February 2013 Archive

My Best and Worst Dressed for the Oscars:

Naomi Watts: Armani

The overall effect is to make her look like a confused mermaid. And what is with her hair? She needed half an hour longer with the hairdryer and some rollers to give her a less gelled down effect that looks aging on anyone but teenage boys.
I kind of want to rub her up and down to see if I can get the static electricity effect or at the very least give a good shake to see if anything dislodges.

Thumbs Down but she is still cute enough to carry anything off.

Amy Adams Oscar De La Renta

So the very respectable designer robbed birds nests for feathers for this one. This was one theme that came out on the red carpet that I don’t think is very flattering.

Thumbs down but Ms Adams is still a very purty gal and carries herself well.

Samantha Barks Boobies: Valentino

I got such a fright that I facebooked this dress to see if anyone else was thinking the same as me:
Borat.

I’d love it for Masquerade party evening wear. But the “Devil’s Cushions”, effect is out of place on the red carpet.

I’d have worn a choker with this dress.

many of the younger stars sacrificed glamor to accentuate the assets.  It took leading ladies of the previous generation to show how to present with style. Next up: Oscars 2013. Best dressed.

 

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This is crazy. Headmasters are knocking on doors to catch uppity out of zone school cheats. This just proves what I’ve suspected for years. Teachers by and large are great but schools can be bureaucratic self serving nightmares:¬†

Zone battles move into primary schools:

“School staff waste a whole lot of time trying to catch out families who have gone to great lengths to gain entry to the school.”

Why? Tell the ministry about it and get them on it. 

“Overworked headmasters are knocking on doors in their own time during evenings and early mornings to weed out the pretenders.”

Dickheads. About time someone called the cops on them for trespassing.

“They say it is the only way to catch people. Some school staff even pore over power bills to compare electricity usage with a typical family.”
These idiots need to act like they’ve got a real job. ¬†

But the parents appear to be winning.
Absofuckinlutely. Our job is to raise our kids and educate them as well as we can. If the neighborhood school is a shitty school with drug issues then darn right we’ll employ our low rat parental cunning to get the kids a better education. We may just like the other school’s playground better. Whatever the reason, we’ll trump you.¬† Every time a coconut:

Ministry of Education figures obtained by the Herald on Sunday reveal Auckland schools have annulled 16 enrolments, unchallenged, in the past year. In another 24 cases, parents have challenged the rejection.

In three other cases, the schools backed down and accepted the child.
Only one primary school – decile 8 St Heliers – won an enrolment challenge by proving the pupil did not live in the catchment area.
Principal Craig McCarthny said the child was looked after during the day by an in-zone relative “but the parents lived in the next suburb and the kid went back there after school”.

Clever buggers! The principal should be thrilled to have that gene pool at his school. 

“Decile 9 Glendowie School lost after rejecting an application for a 4-year-old boy even though the family had previously enrolled another child questionably.
“The enrolment came in very late and we were suspicious because we knew the family house was out of zone,” principal Anne-Marie Biggs said. By the time the ministry became involved the family had rented in the zone.”

HA HA.

Meanwhile Mike Williams bleats about thick parents:

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10867314

So how is he better qualified to decide which is the better school for my kids to go to? When unions play parents for political mugs while kissing up to them on other issues, it’s important to remember:
Like any political body they exist primarily to serve themselves. Sometimes the interests of parents and unions dovetail. Sometimes they don’t.
If you agree with them they like you.
If you disagree with them, you’re a rich prick.

Politics for Housewives 101

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Get the kids rote learning. It’s the only way to stick the facts in the head.

Govt eyes back to basics in maths

“Education Minister Hekia Parata is considering a return to basic arithmetic for primary school children in an attempt to lift New Zealand’s faltering performance in maths.
New Zealand 9-year-olds finished last-equal in maths among peers in developed countries, in a survey published in December. Almost half could not add 218 and 191 in a test.”

I’m not surprised. New Zealand hardly test kids. God forbid they should sacrifice time in the sandpit playing “diggers”.
I got a fright being introduced to the other end of the spectrum in Californian Schools. Kids are tested daily. Schools are out for four and 1/2 months a year. This is when kids of all ages get to play “diggers”.¬†

Homework annoys me. It:

Urban Dictionary.

Californian parents cop a lot of pressure due to the shorter school year. And I’ve got better things to do with five kids than get pissy about filling in screeds of worksheets. Inevitably the kids co-ordinate a turn of events that leave them eyeballing Spongebob Squarepants while I bleat mindlessly into the void about the virtues of completing the homework and preparedness for life, blah blah blah.
 
As I’ve said before, you’ve got to find a balance.¬†¬†

And there is a lot to be said for rote learning of facts that scaffold higher level knowledge.
Cuissenaire rods can only help so much.

I support this approach where the kids practice a maths worksheet that they get tested on once a week at school. They move on to the next worksheet once they have got at least 38 out of 40 on their weekly test. They work at their own pace and are pegged against their own performance:

“Auckland educator Des Rainey, who did the research with teachers to test his home-made Kiwi Maths memorisation system, said the results came as a shock to the teachers”

Rainey’s system sounds similar to that used in Californian Schools. It warrants further investigation.

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Oh God give me strength. Another brown-nosing article by schools intent on undermining the role of parents:

Is it time to cut the cord

“The so-called ”helicopter” parent is becoming ubiquitous, with new research showing more than 90 per cent of school psychologists and counsellors are encountering over-involved parents.

Some schools are staging parenting workshops to counter this behaviour as psychologists believe it can damage a child’s resilience.”

I have no doubt that the so-called experts believe this. . Californian schools love holding workshops to usurp the role of parents. ¬† I find myself working overtime to remind my children’s school of their role in my children’s life. The schools are babysitters and their home environment is where they get a lot of their actual education.

BTW. I have full respect or all the teachers that I know and love but the bureaucratic overlay gets short shrift in our home environment.

A Queensland University of Technology survey of nearly 130 parenting professionals from across Australia revealed numerous examples of overparenting:
 1. A 16-year-old whose mother makes him a special plate of food to take to parties because he is a picky eater;

  • WTF? If anybody looked at me sideways when I was sixteen I got the shits. I could digest meat, eggs and vodka. Anything else ran through me like Pistorius on acid. Good on the Mum for supplying nutrition for the beleaguered large bowel.¬†

2. 10-year-olds attending school camp who don’t know how to dress themselves.

  • My nine year old doesn’t know¬† how to dress himself. If his pre-frontal lobe matures by the age of ten to engender such basic social tasks, then I’m having a party.¬†

3. An eight-year-old whose mother confronts her classmate over a playground disagreement.

  • You gotta nip that shit right in the bud. If bailing up the classmate goes down like a sack of shit in the PTA, then teach your offspring the following adage:
  • “Sticks and stones will break my bones.¬†
  • If you come any closer, I’ll break your face”.¬†
  • ¬†

  • So sayeth Momma Bear.
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Awake at 6am. I pack five lots of lunches. Find five lots of shoes and over the next hour I grumble at five different kids.
First drop-off commences at 7.45am. The twins are delivered to their preschool. I return home for the eight year old. He makes the 8.15am drop-off in good time. I deliver my older preschooler to his school and I’ve got enough time to grab the groceries. The supermarket car-park is full. We start early in Aspirational California and everyone packs activities into every spare moment. I’m home by 9.06 to deliver Mr Six to the same elementary as his older brother. His start time is 9.15.

Five children delivered over three different schools.

The schooling system is quite different from New Zealand.¬† At elementary school, the start times are staggered for different grades and abilities so even if you have your children all at the same school, you’ll be constantly driving back and forward. Even within the same classroom you have children dropped at different times. Earlybirds start at 8.15am or 8.30am and latebirds start at 9.15am.

On Wednesdays it all changes and everyone starts at 8.30 I can never get used to this. I sometimes forget and let Mr Six watch TV for an extra half hour. Then I get the stink eye from the teacher for delivering him at 9am. After this happened a number of times, the school was kind enough to take the time to send me a “Tardy Notice” to alert me to the fact I am letting down the team. Americans are more compliant than Kiwis so they got a fright when I approached the teacher to tell her that the tardy system is rubbish.
I get the stink eye again.
Once, I delivered Mr 6 early at 8.55am. The earliest he should have been on the grounds is 9am to line up for class.¬† The principal emailed me directly to “advise” me that I would need to enroll my child in before school care if I was needing to drop him off early.
Tit. He’s the biggest bureaucrat in education I’ve ever met. He seems a very nice man but exhibits no passion for education and has plenty of vigor over enforcing rules and regulations.

I suspect this is what you eventually get when you cross National Standards with Unions.

There is a very narrow window of time to deliver your children to school. And it is never on the hour. At the end of the day my school aged children get out at 2.53pm and 3.02pm. I kid you not. Not a moment earlier. Not a moment later.

In New Zealand you park and chat to other parents while waiting for your kids to exit the classroom. Not so in America:

¬†You “Stop”, Drop”, and “Go”. You pull up to the designated carpool area. The kids climb out and run to class. At pick-up,¬† you pull up the teacher opens the door and they jump back in.

The American school system is harder on the parents but better tailored to children’s needs. The kids receive individual attention every day. I know after experiencing both that American kids are exposed to more material than in Kiwi schools. I suspect this element is what National is trying to adopt in the Kiwi education system with National Standards.
Conversely, it doesn’t mean that American children receive a better education. They learn a lot of facts. Grammer in depth. Homework is set every day. Children are tested every day so the teachers know exactly how they are performing.
But as you’ve probably guessed, there is not a lot of time for learning. Or for the spark of creativity and inspiration to be passed from teacher to child. The spark that will lodged in a child’s heart and propel them to succcess over the course of their lifetime.
This is where New Zealand schools excel. The task for New Zealand schools is to better monitor children’s progress, (WHY?)
In a very gross distortion of a famous physics treatise: When you observe an action or system, you as the observer have an influence on the outcome. AKA Schrodingers Cat

I am a firm believer that the more a child is noticed, the more they learn and grow. The worst thing you can do for a child is ignore them. You can yell like a banshee (don’t beat them).
A “good growling”, is a learning experience for kids but neglect will cause their brains to atrophy.

But what New Zealand must get right is the balance between monitoring progress and actual teaching.
 And Never Ever introduce a Tardy System. Sheesh. More about that later.

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Heard on 107,7 The Bone, The Bay Area’s Rock Station:
http://www.1077thebone.com/

“It is better to die like a tiger than live like a Pussycat”.

Baby Cougar. The Felidae variety. Found in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Ohh Goody. Just checking out The Bone website; I see Def Leppard is coming back. This will be the third time I have seen them in concert.
Before Def Leppard , I dug Bon Jovi, Icehouse and Skid Row.

You know. The Beiberman’s more talented antecedents.

What’s your favourite Glam Rock band?

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It’s been put to bed for another year but I’m counting down for the next thrilling episode of race relations, NZ Style.

You’ve gotta love Waitangi Day. The drama. The brinksmanship. The inevitable showdown between the Harawiras, and well, the rest of New Zealand.

It’s better than an episode of Outrageous Fortune.
 Starring the indomitable Titewhai Harawira and son Hone.
Hone, the Mr Darcy of Maoridom who has no time for “puritannical bullshit”.

There is no failure to deliver on the drama front this year. Titewhai Harawira fronted up to Te Tii Marae yesterday for the traditional welcoming of the PM onto the marae. She sucessfully jostled for position alongside the PM to lead him onto the marae while giving the Stink Eye to the local kaumatua:

“After lengthy negotiations this morning, Mrs Harawira managed to get Mr Key’s left hand first, and other kuia Naida Glavish and Mrs Taurua – the marae’s choice of escort – stood in a line alongside her.”

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10863496

Titewhai. She’s a bloody hard case. She knew darn well that the choice to accompany Key onto the marae was Te Tii kuia Ani Taurua. But she chose to ignore counsel to stand and desist.
It’s at this point that the rest of New Zealand discovers that Titewhai is actually not a direct representative of Te Tii Marae.

And it’s here we wrap up a season of Maori Shortie Street. The rest of New Zealand wakes up to the fact that the old mare has no real reason to be there. Her presence as the PM’s guide is actually a breach of tikanga (Maori protocol)¬†

Most of the rest of New Zealand have just assumed year on year that Titewhai  speaks for and represents a large section of Maoridom in an official capacity.

I could almost hear the sound of the penny dropping all the way here over in Silicon Valley.

It’s not a question of race relations. It’s not even remotely a race issue. It’s all about one overbearing individual with a severe case of entitilitis.

Titewhai is all loved up on political power and won’t be relegated to the stands. Year on year she has learned to bully her way into the spotlight.
And bully she is.
Bullies always try to distract by  accusing their targets of the same thing they are guilty of. So the Te Tii Kaumatua are woman bashers:
“Titewhai Harawira has accused kaumatua at Te Tii Marae of being “women bashers”.
“She made the remark after leaving the whare this morning following Prime Minister John Key’s powhiri which was delayed by 40 minutes because of a stand-off over whether she or another kuia, Ani Taurua, would bring on the Prime Minister”.
Yet Harawira is the only one with a record of violent protest.

I love Waitangi day and I feel more at home on a marae than many other places. From stripping the meat off duck legs at the age of six to dossing down as a teenager; I love the warm feeling of marae life.

But it is time to get rid of the bullshit surrounding W Day.

We need to establish a day that all New Zealanders can celebrate. A day where we celebrate “What it Means to Be a New Zealander”, regardless of race and creed.
A day that echoes the creed:

“If you’ve made it to these far off shores and are not leaving then you’re a good bastard “.
Cheers.

The only way of doing this is by establishing a New Zealand Day. A day where all those drawn to her opalescent shores can toast to the beauty of HMS Aotearoa. Forget about mondayising Anzac and Waitangi Day. There are very good reasons why those exact dates should be commemorated.

For once, lets not be frugal New Zealanders. Let’s solve the problem of a dearth of public holidays by adding another public holiday into the midst.

If the Americans can have Independence Day, Labour Day, Martin Luther King Day and Presidents Day then we sure as heck should be able to rustle up some National pride with an extra national Day.
Let’s celebrate Waitangi Day and New Zealand Day.
 Early December should fit the bill.

 Cheers Pauas.

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From the Mail Online:

“Anyone with seasonal depression or who simply can’t wait for temperatures to warm up may have reason to rejoice today, after Pennsylvania’s famous groundhog Punxsutawney Phil gave his annual prediction of how long winter will last.
Phil emerged from his lair for Groundhog Day in front of a crowd of thousands but didn’t see his shadow. According to legend, that’s a sign spring will come early this year.
If the furry rodent sees his shadow on Feb. 2 on Gobbler’s Knob, winter will allegedly last six more weeks.

Lot’s of spring flowers here in the local Safeway in Northern California.

“Gobbler’s Knob”. “Punxsutawney Phil”. I love America’s goofy sense of humour.¬†

American’s are sometimes made fun of for a lack of subtlety and canned laughter. But we are frequently joshing around.¬†
A laugh a minute here in goofy ole Stateside.

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The brainiacs at the Herald lead with the obvious angle:

Novopay signed off by ministers despite flaws. By Kate Shuttleworth

“Prime Minister John Key has defended his ministers who signed off the Novopay system, despite them knowing there were nearly 150 software defects.

“Official documents released today reveal Education Minister Hekia Parata, Finance Minister Bill English and Associate Education Minister Craig Foss all signed off on the system, despite 5913 payslip errors during testing.”

This is not the crucial angle of this story. 

All software has bugs.From memory one of the earlier windows versions was released with 1000’s of bugs. Google “bug count” and you’ll get any number of graphs comparing how buggy the big guys are: Microsoft, Apple, Google, etc: Apple-leads-the-pack-for-ballooning-bug-count/8877

Windows Vista was widely cursed and that got to the Pre releaseTo Market(RTM) stage with bugs from over 2000 to 1400. On a later build they had to remove a “showstopper” bug that completely destroyed any system upgrading from XP.

So a release with 147 bugs and no serious security or showstopper bugs is a developers wet dream.

I have worked with many different payroll systems from small business to corporate and never seen this kind of chaos. It is a cluster fuck of the highest order. What is really going on? 

What screws up payroll software is unfamiliarity with the banking conventions. Pay is quite often split out to different agencies, ACC, child support, court orders, savings accounts. “No Pay” Novopay is Australian and may not have this intuitive knowledge. They may have had to run some pay cycles to discover exactly where the flaws were.

However it should be relatively easy to make manual payments to correct the total intended to the individual from the accrual account. A lot of time has been billed back to the ministry for these corrections and there are over-payments so the end user interface is obviously an issue as well.

The real issue is why the work wasn’t awarded in New Zealand. New Zealand has some¬† of the best developers in the world. Datacom isn’t known as the sharpest game in town and they have New Zealand competitors. Why were these not given a chance to tender?

 This situation has arisen because of the New Zealand Government psyche. The industry gets the least support from what should be a supportive customer. This is the lament of the New Zealand software industry. If the decision is made to award a contract. It will usually go to the offshore contender. And this is hard to understand given that New Zealand produces the smartest and cheapest developers in the world.

Key recently saw fit to pleasure Hollywood for the benefit of the New Zealand economy.
Tech is New Zealand’s stellar industry du jour.We shouldn’t be pumping 30 million dollars into the Australian economy when it could be being pumped into Silicon Welly.

If the government doesn’t change this philosophy, New Zealand will continue to export developers and erroneously prop up the Aussie software industry.

Unfortunately it’s an entrenched marriage when bespoke software development gets to this stage. It’ll be an acrimonious divorce so the teachers are probably stuck with Novopay

I’m just glad that Morgan and the cats have been kicked off the front pages. And for the sake of the New Zealand software industry the scalpel should’ve been taken to Novopay at the outset.

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