Back story


The opposition has a propensity for sneering at John Key’s back story.

Labour even tried to find some skeletons in his cupboard.

I have never heard or read any criticism from the right of David Shearer’s back story.

That could be a reflection on a fundamental difference between right and left – the former generally celebrates and appreciates success in any field while at least some of the latter are suspicious and/or envious of it.

That doesn’t mean any back story should be accepted without question.

Over at Bowalley Road, Chris Trotter has done some delving and come up with the back story to Shearer’s back story.

I think this answers the question I asked at the end of this morning’s post on the numbers – the cry of rage from Labour’s grass roots is still fomenting.






Just back from my last trip to town before Christmas and keeping to the spirit of our keeping-it-simple celebration managed to get round the supermarket with only a basket.

There’s just a bit of tidying up to do at home then tomorrow with extended family to look forward to.

Thanks to all of you who read, extra special thanks for all who leave a comment which adds to the interest of the blog, and blogging.

May your Christmas be happy and may 2013 be kind to you and yours.


If you want some pre-Christmas reading, I commend Remembering the Night: Christmas Story 2012 at Bowalley Road.

Word of the day


 Immanence – remaining within; indwelling; inherent; restricted entirely to the mind; subjective.

Hat tip: Bowalley Road

On Being A Star


I don’t remember where I found this nor do I know who wrote it.

But the words helped me the first Christmas after my son died and I offer it in the hope they might help someone else.

On Being A Star

There are                                                

hundreds of stars 

New ones                                                

each day                                                   

and all of them                                       

lead to                                                     

the manger   

We begin                                                

small and                                                


like a                                                        

little piece                                               

of clay                                                     

but we grow 

The potter                                               

works at                                                 

the wheel      

The potter                                               

wants us to                                              

become stars        

We become stars                                     

by following stars   

In the eyes                                              

of those                                                    

who cannot see                                       

you are a fool                                           

to follow                                                   

any star

But for those                                                 



you are wise

The potter works                                       

at the wheel

The potter too                                          

is a star                                                    

But we aren’t

used to stars                                      

like that

We aren’t used                                   

to stars who                                        

are born                                             

in a stable                               

and hung                                           

on a cross

We aren’t used                                  

to stars                                            

who proposed                                    

things that                                        

don’t make sense                               


losing your life                         

and turning                                      

the other cheek                                 

and being poor                                  

for the sake                                    

of some kingdom                             

out there

I hope a star                                  

comes out                                       

for  you                                          

on Christmas Day

A new one                                     

and one                                  

you’ve never                                  

seen before

I hope it’s bright                             

and kind

And shines down


and long                                     

and well

To help you see                           

the things                                   

you’ve never seen before             

Allow yourself

to see

and you are



poured into

a Christmas-form

It takes

a long time

longer than

any season

Being born

is not easy

but it’s good

Bless me


with your birth

It heals the

scared in me.

Vision upon


and of  His


we have all


Why else       

did He come


to be a star                             

a gift  


to heal

the scared

in us

To light our path

To help you see

the things

you really

need to see

I hope

it touches

you with


and runs


beside you

all year long

Oh, how I hope

it comes






in your life

And when

the year

is through

Well, just because

it’s you

I hope

this star


shining on

 in you.

Because you see

 you are


I’d like to give

a star.


If you need more inspiration, you’ll find it in No Vacancy (A Christmas Story) at Bowalley Road.

Open season on dairying


It’s open season on irrigation and dairying.

At Bowalley Road Chris Trotter waxes lyrical about drought-stricken landscapes and mourns the conversion from sheep and crop farming to dairying.

When I was growing up the hills and paddocks of North Otago were the colour of a lion’s hide. The constant easterly blowing inland off the sea kept them dry and brown through most of the year. It was mixed farming country: wheat and barely on the flats; sheep on the hills.

Not any more.

The last time I travelled along the coast road between Oamaru and Waianakarua I was astounded to see the countryside had changed colour. Its once tawny coat was now a vivid green. The sheep were gone and everywhere I looked I saw cows, cows, cows.

There has been a big expansion of irrigation since Chris was a boy, but most of it is in the Waitaki, Waiareka and Kakanui Valleys. There is little irrigation on the paddocks along the coast road. If the pastures were green most of that would be due to recent rain.

At Pundit Claire Browning laments grass stains on the Mackenzie:

. . .  the burnished Mackenzie hills and basins are turning poison green. 

I haven’t seen any irrigation on the Mackenzie hills, they’re generally too steep so again if they were green it would have been because of rain.

 As for the flats, some of us see green not as poison which kills but something which is productive and life giving.

 And Robert Guyton seems to be concerned because one of the reasons Fonterra gives for supporting a power upgrade in Southland is that milk would have to be dumped if there was an outage.

“Fonterra’s submission says the upgrade to the power grid is necessary to protect against the potential environmental impact of dumping milk during a power outage”

That’s a statement of fact. Cows can’t turn milk on and off. If they’re not milked at regular times they will be in agony and susceptible to mastitis. Once the milk is harvested it can be stored for a short time before being taken for processing. But if a power outage held up processing there would be no other option but to dump the milk.
The company is just being open about the risks it sees. That has to be better than saying nothing until there’s an outage and milk has to be dumped.
The rapid expansion of dairying has resulted in environmental problems but farmers, and regional councils, are addressing these issues.
Criticism of  any particular decline in water quality or other environmental degredation is valid. Opposition to irrigation and dairying in general is a point of view based more on nostalgia and emotion than fact.

Did you see the one about . . .


New Zealand and Uruguay as sporting equivalents – Pablo at Kiwipolitico compares one small country where sport and agriculture are important with another.

Don’t admit them to hospital then – Macdoctor on the smoking ban for prisoners.

Star the second – In A Strange Land has a star chart to help her stay dry for July.

What makes us happy? Rivetting Kate Taylor on what really matters.

Sparks in the universe – Stellar Cafe on the bright ideas that get away from you.

What determines productivity? – Anti-Dismal on attemts toa nswer the big question.

Biology isn’t destiny but it affects your saving throws – Offsetting Behaviour on nature vs nurutre.

Trio – Quote Unquote on tree planting and muttering and purring.

Mines railways or jobs – Liberty Scott on unintended consequences.

Happy Birthday to us – Gooner at No Minister on the blog’s third birthday.

TraeMe hints – Oswald Bastable knows something but he’s not telling much.

Farewell to the Independent – Liberation bids the paper goodbye with a parody of Chirs Trotter’s writing.

Apropos of which is The Independent 1992 – 2010 at Bowalley Road. He also discusses the redefinition of protest in Russel’s tussle.

Did you see the one about . . .


A new literary genre – Quote Unquote on reading matter for the more mature.

Feliciy Ferret – Quote Unquote disects a media rodent  – prompting Cactus Kate to Bow to the Master.

I guess we’ll never know then – Something Should Go Here on the worst thing about censorship

Return of the Wowser – Bowalley Road diagnoses the alcohol problem.

RIP Fair Go – Brian Edwards has good reason to be in mourning.

Last Words Nana – Craft is the new black on living, and laughing, until tomorrow.

Did you see the one about . . .


The 12 Wierdest Hotel Rooms  at Motella – which includes another reason to not like Barbie.

In defence of Donald Rumsfeld at Quote Unquote – the known knowns, the known unknown and the unknown unknowns.

Labour’s 16th apology at goNZo Freakpower – I agree with all but # 14.

A case for a Commission for Social Exclusion  at Opinionated Mummy.

4000 years  on at Opposable Thumb where a future archeaological dig discovers signs of a primative culture in the south.

The boy on the beach


A family of four wandered on to the beach and settled down near us.

The parents were very attentive, swimming with the two young children, playing with them in the sand and watching them play by themselves. They frequently admired what the children were doing and chatted with them.

Every now and then the wee boy, who was about three, would do something to annoy his younger sister. His parents reprimanded him, quietly and calmly. He continued to annoy her, the reprimand, still calm and quiet became sterner. He snatched his sister’s toy. His mother picked him up, took the toy from him, set him down at a distance from his sister, told him to stay there and play by himself. She also warned that if he annoyed his sister one more time he’d be smacked.

A few minutes later, he ran up to his sister, pushed her over and took another toy.

The mother smacked his hand, lightly. His lip quivered, he looked her in the eye, sniffed, took a deep breath, sat down and began playing happily again.

Smacking in general is not a good thing to do, there may have been a better alternative to it in this particular case, but should what the mother did be against the law?

This took place in Fiji where it isn’t. Had it happened here the mother would probably not have been arrested and charged for breaking the Crimes (Substitution Section 59) Amendment Act, but she had broken the law.

The memory of this scene is one of the reasons I voted no in the referendum.

It doesn’t mean I condone smacking. It doesn’t mean I think it’s a good way to discipline children.

It just means I know that parenting is an imperfect art, even the best parents don’t get it right all the time, and when they get it wrong in a way that does not physically or emotionally harm a child, they should not risk criminalisation.

It doesn’t matter that no-one has been charged for a trivial smack like the one given to the boy on the beach. It doesn’t matter that no-one has got away with using much more force if it was reasonable in the circumstances and for the purposes of prevention, which the law permits.

A law which allows an action for one reason but disallows a similar, or maybe even lesser, one for another is bad law. A law which means parents risk being criminalised for a trivial action is bad law. A bad law shouldn’t be tweaked when it needs to be changed.

This is a bad law and one bad law undermines all the other good ones.

Apropos of this:

Keeping Stock has written a very good memo to John.

Kiwiblog looks at Key’s response (to the referendum not Keeping Stock’s memo).

Dim Post leaks some changes to  smacking law.

Chris Trotter writes on the Deafening Echo at Bowalley Road.

Karl du Fresne posts on Losing 40 – nil and blaming the ref.

The Second Coming


The choice of this Friday’s poem was inspired by Slouching towards Wellington at Bowalley Road.

It’s The Second Coming by W.B. Yeats.

     The Second Coming

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

                – W.B. Yeats –

Did you see the one about . . .


Recessions don’t hurt everyone at The Visible Hand in Economics

The Wesleys 1 at Musty Moments (numbers 2 -6 are also funny) Hat Tip: found via My First Dictionary at Kiwiblog

Cow breeding 101  at Kismet Farm

A New Zealnder opened a bank account today  at Watching Brief

Wondering at Craft is the New Black

Conversation wiht Myself about Obesity at Dim Post

Road Code Politics at MacDoctor

10 feminist motherhood questions from Blue Milk at In A Strange Land

Sommat Better at The Bull Pen

Extra-Ordinary at Bowalley Road

In which my cake geekery reaches new levels at The Hand Mirror

Did you see the one about . . .


The invisible hand at Anti Dismal

Seventies pessimism: Polemical Poets 1978  at Bowalley Road

Beatles’ karaoke a viral hit in ad land at Dave Gee

Bob Jones’  appreciation corner at Cactus Kate and also on the same subject ( the entrepreneurs summit): Yes We Can Do  at Opposable Thumb.

Sex, sleep, eat, drink, dream  at Quote Unquote

Oh Dear  – on the frustrations of dictionary definitions – at Mr Gronk

Did you see the one about . . .


Pirates are not all bad  at Anti-Dismal

Simon the Cyrenian (An Easter Song)  at Bowalley Road

A Tale of Two Cultures at Macdoctor

The view from a roofer’s recession  at The New Yorker (HatTip: Inquiring Mind)

Woman eats 51 of world’s hottest chilles in one sitting  at Farmgirl

Economists: more human than you think at the Visible Hand in Economics

The Art of borrowing  at Cactus Kate

All you wanted to know about the OIA but were afraid to ask  at goNZoFreakpwoer

Obsessing about weight in terms of not obsessing about weight  at 2bSophora

Le traison de clercs (and the journalists)  at Micky’s Muses

Bowalley Road


Chris Trotter’s blog Bowalley Road is named after the road leading to the North Otago farm where he spent his first nine years.

I had some time to spare on my way home from Dunedin on Friday so took a detour when I reached Herbert and found the road started here:


and went via this:


and this:


to here:


Of course I could have done a virtual drive with Google Street View.

Halfdone blog rankings


Scrubone at Something Should Go Here Maybe Later has compiled the Half Done November blog stats the top 20 of which are:

HD Rank Blog Last Tumeke Rank Alexa Alexa NZ Authority HD Score
1 Kiwiblog #1 62615 99 252 2
2 Whale Oil Beef Hooked #7 134113 276 93 40
3 The Standard #2 199522 268 111 48
4 Public Address #3 216349 794 174 99
5 Not PC #6 239877 538 95 136
6 No Minister #4 237322 433 64 161
7 Policy Blog: Chris Trotter & Matthew Hooton #10 202188 717 60 242
8 The Hive #5 241742 602 54 269
9 New Zealand Conservative #23 359340 557 52 385
10 Homepaddock #17 358477 763 68 402
11 Tumeke! #12 436170 807 73 482
12 Dim Post #13 355942 544 39 496
13 Cactus Kate #14 347784 806 46 609
14 New Zeal #16 414241 4467 215 861
15 Poneke’s Weblog #18 527522 1575 86 966
16 Roar Prawn #11 386652 861 32 1040
17 The Inquiring Mind #15 438737 1262 50 1107
18 Frogblog #8 94021 208 118 1326
19 Something should go here, maybe later. #34 811342 1529 66 1880
20 No Right Turn #9 907936 3070 129 2161

The blogosphere had some comings and goings in November – Roarprawn took a holiday, but has returned; Matthew Hooton and Chris Trotter left Policyblog but the latter moved to Bowalley Road, Anti-Dismal and The Hive closed and there have been two newcomers: Dear John and The Bull Pen.

I suspect Homepaddock’s 10th spot on the Half Done rankings is a lot higher than the Tumeke! rankings which Tim Selwyn is compiling now because I’ve noticed a fall in visitors and comments since the election.

Apropos of that in November:

* I wrote 226 posts.

* Received 14,414 visitors, including the most on any one day (1,160 on November 4th because of a post about the Melbourne Cup photo finish which must have shown up  high on Google searches).

* Had 378 comments, the most on a single post was 14 on November 10 about the blue wash being bad for democracy.

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