Saturday, September 25, 2010

The facts about childhood obesity

This is not an overweight child. It's a chubby baby for god's sake. Unfortunately it is running alongside a headline Number of obese Kiwi children 'scary'.

The highest rates of childhood obesity are concentrated in the poorest deciles and amongst Pacific and, to a lesser degree, Maori children. But does the report allude to those facts? No.

Meanwhile the susceptibility neurotic and angst-ridden middle-class mothers will be looking at their healthy chubby cherub unnecessarily agonising over whether she is over-feeding (and now under-loving) him.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Absolutely asinine suggestion from Mary Wilson

Mary Wilson, trying to emulate an abrasive Sean Plunket on National Radio this morning, makes the utterly asinine suggestion that ACT should sacrifice Epsom to prove it can cross the 5 percent threshold and therefore has a mandate. The 'interviewer' tries her hardest to make Rodney agree with Phil Goff's view that ACT is "terminal" but succeeds only in sounding rude and silly.

Here's a page from a February 2005 article from North and South.

Rodney has been written off many, many times. And yes, I am guilty of describing recent events as akin to a murder-suicide. But I have also predicted that Rodney Hide will survive, even if only as a Ron Paul figure.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Creative gravy train - an oxymoron

I am alerted to the following because I subscribe to a community and volunteer sector newsletter;

Changes to arts funding announced

Creative New Zealand will introduce two new and complementary multi-year funding programmes from January 2012 to provide clarity, stability and flexibility in the way it funds arts organisations and artists. The new funding programmes are:

* Arts Leadership Investment (Toi Tōtara Haemata) to provide support for between two and five years to well-run, financially sound organisations that fulfil a key role or roles in the creation, presentation and distribution of high-quality arts experiences to New Zealanders

* Arts Development Investment (Toi Uru Kahikatea) to complement the Arts Leadership Investment programme by offering greater flexibility in the range of activities it supports. Funding will be available for periods from six months to two years for arts organisations, groups and individuals. Applicants will not need to fulfil a key role (see above).

The changes follow a review, where the arts sector identified an ongoing need for skills development. Creative NZ will work to enhance existing capability building programmes to meet the needs of both emerging and established arts organisations. It will also look at ways to offer incentives for artists and arts organisations to collaborate on projects, such as the commissioning and presentation of new work or to provide support for young and emerging artists.

You may have noticed I have been blogging less frequently. This is because I am painting and sketching more frequently. Why? Because I need to contribute to our household income. A few weeks back I took my portfolio into a couple of framers with the proposition that I sketch on their premises (providing me with exposure) and any commissions I pick up, they do the framing. I have priced my sketches at a very accessible price. So far the exercise has been successful picking up 4 commissions, with three of them for multiple sketches and more in the pipeline. I also met a fascinating Maori man who has agreed to be a subject for some new paintings. It isn't hard work because I enjoy interacting with the public and I love creating with pastels. But it is honest work.

It pisses me off immensely that we have a 'creative' art gravy train in New Zealand. Firstly because you and I have to fund it. Secondly because it often turns out crap. Real talent will attract willing sponsors and patronage. Lack of talent relies on handouts. Thirdly is provides 'jobs' for bureaucrats and fourthly it removes audience and potential buyers from artists who are trying to go it off their own efforts. Bah. Back to work for me.

Update; Sam provides a useful link about NZ On Air funding which comes from the Culture and Heritage budget which was Helen Clark's own portfolio. Between 1999 and 2008 expenditure rose from $427 million to $1,107 million. And National seems to have accepted this level along with all the other Clark administration spend-ups.

On vouchers instead of benefit cash

Sean Plunket is now writing a column for the DomPost. His first provoked a comment from me which was published yesterday.

Not on-line, I was cutting out the letter for scanning when I noticed the photo under the headline it was given. I think I'll make an exception for her.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

ACT voters least loyal

According to the latest Horizon poll of 3,673 voters ACT appears to be losing support to National;

National has 30% of decided voters (3% down on its 2008 share of all registered voters).

Labour has 22% (3% down on its 2008 share of all registered voters).

ACT has 2% (down from 2.7% in 2008) but only 40% of its 2008 voters remain loyal. Some 28% of ACT voters have switched to National while 19% say they don’t know who they would give their party vote to if a general election were held tomorrow.

Unfortunately the period over which the survey was conducted is not specified.

As rich as Australia - once

Statistics New Zealand has published updated material it provided to the Taskforce 2025 including many interesting tables comparing labour forces and migration rates among other things.

Ironically, as a response to the catching- up- to- Australia campaign, a fatalistic feeling is emerging amongst New Zealanders that this country can never be as rich as Australia. That view is in danger of becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy in that it contributes to driving away people who don't accept it. Ambitious people who keep hearing, "They've got the population; they've got the mineral wealth; they've got the markets..." will want to be in the 'they' team.

I don't accept it. NZ has been as wealthy as Australia and can be again. It just takes political will.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

At last, my kind of candidate

I am not voting for a mayor and struggling to find names to tick for any of the other FIVE selection processes. God knows why there are so many. There are a couple of no nonsense experienced types who hold mild appeal but when I trawled through all the electoral bumf last night I was defeated by the inanity of the proclamations. So many people with 'vision' and 'passion'. We are fair drowning in a sea of these self-confessed attributes.

Then I got excited. This morning. At last a billboard that didn't make me baulk. A billboard that even made me smile and feel like there is a upside to the tiresome charade of democracy local body elections have become.

I can nominate a Hutt City candidate for the same ticket;

Now there's vision and passion in spades.

And as I stepped out with madam candidate this morning I reflected that her public speaking abilities really are second to none.

Any other nominations?

Monday, September 20, 2010

The future of David Garrett

David Garrett is now deciding whether to quit parliament completely or return as an independent MP.

"But it seems to me the people elected five Act MPs - not four and an independent..."

That's according to Rodney Hide.

There is talk that Sensible Sentencing contrived the placement of David Garrett at number 5 on the ACT list. That Rodney Hide had to swallow this because he needed the votes that SST would bring. One commentator put the number at 100,000. I do not know what the size of the Trust's membership is, and there is no guarantee that members would vote ACT simply because they belonged to the Trust.

However if it is correct that a sizeable share of ACT's 2008 party vote came from SST members (as the left would have us believe) then with their continued support David Garrett does have a mandate as an independent MP.

I mean the SST could spin their continued support as embracing redemption which adds credibility to their hard-line-on-only-the-worst-offenders claim.

There are around 2,350,000 voters so each MP is worth 19,500 votes. Are there 19,500 people who want to be represented by David Garrett?

I don't but I never made any secret of that. It just irks me to hear the PM telling Paul Henry this morning that New Zealanders have spoken and the polls say Garrett isn't wanted.

Neither was ACT by the vast majority of people. Isn't that the point of MMP? That small minorities get a voice?

(My apologies if this proposition has already been put elsewhere. I haven't seen it.)

Australians are having the debate our parliament denies us

Australians are debating voluntary euthanasia.

Fourteen years after the Northern Territory became the first place in the world to legalise euthanasia - only to be overridden nine months later by the Howard government - Greens leader Bob Brown pledged his first priority would be a bill to restore the territories' power to pass euthanasia laws.

A poll asking if that right should be restored is running roughly three quarters in agreement.

ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope said he believed euthanasia laws would be passed if introduced to the ACT Parliament, where Labor rules in alliance with the Greens.

''I think … it is quite likely with such a large Green cohort with the balance of power now that it would possibly pass,'' Mr Stanhope said.

''I don't support legislation to legalise euthanasia, but I'm in a minority within my party. There has always been very strong support for euthanasia in the ACT.''

Which leaves the question, what about the rest of Australia?

Senator Brown's bill comes as voluntary euthanasia legislation is set to be debated in both the South Australian and the West Australian parliaments.

Meanwhile we New Zealanders are being denied any vehicle to debate the issue despite it being of relevance to everybody.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

On Garrett

Michael Laws has put the Garrett business into perspective perfectly, and prompted me to give it a shot.

Garrett did a very stupid, calculated and deliberate thing as a young man. He is rough-edged still, and a risk-taker. But above all he is now a victim. And in a world where victimhood is the bleat on too many people's lips I don't use the word lightly.

He is a victim of the media. Last week the NZ Herald actually asked for any reader who knew more about the passport incident OR ANYTHING ELSE ABOUT DAVID GARRETT to contact them. This kind of scrutiny is going to keep real people out of politics. I've made many a mistake over my life but am in a better headspace for them. A drink driving conviction I received in 1985 wouldn't have been much material to prosecute and persecute given there are current and ex-parliamentarians (and media) who have received much more recent convictions for the same. Put in context though drinking and driving has the potential to cause more physical harm than stealing a dead baby's identity.

Worse, Garrett is a victim of a culture of backstabbing in ACT which is utterly abhorrent. I never liked the law and order mantle ACT donned (and didn't put up any pertinent campaign signs in 2008). To me three strikes is authoritarian; prisons create career criminals out of young men and, regarding other legislation, too much power is being invested in the police. However these are matters to debate and Garrett and I did come to blows over them in the ensuing months. But to dislike someone's ideas and actions (or allegiances) to the point where you want to destroy them personally, is revolting.

And that is what ACT has come to. It's like watching a murder-suicide with Garrett playing a bit-part of sacrificial lamb.