying scandals uncovered by WikiLeaks and its publisher Julian Assange.

Dotcom has been quick to associate himself with both.  . .

Dotcom likes the parallels: all are fugitives from justice; campaigners for freedom of information; anti-state and pro-privacy.

The difference, however, between Dotcom and Assange and Snowden is that they released top-secret information held by governments and corporations because they believed it was in the public interest. They did it for free and they did it knowing they were likely to be arrested for it.

Dotcom presided over the world’s largest pirate website, which was shut down for repeated copyright violations he claimed to know nothing about. He made a fortune from it, and he has claimed that while he suspected Hollywood would come after him in the civil courts he never anticipated criminal prosecution.

Many seem to have missed the distinction. Dotcom to them is a hero, a wronged man, a champion of cheap internet and free speech. Money has helped him get the media onside. He cooperated with Herald journalist David Fisher for a largely favourable book about him, thus also ensuring ongoing coverage from the country’s biggest newspaper.

He’s courted other journalists, too . . . 

But assuming it does eventually arrive, will Dotcom’s Internet Party wreak havoc on the election result? Actually, I don’t think so.

Dotcom’s political publicity vehicle is likely to appeal to internet-savvy young people alienated from mainstream politics who haven’t voted before. Therefore it’s unlikely to pull support off the existing major and minor parties. So unless it reaches the 5 per cent threshold – a huge hurdle – or wins an electorate seat, that first-time vote will simply end up wasted.

Because Dotcom himself can’t stand, the chances of any other candidate put up by him winning a seat in their own right are extremely slim.

But that won’t bother Dotcom. His endgame is not a career in politics. . . 

Matt McCarten picks up on the vanity too:

Cynicism suggests Dotcom’s motivation is more about ego and self-interest. . .

By naming his party the Internet Party Dotcom ghettoises himself around a narrow set of issues. . .

Until now, Dotcom has had a dream run from the media. He has become a folk hero. But now he is in the political arena, he’ll get a rude shock. He’ll be treated like every other politician.

The perception Dotcom will have to overcome is that the Internet Party isn’t some plaything of a rich egotist who made mega-millions exploiting other people’s talent and creativity without paying for their work. . .

Dotcom hopefully knows voters want their political parties to serve the people, not platforms for rich men seeking self-aggrandisement. New Zealanders are old-fashioned like that.

Dotcom wouldn’t be the only would-be politician to be driven by vanity but those who make it have a lot stronger foundation on which to build their campaigns than that.

Now the silly season is about to close he’ll find the media have a few more serious contenders and issues on which to focus too.


Weight

January 19, 2014

Open large picture

©2013 Brian Andreas

If you click on the link you can sign up for a daily dose of email whimsy like this from the creative folk at Story People.


‘I thought it was a domestic’

January 19, 2014

A woman who was beaten up on her daily walk is justifiably angry that none of the witnesses intervened.

The daytime attack that left Praveet Singh with fractured eye sockets and a broken nose has sparked calls for Kiwis to “do their duty to one another”.

Singh, 40, was on her regular pre-dinner walk near her home in Papatoetoe, Auckland, on Thursday when she was set upon in the street by a man who allegedly started punching her, and threw a bottle at her.

Singh sought safety in a driveway but she said the man chased her and the attack continued.

The mother of two said homeowners watched as the beating continued. One had pushed her back towards her attacker. “The neighbourhood gathered and I kept screaming for help and no one did anything. It was a freakshow to them. I’ve been beaten nearly to death and there were spectators.”

Onlookers’ fear for their own safety is understandable, but two used another excuse:

Narendra Kumar said he initially thought it was a domestic assault and had been reluctant to intervene.

He continued washing his car while the attack continued, also saying he suffered from health problems which meant he couldn’t get involved. “I’m not afraid of anybody but I couldn’t afford to stop him.”. . .

Neighbour Singh Sandeep was studying when he heard the shouting for help. “I thought it was a domestic dispute. Praveet was on the ground getting punched. Praveet’s eyes were black and there was blood.”. . .

Whether or not it was a domestic dispute is irrelevant.

Using that as an excuse for standing back harks back to the dark days when such incidents were described as only a domestic.

There is no only about any violence, domestic or otherwise.

Not intervening is common when there’s a crowd and none of us know how we would react if we were in a similar situation.

But thinking it’s only a domestic is no excuse for not helping someone in desperate need.


Standing up for Otago

January 19, 2014

Dunedin mayor Dave Cull’s campaign to Stand Up Otago has gone quiet with his less than enthusiastic response to the news that Shell plans to drill for oil and gas in the Great South Basin.

But Waitaki mayor Gary Kircher is happy to stand up for jobs.

Anadarko is due to start exploratory deep-sea drilling in the next few weeks, and Mr Kircher said yesterday’s meeting had provided a chance to ensure that safeguards were taken to protect the environment, as well as a chance to ensure the district was well placed to take advantage of any opportunities that could arise.

”The potential is absolutely enormous for our region. Oil and gas has transformed the Taranaki region, bringing prosperity, jobs and opportunities for the whole area. Test results indicate that the area being tested off Otago may have much greater reserves than Taranaki.

”I was elected on the basis of growing our economy in the Waitaki district and I see this as a major possible game-changer for us all.

”Even if the production is based in Dunedin, the flow-on effects for our district will be significant.”

He said he would always be willing to listen to any concerns people might have about oil and gas exploration.

”I represent our district and will do what I can to pass on those concerns and ensure they are dealt with properly.” . . .

Otago won’t be as strong as it should be if Dunedin is weak.

The jobs and economic growth that would flow from Shell basing its exploration in Dunedin would benefit the whole province.

This prospect has its detractors but there’s more than a little hypocrisy in their protests as these letters to the editor in the weekend ODT says:

The front page article (ODT, 13.1.14) regarding the small group of protesters who want to block the offshore drilling by Anadarko gave prominence to an incredibly small proportion of the Dunedin population; as such it did not deserve front page positioning. That said it was interesting to note these people who wish to limit oil exploration were using boats and boards, wetsuits and probably vehicles to get to Port Chalmers, all of which need petroleum products in their manufacture.

This group would carry a greater message if they used wooden canoes, dressed in wool, and used cork as their flotation aid. If this group want alternatives why can’t they come up with bright ideas and interesting conversations, not protests and negativity? R.J. McKenzie.

Oh the irony of the Oil Free Otago rent-a-mob pictured on the front page. Virtually every object and action in your pictures of the so-called protesters is ultimately derived from the use of fossil fuels – including the PVC jackets, neoprene wetsuits, plastic kayaks, the paint on the banners to the smart phones and computers used to organise the mob. It even appears as though the majority of protesters travelled to Port Chalmers from Dunedin in private motor cars and one wonders how much fossil fuel was burnt in travelling to Dunedin by participants in the Oil Free Future Summit. When will these people learn that in every single moment of every day everybody uses something that is either drilled or mined and that include the alternative future technologies so beloved of the rent-a-mob. The alternative is the Stone-Age. Peter Dymock.

Anti-tobacco lobbyists who smoked would have no credibility, anti-progress protesters who use the fuels against which the rail and provide no alternatives for sustainable growth are little better.

Waitaki’s mayor understands the importance of economic growth in the region and is standing up for Otago, I’m not sure Dunedin’s does and is.


An earlier election?

January 19, 2014

It’s election year and one of the topics exercising the media and political tragics is the election date.

Electoral law dictates the last day on which an election can be held, there is no legal barrier to an earlier one.

The Herald says parties are preparing for an early election:

. . . Sources say Key wants to hold the election before November’s G20 leaders’ meeting in Brisbane and Apec Summit in Beijing.

He will also want to avoid clashing with home All Black games in August and early September, the final Bledisloe Cup test on October 18, and Labour Weekend, the final weekend of October. . .

Pundits are betting on September 27 or one of the first two Saturdays in October.

The All Blacks play Argentina on the first of those dates – although it will be in Argentina which will make it a Sunday morning game here.

But those dates are all in school holidays. The last day of term three is September 26th and the first of term four is October 13th.

More people are likely to be away from home during that time which would necessitate more special votes or make it more likely people wouldn’t both to vote at all.

Three years ago Prime Minister John Key announced the date in February, a welcome change from the game-playing which previous governments usually indulged in over the announcement.

Whichever date it is, an early announcement puts all parties on an equal footing and makes it much easier for the Electoral Commission which runs the election and has employ and train staff, and book venues for polling booths.

Back to the Herald story – the only people interviewed are Labour leader David Cunliffe and Kim Dotcom.

The former is already admitting that his party won’t be as popular as National:

. . . Cunliffe said he would be happy to be sworn in as a Labour prime minister with fewer seats than National, relying instead on the support of the Greens.

“The prime minister should be the leader of the governing coalition. The governing coalition should have the most seats in Parliament. That is the constitutional position and the proper one.” . . .

Ignoring all other party leaders and going for one whose party isn’t yet registered and whose attempted launch turned into a farce says more about the media’s fascination about Dotcom than it does about the likely election date.


%d bloggers like this: