Monday, January 28, 2008

Junk history

Junk history

In the Senior Service (that's the Royal Navy to you, mate; if you were a Mate, you'd know) submariners are regarded with suspicion. The officers of surface ships hold a disdain for submarine warfare on the grounds that it is somewhat unsporting. Moreover, those who go down under the sea in boats are thought of as either madmen or mercenaries, if not both: they are thought to be mad for wishing to spend months under water; they are thought to be mercenary for accepting the considerable financial inducements for doing so.

It comes as no surprise to discover that Gavin Menzies, the author of 1421, The Year China Discovered the World was a submariner. Maps has the lowdown on the book and comments from nutters.

Speaking of nutters, Red Confectionery has photos from the recent bloggers' drinks. Your bloggist was among that number.

Speaking of China, Britain has been swamped with crap.

Speaking of crypto-fascists and discovery, one leading member of the British National Party once made an art film involving gay frolics; old news but funny anyway and coming to us courtesy of wonkette.

Less amusing is the Southern Poverty Law Center's story of how the skinheads deal with problems in Arizona.

Elsewhere, Eric Olthwaite has some links to clever stuff.

If you are done with reading and thinking and stuff, you can always pray for France.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Viral marketing

Conor sent me a video of a gorilla playing the drums. Apparently, it is supposed to make you want to buy chocolate.

The latest Colin video is now available.

Here is a traditional Scottish delicacy, a deep-fried Mars Bar:

Note: Scotland has one of the highest death rates from Coronary Heart Disease in the western world.

A nation snubbed

It all went rather well; the state funeral of Sir Ed, that is. The organisers did a very good job organising and everyone seems to think that the service expressed the nation's feelings.

All of which is a relief, considering the dismay that was expressed only last weekend by editors of the Fairfax newspapers. They had found that no member of the British Royal Family was available for the funeral. They all had other things to do. The Prince of Wales was promoting the Mutton Renaissance, which is a bit like the Italian Renaissance except in that it is about meat from old sheep, rather than great works of art. Meanwhile, the Prince formerly known as Dockyard Doris was opening a scout hut in Hampshire.

The Fairfax editors, to a man or woman, decided that New Zealand had been snubbed. They felt moved to run this story on the front pages of their weekend editions, with descriptions of the activities of various Royals and reactions from various New Zealanders to the snubbing. There was much muttering and gnashing of teeth.

But, come the day, everybody forgot the absence of royalty. The nation farewelled Sir Ed and nobody seemed to care that the Countess of Wessex couldn't join us.

I suppose I could be a grumpy old atheist and complain that, although Sir Ed seems himself to have been an atheist, he was given a funeral in an Anglican church. But I won't be so, because it does not really matter. At least the nation didn't have to endure a Humanist ceremony, with poetry readings and interpretative dance. And we are probably now several steps closer to becoming a Republic.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Look who's back in town

My friend and former About Town colleague Xavier Goldie returns with a blog about Botany.

Meanwhile, Cabinet Magazine discusses Mauve and The Southern Poverty Law Center looks at the ex-gay movement.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Not for lunchtime reading

A man in Idaho saw the Mark of the Beast on his hand. The story then gets worse and then worse still. You can read it here, if you must. Hat tip to Kelly at Rational Response Squad.

Home is where the heart is

Following our architectural theme, today's Standard comments on a post by Whaleoil which shows a photograph of the home of John Minto. Since architectural warfare has broken out in blogzealand, the Fundy Post can now show you an exclusive photograph of Whaleoil's own executive lifestyle home.

Readers will appreciate the clean lines and the way that form follows function.

Erratum It seems the photograph shown in this post is not of the home of Whaleoil but of a US Navy barracks in San Diego. The barracks were built in the 1960s but their distinctive plan became known to the world only after Google Earth captured an image of them.

Here's Lene Lovich:

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Crush with Eyeliner

Oh dear. Mr Key was on Noelle's programme on the wireless this morning. She may as well have been talking to static. Apparently, policies will be rolled out at some time in the future. Sigh.

Meanwhile, my earlier post about Mr Key's bach has come to the attention of both Not PC and The Standard. And it turns out that sharks are circling. Welcome to the Summer of Metaphor.

Pic unrelated. Here's REM:

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A Remembrance of Things Pastry

I learned today that the grievances felt by the Tuhoe people are related not to contemporary oppression but to events which occurred to their ancestors, more than a century and a half ago. I share their sense of injustice. Each time I dip a Madeleine into my tea, I am reminded that my Huguenot ancestors were oppressed by the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, by which Louis XIV removed the rights given them by Henri IV. Forced to flee France to the culinary wasteland which is England, the Huguenots never again would taste delicious cake.

Feeling oppressed as I do, my immediate response is to take a walk into town, where I might find a patisserie to loot. It is only by the redistribution of brioche that such grievances can be assuaged.

From the Scott-Moncrieff translation. The painting, A Huguenot on St Bartholemew's Day, is by Sir John Everett Millais.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

I am typing on Internet

Oh hai. I just thought you should know that, right now, I am thinking "whatever happened to Twitter?" It seems only moments ago that people of my acquaintance (you know who you are) were telling the world what they were doing, as they were doing it, all day long. Then they stopped. Did they all of a sudden become self-conscious? It is not as if Twitter has gone away. It is still here. Perhaps people were put off by the rather dour testimonials, such as "When I first started doing it, I thought, 'geez, not another website to worry about updating and checking', but now I'm glad I did it" from one Point Chevalier (no relation). Whatever the reason, it seems to have become uncool, at least among the people whom I know. I am glad of it. In fact, Twitter is so uninteresting that I wish I had not started writing about it. I had better make up for this post with a cat picture.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Guns and ammunition

Richard Taylor commented on my post about terrorism; since the post was made a while ago and the comments might not be noticed and since I have nothing else to post today, I repeat it here:
If you wanted the issue of guns discussed why didn't you speak up?

There are in fact times when guns are necessary in the process of social and political change - Capitalism itself came about via many wars and revolutions - perhaps there are Tuhoe and others who are organising to use guns - perhaps not - but you have to show that such a use is ALWAYS a bad thing. Always bad to have guns?? Guns were sued to stop Hitler.

(I have in fact fired a gun - I don't like guns in general though BTW)

I agree that guns (for the most part) are bad news; but the people I saw with guns were the police - and they have had them and used them in NZ for years. Most of those protesting have a more sophisticated view than this kind of very superficial synopsis of yours; and most in general and in principal oppose guns as a primary weapon for use in a political change - but again - we heard nothing from you at the PR Bar...)

Why are the Maori - including Tuhoe so angry?

What you have said here is very witty perhaps but seems to float around and away from the subject -it is not even very clear what your point is...

That some people were planning to murder certain politicians or others - so what? maybe it will be necessary one day.

That guns are terrible? - Hmm - yes - they can be. But hands can "murder or create" (Eliot) - we don't need guns to kill...

That protest organistions attract mixed bunch(es)? - yes they do -

That Jamie Lockett's speech was quite tedious and almost meaningless? (Almost like that of an agent provocateur or an SIS agent? Or a "madman"?) Yes. It seemed so to me...but he was at least given, and took, the right to speak out, BUT


Because to do so would have been rude. The event was not a debate but a fundraiser and I was there not as a participant but as an observer.

And if my point wasn't clear, let me make it so now: what Mr Iti and friends were doing was wrong. We do not live in Nazi Germany or some police state. We live in the world's oldest democracy, where we elect our governments, where we have the rule of law as well as plenty of checks and balances. No act of political violence is necessary or justified. As citizens we have the right to elect our representatives. We do not want Mr Iti and a bunch of suburban guerillas deciding that it may be necessary to murder some of them.

I am sorry if that is not a very sophisticated view. I think there has been quite enough sophistication already. I have heard so many excuses, justifications and downright evasions when it comes to this matter. It seems to be alright to plot to kill people, although nobody seems to be able to explain what is the cause that justifies murder. Is this killing allowed so that Mr Iti can set up his own fiefdom in the Ureweras? Or is it allowable by more general reasons, because Maori have had a bad time in the past? Or is it just because of the System? Or some other sophisticated reason, such as the contradictions inherent in Late Capitalism? Do let me know. I would hate to be thought of as superficial.

Before answering, you may wish to read the essay from the Boston Review about the Red Army Faction in Germany, to which I linked a few days ago - I don't do these links just for lulz, you know; there is a purpose. You see, that bunch of middle-class fucktards who comprised the RAF not only killed innocent people but they also damaged the cause of the Left in Germany.

Anyway, enough of this. Mr Taylor has an interesting art blog and that his daughters are members of the Nudie Suits, a popular beat combo for which I have more than a little affection. So in the interests of peace, love and understanding, here is some Western Swing:

This post made from recycled materials

According to Idiot/Savant, "Nominations are open for the 2008 Bloggies. It has an Australia/New Zealand category. You know what to do..."

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Some posts

This is what we want: quality cat blogging. Russell writes about Colin, much to the displeasure of Idiot/Savant.

George is warming to Labour and has furries on bikes, a clean and green approach to a bizarre fetish provided by popular beat combo Bat For Lashes.

Lyndon makes predictions.

Jarrod goes shopping.

Deborah takes on the Pope

Kakariki discoversmud stencils

Zoster finds a Hello Kitty assault rifle

Terence delves into the memory hole.

Peter designs a better bach.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Catch 22 revisited

The undisputed master of milking the system is KBR, the former Halliburton subsidiary so ubiquitous in Iraq that soldiers even encounter its customer-survey sheets in outhouses. The company has been exposed by whistle-blowers in numerous Senate hearings for everything from double-charging taxpayers for $617,000 worth of sodas to overcharging the government 600 percent for fuel shipments. When things went wrong, KBR simply scrapped expensive gear: The company dumped 50,000 pounds of nails in the desert because they were too short, and left the Army no choice but to set fire to a supply truck that had a flat tire. "They did not have the proper wrench to change the tire," an Iraq vet named Richard Murphy told investigators, "so the decision was made to torch the truck."

In perhaps the ultimate example of military capitalism, KBR reportedly ran convoys of empty trucks back and forth across the insurgent-laden desert, pointlessly risking the lives of soldiers and drivers so the company could charge the taxpayer for its phantom deliveries. Truckers for KBR, knowing full well that the trips were bullshit, derisively referred to their cargo as "sailboat fuel."
From Rolling Stone, via Alternet, with hat tip to Terence.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The end of Art History

Some readers will know that I have been accepted by the Art History Department at the University of Auckland as a PhD candidate. My subject is the influence of architectural historians on architectural culture in New Zealand. I think it is what those PoMo chaps call a meta-narrative.

There are some who have misgivings about the value of meta-narratives or, for that matter any kind of narrative, such as Mark Miller Graham:
Closure denotes a satisfying end, a coming to terms, in which highly suspect and subjective stylistic and iconographic sequences form a causal chain as if they were dominoes of the gods. Thus, they play upon existential desires for resolution. One way of accounting for art history's unnatural attachment to narrative closure is to turn to the psychoanalytical notion of cathexis, as the libidinal investment made in the narrative. The history of art is propelled forward by this energy invested in narrative. Together, chronology and closure are a kind of machinery that can be likened to, or are actual expressions of, the quest for (male) sexual release.
That would explain it, then: Art History is a load of wank.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Scooters, vacation, fall

There is nothing like a list of rankings to make bloggers needy and nerdy at the same time, so it is good to see that Tim Selwyn has done sums and produced the NZ Blogosphere rankings. As expected, some bloggers are doubting the results and questioning the methodology. The Fundy Post will not be among them: this blog's standing at number 30 is quite agreeable, particularly as little was posted here for much of the survey period.

That said, I cannot resist the opportunity to examine The State of the New Zealand Blogosphere. After all, we are a nation given over to introspection, doubt and self-examination. We love this sort of thing. So, Hey ho, let's go.

For a start, there seem to be an awful lot of libertarians in Blogzealand but one hardly ever meets them IRL; is blogging a condition of membership of the ACT Party? There are a fair number of lefties as well, although I note that my own commitment to the Left is questioned by Mr Selwyn. Was it something I said?

It is also a very male list. I count ten blogs of the one hundred which are written by a woman or by a group in which a woman is prominent; only one, Red Confectionery, is a wholly female group blog. I am not sure what to think of that, especially since most of the blogs on this list are political in content. Where are the women? Are so few blogging about politics? Is it because of the troll problem?

And what of the blogs written by women which are not about politics; why are they not on this list? Where are Harvest Bird, Robyn and Make Tea Not War? Where is Wanda Harland when we need her? And why all these questions?

The answer is in the small print. This is a ranking of political blogs. It is all about "public discourse," a phrase which presumably means No Cats. There are exceptions, but then you couldn't have a blog party without inviting Brain Stab, could you? But then you can't have a party without any girls; if you don't have girls, the men stand around talking about politics.

In my less than humble opinion, the problem with blogs is that the political chaps want to have their say, so they set up blogs and link to all the other political chaps. Blogging is serious business, for serious people. The real political blogs are joined by fake ones – politicians pretending to be bloggers. The non-political blogs, often written by people with specialist interests who know what they are talking about, don't get a look in. Writing skills count less than political allegiances. And the result is a list like this, where many of the entries, whether left or right, are unreadable.

Not that Mr Selwyn is at fault in compiling this list. The dominance of political blogs seems to be a natural feature of the blogging ecosystem and is self-perpetuating. Among those political blogs are writers who are informed about the issues and can present the arguments. It is just a shame about the rest. I, for one, would rather see a good blog about cats in the list, rather than a bad blog about the Resource Management Act.

Let's look on the bright side: Mr Selwyn's list may help to bring about change. By making a list and updating it, he may bring to public attention blogs which otherwise would be overlooked. People might discover Ethical Martini, stanselen, Channel Chanel or the new blog of the legendary Liz Shaw: political, written by a woman and filled with observations such as "It's great to go outside and get some fresh air while having a cigarette."

Having read this far, you may be asking, "how do I get into this blogging craze which is sweeping the nation? Is there a dress code? Do I need special equipment?" You could start by reading the articles posted here , which includes one that tells you not to use "here" as a link term. In fact, it turns out I am doing everything wrong. For blogging success, I should be including tags (Blogger helpfully gives as examples "scooters, vacation, fall" which makes me think of Mark E Smith on a Vespa, somewhere in Italy) but I can't be arsed. I should also be using titles that are relevant to the topics, but that would be no fun.

These pages also include this helpful advice:
"To me, the most difficult thing about blogging is finding a good topic. Not all days: some days I have so many ideas that I couldn't possibly blog about them all. That's why it's handy to keep a blogging notebook or a blogging calendar. I use those 10 cent little spiral notebooks. Others I know use those calendars that the dentist, vet, and bank give away during December. There's no right answer; use whatever works for you.
I use a computer. It's a Macintosh; that works for me. I find the best thing to do with those calenders is to put them in the bin.

Here's my blogging pro-tip: nothing is predictable. Here is an example. Of all the images I have posted, the one which has brought in the most traffic is the furry girl. Yes, furries are coming to this blog. At least they don't know where I live. Yiff.

Here is The Fall, a band which has had so many members that they cannot remember the name of their first drummer:

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Like, whatever

In before Russell: TCP/IP is Twenty-five.

Comments on my previous post show that readers of left and right are united in condemnation of John Key's aesthetic preferences. It is time to put our political differences aside and stand together, as we face of one of the greatest threats to this nation's well-being: bad architecture. As we enter a New Year, this blog is determined to seek out and mock tacky buildings wherever they can be found.

In the meantime, since this blog has at least one rightish reader, here are some links which reflect the Fundy Post's commitment to diversity. Staying with architecture, how about this for a laugh? A radical, a liberal, a traditionalist, and a conservative are in a car talking about palladium windows, which would be hard to see through and expensive to replace. Moving on, in the free part of Salon Camille Paglia argues for the North American intellectual tradition; it's all about the weather, apparently. In the New Criterion, Theodore Dalrymple (not his real name) discovers he likes a work of conceptual art. And here's something which will really confuse the conservatives: gay Muslims.

Meanwhile and back home, Larry Baldock claims his anti-anti-spanking petition has 250,000 signatures. This blogeur recalls Mr Baldock's previous petition which was anti-prostitution reform and which was just a few signatures away from victory before it collapsed. In Britain, MPs challenge the Bishops.

The NY Times has found a blog which lists bloggers' favourite posts of 2007, which just goes to show how easy it is these days to do print journalism. One that might interest readers is about the new Atheism. Readers might also be interested in the opportunity to date Jesus. Back home again, Horansome has learned that God is a conspiracy theory.

Whilst on the subject of myths, this blogeur (who is of Scottish ancestry and who has considerably more claim to the name of Dalrymple than does Theodore) is somewhat miffed that the story of the Water Horse has been made into a cutesy movie, particularly when the gruesome facts about the Each Uisge are so much more entertaining. On the other hand, this blogeur (who was raised in Kent) is pleased that hodening is making a come-back. And, if you are wondering about the the future of the English language, it is totally in the hands of teenage girls; random.

And finally, back to that story about the homes of the rich and famous in the Herald on Sunday; did it seem to you to be, like, so last year? Did you get a feeling (in the words of my favourite Herald headline) of deja vu all over again? Well, like, DUH: the Herald ran virtually the same story the Christmas before last.