Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Forbidden Orgy of the Naked Pearl Girls

Things to know: it is undoubtedly true that one of the coolest things on Internet is the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre. What's more, the Centre is hosting The Australia and New Zealand Digital Encyclopaedia Conference, to be held in Wellington on 25th and 26th November 2008.

The Aotearoa Digital Arts Reader has arrived.

The three hundreth proclamation of the Red Queen has been issued, already.

Two-thirds of Egyptian men harass women.

If the Northern League has its way, Lombards will be able to take away any meal they want, so long as its Italian.

Knitting is the new Punk; no, really it is.

Religious people are intent on taking us back to the middle ages – latest Grayling.

In Britain, you can have a civil union, so long as the Registrar doesn't mind.

There is a teenage digital divide, as Paul Reynolds notes.

It's a man's life.

This is possibly the best music video ever made:

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

¡Chien Andalusia!

Sorry, chaps and chapesses, for the absence of blog. I have an excuse: I have been drinking. I started the Friday before last, at a National Poetry Day event, and ended in the wee small hours of last Saturday morning at the Turnaround as one of Mr Brown's party. In between these two momentous events, I drank with PR people, TV folk and various others, some of whom I might have forgotten. I have now stopped. I apologise to anyone whom I might have offended or ignored during this period.

Whilst I have been away, matters have arisen. As Richard notes in a comment on my earlier post, he is being threatened with defamation for comments he made on his blog. Richard, a man given to brevity, does not name his threatener here; gental reader, it is none other than Steve Taylor, the artist formerly known as Stephen D Taylor.

Yes, that Stephen D Taylor, the one who writes letters to the editors of every newspaper in New Zealand, worrying about the Government. Go to any place in this land of plenty and you can be assured, however remote that place may be, its local paper will include a letter by Stephen D Taylor. He bothers the Editors of every student paper as well. He is blacklisted in many editorial places, yet still he writes on. It is his mission to tell everyone his opinions on everything. In short, he is a bore.

And also a boor; Taylor is blessed with the usual fixations of the fundy mind (God, girls, gays) and he drones on and on about these in a particularly nasty way, jabbing a finger at anyone who disagrees with him and sneering at anyone who holds a more generous view of the world. And he is a bully, as Richard's experience shows.

I have seen him only once in the wild, at a candidates' debate during the last General Election. Although Mr Taylor now belongs to the Direct Democracy Party, at that time he was standing for the Auckland Central seat on behalf of United Future Future New Zealand, or whatever they were called in those heady days of ranting and queer bashing. The Direct Democracy Party was represented by the Mad Grocer, Mr Dilip Rupa, who is just as obssessed as Mr Taylor but confines his fixations to matters concerning the retail dairy trade and his family's long-running grievance against Auckland City Council (which must, by now, be into its fourth generation).

That night, Mr Taylor chose a place at the table long before the meeting started; he must have been sitting on his own in the centre seat for a good twenty minutes before anyone joined him. The point of this isolation became apparent when finally he was invited to speak: he was seated in the centre literally as a smbol of his centrist political views. Ah yes, that would be it: symbolism. He also explained to the audience that he was a therapist. He didn't seem like a healer to me; he was uptight, brittle, tense and obviously needed a Radox bath. I wondered what sort of therapy he offered; I suspect his talking cure is to tell the client to pull himself together.

Anyway, neither Mr Taylor nor Mr Rupa did at all well at the vote. And lo, it came to pass that United Future Future New Zealand came to grief and Mr Taylor is now a member of Mr Rupa's party. And this happy band also contains Mr Kyle Chapman, former leader of the National Front but now Born Again. I would show you the party's website but it is under reconstruction. All in all, they are a rum bunch, this Direct Democracy Party, and absolutely barking.

Speaking of which, here are the Pixies:

Friday, July 18, 2008

Weasels ripped my flesh

This, of course, is a blogger’s nightmare: enforced silence and the prospect of jail time. The district attorney eventually withdrew the subpoena and lifted the gag requirement after the bloggers threatened to sue. But the fact that the tactic was used at all raised alarm bells for some free speech advocates.

There are eight million stories in the naked city and this has been one of them.

Cripes! In little old New Zealand, blogging is a genteel pastime. But in the Bronx it is a matter of Law and Order.

Ladies and gentlemen, we present to you: The Monochrome Set:

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Things to do in Auckland when you're dead

If you chaps and chapesses are wondering what to do of an evening, the Maxim Institute has some events.

If you fancy dinner in the Grand Tearoom (yes, really) of the Heritage Hotel (formerly Farmers department store) and you have one hundred and forty dollars to spare, you can attend the inaugural John Graham Lecture, given by one Professor Jeremy Waldron. Now, as you know, I am not one to quibble but is it not normal practice to wait until someone illustrious is dead before naming a lecture after him? I know that many former students of Auckland Grammar School and Auckland University may wish that John Graham had never been born, but he was born and he remains alive. Besides, he is the founding trustee of Maxim; it seems to me like greasy sycophancy for his minions to name a lecture after him, regardless of his vital status.

If that is not to your taste, you may want to hear Father Robert Sirico of the Acton Institute talk about "Statism vs Social Justice," a gig Maxim has arranged with those well-known philanthropists, the Business Round Table. Apparently, "In New Zealand, business is often vilified, while responsibility for people's welfare is seen primarily as the role of government. Father Robert Sirico will explain the alternative vision that social justice can offer, through a combination of civil society and business." Afterwards, Father Sirico will demonstrate how you can nail jelly to the ceiling.

It's not working for you, is it? Well, if you had been more organised, you could have attended the launch of Maxim's latest book, Silent Legacy: The unseen ways great thinkers have shaped our culture. Refreshments were served. In case you don't know it already (and if you have ever reviewed a book for any publication, Maxim have probably sent you an advance copy; they are everywhere) Silent Legacy is "about some of the great minds that have formed history and will challenge your thinking on truth, reality, knowledge and beauty." No it doesn't. All it does is show that the authors have no idea what they are writing about. I took a quick look at the chapter on Wittgenstein and was mostly anecdotal stuff about how Ludwig grew up in a house with a grand piano in every room, or something like that; strangely enough, it failed to mention his penchant for rough trade. It is safe to say that the authors simply did not understand his thinking. Of course, as one would expect, the theme of the book is that the likes of Ludwig have led us to the evils of PoMo, a world without moral absolutes where nobody listens to priests any more.

And remember, you may not want to buy the book or attend the lectures but you are doing your bit to help Maxim through your taxes.

Here's Goldenhorse, with Kirsten Morrell in the kitchen. Oddly enough, last Sunday I met Kirsten Morrell in a kitchen. She's rad.

Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle

Before we all get too excited by the National Party's new and improved Arts Policy, let us look carefully at it; a none too-difficult task, given its brevity.

For a start, is this the best they can do? A few hundred words, mostly composed in the dialect of cliché: why would a politician who uses stilted phrases like "as I've travelled around New Zealand listening to those involved in arts, culture and heritage," expect to be be trusted?

For a second start, is this the best they can do? All that travelling around the country, and this is all Chris Findlayson can muster, a policy and a PR statement entitled "National to maintain arts funding." That's it: a promise to maintain existing funding; like, wow. It not exactly a vision, is it? Nobody seems to be passionate about the arts in the National camp.

Instead, we get a few muttered blandishments, none of which join up into a policy. National will support the reform of the Authors' Fund but oppose resale Royalty rights for art: writers deserve to earn royalties on their works but painters do not; perfectly consistent, I sure you will agree. Of course, they are going to ensure funding agencies have "cultures of service" and support artists and art organisations, not the bureaucracy (note to Chris: the arts organisations are the bureaucracy) and they are going to review the Historic Places Act.

Hang on, what was that last one? Why review the Act which protects historic buildings? What's going on? Does National intend to make it easier for rich people to demolish or alter historic buildings? I think we should be told.

Here is a poem, by Denis Glover, set to music by Christopher Marshall.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Owen McShane - batshit insane

I am grateful to Rob for posting the thoughts of Owen McShane on the Veitch affair. McShane is well known in the world of climate change-denial as an expert, despite having neither qualifications nor experience in any relevant discipline. Still he is not alone in this respect.

This is what he has to say about domestic violence, another issue about which he knows nothing:

We are always asking people to take personal responsibility for their actions.
These two people, as free adult individuals, have done that.
We know that in these circumstances there always exists, or can be claimed to exist, some sharing of blame.
Like of all of us, I have either participated in, or have observed, family rows, and it is difficult to say who started what and who was initially and finally to blame.
Both these parties decided to accept responsibility and negotiated a settlement. She has been saved the distress of public exposure (UNTIL NOW) and also did not have to sue through the courts and drag lawyers and police into their personal lives.
He avoided the same distress and paid compensation of $100,000 and took on more counselling etc than the courts would have imposed.
It seems that many do NOT want people to take personal responsibility because it deprives them of their prurient pleasures while depriving hack journalists of their yellow journalism and their opportunity to be so much holier than thou.
This saved us all a lot of money.
We have all been saying the police are under-resourced and too busy to deal with real crime - the kind where people end up dead.
And yet those people are now demanding that the police investigate this case which these two parties have settled.
That will take massive police resources off the streets.
And who will be the beneficiaries?
Certainly not the the woman involved who has settled the matter.
So who gains?
Just the trash journalists operating our CHarter and a few man haters who believe that men are responsible for all evil and that all women are saints and can do no wrong."

So there you have it. In short, the little strumpet ought to be grateful. After all, "We know that in these circumstances there always exists, or can be claimed to exist, some sharing of blame" (protip: look at this sentence closely and you see that it is utterly meaningless). Having observed "family rows," McShane knows that it is difficult to say who to blame. So, although he knows nothing of the circumstances of the violent assault committed by Veitch, he can see that the ungrateful little trollop was to blame. Despite this, Veitch took responsibility, not only taking counselling but also paying that slut for the inconvenience she experienced. He also saved her the distress of public exposure (obviously, the tart had something to hide) and the nuisance of courts and police. Consequently we have been, all of us, saved a lot of money because Mr Veitch and that cow took responsibility and negotiated a settlement. Because that is what it all about: a contract, a deal, a negotiation.

I give up. I was going to say more but I can't be arsed. I think we can all spot a misogynist, one who is more concerned about money and contracts than human suffering. Enough. He was always ghastly; now he is worse.

I need a Badedas bath. Here's CSS:

Wait, there's more. As noted in comments below (or to the right, depending on which way you are looking, lovely Lita promises to write to the Sensible Sentencing Trust, re the sensible sentencing of celebrity thugs.

Here is something that might indicate the timbre of the Trust's response. The sole mention of domestic violence on its website is a page considering its costs.

If only all those tired and stressed men were like Mr Veitch and would take economic responsibility for their actions.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Bugger dumb the last of academe

Elsewhere, Steve Price comments on a rather alarming decision by the Chief Censor to ban a Cradle of Filth T-Shirt, at the behest of our old friends, the Society for the Promotion of Community Standards. I am now seeking an Opinion on whether the Chief Censor can ban blogs.

Trenchant commentary on this matter also comes from Idiot/Savant, in the context of blasmphemous libel remaining in our Crimes Act, while the equivalent offence has finally been abolished in Britain. As you will see, my former employers have written a media release, a typically passive-agressive action from the organisation which claims to speak for New Zealand's "non-religious community."

Warning: the following promo, by Clutch, may be considered blamphemously libellous by fundamentalists or alien robots from another galaxy:

Only women bleed

And we wait... for the Sensible Sentencing Trust to express its outrage at the behaviour of Tony Veitch. I keep checking the Trust's site for updates but, so far, there is nothing. I would have thought that the case of a man violently assaulting his former partner and then using his money to escape justice would be a cause for concern, but it seems not. The Trust's silence is especially piquant, given that its most recent media release was entitled, in block capitals, COMPLACENCY MUST BE ABOLISHED.

I agree with Keri that Mr Veitch's self-diagnosis of the cause of his actions is insufficient. Tapeworms are a much more likely cause than tiredness which, for most people, leads to sleep rather than extreme violence. Should you, dear reader, be feeling tired and medicated, I recommend relaxing in a Radox bath or a nice cup of Bournvita.

At least Mr Veitch has been relieved of the stress of doing two jobs but, as Fairfacts Media shows, that $100,000 may have been money mispent. Perhaps I am a little too PC but I think he should have been removed from his Radio Sport job after he said, of Serena Williams, "Do you know where the apes come from? She is a reminder."

Alice Cooper:

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Some people call him Maurice

What to make of the latest story to emerge about a National Party MP, Lockwood "permasmile" Smith's dice with death on an airliner struck by lightning?

Well, not a lot; this sort of thing happens all the time. You put big metal things into the air and the lightning seeks them out; its elementary physics, really. Clearly though, Dr Smith does not get out that often: "I expected immediately the plane to lose power but no she just kept climbing" (notice in passing, if you will, how Dr Smith – National's Spokesman for Immigration – has adopted the syntactical conventions of Indians in 1970s British sitcoms; goodness gracious me). But, although he may be technologically challenged, Dr Smith thinks of the children: "Dr Smith said the seats on the flight were full with lots of children because of the start of school holidays."

It had all the makings of a disaster – full, plane, lightning, children, rugged hero – except danger. Fortunately, all was not lost; someone, possibly Dr Smith himself, managed to make a news story of it. And they say nothing ever happens in New Zealand.

Meanwhile, in an unrelated incident, Dr Smith's rival for the Rodney electorate - Labour candidate Conor Roberts - has won a $25 beer voucher. The prize was given by Auckland's stylish SPE pub, where Mr Roberts often enjoys foaming ales and the house speciality – free popcorn. "It's a great day for wealth distribution," said Mr Roberts, who works in PR and so won't mind me inventing quotes for him if it gives him a little free publicity.

So, there you have it. Dr Smith and Mr Roberts are now equal on non-news terms, justifying the Fundy Post's reputation for fairness and balance. And I have managed to write about Dr Smith without including a photograph of him looking silly.

On the other hand, I just can't help myself.

Steve Miller:

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Punching above our weight on a global stage

Oh dear. In an effort to make everyone, but especially members of our Asian population, feel better about crime, I decided to do some research. So I googled. And sure enough, we score really low on the World murder rankings, just above the Scandinavians, Hong Kong and Japan (which has few murders but interesting ones).

Then I took a look at the total crimes per capita and found, to my horror that we are second from the top, just ahead of the Scandinavians. In fact all the cuddly Social Democrat nations are near the top of the list. Surely the tories are not right after all? Surely all those libraries and arts centres don't cause delinquency? Surely we do not have more crime than all those countries to which we send aid? Am I a Liberal who has been mugged by reality? Someone, please explain. And don't tell anyone called Garth until we sort this out.

Monday, July 07, 2008

A life of pie

I don't know what to make of Tony Veitch. No, wait a moment – news just in – yes I do: pies. Let's make pies of him and then force-feed him to his lawyers.

Sorry, that is not very PC of me but somebody has to be tough on these thugs; because I think we can be sure that the Sensible Sentencing Trust will not be outraged. The Trust only gets angry about crimes committed by the proles. A celebrity thug is outside their remit and domestic violence is not something to trouble them.

So, once again, the Fundy Post rushes in where even fools fear to tread. The brilliance of my pie scheme lies not only in the eradication of Mr Veitch and the deterrent effect it will have on men like him. It takes the problem, Mr Veitch, to those responsible for it, his lawyers. My scheme removes the lawyers' source of income and makes them accountable for recycling their client.

You see, what bothers me about this case, apart from this nasty man beating up his former partner, is the involvement of his lawyers. They knew that their client had committed a crime and yet they did not report it to the Police. Instead, they offered a bribe to the victim for her silence. I am sure the lawyers would have some elaborate explanation for this action but I think it clear that they are complicit in the crime.

On reflection, I am prepared to relax my sentencing guidelines (sorry, but I am a liberal: life is a series of rethinks) and suggest, instead of the pie option, that the lawyers be named and shamed. Mr Veitch will probably never work again (I hope he won't) but his lawyers have profited from his crime. Somebody should let us know the names of these people, so we can hold them to account.

Mr Scruff - Sweet Smoke:

White punks on dope

Is it just me, or is Peter Low of the Asian Anti-Crime Group absolutely barking? You see, he has a plan: he is training as many as 300 people in martial arts. And if that doesn't work, he is going to call in the Triads.

Let's get this right: Mr Low's solution to the crime problem is to hire gangsters. Apart from the somewhat skewed moral stance displayed by Mr Low, isn't this the sort of thing that happens in martial arts movies?

Not surprisingly, the Sensible Sentencing Trust are involved with his campaign. They and Mr Low are determined to make what they will of the coincidence of three murders happening in a short period. They want people to be afraid, regardless of realities. And of course, its all the fault of the Government: "Kids don't respect their parents any more because of law changes." Wut?

As an added bonus, Pansy Wong has let slip one of the dogs of war: a policy. Apparently, "National believes more has to be done on crime prevention, rather than having dozens of police officers working on homicides." So, how will that work? Will the Police no longer be investigating murders? "I am sorry for your loss madam, but all our officers are busy on anti-tagging patrols."


Sunday, July 06, 2008

Pretend everything will be alright

It's this sort of thing that makes you want to smash a watch: Zen Tiger has got into a tizz about my post on lightbulbs. I made the error of mocking the Market; worse still, I denied Choice to the Consumer.

Bring back asbestos, that's what I say. Consumers have a right to decide. Some might want to build their homes with asbestos, preferring it over other building materials, (such as wattle and daub or flax, the products of pre-capitalist societies which lacked event the most primitive banking systems). Asbestos has many attractive qualities, including flame-resistance, durability and lightness; it also comes in an attractive shade of grey. Consumers, home owners, proud Kiwi dads and mums, battlers even, have the Right to Choose. However, the have been denied this Right by the Nanny State, which determined (on the basis of evidence provided by Scientists working in feather-bedded civil service jobs) that asbestos fibres kill people. This may be so (although the evidence is quite provisional) but consumers are entitled to take risks to have a fire-resistant grey home. House builders, the Entrepreneurs whose enterprise is the foundation of our economy, are equally entitled to take the (potential) risks that may arise from working with asbestos, in order to make an honest living and put food on the table for their families. Without these Rights, we have no Freedoms, and we will find ourselves living under Socialism.

Or, to put it another way, these Market groupies are weird. How, I hear you ask, are they weird? Let us count the ways.

For a start, there is no market in electrickery (slower readers may have thought this was an article about asbestos; it is not: that was just rhetoric). It is a limited resource and one that is not very mobile. That is to say, you can't just make it in one place and sell it to another. Or, to put it another way: if we run out of electricity, we will find it very difficult to make some more and we won't be able to buy some from Australia.

Second, if people save money by spending less on electricity, they can spend in other ways, such as putting extra servings of poisonous synthetic food on their tables, for their kids. This is good for the Market Economy.

Third, the world is facing catastrophe. We should do everything we can to reduce our electricity use; if that means denying some people the right to waste their money, then tough.

Ever since the Perfect Market escaped from its captivity in the Economics Department of the University of Chicago some time in the early 1980s, this sort of nonsense has proliferated. The Market groupies don't like Society, because it implies obligations beyond the getting and spending of money. They also don't like the Environment, which is at best a resource and at worst an impediment. They cling to the belief that Global Warming is a fiction invented by the Greens to undermine the Market. Even if there is a problem, they say, the Market will invent a solution. One cannot help but imagine that, if these people were around during the Second World War, they would have objected to the Government spending public money on aircraft and insisted that rationing was an unfair intervention, since anybody should be able to buy as many scarce resources as he wishes.

Anyway, back to the real world: they are growing potatoes in Greenland

Yo La Tengo:

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Career, Korea

I slumped to the kitchen floor and lay there in the fetal position. I didn’t want to exist. I had made my existence so public in such a strange way, and I wanted to take it all back, but in order to do that I’d have to destroy the entire Internet. If only I could! Google, YouTube, Gawker, Facebook, WordPress, all gone. I squeezed my eyes shut and prayed for an electromagnetic storm that would cancel out every mistake I’d ever made.
Like bunking Physics classes, I suppose. The writer is, of course, Emily Gould, here recounting her second fetal position episode during her time as a blogger (yes, dear reader, I read her story to its end, just for you). Ms Gould might have a future as an adviser to John McCain, who is aware of internet.

But, you may be asking, where did Emily acquire her knowledge of electromagnetism? I speculated that she must have attended a private liberal arts college. I was right: she attended Kenyon College, Ohio, founded by Bishop Philander Chase (yes, I know) in 1824, and Eugene Lang College. Probably, you didn't need to know this but, as Emily herself says
The will to blog is a complicated thing, somewhere between inspiration and compulsion. It can feel almost like a biological impulse. You see something, or an idea occurs to you, and you have to share it with the Internet as soon as possible. What I didn’t realize was that those ideas and that urgency — and the sense of self-importance that made me think anyone would be interested in hearing what went on in my head — could just disappear.
If only it would. Meanwhile, as the Huffington Post notes, the New York Times has more important stories to tell than Emily's, stories such as the one about girls getting hurt playing sport. Or you could read a female blogger with something to say, such as Stef, who has true tales from North Korea, among other stories.


Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Is war in sight?

I know I do go on about the Herald and I know it is not my business to tell the Editor where to put the copy; but I could not help but notice that today's print edition had a huge photo and story on the front cover about convicts being pressed to clean up tagging on the railway corridors of Auckland; meanwhile, this story about a planned attack on Iran was relegated to one of the obscure pages.

It is written by Catherine Field - a real journalist, the Herald's own, a grown-up, a good writer, etc. Its subject is really important - the USofA and Israel are planning to attack Iran. There goes the neighbourhood: the media are being manipulated to make this plan acceptable. The USofA and Europe are at odds. That ghastly war criminal President Bush is planning to hand his successor a burning chalice, while leaving office covered in war. All of it is bad

I hate to say it, but I must: our media, and us media consumers, can be stupidly provincial. Things happen far away – daccord, because everything is far away. But we don't seem to grasp how much they matter. Or perhaps they don't. Perhaps Laura Norder stories and celebrity gossip are more important than war news.

Perhaps it's just me.

My title is that of the original war-scare story, the 1875 Berliner Post article which probably was planted by Bismarck, should anybody care.

I expect people care even less about Canterbury Rock. Here is Caravan: