Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Oh Alice, come back, it's just a practice

My friend Amelia and I had a conversation about villas and the absurdities of epistemology, which can be found Yes, Here. Further commentary can be found on Mr Pound's Facebook.

"Finding this connection between the Duchess of Cambridge and Jane Austen is very exciting since, in many ways, Catherine is the modern Jane Austen heroine: a middle class girl marrying the future King of England," said Anastasia Harman, lead family historian for
who needs to read Jane Austen?

A PHD is the only difference between Dr Monroe and a psychopath
Someone needs to meet more PhDs; besides physicians do not normally have PhDs (note the lower-case h) and surgeons are known as Mister; am I being pedantic? Let's hear what the Cocteau Twins have to say:

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Calling all penguins

Multimillionaire philanthropist Gareth Morgan is coming to the rescue of Happy Feet, the stranded and desperately ill penguin.

Morgan said that if Happy Feet survives, he would take it back to Antarctica on a Russian icebreaker.

The Kiwisaver provider is leading an expedition to the Ross Sea on the Spirit of Enderby in February and said Happy Feet and a Conservation Department minder could come along for the ride.
Post revised: thanks to the good offices of the estimable David Ritchie, I am now able to show you the quite peculiar graphic which accompanied this story on the front page of last week's Sunday Star Times. The image has a Mighty Boosh quality, which I am sure the SST Photoshop people did not intend.

Anyway, here is some timely advice for visiting penguins from Zappa fils:

Sunday, June 26, 2011


Dear Arts PhD students,

It has brought to our attention that there is an error in our programme. The two full-day writing session from 29 to 30 August in the 274 Computer Lab is supposed to begin at 8pm and end at 6pm, not 6-8pm. Considering that 8am is too early for many students, we’ve decided to change the beginning time to 9am. So the two full-day writing session will run from 9am to 6pm. Lunch will be provided.

Apologies for the error.
Which one? This email was written by one of Auckland University's many Associate Deans. I should not have been on the mailing list, having fled the Faculty of Arts about seven months back. Still, it reminds me why I left.

Here in the National Institute of Creative Arts and Industries, we have superior writing programmes. Tomorrow, I am going on a three-day writing retreat, in Parnell. The daily schedule is something like this:

Wrap up

You will notice that tea has been arranged. Tea entails cake. So I shall write, take tea and cake, write some more, eat lunch, write some more, take some more tea and cake, write again.

I shall write in a notebook, one with hard covers and ruled pages. I shall have no Internet. There will be no interruptions by emails, Facebook or Twitter. But there will be lunch and cake. Victorian writers lived like this.

Whilst I am away, enjoy some of the coolest people ever:

Cake by Not Martha

Friday, June 24, 2011

Turned out nice again

New Zealand has come of age. Every aspect of this multicultural society has something to offer and it all equates to style. This book is a showcase of the lifestyle that New Zealanders enjoy. New Zealand's recent desire for an increasingly informal lifestyle continues to inspire homes that blur the boundaries between indoors and outdoors. To achieve this, a series of warm, comfortable living spaces are featured throughout the book maintaining a strong connection to the outdoors. The influence of our natural surroundings can be seen in our love for organic furniture and natural building materials such as stone and wood. Even the most contemporary homes often incorporate natural elements. New Zealand Style is a collection of stylish elements including food, wine, interior design, lifestyle, relaxation, the home and garden - everything that makes up our society. Enjoy!
Murray, Peter A., and Jenna Tartt.
New Zealand Style :
Outdoor Living, Food, Wine,
Relaxation and Home Ideas.
Australia: Murray Books, 2004

Since we have all had a very trying week, with all that fussing and fighting about Christchurch and Alasdair Thompson and the Slut Walk and everything else, I thought I would share this comforting blurb from the back cover of an Australian book about our famed sense of style. I feel better already; I am sure you do as well. Enjoy!

Live from the Forest of Arden

Friday read: Edgelands, Journeys into England's True Wilderness by Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts;

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A short post about women

New Zealand has no class struggle, no poor, no intellectual tradition, no overt group conflict, little self-awareness as a social entity and has sought for similarity rather than diversity in a restricted immigration programme; it is for these reasons that New Zealand has no sociology.
Jackson, William Keith, and John Harré.
New Zealand.
London: Thames & Hudson, 1969.

In the years following the publication of Jackson and Harré's book, much work was done by National and Labour governments to reverse these conditions, so that now New Zealand has an abundance of sociology. One might almost think that our governments were manipulated by the sociologists. I think we should be told.

But what, you demand to hear, about the architecture? And what about the pottery? Well, how about this?

The development of architecture and pottery demonstrates clearly that New Zealanders are capable of appreciating an aesthetic life more sensitive and more lasting than the ephemeral movements on a football field. Perhaps what these two art forms have in common with rugby is the recognition of physical vigour. If this is the case, and if therein lies something of the secret of the quality of all three, it is perhaps not surprising that poetry and the other visual arts have not succeeded to the same degree Nor is it surprising that the poet who has made the most impact is James K Baxter, projecting as he does an essentially masculine and physical image through the delicacy of his sentiments.
So, there you have it: architecture and pottery are like rugby, physical and essentially masculine. However, half the students in the School of Architecture and Planning at Auckland University today are female, as is the Head of School. As it turns out, women are good at pottery as well, and all those other arts.

Of course, women in the broader workforce are not paid as well as men, but apparently that is because they still have ovaries.

Despite this obvious disadvantage, one woman - Robyn Gallagher - has managed to keep a weblog running for fifteen years, while other women have learned to play musical instruments:

Monday, June 20, 2011

Look advanced to far added agreeable from you!

boy said...
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Hotels in Paris

10:38 AM
Hotels in Munich said...
Thank you for the auspicious writeup. It in fact was a amusement account it. Look advanced to far added agreeable from you! By the way, how can we communicate?
Hotels in Munich
Every so often, I receive a notice about a new comment made on Mr Hatherley's excellent Dialectic of High-Tech post, from the beginning of last year. These comments usually make little sense.

The two most recent were written by hotels in Europe. This pleases me. Buildings should have a voice about architecture. Hotels are among the most neglected and marginalised of public buildings, rarely featuring in professional architectural magazines or awarded prizes. It is good that they can talk, even if what they are saying remains elusive. Still, we should listen. As the Hotels in Munich remind us, how can we communicate?

Architecture in Helsinki is a modernist pop group from Australia. The hipsters heard about them long before you did.

Bonus architecture for Frances: here is a waste-to-energy power plant in Denmark that blows smoke rings and has a ski slope.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

On the shoulders of giants

Gove said there had been previous attempts to make science relevant, by linking it to contemporary concerns such as climate change or food scares. But he said: "What [students] need is a rooting in the basic scientific principles, Newton's laws of thermodynamics and Boyle's law
So says Michael Gove, the Education Secretary in HM Government. So then, Newton's laws of thermodynamics: anybody care to list them? Perhaps someone could give an example of these laws. Yes, you at the back, you from the BBC:
Daily weather forecasts rely on human interpretation of computer analysis of Newton's laws of thermodynamics and are very reliable over the short term.
How about the French student:
John Theophilus Desagulier is often credited as inventing the planetarium, based on some plans that he had written. However, it was his popularization of Newton's laws of thermodynamics that truly advanced science.
That would be Desaguliers with an S; anybody else? Stevenson?
From these early inquiries, Newton was able to develop the laws of thermodynamics in the late seventeenth century
No, no, no; you are all wrong. Newton made a law of cooling - "the rate of heat loss of a body is proportional to the difference in temperatures between the body and its surroundings" - but the Laws of Thermodynamics are the work of later scientists. Newton's laws are about Mechanics. Had you known that, you would have been able to point and laugh at Michael Gove. So you have missed a valuable opportunity. Let that be a lesson to you all.

Friday, June 17, 2011

White punks on dope

Although Mamet admits to owing a great educational debt to English literature, he accuses classic novelists such as Anthony Trollope and George Eliot of using "stock Jew" characterisations. "And the authors of today," Mamet adds, "I'm not going to mention names because of your horrendous libel laws, but there are famous dramatists and novelists over there whose works are full of antisemitic filth."
Oi yoi yoi. More filth, more phobia. David Mamet, author of some of the best plays and screenplays of the last thirty years or so, has gone totally hatstand. Those English liberal literary types are anti-semites, you see, yet they cannot be named for fear of torts. So who are they, these writers? I think we should be told. Am I one of them? I think I should be told.

But that was the week, that was. Closer to home, this blogeur was declared an academic white dude, a racist and a transphobe by Queen of Thorns; meanwhile her running mate Octavia Spitfire employed her / and burn tactics on the English language to provide us with a few things that are cissexist/trans*phobic.
Assuming that criticism of an event/movement/etc by trans* people is merely wanting to cause trouble/ruin everything/is like saying that the entire thing is worthless. And that defending themselves against cissexism is trying to "inflame" things/is unimportant/etc. This is based on the (conscious or subconsciously absorbed) idea that the natural place for trans* people is on the outer; their concerns are 'fringe issues' and deserve to be treated as such, they are strange/dangerous/irrationally angry and therefore can be dismissed as trouble-making, they should be grateful for crumbs because it's not like cis people 'have' to make an 'effort' anyway, etc.
And so/on. Rumours that Queen of Thorns/Octavia Spitfire are the same per/son* have not been substantiated. Fortunately for us all, the battle for the Hand Mirror has ended, the only reported casualty being a frightened epistemologist.

Meanwhile, it turns out that, according to the director of the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism, everybody in Britain is anti-semitic, apart from George Eliot. Oh dear.

Next exit: a fight brought to you by the genius of Imperator Fish.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Oh Alice, come back; he's just a metaphor

Taniwha are scary, not in themselves but in the damage they do to the credibility of Maori consultation.

No doubt to leaders such as Auckland Mayor Len Brown, a taniwha is interpreted as a concept, a symbol of something, perhaps the Maori reverence for the life force they see in all things.

But he would not relish the task of explaining that to his citizens.

He knows that many would think he is trying too hard to rationalise something they are inclined to regard as simply primitive, something no modern society should have to deal with.
Cripes, watch out for the thin ice. You don't want to be using words like primitive round these parts. Talk like that brings out the trolls, and they be worse than the taniwha. Someone's going to get offended tonight, mark my words.

You don't believe me? Well then, take a look at what happened over at the Hand Mirror. You know the Hand Mirror - nice people; feminists; fond of cupcakes. But look what happened when Julie posted an advertisement for an event called Queer the Night, a text written by the organisers. Here's what happened: the advertisement included the fateful words:
there are still dangers to those who are, or are perceived as being, outside heterosexual norms
Well, you can guess what happened next; well, no you probably can't; because you, gentle reader, probably could not find any thing wrong with such a statement. But someone called Scar could:
That should be heterosexual and CISSEXIST norms.
I'll be contacting them about bringing their language up to date; especially since I'm a heterosexual trans woman.
And then went the neigbourhood. The estimable Psycho Milt made a droll observation, for which he was called a privileged cis-man (yes, people really talk like this) by Hugh and then Scar condemned Milt and George as privileged cis guys and then George pointed out that he is a she and then they were joined by Acid Queen who made everything worser still and then others joined and then it went on and on until George said to Acid Queen:
No doubt you are probably some upper middle class woofter with a BA (hons)

Hey some people can't afford to go to Uni and do gender studies....
I like George.

Of course, if that wasn't enough for you, there is still time to pop over to Ideologically Impure for the afterparty. You can't stop the music; it never ends. I feel George's pain when she says
I just get really frustrated in activist circles when people are suddenly ostracised for not saying things in exactly the "right" way, being told they are racist/sexist/homophobic/transphobic/fatphobic/whatever, when they blatantly are not;
Why, only last week I was accused of "inherent racism" by Queen of Thorns on the Twitter for suggesting that perhaps pre-contact Maori society was not similar to Arcadia, that violence was not brought to these islands by the missionaries. But those are the breaks. George deserves better than I because she was one of the organisers of this event which apparently was very successful, and so should be applauded rather than abused by people who seem to be offended morning, noon and night.

But then, taking offence is the motive force of leftish trolls. If one were to attempt a taxonomy of trollery, one might observe that rightish trolls are angered: events in the modern world makes those veins on their foreheads throb. Leftish trolls are offended: things people say cause them harm. The political is the personal. It is not just that your opinions are wrong; you must be stopped from voicing them because the troll is deeply hurt by them. You will find that you are privileged; the troll is victimised by your very privilege, let alone by what you say. In fact, what you say is triggering. You must be preceded by a warning, if you are allowed to speak at all.

You might think you have a valid argument but you would be wrong. Your opinion reflects your ideology, which is informed by your privilege. Voicing your opinion in a public forum merely exposes your inherent racism, your bourgeois colonialism, your cissitude or whatever. The trigger troll comes brandishing papers in gender studies, post colonial theory, structuralism and post-structuralism, even in epistemology. You will find that there is evidence against your view, research has been done to prove your very point wrong, studies have been undertaken which show you to be in error. The details of this academic work will not be revealed to you; you will not be offered so much as a reference. But you must take it on trust; otherwise you will cause further offence. You probably would not understand it anyway.

Anyway, as things turned out, everyone but the trolls had a good time at Queer the Night, while the iwi rushed in to assure everyone that the taniwha was a metaphor, thus saving the trolls the discomfort and contortions of attacking pakeha media for mocking indigenous beliefs which the trolls themselves could not possibly hold, whilst at the same time trying to remember where the macrons go. But tomorrow is another day, with new opportunities to be offended on Internet.

Such is the life of the trigger troll, going from one outrage to the next, putting the I into every argument, never ceasing in the search for personal injustice.

Of course, the Cocteau Twins had something to say. Here they are, on The White Room from 1995, introduced by the estimable Mark Radcliffe:

Friday, June 10, 2011

Silver machine

The planned building, at 5 Broadgate, would boast four trading floors each capable of holding 750 traders and has been described by Shuttleworth as an "engine of finance" with a design resembling an immense machine-tooled block of aluminium.
Ooh, an engine of finance; dontchajustloveit when the men in suits who work in unproductive areas of the global false economy are associated with things industrial? It's an engine; it's like they are part of a machine. It's like the suits are an industry.

Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. The reason we don't have factories any more is that the men in suits got all post-industrial. All the real engines are made in China, along with everything else.

But anyway, enough of my liberal whingeing. I expect you want to see what Ken Shuttleworth (a very industrial sort of name, I think you'll agree) has in mind for Broadgate. Well, um - ta-ra. Yes, I know. It looks like the sort of thing they build in China.

And here is a message from the Cocteau Twins:

Thursday, June 09, 2011

What I Wouldn't Give

p193 Auckland City Library. Computer: The library has a coin-operated Apple II computer with printer, on which you may play both games and educational programmes; alternatively you may bring your own floppy disc or buy one in the library and write your own programme. An instruction manual accompanies the computer but library staff are not available to help if you do not compute.

Pike, Brigid. A Guide to Auckland.
Hodder and Stoughton, 1987, p193.

On the other hand, there were fifteen cinemas in Queen Street.