Saturday, June 13, 2009

All Black conjecture over-confident

Regular readers of this blog will know I love to calculate chances.

Listening to SportsTalk on Radio Live this morning, walking the dog along the beach, I was underwhelmed by the cockiness of the commentators regarding the chances of the All Blacks winning against France in Dunedin tonight. The only debate was over how much they would win by. The French would roll over and die after 10 minutes, apparently. One individual had placed $200,000 on the All Blacks with the TAB bookies.

The bookies will be slumping over their desks in relief.

The payout to me for guessing Ma'a Nonu would score the last try but France would win was a mere $66.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Are Kiwis as unhealthy as Americans?

Americans are becoming less healthy.

The study compared results from the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey conducted from 2001 to 2006 with results from the same survey conducted from 1988 to 1994. The study focused on the more than 7,000 participants ages 40 to 74 who participated in the two surveys because they are at the greatest risk for heart disease.

* The percentage of U.S. residents who eat five fruits and vegetables a day has decreased from 45 percent to 26 percent.
* Those who drink alcohol moderately -- one drink daily for women or two for men -- increased from 40 percent to 51 percent, while the number who do not imbibe at all declined from 51 percent to 40 percent.
* The rate of smoking fell only slightly, from 27 percent to 26 percent.
* The rate of obesity rose from 28 percent to 36 percent.
* The percentage of U.S. residents who said they exercise at least 30 minutes three times a week declined from slightly more than 50 percent to 43 percent.

The first seems incredibly low. The NZ 2006/07 health survey showed that in the 45-54 age group 62% of men and 73% of women ate three or more servings of vegetables per day and respectively 50% and 71% ate two or more servings of fruit. The figures tend to increase with age.

The second, in respect of teetotallers, is high compared to NZ where only 16 percent of adults hadn't drank alcohol in the past year. It would appear we do not measure moderate drinking - only hazardous, which says something.

On the third indicator, it looks like we are about on par for smoking both in rates of (1 in 4 adults) and trend - slow decline.

Obesity in NZ adults peaks at 36 percent in the age group 55-64 so taken over a comparable age group the NZ rate is lower but not by much.

Finally the NZ criteria for adequate exercise is 30 minutes 5 times a week rather than 3 times. Around 50 percent achieve this in NZ so we are doing better than Americans who only achieve 43 percent at a lower threshold.

On the whole it would appear Kiwis are healthier than Americans but similarly are getting fatter, exercising less, drinking more, but smoking less.

Personally I do not eat enough fruit (although I shovel it down the kid's throats), drink too much wine (which I do not shovel down the kid's throats), don't smoke, get more than the required amount of exercise and am not obese.

The US, by the way, is the only country I have ever visited where anti-acid tablets are sold in restaurants.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

"Family functioning"

That's a misnomer.

The following was written ten years ago as part of the Briefing to the Incoming Minister for Social Development.

What's changed?

The last sentence is an unusual reference to problems that have resulted from the de-institutionalisation of mentally ill or disabled people. I have grave misgivings about that development. People may not want to be supervised and stigmatised but they do need and want care and support. (Idealistic) integration into the community in practice more closely resembles isolation in the community.

The volunteer organisation I work with was formed to pass on practical domestic and budgeting skills but increasingly the families needing help have mental health problems and others as outlined above. Those are primarily in need of attention before the day to day living skills can be successfully conveyed.

It can be overwhelming.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

So-called newspapers

Some mornings I have time to flick through the Dompost - others I don't and just go straight to the internet where I can get most of what I want anyway. The first Section of the Paper (A) is apparently devoted to New Zealand news. But it struck me quite forcibly this morning that it was more like a junk mail delivery. So I measured (unscientifically) how much advertising appeared in the 14 pages.

8.2 pages were advertisements.

Which would indicate a number of things.

1/ The newspaper has to increasingly get its revenue through advertising as circulation declines.

2/ There are less news staff generating content.

3/ We may be in a recession but there is still plenty of money for advertising. Some would view advertising as an even greater necessity.

4/ The paper is doing special deals on advertising.

5/ NEWSpapers are turning into what used to be advertising supplements which people like me could avoid.

What this brings me to is value for money. Do I need the DomPost? I like the letters-to-the-editor section and occasionally do a crossword. If I was a public transport commuter I would probably buy a copy but resent carrying around pages of advertising. As it is I am gradually turning my back on it in favour of the net.

Is there anybody out there that reads and enjoys the advertising? Would the 'newspaper' have more value if indeed it was exactly that?

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Not another compulsion, please

Booster seats until the age of 12?

I still use one. It's called a cushion.

When I was flying, the club had an L-shaped booster seat which shorter trainees and pilots frequently used. The panel of a Cessna 172 is very high.

Sure kids could benefit from staying in booster seats for longer. But please, not another compulsion. A little bit of persuasion of parents, who can in turn persuade their short children of the merits (they do like being comfortably able to see out of the window, especially on long trips) would go a long way.

Just make a plain, very comfortable, foam rubber booster seat a common optional extra in a vehicle and it won't be long before the kids are fighting over it.

Nosey shopper

This came my way yesterday. I particularly enjoyed it because although not the action of the person who sent it to me, it could well have been;

Yesterday I was at my local PAK N SAVE buying a large bag of Purina dog chow for my loyal pet, Biscuit, the Wonder Dog and was in the checkout line when a woman behind me asked if I had a dog. What did she think I had, an elephant? So since I'm retired and have little to do, on impulse I told her that no, I didn't have a dog, I was starting the Purina Diet again. I added that I probably shouldn't, because I ended up in the hospital last time, but that I'd lost 50 pounds before I awakened in an intensive care ward with tubes coming out of most of my orifices and IVs in both arms.

I told her that it was essentially a perfect diet and that the way that it works is to load your pants pockets with Purina nuggets and simply eat one or two every time you feel hungry. The food is nutritionally complete so it works well and I was going to try it again. (I have to mention here that practically everyone in line was now enthralled with my story.) Horrified, she asked if I ended up in intensive care because the dog food poisoned me. I told her no, I stepped off a curb to sniff an Irish Setter's ass and a car hit us both.

I thought the guy behind her was going to have a heart attack he was laughing so hard... PAK N SAVE won't let me shop there anymore.

Better watch what you ask retired people. They have all the time in the world to think of crazy things to say.

Monday, June 08, 2009

The debate that won't die

Dear Editor

Linley Boniface (DomPost, June 8) says there have been no downsides to the repeal of Section 59. In fact, care and protection notifications to CYF have soared. Substantiations have not. Presumably this means social workers are further overloaded and potentially unable to deal effectively with genuine cases.

The new law fosters a atmosphere of confusion, distrust and suspicion. Smacking is 'sort of' illegal. The public's respect for law is further diminished.

People have also become more mistrustful and cynical about the political process because the "huge" parliamentary majority that Ms Boniface refers to as having passed the law, did not reflect public opinion.

Meantime, as she points out, the very real, life-threatening abuse continues unabated.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Depressed Christchurch - don't blame the recession

New Zealand went into recession early 2008. Headline;

Recession depression on the rise


Canterbury is the most depressed region in the country, with 191,000 people prescribed medication for depression in 2007, the latest year for which a breakdown by district health board is available.

We weren't in recession in 2007. Canterbury has been the most depressed region for some time. I have blogged before about the disproportionate numbers of people on sickness and invalid benefits with the primary incapacity of depression. There is also a lot of substance abuse going on in Christchurch.

When I went back to locate my earlier posts I came across this comment;

I'm 20 years old and suffer from depression. If it wasn't for the sickness benefit I would probably be dead now.

I just got back from a holiday in Darwin which I really enjoyed. As soon as I got back to Christchurch I felt like crap, I hate this place.

So does Christchurch make people depressed or is it just coincidental that a lot of depressed people congregate there? Or is the medical fraternity too quick to write prescriptions and sign people off for benefits?

There are some serious questions to be asked about this region. A once-over-lightly, talk-to-a-few-local-celebs and list what's cool in Canterbury fluff piece is silly.