Thursday, October 29, 2009

Tuesday, August 04, 2009


Part II.

I don't blog here anymore. I pretty much only comment at a handful of blogs like PublicAddress, thehandmirror, inastrangeland, thestandard, kiwiblog... all the links are on the side.

I'll workout what to do with this at some point...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Criticising your own... or not

Shane Webcke's written a book about his career in League. I know little about him other than he was a forward, a hard-bastard in fact, and that he played for Brisbane and the Kangaroos. There's news coverage this morning that suggests his book was going to include critical comments about fellow players regarding an allegation of sexual assault made against them a few years back. Now, it appears the books been pulped. A few quotes have however, been mysteriously made available... go figure.
I want to put on the record my strong belief that, whether or not any criminal charges were to be pressed over the Alhambra incident, the three players involved should not have been allowed to play in that match against the Storm," Webcke wrote. "I believe that the majority of ordinary decent people who make up our community would have supported such a stance and would have admired the Broncos for taking it.

The fact we have three players in a public toilet with a woman, and drunken players kicked out of hotels, should have been enough for us to say: 'you're not going to play.'
Yeah, well, what to say?

The news of the pulping of the book may be a stunt? Who knows? I hope Webcke doesn't recant his criticism, it's justified (and mild). The attitudes of some sportsmen towards women are appalling as evidenced by the regular and predictable stories of sexual assault that coincide with seasons' start and finish. This season's no different as I've previously noted.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Congratulations England

A run-chase that almost faltered - a confident start followed by the wobbles, but still England won the game.

The Ferns were resolute however, they turned a very getable score into an almost defendable one, losing only in the 48th over. I might blog some more about it but here's a couple of shots from the game.

On the left, the late NZ rally, Doolan plays through midwicket. She went on to score 48, the full scoreboard is here. On the right, Doolan again, this time bowling - she took three wickets.

Well done the Ferns and thanks!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Jane McGrath inspires Aussies

The Jane McGrath foundation will benefit from donations made at today's ICC Women's World Cup game between England and Australia just as it did during the last test between the Australian men and the South Africans at the SCG. It's great to see Cricket Australia so thoroughly get behind the Foundation which provides funding for breast care nurses on a national basis and promotes public awareness of breast cancer, particularly amongst younger women.

The game between England and Australia was to be the final, if you read the press before the competition, but that's next to impossible now. Still, I'm not at all surprised to see the Australian's on top - they've restricted England to just 161. The Southern Stars will feel they've not played to their potential and will want to knock over England - one finalist - to prove they've not dropped out of the top tier. If anything, this tournament's proved that the top four are considerably stronger than the bottom.

Elsewhere, New Zealand's White Ferns have changed their team from the win over India but not rested too many of their top guns. They've just posted the highest score of the competition to date, 373 for seven with both captain Tiffen and Suzie Bates scoring centuries, Bates scoring 168! Assuming they skittle Pakistan quickly, they'll probably head quickly over to North Sydney oval to watch the Australian innings.

I've heard the experts say winning a tournament's different from test series and momentum is everything. Whatever happens between England and Australia, but I'm barracking for our Australasian cousins, the Fern's clearly have momentum.

Update: Australia have beaten England by eight wickets, that'll not help their preparation for the final which will be against New Zealand who've comprehensively beaten Pakistan.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Free cricket tickets... honest

It's an offer simply too good to pass-up, free tickets to the Women's World Cup final, North Sydney Oval, this Sunday from 10am.

I 'spose you could do your washing, car's a mess too and God knows when you last visited the rellos (trans: relatives) but bugger that, go to the cricket, cheer the White Ferns, the kids will get a balloon animal and have their face painted while you grab a sanger-sandwhich and a beer...

Courtesy of the clever and charming tournament Director, Miss Eugenie Buckley, I've got some tickets to give away. Contact me on to make arrangements (basically, you'll need to pick them up from the city Friday afternoon).

Here we go, here we go, here go...

It was a glorious afternoon in North Sydney yesterday. The autumnal cool air and warm afternoon sun made for perfect conditions.

North Sydney oval has old-world charm. The stadia are vintage, recovered from various developments at the SCG apparently. They're shallow and tightly surround the pitch. A large embankment on the east side of the ground is the perfect spot to sit if you've got a hat and sunscreen (though you can't easily see the replay screen). The ground was completely open when I arrived, late in New Zealand's innings, meaning anyone could have stopped by for free (sadly however, the bar had closed).

I caught the last ten overs. Just before I arrived I heard applause as Mason hit a four and a six. She struck another boundary but was then caught at mid-wicket. By then however, it didn't matter. New Zealand had momentum and wickets in hand. Bates joined Browne and both continued to play aggressively, Bates batting well out of the crease - even Gouher Sultana's near full-tosses didn't deter her though she did cop a couple in the ribs. The Ferns had luck too, benefiting from a couple of misfields and four leg-byes in the last few overs (but the Indians had bowled tightly throughout, conceding only eight extras compared with the Ferns 25).

A small group of supporters, many who looked like parents of team members, were in the stands. We joined them for the last two overs and then applauded the team as they joined the pair that'd hit the winning runs. Danny Morrison did the presentations to polite heckling - c'mon Danny, walk-in with the bowler mate - and Pulford was player of the match having taken a pair then knocked 71.

Tiffen's pre-match prediction that her pace bowlers would do well was spot on. Devine, Pulford, and Browne took five, spinner Mason just one - remarkably the rest were all run-outs.

It's possible the Ferns won't make the final though they should. On form, Pakistan won't trouble them on Thursday which means Sunday's final will be New Zealand against England. Interestingly England last won the cup at home in 1993 and New Zealand at home in 2000. New Zealand ought to be adopted by the hosts and the expats should be there en masse... New Zealand cricket fans will need distraction from the domestic series!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Ferns off to a flyer

India won the toss and elected to bat, they've lost two wickets for just 37 runs after 12 overs bringing the danger pair of Chopra and Raj together!

Update: Browne makes the critical break through, getting Raj out caught behind for just 21 - her average before this game was 89. India now 68 for three and falling just below three runs an over after 23 overs.

Update 2: Pulford knocks over Rumeli Dhar cheaply. India now 87 for four.

Update 3: Captain Tiffen runs out Indian captain Goswami. India 108 for five... Chopra still in on 49.

End of Indian innings: The Indians have posted 207 just falling short of batting out their overs. Chopra held the innings together batting through to the 38th over and scoring 52. The Indian score was bumped-up by Reema Malhotra who scored faster than a run a ball and was not out at the end on 59.

Live blogging will cease now as (a) no one's reading and (b) I'm going to skive off to the game. Horrah!

Chicks sport, who cares?

What is it with the lack of coverage of women's sport in Australia? I recall being particularly peeved when the 2006 trans-Tasman netball was not live on television even though the rights were with the national free-to-air broadcaster.

Coverage of the ICC Women's World Cup is good by comparison, it's live and although it's not free-to-air, all North Sydney oval games are on Foxtel. Tick for television. Tick too, for ABC radio which has had live commentary of all Australian games. The print press though, they've hardly paid any attention to the tourament. Perhaps it's because Australia has struggled and will likely not now make the final? The online presence, beyond the excellent tournament homepage, is also limited. NZ Cricket's tournament site is good with interviews, match reports and the like as is the cricinfo mini-site.

Miss Field is likewise underwhelmed by the lack of coverage. And, courtesey of the handmirror, so too are NZ bloggers ludditejourno and Anne-Marie.

Women's sport suffers badly from a lack of media attention which translates into poor attendance, in most codes, and probably affects participation(?). In Australia, swimming has been the exception although the new trans-Tasman netball competition is also live and free-to-air (plus, it seems, subscriber access to high definition). In New Zealand, my memory is that only netball gets consistent coverage.

I'd speculate as to why this is, but it's obvious really.

Monday, March 16, 2009

White Ferns must win match against India

The White Ferns face India at North Sydney oval today, Tuesday 17 March, and must win to have a chance of making the final. Assuming the remaining super six games go on form, England will be in the finals and will face one of India, Australia or New Zealand.

India have momentum in their favour having won a tight contest against Australia but little separates them from the White Ferns. Both have beaten Australia - NZ by 13 runs and India by 16 - and both have lost to England - NZ by 31 runs but India by a whopping 9 wickets!

The White Fern's captain seems to think her team is better suited to North Sydney oval where the pitch favours pace bowlers. In her blog on cricinfo, Haidee Tiffen identifies fast bowlers Nicola Browne and Sophie Devine as key to their chances as well as making clear her own responsibilities to bat through the innings.
...secondly a top-order batsman, like Anjum Chopra against Australia, has stayed on till 40 overs to steer the batting. We have that sort of batsmen, who can stay long and score at a quick rate and when we get it right we are a very strong batting team.
For New Zealand to win, they'll have to bowl well and minimise the extras (the conceded 19 extras against England and 15 against Australia). The key is dismissing Mithali Raj and Anjum Chopra cheaply. Watch for NZ's Aimee Mason to play an important role too. Mason's taken eight wickets through the tournament, including four against South Africa, at a strike rate of 19.

C'mon Sydney-based Kiwi's, if you can, North Sydney oval's a ten minute train ride from the city (you can get trains from Central, Town Hall and Wynyard)! Surely a long lunch or an early finish is the least your team deserves!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Assume cultural stereotypes, first position!

I should hardly be surprised by news that despite topping their pool, something they were not predicted to do, the White Ferns will not play at North Sydney oval on Saturday as scheduled as I'd hoped. This is Because cameras are only at North Sydney oval and that's where Australia were playing there regardless of where they ended up in the first round (having come second).

The White Ferns are now playing out at Bankstown - I'm sure a perfectly nice oval.

An Australian colleague passed this news on to me, having correctly read the schedule and enjoying correcting my error. He goaded me to protest - of course I did.

"Typical bloody Kiwi, always having a moan", he said.

"Typical bloody Australia, rorting and cheating the competition", I replied.

Update: I was wrong about the schedule...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Bound to be astro-turfing...

But fun, much more so than the 'naf mystery jacket owner Naked lied about created to flog cheap gear.

I'm curious. Bets? Craiglist makes sense, some other networking/dating site perhaps?

Update: it is not astro-turfing or some corporate strategy, I regret my earlier cynicism (I'm not usually cynical ), it is however, plagiarism. Melburnian Craig is reprimanded here for ripping off the idea from a New Yorker who's ever so slightly pissy...

White Ferns off to tricky start

After eleven overs, NZ are two for 40. Tiffen still at wicket however.

Update: Great recovery, NZ now three for 99. Tiffen took a back seat to Satterthwaite who's gone on to post her highest score, currently 69 (previous high score 67) and is scoring at close to a run a ball.

Update 2: Now five down for 132 (32 over). Satterthwaite out for 73 from 76. Vice Captain Mason went cheaply but Sara McGlashan and Nicola Browne continuing to score at around four an over.

Final: NZ posted a good score, 250, and then knocked over the South Africans for the paltry score of 51. Five of the South Africans were out without scoring and only one made double figures. Bates and Mason took four-for, Mason in four overs and conceding only two runs.

England similarly flogged Pakistan. This means the White Ferns play England on Saturday 14th at North Sydney Oval.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Windies defeated, next stop Bowral

The White Ferns beat the Windies out west in Bankstown - no match report from me, I was busy with public service.

Next up are the South Africans who lost today to the Australians (Aussies posted a good score and the South Africans couldn't complete their overs). It looks like NZ fielded their top team against the Australians and gave some a rest today. I'll not make this weekend's game as it's in Bowral (an hour+ south of Sydney).

Assuming the White Ferns win their remaining games, they'll top their side of the draw which will likely see them play England, ranked second in this competition, in the first game of the Super Six. That game will be played Saturday 14th at the wonderful North Sydney Oval.

If there's someone with connections to Kea, please let them know to ask them to repeat their encouraging of the kiwi-expat community!

Monday, March 09, 2009

ICC Women's Cricket World Cup

NZ's off to a great start in the ICC Women's World Cup beating the Aussies at home in a close game that, sadly, was decided by Meers Duckworth and Lewis. NZ would've won had the game gone on, honest, and despite the weather it was an cracker game. A prelude to the final perhaps?

NZ won even after a mid-order collapse. Great batting by NZ captain Haidee Tiffen (see above playing strongly in front of square) and attacking bowling by Kate Pulford got the Kiwis home. Pulford took three, including a great LBW to dismiss Nitschke (who'd just belted her for six), and 'keeper Priest took a couple of important catches including a screamer in front of first slip to dismiss Sthalekar (off Pulford's bowling). The Aussies conceded too many extras (21) and, let's be fair, had to play in the tougher conditions.

North Sydney Oval is bloody marvellous. The ground is small and purpose-built. A cluster of well maintained traditional stands, a temporary replay screen and a wide grassed hill are ideal for watching and for families - my youngest played with Stuey McGill's kids before discovering the balloon animals and face-painting (congrats to the organisers for catering to the kids, it's simple stuff and enables the parents to relax and stay longer). Even though this is a serious competition, any trans-Tasman event is, the presence of so many kids really adds to the atmosphere - at the risk of being nostalgic, the game on the weekend reminded me what sports used to be like before professionalism totally took over.

Games are also being played at Drummoyne Oval, Bankstown, Newcastle and the Don's home of Bowral. Public transport to all the grounds is very good - Bowral excepted perhaps. I've not been to the Drummoyne Oval but I'm told it's equally family friendly.

Having won their opening game, NZ are now in a great position heading into the Super Six stage of the competition. Get along and watch! Tickets are available online with NZ versus the Republic of South Africa, Bankstown, Saturday 14th, available for the princely sum of $20 for a family!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Credit when it's due

Lindsay Mitchell and I will likely not see eye to eye on many things but I understand that she's a conviction politican and so I understand her dismay at reading an ACT MP suggest the Bill of Rights be amended to accommodate his pet project; discredited, knee-jerk law-n-order crappola.

The three-strikes law's (and its variations) been around an age. As I've commented before, it's clap-trap disguised as giving voice to victims. I don't know Lindsay's views on this element of ACT policy but I do know that she's not afraid to call bullshit even on her own party - even if they turn on her for doing so.

New season starts with rape allegation

If you woke up and wondered what time of year it was, this story would tell you it must be the start of the League season. Tragic. Just tragic! This must be the third or fourth year in a row that the start of the NRL has resulted in allegations of sexual assault.

Vale Matt Laffan

I heard last night that Matt Laffan had died. I'd first became aware of him only when he stood as an independent for Lord Mayor of Sydney. I then seemed to see him everywhere, on TV in the streets and around the courts. He was a remarkable character, an inspirational figure who appears to have never once let serious disabilities deter him from his goals. His passing is sad, but his life was magnificent. There's a lesson in that.

Update: At a conference today, in a session on social inclusion, Matt's name came up and it was clear he'd been known widely. A number of remarkable leaders in the field spoke about how people with disabilities can engage meaningfully in work with far less "fuss" than might be thought. Numerous messages resonated for me but none more so than the consensus that it is attitudes to people with disabilities, not the disability itself that is the major constraint and that fear and ignorance can be easily overcome. The five people speaking today did Matt proud.

Update 2: I should hardly be surprised by how many people Matt inspired. I've found lots of traffic heading this way from searches for information about Matt. Many people new Matt and have posted their own stories about his life including Stuart Khan, Matt's cousin.

Having it both ways

The media are keen on the prospect of a common border between NZ and Australia. The focus is on passenger access and this makes sense if NZ wants to grab a larger share of the tourism dollars expanded by Australians. Enabling them to check-in and clear customs just the once will represent a real benefit and could shift business - particularly from the domestic market where suddenly a trip to Queenstown is both cheaper, quicker and now less fussy than a trip to Perth and Brisvegas.

If, as seems clear, this is the main objective it makes sense but what of the risks?

NZers enjoy a priviledged position in Australia. We've no need to become permanent residents to work and access most benefits. This means it's a pretty simple matter to up-sticks are relocate. As noted in an earlier post, Key has to balance his goals in tourism with the accountabilities he took on pre-election; the promise to reduce the loss of skilled labour trans-Tasman!

When's he going to do that and how?

Monday, March 02, 2009

Andrew Little's election

I'm pleased that Andrew Little's taken on the Labour presidency. He's always struck me as an incredibly thoughtful and reasonable man, able to be a fierce advocate without being unpleasant or hectoring. His leadership of the EPMU has been characterised by a very constructive engagement with business leaders around shared goals; productive, profitable and sustainable industry. Mike Williams departure ought not be with a sigh of relief. He took over in difficult circumstances when the loved and admired Michael Hirschfeld died suddenly. Much has been made of some of Mike's errors, but they never numbered as many as his successes and the party's in great shape by any measure.

An ambitious man in Australia

Key's honeymoon continues despite tough times in New Zealand but I wonder what happened to the fire from the election campaign? Remember John wandering around empty stadia lamenting that our biggest export was talent? What about the billboards that promised an end to all those teary farewells? That was all going to change wasn't it? John will claim time's moved on, that the global crisis has shifted the goal posts. But shouldn't that mean people are more, not less likely to return to NZ? Probably you can argue it either way.

The promise to stop Kiwis leaving was ridiculous, the crisis always overstated and the solutions hollow. National's policy, such as it was, focused principally on importing people not on stopping departures. So should Key now be held to account for the continued net flow of Permanent and Longterm Departures to Australia for instance? Yes, but that won't change anything much.

Oddly though, when interviewed this morning on Australia radio (not available online unfortunately), Key made no mention of his concern that New Zealand will soon be denuded of talent. He focused instead on the challenges in the Pacific, on the financial crisis and easing travel between the countries. All valid and reasonable. He, in fact, acquitted himself well, but I wonder what he'll say to the parents who're still taking their kids to the airport? Perhaps he's arranged for them to join him on his Hercules flight home to be literally parachuted into struggling communities en route to Wellington?

The false reality of an election is over. The practical challenge of delivering on the over-blown promise needs attention. What solutions does National have really? When the trans-Tasman super portability kicks in, there may well be some additional movement back to NZ but it won't be great as too many people have lost too much equity and must now rebuild before they can retire.

It's no surprise then that David Farrar has written just the one post about migration since the election (that compares with four in the month or two before it). I can't help but recall Bolger's sage advice against stirring up race-relations during the 1990 election; he's reported to have said "sure it might help us win the election, but what will we do when we show up on Monday to govern?"

Sunday, February 22, 2009

New Zealand's new Copyright Law presumes 'Guilt Upon Accusation' and will Cut Off Internet Connections without a trial. is against this unjust law - help us

Delusions of grandeur

Have you any idea who I think I am?

It's not the gratuitous spending history (who takes photos of receipts for crissakes), the name-checking of minor celebs, nor even the vague racism - foreign waiting staff, goodness - it's the ridiculous belief anyone gives a shit. Surely this is a parody?

Update: Kate accuses me of sexism on her blog. I've replied but it's not up and as Kate's previously censored replies I've written to her direct challenges I'll paraphrase here.

I take the charge of sexism more seriously than Kate's other responses. Gender's not an issue for me on this or many issues for that matter. I didn't introduce gender or genitalia into the discussion and don't really see how it applies? For the sake of clarity, it was the gratuitous vanity post that I challenged (plus the none-so-subtle appearance of racism). If Kate's allegation of sexism was, however, a way of invalidating my criticism, then it demeans her and not me. I'll not bother with the other comments, they're just distraction.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


New Zealand's new Copyright Law presumes 'Guilt Upon Accusation' and will Cut Off Internet Connections without a trial. Join the black out protest against it!

One of the most vexing issues in public policy is the impact of technology on our lives. Whether it's surveillance, stem-cell research or property rights, near constant innovation and ever increasing access means policy and regulation are always going to lag behind consumer practice. I'm anything but expert, I'm possibly a little careless in fact. I keep a watching eye the legal ranglings around file sharing and also net filtering but that's about it.

The concerns expressed by expert commentators, such as Russell Brown, about changes to New Zealand's copyright laws have recently refocused my attention. Russell makes the critical point that a balance between creators' and users' rights must be struck but that achieving this requires sensible dialogue on both parts. I remember when the parrallel importing legislation was rushed through the NZ Parliament (circa March 1999) some of these issues were bought up but only resolved with respect to enforcable trade agreements.

Parliament needs to guide the courts, the pace of techological innovation must surely mean existing laws will not be fit for purpose. But it seems to me that copyright holders are looking for a quick fix to staunch the loss of business rather than adapting to the fundamental shift in patterns of consumption.

Per head of population, Australian consumers reputedly illegally download more television content than any other country (I've read this in the MSM but can't now find a reference). This must infuriate broadcasters who pay big money to rush series from overseas - House and CSI for example. Without giving too much away, some earlier frustration I had about Nine's scheduling of the Sopranos sent me towards torrent sites.

All this is by way of explaining my support for the the Internet Blackout N.Z. I recommend following the developments here and here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

It's simple Malcolm, simple

Turnbull's on the backfoot as the media speculate about his leadership. Having been on the wrong side of the stimulus debate, the Liberals have replaced the Shadow Treasurer since the alternative was to replace the Leader. But news reports that Cossie rejected the offer to succeed Bishop have simply revived debate about Cossie's leadership ambitions.

Turnbull's tonight defended Cossie's right to play a bit part but still be the media tart. Did he have an alternative? Not really, but he could have been stronger by saying something like:
Peter Costello has decided to stay on the backbenches despite my offering him the opportunity to help lead the opposition to Rudd's profligate spending. That's his right. As it was his right to rebuff the leadership offered to him by Howard and other senior Ministers after the last election. I respect Peter. I also respect his judgment that the renewal of the Liberal requires new and not retreaded leadership.
The Liberals probably felt they had little room to move on the stimulus package and some of their concerns might prove to be true if, in the long term, deficits become entrenched. But by the time their position is finally proven right or wrong, Turnbull's fate will have been long since determined.

Postscript 1: Tony Jones quizes Christopher Pyne on Lateline and compares the current leadership tensions with those that existed between Howard and Hewson. Ouch! Pyne sticks to the line that Costello can join the front bench whenever he wants but this simply invites Jones to ask if it's Hockey or Turnbull who's the seat-warmer? So long as Cossie remains in the caucus, the media will speculate about his ambitions.

Preface: Larvatus Prodeo also (earlier) noted Costello's frequent media appearances.

Postscript 2: GST's worst advocate and former Liberal leader Dr John Hewson leads the charge against Cossie declaring him a lazy eunuch.

Wellingtonhive comes full circle

In a few of my more combative moments, I rebuked the Wellingtonhive for one or other indiscretions only to have them dismiss my criticisms as the irrelevant musings of a smalltime blogger (my words, not there's). Fair enough.

The irony now is that dearjohn, the Hive's apparent successor, has experienced a predictable decline in readership. Whereas once the Hive's author(s) tracked their ascent up Tumeke's ratings, now Charles Finny advises dearjohn is being "reviewed". I enjoyed Finny's postings on many issues. Clearly expert in trade and related matters, his observations were a good insight into the thinking of a senior and influential advocate for NZ businesses. I didn't enjoy the more shrill and partisan posts and I said as such.

There's an important space in the blogosphere for informed and independent comment. Ideally, it's separate from the inherent compromises of media ownership and perhaps also from membership. Perhaps Charles will continue to comment in the 'sphere even if dearjohn is discontinued?

News or advertising, whatever fills the pages...

I lament the demise of news media. Newspapers are increasingly irrelevant as sources of information. I got all hot and bothered about the conflation of news and advertising when Naked used social media to spruik a crappy Jacket. Today's Crikey (subscriber only) highlights an advert on Seek for an APN journo - note the blending of journalism and sales. If it were an advert for television, there'd be subtle references to presentability too.

Journalist Sales Assistant.

Do you consider yourself a writer and do you have an outgoing bubbly personality? We are looking for a dynamic person who can perform a dual role blending journalism and sales at our Monto Office.

A degree in Journalism is not necessary but the ability to write and to assist selling advertising is necessary (when required) due to the nature of the business.

As the journalist you would be required to produce quality editorial and photographs to reflect the news, information and entertainment of your region. As the Sales Assist you would be required to assist the Advertising Sales Executive when required. You may also be required to provide holiday relief to other Central & North Burnett Times journalists at times.

The role is challenging and rewarding offering an attractive base salary and incentive scheme plus Superannuation. It is ideal for someone living in the region or wanting to reactivate or commence a newspaper career and all you need is the drive to succeed.

If you think this is you then contact the (deleted). Pre-requisite: Drivers Licence.

Emphasis added.

Lockwood's bloody good...

I'm listening to Parliament for the first time since the election. Lockwood's got lots of praise from many sources for his performance as Speaker. I'll add mine. He's clear, he's consistent and he's focused on Ministers acquitting themselves properly to the public. Excellent. I'd've thought he'd struggle since he's never been a particularly strong performer, I was wrong.

I've got a mixed history with Lockwood. I once said he was gutless for refusing to meet with 100 students who were literally sitting arms and legs folded (which I don't resile from). On the other side of the ledger, I've also publicly credited him for elements of tertiary reform in the mid-'90s.

I hope he's able to continue this approach and that the Parliament supports him.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

What Paula Bennett needs

... is a pair of ear muffs.

I don't imagine that Bennett will, for one second, consider taking advice from the commentators at Farrar site or from Cactus Kate herself. Parenting's bloody hard without having to worry about the press or wannabes.

As for Holmes's comments, well he probably means well and has some experience to call on however he could at least have made his comments in private. Surely he'd realise public speculation and debate doesn't help. Moreover, what works for one kid might not work for another.

My recollections of Paula from student politics are pretty limited - I was leaving as she was entering (I think), but she struck me as a smart woman who'd seen enough life to navigate it herself. I'm sure she'll manage without the 'advice' from David's regulars and Kate.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Naked's Mat Baxter walks?

Ahh, the nobility of self sacrifice - the last temptation is the greatest treason, to do the wrong thing for the right reason - Mat Baxter's gone from Naked. A marketing martyr is born. They claim it's unrelated to the lies, the other lies and the gloating, but I doubt it. Baxter might be a clever chap, I don't know, but none of Naked's crew should be proud of their actions and frankly the recent attempt to brazen it out was further evidence of spectacularly poor judgment and someone had to take a bullet.

Friday, February 06, 2009

'Happy' Waitangi Day

I'd lost track of this, a little, until I saw others' blogs (particularly the handmirror's Waitangi Wahine summary). It's odd thinking about Waitangi Day from Australia. 355,000 Kiwis are here and there are a number of Waitangi events, but I'm not involved.

The angst associated with Waitangi Day is frequently commented on. I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing. Contrast it with Australia Day celebrations which are increasingly jingoistic, perhaps it's ok that we have mixed feelings about the nation's awkward early years? There's some that think this is bad for us. I understand, but don't agree, their perspective. An uncomplicated celebration would be nice, but can it be possible while many issues remain unresolved? If you feel no responsibility, direct or indirect, then I understand the protests seem like an unecessary distraction.

However, and despite my ancestors arriving towards the end of the Land Wars, I still think of myself as having benefited from what are now understood as unconscionable acts. This too, however, draws a negative response; should we judge the actions of the then colonial powers by today's standards? I've not resolved this for myself, but don't know that I need to in order to justify a process of reconciliation and restitution? I see the latter as being justified by the Treaty of Waitangi.

Where will it end? When will it end? How will we know? Though I understand the limitations of the deficit model for approaching these questions, I still think it's reasonable to set benchmarks about educational attainment, labour market participation, infant mortality, incidence of diabetes, access to housing etc. By these measures alone, we've not honoured the Treaty.

Someone may accuse me of having Pakeha guilt. I don't accept this. I might be a hopeless Liberal, but I remain inspired by the idea New Zealand might become a leading bicultural society (the merits of this, compared with multi-culturalism, I'll leave for another time). And here's the real risk of deficit thinking; what will I lose in a bicultural society should be replaced by what will I gain? Perhaps a great first start is expanding teaching Te Reo Maori as Grant Robertson, and many others, have proposed.

The News Quiz

And here's another extract from a favourite podcast, the BBC 4 News Quiz. The following exchange was between Jeremy Hardy and David Mitchell. The question related to government investment in the automotive industry:
Hardy: Does it produce less carbon if we burn money, maybe we should do that? I
think we should just stop doing everything. Because they're inventing money to
make things that nobody wants - presumably nobody wants to make them, they just
want to get paid for making 'em - so maybe we should just stop doing everything. And just be calm. Maybe the whole world should lie down in a darkened room until the recession is over?

Mitchell: Yes actually, that should be the next budget; 'Let's just give it a
year, on everything, just stay where you are, don't move'. Like we've nationally
dropped a contact lens...

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Stephen Fry's podgram

I'm not sure who put me onto Stephen Fry's podgrams, someone during my visit to NZ for the election I think? Anyway, here's an extract from Fry's most recent podgram (any errors, will be my errors of transcription).

It's a cause of some upset to me, that more Anglophones don't enjoy language. Music, it seems, and dance and other athletic forms of movement, people seem to be able to find sensual and sensuous pleasure in almost anything but words. Words belong to other people. Anyone who expresses themselves with originality, delight and verbal freshness is more likely to be mocked, distrusted or disliked than welcomed. The free and happy use of words appears to be elitist or pretensious.

Sadly, desperately sadly, the only people who seem to be bothered with language today, bother with it in quite the wrong way. They write letters to broadcasters and newspapers in which they are rude and haughty about other peoples' usage and in which they show off their superior knowledge of how language should be.

I hate that and I particularly hate that so many of these pedants assume that I'm on their side. When asked to join into a 'lets persuade this supermarket chain to get rid of their 'five items or less sign', I never join in. Yes, I am aware of the technical distinction between less and fewer, and between uninterested and disinterested and infer and imply, and all the rest of them but none of these are of importance to me. None of these are of importance, I said, you'll notice. The old pedantic me would have insisted on none of them is of importance to me. Well I'm glad to say I've outgrown that silly approach to language.

Oscar Wilde, and there have been no more greater and more complete lords of language in the past thousand years, once included in a manuscript he was delivering to his publisher, a compliments slip in which he'd scribbled the injunction, 'I'll leave you to tidy up the woulds and shoulds, wills and shalls, thats and whichs etc'.

There's all kinds of pedants around with more time to read and imitate Lynn Truss and John Humphries than to write poems, love letters, novels and stories it seems. They whip out their Sharpies and take away and add apostrophes from public signs. Shake their heads at prepositions which end sentences and mutter at split infinitives and misspellings.

But do they bubble and froth and slobber and careen with joy at language? Do they ever let the tripping of the tips of their tongues against the tops of their teeth transport them to giddy euphoric bliss? Do they ever yoke impossible words together for the sound-sex of it? Do they use language to seduce, charm, excite, please, affirm and tickle those they talk too? Do they? I doubt it, they're too farting busy sneering at a green grocer's less than perfect use of the apostrophe. Well sod them to Hades. They think they're guardians of language; they're no more guardians of language than the kennel club is the guardians of dog-kind.

The worst of this sorry bunch of semi-educated losers are those who seem to glory in being irritated by nouns becoming verbs. How dense and deaf to language development do you have to be? If you don’t like nouns becoming verbs, then for heaven’s sake avoid Shakespeare, who made a ‘doing word’ out of a ‘thing word’ every chance he got. He ‘tabled’ the motion and ‘chaired’ the meeting in which nouns were made verbs. Pedants whinge that phrases such as 'He actioned it' are ugly. Well it’s only ugly ‘cos it’s new and you don’t like it. Ugly in the way Picasso, Stravinsky and Eliot were once thought ugly, and before them Baudelaire.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Podcast recommendations?

I used my iPod most days including at work if I'm able. When I have writing to do and can ignore the phone, I'll use my iPod to screen-out the office background noise. I listen to a pretty limited range of music in this situation, usually instrumental stuff so that lyrics don't distract me.

Increasingly, away from the office, rather than listen to music, I've been preferring podcasts. Hence the request. I'd love others' recommendations of their best podcasts. I'll not give any guidance save for saying the two podcasts I most enjoy are BBC 4's New Quiz and ABC radio's Background Briefing. I'd welcome any suggestions.

I shouldn't but I do...

Peter Costello's a bit of a guilty pleasure. His politics aren't mine, his earnest Christianity bugs me and he was a senior Minister in what I consider an amoral government and yet, I thoroughly enjoy him. Last night's inteview on ABC's Nightline perfectly encapsulates the man. Preening, posturing, glib and smarmy and yet, undeniably good politics. He excoriated Rudd, he wedged Gillard, he smote Turnbull (well, not really but I wish he had) and ignored Howard. Tony Jones seemed even to enjoy the occasionally patronising remark. He's apparently unelectable as PM - so Liberal and Labor pollsters will tell you - but were I Turnbull, I'd be nervous as hell.

Again, though I don't agree with Costello on many issues, I can't not appreciate this:
You know, actually, we ought to be much more assertive here. We're Australian. I think the Australian model is what can be held up around the world. So why doesn't Kevin Rudd want to say that? Because there's a certain ideological fervour to him. He can't say the Australian model's the answer because he wasn't part of putting it in place. That would be to give too much credit to the Coalition Government. Now, I think at a time like this, he ought to drop his pride; he ought to say as Julia Gillard - in all fairness, Julia Gillard had the honesty to say, "Yes, the Australian model was the best." And he shouldn't be ashamed of actually giving credit to the Liberal Party, rather than writing these appalling essays for The Independent Monthly.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009


I'd not been a fan of Rafa and would've prefered Federer to have won the Australian Open but this is classy:
But for me, too. Roger is, we have a relationship and was tough moment for him … too much emotion is there yesterday, no? But probably in the future when we see that moment on the TV it's going to be nice, but when you live that moment, it's tough. Because I can't enjoy 100 per cent the victory because I saw him cry.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Chappell/Hadlee series well and truly alive

Cheating, denials, invocations of past injustices, a close win... brilliant.

I've got my tickets for the new Trumper stand at the SCG for Sunday and am prepared for an unusually hostile audience. Kiwis are usually merely gently mocked at the SCG, or any cricket ground in Australia for that matter. Few expect the Kiwis to win, even if they look a chance for 20 overs. Aussies expect to win against every opposition, Kiwis particularly. But no more.

Four ODI defeats in a row. This, after two series lost at home and a third away (I'm counting the tests and ODIs against South Africa as separate series. The prized number one status gone just like heros of the past, Warne, McGrath, Gilly and now Hayden. The new boys, initially promising, dismissed by brave fields - when was the last time you saw a silly mid off in an ODI? Cricket's pop-blogger, McDouall is himself is astounded:
The openers were both dismissed at silly mid off. This was a field placing of enormous chutzpah by Dan Vettori, and the fact that it was the giant Peter Fulton who was standing there, like a surly bouncer at a nightclub, shows intellectual finesse. I remember years ago the All Black lock Murray Pierce standing as close as he was allowed to an Irishman about to kick a penalty. The elongated Pierce raised his arms, challenging the man in green to successfully kick over an eight foot human barrier, let alone the goalposts beyond. The placing of Peter Fulton, as massive as Pierce, was similarly disruptive.
Last time I went to see the Blackcaps in Sydney, Chris Cairns will still playing. Flem too. That side, the 2004/05 side, actually looked the goods. Particularly when they restricted Australia to 261. But even then, even when Mills was in knocking boundaries all over the ground, we still lost. We lost just like the Aussie's did at the WACA; unable to play out our 50 overs.

Bloody hell, how'll we keep a lid on expectations aye? A win in Australia. Rare as! But then when was the last time Australia lost five ODIs in a row? 2005. England won two and we won the next three... but that was the Hussey side sans a number of the big guns and in NZ. Losing five at home? You have to go back to January 2002 and the last triangular tournament involving South Africa and us. I like that omen!

Update: the Australian squad for the two remaining games in the series has been announced. Two new players, one uncapped, and Ponting is rested. Contempt? Panic? Focusing on bigger goals? I don't care if we win in Sydney and take out the series.

Update 2: Controversial former umpire Darrell Hair thinks Haddin was at fault also. He stops short of calling Haddin a cheat but makes clear the dismissal was wrong and that Haddin was best placed to know. A replay is here (hat tip: Vibenna via Deborah)

Feeding an obsession

Not all media are responding to Naked's campaign with quite the same resigned acceptance. Whereas Fairfax think it's an innocent hoot, Newscorp see it in different terms.

The Australian's article clearly states that Naked have lied, on several occassions in fact. Whether the original lie, the fictitious Heidi and her mystery man/jacket, can be explained as just clever marketing is important, but no more so than the other deceptions. The lie that Naked wasn't involved, they were. The apparent lie that media interest was accidental, not a direct consequence of Angela Cuming's involvement. If Naked seeded the story through an intermediary, Cuming, then their previous protestations will be even more hollow. To me, their denials seem less and less plausible.

Whether they're guilty of anything more than unethical behaviour remains unclear. The provisions of the Fair Trading Act mightn't apply unless liberally interpreted. Should this practice be allowed to develop without constrain - because professional restraint doesn't appear to exist - then the already flimsy division between news and advertorial will be impossible to maintain.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Industry reacts to Naked

Here's a great summary of views about the Witchery campaign from within the marketing industry. I think the general view is negative. Note in this second article, relating to the student Naked did on the reaction to the campaign, the CEO of Witchery clearly is of the view that any media is good media. This industry-commentary is interesting and valid, and despite the survey results, I remain of the view that the consumer is being taken for a ride here.

Birds of a feather...

I'm struggling to work out a sensible rationale for the media's fawning coverage of Naked's duplicitous advertising. Were I more cynical, I'd guess that any tactic that boosts advertising is seen in a positive light by old-media struggling in financial circumstances. Equally likely, is the fact that it's just good copy.

The latest angle is reports, by Naked, that their analysis of the feedback confirms it's ok to lie to consumers. Too harsh? I don't think so. I wonder if the media would be so forgiving if an oil company was lying to consumers? A tobacco company? Would the news media be so forgiving if government misled them?

Apologists for this approach rely on the argument that no one cares or is harmed, but I think that's simply not true (and Naked's arguments to the contrary can be easily dismissed as partial) even if it's true in this instance. What of the efficacy of journalism, news media and advertising, are they not harmed (the latter may be beyond repair)? What of the fact that, at least prima facie, a breach of the Fair Trading Act has occurred? Can this be excused simply because YouTube commenters say it's ok? That's a flimsy and convenient argument.

If this deceitful tactic is tolerated, expect more and more faux-news and less and less critical and independent journalism. The incentives are clear; why pay for an advertisement if you can get free news media coverage. Are the media complicit? I'm certainly aware that smaller papers will offer news coverage as part of an advertising package. Small beer though it might be, it is neverthless an insidious erosion of consumer rights and should be opposed as such.

The flippant and dismissive attitude of Naked and its supporters could be either plain naivety or a quite deliberate attempt to obfuscate. Again, I'm not sure which.

Let's see what MediaWatch make of this as I've sent this 'tip-off':

Is the news media's fawning coverage of Naked's deceitful campaign to promote Witchery's clothing a sign that consumer standards are under new threat? Could the media coverage be linked to a favourable advertising deal? As we now know Heidi's lost love is a Disney-inspired fabrication, have Naked and Witchery not breached section 42 (1) of the Fair Trading Act which forbids "misleading or deceptive" practice?

This kind of astro-turfing erodes consumer confidence and undermines the efficacy of consumer protection laws. It appears to be tolerated because it's fun and not intended to harm. I wonder if Country Road feel so ambivalent?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

GetUp against stupid, populist censorship for the sake of pandering to the ill-informed and/or paranoid

Who knew wheelchair tennis took place at Opens?

I didn't. Had no idea until I saw today's draw of the Australian Open and noticed the first round of wheelchair tennis started today. Wheelchair tennis is in fact played at all four Opens. There's eight players in each of the men's and women's singles for the Australia Open but draws are unavailable for doubles and quads.

More information about the NEC Super Series is available here as is the current men's and women's rankings. Interestingly, no Australian or Kiwi is ranked in either men's or women's top 25.

Co-locating tournaments for people with and without disabilities makes perfect sense. It will surely increase media interest in sports for people with disabilities and therefore, increase participation. The Paralympics have been run at the same time and venue as the Olympics since 1988.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Sins of the father

I feel for Jelena Dokic. Redeemed in this year's Australian Open and playing some of the best tennis of her career, she's still forced into responding to her father's ravings. This long-suffering young woman has finally emerged from her father's shadow - a burden perhaps only ever partly understood until recently - now to have him reappear on the eve of her latest match.

Win or lose, Dokic now enjoys fantastic support from her home supporters. I occassionally criticise the supporters of Australian teams, but Open fans have enthusiastically shown their affections for Dokic and forgotten the awkwardness of earlier tournaments.

It's stories like Dockic's that feed sport's great narrative. Dokic's tenacity and candor are moving. Her earlier fractiousness, now clearly understood and forgiven. I'm pleased the Open organisers have said they'll limit Dokic senior's access according to Jelena's wishes - wishes I think she's made clear.

I'll certainly be hoping she wins tonight.

Angry or silly American?

An earlier post showing mash-up photos of Barack Obama has upset an anonymous reader. This US citizen is galled by the photo that combines Obama with Osama. Context is everything though as the Obama/Osama photo is contrasted with and Obama/Terminator mash-up. The point I was trying to make was the contrast; some see Obama as hero, some as villian. I didn't think it was unduly critical of Obama and elsewhere I've made clear my respect and admiration for him.

I've been at pains to explain all this in the accompanying thread however my anonymous critic is unsatisfied. There's a point at which, particularly when the rhetoric escalates out of proportion, any and all criticism ceases to be credible. I think my critic crosses that threshold quite early when he suggested I be hanged (second post) and then in a later tirade against all manner of liberal interests. Correcting my grammar annoyed me too - I don't often closely check blog writing, it's meant to be an immediate media - particularly when my critic's own writing was short on some of the basics.

I wonder if the person's genuinely angry or just silly? Clearly little of what I've said's made it through. Sometimes the best defence really is silence. I can't be bothered to defend myself against ravings, time's too short.

Advertising ethics

I've long been interested in advertising. At its best it can rival traditional arts for innovation and creativity. Sadly, most advertising is complete rubbish. Unoriginal, banal and crude. I suspect clients are as much responsible for this situation as are agencies.

Will more austere economic conditions lead to a more sophisticated approach? Not if the recent Witchery campaign by Naked is anything to go by. In summary, a made-up story of unrequited love is carried by the news media - a pretty girl is looking for a mystery man and has only a jacket from which to trace him... how Disney. Factor in the reach of YouTube and you've got an interesting story... were it not completely false.

All media is good media though right? No harm's done? This is real creative, it shouldn't be constrained by traditional values? This, at least, was the rationale put forward by Naked's Adam Ferrier... that was after Naked first denied they had anything to do with the campaign.

Ferrier argues that there was no deception (so let's for the moment forget their initial denial) because "The word deception implies an element of harm. This campaign hasn’t harmed anyone, not even close". I suspect the good standing of Witchery and Naked will be harmed so on this alone, he's hopefully wrong. But worse than this is his incredibly naive logic. If no harm occurs, no wrong has been done? Clearly ethics wasn't part of his education.

By Ferrier's logic then, a breach of law would be excusable if the breach caused no harm. Speeding through a School zone but you hit no kids: fine. Lying about the children overboard, they were already wet remember: fine. Telling the wife you're watching a band when you're really with your fantasy baseball buddies: fine.

The harmless lie. Famous through time. Forget what Kant said, there's modern restrictions that apply in this situation like, for instance, section 42 (1) of the 1987 Fair Trading Act. It's not only the consequences of an act that makes it harmful, it can be the simple commission. This is why we forbid dummy bids, restrict the use of credentials or insist on full disclosure. Reliance on the veracity of published information is critical to the stability of commerce and government. Partiality, deception and subterfuge are regulated not just because they may cause direct harm, but also because they erode confidence.

Ferrier's a fool. This is clear. Whether his foolishness is exceptional or endemic to the industry is unclear.

Update: Ferrier's got a blog through which he's expanded his published rationalisation. The language is a little opaque but the essential point is that "social media [presumably this means advertising] need to be judged, not on how well they abide by the so called rules of social media, but rather the effectiveness of the communications." I wonder what he means by "the rules"?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Didn't know what else to say

I had a draft post on Obama. It wasn't all that different from many others I've already read. Then my cousin gently chastised me for goofing off a little. He listed all the stuff he has to do. He was, usually is, pretty busy at work and home. I get that. Here's my reply...

Mostly, I feel the same. Not today but.

In the last few days I've reviewed and commented on four or five Cabinet minutes, revised about four dozen briefs on various matters (many about issues I previously knew nothing), written a few media releases, developed strategies and projects for increasing our commercial revenue in new markets, avoided doing dozens of crazy things by spending the best part of ten hours having dull conversations with smart people so on and so on and so on and so on....

Today, this morning, I saw the most important leader of our generation, possibly one of the most important leaders in recent modern history, a man who has the potential to do to race relations and international relations what Mandela, King and Gandhi did, a man who might be the personification of an amazing legacy, take office and solemly, thoughtfully and purposefully commit to change the world.

I was amazed, moved and inspired. Still am.

Today then, for a little while at least, I can't tolerate the banality of my work... I know I'll have to refocus again... but for today, for a little while longer, I will oscilate between being inspired and distracted 'cause I don't want to shake the feeling that everything's going to change!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Just so no one thinks it's a Texan thing

Lyle Lovett's a Texan I greatly admire.

Jobs and Bush; eulogising

The reaction to the imminent departure of both Steve Jobs and G W Bush couldn't be more different. Whereas sharemarket analysts fear Apple's future without Jobs, my sense is that political prognosticators see only an upside from a new Leader of the Free World.

Back in May 2006, I posted this countdown clock for the Bush administration. It currently shows only a few days left. At that time, the discussion focused on potential replacement Presidents (it's remarkable to think that none of the commenters, myself included, identified Obama). It seems inevitable that G W Bush will come to be seen as a poor president. The 9-11 attack was not, of course, personal and he shares responsibility for the invasion of Iraq . He couldn't have foreseen Katrina. He probably inherited the financial crisis - like some cruel pass-the-parcel - from former administrations. Still, he sought to be the "decider" and has not once, in my opinion, proven worthy. A point well made by the NY Times columist, Gail Collins:
The White House has promised that in his final address, the president will be
joined by a small group of everyday American heroes, which means that the only
person on stage with a history of failing to perform well in moments of stress
will be the main speaker.

Jobs, on the other hand, appears to have been a man ahead of his times. A man whose experience, knowledge and judgment were suited to his role. Clearly, no meaningful comparison can be made between the requirements of running a company and running a country. Nevertheless, were I asked, I'd rather be succeeding Bush that Jobs.

Yeah right

C'mon, Hayden better than the Little Master? I don't think so.

I didn't much like Haydo, he seemed a bit of a prat to me. I respect his achievements however. I even agree he probably revolutionised the role of openers; he was so dominant so quickly, he forced opposition captains to change fields by punishing their attack bowlers and could turn a game in a session (much like Gilchrist or Warne could) but is he better than the game's leading run scorer?

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


My Christmas break is nearing its end. Sadly.

Family have come and gone. They were frenetically completing odd-jobs around the house as they departed. Jobs I'm grateful they've done, they were not going to be done by me - a lack of skill, not endeavour mind. No escape from Sydney was possible and, despite my predictions, the city remained busy. A obscene queue outside the aquarium, traffic and parking congestion at Ikea, summer sales endured... if it's a really good idea, chances are it's not only your's.

Galavanting friends have called in and delighted. The BBQ's been an essential aide. Last night Mrs backin15 spectacularly cooked two snapper to perfection (dill and lemon stuffed in their cavities). A drink or two has been enjoyed, a cigar too. Books have been read, cricket watched, sleep enjoyed. Three weeks is nice though no length of time is ever long enough, is it?

I've no real complaints, save for the brief duration. I'll bitch and moan about the weather or another 6 weeks I suspect. My first February in Sydney was the worst. I wondered how anyone ever bought a suit - what on earth do you need a jacket for? The last few days have been tolerable, just. I anxiously check the weather every evening hoping for some respite. Still, only last night, when at 2am it was still in the late 20s, was I close to overwhelmed...

2009 will have new challenges. I look forward to an expanded family. I have some misgivings but they're insignificant compared with my hopes.

This blog may not continue. I have previously stopped writing to concentrate on other things, some online, others not. I hope to continue to contribute to others' discussions either way. My respect and enjoyment of their work only grows.

I bought a blue pin-stripped suit last week. It replaces a fashionably brown one, fashionable but uncomfortable. I shopped for more hours than I normally would. I eschewed established brands for edgy ones - what image I think I have I must maintain. Ultimately however, an extremely knowledgable woman at DJs convinced me to go conservative. I consoled myself with some half-remembered insights about fashion returning to traditional themes; well see.

I was thinking of my highlights but I fear they're banal.
  • I love the mademoiselle filou light my wife gave me for Christmas.
  • I was sore for days after, but ultimate frisbee, cricket, volleyball and footy at my sister-in-laws picnic were fantastic. Laneway cricket on Christmas evening was grand too.
  • Sharing a birthday with friends from overseas was a wonderful surprise - when the power went out, I only wished I could find the cigars!
  • Our youngest climbing into our bed and not being rushed out as we raced to catch the train. Her delight at Christmas time, pure and uncritical delight, was magical. It was significantly enhanced by the enthusiasm applied by neighbours to their Christmas lights.
Holidays over; when's the next one?