Quote of the day

April 7, 2015

. . . Taken as a group, the writings in the Bible represent human beings struggling to work out this strange notion of right and wrong, and which is which.

That is where, I think, God resides, and also where humanity lies: in our need to work out right from wrong. The fact of our flawed state as human beings means we do not get it right, and also our perceptions of God will always be similarly flawed.

This is why, in turn, I do not trust certainty in either religion or in atheism. It is often said that the proselyting atheists of the Richard Dawkins mould are just fundamentalists of a different kind, and I think this is true, in a way which goes beyond the obvious levels.

But to deal with the obvious first: there is a missionary zeal, certainly, Dawkins et al share with the more foam-flecked fundamentalists.

But mostly, both actually serve to deny humanity. In the case of the crusading atheists, they seem to be trying to extirpate something which has been uniquely human, which is this development of religious belief down the millennia.

In the case of fundamentalists, of any stripe, the restrictions they prescribe for human behaviour is a similar denial of basic humanity and to the central mystery of our existence. . . Rob’s Blockhead Blog

I think his thoughts on fundamentalists apply to politics as well as religion.

Sleep working or wakeover?

February 21, 2011

Evaluating residential services for intellectually disabled people gave me an insight into the best, worst and in-between.

Some homes were so good I’d have been happy to move in myself, a couple were so bad I wouldn’t have left a stuffed toy in their care. Most were somewhere in between but tending towards the better end.

The residents varied as people without disabilities do. Some were happy, healthy and had a high level of independence. Some were unhappy, had physical and/or mental health problems, some were totally dependent. Others had varying levels of challenging behaviour which required extra skill and patience in those caring for them.

The key to what made the homes good or bad was the staff. Some were skilled, dedicated to and respectful of the people for whom they were caring.

One was so bad that had he not been wearing a uniform we’d have thought he was one of the residents with a personality disorder.

In some houses the staff who did night duty were there only for emergencies like fire, earthquakes or severe illness. They could rely on being able to go to bed and sleeping until morning almost every night and many had never been woken. In some the night staff had more onerous duties because residents had higher needs and a few had to get up at least once every night.

Given the different requirements and duties it’s difficult to apply a single rule over pay and conditions, yet that is what the court ruling saying sleepover staff must be paid a minimum wage does.

Sleepover staff usually begin their duties in the late afternoon or early evening and are paid an hourly rate until they go to be at about 10pm. They’re paid an allowance (about $35) for that and an hour’s pay for every part of an hour they have to get up during the night. They’re then on active duty from about 7am for a couple of hours until the residents go out for the day or day staff come on duty.

The court ruling means that they’d have to be paid at least $13 an hour for the time they’re in bed. This has expensive implications not just for providers of residential services for intellectually disabled people but others who employ sleepover staff like boarding schools, student halls of residence and rest homes.

I have no problem with paying people an hour’s work for any part hour they have to get up through the night.

I understand the need to be paid something for having to be somewhere for a specific time with responsibility for other people and for having sleep disturbed, or the potential for it.

But I don’t think people can be earning $13 an hour in their sleep.

 If employers have to pay an hourly rate they would be justified in expecting their staff to do more than sleep in return for it. Would staff then be prepared to make it a wakeover – to be  awake and actively doing something through the night?

Not all would:

Hawksbury Trust chairman Richard Thomson . . .  who is also a Southern DHB member, had mixed feelings about the Court of Appeal decision, saying it could prove to a “pyrrhic victory” for workers.

For many people, sleepover shifts allowed them to do other things during the day, such as studying at university or working another job. Many people had benefited from the set-up, and it did not seem right they may be in for back-pay. However, he could also see an element of unfairness in not paying an hourly rate.

“There will be winners and losers [among the workers].”

If staff aren’t prepared to be up and active,  they’re sleepworking. That requires some pay  butI don’t think the normal hourly pay expected for actively working  is justified. 

Kathryn Ryan did a prolonged interview on the court ruling and its implications on Thursday.

Kiwiblog also has reservations but Rob’s Blockhead and The Hand Mirror support the ruling.

Blogging mothers and introversion

November 16, 2010

Discussion with Jim Mora on Critical Mass continued last week’s look at the results of Technorati’s state of the blogosphere survey – concentrating on blogging mothers.

We also looked at caring for your introvert.

That was prompted by my name is Stephen and I am an introvert at Quote Unquote and shy egomaniacs at Rob’s Blockhead Blog.

Apropos of introversion and extroversion – if you Google Myers Briggs Personality Types you’ll find on-line tests which help you identify where you fit. However, given that a proper MBPT identification takes several hours witha trained facilitator the results should be regarded with caution.

I’ve done the proper test twice and both times came out as an INFP (introvert, intuitive, feeling, perceiving).

During an HR session at an agri-business discussion group we were given a brief introduction to the concepts then told to put ourselves on a line with high introvert at one side of the room and high extrovert at the other. All the couples in the group ended up with one on one side and the other on the other.

NZ Book Month

October 31, 2009

Today is the last day of NZ Book Month and the post a day challenge.

It’s been fun and the challenge for me was not what to include but which books to leave out.

Deborah kept up with the calendar. In doing so reminded me of some old favourites and added several books to my must-read list.

Family, work, life and other more important things got in the way of Rob’s good intention to post each day, but what he lacked in quantity was more than compensated for by quality. 

 He didn’t get round to Bollard and Buckle’s “Economic Liberalisation in New Zealand’  which he reckoned is a real page turner; nor Malcolm McKinnon History of the NZ Treasury which he promised would have you on the edge of your seat.

Maybe next year. 🙂


Deborah has posted on a month of books and in doing so reminded me that Karen Healey became a late entry to the challenge and posts here on Margaret Mahy; and that Oswald Bastable also did some book month posts, although none on his own.

In Touch

October 27, 2009

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No woman could get in to the All Blacks, not even a West Coaster. Or could she?

In Janette Sinclair’s In Touch, Sandy Jones manages it.

This is a light hearted romp with a twist in the tail – and the tale.

Post 27 in the post a day for New Zealand Book Month challenge

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Over at In A Strange Land Deborah posts on Down the Dragon’s Tongue by Margaret Mahy, illustrated by Patricia MacCarthy.

Rob’s catching up with The Shag Incident by Stephanie Johnson and two books by Barry Gustafson: His Way, a Biography of Robert Muldoon and kiwi Keith, a Biography of Keith Holyoake.

And Karen Healey has made a late entry to the challenge with: The Alex Quartet by Tessa Duder; The works of Elizabeth Knox; and Gavin Bishop.

The Road to Castle Hill

October 26, 2009

 If you judged The Road to Castle Hill by it’s cover you’d think it was the story of high country farming.

It is, but it’s much more than that.

Christine Fernyhough’s story is not just about how she came to buy Castle Hill Station and learned to farm it. It’s also the story of her involvement with the books in homes programe and the gifted kids programes which grew from that.

The book shows us the challenges Christine faced, including those with tenure review. She also has some very good thoughts on bridging the town-country divide.

I’ve heard Christine speak twice, she’s a delight to listen to and this book is a delight to read. Louise Callan helped with the writing and the words are enhanced by John Bougen’s photos.

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Post 26 in the post a day for New Zealand Book Month challenge

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Deborah at In a Strange Land posts on The Witch in the Cherry Tree by Margaret Mahy, illustrated by Jenny Williams.

Rob posts on Greg McGee’s Tall Tales, Some True  and Memories of Muldoon by Bob Jones.

Jane and the Dragon

October 17, 2009

I indenitifed with Jane from the first sentence:  Jane hated sewing.

However, there’s a lot more to the heroine of Jane and the Dragon written and illustrated by Martin Baynton than a dislike of practising her stitches.

She wants to be a knight but the only one who takes her seriously is the court jester.

There’s a moral to this story about following your dream and not being frightened to do the unexpected, but it’s not heavy handed. This is first and foremost a delightful tale which is beauitifully illustrated.

The inscription in the copy on our daughter’s book shelf shows it was given to her as a Christmas present when she was four. We enjoyed reading it to her, she enjoyed being read to and a few years later, read and re-read it herself.

Back then it was just a book. Jane has now been televised and has a website.

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Post 17 in the post a day for New Zealand Book Month challenge.

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 Over at In A Strange Land Deborah posts on Down in the Forest by Yvonne Morrison, illustrated by Jenny Cooper.

Rob’s been reading Slinkly Malinki by Lynley Dodd.

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