Category Archives: Uncategorized

TV Rules

After 2 years of keeping television out of our home, we seem to have finally relented, and 8yo son now lives on it. Exactly what I was trying to avoid, but at least the internet bill should be easier to keep in line.

Another upside might be that I’ll be posting here a little more regularly, since I am catching the odd news broadcast and it seems we’re more “in touch” with what is going on out there.

I’m not big on prayer, but I’d love to wave a magic wand for little Lucas Ward and his family down in Gisborne.

Sceptics and Homeopathics

On the news a couple of weeks back was an item where they filmed coverage of a group of Sceptics “o-d-ing” on Homeopathic potions and pills. Their aim was to prove that the remedies they swallowed were no more use than a glass of water. (FYI – a glass of water is often a very useful remedy in itself as many a headache sufferer could attest).

In the filmed item they were cramming handfuls of tiny white pills into their mouths and “chowing down” in order to prove how inefficacious they believed the remedies to be.

What struck me though, through this whole item, is that no one appeared to pick up on the glaring omission. And that is, that not one of them, would have dared do the same with standard prescription or OTC meds, like Paracetamol for instance.

Whatever conclusions one may draw about the effectiveness or otherwise of homeopathic medicines, they are clearly very much safer than their allopathic counterparts. Very few people to my knowledge have died of homeopathic adverse reactions, if any at all. So in an odd sort of way, the sceptics provided good advertising for the homeopathic practitioners, by highlighting by default, the unsafe nature of common medications.

Undermining our Menfolk

I would quite like some feedback on this post, since I wonder, am I alone in noticing these things?

Today a friend went to court on a DIC charge, (his second, the first 23 years ago), and got 7 months loss of licence, and $600-odd dollars to pay in fines and court costs. He was only marginally over the limit, but he took his medicine with stoicism, and had a friend arranged to drive him all the way back to Whangarei. The offence and hearing took place here in Tauranga.

We have probably known him for all of those 23 years, and in that time he has married, and raised a fine young family of 3 children, as well as supported his wife through three years of tertiary study, all under his own steam, and all the while contributing, via his taxes, to the state coffers. And not once, requiring support from the state. His children will grow up to be productive New Zealanders, should they inherit their Father’s work ethic.

Give the judge her due, she treated him as a first offence. This seems entirely reasonable given the time which has elapsed since his original first offence. And I’m not suggesting here that he shouldn’t have to pay the penalty for his misdeameanour (I can’t bring myself to call it a crime, since it was in essence, victimless).

However, when it was all over, and we knew the outcome, I had a strong sense of injustice. And it wasn’t over the sentencing itself. The injustice to my mind, is when he has to apply for a restricted licence (after the initial month stand-down) and it costs him another $1500 for a lawyer to file the application for him, so that he can continue to work and support his family. If he were sitting on his butt collecting the dole or ACC or sickness benefit or whatever they care to call it these days, he wouldn’t need to apply for a restricted licence, since he wouldn’t need it to go to work. There are so many “politically correct” “anti-discrimination” policies these days, that no one seems to have the balls to ask why our hard-working fathers are discriminated against in this manner. Why should he be worse off, than a beneficiary in the same circumstances? And why should the system be so complex that he has to use a lawyer to get permission to feed his family?

I’m not trying to be down on beneficiaries here. I’m just upset that someone who works so hard, should be put at such a ridiculous disadvantage. It seems that now that we have “equal rights” etc, and women can be judges, prime ministers etc etc etc, we have somehow undermined or demoted the good fathers in our society. Ok, he screwed up on the night, but can’t he be accorded something in the way of recognition? Couldn’t the system better accommodate our hard-working menfolk?

I’m not sure how to fix it, but something is very definitely wrong about that.

Election Day is here

I thought, up until a few hours ago, that I knew how I was going to vote. But no … better think again.

I had thought I’d give my party vote to the Kiwi Party – and would still love to – but if I want a change of government, and I certainly do, then I have to give it to National. I think this is going to be a very interesting election. The smaller party vote (other than perhaps the Maori Party), is likely to dry up in my estimation.

Can’t remember if I posted this before, but I think win or lose, Helen Clark will resign within 2 months after this election. I think she’s got a plum overseas job lined up, and is ready to fly the coop. No particular reason for this one. Just a feeling.

So anyway, its Party Vote National for me, and maybe I’ll give Tony Christiansen a shot for the local choice. In truth I would have loved to vote for the Kiwi Party. They deserved my vote, simply for the quality of their marketing if nothing else. But if John Key manages not to lose it, then he deserves it too. I like his style. I like that he has matured a bit in terms of his public debating etc.

I also think this is a unique opportunity for NZ. We’ve never had an independently wealthy individual (i.e. someone who is already a significant financial success) running the place. Dont get me wrong. I appreciate that there are other measures of success besides money, but most things one aspires to, require a certain level of funds in the kitty, and the same is true of nations. Now is the time to give someone like him a shot. We’re going in to what is possibly the worst recession in many decades. What have we got to lose? Lets see what he’s made of.

Epiphany

Many years ago I went to an art exhibition in Auckland and beheld, for the first time, the difference between an art print and the sheer magnificence of the original work. It was the Reader’s Digest exhibition from memory (I’m talking the early 1980’s here), and the painting which stopped me in my tracks was Monet’s “Paysage Dans L’Ile Saint Martin”. I don’t recall how much the entry fee was, but the impact of that painting will stay with me forever. Until that time I had virtually zero appreciation of the value of art, or for that matter, the meaning of the word “priceless”.

So, when an invitation to the 2008 Institute of Registered Music Teachers Showcase Concert came my way, I hadn’t the slightest idea of what to expect. In effect the IRMT (BOP Branch) event was an opportunity for our local children to showcase their musical talents, but for me, it turned out to be a second epiphany which I can’t help but liken to the viewing of that huge, original, Monet canvas.

The entry fee this time was $6, and my neighbour who’d invited me along even shouted me. So for me the only investment was my time, yet the experience was priceless. And there’s that huge word again. What these children are able to do with piano and violin is beyond description.

I imagine a formal “review” of this type of event would include knowledgeable references to the types and styles of music played, but I am a very ordinary Kiwi, and my musical history is limited pretty much to what I heard on the radio when I was young. I don’t even listen to that much anymore.

So the Chopin’s and the Debussy’s and the Mendelssohn’s simply conspired together for a night of sheer bliss and inspiration.

Fingers delighting on keyboard

Bows dancing deftly on strings

Piano, violin, songbirds, cello and flute.

And that brings me back to the Monet.

No recording could ever speak to the heart of the listener, as the original performance can do. The instruments were given life by the players.

What also struck me was the countless hours of practice that must go into the apparent “talent” of these young musicians. Forgive the quote marks. There is no question that they are genuinely talented, but this talent is so clearly gained via sheer application and hard work. This was a new slant on the concept of talent for me. I used to think of it as a natural aptitude, but now I believe it can be acquired by anyone so motivated to be prepared to work towards it.

This performance literally altered my view of the world to such a profound extent, that I had the idea to somehow duplicate the idea of the “books in homes” program, to establish a “music in homes” version. ?? Or at least find out a means of sponsoring/encouraging both parents and children, to go out and see at least one live performance.

For all their youth, and they ranged in age from about 8 to 18, they opened places in my heart, that I had forgotten existed.

I don’t know what music lessons cost, but I do have an idea of their value now, and my 6yo is already booked in.

 

 

 

 

 

GST on Food

There is apparently a petition going ’round right now, asking the Government to remove the GST on food.

GST in our country stands for Goods and Services Tax, similar in concept I believe, to VAT in the U.K. In essence it is a tax on consumption and is currently rated at 12.5% across the board. There are very few things which are not subject to GST, like residential rentals and exports (zero rated, so not what you’d call exempt status) and some financial services I think.

In any case, the momentum for this request has clearly come from hugely escalating household costs. Its not just the food – and we’re still reeling from the 50% or so increase in cheese and butter – but also the petrol, and the flow-on increases which come from rising fuel bills. 28% increase in the supermarket over the last year according to a Herald survey.  Sounds pretty spot on to me, so its hard to blame anyone for feeling the pinch and looking for some relief. But calling for the government to step in – what folly!

Other countries observe our system (the GST that is) with some envy, because they’ve made their own versions far too complicated to administer effectively. And no doubt, having once gone down that path, find it nigh impossible to extricate themselves. New Zealand learned from these mistakes, and implemented a clean, uncluttered version which is no doubt much less expensive to administer and to collect.

Again, I have to begrudgingly admire Helen Clark for her initial refusal to consider such a prospect. On the basis of the political “balls” she generally displays, one has reason to hope that she will in fact stand her ground on this issue.

I am, like any Kiwi housewife, well aware of the all out assault that recent conditions (add high mortgage interest rates to that previous list) represent on the average family’s budget. But for some reason, the very idea of “Government help” evokes mental images of the endless queues of people in Gorbachev’s Russia, waiting to buy food for who knows how long, outside empty shops. 

And in asking the Government to step in, what does that really say about us? Whatever happened to the resourceful, self-reliant and proud Kiwis? Surely these well-meaning people who are advancing this petition, can spend their energies more usefully and constructively than begging for help? For whatever reason, they don’t seem to realize that they are by implication, fostering the idea that we are all somehow “helpless” in the face of all these external influences. That’s the opposite of empowering people. Can we come up with ways to empower, rather than sowing the seeds of helplessness/hopelessness?

As for the GST, it aint broke, so please … dont fix it.