Sunday, September 30, 2012

Stop making Kim Dotcom a star---he's not!

I am sickened by the idea of our PM apologising to Kim Dotcom. Why the hell should he? I am also sick of the idiots who think the same man is some sort of hero. In my books he is not. Anyone, even if they find a spurious legal method of uploading material and then making money out of it, is not a hero.
I write books in my spare time and the very idea of that material being sold without me getting anything is repugnant. I make a huge enough loss as it is. Of course he hasn’t, but it’s the possibility of that happening that gets to me.
I know he has brought to the public’s notice the ineptitude of our security services and I think that as a result we may see better safeguards re privacy for NZ citizens. I grudgingly thank him for that.
I would love to be a ‘fly on the wall,’ when this ‘hero’ is discussing the events of the last year or so. I bet he is laughing his large tits off at the stupidity of our services and politicians.
 I am happy to see Mr Peters has finally gotten into the framework and started his own campaign against Kim Dotcom and his like. This time I am actually behind Mr Peters. If anyone can get to the bottom of the whole issue, he can. There are just too many unanswered questions about the Kim Dotcom affair that need addressing, right from the way he managed to get residency, while there were so many ‘stinky herrings.’ I guess we are going to once again find out that there are rules for the rich and others for the rest of us. Time will tell and remember---‘what goes around comes around.’

MMMM I can feel a story coming on about this affair!  ‘The Kimtwatcom affair!

So we haven't got enough tradeswomen and men!

Why do we always have to be reinventing the wheel? By that, I mean, let’s learn from the past instead of going off in directions that history has taught us just doesn’t work.
I am trying to make a link between the shortages of trades people, especially given the huge need for such people in the rebuilding of Christchurch. Those NZers who are joining the many from overseas are going to cause a drawing skilled people from other areas of NZ, thus exacerbating an already difficult situation.
 Right we agree? ---- We need tradespeople in a number of occupations. Then why not go back to the past when a good deal of the training was done on the job, with a small portion of the training done in Technical Institutes. We don’t need builders, plumbers etc. with degrees (certainly not at entry level). We need skilled tradespeople, who have learnt from their peers. Sure there were some dodgy ones in the past but a robust system would soon remove the capacity of such businesses to ‘train.’
I can hear businesses saying that it is draining their already stretched resources and that the training should be done as it is now, with a major part of the training occurring in tertiary institutes. Well, if these businesses want to thrive, then they need to take a longer term view and accept the responsibility to bring in new blood and nurture the tradesmen and women for the future. Combine this with a ‘bonding scheme’ and we may even keep more from fleeing over the waves.
Let’s train our people and keep them---for a few years at least. Maybe they will see a reason to stay and not have a huge student loan for an area of study where the jobs just don’t exist.

The 'Brain Drain to Aussie and beyond--a solution!

Read the article in the NZ Herald today about the bourgeoning problem re the flight of ‘skilled’ Kiwis across the Tasman. By skilled now, we don’t just mean those highly educated individuals who have left in the past. Yes, they are still leaving, but it is the ‘Trades-skilled,’ that has been identified as the latest outflow of NZers.
We need these people, not only for the rebuilding of earthquake ravaged Christchurch, but for the economy in general. We do not want to rely on immigration to keep our stock of skilled people high enough to drive our economy, because let’s face it; they too will join the ‘flow.’
It is time that we came up with an answer. Actually, it has been obvious for many years and it is no more than going back to the past to find it. When I trained to be a teacher many years ago, I was ‘bonded’ to work for three years (or so a stint of ‘country service). That meant I did not have to pay for my training and I received a liveable, albeit a frugal allowance. I did not have to pay that back, unless I left the job before the bonding period was up.
Bring back this scheme, but extend it to a wide range of Trades and other much needed vocations. It will cost a great deal, but if we continue to lose our skilled people, then the cost for our economy will be far more. Bite the bullet now and the message to our politicians is to see beyond the short three years you may inhabit the Beehive (Parliament).
Of course such a scheme would allow those who currently find it difficult to enter into a trade or other vocation, because they lack the money to pay for the training. That can only benefit us all in the long term.

Get this 'legal' crap off the market!

Young people (and others) will always take risks and push the boundaries, but when a so-called ‘legal’ substance is able to be purchased and then cause real damage, and then we need to take action. I am referring to the young woman who claims she was ‘possessed’ after partaking in a session of K2, a substance that is apparently available from various outlets.
It has been my belief that Mr Dunne succeeded in banning these synthetic cannabis substances from sale until they sellers had proven that they are harmless. What the hell is K2 doing on the shelves of our local convenience shops (We call them dairies in NZ)? I have heard from the young people I work with that some dairies just have it hidden from view.
It is time that the police used decoys to catch the low-life scum who make a living lout of these substances. I say, that if we k now that K2 is being sold, that we inform the police and get some damned heavy fines imposed on the sellers, whoever they are. If that means closing down a few outlets, then so be it. The very least we can do is ask that a license to operate be frozen for a while and a fine imposed.
It wouldn’t take much to find the creeps who knowingly sell this crap. The physical and mental health of our young people is far more important than the right of someone to make money.

Bitch!--- NO, you're a bitch and I'm gonna get ya!

Perdy ('Spot,' from Talk To Me) and Jasmine.

So it’s the holidays and it’s raining. Is this how it’s going to be eh? Can’t you go to the movies or something, or do I have to entertain you every minute of the day. Oh I know, you can go to one of Lisa’s Zimba classes for mad cats and dogs, or perhaps I can get you onto NZGT as a last minute entry.
Yes, that’s it. Jasmine can chase the ‘uncatchable’ Perdy and Perdy can look at the judges--- that’ll work. Well, it does on me---that bloody twisting of the head thing. What Perdy wants, Perdy gets.
Now, one of you has to give way. The cat/dog door is for one at a time. Get it! Oh, you don’t? You’re acting like animals---oops, sorry. Oh well, too bad about the rain. If I take you down to the Bay, will you behave, Perdy?
‘Come on Neily---I’m a Jack Russell, not a boring—‘
‘Don’t say it Perdy!
See what I mean---oh for them going back to school!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Libya--there is hope that you will get it right.

The events in the Middle East over the last years or so have left me feeling that the countries in the area are in for a torrid time. Whilst I still hold to that feeling, I have been encouraged by the reaction of many Libyans, particularly those in Benghazi, who took it upon themselves to bring down some of the out-of-control militia groups.
It was these groups who have been blamed for the attack on the American Consulate, resulting in the death of the Ambassador. That the public reacted by taking matters into their own hands and the subsequent limited success of the Government to get unsanctioned groups to hand over their guns and other military hardware is encouraging for the future of this country.
If the moderates can win this struggle, then Libya will succeed in joining the community of nations who want peace for their people. If only the remainder of the region could embark on the same pathway. I remain a little cynical that this will happen, especially with the increasingly dangerous situation of Iran developing nuclear weapons and Israel’s possible response.

Don't---oh damn! What will they think of us, Perdy?

It was a beautiful day down at the Bay. Everything was as it should be; the sun was making a lengthy appearance, the wind was just so so, the All Blacks had won; quite easily actually, and I felt great, knowing that I had two weeks holiday.
Perdy was in a spring-like mood. You can always tell when she’s happy; she has this extra bounce in her step, more like one of those Western Highland Terriers. You know---they bounce, giving them a ‘dolphinesque’ or Jack-in-the-box-like look.
We met up with some of our friends, and I mean friends, because the dogs and the humans like one another. We set off around the Bay, letting the dogs do their thing; which equates to sniffing, running, stealing the orange balls off one another, trying to roll in unmentionable stuff and generally making friends with all and sundry. Of course not all and sundry feel the same way.
That became apparent at the end of the walk. I forgot to mention that when we pulled into the park, we had noticed a group of people at the entrance to the playground sitting with their dogs. They seemed to be listening to a 'knowledgeable person.' Well, it looked that way from the driver’s seat. I thought—‘must be a doggie club—maybe I should ask them later.’
While we were sitting on the log railings letting our beasties engage in last minuet frolicking, we observed the doggie club ‘peoples,’ walking ‘oh so sedately,’ with their dogs walking placidly beside them, completely ignoring those of us who let our dogs----well, just play.
Perdy was doing that twisting endearing thing with her head as if to say, ‘WTH are you lot doing? Don’t you want to play?’ Another distinguishing feature of the said doggies was that they were all ‘larger dogs,’ Perdy’s favourite type. She loves to rush up, sniff and invite the doggies to chase her. The resulting bedlam is enough to have most of us plebeian dog owners giggle and smile.
I let Perdy off, thinking that with my two mates with me; I should have no trouble ‘capturing her later.’ Of course, once off, Perdy headed straight for the ‘pack.’ The owners of the well-behaved, obedient doggies were not impressed as Perdy strutted her stuff. She had even taken her little orange ball to share. One of the dogs, a large Retriever, immediately decided that ‘enough is enough.’ She somehow slipped her lead and rushed off after Perdy, who jigged and jived; stopping like a Harrier Hawke jet, and then launched herself at the larger dog, that had overshot Perdy.  From that moment the bedlam spread and all of the hard work put in by the owners of the ‘well-behaved doggies’ went to custard.
Were the owners amused? Hell no. They tried to bring their dogs to heal while doing their best to chase Perdy away. My pleas for her to return just exacerbated things as the owners cast steely glances that were clearly aimed at me. It was definitely not the time to ask if I could join their club.
Luckily, one of my friends had a particularly attractive ‘treat’ and Perdy decided that perhaps not everyone in this world loved her. She actually came and allowed herself to be ‘captured.’ Did I tell her off? That’s over to you to work out, just as you need to take this story with a bit of doubt.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Help please! It won't cost you a penny/cent/dime!

This is an unabashed plea for help. Yes, of course I want you not buy my books, but I know that not everyone can. I will have them on Kindle in the not too distant future but until then, I have a big favour to ask. You can even do this if you live outside NZ.
If you want to read any of my books----
1)    Coastal Yarns
2)    Roskill
3)    Talk To Me
Go to your local library and give them the title and preferably the ISBN number.  Get everything from my website

Thanks everyone.

The holidays are nigh! Bring forth the-----

For all of New Zealand’s hard working teachers and teacher aides, the holidays can’t come quickly enough. It has been a long term with and the last week has been particularly difficult. For those who say teachers get too many holidays, try working in a school for a while and handling the myriad of responsibilities that teachers now have.
They are parenting, counselling, planning, social ‘welfaring’ and many other duties. They are tired and many of them will use much of their holidays to prepare, attend training and call-back days, so the term holidays may not be totally applicable.
For some teachers the holidays are a time when recharging their batteries is an essential time; quite a few having only just warded off the winter ills and then succumb in the holidays. They have somehow managed to struggle through the term, fending off the viruses and germs of their charges, only just making it. It seems that they have an ingrained resistance, until they take their foot off the pedal and then their resistance is weakened and the holidays become a time when the body readjusts.
Just when they think they have recovered, it is back to school. Have some kind thoughts for the teachers of your children. Remember them when you hear politicians making yet more plans and changes to add to the workloads of teachers and teacher aides. Better still; take the time to tell them how well they look after your children. Affirmation of how effectively they work is often not something they hear.

Kim DotCom brings NZ Governmnet to its knees!

Yeah, I know, it is a tabloid type header, but that’s how I feel. All of my jokes and criticism aside, I do not like the sight of our Prime Minister apologizing to Kim DotCom, all because of a stupid stuff-up by our security service. It makes NZ look like one big joke overseas and I am not sure that Mr Key should have bowed down so easily.
It appears that he is bending over a little too much lately; firstly to the USA secret service (read US Government) and then to Kim Dot ‘whatever.’. I am sure that the latter will be laughing his tits off (hell, they’re bigger than mine, despite his holiday in prison).
Does all this mean that the saga is over? I doubt it.  Now we may see the spectre of Kim DotCom suing our Government for the stuff-up and he will be laughing all the way to the bank. The whole sorry affair throws into doubt the role of our security service and just who is effectively overseeing that role.
It is quite right that we look at this in depth, through an official enquiry. Heads may possibly role, because you can be sure that any PM would and will try to shift the blame. I hope that the alleged indiscretions of Kim DotCom are thoroughly investigated, but for goodness sake, do it legally. Despite what people say about the man, he must be treated in accordance with NZ law.
The issues this case has raised must result in a better system. We must also retain our genuine independence from the influence of foreign powers and dance only to our own tune.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

We are going to see some strange 'bedfellows' over the Kim DotCom affair!

Imagine PM Key lined up with those opposing the misuse of ‘intellectual rights’ and Civil Liberties groups, which could include ‘Greenies, opponents of NZ’s involvement in Afghanistan, all supporting KIM Dotcom.
The whole crazy affair around the extradition of Kim Dotcom re his alleged transgressions is throwing together groups who would normally not give one another the time of day.
Think about some of the connotations: You may well have some fun with what is becoming a side how, taking away from more important issues. “What?!’ you say. What is more important than freedom on the internet? Well that depends on what role you play on the internet. I won’t progress with that in case I make unsubstantiated accusation.  
Look at John Key’s face lately. It has taken on a distinct look of—‘What the hell is happening here?’ It seems that real pressure is building on him. The question is being asked--- ‘How much has he or Bill English been influenced either by the USA Government or one of their agencies?’
This may be one of those affairs that build with time and myths become indistinguishable for fact. You get the feeling that something could break out at any moment and take on a life of its own. That is the ‘look’ that the two gentlemen have.
There are so many issues that relate to the Kim Dotcom (Bugger--- I keep spelling the name wrong) affair: Our rights to unfettered access to the internet, the question of ‘who we allow into our country’---not just the rich) and how much are we being watched or spied upon by our own Government?
Perhaps we owe Kim (let’s just call him that because I am writing heaps about him lately) a debt of gratitude, because he has brought to our attention some major issues. It is up to you to decide whether I really mean that.
Don’t be surprised if you see these strange bed fellows. Anything is possible on the Net after all. Perhaps we are just imagining all of this and it is al la world of Avatars.

How long should tennants stay in State Houses?

The possible sale of a $1.3 million State House in Auckland raises the question of a person’s right to tenant, long term, a home owned by the State. The original intention was to give a helping hand to a section of the community that found the cost of housing beyond their means. If that was still the definition, then we would need a great deal more State Housing.
It appears that our State Housing stock is actually heading in the other direction, so one of our most basic needs is receding even further for a segment of our population, especially in the big cities and some poorer rural areas.
How then can the State support those most in need? For those who have lived in State Houses all of their lives, there may well be an ingrained belief that the home they reside in is actually almost their own. Challenging that stance will be difficult. Governments have tried various schemes to encourage tenants to either move on or buy into the homes they live in, sometimes with quite generous incentives, yet most, when offered do not take up the opportunity. There may be quite valid reasons for this, including not being able to meet the ‘extra costs but the result has been the same. Most State House tenants tend to stay put.
There are a few options available to Housing New Zealand. Firstly, they should encourage those on reasonable incomes to move into the private sector. This has happened and there are top-up schemes to enable tenants to meet private sector rentals. There are also means whereby tenants can own a ‘portion’ of a State house, thereby giving them a stake on the ownership ladder. Once again, there has been a tiny take-up of this offer.
For those already in the private sector, either renting or paying off their homes, looking at some of the situations for Sate House tenants abusing  the system, may well bring quite strong feelings. If for example a State House tenant is ‘double dipping,’ as reported by the NZ Herald today, then they have every reason to vent their frustration.
There is also the question of tenants living in homes that have a high commercial value. Is it not expedient and responsible on Housing NZ’ s part to sell those houses and then use the income build several new homes to increase the housing stock? I have heard the argument many times, that this disrupts family stability. My reply is that for most of us, moving homes for economic or other reasons is just a fact of life. The former argument about stability for the family does not hold water when so many in the private sector (the majority) move quite regularly. They cope, so why not their counterparts in Sate Housing?
The bottom line is that housing is a basic need, and as long as access is increased for those who are not currently housed, then the methodology, be it through private initiatives, state top—ups or State Housing, is fine by me. I know rents are prohibitive and for that reason, the State must stay involved in meeting this most basic of needs. It just needs a bit of tweaking and some extra resources to meet that need and a variety of ‘delivery mechanisms’ applied.
We need to have a discussion about housing needs and ways to have all of our people in healthy, warm homes. The payoff is that we will all benefit, so all possibilities dhousld be considered.

Update---Hell, today the Herald said that some people are paying $50 a week rent for million dollar houses. OK, I know that they may well have a low income, but how many of us could have that luxury. I know there are people out there on minimum wages who have to pay market rents for crap  leaky cold houses. Where's the justice?
ASK YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY FOR MY BOOKS. Coastal Yarns----Roskill------Talk To Me

The KimDotcom saga continues!

I am annoyed about how much useless energy is going into the on-going debate about Kim Dotcom (Hell, I’m probably feeding it too!). At a time when we should be trying to get our economy on a better footing, we are assailed each day about the goings on of this man and how he says he is challenging the Government re ‘our collective’ freedom.
That is all a smokescreen for some possibly serious actions on his part. He is appealing to our sense of fair play and constantly reminds us of the ‘threat from the security services of U.S.A and their links to our services. This is all to deflect the eye of the public from any alleged discretions on his part, both in the past and present.
He pays an emotional game with us and I am very uncomfortable. True, in NZ one is not guilty until proven so, but there is something ‘rotten in the state of NZ.’
He has highlighted some of the amateurish ways our Government has handled the whole affair and we possibly should be thanking him for that. A bit contradictory, you say on my part. Yeah well, that is one of the many ramifications his actions have thrown up--- we are all over the place in how we see his shenanigans.
What a bloody time wasting expensive affair, or as Mrs Brown would say---‘What a fecken load of shite!’

Philippines--great to see you.

Maybe I shall write some blogs about the Philippines now that they have joined my readership group. I am very pleased to have you aboard. Afterall, we are both part of the same region and we have many of your wonderful nurses working in our hospitals. I have only ever heard high praise about their caring and friendly attitudes. Check out my website for my books too.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

James Bond--our leaders or

Some of our politicians must be ruing the day that was granted residency. The events of the last few months and the publicity he as managed to garner, much of it at the experience of our leaders leaves me wondering what the hell is going on. I have no idea whether he is guilty of what has obviously got the Americans going and I find myself wondering at the antics of our security forces and leaders.
Will we ever get to the truth? Has actually transgressed our laws or international agreements---God alone knows? Is he going to sue our Government (us, as taxpayers)? I am sure of one thing--- he is lapping up the attention and shows obvious signs of enjoying the sorry saga.
I wrote a comment on Face Book yesterday and it attracted an add-on from that said something about ‘internet freedom along with his logo. That really pissed me off, because I would like to choose whether or not I support him in any way and at the moment, I just don’t know.
What all this highlights for me is our immigration policies and who is allowed to enter our country using some sort of ‘entrepreneurial qualification.’ Surely our Immigration Department has robust checking mechanisms.
One does wonder though.
The end result of what is increasingly looking like incompetency on the part of politicians and government departments is going to cost us dearly while laughs his way back to his ‘property and the bank.’
Maybe there is a sting in the tail for him yet. An angry USA is not a pleasant enemy Mr I hole for your sake that you are able to prove your innocence and worthiness to be considered one of us---- I real KIWI!

The ups, downs and then ups again of self-publishing.

The ups, downs and ups again of self-publishing.  Counsellor/author
One learns a great deal by trying to self-publish a book or two. Finding people to trust is the most important learning curve. Having not done so well with my first effort and previous publisher, I decided to go it alone. After all, I was being charged for every imaginable service, many of which I have learnt to undertake myself. However for those wishing to start out, check out what is available and get good advice (e.g. From NZSA)
Good proofreading is paramount. If one chooses the traditional publishing road, whereby you search for a publishing house to ‘do it all for you,’ then a huge load is removed. No such luck if you do your own thing. Very few self-published authors can afford more than one or possibly two stages of proofreading and editing. It’s expensive, but essential in order to cull the typos and mistakes. I don’t just mean spelling. It is a very bad look to kill off a character and then have them reappear a few chapters later. I did that in an upcoming book and almost considered changing the ‘genre’ of my book to science fantasy!
I have drawn on my failings, mistakes and let-downs in order to move forward. I decided to find an editor (I have two now) and work directly with my printer. I re-launched my website and had a friend of a friend design a new proactive look. Once again, more outlay but hopefully worth it in the long run.
I decided to have more input into the cover designs and found a picture on my old cell phone and then used it for my latest venture. Some of you took place in voting for the best ‘manipulation’ of that picture. My web designer also played a part with his beautiful photography from the top of the Awhitu Peninsula.
My next task was to build up a trusting relationship with my printer. That seems to be working. Gone are the days of---‘show us the colour of your money.’ My printer even sends his bills after I have received my books. Unheard of!
With my previous arrangement I paid out quite a few thousand to get my books ‘out there.’ Trouble was, I never knew where ‘out there’ was and it was only when friends and their kids told me that my books were in various libraries around the country, that I wondered why I had not received any royalties for my efforts. Someone was doing some work on my behalf, but not telling me.
Now I am sending freebies (I always give the Onehunga Library complimentary copies of my new releases) to people who may be of help, including some talk back hosts. One has to draw a line at some stage though, or the bank balance will head south.
The marketing phase is another new challenge. I have had to put aside my ‘natural shyness and unwillingness to put myself forward’ (Stop laughing!) and put up my shield for the inevitable flack that has come my way. A good Merlot helps with that, along with a walk with the little star (Spot, alias Perdy) of my latest book.
OK – I have started again with all of my books. That meant new covers, ISBN numbers and some editing. They are all live on my new website. I have plans to get them all on Kindle, but that is where I need more help. Check out the website for pictures, blogs and a synopsis for each book.
‘Coastal Yarns’---- New version. (9 short stories)
‘Roskill’--------------New version.
‘Talk To Me---------Check out the website!
COMING IN 2013   ‘Sons of Orpheus’---A three part historical saga

Monday, September 24, 2012

Come on UK---your'e only 4th on the list

Yes, don't leave it all to my dear neice to keep my numbers up. PLease passon my site so my books can get outn there along with my blogs. Maybe I better do what I did for Australia. I stirred them a bit and they have now passes Russia. Russia has dropped off because I have been making too many put-downs of Mr Stali---ooops Putin. Acyually, I'd like to meet the guy but he hasn't repsonded to my pleas. I hear he has nice holiday camps out there in Siberia.

Aussie overtakes Russia--well done!

It Had to happen. NZ and Australia have so much in common, even when we are fighting it out on the rugby field, cricket ground or the netball courts. Let that continue, but it would be nice to play more sports with Russia too. Just watch them inprove with rugby.

CYFS reports a small drop in 'substantiated' child abuse

Any report that says that child abuse has dropped by 4% is good news, but we must not take the foot off the pedal. The debate about mandatory reporting must also continue.
Placing social workers in more schools must continue and the public should be brought into any moves to further improve the situation for our families in New Zealand.
Politicians should not sit on their successes for want of a more descriptive word. The battle is far from won. It is my belief that unless the trend continues in a downward direction then the latest figures may just be a blip. Let’s hope not. are still many unanswered questions! has stated on his Twitter board that he is a bit like James Bond. Maybe his words were different but the fact remains that much of the publicity around his arrest and the subsequent battle with the courts over his extradition are just part of the overall picture. There are still many unanswered questions.
What about his immigration status and how did he achieve residency when there were ‘issues’ in his past?
What about the ‘alleged’ wrong doings on his part re his so-called business? That aspect will take a great deal of unravelling.
Then we have the spectre of the influence the US Governmental agencies on New Zealand’s security services. Have we just danced to the American piper?
If there has been an illegal response from NZ agencies,’ then that must come out and no amount of posturing on PM Key’s part will calm the issue. Quite frankly it is all one big mess; one that is possibly bringing a huge amount of mirth to
If you happen to be one of the businesses who have possibly been hurt or disadvantaged by the ‘alleged’ actions of and his associates, then you will probably be feeling most frustrated at the moment. That justice is done, one way or the other must be your primary need and all of the circus-like machinations, all played upon by will only add to how you are feeling.
Red faces will at some stage be the order of the day and justice may recede to some dim corner of the real world. The winners will not be that obvious.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Australia--- you are catching Russia up---is that because----

Yip---it's true mates. Russia is hardly hitting on my blogs now. I think that's because the ladies there have given up on me or maybe Mr Putin read one of my blogs and thinks I do';t love him. How could I not be impressed my his macho acts and his powerful Neo-Stalinist Revisonist throwback to the old Soviet Era. I am simply swept away in nostalgic wave as I contemplate the future of that proud and wonderful nation that is Russia.
Keep it coming---Aussie Aussie Aussie.

Oh Ye of little faith---see the light!

When one reaches a certain age, choices present themselves in quite a different manner. One needs to act on these choices or become a bitter and twisted old fart. I choose not to. Only two of those words apply to me and you can work that out for yourselves.
I know I have pontificated on a range of issues (see the picture of me below, practising on my mates---poor buggers) and probably put a few of you to sleep. The fact remains that I shall continue to put my thoughts out there and hopefully help to keep the debate going on many issues.
Once started I find it hard to stop and my aim is to stimulate your thinking and maybe some of you will respond. It’s not important that you agree with me; indeed on Facebook, many of you don’t. It is more important that we have ‘the discussion.’ Hell, I can even change my mind at my age when I read a well thought out reply.
Each year as various forms of social media become one of the main forms of communicating, it is becoming increasingly obvious that political parties need to take heed of our collective ‘musings.’ If they ignore us, it is to their detriment.
Gosh that was hard, not actually trying g to push any particular argument for a change.
 Don’t worry; I shall be back to my pontificating normal self, next time you read my blog.

20 Shark Attacks in NZ! Terrifying?---No--Dogs and cats are worse!

It seems that we are being attacked on a daily basis by our animal friends and sharks have been just one of many who are the culprits. If we took this headline too seriously we would all be heading for more gentle locations.
Right, let’s get the shark attacks in proportion. The actual chance of being attacked by a shark in New Zealand waters is pretty remote. Only two of the reported attacks by sharks were serious. Having said that, I would still not wish to be in the water when a shark decides to take a nip at your hand or finger. The classic scenarios of a Great White circling then having your bits for breakfast are most unusual. You need to go to Australia or South Africa if you want to part of their menu. Many of the so-called reports of shark attacks are very minor and may even have happened in a boat when a fisherman has hauled a small shark aboard, so we shall not get too excited.
You are more at risk of being knocked over by an excited dog as it chases your pooch. That happened to me when my mischievous Jack Russell ran under through my legs and her follower tried the same--- only problem, the follower was ‘big.’
There are even reports of cats and goats getting in on the act. Can’t you just see ‘Billy Bunter’ living up to his name? Take your lovely pussy--- just stay away from the claws and don’t piss her off when she’s tired.
If you hail from down on the farm, there are the sheep, cows, bulls and God knows what else to contend with. New Zealand is an agricultural country, so expect the odd shoving, pushing, biting and slipping type injuries.
So, dear tourists and others who have read the article about ACC (Accident Compensation Commission) injuries; rest assured, you will be safe in the water, farms, backyards and zoos in New Zealand. Just don’t come at feeding time.

Is Kiwi Rail going to further run down our railways?

Kiwi Rail is having a series of meetings to discuss redundancies with its labour force. I find this and some of the proposed closing of rail links (The Gisborne rail link, for example) as a short sighted move. At a time when we should be enhancing our rail system, Kiwi Rail (read the Government) is slowly but surely pushing our rail system to the point whereby it will only be a Main Trunk link in the North Island and in the two big cities.
What a narrow view of what rail could and should be. Do we really want all of the heavy trucks transporting goods on our roads, further endangering drivers and putting extra strain re the upkeep of the said roads?
We need to expand, not cut. There is a time coming, in the not too distant future when we are going to regret the actions we are reading about.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

How can the world take Pakistan seriously when one of their Government Ministers acts like a terrorist!?

We all know that a great deal of offence has been taken by the Islamic World over the stupid and insulting film made by a ’new American,’ (actually I don’t know if he is a citizen) and by the publication of offensive cartoons by a French magazine.
We have seen the results whereby a section of Islam has hit the streets, killing and creating mayhem. I can understand the anger, but not the extent of the response.
Now, however we have a member of the Pakistani Government acting like a terrorist. By putting bounty on the head of the deluded filmmaker, he has reached very low level. No one can take the Pakistani Government as being part of the civilized world if they allow this to continue. I suspect that his position will be under threat and that the Government will get rid of him and come back into the community of nations that peruses a more moderate response.
His actions may further inflame what is already an intolerable situation. If religion causes such responses, then to me, it is not something that I would aspire to. Of course, I must not forget those many tolerant and loving people who follow a much more gentle and inspiring form of faith. More power to them!
The Pakistani Government is 'distancing itself' from the actions of its rogue Minister. THAT IS JUST NOT ENOUGH!

Hekia will say that bigger classes means better results---Rubbish!

The reporting in the Herald this morning that bigger classes in bigger schools can mean better results re National Standards. It then went on to say that the school in East Auckland had markedly better results than schools in other areas.
Just watch Ms Parata and her cohorts twaddle and twiddle from great heights, using such result to justify and ram through some of their obvious agenda---pushing National Standards and bigger classes. It will be sickening to watch and I suspect the assault will start in the next 48 hours.
COME ON -------Get real Ms Parata. After you have rung Johnny and slurped your coffee in excitement—take a look at the facts. Try and get the point I made in my last blog about Cultural Capital! You will probably say, ‘but many of these children are of Asian descent and they have managed to achieve high standards. That is the point my dear---- they come with the tools to learn, the role models and the means.
It is ridiculous comparing a school like that identified in the report and then use that as justification for your crazy agenda. Take a school in the area where I work, put in the resources in the form of good reading recovery projects, work with the families and try to balance out the effects of the socio-economic issues and apply this consistently and you will get results, but take your foot off the pedal for even a few months and the gains will recede.
When will politicians and those who claim that ‘but I made it---I picked myself up and look at me now’---when will these people take a close look at what life is really like for so many of our kids?
I believe that many National Party politicians genuinely want better lives for all of our citizens, but they do not have an accurate understanding of what life is like at the ‘front line’  for our kids. In that case, go and talk regularly to the teachers, teacher aides, counsellors, youth workers and social workers in parts of our large cities---it is a very different world to what you live in. Above all—open your eyes and hear their stories.
I can hear the howls of the people who think I have insulted them. Never mind--- they won’t read this!

Obama has done enough to placate the 'screamers and haters!

The sight of President Obama going on TV trying to calm those segments of the Islamic world that were deeply offended by a nut case wannabe film producer in the USA is one that has gone far enough. If he goes any further, he is endangering a basic right of Americans to speak out. Yes, that right comes with certain responsibilities and an unspoken obligation not to attack the religions of others.
I am not an American but the sight of what most of us would consider criminal behaviours and those who do not want to listen to the voice of reason; attacking and destroying, using young kids to spread a message of hate, is disturbing to say the least.
Christianity in the past (and some sections still do) has had a history of intolerance too, so it could be said that no religion is free of zealots.
Many citizens in most countries do not hold to any particular faith and others could be best described as ‘moderate’ in their views, whereby they manage to live alongside those of a different faith. What we are witnessing around the world, but in the Islamic world especially at the moment, is nothing short of ignorance, bordering on evil.
I wish that the vast majority of those of all faiths, who constitute the majority, would speak out and not let those who would drive us further apart and risk more loss of life, would bring a much needed spirit of coexistence to a troubled world.
America has been a beacon in the past to those seeking a new beginning and a freedom to express their faith. Now we watch to see if reason can reassert itself, in all countries and perhaps the real intent of the words in books held ‘sacred’ can be revisited.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Teachers need God-like qualities for raising National Standards!

Oops, I should not have used such a provocative opening---I may cause riots and initiate signs that demand that I should be beheaded. OK, that may be the topic of other blogs but I am annoyed at the bloody-mindedness of the Government and its stance on National Standards.
Despite much research from overseas, the Government continues to pursue this issue. We do not need research to tell us what most teachers and many parents have known for decades, if not longer.
There are many reason why a section of our populace fails to meet the ‘at or above’ level for the National Standards in the three areas measured (many say by a flawed system).
I have used the term, ‘Cultural Capital’ (CC) several times in my previous blogs and I feel the need to base some of arguments on this. I make no apologies for boring those unwilling to listen. No amount of political posturing, all in the name of either saving money or pushing right-wing philosophies that have no place in Education changes the fact that for some, attaining levels of achievement enjoyed by those who have the role-models and the means to take advantage of the universal education system will make any measurable difference, without major resourcing of the schools in lower socio-economic areas. There are examples in schools where improvement has occurred, but without consistent application and increased resourcing (and possibly ‘targeted’) of families who send their kids to school; those gains can be quickly lost.
What is it that is so hard to understand about the obvious? Maybe the Government does not want to acknowledge the significance of CC, because the implications are in either in the ‘too hard basket’ and therefore poetically unpalatable, or their agenda is anti-lower decile areas in our community. The cynical side of me suspects that the answer is a bit of both. I won’t accuse them of being lacking in brain cells because I believe they know exactly what they are doing!
The Government is intent on laying the blame for poorer standards in our lower decile schools and in particular for the achievement of Maori and Pacifica children. They fail to make the link between the numbers of Maori and Pacifica children falling into the poverty trap that further diminishes their educational achievement rates. My statement is not an excuse; it is more in the way of an explanation. We will never consistently raise achievement levels for the majority of those of our citizens who are in this ‘poverty trap.’
The typical right-wing and often espoused view of national party politicians is that---‘hey, I came from a State House, and look at me now!’ They use their experience as an example of what can be. Let’s get real here. Of course they have done well, and generally, I say ‘good on them,’ but that is not the reality for many of our populace. There is no society on earth that reflects ‘success for everyone,’ even in so-called Communist countries. Human nature and our individual differences work against such a perfect society. I cannot be accused of approaching this argument from a solely left-wing perspective, but having said that, I probably will be.
Now, take the experiences of so many of our hard-working teachers and teacher-aides. Kids come to school from poorly heated homes, hungry, sick and without the very tools they need for their education. Ask teachers in lower decile schools about how often they buy stationary and food for their charges. Generally they don’t make a fuss about this and just get on with their jobs.
Add in the mobility of many of these families in the above mentioned areas and you have another factor in ‘lower-achievement. Families move around in response to their economic needs. Bottom line--- AGAIN!—Kids who are hungry, lacking ion the basics of life and who miss out on schooling do not achieve at the same level as their cohorts who have all of their needs met. No amount a political machinations will alter this fact.
Unfortunately we have had successive governments who have approached this issue in inconsistent ways. The National Party, in particular resides in a place where there is no light--- their head is way too far down in the sand to observe what is patently obvious to those of us who work at the front line.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A pre-holiday blog about self-publishing

A pre-holiday blog about self-publishing.
I am sure you have all heard and often spoken those hallowed words, ‘If I knew then what I know now.’ Isn’t it easy to look backwards and wonder at what could have been? I think that one should stop knocking oneself and take into account that knowledge and just move on. That is what I have decided to do, re the world of ‘self-publishing.’
I feel very different now as the holidays approach. I am ready to get out there and promote my books, even if it puts a few people off. I have learnt that if I don’t do this, nothing will happen and the huge amounts of money I have ‘invested’ will be as ‘slurry down the dunny.’ (That’s for my Kiwi and Aussie readers!).
Earlier this year I was almost ready to give up, when all my efforts were ‘heading south.’ It felt like everything had been for nothing. My previous publisher was in dire straits and my books were accompanying her to wherever that place she was heading. I had no idea how many books I had sold and it was only more confusing when I noticed that some of my books were in various libraries. Damned if I was the recipient of any largess, despite my requests for information about sales. That may help to explain my less than sympathetic  utterings about my former publsiher.
To top it off, I paid all my bills to what was essentially a non-existent company----dumb eh? It was then that I decided to ‘go out on my own.’ There was a big risk in doing that. I do not have the contacts and expertise to get my books ‘out there.’ I was going to need to dig deep and expunge any vestiges of meekness and shyness that I had ever possessed. That could well mean pissing off a few people and endangering a few relationships.  I steeled myself for rejection emails and ‘please take me off your list’ replies.
First issue: I needed to get my two books at the time, ‘Coastal Yarns’ and ‘Roskill’ reissued with new ISBN numbers and possibly new covers. I found out that it was possibly not a good move to keep the same covers. That was a pity, because I liked both covers. I have no beef with the ex-publisher on issues of artistic merit.
Secondly, I had to get new PDF files in order for the printer to go ahead and re-publish the books. I decided to have them re-edited as well. I know my first two books had many mistakes and typos in them. I ‘never’ see these when I am looking, but they pop-out when I am simply reading them. Of course lots of friends were more than happy to point them out (bless them).  I hate it when I read a library book and some twat with a complex has gone through and underlined the mistakes, so I guess even the so-called professionals make mistakes.
I applied for new ISBN numbers. These are important in that they separate my book from the first prints and the previous publisher. Now, anyone making enquiries can be put in touch with me directly. Hell, I think that’s what it all means! I also re-established a relationship with my printer and arranged to deal with them directly. The savings there are big. I don’t get charged for all of these obscure add-ons, but it also means that I have to develop networks of my own. That has taken time.
I found people to edit and proofread the new files. It seems that no matter how many times I do this I can still find the odd mistake in the finished product. The new covers were easy enough and I was even able to use a picture I took on an old phone for the cover for ‘Talk To Me,’ my latest book. This too all costs money. The old balance sheet was and is looking pretty sad, but what else can I do---stop now?  Don’t think so.
Finally, I had to do something about my website. The old one was defunct, stuffed, call it what you will. A friend put me on to a couple who have turned up trumps. Alexandra and Derek designed the website and also re-edited Coastal Yarns. Derek came up with an amazing picture for the front cover of the re-issued ‘Coastal Yarns.’ No cheap camera this time.
I have received the new copies of ‘Roskill’ and ‘Talk To Me,’ and next week the new edition of ‘Coastal Yarns’ will join them. Now it is over to me to get them out there.
If you are interested in my books, just buy them through the website or contact me direct—also through the website. Maybe you do not want to buy them, but would like to read them. That’s easy enough in NZ. Just go to the website for your local library or visit them and ask them if they have the books in stock. They won’t have the new editions, so they will need to buy them through my website. You only need the title and author name. If you have the ISBN numbers that’s good too---- that is available on my website. They get the books---I win, you win---simple.
Look out for ‘SONS OF ORPHEUS,’ an historical novel split into three books, based on the sinking of the Orpheus, NZ’s worst ever maritime disaster. It tells the story of three fictional characters but is based around my perception of real events in NZ and Australian history.
Thanks so much for your support, past and future.
Neil 21.9.12

"Talk To Me,' my latest book is now live on my site.

I now have two of my books available on my website    All I need now is for you to buy them, using PayPal on my site. My books have been issued with new ISBN numbers and covers, because I was not sure I could use the images when my last publisher was deregistered.
Now, I am in control of the whole process and it should go smoothly from now on. Many thanks to the team that support me.
1)    My editors---Maree Pavletich and Alec Allinson
2)    My website and cover  designer---Derek Allinson
3)    My printer-----The Colour Guy (especially to Karleen who patiently handles my endless questions about what should be simple to understand instructions!)
Thanks to my family and friends who buy my books when they should get them free.
If you don’t want to buy my books, just go into your library and request them. That way, you get them free, and I get a small amount from the sales. All you need is the name of the books and my name.
Books by Neil Coleman:
Coastal Yarns (The new version will be out next week 26th September)
Talk To Me

Next project-----Sons Of Orpheus.
Check out the website to see what’s coming up and for a link to ‘friendly’ websites and to my blogs.

The weekend--- love it but for some these days, it hardly exists

There was once time when the weekend in NZ was a time when one could relax; that is if you didn’t include family chores and various other responsibilities, but that was, that it was time away from work.
Sadly, things have changed for many people, probably not just in NZ. Gone for many are the sleep-ins, leisurely breakfasts, picnics and BBQs at the beach, reading a book (no Kindles then), watching your kids playing rugby, visiting your favourite Aunt (because she did all of her own baking), talking to your neighbour over the back fence (do you even know your neighbour’s name?), going shopping before the shops closed for the weekend at mid-day, sending the kids off to the matinee at the cinema (knowing that they were quite safe to go alone), cooking the Sunday roast (the leftovers would go into a curry the next day) and finally, once the lawns were mowed, you could actually do—well--- NOTHING.
Now, the chances of a family being together, (I don’t mean the marriage---that’s another issue) for the weekend are greatly diminished. At least one partner will be working; even teenage kids may have a job. Some families will of course be together, because neither parent has a job. For them, it may feel like a sentence, because they will have little in the way of ‘discretionary’ spending.
For others, it maybe that working in the weekend is a requirement, in order for the company they work for to keep a hold on the niche they have managed to find in the larger world they now do business with.
It is not a ‘Brave New World;’ it is more a Cruel new economic-driven reality world.’ We have changed because we have had to and we have lost much as a result.
For me, I can hardly remember when my partner last had a clear weekend off. What’s next-----schools joining the move for a seven day week?
Thanks for reading the musings of a sentimental guy trying to remember what he thinks the world used to be like.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

I Think I have offended my Russian readers!

Yes, my criticism of Putin and his abuse of power must have struck a raw nerve with my Russian readers. I have been unfair and painted him as a tyrant and a power- hungry throw-back to the past. That is so wrong of me and my prediction that Russia is going back to the past is entirely unwarranted----NOT!
There may be another reason of course. Perhaps those lovely Russian ladies seeking partners in NZ have realized that I am not the ‘catch’ they thought I was. Gosh, life is full of disappointments.

Please tell me I have heard it wrong--NZ's SAS troops heading for a revenge attack in Afghanistan!

I have got the wrong end of the stick, haven’t I? New Zealand is NOT going to send our elite SAS troops on a retribution attack on the insurgents who killed five of our soldiers in Afghanistan. OMG---it’s true! What is the bloody point? Our troops died there but what will be solved by going on this mission?
For a start, it is us who is in their country, (yes there are many in the Taliban who are not Afghanistan citizens) so it could be argued that a section of the population sees us as the invaders. Secondly, revenge is an ugly word; one that smacks of everything that is wrong in this world. Payback will never resolve anything and that comes from ‘one’ who does not espouse any particular religion.
The whole exercise is one that is futile. For the PM to actually talk about the fact that we are sending these soldiers on this perilous mission has in itself put the men and women at risk. It is like saying---‘Hello, Taliban. We are coming to get you and you have plenty of time to get ready for us.’
We should be trying to get out of that Godforsaken country. Just look at the history and learn. NO ONE CAN WIN. It is a complete waste of the lives of our men and women and serves as nothing more than appeasing the Americans. They too are finally learning what the Soviet Union did--- the hard way.
Now that the Prime Minister had opened his big mouth yet again, we could well be facing more funerals and sad families. It is all so unnecessary. I truly wish that, firstly out troops were not going and secondly that our fool of a PM has spoken so prematurely.

Are they becoming a sick joke?---The Government.

Actually no, they are not. Yes, some sectors, including the Education Sector are actively engaged in survival mode, especially in the Canterbury region, but the Government still has a good deal of support.
Rubbish, you may say. I think from the tone of my previous blogs, you have figured that I am not a card-carrying member of the National Party, but many people, silently support the issues that John Key has raised.
Have a conversation about Educational issues or ‘water rights,’ for example, and it’s what people don’t say that tells you that he still has support. So, what I am saying is that although some of the things that JK and his various Ministers (like Parata and Bennet), are ringing true for a huge number of NZers.
The battle is way from over and even further from being won, on so many issues.
The last few weeks has seen JK and his Ministers looking pretty damned stupid in the light of serous opposition from Maori and teacher/parents alliances, but the body language from the above mentioned is still one of arrogance and sense of ‘we know that we are doing.’
We are not going to shut up and take it; we need to mobilize that group that sits and says nothing, even though they have a growing sense that things are going in a direction that is not good for New Zealand.
If you have read this short blog to the end, then you are on the right path. Now, go and respond---keep the discussion going.

Is your right to 'free speech going to be 'right' for others?

At what point do we say that your right to free speech is superseded by the right of others to ‘live?’ I am of course speaking about a French magazine and the fact that it has gone ahead and published cartoons denigrating Islam and the ‘Prophet.’ As a result, the French Government has had to temporarily shut some of its embassies and consulates along with some schools.
Not only has the action of the magazine caused inconvenience to many people, it has possibly placed those individuals who work or study in the above institutions; it has actually put them at risk, given the over-the-top reaction from some in the Islamic community.
I am sure that our forefathers who went to war, with the words of politicians echoing in their heads about ‘fighting for freedom’ and various other catchcries, would be turning on their graves at the actions of this French magazine.
Freedom comes with a duty to use it with ‘understanding’ and sensitivity; but nothing re the events of the last few weeks, be it ignorant film makers or magazine publisher would indicate that thought has preceded actions. No way am I condoning what has happened as a result of these stupid, insensitive ‘publishings,’ but has not history taught us that such ‘reactions’ are inevitable?
Now, we must wait until ‘Friday Prayers’ to see if the feared outcomes eventuate. I say the price is too high, just as much as I say that the riotous behaviour is way out of proportion. The bottom line is that we all share this world and we have a range of beliefs, some held to the extreme. It seems logical and right that we do not insult one another. It is also obvious that those religions who talk about turning the other cheek, do not practise what they espouse. Hopefully level heads will win out in the end. A forlorn hope?