Kahui twins’ mum highlights a freedom of speech issue – and a freedom to protest issue, too

June 30, 2011

Alf kicks off on a lofty note today: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

Yep. Most of us are familiar with that libertarian quote that champions our freedom of speech.

Usually it is attributed to Voltaire, although it is reasonable to suppose he would have expressed himself in French. Anyway, it seems those words were first used by an Evelyn Beatrice Hall, writing under the pseudonym of Stephen G Tallentyre in The Friends of Voltaire (1906), as a summation of Voltaire’s beliefs on freedom of thought and expression.

Now let’s vary it: “I disapprove of what you sell in your bookshop, but I will defend to the death your right to decide.”

Maybe not to the death, on second thoughts.

But Alf is happy to support the proposition that book-sellers should be free to decide which books they sell and which they do not.

This idea is not much different – if at all – from the proposition that a book publisher should be entitled to publish what he or she wants to publish, and to reject the rest.

If things were otherwise, then publishers would be obliged to publish everything brought to them and book-sellers would be obliged to sell everything that is published.

Palpably, that is bollocks.

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No, on second thoughts Sue Kedgley would not want to be first to try this test-tube hamburger

June 29, 2011

"No jokes, please, about big cocks or good-looking birds."

Alf gave a thought to submitting the name of Sue Kedgley, in response to news that a volunteer is being sought to be the first person to eat a “test-tube” hamburger.

At first blush, she seemed the ideal person to put this product to a taste test, because her particular political interests as a Green MP include health, food safety, and animal welfare issues.

She is the author or co-author of seven books, the most recent entitled ‘Eating Safely in a Toxic World’.

While researching that book

…she visited intensive farms and saw for herself the hideous conditions animals are forced to endure in intensive farming, and she did all she could to bring attention to the parallel concerns of animal welfare and safe foo

She can chalk up a success in getting the sow crate phased out and now has aimed to get rid of the battery hen cage.

It was the animal welfare thing that should have made her a good candidate for the aforementioned food tasting, because scientists say this test-tube tucker could pave the way for we meat-eaters to sink our choppers into a chunk of meat without the need to slaughter animals.

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Ahoy there, ladies – got a place on board for a bloke who has been hounded by the harpies?

June 28, 2011

A good place for studying productivity and gender disparities.

Mrs Grumble has some great advice for the beleaguered Alasdair Thompson, who looks likely soon to have nothing much to do except think about how to say things without inviting the wrath of the nation’s harpies.

He should take a cruise.

Not just any cruise.

He should take a cruise on the Pacific Pearl.

The ship has a sheila at the helm – or rather, a sheila as skipper who will order whoever is at the helm which way to turn.

Does this make her the ship’s master – or its mistress?

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Alasdair may well be gone by lunch time – but on what date will the axe fall?

June 27, 2011

Oops, sorry - we thought it was him.

Alasdair Thompson, chief executive of the Employers and Manufacturers Association (Northern), has lived to fight another day.

An emergency board meeting to discuss his future today has been cancelled.

Not postponed. Cancelled.

This explains why Thompson – so far as we know – was not gone by lunch time.

But it looks unlikely he can hold on for long. The baying for blood is coming from a pack of formidable proportions.

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Te Tai Tokerau and the mauling of the Maori Party – a Mair matter of the sums not adding up

June 26, 2011

Bugger...that looks like the horse Ken Mair told us to back!

Wonder what Ken Mair is up to this morning.

He’s the co vice-president of the Maori Party.

He’s also the tosser who was enthusing just the other day about a three-horse race in Te Tai Tokerau.

The Maori Party was right up there with the others, he reckoned.

Alf’s advice is that if Mair gives you advice – more particularly, advice of the sort that amounts to a hot tip in the third race at Trentham next time out – then ignore it.

If he was tipping winners for a living he wouldn’t earn enough to buy a stale marmite sandwich.

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A sobering experience after all those parties – Gilbert Myles finds himself before a judge

June 25, 2011

Alf proposes a Parliamentary Hall of Infamy for MPs and former MPs who finish up on the wrong side of the law.

He is pleased to observe this morning that Gilbert Myles is jockeying for a position.

That’s good. He could run the show.

In a court report today, the Herald describes him as “a former National MP”, but the bugger couldn’t stomach The Mother of All Budgets delivered by the admirable Ruth Richardson back in 1991.

He went on to join anything that looked like a party until the good people of Roskill had the good sense in 1993 – from memory – to biff him out.

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It’s Hakim, not hokum: blokes aren’t the shirkers that the feminists would have us believe

June 24, 2011

Alf was urged by Mrs Grumble to tread vey warily today, as he mused further on the question of the differences between men and women and how it affects their pay.

Above all, she advised, don’t mention the “m” word.

He won’t because he can’t spell it.

It seems that while Alf was hard at work doing parliamentary things yesterday, Mrs Grumble was watching the telly.

And she saw the hapless Alasdair Thompson clash with a female journalist

… in a fiery stand-off on television last night over his claim that menstruation affected women’s productivity.

Alasdair is a bloke of similar vintage to Alf, give or take 10 years, and therefore he was educated and socialised at a time when you could call your dog Nigger without being shunned as a racist and Mum’s place was at home, bringing up the kids.

Things have changed, but Alasdair perhaps hasn’t learned the gentle art of keeping your trap shut when you may land yourself in big trouble if you say what you actually think.

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