Friday, August 26, 2016

Flicker of light in DomPost

I don't know who John Denton is but thanks for the flicker of light in this morning's DomPost which has become a bereft bastion of the economically deluded of late.
Oh, perhaps I exaggerate a little....

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Justin du Fresne

I have missed Justin du Fresne from the time he retired from the morning NewstalkZB talkshow. In fact, I've never found another talkback home. When you work alone you need company and Justin was the best. His wit and his warmth  made the perfect blend.  His broadcasting professionalism and interviewing prowess are becoming rare commodities. My deepest commiserations to his family.

On his last show of 2008 Justin read the full Desiderata poem to some very beautiful and ethereal music. Barely anyone could have gotten away with it. Or pulled it off. But he did.

Thank you Justin for so much zest, curiosity, acumen and humour.


Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann

Catholic response contradicts

On behalf of NZ Catholic Bishops, the writer says all opinions are equal ... and then says they aren't.


All views on assisted suicide matter

Wednesday, 24 August 2016, 4:56 pm
Press Release: NZ Catholic Bishops
“All views on assisted suicide matter” says Catholic Bioethics Centre spokesperson.

Director of The Nathaniel Bioethics Centre, Dr John Kleinsman, is surprised and appalled at the disingenuous tactics being employed by assisted suicide supporters. Both Matt Vickers and Act MP David Seymour have in recent days described the unprecedented number of submissions to the Health Select Committee and the overwhelming 78% opposition to a law change as nothing more than the result of formulaic submissions collected in bulk by mostly religious institutions or as religious bullying from the pulpit by pastors.

“Their insinuations are two-fold: (i) that the only possible basis for opposition is a religious one and (ii) that the views of people with a faith perspective don’t count or count less,” says Dr Kleinsman.

“The first is totally inaccurate – just read the many evidence-based submissions by professional groups and others – and the second is nothing more than an example of bigotry – a smoke screen, a distraction based on an elitist view of what counts as legitimate political discourse.”

“It is actually impossible to know the precise numbers of submitters whose views on assisted suicide may be influenced by their faith. One analysis of the submissions shows that approximately 17% of opponents and 4% of supporters of a law change drew on religious concepts,” said Kleinsman.

“The Health Select Committee Process is an important part of the way we exercise democracy in New Zealand and all citizens have a right to express their views in their style and in their own language. Some people will express that view in a sentence, others in a few pages. Since when did a person’s view depend on their level of education or ability to be articulate? To think otherwise is to imply that some New Zealander’s views count more than others. I believe most New Zealanders, whatever their personal position on this issue, will see such claims for what they are – as an assault on our principles of inclusion and fairness.”

The idea that some people’s views count more than others is a very small step away from the very dangerous view that some lives matter more than others – something that disabled people encounter all the time. This debate needs to focus on the evidence.”

“I urge the Committee to pay attention to the Palliative Care Physician who, as part of her oral evidence pointed out ‘that people often change their mind, they don’t know all of their choices and that the evidence shows that people who engage in palliative care early not only live better, they live longer.’”

“These are doctors who deal with deaths from all kinds of illnesses every single day – if anyone is in a position to say that assisted suicide is unnecessary or dangerous it’s them.”

“The key question is whether a law allowing assisted suicide can adequately protect those who are vulnerable to coercion because of illness or disability. Let’s have a respectful debate about that.”

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Marriage American-style

From Brookings:

"Educated Americans have not turned their backs on marriage; the well-documented “marriage gap” is mostly due to a decline in marriage rates among the less educated. As a general rule, the more letters American women have after their names—and therefore the greater their economic independence—the more likely they are to be married."

That bottom line is interesting. Seems arrested, as is the top line.

As often happens with Brookings, I can't agree with all of the commentary. For instance:

In the past, highly-educated women faced an unenviable choice between accepting a patriarchal marriage or forgoing marriage and children entirely. Now they are able to raise their children within a stable marriage without compromising their independence.

In the past there were very few "highly educated" women. There were smart women but not many went to university and I reject that its known what was going on inside other people's marriages anyway. I wasn't raised in a 'patriarchal' family' and neither was my husband.

Men compromised their independence too. The role of sole breadwinner in most marriages tied them to jobs and careers they may not have wanted. That always seems overlooked in the feminist dialogue.

Monday, August 22, 2016


The Guardian:

"For 14 days and 14 nights Elijah Saitu, 15, has lived in a damp motel room, bordered by KFC to the left and a Denny’s 24-hour takeaway to the right.

He spends his days watching music videos on television and eating white bread, tinned sardines, fizzy drinks and packets of chips.

“He’s suffocating,” says Elijah’s mother, Emily Fiame Saitu, who has been begging the government to help her family.

“It’s cut-throat in New Zealand. If you’re struggling you get left behind.”

The Saitu family are a tragic portrait of New Zealand’s most shameful national secret: an epidemic of child poverty that belies the image of a Pacific haven offering equality of opportunity and a prosperous, clean, healthy life of plenty for all."


"We are concerned that recent media coverage on the Saitu family misrepresents their situation, and disregards vital details on work the Ministry of Social Development and Housing New Zealand have done to find a solution for this family.

Last Thursday they were offered a property within their preferred area, close to their support network, with necessary modifications including wheelchair access. They have accepted this offer, and Housing New Zealand will continue to work with them to arrange a move-in date.

Family circumstances and the medical conditions of the children meant the family had very specific housing requirements. These requirements, along with the need to find a house in South Auckland, an area of high housing demand, meant a suitable property was not immediately available.

The Saitu family first approached us for emergency accommodation help in late May of this year. They had been living with family following their return to New Zealand from Australia in April.

We granted over $8000 for one-month’s motel accommodation, and they were placed on the social housing register on 28 June as a high priority.

Since then we have been in close contact with the family’s agent - to discuss both social and private housing options, what support is available to move, and ensuring they continue to receive their full and correct benefit entitlement.

It is disappointing that their case has been presented as an example of a family falling through the cracks – they’ve received significant assistance from government agencies, the community, and their agent, who has indicated they have been happy with the support offered. We’ve worked closely with housing providers to get a solution, and find a house."

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Life expectancy by ethnicity - all are rising

JC just reminded me I had a couple more teed up to go.

Life expectancy isn't discriminating. It is rising across every ethnicity. The gain that Maori males and females have made is a real eye-catcher - all against a backdrop of colonisation, poverty and unemployment. Oh, have I got that right?

Figure H1.2 – Life expectancy at birth, by ethnic group and sex, 1950–1952 to 2012–2014