Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Following in the tradition of "International Talk Like a Pirate Day"

According to one of the many mailing lists I subscribe to, today is "International Day of Action Against Socialists".

I don't have much to say about this, but would be interested in Gaz's and Nick's comments...

Monday, November 29, 2004

New Victoria University Vice Chancellor

Well, it's official: Professor Pat Walsh is to replace Stuart McCutcheon (who replaces John Hood as VC at Auckland University) as Vice Chancellor next year.

I am indifferent to this news. I haven't had a lot to do with Proffessor Walsh (being in the Faculty of Commerce and all), although many at VUWSA who have, are positive about his appointment. He has been at Victoria for almost the entire of his working life which is a little concerning, but his work on PBRF (while I don't agree with the funding model) made the best out of a bad situation.

I guess I'm taking a "wait and see" approach to this... watch this space.

The following message is dispatched to all staff on behalf of the Chancellor, Rosemary Barrington:

Appointment of new Vice-Chancellor

Victoria University Chancellor, Rosemary Barrington, today announced the appointment of Professor Pat Walsh to the position of Vice-Chancellor with effect from 1 January 2005.
The selection process involved an extensive international search. Candidates from Australia and the United Kingdom were also short-listed.

“We are delighted to have appointed a person of the calibre and scholarly stature of Professor Walsh,” said Ms Barrington.

“It is even more pleasing to appoint a New Zealander who is known internationally in his research field, and has enjoyed a distinguished career at Victoria University that has included a variety of management and leadership roles.

“With his strong commitment to academic values, together with the forward momentum of the University, Professor Walsh will strengthen Victoria’s extensive relationships with the many communities it serves.”

Professor Walsh is Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of the Faculty of Commerce & Administration, as well as Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research) at Victoria University of Wellington, positions he has held since January 2003. He was Head of the School of Business & Public Management, now the Victoria Management School for six years, and was Director of the Industrial Relations Centre for seven years. In 1999, he was appointed as Professor of Human Resource Management and Industrial Relations. He received his MA from the University of Canterbury and his PhD from the University of Minnesota.

“I am excited about the new challenge represented in the role. Victoria University of Wellington is an outstanding university with a vibrant and stimulating community of scholars and students, supported by able and committed general staff,” said Professor Walsh.

“I look forward to taking the Capital City University forward as a pre-eminent provider of quality, research-led, university education.”

Issued by Victoria University of Wellington Public Affairs
Rosemary Barrington

Thursday, November 25, 2004

One Month To Go

Amanda just brought it to my attention that there are only 4 weeks until we bugger off for Christmas. Just perfect. In that time I have to get fully trained as President, meet all the lovely (and not so lovely) people in the university, and tidy my office to hand over to . The last of those is the most daunting.

Mike Bignall (EVP before me) was so incredibly tidy. When I moved into my current office at about this time last year, the pens in the desk drawer were neatly lined up and sorted by colour, and the filing was perfect. There was nothing on the desk. It has not been even remotely tidy since - at the moment it resembles downtown Fallujah. Not a big fan on the tidy-office-policy, to be honest... Everyday look at it and find another way to procrastinate - Pacman is my favourite (courtesy of Salient - cheers guys).

This week has been taken up with Vic Chancellor’s appointment. I am the student representative on the University Advisory Group (UAG), a sub-committee of Academic Board, which acts in an advisory role on academic issues to the Council subcommittee. (Translation: we have no actual power or authority, are basically a token consultation measure, and Council can ignore our recommendations if they wish. Maybe I’ve become a little too cynical…).

And, this afternoon I had my first Student Job Search Wellington Regional committee meeting, where I was unanimously elected 2005 Regional Chair (watch me contain my excitement).

And, apparently today is Thanks Giving in the States ... well, I'm going to JJ Murphey's for a beer.

Is Golf Getting Too Easy?

I've just seen this on XtraMSN (my computer's default homepage) - is golf getting too easy?

I've always been a bit of a purest on golf courses. I'm keen fan on the traditional British, St Andrews-style links courses, where if you don't hit the ball straight you're screwed. American's tend to build courses for show, rather than skill. 240 yard par 3s, and 600 yard par 5s where you can hit it almost anywhere, as long as you nail it into the next century, are not how golf was supposed to be played. Having said that, being 6'2", I never had any trouble hitting the ball a long way, and not especially straight...

For the record; my best round was 77 at Helensville District Golf Club (which won me the under 21s championship in 1997). The last game I played was at Gulf Harbour in July, and it was rusty, real rusty...

Mickelson Makes Golfing History
25/11/2004 01:30 PM NewstalkZB

American golfer Phil Mickelson has made golfing history at the PGA Grand Slam of Golf in Hawaii. Mickelson has carded a sensational 13 under par 59, to equal the best ever round in competition golf. He is just the fifth golfer in history to break the magic 60 barrier. Mickelson had a 10-foot eagle putt on the 18th hole for an unprecedented 58 but the putt curved just left of the cup, leaving him an easy tap in for a birdie. Al Geiberger (1977), Chip Beck (1991), David Duval (1999) and Annika Sorenstam (2001) are the only other golfers to have shot a 59. Mickelson ended the tournament at 17 under par, five shots clear of Vijay Singh. Retief Goosen was one shot back, while Todd Hamilton was a distant last at one over, in the battle of the year's four major championship winners.
Final Round Scores:
127 Phil Mickelson 68 59
132 Vijay Singh (Fiji) 66 66 133
Retief Goosen (South Africa) 65 68
145 Todd Hamilton 70 75

Garden State

Last night I went to the Wellington (and NZ?) premier of Garden State, the movie that is written, directed, and starring Zack Braff (JD on Scrubs). I didn't expect much, but came away pleasantly surprised.

Someone said to me that it was merely an attempt by Braff to through off the stigma of Scrubs, and stop being type-cast as JD. Well, he certainly didn't achieve that - his role as Andrew Largeman in Garden State is very similar to JD in Scrubs - not that I'm saying that's a bad thing...

The story goes something like this:
Andrew Largeman (Braff), an unsuccessful actor in LA, gets a call one morning from his father (a slightly senile psychiatrist, superbly played by Sir Ian Holm) in Newark to say his mother had died. Largeman returns to Newark for the first time in nine years, catches up with his childhood friends, and attempts to find "home".

The only other big name is Natalie Portman, who plays the slightly quirky (but still very cute) love interest.

I would recommend it for anyone looking for a light-hearted, yet inspirational movie about life.

Monday, November 22, 2004

I Don't Like to Blow My Own Trumpet, But...

... for the first time in my life, I got straight A's (well, one A-):

GEOG 410 - Advanced Urban Geography - A
GEOG 411 - Advanced Transportation Geography - A-
POLS 436 - State and the Economy - A

I think I owe Tim Vowles and Anne Rahming a beer or two...

Ironically, the topic of my thesis is most likely to be the New Zealand aviation industry, and the implications of a second Auckland airport at Whenuapai, along the lines of the paper I got an A- in.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Civil Union Ad

OK, while it's still Sunday, go out and purchase a Sunday Star Times (I know, you feel dirty, but just do it). Turn to page A15, and look at the 15th row from the bottom on the second column. Alternatively, you can download a copy from here. Yep, that's my name in print (it doesn't happen very often)!

The names are not alphabetical, so it was a bit of a mission to find my name. Ten points for the person who can find Jordan, Tony, Conor, Amanda, Jules, Stephen, David, the Co-Presidents of NZUSA, and my closest opponent for President.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

So Much To Do, So Little Time...

I am shattered. This weekend was the 2005 VUWSA Executive Retreat at Nick Kelly's Ohakune ski lodge (yes, apparently one of the conditions of the revolution will be that Comrade Kelly will get to keep his holiday home). This is a chance for the new exec team to get introduced to the workings of VUWSA, start planning for the year, and generally get to know each other. It was a busy weekend, and I got very little sleep.

I have to say, after some initial concerns, the 2005 VUWSA Executive are going to be fantastic:
  • Jenn Jones, EVP - good, intelligent, and hard working. Had a really bad spaight of "food poisoning" this morning though.
  • Nick Kelly, WVP - like me, a huge fan of The Boss. Need I say more? The only member of the 2005 exec to have been on exec as long as me.
  • Bevan Callaghan, Treasurer - the youngest member of the exec. Has a passion for numbers (campaign slogan - "Numbers Are My Thing").
  • Kerry O'Connor, Women's Rights Officer - the first "newbie", but seems to be really keen to learn the ropes, and get stuck in. Lovely, easy-going woman, with a great sense of humour. And she offered to make me breakfast this morning (which I politely declined, not being a big breakfast person).
  • Hannah Collings, Clubs Officer - 2004 WRO. Wouldn't have picked Clubs to be Hannah's cup of tea, but has a years experience under her belt, and is keen to work hard in 2005.
  • Cordelia Black, Education Officer - intelligent, and committed. The only member of exec who has been a student for longer than me.
  • Maddy Drew, Education Officer - President of UniQ (Victoria's representative group for gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, and transgender students), and 2004 recipient of the VUWSA Clubs Development Award. Really hard working, and an awesome sense of humour. Possibly the fittest person I know.
  • Brendan Jarvis, Activities Officer - The invisible Man. Hardcase guy, who is keen to work hard for a range of activities on campus, including other events away from the traditional beer-oriented events. According to Jules, he has a nice arse.
  • David Cassidy, Campaigns Officer - Committed to student-focused campaigns (has been an active member of the Education Action Group in the past). Good guy, knows how to drink.

Despite the wide range of political views (Parties: 2 ACT, 3 National, 1 Labour (me), 4 unaffiliated), and the fact that O'Connor, Collings, Jarvis and Cassidy were on my opponent's ticket (although one of them told me during the weekend, that they in fact voted for me. I don't really believe that, and told them that I did not vote for them), I think we have the potential to work together to continue the strong VUWSA tradition. Also, this makes us considerably more representative than past execs.

I have NZUSA President's training this week, should be a good chance to meet the Federation Executive, and pick up some new skills for the job ahead. Interesting fact: All nine university campus associations are headed up by men this year - you decide whether that's a good thing or not.

It's all starting to heat up at VUWSA, and 2004 comes to an end, and 2005 rolls on. I'm looking forward to it, and know that I have the right (as in correct) exec behind me to make a difference fo students.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Progressive Tertiary Education Policy

At Victoria University, we have a word for Jim Anderton's latest tertiary education policy - plagiarism. It's basically a re-hash of the Nat's failed "You Stay, We Pay" policy, yet, no-one in the media seems to have pick up on this. (in fact, Stuff [http://www.progressive.org.nz/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=1334] claim that "Latest figures predict student debt levels to triple to $15 billion in the next 15 years" - interesting, considering student debt hi $7 billion earlier this year.

The thing about plagiarism is that it is normally a sign of desperation. I would hate to see Jim Anderton go, but it appears his mind already has. The "You Stay, Me Pay" policy has a number of flaws, which is why the Nats dropped it. The most glaringly obvious flaw is that it's great for someone like a medical graduate (who will have no trouble finding a job), but not so great for an arts graduate (who probably won't walk straight into a job out of uni).

First the cut to the business tax, and now this. Strange coming from someone who left the Labour Party because he was too left wing. What next Jim? Removal of New Zealand's nuclear free status?

"The Letter" Picked It (Or Not?)

As a subscriber to what used to be called "Richard Prebble's Letter from Wellington", but is now simply "The Letter". Always really interesting to see things from the ACT perspective - a source of constant amusement.

Todays edition included this:


The Letter predicted George Bush's victory, we said 52-48%, it was 51-48%. We also predicted correctly the Republicans would increase their majority in Congress. Despite sending journalists to America no NZ mainstream media predicted a Republican win. The NZ media gets most of its American news coverage via the British media who have been hostile towards Bush from the start. This is not new. The same media wrote off Ronald Reagan as a "B-grade" actor. The Letter picked a Republican victory because of a fundamental political shift taking place in America. George Bush is the first President since Franklin D Roosevelt to increase his party's congressional majority in three elections in a row. Contrary to our media's view this is not bad news for NZ. Kerry's running mate Senator Edwards, a protectionist, was replaced by a senator with ACT-like views on free trade and tax. It is a Republican majority that is willing to fight global terror and support free trade.


I also picked Bush to win (in fact, I put money on it). However, what interests me more than anything else the fact that they believe Ronald Reagan to have been something more than a "B grade actor", which virtually flies in the face of the entire of Hollywood... I guess this is probably from the same school of thought as Bill English's comments that he had not read The Lord of the Rings, and now didn't need to because he had seen the movie (for the record, I've done neither).

Interesting to do a Google search on "B grade actor" and click "I'm Feeling Lucky"...

I wouldn't recommend the Letter (which you can subscribe to from here http://www.act.org.nz/subscribe.jsp) for anything other than amusement. If you want some serious political newsletters from the Right, I recommend Upton On-Line (http://upton-on-line.com/mailman/listinfo/upton-on-line)

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Kerry Concedes

Got this in my email this morning:


Dear Supporter,

Earlier today I spoke to President Bush, and offered him and Laura our congratulations on their victory. We had a good conversation, and we talked about the danger of division in our country and the need, the desperate need, for unity for finding the common ground, coming together. Today, I hope that we can begin the healing.

In America, it is vital that every vote counts, and that every vote be counted. But the outcome should be decided by voters, not a protracted legal process. I would not give up this fight if there was a chance that we would prevail. But it is now clear that even when all the provisional ballots are counted, which they will be, there won't be enough outstanding votes for our campaign to be able to win Ohio. And therefore, we cannot win this election.

It was a privilege and a gift to spend two years traveling this country, coming to know so many of you. I wish I could just wrap you in my arms and embrace each and every one of you individually all across this nation. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you.

To all of you, my volunteers and online supporters, all across this country who gave so much of themselves, thank you. Thanks to William Field, a six-year-old who collected $680, a quarter and a dollar at a time selling bracelets during the summer to help change America. Thanks to Michael Benson from Florida who I spied in a rope line holding a container of money. It turned out he raided his piggy bank and wanted to contribute. And thanks to Alana Wexler, who at 11 years old and started Kids for Kerry.

I thank all of you, who took time to travel, time off from work, and their own vacation time to work in states far and wide. You braved the hot days of summer and the cold days of the fall and the winter to knock on doors because you were determined to open the doors of opportunity to all Americans. You worked your hearts out, and I say, don't lose faith. What you did made a difference, and building on itself, we will go on to make a difference another day. I promise you, that time will come -- the election will come when your work and your ballots will change the world, and it's worth fighting for.

I'm proud of what we stood for in this campaign, and of what we accomplished. When we began, no one thought it was possible to even make this a close race, but we stood for real change, change that would make a real difference in the life of our nation, the lives of our families, and we defined that choice to America. I'll never forget the wonderful people who came to our rallies, who stood in our rope lines, who put their hopes in our hands, who invested in each and every one of us. I saw in them the truth that America is not only great, but it is good.

So here -- with a grateful heart, I leave this campaign with a prayer that has even greater meaning to me now that I've come to know our vast country so much better and that prayer is very simple: God bless America.

Thank you,

John Kerry

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Initial Exit Polls

Very early days yet, but according to Scoop...

Kerry 48 Bush 50

Kerry 46 Bush 53

North Carolina
Kerry 49 Bush 51

Kerry 54 Bush 45

Kerry 50 Bush 49

Kerry 50 Bush 49

Kerry 51 Bush 47

New Mexico
Kerry 50 Bush 48

Kerry 51 Bush 46

John Tamihere Resigns Portfolios

Prime Minister Helen Clark said today that she had received the resignation of the Hon John Tamihere from all his portfolios and had advised the Governor-General to accept it.

"This resignation has not been sought by me. A process was put in place three weeks ago, following which a decision about John's future cabinet position was to be made," Helen Clark said.

"Following the referral of the Paragon Report to the Serious Fraud Office, it is clear that the White Report would not have been the end of the inquiries into allegations being made.

"At this point, John is concerned to ensure that he can participate fully in progressing the government's agenda and representing his constituents, and that is not possible for him while he is on leave from ministerial duties.

"I believe the course John has taken is an honourable one.

"I have always seen great potential in John and continue to do so. He has been a hard working and energetic minister and it is my hope that he will be able to contribute at ministerial level again in the future.

"The ministers currently acting in his previous portfolio areas will continue with those responsibilities in the meantime. I have decided that no new appointments will be made to Cabinet at this time," Helen Clark said.

Worker disciplined for wearing badge

Just got this from one of my contacts. Srongly urge everyone to stand up for the working man!!


Union to challenge Sky City casino

A Service & Food Workers' Union (SFWU) member, working on the gaming floor at Sky City Auckland, faced disciplinary action this week after refusing to remove a badge celebrating Labour Day. The worker received a written warning in yesterday’s disciplinary meeting, a decision that his union, the Service & Food Workers’ Union (SFWU) says they will challenge.

Over 400 other SFWU members at Sky City wore badges on the same day, however the company management has singled out one worker for disciplinary action.

“We believe that union members have the right to wear union badges, particularly on Labour Day. We consider Sky City's actions discriminate against this worker and we will be challenging Sky’s decision.” said SFWU National Secretary Darien Fenton

SFWU members at Sky City as well as National Distribution Union (NDU) members at Progressive Supermarkets wore the small button badges to celebrate the Labour Day with slogans such as “I’m Union” and “Proud 2 B Union.”

Sky City has maintained that wearing union badges breaches their dress and uniform policy. However, union members regularly wear other badges and ribbons to work which they are not asked to remove including ANZAC poppies, breast cancer ribbons and cancer awareness daffodils.

“Sky City’s reaction is over the top and steps on our members’ freedom to associate,” says Ms Fenton. “Simply put, Sky City is using a sledgehammer to break a walnut.”


Contact: Paul Walsh, Sky City Group HR manager
Email: paul.walsh@skycity.co.nz

Please CC all emails to:
anthony.hiron@sfwu.org.nz and darien.fenton@sfwu.org.nz

Tuesday, November 02, 2004


I have completed my last exam ever. EVER!!!!

It's bloody liberating. The exam went well, I guess - much better than I had anticipated.

I'm going to drink beer now. Mmmmm beer.

Holmes to Resign

It was announced today that Holmes will be resigning from TVNZ instantly, due to his reluctance to accept a 12 month contract.

About bloody time! That man has done more damage to the collective New Zealand intellect than any other person alive.

The question is, who to replace him, and will they make a difference? I would like to see Simon Dallow do it. He has proved himself as a good journalist with Agenda, and will more than replace the gnome.
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