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Friday, March 12, 2010

The Mayor is in the house

Wut? Can this be true? Will mild-mannered Manukau Mayor Len Brown really be attending ROCKIT,  the BIGGEST PARTY OF 2010, featuring 3 ROOMS OF THE HOTTEST MUSIC FEATURING NZ's TOP DJ's AND 2 TRANCE DJS FLYING IN FROM TAIWAN playing HARD TRANCE / HARD HOUSE / HARD DANCE / MINIMAL TECHNO / HARDCORE, all in block capitals, and women like HER?

I think we should be told.

While we are waiting KLFisgonnarockya

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A club of two halves

The reputation of football's playing fraternity was not enhanced yesterday when it emerged that 85 people had been shown the door by financially stricken Portsmouth while only two players had offered to take pay cuts to save the fate of the less well-off.
This blog does not usually comment on matters concerning Association Football, but this story takes the half-time orange.  Whilst appreciating that professional footballers have significant hairdressing expenses, one cannot help remarking something to the effect of "what a bunch of overpaid mercenary gits." 

Pride comes before The Fall:

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

The strangeness of Comfort

New Zealand-born author Ray Comfort, who is now based in the United States, has written his own introduction to Darwin's groundbreaking work on evolution, where he argues for intelligent design. Melissa Day, of Comfort's New Zealand Living Waters Ministry, said the group planned to give away about 10,000 copies of the book today on university campuses in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.
He's back! Christchurch's gift to Intelligent Design, Ray "bananas" Comfort, takes on the Intelligentsia at a campus near you. 

I, for one, welcome this bold attempt to provide the Origin of Species with an introduction. We can only hope that Mr Comfort's followers notice that there are many other books in the libraries of our universities and encourage him to write further introductions. Perhaps we might soon be able to read his introductions to Middlemarch, The Open Society and its Enemies, Learning from Las Vegas and The Joy of Sex.

News from Northwich

Although the name The Charlatans was used when original members of the band were located in the West Midlands, many sources state that they formed in Northwich, Cheshire. This is because the band relocated to the home town of new lead singer Tim Burgess (who lived in Northwich) before the release of The Charlatans' debut single "Indian Rope" in 1990 on the band's own Dead Dead Good Records label. This means that, based on the definition of the hometown used by Guinness World Records, the band formed in Northwich and consequently Northwich is recorded as their home town in "Guinness World Records: British Hit Singles and Albums."
It's that Wikipedia feeling: the uncanny sense that an entry has been amended by some pedantic nerd who wants the world to know he knows something the world does not, something which he will express in his own way.

Still, cracking good band, even if they did wear raincoats indoors:

Sunday, March 07, 2010


The Denny’s restaurant chain had been enjoying a wave of positive publicity after its most recent offer of free breakfasts, made in commercials that ran during the Super Bowl on Feb. 7. But a subsequent spot has earned the wrath of many consumers.

The spot promoted another offer: to recognize the 150th anniversary of the end of the Irish famine, Denny’s would serve French fries and pancakes in all-you-can-eat portions.

Wut? When you work alone, it is easy to forget how stupid people can be when the work in groups, especially when those groups are in advertising.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

It seemed like a good idea at the time

There appears to be a cross-party agreement to squander the public's money. Why? It's partly because many Tory and Lib Dem voters hate big, efficient windfarms, and this scheme appears to offer an alternative. But it's mostly because solar panels accord with the aspirations of the middle classes. The solar panel is the ideal modern status symbol, which signifies both wealth and moral superiority, even if it's perfectly useless.
The British Government's 
Feed-in tariffs for solar panels.
The independent report by Otago University researchers, commissioned by EECA, said the standard insulation upgrade was warming some homes in the deep south by less than half a degree.
The NZ Government's
home insulation scheme
The Conservative economic legacy is a massive transfer of wealth and power away from the majority of the people to capital, away from the poor to the rich, and away from the country to London. The economy has been financialised at the expense of more equitable productive wealth creation. Cameron has no political economy to enact his pro-social politics and his rhetoric of social justice.
The Property-owning Democracy
The church member who contacted the Herald said many in the congregation felt the covenant was going against the Gospel."It was a money-making scheme. All the people who make covenant with Bishop Tamaki have to buy a $300 ring. You might think I'm stupid for going into the church in the first place. But I [only] found out it was a cult after I went in."
Destiny Church
Last week Seinfeld gave an interview to the New York Times in which he said he was unable to resist making the new programme. "If it's a good idea, you become its servant. A good idea has a draft suction, that you get pulled into it."
The Marriage Ref, which turned out to have more suction than anyone expected.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Down with this sort of thing

A photograph of a nude six-year-old girl on the cover of a high-brow Australian art magazine today sparked an uproar after Prime Minister Kevin Rudd called it disgusting, infuriating liberal art critics.

This month's taxpayer-funded Art Monthly Australia magazine placed the photograph of the young dark-haired girl on the cover, sitting and with one nipple showing, to protest censorship of a recent photo exhibition featuring similarly naked children.

"I can't stand this stuff," said Rudd, a staunch Christian whose centre-left Labor government won a sweeping victory over conservatives last year, in part on a vow to reinvigorate Australia's small but influential arts community.

Sometimes, I wonder why Australia bothers having a rabid, frothing Christian Right when it can get the same sort of service from its
Prime Minister. Sometimes, I recall the days when the Independent was a serious newspaper. 

What next? Will the Prime Minister demand the burning of  Led Zeppelin albums? Will the Independent find more excuses for prurience?

Monday, March 01, 2010

When Art Historians attack

Mr Restellini is disliked by the French state cultural establishment for several reasons. He is an art historian (and an expert on Modigliani) but he has never taken the official French examination for museum curators. He is young and brash and speaks his mind publicly in a world that prefers discreetly poisonous intrigue. And he made his name in Japan and by running a series of successful exhibitions in the (now temporarily closed) Musée du Luxembourg, which belongs to the upper house of the French parliament.
Discreetly poisonous intrigue... so, nothing unusual there.

Another reason to avoid Britain

Henry, from Essex, was the first man in Britain to have buttock implants. He hated his flat, skinny bottom but didn't have £7,000 to blow on surgery. So he approached an agency called Talk to the Press.

Launched two years ago by freelance journalist, Natasha Courtenay-Smith, the London firm receives more than 20 emails a day from people with tales to tell. Courtenay-Smith sold the buttock story to the Sunday Mirror and New! magazine and is seen in the documentary talking to Henry about a follow-up. As the narrator puts it, "For everyone involved, Henry's bottom has become a goldmine."

Buttock implants, true life stories, PR agencies, instant celebrity; that's four reasons and I could go on; and, of course, women called Natasha.

Small surge in Napier; not many hurt

Leon Mickelson was fishing for paua at Red Rock Beach in Hawke's Bay when he was swamped by a metre-high surge of water, followed by two more waves. He had no idea a tsunami alert had been issued.

"This wall of water just hit me. I was getting tumbled across all the rocks, it was unbelievable. The force was just unstoppable. There was no way you could fight it, you just had to roll with it."

The water then sucked him 20 metres out into the ocean, bouncing over rocks. "It was like being in a washing machine. It just completely and utterly caught us out."

Mr Mickelson, 30, managed to swim ashore, and suffered cuts and bruises.

news of the paua has been reported. Meanwhile, in other news, 700 people in Chile are dead, two million are displaced. On Nine to Noon Kathryn Ryan talked to a man who has a daughter in Chile; she is fine, but they have had some difficulty keeping in contact with her.

Coming up: is New Zealand media parochial? We talk to somebody with a book to sell.

Prime Minister's Question Time

On one occasion Brown went round to No 10 to get an answer. One of Blair's inner circle who witnessed this says: "Gordon was just losing it. He was behaving like a belligerent teenager. Just standing in the office shouting: 'When are you going to fucking go?' "
For one moment, although little did he know it, Gordon Brown spoke with the voice of the nation; nay, the voice of all nations.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Dark energy

Be afraid, Whittakers, be very afraid. Not only does the Facebook group Whittaker's, we want you to go fair trade! have over a thousand members and an unnecessary exclamation mark in its title, but it has no admins. According to the small print "There are no admins left in this group!" This thing is out of control: a vast lumbering hoard of chocolate-eating malcontents, who wouldn't touch Cadbury's chocolate - what with the palm oil and the takeover by Kraft - but who want to see some human rights going on. I would give in, if I were you. It is not much to ask, that the farmers of your cocoa beans do not torture children; and you would be helping to make the world a better place.


Questions of justice and reward were left to the market to resolve; questions of human flourishing were privatised. It was left to everyone to decide their own sequence of pleasurable experiences in life with little acknowledgement of how many of those depend entirely on mutual co-operation. The classic paradigm is sitting in a traffic jam in your 4x4 with its astonishing powers of acceleration rendered useless.

One explanation for this abandonment of the debate is that we lost a language in which to think and argue about ethics. Perhaps this is partly attributable to the vexed legacy of institutional religion and the long shadow it still casts. The promotion of ethical behaviour has been bound up with particular institutions, and as they decline, it leaves a vacuum of authority. Who dares talk on this subject with confidence? It prompts fear that any such discussions are really a Trojan horse for promoting a religious belief. There's a suspicion that words such as "morality" tip us quickly into the kind of instinctive conviction made infamous by Tony Blair in which sincerity is regarded as an adequate substitute for careful reasoning.

Madeleine Bunting

Monday, February 22, 2010

A lot of monkeys

... are homosexual. This startling insight comes from none other than Mr Paul Henry, the well-known idiot.  
"It is unnatural, although homosexuality is through all species," he said.

"I don't know if it's through all species but many, many species. A lot of monkeys are homosexual."

Later in the discussion he said: "The thing is, though, if you go to any animal park, and I've got to be careful what I say here, but if you go to any animal park, you will find monkeys being filthy with each other."

In these times, when so much discussion is dominated by Big Science - with its emphasis on facts, reason, coherence and other Enlightenment values -  it is reassuring to see one little corner of the world where nonsense still has its place. Mr Henry has learned that homosexuality is through all the species, or at least many of them. He has seen monkeys. Yet he concludes that homosexuality is unnatural. No, more than that: he uses his knowledge and experience as proofs that homosexuality is unnatural.

You can say what you like about National Radio, but it will never provide this level of unreasoning.

Being neither a television viewer nor a morning person, I am largely unfamiliar with Henry's oeuvre. However, I once saw a documentary he made, with large amounts of public money. It scarcely what one would call a documentary in the old-fashioned sense of the world, but one of those programmes where the presenter goes to some remarkable place to meet some remarkable person. In this case, the person was a Kiwi punching above his weight on a global stage by being the chef at a trout-fishing resort somewhere remote and inside the Arctic Circle; yes, it was that remarkable. Anyway, and this is my point, getting to this remote place involved Henry going to Norway, where he could not help remarking that all the men looked like homosexuals. He then giggled and said something about not being politically correct.

I am not sure what he meant by this comment. Does he think of homosexuals as tall, blond and nordic? Were the Norwegian men excessively well-dressed for his liking? How could one know? It was a comment that seemed to come straight from the Id. Any other presenter would have insisted that it be removed in the cut, but Henry seems oddly proud of these outbursts.

Whatever his meaning, Henry does seem to be preoccupied with the issues of  sexuality and gender. Perhaps it was the trauma of losing a safe tory seat to a transsexual that did it, or perhaps there is some deeper cause. Who knows? I know I don't. But I wonder if that bloke in the Corolla is parking outside the wrong house.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Bad day at lifestyle block

A former SPCA general manager has been warned by police after threatening to shoot a young boy's pony after it strayed on to his property.

Pukekohe officers were called to David Lloyd-Barker's home, south of Auckland, on Monday after 11-year-old Reilly Webber's mother Abby Mills-Webber phoned 111 to report the threat.

This sort of thing probably happens all the time among the lifestyle blocks at the edge of the city, where couples with freshly-hyphenated surnames build ranch-style homes and give their children peculiar names. So why should it be the lead story on the Herald's website? No, don't tell me.

I always find myself getting lost in the dramatis personae of these stories of domestic strife among people we do not know.  When I read of Reilly running around unsupervised I thought Reilly must be the pony; but then, which one is Kale? And what of Willow Schulte? I expect they all have Bebo pages, even the pony.