Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Sports stars...

NZ's "national game" is rugby. In the news this past couple mornings has been the consequences of team members from the "Canterbury Crusaders" celebrations following their win in the "Super 14" competition. (The Super 14 comprises 14 franchise teams from NZ, Australia and South Africa)

One of the bigger guys, Chris Masoe, must have got a bit too much turps in him and became a bit on the cranky and belligerent side. To cool him off, Tana Umaga (a very senior and well respected international player) grabbed a handbag off a woman and banged Masoe over the face with it...

Here is the follow up comment now doing the rounds.

The pre-game challenge (haka)


the game winning run-Tana himself...

Update 1

The offending handbag was sold on e-Bay for some NZD22,000. IQ in inverse proportion to money involved I suspect.

Update 2

There is apparently a 30 sec video of the incedent now being sold on e-Bay.

Ho Hum!!

How to handle a TV interview...

In this morning's Herald, regrettably not posted online, is a short article concerning a tv interview of the Australian CO in Dili.

He is apparently shown on screen with, directly behind him, two very heavily armed soldiers.

The interviewer asks if he feels safe in Dili. His response, "Well, I wouldn't suggest that you would be as safe out in the street as you would be in Sydney or Brisbane. But,"he continued, gesturing over his shoulder, "I do not need protection at the level that your producer seems to think is required."

Monday, May 29, 2006

Tax cuts - yet again...

Back in the heat of last year’s election campaign, I posted twice on the subject of tax cuts here and here and a rather tongue in cheek follow-up here.

The first of these posts was at the time that National had posted quite a firm lead in the campaign, with their promise of tax cuts for all. In particular,
Much as I hate the thought, I do not believe that John Keys (I will have to think of a quick name for him now – Jonkey comes to mind) is going to have some very major problems to contend with –
Wage pressure inflation
Imported inflation as fuel prices increase and the exchange rate declines
Accomodation cost pressures as land banking investment resumes.
Increasing industrial action in support of increased wages.

Yeah, there y’go Jonkey. Homework for the next twelve months… I don’t think you have it right either. Not by a very long piece of chalk. There are holes in your party’s policies that are the result of thinking that is just too simplistic, just too pat to hold any hope of viability.

Why revisit this now?

Well there are two reasons really.

The first comes from the prognostications of the local market analysts on the possible effects the US twin deficits might have on the global economy. In very general terms the impact is seen as major international inflation arising from the combination of oil prices and energy prices generally (the major factor), the attempts by the US to decrease its trade deficit by means of increasing exports and decreasing import demand (the same problem as NZ has) by artificially depressing the exchange relativities of the USD, and increasing interest rates to attract investment needed to offset the mounting internal deficit.

The second comes from a debate I had with (I think) Dave Justus on fiscal responsibility. I was promoting the general principles as they hold here in NZ.

Then last week Brian Easton came to light in the Listener, with a column that would have been written prior to this year’s Budget and published at the beginning of Budget week.

Easton makes two comments (other than in passing proving once again that I get the detail wrong).

Today there is a general consensus on the orthodoxy of fiscal conservatism, although there are disagreements over other aspects of fiscal policy. (One lobby wants lower taxation paid for by lower government spending.) The Treasury is fiscally conservative again, and the current Minister of Finance, Michael Cullen, is also a committed conservative – in this dimension, anyway.
Sadly, most journalistic commentators are not. You will see it in the headlines after the coming Budget when Cullen will be called “Scrooge”. But he will run as large a fiscal deficit as he dares, using any additional available funds for public spending on health, education, prisons and so on, rather than cutting tax. You, or any commentator with a different political stance, may favour cutting income taxes rather than increasing spending. But that is not saying that the fiscal deficit should blow out.

And he concludes –
But if election policies are any indication, it is National that is unorthodox, all the more surprisingly, given that the party is led by the major beneficiary from fiscal conservatism, Brash. Richardson must have wept when she saw the party’s 2005 promises of tax cuts, spending increases and guarantees not to cut some of the biggest sectors. Had National’s policy been implemented, the exchange rate would have risen, the export sector would have been crushed, and economic stagnation would have followed. And it is so hard to regain fiscal discipline, as Richardson knows.
National’s excuse might be that the official data came out too close to the election for them to do their sums. That was over six months ago. So let them publish their own Budget showing the deficit that they would generate after their tax cuts and spending plans. If they keep to their manifesto promises, they will be shamed out of court.

To explain the reference to (Ruth) Richardson, it was she who delivered “The Mother of ALL Budgets”; this was the opening consequence in the Bolger National government to the profligacy that afflicted the late years of the Lange Labour government. (and that was the detail I got wrong). It was a Budget that (like few before including Nordmeyer’s “Black Budget”, and the swing to the right of the first years of the Lange government under the financial management of Roger Douglas later to become “Rogernomics”) had to correct major imbalances and mismanagements of previous administrations.

OK, so the two points that come out of this, and Easton deserves far more credit for pointing this out that I think he will ever get.

First the power of the MSM in championing the popular rather than the right or the advisable. Where that power of the MSM and policies of a political party coincide comes the likelihood of MSM turning an election.

Easton also gives a brief but very clear picture of the economic mechanism that links the deficit with the orthodoxy of prudent fiscal management. It is a picture that American readers would do well to keep to the forefront of their minds later this year and again in 30 months time.

The deficit? Isn’t there a huge operating surplus in the government accounts? Well, yes, as measured, but most of that is then spent on capital investment and the like. So NO, really. The true fiscal deficit, the government’s net impact on the economy, is probably near zero for this stage in the business cycle. …

I guess it is simple really. No one likes bad news. Everyone likes good news when it is a windfall benefit to them.

That is not to say that I like the alternative that the Labour government has put in place and which Easton makes no comment on. One thing is certain. When the current Labour government loses the Treasury benches, this country will be in for a major shake up at all levels and in all manner of ways.

The redistribution of income has become so pervasive, so extensive that it is already creating major stresses within the economy.

The headline to this comes through the “living allowance” provisions of the new welfare. Essentially the government is using income and family measures to set the distribution of welfare. Nominally, my son (who earns in excess of $75,000 or about USD45,000 p.a.) could qualify for government assistance if he had some six or seven children. Fortunately for him he at present has only one. But if we look down the scale further, the welfare assistance to a family with three kids on an annual income of $28,000 (under USD18,000) is quite extensive. Rent relief, living expenses all figure in the mix. The effect (you can try it for yourself here) is to add some $9,000 to the family’s take home pay.

Now I can tell you that if that family is living in Auckland, living on less than $40,000 (before tax) , then they are going to find it very tight. There will not be a lot to come and go on. Rent for a start could exceed $300 per week for a basic, not too flash, you can’t choose your neighbours, 3 bedroom house.

At the moment, that worker can live in reasonable comfort and keep a paying job.

The “cost” is insidious.

There is a change of government. The new government introduces tax cuts, which it very responsibly puts in place by moving the marginal tax breaks so that minimum tax (9%) is paid from the first $20,000 of income, the 19% rate applies from there to $40,000… So that family’s annual tax bill would go from $5640 to perhaps $1700, an increase in available income of $3950. In return they “lose” their right to $9,000 of “income”. So, a 60% tax cut and a decrease in net income of almost 20%.

THAT, dear readers has stirred the bowels to the extent that I think I should patent this as the latest in laxatives.

I wonder when Easton might pick that thread and pull it…

Sunday, May 28, 2006

America, beware!!

News this weekend that NZ has the potential for a considerable impact upon the whole viability of the hi-tech end of US weaponry...

There is a small piece of technology - a picture showed two of them on an index fingernail - that makes the whole JDAM weaponry possible.

What is more, it was developed and is manufactured by a NZ company.

Consolidated links -

Herald, this is one very first-class exposé. Congratulations.

America, beware? Who knows what tricks NZ might have built into them...

Saturday, May 20, 2006

The question is... I "turn on" word verification?

Hey!! Lookydere!! I must be doing something right - my first spam comment!!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Where IS Wayne (PCTerminator) Mapp when you want him?

It looks like there is a pretty good chance I am going to die, and it might be from drinking water all me life...
Cancer-causing trace metals in plumbing fittings -- including lead, cadmium, copper and nickel -- have the potential to leach into drinking water and cause long-term health problems, the Ministry of Health has warned.

Every local council nationwide is now required under the Drinking Water Standards for New Zealand 2005 to alert consumers to the potential danger and advise them how to avoid it.

OK, so I am not going to worry about it one little bit atallatall...
He said the standards, based on an average 70kg bodyweight, "erred on the side of caution".

"We're not just considering acute short-term exposure but the life-time potential for harm -- what the risk is if you drink two litres a day for 60 to 70 years."

Yeah, thanks Herald.

Of state secrets, leaks and private relief...

I don’t know if neo-neocon passes this way at all, but her series on whistle-blowers and breakers of state secrets would fit here very nicely indeed.

If we go back to 3 May (2 May trading reports) we find this was the general mood
The New Zealand sharemarket opened in mildly positive territory this morning as Telecom took a breather from the pre-result jitters experienced...

Telecom is expected to post a lower third quarter profit on Friday, as its troubled AAPT unit and the looming threat of regulation overshadow...
(How prescient was THAT!!)

The story broke that evening / next day

The Government announced tonight that it would require the local loop to be unbundled and other changes to provide faster and better broadband...

Shares in Telecom, by far New Zealand's largest listed company, were smashed down 10 per cent in New York trading this morning, following the...

And -
The value of shares traded on the New Zealand sharemarket today was more than three times normal levels as investors rushed to sell off top stock Telecom. After the market closed yesterday the Government announced it planned to end Telecom's monopoly of the local loop network....

And so on, through to this morning -
Michael Ryan, the Budget leaker who rocked the Government to its core, worked in the heart of the Beehive and his identification yesterday spurred two leading public servants to offer their resignations.

The chief executive of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Maarten Wevers, for whom Mr Ryan worked as a messenger, and the Secretary to the Cabinet, Diane Morcom, offered their resignations to Prime Minister Helen Clark over the breach of security.

She refused to accept them.

Helen Clark said the two were devastated by the revelation "but I am not prepared to see those careers destroyed by the calculated dishonesty of a low-level employee".

"There can be no suitable explanation or excuse for that.

"It was gross and disgraceful dishonesty and such a person cannot continue in the public service."

Is it just me, or are there others who are detecting a
distinct note of relief behind the anger being expressed by
the Government? To be fair, John Armstrong did in his column a few days after the actual event.

If Mr Ryan had not, "for reasons known only to himself",
chosen to breach Budget secrecy I can but wonder what the
reaction would have been Friday morning after the Budget was

Would the Budget have included an estimate of the impact
that "unbundling" might have on the sharemarket? Were there
processes proposed to ameliorate the impact? Whose "fault"
would have it been when the sharemarket lost two billion
dollars on Friday morning?

I can but wonder because those truths will never ever be
known. And oh how easy to blame a poor bike riding old erk
for the leak, and the consequential sharemarket losses.

NZ Herald, you and all of the rest of the media have done
yourselves no favour with the way in which this has been
reported. Your approach has been far too simplistic. The
real question has been ignored.

And for those with CCD (Compulsive Conspiracy Disorder) have there been any sightings of golden parachutes around Wellington in recent days?

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Another kiwi first...

No, this isn't Sir Ed. He is somewhat greyer, and still has two feet.

Meet Mark Inglis.

Climbing Everest? It is a tourist trip these days, albeit a high risk one.

In November 1982, Inglis, then a mountain rescue guide, lost his legs to frostbite in a climbing mishap.

A blizzard trapped him and countryman Phil Doole in an ice cave on Mt Cook for 14 days.

Both had their legs amputated below the knees

Thanks Herald...

Monday, May 15, 2006

I agree...

A fried egg view of Iran.

His conclusion -
I do see in the post-9/11 mentality a tremendous increase in fear and anxiety; because most of the arguments I have seen for forceful, even brutal, action are based on fear: get them, before they get us. Well, hold on a minute. First, if we are driven by our fears, are we in control? Second, what can our enemies (however defined) actually do? Third, what were they able to do before 9/11, and how would we have successfully interdicted them at that time? Fourth, what will be the consequences of our actions, and are we willing -- as a nation -- to make the appropriate commitments? I don't know.

San Greal...

Did I say I was never going to post about that book or that movie?

Sorry, I am.

It is both fascinating and terrifying that a book of fiction (or is it fact? Even the author does not seem to know...) can be taken so seriously by so many.

Now that the movie is out

and the Church is going spare...


Yes, that so many people seem to think it is fact.

Just imagine where we might be if the same number had believed so fervently in the analysis and theories of Erich von Daniken.


Relativity -

Dominating this morning's news is the final stages of winding down the search and rescue of three members of two families lost in Foveaux Strait on Saturday and still missing. Three are already confirmed drowned.

Six lives lost from a community of 2400.

In terms of "disaster", it would equate to about 3,500 to 4,000 killed in Auckland.

Perhaps 24,000 in New York.

Nature is vicious sometimes.

My thoughts are with the families - from one maritime family to another.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

A small matter of flags and jubilation...

Dave Justus was only one of a very large number who expressed joy and support for the Nepalese when the rioting and demonstrations led to the King backing down and avowing a return to "democratic government".

On a number of sites showing photographs of the jubilant crowds I challenged the identification of the red flags being waved by the crowds.

Here for those who could not is a photo taken from Herald which shows the flags quite clearly instead of somewhere in the background...

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Earthrace - 2

Bit of a collision with a log caused some damage on the way into Wellington.

News report from Stuff...

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

This must be the joke of the year... 2

I was wrong. The punchline might be yet to come.

What further proof is needed of Moussaoui's desire for martyrdom?

Convicted terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui, declaring his surprise at having received a fair trial, asked a federal judge Monday to allow him to withdraw his guilty plea so he can be tried again. This time he won't lie on the witness stand, he said.

Judge Leonie M. Brinkema quickly turned down the request. She said federal law prevents a criminal defendant from withdrawing a guilty plea after sentencing...

"His motion is too late and must be denied on this basis alone," she said.

Moussaoui, in a three-page affidavit filed in the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., said he was "extremely surprised" that he received a fair sentencing trial over the last two months and admitted that he lied when he testified he had been preparing to fly a fifth hijacked plane into the White House on Sept. 11, 2001.


"If for some bizarre reason Moussaoui manages to get the trial redone," Tobias said, "they could finally get to execute him."

That IMO would be a mistake - for the reasons outlined in the previous post.


In his affidavit, Moussaoui said that because he was not given a Muslim defense lawyer, he didn't trust the American judicial process.

"I was sure that the justice system was just a charade and I would be given death," he said.

Learn something - too late, kid.


No, the more I think about it, the greater this stupid little kid's value must increase in the war against injustice.


Friday, May 05, 2006

A seasonal event...

This little story brought a broad smile to the probligo dial this morning. It is an annual event, one that I have enjoyed on a number of occasions.

The guava fruit are ripe, and if not picked they start to ferment on the tree.

NZ has a native pigeon, Maori name kukupa or kereru depending upon who you listen to. They are BIG pigeons. If you compare a house sparrow with the common rock pigeon (the one that lives in just about every city in the world) then kukupa is about that many times bigger than the rock pigeon and a bit more.

Beautiful, huh!

These birds live on fruit, including fermented guava.

The Herald tells the story...
Drunk kukupa (native wood pigeons) and tui have been indulging in some very human behaviour - getting drunk and crashing into cars and windows.

The pigeons' tipple of choice is fermented guava juice. Even the usually sober tui are falling prey to the small, tasty fruit.

Whangarei Native Bird Recovery Centre manager Robert Webb has admitted around 12 drunk, injured kukupa and tui to his "bird hospital" in the past three weeks. The problems are a repeat of last July, when kukupa gorged themselves on loquats and totara berries.

"They get so drunk they get disoriented and don't notice where they're flying," Mr Webb said.

While it only takes a day for the birds to get over their hangovers, their injuries - which include bruising, spinal damage and damaged feet - can take weeks to heal.

Update -

This exchange by email deserves to be here too -

Reviewing The Reed Dictionary of New Zealand Slang, David McGill wrote: "More than 30,000 entries cover the astonishing range of weird and wonderful communal sayings that give Kiwi speak its distinctive flavour. From the earliest days, the interaction of Maori and English has generated the most incontrovertibly Kiwi slang, from komaty and pissed as ten pigeons under a mockamock tree through the many variations of up the boohai shooting pukakas to recent contributions such as electric puha, Tegel pigeon, the kapaiburger and the kotanga aerial."

The above is an extract from a story posted at

Can you please tell me the mockamock tree's botanical name? (I've never heard of it).

Cheers, Eric.

This is the best I could do with his question...
Eric, this is going to be sheer guess on my part, but I will give you the trail as well.

Some kiwi-isms like "boohai" are easy - generally accepted as a corruption of Puhoi, a small settlement at the very upper reaches of the Auckland Harbour (Waitemata) it used to be a week by horse and cart (or bullocks during the winter) to get there from Auckland. Steam shipping reduced it to a days steaming. It is now about an hour by car.

So, to "mokamok tree"...

Start here with favourite pigeon (kereru) food -

Note the reference to the fuschia.

Here is the tree fuschia

Known as Konini or Kotukutuku and it is the corruption of kotukutuku that makes me think that might be the answer. It does make a VERY nice alchoholic beverage, but it would be an acquired taste for most.

As I said sheer guess with no scientific or etymological justification. I had never heard it until you produced it.

BTW "electric puha" is cannabis.

"Kotanga aerial" just occurred to me as I was typing this - reverse the corruption and it becomes "coathanger aerial".

Thursday, May 04, 2006

This must be the joke of the year...

... if not the decade (I wont say century, not just yet).

News just in...
Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person convicted in a US court in connection with the September 11, 2001, terror attacks should spend his life in prison instead of being executed for his role in the hijacked airliner attacks, a jury decided today.

"America you lost!" Moussaoui shouted as he left the courtroom after hearing the verdict. He clapped his hands and yelled, "I won!" The 37-year-old French citizen of Moroccan descent will be formally sentenced on Thursday.

No, Moussaoui, you got caught; you FAILED!! Remember that. Think of the 76 virgins that you will never see...

REMEMBER that as you spend the rest of your life in the prisons of the Great Satan.