Identity | The Daily Post

Find inspiration in one of the popular topics on Discover. For this week’s Discover Challenge, focus on identity. You may use it simply as a one-word prompt, or tell us what the word means to you. Or you might publish a sketch that represents who you are or how you feel today, a poem about identity in our digital age, or a personal essay about who you once were.

Source: Identity | The Daily Post

I began drafting this post around the time of one of the recent active shooter incidents in the US. It says so much that such incidents are now so frequent that I cannot remember which it was, possibly Orlando…

The aftermath of each of these incidents is marked by bitter ‘weapon’ versus ‘ideology’ outbursts and exchanges. I do not thing that either side really gets the issues: each tragedy is little more than an excuse for each camp to dust off (not dust-off which is a far more noble act) respective meme collections.

It is America’s right to have whatever laws, rights and responsibilities that it wants to inflict on itself. I have no more problem with the Second Amendment than I do with the Fifth although I would offer that the rights of the Second should be read and applied in the context of their context i.e. as the people’s contribution to a well-regulated militia…the key phrase being well-regulated.

The ‘right’ to espouse an ideology probably falls under the First Amendment…the one that protects free speech…but again that comes with responsibilities. We have probably all heard of, if not actually read or heard the actual words, Oliver Wendell Holmes “crying fire in a theatre” quote. For the record, this is what he actually said to give context to those words:

The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic. It does not even protect a man from an injunction against uttering words that may have all the effect of force. The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent. It is a question of proximity and degree.

Those legally bent or who just like to read some exceptionable well-written English can read Justice Holmes’ full opinion in the Cornell University Law School Legal Information Institute Web site.

Contrary to the good Justice’s opinion – the key work in his theatre analogy is ‘falsely’ – in the information domain, the random and rabid shotgunning of the information militia (plural) is as destructive regardless of whether it has elements of truth or fact or not.

Every time those ideological memes fly, their sole function, intended or not, is to fan the flames of ideological conflict. As much as I thought it needed work (thought #1, thought #2), what we are seeing is the phenomenon that David Kilcullen theorised in The Accidental Guerrilla: the more something is ‘fixed’, the worse it gets. This is the irony of irregular warfare.

With regard to the active shooter incidents in America, there is another factor in play that may not be present or which is certainly less present in incidents. A large element of American psyche identifies with the ‘main in the white hat’, ‘one riot, one ranger’, the rugged individual standing against all odds, etc. This ethic is quite commendable and certainly not unique to the US. What sets it about in the US though is the accompanying mindset that a gun is what you use to resolve an issue.

We’re not on any sort of moral high ground here or in Australia where the national equivalent is a punch in the head, or the desire to deliver such but that ‘message’ has to be delivered up close and personal, it cannot be delivered from across the street or even across the room; and it is far easier to neutralise. In the UK, or parts thereof, the local equivalent maybe a cloth cap or the good old ‘Liverpool kiss‘…again, attacks with limited projection or lethality from afar…

It is this overwhelming cultural drive that guns solve problems that is America’s challenge. It’s not how many guns you have or what sort they may be. It’s not what you believe or who you disagree with. It’s not how accessible guns or unsocial ideologies may be. Those may all be separate concerns  but, weapon or ideology, it’s the drive to resolve what angsts you with a gun that is the problem…

Jump to 1:02 The Lone Rider

I love those rugged individuals roles immortalised by Clint Eastwood, John Wayne, Jan Michael Vincent, etc etc but I don’t build my life around them. When I have a beef with the local council or my employer or the grit truck driver or the mailman, I don’t feel I have to to take a gun to resolve the issue or make myself feel better.

It is one thing when the line between reality and fiction becomes blurred. It is quite another when those worlds begin to overlap…where the ‘final option’ becomes the only option…

Having said that, we can hum ‘Imagine‘ all we like…COIN 101 reminds us that cultural shift happens over generations but being honest about the problem is the first step towards a solution…

Tourist | The Daily Post

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt Tourist.

Source: Tourist | The Daily Post

I’m not really into the tourist thing…most places I go I like to slip away, wander around, and mix with the people…pix of me doing the tourist thing are thus few and far between…

Me in Hawaii

Mandatory posed pic, tourist luau, Oahu, 1988

Mark and Ricki's Wedding - Fiji 58

Doing the tourist thing, Fiji, 2003

To sugar tax or not to sugar tax…

stuff pick your drink

To sugar tax or not to sugar tax…is that the question..?

In a recent post, Masterchef judge Ray McVinnie supported the call for a tax on sugary drinks…

I couldn’t agree more with Niki Bezzant who in her Herald column this morning called for a tax on sugary drinks. Her petition is a great idea and the beginning of a social change movement to curb the processed food industry’s use of ingredients and technology that is simply bad for our biology.
The test for the harm such food does to humans is the fact that any population that abandons a traditional diet for one made up of western processed foods becomes sick and in the words of American chef, Alice Waters, dies a long slow death. She also says that there is no such thing as cheap food, you either pay now or pay later!
The processed food industry is in a similar position to the tobacco industry thirty years or so ago. No one could quite believe that smoking was harmful and industry resistance was strong. Think about attitudes to tobacco today.
As for worrying about the effect on low income people, this type of processed food is unnecessary, there is still lots of good food that people can afford, no matter your income.
But one thing that is never mentioned is cooking. Teaching people to cook is like giving a hungry person the fishing rod not the fish. It gives people power over their diet, teaches people about food and expands their food choices.
There is no point forbidding everything if you don’t give people an alternative. Once people know how to create their own food, the toxic products of the processed food industry become irrelevant because you don’t need them.
It also reinforces the important socialising effect of home cooked food because it is generally served at the shared table, the place where you learn to behave.
I am not advocating trying to turn the clock back as that is impossible and ridiculous, as are naive ideas like using other things to make food sweet.
Face it, any food that is sweet is made with sugar in some form or a chemical sweetener (stevia is perhaps an exception, but sweetness is still an addictive flavour wherever it comes from).
Well done Ms Bezzant, more please.

I think that Ray somewhat looses the plot about halfway through his post. He starts and finishes by applauding the call for a ‘sugar tax’ but wanders in between to advocating for better education in preparing food.

He compares the processed food industry today with the tobacco industry of thirty years ago but misses the connection that increasing the tax on tobacco has not been the big nudge to drive smokers to drop their habit. If anything, the biggest motivation for smokers to give up has been the banning of smoking in bars, especially in winter when the attractions of a smoke are outweighed by the unpleasantness of the weather.

Increasing the tax on tobacco has not caused a massive reduction in the numbers of smokers in New Zealand and it is unlikely that a tax on sugary drinks will drive any great improvement in national health statistics. Considering statistics on the consumption of tobacco and alcohol, it is more than likely that consumption will remain much the same.

It would be nice to think that an increase in the tax on sugary drinks might be accompanied by a reduction in the tax on fruit and vegetables. While I would personally support this, as I consume far more fresh fruit and vegetables than I do sugary drinks, I don’t think that it would create the desired effect: healthy people would get healthy, unhealthy people would continue with their unhealthy habits….just look at the smoking lobby or those who drink to excess and/or by habit…

Sugary drinks and fresh fruit and veg are chalk and cheese and cannot be managed in a tit for tat manner: those who prefer one over the other will continue to do so regardless of cost. Those less affluent will always find money for those perceived needs over the staples of life and wellness. Thus, faux comparisons like cauliflowers v Happy Meals do not help the cause for an effective information and education programme. Try buying your kids a head of cauli as a treat and see how far you get…everything has its place…

Two key truisms about taxes are that they are usually unfair to someone and people will always find a way around. It would be as effective to create a tax that targets those with an adverse BMI figure…

The body mass index (BMI) or Quetelet index is a value derived from the mass (weight) and height of an individual. The BMI is defined as the body mass divided by the square of the body height, and is universally expressed in units of kg/m2, resulting from mass in kilograms and height in metres.

wiki bmi table

Source: Wikipedia

That way, would we not be targeting only those adversely affecting by an over-sugared diet? Of course we wouldn’t! Any tax-based attempt to change people’s habits is doomed to failure. Similarly we would require all couches to trigger a minor electrical shock every 30 minutes to ‘encourage’ their occupants to get up and do something. Do you think Dunedin would the only place in New Zealand where couch burning is a recognised sport..?

dunners couch burning

The key is not nanny state tax manipulation but, as Ray points out – kind of – information and education.Even with the best information and education programmes, though, we do need to accept that not everyone will get the message and climb aboard…we can only save those want to get aboard the lifeboat…

Don’t get me wrong…I am concerned about the average health of our people, to the extent that I have tagged this post under ‘countering irregular threats’: not only this is a greater threat to New Zealand than more commonly accepted irregular threats like terrorism or crime but the solutions (yes, plural!) also lie in similar approaches i.e. the changes necessary to create a positive effect will be drive by culture not by mandate or coercion…

AS I SEE IT(24 March)

nanny state

By Terry O’Neill.

Are we becoming the world’s“cotton wool country” an extension of the old “nanny state”? Before we begin to leap in the air in an over indignant protest against what too many will claim are “ infringements of our rights” let’s take a good look at the first health and safety reform in a couple of decades.As you land back on your feet for the first time, the new reforms refer only to paid employees not volunteers. So any person who owns and/ or is a paid organiser of an event ,comes under the new rules. Thus if anything goes wrong the owner is liable for prosecution but the new compliance requirements are bigger and prosecution is higher.So does this mean that organisers of  the Coast to Coast,Christmas parades,school activities, multi sport races, bike races and marathons may  become things of the past as the owners/organisers fear personal liability prosecutions.Many such people are calling in auditors to check their events against the new reforms.

Locally this mean that any event which is run by a paid organiser comes under the new reform?It’s just not limited to workplaces which have paid staff, but the law does not apply to a group of volunteers where nobody is paid as an employee.

It is believed by many that the reforms are really the product of the Pike River mine disaster where twenty nine people are killed, but government denies this stating that its concern is about the high level of deaths and serious injuries in the workplace. So why place paid individuals such as school teachers responsible for the health and safety of students placed  in the same basket as national industry?And why are ordinary New Zealanders being asked to bear the brunt of the increase in workplace deaths.

With fines of up to $600,000 some principals have considered putting their personal homes into trusts so that they will not have to sell homes to pay fines or maybe to avoid gaol times in extreme cases.But others say its simply a case of the more detail being released to assist clarification.

Will this mean that clarification will create a more sensible application of the reforms? Apparently not as such reforms will apply to sports clubs who employ staff.Examples from one bowling club would suggest the opposite.It’s been informed that any steps must be painted so players and visitors could see that they were steps, and signs had to be put up in the shelters warning against sitting on the top rail,in case someone falls off.And the coat racks had to be taken down in case someone impaled themselves upon them ,while any pointed edges had to be wrapped with rubber so that people will not be injured.So if you have a club that runs tournaments more dollars will be required to get your facilities up to scratch.

George Orwell of 1984 fame will be smiling wryly I’m sure.

ENDS

NNNN

AS I SEE IT(4 March)

By Terry O’Neill.

What? Volunteers made redundant?

Volunteering is an integral New Zealand response whereby people selflessly offer services, skills and time for the benefit of others. Every community has people who do their bit with grace, skill and charm.

It can be a two-headed coin. Each volunteer gives to meet a particular need and is often surprised to receive a sense of accomplishment, fellowship, and contentment, the blessings of true generosity.

 A recent Oamaru Mail article on Girl Guides in North Otago suggested the national body is “revitalising”, whatever that means, so it can fulfil its goals of developing self-esteem, confidence and leadership, and a centralised business and administration arm will reduce the work of volunteers in these fields. But to maintain the national “ivory tower”, annual fees for each Girl Guide must be increased from $180 to $300, though in some cases there may be a decrease. Some local guide leaders believe the fees may push the movement into an elite club beyond the reach of many including loyal families with Girl Guide members throughout generations.

When former Prime Minister Rob Muldoon introduced the “think big” philosophy mixed results evolved, and now it appears some organisations which survived, and indeed grew, applied this philosophy in a very practical way. The Society for the Intellectually Handicapped (IHC), Save the Children (SFC) and Riding for the Disabled (RDA) are but three which experienced, and resisted in some cases, the nudges or heaves towards centralisation. Many local branches had a rich complement of competent volunteers before top-of-the-tower decisions effectively attempted to bypass this invaluable resource of experience and support. “Bigger would be better”. Maybe.

Centralisation appears to require paid “executives” whose salaries enable them to direct and organise the remaining, often disillusioned, volunteers. And this rejection of volunteer input ultimately affects the vitality and growth of local support for the national body and its dedicated services.

It’s a New Zealand “thing” to support financially what we believe to be worthy  organisations. I wonder how many find it offensive when a wealth of attractive glossy material regularly is sent out to squeeze even greater donations from already dedicated supporters of the institution?  Exactly how much of each regular donation contributes to such simplistic unsolicited expensive-looking material.  Many charities come to mind.  Surely regular voluntary subscribers could be spared this practice? Sincere volunteers and supporters are too valuable to be treated with disrespect.

Sports bodies are feeling the impact of a smaller volunteer base, and I don’t apologise for bringing this up again. Often loyal supporters hold positions of responsibility for long periods, and are the butts of criticism because nobody is willing to ‘step into their shoes’. Eventually, burnt out, the stalwarts eventually take their skills and drop off the code’s radar into oblivion.

In these days of semi-professional sport, there’re suggestions from some volunteers that those getting paid should do all the work!  But is this just a cop out?
    

ENDS

AS I SEE IT (5 FEB)

By Terry O’Neill.

The local rugby season kicks off on 2nd April. Leading up to it local clubs will mirror other Heartland clubs and battle to e

 

nsure full premier squads, an increasingly difficult assignment.

Polynesian players are an integral part of the Heartland scene. Many unions made derogatory comments about North Otago’s inclusion of Pacific Island players but North Otago was simply the forerunner of today’s necessity. A couple of seasons ago former All Black and Mid Canterbury lock  Jock Ross told me that some Mid Canterbury clubs only survived in premier ranks because of inclusion of Pacific Island players. Similar to all other Heartland unions.

The all-important necessary visas for Pacific Island players are not easily obtained and often are only for a set time. In some cases Pacific Islanders arrive on student visas to attend school, and play rugby, and others can apply for work visas under a skills’ shortage category or there is the specific purpose or event category, a rugby visa, for one year that may be renewed.

The North Otago Rugby Union does not actively recruit Tongans who generally arrive because of family or friends here. NORFU CEO Colin Jackson said the Union tended to go to Europe, USA or Canada for recruitment and over the past eight years more than 70 players have been under this scheme in North Otago.

Putting aside claims from some white rugby supremacists, without Polynesians there would be no premier rugby locally because of our small population base. Polynesians’ natural talents see many promoted to the top of the North Otago rugby tree to fill the gap created by the lack of other skilled young local players.

But it’s not one way traffic. Over the last two northern seasons local players, Jeremiah Shields, Keegan Anderson, Kayne Middleton, Thomas Shields and Jared Whitburn, all spent a rugby season overseas. It’s not only a rugby experience they benefit from, it’s a life-enhancing experience too.

In addition local rugby clubs Athletic, Kurow, Excelsior, Maheno and Valley have made direct contact with overseas rugby unions and clubs and obtained players.

It’s a conundrum how Immigration NZ treats Pacific Islanders. For instance, French, Italian or Argentinian players may live here for a year or eighteen months without any problem while most Pacific Island players work visas entitle them to be here for only six months and they’ve got to head home if they have no other suitable employment skills to offer in New  Zealand.

Clubs and minor unions don’t seem to receive much support from the New Zealand Rugby Football Union. When will NZRU boffins realise that to ignore the deterioration of New Zealand’s rugby base will not augur well for those higher up the rugby food chain? And in Tonga, Samoa and Fiji  how long will they be able to retain their World Cup status?

ENDS

Something wicked….

3500

A couple of days ago, a friend had what he called a rant on Facebook…

Religion is not to blame for all the world’s problems. If you believe that the eradication of religion will fix humankind then your faith is more misguided than those you believe you are better than.

Religion is not the problem. If you believe there is no God (or Gods), then people cannot be doing God’s will. Therefore their actions are their own, and they choose to commit atrocities. This would indicate that the behaviour is in their (or our?) nature and is not the fault of religion. It cannot be both fantasy and the font of all evil. People will always find excuses for their actions.

I get to mix with many religious groups of different faiths and denominations. The vast majority are communities of people who are interested in living their lives with generosity, selflessness and tolerance. They do this actively in their wider communities – actually practising being nice to people without trying to convert them. Sometimes they seem like the last bastion of selflessness in our materialistic, consumer, celebrity-focused society. Working with them is refreshing.

Religion is not the problem nor the solution. It just is. However there are some evil bastards who will use any tools at their disposal for power. They should be the targets of our wrath, not the constructs they seek to pervert for their own means.

And… rest.

Wherever you sit in the political spectrum, whatever deity or belief system you may or may not support, this is a pretty damn fine summary of the foe we face in the second decade of the 21st Century.

For almost two and a half decades, we have submitted to the myth that war can be precise and sterile, safe almost, despite all contemporary and historical evidence to the contrary.

That ‘Greatest Generation’ succeeded because they mobilised their nations to defeat evil…not 8-5, not Monday to Friday, not just those who cared or those who needed the work…defeating evil is not something that others do…

That more may have died in less publicised and less public locations takes nothing from the attacks in Paris nor does it count that Paris once committed an act of war against us…Paris now is exactly what it is…a deliberate goad to the West…some people should be careful what they wish for…something more wicked this way may come and it’ll be looking to settle some scores…

What happened in Paris last week was evil. Sponsored and spurred by a small group of ‘evil bastards’…who will not be swayed let alone defeated by Tricolour photo filters…nor even the red of spilled blood…only the cleansing blue-white fire of instant sunshine…

AS I SEE IT wc 461

coach

By Terry O’Neill.

A coach, whatever the sporting code, requires a robust determination and willingness to listen assertively to all critics and supporters (though that varies depending upon the success rate). Coaching has advanced far from the fifty years ago “my way or the highway” approach and now a coaches mission statement must involve “bringing out participants’ ability” and “working towards achieving their full potential”. Some coaches express that more succinctly.

A coach must be competent to evaluate performances, adapt to the needs of players, to break tasks into sequences, and ensure players are always in an appropriate health/safety situation. Generally, a coach must be a role model to gain players’ trust and respect along with the ability to work long irregular hours as most coaches in New Zealand are voluntary part-timers. A 2014 estimation claims 7849 such individuals were involved in this manner in New Zealand.

One of a coach’s real strengths is motivation but individuals can do much for themselves too by listening to those who, with hard work, integrity and ability, have risen to the top of their sporting profession.

Michael Jordan said ,”never say never because limits like fears are often just an illusion.” USA founding father Benjamin Franklin stated that things that hurt, instruct, while Napoleon Boneparte said victory belongs to the most persevering.

In the twentieth century, according to top tennis player Andre Agassi, if you don’t practice you don’t deserve to win, and Tiger Woods believes that you can always become better. John Wooden said a coach should ensure players know the coach is working with the player and not for him/her. And former coach of the UCLA basketball side said it’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.

The last word on coaches is attributed to Stephen Jones , a rugby union correspondent for The Times and The Sunday Times for more than twenty years. Jones is noted for controversial and provocative articles and, in particular, for his anti-Irish and anti-New Zealand comments.

He names his best twenty rugby coaches of all time.

Ian McGeechan (Scotland and Lions) takes number one spot. McGeechan in terms of longevity, great one-off wins and test glory leads the field followed by Fred Allen (New Zealand), a dynamic coach full of rugby nous and brilliance; Sir Clive Woodward (England); Bob Dwyer (Australia); Carwyn James, coach of the 1971 Lions test winning side in New Zealand; John Hart (New Zealand); Ray Williams (Wales); Jack Rowell (England); Graham Henry (New Zealand, Wales, Lions); Nick Mallett (South Africa; Warren Gatland (Waikato, Wales); Marcello Loffreda (Argentina); DeclanKidney (Ireland; Robbie Deans (Australia); Jacques Fouroux (France); Jake White/Kitch Christie (South Africa); and Paul Turner (Bedford, London, Welsh, and others).

You disagree with Jones? He’s used to criticism.

Who’s missing?  Who would you include?

And while on the subject of rugby, It was disappointing last Saturday prior to the North Otago/Mid Canterbury Heartland game which I covered as a rugby commentator along with comments man, Paddy Ford, to be handed less than a half hour before kickoff the Mid Canterbury team which had eight changes from the side which I had been given on Friday morning. According to NZRU regulation, teams must be in the hands of the appropriate Unions 48 hours before kick-off! I’m still trying to decide whether it was through ignorance, arrogance or whether someone in the Mid Canterbury camp was playing a silly game.


ENDS

Yes I know that in a room so full of light

Quote

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Can’t Drive 55.”

Take the third line of the last song you heard, make it your post title, and write for a maximum of 15 minutes.

That magnificent voice…a weekend trip to Auckland…1996…

In a room so full of light, there can still be so much darkness…what lurks in the shadows? What is not as it seems..?

Miss the big mister under his bright red tree…

Winchester. Bingo. Baseline. Reboot/

The Sun. Light. Warmth. Comfort.

Smile. Say something nice.

Blossoms already on the trees, others still trying to shed last year’s cover …confused trees…bees out in force…no more frost..?

Confidence. Ability. Trust.

Spell-check. Munchkin.

Ain’t done dancing.

Dancer’s back.

15 minutes. Random words.

Off to chop more wood in the sun…lawns all mowed (mown?)…fresh air drifting through the big windows…

AS I SEE IT

old gold

North Otago’s 25-23 victory over East Coast in Ruatoria, 07/09/13. Photo (c) Gisborne Herald

by Terry O’Neill.

Five Forks livestock manager Duncan Kingan’s “other life” complements his day job looking after heifers. Weekends and intervals during the weeks spanning the rugby season, he’s better known as Old Golds rugby manager, a position he’s held for the nine years since his long stint as Valley premier manager.

In May his season begins, and is hands on till competition ends in late October.

Once Heartland announces the draw, NZRU presides over a conference phone call with all Heartland managers,” Duncan (56) said. “Discussion on the season covers any new protocols and rule changes, and mirrors the ITM setup.” When the Heartland competition launches in late August, for each “away” fixture he contacts the opposition liaison officer to ensure any North Otago pre-match training and warmup requirements can be met.

“The first practice of the season extends to taking individual uniform measurements and generally to indicate management’s expectations of players, on and off the paddock.

Much of Duncan’s responsibility is behind the scene organisation such as flight and booking confirmations and maybe player schedule changes, discussions with the bus driver who meets the team at the airport and with the opposition’s liaison officer, hotel arrivals and any special requirements. Initial accommodation and bus bookings are handled by NORFU CEO Colin Jackson and Murray Pearson respectively.

Last Friday for Duncan dawned at 3.00 am to complete farming arrangements before joining the team bus at 7am in Oamaru to head off to Gisborne via Dunedin Airport. Relaxing was not an option until after phone calls to fine tune Air New Zealand arrangements for the accompanying massive baggage and airport arrival time. On his metal all day, in Gisborne after dinner Duncan assists with strapping and rubbing with team physiotherapist Phillipa Masoe.

Match day. 8am: light breakfast, 10am: players meet with coaches, 10.30 am: pre-match meal followed by the rubbing and strapping, 12.45pm: team meeting, 1.30pm: arrive at the match venue.” Then Duncan swings into informing media of any player changes, and to seek the referee for warm-ups and inspections of team boots and gear. The team returns to the changing room for their final ten minutes until 2.30pm kickoff.

Once the game finishes, if necessary Duncan organises a doctor for injured players, and within 20 minutes he rings detailed match results to the media.

At their hotel players, after the game, are reminded what is required of them that evening and of the morning’s home flight arrangements. Before Sunday’s breakfast the players have the “popular” pool session to alleviate bruised and stiffened bodies and soon we’re homeward bound.” After the Poverty Bay game in Gisborne Duncan’s weekend did not finish until he arrived at his Five Fork home about 9.00pm.on Sunday, and this week he’ll face a similar scenario when North Otago is scheduled to play Horowhenua-Kapiti at Levin.

It fits into my usual job. I’m very lucky with very supportive employers, and while I’m away with the team I keep in touch with what’s happening in the farming area I’m responsible for.”

ENDS