Another Spectrum

Personal ramblings and rants of a somewhat twisted mind


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Rockin’ rollin’ ridin’

For some reason I’m not able to fathom, extreme forces of nature exhilarate me, never frighten me. As a teenager, I remember watching a violent electrical storm from our front porch when suddenly all I could see was a bright white flash, followed almost immediately by a wave of heat. A second or two later, I was in complete darkness. My first thoughts were “Wow! I’ve been blinded by a lightning strike. What a story to tell!”

Slowly  my vision returned, and I realised that the reason for the darkness was that there were no street lights or any form of lighting from houses in the neighbourhood. I was somewhat disappointed that I wouldn’t have such an amazing story to tell after all.

Lightening had stuck a large step-down transformer that stood about 15 metres from our porch, and the flash and and rush of heat was the result of the transformer exploding from the strike, plunging the suburb into darkness.

In my Early twenties, a brother and I toured the South Island. On the return Cook Straight crossing between Picton and Wellington, The Interislander ferry ran into a violent storm. I was the only passenger to occupy the front observation lounge as the ship’s bow was pointing at the stars one moment, then disappearing beneath dark water the next. Everyone else, including my brother, were huddled in the rear lounge with vomit bags held firmly to their faces, or had developed complexions that ranged from deathly white to assorted shades of green.

I thought the scene was rather funny, although had I been aware that many of the restraints holding the cars, trucks and railway rolling stock on the lower decks had failed, I might have had some concerns for the safety of my car. As it was, I was blissfully unaware of the damage being done below me and enjoyed wandering the top deck promenade while waves several stories high rush past, and the ship pitch violently beneath me.

Earthquakes have the same effect. Living in Aotearoa New Zealand, one gets kind of complacent with short quakes. We’re rather small in geographical terms – only 268,000 square kilometres (103,500 sq mi) in area, about the size of Colorado – but over 20,000 earthquakes are recorded every year. Most pass unnoticed, but there’s usually around 250 each year that are noticeable.

I’ve experienced a number of earthquakes over the years that have caused some damage to our home and contents, although nothing too serious. Each quake is unique and as they come on, I wonder what type of motion will result. Some seem to move in just one plane, for example horizontally or vertically. These, especially the horizontal ones, often have a few violent shakes towards the end, which seem to cause all the damage. The ones I enjoy the most, are those that have a rolling motion and feel as though they are moving in all directions at once. Think of riding a narrow gauge train travelling at very high speed over a poorly laid track with incredibly tight curves, where standing is impossible without holding on tight to the handrails on the seats around you.

Last night’s shake was like that. I was sitting in the lounge watching some late night television, and everyone one else had gone to bed. At 2 minutes after midnight I felt slight sensation of movement, and wondered if an earthquake was about to happen. Very gradually the movement increased, and within 15 seconds, I could see the ceiling fan, and bookcases moving. Shortly after I was watching the walls as they flexed and appeared to have waves moving along them. Doors started slamming shortly afterwards, and by the time a minute had passed, I realised that if I had intended to move to safety, the window of opportunity had probably passed. It would have been impossible to walk upright, and I would have needed to resort to hands and knees to make an escape. So I enjoyed the ride. I realised that with a shake this long, a major shock had occurred within a few hundred kilometres.

At about 5 minutes after midnight, the rocking and rolling had subsided somewhat, and I decided to check on the rest of the family, as I am aware that others do not view earthquakes as I do. I found my wife, daughter and her three children upstairs standing in doorways somewhat shaken. The length of the shake had prompted my daughter to gather her brood around her, and even now, fifteen hours later is reluctant to let them out of her sight.

Strong aftershocks are still being felt, and while only two deaths have been reported, Wellington’s CBD has been closed off due to fallen glass and masonry. Universities and schools have been closed and some roads are impassable. What I find interesting, is that aftershocks have been dispersed over a wide area, from several hundred kilometres south of where I live to over a hundred kilometres north. I wonder if it’s a precursor to the “Big One”. The Southern Alpine fault ruptures approximately every 330 years, the last one occurring in 1717. The fault line extends for over 400 kilometres and is expected to cause a magnitude 8+ earthquake when it ruptures, quite likely, within in my lifetime.

While I know it’s likely to cause widespread damage and possibly fatalities, I really would like to “ride the wave”. I can’t think of anything more exciting.

 

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Marriage and property rights

I’m surprised by the similarities and differences of what makes up marriage property rights in various countries. Most nations have moved to the position where property is owned in equal share by both partners in a marriage, and in the case of divorce or separation, many countries are working towards, or have moved to ‘equal-sharing rules’ in which the presumption is that both partners have contributed equally to the marriage and therefore property and child rearing responsibilities should be divided equally.

As more countries recognise same sex marriages, people in such relationships are also achieving the same rights to property as heterosexual couples. This is perhaps more true in “Western” countries than elsewhere.

Where I see a greater difference is in what is recognised as a marriage in different jurisdictions. For example, in England common law marriages aren’t recognised at all, and only a few states in the USA recognises common law marriages. Usually one half of the partnership will be seriously disadvantaged should they decide to split up.

Matrimonial property in NZ

If you were to search the law books of Aotearoa New Zealand for a definition of matrimonial property, you’d be searching for a very long time as it doesn’t exist. The main reason for this is that as far as property is concerned, it’s the relationship between a couple that determines property rights and not a marriage certificate.

What would be termed common law marriage in other jurisdictions is termed de facto relationship here. It is one of three types of relationships that are covered by the Properties (Relationship) Act 1976 and its amendments. The other two types are marriage and civil union.

The act has four principles, three of which are relevant here:

  1. that men and women have equal status, and their equality should be maintained and enhanced
  2. that all forms of contribution to the marriage partnership, civil union, or the de facto relationship partnership, are treated as equal
  3. that a just division of relationship property has regard to the economic advantages or disadvantages to the spouses or partners arising from their marriage, civil union, or de facto relationship or from the ending of their marriage, civil union, or de facto relationship

If you live together as a couple and are not married or in a civil union, you’re legally considered to be in a de facto relationship.

For all practical purposes, a relationship begins when a couple start living together or have their marriage or civil union formalised (which ever happens first), and ends when they cease living together or one of them dies. The act also makes provision for the dissolution of a marriage or civil union, but as that can only occur after not living together as a couple for two years, it’s not really of any significance here.

All property acquired, used or shared after a relationship commences is considered relationship property, while property previously acquired becomes relationship property after the couple have been living together for three years.

So here in NZ all couples, whether in heterosexual or same sex relationships, in marriages, civil unions, or de facto relationships are treated equally in regards to property rights. Personally, I believe thus is how it should be. What is also of significance is that there is no necessity for a couple to have a sexual relationship, or even to live in the same residence for a de facto relationship to exist. If there is a dispute about a relationship existing, then the following criteria are taken into consideration, but the absence of one or more of them does not necessarily  mean they are not a couple:

  1. The duration of the relationship
  2. The nature and extent of common residence
  3. Whether or not a sexual relationship exists
  4. The degree of financial dependence or interdependence, and any arrangements for financial support, between the parties
  5. The ownership, use, and acquisition of property
  6. The degree of mutual commitment to a shared life
  7. The care and support of children
  8. The performance of household duties
  9. The reputation and public aspects of the relationship.

As there are no advantages to being in a marriage or civil union as far as property rights go, it begs the question why do so many couples eventually marry? There are no tax advantages in having a relationship formalised in marriage or civil union as incomes can not be pooled or shared in NZ. Each person is taxed individually. Income from shared property such as interest from a joint bank account, or rent from a shared property is divided equally and then added to the income of each individual.

About one in three relationships in NZ end before the death of a partner, and after five years, de facto relationships seem to be as stable as marriages and civil unions. Around two out of five couples live in a de facto relationship, and it seems to me that it’s time to question whether marriages and civil unions need to be formalised by the state at all. As there’s no legal or financial benefits in having a document that says a couple are married, why should the state get involved?

I can understand the desire for a couple to want to publicly declare their commitment to each other, in fact I think it’s admirable. But does making it a legal contract make the commitment any stronger? It would seem no if the NZ experience is to be believed. Can anyone give me a strong reason why relationships should be registered and made legally binding in the form or marriage or civil union?


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Stills and other things

I don’t like the taste of tap water – especially that provided by our local authority. Whatever they add to it to make it safe, also makes it unpalatable as far as I’m concerned. So for a long time, I’ve been distilling water for use in tea and coffee, rice making, and any food or beverage where water is a constituent part. I happened to mention this in an email to someone I regularly correspond to in America, and he wanted to know how difficult it was for me to get a permit to own operate the still. Apparently it’s illegal to even own a still in his state, let alone produce alcohol for consumption. Somewhat surprised (America supposedly being the land of the free) I did a little research, and was surprised at what I discovered.

Is Aotearoa New Zealand the only country in the world where I can legally distill my alcoholic beverages unfettered by government regulation or red tape?

I don’t need:

  • a permit to buy, sell or build a still
  • a licence or permit to own or operate a still
  • to report or record how much alcohol I produce
  • to pay excise duty or tax on the alcohol I produce
  • to have my still inspected

So long as I’m not going to distribute it commercially, (or produce illegal substances) what comes out of the still is of no interest to the authorities.

Regulations sometimes seem illogical and petty. While I can legally buy or sell all the paraphernalia and consumables for the production of all alcoholic beverages including beer, wine and spirits, the same can’t be said of tobacco products. It’s illegal to sell or even gift tobacco plants, but perfectly legal to sell or otherwise trade tobacco seeds. While there’s no limit in how much alcohol I produce for personal consumption, there is a limit of 15Kg per year for tobacco products, although there doesn’t appear to be any inspectorate capable of monitoring home production of tobacco.

I know that smoking causes long term health problems, but then so can excessive alcohol consumption, so why regulate home tobacco production, but not alcohol production?

While we’re on petty regulations, I’ve learnt that here in NZ you can be fined up to $1,000,000 or be imprisoned up to 10 years for carrying out a nuclear explosion. The law doesn’t make exceptions for testing nuclear weapons, so if you’re brought before the courts for detonating one, an excuse of “I was only trying it out” won’t get you a lighter sentence.

The USA is sending a naval vessel to NZ for the Royal New Zealand Navy’s 75th anniversary celebrations later this year. Thank goodness the Trump won’t be in power then. What do you think would be the likelihood that he would want to challenge our antinuclear laws by requesting the US send a nuclear powered or nuclear capable ship?


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Shock Horror: A racist in the NBA

Steven Adams is a Kiwi playing for the Oklahoma City Thunder. He’s come under some criticism for using the term “quick little monkeys” to describe Golden State guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Apparently this has raised the ire of some sports fans and commentators, accusing Steven of racism. In some quarters his apology is not accepted, or seen as not genuine.

I must admit that I had to do some Googling to understand why the term is considered a racist remark in America. Here “little monkeys” has absolutely no racial overtone. It’s usually used either as an endearment for a group of active children, or in frustration when unable to keep them under control. A child escaping the clutches of a parent is likely to be called a “quick little monkey”.

The term is less often used when referring to adults, but to a Kiwi, describing opponents who you can’t pin down or control as quick little monkeys would come naturally. I suspect He was going to say they were “quick little buggers” (perfectly okay in NZ) or perhaps “quick little f**kers” (not suitable for early evening TV), and thought better of it in case they weren’t acceptable in the US.

The whole thing is a storm in a teacup. The issue should died down as soon as Steven gave his apology and explanation. But apparently not…

The Nightly Show


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Go Helen!

The UN has begun the process of selecting a new Secretary-General. Among the candidates is Helen Clark, a Former Prime Minister of Aotearoa New Zealand. I’m not biased, but of course she’s the best candidate for the post.

During the past week candidates have been given the opportunity to give an “Informal dialogue for the position of the next UN Secretary-General”. By all accounts our Helen gave a good account of herself. If you’d like to watch her presentation I have provided two links below.

Opening remarks only (10 minutes)

Opening remarks and Q&A session (2 hours 15 minutes)

Why did the President General Assembly addressing Helen as Mrs Helen Clark, when, if she’s being addressed formally she prefers Ms Helen Clark? UN Protocol or ignorance?

I’ve been asked before why I show disrespect for some public figures by using their given name only. In case anyone hasn’t seen my explanation, here it is: In typical Kiwi fashion, we refer to public figures we admire or respect by their given name only, and we often address them this way to (depending on the circumstances). Those we dislike are usually given their full name, without title, or if we really dislike them, just their family name.


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On Being Kiwi: The results

This post follows on from On being Kiwi: A Survey

100,000 Kiwis have now completed the survey. That’s 1 in 45 or 2.2% of the population.

I didn’t study statistics, so I’ll leave the detailed analysis to the experts. The best I can do is look at the figures and gain a general impression of what we as a nation are.

Firstly, where do I fit in compared to other Kiwis? As most guessed, my closest fit is Egalitarian, followed by Globalist. I am least like a Traditionalist.

The results are broken down into several areas:

Ideology

  • Māori: assimilation vs biculturism
  • internationalism: inward vs outward
  • Immigration: pro vs anti
  • Politics: libertarian vs socialist
  • Imperialism: independentist vs loyalist
  • Nationalism: universalism vs exceptionalism
  • Sport: Apathetic vs enthusiastic
  • Religion: secular vs religious

 Pride

A sense of pride in our:

  • nuclear-free status
  • scientific and technological achievements
  • lifestyle; achievements in art and literature
  • political influence in the world
  • fair and equal treatment of all groups in society
  • economic achievements
  • history
  • achievements in sports
  • armed forces

Flag

Preference for our current flag or the proposed replacement:

old_flag1 vs new_flag1

Symbols

Icons that we most closely identify as national symbols of Aotearoa New Zealand. Some of the symbols may not be familiar to you if you are not a Kiwi: All blacks; Beach holidays; Great outdoors; Haka; Kiwi; Pounamu; Rugby; Silver fern; The Queen; Union Jack.

How I compare with the typical Kiwi.

I want to explore some aspects of being Kiwi over upcoming posts, especially as there are some results I didn’t expect. Differences in sense of national pride, the flag ,and symbols, while of interest, are not particularly important to me and how I differ from the “typical Kiwi” is of no significance. On the other hand, those aspects covered under ideology are important to me, and I believe should be important to all New Zealanders.

A number of statements were given to which one had to supply one’s level of agreement. The choices were:

Strongly agree -> Somewhat agree -> Slightly agree -> slightly disagree -> Somewhat disagree -> Strongly disagree

I noticed that there was no “neither agree nor disagree” option, for which I’m grateful. Otherwise that would have been my first choice with too many statements.

Very briefly, my position compared to the NZ average is as follows:

Māori

I am significantly more in favour of biculturalism than average based on the following propositions:

  • somewhat agree that a history of discrimination has created conditions that make it difficult for Māori to be successful.
  • slightly disagree that Māori should not receive any special treatment.
  • strongly agree that Māori culture is something that all New Zealanders can take pride in, no matter their background.

Internationalism

I have an extremely outward view compared with the average NZer based on the following propositions:

  • strongly agree that refugees should be welcomed in New Zealand.
  • strongly disagree that New Zealand should focus only on domestic, not international, issues.
  • strongly agree that New Zealand should participate in humanitarian intervention efforts abroad.

Immigration

I am significantly more pro-immigration than average based on the following propositions:

  • strongly agree that all immigrants can retain their cultural values without being any less of a New Zealander.
  • somewhat disagree that most immigrants these days don’t try hard enough to fit into New Zealand society.
  • somewhat disagree that immigration is a threat to New Zealand’s culture.

Perhaps the above are understandable considering the wife is an immigrant, as is a daughter-in-law. A little known fact is that almost one in four New Zealanders is an immigrant.

Politics

I have strong socialist leanings compared to the average Kiwi – much more than I thought. This is based on the following propositions:

  • strongly agree that in New Zealand, the gap between those with high incomes and those with low incomes is too large.
  • strongly agree that wealthy people have a greater obligation than everyone else to help those who are in need.
  • slightly disagree that no matter what circumstances you are born into, if you work hard enough you can be as successful as anyone else.

Imperialism

I am less of a loyalist than the typical Kiwi based on the following propositions:

  • somewhat agree that the British monarch should no longer be New Zealand’s head of state.
  • somewhat disagree that New Zealand’s British heritage should be central to its national identity.
  • somewhat agree that it is important for New Zealand to retain its ties to the British Commonwealth.

Nationalism

I lean towards universalism more the the average Kiwi based on the following propositions:

  • strongly agree that Kiwis have a unique set of values that distinguish New Zealand from the rest of the world.
  • somewhat agree that New Zealand is the best country in the world in which to live.
  • slightly agree that New Zealand is not perfect, but its values are superior to others.

Sport

I am only slightly more apathetic towards sport than average. T found this rather surprising, as the typical Kiwi is not as enthusiastic as I believed. This is based on the following propositions:

  • slightly disagree that sport is too much a part of New Zealand’s national psyche.
  • slightly agree that nothing brings New Zealanders together like a sporting event.
  • slightly agree that good sportsmanship sets New Zealanders apart from other people.

Religion

This is one result that did surprise me. Although I don’t believe in a deity, I am ranked slightly more religious than the average NZer based on the following propositions:

  • slightly disagree that society would be better off if people were more religious.
  • somewhat disagree that we rely too much on science and not enough on faith.
  • somewhat agree that religion should not have any influence in the affairs of government.

So there you have it. I have nailed my colours to the mast, warts and all. I’ll elaborate on what I consider the most important in future posts. If you have a particular interest in any aspect of the survey that you would my opinion on, please do ask.

Does any of what I have revealed surprise you or contradict what I have revealed about myself either here on Another Spectrum or in comments I have offered on other blogs?


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On being Kiwi: A Survey

A countrywide survey about national identity is currently under way in Aotearoa New Zealand, and to date more than 30,000 Kiwis have participated. While the survey has been commissioned by a major NZ television network, the results are being analysed by independent academics, so hopefully the indicators of how we see ourselves will have some semblance of reality. I appreciate 30,000 participants might seem like a small sampling (a bit under 1% of the population), but the survey has some time to run before it closes. so hopefully more Kiwis will agree to take part.

The survey has identified six distinct archetypes of Kiwi nationalism and before I discuss the results in my next post, I summarise the six types below. Using what you may know of me, which type do you think I best fit and which I am least like?

Patriot (36% of Kiwis)

Patriots pride themselves on being New Zealanders and feel a deep sense of attachment to the Kiwi lifestyle. They see Kiwi values as unique and preferable to most others, and generally think that New Zealand is the best country in the world in which to live.

Most patriots are quite fond of New Zealand’s rugby and beer culture. They have an appreciation for New Zealand’s British heritage, but believe that New Zealand is culturally distinct. They see Māori culture as having a role to play in the country’s national identity, but place greater emphasis on Pākehā culture.

Patriots emphasise personal responsibility and generally believe that all New Zealanders can achieve their goals if they work hard enough. They tend to support free market ideals and believe that individual gains increase prosperity for New Zealand as a whole.

Egalitarian (22% of Kiwis)

Egalitarians care deeply about social and economic equality, both in New Zealand and overseas. They have a strong sense of both national and global identity, maintaining both a profound sense of belonging to New Zealand and a sense of kinship with others around the world.

Egalitarians are advocates for diversity in Kiwi culture. They embrace New Zealand’s liberal immigration policies and its multiculturalism. They see New Zealand as a country that welcomes newcomers and respects the contributions that they make to Kiwi society.

Egalitarians recognise Māori culture as an integral part of New Zealand’s national identity. They support polices that counter discrimination of Māori and believe that New Zealand should make reparations for past injustices committed against Māori.

Egalitarians generally do not identity with New Zealand’s British heritage and see the monarchy as a relic of its imperialist past.

Like most other New Zealanders, lifestyle and sport are prominent aspects of Egalitarians’ sense of national identity. They tend to be environmentalists and take great pride in the country’s nuclear-free status. They are broadly in favour of the redistribution of wealth in order to address inequality and often favour policies that benefit New Zealand as a whole over those that benefit themselves as individuals.

Loyalist (17% of Kiwis)

Loyalists express the highest degree of attachment to New Zealand’s British cultural heritage compared to other groups, and demonstrate the most support for the British monarchy. They show more support for the British monarchy than other New Zealanders. They typically feel that traditional values and the principles associated with Christian beliefs are an important part of New Zealand’s national identity. Loyalists are the most likely among groups in New Zealand to identify as being religious.

Loyalists generally view Māori culture as playing an important role in New Zealand’s national identity and are sympathetic to Māori efforts to overcome the injustices associated with colonialism. They often believe, however, that policies to make up for past injustices are unnecessary.

Loyalists cherish the lifestyle New Zealand offers and see sport as a major theme in its national culture. On average, Loyalists tend to be older than other New Zealanders and live in more rural areas. They traits they value most are tolerance, generosity, and religious faith.

Traditionalist (14% of Kiwis)

Traditionalist are enthusiastic supporters of the Kiwi way of life and its sport culture. They believe in upholding traditional New Zealand values and in preserving the nation’s cultural heritage.

New Zealand’s British heritage features relatively prominently in Traditionalists’ conception of national identity, and they are more receptive to the British monarchy and the Commonwealth than are most other New Zealanders. Traditionalists tend to believe that the contributions of Māori to New Zealand’s national identity are overstated, and prefer that religious and ethnic minorities integrate more deeply into mainstream Kiwi society. Traditionalists believe that New Zealanders should be regarded as individuals rather than as members of any particular religious or ethnic group. They generally feel that political correctness has gone too far.

Traditionalists often think that New Zealanders should focus their attention on their communities and are the least likely among Kiwis to express a sense of belonging to a more global community. They express concern that foreign influences are negatively affecting the Kiwi way of life, which is reflected in their scepticism of the value of immigration to Kiwi society. Traditionalists frequently believe that New Zealand’s culture is changing too fast and that the values that have kept New Zealand strong need to remain at core of its national identity.

Globalist (7% of Kiwis)

Globalists believe they are as much a part of the world as they are part of New Zealand. They are the least likely among New Zealanders to express a sense of nationalism and prefer to think of New Zealand as part of a broader global collective. Globalists tend not to see New Zealand as an exceptional place in itself, but focus instead on universal values shared by people around the world.

Globalists are enthusiastic about cultural diversity. They welcome immigration and think that multiculturalism enriches New Zealand. They support raising Māori culture to greater prominence in Kiwi society and believe Māori are victims of colonisation who remain oppressed to this day. Māori culture plays an important role in Globalists’ understanding of New Zealand’s identity. They do not feel a strong attachment with the country’s British heritage, which they see as part of an imperialist past.

Globalists are very sensitive to inequality in New Zealand and believe that society’s social and economic ills arise from an unjust political system. They tend to view capitalism with suspicion, believing that it often reinforces inequality. They are thus strongly in favour of measures to redistribute wealth in New Zealand with a view to improving Kiwi society as a whole.

Sceptic (5% of Kiwis)

Sceptics are unique in that they tend not to identify with typical Kiwi stereotypes. Iconic aspects of Kiwi culture such as lifestyle and sport tend not to have the same resonance with Sceptics as they do with other New Zealanders.

Sceptics exhibit lower levels of national pride than do most other New Zealanders. They tend not to express the same sense of belonging to their country and community, and are often unsatisfied with the conditions of both. They tend to be cynical about the usefulness of government and the least likely among Kiwis to take an active interest in politics or civic life.

Sceptics value perseverance and hard work, but are still doubtful about whether their efforts will vastly improve their lives. They often feel that, despite their efforts, they are not able to get ahead.

Sceptics are typically unsympathetic to arguments that minority groups in New Zealand are discriminated against and do not usually support the Treaty claims process. They feel that many New Zealanders have faced difficult circumstances and that no single group should be given special treatment. Sceptics take moderate positions on immigration and multiculturalism, perhaps owing to the fact that a relatively high proportion of Sceptics are themselves immigrants.

I’ll cover some of my observations in the next post on this topic, but I do want to mention one aspect here. One set of questions asks us to rate our personal sense of pride as a nation in ten areas. One area in particular stands out as having the highest sense of pride, irrespective of archetype. That is in the area of our county’s nuclear-free status. While I’m not surprised that Kiwis as a whole take pride in our anti-nuclear stance, I am a little surprised that it is so universally felt.

 


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Balance of power in the US Supreme Court

Over on Amusing Nonsense, Sirius Bizinus has written what I feel is a balanced and reasoned article regarding the appointment of a successor to Justice Antonin Scalia on the US Supreme Court. His is one of the few that has neither expressed vindictive pleasure at the passing of Scalia, nor expressed outrage that Obama might have the opportunity to appoint a “liberal” to the position.

I find it fascinating that appointments to what should be non-political positions turn into party political circuses. Mind you, it does bring an element of entertainment from a distance that I find lacking in our own system here in NZ.

I don’t recall any judicial appointments here causing controversy, and I believe there are two reasons for this. The first is that by convention, judicial appointments are isolated from politics, and second, unlike in the US, the courts do not have the final say on matters constitutional.

Constitutionally, judicial appointments are made by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the Attorney-General. For those not familiar with the constitution of the Realm of New Zealand, think of the Governor-General as the de facto head of state. The Attorney-General is a member of the Cabinet and as such must be an elected member of Parliament. By convention, the roles of Prime Minister and Attorney-General are not held by the same person, although the constitution does not prohibit it.

By convention, the Attorney-General accepts advice from the Chief Justice and the Solicitor-General for appointments to the higher courts and from the Chief District Court Judge and the Secretary for Justice with regards to District Courts.

They in turn accept advice from the Judicial Appointments Liaison Office (JALO), which is required to consult widely. JALO has no legal or constitutional standing, and like so much of our system is based on continuously evolving conventions.

To avoid possible political influence, the convention is for the Attorney-General to mention judicial appointments to Cabinet, but for the appointment not to be discussed.

One difference between NZ and the US is that here there is a mandatory retirement age of 70 for judges.

Unlike the US, we don’t have a binding constitution. In fact our constitution is made up of multiple acts of Parliament, and ultimately parliament has supreme sovereignty. Therefore any bill passed into law cannot be unconstitutional.

It may seem strange to Americans that the majority of Kiwis prefer our existing constitutional arrangements and don’t want a binding constitution interpreted by the courts. While we perhaps don’t have the guarantees of freedom enshrined in the US constitution, in practice we have always had, and continue to enjoy greater levels of freedom than the good citizens of the USA do.

 


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We Won!

I’m not particularly sports minded, and I didn’t set the alarm for 5:00 am this morning to watch the World Rugby Cup (RWC) Final between the All Blacks and the Wallabies.

The RWC became something of an anti-climax for me at the end of the quarter-finals, when I realised no northern hemisphere countries would be represented in the semifinals. Somehow it’s easier to feel more pride, when we come up against our larger northern hemisphere rivals and win, than against our southern hemisphere neighbours.

It was a great effort by the All Blacks: the first team in RWC history to win back-to-back finals; and the first team to win the cup three times.

We can’t take anything away from the Australian effort. The well deserved their place in the final, and as usual they proved worthy adversaries.


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Pukeko Pong Pot

Pukeko

The pukeko is a bird as likely to be seen as road kill as alive and and scratching in a roadside swamp. As you’ll learn if read the original story linked to below, it’s not the most palatable bird around.

Where I grew up there was a well known recipe for pukeko, although no one knew anybody who had actually tried it:

Place a plucked pukeko in the bottom of a very large pot. Place a rock on top of the bird and add enough water to cover both pukeko and rock. The rock must be heavy enough to keep the bird at the bottom of the pot. Place on heat and bring to the boil. Boil vigorously for 8 hours, adding water as needed to cover the rock. Then reduce the heat to maintain a steady simmer and maintain it for 48 hours. At the end of the cooking period, carefully remove the rock and place to one side. Discard the water and pukeko carcase. Carve the rock and serve on a bed of kumera mash with seasonal vegetables. If you make a gravy, do not use the water the bird was cooked in.

For a humorous, and possible more accurate set of instructions of how to cook pukeko, click here for Philip J Bradbury’s Pukeko Pong Pot.