October 2012 Archive

This from Stuff:


“A 13-year-old New Zealand boy wants the Government to change the national standards testing system because he says children with learning differences are being set up to fail.
Adam Hodgson has dyspraxia, a condition that affects the planning of his movements and co-ordination.”

Adam Hodgson wrote a well reasoned and succint speech for a competition about how the National Standards performance measuring regime for young children does not cater for those with learning differences. He uses his personal situation as an example:

I know that you are very busy but please hear me out. My name is Adam Hodgson and I go to Westburn Primary School.
I am on my last year there and heading to high school. I have dyspraxia, but why am I telling you this?
Because there has been a lot of media attention about people failing because they are below the national learning standards, I wrote a speech for my school. It was on why we should change the testing systems for national standards for people who have learning differences.
One size does not fit all, especially if it comes to national standards.
Why? . . . Because they do not recognise people like me who learn differently.
I firmly believe that we should change the testing systems for national learning standards to accommodate the needs of people like me who have learning differences.
Dyspraxia is a condition that affects the planning of my movements and co-ordination. It means that sometimes brain messages take longer to transmit to my body. It does not affect my intelligence, but it can cause some difficulty in learning.
So when I am sitting a written test the time that is given me is usually not enough, because I need longer to transmit the messages to make my body write the information down.
When I go to high school next year I will probably be given extra support such as a reader-writer and extra time to sit exams, in order to get more reliable testing results.
Sadly, I have not been given these things at primary school.
I believe that at a time when you want to teach children to love learning, if national standards are to be relevant, this support should be given at primary school to avoid children feeling like they are failures because they are below the national standard.
I am below the national learning standard but does that mean I’m dumb? No, it doesn’t. It just means that the method of testing is not suited to me.
An example of this was in year 6 when we last had the knowledge-a-thon.
I worked hard and knew the answers to the questions and was lucky enough to have a teacher that let me answer the questions verbally. Because of this I got all the answers correct. If I had been required to write the answers, I would not have got the same result.
So you can see that the national standard testing system isn’t giving a fair reflection of what I am capable of doing.
I do know the answers to the questions but I use so much energy to get it down on paper that I either need more time or I need to say it verbally.
If we changed the national standards so that they could be flexible enough to recognise different learning styles, you would have more reliable information and it would build good self-esteem and give confidence to people like me.
It can be frustrating to have dyspraxia or dyslexia but I have discovered that I can be good at lots of things.
I play several musical instruments; I enjoy drawing, and designing things such as houses using a computer program.
At school I am a house leader and am on the student council. These things are possible because I work hard and have received support from my parents, my teachers, tutors and others.
What happens with me in tests is I don’t think I have enough time. I have the answers but I use up a lot of brain power trying to get it all down on paper in time. If it was verbal I would ace it!
I would probably be at the national standard or above.
For all the normal people out there (whatever normal is) be tolerant and understanding because for someone who learns differently it does not mean that they are dumb or stupid, it just means that they get to the answer in a different way.
There are people out there who do understand, but there are some who don’t.
I might not be the best speller or mathematician in the world but give me time, help me and be assured that I will give it my best.
So you can see it is possible for people with a learning difference to succeed. It takes hard work, understanding teachers, and supportive parents.
So just because the national standards say that you are failing certainly does not mean that you are a failure.
There is only one thing that we need to change about the national standards and that is the way we do the testing.
I hope this is of interest to you and by sharing my story I can help make a change to the national standards.
Regards, Adam Hodgson.

My commentary:
 adam is a brilliant high achieving kid who will turn into a well rounded high achieving adult. Good on him.
He is absolutely right about the shortcomings of a National Standards testing regime though he is young, and has only his own experience to call on.
I have heard a number of stories both in New Zealand and in the United States where kids have felt they have been let down by a stringent testing regime.
In New Zealand I know of concerned parents who are told their child is below standard. When they ask what extra help their child will get to take them ‘up to standard’, they are told there is none available. this was the experience of three or four Karori families last year.
I know of a brilliant young lady in the US who has numerical dyslexia. She found no help in standardized testing that is a cornerstone of the Academic Performance Index. She has worked though her difficulties and is now at an Ivy League (East Coast) college.
National Standards could be used as a tool for teachers to assess where students are at.
It could be used by the ministry to assess how proficient teachers are.
But measuring a schools progress on the results of the students puts a huge weight on families and provides no path to success for all the different types of learners.

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Become enlightened.
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Where did my youth go? The work associated with raising five (beautiful, gifted :), children is a bum rap sometimes. I can get quite envious of WTW (Women That Work). Pondering all this, I stopped this morning, shirked my duties and mucked around on some fashion sites.

Ralph Lauren:


Get a load of the price tag on those dead animal handbags. I love the $4500 ocelot bag.

Aren’t we all too PETA-fied to use unusual animal furs and skins in fashion?
Those that stand up for animal rights are to be commended, as is anyone who stands up for the underdog. Or cat.
But personally¬† I see no difference¬† between using leather and fur. We’re at the top of the food chain and everything eslse gets to warm my hide by virtue of this.
My perspective arises from when I used to help my Dad skin and tack up possum furs to dry for pocket-money. As a kid, theoretically I’d get 50c a skin but that finished the day he stiffed me for $50 after I sweated over 100 stinking possum carcasses. He forgot to pay me before he went off on his next hunting trip.
I’m still annoyed over that one, Pa.
More reasonably priced than the fashion candy above , is the ‘Lauren’ by Ralph Lauren range stocked in major department stores through out the US:

¬†Lauren leopard print organiser: $58 from Macy’s department stores.
For fondling and feeling feline even when the housework has gone to the dogs.


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A man wakes up one morning to find his wife bent over the cooker frying one of his socks. ‚ÄúWhat are you doing?‚ÄĚ asks the man and his wife replies , ‚ÄúExactly what you asked me to do when you rolled in drunk last night‚ÄĚ.
“Strange”, thought the man, “I don‚Äôt remember asking her to cook my sock”?!

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A video of Gillard reaming it home to Tony Abbott after he attempts to force the Labour government to take some culpability over the Peter Slipper ‘sexist texts’, affair by forcing a vote in the house to remove the errant Speaker.

Slipper has just resigned as Speaker of the House over the series of sexist text messages sent to an advisor. Gillard spoke to the motion in what can only be described as an inspired political and oratory performance.

I started off watching this video feeling a little nervous. A woman in the full flight of a passionate diatribe can so easily be viewed as and labeled a harridan. I needn’t have worried.
She took him down like a clown.

As Gillard starts addressing the house, Abbott kicks back and sneers down his nose as if to say, “Take your time sweetheart, you can’t touch me.” She relates back to him all the sexist and misogynist remarks that has been attributed to him over the years including the time he said “…. “When the Housewives of Australia need to do what the Housewives of Australia need do understand as they do the ironing”.

Women don’t have testicles with which to arm their munitions but we have a full war chest attached to our own chests and with this she ruins him like an Armada on a rampage. Referring to the texts, she draws herself up to her full height, billows her chest out in Abbotts direction and states,:
“I am offended by their content because I am always offended by sexism”. And: “What I will never stand for is the Leader of the Opposition coming to this institution and pedaling a double standard”. And it’s all over for Tony Abbot who has been smitten by a billowy voluminous Admiral embodying female retribution.

Another stroke of political oratory genius as she waggles her finger at the naughty little boy and finishes by asking him to reflect on his close personal connections with Slipper, like a schoolmarm addressing a recalcitrant child.

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Check out this Mitt Romney Gangnam Style parody:

CollegeHumor’s Favorite Funny Videos

Those ladies dancing on the fairways –¬† that’s America. Lot’s of pony-tailed blond housewives bouncing around on the tennis court and on the golf course. I love it – it’s just like in the movees.¬†
Had a chat with business owner recently. Deals with the ultra rich in the normal course of business. 
Apparently a lot of the ultra rich really are pricks. They’ll mow down a 5 million dollar mansion to build a 30 million dollar mansion. Just to impress their mates. They’ll quibble over the last dollar to get the best deal.
Once you get to that level it’s a game apparently.¬†
I still think Mitt’s one of the good guys with a bad media image. Happens a lot and¬† the real chancers slip under the radar while lobbying on capitol Hill.
Who’d’a thunk it?
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Oh Gawwd, That is my first reaction whenever I see a supposedly unbiased journalist start pushing  Message to one end of the political spectrum. This from twitter:

My question to Guyon on this: “I’ve got a lot more on this that I couldn’t get into that story”.
Why the hell not? You’re a journalist and if it’s newsworthy then it should have made the cut. If it’s not newsworthy then it’s supposition and smoke and mirrors which are tools that politicians use.

I asked Peter Dunne what he had to say about the foreign resident tax trust issue:
“Our position is consistent with the wider international norm that a country should not tax non-residents on foreign-sourced income.¬† In short, we don’t tax non-New Zealanders on income not earned in New Zealand”. PD

I think what Espiner and co are saying is that foreigners are putting their assets into NZ Trusts and area avoiding income or company tax in other countries
You’re always going to get chancers and the odd ultra-rich¬† with interesting ways of tying up their financial affairs. This doesn’t add up to the practice being endemic despite the rantings of a few.¬†
You can’t rule out the existence of these Trusts without threatening the domiciling of any business head office or having interesting effects on tax and company law downstream.

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 Currency 101for Housewives:
Recent policy releases on behalf of the Greens have Norman in favour of New Zealand printing money or employing Quantitative Easing. A terrible idea.  How would it be bad for the New Zealand economy? Let me count the ways:

1: QE would produce an excess of money chasing the same amount of goods. This effect was last seen in 2001-2004 when New Zealand was flush with easy money. This was largely due to changes in monetary policy in the late 90’s, including the ability of the major trading banks to settle with the Reserve bank overnight and the employment of the OCR as the major tool to influence inflation and interest rates. Construction levels were low so money was predominantly invested in old stock for which there was a competitive market. There was a competitive market because of demographics and the the upsurge of property trusts to avoid the Rich Pricks Tax levied by Clark/Cullen in 1999. Inflation, inflation, inflation, eroding savings and causing the purchasing power of a wage packet to drop.
HOw QE worked for Venezuela:

2. If you’re a country that employs quantitative easing, you impact your trading partners negatively. this in turn has a negative effect on your own economy.Do we really want to have a negative effect on our Pacific neighbors?
The NZD jumped as soon as the US commenced on it’s latest round of QE in September. For example, the effect of the third US QE round was to choke off any inflow of higher pegged currencies into NZ. In this scenario the net flow of money becomes outward. Less money goes into NZ jobs. This decreases the production of goods available for the US to purchase which shrinks the trade base between countries. The price of imports rise to the US rises. QE is only ever going to be self-defeating unless it is employed to stave off immediate bankruptcy.

3. Quantitative Easing will inevitably purchase debt.
When you’re printing money, it has to have something to purchase. The obvious result is the purchase of dept over which the purchaser has no control. The swiss franc has purchased a lot of Euro in recent history and the hazards here are obvious.

4.¬† As a flow on from the above: You don’t want to be purchasing shit outside your country, you want to be persuading other countries to purchase your stuff.¬†
Y’know so you can employ people and pay for pensions and welfare and shit. Google “balance of trade. A positive balance of trade erodes a country’s debt mountain and protects the most vulnerable members of society by enabling more tax to be directed to welfare.

5. If you start printing your currency willy nilly then every other bastard is going to do the same. 
This is the main argument that Norman has for QE within NZ. “They’re doing it so we should too”. The inevitable result¬† is a currency war. ¬† This is a very bad idea as New Zealand’s economy is very small and we will end up being very very rooted. Every forex player in the hemisphere will enter into play with us. Our currency then drops so our assets are easier to purchase which sends our dollar upwards. The major players can enter into a standoff without too much of a beating, as has been the case with the Chinese reluctance to revalue the yuan despite the incessant bleating of the US at diplomatic levels. But if we try to play ball the canny Chinese will see us and eventually raise our currency to parity with the $US.

If you were going to do anything crazy/drastic it would be to fix the currency for a defined period. Introduce some kind of emergency currency bill, pegged to the ChchEarthquake recovery measures. The diplomatic situation with the Chinese wouldn’t change if the dollar wasn’t pegged too low. And given their proximity the weight of their opinion should count for more than that of the US.

Just sayin

Monique Angel


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Friends Рwith limits: The assessment of New Zealand’s relationship with the US by former Prime Minister Mike Moore.
Current NZ ambassador to the US, Moore addressed members of the New Zealand community in America on the current NZ/US relationship at an informal lunch in San Francisco  on Friday.
“The two countries share values and interests but there have and are limitations on the friendship,” he said.
“It has taken political and diplomatic genius to manage the relationship (between the two countries) for so long”.
This was stated following a wry commentary on the views of the1970’s incoming Secretary of State Kissinger who lumped the relationship with New Zealand into the same camp as the US relationship with North Korea and Burma”.
Moore recalled feeling upset with this comparison. He noted how the nature of the two countries relationship had become increasingly more positive since then and provided examples of the thawing relationship:
RIMPAC: The world’s largest international maritime warfare exercise hosted by the US Navy was an example of the congenial nature of the relationship between the nations”, said Moore. New Zealand’s participation in 2012¬† was overwhelmingly positive: He “didn’t just read New Zealand media”.
Some reports on the recent RIMPAC exercise suggested New Zealand had been snubbed by not being asked to berth alongside the other countries in Pearl Harbor. NZ attended RIMPAC in 2012 for the first time since 1985 after NS banned US ships from entering NZ harbours.
Moore: “The two navies “don’t have to go through the National Security Council for permission to engage in military exercises now.

The Trans Pacific Partnership had been a productive area for the US and New Zealand to work together. New Zealand was an original signatory and the US entered negotiations in 2008.
Moore said “trade is about where it should be”.
He posed the rhetorical question: “Is the NZ / US relationship sustainable?”
Answering the questions himself he said: “You must have tension in a relationship for it to grow. The upcoming [US] elections will bring tension, with a new Homeland Security , Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense”.
But he said the relationship has been growing increasingly more positive.

With regards to direct representation in Washington, Moore said that there had been 28 ministerial visits in three years. He related a saying in Washington that, “if you get what you ask for then you haven’t asked for enough”.
Moore finished by talking about the America’s Cup. He said everybody was working very hard to maximise the use of the resources allocated to New Zealand trade and Enterprise (NZTE) and “I’m not getting on the airplane back to NZ to ask for more money” (from the government).

Rugby World Cup 2011 events organizer Briony Ellis followed Moore and outlined the benefits of the America’s Cup in San Francisco to the New Zealand economy.

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Lenny: A pillock some may say, but a good jingle this is, none the less.

A Typical housewives day in the East Bay. I’m up at 4.30am to work on my business back in NZ. It’s bleeding cash, so it’s “SNAFU” as usual there. Rental property. Pffft. I would have a heart attack if it returned me the equivalent of a wage.
I follow this with a burst of citizen journalism at 6am. I freelance as a volunteer with Council Watch. I suck back Starbucks while typing and sitting on the couch with the cats.
Then the day really starts: First child dropped to school at 7.30am. Second and third at 9 and 9.20 respectively. This routine¬† incorporates the American phenomenon of staggered school sessions and “Stop Drop and Go”:
You drive up to the school in your truck, the kids run out of the car and at the end of the day a teacher feeds them back into the car for you. No need to take your foot off the brake. Moms meet at the park to chat instead of outside the schools as is the Kiwi tradition.
Two hours with the twins from 9am doing housework.
The words “fuckin” and “don’t do that”, are used with startling regularity throughout the course of the morning. The babies are 18 months old (adjusted for prematurity) and are roaming ellipses of havoc. Anything in reach goes into their mouths. Today they eat the cats’ claw caps off the cats paws. Claw caps are tiny plastic caps the for kittens’ claws so they don’t munt our new leather furniture from Norway.
The cats eat the twins breakfast. I swear and shoo them all outside.
the twins and I go shopping. The babysitter arrives at 12.30 and I head off to volunteer at the preschool. After school, one child goes to drama. The afternoon activity yesterday was French immersion classes for the oldest two. Another child goes to an adventure playland for a birthday party. It seems to be a birthday party week. This is the third party since Saturday. Today’s party is for the daughter of a celebrity whom I hadn’t yet met.
A note here: Celebrity-dom is prevalent in this part of the San Francisco Bay Area. It no longer surprises me. Teachers will say in class:”oh that’s so and so’s mom.¬† She’s well known for”….
Being a celebrity here is as common here as being a farmer is in NZ. My baby-sitters go to school with Olympians. The water polo gold medalist sisters. My hair-dresser used to ‘up-do’ Ariana Huffington. Someone I met at a weekend party does work for Larry Ellison. Most of this comes out in casual chat in the same way you might discuss how you know a good plumber or builder.
At the playland, I have a brief chat with Celebrity Mom. She;s lovely. I confess to a fellow Twin Mom about how my son was in a fight last week. She commiserates. She relates the story of how her son socked a third grader in the nose as a first grader.
 PTA Mom has to shoot off early to her next two appointments. This is at 6pm. We all moan briefly about how much we have to juggle. I am assured this is the nature of being an American Mom. I myself have two evening appointments. A Photoshop class in a nearby city and a phone call to my NZ bank to moan about their customer service and the last numpty account manager.
Twin Mom offers to drop my son back home to facilitate my travels Another round of pleasantries and I swan off to  navigate timezones and dropped A T and T calls.
I make it to Photoshop and home to a late dinner. I high 5 my husband at the door. We made it through the day with no one seriously injured.
In parts of America it seems there is a lot of concern about image and opportunities for the kids.  My hairdresser tells me the image preoccupation is a Californian thing.
It’s fitting, being the home of Hollywood and the land of storytelling. What are stories but a series of images?

Kiwi housewife in America: Doing it for the kids.

And the cats.
All I have left to do tonight is cut the flowers, load the dishwasher, and washing machine; get the stains off the carpet for the shipload of furniture that arrives from Norway tomorrow. Prepare for my French lessons in the morning, prepare for my lunch out. Wrap a birthday party present for tomorrow’s lunchtime birthday party and organise our dinner booking up at the Club.
Make sure there’s school lunches and matching socks. Make sure there are slip-ons for my eight year old who can’t tie his laces. Homework. Check. Groceries. Check.
Housework. No matter where in the world you are, an Angel’s work is never done.

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