SOS – or save our sons (and daughters, too) by banning TV sport that may divert watchful dads

July 31, 2012

Alf must confess to finding the Olympic Games a tad tiresome, although if drinking scotch could be turned into a sport and a gold medal was up for grabs – well, he might change his mind.

Don’t misunderstand: whenever a Kiwi wins a medal, preferably, gold, he will admire the accomplishment.

But all those billions spent on preparing for the games, and all the resources put into the obsession with security, and all the outrageously silly rules to protect sponsors by dictating what people may eat and say….

Nah. If the games were abolished, Alf would not lose any sleep.

To the contrary, he is inclined to actively call for an end to them.

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Dead heat – or how we could become grateful to the dear departed for powering our TV sets

July 30, 2012

When the lights go out for you, they can be kept on for others.

Dunno much about our electricity-generating needs at the moment – it’s something that’s not much bothered Alf, although the Grumbles are wincing somewhat at the size of their power bills this winter.

But Phil Heatley, our splendid Energy and Resources Minister, last month was banging on (here) about energy challenges over the next three years.

He said

…with renewables making up 77% of our total electricity generation in 2011, and given our target of reaching 90% of electricity generation from renewable sources by 2025, we must maintain the shift in balance between developing the non-renewables and the renewables sectors.

It’s this bit of his speech that is of interest, because the good people of Durham, in England, are showing us some new generating possibilities.

The blog post which alerted Alf to the possibilities can be found here but it simply steers readers to a report here.

In Durham, England, corpses will soon be used to generate electricity.

A crematorium is installing turbines in its burners that will convert waste heat from the combustion of each corpse into as much as 150 kilowatt-hours of juice — enough to power 1,500 televisions for an hour. The facility plans to sell the electricity to local power companies.

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No, it wasn’t the chainsaw massacre, but cutting up rough (allegedly) seems an over-reaction

July 29, 2012

Some mothers do ‘ave ’em (as Michael Crawford showed us back in the 1970s).

Some mothers – moreover – love ’em to bits, no matter what the buggers get up to.

And so today we are treated to the story (here) of a mum who is standing by her son even though he cut loose with a chainsaw, pushed her around and brandished a knife.

Or rather, let’s be emphatic, he allegedly did those things, because Alf is a zealous supporter of the notion that we are all innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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Official information stand-off: defiant Maori could transform Crusher into Shredder Collins

July 28, 2012

Uh, oh. Auckland’s Independent Maori Statutory Board has bought itself a fight with Crusher Collins.

The buggers are playing the race card, claiming entitlement to special treatment when it comes to compliance with the requirements of the Official Information Act.

Dunno how the Treaty of Waitangi lets them off the hook, exactly, but you can be sure they can bewilder us with a profundity of fancy arguments on the matter.

Accordingly they are refusing to cough up some simple bits of information lawfully and reasonably sought by Crusher in her capacity as MP for Papakura.

This is in defiance of a recommendation of the Chief Ombudsman.

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Joris is back with some concerns about poverty – but leaves 100,000 or so kids out of considerations

July 27, 2012

It looks like the hacks at Stuff might not have got it quite right, when they reported what Joris de Bres told the Maori Affairs Select Committee.

The committee is holding an inquiry into the well-being of Maori children.

This was timely, coinciding with the release of the coroner’s report on the deaths of the Kahui kids.

The first sentence of the Stuff account of de Bres’ presentation (here) tells us –

Maori children are being denied their basic human rights, Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres said.


That’s awful.

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Mallard comes up with a new rule to muzzle Our Maggie’s joshing of the childless Jacinda

July 26, 2012

Dunno if you should put children in it, but it’s good for coal. And for ill-considered private member’s bills.

The wonderful Maggie Barry showed them Labour tossers a thing or two yesterday.

She refused to apologise for claiming Labour’s Jacinda Ardern was ill-equipped to comment on paid parental leave because she did not have any children.

Maggie made that remark while we were debating a private member’s bill proposing to extend leave from 14 weeks to six months.

The bill is sponsored by Labour’s Sue Moroney (who happens to have two children, the last time Alf counted).

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The parable of the ox – or how to get to grips with what’s behind some fancy financial fiddling

July 25, 2012

Alf has been introduced today (so to speak) to Sir Francis Galton and is more than a tad envious.

For starters, this Galton feller was knighted (in 1909).

More than that, he is described (here) as an English Victorian polymath: anthropologist, eugenicist, tropical explorer, geographer, inventor, meteorologist, proto-geneticist, psychometrician, and statistician.

Galton had a prolific intellect, and produced over 340 papers and books.

He created the statistical concept of correlation and widely promoted regression toward the mean, which no doubt was big deal in its day, although Alf struggles to tell you what it actually means.

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Some sound advice on making the NZSO profitable: shorten the programmes and fire some fiddlers

July 24, 2012

Let’s start by trimming the string section.

Gotta wonder about Chris Finlayson, sometimes.

Yep, he’s a Nat sure enough. But he just doesn’t seem to get it, when it comes to doing what must be done to restore the Budget balance to surplus as we’ve promised.

Someone at the Ministry of Culture and Heritage has been taking a hard look at orchestras and produced a discussion paper on the not-unimportant matter of their running costs.

The discussion paper (here) tells us those running costs burn up a few bucks.

Central government is the primary public funder of New Zealand’s professional orchestra sector. Its total funding
to the sector in 2010 was $17.1m, accounting for 56% of all
of the sector’s revenue. This represents an increase from
$10.9m (51%) in 2000.


Of all its support for any area of the performing arts
– the government’s most substantial investment is
in the NZSO. In 2000 the NZSO received $8.8m from
government. Since 2008/09 funding from this source
has been $13.4m p.a. Over the past three years
this has represented between 71% and 77% of the
NZSO’s total annual revenue, depending on its other
income. For 2011, $13.4m also amounted to 79% of
government funding to the orchestra sector.

Ah, but maybe there are lots of jobs in the orchestra biz.

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There’s talk of parliamentary perjurers being prosecuted, but MPs mustn’t become too punitive

July 23, 2012

Alf observed with more than passing interest the steps being taken in Britain to punish those who lie or mislead Parliamentary select committees.

He was apprised of this development, in the Mother of all Parliaments, by a report (here) in the Daily Mail.

Lying or misleading MPs during parliamentary committees could become a criminal offence.

He admits he did not pay attention immediately to this item.

He was drawn, rather, to a raft of other items about the daft antics of Poms including the story (here) of a psychic who persuaded sheilas to strip for him.

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If taniwha are likely to get in the way of SOE sales, why not give them rights to buy shares too?

July 22, 2012

The New Zealand Herald doesn’t have the story about asset sales quite right, when it reports on The Boss’s splendied speech to the party conference.

The newspaper says (here) –

Any New Zealander wanting to buy up to $2000 of shares in Mighty River Power when 49 per cent of it is floated will be guaranteed to buy them, Prime Minister John Key said today.

No, not any New Zealander wanting to buy.

Only every New Zealander with enough dosh to be able to afford to pay.

That bit of the deal comes in the Herald’s very next sentence –

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