Saturday, May 29, 2010

Sad but True

One has to wonder what the world is coming to when one's son-in-law asks to borrow your stereo - well, amplifier and speakers! So what can you do? Like I did: get it ready to be subjected to Metallica at full volume!

But all was not lost, as that left me with a roast to prepare for dinner that evening - lamb with garlic and rosemary:

OK, I confess, there were a few vegetables as well, but the lamb - ... just lovely!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Now I am (no longer) Six

Another one has come and gone.

A lovely dinner at Adam's Cafe in Lower Hutt on Sunday evening. A 'surprise' which wasn't entirely, but a lovely evening nonetheless.

A lovely bottle of port, some music, books, balloons, oh, and a dinosaur called Bert.

And then Charlotte sent me a list of things that happened on my birthday:


  • 1085 – Alfonso VI of Castile takes Toledo, Spain back from the Moors.
  • 1420 – Henry the Navigator is appointed governor of the Order of Christ.
  • 1521 – The Diet of Worms ends when Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, issues the Edict of Worms, declaring Martin Luther an outlaw.
  • 1659 – Richard Cromwell resigns as Lord Protector of England following the restoration of the Long Parliament, beginning a second brief period of the republican government called the Commonwealth of England.
  • 1738 – A treaty between Pennsylvania and Maryland ends the Conojocular War with settlement of a boundary dispute and exchange of prisoners.
  • 1787 – In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, delegates convene a Constitutional Convention to write a new Constitution for the United States; George Washington presides.
  • 1809 – Chuquisaca Revolution: a group of patriots in Chuquisaca (modern day Sucre) revolt against the Spanish Empire, starting the South American Wars of Independence.
  • 1810 – May Revolution: citizens of Buenos Aires expel Viceroy Baltasar Hidalgo de Cisneros during the May week, starting the Argentine War of Independence.
  • 1837 – The Patriots of Lower Canada (Quebec) rebel against the British for freedom.
  • 1878 – Gilbert and Sullivan's comic opera H.M.S. Pinafore opens at the Opera Comique in London.
  • 1895 – Playwright, poet, and novelist Oscar Wilde is convicted of "committing acts of gross indecency with other male persons" and sentenced to serve two years in prison.
  • 1895 – The Republic of Formosa is formed, with Tang Ching-sung as its president.
  • 1914 – The United Kingdom's House of Commons passes the Home Rule Act for devolution in Ireland.
  • 1925 – Scopes Trial: John T. Scopes is indicted for teaching Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.
  • 1935 – Jesse Owens of Ohio State University breaks five world records and ties a sixth at the Big Ten Conference Track and Field Championships in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
  • 1936 – The Remington Rand strike, led by the American Federation of Labor, begins.
  • 1938 – Spanish Civil War: The bombing of Alicante takes place, with 313 deaths.
  • 1940 – World War II: The Battle of Dunkirk begins.
  • 1953 – Nuclear testing: At the Nevada Test Site, the United States conduct their first and only nuclear artillery test.
  • 1953 – The first public television station in the United States officially begins broadcasting as KUHT from the campus of the University of Houston.
  • 1961 – Apollo program: U.S. President John F. Kennedy announces before a special joint session of the Congress his goal to initiate a project to put a "man on the Moon" before the end of the decade.
  • 1963 – In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the Organisation of African Unity is established.
  • 1979 – Six-year-old Etan Patz disappears from the street just two blocks away from his New York home, prompting an International search for the child, and causing President Ronald Reagan to designate May 25th as National Missing Children's Day (in 1983).
  • 1982 – HMS Coventry is sunk during the Falklands War.
  • 2000 – Liberation Day of Lebanon. Israel withdraws its army from most of the Lebanese territory after 22 years of its first invasion in 1978.
  • 2009 – North Korea allegedly tests its second nuclear device. Following the nuclear test, Pyongyang also conducted several missile tests building tensions in the international community.


  • 1048 – Emperor Shenzong of Song China (d. 1085)
  • 1334 – Emperor Sukō, Japanese Pretender (d. 1398)
  • 1458 – Mahmud Begada, Sultan of Gujarat (d. 1511)
  • 1606 – Charles Garnier, French Jesuit missionary (d. 1649)
  • 1713 – John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (d. 1792)
  • 1725 – Samuel Ward, American politician (d. 1776)
  • 1803 – Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, English novelist and playwright (d. 1873)
  • 1803 – Ralph Waldo Emerson, American essayist and philosopher (d. 1882)
  • 1865 – John Mott, American YMCA leader, Nobel Peace Prize laureate (d. 1955)
  • 1878 – Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, American tap dancer and actor (d. 1949)
  • 1879 – Lord Beaverbrook, Canadian-born British publisher (d. 1964)
  • 1886 – Philip Murray, Scottish-born American labor leader (d. 1952)
  • 1886 – Rash Behari Bose, Indian revolutionary leader against the British Raj (d. 1945)
  • 1889 – Igor Sikorsky, Russian-American inventor and aviation pioneer (d. 1972)
  • 1892 – Josip Broz Tito, Yugoslav resistance leader and later Prime Minister and President (d. 1980)
  • 1908 – Theodore Roethke, American poet (d. 1963)
  • 1913 – Richard Dimbleby, British journalist and broadcaster (d. 1965)
  • 1921 – Hal David, American lyricist and songwriter
  • 1927 – Robert Ludlum, American writer (d. 2001)
  • 1936 – Tom T. Hall, American singer and songwriter
  • 1938 – Raymond Carver, American writer (d. 1988)
  • 1939 – Ian McKellen, English actor
  • 1944 – Frank Oz, English-born puppeteer and director
  • 1956 – Sugar Minott, Jamaican reggae singer
  • 1958 – Paul Weller, British musician (The Jam, The Style Council)
  • 1959 – Julian Clary, British television personality
  • 1963 – Mike Myers, Canadian actor and comedian
  • 1969 – Anne Heche, American actress
  • 1976 – Cillian Murphy, Irish actor
  • 1979 – Jonny Wilkinson, English rugby player
  • 1986 – Geraint Thomas, Welsh cyclist


  • 615 – Pope Boniface IV (b. c. 550)
  • 709 – Aldhelm, English Christian saint, Latin poet and Anglo-Saxon literature scholar (b. c. 639)
  • 735 – The Venerable Bede, English historian and monk (b. 672 or 673)
  • 967 – Murakami, Emperor of Japan (b. 926)
  • 992 – Mieszko I first lord and knight of Poland, duke of Polans (b. c. 935)
  • 1085 – Pope Gregory VII (b. c. 1020)
  • 1261 – Pope Alexander IV
  • 1452 – John Stafford, Archbishop of Canterbury
  • 1555 – King Henry II of Navarre (b. 1503)
  • 1681 – Pedro Calderón de la Barca, Spanish playwright (b. 1600)
  • 1789 – Anders Dahl, Swedish botanist (b. 1751)
  • 1805 – William Paley, English philosopher (b. 1743)
  • 1849 – Benjamin d'Urban, British general and colonial administrator (b. 1777)
  • 1934 – Gustav Holst, English composer (b. 1874)
  • 1954 – Robert Capa, Hungarian-born photojournalist (b. 1913)
  • 1977 – Yevgenia Ginzburg, Russian writer (b. 1904)
  • 1983 – Idris I, King of Libya (b. 1889)
  • 2006 – Desmond Dekker, Jamaican ska musician (b. 1941)

But, after all, AA Milne taught me all I know about growing up:

Friday, May 21, 2010

Those Tories are clever folks!

The issue is this: many critics say that personal tax rates are too high, encouraging tax avoidance.

It works like this: high-income earners are taxed at 38 cents in the dollar on earnings over $70,000 a year. However, by manipulating how thay are paid, and directing their actual earnings into either companies they own or trusts they control and then receiving from the trust or company an income significantly less than $70,000, a good part of their income is taxed at the rate for companies or trusts.

And that is only 33 per cent for a trust and just 30 per cent for a company.
Clearly John Keys' tory government is upset by this. That is by the accusations of tax avoidance, with it's connotations of cheating.

So their solution is change the top personal tax rate! In other words lower how much the high-income earners have to pay in tax by making the top rate the same as that for trusts. This removes the incentive to avoid paying the top rate by sheltering in trusts.

Which means that Key and his cronies can now put their hands on the hearts and say, without lying, that top income earners are NOT cheats because they are now paying the top rate.

Of course, it won't take those high-earners long to realise that the government has also reduced the company tax to 28 cents, which is some way below the top personal rate of 33 cents ....

Bye-bye trusts, hello companies. Lawyers and accountants will love it!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

We can't pass the buck any longer

Many Kiwis used to pride themselves on the belief ('fact' in the eyes of many!) that NZ was 'a great place to bring up kids'. Indeed, for many OE was what they did before coming back to New Zealand to 'settle down', buy a house and have kids. Get the overseas travel out of our system, sow a few wild oats, then 'grow up' by facing the realities of adult life with mortgages, property ownership, and offspring.

And in many ways, it was such a place. High levels of home ownership, income distribution with a low ceiling and a high floor, excellent free health care and education for all; a temperate climate, providing food in quantities and with a freshness and at a price the envy of many parts of the world; a tolerant, open society (albeit one somewhat closed-minded at times); an abundance of open space, access to the outdoors both within urban areas, and in the widerness. And of course, there were the all-conquering All Blacks - the (peace-time) sporting manifestation of our war-time exploits and reputation for bravery, courage, and sacrifice for the greater good.

So what's happened? Where have the good times gone?

Because gone they are.

Consider these:

  • Gang member assaults child over red shirt - the child was 4 years old, playing in a park when a man approached the child, poked him in the chest and shouted at him to remove the shirt!
  • Auckland teen dies in his sleep after party - James Webster told his father he was going to a friend's house to study, but instead went to a birthday party with a bottle of vodka he may have taken from the house where he was staying. The party organisers would not let him in with the alcohol so he sat in his car and drank the vodka straight from the bottle, possibly with friends.
  • Teacher stabbed in Te Puke classroom - a Te Puke High School 53-year-old male teacher was stabbed in the neck and shoulder by a 13-year-old boy who has been taken into custody.

That's a sorry litany, especially when it is considered that these incidents all occurred in the last 2 weeks!

Do these stories suggest New Zealand is still a 'great place to bring up kids"? I don't think so.

Which then prompts the question: How have we become such poor parents? What has happened to our parenting skills? Because the kids, whether poorly or well behaved, are the product of their upbringing.

We've had shocking, horrific stories of child abuse and neglect before (remember the Kahui twins, Chris and Cru? Or even, further back, Minnie Deans?

And still these cases occur. It seems that New Zealand parents have created children who are no longer imbued with a belief that children are to be cherished and nurtured, protected and taught, looked after and developed, loved and cared for. So when these children become parents themselves, ...

I'm left wondering: What have we done? Or not done?