Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What I did on my holidays

Mostly, I have been reading Margaret Atwood and listening to the The Pursuit of Happiness and the Tragically Hip. This has been a Canadian Christmas, without the snow. Normal service will resume after 4th January. Until then, postings might be subject to unforseeable interruptions.

Wishing all gentle readers a good new year.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The price of tyranny is eternal vigilance

The Sensible Sentencing Trust is urging New Zealanders to be extra vigilant and crime conscious to restrict opportunities the holiday period presents to criminals.

Trust Spokesman Garth McVicar said historically the holiday period presents unique opportunities to criminals, "which goes hand-in-hand with a dramatic escalation in all categories of crime."

"The silly season with the increased consumption of alcohol and drug abuse combined with financial stress traditionally sees an escalation in domestic violence and child abuse. Christmas should be a time for everyone to enjoy – particularly mothers and children – so we are encouraging the public to report any screaming or loud abuse. If we can save just one life it will be worth it."

"Criminals are on the prowl at this time of the year looking for opportunities to burgle your house or steal your car or some other valuable."

"People should think like a criminal, don’t leave easy pickings, ensure your house is locked and windows secure with alarms checked and set."

"The Police can not be baby sitters; the public must step up to the mark and be accountable and responsible for the community we live in."

"This is not just about our own well-being any more; the cost of crime in one way or another is having a drastic impact on every one of us."


"We are urging the pubic to be the eyes and ears of the Police, don’t turn a blind eye to even the smallest infringement of the law. If you see or hear suspicious activity, observe, record and report to the Police."

"It is time we accepted our responsibility and asked not what our country can do for us – BUT – what we can do for our country."


Garth McVicar
National Spokesperson,
Sensible Sentencing Trust.

I am not making this up

The Maisonettes:

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cruel and unusual

The Sensible Sentencing Trust is "outraged" that yet another white collar criminal has escaped a jail sentence. Anthony Bowden, a Director of failed finance company Five Star Finance has been sentenced to nine months home detention and 300 hours of community work. Under the Securities Act he could have faced a five-year jail term.

Sensible Sentencing Trust supremo Garth McVicar said today: "this sentence is a slap in the face for hard-working kiwi battlers. This man and his colleagues cheated ordinary New Zealanders of their savings, taking money invested by trusting mums and dads and gambling with it, to a tune of fifty million dollars. They should all do time in jail, and even that would be too good for them.

Warming to his theme, McVicar continued "ordinary New Zealanders have been swindled time and time again by these crooks in smart suits, who make unrealistic claims to attract investors who have little knowledge of the finance industry. Tragically, many of the people duped by Bowden and his like have lost all their savings and are facing poverty for the rest of their lives. We have seen far too many of these finance companies collapsing because of the greed and outright dishonesty of their directors"

"Community service for Bowden makes a mockery of the law. He will do a few simple tasks at his leisure; then he will claim the experience has made him a changed man. Meanwhile, his victims will be relying on charity this Christmas and for many to come."

McVicar, a simple farmer from Hawkes Bay before he became a crusader for justice, ended his press release by demanding custodial sentences for white collar crooks: "only the full force of the law will deter other accountants from becoming swindlers. People like Bowden should do time, so that decent Kiwi people will be free from these parasites."

No, he didn't say any of that.
I made it up.

Prefab Sprout, back in the day, for Sas:

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Telling lies for money

Colenso BBDO executive creative director Nick Worthington added: "I don't think a beer brand wants to be the guardians of history, we want to tell great stories."
DB Export marketing manager Dave Shoemack said: "We simply wanted to create a commercial that told the DB Export story and that is exactly what we have done."
No, you did not. You made it up; both of you. There are stories which are true, or at least are attempts at truth. There are stories which are false; this has been one of them. This story is untrue because it is presented as history but the events it describes did not occur.

Or, to put it another way, why do this advertising people think they are telling great stories when they are telling lies? If you met some bloke in the pub who told you a story like this one, you would call him a liar. Yet the people who make the piss and the people who market it for them think that telling a lie is telling a great story.

There is no point in complaining about it: the industry is self-regulated, the Advertising Standards Authority being run by the advertising industry. It has lots of codes, including one for liquor. However, the subject of telling lies is not covered by this or any other code. If it were, much advertising would break the code. It would not make much difference, since the ASA has no power and no intention to do anything.

And thus it is that people lie to us in order to persuade us to buy their products. Alcoholic drinks in many respects are very harmful products, yet advertisers are allowed to tell lies to sell them, and justify their lying as telling stories.
"Look mum, I'm a story teller now; I'm on top of the world."
"No you are not son, you are a liar. And get off that gas tank."

Pic unrelated. There has been no rainfall inside the Later with Jools Holland studio since records began. However, the Charlatans are not taking any chances:

Pillars, facades and cantilever racking

The Sydney Opera house is located in Sydney, Australia and was built at the behest of Queen Elizabeth the Second. A Hungarian man, who never felt his efforts were properly acknowledged, designed it. At the time of his death a couple of years ago, however, he was acknowledged by the Australian public, with news programs carrying the story of his death and the effect his creation has had.

This is the best essay about Australian architecture with particular reference to cantilever racking ever written. Not only does it challenge the commonplace belief that Sydney Opera House was designed by Jørn Utzon - a Dane - but it posits instead the authorship of an unnamed Hungarian. Covering such diverse topics as the SBS building and big sculptures, the essay concludes with a tantalising glimpse of the life of one Connor Sullivan, who bought both not only cantilever racking but also wire partitions.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Blessed by Google

The fact of Google being in possession of vast amounts of the world's literature may be just a little bit troublesome, especially for authors (who are expected to work for nothing in so many circumstances) who should not be expected to relinquish control of their books or to accept Google's rather vague promises about revenue sharing.

That said, the fact of Google being in possession of such amounts of digitized lit does lead to interesting possibilities. One such possibility has now been realised: Ngram, which makes stats of words.

Let's try it out with a small experiment. Henry Wootton, in his 1624 translation of Vitruvius' De Architectura wrote:
Well building hath three conditions: firmness, commodity, and delight
Let's see how these terms have fared since then. Well how about that? Delight peaked early, within 50 years of Wooton's use. A slow recovery in the 18th century was followed by steady decline in the 19th and 20th. Losing its lead in 1975, it has since recovered. The other two, Commodity and Firmness, have been duking it out in the lower reaches, with not much market share for either to show.

But then, it is not a race. So let's see how the whole phrase "firmness, commodity and delight" has prospered over the years. A volatile player in this market, I think you will agree. After rapid rises and precipitous falls, a steady climb peaked in the 1980s and the phrase has slowly declined.

On the other hand, you might get a different result; the technology is not yet stable. So, let's try one further test and display the results below:

Crime story

The Herald today publishes an account torture of a 9-year-old girl by her parents that is so dreadful that I could not quote any of it here. It is difficult to read the story to the end. So why does the Herald feel it necessary to illustrate the story with a mawkish stock photograph of a battered teddy bear? Is the reality of this child's suffering not enough? Does the Herald think its readers will only be moved to pity by a carefully set up photograph which clearly is designed to manipulate the viewer's emotions?

And am I the only one reminded of Drop the Dead Donkey?

Meanwhile, new evidence shows that middle-class crime anxiety is largely unfounded:
More than half of all the crime in New Zealand falls on just 6 per cent - just over one in 20 - of the adult population, a survey shows.

And if you're a young, poor, brown city-dweller, you're much more likely to be a victim of crime that an old, rich, white person living in the country.
An old, rich, white person living in the country, Mr Garth McVicar, was not consulted for this story. In fact, it seems that nobody wants to hear from Garth these days. It seems that his clemency towards David Garrett has hardened cynical journalists against him. Garth's media-friendliness was further unenhanced by his demand for the Police Commissioner to be sacked, in the middle of the Pike River disaster. And perhaps his latest media release will confirm our suspicions:
The Sensible Sentencing Trust is criticising the sentence handed down to convicted killer David Bourke, saying it acts as encouragement, rather than a deterrent.

Bourke's been sentenced to two years 10 months prison for the manslaughter of his brother Timothy, and for shooting at Police officers, but he's eligible for parole shortly.

His lawyers argued successfully that Bourke was provoked due to relentless pressure from his suicidal brother.

Trust Spokesman Garth McVicar says the sentence is a slap on the wrist.
So Garth thinks people might be encouraged to assist the suicides of their siblings because of this sentence; yes, we were right, he really is just a nasty old man. And of course, he has create a file on his database for Mr Bourke. The quality of mercy is not strained.

Speaking of crimes, how could this be allowed to happen?

Pro-life, but not as we know it

In a shameful political ploy at the expense of young girls, last night the House of Representatives voted against a bill that would help prevent child marriages worldwide. After unanimously clearing the U.S. Senate with 100% bipartisan support, the International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriages seemed on its way to be passed by the House and signed into law by the President. It will not become law this year.

The objection, led by House Republicans leaders, appears to have had nothing to do with substance – the thousands of lives that could have been positively impacted by enactment of the legislation – but everything to do with politics. Key Republicans drummed up opposition to the bill by concocting arguments about the high costs of implementation. However, the bill was actually an effort to make existing U.S. foreign assistance expenditures more effective. The bill would have targeted existing resources toward community-based efforts, like those of our partner APAD in Cameroun, which supports survivors of early and forced marriage to become economically independent. Importantly, the legislation would bring hope and opportunity to millions of girls who now face a life of poverty, violence, ill health, and possibly death as a result of being forced into marriage at an early age (including some as young as eight years old). The opposing Representatives also made false accusations that the legislation was a backhanded way to support pro-choice non-governmental organizations.
From Akimbo. What can one possibly say?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Democracy in action

Another reason to stay away from Britain:
The government is attempting to pilot through legislation that would bring in five-year parliaments, due shortly in the Lords for its second reading. Ahead of this, the Lords constitution committee says in a report published today that they are "unconvinced" by the arguments for moving to a fixed-term parliament.

The group includes constitutional expert Lord Norton; former cabinet minister Lord Crickhowell; Lord Renton; Lord Powell, adviser to Margaret Thatcher in Downing Street; former Lib Dem leader in the Lords, Lord Rodgers; and the former lord chancellor Lord Irvine.
And how many of those were elected to their positions? Why, none, of course. They are political appointees, for the most part. So now they can question elected members of the House of Commons about plans to make the British elective dictatorship more like a democracy.

Fortunately for the members of the House of Lords, the British subjects of Her Majesty are utterly incapable of making rational judgments about anything that appears to be traditional. All the wigs and ermine, as well as all the faux-Mediaeval architecture (observe, if you will, the wallpaper and carpet in the office of Chris somebody the something Secretary; no, me neither) form a cone of silence around the Palace of Westminster (see: it's a Palace; it is not like any ordinary assembly). So, nothing really happens. Of course, the House of Lords now contains some eminent personages of non-British origin (or,as the locals call them, wogs) who were appointed to their positions after several years' service on Radio 4's Start the Week.

Incidentally, Andrew Marr, host of said programme, told the Cheltenham Literary Festival:
A lot of bloggers seem to be socially inadequate, pimpled, single, slightly seedy, bald, cauliflower-nosed young men sitting in their mother's basements and ranting. They are very angry people.
Of course, he is quite right; for this reason, I never attend blogging conventions.

Britain, under legislative changes introduced during the premiership of Tony Blair, is a police state. However, Britain can no longer afford a police force, having spent all its money on banks and "defence".

Other features of modern Britain include TB and homophobia.

New adventures in aesthetics

In its ruling a Flavin work is described as having “the characteristics of lighting fittings…and is therefore to be classified…as wall lighting fittings”. As for Viola, the video-sound installation, says the document, cannot be classified as a sculpture “as it is not the installation that constitutes a ‘work of art’ but the result of the operations (the light effect) carried out by it”.
Everything you know about art is wrong. The European Commission says so. You spent all that time reading all that Theory, stuff like:
The artist radically limited his materials to commercially available fluorescent tubing in standard sizes, shapes, and colors, extracting banal hardware from its utilitarian context and inserting it into the world of high art. The resulting body of work at once possesses a straightforward simplicity and a deep sophistication.
Oh no it doesn't. It is only lighting. This really is a breakthrough in the philosophy of art. All this time, we thought artists like Flavin were making art out of everyday materials, transforming them from the realm of the mundane to that of the aesthetic. But the European Commission denies any such change has taken place. For the purposes of customs and excise, they are just things.

As for Viola, his work only becomes art when it is plugged into the mains. We thought he was discovering video as an artistic medium, as previous generations of artists had discovered oil paints and other media. We thought his art made connexions with the work of those earlier artists, in his use of gesture and of the body. But no, we were wrong. The art is no more than a by-product of the video machine, which is taxable at normal rates.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Rosy-fingered Dawn...

.. a tale of two lesbians, according to Monty Python. It is from the Odyssey and also the name of a film about Terrence Malick. I only mention it because a new trailer for Malick's new movie has been released (and we live in a world where the trailer provokes as much excitement as the film once did; and we will probably give the trailer more attention than the film, which we will watch on DVD, half-distracted by all manner of other electronic attractions); the film has Sean Penn, Brad Pitt and (swoon) Jessica Chastain. Since it is a Malick film, expect lots of meaningful glances and gestures, and people running through tall grass. The music is Smetana's Má Vlast, a Fundy Post favourite.

Other trailers already have been released.

Architectural review

Mr Brown said he had received "hundreds" of emails from the Turua St and wider St Heliers and Auckland community regarding the demolition.

He acknowledged and thanked members of the public for coming along and presenting their petition, before moving that the petition be received.

However, councillor Sandra Coney moved an amendment to place a heritage order on the three houses - to which members of the audience cheered: "Hear, hear!"

Others gasped, looking surprised.
As well they might. A move to protect historic buildings is a rare and gaspworthy event in Auckland. Mayor Brown, faced with the possibility that he might have to keep one of his election pledges, was suitably stunned.

Of course the buildings are not Art Deco - nothing is. They are Spanish Mission, the style that came here from Southern California, a style shamelessly free from any local context or relevance and which should be enjoyed for that. Spanish Mission architecture has a long history in Auckland - the Boys' Grammar School is the earliest example in this country, dating from 1914. Spanish Mission thrived in the Tamaki Drive area: it is cheerful, colourful seaside architecture. These houses are hardly of national importance but they are historic and very pretty as well. Besides, St Heliers does not need any more retail. The village is being killed by commerce as it is.

Meanwhile the real Mister Brown has a guest post from Richard Goldie of Peddle Thorp:
The harbour bridge issue. “Go tunnel!” I say and let the Waitemata breathe, the real symbol for our new city, united east and west, north and south, around our common harbour. It’s a brand statement about Auckland, New Zealand’s tourism portal. Yes it actually is about environment and it really is great, it is clear.
Why do architects talk like this? Why do they all sound like Richard Till telling us about the specials in the supermarket? The Waitemata is not a brand statement about the tourism portal. It is a harbour. Still, he is right, particulary about high-rises legitimising suburbia.

Deacon Blue:

Monarchy begins at home

What we are witnessing in Tainui is a classic conflict between a privileged, hierarchical leadership that appears to resent being called to account – that much was obvious from the King’s abusive language last weekend – and a democratically elected representative body which, while still respectful toward the hereditary leadership, wants some answers. A bit like the old Tonga, really.
Thus speaks Karl du Fresne. We Republicans of New Zealand should remember that we not only have a Queen across the water but also a monarch in our midsts.

Here is an entirely unrelated but very funny promo from Yo La Tengo:

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Some goings forward

Meat industry going forward
Len Lye Centre going forward
Unity Books, Confidently Going Forward
Federated Farmers, Going forward, not backwards
Flooring Design, Going Forward
Managing your budget going forward
Artists' Alliance workshop day going forward
Maori and the out of school services sector 9.3 Key Considerations Going Forward
Project Auckland -A Supercity Going Forward!
The guns going forward:

The death of the author

The context of Holbrooke’s final words, however, is important. Some have suggested the remark reflected his final anti-war wish, but new information from the State Department says his last words came at the end of a lengthy exchange as doctor’s tried to get the bombastic Holbrooke to relax before surgery. The ambassador passed away Monday night after he underwent two surgeries, including one lasting over 20 hours, after suffering a tear in his aorta on Friday.
It's all about context, you see. Textual Analysts at the State Department have closely examined Richard "Mr Bombastic" Holbrooke's last words and determined that "you've got to stop this war in Afghanistan" does not mean what you think it might. The ABC Critical Theory Editor helpfully agrees; (pretend) everything can be alright.

Sparta FC

Blatter said that homosexual fans "should refrain from any sexual activities" that are illegal in Qatar.

Drinking alcohol also is restricted in the country, but Blatter hopes soccer's universal appeal will bridge cultural differences at the 2022 World Cup.

"It's another culture and another religion, but in football we have no boundaries," said Blatter, who was in South Africa for the official closing of the 2010 World Cup. "We open everything to everybody and I think there shall not be any discrimination against any human beings, being on this side or that side, left or right or whatever.

"Football is a game that does not affect any discrimination. You may be assured ... if people want to watch a match in Qatar in 2022, they will be admitted to matches."
Football, footballl, football... he's such a wag, that Sepp Blatter. After all the work that football has done to deal with homophobia, they are going to have the world cup in a country where homosexuality is illegal. So the gay fans (and players) had better keep their legs crossed. No nookie for you, unless you are a Crown Prince.

We'll be back after the break:

And we're back. There is no U in Qatar, unlike Queer, but there are helots:
Qatar is a transit and destination country for men and women trafficked for the purposes of involuntary servitude and, to a lesser extent, commercial sexual exploitation. Men and women from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, Sudan, Thailand, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and China voluntarily travel to Qatar as laborers and domestic servants, but some subsequently face conditions indicative of involuntary servitude. These conditions include threats of serious harm, including financial harm; job switching; withholding of pay; charging workers for benefits for which the employer is responsible; restrictions on freedom of movement, including the confiscation of passports and travel documents and the withholding of exit permits; arbitrary detention; threats of legal action and deportation; false charges; and physical, mental and sexual abuse.
So, there we have it. Come to sunny Qatar. Enjoy the games and enjoy the slaves. It's a funny old game.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

My year of crap

Today was my birthday. I should have been happy. I was not.

My happiness was curtailed by the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies. She sent me an email yesterday afternoon, answering some questions I had about my supervision. It was the last email of the day and I should have left it alone. Instead, I read it.

During the course of this academic year I have had no supervision, to which I am entitled as a PhD candidate. I have also been struggling to have my annual report treated in accordance with the University's rules by the Art History Department and by the School of Graduate Studies staff. I will spare you the details, for the time being.

In the course of all this argy-bargy, I learned of the existence of the Department of Art History Postgraduate Studies Committee, a body which did not approve my annual report. This knowledge I learned from the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies. This knowledge I found very rum indeed, since the process for doctoral annual reports prescribed by the Statute and Guidelines for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy does not include any role for any departmental committee.

However, the Department of Art History has such a committee, which considered my report and decided not to approve it, since (according to the Dean in an earlier email) "there was no agreement amongst the parties to that report." So I asked the Dean who were the members of this committee and by what authority did they reject my report. Yesterday afternoon, after some delay, she replied. Apparently,
Clause 5 of the PhD Statute (2008) outlines the Annual Review of Registration process (5 d). There is no requirement under the Statute that departmental postgraduate studies committees are involved in this process. However, the practice in Art History is that the departmental Postgraduate and Research Committee considers all doctoral annual reports and provisional reviews. It is common across the University for such committees, or sub-committees, to do so. The intention, supported by international Higher Education research, is that the involvement of people other than the candidate and main supervisor in such processes leads to better educational outcomes.
So, it works like this: there is a Statute which governs the procedure for handling doctoral annual reports; the Department of Art History ignores this statute and chooses to interrupt the reporting process. The Dean of the School of Graduate Studies supports the Department in this respect. Other Departments also ignore the Statute with her support.

I particularly like the bit about this aberration being "supported by international Higher Education research." It sounds so bogus, don't you think? Were I in a better state of mind, I might laugh at the bit about "the involvement of people other than the candidate and main supervisor in such processes leads to better educational outcomes."

Instead, I am very angry. What these twatcocks have done is damage my "educational outcomes." I have been deprived of supervision for a year by people who had no right whatsoever to be involved in my annual report.

What makes me particularly angry is that my privacy has been breached. My former Supervisor, in what seemed to be an act of revenge for me making him my former (rather than present) supervisor, wrote a very nasty and personal report about me. This report has now been shown to people who had no right to see it. Those people were fellow members of my Department, people known to me. I feel embarrassed that they have seen my report. I also feel resentful that they rejected it, depriving me of my rights as a PhD candidate

Fortunately, I am on my way out of the Department of Art History. I am going to the School of Architecture. The Dean at least enabled that move. But my year has been ruined by these people.

A while back, I announced that I had refused to complete my annual report. I was criticised severely by Peter in Dundee for my self-indulgence. I was somewhat stung. For this and other reasons, I completed the report. But then it was rejected by people who had no right even to read it.

I have learned a lot this year, about the way the Department of Art History works. Over the Christmas period, I intend to share this knowledge with readers. By these means, I hope that anyone who is thinking of undertaking a postgraduate degree in Art History at Auckland University will be fully informed.

It's all about improving educational outcomes.

Rich Kids

Monday, December 13, 2010

A cry for help

I suppose they'll kill him. Julian Assange. I would if I were them, all those intelligence organisations and secret boys who find themselves at the mercy of a lone operator becoming a world folk hero among the cyber hoodlums.

If they don't kill him then those big old powerful countries will work out ways to confine him in a very dark hole for a very long time.

This man

The Swedes have already pulled a very unsavoury trick of requesting the British extradite him to Stockholm to be tried for rape and unlawful sex, charges John Pilger says, - oh yes, he's got Pilger on his side, and Jemima Goldsmith, for heaven's sake - a Swedish official investigator has already thrown out. He's suggesting what the Swedes are doing is political. You don't say, John.

They can be nasty and secretive, those Swedes. We know that from the Stieg Larsson books. There's some real dark stuff in those.


We may think of Sweden as irrelevant. It isn't. Sweden is a wealthy country that plays a big game.

He's a funny looking bloke, Julian Assange, and he has a rather flash surname for a bloke who grew up in Townsville. He has a strange baby face. And he's just hacked into a quarter of a million secret cables.

One of them already has the Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin squealing. This one has a report to some American officials that Putin's Russia is a Mafia state with everyone on the take at every level, in for a cut.

Even Putin seems to have a great deal of wealth and a connection to an ex-KGB mate with an oil supply company who might have cut him in on the action. Putin was so mad about it all he went straight on Larry King.

I don't know why Putin was so mad. Everyone knows the Mafia run Russia.

I mean, I don't really know why anyone is so upset with the revelations so far. It's just flash gossip.


But the Americans want Assange for espionage, for stealing secrets. They take very unkindly to espionage. Really, it is hard to imagine Assange seeing the light of day for many a year by the time he's served time in probably half a dozen jurisdictions.


Julian's mother lives in Noosa and she is hot to trot about it all. Christine Assange says that "democracy is on trial" with what's happening to her son. No, Christine, I think Julian's the one on trial and will be for a very long time. What he and his cohorts have done is steal a quarter of a million secret files and cables in which officials and diplomats speak more than frankly about each other and those people don't like that stuff getting out.


Who knows, really, what will happen. There are inevitable comparisons between Assange and Daniel Ellsberg, the American military analyst who, in 1971, released the Pentagon Papers, a stack of material about American decision-making during the Vietnam War. And God knows, the war was still cooking.

New Zealand

But he was a national of the country he offended. Assange has upset the entire world. They'll all soon be scrapping over him.

I'm sure the best way to have handled it would have been simply to smile in a good human fashion and get on with it. Anything but make him a martyr, which is now surely what will happen.


I am not making this up.

The Who, with Sir William Walton:

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A bigger message

People first started emailing me Ardin and Wilen’s information on Tuesday night, when Assange was arrested. I didn’t post it until after I’d thought carefully about what would happen. I’m not interested in vigilante justice, and I don’t want to see either of them raped or killed. I realize that if either of those things happen to one or both of them, I’ll have played a big role in making it happen. I’m not going to try to evade blame.

Posting their addresses and phone numbers isn’t intended to encourage vigilantism, but to send a bigger message to women like Ardin and Wilen – if you lie about being raped, this is what will happen to you. Your anonymity will be compromised, your life will be laid bare for all to see, and your name will be destroyed. No rape shield law or journalistic ethic can protect you. You will suffer as the man whose name you vindictively dragged through the mud has suffered.

I want women to see that their choices have consequences. If enough false rape accusers have their identities and personal data exposed to the jeering Internet hordes, others will think twice before they accuse men of heinous crimes for petty and selfish reasons.
This is what has happened. Women must be reminded of the consquences of their actions. There is no need to wait for the trial or even read the evidence. The guardians of male virtue on Internet know what to do. Another man has been accused; his accusers must be punished.

The claim that "I don’t want to see either of them raped or killed" is particularly telling: who said anything about anyone being raped or killed?

Meanwhile, Jemima leaps in:
I was there because I believe that this is about censorship and intimidation. The timing of these rehashed allegations is highly suspicious, coinciding with the recent WikiLeaks revelations and reinvigorated by a rightwing Swedish politician. There are credible rumours that this is a holding charge while an indictment is being sought in secret for his arrest and extradition to the US. An accusation of rape is the ultimate gag.
It also an effective tool for dealing with rapists.

Maximum R'n'B:

The kids are alright, sort of

Napier 9-year-old Matisse Reid - the girl who can't eat - was yesterday in a bad way in a Pittsburgh hospital after undergoing two surgeries in the past few days to correct a rare intestinal condition.

The girl at the centre of a business dispute between a Kiwi events company and celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay had a small and large intestine transplant this week.

Gordon James Ramsey OBE, do you accept this child as your responsibility, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health? Do you accept that your absence from a fund-raising event means that your name will be forever linked with the fortunes of this girl? Do you accept the blame, Mr Ramsey? Well, do you?

In other news, the Coddington takes ten paragraphs to get to the "well excuse me" moment, a personal best and possibly a Commonwealth record in this event. Her radical solution to the problem of teenage girls being paid to have babies is to make the family pay, although she then claims these girls are raised below the poverty line.

In better news, Tony Ryall has dropped his mean-spirited plan to end by stealth the fruit in schools programme.

The HoS also has Paul Holmes venting about Wikileaks but someone had the good sense and deceny to keep it off the website.

Here's the Who in Hyde Park; once more with feeling, chaps:

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Going forward for pleasure and profit

Christmas, a time for vengeance; and for awards. So, there is no better way to celebrate the season than to inaugurate the Fundy Post Going Forward Award. The purpose of this award will be celebrate the use of the popular corporate phrase going forward by people who have stuffed things seriously up.

The first nomination for this prestigious award is Dr Stephen Clarke, Chief Executive of the RSA. Dr Clarke used the phrase going forward while attempting to defend the RSA decision to have poppies made by an Australian supplier from parts manufactured in China. For many years, RSA poppies have been made by Kilmarnock Enterprises, a company which provides "employment and personal development for people with varying levels of abilities." Dr Clarke says this decision will save the RSA One Hundred Thousand Dollars.

So, let us get this right: the RSA has a longstanding relationship with a company based in a New Zealand city which recently suffered a really bad earthquake, a company which exists to provide employment for disabled people. Dr Clarke decides that it would be better to offer the work to an Australian company, one which gets its poppy parts from a country which - apart from its record of torture, imprisonment and execution - was the effective enemy of New Zealand in the Korean War.

Dr Clarke thinks he has done a good thing, that he will have more money to give to the veterans. Given that the number of veterans is diminishing - we don't do wars the way we used to do them - and that an awful lot of people buy poppies, one would have thought that the RSA would be awash with money. One might also have thought that they would have considered the good will they have built. One might have thought that they would have considered the sum of $100,000 to be not worth gambling.

But no, the RSA is going forward . It might well be doing so on its own.

Dr Clarke is not the only dick in a suit to use the going forward phrase while defending his disasterous actions. If you, gentle reader, can recall a particular going forward moment from this year's media, do let me know. Your nominated canidate will be subjected to the usual ridicule in the pages of this blog; and you may well win a prize.

The Loud Family:

Friday, December 10, 2010

Island life

Off the coast of New Zealand, there are several very isolated islands that have no mains electricity. The very few residents eking out a living from farming or tourism here on the Great Barrier Island, live in the same way that people did decades ago – they have long collected rainwater, for example – but now they also use solar to power their simple houses.

So this very elemental beach bach designed by Herbst Architects is designed as a green home, by absolute necessity on this island, not to meet an eco trend. There is no choice. Solar panels supply electricity. Large rainwater tanks for storing rainwater are buried underneath the house.
HomeDesignFind discovers the simple life on Great Barrier Island. Here, brand managers, strategic consultants and other knowledge workers live a simple, rugged life for at least part of the year. Sometimes the island can be entirely isolated by rough weather and supplies can run low. On occasions, people have been forced to use olive oil which is neither extra nor virgin. If the Gaggia develops a fault, it might be a few days before spare parts can be flown out.

It is fortunate that Auckland has architects who can meet the challenge of these conditions, building houses which can withstand the elements and provide at least the essentials of life.

Killing Joke:

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Just because

Spot the difference:

1) Hilary Calvert's maiden speech to Parliament; Tuesday, October 12 2010:
Mahatma Gandhi in Young India in 1925 described the first of Seven Social Sins as Politics without Principles. And as the Members who have shared - and continue to share - the privilege of being part of the Government of New Zealand have had before me, I come before you with my own politics, informed by my own principles.
2) Hilary Calvert's speech on the Electoral (Disqualification of Sentenced Prisoners) Amendment Bill:

3) Robert Calvert sings Urban Guerilla with his popular beat combo, Hawkwind (Warning: contains nekkid hippy chick):

Send in the clowns

Norway's Nobel committee dismissed the Chinese foreign ministry's claim that the international community did not support the award.

Beijing has urged diplomats in Oslo to stay away from the event, warning of "consequences" if they go.

Several of those who have turned down invitations are long-term allies or trade partners. The full list comprises Pakistan, Iran, Sudan, Russia, Kazakhstan, Colombia, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Iraq, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Venezuela, the Philippines, Egypt, Ukraine, Cuba and Morocco.

Another 44 are attending, while Algeria and Sri Lanka have not replied to their invitations.
And anyone who attends is a clown. I don't know about you, but if were hosting a peace prize ceremony and that bunch didn't turn up, I would be relieved.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Moa for Morons

In a response to GayNZ.com Daily News, Moa Beer's marketing manager says the campaign is saying that anyone who drinks low carb beer must be queer.

The spokesperson says the company is bothered that the campaign has offended some gay people, but hasn't really thought about whether it's responsible.
Not really thinking about things seems to be a problem at the Moa Brewery: nobody seems to know that 'queer' includes the letter U.

Trivia at 20,000 feet

"I was told (by the flight attendant) the only option was to wake the lady in front but she looked fast asleep so she didn't want to do that.

"So I climbed onto my seat and onto the arm rest and jumped into the aisle."

Mrs Perez said she was concerned she would lose her footing in the dark cabin after the flight had experienced turbulence earlier on.

"What if I had caught my foot and fallen face-first into the aisle?"

The experience left Mr and Mrs Perez, who are Air New Zealand frequent fliers, questioning the airline's reputation as "Airline of the year".

They believe in-flight staff should have offered greater assistance rather than leaving it to Mr Perez to hold his wife's hand to make sure she exited safely.

More from Katherine Irvine, whom we met whining about her car-towing nightmare. The author of Christmas kitten rush arrives early for SPCA has been hand-picked to fill the role of Trivial Issues Correspondent, having proved her mettle with such works as Two weddings a world apart - "the future King and Queen of England will be fast asleep when Anna and Sean make their vows in front of friends and family" - and Celebrity snapper adds Beyonce to album.

However, now she is covering real-life human drama, Ms Irvine will have to up her game. Ms Irvine should be contacting experts in airline safety for statistical advice on the likelihood of falling face-first into the aisle and, more importantly, trawling the archives for stories of celebrity flight trauma.

I think we also should have been told of the reasons why Mr Perez finds holding his wife's hand to be so problematic. Clearly there are issues here which Ms Irvine needs to uncover before the weekly magazines get hold of the story. Similarly, Ms Irvine missed an opportunity with the Two Weddings story, when the Kiwi bride-to-be said "I have my mum's dress that I would like to use - either rip it to shreds or use parts of it." A more experienced correspondent would have been probing the family trauma and consulting pop psychologists about that one.

Still, the plane story is a good start. As Tanita Tikaram reminds us, there is a world outside your window, and Ms Irvine is ready to explore that world, bringing us all the news that is too unimportant to ignore

Monday, December 06, 2010

Above us only CGI

Architect David Gibbs, who led a team which redesigned buildings at both ends of the motorway tunnels for the Transport Agency in response to concerns raised in public submissions, says in a brief of evidence prepared for a board of inquiry hearing in February that he recognises "the potential of the stack to be a dominating visual element in its context.

The solution in my opinion is for the stack to be designed as [a] large-scale urban sculpture."

He describes the proposed structure as "an assemblage of self-rusted thick steel plates that are both tapered and curved - in some ways reminiscent of spear-like leaves".

As for the tunnel building, which will be 6.5m high and more than 60m long, he said each of its four parts would be adorned with symbols "reminiscent of sea organisms and objects that might be found in the inter-tidal zone"
No, no, no, Mr Gibbs. Do you not realise that we are no longer in New New Zealand but in Peterland, where everything is reminiscent of something in the Lord of the Rings franchise? We have no style; above us only CGI: if a building is big, it reminds somebody of a Tolkein tower; if it is small, somebody will think of a hobbit house. No further discussion is permissible. All aesthetic considerations shall be reduced to analogies of elements in a children's story. You must not try to make something look indigenous or natural, still less modern and unique, because everything now reminds somebody of something made in the Weta Workshop.

So try to avoid thinking for yourself. It only leads to trouble.

A song for Europe

Philip Morris’ submission on the TPP to the United States Government specifically identifies proposals to introduce plain packaging of cigarette packages. They argue that such plain packaging of cigarettes is “tantamount to expropriation on the use of long-held and extremely valuable property rights”.
Extremely valuable, indeed; Philip Morris, Swiss for the purposes of arbitration, is a worried man. Throughout the world, his valuable property is being expropriated by governments which use it to point out the effects of his product:

  • Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in New Zealand, accounting for around 4300 to 4600 deaths per year.
  • Half of the people who smoke today and continue smoking will eventually be killed by tobacco. Half of them will die in middle age.
  • Globally, 1.3 billion people smoke. Each year tobacco causes five million premature deaths.
  • Tobacco use is currently responsible for the death of one in ten adults worldwide. If current smoking patterns continue, it will cause some 10 million deaths each year by 2020.
I do hope, in the light of the encouraging news of our Government's reaction to the USofA's bullying, that we tell Mr Morris to go back to Switzerland.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Here comes another winter

Conservative party politicians lined up before the general election to promise that they would run a "pro-American regime" and buy more arms from the US if they came to power this year, the leaked American embassy cables show.

Despite British leaders' supportive stance, the dispatches also reveal – in what some will see as humiliating detail – how US diplomats in London are amused by what they call Britain's "paranoid" fears about the so-called special relationship.

One said the anxious British attitude "would often be humorous if it were not so corrosive" and that it was tempting to take advantage of this neurosis to "make London more willing to respond favourably when pressed for assistance". The UK was said to offer "unparalleled" help in promoting America's aims.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Life in the fast lane

When I realised my car had been towed from a busy Auckland city street on a Thursday afternoon, I was not entirely surprised.

In my haste to find a car park, I had absent-mindedly parked in a bus lane.

I confess I am no stranger to Auckland's inner-city tow yards so I knew what to do next.
Where is that whining noise coming from? Oh, I see: it is someone who absent-mindedly parks in bus lanes and is no stranger to tow-yards complaining that her car was missing for two weeks.

That is two weeks in which Ms Irvine could not clog up the bus lanes, so I think this is a win for the city. Perhaps Ms Irvine might have tried taking a bus while she was waiting for her car to be found; perhaps she might have learned what it is like to be stuck in traffic because some selfish yuppie has parked absent-mindedly ("oh, silly me: I am such a dizz") in the bus lane. Perhaps she might figure out that it takes just one dick to make scores of people late for work. But no, she uses her experience for copy. Poor, poor pitiful her.

Of course, she works for the Herald, which will always publish a motormouth. Witness all those letters by aggrieved men, who write to complain about getting speeding tickets, they being experienced drivers who are competent to drive over the limit when the conditions require it. Witness my friend Dan Sloan:
We've all seen irresponsible groups of cyclists riding in pelotons, three or four abreast with little care or sympathy for the other road users they endanger through their recklessness. And Tamaki Drive is rife with them.

A large number of these people also make up what are known as cycling pressure groups, who always have something to say when there is an incident involving cyclists on our roads, regardless of who is actually at fault.
Witness as well Herald motorhead Eric Thompson:
A public road with cars thundering along is no place for a cyclist, no matter how much they bleat about having every right to be in the same place as a car. I'm unsure if it's either arrogance or stupidity that lead various cycle organisations to insist on saying cyclists have equal rights with cars.
And it is not just cyclists who make Mr Thompson's viens bulge:
Listen up all you numpties who ponce along at 60km/h in the outside lane - you don't own the road so move over. It's called the fast lane for a reason you fools, and just in case you can't work out what fast lane means, it's also called a passing lane.
Protip: try driving at 100 kmph in the fast lane and see what happens; it is not pleasant.

Oh well, at least there is one Herald reporter who rides a bike: Martin Johnston. But it is usually the motorists who get to rant to defend their antisocial behaviour and to demand that everybody else get out of the way. One wonders whether other citizens with unpleasant habits and anger-management issues might also get to vent their spleens in the Herald, something along the lines of 'there was this bloke in the pub, right, and he was looking at me funny; so I said, "what's up with you mate' and then I bottled him before he could reply. '

Anyway, get down to Queen's Wharf on Sunday for Ride For Life.

Pere Ubu, with Jeremy Clarkson on theremin:

Friday, December 03, 2010

Born to be wild

For a 5 minutes travel time saving, the new 18 km motorway would have to be driven in a time of 8 minutes, this equates to a highly unrealistic speed of 135 km/h.
Transport planning consultant Bevan Woodward has done the maths. Yes folks, in order to make Mr Joyce's Freelove Freeway pay, you will have to drive very fast indeed.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Critical analysis for dummies

Mr Joyce denied the Government was out to kill the project, but said the $2 billion plus price tag was part of the reason the project would not get his blessings for a quick start.

"The cost is massive. Given the sheer volume and size of it, we surely need a little more critical analysis," he said.
D'accord; surely, if you were to spend that sort of money, you would want a critical analysis. But then:
The Government yesterday paid $1.775 billion - or $405 for every man woman and child in New Zealand - to take control of failed moneylender South Canterbury Finance's assets.

Humphreys and Keen:

New Leinster

Prime Minister John Key has slammed bureaucratic pin-pricking over the proposed New Zealand financial services hub as "absolute rubbish" and stepped in to put the project on the fast-track.

Economic Development Minister Gerry Brownlee has been ordered to produce an urgent paper covering a zero tax rating for the relevant foreign funds which Key wants incorporated in the November taxation bill and passed by April 1 next year.

The Prime Minister's frustration with Ministry of Economic Development officials spilled over publicly during a question session at an Auckland dinner on Tuesday night where he stressed New Zealand needed to be more optimistic and back success.

"There's been a whole series of advice coming from MED which basically says 'if you want to do this, you've got to deliver the Magna Carta of documents'," Key told the International Business Forum audience.
The Herald's headline Key itching for quick action on financial hub evokes rather unpleasant images, but the message is clear: Action Man leaps in, just like he did on the National Cycle Path, and look what a success that has become since his bold intervention. But this time it seems he might be in a position to do some damage:
Craig Stobo - who chairs the Government-appointed group which was tasked with working out how an international funds services industry could be created here - is delighted the proposal has got Government approval.
It is hardly surprising that the improbably named Craig Stobo is delighted - he is, after all, a fund manager. Helpfully, he spells out for the rest of us the liability we face:
Stobo said if a zero rating for the relevant funds (international funds which are not invested in New Zealand but are administered out of NZ) is incorporated in the November taxation bill, "it will be a signal to the rest of the world we are serious".
No it will not; it will be a signal to the rest of the world that we are greedy and stupid, a tax haven for slush fund managers. We can become just like Ireland: corrupt and broke. But look, it has an upside going forward:
Earlier reports to the Prime Minister suggested the administration of financial services could become a billion-dollar industry and create 3000 to 5000 new high-paying jobs.
Yes, 3000 to 5000 people like John Key: suits who get rich with other people's money, people who doubtless will pay the National Party handsomely and secretly to maintain New Zealand's new-found third-world status. And the tax-dollars paid by the suits will help reimburse those who invested their money in dodgy property companies. It goes round and round, never touching the rest of us.

Why would Mr Key bother to listen to the advice of his advisers when he has the opportunity to gamble with the country's money and with our reputation? It is his biggest put option yet. So ignore the Ministry and get Gerry to produce the advice that Mr Key wants to hear. After all, if we are going to be a third-world country financially, we might as well adopt third-world methods of doing government.

Explanation of title here. Traffic here:

It's a mystery

Auckland Council will help restore a derelict downtown building that is described as an eyesore.

The century-old five-storey heritage building on Albert Street has been empty for more than 15 years, is covered in graffitti and has broken windows.

Mayor Len Brown says the building is disgusting but the council can't legally force the owner to maintain it so has come to an agreement whereby both parties will pay for it to be cleaned up.

Mr Brown won't say how much that will cost the ratepayer but says it's well worth the money.
Also sprach NatRad


  • Why won't Mayor Brown tell us how much this will cost?
  • How do we know whether it is well worth the money?
  • Why can we not force property owners to maintain their buildings?
  • Why can we not take abandoned buildings into public ownership?
  • What about the St James?

On the radio (link at bottom of link above, as it were) Mayor Brown spoke of his campaign to clean up the graffiti of South Auckland. I wonder whether this involved paying property owners. The radio report also makes clear that the owner of the building has neglected it because he wants to demolish and replace it. I fail to see why we must allow this anti-social behaviour. We lost the Palace recently because the brothel-keepers wanted to enlarge the basement (perhaps they wanted a dungeon), but at least their plan was to keep the building. Other rentiers allow our civic heritage to decay and we can do nothing to stop them.

Oh well, here's Toyah dancing in her pinny:

Media7 made me do it

At last night's recording of Media7, I was persuaded to join Twitter, the well-known social something-or-other thing; this despite everything I have said about said site and every sneer I have made. My only excuses are that Mr Brown and Mr Brian are very persuasive and I had drank quite a lot.

So, now it is done. You can follow me, if you must. I might follow you. I gained my first follower within seconds of joining. She is a 22 year-old who wants to trade pictures with me. It is good to meet artistic people. I shall offer her some watercolours.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

He's Frank

3. You need to be able to cause a woman to feel sexual tension just being around you.

Creating sexual tension with a woman is like equipping yourself with a virtual “magnet.” Women will respond favorably to you if you know how to create sexual tension with her. Most guys don’t realize how easy this can be, and they also don’t realize that this is one of the most effective techniques that you can use to make a woman want to date you, no matter how good looking she is.

When you know how to create sexual tension with women, then it does not matter how good looking a woman is, she will WANT YOU…
This is rubbish. I found it on a site for sad gits which calls itself New Zealand's online men's lifestyle magazine. I do realise that gentle readers are far too clever and well-dressed to be part of this magazine's demographic. I only mention it because Mr Stratford informs us that the owner of this site uses bloggers' writing but does not pay them. Unlike the dating advice columnist, whose literary skills will never get him a date, the bloggers concerned can write. Yet they have not received so much as a virtual magnet for their work.

Here are the Monochrome Set, who are clever and well-dressed: