Monday, December 31, 2007

A house fit for horrors

This is a time of year when bloggers should put aside the petty concerns of politics and consider instead matters of the Arts. So, following the example set by Mr Peter Cresswell, I shall indulge myself in a little architectural criticism.

The house pictured is the holiday home of one John Key, who is shown in the photograph. The house is one of several featured in an item from yesterday's Herald on Sunday, entitled, "Revealed: the holiday hideout of rich and famous." Mr Key, a retired foreign exchange dealer, is described by the paper as a "Prime-Minister-in-waiting."

Whilst he is waiting, Mr Key really should think about doing some gardening. I may be mistaken; perhaps the appearance of abandonment is newly fashionable among people of money; possibly Mr Key wishes to give the impression that he is too busy to spend time on personal concerns. Maybe he holds to Green principles and wishes to let his plot of land grow naturally, without human intervention. Or perhaps he has simple tastes and prefers weeds to flowers. But I think not. He should find a landscape gardener immediately, before people think he is the sort of man who would leave a car on his front lawn.

His gardener, if she has taste, will suggest tactfully that the garden be adorned with fast-growing trees, perhaps Leylandii or even Pinus Radiata. It is imperative that the house be concealed from public gaze as soon as possible. For there is only one word that can adequately describe this immodest abode and that is "vulgar."

It is difficult to know where to begin. Here is a house (described somewhat disingenuously by the Herald as a "bach") which has the appearance of a miniature office building. Rather than its present location at Omaha Beach, its design suits it to a business park on the outskirts of the city, conveniently near major transport hubs. The reader should note the extravagant and charmless cornice, apparently supported by massive piers, as well as the floor-to-ceiling windows in tinted glass. The reader should note these and resolve never to have a home with these features; unless, that is, he should wish to have regular visits from photocopier salesmen, for surely they will flock to his door.

Should one be visiting Mr Key in his holiday home, whether to attempt to sell office products or for social reasons, it would be very bad form to tap one of those seemingly weighty piers. It would chime like a bell. The piers must be hollow, since the wooden deck which apparently supports and surrounds them could not bear the weight of so much masonry. Wits might observe that this is a hollow house for a hollow man.

Fortunately, one can see little of the interior through the tinted glass. One suspects that it would contain a white leather lounge suite, on which Mr Key would relax with half a glass of Chablis while listening to Air Supply's Greatest Hits on the Bang and Olufson. One imagines the bookshelves, if there are any, would contain works by John Grisham and Dean Koontz. Doubtless, the walls are adorned with paintings of sailing boats, done in a pseudo-impressionist style.

If only, for the sake of this nation's reputation abroad, one could say that Mr Key had inherited this unfortunate state of affairs. But, as he never ceases to tell us, Mr Key was brought up in a State house, one which probably was a much better work of architecture than this. All this, apparently, is Mr Key's work. He bought the empty plot seventeen years past for a mere $147,000; with the house, it is worth $2.95 Million. The choice of design was his own, as is the location: Success Court.

I would continue, but readers of this blog are men and women of delicate aesthetic sensibilities. Instead, I shall wish you all a happy New Year.

Not in Kansas, anymore

Church sexual abuse with a twist: the perp is a woman, the church is Baptist.

Creflo Dollar, a man not unknown to these shores, is under investigation.

In Britain, the money is in charity.

Career opportunities: the Vatican wants more exorcists.

Also coming to you from the Middle Ages: martyrs.

Meanwhile, in Poland, the Church has authorised an exorcism centre.

Meanwhile, in England, Poles

Meanwhile, in Canada, empty pews

Meanwhile, in Italia, il terrorismo islamista.

Back in England, there are too many Bishops

The War Against Christmas continues in Oklahoma.

Even Kansas is not in Kansas.

Finally, an atheist movie

with thanks to Craig for the links

Saturday, December 29, 2007


It's that time of year again. Yesterday's lead story in both the Herald and the Dom was that a New Zealander had been bitten by a snake, in Australia. Woop de woop, as the young folks say. In an effort to provide readers with something to read, here are some links to some items of interest.

In the New York Review of Books, Malise Ruthven reviews some books concerning the religion of peace. In the TLS, John Habgood grumbles about the New Atheism, "which has a sharper tongue, is gleefully aggressive rather than solemnly regretful, and makes much use of ridicule." Oh yes, indeed. In the Guardian, Timothy Garton Ash talks about faith, reason and Mitt Romney. Robert Bellah longs for a global civil religion.

Turning towards a more important matter, n+1 discusses dating. John Lanchester tells us all about derivatives. Frederick C Crews talks about drugs.

Lincoln Caplan makes an exhortation about executive supremacy. Jonathan Jones gets the creeps from the Isenheim Altarpiece. Paul Hockenos considers the romanticising of the Red Army Faction. Christopher Hitchens measures his words.

Finally, Caleb Crain contemplates the twilight of the books.

There, I bet that cheered you up. Today's illustration was provided by the excellent Mr Samuel Finnemore, who has spent most of this year commenting for great justice on Mr Wishart's blog.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Have yourself a very Fascist Christmas

One of my favourite traditions at this time of year is the War Against Christmas. Like many traditions, it is not that old: the religious right in the USofA discovered that Christmas was under attack from secularists only a couple of yuletides ago. However, hostilities have broken out all over the place, including the Old Country. A Member of Parliament called Pritchard, who represents the Conservative interest in the Wrekin, has taken up the call to arms. Apparently, "many shoppers find it increasingly difficult to buy greeting cards with references to Christ." It is obvious why: the fascists have bought them all. Mr Pritchard says the British National Party in Staffordshire has sent out cards showing the holy family and bearing the words 'heritage, tradition and culture.' I am so glad I am not on their list, or any of their lists.

Things are so different in the Levant. Mr Pritchard told his audience, "yesterday I received an e-mail from a Jewish gentleman in Beirut, who told me of nativity plays performed in schools there. If it is good enough for Lebanon, it is good enough for London." I should think so, too. London should have an endless war between Christians and Muslims, with help from Syria and Israel. That would give the youth of today some moral fibre. Instead, they have Amy Winehouse, who is Jewish but no gentleman (incidentally, on Waiheke Island recently, I saw a teenage girl who looked like Ms Winehouse and who had styled her hair accordingly; I bet she is a worry to her parents).

The full text of Mr Pritchard's speech can be found here. It is a masterpiece of imagery. He exalts his fellow members to "slay the dragon of political correctness" and provides what must be the simile of the year: "taking Christ out of Christmas is like serving the Christmas turkey without the stuffing."

Mr Pritchard also has stern words for us heathens: "turning to secularists, it is wrong of the anti-Christian lobby, whether atheistic, humanist or secularist, not to afford the level of tolerance to the Christian faith that they rightly demand for their own world view and beliefs or lack of belief." I must say, it is very nice of him to be so politically correct as to distinguish between the different kinds of non-believer. But I don't think atheists can be blamed for the rarity of advent calendars.

Whilst we are at it, and thinking of war, why did none of these crusaders ever complain about the war films shown on television at Christmas? When I was growing up in England, on Christmas Day the BBC would always show Von Ryan's Express or The Guns of Navarone. It is no wonder that the only people left who care about the reason for the season are the Staffordshire fascists: the holy family keeps folks' minds off killing Nazis.

Dispatches from the war against Christmas in the USofA can be found here, while Flumadiddle brings us the true tat of Christmas. And, in case you didn't know already, it was all invented by Charles Dickens.

Finally, and thinking of the Wrekin, here is a unrelated song from Wreckless Eric

One more thing: here is my Christmas card to you. I hope you will find it tolerant and secular.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Kings for a day

It is, as all those 80s pop stars remind us, Christmas-time, and so the Baptists of the Tabernacle on Auckland's Queen Street have done what they always do at this time of year: they have brought out their alarmingly life-size Christmas Crib. It gives me the shudders everytime I see it. Nativity scenes, traditionally, are on a miniaturised scale and so they should be. But the Baptists proclaim that a child is born with huge and scary figures.

Among the Corinthian columns Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus and two kings of orient are. The whereabouts of the third king are unknown. They are an odd looking bunch. Mary must be the oldest virgin in town, while Joseph seems quite shocked at the prospect of surrogate fatherhood, as well he might. The two kings appear to be advancing on the less than happy family as zombies do on teenagers. There are no certain shepherds, no sheep and no asses; which is fortunate, because there would be no room at the Tabernacle otherwise.

But what of that third king? Perhaps he was taken in the night by drunken revellers. That may be the reason why the holy mannequins are returned to the recesses of the Tabernacle every evening and regrouped the next day. Or perhaps the king's disappearance is a sign of something more sinister.

Perhaps the royal absence is "part of a larger war that the secular Left is waging on all things Christian," In the USofA, manger attacks are breaking out all over. In one such incident, a public school coach and some of his students "damaged a number of Christmas displays, let the air out of inflatable figures and rearranged plastic reindeer into X-rated sexual positions." Flumadiddle is monitoring the lordnappings and, at the last count, reports thirty-two baby Jesuses taken.

Whether this disturbing trend has come to New Zealand remains unreported. Family First really ought to be monitoring this sort of thing.

Elsewhere, Going Jesus has assembled a Cavalcade of Bad Nativities.

99 problems and the blog ain't one

Blimey. Just when it looked as if nothing much was going on around here, the Fundy Post has had greatness thrust upon it. A company called Socialrank, which makes clever little algorithms to assess blogs, has compiled a list of the top one hundred Atheist sites in the blogworld. There, among such luminaries as The Flying Spaghetti Monster, Pharyngula and Flumadiddle, is the Fundy Post. And what's more, the selection process was done by twenty key bloggers in the Atheist niche; I have been peer-reviewed. They have even given me a virtual plaque, which I have hung at the at the top right.

Quite how this all came about is beyond my ken. I have never thought of this as an atheist blog; rather as an autobiographical narrative written by an author who does not much care to talk about himself and who, for that matter, does not much care for stories. The fact of my atheism and of my fascination with religious politics is just something that is part of the mix, along with art, literature and Sophie Ellis Bextor. However, my peers apparently think otherwise, so I shall not turn down this accolade. Besides, it will really piss off Bill Cooke, which is reason enough.

You never know, it might also prompt somebody to offer me a writing job. Perhaps I might also be the subject of one of those profiles in North and South which feature New Zealanders playing on the world stage and show how New Zealand punches above its weight. Metro, as well, might like to think about a feature, or at least lunch.

Anyway, enough about me. This blog's ranking is now in the hands of the algorithm, which weighs the Fundy Post in the balance daily. The score, which has risen a healthy four points this week, is determined in large part by the amount of activity and linkage the blog receives. So I have you, gentle readers, to thank. It is the lurking and linking and commenting which makes the points. And points mean prizes, or at least kudos.

I was going to entitle this post "don't cha wish your boyfriend was hot like me" but I thought that would be a little immodest.

Of paper bags and carpet bags

To Smith and Caughey, for seasonal lulz; there is nothing like a department store to bring out the camp in Christmas. I am sure Fundy Post readers will want to know how the rich (or, to the use the politically correct term, people of money) will be spending their riches this Christmas. So I patrolled the decked aisles of Smith and Caughey's Christmas department and I can reveal, exclusively to you, that this year's hot item is...

...a paper bag. You read me right. A paper bag. Not just any old paper bag, of course; that would be silly. This paper bag in fact is an "old-fashioned paper bag lantern." For a mere fourteen dollars you can purchase a plastic bag filled with "six reusable, flame retardant, grocery-style bags." You will also have to make an additional investment of some night lights to put in the bags, so as to transform them into lanterns. A serving suggestion on the plastic bag which contains the paper bags shows the completed bag and night light combinations deployed to line a driveway. Given the length of driveways in Rem, the purchaser will need quite a few bags. But a bag is not just for Christmas: the instructions on the plastic bag also suggest using the paper bags to light your dinner party table.

It is a different world, that of the people of money. I am ignorant of the history of the old-fashioned paper bag lantern, if it has one. I would imagine that at some time and place in the quaint past, people without money put candles in paper bags to make lanterns, because they could not afford anything more elaborate. Now people of money can imitate the simple pleasures of the poor, without even having to go to the trouble of hoarding their grocery bags, and safe in the knowledge that these bags are flame retardant.

Perhaps I should not mock the people of money any further. This Christmas will not be easy for them. On the very day that I visited Smith and Caughey, the Herald used the last of its red ink to announce the passing of the Electoral Finance Bill into law, solemnly noting that Parliament's decision has "changed the way New Zealanders can participate in elections." I expect this is true for the New Zealanders who buy paper bag lanterns. It probably will make little difference for those who use bags solely for shopping purposes. If you are in Pak'n'Save filling your own bags with groceries, you probably are not grieving that the Government no longer allows you to spend a million dollars running a covert election campaign. You are probably more concerned with packing and saving.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Blogs and how to knit them

Following yesterday's post about the state of blogging, I have done some research. By clicking the "next blog" button at the top of any Blogger blog, I have seen many blogs and learned that most are written in Spanish. Those in English are mostly about penis enlargement and include such helpful advice as:
Your chick does not want to jazz it with you by reason of your male aggregate size.
Dont panic you can solve this problem right now.
All you have to do is just use our aggregate enlargement.
Your sexual life will change promptly.
Apart from babies and cats, most other blogs are about either porn or knitting. One blog is about both.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Living as a nanny in Manhattan

If you have been wondering why I have not been blogging so much of late, the reason is that I have been stifled by Public Address System; stifled, I tell you!

See, I cannot even start a post without mentioning PA System and, worse still, borrowing its links; only today I was reading a post by Emma Hart and felt an overwhelming need to write about this one, or at least this passage:
There are about 1.1 billion Internet users, yet only 55 million users (5%) have weblogs according to Technorati. Worse, there are only 1.6 million postings per day; because some people post multiple times per day, only 0.1% of users post daily.
Of course, this sort of thing is not a new problem. Participation in the High Renaissance was a constant worry for contemporary advocates of an inclusive and diverse society: research found that, in all Italian city states surveyed, less than one per cent of the population had completed a fresco in the previous twelve months; rates for the playing of the viola da gamba and the invention of flying machines also were disappointingly low; only such activities as kicking a pig's bladder around the streets, jew-baiting and fornication proved to have widespread popular appeal.

But still, only 55 million users have weblogs. Somewhere out there are a lot of cats which never have had a photograph posted on a blog. More worrying still, there might be a liberal arts graduate in New York doing a dead-end job while she tries to complete her first novel who has yet to tell us about how difficult it all is.

I am all for participation but I have no delusions about the richness and variety of the contributions made to public discourse by bloggers. I have spent too much time looking at the pretty pictures pass by on Blogger Play.

Of course the 95 per cent of Internet users who do not blog might have something interesting to say; but do we want to know about the porn they have downloaded or the recipes they have found? Most folk just consume Internet; they don't want to contribute. Most people probably prefer reading to writing and commenting to creating.

Anyway, enough about them; what about this blog? I cannot but help notice that readers are more engaged when I write stuff than when I post links. Fundy Post readers are a clever bunch who make interesting comments; so more words, fewer links from now on.

That said, here is a link to a song about doing a dead-end job in New York.

When fundies attack

Craig sent me this story about a killing over Creation in the outback.

Also from Craig and from Australia is the news that Catch The Fire Ministries is blaming the drought on sin.

Also mentioned in that story is the League of Rights. As it happens, the New Zealand branch of this august organisation has slipped away; Poneke tells the story of the League, as Russell has noted.

Also noteworthy is that my evil plan to have caverage chosen as Public Address Word of the Year has failed.

Meanwhile, in Germany, moves are afoot to ban Scientology.

Friday, December 07, 2007

After browsing at Borders

In which the author reviews everything he found interesting in Borders

Alan Coren once wrote, in the forward to a collection of his essays, that he asked his publisher to identify the most popular genres of books. His publisher told him that the best-sellers were books about golf, books about cats and books about the Second World War. So Coren named his book Golfing for Cats and put a large swastika on the front cover.

I was reminded of this when I found a book called Dog Heroes of September 11th, a tribute to America's search and rescue dogs. With this publication, a new age for the dog book has dawned: from humble beginnings in guides to the care and maintenance of canines, through books which treat dogs as objects of fluffy sentiment and now onward and upward to the most noble and perhaps most profitable subject: the patriotic dog.

Dogsploitation ought to be the name for this genre of book; if it is not, I claim my place in the Oxford English Dictionary here and now. For years, it lagged behind the far more lucrative catsploitation trade, whose practitioners knew that a picture of a cat on a cool Greek roof was worth a thousand bucks. But cats do nothing but look cute and adorable. Dogs are cute, adorable and America's allies in the war against Terror.

I would continue with this review but I could not bring myself to look inside the book. Instead, I wandered to the magazines section, where the cover of this week's Listener asks the important question "do bananas give you too much potassium?" The answer, provided in the Nutrition section, is "no." Quite why the Listener poses alarming questions about fruit, to which it knows the answer is a reassuring negative, is a matter between the magazines publishers and its accountants.

The really alarming stuff is to be found in New Scientist. Somebody clever thinks we have hastened the end of the universe by looking at it. And if that is not bad enough, the universe has a huge hole in it, 900 million light years across. The string theorists think it is evidence that ours is one of many universes.

Oh well, at least there is a new Sigur Ros album out, for people who think Radiohead are too commercial. There is probably a new Nick Hornby novel as well; there usually is.

Mind the gap

One of the bohemian types with whom I keep company was quite astonished after I told her that John Key made his millions as an employee of a company. I admit it does seem quite peculiar. One always thinks of millionaires as entrepreneurs who invent and market some useful product or who build a successful business by providing a service like no other. Self-made millionaires traditionally were people who risk their own capital, while employees worked for their pay cheques. But Mr Key worked in the world of currency trading, risking the capital of his employers and being paid very handsomely for not losing it but delivering a substantial return on their investment. I suppose everybody was happy. Quite what good the buying and selling of currency does for the world is another matter, one which escapes my understanding.

I thought of the bohemian girl yesterday when I was listening to a conversation between three men who were sitting next to me in a food court. Two of them asked the third, who they obviously regarded as an expert on such matters, what he thought of the stoush between Mr Key and Dr Michael Cullen in the House on the previous day. The expert, who was also a crashing bore, delivered an oratory of some length, that of an average lunchtime. To summarise, in his opinion Mr Key was obviously a much more intelligent man than Dr Cullen, because Mr Key had made millions while Dr Cullen had not. Moreover, Mr Key had achieved the lofty heights of head of currency trading at Merrill Lynch, while Dr Cullen held the lowly post of Minister of Finance.

Looking at my rather modest meal, I feared the expert would think of me as a cretin. His method of estimating intelligence by wealth is an unusual one, although at least it does not require the subject to fit shapes together and say what is the next number in a sequence; a simple bank statement will do. But at least it made me think. Leaving aside the fact that many obviously intelligent people have no desire for wealth, I ask myself an important question: are forex dealers necessarily intelligent? The requirements for the job would seem to be a faculty with numbers and an insatiable desire to be rich. Thereafter it is, I suspect, all about cunning and that essential of modern business, Drive. I will admit that one former currency trader, M. Paul Gauguin, was at least smart enough to invent Post-Impressionism and find himself an island paradise filled with dusky and bare-breasted beauties. Other than him, however, I know of no other dealer who has excelled elsewhere; please do not mention Jeff Koons to me.

Now, you know me as a Labour Party chap and so some of you will read what I am going to say next and say "he would say that, wouldn't he?" But I will say it anyway, since you have read so far: what Dr Cullen has in abundance and Mr Key seems to lack is wit. It has long been my ambition to be Dr Cullen's gag-writer, but it seems he writes all his own material. On the other hand, I have never heard Mr Key say anything that was remotely funny. He seems quite affable but humour apparently is not his gift. Now, again you are going to think I would say this anyway, but I think humour is a sign of intelligence. Another sign might be an ability to recognise a tune, or at least to notice when one has been copied from another.

Speaking, as we were, of crashing bores, I have recently abandoned the New Zealand Herald in favour of the Dominion Post. The Herald has assumed the stance of one of those regular callers to talkback radio, who phone every day to say "Leighton, it's about this Electoral Finance Bill," before lunging into a tirade. Each morning the Herald spills much red ink on the subject of the Bill. It shouts at its readers, whom it appears to regard as ammunition. The actions that prompted the Bill are ignored, although fortunately we have Mr Key to remind us: only a few days ago he once again condemned Mr Hager's book, which published the emails that Mr Key wrote to the Exclusive Brethren. Evidently, prudence is not part of his skill set.

In contrast to the Herald's relentless assault, the Dom Post is an oasis of calm, as well as a revelation. There is so much else going on. While the Herald fills up the spaces between its Electoral Finance rants with stories about medical procedures, the Dom Post has a real health story: the appalling mess which is the Kapiti and Coast District Health Board.

However, the Dom Post is not without its faults. In one story, about a man who fell to his death through a gap in a handrail on a steep and slippery pathway, it makes much of the source of the slipperiness (something called a toby; don't ask me what it is) while failing to ask why there was a gap in the handrail. Interestingly enough, though, the deceased worked in foreign exchange.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Guns and poesy

What a busy day for Auckland Saturday turned out to be. I missed the morning protest but caught the matinée. Due to unforeseens, I failed to attend the march for Civil Rights. However, I did catch the new and improved march against the Electoral Finance Bill, the second Auckland has seen. This one differed from its predecessor in that it appeared to be more Tory than Fundy. Rarely can have so many panama hats been gathered together in one place, except perhaps the Members Pavilion at Lords for the Eton and Harrow match. The streets of Remuera must have been empty.

That said, Family First made a showing, spreading their banner out across the front of the parade. The irony of Family First campaigning for freedom of speech was lost on the organisers, who obviously had forgotten Family First's campaigns against the exercise of freedom of speech by the makers of Hell's Pizza, The Simpsons, South Park and (shudder) Californication.

Others carried standard issue banners, proclaiming such messages as "Labour - you've gone too far." Various misplaced accusations of Fascism were made in home-made messages. On this theme, one man carried a banner adorned with a swastika, which perhaps did not give the impression he intended. The chanting wasn't up to much and some marchers sang the National Anthem as they went down Queen Street.

Interestingly, among this unhappy band were some from the morning protest, who obviously felt that one march was not enough exercise for the day. In their dour black fatigues they stood out from the mass of blue and white stripes. Younger and, in some cases, browner than the tories and fundies, they obviously caused some discomfort. I am told there were ructions during the speech-making when objections were made to the Maori flag being displayed. I also hear that one of their number tried to make an impassioned speech but had the microphone removed from him. Free speech has its limits, even at a protest claiming to be in its favour.

Also out on the street that day were the Scientologists, who were offering free stress tests; I was reminded of an old Goon Show joke about offering to take the weight off your wallet. The Hare Krishnas had gathered with some real Indians to pull a huge cart, a juggernaut I suppose, up the street. As I said, it was a busy day.

That evening, I made up for my absence at the Civil Rights march by attending the poetry and music event in favour of these same Rights, although purely as an observer and a drinker. The poetry did not move me but the music, provided by Otis Mace and Bill Direen and The Bilders, was splendid. It was held at the PR Bar, which is a curious mixture of Indie and Poly: the main bar is full of Island folk, swaying to the rhythms of commercial R'n'B, while the side room is full of pasty-faced white boys, gazing at their shoes and the extraordinary (and very comfortable) wall-to-wall carpet.

The guests included two of the accused, one of whom gave a very long and detailed account of the various charges against which he has defended himself (without a lawyer, of course) over the years, as well as the counter-attacks he has made on the oppressive police state that is New Zealand; the phrase 'vexatious litigant' sprang to mind. It was like listening to paint drying. The other accused was Omar Hamed who is, despite his name, a pasty-faced white boy. Just as OJ Simpson defended himself on the grounds that the glove would not fit, Hamed may be able to convince a jury that he would not have the physical strength to pick up the semiautomatic gun which was found on his premises.

Speaking of guns, there was one other guest, uninvited but impossible to turn away: the elephant in the middle of the room. Everyone pretended it was not there, but it could not be avoided.

The guns, the guns; of course, nobody spoke about them. Everyone talked about justice, rights, freedom. Everyone talked about the oppressive Terrorism Suppression Act, how it stifled protest; how it copied the terrorism laws of the USA, Canada and Australia which had been used against indigenous people; how its use by the Police was like the emergency powers they used against the Wharfies and the Springbok protesters. But nobody talked about the guns; nobody except the lovely woman to whom I was talking, who said there were only four of them. Only four, as if such a small number didn't matter. Perhaps I should have asked her how many guns it took to kill JFK; or perhaps I should have chosen a better example; but you get my point.

I expect most of the people there had never seen a gun in real life. I think most people who have no experience of guns fail to appreciate their essential nature, what guns are for. Guns are for killing. This seems bleeding obvious when you state it but it is a truth that is usually ignored. Hold a loaded gun in your hands and you can appreciate the ingenuity of its design and the skill of its maker, just as you could any other device; but you cannot escape the fact that you could point that particular device at someone and make him dead. Some of the people at that event should try holding guns sometime.

The people they support had four guns between them, four guns which could kill many more than four people. I am still baffled as to what cause in New Zealand is so just and so urgent that it could justify killing other New Zealanders. Of course the people that night talked of a secret police and of a police state; meanwhile the Police, practically the last unarmed police force in the world, rushed past in their cars to deal with aspects of the Saturday night drinking problem. Members of the Tuhoe tribe who had come up to town for the demo jeered; dickheads.

Of course, some are saying that these Tuhoe people have been treated dreadfully by the Police. The Police searched cars, searched a school bus, even searched a woman's underwear drawer. What infamy. If scenes like that had been included in Schindler's List, what would the Chief Censor have done? Some residents were so disturbed by the Police actions that they were moved to demand financial compensation. I bet that never happened in the Warsaw Ghetto.

Rarely have I heard so much twaddle spoken about so few. A bunch of people who planned to kill other people have been caught. Many people of the left, faced with the enormity of the fact that some of their mates wanted to be murderers, have reacted with knee-jerk radicalism: its all about civil rights, oppression, institutional racism, fascist police state... waa, waa waa. No it fucken isn't. Its about killers. Omar Hamed might be a wanker; and he is. Tame Iti might be a really creative visual artist; and he isn't. What unites them is that they are people who are prepared to kill or assist others in killing to achieve their ill-considered political aims.

The people who are huffing and puffing about civil rights might like to think about what might happen if some of those on that other demo, the tory protest, got the means and got the motion to do some terrorism. Perhaps they might like to think what it was like in Italy during the Seventies. Italy had the so, so, glamorous Brigate Rosse, who strove to increase the revolutionary consciousness of the proletariat by killing bank clerks. And then, to match the Red, Italy had the Black: the Fascists (yes, real ones, not the imaginary villains of the suburban leftie imagination) who blew up Bologna railway station, killing proles and bourgeois together. I wonder if, should some of those tories decide to defend freedom of speech by doing some killing, anyone will be holding a benefit night of interpretative dance for their civil rights.

About town

1. On Queen Street there is a café called Alfresco's, the owner obviously thinking al fresco is a name. In the window is a sign saying "Hey kids, free candy canes inside", with pictures of candy canes. The purpose of this message might be misinterpreted.

2. At the ferry terminal, a sign attached to the outside wall of the men's lavatory says "harbour cruise meeting point." Again, this could be subject to misinterpretation.

3. At Borders, a display promotes a book called 1080 Recipes. It is a translation of a popular Spanish cook book, which perhaps should have been re-titled for sale in New Zealand. In this time of festive fare and domestic strife, purchasers might be misled.