Sunday, November 29, 2009

Flying Moron Class

Note to Robert Fisk: shut up. Really. Just shut up. We really do not care, at all, that the world's luxury h├┤tels are now asking you to use your towels more than once. It may be a struggle for you, but it is one that most of us will not suffer. It's like the Beatles' Taxman and Amy Winehouse's drink problem. We will never be privileged enough to feel such pain, so just shut up and stop being a dick.

Speaking of dicks, here's Jim Hopkins:
There's supposed to be an absolute rule in science: if the facts don't fit the theory, the theory must be wrong. But these beneficiaries of massive research grants have adopted a more creative approach. In their world, the First Law of Prestige and Avarice applies; when the facts don't fit the theory, change the facts.
You will see, if you can be bothered to read his overwrought prose, that Jim Hopkins has discovered that climate change is a massive fraud. He has heard of an email from one scientist to another which suggests to him that evidence was faked, and that is enough to declare the argument over. Which will be a pity, for Mr Hopkins has contributed so much to the spurious debate which he and other grumpy old men have perpetrated on us. This, after all, is a man who blames it all on women, some of whom are famous.

Of course, the great advantage of having a regular column in a paper which cares little for its reputation is that you can write whatever you like. You don't have to back any of your cretinous opinions with facts, you don't even have to make coherent arguments; you just spew out those badly-written paragraphs of unfunny humour.

And there was a cartoon sequence by Al Nisbet in the Sunday Star Times, one in which Copenhagen Conference delegates blow hot air into a cloud marked "global warming theory," which then rains taxes. That's all, folks: that is the standard of argument in the papers about the most important issue facing us. It is no wonder we are fucked. It is no wonder that John Key and the Maori Party can get away with their dirty work at the crossroads; it is no wonder that we will be paying for the polluters; because nobody is watching and debate has been commandeered by the likes of Hopkins and Nisbet, people who lack even technical proficiency in their chosen fields, let alone the intellect to make an argument. So, it's all about hot air and women. Ho ho fucken ho.

In other news, April Francis, a 26-year-old Chicago "identity consultant," thinks Margaret Atwood is "mind-blowingingly boring."

Moon Unit Zappa: next exit.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Vote with your fists

I, for one, could not be arsed to view the March for Democracy. In case you were wondering democracy is the right to beat your kids with a hose or any other implement of your choosing. Yes, I know: the Greeks, the Encyclop├ędistes and the Founding Fathers somehow missed that nuance. However, thinkers such as Yulia are more aware of the implications of this issue:
As a young girl I grew with the concrete dust of poverty and the ruin of Volgograd as my playground. Now that I am a NZ citizen who is representing NZ with my artistry, I want to lend my love and support to my fellow kiwis as we encourage the NZ government to value the vote of its people.

By Marching for Democracy, I believe we honor the families who sacrificed their loved ones for our freedoms. Let us not take these freedoms for granted. Let us not forget the horrific price of totalitarianism. By marching for democracy we demonstrate that despite being from many cultures and backgrounds, we are one people under democracy.
Incidentally, Julia's father maintained order in his household with an axe.

Oh well, at least it was a family event. Loving parents could bring along their little victims and get them to carry placards. And then they could all go home for a good thrashing. Because that is what freedom is all about. And it only cost the organiser $100 a head.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The return will be televised

In a supper club in New York City a few nights ago, a spare figure, rising on great spindly legs like a wading bird, loped on stage barely three-quarters of an hour after his allotted slot.

"Those of you who thought I wouldn't make it, you lose," he grinned. "Those of you who thought I wouldn't be here on time, you break even!"

Newsnight meets Gil Scott-Heron

Monday, November 16, 2009

Towards a dough architecture

From Readers' Forum, New Zealand Herald, 16 November:
In paintings of early Auckland, a windmill is shown on one of the hills. This must have cheered the hearts of new settlers coming into port here. After long weeks at sea, they would be hungry for fresh food, especially bread.

In remembrance of our heritage, what about a huge stylish, gloriously welcoming opera house in the shape of a windmill for Queens Wharf? Engineers cold programme its sails for certain hours, so children and adults could go down and view them.

Apart from the sails area, where possible it should be made of reinforced glass, so that by day or lit up by night, it would be magical and friendly sight for tourist ships and aeroplanes.

On the inside, acoustic engineers could provide superb sound for singers and orchestra in a world-class opera house. All this in a wonderful harbour setting.
E.Rosser, Remuera
It is surprising that nobody had thought of this idea until now: a glass illuminated opera house in the shape of a windmill, with programmed wings. It would be world-class. After all, we must have an opera house, because Sydney has one. We can't have a Gehry, because Bilbao has one already; so how about a world class piece of tat so vulgar that even Jeff Koons would flinch? Yes, that should do it.

Leaving aside the obvious differences between opera houses and windmills, as well as the horizontality of the one building type and the verticality of the other, why would anyone have a thought as hideous as this one?

Further reading: The True History of Partington's Windmill

Kill the poor

There are categories of people who are more inclined to sue if they are the subject of adverse publications, so particular care should be taken in reporting allegations of misconduct against lawyers, doctors, judges, other professionals, politicians, critics and wealthy businessmen/women.
In which Cactus Kate reveals why APN newspapers are so dull: they are only allowed to write about people who can't afford to sue them.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

All I wanted was a word or photograph

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has used powers granted to him by a controversial new law to block the court-ordered release of numerous photos of detainee abuse, government lawyers revealed in a court filing Friday evening. Gates' new authority comes from a law, signed by President Barack Obama last month, that gives the Secretary of Defense the power to rule that photos of detainees are exempt from release under the Freedom of Information Act. Gates' action on Friday was the first use of the new FOIA exemption since it passed Congress last month. The photos in question are the subject of a years-long legal fight by the American Civil Liberties Union, which first filed a FOIA request for records pertaining to detainee treatment, rendition, and death in May of 2005. The case is currently being reviewed by the Supreme Court.

Should you be thinking the Obama administration is cuddly, then you really should be reading MoJo.

And another thing - music promos used to be this good:

The wit and wisdom of Chris Laidlaw

As Winston Churchill said, "a split infinitive is something up with which I will not put."
Laidlaw said this, in the dying moments of today's soporific programme (did you stay awake during the interview with the veteran sports photographer? Bet you didn't). So Chris, you're meant to be clever: show us the split infinitive. Go on.

So all of you be damned,
we can't have Heaven crammed;
so Winston Churchill said,
I could have smacked his head.

A hand up, not a hand out

"Extremadura should be pleased with itself," sniped Pilar Rahola, a columnist in the Barcelona-based La Vanguardia newspaper. "It may have the most unemployed young people in Spain, but they will be the best at masturbation."
The Devil, so they say, gives work to idle hands. Not surprisingly, this story was the fifth most popular on the Grauniad website, because it is about teenage sex. But, once the sniggering is over, this seems like a very good idea; at least, a better idea than kids getting their sex education from R'n'B promos.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

We don't need no Fascist scout thang

I never intended writing a book and never considered myself a writer - just a pastor and teacher of the Word of God. During 2008 as I was finishing writing Holocaust Exposed I remembered the visions of 1997 and realized that this book did in fact have sixteen chapters as the vision revealed. But more amazing was the event that then followed. In November 2008 when I had finished writing the manuscript, and having gone through it again and again to correct mistakes and make slight adjustments, I then said to the Lord:

"Lord, I have done as much as I can to this manuscript and I can do no more. I will have to put this into the hands of a professional editor to polish it up".

Then out of interest I decided to find out how many words were in the book by going to the tools menu on Microsoft Word and clicking on "Word Count". When I did this my mouth dropped open as I read the word count as 77,777 words.

I do not believe in the magic of numbers or sequences but I do know that the number seven in the Bible is very significant as pertaining to God and to completion. When I saw the 77777 I knew it was God's signature on the book and then again I remembered the vision of 1997 when after sixteen chapters the Lord said "Confirmed me".
One cannot help but think that, had God put the Old Testament into the hands of a professional editor, we all might have been saved a lot of bother. But that is besides the point. The point is that Pastor Nigel Woodley of Flaxmere is totally hatstand.

What did the Jews do to deserve people like Pastor Woodley, awful little men who live in awful little places like Flaxmere and spend their awful little lives obsessing about the Chosen People? It is not as if the likes of Pastor Woodley care about the Jews. Quite the opposite: the want them to become Christians, and they want them in Israel, because then the world will end. Why, you might ask, do the likes of Pastor Woodley want the world to end? Because they are weird, that's why. Anybody who puts his faith in the accuracy of Microsoft Word could only be described as weird.

In other news, anti-Semitic scouts shame Romford.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Dean and I

Dear Professor,

I would be grateful if you would send me the details of how this case was investigated: who was appointed to investigate, what evidence was presented, what judgment was made. I would appreciate you providing original documents, rather than summaries. If you are unwilling to provide such information, I will obtain it by way of an Official Information Act request.

Yours faithfully,

Paul Litterick


The bankruptcy alert was issued under the Insolvency Act 2006 after the High Court at Auckland gave IRD a judgment against Krukziener over money owed on June 3, the notice said.

Krukziener, whose offices were listed as level one of the Harbourview building at 152 Quay St on Auckland's waterfront, was required to pay the money within 10 days or challenge the demand.

Krukziener said from Parnell yesterday that he was exceptionally busy but very pleased with the upgrade of the stately Achilles House on the corner of Customs St and Commerce St.

The heritage building has had a foyer makeover and office floors are gradually being renovated, upgraded and leased.
It is often said, by old journalists, that young journalists do not know the difference between news and PR. Perhaps they have a point, as this example - in which the story of a deeply indebted developer is interrupted to bring you an advertisement for his latest development - shows.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

It deepens like a coastal shelf

Dear Mr Litterick,

Thank you for your letter. The University has guidelines and procedures for staff similar to those for students and this case has been dealt with in accordance with those.

Best wishes,

Associate Professor Jan Crosthwaite
Faculty of Arts
The University of Auckland

Meanwhile, outside the asylum, Jolisa Gracewood has more.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

All the money that's fit to print

Rupert Murdoch says he will remove stories from Google's search index as a way to encourage people to pay for content online.

In an interview with Sky News Australia, the mogul said that newspapers in his media empire – including the Sun, the Times and the Wall Street Journal – would consider blocking Google entirely once they had enacted plans to charge people for reading their stories on the web.
You can't help thinking that Rupe just doesn't get Internet. This is the man who bought Myspace at the point when all the cool kids were defecting to Facebook, tired as they were of all the glitter and the trash who posted it. Now he believes he can charge for his online content, seemingly unaware that people don't pay for stuff on Internet. It is bad enough that people have to go to work and waste hours sitting in front of computers; it would be worse if they had to pay for all those downloads.

Remember what happened when Lily Allen said it was a bit unfair that people should get music for nothing. The crowd went wild. "Who is this woman" they demanded indignantly, "to want payment for the music she produces?" Internet people believe there is an endless supply of free music and movies, and that the content providers will go on providing content, for nothing.

Besides, who would pay to read a Murdoch paper? The Times or the WSJ perhaps, but who would pay to read the Sun or the Australian? The trouble with Murdoch papers is that most of the news stories they run are not true: people may well read them because they are entertaining, but nobody will pay to be told lies. That's why Fox News is free.

And what's with the grudge against Google? The notion that his papers' stories are being stolen by Google is tinfoil hat territory. Google does not steal news; Google steals books.


Another day, and I am still angry about how my University has dealt with Witi Ihimaera. You will recall that the estimable Jolisa Gracewood discovered that Professor Ihimaera's latest work contains some passages that belong to other authors. When the Listener brought this matter to the Professor's attention, this is what happened:
His response comes swiftly. He is apologetic to all parties. During an ensuing interview with him and Geoff Walker, publishing director of Penguin New Zealand, under whose Raupo imprint The Trowenna Sea was released, Ihimaera says he is “horrified” about his “errors”.
An open and shut case, one would have thought: the Professor was caught, bang to rights. And to his credit, he admitted that it was a fair cop (Guv). Yet the University wallows in the fiction section, feigning concern and saying assurances have been made; in short, talking bollocks.

It is not that I dislike Witi Ihimaera. I think him a great writer, and he seems to be a nice chap. I have a little list of authors I would like to see disgraced, but he is not on it. It is a great shame that he did it, but creditable that he owned up. Unfortunately, the University of which both he and I are members seems to think the matter is nothing but an embarrassment, so it pretends nothing is amiss.

I could go on and on about this, referencing the unfortunate Bruce Logan and that ghastly turd Greg Fleming, but you would have heard it all before. Instead, I wrote to the Dean of Arts, Associate Professor Jan Crosthwaite, in the following terms
Dear Professor,

I write as a PhD candidate in the Department of Art History. I would like you to know how deeply disappointed I feel about the Faculty's decision to take no action about the plagiarism committed by Professor Witi Ihimaera. The facts of the matter are clear: he committed plagiarism by using the words of other writers without acknowledgment. He has admitted that he committed plagiarism. Yet the Faculty can find no fault and calls the Professor's plagiarism an "oversight." I very much doubt that a student would be treated so leniently.

The Faculty, and thus the University, has shown itself to have no moral integrity in this matter. We are told constantly that plagiarism is a serious matter, yet when a member of the academic staff is found to have committed it, the University pretends that nothing is wrong. Frankly, I am ashamed to be a member of this University.

Yours faithfully,

Paul Litterick

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The story of a New Zealand writer

Plagiarism means using the work of others in preparing an assignment and presenting it as your own without explicitly acknowledging – or referencing -- where it came from. Plagiarism can also mean not acknowledging the full extent of indebtedness to a source. Work can be plagiarised from many sources – including books, articles, the internet, and other students’ assignments. Plagiarism can also occur unconsciously or inadvertently.
From the University of Auckland's guide to academic honesty
Dean of Arts, Associate Professor Jan Crosthwaite, said the plagiarism has been investigated by the university and said there was no deliberate wrong-doing.

"Though the amount of non-attributed material may seem insignificant, any failure to acknowledge the work of others is most regrettable and is of concern to the University," Dr Crosthwaite said.

"I have been assured by Professor Ihimaera that he has taken speedy steps to remedy his unfortunate oversight," she said.
It is reassuring to know that the University takes all cases of plagiarism seriously, regardless of the status of the plagiarist.

In other news, Hone Harawira is not a racist; he was exercising his freedom of opinion.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

A boys-only story

Which is why, when I went back to Victoria University a few years ago, I openly wondered if I'd strayed into an English Lit class: it was wall-to-wall women. Although I should have noted that they were uniformly well dressed; the English Lit girls are decidedly bohemian by comparison.

No, sighed the male lecturer. This is an entry school. Good grades get you in here and the girls got the grades.
When I went to the Stock Exchange a few years ago, I openly wondered if I'd strayed into a gay club: it was wall-to-wall men. Although I should have noted that they were uniformly, but badly, dressed; the gay boys are decidedly dapper by comparison.

No, sighed the female administrator. This is a boys' club. Good connexions get you in here and the boys went to the right schools.

Over the years, I have often wondered what happened to those boys. Of course, we all know what happened to the economy: they stuffed it up. They did what boys do: they lied, they cheated, they bullied, they cajoled. They did everything they could to get more money than possibly they could need. Perhaps they did it not just because they were greedy and dishonest, but because they felt they must prove something to the other boys (and perhaps also to themselves). Whatever the reasons, they stuffed it all up. They shouted, they swore, they fought, they lost. And then it all came tumbling down.

Perhaps things might have been different if they had allowed some girls into the room.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Trouble with girls

Another day, another crisis: it turns out that too many girls are getting educated. The problem, it seems, is that the education system is too girl-friendly, since it rewards students who can think for themselves rather than those who require hand-holding. It seems that the girls are in the former category and the boys in the latter. So, despite all the best efforts of men to make manly values - like teamwork and sporting ability - central to the education system, those pesky girls have won again.

Of course, this worrying trend will have consequences: "women will reach a point where they can step into a management role, but will leave mid-career to have children, creating a hole in company structures that risks it losing vital knowledge." They might start demanding equal pay for equal work as well, and who knows where that will end?

John Morris, headmaster of Auckland Grammar - a school which traditionally has done everything it can to beat any signs of individuality and sissyness out of its boys - blames it all on the NCEA. That is the trouble with continuous assessment: it is much too fair. But the Ministry thinks it has things right and that the system is boy-friendly.

Of course we have had this sort of problem before. About the middle of the last century, the education systems of most countries in the West turned out to be far too Jew-friendly: Jews were taking all the best jobs in classical music and Quantum Mechanics. Fortunately, we now have a culture where education is scarcely valued at all, while sporting ability is regarded as the highest human achievement. So it does not really matter that Jews do a lot of the clever jobs, because they are useless at Sport, which is what really matters.

Equally, the present crisis can be averted, both by adjusting the education system to make it more boy-friendly, while devaluing all the things that girls are good at doing, like learning. It may take a while, but normalcy can be restored. Otherwise, we will have to put up with this sort of thing.

Organ of the State

In the margins of last night's filming of Media7, someone used the phrase Herald handshake, in obvious allusion to Auckland's national newspaper and to a service that can be purchased on the streets adjoining K Road. Reading Garth George's column We should all salute our wonderful PM, one can see that the phrase has great potency. Here Garth has produced an essay which is beyond parody; one can do no more than snippets from it, to save you the trouble of reading it and the consequent nausea:
He is a man of the people, as yet unspoiled by the poisonous atmosphere of power politics, and in spite of his position and spectacular wealth remains one of us.
He is amiable, engaging, good-natured, highly intelligent, humorous and, most of all, unaffected.
Multi-millionaire he might be, but the perception of the public - reflected in his high poll ratings - is of a fatherless state house kid made good, and, in typical Kiwi fashion, we say good on him for it.
As our principal face to the world, he should always travel in style, first class all the way, and should be able to take his wife, and even family, with him if he chooses - all at the Government's expense.
This last was used by the Herald's sub for what, in the art, is called a pull-quote; never has the phrase been so apposite. But last and loveliest of them all is Garth's closing thought:
Mr Key is an avid fan of the All Blacks, a frequent attendee at their games and a regular, potently encouraging presence in their dressing room.

This is a political stratagem of astounding brilliance. For if the All Blacks win the World Cup on October 20, 2011, New Zealanders will be in such a state of euphoria that National will stroll over the line in early in November.
We learn that Mr Key hangs around in dressing rooms with rugby players; someone should tell the Speaker. We also learn that this is a political strategem. We conclude that Mr Key not only is cynical but also is foolhardy: that National's electoral success depends on that of the All Blacks.

Mr Goff must be feeling better already.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Excuses, excuses

Apologies, gentle reader, for the lack of posts. I have been working on my Magnum Opus, From Lynn of Tawa to Dawn of Azazel: A History of Suburban Culture in New Zealand. I will put down my pen and write something soon, I promise.