Wednesday, September 30, 2009

GFC: Part II. A predictable horror movie

I'm considering making a movie. It will be a sequel to a much-watched initial movie, Global Financial Crisis that I didn't make, but I know what went into its development. I already have a lot of supporters, those who know that, to promote their economically crippling ideas, the Loony Left conveniently remain oblivious to the reality that free market policies have lifted people from poverty in large numbers. Yet, in the wake of the economic crisis, these Loons are promoting fondness for socialism over capitalism. Politicians, socialist commentators, and Mike Moore talk about social democracy, democratic socialism, and social justice, and look to the cloudless sky as they proudly proclaim that a small group of elites can, and must, create a better world (cue: DPRK national anthem

Their form of "progressive economics", which places government at the centre of the economy, resurfaced with alarming rhetoric at the Pittsburgh G20 meeting, essentially a large group of countries making co-ordinated but wrong decisions based on a flawed set of beliefs.

The latest G20 statement was full of talk about a profound crisis justifying drastic action. Governments are pledging to "do something" (how specific) to discourage excessive risk-taking, keep up the stimulus spending, limit executive bonuses, impose tighter regulation of financial markets. Government must now be at the "centre of the economy" to avoid the boom and bust cycles of the past, say our dear global leaders.

The glaring omission from these grandiose statements is an acknowledgment that government action played a fundamental role in fuelling the boom in the US housing market that turned into a bubble in the wider mortgage market and finally burst across the globe. Successive US administrations mandated taxpayer-funded home loans to those who were clear credit nutcases. The US Government (doesn’t seem to matter if it’s Democratic or Republican, sadly) underwrote two-thirds of the US mortgage market using government creations, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and, assuming a place at the centre of the economy to pursue well-meaning social goals, delivered poor, unintended consequences that largely triggered the global financial crisis. Barack Obama and Kevin Rudd are being ironic and dishonest when they exploit the crisis to demonise free markets. The Left has conveniently neglected to undertake an honest appraisal of the significant cause of the global meltdown.

Despite this fraudulent premise for social democracy, the Left’s cry of social justice is intuitively appealing to those who espouse intervention over personal responsibility. However, there is a reason why no one has been able to articulate the principles of social democracy. The language and rhetoric is deliberately emotional and ambiguous, and camouflages centralisation of power in the hands of a few elites who presume to know what the rest of society wants.

And we’re told the global financial crisis is (nearly) over? Yeah, right. Thanks to the economic illiteracy of Barack Obama (along with Kevin Rudd and Gordon Brown), prepare your children for GFC: Part II.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Prioritising euthanasia over child abuse

If you put the lead articles of last Saturday's and today's Dominion Post newspapers side by side, the messages are striking (Saturday:, Monday:

On Saturday, we were told:
Barry Sutch, 68, died eight days after he appeared in Levin District Court charged with being party to a suicide.

The frail Otaki man, who had prostate and bowel cancer and had about 18 months to live, faced a charge relating to two people agreeing to enter a suicide pact in which only one person survived.

His 63-year-old wife, Jean, who was suffering from a debilitating illness, died last October. Police investigated her death, describing it as "unexplained", and charged Mr Sutch several months later.
Both Mr Sutch and his wife were terminally ill.  They decided to end their lives together.  She succeeded.  He did not.  And was charged.  Almost a whole year later, the case was finally heard in court.  He died a week later.

He did not murder her.  She wanted to die.  He wanted to die with her. Here are two consenting adults who want to leave this earth together.  That's how they want to die.  Why should this be illegal?

Of course, there are other questions around the apparent lack of palliative care or medical support.  But for me to go into that discussion would be purely speculative, and I feel that would be disrespectful in the circumstances.  I don't know what support was offered to them - all I know is that they wanted to die together, but sadly for him, he woke up.

When reading the article this morning, I realised that I actually might support euthanasia.  For so long, I never really had a hard and fast opinion on it, other than vaguely thinking that it does seem unfair that we can afford animals the dignity to die in their sleep, but feel the need to ensure fellow human beings undergo a puritan approach to dying.  And yet, when I think of the recent cases that have been in the media - and the Crutchley case in Taumarunui immediately comes to mind ( - I realise that my support leans with the right of an individual to decide when they want to die, and to seek assistance if need be, without any fear of criminal conviction on those who are left behind (accidentally or otherwise).  We give people the right to live as they choose (to an extent).  So why are we so scared to let people choose how they wish to die?  Of course, my lack of hard and fast opinion is based on the dilemma I face over mercy killing without consent.  I don't really know where to draw the line.  Or how to draw it.

But this particular case was not so complicated.

My point is, why the hell did the police feel such a need to lay charges against Mr Sutch?  If the purpose of applying the law is to punish someone for a crime, and to act as a deterrent to others, this achieved neither.  His wife made her decision to die and succeeded.  Charging someone who essentially tried and failed to die is pointless and cruel.  A person who wants to die should be given appropriate support (and if this support includes their decision to be put to sleep, then so be it).  He should not be vilified and turned into a criminal.  And entering into a suicide pact with your lifelong partner is not usually a decision that is taken lightly.

This was a complete waste of resources - of taxpayers' money, of police staff and time, of lawyers, the family and friends support networks, medical witnesses and experts, court staff, judges - and it is completely the fault of police, who have shown through this despicable, dogged pursuit of the law that they are incapable of good judgement.  Instead, they chose to tie up resources on a case that only served to make an ill man's dying days, already bleak after losing his much-loved wife in tragic circumstances, a total nightmare.

(The lack of judgement shown by the police puts the "guidelines" for CYFS and Police on the "smacking bill" into frightening perspective.  But, I digress.)

As so eloquently put by Dr Philip Nitschke:
What a tragedy. You could almost see this as being perhaps a consequence of that rather harsh interpretation of the law, and the pretty heavy-handed actions of the authorities.....
The police should be ashamed of themselves. I think what they did is disgusting.
Meanwhile, in today's Dominion Post, police are upset that they are under-resourced in child abuse investigations.

This doesn't seem a terribly complicated resourcing situation to resolve (especially if you also consider the other areas of policing in New Zealand that only serve to punish people for their potential to cause harm, such as the laws that seem to delight the traffic cops).

In the meantime, the police have shown that they are not capable of applying their judgement sensibly. It's time that the politicians had the courage to discuss and debate euthanasia - it's not going to go away, and it is morally reprehensible that we criminalise people who want to die.

Fish. Chocolate. Together. Try it.

Picture this taster: a disc of white chocolate, the diameter of a golf ball, but only a few millimetres thick.  On top is piled half-a-teaspoon of Osetra caviar.

You are instructed to eat the whole thing in one go.

You look down at your plate.  The dish is clearly intended to make the eater feel curious and uneasy.  Fish and chocolate?  Together?  What empty-fridge desperation came up with this (expensive) nightmare (Osetra caviar retails in New Zealand at $512.33 for 125 grams - it's not cheap).

But you've eaten more adventurous things than this before.

You slip the white chocolate disc into your mouth.

The taste is sublime.  There is the clean, measured saltiness of the eggs, and the sweet creaminess of the chocolate.  And then, a separate flavour, like a salted caramel.


Thank you, Heston Blumenthal (

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Bolstering union membership - oops, I mean "education"

Spotted by accident while flicking through The Australian in the local library, I spotted a tiny article claiming that New South Wales is launching a new initiative called Unionstart, run by Unions NSW, where unionists will go into NSW schools to educate 14 to 18-year-olds about unions.

Unions NSW seems positive that this education program will lift union membership. It complains that union membership among young people is "quite low and ... to the point where it is actually declining." It arrogantly puts that down to a lack of knowledge and understanding, something Unionstart will apparently cure.

In horror I pored through the rest of The Australian newspapers and then attacked the Sydney Morning Herald, but there was nothing more on the topic. Has this breathtaking abuse of a school system, and the privileged access unions get to schoolchildren to bolster their membership under the guise of "education", passed without outcry? Dear god.

Young, impressionable minds will receive this union information, and I doubt it will be objective. Even if unions strive to not overtly recruit, students will not receive a balanced message. What’s the bet that any of the following recent news topics in Australia that reflected badly on the unions will not feature in Unionstart’s campaign:

  • Julia Gillard’s concerns about union men in balaclavas involved in the West Gate Bridge development in Melbourne;
  • Martin Ferguson’s warnings about union excesses in the middle of a global financial crisis; and
  • the reports and royal commissions that uncovered union corruption and intimidation within the building industry

Nevertheless, even if Unions NSW does provide these examples to the students, what right does the NSW Government have to politicise schools? An argument that every child may one day be a worker does not justify  unions entering schools. Yes, there is a reason why fewer workers are joining unions. And Unions NSW is too blinkered and arrogant to realise that it is not a lack of education. It is lack of relevance as more workers prefer negotiate their own terms of employment, rather follow a one-size-fits-all union command.

Schools in Australia and New Zealand are supposed to be secular and apolitical. Imagine the outcry if the Employers and Manufacturers Association were allowed into New Zealand schools to teach kids about the virtues of employer organisations. Or if the Business Roundtable explained to children that financial companies are just poor, misunderstood organisations.  Not that I'm saying the Business Roundtable would say that; my point is they are organisations that represent a particular political view, and, regardless of whether or not we agree with them, they should not be given access to young minds through schools.  There are more appropriate fora than schools for advertising their messages.

When unions dictate government policy, prosperity is always ignored - rich people are stealing from the poor, benefits should be higher, tax the rich, lets have greater subsidies = less money in the pockets for everyone. Somehow, I doubt that will be the lesson taught to NSW school students when Unionstart enters their classroom. I only hope this germ doesn’t enter New Zealand.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Ten Tiny Green MPs

(Adapted from Ten Tiny Tadpoles, by Debbie Tarbett) (

Ten tiny Green MPs, wriggling in a line.  One went smacking children, so that left...

Nine speedy Green MPs, too busy to wait.  One went eating junk food, so that left...

Eight playful Green MPs in splishing splashing heaven.  One died of a heart attack, so that left...

Seven daring Green MPs smoking up some spliffs.  One took a turtle ride, so that left...

Six frisky Green MPs, keen to duck and dive.  One produced excess emissions, so that left...

Five lively Green MPs splashing near the shore.  One ate inorganic sprouts, so that left...

Four happy Green MPs floating fast and free.  One bought a plastic bag, so that left...

Three nosy Green MPs, roaming waters new.  One got pissed she wasn't co-leader, so that left....

Two cheeky Green MPs searching for some fun, realised they could not disband because that would leave just...

One lonely Green MP, which would not be co-leading, so they found some egg-throwing students/North Korean sympathisers/global-warming zealots (insert as appropriate) and then there were...

Ten bouncing baby Greenies
Whingeing all day long.
Destroying the economy as
They sang their commie song.

Why I'm not a millionaire

Why do I never think of these things first?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A bit of a squeeze

As I cram my three kids into our quite large but not large enough car, I shudder to think if the loony greenies will ever succeed in making these cars compulsory.....

(Apologies, can't find the source)

The Smart Car

The Smorvette

The Smaudi A3 AWD

The Smamborghini

The Smorsche

The Smerrari

The Smustang

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wowser alert! Destroy all those cute photos of the kids!!!!

Because invariably (at least in my case) the cutest photos seem to involve the kids doing things in stages of undress.  Such as playing in a paddling pool, or playing with the garden hose, or playing on the beach, or - and I seem to have a lot of these because it's one of the few times the kids are clean and wholesome looking - playing in the bath.

Clearly, by having these photos of my 3 boys (aged 4, 3 and 1) playing in the bath, I am fulfilling a depraved need of mine to partake in pornographic exploits.  If you look really closely, genitalia is exposed.  At times, not only is there indecent exposure, but the boys are hugging each other.  They are touching and naked.

I'm considering destroying these photos because of this:  A couple in Phoenix, Arizona, had their 3 daughters, aged 5, 4 and 1, taken away from them for a month into child protection care after a Wal Mart employee dobbed them into authorities when he/she noticed these prints when developing the family's holiday photos.

To prove a point, all 3 girls were given medical examinations.  Funnily enough, the taking of photos of the children in the bath did not manifest itself in physical signs of sexual abuse.

The children were returned to their parents, but it took a court order for that to happen.  And the police, child protection agency, and Wal Mart are unrepentant for their actions.  Naturally, the parents are suing the police, the child protection agency and Walmart, and while I normally scoff at the ease with which people sue in the US, I hope they win, and win lots.  And the wowsers who put the family through this should be sacked, and forced to watch child pornography videos so that they LEARN THE BLOODY DIFFERENCE.

What the hell has happened to boring old common sense??? When did photos of happy, partly clad children become child pornography?  Do people not know the difference between taking innocent photos of partly clad children and taking photos of violated children?

The irony of this is the current Wal Mart television commercial shows a scene where a child is stepping out of the bath into the soft towel that her mother is holding up for her.  If you slow the commercial down, you can see a glimpse of the little girls breast.  I hope Wal Mart is going to hand itself over to the authorities immediately.

How long do you reckon before this lunacy hits NZ?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Inspired by

Bill English calls for a person with vision to lead New Zealand out of the certain Armageddon that has befallen us over the lack of understanding over his entitlement.

Surely, we already have such a messiah: Bill English himself begorrah.

So, blow that bugle, Bill: we, the little people, await your clarion call to lead us into a new visionary destiny that forever after will be hailed by awestruck historians as the golden age of Englishism Socialism Perkism Entitlementism Bolloxism Theft.

Legal limits on driver distress and fatigue, too?

There's a lot in the Wellington local and regional papers about deaths caused by drunk drivers. And I am saddened to read of the deaths of innocent people, of course.

My apologies if the timing of this blog bothers people (one of the deaths was a well known teacher in my area), but you have a choice to not continue reading.

This has probably been covered by worthy libertarians before. I don't mean to be disingenuous, but it’s a new thought for me. No need to read on if this is old news – the revelation has only just hit me (I'm a bit slow sometimes) after reading Lindsay Mitchell's thought-provoking blog on whether we need to look beyond penalties in addressing the deaths caused by drunk drivers

The lead headline in the Kapiti Observer this morning screams, "Young driver hits 1105mcg". Which, I confess, means nothing to me other than it is a number that is somewhat over what is the legal breath alcohol limit. Specifically, the article says:
A recidivist drink driver recorded over seven times the legal youth breath alcohol limit when tested......

Police stopped the 19-year-old Paraparaumu Beach woman on Maclean Street about 3.30am.

The legal driving limit for a person aged 20 or under was 150mcg, though she would face the more serious charge of being over the adult limit of 400mcg.

Senior Sergeant Alasdair Macmillan said it was an "excessively high" reading, "and, given her age, a major concern.  This is not the first time she had come to the attention of the police for drink driving."
From the (appallingly written) article, I can only deduce that the problem was that the young driver had a substance (in this case, alcohol) in her system. There is no mention of bad driving, no destruction of property, no lives were taken or recklessly endangered. The crime was having the wrong amount of a substance in her system while driving a car. The fact that there is a "legal limit" suggests it is possible to have this substance in your blood, even while driving, and not commit a crime. Without a breathaliser, there is no way to tell if we are breaking the law.

Yes, I know the preferred, acceptable (knee jerk) reaction is drunk driving has to be illegal because the chance of causing an accident rises dramatically when you drink. But, as I said earlier, we have a legal limit, so clearly a little bit of alcohol in our body is deemed to not be dangerous. Why is a legal framework is dealing with chance? The law should deal with a person's actions as they damage a person or property. Leave the issue of "chance" to insurance companies to determine as their competitive point of difference. The effect of the substance in the system is something that is perhaps more relevant for the sentencing judge, acknowledging that there is enough evidence to suggest that a person's driving ability may be impaired by substances, but that there are many other factors that can cause a person to drive poorly, such as fatigue or emotional distress.  Will there come a point where the law imposes legal fatigue or distress limits?

You had a choice as to whether or not you read this blog, do please do not post a comment calling me insensitive because your mother/brother/friend etc was killed by a drunk driver. Any person responsible for killing someone else is guilty of manslaughter or murder and should be punished accordingly. My issue is that we are criminalising and punishing people because of a level of substance in their body, not because of a true crime that harms/kills people or damages property. Anyone driving is capable of causing an accident, whether they are drunk or sober. Some drivers can drive with substances in their body and not cause any accident at all. How can we make a judgement call through law that they, and the people around them, were just "lucky"?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A blog etiquette request that will lose me friends

Firstly, I am not really a people person.  I used to be, but no more.  This will become evident when you pay close attention to a request that I am making to those who know me.

Some of these acquaintances consider it appropriate behaviour to respond to my blogs by ringing me, or popping in to visit me, and then screaming at me.  If I wanted to get into a verbal debate with you, then I would pick up the phone, or come and visit you.  By writing a blog, I specifically do not wish to engage with you in conversation of the verbal kind.  Written debates are much more thoughtful and succinct.

Invariably, you lack the finesse required for me to listen to your point of view.  You scream, you start sentences off with, "people like you really piss me off," and naturally, I switch off and delete you from my list of people I would like to hang out with if I'm ever bored.  I particularly dislike the type of person who picks up the phone and screams and yells and refuses to agree to disagree.  This person elicits a passive violence from me that I am unable to act upon as I am in charge of three young children, and I hold this person completely responsible for destroying my day.  This is not a good position for this person to be in.  If they are perceptive, they might notice that I no longer call them with as much frequency as I once used to.

Therefore, if I still have your attention, here is some advice.  It is appropriate blog etiquette to respond to blogs by submitting a comment.  Nothing else will do.  In a show of magnanimity, I will allow you to post your comment anonymously, but be aware that if you do so, I may not take the time to respond to your comment with the diligence you believe it deserves.  If you still persist in trying to engage me in a verbal discussion about my blogs, I will tell you where to go.  If something I write annoys you, tough.  That's life.  Get used to it.  This is my blog, not yours.  If it bothers you so much, get your own blog.

If you are unable to follow this simple instruction, please step away from my blog.  Your uncouth screaming and yelling is unbecoming for people who apparently think they are educated and erudite.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The reason the All Blacks can't win anymore - updated

It's because they call their children stupid names.  It has nothing to do with the coaches.  For example:

Ma'a Nonu = Mercury
Rodney So'oialo = Peyton

Clearly the All Blacks are aware of this as there is little web reference to the names of other All Blacks' children. Still, two is enough.

Update: of course, the reason the All Black's did win is because Mercury and Peyton weren't playing.  That's what I meant to say. Really.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Carcinogenic quackery

This was a bad week to be a celebrity. First the saviour to many of the world’s starving, Norman Borlaug, then Patrick Swayze, then (and being food obsessed, I admit this crushed me the most) Keith Floyd, and then Mary Travers. When will it end?

The media response was predictable. It's too early to gauge the impression Mary Travers's made, but, to date, Patrick Swayze got the most coverage, then Keith Floyd, and coming in at the end was underappreciated Norman Borlaug - nothing to do with their contributions to humanity, but rather their degree of celebrity status.

Therefore, I am a little upset with myself that I am going to add to the coverage already given to Patrick Swayze. He didn’t bother me at all; I just think an intellect like me should have more to say about Floyd and Borlaug.

However, I am going to blog about Swayze indirectly.

Through no fault of my own, and perhaps against my better judgement, I know people who have assumed that because I live on a lifestyle block, and try to be as organic about my produce as I can, I must therefore be a fan of quackery. To that end, an article was forwarded to me, written by someone called Mike Adams, who writes for (

God knows why they must waste my broadband data limits on this sort of rubbish, but it's got me mad enough to rant. I’ll state upfront that while I think there is a place for alternative medicine if a person wishes to pursue it, and there may well be a good case for alternative medicine alongside conventional medicine, I am not a fan of people preaching alternative medicine in isolation. By all means, follow alternative medicine if it's your thing, but don't preach to everyone that it is the only cure.

What I found disgusting about this article was the misinformation and lies about chemotherapy versus "natural" therapies. In particular, what got to me was the title that Patrick Swayze was dead because of the chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer.

No, you insensitive stupid nutcase. Swayze died of stage IV pancreatic cancer. It wasn't the chemotherapy that killed him. It was the cancer.

Like all good alternative medicine fantasy, Adams confuses correlation with causation. I'm guessing that most, if not all, cancer patients have chemotherapy before the end. That does not mean the chemotherapy is what killed them.

Of course, there is the occasional exception - chemotherapy is not without risk - but in general, it is not what kills. There is a correlation, but not causation.

What Adams fails to note is that Swayze lived far longer than the average patient with stage IV pancreatic cancer, nearly 20 months as opposed to an average survival rate of less than six months. True, given how horrific pancreatic cancer is, the chemotherapy that Swayze underwent probably only modestly prolonged his life, but it was Swayze's choice to undergo the chemotheraphy treatment. Of course, Adams cannot acknowledge that Swayze actually did quite well, at least as well as one can expect from a patient with the disease that he had, because to do so would undermine his belief that all chemotherapy is evil poison that does no good.

After posting a despicable photos of "before and after chemo" shots, and after a string of paragraphs claiming that "the cancer industry" has killed untold celebrities and lamenting how Swayze chose chemotherapy over "natural" cures, Adams gets to the meat of his claims:
Of course, the cancer industry takes no responsibility for his death. Drug companies and cancer docs never accept responsibility for the way their poisonous treatments harm (and often kill) many fine people.

Had Patrick Swayze's pancreatic cancer gone away, doctors would have hailed chemotherapy as the genius treatment that saved Swayze's life. But chemotherapy has never healed anyone of cancer. Not once in the history of medicine. And when people die after being poisoned by chemotherapy, the oncologists and conventional medical doctors just shrug and say ridiculous things like, "The cancer was too far along" or "He didn't fight it hard enough."

Actually, it's the quacks who usually blame the patient. Either the patient brought the disease on himself by engaging in a poor lifestyle, or the reason the "cure" didn't work is because the patient either didn't follow the protocol to the letter or didn't believe in it strongly enough. I would be surprised to hear an oncologist blame a patient's death on the patient not having fought it hard enough. Oncologists just don't talk that way. And rightly so.

More interesting to me is Adams' claim that chemotherapy has never, he says, healed anyone of cancer, "not once in the history of medicine."

In the interests of not divulging my husband’s identity on here, I won’t talk about his background, other than to say that my children and I are blessed and grateful to have him. Chemotherapy has something to do with this. So, Mr Adams, I’ll find someone famous for you. Have you heard Lance Armstrong? He had testicular cancer. Not only that, but it was a stage IV disease, with metastases to lung and brain. Armstrong credits chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation of curing him of his cancer, and he's been cancer-free for 13 years. Adams is, of course, too deluded to accept it, but I would guess that chemotherapy "cures" thousands of patients with cancer each and every year. True, against metastatic solid tumours like pancreatic cancer, chemotherapy all too often doesn't do much good in terms of prolonging survival (testicular cancer is an exception to that rule of thumb), but it can do quite a bit of good in terms of palliation, depending on the specific cancer.

Of course, the reason that chemotherapy doesn't cure is obvious, if you're a loony like Adams:
"I want to last until they find a cure, which means I'd better get a fire under it," Swayze said in a highly-publicised interview with ABC's Barbara Walters. No one apparently told Swayze the cancer industry isn't looking for a cure. They're looking for more business from more patients, and a genuine "cure" for cancer is flatly incompatible with the industry's business interests.
Actually, logic, reason, and science are flatly incompatible with Mike Adams's brain. There are already "cures" for a number of cancers in the form of chemotherapy regimens. Adams falls for the simplification that all too many people believe, namely that cancer is a single disease with a single cure. There is no single "cure for cancer."  There are, however, cures for cancers, recognising that each cancer is unique.

Adams also assumes that since scientific medicine can't cure cancer 100% of the time, it never does. To him, it's black or white, all or nothing thinking. And, his conspiratorial mindset prevents him from realising that any scientist who found the cure for a killer cancer like pancreatic cancer would be on an instant track for a Nobel Prize.

It is the intelligence and sacrifice of scientists (and perhaps some much appreciated lab rats) that has lead to remarkable treatments for once incurable diseases.  If Adams doesn’t want to use them, that’s his prerogative, but his diatribe on Swayze, and his spurious claims without evidence, are offensive and disgusting. And possibly downright dangerous.

(Source for scientific information - my father, who is a medical professional.  But the views in this blog are entirely mine.)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

It's because you called him "Chace"

How to feel old?

You eavesdrop on a conversation between three teenage girls.  Last night I overheard the neighbour's daughter, aged 15, bleat to her friends that her mum has taken her cellphone off her until she can pay back the $60 bill.  But this is the bit that made me eavesdrop:  she's on a plan where she pays $10 for 2000 texts.  The $60 comes from the extra 300 texts that she sent over her text plan.  She sent 2,300 texts in four days.

I'm feeling very old now.  How can anyone possibly text that much?  And presumably her friends are on the same plan.  Where do they find the time to do this?  Her friends were texting even as they were having a bitch about the mum (while the cellphoneless teenager looked on forlornly, like it was the end of the world).  Presumably they weren't texting each other.  Or were they?  Say you take out the eight hours sleep per night, I calculate that as .... I can't work it out because the number needs an engineering level calculator.  So I then can't work out how many texts per second that is if you also take out the hours at school (assuming they can't use their cellphones at school).  I'm feeling old and curmudgeonly.  It seems like a hell of a lot.  

Is picking up a landline really so, like, last century?!?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Time to amalgamate Kapiti with Anywhere Else [updated]

Further to my blogs on the Western Link Road ( and, the original Sandhills Motorway (as a Western Link Road) is back on the table after the Mayor, showing all her inexperience, tried to call NZTA's bluff by rejecting both options presented. So NZTA has proclaimed that the Sandhills road is now Option 3.

In the typically professional style that has come to characterise council dealings in this district, the KCDC has responded by taking out a ratepayer funded 2-page advertisement in the local Kapiti Observer.
I quote (and I'm not kidding, and the lack of punctuation is not mine):
NZTA took six months to arrive at two motorway options which would only result in trashing our community.  In three weeks Council officers and consultants have found better alternatives which we will tell the community about later this week.  Turning the Western Link into a motorway with few exits and entrances is completely unacceptable.  To those in favour, be careful what you wish for.
It took the Council decades to turn the original Sandhills Motorway into a four lane local road, into a two lane local road with restricted speed limits, into a two lane, winding goat track that is more suitable for cyclists and horses than vehicles.  The very purpose of the Western Link Road, right from the very beginning, was to take the local traffic pressure off the state highway.  The Sandhills Motorway, and even the four lane version to an extent, would have achieved this.  The other options are roads that are useless before they are even constructed, and only appease the Peak Oil loonies.  The process to date by the council has been hijacked by the loonies and by personal agendas ("not past my grandson's school," quailed the Mayor).
... A Sandhills Motorway would have unacceptable economic, environmental and cultural impacts.  It would go through school zones and damage a number of protected areas of wetland and bush. It would pass through a waahi tapu area, close to an urupu and the El Rancho Christian Holiday Park
The roading designation in Kapiti has remained largely untouched ever since the designation was in place.  Business and individuals and other groups who have constructed buildings and houses, holiday camps and areas of sudden cultural interest have known all along that a roading designation is in place.  I now wonder how long it will take for the mythical taniwha to materialise, as one did north of Hamilton a few years ago, should this option proceed?
Waikanae would become invisible and inaccessible to passing traffic.  Experts tell us the presence of an interchange encourages the pressure for big box retail development.  Do you want big box retail at Peka Peka?
Why is the council so against big box development?  It is not necessarily ugly, and brings in valuable income to the district.  And if the people of Peka Peka have no issues with big box development, and if the people demand it, shouldn't the council's role be one of support, rather than disdain.  At present, the entrance to Paraparaumu is illuminated with the warm, radiated glow of at least eight fast food outlets.  Charming.  The big box development would be welcome in comparison to this sight (and smell).  But the fast food outlets are meeting a market demand (does that say something about Kapiti?), and for that reason alone, while I won't support them economically, I will not speak against them.
...The Council  has discussed its proposals with potentially affected parties and will provide details of these proposals next week."
My home is directly affected, regardless of which option is chosen.  Perhaps I was out when the friendly council officer came to visit that day.  Or perhaps no one from the council came - we've been battling the council over the WLR for a long time, and the fundamental issue is lack of communication.
Council has reaffirmed its support for the full two lane Western Link
This is the winding goat track I refer to earlier in this blog.  Council appears to have forgotten, or not realised, that this version does not have funding approval, and is probably the reason why NZTA has taken control of the issue.  And there is not point reaffirming their support for it because it is not one of the options, for this very good reason.

The council seems oblivious to the fact that as long as the district is bisected by a state highway, change is inevitable.  The only way for the council to avoid improvements to the state highway is to relocate the district (or relocate the highway, but the days of Muldoonist tunnelling appear to be over, so the Rimutakas may be safe for now).

It would be more constructive to everyone, but particularly the affected ratepayers, if the council stopped its bleating and worked with NZTA on some compromises where (if) needed .   

Liberty Scott made a reluctant suggestion in one of my previous blogs that amalgamation with Horowhenua would have merit, as it is the citizens of Horowhenua who will immediately benefit from this improved road into Wellington.

It would, of course, have the added advantage of getting rid of the KCDC.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A case for a Commission for Social Exclusion

One thing to come out of the Labour conference was high excitement from Lianne Dalziel on her idea for a Commission for Social Inclusion!  Woopee!  Oh, hold me back from the thrilling excitement at the prospect of another commission if Labour gets back in.

It appears all our other commissions can't engage with citizens, replace consultation with active listening, build consensus, "seek solutions from those directly involved, not restatement of the problem", collect data with independent analysis, using a "worldwide network of researchers and policy makers informing thinking", basing recommendations on evidence-based research, developing and costing plans, providing "accountability for delivery, ongoing monitoring, auditing and evaluation", all leading up to "joined up solutions that are effective."

Reading all of that, I think the free condoms idea that also came out of the conference was 50 years too late.

Head-in-the-red-sand (well, the idea did come out of South Australia) Lianne thinks the Commission for Social Inclusion will fix all these ill, and will make New Zealand a better place.  I'm from South Australia, and I can tell Lianne that it is not necessarily a better place.  The South Australian version was specifically set up to provide advice to the South Australian Government on difficult social problems that typically affect the most vulnerable members of society, such as Aboriginal people, unemployed, the homeless, the mentally ill, and the physically and  intellectually disabled.  The state and federal policy structures in Australia are very different to the policy environment in New Zealand.  You can't simply transfer a model from a state to a country like that.

But Lianne doesn't say that social inclusion will be the purpose of the new commission.  All she seems to be pointing to is more a more robust basis for policy analysis.

Erm.... doesn't New Zealand already have commissions and government departments that cover this?  Off the top of my head I can think of the following commissions:
  • Commerce Commission;
  • Securities Commission;
  • Electricity Commission;
  • Telecommunications Commission;
  • Charities Commission;
  • Families Commission;
  • Human Rights Commission;
  • Children's Commission;
  • Earthquake Commission;
  • Retirement Commission;
  • Transport Accident Investigation Commission;
  • Law Commission
  • New Zealand Film Commission;
  • Maori Language Commission;
  • Health and Disability Commission;
  • Mental Health Commission;
  • Tertiary Education Commission.
There may be more - this is all I could come up with in 30 seconds and my head was working faster than my fingers.  But the point is, do we even need one commission?  What is the role of government agencies and legal statutes?   All the points that Lianne Dalziel makes about her "exciting" Commission for Social Inclusion are points that should form the basis of any good, standard policy analysis, not the basis for a new commission.

Actually, I would quite like a new commission established, now that I really think about it.  A Commission for Social Exclusion.  If you engage with this Commission, you will automatically be deleted from any database, and you will not be required to fill out a census, pay tax, or be forced to participate in any state-led initiatives.

Benevolent Gastrodictatorship

As I was reading all the paperwork that ends up in my two older sons’ kindy bags, I came across a two large posters, both called “Healthy Lunches Made Easy”, one produced by the Canterbury DHB, and one by the Fight The Obesity Epidemic food lobby, but both saying quite different things. (For the record, the Canterbury DHB one was the better of the two and made me feel hungry).

As I read it, I became aware of the 14-month-old sitting next to me in his high chair, enjoying the little square of chocolate that I had just given to him because he looked cute.

I’m also laughing at the Fight The Obesity (hereinafter known as FO) poster. My boys are all of healthy weight, healthy height and are active. They love their food, and while they don't overeat, I worry about how we can afford to feed them when they get to teenage years. They eat lots of bread, rice, pasta, fruit and vegetables of their own volition because they enjoy them. But I can guarantee that the advice on the FO poster will be a waste of food. Celery on dry, unflavoured rice cakes??? Would anyone willingly eat that??? We are told in bright red letters, "Sugars, chocolates and giant versions of food have no place in a child's lunchbox." "Water is the only drink recommended for children." "Sugars contribute to weight gain and tooth decay."

 My children are doomed!

I'm not convinced that a bit of chocolate, even given daily (which, before any psycho food lobbyists get upset, I don't do, but only because I can’t afford it), is going to give my children one or more of the following: heart disease, diabetes, obesity, anaemia, hyperactivity, arthritis, cancer, osteoporosis, mental illness (including schizophrenia), menstrual cramps, scurvy, hair loss, hirsutism, varicose veins, impotence, drug addiction, suicide, haemorrhoids, constipation, diarrhoea, or lead to criminality.

Although having just read the list, I wonder if chocolate might be the reason behind some of my afflictions.

The following list is contains the grand total of commonplace diseases that I believe are conclusively linked with sugar/chocolate consumption:
1. Tooth decay.

And it is easily countered by brushing your teeth regularly.

Sugar does not make people fat. Fat makes people fat. Sugar is a simple carbohydrate that is quickly converted into glucose energy in the bloodstream. Saturated fats, such as dairy products, meats and fried foods, are more likely to be causing any obesity problems. By this reasoning, it is not the sugar in the chocolate that is fattening; it is the full-fat milk. So, surely the solution is to enjoy it in moderation?

The health lobbyists may have correctly deduced that people prefer high-sugar diets to healthier foods, but they have developed a flawed strategy of frightening people away from sugar in the belief that somehow they will be lured in to healthier foods as a matter of course. It is a desperate measure, doomed to failure, fundamentally dishonest and morally reprehensible, but most public health organisations seem to pursue it as policy.

All this nutritional perversity does is for a child is develop unhealthy ideas about "good" foods and "bad" foods, associating food with punishment and reward, or with body image. Mentally labelling foods is central to the warped logic of people with eating disorders. A more relaxed approach would make everyone happier and healthier. Sure, children sometimes don't have the capacity to understand what is best for them - which is why wise parents care for them - and there may be a need to ration their children's sweets. But it would be better for everyone's psychological health if sweets were given joyfully, as an expression of love, rather than grudgingly and disapprovingly.  Sometimes it seems that parents derive a perverse satisfaction from banning or demonising certain foods, because they feel they are taking some positive action in protecting their children, regardless of whether it is doing more harm than good.

The policy of demonising sugar and sweets does not fundamentally improve people's diets. All it does is spoil an innocent moment of pleasure, a balm amid the stress of life. I'm not suggesting that sugar is necessarily good. And there is no doubt that people can end up abusing sweets for the wrong reasons, such as boredom, anxiety, and loneliness. It's just that the public health argument has been made too forcefully against sugar.

Let's conveniently ignore the fact that we are eating more and more sugar, and let’s conveniently ignore that this shows how useless the anti-sugar strategy has been. And let’s conveniently ignore the fact that some cultures in the world - Indian, Arabic, and French immediately come to mind - have consumed the most sugar-laden sweets for centuries and have not wiped themselves out of existence.

My boys like chocolate. As do I. I don't want them to feel deprived of chocolate because I know how ghastly that feels. I would rather they learnt the art of eating in moderation by themselves, not by some fascist rhetoric from bored health dictators.

Why does everyone have to eat well all the time?

Excuse me while I go and report myself to the appropriate authorities now.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Pictorial example of bad parenting

My brain seems to be blogless today, so I thought I would attach this picture as a tribute to the advice dished out by Anonymous Sanctimummy this week.  A little example in focusing on the needs of a parent over the children.....

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Birthstapo: the psycho Sanctimummy

A recent blog of mine, that unfortunately descended into spiteful comments (largely through my doing, I accept),, has made me think that there is a breed of people out there who are perhaps on the psycho scale of Sanctimummies.  I refer to Birthstapos, who are so obsessed with having the perfect birth that they become tyrants towards everyone else.

The comments by others to my earlier blog had been in agreement with me, except for one person, who chose to remain anonymous, who decided that because I deigned to criticise Sanctimummies, and by admitting that I had a few c-sections, I was leading my children on the road to damnation and autism.

Her comments became increasingly psychotic, and I decided to delete her final comment to me.  I don't usually approve of censorship, and I'm not proud of my actions now, but I felt such rage that I didn't think first.  I've now had second thoughts and decided that there’s a whole blog in what she had to say.  Thankfully, I saved her comments elsewhere - lucky you - and the following is exactly as her comment appeared, along with attached picture:
You sound bitter about your birth experience. Many women, on telling stories of how they felt abused or traumatized during birth — or some other negative feeling, like having failed as a woman after having a C-section, or something — have their feelings dismissed with, "at least you have a healthy baby." While there is certainly a place for looking for the "silver lining" in the midst of any cloud, no matter how dark, there is also a place for just putting your arm around somebody’s shoulders and "weep with those that weep, and mourn with those that mourn." Dismissing a woman’s feelings does not help her — if anything, it only makes her feel worse, because then she has the added guilt of not being able to "just be happy" that her baby is healthy. Certainly she is happy that her baby is healthy… but can she not also be sad that it came at the cost of severe bodily trauma? — Especially if she is fairly certain that the C-section or whatever else that she endured during birth, was in fact not necessary for her baby to have been born healthy and well.
the next time you hear someone process her negative birth experience, and you’re tempted to say, "At least you have a healthy baby," just think of a picture of a mutilated apple, bite your tongue, and if you can’t think of anything else, just say, "I’m so sorry.
 healthy baby apple
I see you aren't going to give me your contact details. I would really like to hear your birth stories. Clearly you have some friends here who can support you through this difficult process.
Does that scare you? It scared the bejaysus out of me. As did her persistence. So I trust you will excuse me if this blog disintegrates into a bitch session.  I'm trying to be a pro here, but it's been a stretch.

Anonymous Birthstapo chose to completely, and presumably deliberately, miss the point of my blog. But what scares me the most is that her thoughts are not isolated.

Is a healthy baby merely a "silver lining" after a c-section? Perhaps we should do a little thought experiment and consider the converse situation. Imagine a courtroom during a malpractice trial, a trial that alleges that an obstetrician did not perform a C-section in time to save a baby's life. The mother is on the stand and is being questioned by the doctor's lawyer:
Yes, Mrs. Birthstapo, your baby is dead, but at least you had a great birth experience. You didn't have surgery, you didn't have an epidural, the baby was born vaginally and put immediately on your chest for bonding. Sure, the baby was dead, but consider the experience. And look at the picture of this mutilated apple. Is this what you would have preferred? Dr. Orchardist has saved you from a psychic wound that would never have healed. You ought to be grateful.
People would be horrified with the lawyer's complete lack of perspective. So why do Birthstapo-types think they should get away with such rhetoric? The health of the baby and the quality of the "experience" are not remotely comparable, and it is absurd, even cruel, to suggest they are.

Similarly, the idea that a healthy baby is merely a "silver lining" after C-section is indicative of a Birthstapo’s complete loss of perspective. The picture of a mutilated apple is particularly telling. The implication is that physical perfection is critical, and a surgical incision leaves a woman mutilated and incapable of healing.

There is another, deeper implication that is both unexamined and unjustified. The implication of the mutilated apple picture is that the removal of the seeds could have and should have occurred without changing the apple. The reality in nature is far worse that the mutilation of the apple. In nature, the apple must desiccate and die in order for the seeds to live.

The reality of childbirth in nature is far more brutal than a routine c-section. In nature, the mother often dies while the baby lives. Or the baby must die in order for the mother to expel it and live. Thousands of women and millions of babies around the world die each year for lack of c-sections.

A live baby is not the "silver lining" of a c-section. It is the entire purpose of pregnancy and childbirth.

And to suggest otherwise is an arrogant disregard for the intelligence of some human beings who were able to take science to such a level that lives can, and are, saved.

There's an argument to be made that Birthstapos justify their hypersensitivity, obsessive need for control, and rudeness to everyone else with the all purpose excuse: "It's my special day."

1. Obsessive need for control
No detail is too small for consideration, planning, and decrees.   It's difficult to imagine anything more obsessive than birth plans.  Birth plans, in addition to being useless for their stated purpose of improving the birth, are attempts to plan the unplannable.   You might as well have a "weather plan" for the day of birth for all the good it's going to do you.  Birth plans have the added drawback of irritating everyone around you.   The need to ruminate on every aspect of the day, and share those ruminations with everyone else is boring at best and narcissistic at worst.

2. Hypersensitivity
If the comments on my previous blog, and the quote provided by the psycho above, can be generalised, Birthstapos spend a lot of time being angry.  It's all about Birthstapo.  The birth is not going according to plan.  The hospital staff are not taking their desires as seriously as they take them.  The hospital staff are not behaving as instructed.  Everything is a slight.  Offered an epidural? Have a fit!  Labour support not exactly as desired?  Accuse the nurses of evil intentions - medicalising!!!  Baby needs something different from the preapproved birth plan?  Who does that baby think he is?   After all, birth is not about the baby. It's all about, exclusively concerned with, revolving only around Birthstapo.

3. Outsize feelings of disappointment
Birthstapos are psychologically very fragile and make no apologies for their fragility.  Baby need resuscitation before being placed skin to skin with Birthstapo?  The birth is ruined.  C-section needed to deliver a healthy baby?   That no longer qualifies as a birth at all!

4. Using others as characters in performance art
This is perhaps the worst of the many unattractive traits of Birthstapo.   Everyone, medical personnel, her partner, even the baby, are nothing more than bit players in Birthstapo's ultimate piece of performance art, "her" birth.  Birthstapo feels free to dictate what everyone involve is allowed to do or say.  What if her requests compromise the obligation of medical personnel to provide safe care?  Birthstapo doesn't care.  It's her day and that means she's entitled to use people any way she wants.

5. Birthstapos are narcissists
They have an outsize view of their own importance, a hypersensitivity to slights, a feeling of being persecuted when the birth does not go as planned, and an imperiousness and insensitivity to others who work with or for them.  Ultimately, Birthstapos are psychologically fragile.   Instead of integrating the inevitable disappointments associated with a birth, they are psychologically "stuck.”  They experience their disappointments as narcissistic injuries and respond with rage and accusations of persecution.   They have no time for and no interest in the feelings of others, and feel entitled to use other people for their own ends.

Ironically, the behaviour of Birthstapos often fails to produce the perfect birth.   Because of their psychological neediness and fragility, they are unable to appreciate that every change in plan is not the "fault" of someone, unable to accept that unwillingness of providers to follow commands is not a sign of persecution and, worst of all, unable to enjoy what they have.

Anonymous Birthstapo - I don't really care about you, but I worry about the mental health of your children, and the burden that you are now and they will be on taxpayers in years to come as infant and maternal mortality rates increase.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Artist's New Rubbish

Adapted from a fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen. Inspired by

Once upon a time, there lived a Museum Director, whose only worry in life was to display works of art. Word of the Director's refined habits spread over her kingdom and beyond. To her glee, it was decided to display the winning entry from the Waikato National Contemporary Art Award at her museum.

An Artist, who heard of the awards, decided to take advantage of it. However, he was not able to make the effort to travel to the Museum himself, so he audaciously submitted written instructions to the obedient museum staff. "I am a very good Artist, and after many years of research I have created an extraordinary installation art piece. As a matter of fact its redeeming features are invisible to anyone who is too stupid and incompetent to appreciate its quality."  The Artist asked for all the rubbish at the gallery to be tipped onto a table.

On the day of the judging, the Lead Judge was shown the work. "Admire the statement, feel the texture!" instructed the written submission from the absent artist.  The Judge bent over the pile of torn cardboard boxes and used sellotape, and tried to see the sculpture that was not there. She felt cold sweat on her forehead. "I can't see anything," she thought. "If I see nothing, that means I'm stupid! Or, worse, incompetent!"

"What a marvellous work of art," she said then.

Finally, the winner was announced. "Here it is,” said the Lead Judge.  “Look at the statement it makes, and feel its unique contrasting texture."  Of course, the Museum Director did not see any statement and could not feel any unique textures between her fingers. She panicked and felt like fainting. However, when she realised that no one could know that she did not see the "statement", she felt better. Nobody could find out she was stupid and incompetent.

The Museum Director had promised to display the winning entry in the museum. She was embarrassed but since none of the bystanders said anything, she felt relieved.  "Yes, this is a profound statement, and it looks very good in the museum," the Director said, trying to look comfortable. "The judges have done a fine job.  The people should know about these awards, and this extraordinary work of art." The Director was doubtful showing this to the people, but then she abandoned her fears. After all, everyone would understand it except the ignorant and the incompetent.  "I will grant the people this privilege."

She summoned her Communications Manager and the ceremonial press release was drafted. A group of art dignitaries walked at the front of the museum and anxiously scrutinised the faces of the people in the street. All the people had gathered in the main square, pushing and shoving to get a better look. Applause welcomed the unveiling. Everyone wanted to know how stupid or incompetent his or her neighbour was but, as the Director passed, a strange murmur rose from the crowd.

Everyone said, loud enough for the others to hear: "Look at the winning entry. It's profound!"  "What a marvellous statement!" "And the unique contrasting texture!"  They all tried to conceal their disappointment at not being able to understand the statement, and since nobody was willing to admit his own stupidity and incompetence, they all behaved as the Artist had hoped.

A few taxpayers, however, who had no important jobs and could only see things as their eyes showed them, went up to the display.  "This is just rubbish from a rubbish bin," they said, as they wondered who had funded these awards.

"Fools!" the Judge, Museum Director, absent Artist, and dignitaries reprimanded. "Don't talk nonsense!" They silenced the criticism before anyone asked who had funded these Awards.

The Director realised that the people were right but could not admit to that. So she disingenuously stated that it had met the objective of "getting people to talk about it".  She thought it better to continue with the press releases under the illusion that anyone who could not see the statement was either stupid or incompetent.

And she stoically stood by the display, while behind her a museum cleaner frowned at the rubbish on the floor, muttered something about young people these days, and fetched his broom.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Mater Sanctimonious be gone! Arise Libertarimum!

I’ve finally worked it out. The sanctimonious Green Sues (Kedgely and Bradford) are actually superheroes in disguise! During the day, they go by the innocent name(s) of Sue and Sue.... but, under their innocent smiles, they are really....... SANCTIMUMMY!!!! ( Ready to terrorising you like no one has ever terrorised you before. Sadly, they have a devoted following.

Sanctimummy instinctively (after reading many books) knows how I should raise my children, and is specifically knowledgeable on what foods they should eat (soy, soy, and soy, and ban sugar), what toys they should be allowed to play with (plastic is carcinogenic); how I should conceive (full moon, basal temperature charts), and how I should give birth (no pain relief, in water, in backyard, with friends and family singing songs, and wait until the full moon), and what I did wrong (lucked the conception(s), birthed in hospital with epidural(s), actually didn't really want my husband there trying to talk to me but didn't have the heart to tell him to be quiet so faked falling asleep, and emergency c-section(s)).

The best part about Sanctimummy is that she is always ready to share her wisdom with the rest of us.  She doesn't hesitate to point out the deficiencies of your parenting practices (read: how your parenting choices differ from hers).  She doesn’t hesitate to make dire predictions about what the future holds for your children ("You give him a dummy/sweets/chocolates/cigarettes/cows milk/cellphone?  You know he's never going to be able to [any affliction here]").  She never hesitates to bemoan your lack of understanding of the key issues of childrearing, letting you know that you are not as "educated" or as “eco” as she is.

My personal observation on the behaviour of other wanna-be Sanctimummies in their natural habitat is that they tend to suffer overwhelmingly from ostentatious "sadness".  They are so "sad" for you that you don't do everything their way.  They are so "sad" for your children that you are not parenting the way they prescribe.  They are just so "sad" that everyone in the world does not recognize their incredible superiority and their expert status on every aspect of parenting at every age. It’s so very “disappointing”, too.

Sanctimummy has lots of all purpose rules for parenting.  No need to tailor your parenting choices to the personality and needs of the individual child.  All childbirth should be unmedicated; all children should be breastfed for the prescribed amount of time (ideally finishing by mutual agreement when the child is old enough to enter into appropriate discussions), all children should be carried, every child should sleep in the family bed.  There’s a rule for every behaviour and every situation.

Despite her apparent self assurance, Sanctimummy needs constant validation and she intends to get it from you.  Your parenting choices serve as the perfect foil for sanctimummy since she can criticise them and you.

Sanctimummy is quick to take offense. In fact, she is always sure that she is not respected by those who don’t make the same choices.  And she is sure that she is being persecuted.  Mothers who don't agree with her are accused of interfering with her choices even if you have no interest in her choices at all.

Fundamentally, Sanctimummy cannot abide uncertainty, and if there ever was a job fraught with uncertainty it is motherhood.  It is difficult to get feedback on job performance from children.  Children live in the moment, are overwhelmed with their own needs, and don't take the long view.

Children don't tell you whether being allowed in the parental bed promotes security or inability to manage separation.  They don't tell you whether limiting television is crucial to wellbeing or merely an affectation that has no impact on them.  They don't thank you for discipline and they don't applaud your performance.  In fact, it often turns out that your best moments as a mother were the ones that they appeared, at the time, to hate the most.

All mothers must cope with this uncertainty, but some are more challenged than others.  The particularly militant Steiner school near me makes me wonder if there is an over-representation of the eco variety of Sanctimummy in Kapiti.  Sanctimummies deal with uncertainty by pretending that it doesn't exist.  They adopt all purpose rules for parenting and insist that following them demonstrates unequivocally that they are doing the right thing (and, inevitably, if you don’t agree, you are wrong).

And because they are so insecure, they cannot resist interrogating other mothers and demeaning their choices.

1. Had an epidural?  Too bad you gave in to the pain and medicalised the birth; the doctors don’t know what’s good for women and you fell for their lies.

2. Stopped breastfeeding before age 4 (or 5 or 6)?  How sad that you didn’t try hard enough.

3.  Your children’s food is not 100% organic?  How unfortunate that you don’t care enough about your children to serve the very best; your children will get cancer now.

4.  Let your child cry it out at night?  You’re an uncaring parent.

5.  Don’t let your child cry it out at night?  Your child is going to develop an unhealthy Freudian personality.

6.  Send your child to daycare/kindy?  Why did you have children if you aren’t going to be there for them?

7.  Don’t send your child to daycare/kindy?  You’re depriving them of important socialisation skills.

Ironically, Santimummy's choices don't necessarily reflect what is best for her children.  They don't reflect the fact that children are individual human beings with individual needs and desires.  There is no one-size-fits-all parenting formula, and pretending that there is ignores the specific needs of a specific child.  Sancitmummy's choices are all about her, her need for reassurance and her inability to tolerate uncertainty.

I want to feel sorry for her, but the only words that seem to emerge from my lips are NAFF OFF!!  How mature of me.  And, honestly, I feel a little bad for saying it.  Being a mother is a hard job.  Mothers get flack from both sides and it’s impossible to swim through all the well-meaning advice sometimes.  And the competition and cliques can be destroying.  But the Sanctimummy seems to have a particular skill in categorising people as “bad mother”, and I resent that.  While I may not prescribe to your style of parenting, doesn’t mean I think you’re doing a bad job.  It goes both ways.  Why don’t you do your thing, and I’ll do mine?  (“Oh, but think of the CHILDREN!!!!!  They are our FUTURE!!!”  “Naff off.”)

Well, if you can’t beat ‘em, join 'em.  I am hereby creating a new superheroine.  The mummy who has decided to enjoy her time with her kids, who doesn’t care what other people think, who will not read a single parenting book, who will freely distribute plastic toys that possibly even make noises, whose primary goal for her children is that they are fed, watered, and happy, and who chooses her children's extra-curriculum activities based on what the child wants.  This amazing woman will be known as ....... LIBERTARIMUM!!!! (Now I want to change my blog name. Dammit!)

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Parental Naming Responsibility Act

I'm testing a theory here, so bear with me. I'm hypothesising that a strong indicator of both IQ and socio-economic status is one's first name. This name dictates whether a child will be a lawyer or a beneficiary, a farmer or a criminal. Parent's have a large degree of responsibility when naming their child at birth - it could mean the difference between riches or ruin.

Therefore, as a first step, I propose that the Ministry of Education starts determining its budget based on the names of children attending individual educational facilities.  The more Shaniahs and Shayennes, and names that are spelt incorrectly on purpose, such as Justyz and Dynazti, and children that are named after inanimate objects, such as Apple and Bluebell, and the less Marys and Sarahs, the more expensive the budget required to allow these children to change their name by deed poll and become model citizens.  It's not too late to change them while they are young!

A similar indicator could be used for mental health budgets, police, and drug enforcement agency budgets.

While I'm not usually one to call for regulations (the most you'll hear me call for is punishments that are meaningful against those who attack the freedom of others), I do seem to develop an eye twitch whenever I hear stupid, ridiculous names, and, in the interests of preserving New Zealand's future economic viability, I am increasingly prepared to eliminate people from the gene pool who inflict their children with such appalling names.

As I have become obsessed with this over the last two years (I believe this obsession took root after I finally worked out how to pronounce Macsyna - before the Kahui case, stupid names were just funny), I am tempted to list off all the stupid names I have come across.

Would that be wrong of me? I harp on about being disrespectful to fellow human begins but I can't help but judge when I hear stupid names. I'm going to post this unfinished (unsatisfying) blog as it is while I ponder this possible hypocrisy. Any insight is welcome.

Maori have better things to get whucked off about

I've so far desisted from commenting on Michael Laws's reaction to the letter from Otaki School's kura kaupapa unit over the insertion of the 'h' into Wanganui. Not because I don't have an opinion on it - of course I do - but because the children involved, and the adults behind them, have just annoyed me to the point where I've preferred to ignore them altogether (aside from deciding that there was no chance in hell that my kids were going to Otaki College when they reach high school age).

And, initially, I just thought Michael Laws had maybe over-reacted.

But, today I finally got the chance to read the letters written by the children (the translation, anyway, and I can only assume that the translation is accurate), and the irritation could no longer be subdued.  A sample of the letters read as follows:
"I am very angry with you all.  I know it is only a name, but to disallow the letter `h' being put back now is condescending to everyone and the Treaty of Waitangi."
I am very angry with you, and do not support your actions on not changing the name.  The translation of `whanga' means `harbour', and `nui' means `big'. Therefore the translation of Whanganui is `Big Harbour'. What is the explanation for `wanga'?
"I am a child from the Otaki school, whom is very angry with what you are saying. As you are the mayor of Whanganui you need to uphold the Treaty of Waitangi by ensuring the change is made to the name."
"I am angry with your ability to challenge this serious subject.  I also encourage the Whanganui District Council to put the letter back in the name, and not focus on the costings."
Notice a common thread here?   It's anger.  These children - aged 11 to 13 years old - are all apparently "angry".  Incensed, enraged, a sense of hate.  To me, the word "angry" is usually accompanied by a mental image of someone being violent, or at the very least, contemplating violent actions.

No matter how you look at it, "anger" is a hellishly strong emotion, and to feel such aggression towards something so insignificant suggests to me that they have some behavioural issues that need addressing before they leave school.

Not that any behavioural issues will be addressed if their teacher guiding them through this letter writing process also feels rage and thuggery over the letter 'h'.

The letters are aggressive, abusive, and offensive.  Just because they are children does not mean they are not capable of learning how to write in a respectful manner.  Believe me, it will get them further in life than getting "angry".  A letter can easily be polite and strong without plummeting to the depths that these letters plunged to.  There's no reason for Michael Laws to be subjected to this diatribe and if anyone should be apologising, it is the children and their teachers for being so bloody rude.

And I don't understand why there is such a fuss over Mr Laws's comment to the children that they focus on Maori child abuse and child murder rates. It's hard for me not to draw a connection between the apparent "anger" felt over something so inconsequential, like the exclusion of the letter 'h', and how they would react to matters demanding significantly more self-control that have a sorry cycle in Maori families - precisely like child abuse and child murder.  The reaction from the children and their teachers is that Laws was wrong to utter these words.  Why?  Have you never heard of these words?  I couldn't disagree more with the children and teachers.  Now is the age when these girls need to understand the damage caused by  Maori to their children through their disgusting rates of abuse and murder.

Children and your teachers of Otaki College: get your head out of the self-inflicted sympathy swamp, accept you crossed the line with your language, and apologise to Michael Laws for your abusive letters. Just because you are young does not excuse you from being so obnoxious.  And channel your rage into something more useful for everyone.  Get angry at your own people first for abusing and killing children with such disgusting regularity; a far more serious problem that will not be resolved over the spelling of some whucking town's name.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Gritty realism of New Zealand life?

"Mummy! Read it again!"

"Do I have to? Siiiigggghhhhh. OK, then."

The Rainbow Fish, by Marcus Pfister (A bath book)
"Rainbow Fish was the most beautiful fish in the sea. One day, a little blue fish asked for just one of his beautiful shining scales.  'Never!' said Rainbow Fish.
After that, the other fish swam away from him. Rainbow Fish was all alone.
He went to ask the octopus for help.  The octopus said, 'Give away your shining scales.  You won't be as beautiful, but you will be happy.' '
I can't do that!' cried the Rainbow Fish.
Suddenly the little blue fish was back.'Please,' he said.  'Could I have a scale?'  Well, thought Rainbow Fish, maybe just one tiny little scale.  The little blue fish was so pleased, it made Rainbow Fish feel happy.
So Rainbow Fish gave each of the fish a shining scale, until he had only one left.  But now he had friends, and as he swam off to play with them, he was the happiest fish in the sea.
Well. What to say after that? Where to start? I read this, and my brain nerve endings seem to taser themselves, lapsing my brain into a vegetative state. I stare dully at the bathroom floor.

I hate to think what it's doing to my children's brains.

"Read it again, mummy!" yell the boys, as the rot spreads to my brain stem.

The boys have had this book for about 4 years now. I did spend the first 2 years trying to paraphrase - it was a brilliant paraphrasing, involving taxmen, Helen Clark, welfare cycles and expectations of getting something for nothing, but then the boys started kindergarten, and the truth came out, through a teacher who had been interrogated on this "different version to my one at home.

I did also try my best to lose the book, but somehow it always seemed to return from the depths of the wheelie bin. I've never worked out how.

If I can shake my brain out of its stupor, I suppose I could see that this book is teaching my boys the reality of life in New Zealand. But as someone who is routinely told that I am raising New Zealand's future, it would be irresponsible of me to continue the cycle of "give me something for nothing".

I am horrified that this book is so popular among children and their teachers.  The popularity of The Rainbow Fish seems to supersede all efforts of mine to raise children who understand and respect personal property and who know how to put a value on this.  I feel a sense of quiet pride when I hear my boys barter their toys in an effort to have the last biscuit, for example:

"If you let me have that last biscuit, I'll let you play with my sandpit digger."
"I'll let you have the biscuit if you let me play with your sandpit digger AND your dump truck."
"Oh. I can't do that. I can only let you play with my digger. Half each, and you let me play with your hot wheels?"

They are demonstrating that the biscuit has some value to them, and they are prepared to spend something to get it, toys being a form of currency when you are aged  3 and 4 years old.  If I ever heard my boys say "I want that last biscuit that you've got.  Give it to me or I won't be your friend," there would be some harsh lessons from me.

And yet, I let everyone down every night by caving into their demands to "read it again."  And again.  And again.  I know the message is supposed to be something along the lines of "it's good to share, and people will be your friend if you share".  And that's fair enough - when there's a whole table of lego, it's good to see children working together on something to achieve a common goal, or even working alone but adapting their design if their particular piece is not available, and not upsetting the lego table if a piece is already in a construction

But I abhor the message that it's acceptable to ask - and the expectation is that you will get -  something of value to someone else.  I would feel differently if the other fish accepted Rainbow Fish's wish that he kept his beautiful scales, and they loved him anyway.  But, instead, there is a caveat - you give me your scales or I will shun you.  I'm told with some authority by Mr 4 that the message is just because someone has shiny scales, it does not make them a good fish; it makes them a greedy fish.

And so the socialist brainwashing begins.

This evening, I left the poor child pondering my response (sharp retort?) that wanting something for nothing is being greedy.  The scales belong to Rainbow Fish, so it is up to him to decide if he is happy to give a scale away, or if he wants to sell them.  But that is Rainbow Fish's decision to make and a real fish friend will respect that.  Just because Rainbow Fish may not want to give away a scale does not make him a bad fish.  If the other fish can't accept that, perhaps Rainbow Fish needs to find better fish friends who won't judge him on what he has and what they don't have.

The back of the bath book assures me that it is non-toxic.  I presume they mean the materials, rather than the content?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Today's Emotion for the Day is: Empathy

The hand wringing, the moaning and the whining over the proposed Kapiti Expressway (and that's just from the Council) is getting to me.  As are the statements from the Mayor, Jenny Rowan, that talk about what "the community wants".  As I have said in a previous post,, there are people in Kapiti who welcome the new proposals, and who particularly welcome the fact that the incompetent Kapiti Coast District Council is no longer running the show. articulates it well.

We've heard repeatedly that Mayor Jenny Rowan is feeling "shocked", "shafted", "shattered".  Welcome to a new emotion called  empathy, Ms Rowan.  You have made many of your ratepayers, who admittedly didn't vote for you (I know, I know, it's irrelevant), feel "shocked, shafted and shattered" for a very long time.  The difference, I guess, is that, unlike you, the ratepayers were facing personal financial strife with no discussion of compensation.  Perhaps now you will have an inkling of what it feels like to get an assurance from the Council that a road, designated since the 1950s, is definitely not going to go through your property, only to be told that the Mayor wants the designation changed because she doesn't want the road to go past her grandson's school (even though the school has known that the road was designated to go from its inception - well before the school bought land there).  Too bad if homeowners are affected.  "It's going past that school over my dead body", I believe was your statement?

You only have yourself to blame, Ms Rowan.  The Council, to give it perhaps a little bit of credit (gosh, it didn't kill me to say it.  I'm astounded), has repeatedly reinforced (granted, after extensive, unnecessary, repeated consultation) the decision that the road should stick to its original designation, and that it should be built sooner rather than later.  Nevertheless, you chose to delay while your grandson is still at that school.  Not a good reason to defer major roading projects.  And then you turned the WLR from an alternative road to the highway to a goat track.  No surprise, then, that NZTA stepped in.

You may well be feeling a bit low right now - another lesson for you: that's a politician's lot - but I suspect the reason you are feeling low is perhaps because you know full well that the reason this roading project has been taken off you is because you were incompetent.  You prevaricated and used it for political points scoring, rather than getting on and building it.  You ignored what was best for the district, for the country's capital city, and for the region as a whole.  You, and some of your tree-hugging councillors, seem to be completely oblivious to the reality of the roading situation into and out of Wellington.  The roads are sub-standard.  The roads do nothing for the region.  In fact, the roads do nothing for Kapiti - all the bottlenecks leading into Wellington occur at Otaki, Waikanae and at the Paraparaumu traffic lights.  From what I have witnessed of these traffic jams, the occupants of the cars do not suddenly have a revelation and decide to catch the train instead, and they do not decide to kill time by going shopping in Kapiti.  They choose to stay in their cars, close their windows to Kapiti, and wait out the horror.  I can't say I blame them.  You and your councillors have yet to convince anyone that Peak Oil is a reality, or that catching the (slow, dirty, unreliable, expensive) trains is a viable alternative.

Just to make matters worse, you then go off and sack Opus, the company providing advice to you on the Western Link Road, because of an apparent "conflict of interest".  Oh, really?  How convenient for you, Ms Rowan.  I suppose hiring a designer who is also employed by a developer with financial interest in the WLR is not a conflict of interest?  And wanting to change the designation of the road because of your grandson's school is not a conflict of interest?

Ms Rowan, if I can offer you advice for free, you have come to the point where all you can do now is save face by exercising your right to protest and not putting in a submission.  Do nothing - you and your Council have been so good at doing nothing since the road was first designated 60 years ago, so why change now?