Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Air New Zealand – Clever Buggers

Air New Zealand are clever buggers really.

I have just finished watching their latest air safety video, featuring Bear Grylls.  It’s captivating, amusing and most importantly, it caught my attention and I felt compelled to watch. 

Prior to it starting, the hostess (do we call them that anymore – I suspect they may have a more modern, less ‘1950’s housewife in an apron’ term for the staff these days) advised that passengers, even those who fly often, should watch.  At the time, my first reaction was ‘bleh, not another boring inflight safety message’.  

I should know better.  Air New Zealand is renowned for its entertaining and celebrity laden safety messages.  Previous safety messages have featured Richard Simmons all decked out in his fitness gear, complete with enthusiastic jumping jacks, the All Black rugby super stars, Betty White from an 'old school' perspective,  the Sport Illustrated girls (lets not dwell on that controversial decision hmmm Air NZ!) and my favourites, the Hobbit and Lord of Rings mystical magic series.  To think I had forgotten that the inflight safety message is actually a highlight of the journey is almost ‘un kiwi’ of me. 

The moment I heard Bears rugged tones, my eyes lifted to the screen and my attention was captured. 

It’s clever. 

Everyone who flies knows that the obligatory safety message is at best, as boring and monotonous as counting sand.  Despite this, the message must be told, and you never do know when you might need it. 

I suspect, however, that should the worse case scenario come about, the last thing on my mind is where the life jacket lives or how to place my feet for best ‘bracing’.  Instead, I am more likely to be saying inappropriate words out loud, scrambling for a way to leave a message for those that I love, and crossing my fingers I have left a more helpful, rather than harmful, impact on the world.   I can imagine that when faced with ones possible demise, it is irrelevant what you believe to be spiritually correct – the thought of an eternal afterlife that is not spent roasting in flames is likely to cross ones mind. 

So I watched. 

I even found myself emitting a few giggles here and there!  It’s the clever little touches, like the fish and the glowworms, and of course, the odd well known kiwi face that pop in, like our very own bug man. 

As I type, we are flying over the Southern Alps, and my attention has been captured by the beauty that is NZ.  If you were to grill me (pun unintentionally intended) about what to do in the event of a worst case scenario, I can really only tell you not to eat glow worms and there was something about  putting your own mask on first before assisting a child (obviously the makers of these safety rules have overlooked the powerful and ferocious urge that Mums and Dads have to protect their little bear cubs – unless they have been a pain but that’s a different post). 

Thanks for the great flight and thanks for the entertainment via Bear – I cant wait to see Squirts face when she watches her hero next week!   I bet you she listens, takes note and raves about it afterward!

Air New Zealand – you are clever buggers!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

And so it is done...

Here I sit, at my laptop, listening to music, wondering about the world.  It is a miserably wet Sunday afternoon, post election.  Out the window, the heavens have let forth and it is pouring down, on and off as if it can't decide which way to go.   One moment there is sun, the next tropical downpour.  In a metaphorical way, if I was to way lyrical, its like a form of grieving, hope and cleansing at the same time.  

The country has spoken. 

With a clear majority, the National Party has secured another three years running the country. 

I thought I would be more disappointed.  

Instead, I am more resigned to the fact that it is what it is.  That is the grief bit - letting go of what might have been and resigning oneself for what will be.  No doubt all those who lean leftwards would have liked a much better result.  

For those of us in Education, it won't be an easy road, especially in those communities where its not all white middle class roses in bloom.  However, like all roads, there will be opportunities and little gems along the journey.  It will be our job to find the opportunities, capitalise on the gems and ensure success reigns supreme for our communities.  Easy it won't be, but it is possible - no, I retract that - it must be possible and it is our job to make it so.    That is the hope part.

Heres where the cleansing comes in.  We can sit at home and cry into our cups of tea, moan into our lattes, OR we can shake off the disappointment, call it what it is - and do what we need to do to make it work.  

If more children get hungry - feed them.  If their families need help, help them.  If you see injustice, right the wrongs, and if you are required to 'collaborate', then do it, with a smile, and make the system work from within.   Support our colleagues, look after your teams and be the best you there is.  Look for those opportunities and gems - buy yourself a magnifying glass if you have to - but look for them.  

Finally, its been a messy election - and I won't rehash that in this post, but I would ask those who are on the left to get over the grieving fast, and move onto the cleansing.  Learn from the lessons, and remember, onwards and upwards.   This is the beauty of democracy - we may not always agree with the outcomes, but at least we can be grateful that we have the choice to vote or not.  The power, even when it feels it is not, is in our hands.  

Congratulations to the National Party.   Last night the PM said he wanted to do things for all New Zealanders.  I hope so. 

And so it is done! 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Voter - Which Type are You?

I have been wondering.  Politics is an interesting beast and right now in NZ, its akin to watching a ship that keeps on crashing onto the reef.  In the last week or so, I have run into a wide gambit of the public who would be placed all along the political spectrum, and some who, despite the overwhelming evidence of madness, are hell bent on wearing their blinkers (in my humble opinion).  In an effort to understand the psyche of the average voter punter, I have been thinking about the people I meet and from where I sit, there seems to be four main groups one might politically fall into.  

Choosing who to vote for can be a tricky proposition for some.  What drives us to vote (or not) is seeped in a range of factors such as societal, social, familial and emotional.  I posted on this earlier and you can read that here.  Not all of those are logical, and for people who are passionate about politics and the importance of their democratic right to vote, their dogged determination to vote for a particular party is as parochial as ones passion for a particular rugby team.  In complete contrast to the 'doggedly parochial' are the 'blissfully indifferent' who, if they indeed vote, are non committal, unconcerned and wander around the country complexly disinterested in all things political.  Somewhere in-between are the undecided 'swingers' (not to be confused with swingers, if you know what I mean) who switch between the left and the right.  Then of course, there is the "conscientious non voter' who chooses to take a stand by not voting.  

Group One:  The Doggedly Parochial 

These are the people who are a staunch supporter of a particular party, left or right.  They have always voted this way, always will and can not usually be swayed by others.  Irrespective of what their respective party throws up as policy, they will always vote for their team.   

Group Two:  Blissfully Indifferent

Blissfully indifferent are similar to the Undecided Swingers in that if they vote, they will rock on up to the polling booth on the day, quite likely to choose their party on random, or at the last minute.  I find those that fit into this group a bit of an enigma, as narrowing down their motivation to vote, or not to, can be as slippery as an eel.  

Group Three:  Undecided Swingsters

The Undecided fit into two groups - those who are easily beguiled by the baubles of the pre election promises (like tax cuts), and those who patiently wait until election day to make their decision.  They carefully weigh up which party offers what.  Often these voters are those who sit somewhere in the centre, and attract the vigorous 'wooing' of all the parties, particularly the two largest - and closest to centre left or centre right.  It is this vigorous 'wooing' that can seem, to the doggedly parochial, to be the main cause of the watering down of their respective parties policies.  

Group Four: Conscientious Non Voter 

This is perhaps the most concerning of all the types of voters.  These people choose not to vote, often as a protest against the 'system'.  This protest can be either because they think their vote is a waste of time, pointless and not required, or because they don't trust any of the parties and feel voting is beneath their moral compass.  Earlier this year I posted on why I think people should vote, and in particular how the power of the single vote is indeed not at all pointless.  Suffice to say, the amount of people who don't vote continues to be of concern in New Zealand, and this group is bigger than one would like in a democracy.  

Those are the four main types of voter I have had the pleasure of coming across in recent weeks.  By no means a definitive list, but certainly each voter 'type' comes with both its positives and with its challenges for the parties who are out there seeking votes.   Which do you associate the most with?

I have said it before so I will repeat it again - I don't mind what way you swing your vote, just that you exercise your democratic right to vote. 

National Debt Clock - Whats Your Countries Debt?

As I type, our county owes $86,873,707,076.

By the time I finish this post the country will have clocked up an extra $135 a second - thats right a second - in interest alone.   It works out to be about nearly $20,000 per person.

Unfortunately the debt calculator widget won't embed itself into this post for now, but you can use this DEBT CALCULATOR link to watch the debt climb in real time.  Like a train wreck unfolding in front of your eyes, it has a certain fascination that keeps ones attention locked firmly on the figures as they continue to rise.

For those of you who are non Kiwi, you can use this calculator to see the debt and statistics for your own country.

How do we compare?

The Info-graphic below shows where NZ sits in relation to the UK, Australia, and the United States.

So why is this important?

The Government is campaigning this election on the fact that they believe under their watch the New Zealand economy is a 'Rock Star'!.   Economists acknowledge that whilst the economy has been going well, once the temporary factors that have shot it to stardom start to wane (such as a slowing down of the Christchurch rebuild, rising interest rates and migration to Australia speeding back up) then New Zealand's Rock Star is going to age quickly and need a substantial stint in rehab in order to get back on track. 

In the meantime, despite the dire warnings to watch debt and spending, the Government unleashes a tax cut bribe that we can't afford.  Just in time for the election - how convenient.  In addition, one of the policies they want to implement for first home buyers will (according to experts and experience from other countries such as Australia) see house prices and interest rates hike up further.  

What the clock shows is that New Zealand owes money, and not just a small amount of money but a large chunk.  

Instead of irresponsible tax cuts perhaps we should be looking at ways to stimulate growth, readdress inequality and invest in innovation.  I would rather we invested in the people of this country by ensuring we have an equitable education system, responsive justice and health system and strong, clean and green economy.  Tax cuts will have repercussions - more debt for the country and something has to be sold or stripped in order for them to happen.  

When you vote, ask yourself, is it worth what you will lose?  I sincerely doubt it.  

ps The debt on the clock is currently $86,874,374,378,102 and climbing.  I wonder what it is when you read this...