Friday, April 30, 2010

Adventures in modern dating

Allen set up a Facebook profile under the name of one of the teenage girl's friends and posted things such as, "I was so excited when I shot my first deer, that I wanted to have sex with it", in the hope the girl would turn to him for comfort.
She did not. Allen feels stink about this feint, but in his defence reveals she used the old "I can't go out with you because I am having a brain tumour" ruse.

Behaviour change for pleasure and profit

At Shannon’s Way, our bottom line is behaviour change. Our only measure of success is action.

We help our clients make the changes they need (whether it’s internal relating to their staff and organisational culture or external to their business) to achieve their objectives. We use a broad range of tools to assist our clients:

  • from helping an organisation at a board or governance level to coming in at any stage of a project to provide our project management expertise.
  • from developing and implementing strategies that involve traditional (print, radio, TV) and innovative (digital social media – blogging, social networking) marketing channels through to undertaking research and analysis to understand a particular issue or opportunity or to providing our evaluation services as and when required.

We pride ourselves on being fanatically customer driven. We are committed to discovering the real underlying human insights that enable us to establish empathy and connect with our clients’ target audience. Establishing empathy and connection with that audience is fundamental to overcoming the significant barriers that need to be understood to put together a successful behaviour change campaign.

And because our team comes from multiple disciplines with broad-ranging expertise, we have the ability to facilitate and bring together a diverse group of stakeholders – from an organisation’s Board down to the management team and

No. Stop right there. Say no more. You are talking wank

Behaviour change, governance, marketing channels, customer driven, empathy: it is all wank.  As is the pale green background, the photos of that little girl and those smiling models and all that talk of sustainability and facilitating a diverse group of stakeholders. You are a bunch of hacks, especially your Social Media Guru who describes herself as a professional blogger, which is a euphemism for a parasite. We amateur bloggers despise people like her because she is polluting our territory with her money-making wheezes. The same goes for your empathy and your constant prattle about sustainability. It is all nothing more than marketing. You exist to squeeze money out of the public purse. You, ladies and gentlemen, are a broad range of tools.

I hated you as soon as I heard about you from the Barrs. I hate you not just for your glib, manipulative website but, more emphatically still, for your involvement with SCAPE. You see, I love art. And I despise people like you who take what little money there is for art as your consultancy fees. Art doesn't need you, but you thrive because the people who control the money don't like art, but are passionate about consultancy and outsourcing. So they employ you to invent fatuous public relations exercises, while artists are expected to work for nothing. And the lot of you trivialise art by making it fun and accessible and customer driven. You do that because you are afraid of art, afraid of what it might do, what it might show.

Anyway, that's enough about you. I just thought it might be fun to encourage my readers to take the survey you devised for SCAPE and stuff it up with imaginary answers.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Now we're cooking with gas

Another scientific breakthrough and a first for New Zealand:  The Atavism has measured the wrongness of Garth George. It turns out that Garth is truly punching above his weight on a world stage of wrongness: he is the most wrong person in history.

Poles are the new Blacks

My list of reasons to dislike Gordon Brown grows:

1. The Labour government has done not very much for a very long time
2. Everyone knew Gulf War II was illegal and immoral, but only a couple had the courage and principle to leave
3. All that neo-Georgian indigenous growth theory, or whatever, has done nothing but put the Kingdom into colossal debt.
4. These people will cut social services but keep nuclear weapons.
5. Under New Labour, Britain has become a police state

To which I am now adding:

6. That woman is a bigot and Gordon Brown should have told her so.

Or to put it another way, Britain has become a thoroughly nasty country,  overstuffed with ABSOs and Tescos, a country where it is quite acceptable to complain about those Eastern European immigrants, because it's not like they are darkies, is it? No, they just go there to do jobs the local chavs and chavettes cannot be bothered to do. 

Faced with this ghastly old trout whining about the immigrants, Brown muttered something about more Britons leaving than foreigners arriving, as if that were of any consequence. He might have pointed out, had he some principles and a spine to hang them on, that the Poles are entitled to go to Wisbech and pick potatoes, because they are citizens of the European Union; just as British prats are entitled to live in charming old villas in Tuscany and to write patronising novels about the quaint locals. In any case, I doubt that Penny Vincenzi's husband came from an old Rochdale family.

In Britain, having principles is so oldspeak; so, like, Twentieth Century. Michael Foot had principles and look what that did for Labour. Politics is about listening to the mood of the nation and adapting to it, even if it is a foul mood. Besides, casual racism is part of Britain's culture, like flat caps, allotments and whippets. It is preserved and cherished by the likes of the Daily Mail. Once it was the nig-nogs, then the wogs, now the Poles; it is only the hating that keeps the British going. Faced with the prospect of a Europe without frontiers, the British erect mental barriers. Given the opportunity to live anywhere they like in Europe, the British stay in truly awful places like Rochdale and mutter about the foreigners.

As someone once said, the tragedy of the British working class is that they are crucified by the poverty of their own desire.

Different Class

Health policy - it's a game of two halves. On the one half, you have the Associate Minister for Health making a midnight raid on the faggers, bringing about a rise in tobacco tax under not just urgency, but extraordinary urgency. On the other half, you have the other Associate Minister for Health damning with faint praise the Law Commission's report on Alcohol:
Clearly there are a lot of proposals, and some, such as raising the alcohol excise, are perhaps aspirational, but the Government will give due consideration to the entirety of the report.

“I look forward to working with my Ministerial colleagues on doing that and drawing out the recommendations that will best achieve an environment where responsible alcohol use marks the New Zealand drinking culture,” he said.

Breathing is aspirational as well, yet the Government seems to favour that. So what's the difference? Class, that's what. The home life of our own dear Prime Minister is a responsible drinking culture. Rarely is he seen in a relaxed, informal setting without an acceptable drink: a glass of crisp white wine when at home, a bottle of some authentic South Island beer when he is grilling an authentic Kiwi barbecue with the Young Pretender in the garden of Government House, a bottle of the sponsor's beer when he is hanging out the gym with the All Blacks in a manly but not homo-erotic way.

Mr Key is Mr Reponsible Drinking. But he is as likely to be seen with a fag as to grow a beard. Prime Ministers do not do that sort of thing anymore. The other Associate Minister for Health, who once relaxed at the expense of British American Tobacco, now enjoys the hospitality of the brewers.

Smoking is a poor man's addiction, as Mrs Turia observes. Nice people stopped smoking years ago and the only middle-class smokers left are a few Bohemian types. On the middle-class scale of values, smoking is higher than glue-sniffing and mainlining H, but only slightly higher. Smoking dope is far more acceptable; in some communities it is almost mandatory. Smoking P is utterly unacceptable, except among the property-developing community. Contradictory? Of course, but we are the bourgoisie: we make the rules and some of them we observe.

So we, the bourgoisie, are quite happy to make smoking prohibitively expensive for those who do it. We will also take measures against the use of some forms of alcohol, such as RTDs - which are only consumed by teenage sluts who are bound to get pregnant and then live on the DPB for the next 18 years. But Mr Revenueman, you can keep your hands off our Gewürztraminer.

Salad days

Mrs Hughley was about to bite into her burger when her husband, sitting beside her, noticed what looked to be blood splattered on the inside of the burger's wrapper.

"I looked over because my wife was complaining they'd forgotten the lettuce. And I see this splatter of blood ..."

The couple found what appeared to be blood - still wet - splattered on the bottom of the wrapper, on one of the corners, and soaked into the bottom bun of the burger.

Rest assured: nothing is happening in New Zealand. This burger bloodbath was the Herald's lead story on Saturday.

Is there a connexion between the missing lettuce and the bloody bun? I think we should be told.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

How to get on in Society

New Zealand has no class struggle, no poor, no intellectual tradition, no overt group conflict, little self-awareness as a social entity and has sought for similarity rather than diversity in a restricted immigration programme; it is for these reasons that New Zealand has no sociology.
Jackson, William Keith, and John Harré.
New Zealand.
London: Thames & Hudson, 1969. p125

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

Murray, Peter A., and Jenna Tartt.
New Zealand Style :
Outdoor Living, Food, Wine, Relaxation and Home Ideas.
Australia: Murray Books, 2004.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ambush on Sale Street

TOUGH NEW alcohol laws would make New Zealand an "international laughing stock" during the Rugby World Cup – but it is understood the government is secretly planning to override any attempt to spoil the party.

Auckland mayor John Banks says the Law Commission's proposal to ban entry to bars after 2am would damage New Zealand's interests as host of next year's tournament.

Hey, look over there; it looks like a media beat-up has broken out. Yes indeed: the Law Commission was enjoying a quiet night out and wasn't looking for a fight, but the liquor kings got  their punches in first.  It's going to make us an international laughing stock (on a global stage) and it will spoil the RWC. It has to be stopped. Fortunately, the Government has a secret plan.

Of course, having drunken Poms all over your streets at Two in the morning is a small price to pay for the increased prosperity the RWC will bring our publicans. Economic forecasters are confident that the wealth will trickle down, like vomit on a drunkard's designer shirt, from the bar owners to the less fortunate: BMW dealers, gravel driveway installers, landscape architects, those sort of people.

It might also be worth noting at this stage in the game that Johnny Foreigner is not just accustomed to getting a  refreshing pint of foaming ale in the wee small hours. No, sir: to go with that drink he enjoys recreational drugs; he is sorted for E's and Whizz, as your grandmother used to say. The British, I am reliably informed, have a particular penchant for cocaine, which they consume by the fistful. 

Now are we going to be laughing stock of the Western World? Will we have nothing to offer our brothers of the Commonwealth than dope and disco biscuits? I should cocoa. What we we need is a ready supply of fresh white snow, obtained under a reciprocal agreement with one our South American trading partners and rugby football rivals: Dairy for Drugs, we can call it. That nice Mr Key should appoint a Drugs Tsar - Paul Holmes, perhaps - to obtain as much of the stuff as our Latin friends can grow.  Then the party can begin.

And the critics go wild

The development of architecture and pottery demonstrates clearly that New Zealanders are capable of appreciating an aesthetic life more sensitive and more lasting than the ephemeral movements on a football field. Perhaps what these two art forms have in common with rugby is the recognition of physical vigour. If this is the case, and if therein lies something of the secret of the quality of all three, it is perhaps not surprising that poetry and the other visual arts have not succeeded to the same degree. Nor is it surprising that the poet who has made the most impact is James K Baxter, projecting as he does an essentially masculine and physical image through the delicacy of his sentiments.

Jackson, William Keith, and John Harré. New Zealand
London: Thames & Hudson, 1969; p189

Go there now

The SOS Queen's Wharf website is up and it is running.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The people's wharf is deepest tosh

Thousands of Aucklanders yesterday marched on to Queens Wharf, where thousands of soldiers left during both world wars, to mark the opening of the Red Gates on Anzac Day.
This is an
awful analogy: they did not march on Sunday; they meandered. I know. I was there. It was all very mediocre. You did not miss much.

It was the usual motley: some vintage cars, some fun activities for the kids, some promotional people, the Navy, food stalls.  It is quite possible that the completed Party Central wharf will be as unexciting as this. After all, we are not very good at this sort of thing. We don't like to make a fuss. Besides, there are not that many of us.

Of course, Party Central Wharf will be landscaped - at a cost of $10 million or more, after the over-runs. Landscaping is one of the most expensive activities known to humankind, because landscape architects are creative people who failed to get into architecture school because they cannot do maths and now take their revenge on an uncaring public by planting unviable plants at great expense. The current trend in landscape architecture is for a sort of Pacific disaster look, where a few sticks, some stones and a bunch of scraggly plants are arranged in heaps that suggest the aftermath of a tsunami. The meanderers might have noticed the sorry state of the palms on Queen Street and might just wonder whether all this rus in urbe is worth the outlay. To paraphrase Mike Lee, the Queen's Wharf has become the people's liability.

But what about the sheds, you demand? Well yes, what about them? They are spacious, dry, sound, weather-tight; in short, they are capable of hosting parties. They are iconic as well, and thus optimal for tourism purposes. So they will be knocked down and those merry pranksters from Jasmax will build a curved pavilion, because that would be so so post post modern and rugby fans love a bit of architecture. Curves cost, so that will be another $10 million on the bill.  Mr Murray McCully assures us that the pavilion is "most assuredly not a tent" and will be built from steel and glass, which is assuring. The sheds have lasted for 98 years; the pavilion is designed to survive for six weeks. The Historic Buildings Trust has given up without a fight, but is looking forward to working with the landscapers and the architects to determine how much of the rail lines and moorings can be retained. The phrase "as useful as a one-legged man at an arse-kicking party" springs to mind, once again.

Oh gawd this is awful. This ghastly, stupid, expensive whim of an airhead Prime Minister and an egoist ARC chairman shuffles on, scooping up the people's money and becoming more expensive with each reduction. Eventually we will end up with a $50 million ticket booth. The landscape architects will sell us a load of tosh, filled with native plants and clumsy symbolism,  when what we really need on the waterfront is some public space - you know, the sort of place where you might throw a ball around.

Airhead, from Maidstone:

Lest we forget

Am I alone in thinking that the deaths of three men for the sake of a parade is an appalling waste of life?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Humdrum days and humdrum ways

How are the finalists selected?

A jury of experts have been observing exhibitions around the country since the last announcement. They met for the first time early this year to decide the four 2010 finalists.

Walters Prize finalists have been announced and they are as OTN predicted. All that travelling around the country was a waste of time: it is a K Road thing. Three out of four went to Elam. They do Elam work, noisy and cynical: all sound and fury and empty signifiers. The fourth is a painter from Christchurch, Saskia Leek, whose work is rather lovely. She won't win.

I wonder if the programme leaders and directors and critics and (last and least lovely) independent curators who staff all these prize juries will ever realise how dull they have made art become. Everything takes up too much space, says very little and says it to a handful of people. In the room critics come and go, talking of each other and scarcely looking at the art. These are works to be glanced at, before purchase by a major institution. Much theorising can then take place in various university departments. 

One cannot help but think that most major decisions about art are made by people who do not like art. They love the sounds of their own voices, they adore badly-written obfuscating texts and they are passionate about big things in small rooms. What they like most is things that are witty and clever. Anything that professes the slightest bit of feeling is abhorrent, far too serious and gloomy. They have made art become like advertising: sensational, self-important and trivial.

In this writer's not-very-humble opinion, the best exhibition of last year was the Séraphine Pick retrospective, Tell Me More, at the Christchurch Art Gallery. Pick really can paint (it is no coincidence that both she and Leek are Ilam graduates) and she can express profound thoughts and feelings. She is that old-fashioned entity, a serious artist. No wonder she was not selected for the Walters.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Not a prayer for the dying

Mr Dunne said overall he had not met many times with the industry. He said he did not need to meet Prof Sellman as his views - such as that alcohol should be treated as an illegal drug - were well known.

However, Mr Dunne said he was unaware of the "five plus" idea.

Speaking to journalists, Mr Dunne defended being hosted by the industry at a rugby game: "I am a rugby fanatic and I go to a rugby match to watch the All Blacks beat the Wallabies any time."

Captain Sensible a Health job may seem a little perverse, given the Captain's known friendship with the fag industry; and it seems Mr Dunne is living up to his reputation by adding  the booze industry to his social calendar. 

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What a catalyst you turned out to be

“That is the only hope for the Conservative Party; a defeat would end Cameron's leadership and his whole gang could be flushed out of the party. In the meantime, genuine conservatives must vote tactically against the Cameron-occupied Conservative Party by supporting smaller parties at the polls.”
Once it was only parties of the extreme left who wanted their side to lose; now it seems an Old Etonian Tory leader can be a cultural Marxist. It is all Post Modernism gone mad. Craig comments.

Subliminal sub-editing for pleasure and profit

Vicious cycle catches up with Carl Williams must be the most two-pronged headline of the year. 

Don't mess with Mister In-Between

Britain is a strange and distant country ruled by strange and distant people with improbable names like Baroness Scotland and Lord Adonis. As readers of this blog and of more reputable news sources will know, Britain has been enjoying a crisis recently; it is only during crises that the British are truly happy. Sadly, in part due to the machinations of a mysterious man in a white coat and with improbably chestnut hair called Peter Mandelson, this crisis may be coming to a premature end.

It seems that Science has changed during the course of this week. Only a few days ago, vast amounts of volcanic ash had the ability to stop the engines of jet airliners, with catastrophic results. Now, it seems that this is no longer the case. After extensive lobbying, flying through clouds of volcanic ash has become quite safe for commercial aircraft. The application of political techniques to the situation has brought about a result that could not be achieved by scientists, engineers and other white-coated boffins. The many thousands of Britons stranded in European countries with distressingly superior food and standards of dress will now be able to return to the damp and cheerless homes. They will also be able to vote for a Government. All is well.

The Government (which doesn't really exist because they are having an election) had planned to send what the Daily Mail called [irony alert] an armada to Spain. One ship, the patriotically-named HMS Albion, managed to get through; there was of course a fuss, which generated outrage and a very long headline. The other ships of the armada, HMesses Arc Royal and Ocean, did not reach the Continent in time; besides, there was a perfectly good ferry service and a tunnel. More outrage ensued when a German airliner was spotted over Heathrow, generating the Sprit of the Blitz (otherwise known as xenophohia). However, all is now well. The people of Europe proper, who have witnessed knitwear the like of which they have never seen before, will be relieved to know that the British are on their way home.

The Hallmark Poet Laureate has written a poem about it.

In other news, in the days before celebrity makeovers British television was this good:

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Eight million fish in the naked city

In American slang, hokey means contrived or phoney.

So it was ironic that the name of the fish being sold as cod in one Leicestershire chip shop suggested it was anything but the real deal.

Hoki, a type of hake which is farmed in New Zealand and is also known as the blue grenadier, was found being served as cod by trading standards officials.

St Mary's Chippy, in St Mary's Road, Market Harborough, was caught in a sting operation by trading standards teams.

Consumer watchdogs have warned another chip shop is to face legal action for selling other varieties of fish as cod and that further prosecutions could follow.

They are eating our fish
here; they just didn't know it until recently. No doubt they left the skin on and smothered it with artificial vinegar, to fool the locals.

Hat-tip to Liberal England

This must be the place

Breaking Party Central News: they are going to tear down the permanent buildings and put up a temporary building; towards a new architecture, as someone once said. The inescapable logic of this decision somehow escapes me.  

This is the story so far: we need somewhere, apparently, for the crowd to go wild between Rugby World Cup games; none of Auckland's existing public spaces will do, for reasons that remain unexplained. The Prime Minister decreed that Queen's Wharf will be Party Central. An architectural competition was held in which New Zealand's top architectural firms competed against designs submitted by children. The competition was won by Jasmax - New Zealand's top comedy-architecture firm, which had not entered. The Government's extravagant plan for a building that could not possibly be built in time for the football then fell apart, not because of its impracticality but because the Government could not force Auckland's doomed local bodies to pay for it. So the Government and Auckland Regional Council found itself owning a wharf with two sheds on it. Now read on.

You would have thought that a wharf with two big sheds on it it would be enough, but you would be wrong. The Government has a new plan. They will demolish the sheds and put up a temporary structure. Then they will remove that and replace it with a permanent structure.  So, a lot of money will be spent removing buildings and more money will be spent installing a temporary building; then more money still will be spent removing that building, and yet more money on building a new building, the details of which have yet to be decided.

As the artist's impression shows, this will be a great place to party in Winter and park ghost cruise-ships. Of course, the real cruise ships that will be parked either side of the wharf for the duration of the tournament will not be transparent; they will be quite opaque and they will obscure the temporary building. So the temporary structure will be visible from only two aspects, one of which is the harbour.

So, to recap, a lot of money is being spent on a temporary structure which will be obscured by ships. This does not seem a very good way to spend a lot of  money. 

Why can't they hold the party in the sheds? Why are they destroying historic buildings which could be used for party purposes, only to replace them with a temporary building which will be largely unavailable for viewing? And why won't the Historic Places Trust do anything about it?

And why is the temporary building so awful? Because it looks like a wave, or a sail, or a lamington, or whatever you choose to think it looks like; because buildings these days have to look like other things which are not buildings, but are iconic. So the real iconic New Zealand buildings  - white wooden sheds with tin roofs - will be replaced by a temporary building that sort of looks like something which is said to be iconic. That's Post Modernism folks. 

Here  is an amateur video in which the guilty men look shifty. Mike Lee, Chairman of the Auckland Regional Council, is the one with the hair; Murray McCully, Cup Minister, is the one without the neck. You can go visit the wharf at 1pm on Sunday.

The next song is not by The Feelers; it is about a cat:

Monday, April 19, 2010

School's out

This is not a graphs and tables sort of blog, but we interrupt your usual service to bring you an exclusive table from New Zealand's leading university. Pictured below is a table showing the numbers of academic staff from the Faculty of Arts who will be attending graduation ceremonies.

To put it another way, your students spend at least three years and several thousand dollars earning degrees in non-vocational subjects which probably will never earn them much money, but which they took for the love of learning. Friday 16 April is their big day, the day they get to wear gowns, accept their degrees, process down Queen Street and show their family and friends that they made it, that all the hard work is done and that this day marks the biggest achievement of their young lives.

But you pricks cannot be bothered to turn up.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Climbing Mount Unpronounceable

If I had to choose a religious adherence, if there was no box on the form for Atheist, if a choice were mandatory, I think I would go for the Old Norse. It was the religion of my ancestors, after all; and it does involve a lot of feasting, fighting and trickery.  It is also mercifully free of the clogging sentiment that pervades the monotheistic religions. And it may well be the One True Religion.

Think of it this way. Not so long ago, Iceland was a prosperous social democracy known only to WH Auden, Damon Albern and Eric Ravilious.  Then along came some bankers, bringing with them bizarre economic nostrums which had escaped from a laboratory in the University of Chicago and infected the rest of the world. The bankers leveraged (that is, put in hock) the previously fish-based economy of Iceland. The rest of the world bought huge amounts of debt from Iceland. Then the world all went to crap because a load of mortgages had been sold in the USA to people who you would not want as your neighbours, and these mortgages had been bought by leading financial institutions who were too busy to notice what they were buying. The mortgages were not paid. The financial institutions were broke. Governments felt obliged to give them lots of money, for reasons which still are unclear.

Somebody had to take the blame. The governments of the world chose Iceland. It was a simple decision; after all nobody had ever been there, they didn't produce anything the world wanted, they were known only for some peculiar pop music and they had been stroppy about cod and whales. Gordon Brown, a man noted for his adherence to post-neoclassical endogenous growth theory, decided to stop Iceland growing. He seized Iceland's British assets, using anti-terrorism laws which had been designed for use against Muslims. He then banded with the rest of the world and demanded that Iceland pay them large amounts of money, the sort of amounts that they had paid the financial institutions.

The Icelanders reacted by choosing a lesbian as their leader, safe in the knowledge that the western media are easily distracted by a woman's sexuality. Then the Althing devised a plan to repay the British (and the Dutch, for some reason) by bankrupting the social democracy. However, being a social democracy, this plan had to be approved by a referendum. Unsurprisingly, facing a cake or death choice, the Icelanders chose cake. They refused to pay.

This decision was bound to cause trouble. When the Icelanders tried to stop British fishermen stealing Iceland's fish in the 1970s, the British sent the Royal Navy. A clear and present danger existed that Gordon Brown might send the Royal Navy, or at least what is left of it, again. There was not much the Icelanders could do. However, it seems the Norse gods have come to their rescue. They have caused a previously unknown and still unpronounceable volcano known as  Eyjafjallajokull to erupt and have sent the clouds of ash to Britain, where it has stuffed up air travel.

The result, of course, is chaos. John Cleese had to take a very expensive taxi, Whitney Houston had to travel by ferry; Angela Merkel had to go to Portugal; many world leaders were unable to travel to the funeral of the Polish leader they despised. And it is not just famous people who were affected. All across Europe, ordinary decent people are afflicted by whining British chavs - lumpen proles who moan constantly, wear bri-nylon shell suits and copulate in public places. Despite their loathing for, and incomprehension of, everything foreign except American yoof culture, these creatures choose to spend much of their free time overseas. Unfortunately for the foreigners, now they cannot go home. The citizens of Europe may have to become accustomed to zooants, the Croydon Facelift and to being likened to female genitalia.

Meanwhile, many other British people are sleeping in airport lounges. This is not unusual; it happens all the time. For reasons unknown even to post-neoclassical endogenous growth theorists, any crisis in Britain tends to result in people sleeping in airport lounges. The Daily Mail usually refers to this phenomenon as the spirit of the Blitz.

Of course, there is consternation in Mayfair and rioting in Notting Hill Gate. The delicatessens,  on which Britain's ruling class relies for edible food supplies,  are quickly running out of fresh European food. Soon, university-educated people may be forced to eat at KFC like everybody else.

For those of us living in Better Britain, the volcano crisis may be a blessing. If the erupting continues, these ghastly people toffs and chavs alike may be unable to get here for the Rugby World Cup. So, ladies and gentlemen, charge your glasses and be upstanding; for the toast is to - Valhalla.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Audrey's big assignment

Do you remember those age-change comedies of the late 80s, where a teenager finds himself in the body of a successful but troubled business executive, with hilarious and educative results? Could that really happen? I only ask because I am worried about Audrey Young, the Herald's Political Editor. She is normally intelligent and mature but it seems that, whenever she meets John Key, her mind is taken-over by a 14-year old girl. The Prime Minister appears to have a similar affliction, although in his case it seems to be permanent.
Young's contribution to the maelstrom of political debate this weekend was an interview with the Dear Manager, which the adoring subs headed as PM offers glimpse into corridors of power. Warming to their task, the subs added a sub-head:
The Prime Minister has just finished a hard week, including Obama's nuclear summit and a trip to Canada. Political editor Audrey Young gets him to reflect on the personal moments.
Over to you, Audrey. Hit him with some incisive questions.
How did you feel about being caught up in the middle of an incredible scandal in Canada? Perhaps Prime Minister Stephen Harper asked for your advice because you sacked a minister, Richard Worth, last year and didn't tell the media why? Did you pass that on to Mr Harper? Why do you get on so well with Mr Harper? Could you recap some of the more personal moments at the summit? And why would you invite him? What about others? Did you speak to Good luck Jonathan?  So when these leaders dish out invitations do they really mean it? President Obama gave Lee a big hug. Is he that sort of guy? That's all about showing who's boss, isn't it? What did you call President Obama and what did he call you? What is your next big overseas mission?  How do you cope with the time difference? Do you really like North America? Do you have a favourite city in America?
No doubt she got him to sign her autograph book. Unfortunately and unsurprisingly, the scandal does not involve that nice Mr Key; he is not that interesting. It is all about Helena Guergis and it is not about sex. It is about money and drugs. But the Globe and Mail has picked up the story and all Canada is astonished that Mr Key finds Mr Harper warm and engaging. But then Mr Key also likes Mr Berlusconi, the well-known crook. He has also discovered that Chancellor Merkel likes him just as much as she likes Helen Clark. He has spoken to the King of Jordan as well  ("Obviously educated in England, in one of those public schools I'd say." He is a King, Prime Minister; he was a half-Colonel in the Hussars; you should know this). Most important, has been touched by the President.

So, now we know. Audrey has a huge crush on John, who is astonishingly dim and parochial. Now Canada knows all of the above. Canada's next Prime Minister will be Michael Ignatieff, who is terribly clever. We can only hope that Mr Key will have moved on to other challenges by then.

BTW, The Kitten's name is Diefenbaker.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Every day is Mothers' Day

A quick note to the Herald's subs: Sir Ian McKellen is not really Gandalf; he was acting.

Elsewhere,  the Herald is displaying impatience with all the real news going on in New Zealand. Instead, the Herald has opted for importing non-stories from Australia. It works like this: you take a trivial story from across the ditch, do a few local vox pops or celebrity comments to make it seem important to ordinary kiwi battlers, then serve. So, a story that does not concern anyone here looks as if it is important. What is important, however, is that the story is targeted at the demographic groups which the newspaper's advertisers want to reach.

Take for example Aussie school eyes big-boy rugby ban, a story about a school in Brisbane having some concerns about losing boys to the Grim Reaper. It is nothing to do with us, but it is easy to put in some local colour by that time-honoured method known as Ask an All Black. Ace reporter James Ihaka did just that. Listen to what the man says:
Rugby is a contact sport so if they're scared of contact they should go and play soccer which is also a contact sport so if they're scared of that then maybe they should play netball
See, if you fear death or permanent disability, then you should be playing some sissy girls' sport. And don't worry about the "slight increase" in neck injuries due to tackles: the sport development officer doubts whether there will be any fatalities. Should you be worried? Of course, that is what the news media is all about - making you worry. 

If you are not worried, then you should be outraged. How about this, then: Working mums strike back. Strike back against what, you may ask: against education cuts, pay inequality, the victimisation of welfare recipients? No silly, working mums are striking back against an article in the Daily Telegraph, published in Sydney, which said that women had never had it so good. Apparently, "in New Zealand - where there are more than 900,000 working mothers - her comments shocked and angered many modern mothers who believe juggling a career and motherhood is harder than ever." Really? How many modern mothers were shocked and angered? How many read the Daily Telegraph? Where did ace reporter Elizabeth Binning uncover this outrage? Did she perhaps call some people to tell them about the article that they, being busy working mothers who do not read Australian newspapers, overlooked? Would the time of both these ace reporters be better spent chasing real stories? I think we should be told.

Meanwhile, the Herald's front page lead was the story of an athlete's mother being killed in a car crash, while its banner included the story of a mother getting mouldy pancakes at Wendy's.

Here's a busy working mother, neck-injury victim and widow: