Monday, June 30, 2008

Pretend we're dead

Should you be thinking of voting for that nice Mr Key, you really should read this. You will notice that is written by Gordon Campbell, who wrote for the Listener, until Pamela Stirling removed him for his pesky interest in "geo-politics." You will also notice that, while the Herald does puff pieces for National and has tantrums about the Electoral Finance Act, Gordon Campbell (now published by the excellent Scoop) does some journalism: he looks at what National might do if it were to gain power, in the absence of any statements to that effect from National itself.

National's unwillingness to talk about policies, or to cost those it has muttered, presents us with something like the early moments after the Big Bang: there is a lot of stuff moving around but it has yet to form into anything. However, you can see some clusters. And is not as if John Key has no policies to talk about. It is simply that he prefers not to talk to the public about them. Mr Key's admirer, Fran O'Sullivan, gushes about how he is spruiking his vision (ooh-er, Missus) to business audiences. But not to us.

And it is funny she should mention that vision thing, because a friend of a friend has been among those business audiences. And he says that the message John Key conveyed was that National would have to swallow some dead rats before the Election and pretend to be cuddly but, as soon as he was in power, then the real stuff would start. Imagine, as Ms O'Sullivan says a New Zealand "where risk-taking is again exciting." Imagine, indeed. You will be able to take that risk on polling day.

After all, and returning to Mr Campbell's research, National's plans for education involve doubling the amount paid to private schools. But you say, they are private schools; why are we paying anything for them? Well, yes, why indeed? In fact, the private schools receive huge subsidies - half their teaching staff costs, about a quarter of their overall costs; in addition, most private schools are educational charities and so do not pay income tax. So we pay for privilege. We pay for Kings and Corran and St Cuths - the schools which the children of Mr Key's people attend. And they will get more still, while spending increases on the schools which most children attend will be limited to the rate of inflation. So the public schools will rely more on the odious "donations," extorted from parents, while the private schools will be subsidised more and more by us.

People should know this. All those people who think it is time for a change should know what change they will be getting: the privatisation of our society and the subsidising of privilege. They should know that they will be voting their children out of a decent education.

They should also know what company Mr Key keeps, because they won't read about that in the Herald. They can read it on Mr Brown's pages. The Herald prefers to tell us that Mr Key wants for verbal precision. No he does not. He knows what he is doing and so does the Herald. In the private meetings with the business elites he is very precise. What he wants for, when talking to us, is candour; straightforwardness; honesty.

Meanwhile, on Planet Noam, Ryan has a new pyramid; except it is nothing of the kind. He also has a moral imperative: Labour should take a prat-fall, so the plebs will then vote National and get a jolly good spanking; then they will realise what is good for them.

We should leave Ryan to play with his pyramid and get on with the business of telling the electors about the people they might elect. But, before that, we should listen to L7:

Saturday, June 28, 2008

A million different people from one day to the next

This blogeur is more than a little amused by the decision of the North Korean government to present a list of its nuclear facilities to China and the consequent decision of the government of the United States to remove North Korea from its list of nations that support Terrorism.

Leaving aside the all-too obvious fact that China has loads of nukes and an aggressive foreign policy (and an excess of young males due to its one-child policy; but that is another matter, although a worrying one - India has the same problem and nukes as well, but that is by-the-by), the obvious farce of this event is the supposed connexion between North Korea having nukes and its supposed support of Terrorism.

Of course, we all remember the Axis of Evil, the imagined alliance between North Korea, Iraq (old Iraq) and that other country, which we can't quite remember. This Axis was the cause of Terrorism, so we were told. We were also told about the Nukes, which these countries (sorry, regimes) possessed, or were about to possess, or might possess. These they might pass to the Terrorists, who are the sort of people portrayed by David Suchet or Dr Ropata in movies about hijackings of airliners (it is interesting, although not necessarily important, to note that Terrorists in movies are never portrayed by American actors; in fact, it is quite important; but that is another matter).

So, how about that North Korea, Nukes, Terrorism connexion? How does it work out? Well, not at all, if you want my opinion. For a start, is there any evidence that North Korea has any link with any Terrorist organisation? Correct me if I am wrong, but I think not. North Korea is an absurd nation which would be really, really funny if its population were not starving. It is so bat-droppings stupid that it would not make an Axis with anyone, let alone a bunch of Saudi weirdoes who have never had a woman and really, really want to go to Heaven so they can get their quota of virgins for Eternity.

And, if the North Koreans wanted to share their Nukes with the Terrorists, what would the Terrorists do with the Nukes? If you are thinking to yourself, "they will blow up entire cities, in pursuit of their nefarious ends," now is the time that you need to know something about Nukes.

Now, at this point you may be thinking "but you, by your own admission, are but an humble Art Historian, so what do you know about Nukes?" But you forget, I used to work for the Ministry of Defence, in Whitehall, London SW1A 1AA. I am an Art Historian who knows about Nukes, a curiously dangerous combination.

For a start (a second start), it would be very silly of the North Koreans to give Nukes to the Terrorists. They, the Terrorists, might do anything with them; that's what Terrorists are like. Power, responsibility – they don't meet. People who are prepared to fly themselves in planes into tall buildings could not be trusted with Tupperware, let alone bombs. The North Koreans, despite their fondness for parades and cabbage, are not stupid. Give odd people stuff and they will use it in odd ways.

Second, Nukes are really, really high maintenance. You give them to people; those people have to look after them. They are like children, although not so dangerous. They demand constant attention. They emit rays, which boil your liver. They decay, constantly. They need to be turned - yes, this is true: there are people at nuclear bases whose job is to turn nuclear weapons; it is quaint, in a way, like making bread or maintaining a compost heap – but nuclear weapons have to be turned regularly, otherwise the atoms will do bad things.

Third (and following on from the turning thing) everything about Nukes is weird. They don't behave like normal things. Nukes are made from stuff you can find in the ground - Uranium. But take that stuff (which, quaintly again, comes in what are called "cakes") and mess about with it, and it does really, really strange things. Nuclear Physics is very difficult for very good reasons: nuclear things do very odd things (sub-atomic things is even more strange, but that is another matter). Hang around with nuclear stuff for too long and you will glow in the dark; worse than that, you will look like Michael Stipe; you will also feel worse, because your liver will be boiling. In order to work with nuclear stuff, you need to have several inches of lead between you and it, which might be difficult if you are in a motel room in Reno (call me when you try to wake her up, as it were).

Fourth, and this is really, really important, Nukes are difficult. In order to make the most simple Nuke work and kill thousands of people, you have have to make two bits of nuclear stuff come together very, very quickly and in precisely the right place. This is not easy. It involves lots and lots of little explosions, precisely synchronised.

A few years ago, a modern myth circulated to the effect that anyone with a PhD in Nuclear Physics could make a Nuke in a garden shed between episodes of Star Trek Voyager, or something like that. For a start (a third start), getting a PhD in Nuclear Physics is really, really difficult; and it has to be in the right kind of Nuclear Physics. Then you have to get the North Koreans to give you the nuclear stuff, then you have to deal with the boiling-your-liver issues, then you have to synchronise lots and lots of explosions. None of this is easy.

But, you say, "aha! You are but an humble Art Historian and you have not considered Dirty Bombs; Triple Word Score." To which I reply: yes, Dirty Bombs; that is where you get all the nuclear stuff and you avoid all the problems of synchronising lots and lots of small explosions and having a PhD in Nuclear Physics and instead you just spread the nuclear stuff over a wide area and give lots of people cancer. Yes, well and good, but how do you spread the nuclear stuff? Consider a bag of flour (yes, sexy, isn't it?) and think about how you would spread it over a wide area, so lots of people got themselves infected by a small amount of flour. Not easy, is it? Things don't spread that easy. And nuclear stuff comes in much smaller amounts - really, really small cakes - than flour. So how do you spread it, without boiling your liver? Answers on one side of the paper, please.

So, there you have it. If you are a Terrorist with nuclear ambitions, you have to find a state which is prepared to trust you with Nukes, then you have to find a way of making nuclear weapons or spreading around a small amount of nuclear stuff so that it kills lots of people. None of this is easy. If, on the other hand, you are a state that possesses Nukes (and, if you are, I hope you are reading) you have to consider what gains you can obtain by giving Nukes to the Terrorists.

Of course, the truth is that Nukes are held by a small number of nations that have the capability to produce and maintain them - that is, people with PhDs in Nuclear Physics and lots and lots of lead. It used to be that those nations were the USA and Britain. Then the Russians got them and the French (yes, I know) and then the Chinese. Not coincidentally, these nations are the Permanent Members of the United Nations Security Council, but that is another story. Then some of these nations let other nations have their technology, so now some really bat-droppings stupid nations like Pakistan have Nukes. And then we worry about Climate Change.

Enough of this gravity. The magnificent Sean Hughes once said, "I bumped into that Richard Ashcroft on the street:"

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Oversharing for pleasure and profit

Back in 2006, when I was 24, my life was cozy and safe. I had just been promoted to associate editor at the publishing house where I’d been working since I graduated from college, and I was living with my boyfriend, Henry, and two cats in a grubby but spacious two-bedroom apartment in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. I spent most of my free time sitting with Henry in our cheery yellow living room on our stained Ikea couch, watching TV. And almost every day I updated my year-old blog, Emily Magazine, to let a few hundred people know what I was reading and watching and thinking about.
This is the first paragraph of Emily Gould's cover story for the New York Times Magazine. Why do we detest her already? Let me count the ways - because she was 24 and had just been promoted to associate editor at the publishing house where she had been working since she graduated from college (you can bet it was a private liberal arts college in New England) and she was living with her boyfriend (called Henry, for Gould's sake) and (of course) two cats in a grubby but spacious two-bedroom apartment in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

And of course she had a blog, just like every woman like her in New York. And on said blog she told everything about her life to a few hundred voyeurs whom she thought of as friends because they commented on the stories she told of her life and boosted her fragile ego. And we, being more discerning and less prurient readers than her few hundred friends, want to know nothing of her life other than the answer to one question: what stained the Ikea couch?

But we will not be given that answer. Instead, Emily Gould tells us yet more of her life, at great length. She tells how she was invited to write for an important blog, an invitation which fills her with joy. This was a paid job; she became a hack blogger, writing for a big corporate blog which in truth is no more than a celebrity gossip site. But to Emily it was really important: it is at this sort of site, not in the Columbia School of Journalism, where the journalists of tomorrow are found. Of course, it wasn't easy: she had to make as many as twelve posts each day, carefully selecting stories found on other sites and writing short introductions in the sardonic style she had been developing since high school – some might say the style of humour and of writing which she had not grown out of, but that just shows how jaded some of us have become.

But things went horribly wrong, because Henry took exception to what she was writing about him, while lots of other people said nasty things about her. And nobody, not Henry, not the cats, not even the stain on the couch, cared about her. And it all got to much for her and she ended up curled up on the floor.

It is all in the Times Magazine. You may find it painful to read – Emily Gould cannot write. She strings together daisy-chains of clich√©, journalese and dead metaphors. I admit I made it only as far as page five; I apologise to Ms Gould if she reveals the secret of the stain on the couch in the closing paragraphs of her narrative.

If you cannot bring yourself to read her story, at least look at the photographs of Ms Gould being vulnerable and showing her tats. And then read the letters from readers – yes, everybody else despises her as well. It is a warming feeling to realise that, on Internet, we are all one big happy family of people who may not have known of Emily Gould until recently, but now know her to be an overbearing, oversharing, attention-seeking hack.


Monday, June 23, 2008

Bizarre love triangle

I am grateful to Mssrs Farrar and Hood for commenting on my previous post, Mr Farrar for relieving me of my confusion and Mr Hood for implying that I might be gay; in fact, I am not that well-dressed.

Being but an humble art historian and not versed in the strategems of Politick, I had assumed that the result of the American Presidential election would affect Labour's chances in entirely different ways. I had thought that, if the black man won, someone like Michael Bassett would reveal that Helen Clark was neither black nor a man, and therefore unsuitable for public office. My concern about the possibility of the Vietnam veteran winning was more grave. Please read on.

I can now exclusively reveal that Mr Ian Wishart will be exclusively revealing that Helen Clark and Judith Tizard were among John McCain's torturers in Vietnam, having volunteered to work for the Viet Cong on their OE. Here is an exclusive extract from the next issue of Investigate:
Early on the third day of McCain's solitary confinement at the Lol Wut People's Re-education Camp, two women entered his cramped cell. McCain recalls that both were white, but spoke English in an unfamiliar dialect, in which the words "six," "sucks," "sex," and "socks" sounded identical. McCain's blood chilled when he noticed that one was wearing crampons, while the other was holding kitchen implements...
New Order:

Please explain, somebody

An astute observation of current events comes from no less an authority on political matters than Bridget Saunders.
"CAPTURING LOVE, beauty and happiness" says the card of the photographer who took a photo of John Key, Dr Richard Worth, Auckland mayor John Banks and National's Auckland Central candidate Nikki Kaye at a fundraising event on Sunday night. Well, I wouldn't go quite that far but National is certainly feeling mighty cheerful right now. John Key is betting on an election date of October 18. He says it won't be November as the US election is on November 5 and no matter which way that goes, it will be bad for Helen. And if she leaves it till November 15, she will look desperate.
What does Key mean? How could the result of the US Presidential election be bad for the PM?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The best-kept secret in the West

Is dog-wagging a form of animal cruelty? I only ask because Mr Wishart uses the phrase in his rather incandescent piece about light bulbs, a piece which takes the "dark mood of talk radio callers" to be a portent of the Government's demise. How would he notice? The mood of talk radio callers is always dark and always twitter and bisted about the Government. Somehow I doubt whether the votes of these barking mad misanthropes are central to Labour's election strategy.

Sometimes I do wonder about Mr Wishart. I would have that thought that he might pause for reflection before claiming that the Government is going to be brought down by its light bulb policy. I wonder more about his blog's regular commentators. Note the remarks of Acid Comments, who already has been poisoned by the mercury in a light bulb, although the bulb did not break; somehow the mercury seeped through the glass and out into the atmosphere, giving Mr Comments a migraine headache, a little-known symptom of mercury poisoning. As Mr Comments recalls, "after I'd finish my dinner I was having collapses, burning sensations, numbness, body weakness, etc." I blame the curry.

Then there is KevOB, who finds energy-saving bulbs to be deficient in red, a colour which makes him function better in Winter. Then there is Rick, who will buy a pallet of old-school bulbs so that he will still be wasting his money twenty years from now. Ha! That will show them! Then there is Warrick, who knows that the new bulbs "don't save you 75-80% more like 50%." There, you see, its a bloody con. Finally, there is Zen Tiger, who thinks the Consumer should choose.

Somehow it always seemed rather obvious to me that one should spend as little money as possible on electricity and that any measure to reduce the country's electricity usage would be worthwhile, on both environmental and economic grounds. But then I didn't realise, before I began reading rightish blogs, that there are people like KevOB who obviously become quite aroused by the thought of a 150 watt halogen; nor had I come across men like Rick who want to spend more, just to show the nanny state that they are free, if impoverished, men.

What they do not realise is that the nanny state is not trying to smother them, but to protect the rest of us from these morons.

Graham Parker and the Rumour:

Monday, June 16, 2008

Covered in punk

If I were a girl and I wanted to be a Riot Grrrl, I couldn't think of a better pseudonym than Susan Apathy. It would be post-punk perfection. But I am not a girl and will never be a Riot Grrrl. Besides, the name is already taken: oddly enough it belongs to the Deputy Chief Executive of the Catholic Education Office.

Ms Apathy was in the news this weekend for some encouraging news: the Catholic Church in New Zealand is running out of priests and nuns. Ms Apathy has a solution, an old favourite of the Catholics: get them while they are young. "Young people are at their most idealistic in their mid to late teens," says Ms Apathy; she is encouraging Catholic schools to recruit for the Vocations.

Nothing new here, I am sure you will agree. But it is worth noting here that we are paying for these Catholic schools. Under a thoroughly dirty deal done by that nice Mr Kirk with the Catholics in 1974, the priests and nuns get to run their schools more or less as they please and we get to pay for them. The other denominations have also got into this act and so we also pay for Anglican, Presbyterian, Muslim and Hare Krishna schools, as well as a whole bunch of fundy schools and one run according to the cod philosophy of Rudolf Steiner.

You will of course have seen Mr Finnemore's post on the subject of integrated schools; I believe Mr Finnemore himself is the product of a Catholic integrated school. It is worth noting that there are no private Catholic schools in New Zealand: the deal offered by Mr Kirk (give us your votes and we will pay for the rescue of your crumbling schools) was so irresistible that the entire Catholic education system was converted. And it has paid dividends: posh schools like Baradene College of the Sacred Heart and St Peter's College are run on grounds of academic, social and religious discrimination at public expense. In short, it's a middle-class rip-off.

The Devil made them do it

As a special treat to you, dear reader, here is a guest post written by no less than Mr Sam Finnemore, the hero of a thousand fights at Ian Wishart's place, as well as Books Editor at Craccum and all-round good chap.

The expression of discontent amongst fundies is not limited to the standard (but now rather rare) major-issue blasts from Family First. The conscientious fundy-watcher keeps an ear to the ground for local rumblings too. And so, I came across an interesting piece in Auckland’s second-best-known free local paper, the Aucklander, on June 4, describing the tensions between ‘God and state’ in integrated schools. 

Integrated schools, of course, are what happens when a private school accepts the state school curriculum, and some controls over its roll, in return for a boost in funding and realistic salaries for teachers. It’s usually an arrangement which benefits students and institutions alike. It also happens to be a useful arrangement for religious schools, who get the benefits of the state system for their students along with the maintenance of their ‘special character’. 

Well, that’s the idea. As the economic downturn bites, leaving some parents with less cash for private school fees, financial considerations are leading more private schools to consider integration as an answer. The Aucklander cites Kingsway School in Orewa, which integrated in 1998, as one institution happy with the shift. Hebron Christian College in Mount Albert has also just applied to integrate; principal Geoff Matthews says that a desire for “all socioeconomic groups to be able to attend” was part of the motivation behind the move. 

But we are not concerned with these well-meaning Christians, but rather with our fundy of the day: Michael Drake, principal of Carey Christian College in Panmure. For Mr. Drake, integration is – yawn, but it’s the only appropriate paraphrase here – a deal with the Devil. “An integrated school has effectively sold itself to the state. You’ve ceased to acknowledge God as your supreme head.” Drake, according to the Aucklander, would rather see Carey Christian College turn students away than strike a bargain with the perfidious Ministry of Education. 

Carey College, I hasten to say, isn’t a completely independent outpost from the pagan education system. Students study biology, physics and chemistry from OUP's Cambridge Coordinated Science textbooks , which presumably deal with recent developments in Godless natural philosophy. But this is compensated for by another suggested text, Why I Believe in Creation – ‘not required, [but] a most helpful magazine-format apologetic suitable for all grades’. There are also ‘special helps’ texts, including both a guide to English grammar and Andy McIntosh’s Genesis for Today, ‘an outstanding book [demonstrating] the importance of the doctrine of creation for life and faith, as well as for science and history’. 

But the key to the Carey philosophy on integration lies in this remarkable essay by one Doctor Noel Weeks of Sydney University, which warns against:
 … a two-pronged government attack upon Christian schools. The first prong is to attack any way in which Christianity may be seen to threaten the tacit government support for personal indulgence. Schools must not by discipline threaten the child’s right to self-determination They must not question teachers’ right to sexual indulgence, the litmus test of which is the right to homosexuality. The second prong is to gain total control of curriculum and enforce whatever complex silliness is dreamt up by a bureaucracy justifying its own existence.
If you are not quite clear on Dr. Weeks’ vision of the Ministry of Education parachuting gay schoolteacher special forces into private schools, √° la 1984 classic Red Dawn, there is also this:
Second, we must expect government bureaucratic systems to be corrupt and tyrannical. In spite of what they supposedly aim to achieve, the corruption of the heart subverts the organisation…We have to fight the artificial outcomes which are expected, and the attempt by politicians and bureaucrats to fill the curriculum with junk… The model I have described of personal indulgence coupled with managerialism, is basically what Scripture sees as characteristic of pagan societies: greedy and immoral populace and tyrannical kings. As a society becomes more overtly pagan, it is to be expected that it will show the dynamics of a pagan society. Our call is to recognise that and to resist it.
For now, it seems, the Christian Wolverines of Carey Christian College will carry on fighting the good fight. It almost seems unsporting to tell Mr. Drake that there are indeed many organizations which provide pure, quality Christian education, without any buckling to the needs of the state or to integrating the children of the faithful into ‘pagan’ society. They’re called churches, and they have cornered the market. Schools, being in the business of somewhat broader education, ought to be more open to compromise, if only for their students’ sake. If Carey College persists and survives, well and good. But it’s very possible that Mr. Drake’s vision of a smaller school without compromise might backfire. There often isn’t much left to render unto Caesar when your students are outnumbered by the Apostles. 

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The meaning of life

It is funny, is is not, how the drones of the Religious Right drone on about the invidious nature of Rights and about the tyranny of "judicial activism," while a group called Right to Life spends a lifetime in the courts attempting to make judges change the abortion law. No, on second thoughts it is not funny at all, because this time they have in part succeeded. A judge with the unlikely name of Forrest Miller has made a judgement in favour of Right to Life New Zealand and against the Abortion Supervisory Committee.

Right to Life had claimed the Abortion Supervisory Committee had failed to properly interpret the Contraception Sterilisation and Abortion Act, so "full regard is given to the rights of unborn children". I am not sure how they got further than the car park with this claim, given that the notion of the unborn having rights is absurd. It seems Justice Miller has complex views about this matter: the abortion law neither "confers or recognises" a legal right to life of the unborn child; however, the Bill of Rights, through the abortion law, had recognised the unborn child had a "claim on the conscience of the community and not merely that of the mother".

In its defence, the Abortion Supervisory Committee said it had no power to "review or oversee the clinical decision-making process," which makes one wonder what it does do. It also denied that New Zealand had "abortion on request", and said there was no evidence of this. The Judge thought otherwise, it seems because nobody had ever been prosecuted for breaking the rules.

According to the Press, Justice Minister Annette King said it was premature to talk about the implications of the judgement. "When it is completed and a judgement is made, the Government will seek in-depth advice from Crown law on the implications." Frankly, I think she is stalling. I think nobody in her Ministry yet understands the Judge's decision. I think the true meaning of Justice Miller's judgement may be as elusive as the Higgs Boson.

So, what can we learn from this experience? Well, for a start, Rights is difficult. It is difficult to comprehend a group calling itself Right to Life demanding that the Rights of the unborn child be recognised by the Law, especially difficult when that group is a Papist plot. Protip: when a Catholic group talks about Rights, you can be sure something is afoot, because the Magisterium of the Holy Roman Church has no place for Rights. Catholicism is about politics, not philosophy: the politics of Authority. You will not find talk of Rights in the philosophising of the Doctors of the Church or in its Codicils. Rights was invented by Protestants and Atheists in the 18th Century (although, just to make things difficult, these Protestants and Atheists pretended that Rights is universal and ancient, a pretence their successors maintain to this day) and has been opposed vigourously by the Magesterium ever since. And for very good reason: the notion of Rights, of values that are independent of their creator, is anathema to the Authority of the Church. In Catholic thinking, something is good because the Pope says it is so, although a previous Pope may have said it is bad; this condition also applies to bad things - the Pope says something is bad, so it is bad.

I am, of course, no theologian but I have a notion that the notion of a Right to life is heretical. How could anyone, born or unborn, claim a Right to something that is the gift of God? As we know, the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, but in neither case does any question of a Right arise. Burn them, I say, before this Heresy takes hold.

Interlude: we interrupt this post for a paragraph of moral perversity. Christchurch mother Tracey Hill (why are they always called Tracey - no, hold that thought) believes it is too easy to have an abortion. She should know - she had one. Now she is pregnant again, but this time she will keep the Unborn Child until it is born, and then "adopt it out." She says, "this time around, we're creating a life for someone." Note, if you will, the delicious ambiguity of that claim – is the life created for the Unborn Child or for the someone who will adopt the born child?

That said, we should move on, swiftly. Theology is a difficult matter, mostly because it is nonsensical. Rights, as observed earlier, is also difficult; whether or not Rights is nonsense is a matter of personal taste. The Right to life is particularly difficult, even for living people. When it is applied to those yet to be born, it becomes more difficult still and raises the question of whether the same Right should apply to the dead.

We could go on but, as mentioned earlier (twice), Rights is difficult. So, how do we avoid difficulty? Well, it is simple, really. What we do is we look again and then we realise that this matter is not about Rights at all. It is about sex.

You see, the men and women (mostly men) who go on and on about abortion may talk about the Unborn Child (a figure, like the Unknown Soldier, who is both real and mythical) but mostly they are concerned about sex. It is sex, of a particularly heterosexual kind, which causes pregnancies, some of them unwanted. These men and women (mostly men) do not like sex (except for the purpose of creating children) but they cannot stop it. So they try to stop people who have sex escaping one of its possible consequences, just to show them. If these people are going to have sex and the sex creates an Unborn Child, then they will have to live with it. After all, it is a gift from God.

And those people who have to live with the consequences of sex, they would be women, wouldn't they? Men, the ones with the sperm, are curiously absent from the moral landscape of the Right to Lifers, whether these men are partners, lovers, seducers or rapists. It is the women who bear the consequences and the children. The women get the blame and carry the stigma. And was it always thus? Yes it was, as the thoughts of dead catholic men show.

More meddlesome women can be found at The Hand Mirror.

Soul II Soul:

Thursday, June 05, 2008

The kid with the replaceable head

Who are Pop star Yulia and her husband slash manager Glyn MacLean and what do they want? I only ask because Russell Braun mentioned them. I am blissfully unaware of Yulia's music and intend to remain so, but I cannot help but point and laugh at her absurd husband slash manager, Glyn. He lurks on punk message boards; he makes threats like "we own the only company in New Zealand that licenses music in Hollywood and chances are that your record label may one day approach us to license you;" he then claims to be the injured party. Clearly he is a man to be trifled with.

For trifling purposes, we need go no further than here, an interview in which Glyn and Julia show themselves to be ridiculous and self-obsessed She gets acne; the treatment gives her depression. She suffers from Temporomandibular joint disorder: "Sometimes when I practise at home, I open my mouth and I'm doing this big note and all of a sudden I can't close my jaw." There is a solution to this problem: she could just shut up.

So could he. Obviously Yulia has made a happy man very old and sold many albums to the sort of people who think Haley Westenra is a bit wild, but nobody is fooled by this attempt to claim that nasty punk rockers are out to get her. Nobody, that is, but the Police.

At this point, matters become personal. You see, last week I was threatened by my neighbour, not on a notice board but IRL. He told me he would smash my head through a window. I called the police. The officer dispatched to this case told me that the Police do not like being called out to deal with "trivial" complaints like mine.

Obviously, the Police are very busy dealing with matters arising from acts of self-promotion by Pop star Yulia and her husband slash manager Glyn MacLean. They were also very busy this weekend protecting the stock of Louis Vuitton, who was moving across Queen Street to new premises. He had the help of two police officers, who stood guard while M. Vuitton's assets were transferred to a van. The officers were there on Saturday and again on Sunday. From which I can conclude that, if there is a price on my head, it is less than that of some tacky handbags.

Here is a song about handbags, possibly the only song about handbags in the popular canon. It was written by Mike d'Abo and is here sung by the Stereophonics.