Voting Frights by Trevor Plumbly

I reckon sitting on a committee is more fun than phoning Vodafone, but only just. I’m not really the collective type. I do get on pretty well with most folk, but I dislike the process of group decision. To me committees are the bastard offspring of the democratic system; they intermarry to reproduce untold social dross, and are a haven for people who can’t make up their own minds. Even those trumpeting the cause of the individual get castrated by sheer tedium and end up agreeing to ‘joint compromise’. Genteel bullying at… Read More

Prorogation: a word for our times by Angela Caldin

There’s a kind of hush over our house now and we are no longer drawn to watching the news at all hours. This is because on Monday 9 September, our prime minister prorogued parliament. This means he’s shut it down so that for the next few weeks we’ll be spared the sight of Boris Johnson making sexist remarks from the despatch box, of Jacob Rees-Mogg lounging arrogantly on the front bench and of the House of Commons flailing around in the mess that is Brexit. Prorogation is a new word for a… Read More

Get it together and get it right by Susan Grimsdell

Sometimes I think different parts of the NZ government live on different planets. One part is always warning of the risk to the economy of New Zealanders’ high level of indebtedness. We’re told we’re deeper in debt than almost anyone else in the world: Fitch Ratings (whoever that is) reports that this country has one of the world’s highest household debt levels, at 93% of GDP. Save or spend? By the same token, we’ve also been told time and again that we need to save more. Consumer advocates urge us not to… Read More

Three score and 8/10ths by Trevor Plumbly

78 this month; shit that’s old! Maybe it’s time to quit the intellectual musings and accept that the old ‘get-up-and-go’ has finally gone. I could do the escape route, and scoff a couple of ‘goodbye pills’. I would, of course, croak, but at least senility wouldn’t be an ongoing worry. There is a bill in progress to make that legal, but to pass into law it requires a conscience vote, which in turn requires being counted and some MPs have a problem with that. Others dribble on, to the extent that makes… Read More

The joys of grammar by Angela Caldin

At school, in English lessons in the middle of the last century, we were taught something called parsing which involved analysing a sentence in terms of its grammar, identifying the parts of speech, and understanding its syntax. I loved parsing and I think this way of looking at language can be helpful in learning foreign languages and in writing in general. One of the main rules of grammar is that the subject of a sentence must always agree with the verb. In other words, they both must be singular or they both… Read More