Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Point, and how to miss it

He said: "You are the worst motherf*****s in the world, you agency guys," referring to advertising bosses in the audience.

He said: "I want to eat you, but I won't because I don't want to get HIV. Would you roast an HIV person? You'd roast them because they're expendable. Like the Jews. Hitler had a right, you know.

"You've all got f****** Aids, c****!"

The outburst has sparked outrage in New Zealand's Jewish community and among Aids health advocates

Members of New Zealand's blogging community seem less concerned. Says Mr Farrar, it was a roast! Says Throng, it is a beat up! Says Danyl Mc, it is all about being in character. Says Fairfacts Media, it is all about being on the Left.

The savants of the blogging community, you see, know all about the tradition of the Comedy Roast. These are men who watch Comedy Central, after all. Thus they deride the provincial know-nothings of the MSM for their ignorance of this fine comedic tradition. It was a roast! A roast is meant to be outrageous!

Well, yes. But, and it is a big but, is not the object of the outrageous comedy meant to be the guest of the roast? Is that not the point - that the comedians make jokes about their guest of honour, who takes it all in good humour and shows everyone that he is a mensch? Surely the point is not to make unfunny jokes about other people who could not be there on the night - the six million Jews who died in the Shoah and the thirty-three million people who live with HIV/AIDS? Surely there is enough humour that could be made from the advertising industry without having to bring innocent victims into the room?

Members of the Fascist Community think otherwise, of course. Members of the advertising community might have wondered why they bothered coming out on a winter night to be abused by an unknown celebrity drunk who clearly cannot do standup; they may have wondered how he could stand up (boom boom).

Members of the comedy community might be wondering what is going on in Mr Fane's id. To put it another way:

שלושה דברים אדם ניכר בכוסו בכיסו ובכעסו

Friday, June 25, 2010

It's not the Tolley, it's the tenure

The real problem here though, is not the national standards but the teachers themselves. I might support the Education Minister's campaign to shake up the arrogant antiquated teachers union with its tenure for all, but damned if I want my small daughter being collateral damage. Tolley may have imposed national standards on them but when it comes to our kids, teachers still hold all the power.
No, no, the real problem here is that none of this makes sense. The Tolley imposes the standards yet the teachers who don't want the standards still have the power. The arrogant antiquated teachers union - the union for arrogant antiquated teachers - has tenure for all. The principal does not understand the principle - that Deborah's five-year-old is so, so special.

It is all zhuzhed up: the language, the truth, the logic. There should be a name for this sort of thing. We could call it a hillcone.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

'Tis pity she's not a whore

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For the benefit of gentle readers in the provinces, I should explain that the Pelican Club is a well-known brothel. So, what is going on? Has demand outstripped supply? Is the world's oldest profession short of professionals? I only ask because I recall all the jeremiads that were written when the Prostitution Reform Bill was before Parliament, which predicted the the luring of disco dollies to a life of vice on an unprecedented scale. We were told that respectable young women from the suburbs would be ensnared by the brothel-keepers, that Auckland would become Sin City, that morality and decency would be no more. Yet, five years later, the brothel-keepers have a tart shortage.

Funny old world, isn't it?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

War stories

The general's staff is a handpicked collection of killers, spies, geniuses, patriots, political operators and outright maniacs. There's a former head of British Special Forces, two Navy Seals, an Afghan Special Forces commando, a lawyer, two fighter pilots and at least two dozen combat veterans and counterinsurgency experts. They jokingly refer to themselves as Team America, taking the name from theSouth Park-esque sendup of military cluelessness, and they pride themselves on their can-do attitude and their disdain for authority. After arriving in Kabul last summer, Team America set about changing the culture of the International Security Assistance Force, as the NATO-led mission is known. (U.S. soldiers had taken to deriding ISAF as short for "I Suck at Fighting" or "In Sandals and Flip-Flops.") McChrystal banned alcohol on base, kicked out Burger King and other symbols of American excess, expanded the morning briefing to include thousands of officers and refashioned the command center into a Situational Awareness Room, a free-flowing information hub modeled after Mayor Mike Bloomberg's offices in New York. He also set a manic pace for his staff, becoming legendary for sleeping four hours a night, running seven miles each morning, and eating one meal a day. (In the month I spend around the general, I witness him eating only once.) It's a kind of superhuman narrative that has built up around him, a staple in almost every media profile, as if the ability to go without sleep and food translates into the possibility of a man single-handedly winning the war.

By midnight at Kitty O'Shea's, much of Team America is completely shitfaced. Two officers do an Irish jig mixed with steps from a traditional Afghan wedding dance, while McChrystal's top advisers lock arms and sing a slurred song of their own invention. "Afghanistan!" they bellow. "Afghanistan!" They call it their Afghanistan song.

McChrystal steps away from the circle, observing his team. "All these men," he tells me. "I'd die for them. And they'd die for me."

In which Rolling Stone reminds us how journalism is done.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

'Tis pity she's a Bishop

A controversial United States cleric will not appear at Christ Church Cathedral during her visit to New Zealand to calm Anglican tension over gay priests. The visit by the Most Rev Katharine Jefferts Schori, leader of the Episcopal Church in the US, is being kept "low key". She will spend three days in Christchurch from Sunday. The Episcopal Church is considered progressive and recently consecrated its second openly gay bishop.
Cripes, that was close: an outbreak of Anglican Tension has been narrowly avoided.

Of course, the Most Rev Katharine Jefferts Schori is no stranger to controversy, since she is an openly female bishop. Her controversial XX chromosomes have prevented the Most Rev Katharine Jefferts Schori wearing her hat in England. Yes, it's crazy but it's true: the Archbishop of Canterbury issued a decree that forbade the Presiding Bishop wearing her mitre or carrying her crozier while presiding over Eucharist at Southwark Cathedral.

This is all very confusing. Under the arcane rules of behaviour that still persist in the Old Country, men are supposed to remove their hats indoors, while women are expected to remain hatted. However, if the man is a bishop, he is entitled to keep his hat on - so that everyone knows he is a bishop and not a man in an evening gown. He is also allowed a big stick, with a curly end. This, the crozier, also indicates that he is a bishop - in case you did not notice the pointy hat. But then along comes a bishop with a vagina and everything gets topsy turvy. She's not just a woman, she's a bishop, yet the Archbishop of Canterbury will not let her wear her hat, or carry a big stick.

The Archbishop also required the Presiding Bishop to provide evidence or her ordination to each order of ministry. Yes, that's right: Most Rev Katharine Jefferts Schori was required to prove she is a bishop. Perhaps the Archbishop did not recognise her without her hat; perhaps Southwark Cathedral is plagued by bogus bishops turning up. Fortunately, it seems she kept certificates.

Sometimes, it's hard to be a woman. Fortunately, being a woman is not an issue in the Anglican Church in Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia, where a woman was fast-tracked to the See of Dunedin in a mere five years, becoming the first woman-bishop diocesan combination in the Anglican Communion. The Aotearoan Anglicans have not had another, of course, but the theoretical possibility of some other human being with fallopian tubes becoming a bishop remains.

So, you might think the Most Rev would be welcome here. How wrong you would be. For it seems that, while Aotearoan Anglicans have no problem with a woman being a bishop, some of them have issues with her church allowing homosexualists to be bishops. As one door closes, another one shuts.

Consequently, the Presiding Bishop will not be doing any presiding while in New Zealand. In Christchurch she will be ex cathedra, allowed to preach only in a church nearby. In Auckland, she at least will be permitted to preach at Holy Trinity, although not preside.

In England homosexualists are allowed to be bishops, so long as they don't do anything homosexual. Women are not allowed to be bishops, regardless of what they do. In New Zealand, women are allowed to be bishops but, it seems, they must not do anything episcopal if their particular corner of the Anglican Communion allows practising homosexualists to be bishops. In short, some of the Church's best friends are female, or homosexual.

Speaking of women, fallopian tubes and Christchurch, Megan is now a harvestmother. Congratulations, and here is that song again:

Monday, June 21, 2010

This sporting life

In March, Fifa successfully pursued a low- cost airline for using pictures of footballs, vuvuzelas, and stadiums in its advertising, causing a South African legal expert to voice amazement at the "excesses" of the World Cup legislation, and to lament the choice the government made "to placate Fifa" at the expense of freedom of expression.

Fifa praises South Africa for adopting this draconian stance – as well it might. It's all very pour encourager les autres. Yet, when it is pointed out that even the Chinese government stopped short of actually criminalising this kind of marketing intrusion at the Beijing games, a Fifa spokesman declares that similar legislation is in place in New Zealand ready for next year's Rugby World Cup.

Makes you think, doesn't it?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Questions of law

Sergeant Jason Lamont, 39, was pulled over last August with a reading of 113mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood.

The Auckland officer was charged with excess blood alcohol and pleaded guilty in the North Shore District Court in April.

But Judge Phil Gittos discharged Mr Lamont without conviction, saying his role and experience outweighed the importance of the conviction.

"The judge basically took the view that it effectively wouldn't be in the public interest for an experienced and well-regarded senior police officer to be out of a job," defence lawyer Steve Bonnar told theWeekend Herald.

Should the police officers who arrested and charged Mr Lamont be charged with wasting police time? But, then what if they in their turn were discharged without conviction? Could the police become a vexatious litigant?

Pic and Promo unrelated

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Dance this mess around

Happy Birthday, Boganette. I hope the pain will fade.

Just for you, here is a stunning performance by the B-52s, playing the Downtown Cafe in Athens, Georgia in 1978.

I am hopeless at choosing cards.

Family values

I am feeling somewhat ashamed of myself. A couple of days ago, whilst strolling through the Auckland University campus, I overheard a young man describe something to his friend as "so gay." And I did nothing about it. I should have done what Hilary Duff does:

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

When tourists attack

Kelvin Davis says tensions are brewing in at least one Far North community after locals have been abused by tourists, and rubbish and effluent from freedom campers has been dumped on roadsides.“If this situation continues, then the chances are that we'll hear of more tourist bashings."
The next time a tourist is beaten, raped or murdered by one of the locals, will Mr Davis claim that said tourist was asking for it? Or will he claim that the locals are somehow incapable of taking responsibility for their own actions, that they rob, rape, and kill innocent tourists because other backpackers drop litter? I do hope not.

Song for a future generation

There is a fundamental misconception in society that social justice is about the government making sure "everyone has enough stuff." According to Ryan Messmore, the William E. Simon Fellow at the Heritage Foundation in Washington DC, we need a more robust concept of social justice which understands poverty as being more than just material. "Poverty, if traced back to its roots, usually has to do with a breakdown of some foundational relationship in life that is necessary to flourish." Social justice is therefore largely about restoring broken relationships. It needs to be cultivated and grown, it takes time, and it is not as simple as the government depositing money in people's accounts.
It never is as simple as giving people money, at least not when the
Maxim Institute is involved. And this time Maxim has called the Heritage Foundation for help. You see, Maxim has a crap dependency. There is not enough right-wing crap in little ol' New Zealand, so they have to import it from the USofA. That's right: they are taking advice from Conservatives in a country with a failed welfare system; this is not unlike asking the North Koreans for help with agriculture.

So, what's it all about then? It's about Social Justice. This, roughly translated, means blaming the poor for their poverty, as well as privatising welfare. It is a win-win solution, for the winners (but not for the poor). Let's hear how the William E. Simon Fellow at the Heritage Foundation in Washington DC thinks of Social Justice:
Messmore illustrated the potential we have to change society for the better, by telling the story of a drug dealer his Foundation met in the course of their research. The man's name is Roderick and he lives in Dallas, Texas. Roderick lived in a poor neighbourhood where he controlled 70 percent of the drug traffic.
See, they have found a typical welfare dependent: Roderick (obviously a person of colour with a name like that) who is a drug dealer. Now you may be thinking that a drug dealer who controls 70 per cent of the traffic in his 'hood is hardly in need of a hand-out or a hand-up. He might need help finding a Range Rover dealership, but that is his problem. You might also be thinking that Roderick is only taking the welfare because the authorities would become suspicious of his income sources if he were declare himself a man of independent means. But you are missing the point. It is the welfare system which is to blame.
The welfare system was such that his family got more money if his legitimate income remained under a certain threshold, and if he remained in a non-committed relationship with the mother of his children. This was therefore how he lived and most people in his local area lived, with devastating consequences. He did not know anyone in his neighbourhood who was married, and hardly any of the men worked, which cultivated depression and illicit drug use.
If Roderick isn't coining it, then he needs business advice. Anyway, you can guess the rest: a crisis occurs; nice middle-class people from another suburb help out; Roderick quits the drugs, gets a real job and makes an honest woman of his woman. All is right with the world. Here comes the moral.
Social justice requires all of us—from families to police, to clubs, to government—to play their part in meeting needs. The government can provide some crucial building blocks like the rule of law, but individuals like Ron and Cheryl are also required to build the long term relationships and strong community that are necessary for real escapes from poverty.
See: you don't give poor people money, because they will spend it on drugs; you give them the rule of law, because that is non-transferable. You leave it to the Rons and Cheryls of this world to help poor people clean up and get respectable. Only middle-class people can help poor people realise the error of their ways. It is not a role for Government.

So there you have it – Social Justice: it is not social and its not just. If you are fortunate enough to have a middle-class suburb near your ghetto and have the fortune to meet a Ron and Cheryl, you might escape. However, it is more likely that you will be stuffed, because this is not Fantasy Island. However, the people in the nice suburbs will pay almost no taxes, which will be an incentive for you to pull yourself up.

Here are some people with unrealistic ambitions who want to have casual sex and children out of wedlock:

New York, Silverstone, the World

Primrose has been awarded the Queen's Service Medal for services to art. He said the acknowledgment of his work came as a real surprise. "I don't really know how to deal with it. It's only now that it's really sinking in," he said. "There are so many people who have stood by and behind me. Ed and June Hillary are two of those people."

Gentle readers, this is Art, in New Zealand, as recognised by our own dear Queen. Never mind that the QSM is usually awarded to unknown heroes and community helpers, this man has been given a gong, despite his art being awful, ghastly even, at times shocking in its mediocrity.

So, what's it all about then?

One might say his work falls into the realms contemporary realism. Craig only works with oils on teak stretched Belgium linen.

With sell out exhibitions in New York and Silverstone [yes, really] his works are now found throughout Europe, Australia, Asia and America and through selected galleries in New Zealand with a Private Gallery soon to be opened at The Rees in Queenstown. With many private commissions Craig has rapidly become one of New Zealand’s most sought after artists with his work steadily increasing in artist to watch

Or one might say his work fall into the realms "birthday cards for teenage boys," the kind given to them by their grannies. This sort of thing goes down well with the knowwhatIlikes, but to dignify its creator with an award just encourages it. Soon, there will be demands from sporting folk and their trophy wives for Mr Primrose's work be to bought for the nation, to displace all that so-called 'art' in Te Papa. Soon, our Government will be insisting that Mr Primrose and his like must represent New Zealand at Venice. Soon, he will be commissioned to portray our own dear Prime Minister, grinning and dressed in Rodd and Gunn casualwear.

Me, I think it is all part of a Tory plan to replace art with sentiment, to transform our art galleries into shrines to Leadership and Success. Ahead of us is a landscape of public art made by Mr Primrose, by Weta Workshop and by sundry other non-artists. These men have gained approval from our political and economic masters for the values they represent and the representation of those values. Everything will be shown. There will be no space for doubt or ambiguity; dissent will be impossible. The purpose of art will be to denote, not to connote.

The propaganda for our times will be made by modellers and admen in bronze or with oils on teak stretched Belgium linen. For this they will be rewarded with money and with awards.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Münchausen syndrome by foxes

From the Independent:

Some people get real pleasure from looking out of the window at home in the early evening to see a wild fox loping across the garden. These graceful creatures, famous in mythology for their cunning, have fired the human imagination for centuries.

But the fox's reputation as an unobtrusive cohabitant of human cities took a severe knock yesterday after two baby girls were taken to hospital – having apparently been bitten by an animal who wandered into a three-storey Victorian house in Hackney, through patio doors left open because of the heat.

From the
NZ Herald:
British people have always thought of foxes as harmless, cute creatures.

Many enjoy the occasional sight of a wild fox loping across their garden. Puppet Basil Brush became a popular television character with generations of children.

But the fox's reputation as an unobtrusive cohabitant of human cities took a severe knock yesterday after two baby girls were taken to hospital - having apparently been bitten by an animal who wandered into a three-storey Victorian house in Hackney, through patio doors left open because of the heat.

See, that's the added value you get from the Herald: stories re-written for idiots, by idiots. British people have not always thought of foxes as harmless: they only stopped hunting them a few years ago.

In any case, the story is a load of crock, as every reporter in Blighty knows, or has now been told by experts. Foxes do not do this sort of thing. But it is a story about children being injured at home, so panic ensues. Besides, Britain has libel laws that would eat your children if you gave them the chance. We await the inevitable revelation and the inevitable pretence of shock and indignation from Britain's media. Boom-boom, as the aforementioned Basil Brush would say.

Not clever, not funny

Remember the old days, when hoaxes were supposed to be funny? No, me neither. Remember this morning? I wasn't awake. Anyway, here is the whaling prank on this morning's Breakfast, in which a man who self-describes as a Comedian pretends to be a libertarian who favours commercial whaling.

I never thought I would say this, but Paul Henry does rather well here.

Monday, June 07, 2010

A cheap holiday in other people's misery

Good morning. I'm writing from Fiji in a glorious heat. We've taken a week off and have escaped what is shaping up to be a rather aggressive winter and have come here for a treat.
Good morning. I'm writing from Auckland in bed. The weather is not that smart but we have a representative system of government, for the time being at least. But what about that
Commodore Frank Bainimarama?
Well, on the odd occasion when his name has come up, and it hasn't very often, I hear nothing but good. People seem to feel that he is doing well, rooting out corruption in the army and the police. There is consternation at the attitude of Australia and New Zealand. Bainimarama has made transport to schools free.
Or, "I don't know about dictatorship but at least he has made the kids run on time."

At this point, gentle reader, I was going to interrupt this rant with the promo for Bananarama's Cruel Summer; such is the dazzling word play and incisive satire I give you on the Fundy Post. However, to my dismay I found that the copyright holders for the song have gone round YouTube and disabled the audio. Obviously they don't want you to hear the song because you might want to go out and buy it. But you are old enough to remember it, so you can save yourself a few cents and sing along to the visuals:

Home taping: it's killing music.

Anyway, back to the story, the one in which Mr Paul Holmes - a political commentator - goes on holiday to a country with more politics than it needs. Fortunately, there are lots of wealthy white people there, so he does not have to talk to any locals. But he has heard that everything is fine, that the Commodore is sorting it all out. Give Mr Holmes a break: he is on holiday after all.

So, let us leave Mr Holmes to lie in the sun and look for news about Fiji from the cynical workaholics of Radio New Zealand International, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the New Zealand Herald and the New Zealand Press Association.

RNZI: Fiji’s interim prime minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, says he will have no more dealings with the Pacific Islands Forum ministerial group tasked with liaising with Fiji.This comes after the group reported that the situation in Fiji is worsening. Commodore Bainimarama says the people are happy with the regime and foreign leaders should talk with the people on the ground.

RNZI again: The leader of the Fiji military regime claims the people of Fiji are urging him to delay his plans for elections by 2014.

ABC: The decision by Fiji's military regime to retract an invitation to the Forum's Ministerial Contact Group to visit the country is now a familiar pattern of behaviour according to a political observer. Interim Prime Minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama cancelled Foreign Minister, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola's invitation extended at last weeks meeting of the Contact Group in Auckland. Fiji born Brij Lal has been following events from his desk at the Australian National University and says this is not the first time the Commodore has cancelled invitations for observers to go to Fiji.

NZH: Pacific Forum ministers meeting in Auckland yesterday were told Fiji's record has worsened "across the board" since they met last year. But they have decided it is still important to keep contact with the military-installed regime and have accepted an invitation to visit in the next month or two, for what will be the third visit of the ministerial contact group. Fiji was suspended from the Pacific Islands Forum last year and its bilateral relationships with Australia and New Zealand have been strained after a series of diplomatic expulsions.

NZPA Fiji will remain suspended from the Pacific Island Forum because no significant progress has been made in persuading its interim government to return to democracy, regional leaders say. The forum's ministerial contact group met in Auckland yesterday for an update on its attempts to talk the military regime of Commodore Voreqe (Frank) Bainimarama into holding elections.

All that was just last week's news. Those with more curiosity and longer memories than Mr Holmes might recall a Media7 story from the distant time known as February 2009:

Come to Fiji and leave your principles behind. Enjoy the hospitality of profiteers and cronies. Forget the cares of the world: there is nothing in the papers; there are scarcely any journalists left. Relax and look the other way. As the headline says, there are fantasies for all on these islands.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Special Announcement

We interrupt this programme to bring you a Special Announcement from the Sons of Liberty. They have received a letter from the Rogue Nation Eternal Militia which gives a Stern Warning to New World Order Architects (and contains rude words at the end).

It is quite cool until he does the one-handed air quote at 2:18.
Freedom fighters should not do air quotes.