Archive for the ‘Culture & society’ Category

I’ll be there

September 24, 2008

WHAT: Drinking Liberally Auckland City
WHO: You and any of your left-leaning comrades
WHEN: 7.30pm, Wed 24th September
WHERE: London Bar, cnr Wellesley & Queen Sts (opposite Civic). The entrance to the bar is around on Wellesley St, you need to go up the stairs and we will probably be congregating at the far end by the stage, fiddling with the sound and setting up video.
WITH: Margaret Wilson – retiring Speaker of the House, architect of the Employment Relations Act, and down-right interesting person. She’ll be sharing her thoughts and observations from her 30 years at the sharp-end of NZ’s political scene.
COST: Free, just need to keep yourself fed and watered.


Boofhead of the week

September 10, 2008

Despite all of the political circuses, the boofhead of week has to be… a school soccer coach.

In an epic case of denial and schoolboy level pettiness, Mt Albert Grammar School coach Kevin Fallon says that Auckland Grammar School’s refusal to play in today’s Knockout Cup final is because they don’t want to lose.

Nothing to do with this incident when the two teams met in Napier last week, of course:

The Herald understands police interviewed Fallon about alleged “manhandling” of an Auckland Grammar player and that officers have DVD footage from the game.

Auckland Grammar headmaster John Morris, a former New Zealand goalkeeper and ex-chairman of NZ Soccer, reportedly said a brawl between players began following a tackle on a Grammar player.

He claimed Fallon became involved, manhandling one of the Grammar players, and said he thought Fallon himself ended up on the ground following pushing and shoving.

Good on Grammar for taking a stand against this sort of behaviour. I’ve never suffered from a surfeit of pride in my old school — ambivalence would be a fair description — but I feel proud about this.

Quote of the Day: Philanderers do it better?

September 3, 2008

Bill Maher on the Democratic Party’s decision not to invite former senator John Edwards to speak at last week’s convention:

“Our society is quick to chastise men who think with their dicks. But, sacrificing a major voice on a big issue [poverty] on the altar of Puritanism, isn’t that just as stupid as thinking with your dick?

“You know some presidents who had extramarital affairs? Kennedy, Eisenhower, Roosevelt, Jefferson. You want to know a president who never had an affair: George W. Bush.”

Powder man arrested

September 2, 2008

Police have arrested a 61 year-old Taranaki man in relation to the white powder scare at the Beehive last month.

When the scare was first reported, Idiot Savant at No Right Turn headlined his post, “The kiwiblog right strikes again.” I guess we’ll see, now, whether Idiot’s right about this. Let’s see, if it’s a Taranaki man that lets Dad for Justice off the hook. (Not that I ever thought it was you, Dad 🙂 )

In passing I would note that, while I agree with the tenor of Idiot’s original post, “This is what happens when you pursue a conscious strategy of whipping up hate and pandering to extremists … in New Zealand we’re lucky that it just leads to extremely obnoxious pranks”, the only two political assassinations in this country — apart from the more-or-less accidental death of Fernando Pereira — were of trade unionists. Frederick John Evans in 1912 and Ernie Abbott in 1984. RIP.

Update: That said, whipping up hate and pandering to extremists doesn’t just apply to the right, as Redbaiter points out in a comment below. Louis Farrakhan?
Seems Irish Bill at The Standard had the same thought.

The old media: worse than you thought

August 31, 2008

Girl, 12, rearrested over ‘attempted hanging’
Guardian, 3 June 2005

Lynching suspect ‘a renowned bully’
Evening Standard, 3 June 2005

What’s wrong with these headlines, and similar headlines in British newspapers in the days “after a five-year-old was “hanged” by a gang of children” as the Evening Standard put it, in early June 2005?

Well, as Nick Davies points out, there was no lynching. The critical information came from the testimony of the victim’s cousin who was reported as saying:

“I asked him, ‘What the hell happened?’ He said, ‘Some boys and girls tied a rope around my neck and tied me to a tree. They wouldn’t let me go’. “

Recall, the Evening Standard said “after a five-year-old was “hanged” by a gang of children.”

Davies is the author of the highly revealing inside look at the traditional news media, Flat Earth News: An Award-winning Reporter Exposes Falsehood, Distortion and Propaganda in the Global Media. London : Chatto & Windus, 2008.

Davies “exposes falsehood, distortion and propaganda in the global media.”

“Finally I was forced to admit that I work in a corrupted profession.” When award-winning journalist Nick Davies decided to break Fleet Street’s unwritten rule by investigating his own colleagues, he found that the business of truth had been slowly subverted by the mass production of ignorance.

Kim Hill interviewed him yesterday and the interview is great stuff (he’s a real talker). (Audio here.)

This post is for Winston.

Quote of the day: Olympic food

August 30, 2008

From Anthony Lane’s hilarious account of the Olympics in the New Yorker:

“The fact is that the Olympic Games could happen anywhere. They seem to unfold in a vast and spotless nowhere. I could have been in Melbourne, or Toronto, where at least the food would have been better—where the Chinese food would have been better.”

And from the same source

“Long before this year’s competition began, on August 10th, I was lost in the arcana of the American press handout, which explained that the stuff the [synchronized] swimmers rub into their hair, to keep it helmet-hard and out of their smiles as they cavort, is unflavored Knox gelatin, “also used in Jell-O and cheesecake.” The main ingredient of Knox is “soft horse cartilage.” Add the Knox to the nose clips that the women affix, for those tricky submarine somersaults, and you get an unsavory blend of sport, cooking class, and circus.”


August 28, 2008

It’s a glorious spring day, so I walked up to the Village by way of Fairview Rd. Dozens of tui, flitting from tree to tree, their song echoing all around. Sublime.

One resident of the street told me that “The tui start at 5am.” “But I don’t mind it at all”, she added. Who would?

Drinking Liberally in Auckland tonight

August 27, 2008

Don’t forget! Drinking Liberally is on in Auckland tonight with Laila Harre as the speaker. These are always fun to listen to the speaker and you get to do some networking.

WHAT: Drinking Liberally Auckland City
WHO: You and any of your left-leaning companeros
WHEN: 7.30pm, Wednesday 27th August
WHERE: London Bar, cnr Wellesley & Queen Sts (opposite Civic). The entrance to the bar is around on Wellesley St, you need to go up the stairs and we will probably be congregating at the far end by the stage, fiddling with the sounds.
WITH: Laila Harre – prominent union leader, well-known leftie and feminist, bane of Matthew Hooton’s Mondays, and former Cabinet Minister in the early days of the current Labour-led government.
COST: Free, just need to keep yourself fed and watered.

Veitch leaks: who dunnit?

August 25, 2008

Yesterday the Sunday papers were full of details about the Veitch affair, and the alleged assaults in particular (here and here). It’s got to the point where the carefully orchestrated media campaign by Veitch and the leaking of detials to the media — and their publication — is the more impotant story.

The police deny giving details to the media. Said Detective Inspector Scott Beard:

“The only people who have access to the police caption of summary are myself, the officer in charge of the case, the Crown and Mr Veitch and his team.” (Audio here.)

The Criminal Bar Association has criticised police for releasing information about the case. It points out that:

“any information that gives potential jurors one side of the case is prejudicial, and could lead to a judge dismissing it.”

Absolutely right, but it appears to have rushed to judgement here. Not only do the police say that they haven’t given the details to the media, why would they jeopardise their own case?

Veitch’s spin meister Glenda Hughes also denies leaking the information. She’s the one who was so forhtcoming to the news media the previous Sunday.

There should be an inquiry into these attempts to pervert the course of justice.

As for the news media… Shame, Granny, shame!

It’s ironic, isn’t it, that we have the old media going all out for the tabloid headlines with narry a thought for the wider implications of their actions, and the bloggers pondering the significance of the affair while avoiding anything that might be sub judice?

How can Granny actively undermine the integrity of the justice system possibly imagine that it has the moral authority to lecture us about the EFA? It doesn’t. It’s morally bankrupt.

Media can’t resist boobs

August 23, 2008

Yesterday my local newspaper came with the front-page banner headline “$35,000 boob battle”.

Presumably, I’m supposed to be shocked by this outrageous waste of ratepayers’ money, blah, blah. Well I’m not.

True, the court battle was always going to be “an exercise in futility” as Mayor Banks put it. But I am glad that my Council took the case, even though the chances of winning were slim and the victor is one of Auckland’s sleaziest citizens. Outside Mt Eden. Prison that is.

It wasn’t about freedom of expression in my view. People are quite free to go to the event that the boobs parade aimed to plublicise — despite the extraordinarily disingenuous denial of this in court — should they want to get their jollies oggling the pneumatic wonders of the porn stars on show. Not to mention the jelly wrestling.

It wasn’t even about what we might quaintly term “decency” for many of us, although the sad, tawdry spectacle taking place in our main thoroughfare was demeaning for the participants and by-standers, and arguably, the reputation of the city as well.

It was about the celebration of the exploitation of women as sex objects, something that we all should have got past long ago.

No, when it comes to waste I’m much more exercised by the Council’s plans to build an iconic lifting bridge down at the viaduct for $51.2 million (and rising). As Brian Rudman asks, is a toy like this really the best use of public funds? After all, we have a bridge there already. It is, as Rudman says, “a bridge too far.”

There are so many better things for which the Council could use $51.2m. Rates relief for one. Okay, you may not think that attempting to injunct a hard-core porn king’s sexploitation parade is one of them, but the unnecessary bridge is (currently) expected to cost roughly 1400 times more.

Yep, 1400 times more. You’d think that would be more newsworthy, but it seems that the news media can’t resist boobs.