Silly little boys

January 31, 2012

 

“Because our society, New Zealand society, Western society in general, has been hijacked by a conspiracy of Silly Little Boys. They’re everywhere; in the schools, in the media, in the public service, in the judiciary, even in Cabinet.

Everywhere we turn, the foundations of feminity, the pillars of female-ness which have underpinned the construction and development of our very civilisation, are being undermined, by Silly Little Boys. And we are putting up with it.”

Those two paragraphs are no sillier than the latest outpouring of stupidity by New Zealand First MP Richard Prosser uncovered by The Hand Mirror.


Next election already too close

December 1, 2011

The exact make-up of the new government has yet to be confirmed but the next election already seems too close.

The Herald opines that it’s time to consider a four-year term and I agree.

It takes months for a new government and its ministers to get up to speed which leaves a little more than a year for progress before everything slows down in election year and finally stops altogether during the campaign.

The uncertainty isn’t good for business:

Massey’s senior finance lecturer Dr Alexander Molchanov was part of a team that studied stock market volatility across 50 countries in the six-month lead up to an election and in the year after.

They found countries that hold national elections have more volatile economies than autocracies because investors and businesses are put off by the risks associated with political uncertainty.

The study also revealed that markets do not always settle down the year after an election.

“Export-oriented industries in particular, such as we have in New Zealand, show higher volatility when political risks are high,” says Dr Molchanov.

 That shouldn’t be construed as an argument for no elections but it’s not only business which would benefit from a longer cycle.

A man employed in the social service sector who works with ministries and politicians told me he was frustrated by three yearly elections because just as everyone was getting up to speed the campaign and post-election changes interrupted them.

A slightly longer cycle would help the economy and save money.

It costs millions of dollars to run an election. Adding an extra year to the cycle would mean we’d have to pay for three elections in 12 years rather than four.

A slightly longer cycle would reduce the costs for and demands on volunteers too. Julie at the Hand Mirror gives an insiders’ view on what it’s like to have a candidate in the family and supporters also work very hard during a campaign.

One reason for a shorter term is the constraint it places on governments when we don’t have an upper house. But the election shows that with MMP it would be difficult, almost impossible, for a single party to gain an outright majority.

The consitutional review panel is considering the parliamentary term. The recommendations won’t be binding and if it went to a referendum the public’s disdain for politicians might well find the option of a four-year term would lose.

That would be a pity. Government would be more efficient and slightly less expensive with a four term year and the country would benefit from a slightly longer gap between the interruptions imposed on it by elections.


SMOG – campaign word of the week

May 30, 2011

It’s only Monday but it would be hard to beat SMOG as the campaign word of the week.

It comes from Keeping Stock and it stands for Social Media Own Goal.

Labour has an online game which jokes about rape. Maia at Capitalism Bad Tree Pretty (cross-posted at the Hand Mirror which has attracted comments) writes:

One of the basic rape-myths that help uphold a culture where sexual assault is endemic is that sometimes consent doesn’t matter. If you ever say that some people’s violation doesn’t matter – if you ever set some people up as unrapeable – then you, or in this case the Labour Party, are upholding that rape myth.

Rape is rape. It’s a crime. It’s never funny.

The game is called Let’s Not.  

Any political party which wants to be taken seriously should have enough sense to think “let’s not make jokes about rape”.

If Heather Simpson was still there she’d be saying “Let’s not have any more SMOGs.”

This isn’t the first SMOG Labour has made in the last few weeks but it’s definitely the worst.


1-1: excitement’s contagious

June 16, 2010

What many regard as the beautiful game doesn’t feature on my radar and when I’ve come in ear shot of the TV while the World Cup’s been on the sound of the vuvuzelas, has driven me away.

But excitement is contagious and I have to applaud the All Whites for the 1-1 draw this morning.

Like the Hand Mirror, this is probably the only post I’ll write about the World Cup (soccer) edition.

For more informed views:

Keeping Stock has some bleary eyed reflections.

At No Minister Barnsley Bill says goooooooal

Kiwiblog says well done the All Whites – and philosophers may be interested in his comment that anything that isn’t a loss is a win.

And Not PC mixes art and sport with Glad Day William Blake.


Did you see the one about . . .

November 11, 2009

Witi’s work of fiction – Cactus Kate on word theft.

Note to Trevor Mallard – The Hand Mirror correctly spots homophobic and misogynistic behaviour combined.

Is that clear?  Opposable Thumb heard the answer to our problems in mixed metaphors.

How is your spelling – PM of NZ found an on-line spelling gym.

Amusing Signs – at StripySock Studio

Are We There Yet? – Jardis, guest blogging at Kiwblog, wonders is feminism is stuck on destination rather than opportunity.


Did you see the one about . . .

September 23, 2009

Friday motivation: Life = Risk  at Motella.

The Year 2050 at No Minister where Gooner says it’s time to cut to the core.

The daffy ambition of turning gold to blue – Alf Grumble digs up some facts on bulb breeding.

That was my suggestion! – Kiwiblog looks at negotiations on the 3 strikes policy.

Sensible shoes a safety issue – the Hand Mirror discusses heels high & low.

More court secrecy – Stephen Franks isn’t impressed by name suppression.

Wowser Alert! Destroy all those cute photos of the kids!!!! – Opinionated Mummy calls for common sense.

Get your free immigration advice here!! – Monkey with Typewriter wasn’t impressed with the service.


Did you see the one about

June 17, 2009

Monday funday with words to eat at The Hand Mirror

And now for the news at Inquiring Mind

Internet addiction  at Quote Unquote

Lost My Lunch at goNZo Freakpower

The very busy spider Deborah at In A Strange Land

Dane Moeke – Something very special at Lindsay Mitchell


Did you see the one about. . .

June 7, 2009

 Pipe specification  at Somethingshouldgohere

Unintentional arrogance at Open Parachute

Why economics is hard  at The Visible Hand

Worthy pursuits – cough at Rob’s Blockhead

5 ways for banks to improve their on-line banking services  at Interest.Co.NZ

S59 amendment vitimises 2nd parent at Monkeywithtypewriter

Significant risk factor for child abuse omitted at Lindsay Mitchell

Hating on Teh Fatties at In A Strange Land

Weird Art Quiz at Artandmylife

A car quiz at Not PC

Ground rules in the first, second and third person at The Hand Mirror

Undomestic godess at Pundit

A puff too far  at Macdoctor

And a couple of newish  (to me) blogs:

Beverlyspills

Birdsofparadise – from Nicole Were, a New Zealander living in Yellowknife in the northwest of Canada (interviewed for the best song segment on Afternoons by Jim Mora on Thursday)


Files overloaded

June 2, 2009

There’s a theory that we never forget anything.

Everything we’ve ever known is still there, filed away in the dim dark recesses of our memories.

That theory doesn’t explain why the things we need to remember are buried under things we don’t, but this Venn diagram illustrates the problem:

Memory

Hat Tip to The Hand Mirror for pointing me at GraphJam.


Did you see the one about . . .

May 30, 2009

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


What’s holding them back?

May 22, 2009

The statistics supporting the business case for having women on company boards  are compelling:

For companies in the top 25% (of highest women’s representation on the board) the return on equity was 53% higher; return on sales 42% higher; and return on invested capital is 66% higher than companies in the bottom quartile.

Of course statistics tell only part of the story – it’s possible that these companies performed better in spite of the women on the board rather than because of them.

It’s also possible that having women on a board is a sign of the intelligence and foresightedness which results in a well run and high performing company.

But regardless of the story behind those stats it does seem strange that women make up 46% of the New Zealand workforce but hold only 8.65% of directorships on the NZX top 100. Just 45 women hold 54  of the 624 board positions available and 60 of the top 100 boards have n0 female directors.

That’s been recognised by the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, The Institute of Directors and Business NZ who launched a joint initiative last night to promote the economic benefits of having more women on boards.

A lot of women are actively involved in private rural businesses. Many farms are husband and wife partnerships, so are a lot of the small businesses which support farming and Rural Women’s Enterprising Rural Woman Award highlighted some of the successful rural businesses run by women.

There are plenty of urban business women too so it’s not lack of skills and experience which is holding them back.

The April edition of Next magazine opened a story on the issue with this:

The chairman of a large Kiwi agricultural company is asked why there aren’t any women on his corporate board.

“There’s no place for sheilas in this conservative, provincial boardroom, apart from making the tea,” is his gobsmacking response.

I’d hope that attitudes have changed for the better since this comment was made seven years ago but that still hasn’t translated into an increase in female directors.

What’s holding them back?

Are women choosing not to put themselves forward or  are they not being accepted when they do because, regardless of qualifications and experience, having a y chromosome makes some candidates for directorships and management more equal than others?

P.S.

The Hand Mirror posted on the MWF/ID/BNZ joint initiative when it was first announced.


Did you see the one about . . .

May 18, 2009

OMG you won’t believe this at Kismet Farm (the end of a saga, you need to read some earlier posts to understand it).

Mortgage madness  at Frenemy

Businesspeople, the media and double super secret background  by David Cohen at This is not a Blogpost

Serve it up Bruce  at Cactus Kate

NZX and CPL Update  at Quote Unquote and while you’re there check out Pet Airways

Beware the $1000 clock  by Adolf at No Minister

Bizarre ad aims to scare potential teen mums  at The Hand Mirror

The old days  at Lindsay Mitchell

The most distrubing blog I think I have written  at Laughy Kate (warning, not for sensitive stomachs).


Remembering Mothers Day – updated

May 10, 2009

That National Party Mainland Conference opened this morning with a recognition of all the mothers present.

Several bloggers have acknowleged their, or other people’s mums with a post:

Monkeywith typewriter qutoes Corinthians For Mums Everywhere

Frenemy posts on his plans for Moms Day (and because the mother in question is American he can get away with Mom rather than Mum).

PM of NZ has a Small Test for Mothers Day (though the connection between the test and Mothers Day escapes me).

I hope all the other mother-bloggers are enjoying the day and that the non-mother bloggers are too busy making sure their mothers enjoy the day to blog.

Warm thoughts to those who no longer have a mother, and special mention and aroha for Hekia Parata MP and her whanau who are mourning the loss of  their mother who died last week.

UPDATE: M&M posts on her Mothers Day

                    Deborah posts on Celebrating Mothers Day  at The Hand Mirror and on More Pinkification of Mothers at In A Strange Land

 

UPDATE 2- Lindsay Mitchell wants a get off my back & out of my face day.


Hottest & Hunkiest – How Sad is That?

May 5, 2009

If bloggers were lined up across the politcial spectrum, the erstwhile MP for Eketahuna Alf Grumble would generally be at the blue end and the women at the Hand Mirror would be at the pink to red end.

But today they are in accord over the quest for the hottest businessswoman and hunkiest businessman.

Alf says:

Much more fundamentally, Alf is flabbergasted that the Fairfax clowns have the gall to contend:

Here at BusinessDay we take business very seriously.

. . . Yes, Alf is only too aware of the recessionary bite. It is chewing up jobs and it is corroding people’s investments.

That’s precisely why he doesn’t give a toss about who is the hottest or the hunkiest. . .

Deborah at The Hand Mirror says:

Mind you, it is at least an equal opportunity *headdesk*. They’re promising a poll on NZ’s hottest businessman tomorrow.

Sigh…

There’s a place for  judging people on their appearances but it’s not the business pages of media which wish to be taken seriously and there are far more intelligent ways to bring a bit of lightness and humour if they feel the need to  counteract the economic gloom.


Monday Quiz

May 4, 2009

Keeping Stock has a Monday Quote, The Hand Mirror has Monday Funday .

This is the first of what may or may not be a regular Monday Quiz.

1. What’s the name of the mother of Dog’s pups in Footrot Flats?

2. Who wrote Backblocks Baby Doctor?

3. Where was Phar Lap born?

4. Who said,” No-one would remember the Good Samaritan if he’d only had good intentions. He had money as well.”?

5. The Corriedale was the result of crossing which breeds of sheep?

The first to answer all five correctly gets the glory, the judge’s decision isn’t final, correspondence may or may not be entered in to.


Did you see the one about . . .

May 1, 2009

The Next Einstein won’t be British  at NZ Conservative

Why is science important?  at Open Parachute

A Green Conundrum  at Frenemy

Alcohol & Addiction Part II at the Visible Hand in Economics

Incentives Matter Bible File  at Anit-Dismal

Gob.Smacked  at The Hand Mirror

The Great Tamiflu Swindle  at Monkey with Typewriter

Press complaint: exploitation of mental illness at Kiwipolitico

Autumn in the Park  at Half Pie

Compounding errors  at Kismet Farm


Sacked for refusing to walk behind men & wear abaya

April 28, 2009

A British stewardess, Lisa Ashton, was sacked when she refused to fly to Suadi Arabia after being told she’d have to walk behind her male colleagues and wear the traditional black robe, an abaya.

Saudi experts and companies that recruit women to work in the country say it is a “myth” that western women are required to walk behind men. There is no requirement for them to wear the abaya in public, though many do.

Earlier this year an employment tribunal in Manchester ruled that BMI was justified in imposing “rules of a different culture” on staff and cleared it of sexual discrimination. Ashton has consulted Liberty, the human rights organisation, and may seek a judicial review of the decision.

What you do when your beliefs clash with those which  are acceptable in another country isn’t always simple but if this is reported correctly it does appear the airline was asking more of its employees than would be expected in Saudi Arabia.

The idea of any individual or group of people being required to walk behind another offends me and I struggle with the whole concept of the cover-all clothing which some Muslim women are expected to wear.

Some say it’s their choice but I wonder if it’s a free choice.

Fears of terrorism have declined a bit, but if there was another mass attack such as the September 9th ones in the USA or the bus and underground bombings in London authorities might look again at the security implications of voluminous robes.

That’s what put an end to the women of Vejer de la Frontera wearing the cobijaba.

 

It was common of women of the village to wear this until the Civil War when suspicion that men were disguising themselves as women by wearing the all-concealing black robe and hiding arms under it led to it being banned.

P.S. Stargazer has a related post on religion and gender equality  at the Hand Mirror.


Women to challenege for Rural Bachelor of Year

April 23, 2009

The Rural Bachelor of the Year Competition has been one of the staples of entertainment at the Fieldays for several years.

If memory serves me right one of the motivations for starting it was concern over the growing difficulty men were having in finding women who were willing to follow them to the country, as it was for the Middlemarch Singles Ball.

That might explain why until now it’s been a competition for blokes only, but Julie at The Hand Mirror has alerted me to the news that this year women are being invited to compete for the title.

For the first time ever, eight single women from the rural sector will be invited to challenge the blokes; in a duel of gender wit and farming skill during the Friday bachelor heats on 12 June.

I wondered if this was striking a blow for equality but I gather from the Fieldays website  that the men will be competing over four days and the women won’t enter the fray until the final afternoon.

Does that mean that it doesn’t take women as long to show their prowess, or that rather than letting women show they’re equal to the challenge this might in fact be an unequal competition?


Some Earth Day initiatives off the planet

April 22, 2009

When you work on the land, every day is earth day.

Even when you don’t, but live with someone who makes a living from the land, every day is earth day.

For everyone involved in primary industry on land or sea, the environment isn’t an academic concept, it’s where we live and work and the majority of us regard our responsibility for doing as much as we can to make a positive, and lessen any negative, impact on it seriously.

But today is not every day earth day, it’s capital E capital D Earth Day.

That’s when we’re all supposed to save the world but some of the calls to action have come from people who seem to be not so much for the earth as from another planet.

The most deluded of these had to be European Green MP Caroline Lucas who compares people who fly with those who stab others (Hat tip: Kiwiblog 

Then Alf Grumble spotted PETA’s media release calling on Environment Minister Nick Smith to turn vegetarian and saw an opportunity for Busted Blonde.

She wasn’t impressed  about that, and also took exception  to the suggestion that fat people contribute more CO2 than thin people.

Deborah reacted with justifiable ire to the same story from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine  with a cross post on fat hatred at In A Strange Land and The Hand Mirror.

And now I’ve come across to be green eat less red.

Conventionally raised livestock generates 18 percent of the planet’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to a report released by the United Nation Food and Agriculture Organization in 2006. That’s more than the emissions created by all the world’s cars, trains, planes and boats combined. In comparison, transportation is responsible for 13 percent of the emission problem.

 I’m not sure what conventional means;  and whether this is just the emissions from the animals or from the total production chain from paddock to plate because there is a big difference in the environmental footprint of free range, pasture raised stock like the majority of animals farmed in New Zealand and those reared in feedlots as many are overseas.

Regardless of that, this might not be as off the wall as comparing flying to murder, linking obesity with climate change  and PETA’s call to go vegetarian, but it’s still misguided.

Eating moderate amounts of lean meat is recommended for personal health but I’m not convinced that in itself it would be any better for the planet. If people chose high fat, high sugar, low fibre alternatives to meat their diet would be less healthy and the impact on the environment might be  worse too.

It’s silly to take just one behaviour in isolation, everyone’s total impact on the environment is what matters and if someone chooses to eat a bit more meat but use less petrol it would be difficult to say that they were treading less gently on their patch of the earth than a vegetarian who drives an old, inefficient vehicle.

We have only one world and all have a responsibility to look after it, but let’s base our policies and practices for doing that on science not half-baked emotion.

P.S.

For every action there is a reaction and the reaction to Earth Day is Exploit the Earth Day about which Not PC has a comprehensive post.


Britain’s got manipulation – Updated

April 18, 2009

Britain’s Got Talent introduced Paul Potts to the world and it’s done the same for Susan Boyle.

Who’s Susan Boyle? Straight Furrow (and we’ll pass over why a farming paper is covering this at all) described her as a frumpy middle-aged woman who astonished judges on a television talent quest.

But did she astonish them?

There’s no doubt that their faces went from unimpressed to wowed as they got over her appearance and were captivated by her voice. But did they really not know how well she could sing before the show was filmed?

After all she had to audition to get that far so isn’t it possible the judges might have heard a wee whisper that her voice was stunning and maybe even have been encouraged to appear especially underwhelmed by her initial appearance to contrast with their excitement once she started singing?

Even if the judges hadn’t been prepared, putting her on the show without any grooming or wardrobe preparation suggests the producers wanted her to look that way so the contrast between her appearance and her voice would have maximum impact.

And it did.

Not only was she a hit on the show, YouTube has taken her to the world where it’s been watched by tens of millions of people. Boyle’s now the favourite to win the show with its 1000,000 pound prize and she’s already in discussion with a recording company.

Doors are opening to a new life so much better than the old one which has been anything but charmed.

Boyle is 47, unemployed, perpetually single and lives alone with her cat, Pebbles, in Bathgate, West Lothian – a town apparently dubbed “a dump” by Britain’s Got Talent judge Piers Morgan. Boyle’s sunny (if gauche) demeanour masks a sad life: the youngest of nine, she was deprived of oxygen at birth, which led to learning difficulties and, as a result, a childhood marred by bullying. Forty years later, it was her mother – whom she lived with and cared for – who wanted her to audition for the ITV talent show. But she died in 2007, leaving Boyle suffering from depression and anxiety.

Then she got the audition:

Simon Cowell was at his sneering best. . .  Girls in the audience sniggered and there was a snort of barely concealed derision from Morgan.

Everyone concluded that this podgy woman with a frumpy frock, a wiry hairdo and heavy brows fell into the comedy-audition category. They settled into their seats for a good laugh, knowing she would massacre the song from, as she put it, “Les Miserabs”. But then Susan Boyle started to sing.

And . . . there followed one of those transcendent moments that make TV history. Boyle’s voice rose pure and clear over the huge Glasgow theatre. Before even the first refrain, the sniggers had turned to applause.

It’s like a real-life Cinderella story with every chance she will live happily ever after and I hope she does.

But I do have some reservations about the way the whole thing was manipulated. I watched the YouTube clip with a grin and listened with tears in my eyes. Then I watched again and I wondered, what would have happened if she hadn’t had an extraordinary voice?

The sniggers turned to cheers when she started singing but if she hadn’t sung so beautifully would they have turned to boos and instead of the outpouring of warmth would there have been scorn because the woman with ordinary looks also had an ordinary voice?

Even now, her appearance is part of the story because appearances count – and not just for women because Paul Potts straightened his teeth after he won an earlier competition.

But there is something about the way it was done with Susan, the feeling that there was a deliberate attempt to encourage the sneers at her appearance that leaves me feeling that we’ve all been manipulated.

It was very good television but it wasn’t good behaviour.

UPDATE: Whaleoil has a similar view

UPDATE 2: Julie posts on the Susan Boyle phenomenon at  The Hand Mirror with a link to what if Susan Boyle couldn’t sing? by Dennis Palumbo at The Huffinton Post.

Also at THP Andy Borowitz  posts on the issue.


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