Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Book of Ron

Why members of the Exclusive Brethren should not send emails:

because The Exclusive Brethren practice separation from evil, recognising this as God's principle of unity. They shun the conduits of evil communications: television, the radio, and the Internet. Their charter is 2 Timothy 2:19 "The Lord knows those that are his; and, Let every one who names the name of the Lord withdraw from iniquity."

and Their homes and vehicles are free of the pipelines of media filth: television, radio, and the Internet, in accordance with their baptism and commitment to separation from the world.

and people find out.

Interestingly, Mr Ron Hickmott's email to Don and John (which is reproduced in Nicky Hager's book) was sent from Tuatara Flooring at A search of the Companies Register shows that no such company exists or has existed. Did Mr Hickmott invent the company? If he did, would that not make him guilty, not only of using the pipelines of media filth but of bearing false witness?

Whilst on the matter, you might notice that I have taken quotes from the Exclusives' own website, although you might also notice that the site refers to them in the third person, as if it were written by someone else. Besides, being guilty of using the conduits of evil communications this site also commits the sin of having really annoying rollover sounds.

Apparently, the Exclusives also identify the internet with another passage of Scripture: “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh ...” Ephesians 2:2-3. AV.

Does this mean that the Ephesians had access to wireless broadband and internet porn?

P.S: there is another Exclusive Brethren website

We are all just prisoners here, of our own device

From the Washington Post comes news of the conclusions of the Iraq Study Group, which has spent the last eight months trying to find a way out of that horrible mess. Under its recommendations:
the emphasis of the U.S. military presence in Iraq would shift from fighting the insurgency and containing sectarian violence to backing up Iraqi security forces dealing with those problems. This approach would place less emphasis on combat operations and more on logistics, intelligence and training and advising Iraqi units.
Also, a large residual combat force would be required to protect all the personnel involved in those operations and to provide a security guarantee to the Iraqi government.
This could be described as the Hotel California option: you can checkout any time you like, but you can never leave.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Yet another modest proposal

Roll up, roll up, for the greatest show on earth: the rugby stadium that has become a political football.

Auckland City Council does not want to pay for improvements to Eden Park for the Rugby World Cup. No doubt they are a little piqued that they voted for the waterfront option, only to be trounced by the mysterious, enigmatic Auckland Regional Council, the body which really holds power round here. ARC wanted Eden Park; ARC also owns the waterfront so Stadium New Zealand could have been a contender but wasn't. Cabinet booted the idea into touch; Stadium New Zealand's coach Trev Mallard came out and told the waiting crowds that the game was over.

Unfortunately for the citizens of Auckland, the choice offered by the Government to our Council was one of which Hobson (not that Hobson, the other one) would have been proud: we will pay for a nice shiny new stadium or you can pay for tarting up the old one. More unfortunately still, although ARC wanted Eden Park, it won't help pay for it.

In the circumstances, it seems appropriate that Auckland City Council shares an acronym with the Accident Compensation Corporation. When all the carnage is over, ACC is expected to pay for clearing up the mess. Although, this time they are more than a little reluctant. It is no wonder; not only does Auckland have far more pressing problems than a football stadium (such as drainage and public transport) but Aucklanders are facing massive rates increases over the next few years to pay for these needs. Besides (and it is a very big Besides) Auckland City Council does not own Eden Park. The Council is expected to hand over its citizens' money to a private trust.

So, what to do? The Government was talking of financing Stadium New Zealand with a bed tax levied on hoteliers (although not, I suppose, on those other providers of beds to sports fans, to whom I referred in my earlier post about stadium politics). The hoteliers were more than a little miffed about this suggestion; they pay their taxes, etc, etc.

Hotel, motel, holiday inn, I have a better idea.

How about a rugby tax? It would work like this: the Eden Park improvements would be financed by the people who are making money out of rugby in New Zealand. The Union can pay; Adidas can pay; so can Ford and Sanitarium and all the other feeders at the trough of our national game. For that matter, the players can pay: after all, whether the haka is performed in the changing room or out on the field, it is being performed by fifteen very profitable businesses.

I am sure all the men in blazers will protest vehemently. They will talk about how rugby benefits the nation, how it is such a good brand for New Zealand; they will talk about how we all win on the day if we give them lots of cash. But let us not kid ourselves. Rugby is a business and a small number of people are making a lot of money from it. Now its time for them to pay. We, the people of Auckland and New Zealand, have more important things on which to spend our money.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Here comes another Winter

Apropos my last post, I could not help but notice that the Maxim website has an opinion piece by Paul Henderson, about charities. I have previously commented about Mr Henderson, formerly Director of Maxim's Centre for Education, whom Old Maxim referred to as "nationally recognised as an expert in curriculum development and values education." Old Maxim also said that Mr Henderson's special interest is in hermeneutics (tell that to Paul Riceour) although New Maxim is a little more circumspect.

Anyway, Mr Henderson has written about charities. In the preferred fake academic style of Maxim he starts with a literary reference:
John Donne’s love poem 'A Valediction Forbidding Mourning' begins in a strange place. It opens with a deathbed setting and the ambiguity that surrounds a dying person’s last breath. The person is "virtuous."

Quite what this has to do with charities is a little unclear but he goes on to talk about "Anna Politkovskaya, the Russian journalist, who was found dead in the lift of her Moscow apartment...The majority of those who know her work are mourning. Those who have read her obituary, and who dislike injustice, are touched by grief."

Again, what does this have to do with charities? Nothing, nothing whatsoever, except that the leading educationalist and hermeneutician is attempting to tug at our heart-strings. He goes on to talk about Freedom of Speech and Amnesty International. Surprisingly, he does not mention Bono.

Apropos, again, my last post, I mentioned that Maxim is a registered charity. Regardless of John Donne, Anna Politkovskaya, Amnesty International or Bono, Maxim is worried. The Charities Commission is considering an "approach for dealing with requests from charitable entities to restrict public access to certain details about them that normally would be available to the public on the Charities Register." Why should Maxim be worried? I suspect that Maxim and a lot of organisations with which it is associated, do very well out of the current rules about charities. I suspect as well that there is a lot they do not want us to know about.

I said in my last post that I would follow the money. A lot of it is about money. Charities get loads of tax benefits, principally that they do not pay income tax. This is all well and good, if you think about charities as organisations that are actively interested in the common good or particular goods: widows, orphans, small furry animals, that sort of thing. However, the legal definition of charities is very broad and quite archaic. Maxim, after all, is an an educational charity.

But, then again, Bishop Brian Tamaki's odious Destiny Church is also a charity, in fact a series of franchised charities which would give any tax lawyer a headache, albeit a very well paid one. Behind the veil of 'charity' a host of activities are going on, many of which are not in the least bit charitable. The trouble for anyone who investigates these organisations is that you hit a brick wall when the subject of your inquiry is a charity. There is a lot that any normal business would have to declare that a charity can conceal.

After many many years of work, moves are afoot to make charities a little more transparent.

No wonder the hermeneutician and his employers and their friends are worried.

Lets twist again (like we did last Summer)

And we're back. Sorry for the absence of postings last week but the sudden appearance of Nicky Hager's The Hollow Men led to a lot of activity, including meetings in underground carparks. There is a lot about the Exclusive Brethren that needs to be made more inclusive. Yes, dear reader, the Fundy Post shall be following the money and you will read it here first.

But first, the Maxim Institute. As Russell Brown points out on today's Hard News, there is a lot more to The Hollow Men than the Exclusive Brethren and that bunch who wanted a fair tax for racehorses. If you really want to find some hollow men, look no further than 49 Cape Horn Road, Hillsborough, Auckland.

After I had exposed his crony Bruce Logan as a plagiarist, that noisome little prick Greg Fleming said I was obsessed with the Maxim Institute. He said this on National Radio and he went on to accuse me of plagiarism, a defamation which he may still regret. At times, I may have seemed somewhat focused on Mr Fleming and his mates; but then I knew that Mr Logan was not the only fraud at Maxim. I knew the entire organisation was bogus. I couldn't prove it, at least not without betraying a source of information.

Nicky Hager has now shown what many others long suspected: that Maxim is nothing more than a large, stinking pile of horse manure. It not just the cod social science that Maxim spouted in its pompous submissions to Parliament and its endless 'reports' and 'studies; it is not just the fake awards that Maxim always crows about; it is not just the pretensions of erudition and learning. As Mr Hager has shown, Maxim perpetrated a massive fraud on the people of New Zealand.

For the benefit of those who may not have reading at the time, Maxim set up a website called NZ Votes before last year's general election. Surprisingly, it is still there. As the introductory blurb says: is a community service provided by Maxim Institute to help make it easier for New Zealanders to be well-informed when they cast their votes.

The site is non-profit, and non-partisan. All political content on this site is the view of the parties, candidates, and guest columnists, in their own words.

As Mr Hager has now shown, this was all a load of bollocks. I opined at the time that NZVotes was designed to bring home the Fundy vote to National, to stop the God-fearing from thinking about voting for Christian Heritage, Destiny or United Future and give their votes to Don. Christian Heritage's then leader Ewan McQueen (a man for whom I have some sympathy) later complained that his party's votes were taken away by Maxim. What Mr Hager demonstrates, with the benefit of emails, is that National were in on the joke all along.

Of course, NZ Votes was not just a website; it was more a way of life. Maxim commissioned a bunch of fundies to produce a DVD which was circulated to churches; its thinly-veiled message was that, under MMP, a vote for a Christian party is a wasted vote, because those parties would be unlikely to get past the five percent threshold. Meanwhile, glamourous single mother Sandra Paterson (whatever happened to her?) was giving the same message to readers of the NZ Herald. At the same time, Amanda McGrail, Maxim's resident faux-redhead, was organising a network of contacts in the churches "to keep your congregations and constituents up to date on the social/political issues in a timely and relevant way."

Maxim went on the road as well, with a series of "political forums," where candidates were asked the "burning questions." The questions were almost guaranteed to be about burning homosexualists and loose women, because Maxim had decided that the election issues were to be 'moral' ones. The NZ Votes website was slewed towards demanding answers from candidates about conscience issues and apparently the political forums were managed in much the same way. Some friends of mine attended one in South Auckland that began with a prayer, before lurching into questions about gays. Apparently, candidates had to pay Maxim for the privilege of this onslaught.

Maxim did not want just the fundies for National; it yearned for the ex-pat votes as well. Hager mentions some advice given to National by Maxim that their research showed ex-pats be more than likely to be conservative. National made the mistake of believing research from Maxim: no doubt one of the pin-striped sexless dweebs who work at Cape Horn Road had heard that ex-pats in London all go to Church on Sunday.

Anyway, I could go on; and I will later. But for the mean time, I will mention just two matters arising from Hager's revealations. First, the people who really got fooled again are the ones in the pews: Maxim manipulated their hopes and fears to grab their votes, just as the neo-cons did in America. Second, as I have said many times before, this work was done with our money: the Maxim Institute is a charity and so benefits from generous tax breaks. Of course, Maxim will continue to claim that it is "an independent research and public policy think tank" but we all know now what it is really about.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Of Mike and Ilk

I woke up this morning, found a comment on my blog
I woke up this morning, found a comment on my blog

I had hoped that my post about the Dead C would spark a lively debate about avant-garde music, so I was delighted that someone had posted a comment; delighted until I read that comment. Here it is:
Great article on 3rd generation welfare.
now this is a person who actually thinks about the welfare of the nation.
how about you?

How about me? A question I so often ask myself, but we will let that pass. How about 3rd generation welfare? Is that like 3rd generation warfare or 3rd generation cellphones? It is, whatever it is, somewhat besides the point. I was talking about music, not welfare.

So then I read on and find that MikeNZ had commented on some of my other posts. He is one of those random commentators who roam the blogs leaving their traces all over the place. They are the blogging equivalent of taggers. After my bit about Frank Ellis and Antony Flew, MikeNZ made this comment:

Maxim have it about right I think.
More of mum and dad less of steve and helen.
as for intelligent design, you see what you want to see or don't is my observation.

He is at least closer to the point this time, if not quite there yet. I was a bit unsure about Steve; I thought for one moment he might be one half of Adam and Steve, the mythical gay couple who are always invoked by fundies in discussion. "As for intelligent design, you see what you want to see or don't is my observation" is a sentence which deserves many hours of parsing.

Then I found the thoughts of MikeNZ on my post about Maxim's new website:

I wonder what the world would look like if the maxims of this world let you and your ilk have free rein.
Oh yeah anything goes as long as you like it!
What was I thinking, silly billy.

Now I must correct MikeNZ here. I do not have an ilk. However, Sir Iain Moncreiffe of That Ilk had one. He used to be plain Sir Iain Moncrieffe of Easter Moncreiffe until he became clan chief. I don't like to be a pedant but... no, in fact, pedantry gives me immense pleasure, so I shall enjoy telling MikeNZ that "of that ilk" means a place name identical to the family name: the designation means that Sir Iain was Sir Iain Moncreiffe of Moncreiffe. Sir Iain was also Albany Herald of Arms at the Lyon Court. He used to swim wearing a deerstalker.

What MikeNZ means by my ilk quickly becomes apparent in his comment on my posting about Hell Pizza:

Being happily married I don't need a condom as the safest sex is with spouses who are faithful to each other.
But then that's a worldview i don't expect you get is it?

Not at all, MikeNZ; I understand completely. That's my ilk: adulterers and fornicators. You've got me bang to rights, guv. I run with a pretty fast crowd: art historians, aestheticians, even electro-acoustic musicians. Still, my gang were shocked that you should advocate threesomes; but if you want to have sex with spouses, that is your thing. Follow your bliss.

Of course if the likes of Maxim let my ilk and I have free rein, then anything goes as long as we like it. Soon everyone will be into free love, free jazz and even (now that Milton Friedman is dead) free lunch. Of course, Mike, there is one sin we will not tolerate and that is free syntax, so you had better watch your language.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Musical interlude

For your entertainment, here is the only television appearance ever made by The Dead C.

I include it here for two reasons. First, this is my blog and I can post what I want. Second, Alistair Galbraith was a guest on the Playing Favourites section on Kim Hill's show last Saturday. Galbraith is an experimental musician and a very good one at that. One of his musical choices was a Dead C tune called Power; it was probably the first time that they have been played on National Radio. It was a great day for experimental-art-noise-whatever-you-want-to-call-it music.

Not suprisingly, The Dead C do not have a Myspace profile but you can read about them here and about the television appearance here. You can read about Alistair Galbraith here and listen to his music here. For a limited period, you can hear the interview (without the music, for copyright reasons) here.

This post is really a roundabout way of dissauding any reader from thinking that I might like the new Rod Stewart album for Christmas.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

From Lake Geneva to the Finland Station

My correspondent Anonymous has commented about Frank Ellis, following my recent post about the Maxim Institute. I was about to publish something on Ellis but I was distracted by talk of That Stadium. Now I must write, so there goes my evening.

For those who do not take quite as keen an interest in the work of the Maxim Institute as do Anonymous and I, here is an explanation. Frank Ellis was a lecturer in Russian and Slavonic Studies at Leeds University who was invited by Maxim to speak at its 2004 conference, "Political Correctness: End of an Error?" Maxim also published Ellis' book on the subject, with the snappy title Political Correctness and the Theoretical Struggle from Lenin and Mao to Marcuse and Foucault. This book was "a pioneering study" and you can see why. Some may think that the problem with Political Correctness is that it has gone mad; for Ellis, the trouble with PC is that it was always red. It was a "Russian Communist invention, going back to the times and plans of Lenin, and an intrinsic part of the unprecedented system of total censorship introduced by the Bolshevik leadership in the late autumn of 1917." Think of that the next time you refrain from sitting on a table.

Unfortunately for Dr Ellis, Political Correctness and the Theoretical Struggle from Bob and Carol to Ted and Alice has not brought him the accolades that Maxim undoubtedly thinks he deserves. More unfortunately still for Dr Ellis, some of his other opinions have brought him more spare time than he would have desired. Theoretical struggle or none, his employers at Leeds University decided that his views were a little too politically incorrect, particularly those on matters of race, gender and sexuality. He was sent into early retirement, after complaints by other staff .

As I mentioned in a previous incarnation of the Fundy Post, Dr Ellis has been associated with American Renaissance, which keeps company with the Ku Klux Klan and the British National Party. He is also on the advisory board of the Occidental Quarterly, which formerly called itself a "Journal of Nationalist Thought and Opinion" but has subsequently replaced the adjective 'Nationalist' (a shibboleth commonly used by fascist groups) with 'Western.' Dr Ellis has also contributed to the work of the Canadian Heritage Alliance, a murky and unpleasant group, with an essay on multiculturalism and, you guessed it, Marxism.

Dr Ellis was invited to speak at an American Renaissance conference about another of his books, The Macpherson Report: 'Anti-racist' Hysteria and the Sovietisation of the United Kingdom (as his titles show, Dr Ellis sees reds under the bed everywhere). The book is a criticism of the report by Sir William Macpherson of Cluny and Blairgowrie into the Stephen Lawrence case. Lawrence was a black teenager who was murdered by racists in 1993; despite a great deal of evidence, his murderers escaped conviction and Sir William blamed some of the Police's failings on institutional racism. I have not read Dr Ellis' work but by all accounts he seems to be arguing that political correctness is so endemic that even the 27th hereditary chief of the Clan MacPherson of Cluny has been infected.

The gruesome Australian League of Rights (an organisation of which our own dear Barbara Faithfull, guardian of morality and Secretary of the Credo Organisation, is a supporter) wrote approvingly of Dr Ellis in an article, snappily entitled Control and Nature of the Coming World Order, Part 2. The ALOR writer is appalled that Sir William, a former Scots Guards officer and CO of the Artists' Rifles (and thus "a man of impeccable background") should hold such views. Dr Ellis, himself formerly of 22 SAS, concludes that "the forces of Law and Order are a major focus of the Ideological Struggle of the Revolution."

Dr Ellis maybe a prof without honour in his own land but he still has a friend in Maxim; at least they will sell you his book. Regrettably, all other references to his work went down the memory hole before the new Maxim site was launched.

If you managed to work your way through the dense wordscape of the ALOR article, you may have noticed that the preface to Dr Ellis's work was written by Professor Antony Flew. This is the same Professor Flew who was formerly the World's Leading Atheist Philosopher until he decided that Aristotle was right and accepted the Prime Mover into his heart. Despite this lapse of faithlessness, Professor Flew remains an Honorary Associate of the New Zealand Association of Rationalists and Humanists (Inc).

Although he is not known to hang out with the men in the pointy hoods, Professor Flew has conservative views; I once read one of his philosophical works which lurched mid-book from a discussion of the is/ought question to an attack on the concept of anti-racism. Professor Flew is also a contributor to Right Now magazine and a former Vice-President of the former Western Goals Institute, a now defunct organisation which which is worth reading about, if only to see a photograph of its Directorate.

Professor Flew also accepted the Phillip E. Johnson Award for Liberty and Truth from Biola University, a "A Global Center for Christian Thought and Spiritual Renewal". Philip E Johnson is the Berkeley law professor whose own contribution to Liberty and Truth was to invent the concept of Intelligent Design, thus "advancing our understanding of design in the universe by opening up informed dissent to Darwinian and materialistic theories of evolution."

Makes you think, doesn't it?

Hell is other people

Welly Girl has an update on the Hell Pizza condom controversy. I am wondering how many of those who complained to the Advertising Standards Authority had received a condom in the mail and how many simply did what Family First told them to do.

That Petrol Emotion

Pamziewamzie suggested I put pictures on this blog, so here is a photo of where all the cool kids are going.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Ellington Stadium

I apologise for this interruption in your normal service but an urgent matter has arisen. Trevor Mallard wants my opinion; yours as well, if you are an Aucklander. We must help Trevor decide. He has two options for a stadium in which to host the Rugby World Cup - refurbishing the old one at Eden Park or building a new one on the port. You might think that he could use one of the other stadia which litter the Auckland region but apparently not. It seems that none of these are good enough to host the Rugby World Cup, which is so important that we must spend half a billion dollars to provide a suitable venue. We have less than two weeks to make our choices known to Trevor (hint: he wants us to choose the new one).

Refurbishing the old stadium at Eden Park would seem to be a good idea, particularly because Eden Park is already a stadium where rugby is played, while the new stadium is mostly water at the moment. However, Trevor doesn't seem to like this idea. He keeps coming up with reasons not to do it. He says that building a new stadium would cost no more than sprucing up the old one, which seems difficult to believe. He thinks Eden Park is too much an Auckland stadium, so he wants to build a new stadium and call it Stadium New Zealand or Stadium Aotearoa New Zealand (it will probably end up being called the ANZ Stadium anyway - what usually happens is loads of public money is spent on a project and then some corporate sponsor gets the naming rights).

So what Trevor wants to do is to spend half a billion dollars on building a new stadium, which has to be ready in five years. At least it is largely a green field site; well, not quite: it is largely an underwater site. Still, Trevor thinks he can build a new stadium on two wharves separated by a body of water in less than five years for not much more than it would cost to refurbish a perfectly good stadium just up the road.

I think I can claim some expertise in this area. I am not an architect nor an urban planner but I used to play Sim City all the time. If you are not familiar with this area of activity, Sim City is a computer game in which you build cities. If your city is well planned, you attract citizens; if not, they go away: areas of your city go dark and fall into disrepair.

I don't think Trevor has played Sim City. If he had, he would know that spending huge amounts of money on a sports stadium and then putting it in the middle of your port area is really, really stupid. Not only do you break your budget on the building costs and lose revenue from your port but nobody will come to your stadium because it is in an industrial area.

Trevor really, really wants to go ahead with this really, really stupid idea but he says it is up to us to decide. He says we have a choice. We do not. We have a dilemma. Trevor has presented us with two options. One is really stupid but Trevor wants to do it. The other seems sensible but apparently has some problems.

There is a third option which Trevor has not suggested we consider. Here it is:

Do nothing

Radical isn't it? Breathtaking in its simplicity. If you are not convinced, read it again and give it some thought. Here it is again: do nothing.

I have no artist's impression for this option, no watercolour drawings or CGI. I have not done a scoping study, an environmental impact assessment or a cost-benefit analysis. I have not consulted local iwi. I have no projected completion date for this option, because there is nothing to start. I can guarantee that it will not be finished on time; nor will it be delayed. There will be no cost overruns, because there will be no costs.

Now, you might be thinking: "all well and good, but what about the Rugby World Cup?" Here is my second idea of the morning and it is almost as simple as the first:

Stuff the Rugby World Cup

Even more radical, isn't it? In case you think this concept is a little too far outside the square, let me explain it to you. If the International Rugby Board want to hold a World Cup here and Adidas are happy for them to do it, then all well and good. Let them get on with it. They can play at Eden Park or at Jade Stadium, which is almost a hundred years newer and is in Christchurch, which is a nice city in a nice part of New Zealand where rugby is very popular. If this is not good enough for them and none of the other stadia in New Zealand will do for them, then they can play it in Australia... or Argentina... or Canada.

I expect you think you can see a flaw in this plan. You are thinking that holding the World Cup in New Zealand is a good idea because it will bring in lots of money when all those rugby fans go on wild spending sprees. Maybe so, but what are they going to spend their money on? Here is my prediction: food, beer, prostitutes. Not exactly the Knowledge Economy is it? And when they all go home, the spending is finished. Sales of rubber johnnies will return to pre-Cup levels.

If Trevor had his way, we would be left with a big sports stadium which would bankrupt us unless we kept it busy with other activities. I know what you are thinking: we could get the Red Hot Chilli Peppers to play; or Tool. Yes, that would be nice, wouldn't it? Or maybe we could just keep it available in case aliens visit from another planet and want somewhere to address the leaders of the World.

Call me Ishmael but I suggest the best name for Trevor's waterfront folly would be Stadium Moby Dick. The name would symbolise its origins in the sea and how it rises out of the depths to destroy us for our pride and vainglory.

On the other leg, the one which is not wooden, my bold new concept for a non-stadium could be called the Ellington Stadium: "do nothing till you hear from me - and you never will."

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Funk and Justice

The previous post that occupied this space has been deleted. My mockery of the inactivity of the New Zealand Association of Rationalists and Humanists (Inc) was undermined when they published a new home page with lots of stuff on it. On closer examination, only one bit of the stuff turns out to be an NZARH activity, but at least the page looks a bit better. The link to the Fundy Post also has been removed to ensure that my work for the Association has gone down the memory hole. However, you can still find it in the bowels of the NZARH site.

I am sure it is just a coincidence, but another website has had a revamp within days of the launch of the Fundy Post blog: the Maxim Institute. The makeover is more Monster Garage than What Not To Wear: huge amounts of useless verbiage have been thrown out to create a new image. New Maxim is caring and sharing, working "towards a more just, free and compassionate New Zealand." Old Maxim talked about Family and fretted about Maori spirituality. New Maxim is not afraid to talk about whanau. Everything has gone green as well: On the What We Value page is the statement:

Each generation is responsible for protecting and sustaining the earth’s natural resources, while cultivating them to enhance people’s lives and the lives of those to come.

Before you start cutting off your dreadlocks and signing up for Real Issues, read that statement again. It is more about resource management than ecology. Maxim seem to be jumping on the organic gravy train without leaving behind their old baggage of free market dogma.

Maxim's new profile requires serious analysis. I would have done that but I was distracted by the teaser for an article by Paul Henderson at the bottom of the home page:

On a recent trip to Canada I was struck by Olivia, the child of a sperm-donor still searching for her father's face.

My mind raced with images of Mr Henderson being beaten up by a girl with a hockey stick, demanding to know if he is her real father. Unfortunately, the story is not that interesting; in fact, it is very dull.

But that is besides the point. We have real issues to answer. Does Maxim really care? Have Murder Incorporated transformed themselves into the Glam Metal Detectives? Will Maxim deliver Funk and Justice for all? Watch this space for the next thrilling episode of the Maxim files.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Some unknown unknowns

I had intended to bring you a Fundy Post Mid-Term Elections Special directly from the media bunker at Absurdist House. Every thing was ready. I had my iBook, a comfy chair and a good view of the television. Most importantly, I had assembled a team of expert commentators. Unfortunately, one commentator thought it would be a good idea to drink Purple Nasties and had brought the ingredients with him.

Rather than posting up-to-the-minute election news and opinion, we competed to make the best associations from candidates' names. It was very funny at the time. I am not sure what happened in the elections. Apparently, the Democrats won.

In an effort to make something of the day, I should say that the televisual highlight was CNN's Blogparty. Some of America's finest bloggers had been assembled in one utterly inappropriate room (fake Louis Quinze furntiture, that sort of thing) to blog. It all seemed beside the point of blogging, which is not a group activity. It was, however, revealing. Such are the divisions in American politics, the Conservative bloggers and their Liberal rivals were at opposite ends of the room. Each faction even had its own CNN interviewer (IMHO, the woman who spoke to the Liberals was way more cute) and stereotypical dress standards: the Liberals wore Gap, while the Conservatives wore blazers and flannels.

Moving on, I shall miss Donald Rumsfeld; not for his incisive leadership and brilliant use of military resources, but for his poetry. Hart Seely is the author of Pieces of Intelligence, The Existential Poetry of Donald H. Rumsfeld. He explains it all better than I could here

Well, that rounds up our election coverage. As always, we are last with the news, although not necessarily least (contents may vary).

Parish News

1. Thanks to an anonymous benefactor, the Fundy Post is now syndicated on Live Journal, which means that Live Journal users can add the Fundy Post to their Friends pages and get regular updates or snippets or something by feeding and polling... you can see why I never became a Technical Writer. Anyway, it's here.

2. Intelligence is always welcome. If you have facts, gossip or clues, send them to the Fundy Post's top secret email address, which I shall write cryptically to prevent spammers finding it: fundypost AT gmail DOT com. Just remember to replace AT with that curly thing and DOT with a dot. If you have a special offer on Viagra, keep it to yourself.

3. My former Kete Were colleage Katie now has her own site, Foreign Correspondence which is all about Spain and other things. ¿Why not visit?

4. Thanks to Jesstastic, I have discovered 3 Quarks Daily. Apart from the literary reference in the title which makes you feel really smart if you get it, this site offers loads of good writing from all over the place. Gold Star Jess also introduced me to Boing Boing

5. That's it for now. I have probably forgotten something I should have mentioned.

Breaking news: after posting this post, I went to the kitchen at Absurdist House. A catalogue of errors occurred which began with the coffee machine and ended with my catching a bottle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil that was in freefall. This caused damage to my thumb andIseemtobehavingdifficultyusingthespacebar.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Pork Scratchings

The blogger known as Piglet has closed down his site. For those of you who did not have the pleasure of his company, Piglet wrote an entertaining blog in which he described his sexual adventures. Now he is concerned that people are finding out his real identity, so the blog has to go.

Is it just me or was it obvious who Piglet was from the beginning? I thought everyone knew. However, just in case anyone in the Auckland blogging community is still in the dark, I will do my best to conceal his true identity. Using a cunning form of name substituton, I shall refer to the man behind piglet as Prescott Vine. This is the sort of pseudonym, after all, that would be adopted by an author of pornography, particularly in paperbacks published in the 1950s.

The details of Mr Vine's writing would be difficult to describe on a blog intended for all the family. Since this is not such a blog, I will do my best to recall the highlights. Mr Vine wrote lists, of women he had encountered. He didn't seem to have much regard for these women, which is a shame. He also wrote about a visit to a certain 'adult' club where, after various activities, he spilled something on his dress shirt; I would have kept that detail to myself, if I had been him. Mr Vine helpfully provided a guide to seduction as well, which did not involve Lust pizza, so far as I can recall. Interestingly, most of his adventures with women seemed to begin at Family, a gay club on K Road, which shows what you can achieve if you think outside the box, as it were.

I am sure he will be missed. What puzzles me is that Mr Vine thought he would be able to conceal his true identity. Apart from some obvious clues that would be noticed by anyone familiar with his other blogging, Mr Vine should have realised that anyone who writes blogs about his sex life will eventually be exposed. This happens because people want to know secrets, because they have a salacious interest in the sex lives of others and because former conquests do not take kindly to their indiscretions being described in detail.

Prescott Vine should also have realised his folly after the experiences of 'Abby Lee,' who writes a blog called Girl with a One-Track Mind (just in passing, I always seem to get involved with a girl with an eight-track mind, but that is my problem, not yours). Mr Vine links to Ms Lee's blog, so he should know about the consequences of sexual autobiography. Her mistake was agreeing to a publishing deal, so her 'confessions' migrated from the relative obscurity of the blogosphere to all good bookshops. She was soon exposed by a grubby tabloid newspaper, the Sunday Times, which used to investigate stories like Thalidomide. The story that outed her was entitled "By day she worked on Harry Potter. But by night ..." Make of that what you will.

In his farewell post, Mr Vine says "I don't want anything I've written here to be a distraction from anything I might do in future." A bit late to think that, you might say, but he is not alone: there is a generation of future political leaders who blog more or less graphically about their exploits, which may come back to haunt them.

I have just realised that I am beginning to sound like David Farrar, so I shall stop here.

How to make an American wilt

From Britain comes an idea that will have the President choking on his grits: scrap nukes and use the money saved to combat climate change.

The Worst Wing

The Neocons are revolting: David Rose of Vanity Fair has talked to the some of the people who created the foreign policy of the Bush Administration and they are very disappointed. Perle, Adelman, Frum, Gaffney, Rubin, Cohen: these are not minor characters. They are the men who brought us Gulf War II. It is all downhill for Bush from here.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Please read

In the blogosphere, as in comedy, timing is everything. You have to launch your blog and make your major announcements at the right time, to get maximum impact, to bring in the readers and get the comments flowing.

I chose a different course. I launched the Fundy Post blog the day after Public Address System was revealed to the world. Finally, after years of frustrating libertarian pointy-heads by refusing them the opportunity to comment on Public Address, Russell Brown has created a space where public argument is encouraged. Now the pointy-heads can complain about political correctness and tell everyone to read Hayek, while everyone else ignores them and stays on topic.

As you can see, Public Address System is already popular. The comments are pouring in. Lest it be thought that I made a dreadful mistake in choosing my launch date, you should know that I was fully aware that Public Address System would be launched on Friday. I was one of the Business Class members who were invited to comment early for the soft launch, back in the old days of last week, before the site went public.

I also chose to launch the Fundy Post blog on a Saturday night; not just any Saturday night but Guy Fawkes Night. My launch strategy was not so complex as Russell's: I told my Myspace Friends. I guess they are all out having fun tonight.

My strategy may be the most successful counter-intuitive marketing ploy in the history of the internet; or I may be the George Costanza of blogging.

Quiet round here, isn't it?

Throw your homework onto the fire

It is not all about religion. Here is two minutes and forty seconds of pure, unadulterated joy: The Smiths

Teenage Lust

For a change, the latest outpouring of moral outrage is not about debauched homosexualists or fallen women but a pizza company. As my friend Pam Zie-Wamzie reports on Red Confectionery, Hell Pizza is marketing Lust, its meat-lovers' pizza, by distributing condoms to the masses. Inevitably, the guardians of decency are indignant.

Leading the charge is Family First, a relatively young organisation of which I am sure we will be hearing a lot. They have launched a campaign to boycott Hell, on the grounds that small children may find condoms in the mailbox and read the "explicit" instructions on how to use them. We all know what this will lead to: questions.

Closely behind comes Family Life International. Its Spokesman, Brendan Malone, made the mistake of engaging Hell's director on National Radio's Checkpoint, a debate which can be downloaded as a
podcast. The results were hilarious. Mr Malone claimed that Hell was creating a public health risk because the condom might be damaged by the warmth of the mailbox. Call me old-fashioned, but I thought condoms were designed to be put into warm places.

Mr Malone also condemned Hell for failing to include lubricants with the condoms, which makes one wonder how he thinks they will be used. Then he changed tack and argued that children might be tempted to imitate the instructions they would read on the packet.

Mr Malone's comments also make one wonder what kind of sex education he received. The Catholic kind, of course, where it's all about rhythm: FLI is a Popish plot to prevent all sex, except when it occurs in a Catholic marriage. Mr Malone did not reveal that he is opposed to all condoms, whether in mailboxes, wallets (another dangerous environment apparently) or carefully stored in a cool dark place.

Meanwhile, bringing up the rear (if that is the right phrase) comes Focus on the Family which insists that Hell Pizza are "potentially encouraging the illegal act of under-age sex." FOF is the local franchise of Dr James Dobson's Focus on the Family, the organisation which claimed SpongeBob SquarePants to be part of the vast homosexualist conspiracy.

Dr Dobson also organised a boycott of clothing company Abercromie and Fitch, because its catalogue included "overt portrayals of group sex, lots of teen and young adult nudity, men kissing, and teens/young adults frolicking in a river engaging in sexual activity in multiple group settings." Actually, he had a point there: the catalogue does show a lot of skin although, fortunately, there is little evidence of Abercrombie's dreary yuppie clothes.

Anyway, back to Hell. I cannot help thinking that the fundies' main gripe with the pizzamen is their temerity in naming the company Hell. A while back there was correspondence in the Western Leader about this blasphemy, if that is what it is. One reader complained about how difficult it is for a Christian to buy fast food, not ony because of heretical pizza but also because all those Asians who run the takeaways have their pagan idols on display.

Jesus of Cool

One of the duties of this blog will be to show you examples of fundies trying to get with the kids. A longer article on the abomination that is Christian Rock will follow at some later stage but, for the mean time, enjoy this press release about a festival to be held at the Raleigh Street Christian Centre in Cambridge:
After a wildly successful freshman year, In His Honour is back to rock harder and prove that it's here to stay. The recipe: Take a half-dozen of New Zealand's best bands, chuck them on two stages and cram their acts into one amazing day. Topped with the mother-of-all stage set-ups. Jivin' to your favourite bands cranked all the way up to eleven, this will be a day you'll be sharing with your grandkiddies (just to show 'em you knew how to rock). Just follow S.H.1 to Cambridge on November 11. And the entry fee is next-to-nada.

Rockin'. Note as well, the names of the bands involved: Mumsdollar, Moped, Radiator. You would never guess they were doing the work of the Lord. Perhaps this is the phenomenon known as stealth evangelism or perhaps they are thinking they can just slip into the mainstream, as POD and Evanescence have done. As this discussion on the desperately hip Christian yoof forum Soul Purpose shows, such tactics are something of an issue for young fundies.

Blame it on the boogie

Breaking News: Ted Haggard, named by Time Magazine as one of the most influential evangelicals in America, has resigned from his post as President of the National Association of Evangelicals after a male prostitute alleged that that the two enjoyed a three-year "business relationship." Pastor Haggard is a leading proponent of a constitutional ban on gay marriage. To his credit, he has also tried to make evangelicals more active in dealing with global warming and world poverty but it is the sin thing that fires his engines.

This news throws new light on a statement in a May 2005 article about Haggard in Harper's Magazine, which said that he once "staked out gay bars, inviting men to come to his church."

Friday, November 03, 2006

Queer eyes for the hate guys

Imagaine you are a citizen of Massachusetts and you have had enough, had so much that you put exclamation marks at the end of every sentence! You want to end judicial tyranny, same-sex "marriage", and homosexual activist recruitment of our children in the public schools! So, you set up a blog!

What colour would you choose for your blog?

The Fundy Post is risen from the grave

Gentle reader,

You might occasionally have thought to yourself "whatever happened to the Fundy Post, the award-winning satirical review of the strange world of the Religious Right?" On the other hand, you may not have given the matter any thought. On the third hand, you might never have heard of the Fundy Post; in which case, the next paragraph is especially for you.

The Fundy Post was an email and web newsletter which I wrote as Spokesman for the NZ Association of Rationalists and Humanists. It was published between April 2004 and February of this year at the rather leisurely rate of twenty issues during that period. My aim in writing it was to expose the activities of various ghastlies who mixed their religion with their politics to produce an unpleasant mixture known as the Religious Right.

The newsletter was sent to members of the NZARH and to various media folk, who gave it some attention. Russell Brown contributed lots of new readers each time he linked to an edition. The good people at Scoop published every edition on their pages, the gay people at GayNZ gave me an award, while the stylish people at Metro deemed the Fundy Post to be Hot.

The Fundy Post had a serious purpose but it was also intended to be entertaining. My strategy for dealing with the various moralisers and bigots who were my targets was to (a) point and (b) laugh. At the same time, I did some real work, investigating the knavish plots of the enemies of secular society. I had some success, particularly with the Maxim Institute. I also gave the NZARH the best publicity it has ever enjoyed.

However, my employers at the NZARH were not very grateful. Rather than give me a Christmas bonus, they tried their best to give me the sack. Their best was not very good but eventually I left with a settlement. I may write about these events at some other time.

Since my departure in June, the NZARH has not been very active in the public sphere. In fact, to use a technical term, it has done bugger all. Meanwhile the moralisers are out and about, doing their fiendish work. So, what to do? What I shall do is get back to the business of ridicule. The one trait that all religious bigots, of whatever faith, have in common is pomposity; there is easy prey to be found out there.

As a special bonus for readers, the new Fundy Post will not be confined solely to religious targets; I shall also take cheap shots at anything else which deserves a poke in the eye.