1. Magic memories
My birthday is near the end of March, so in some years such as this one it falls within the Easter break. One such time was in 1978, 38 years ago, when my wife and I were planning to get married a few weeks later.
We wouldn’t have time for a honeymoon, so we took a break for Easter, booking into the Mapleton Caravan Park, which is on the northern road from Nambour to Montville in the Sunshine Coast hinterland. Some memories stand out.
One was the giant storm we had one night. Our onsite van rocked for hours in the wind and blinding rain. Night passed and the bright and sparkling morning revealed chaos for campers in tents, from the wind and water rushing down the slope.
My actual birthday was fine and the night was clear. I remember the spectacular full moon from Gerrard’s Lookout on the road along the ridge down to Maleny, where we had a take-away meal to celebrate my birthday.
Our last night was in Alexandra Headlands, where we thought we’d try a new restaurant that had just opened. The meal was fair enough, but we were the only ones there, and when we asked for desserts, they said, sorry the chef’s gone home!
There was more, of course, a magic holiday, now exactly half a life-time ago!
The Labour Party in NZ is looking at the idea of “citizen’s income” also known as Universal Basic Income (UBI).
- The idea is that everyone gets a basic amount of money to live off of, like a wage, and benefit systems are gotten rid of.
It sounds a great idea, but where would the money come from?
Quartz spoke to five experts.
People are turning to the concept, I think, because of growing inequality, manifest poverty and homelessness in rich countries where holes have opened up in the safety net, and the casualisation of work, where being in and out of short-term jobs is the new normal.
3. No new flag for New Zealand
As The Guardian said, Ten months, 10,000 designs, no new flag for New Zealand. What was that about?
- How many New Zealanders does it take to change a flag?
It’s the 27-million-dollar question to which, after 10 months, 10,300 designs and two public referendums, we still don’t know the answer – because after all that, the vote was to stick with the same old flag.
These were the four finalists:
The one chosen to go up against the existing one, was the one on the bottom right. Far be it for me, but I suspect it should have been either all black and white, or red, white and blue. Aesthetically this one just doesn’t look right against a blue sky:
57% of the people who voted gave it the thumbs down. So Kiwis will be stuck with a flag that looks very much like the Australian one.
This is the third tim PM John Key has seen his referendums go down. The first was on a law that criminalised smacking children, the second was his government’s asset sales program.
Seems teflon Key will just carry on as though the whole thing never happened.
4. Brussels ISIS attacks
Now this is serious.
There have been attacks in Ankara and elsewhere, but the ISIS bombings in Brussels has brought us up with a jolt. Europe with 28 countries with borders open to each other in the Schengen area seems very vulnerable.
Paul McGeough at the SMH looks at the overall picture. ISIS in Syria and Iraq is losing, he says, and is seeking to export terror out of weakness.
Yet if terrorist cells elsewhere reach a critical mass, losing at the centre may not make much difference. Many are saying that Brussels is becoming jihadi central, and are asking why. For one thing, Belgium has been perhaps worse than most at integrating second generation Muslims. However, this article by Matthew Yglesias paints a disturbing picture.
Belgium is a country of opposites yoked together by force, mainly Flemish and Walloons who apparently can’t stand each other. The state has weak national institutions and has pushed many government functions towards local government. Brussels itself is really 19 municipalities each of which used to have its own police force. Now it has five police forces, but each answers to a number of mayors.
National security bodies are said to be fragmented, lacking coordination and communication. Under these circumstances coordinating efforts against radicalisation and terrorist threats is a challenge. I’ve heard Belgium described as a failed state.
Clearly things are going to get worse, there, here and everywhere, before they get better. I heard a French politician say that in France they had identified 9,000 radicalised Muslims. Of these some 400 to 500 were thought to be a potential threat. That’s a lot of people for the authorities to keep an eye on.
Introduction to Saturday salon
Because of the way the blog currently presents posts on the home page I think it’s better to remove the introductory material to a different place. For new readers, here’s the rationale for this space.
An open thread where, at your leisure, you can discuss anything you like, well, within reason and the Comments Policy. Include here news and views, plus any notable personal experiences from the week and the weekend.
For climate topics please use the most recent Climate clippings.
The gentleman in the image is Voltaire, who for a time graced the court of Frederick II of Prussia, known as Frederick the Great. King Fred loved to talk about the universe and everything at the end of a day’s work. He also used the salons of Berlin to get feedback in the development of public policy.
Fred would only talk in French; he regarded German as barbaric. Here we’ll use English.
The thread will be a stoush-free zone. The Comments Policy says:
The aim [of this site] is to provide a venue for people to contribute and to engage in a civil and respectful manner.