Rising interest in this blog

I’m not sure what passes for a well-read blog round these parts.

All I know is that the visitor numbers to this one have been growing every day for the past week.

The horizontal lines on this Visitor Stats graph represent 500, 1,000 and 1,500 visits a day.

Yesterday’s total was 1,485 — the most visits I’ve had since my first day of blogging in 2008, when 1,676 tuned in (thanks to a welcome link from David Farrar).

I’ve been an irregular blogger over the years. When I do nothing, I average about 200 visits a day.

Since beginning my Treatygate/Colourblind State posts, those numbers have at least quadrupled.

We’ve got a long way to go, but it’s good to see evidence of rising interest.



Blog visitors - countries of, Feb-Aug 2012

For an irregular blog obsessed with things New Zealand, this one certainly gets around.

I’m gobsmacked to learn that, in the last six months, readers have come from 159 countries, from Jamaica to Gibraltar to Djibouti to Japan, from the Bahamas to Botswana, from Nepal to Senegal, from Ghana to Guyana, and from Thailand to Greenland (where lives Qivioq, my Eskimo filmmaker friend).

(Yes, Eskimo is what she calls herself, even though Inuit is more politically correct. She was amused, rather than repulsed, to learn that New Zealanders eat Eskimo pies.)

Other ‘lands’ I’ve accidentally conquered include England, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Poland, Scotland and Switzerland.

(But disappointingly not Swaziland, the only African country where I actually have friends — albeit at the Taiwanese Embassy.)

I’ve made inroads into Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tajikistan, but not yet made benefit glorious nations of Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan or Turkmenistan.

Given my right-of-centre leanings, I’m delighted to be re-educating comrades in communist China, Myanmar and Vietnam, but less surprised by my lack of a following in North Korea, Cuba and Iran.

I didn’t realise till I scanned the reader stats how many countries end in ‘ia’.

Those on my list of intermittent indoctrinees include Albania, Algeria, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Colombia, Croatia, Estonia, French Polynesia, Latvia, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mongolia, Namibia, New Caledonia, Nigeria, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, St Lucia, Syria, Tunisia and Zambia.

No contact yet with Ethiopia, Macedonia, Mauretania, Somalia or Tanzania.

It’s ironic that Oblivia (I mean Bolivia) is the only major hold-out in South America, since that happens to be the South American country in which I’m most interested.

Griever Maori like Margaret Mutu and Nin Thomas hold up Evo Morales’ pro-indigenous Bolivian constitution as a template for New Zealand, so a post on that nightmare scenario ought to mop up that pocket of resistance.

My weak areas are clearly Central Africa, Central Asia and Central America — but then I never was much of a centrist. 🙂

Anyone know anyone in the grey countries? What about dropping them a link?


RIP Viv Ansell (1919-2011)

After a determined bid to defeat medical science, Dad breathed his last on Monday, exactly four weeks after his stroke.

This is my first experience of losing a close family member — a prospect I’ve been dreading for years — and I must say I’m feeling better than expected.

Perhaps it’s knowing that Dad is free of pain after living a long and happy life. Perhaps it’s the relief of seeing Mum coping so bravely with the loss of her husband of 55 years.

Or perhaps it’s the long period of adjustment that a bedside vigil affords you.

Whatever the reason, the experience has drawn our family closer together and we look forward to giving him a good sendoff on Friday.

Despite my earlier reservations about the pill that cost him his life, it’s been a privilege to witness the dedication of the doctors and nurses at Hutt and Wellington Hospitals, who cared for him like he was one of their own. 

That’s all you can ask for in the end.


What the ‘wonderdrug’ is doing to my Dad

You may have seen this article in the last Sunday Star-Times about the lethal side-effects of new blood thinning ‘wonderdrug’ Pradaxa (AKA dabigatran).

In today’s edition, there’s another story of a Pradaxa victim in Tauranga fighting for his life.

Sadly, I have a good idea of what this man and his family are going through. 

The reason I haven’t been blogging is that for the last three weeks, my 91 year old dad has been fighting the same fight, after taking the same drug. 

A couple of nights ago, a doctor told us he’d be surprised if Dad had more than a few hours to live.

There’s only so much battering a 91 year old body can take from the combined effects of a bad stroke, pneumonia, blood loss, incontinence, bed sores, and the repeated invasions of various body parts by various tubes.

All caused by a ‘wonderdrug’, taken once.

While the transfusion machine pumped the fresh blood of some generous unknown donor into the repeatedly punctured veins of his purply-black arm, we called in the family, gathered round his bed, and waited.

With insight gained from his wife who nurses the dying, the young registrar predicted that the life or death call would be made by Dad himself.

Luckily, some time in the wee small hours, he chose life. Late the next morning, oblivious to our anxiety, he awoke refreshed from the deepest sleep he’d had in weeks.

Another bullet dodged.

I told him the doctors were surprised he was still with us. His raspy, oxygen-assisted response was inspirational and unforgettable.

As himself, my father was not the gloating type. He was a gentle man in every sense.

But of late, with his slim reserves of expressive energy, he’s learnt to cut to the chase. With all the force he could muster, he grunted majestically (and somewhat Muldoonishly):

“Heh … heh … heh … the … doctors … don’t … know … me!”

Some med students trooped past his room. I explained to Dad that he was now in a teaching hospital (Wellington, having been transferred from Hutt in an ambulance the previous day).

Screwing his face into a wink, he muttered:

“We’ll … teach … the … doctors!”

Dad started teaching doctors about the will to live in 1919. For him, the Twenties were more wheezing than Roaring.

It was by no means certain that his weedy, sunken-chested, asthmatic body would make it through to enjoy the Great Depression.

He first listened to his beloved All Blacks on the radio in 1928 — a ritual I was to repeat at the same age in 1967, propped up in his and Mum’s bed.

To suggest in the 1920s that this sickly kid would one day watch his team contest the 2011 Rugby World Cup would be to invite admission to one of Her Majesty’s lunatic asylums.

Yet for the best part of 91 years — until 6.30am on 5 September 2011 — Dad was true to his name: Vivian — full of life. 

On his 90th birthday he invited everyone back for his 100th, and fully intended to keep the appointment.

His gym-going was as religious as his church-going.

This past summer, he came second in the over 90s section of a Hutt Valley bowls tournament. (The other entrant was just too good.)

As he recently wrote in a book about his 43 years with the BNZ (originally written just for family, but now happily purchased by 400 past and present bankers), “I may have had to discard my rugby ball and tennis racquet, but I’ve still got my marbles.” 

And he did. A few months ago, he published that book. Now he can’t read one.

Two weeks ago, he managed to watch half of the All Blacks-Tonga match before drifting off, but not before confidently asserting that the final score would be 42-9.

(He was wrong. It was 41-10.)

Last night, he couldn’t be bothered watching the All Blacks play France on the TV staring him in the face.

One little dose of the ‘wonderdrug’ was all it took. One pill.

On the Wednesday, he was taken off his warfarin. At 5.30pm, he swallowed his first and only dose of dabigatran. By 9.30pm, he was feeling so weird and disoriented that Mum had to call an ambulance.

The next day, his doctor put him back on his warfarin, but by then the ‘wonderdrug’ had done its worst.

At Father’s Day dinner on the Sunday, he told me he’d “had a bit of a setback”, the first I heard of the above.

The next morning, Mum awoke to the thump-thump of Dad hitting his head on the bedside furniture, and his body flopping on the floor. 

He’d had two small strokes in 1998 and 2005. But this was a biggie. Into Hutt Hospital by ambulance, fortunately to the Wellington region’s only dedicated stroke unit.

And the staff are dedicated too. They just can’t be there all the time. Neither, sadly, can we.

He can’t swallow, so has to be fed through a tube. In the delirium brought on by the stroke, he keeps trying to pull the tube out, and all too often succeeds.

For the last few days we thought we had him tamed, but this morning when the watching nurse was distracted, he yanked it out again.

Each time he does this, he has to endure having a long plastic tube inserted up his nose and down his throat into what we hope is his stomach, but is sometimes his lungs. Then they have to do it again. Once it came out his mouth by mistake.

Every time they put the tube back in, he has to be X-rayed to check the food is going into the right cavity.

I’ll spare you the details of the other orifices. Suffice it to say that, at times like this, it’s a shame we have so many.

We don’t know how this story will end, or when.

If you can spare a thought for a 91 year old man who’s led a good life, his sub-conscious would, I think, be pleased to hear from you.


If the IPCC was a corporation, its leaders would be in jail — Auditor

This interesting comment from auditor Mervyn Sullivan on the blog But Now You Know– The Search For Truth in Human Action. I’ll soon be posting my version of their Climate Change Timeline.

But for now, read this (I’ve bolded my three favourite lines):   

As a professional auditor, I’m forever obtaining and evaluating evidence. I became interested in the climate debate because of Gore’s movie, “An Inconvenient Truth”. So I decided to examine the evidence.

I have spent thousands of hours researching… to understand both sides to the climate debate (e.g. I went through the IPCC’s AR4 report, but I also went through the “Climate Change Reconsidered report by the NIPCC; I read books, blogs, magazines, research papers, authoritative web sites, and more).

Sounds like a thorough kind of guy. And what did he find?

I have come to the firm conclusion that nothing about our weather and climate is unprecedented. I have come to the conclusion that climate scientists still need to learn so much more about earth’s complex chaotic climate system before they can be so bold as to claim that CO2 is the key driver of catastrophic man-made global warming and climate change, or that certain weather events have been caused by man-made global warming. I have also learnt that predicting weather beyond say a couple of weeks is too difficult, and on that basis, predicting future climate is simply impossible.

Climate is average weather, is it not? 

I have not found any persuasive evidence that proves CO2 is causing catastrophic global warming or even driving climate change as claimed by the IPCC… there is no empirical evidence supporting this view. 

I have come to the conclusion that the evidence is stronger in support of the idea that our climate is driven by numerous complex factors involving, for example, solar magnetic activity, cosmic rays, cloud formation, lunar position, and ocean currents.

Just as the sceptical climate scientists have been saying. 

I also think the Central England Temperature record is probably a reliable temperature proxy record to work off. It shows no evidence of any runaway global warming since the mid 1600s.

I wonder if this news has reached East Anglia. (As in the University of). But here’s his killer finding: 

If I had to issue an audit opinion on the IPCC AR4 report, it would have to be a disclaimer opinion. In fact, I would go so far as to state that if the IPCC AR4 report were subject to the same standards of accountability as under corporations legislation, the IPCC members would probably be facing jail sentences for releasing misleading information to the public, and grossly deceiving the public by claiming its report was based only on peer reviewed scientific literature (the best science) when in reality, approximately 30% of the 18,500+ citations are now known to have related to “grey literature” such as articles by campaigning organizations like WWF and Greenpeace… which are not even close to being peer reviewed scientific literature. 

Surely the United Nations wouldn’t really parrot left-wing propaganda? And surely — despite one of its head honchos being Helen Clark — it’s not really using eco-catastrophism as a pretext for socialist world government?

What I have also learnt from my research is that the climate change debate has become over-politicized to the point that it now overrides real climate science. It’s now all about regulating and taxing ‘carbon’ to fix an imaginary future problem. To even think that certain people could assume that humans could tame and control the weather and climate, Mother Nature, demonstrates the madness on the part of some, in relation to this debate over man-made global warming. 

Comment by Mervyn Sullivan | February 9, 2011  @ 06:48 |

Now at this point, of course, our resident warm-mongers Judge Holden and David Winter will immediately leap in to somehow blacken this auditor’s name. (The Green Party Black Ops Manual on the Flaming and Defaming of Heretics offers a host of plausible smears.) 

And I can’t defend him, because I have no idea who, where, or how good an auditor, Mervyn Sullivan is. 

Nonetheless, I thought you might find it interesting to hear from a man who spends his life sifting truth from lies.


Kevin Dunkley at Exhibitions Gallery till Saturday

I Caught My First Fish On That Wharf
Just Another One of Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer
After a Quick Dip in the Tide, it was Time for Some Market Research and to Stoke Up the Embers

I think of my friend Kevin Dunkley as the Eternal Teenager.

Or as Kiwi Kev, the quintessential New Zealand character.

(Which is someone who’d never say quintessential.)

In the 80s, Kevin and I were a team on the ICI account at Colenso Communications. 

One year, we got an award for an ad about a kiwifruit spray called Attack.

The brief: tell growers that kiwifruit sprayed with Attack can now be sold in Japan.

Our solution: a full page ad with the huge headline: Japanese Approve Attack on Kiwis. (Would have worked even better in the 40s.)

These days, Kevin’s getting a big name as a painter of these wonderfully nostalgic scenes of idyllic Kiwi summers.

They bring back fond memories for former kids of a certain age.

I well remember having a two-tone Mark II like the one above, and spending weekends in a caravan just like that old blue one.  

I love Kevin’s hard-case titles too. Most wouldn’t make a lot of sense anywhere else:

Sal Was As Rough As Guts. But He Made The Best Greasies In The World.

We Used To Tell Everyone We Had Been Up To The Boohai Shooting Pukekos.

After A Few Hours Of Yacking With Ted, It Was Time To Rattle Our Dags.

The titles are so much a part of his paintings I suggested he put them somewhere visible.

So at his last exhibition, he wrote the titles on bits of corrugated iron and dangled them from the paintings on hooks.

Until Saturday, you can Kevin’s work at the Simply The Best exhibition at Exhibitions Gallery in Featherston Street.

I see After a Quick Dip… sold before the exhibition even opened.

So get in quick before every old beach bunny discovers this national treasure, and his prices start going through the roof.

If you miss the exhibition but still want to invest in a Dunkley (or check out more paintings like the above), go here.


‘My hovercraft is full of eels’ in 76 languages

Just farewelled stepson on a school Classics trip to Greece and Italy.

Add in the Vatican City and the stopover in Thailand and by the end of the trip his list of countries visited will stand at 11.

At his age (16) I had yet to embark on my first overseas flight – a  hockey trip to Christchurch. My first real overseas trip came at 21.

It’s a very different world from the 1970s, and a grasp of foreign phrases has never been more vital.

Here is one of the most vital, translated into every language the intrepid young traveller is likely to encounter.

(Like the overgrown child I am, I still can’t help but chuckle at the Cebuano, Thai and Tagalog words for hovercraft)…

Afrikaans  My skeertuig is vol palings.
Albanian  Hoverkrafti im është plot me ngjala.
Arabic  Hawwāmtī mumtil’ah bi’anqalaysūn.
Armenian (Eastern)  Im odatirry li e odzadz.kerov.
Aromanian  Pãmporea-a mea-i ãmplinã di uhelji.
Azerbaijani  Hoverkraftimin içi ilan balıǧı ilə doludur.
Basque  Nire aerolabangailua aingirez beteta dago.
Belarusian  Moj pavetrany čoven pouny vugramі.
Bhojpuri  Hamar mandaraye wali jahaj sarpminan se bharal ha.
Breton  Leun gant sili eo ma aeroglisseur.
Bulgarian  Korabãt mi na v’zdyšna vãzglavnica e pãlen sãs zmiorki.
Catalan  El meu aerolliscador està ple d’anguiles.
Cebuano  Puno ug kasili ang akong hoberkrap.
Chinese (Cantonese)  Ngóh jek heidínsyùhn jòngmúhnsaai síhn.
Chinese (Mandarin)  Wǒ de qìdiànchuán chōngmǎn le shànyú.
Croatian/Serbian  Moja lebdilica je puna jegulja.
Czech  Moje vznášedlo je plné úhořů.
Danish  Mit luftpudefartøj er fyldt med ål.
Dutch  Mijn luchtkussenboot zit vol paling.
English  My hovercraft is full of eels.
Estonian  Mu hõljuk on angerjaid täis.
Faroese  Luftpútufar mítt er (skít)fult í álli.
Finnish  Ilmatyynyalukseni on täynnä ankeriaita.
French  Mon aéroglisseur est plein d’anguilles.
Frisian (Northern)  Min luftdümpetbüüdj as ful ma äil.
Galician  O meu aerodeslizador esta cheo de anguías.
German  Mein Luftkissenfahrzeug ist voller Aale. 
German (Swiss)  Mis Luftchüssiboot isch volle Aal.
Greek (Modern)  To hóverkráft mu íne gemáto hélia.
Hebrew  Harahefet sh’eli mele’ah betzlofahim.
Hindi  Merī ṃḍarāne vālī nāv sarpamīnoṁ se bharī hai.
Hungarian  A légpárnás hajóm tele van angolnákkal.
Icelandic  Svifnökkvinn minn er fullur af álum.
Indonesian  Hovercraft saya penuh dengan belut.
Inuktitut  Umiaryuap Publimaaqpaga tattaurniq ammayaq.
Irish (Gaelic)  Tá m’árthach foluaineach lán d’eascainn.
Italian  Il mio aeroscivolante è pieno di anguille.
Japanese  Watashi no hobākurafuto wa unagi de ippai desu.
Korean  Nae hoebuhkeurapeuteuneun changuhro kadeuk cha isseyo.
Latin  Mea navis aëricumbens anguillis abundat.
Latvian  Mans gliseris ir pilns ar zušiem.
Lithuanian  Mano laivas su oro pagalve pilnas ungurių.
Luxembourgish  Mäi Loftkësseboot ass voller Éilen. 
Macedonian  Moeto letačko vozilo e polno so jaguli.
Manx  Ta my haagh crowal lane dy astan.
Māori  Kī tōnu taku waka topaki i te tuna.
Malay  Hoverkraf saya penuh dengan belut.
Malayalam  Ente prrakkum-paetakam niraye vlankukalanu.
Maltese  Il-hovercraft tiegħi hu mimli sallur.
Marathi  Majhī hoḍi māsaḷyaṅni bharlī āhe. 
Norwegian  Luftputefartøyet mitt er fullt av ål.
Occitan  Mon aerolisador es plen d’anguilas.
Persian  Havercrafte man pore mārmāhi ast.
Polish  Mój poduszkowiec jest pełen węgorzy.
Portuguese  Meu hovercraft está cheio de enguias.
Romanian  Vehicolul meu pe pernă de aer e plin cu ţipari.
Russian  Moio sudno na vozdušnoy poduške polno ugrey.
Scottish Gaelic  Tha mo bhàta-foluaimein loma-làn easgannan.
Shona  Hovercraft yangu yakazara nemikunga.
Slovak  Moje vznášadlo je plné úhorov.
Slovenian  Moje vozilo na zračni blazini je polno jegulj.
Spanish  Mi aerodeslizador está lleno de anguilas.
Swahili  Gari langu linaloangama limejaa na mikunga.
Swedish  Min svävare är full med ål.
Tagalog  Puno ng palos ang aking hoberkrap.
Tamil  En kappal muzhuvadhum meengal.
Telugu  Naa hoavarkraapht aṅthaa eelu chaepalathoa niṅdipoayiṅdhi.
Thai  Hō woe khrāp kong phom tem pai duay pla lha.
Tok Pisin  Bilong me hangamapim bot stap pulap maleo.
Turkish  Hoverkraftımın içi yılan balığı dolu.
Ukrainian  Moje sudno na povitrianij podušci napovnene vuhrami.
Vietnamese  Tàu cánh ngầm của tôi đầy lươn.
Welsh  Mae fy hofrenfad yn llawn llyswennod.
Yiddish  Mayn prom (shveb-shif) iz ful mit veners.
Yorùbá  Ọkọ afategun-sare mi kun fun ẹja arọ.
Zulu  Umkhumbi wami u’cwele hinoka za’semanzini.

Thanks to Omniglot for this linguistic treasure. For even more languages, including Klingon, go here.

Advertising, Politics, Uncategorized

Press relations restored

I’ve just had a phone call and exceptionally gracious apology from a very pleasant advertising director.

It seems she is no comfortably-shod feminazi out to sabotage the ACT campaign, but just wanted to protect her client from itself after the Green spoof controversy.

And contrary to my prediction, the ad appeared in an excellent position for a run-of-paper placement.

This restores my faith in God (AKA Alan – Wellington’s god of retail advertising, Alan Martin), who’s catch cry was ‘It’s the putting right that counts.’ 

The late Mr Martin once put something right for me – a faulty fridge connection which nearly electrocuted me.

I rang him on a Sunday in a somewhat agitated state. He was as good as his word and said he’d ‘sack the bastard’ who’d left the wires exposed.

(I had to plead with him not to put things quite that right and let the poor man keep his job.)

In the same vein, I will now praise this woman to the heavens whenever I get the chance.

Advertising, Politics, Uncategorized

Ambulance ambience

Stephen Franks rang on Friday to say we’re providing a lot of enjoyment to the centre right, especially with the Helen and Winston Trusts billboard.

This turned into a drinks invite and a nice meal with Stephen and Cathy at St John’s Bar.

None of us had eaten there before, and all agreed that the fish dishes were exceptional.

I had been in the building before – on an outing from  Waterloo when I was a nine year old cub and St John’s was an ambulance station.

Advertising, Politics, Uncategorized

Kiwiblog spoof now real billboard

What began as an idle suggestion by me on Kiwiblog and a quick mockup by Whale Oil has now become a real billboard for the Free Speech Coalition.

It went up this afternoon in Auckland and, weather permitting, Wellington. 

Stay tuned for the Tauranga special 🙂

The bottom line, if you can’t read it, says ‘Authorised as demanded by LabourFirst’s and the Greens’ outrageous assault on free speech by David Farrar of the Free Speech Coalition…”


Welcome ablog

I’ve been blogging for a couple of weeks now without telling anyone.


But I can delay no more. This morning’s Sunday Star-Times is publishing my address, so it’s time to open for visitors.

Please go for a scroll and post a comment or three to show me you’re there. 

Being the political season, there’s a lot of political stuff in here, but I plan to include more quirky info about words, silly rhymes, and my mission to simplify the world so I can understand it.

Have fun.


Language, Uncategorized

The First Post

Gentlies and ladlemen,

Welcome to the latest newest blog on the entire internet.

Before long, it should be chock-full of quirky observations about the crazy words we use, and the weird world in which we use them.

Hey, did you notice that the words entire and internet are cobbled together from the same five letters? 

And did you know that each of them – e, n, t, i and r – will only earn you 1 measly point in Scrabble? That’s because they’re five of our most common nine letters – along with a, o, s and h.

And did you know that, etymologically speaking, letters are indeed French?

Sorry, sorry. Now I’m getting carried away. (Some say I should be.)

Anyway, here we are. Stuck in a blog. With no paper.

Which is the perfect image for introducing my next category…

You see, we’ll also be plumbing the murky depths of advertising, and politics, and the advertising of politics – since that’s what a lot of people think I do.

(I did. But I don’t. Now I do public speaking, and private writing.)

And there’ll be the odd rhyme too, I dare say. Most of my rhymes are odd. Especially the ones that don’t rhyme.

Mary had a little lamb.
She couldn’t eat the rest.

When the time is right, I’ll be unveiling my new New Zealand flag, which is not the least bit odd. And my new Taiwanese National Anthem, which is.

Who knows what else we’ll be getting up to?

At the very least, I hope you and I will be able to use this humble forum to simplify the world, so I can understand it.

Mank you thery vuch.