Lack of Community in our Communities

July 16, 2008

The headline The Horror Hits Home   with an opening pararpah that asks how two infants can allegedly starve to death in an ordinary looking house in an ordinary looking suburb, could have been written about New Zealand. This story however, is about Australia in the wake of the discovery of two babies who starved to death but the issues our our issues too.

What has happened to our communities and neighbourhoods?

Have we become so self-absorbed, so work-oriented or so crippled by the idea that governments should be responsible for the protection of children that we have become the look-away society, where homes have become boltholes and the most vulnerable among us – the old and the young, the sick and infirm – live in dreadful isolation?

Demographer Bernard Salt sees it as a “loss of connectivity”, a separation from our neighbours, that has been growing for several decades in suburbs that have become increasingly amorphous.

“Within the space of about two generations, Australia has moved from being household-based to being workplace-based, and the result has been that any sense of neighbourhoodness has moved out of suburbia and into the office,” he says.

“Most of us are now more likely to have a conversation about the events of the day over the office partition than the back fence.

“As a result, home has become something of a bolthole, leaving suburbia and its role as a place of community connectedness severely diminished.”

And not only in suburbia, it happens in the country too. It’s six weeks since Gypsy weekend when numerous dairy farm workers change jobs but I’m yet to meet any of the new people in our neighbourhood. 

One of the neighbours and I spoke of having a pot luck meal for our road and its off shoots, before calving when it gets too busy. But the first calves are already arriving and we’ve got no further than talking about it.


Nats ECE policy good for country kids

July 14, 2008

The National Party will allow parents of children at kohanga reo and playcentres to access early childhood education (ECE) subsidies which is good news for country families.

The existing policy, introduced by Labour, exempts parent-led centres and requires early childhood centres to have at least one registered pre-school teacher before parents get subsidies. That rules out virtually all centres in the country and small towns.

It is important to have high standards for education, but that should not arbiarily exempt parent-led centres, as the current system does.


Peters in contempt of parliament?

July 14, 2008

Radio NZ reports that Winston Peters is demanding an apology from the NZ Herald over its reports that Owen Glen made a donation to NZ First and that Glen’s PR advisor Steve Fisher says he can’t confirm any of the allegations.

Speaking about the issue on The Farming Show (should be on line later today) MP Eric Roy said he recalled that Winston Peters had been questioned about the donations in parlaiment and denied the party had received them.

If the alleagations in the Herald are correct and Peters did deny them in the house then he would be in contempt of parliament.


Brown Gold

July 14, 2008

You’ve got to love a city  that pays homage to chocolate with a week long carnival.

Dunedin’s chocolate celebrations celebrations began on Saturday with a Mad Hatters Tea Party at the Otago museum.

The annual jafa race down Baldwin Street takes place today and the ODT reports that places at chocolate painting, sculpture and decorating classes sold out within a week of going on sale.

But shhh, we’d better not tell the fat police.


Brain Explosion

July 13, 2008

From Federated Farmers weekly email newsletter, Friday Flash, which is always interesting reading, comes this warning:

Brain explosion – Employers must consider the new phrase ‘brain explosion’ before dismissing employees for serious misconduct. Several recent cases have seen the phrase used as a defence and what’s more it has worked with employees being reinstated. Employers confronted with anything that might be referred to as a ‘brain explosion’ should call Federated Farmers for advice on procedural process before taking action.

A brain explosion sounds messy, but this warning suggests mishandling an employee who has one could be even messier.


Governmentium

July 13, 2008

Cameron Bagrie’s  report on unproductive Government spending has been labelled a nonsense by Jim Anderton – perhaps that indicates he’s been poisoned by governmentium:

 

A major research institution has recently announced the discovery of the

heaviest element yet known to science.

 

The new element has been named “Governmentium (Gv).” Governmentium (Gv) has 1 neutron (PM), 29 assistant neutrons (MPs), 19 deputy neutrons (List MPs), another 3 acting assistant deputy neutrons and 6 Green assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 63.

 

These 63 particles are held together by forces called morons, which are

surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons.

 

Governmentium is inert. However, it can be detected, because it impedes

every reaction with which it comes into contact. A minute amount of

Governmentium can cause a reaction that would normally take less than a

second, to take more than four days to complete.

 

Governmentium has a normal half-life of 18 months; it does not decay, but instead undergoes a reorganisation in which a portion of the assistant

neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places.

 

Governmentium’s mass will actually increase over time, since each reorganisation will cause more morons to become neutrons, which then form isodopes.

 

This characteristic of moron promotion leads some scientists to believe that Governmentium is formed whenever morons reach a critical concentration.

 

This hypothetical quantity is referred to as Critical Morass.

 

When catalyzed with money, Governmentium becomes Administratium (Am) — an element which radiates just as much heat but less energy than Governmentium since it has half as many peons but twice as many morons all controlled by isodopes.

A reader sent me an email with this, I have seen several versions of it before but do not to whom credit for the original is due.


Front Page Dogs

July 13, 2008

You know you’re in the provinces when the front page of the local paper has a report on the annual sheep and cattle dog sale.

Friday’s Ashburton Guardian story, headlinedTop dogs bring the big bucks, noted that dairy conversions have taken their toll on the number of stock dogs for sale: 122 in 2006, 94 last year and just 51 this year.

A five year old heading bitch, Queen, sold by Amberley farmer Neil Evans gained the the top price of $5600. The top huntaway made $2000.

The report finished with an explanation for the uninitiated:

A heading dog has a natural instinct to circle silently and widely around stock to bring them back to the handler, whereas huntaways are trained to drive sheep away and are characterised by their loud bark.

There are some of both breeds in politics 🙂


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