Posts by Chris Horan

Suicide and older men – Part two

Our understanding of suicide is at best fragmentary. It’s complicated by our attitudes, religious beliefs, whether the deceased was a close friend or family member. The most acceptable position to settle on when someone close has committed suicide is to say,   ‘the balance of his mind was disturbed’. It offers more satisfaction than living with a lifelong unresolved quest for answers. Mental disturbance has the advantage of absolving both the subject and survivors of moral examination and uncertainty. Nevertheless, a degree of uncertainty is inevitable.

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No Goodbyes (Part One)

(Part One)

Such are the ripples of lifelong hurt, it is unwise to start a conversation about suicide with people you don’t know very well. Nevertheless, the subject is bursting to be talked about.

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Taken by the State

The Newsroom article, Taken By The State, republished by Stuff along with two videos of distressed children being forcibly removed from home by police officers, is harrowing viewing.

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Turning a blind eye to torment

I can’t remember when I wrote the following paragraph about using containers in prisons to mop up overcrowding:

“My response to the use of containers to imprison convicted criminals was to ask myself the following questions: Are the containers secure? Will they mop up overcrowding? By prison standards of accommodation, are these containers humane? The answer is yes in all cases.”

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What – Boot camp?

Boot camp, again? Yes, I’m afraid it’s an enduring election issue. Regimented places of enforced residence designed to change the hearts, minds and behaviour of young people who are out of control. Boot camps tend to be short-term and usually emphasise self-reliance and self discipline. What’s different about the latest election ploy promoted by Bill English is that to me at least, it makes sense.

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Once upon a time in New Zealand…

I remember when the government helped young people to move up in the world. It was a time when all mothers got the Family Benefit, which could be turned into a deposit (capitalised) on a house with an affordable State Advances mortgage. I also remember when inexpensive night school classes for school certificate and university entrance were common. And also affordable university evening extension courses leading to professional qualifications. Labour and National governments abandoned the leg-up philosophy as well as collective responsibility. Union protection was replaced with individual contracts and, conveniently, a low wage economy.

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There is nothing like a Knight…

I’ve been thinking about John Key for some time. John who? Yes, exactly. The New Zealand electorate’s love affair with John Key, which is still far beyond my understanding, seems to have ceased the moment he gave up being prime minister. It is as if he was swallowed by the hole of regretful memories. Does anyone remember why they loved him? Or is it a case of being embarrassed by a teenage romance best forgotten? Forgotten until recently, that is, when he popped up with a knighthood.

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The PM Confessionals

 I watched Radio New Zealand’s Guyon Espiner’s interviews of past prime ministers on the computer to check out the body language as well as the words. I took notes of the  show (The Ninth Floor),  but with my prejudices it’s just as well I didn’t try journalism as a career. So let me state from the outset  that Jenny Shipley is far and away my least favourite PM. She reminds me even now of a bossy head girl who’s never had a moment’s self doubt.

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My friend – the earwig

Let me start with tomatoes. My home grown tomatoes have thin skins and flesh as dense and true  as wild meat. I have red, orange and pinkish heritage type with a variety of wonderful favours. But we have a short growing season and my toms are just about finished, which is why my wife bought some supermarket tomatoes.

I ate half of one.

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