Saturday, March 31, 2012

Human Achievement Hour 2012

We can't bring ourselves to celebrate Earth Hour. And in our Earth Hour blogpost this morning, we've been accused among other things of being a "denier", "antagnostic", and "nasty".

But we WILL be celebrating at 8.30pm tonight. We've discovered an alternative celebration to the over-hyped, achieve-nothing climate change love-fest. Check this out:

Human Achievement Hour (HAH) is a celebration of individual freedom and appreciation of the achievements and innovations that people have used to improve their lives throughout history. To celebrate Human Achievement Hour, participants need only to spend the hour from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm on March 31 enjoying the benefits of capitalism and human innovation: Gather with friends in the warmth of a heated home, watch television, take a hot shower, drink a beer, call a loved one on the phone, or listen to music.

You can also utilize one of man’s greatest achievements, the Internet, to join CEI’s in-house party, which will live stream right here at CEI.org beginning at 8:00 pm EST. You can use the chat function to tell us how you are celebrating human achievement in your neighborhood

On Saturday March 31, 2012, from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm, some people will shut off their lights and spend an hour in darkness as a symbolic vote against global climate change. Observers of Earth Hour want world leaders to “do something” about pollution and energy use. What this means is that they want politicians to use legal mandates and punitive taxes to prevent individuals from freely using resources, hindering our ability to create the solutions and technologies of the future. Instead, the Competitive Enterprise Institute asks you to spend that hour with your lights *on* in celebration of Human Achievement Hour.

HAH is an annual event meant to recognize and celebrate the fact that this is the greatest time to be alive, and that the reason we have come is that people have been free to use their minds and the resources in their environment to experiment, create, and innovate. Participants in HAH recognize the necessity to protect the individual persons from government coercion, so that we may continue innovating and improving our lives and the world around us.

See how far we’ve come.


The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) is dead right; we HAVE come a long way. Even in our lifetime, the advances in technology have been barely believable. And those advances should be celebrated, not suppressed. And HAH is also a celebration of personal freedom and choice; not a demand that we slaveishly follow the latest socio-politicial fad, designed to give us an attack of the guilts.

So we are delighted to know that we're not alone, and that like-minded, forward-thinking people from right around the globe will be taking time tonight to celebrate the way that technology and innovation has enriched our lives. Come and join the fun on Facebook, or on Twitter, and use the technology that insightful people have created to enrich our lives.

Human Achievement Hour; now that is something worth celebrating!

The 78-minute Miracle Man


Just two weeks ago the football world held its collective breath as Bolton footballer Fabian Muamba literally died on the field at White Hart Lane. But Muamba is making a remarkable recovery; Stuff reports:

A new photo of Fabrice Muamba appeared on the midfielder's Twitter account on Friday showing him sitting up and smiling, almost two weeks after his heart stopped beating and he collapsed during the FA Cup quarterfinals.

The first photo of Muamba since his cardiac arrest showed the usually clean-shaven Bolton player bearded, fully dressed and seated with a pillow for support.

An accompanying message said: "Fab wanted me to post this pic for you all and to also say thank you for such overwhelming support."

The former England Under-21 international has been in London Chest Hospital since collapsing on March 17 in the game against Tottenham. Medics worked on Muamba for 78 minutes to get his heart beating.

He left his bed and began eating again this week.

Andrew Deaner, the cardiologist who left his seat among supporters at White Hart Lane to help medics treat Muamba, has called Muamba's surprisingly strong recovery "miraculous."


Andrew Deaner is the hero of this story. As the story above reports, he left his seat and went to Muamba's aid, helping in the prolonged resuscitation effort.

That Fabrice Muamba is still alive after his heart stopped for over an hour is truly a miracle. That the story played out in front of the footballing world, and then an even wider audience as news sites picked it up makes the story even more remarkable. And that he is well on the road to recovery makes it sweeter still.

We wish Fabrice Muamba all the best for his ongoing recovery after his brush with death. There are clearly things left for him to do in his life, although playing professional football may not be one of them. But he really is the 78-minute Miracle Man.


An Earth Hour SMOG

Earth Hour has rolled around again. We didn't realise that, until we heard a woman interviewed on Saturday Breakfast this morning.

We'd always thought that Earth Hour was about saving power, and accordingly saving the planet, but the woman being interviewed said that it wasn't about saving power at all; it's all about a campaign.

And then came the "she shoots; she scores" moment! The interviewee gave out the Twitter hash-tag of #earthhour, and encouraged social media users to tweet tonight about what they are doing for Earth Hour. That's what we'll be doing tonight, after we've turned all the lights on. After all, we live on the top of a hill, and the Bible commands that a city on a hill should not be hidden, and that we are the light of the world! We'll tweet from our laptop, our iPad and our iPhone, and we encourage other mischievious social media users to do likewise.

Earth Hour is a crock. So is the notion of Global Warming, which had to be renamed as Climte Change when the rise in temperatures stopped. Sure; the climate as changing, but that's nothing new; the climate has changed throughout history, even when there were no man-made carbon emissions.

So we'll be helping the Earth Hour folks compound their SMOG tonight, and we'll be telling the Twitterverse what we're doing to mark this occasion. Will you join us, and not hide your light under a bushel?

We can't help but wonder (contd)...

So; the Green Party isn't happy about Judith Collins defending her reputation, and issuing proceedings against two Labour MP's and a news organisation she alleges have defamed her.

So we can't help but wonder; could this be the same Green Party that was SO outraged when pamphlets about it were released prior to the 2005 General Election? Let's not forget; the contents of those pamphlets has NEVER been fully rebuked.

And we also can't help but wonder if Greens co-Leader Metiria Turei was being "thin-skinned" when she asked this question in Parliament in November 2007:

Is the Minister aware that the Exclusive Brethren are, right now, running a smear campaign against the Australian Greens, accusing them of immorality and starting race riots, and does she agree that if the Electoral Finance Bill was scrapped, as the National Party wants, then associated groups, such as the Exclusive Brethren, with access to millions of dollars could dominate the election debate with lies and drown out those who raise legitimate issues, thereby undermining their right to freedom of expression?


Smear campaigns by the perceived Right against the Left are clearly unacceptable by the Greens. But they have a far greater level of tolerance when MP's from the Left make allegedly defamatory remarks against politicians from the Right. Pardon us Green Party, but your thin-skinned hypocrisy is showing...

Win some; lose some

Two New Zealand teams faced play-off matches in Australian competitions last night, and there were winners and losers.

First up; the NZ Breakers. They were comprehensively out-thought and outplayed by the Townsville Crocodiles in Auckland. All is not lost however; it's a best of three series, and they will have to beat the Crocs in Townsville next Thursday to go on to the ANBL finals.

But history is on their side. Last year, the Breakers lost the first match of the playoffs to Perth at home, then shocked the Wildcats in the return match at the infamous Jungle, the roughest venue in the ANBL. A win at home in the decider propelled the Breakers into the championship series, which they duly won. They will have to improve hugely though.

But it was better news in Wellington where the Phoenix took on Sydney in an elimination semi-final. Ahead 2-nil with less than 15 minutes to go thanks to goals from the departing Tim Brown, and from a thundering header by Ben Sigmund after a pinpoint Leo Bertos corner, the 'Nix looked home and dry. But two goals in five minutes from Sydney FC brought them level. Extra time looked like a prospect until Paul Ifill was put through, then bundled over right by the penalty spot. Ifill's penalty sent the Sydney 'keeper the wrong way, and the Nix players celebrated.


All eyes will now be on the match between the Melbourne Heart and Perth Glory on Sunday. A win to the Glory will see a road trip for the 'Nix. A win to Melbourne, and there'll be another home playoff match for the Phoenix; go the Heart!

So the Phoenix has passed its first sudden-death match, whilst the Breakers players face theirs next Thursday in North Queensland. Any team can have an off night, and if the Breakers are to defend their ANBL title, they can't afford to have another one. Let's hope that by next Friday, they're still in the running. And let's hope that the two codes don't go head-to-head again on the schedules!

Friday, March 30, 2012

It seems we should be more like Finland after all.

Amazing, but true, it seems that David Shearer and the Labour Party are onto something after all. Admittedly, it's one of the more overlooked indicators of the health of your society, but Finland are once again setting the standards, closely followed by their Scandinavian neighbours.

They have more Heavy Metal bands per head of population than anyone else, (and again we see how the UK has declined since the 1970s).
 
 
There are so many questions to answer: Are there any competent MPs to take up the position of Minister for Rock? Does Joycey qualify because he used to own a radio station? Should ACT get on to recruiting Jon Toogood or can we persuade Peter Jackson's mate, Jack Black aka 'Tenacious D', to buy a place in the Wairarapa?

Perhaps we need our own Pirate Party who could add this to their manifesto, policy suggestions welcome...lets start by diverting Maori TV funding and giving NZ on Air some targets. I'm off to apply for a research trip.

Thuggery

English rugby player Calum Clark has been given a significant ban for a nasty piece of rugby thuggery: the Herald reports:

Northampton forward Calum Clark has been slapped with a 32-week ban by the English Rugby Football Union after breaking an opponent's elbow in a ruck.

Clark, a member of England's elite squad who has yet to play for the team, was banned by until Thursday to Nov. 1, one of the longest bans in the history of English pro rugby.

Clark was captain of Northampton in the LV Cup final, after which he was cited for hyperextending the right arm of Leicester hooker Rob Hawkins, breaking his elbow and sidelining him for the season.

Hawkins required surgery after breaking his elbow in the incident - ruling him out of the rest of the rugby season.

Northampton immediately handed an indefinite suspension to Clark, a former England Under-20 captain.


Here's the incident in question. There is no doubt in our mind that this was a mindless and opportunistic attempt to seriously injure an opponent:






And although Clark is a relative youngster, it's not his first brush with infamy. We thought we recognised Clark's name, so we did some detective work. Readers with long memories might remember this piece of action from the U20 World Cup in 2008; the relevant piece of action is at the 2 min mark:







Rugby is a tough game played by hard men. But there is no place for this kind of thuggery. We hope that Clark actually learns from this latest incident, given that he seemed to find his sending-off in the U20 match a bit of a joke.

When your words come back to bite you...

Over at The Standard yesterday, resident sys-op and ban-meister Lprent had a post up that triumphed You know you're in trouble: When the bookies open a contract on you. He was referring to iPredict having opened a book on whether or not Judith Collins would cease being a Minister before 1 June 2012. Naturally enough, the lefties responded to lprent's dog-whistle, and the 159 comments to date make "interesting" reading!

But then this morning, iPredict opened another book; on whether Judith Collins will sue The Standard! Check this out:

Long Description

This contract pays $1 if, before 1 May 2012, Judith Collins announces she will take legal action against anyone associated with the blog hosted at www.thestandard.org.nz; otherwise it pays $0.

Judging Criteria
The contract will be closed immediately at $1 if Ms Collins announces, before 1 May 2012, that she plans to take legal action against anyone associated with the blog hosted at www.thestandard.org.nz. It does not matter whether or not she subsequently pursues this legal action.

For the contract to close at $1, Ms Collins must name The Standard and/or someone publicly known to be associated with it, not simply refer to it in more generic terms such as "a blog". In referring to a person, the use of a blog pseudonym (eg, "Eddie") will be sufficient.

An announcement includes a media statement from Ms Collins published at www.beehive.co.nz and/or www.national.org.nz ; or a statement made by her on live radio or TV; or a statement from her reported on both www.nzherald.co.nz and www.stuff.co.nz

iPredict's judgment is final.

Oh dear; lprent's words have come back to bite him on the bum quick-smart, and will doubtless be the cause of some red faces amongst whoever the contributors are to that particular blog. And whoever is behind the persona of "Eddie" might have particular cause to be concerned, given that "Eddie" made serious allegations against Judith Collins on Wednesday afternoon.

We will not repeat the comments nor link to them for obvious reasons, but suffice to say that the post went up shortly before Parliament sat at 2pm, and the allegations made were strikingly similar to those made by Trevor Mallard, Grant Robertson and Andrew Little during Wednesday's proceedings of the House. If nothing else, they do nothing to doiminish the widely-held perception that "Eddie" is pretty close to the centre of Labour Party activism.

Misleading headline of the week...

Another new Keeping Stock award, and today it goes to the APN sub-editor who came up with this:

Key denies backing $14m ACC bid


Now we realise that much sub-editing is now done off-shore. But surely someone would understand that the bid that John Key is denying any involvement in is a claim on a private insurer, and not ACC.

There's a very significant difference, and we hope that the Herald publishes a retraction; unless, of course, there's an agenda to deliberately mislead...

Tabloid television

Close-Up spent yesterday afternoon building up to a "sensational" and "exclusive" story linking John Key to the woes of ACC claimant Bronwyn Pullar. To say that they failed to deliver would be an understatement.

Instead, what we learned was that John Key's name was one of 28 included in a letter written by Sovereign Insurance to Michelle Boag, former National Party president and probably top at the moment of the National Party's Most Unwanted list.

This is the worst kind of tabloid television from the state broadcaster, and there is any number of reasons why John Key needn't be worried about the facts of the matter, despite the innuendo, and implied wrong-doing. They include:

  • the letter was written in 2007. At that time, John Key was Leader of the Opposition, NOT a member of the Government
  • Key has stated emphatically that he was never a member of the "support group" referred to, and has commented this morning that people drop his name on a regular basis.
  • The letter was written by a PRIVATE insurer, and was in no way related to Ms Pullar's ACC claim. There is no government responsibility whatsoever for private commercial transactions between an insurance company and a client.

The common demoninator in all these matters seems to be Michelle Boag. One cannot help but wonder how Close Up came to be in possession of a letter between Ms Boag and Sovereign Insurance. The only logical explanation is that it was leaked to Close Up (and that was THEIR terminology, not ours) by one of the parties. We reckon that if a list of possible suspects was to be compiled, Ms Boag would be pretty close to the top of it.

But that didn't stop Close Up presenting the story last night and in its pre-publicity as though John Key had been caught personally with his fingers in the government till. This was rumour-mongering and innuendo of the worst possilbe kind, and Mark Sainsbury and his team of reporters should hang their heads in shame.

And to make matters worse, guess who was trotted out on Breakfast this morning to discuss the latest claims; Winston Peters! Talk about giving the fox free reign in the hen-house!

There's one positive though. If ever there was any doubt about the political bias of TVNZ's news and current affairs department, it was removed last night and this morning.

The Friday Forum - 30 March 2012

It's Friday again, and it's the last Friday of the financial year. As a business owner, that means that there will be plenty to do today in terms of making sure that all our creditors have been paid, then getting things ready for the accountant.

But there's still time to have a Friday Forum; your place on the blogosphere to let off a bit of steam before the weekend begins. And with a busy sporting weekend ahead beginning with ANBL and A-League play-off matches tonight, there's a feast of sport beckoning.

You know the rules here; you set the agenda, and all we ask is a modicum of tolerance for the views of other commenters. Other than that, , it's all over to you.

So; without further ado; the floor is yours...

Unacceptable

There's a lot going on behind the scenes in the Ports of Auckland dispute; the Herald reports:

Two Auckland Council members are complaining of threatening phone calls from a man trying to make them support a no-confidence vote against the Ports of Auckland management.

No vote was put to a council meeting yesterday, but Sir John Walker and Calum Penrose are angry about the calls, from veteran protester Marx Jones.

In the 1980s, Mr Jones was jailed for six months for flying a light plane from which flour bombs were dropped on Eden Park during the 1981 Springboks v All Blacks test.

Last night, he said he had called phone numbers for both councillors.

But he denied making threats in warning that if they supported the port company's move to sack its workers, they would be sued for "malfeasance and negligence".

"It's not a threat, it's a promise," said Mr Jones, who added that he and Campaign Against Privatisation spokesman Meredydd Barrar made their intent clear in Herald advertisements inviting "lawyers with a conscience" to spearhead the action.


We well remember Mr Jones' act of terrorism in 1981, when the lives of tens of thousands of people legitimately at a rugby match at Eden Park were placed at risk by his stunt.

But Jones' latest moment in the limelight is completely and utterly unacceptable in our humble opinion. Councillors are elected by a democratic process to make decisions, and they ought not be subject to threats of this nature.

It's little wonder that MUNZ has distanced itself (to MUNZ's credit) from this stunt. And although neither Cr Walker nor Cr Penrose intend to complain to the Police, this kind of activisim should be denounced in the strongest possible terms.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Trouble at t'mill?

So; why is MUNZ having to put out this media release?

The Maritime Union of New Zealand has distanced itself from protests outside today’s meeting of Auckland Council.

“MUNZ leadership has spent today preparing for a meeting this afternoon with Mayor Len Brown at which the current dispute with Ports of Auckland will be discussed. The union is also eagerly anticipating the first payment to locked out workers for 5 weeks which will take place at the port this afternoon.”

“While the union supports the sentiment of well intentioned community protest it was not involved in the protests today and had asked protesters not to cause a disruption at the meeting.” Said Joe Fleetwood, MUNZ National Secretary

For further information contact:

Joe Fleetwood, MUNZ National Secretary
021 364 649

Might it have something to do with pressure/threats being made to Auckland councillors by those sympathetic to MUNZ's cause, and anxious to help? Whatever, it must have been an embarrassing protest today, for MUNZ to feel the need to issue a disclaimer.

QLP Caption Contest


The photo above is from the first post-election meeting of the Queensland Labor Party's caucus yesterday, at the Ipswich Art Gallery; and it cries out for a Caption Contest.

You know the rules; keep 'em short, to the point, pithy, and most of all, funny. Other than that, your only limit is your imagination and creativity.

Give it your best shot!

"I take my reputation seriously"

Judith "Crusher" Collins is upset. And she has just told Marcus Lush, live on RadioLive that she plans to sue two Labour MP's and a media organisation (that is not RadioLive!) for defamation for comments made outside the House.

Ms Collins told Marcus Lush "I take my reputation seriously". And her reputation came in for a hammering yesterday, with allegations that she or someone close to her leaked e-mails to one Simon Lusk, a National Party activist. Ms Collins firmly denied these allegations made in the House, and we have no reason to doubt her. But at least two Labour MP's have repeated the allegations OUTSIDE the House, and away from the protection of Parliamentary privilege.

Judith Collins has declined at this point to name the MP's who will be sued. To be consistent with our previous blog-post this morning, we have to call on her to name them, although we understand her reasons for not doing so. But by a process of elimination, it's probably safe to deduce that Trevor Mallard is one, and that either Grant Robertson or Andrew Little is the other. Little was in particularly angry mode yesterday, and after his melt-down on Michael Laws' programme last week, he has proved to be intemperate. Time will tell.

And in a remarkable twist to this issue, Whaleoil has a very interesting story this morning, which if proven, adds a new dimension to the goings-on. Perhaps that's why the Privacy Commissioner is going to forensically examine some computers. It's Whale's exclusive, so we won't copy from it.

We wonder which Labour MP's and which media bosses ate breakfast in a subdued mood this morning. We look forward to Judith Collins disclosing more in the fullness of time.

UPDATE: DPF blogs that the MP's involved are Trevor Mallard and Andrew Little, and that the news organisation is Radio New Zealand; watch this space; the fun has just begun!

Name him!

The Herald reports:

A former National MP allegedly punched another customer in the face as shocked tellers looked on at an inner-city Wellington bank after an argument over a parking space.

Wellington police yesterday confirmed receiving a complaint from a man alleging he had been assaulted by another man on Monday last week in Courtenay Place. They said the incident was still under investigation.


The Herald has just smeared EVERY male former National MP. The author of the story, Adam Bennett, clearly knows the identity of the alleged assailant having tried to obtain comment from him, so the paper should put up or shut up, and name the "former MP".

Salacious tabloid journalism such as this seems to have become the Herald's hallmark. In no way are we defending the former MP; if he has broken the law, he must pay the price. But by its actions this morning, the Herald has besmirched dozens of reputations underservedly.

Name him, NZ Herald.


UPDATE: And already one former National MP has publicly distanced himself from the Herald's across-the-board smear...

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Gutsy stuff


Around 48 hours ago, Ross Taylor's arm was broken by a ball from South African fast bowler Morne Morkel; you can see the video of the incident here. Yesterday morning, Taylor had surgery in Wellington where pins were inserted to stabilise the fracture. He's going to be out of cricket for at least a month, putting his lucrative IPL contract at risk.

But he was ready to have one final bat if needed; Mark Geenty reports via Stuff:

Ross Taylor was ready and willing to bat with a broken arm if his New Zealand team had needed him to help save the third cricket test against South Africa yesterday.

Taylor revealed today he drove to the Basin Reserve as centurion Kane Williamson and Doug Bracewell edged New Zealand towards the safety of a draw.

Having undergone surgery on the fractured ulna bone in his left forearm that morning, Taylor didn't expect to be required at the ground.

"I was hoping not to [bat]. I was back at the hotel with about 10 overs to go and then I got the phone call to ask whether I could bat. I thought you don't often get to save a test match so I drove down. In the Wellington traffic it took me about five overs to get there, but the boys were looking pretty solid so I didn't have to don the whites," he said.


That's gutsy stuff from the New Zealand captain, and we're glad in a way that he wasn't called on. You can be sure that he would have been shown no mercy by the ruthless South Africans, nor would he have expected any.

Taylor is hopeful of a quick recovery though; read on:

Taylor said the surgery, in which pins were inserted in the bone, was deemed a success and he hoped to be hitting balls again in 2-3 weeks.

He won't be departing for the Indian Premier League as scheduled tomorrow but hadn't given up hope of returning for the latter stages of the lucrative tournament which runs until May 27. He has a US$1.1 million (NZ$1.35m) contract with the Delhi Daredevils but won't receive any if he doesn't play a match. IPL players are paid on a pro rata basis depending on how many games they appear in. Taylor wouldn't comment on whether he is insured against loss of earnings in the IPL, but it is understood he is not.

"I'll see what the medical staff say. I've always listened to them and when they say I'm ready, I'm ready. I won't be going against their word. At this stage I've heard four weeks [out of cricket]. I'm not putting a time frame on it, I learned from the last injury [a torn calf]. We'll have to wait and see."

He was relieved the injury, which was caused by a Morne Morkel bouncer which struck him on the wrist while batting on Monday, wasn't as bad as first thought.

"When I got hit it was pretty sore but drugs work wonders and I haven't felt any pain for a while. The surgery went well and the doctors are all happy."


Quite how happy the surgeon would have been had Taylor been required to bat yesterday will remain one of life's unanswered questions. But the mere fact that Taylor was prepared to take one for the team suggests that there is a pretty good spirit within the New Zealand camp, and that augers well for the future.


Saving the best for last

For a long time, we've been calling on the New Zealand test batsmen to bat time, and to treasure their wickets. Finally yesterday, we saw some resolve from the New Zealand batsmen.

But first things first; all three series against South Africa were lost; there's no hiding from that. New Zealand should have won the T-20 series but didn't, and was comprehensively outplayed in the ODI's. And in the test matches, the South Africans were clearly the better team, and deservedly won the series.

The South African bowling attack is far and away the best in world cricket at the moment, and the bowling yesterday at the Basin Reserve was simply relentless. Vernon Philander has a bit of Sir Richard Hadlee about him; his bowling is wonderfully accurate and demanding, and he puts batsmen through a stern examination. Morne Morkel's performance yesterday was among the best fast bowling displays we've ever seen in New Zealand, and the extra bounce he gets makes him unplayable at times. And the yorkers with which he dismissed Dean Brownlie and Dan Vettori would have knocked over far better batsmen; they were almost unplayable deliveries. Add Dale Steyn to the mix, and you have a pretty feocious mix.

All is not lost however. Kane Williamson batted with conviction and application yesterday, and his second test century was richly deserved. Martin Guptill and Brownlie hung around, and both were got out rather than getting themselves out. Kruger van Wyk showed real grit and fight, and Doug Bracewell gave a glimpse of the ability with the bat that the SKY commentary team keeps telling us that he has. When New Zealand was 5-83 after 36 overs, the writing seemed on the wall, but the guts shown by Williamson, van Wyk and Bracewell meant that only one more wicket was taken in the remaining 45 overs of play.

The other positives from this series were the re-emergence of Mark Gillespie as a genuine wicket-taking bowler (something New Zealand has desperately needed), and the performance of Kruger van Wyk, who must now have a lock on the wicket-keeping role. The catch van Wyk took to dismiss Graeme Smith in Hamilton was world-class, and the little 'keeper brings a never-say-die attitude; a must for test cricket. BJ Watling may have a test future as a batsman, but van Wyk has grabbed his opportunity with both gloves.

So the Summer of Cricket has ended. New Zealand's limitations were exposed by a classy South African outfit, but there are grounds for optimism in the way that the team competed in this series, and especially yesterday. We're sure that South Africa will soon be the number one team in the ICC's test rankings, whilst New Zealand languishes at #8. On the basis of what we saw yesterday, there is optimism that we won't stay at #8 forever.

Headline of the Week

This is a new Keeping Stock accolade. But this one was simply too good to overlook; it demanded some form of recognition:

Rugby: Lam told off for bleating over ban


Well done that subbie!!

Thanks a bunch MUNZ

The ongoing dispute at the Ports of Auckland is starting to be felt in some surprising places; Newstalk ZB reports:

The Auckland port dispute is hitting courtside.

The strike has seen a shipment of thunder sticks destined for the Breakers diverted to Wellington, where they're in the queue to get on a train bound for Auckland.

The Breakers play the Townsville Crocs at Vector Arena on Friday night in the first of the ANBL finals.

Breakers media manager Andrew Dewhurst says if the container doesn't get loaded on to that train today, the thunder sticks won't arrive in Auckland in time.

"Home advantage, we've got 9,500 people coming but it's a bit of a disaster, we've had to put out not an SOS but and SOTS, save our thunder sticks."

Mr Dewhurst says it's very unfortunate the thunder sticks have been caught up in industrial action.


"Unfortunate" is one word for it. We'll be even more disillusioned with MUNZ if their strike action costs the Breakers a chance to defend the ANBL title.

Thanks for nothing MUNZ.

Emmerson's Finnished

Another excellent cartoon from Rod Emmerson thos morning. Once again, no additional commentary is required...


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tweet of the Day - 27 March 2012

We've just spotted this one on Twitter, and it certainly deserves acclaim:


Q: Whats the difference between the QLD LP and a Minivan.

A: The Minivan has more seats.


Ouch!

Righteous indignation

The Herald's editorial today is full of hubris and righteous indigation. Check this out, although you might want to keep a bucket handy:

It should not have taken the police more than three months to decide no charges should be laid in the so-called "teapot tapes" affair. From the beginning, when the Prime Minister and Act candidate John Banks were inadvertently recorded at a stage-managed photo opportunity during the election campaign, it was clear no crime had been committed.

The cameraman who left his device - and yes, it was unusual that it was in its little black bag - did so by accident in a media scrum. Only after he realised it had been taken by the Prime Minister's staff, who would not return it, did he discuss the fact of the recording with the Herald on Sunday newspaper. That paper considered the contents, sought permission to publish from the participants in the conversation and did not do so when that permission was withheld. End of story. No crime had been committed, despite the police attempt yesterday to save face by claiming the cameraman's action was "unlawful" or, in a telling show of doubt, "at least reckless". The lawfulness would have been for a court to decide, but no prosecution will be taken.

The Herald on Sunday, the sister paper to the New Zealand Herald, had precisely no involvement in the act of accidental recording, nor did it publish the material recorded, after careful journalistic and ethical consideration.

It reported the fact of the tape's existence and hinted in the broadest manner of the controversies within.


Despite this editorial's protestations, nothing will change the lows to which New Zealand's mainstream media sank over this whole debacle; it was not the MSM's finest hour. And for that, the Herald on Sunday must take its share of responsibility, along with 3News.

These media outlets were only too happy to boost readership/viewership by endless and repetitive teasers about what might have been in the unlawfully obtained tapes, but now the Herald is trying to rewrite history.

The New Zealand Herald was once the finest newspaper in the land. Those who made it such would cringe at the standards of tabloid journalism being employed today. And the Herald's refusal to acknowledge its role in this tawdry saga does nothing to restore its reputation or its credibility.

Cairns' pyrrhic victory

Chris Cairns has had a win in London's High Court in his libel action over former IPL boss Lalit Modi; the Herald reports:

Chris Cairns last night won $174,000 in damages and $775,000 in court costs in his libel case against the man who accused him of match-fixing.

"Today's verdict lifts a dark cloud that has been over me for the past two years," the Kiwi cricketing legend said in a statement late last night.

"I feel mixed emotions. Firstly, sadness that I should ever have had to put myself, my friends and my family through this because of one man's misdirected allegations.

"But I also feel great joy because my past career has come through unscathed and remains intact and because I had the courage to stand up in the highest court to defend my name.

"Lastly, I feel great relief that I am able to walk into any cricket ground in the world with my head held high."


But it may turn out to be a pyrrhic victory; read on:

But Cairns may have a fight on his hands to get the money as the defendant, former Indian Premier League commissioner Lalit Modi, has been declared bankrupt in a separate hearing over unpaid bills to a security firm.

Cairns, 41, was on a "no win, no fee" agreement with his lawyer. But Justice David Bean ordered Modi to pay £400,000 ($775,000) of Cairns' court costs within 28 days.

He has until April 20 to lodge an appeal.


Most important for Cairns however is his reputation, which will remain untarnished, despite all the innuendo that surrounds cases such as these. The Judge was scathing towards Modi in his judgment, and also issued an injunction forbidding further defamation.

There's also a salutory lesson here for social media users. At the crux of this case was a tweet on Twitter. The judgment against Modi has shown that social media users are not immune from the consequences of their interactions.

We can't help but wonder (contd)...

Bradley Ambrose will not be prosecuted, even though Crown Law is of the opinion that his actions in taping the two Johns without their knowledge was "unlawful".

So we can't help but wonder; does this mean that all the media brouhaha which followed, especially surrounding the Herald on Sunday and 3News was "unlawful"? Does that mean, by extension that Winston Peters' speech in Invercargill and all his media hubris over the Storm in a Teacup was also "unlawful"? And by the ultimate extension, does that mean that NZ First's return to Parliament was based on an "unlawful" act, and is therefore....."unlawful"?

The reality is; probably not. But it's food for thought, as we pause with our cup of English Breakfast tea this morning.

Monday, March 26, 2012

No charges for Ambrose

Bradley Ambrose has dodged a bullet. The Police have just advised that there will be no charges over the so-called Teapot Tapes, but they have made it clear that Ambrose broke the law; the Herald reports (with our emphasis added):

Police will not lay charges against freelance cameraman Bradley Ambrose over the so-called "teapot tapes" affair, Assistant Commissioner Malcolm Burgess says.

He said police will issue Mr Ambrose with a warning after referring the matter to Crown Law.

"While police have issued a warning in this instance, we are clear that the actions of Mr Ambrose were unlawful."

He said three people worked on the investigation which has been underway since shortly before the election.

"One factor taken into account is a letter of regret from Mr Ambrose which has been sent to the Prime Minister and Mr Banks. They have both indicated acceptance of this statement."


The statement by the Police that Ambrose's actions were "unlawful" is probably of more significance that the decision over whether he ought be charged. The Police have drawn a line in the sand over what conduct is within and without the law, and Ambrose's actions have been ruled to be in the latter category.

The decision not to prosecute is understandable, but in their haste to report that Bradley Ambrose has been cleared (and we've already seen a report which says "Taepot Tapes saga dropped"), we hope that members of our fine, upstanding mainstream media do indeed read the whole statement from Supt. Malcolm Burgess.

He's back!


Tiger Woods is back. He's just a few moments ago putted out on the 18th at Bay Hill to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational tournament on the PGA Tour; his first win on tour since 2009 after his extraordinary fall from grace.

This is Woods' seventh win at Bay Hill, and to record his comeback victory at Arnie's Place will make this win even sweeter. Bay Hill always draws a top quality field, such is the esteem in which Palmer is held.

And even more significantly, Woods is in ominous form just 10 days out from the start of the year's first Major, the US Masters at Augusta. He's certainly found form at just the right time of the season.

PGATour.com reports:

The drought is over for Tiger Woods. And he did it in familiar fashion — locking down the win while wearing his Sunday red at a course that’s been very, very good to him.

Thirty months — specifically 924 days — after his last PGA TOUR win, Woods returned to the winner’s circle on Sunday at Bay Hill, winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard by five strokes over playing partner Graeme McDowell.

“It does feel good; it feels really good,” Woods told NBC after his win. “The conditions were tough. These pins — Arnie took it to us today.”

Woods shot a 2-under 70 to finish at 13 under. The five-shot victory was the largest on TOUR since Rory McIlroy won the U.S. Open last year by eight strokes.

“Watch out, boys on the PGA TOUR,” NBC analyst Johnny Miller said. “Tiger is back.”

Woods’ last TOUR win was the 2009 BMW Championship. It should be no surprise he ended his drought at Bay Hill, a place he’s now won at seven times. Sunday’s win was the 72nd of his TOUR career.


Many were quick to predict the demise of Tiger Woods after revelations about his extra-curricular activities surfaced late in 2009. But those rumours of his demise may just have been a little premature. Tiger Woods is the big story in the world of sport today.

Rattue and the elephant in the room

Chris Rattue is an often-provocative sports columnist for the NZ Herald. And his comment today is bound to provoke comment; he opines:

New Zealand cricket needs to hop on board the wrist spinner express and that means calling time on the career of the legendary and much admired Daniel Vettori.

The bright hope offered in Tasmania has descended into yet more dim cricketing days. South Africa is way too good, but that still doesn't excuse the wayward bowling and tame captaincy at the Basin Reserve.

From this layman's chair, boring is worse than losing, especially when you should be hellbent on a comeback to draw the series.

Ross Taylor's leadership has lacked inspiration and innovation when it counted, even given that he hasn't got the most astounding attack to work with. His medium-quicks let the side down, but Taylor let things meander.

Taylor is a terrific test batsman by New Zealand standards, and from a distance people would judge him to be a top bloke, something to which those in the know will attest.

But there is also an air that suggests an over-eagerness not to be eager which comes across as a poor man's Stephen "Chinos" Fleming. Taylor wants to appear in calm control, in demeanour and words, as if he's been there, done that, knows the score.

Unfortunately, this lack of adrenalin and angst has seeped into how New Zealand played. There were halfway-house field placings. Despite having their backs to the wall in the series, there was no spark, no devil, no up-and-at-em aggro when needed.


The Black Caps were indeed timid on the first day of the test match in Wellington in a match where they needed to be bold. The criticism of Taylor is justified to a degree, but he was not helped by a pretty inept performance from his bowlers in the first session. But Taylor is still a novice in the captaincy role, and he will grow the more experience he gets.

On the other hand, Daniel Vettori is our most experienced cricketer. And Rattue suggests that the end of an era might be nigh; read on:

Vettori is deservedly a legend of our sport, but Vettori the bowler doesn't have a good enough history of rapier-like performances to justify all of the fuss. His average test average - nearly 34 runs a wicket - tells the story.

The veteran's sensational, middle-lower-order batting heroics have distracted the gaze from the poor bowling statistics. Further still, decades of New Zealand's intermittent reliance on line and length finger spinning has been a failed policy. Dallying with Vettori as a proper batsman also hinders developing a genuine No6, and we certainly need one.

A combination of traditional thinking and strange mental gymnastics thus bladed Trent Boult, a lively young seamer who looks like a wicket taker, offers the advantages of left-armer with a bit of speed and would have been more of a threat than Vettori.


We were a little surprised that Vettori was included in the playing eleven at Wellington, especially given the New Zealanders' intention to bowl first if they won the toss. Surely on a pitch that had been under cover for a week, four seamers would have been the way to go. And let's not forget; when New Zealand recorded its historic win at Hobart over Australia, Vettori was a late withdrawl due to injury.

That view is bourne out by the numbers; all nine South African wickets were taken by the New Zealand seam bowlers, whilst Vettori bowled 42 wicketless overs. He seldom beat the bat in the time we watched on Friday, and the whole intent of his bowling seemed to be to contain rather than to attack. But containment is his role in the shorter versions of the game, from which he has retired at international level.

Daniel Vettori has been a great servant of New Zealand cricket, but here's clearly not the player he once was, especially with the ball. And with the international season in New Zealand drawing to a close tomorrow, we reckon that it's time to talk about the elephant in the room; Daniel Vettori's playing future.

Passing the buck

History will forever record that the Urerewa raids took place under the previous Labour government, when Helen Clark was Prime Minister, and when Howard Broad was the Police Commissioner. With all the wailing and gnashing of teeth from the Left in the wake of the conviction of the Urewera Four on firearms charges last week and the jury being hung on the main charge, you'd think that the whole case was bungled from start to finish by the dark forces of the right.

So why is Annette King getting so defensive? The Dom-Post reports:

Former solicitor-general David Collins changed his advice after telling senior ministers that those involved in the Urewera training camps could be charged under the Terrorism Suppression Act, Labour MP Annette King says.

Ms King revealed details yesterday, from when she was police minister, of a high-powered meeting in then-prime minister Helen Clark's office at which Dr Collins assured ministers the act could be used for the first time.

That meeting was held the night before the Urewera raids in October 2007. Four weeks later Dr Collins advised that the act could not be used.

"We had relied on the advice that we were given that everything that was being done was being done correctly," Mrs King told TVNZ's Q+A programme.

"Then to find that in fact the law we were told was incoherent and they weren't able to proceed, and in fact much of the evidence that had been gathered was not able to be used now, was a big disappointment."

The "heads-up" meeting was called for by then police commissioner Howard Broad, and Ms King had not sought to interfere in the police operation, she said.


There are a couple of issues of interest and concern here; here's one of them:

Attorney-General Chris Finlayson was critical of Mrs King for speaking out.

"It is inappropriate for anyone, but particularly for politicians, to comment publicly on matters that are before the courts."


Finlayson is absolutely right. Even last week in Parliament, Lockwood Smith refused to let MP's speak directly about matters concerning this case, citing Speakers' Rulings on cases before the Courts. Theses cases are patently still before the Courts, given that the defendants found guilty by the jury have yet to be sentenced, and that the Crown has yet to decided whether to proceed to a retrial on the remaining and most serious charge.

Secondly, what was Howard Broad doing discussing a police operational matter with his masters and mistresses? It may have been a "heads-up" meeting as Mrs King claims, but it merely adds to the widely-held view that this police action had a strong element of political theatre to it.

Annette King is a seasoned MP, having first entered Parliament in 1984. This is, in our humble opinion, a serious error of judgment from her, although we will stop short of calling for her to do a Nick Smith and fall on her sword; after all, she is no longer a Minister.

But on the other hand, we should thank her for showing us just how the Helen Clark government operated. Suspicions that the Urewera raids were intended to show the then-government as tough on law and order seem to have been confirmed, and it is upon the Labour Party whom scorn should be poured and from whom any apologies should be sought. Annette King has, in trying to pass the blame to the former Solicitor-General, pretty much confirmed that.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Shearer billboard Caption Contest


Stuff is running a story about the rebranding of David Shearer, with a picture of what we presume is a fictitious billboard. And given that we haven't had a Caption Contest for a while, the temptation is simply too much to resist.

You know the rules; keep 'em short, pithy, on-topic and most importantly, amusing. And there's no need to be nasty or personal; let's leave that for the PoAL-haters at another particular blog.

So; how might David Shearer be rebranded? Give it your best shot!

Christian Music Sunday - 25 March 2012

We're leading worship at church today. And although the demographics of the church we'll be leading at are are on the older and more conservative side, which is reflected in our music choices, we have no doubt that the Holy Spirit will be there.

So this morning we've chosen a simple song by Matt Redman; one of our favourite worship leaders. It's a song where he challenges the conventional belief that worship is simply music; it's an attitude. The lyrics are there on the video for you to reflect on, but the pre-chorus and chorus are right at the heart of things, so here they are:

I'll bring You more than a song
For a song in itself
Is not what You have required
You search much deeper within
Through the way things appear
You're looking into my heart

I'm coming back to the heart of worship

And it's all about You,
It's all about You, Jesus
I'm sorry, Lord, for the thing I've made it
When it's all about You,
It's all about You, Jesus


Here's the song:







As we head off to church this morning, we hope and pray that this offering blesses you as much as it has blessed us over our journey with the One who it's all about.

Minding your own business

Deborah Coddington has an interesting take on the ACC/Brownwyn Pullar/Nick Smith furore this morning; after some background, she opines:

Mary Wilson on Checkpoint interviewed an ACC specialist claimant barrister, unsurprised by the leak, who said he's been receiving wrong files "regularly" for six years, and immediately sends them back.

The Privacy Act was put in place for good reason - to protect us from Big Brother sharing information. To make ACC claims, under the Privacy Act clients almost have to sign their lives away, allowing the agency to collect personal information from their family doctor and other sources. So this careless leak was a massive breach of trust by ACC.

But in my opinion, Pullar and, by association, Michelle Boag, have compounded that breach by their actions.

Once it was considered rude to read other people's letters or diaries. You never asked people how much they earned or how they voted. It was even considered rude to read over another person's shoulder.

But now, email and cellphone hacking, taping conversations without permission and tabling the leaked personal health details of more than 6000 ACC clients in a meeting are, apparently, acceptable. I find that sad.


We concur, and indeed, we're old enough to remember those days, and those values. But since the internet came along together with the explosion of digital technology, our private information is now seen as fair game. That's not of necessity a good thing.

As far as Ms Pullar goes, we will reserve judgment on any criminal behaviour until the police have investigated, but it seems that her attitude to fellow ACC victims' privacy was somewhat cavalier.

Coddington continues, weaving the ACC matter with another piece of legislation that passed this week:

As I find it sad that in the same week we need a new law (Crimes Amendment Act No 3) which forces people not to mind their own business when they see a child being hurt. It's as a result of the Kahui twins' death, but there have been numerous court cases of murdered children where witnesses have admitted seeing injuries but turned away.

In 1992, 11-year-old Craig Manukau was kicked to death by his father while his mother turned up the radio to drown out the noise.

In 1997, 3-year-old Tishena Crosland was killed by her father David with sticks, shoes, pieces of wood and a studded belt. At least five people saw bruises on her before she died - and both these families were under CYF's watch.

This new law hopes to "hold individuals to account for harming the most vulnerable in our community".

We live in strange times when we need laws which, depending on the circumstances, force us to mind our own business and not mind our own business at the same time.


We agree with Ms Coddington; these are odd times indeed. But in the cases to which she refers in the latter extract, we have no problem whatsoever with a harder line being taken. Who knows; tougher legislation may have led to someone being held to account for the deaths of Chris and Cru Kahui.

Labor gets routed

It was predicted to be bad. In reality, it was even worse that that; the Sunday Telegraph reports:

LABOR has been decimated in Queensland, with Anna Bligh yesterday leading the party to the most devastating of state election defeats.

Disaffected voters deserted the government to deliver Liberal National Party leader Campbell Newman a massive majority, while Ms Bligh was left fighting for political survival in her own seat.

With 70 per cent of the vote counted, Labor had scraped together just six seats, with the LNP picking up 75 in a 16 per cent statewide swing against the government. Labor needs nine seats to retain party status. Among the casualties were six Labor ministers, including Deputy Premier Andrew Fraser.

The victory puts the former Brisbane lord mayor into the record books for landing the premiership without having served a day in parliament.


That Labor's status as a major party in Queensland is up in the air simply underlines the magnitude of this defeat. And Queensland is not the only state to have sent a message to the ALP; read on:

The result follows the devastating defeat Labor experienced in NSW at the 2011 state election, where it was reduced to just 20 seats.

So great was the loss in NSW that Labor officials predict it will take up to two more terms before the party can recover enough to be within striking distance of winning government again.

The result will hurt even more for Labor in Queensland, where the party took 15 years to get back into government after being reduced to just 11 MPs at the 1974 state election.

Labor insiders said the decision by the Bligh government to scrap an 8c-a-litre fuel subsidy and sell $15 billion worth of assets after being elected left voters feeling sold-out.

While Ms Bligh recovered slightly following her handling of the Queensland floods crisis, the damage had been done.

A senior Labor source said the result sounds a warning to the Gillard government.


We doubt that Julia Gillard will be feeling especially secure today. This is an outright rejection of Labor Party policies, and is bound to have a flow-on effect in the Federal polls. Her leadership will come under increased scrutiny, and there will be huge pressure on her, especially over the proposed carbon tax.

Queensland has sent out the most emphatic message possible to the ALP; but will Labor take heed?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The beginning of an era


In just over three hours time (as we type this), the Crusaders will be home. They haven't played a Super Rugby match in Christchurch since May 2010, but tonight they will make their first appearance at the new Christchurch Stadium at Addington. Tony Smith reports in The Press:

Andy Ellis will probably be proved right tonight after predicting the Crusaders' new home ground will have more atmosphere than their old gaff.

A phoenix has risen from the ashes of Rugby League Park. In just 100 days, a new amphitheatre has emerged – thanks to the earthquake recovery legislation allowing planners to give the usual circuitous red-tape route the old Israel Dagg body swerve.

Christchurch Stadium certainly isn't as bland as its name. It may have the Lancaster Park turf and Carisbrook's floodlights, but it preserves the key intrinsic quality which made Rugby League Park the best football venue in Christchurch.

Longtime former Press scribe John Coffey watched rugby league at Addington for close to 50 years. He used to insist fans could feel every hit because they were so close to the action. Spectators standing by the fence on the eastern side of the ground would wince at the onomatopoeic echo of breath leaving a ball carrier's body as he was hammered in a waist-high tackle.

The Crusaders – used to playing at Lancaster Park where fans needed binoculars to spot the ball – have extolled the intimate aspects of the new stadium as they held their captain's run there on Thursday.

All Blacks star Dan Carter has graced the world's greatest rugby stadiums and he's impressed with the new edifice here. Carter reckoned if he wasn't on the team bench tonight he'd "love to be in the front row [of the western stand] because you're so close to the action. You'd feel like if there's a lineout you could almost grab the ball off the hooker. I think it's going to be an awesome atmosphere here.

"It's quite different to AMI, which caters for cricket as well, and sometimes the crowd can be quite a distance from the action."

Ellis echoed Carter's comments, saying: "That's something maybe AMI lacked a little bit, the close connection with the crowd that you feel at other grounds. I love this style of stadium – it reminds me of some of those ones in the UK where you're nice and close, they're not too big and overwhelming, but they've got a great feel or atmosphere.

"And to think [the fans] are all going to be wearing red and black and getting right behind us will be pretty special."


We were in Christchurch just before Christmas when our Darling Daughter graduated from University of Canterbury. As we drove away from the CBS Arena, we saw and heard the demolition work at Rugby League Park as the old grandstands were demolished. But even then, it seemed inconceivable that there would be a stadium, albeit a hastily constructed one in place for the Super Rugby season.

But the 100-day miracle happened, and the Crusaders will run out onto their new home ground tonight. They were the team most travelled last year, playing home matches pretty much everywhere except Christchurch.

We just hope the occasion doesn't get to the Crusaders tonight, but the sight of a repaired and refreshed Daniel Carter on the bench will be a fillip to a team which has had a sub-par start to the season. We really hope that they turn it on against the Cheetahs, and put on a match to be remembered.

Some will say that it's only a game, but we reckon that tonight is much more important than that; it's another outward sign of life getting back to normal after the heartbreak of 22/2/2011, where AMI Stadium, the home of Canterbury sport was among the casualties. Tonight the horsemen will ride around Christchurch Stadium, Vangelis' Conquest of Paradise will ring out around the ground, and Kieran Read will lead the red-and-blacks out onto the field. And we reckon that there'll be a few misty eyes, and a few lumps in a few throats, including ours.

To those who have toiled so hard to bring a vision to life; we salute you. Likewise, the government deserves a shout-out for underwriting this return to normality for Christchurch. The Crusaders have come home, and we hope that for them, this is indeed the start of a new era.

How good was that finish?

What a fabulous match it was at Eden Park last night as the Hurricanes pipped the hapless Blues with the last play of the match.

Here are the try-scoring highlights, courtesy of YouTube. And given that the Hurricanes scored FOUR tries to the Blues' one, you see a lot more of the yellow team!







The Hurricanes hung in to the last minute, and such is the attacking potential they have at the back, a sniff was all they needed. Despite Steve Walsh being the referee (we will say no more!), it was a terrific match with a great finish. We watched it at the Four Kings in Wellington, and it's fair to say that there would have been a case to call Noise Control after Conrad Smith scored and Beaudeen Barrett converted; the place went off.

As for the Blues, their season lurches from one catastrophe to the next, and we genuinely feel sorry for their supporters. No; really and truly, we do!

Super Rugby lived up to its name last night.