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Happy Days With Helen

An Infometrics Misery Index out today ranks the current New Zealand Government's performance as the third best in 30 years.

It comes behind the 1993-96 Bolger Government and the 1972 to 75 Kirk-Rowling Government.

The Misery Index looks at whether economic indicators such as employment, inflation and GDP growth have improved during the tenure of a particular government.

Infometrics economist Gareth Kiernan says, under Helen Clark's leadership, there have been improvements in most areas, with the only blot being a rise in inflation.

He suggests Labour will be comfortably re-elected.

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Latest reply: Apr 11, 2002

PM won't embarrass NZ

If you're worried the Prime Minister might embarrass the country by dressing inappropriately for the Queen Mother's funeral tonight, relax.

Helen Clark has the matter in hand.

There was controversy during the Queen's recent visit when Miss Clark wore trousers to the state banquet. But Miss Clark says she won't be setting those same tongues wagging again tonight. She says she will dress entirely in black, from head to toe, and will be wearing a skirt, not trousers.

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Latest reply: Apr 9, 2002

The West Wing

News - New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark is visiting Washington this week. She has meetings scheduled with George W Bush and top officials in his administration. She is the first NZ Labour Prime Minister to be invited to Washington in 30 years.

The Oval Office. Silhouetted against a window and framed by two Stars and Stripes flags, the president sits at his desk. To one side is a world map, with various regions shaded red. The label "Evil Empire" has been amended with blue marker pen to read simply "Evil". An aide is pointing to the lower-right-hand corner of the map.

Aide: It's right down there, Mr President, over and down a bit from Australia.
President: Australia, okay. And they're not evil, right?
Aide: No, Mr President, not evil. Well, maybe a tiny bit evil ...
President: Huh?
Aide: They're the ones that don't want our nuclear-powered and armed ships in their harbours.
President: What's their problem?
Aide: They're nuclear free. Been that way since before your father sat in that chair. Apparently it's a very popular policy down there. Even our friends haven't been able to change it.
President: Nuclear free, hub. That does sound quite evil. Can we attack them?
Aide: No, No President, they are our allies.
President: They are our evil allies. That doesn't make sense. I thought I made it pretty clear - you're either with us or against us.
Aide: They did send some troops to Afghanistan.
President: What, now you're telling me they're part of the al Qaeda terror network of Osama bin Laden that is the face of evil in the world today?
Aide: No sir, they sent troops to help our troops. They're on our side.
President: Okay, so they're Northern Alliance, that explains it. A little bit evil but on our side! Got ya.
Aide: Never mind. Look, their Prime Minister is meeting you in five minutes. We need to go over some of the issues that will come up.
President: What's he like?
Aide: It's a she, sir, the Prime Minister is a woman.
President: Woah there, cowboy. I knew we'd liberated the place from the evil Taliban regime which harboured terrorists who are the single biggest threat to freedom and democracy in the world today, but I didn't think they'd gone that far. Does she wear one of them sheet things over her face? ;
Aide: Mr President, New Zealand is not part of the Northern Alliance. However, its government does include a coalition partner called the Alliance which is strongly opposed to our war against terror and to lifting the ban on our nuclear warships entering their ports.
President: Well, maybe we should pick 'em off with one of them tactical nuclear devices.
Aide: Sir, our information is that they have destroyed themselves anyway. And it will be most impolitic to speak about tactical nuclear devices with the Prime Minister of New Zealand. With respect, sir, the last thing we need right now, what with Mr Cheney just back from the Middle East and the situations in Israel and Kashmir, is the leader of the free world threatening to nuke the democratically elected government of a loyal ally of the United States.
President: Not all of them, just the evil ones ...
Aide: No, Mr President, I really must insist.
President: All right, all right. Sheesh. Ever since that axis of evil thing you're all on my case. What am I supposed to talk about, then - the weather?
Aide: Do not go near global warming, sir. Free trade. They're big on free trade. Really want to sell their apples and their lamb and their butter to us.
President: And their steel?
Aide: Oh yes, and their steel.
President: Tough cheese.
Aide: Yes, that too.
President: Want want want. All we ever hear. What do we get?
Aide: You might like to suggest that New Zealand reconsider its anti-nuclear policy and he welcomed back into Anzus.
President: Anzus? Sounds like axis!
Aide: Australia New Zealand United States. It's an ... alliance.
President. Against evil?
Aide: Sort of. It's a Cold War thing. We froze them out after they went nuclear free. Now it's just Australia and the United States.
President: So we want to put the N back between the A and the US.
Aide: And the Zee, sir, please.
President: You got a problem with my language skills?
Aide. Nothing of the sort, Mr President.
President: Okay then. Let's go meet this lady ...

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Latest reply: Mar 25, 2002

9/3 shocker

Avon Products Incorporated, the world's largest direct seller of beauty products, recently said it plans to reduce 3,800 positions from its current workforce over the next two years.

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Latest reply: Mar 19, 2002

Cricket fans make orcs of themselves

Thousands of Wellingtonians will get the chance to grunt, stomp and scream their way into a Lord Of The Rings film today (Saturday, Feb 16) - simply by being at the one-day cricket international in the New Zealand capital city.

During the tea break at the WestpacTrust Stadium, about 5.30pm, Rings sound technicians will supervise the crowd in creating battle noises to be used in the second film of the trilogy, The Two Towers, to be released in December.

For about 20 minutes they want the 20,000 expected cricket fans to be as rowdy as possible by screaming, grunting and chanting. The noisy interlude may well be led by Oscar-nominated Rings director Peter Jackson, who is likely to attend.

And that won't be the only off-field action, with the Mad Caps - New Zealand Cricket's answer to the famously raucous group of English supporters, the Barmy Army - hoping to turn the tables on their opponents after a verbal thrashing on Wednesday.

After-match reports said the Kiwi novices were out-chanted and generally outperformed by England's seasoned campaigners.

After the game one Barmy Army member accused the Mad Caps of getting bored too easily and of being pathetic for not following their team around. A different group of Mad Caps will appear in each centre for the five-match, one-day series.

However, members of Wainuiomata's Hooter Police, who make up a third of Wellington's 50-strong Mad Caps, put that down to "southern lethargy".

"That's just Christchurch and Christchurch people for you," said leader Fitzie, who promised the Hooter Police could drink and chant with the best of them.

"We're going to give it heaps. The Barmy Army are the best group of supporters in the world, but their team never wins anything, the only thing they are good at is losing. The only good thing they've ever done for sport is create cricket, rugby and soccer."

New Zealand Cricket events manager Owen Harrison said the Mad Caps were underdogs, but the public could expect them to come out fighting.

"The Barmy Army travel the world. They're a tight unit. They've chanted at grounds, on planes in buses and on trains. But we're confident we can compete."

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Latest reply: Feb 16, 2002

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