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Monday, December 7, 2009

No Helmet Hone

This from Stuff.co.nz:

The motorbike incident happened two months ago, when he met a group of anti-violence demonstrators on the forecourt and took a short ride on one of their bikes.

It was pointed out at the time that he wasn't wearing a helmet, but he laughed it off.

TV One News reported tonight that a couple of viewers had complained to the police.

Now this is just getting silly. I agree that if it was anyone else that someone would have complained and not targeted at Hone but, FFS, this is just pathetic!

It's like New Zealand has become a nation of Patricia Bartletts. Lets complain about anything and everything. No harm no foul, I say.

C'mon New Zealand. Get your shit together.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Where is Annette?

I just commented over at Chris Trotter's blog Bowalley Road about a post on Grant Robertson when the question rose: Where is Annette King?

Granted that they probably want to keep the focus on Phil at the moment however Robertson taking Goff to task over the Nationhood speech lead me to ask where  is the communication between Goff and his caucus. I would have thought Annette, being the capable communicator (the EFB aside) would be busy doing the deputy's job and calling the indians around the fire for a pow wow.

Yet we haven't seen Annette at all over the past fiew months.

What is Labour's deputy doing?

A bad job, some might surmise, after the Robertson affair.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Sod it..... Lets Get Morbid!

I didn't know Annie Woolf at all bar what she presented to us on her blog.

Don't get angry about this but it's like a celebrity such as Princess Diana dying (I hope Anna is chuckling away wondering where this analogy leads). We saw Diana from afar - more in publications and perhaps TV than anything. Few got to meet her. Fewer still got to speak with her. And yet when she was killed, we were affected. We felt connected by the fact that we saw something in her that we had in common. I'm not sure what it was - she seemed a most singular woman to me - yet she never failed to make an impact.

Annie Woolf has managed to achieve a bit of that as well.

I learned of her death by the blogosphere. That nebulous mass of people who, somehow believe, that people want to read what they write. Or write for the hell of it. Or any manner of reason. And that is the thing that I had in common with her.

Her life (and death) are worlds away from mine. Apart from some basic trivialities such as we are currently living in New Zealand and English appears to be our first language (after a few drinks, I suspect it becomes my fifth!), we had little else in common.

Now she has died and the only thing that strikes me is: today Anna died and someday I will die too. People have been busy leaving messages and posts about Anna on Not PC's site. Predictably, the mood is sombre and reflective. Sad that Anna has gone and the common thread is missing a stitch.

Today wasn't an everyday occurrence. And suddenly we all feel a wee bit vulnerable. Cause the other thing we have in common is going to happen too. You know, the "D" thing. Bugger. On the flip side, though, probably not today.

And that is Anna's legacy to us. For over a year, she shared with us what was happening to her all the while  still railing against the same things we, as bloggers, do: life, love, politics and bad food. All  said with grace, charm and delicious wit and all the while adding her comments on her Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma like it was a normal everyday occurrence.

But thats the point. Anna talked about it in the midst of strident comment and invective thrown around at Kiwiblog or prickly, acid commentary at Cactus Kate. Ranting madness at Whoar or barracking over at the Standard. All the things we bloggers go on about. All the while someone was dying.

Anna's death binds our community. This is a good thing. Like Diana's death perhaps. I know all the bloggers at the Cavalier tonight are finding out that we have more in common than an internet connection and a willingness to expose our thoughts.

So next time bloggers you're about to go ape on someone that has annoyed you or are about to get personal, take a moment to think about Anna Woolf. Someone who was facing the biggest and baddest challenge that all of us will face. Remember her grace and style in the face of the fact that she wouldn't be writing her blog the next day. Then remember how lucky you are to have the opportunity to do what we do.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

My ode to Beer

"Beer, for want of a better word, is good".

If Gordon Gecko, so wonderfully and malevolently played by Michael Douglas in the movie "Wall Street", was a kiwi, this is what he would say.

I like beer.

As I write this, I'm sipping away from a bottle of that amber gold. A rich, full bodied, yet delicately spiced East India pale ale. Its been 25-odd degrees with a gusty nor'west here in Canterbury and come the end of the working day I found myself parched. From midday onwards, I dreamed about that first bottle. And at 5.15 this evening, I wasn't disappointed. It was lovely. Chilled to within an inch of cryogenic perfection, the hssss as the cap was removed promised relief and satisfaction and by golly it delivered.

I'm not a yob, a bogan or an alchy. I'm not one of those people who wear long shorts and walk socks with pens in the top pocket of their short sleeved shirt who can describe the chemical process involved in the brewing to a cellular level. Nor am I one to decorated my house with beer posters and who consider "beer gear" the height of fashion and consider which beer one drinks to be directly related to their identity.

I just like beer. It tastes nice.

I like wine. Red's are my favorite although I don't mind a Sauvignon Blanc and can even spell sauvignon. I enjoy a fine whisky and will gladly wallop a bottle of vodka should the desire take me.

But for drinking with a couple of mates on a hot day, beer is great. It satisfies that immediate thirst and after a couple of bottles, leaves you feeling pretty good about life in general. If you have a couple of friends round, have a beer and shoot the breeze. It lasts a bit longer than wine because, being only 4%, you can have a couple and still be able to drive. And because so many New Zealanders drink it, it's a wonderful social lubricant. It's not as if you have one good bottle of beer and you become a social pariah whom the only person that thinks you are at all witty, charming and fun is yourself. If I have one "good" whisky, I'm best to organise a cab home from friends that will tolerate boorish behaviour. Moreover, and this is particularly relevant, I can have several beers and still type!

Nope. Beer is it. Cool, tasty and refreshing.

Beer is good.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

ETS Far Removed.

Is anyone else feeling slightly removed from the ETS debate?

If you go to Kiwiblog there are comments, accusations and epithets flying from one corner to another. But once again, this war seems to be fought over ideological grounds rather than the minutiae of the the bill itself.

The general public have heard what the media chooses to spout at us - mainly the potential cost to the taxpayer over 40 years - and except for Brian Rudman here, there seems to be precious little analysis and forthright, plain english explanations. I've had a look here and there and think I've at least got the gist of whats happening. Everyone should have the gist! Everyone should be Gistified!

With the background of the Maori Party deal sending up smoke in all directions, the real issue is obscured. What are we, as a nation., doing to help the environment?

Few people would say that doing nothing is the way to go. Most people have accepted that we need to change our lives in order to secure the future health of this planet - or at least join in the saving for political expediency. So if there is such little understanding out there, why not take a break from urgently ramming through this bill and explain to Kiwis what it is we are doing. Given the magnitude of the issue I think it would be good to have this better explained now rather than some complaining about it later.

So while all the whirlwind of rhetoric goes on around me in the beltway over maori and whatever else, I still feel removed from the biggest environmental decision our country has made in the last 100 years.

And I think there is something wrong with that.

Monday, November 23, 2009

It's my blog and I'll cry if I want to.

For the past few months, I've had nothing good to say.

So best not to fake it. Just don't say a bloody word. Not one

Without sounding deliriously depressing (uh, too late there, pal), I've just had sod all that I wanted to write about. The politics has been "relaxed", the sports mediocre and while there have been umpteen issues of great note, relevance and import, none have struck me as been worthy of sitting down to compose a piece.

When I started the Home Office, I wasn't in the mood for a confessional that have made bloggers such as Girl With a One Track Mind a sensation. I didn't want to be a kind of news aggregation and comment site such as Kiwiblog.

I wanted to write because I like it. It feels good and I wanted to feel good then. At the time, every little bit helped. I wanted to actually try to craft a piece of writing in a way that, like music or a great movie, it connects with other people. To get an emotional reaction from a reader. Reaction is measured in novelizations by book sales. Blogs are measured by page visits and readers comments. And a few people did come, read and comment. It is fantastic gratification and ego stoking.

I rang my old English teacher and asked him to look at it early on. He is an amazing wrangler of good, old fashioned, "Anglo Saxon" words. People even buy his books. I was sure that the qualities that he possesses would be found here. I went looking for praise and got a critique back that could have come straight from a 5th form homework assignment - full of red lines, notes and admonitions on my bludgeoning of the language and grammar. That wasn't gratifying. It was honest but it didn't stoke my fires. It was a blow. One that I knew would come. I asked for it when I emailed him. So why be discouraged when it happens? Re-reading the article he commented on, it's no bloody wonder because it is appalling.

He also gave me advice. For example:

"Writing is a good thing to do. But if you want people to read what you write, you need to work on the craft, the trade. It's a trade like plumbing. You need to know how the bits work. It takes a long time to learn".

Bugger that, I thought. I don't want to take the time. So I started reading successful authors liner notes. I went to their webpages and read their notes and FAQ's where they told the secret to great writing. And this is what they pretty much all said.


Something I have none of. Nada. Zilch. Keiner. Nulle. None.

I'm an empty 44 gallon drum. An amount of air contained by a thin skin. To the outside world, I look purposeful, solid and capable but inside is empty. I could try and be nice and say "I don't have the patience" or "I can never find the time" but that would be a lie. The truth is that I am undisciplined. I am a lazy sod.


So, in an effort to change this, I'm going to be more purposeful in my writing. After all anything will be better than my productivity over the last few months. I will write often but I probably won't always write well. But it's not if you win or lose, it's how you play the game, eh? Perhaps an old dog can change his spots. Maybe I could start filling the drum too.

And by the way, anyone who points out that I didn't start this blog as a literary hand wringing exercise then served up this tripe, you are quite right. But it's my blog and I'll cry if I want to. So up yours.

P.S If you read this then think that I'm vain and shallow - you're right again. I am. Isn't life a bitch sometimes?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

I'm back!

After an enforced holiday due to technical complications (no Mum, I wasn't a guest of Her Majesty), I finally have access again.

Being without blog has been like sufferring oxygen deprivation - one is strangely lightheaded while the world revolves at twice the speed.

Anyhow, nice to be back.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Labour's Leadership Crisis

The Labour caucus is still having trouble with deciding how to deal with this new government.

David Farrar over at Kiwiblog posts how inane the opposition's attacks are regarding the Governments planned fibre roll out strategy to better serve our broadband infrastructure. As was posted on Kiwiblog a wee while ago, they were having a little trouble deciding a)how to attack JK et al and b) how to be an effective opposition. This proves once again that they still have issues (aside from rampant socialism that is :-)).

In the past, all oppositions did just that: the opposite - sometimes whether they agreed with a policy or not. Now, with JK at the helm and a more open and results (rather than politics) orientated government that is bi-partisan in it's approach, the traditional rules no longer apply. As exhibited with Clare Curran's approach to s92a, there is a glimmer of hope. Unfortunately, you still have A King and P Goff at the helm who authorise these "attacks" because they know nothing else. Thats how they have been taught. In politics when you resort to blatant untruths, such as we have here, you can tell that the party is failing to get any traction. They tried this in the election campaign (remember Mike Williams' little side trip) and the strategy didn't work then and, in the face of a disciplined government, it won't work now. This is another great example of where leadership is being tested for Labour and is failing. Bring on the likes of Shane Jones who is far more credible, focused and able to adapt while bring the likes of Jacinda Adern up with him. While not being a Labour supporter, New Zealand still needs a credible opposition for things to function well. I hope Phil Goff can get past his own hubris, see this problem for what it is and act upon it or, god forbid, he may end up having to be moved involuntarily.

Make no mistake, Andrew Little, for all his conciliatory words on Q+A two weeks ago about supporting Phil and Annette, is just the bloke to enact change when needed and be prepared to step on toes if he thinks it is in the best interests of his party. He is cognizant of the fact that to achieve a result for your point of view, a conciliatory approach works a lot better than an adversarial one. You only need to look at his style of leadership in the EPMU for that. Many employers have a great respect for Andrew and give him credence where the likes of the old guard such as Ken Douglas, would never have achieved his levels of success for his people.

The whole Labour movement needs to smarten up in this new era. It's spokespeople are still living in the wrong century - or at least their politics are.

One just needs to go to Chris Trotters lament of the demise of that era to realise that they are still beholden to the past rather than to the future.

The Labour Party is in a crisis, no matter how much they deny it. The current leadership just can't get a grip on the reasons why people changed their vote in such numbers and why the National Party retains such support post election. People want results - no matter who initially thought up the idea. National is delivering this. Labour is still stuck in the mindset that if it isn't our idea then it isn't an idea at all.

Phil Goff should remember Plato's Repuplic - that in the absence of any leadership at all, a new leader will emerge - whether he wills it or not.

Hat Tip: DPF, Kiwiblog

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

More Music

I seem to be on a bit of a music thing lately.

Nice! It's great to have these little periods - these bents - that come along every once in a while. These are the times when you completely lose your "grown up" persona (some will doubt I have one in the first place and am talking through a hole in my ass) and let yourself go free. Have a beer or a glass of wine, hit the playlist titled "The Good Stuff", turn the volume up to "obscenely loud" then start to dance and sing yourself back all those years. My sister is really good at it. Just give her some time away from the kids, a stereo and a wooden spoon doubling as a mic and you have guaranteed entertainment. It's great singing along with her. The start to every song is preceded by "Oh, oh! Do you remember when......" or "God this reminds me of.....".

As I said, this is heaps of fun. Allowing external stimuli to assist you remembering little bits of your personality and how they got there. Like a certain smell. Fresh bread takes you back to your grandmums house when you were four and a kitchen was an enormous place full of things you weren't allowed to touch yet. Or seeing a particular make of car makes you think of the time you took a ride in your mates new wheels when you were 18 and.... and... I'm sure it was that kind of car... maybe it was blue... or a station wagon - ahhh, it doesn't matter what set the memory off - it's the fact that that you remembered it anyway! And when you are reassuring yourself that you can physically draw those memories up from whichever black pit of cerebellum that you have stashed them in, you feel immensely proud of yourself for the achievement.

And music does it for me. Especially Pearl Jam. The band takes me to a fantastic time in my life Back when I was starting to get the idea that I had my own identity; independent of my family. Bright, shiny and new, I was sponge for everything the world had previously held from me until that exact moment when it deemed me ready to be smothered in life.

Some call it the "Soundtrack" of their lives. and it is. Listening to "Jeremy" by Pearl Jam means cruising down to the bottleshop in a yellow Austin 1300 to where there was a fair chance of underage guys like ourselves being served with little hassle. Then back to someone's flat to drink amounts of alcohol usually prescribed for running high performance engines and looking cool doing it. Standing back looking at girls looking at us; wearing flannel shirts to signify that rather than just listening to grunge - we "were" grunge. We understood the pain of being the ignored generation. Shit, we felt so ignored that sometimes we didn't notice ourselves!

And hearing Pearl Jam also sets off thoughts of other music as well. Going to gigs like Buffalo Tom and Hunters & Collectors at the university ballroom were standouts. Among the sweat noise of youth, we started to matter to ourselves. It was here that we "made our bones" as people in our own right. Our own tastes and preferences expressed free of the Axis of Evil that consisted of Mum and Dad.

So to all you other 30-somethings out there, or anyone for that matter, get your old songs out of the cracked and faded CD covers. Set aside an hour for "me time" then dress in comfortable clothing (flannel shirts if you got 'em). Pump up the volume, sink back into a beanbag and take yourself back a ways. Remember where you were and, in the process, remember who you are.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Gin Wigmore

Laughykate posts over here about a great track currently doing the rounds. The song is by Smashproof featuring a kiwi artist named Gin Wigmore.

Like Kate, I am a big fan of Gin's voice - so much so that I rushed onto the net to buy as much music of hers that I could. It really is outstanding stuff. A bit of Macy Gray vocals with Aretha soulfulness, this lady is unique. Check out a sample below.

Support kiwi music and get behind Gin. She is going to go places. Also check out her website for more samples and news : http://www.ginwigmore.com/.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

I Miss Agenda.

I've just experienced my first Q + A and I'm not impressed. Not impressed with Holmes at least.

Paul did well to bow out when he did however his half hour, magazine style of interview just doesn't cut it. A great example was the interview with Andrew Little. Andrew did well I thought in the face of a badgering questioner that seemed more intent on getting him to trip up rather than allow him to put forward his views which, surprisingly enough, he managed to do with a certain amount of style and credence.

The show was too rushed without giving the panel to give deep analysis. All on the panel are competent commentators however the format just doesn't allow for them to display their smarts.

There are a few things that need to happen to ensure Q+A's success.

Firstly, poor old Paul needs to slip back into retirement. This is no slight on his intellect. More that the show just doesn't suit him and I think he is past it.

Secondly, the format needs to be paced better. It might have been me but it felt rushed.

And lastly, they need to retain Therese Arsenaeu. Mmmm.... political eye candy :-)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

A Change is as Good as a Holiday

I have been experimenting a wee bit with layout and in an effort to clean things up have come out with a new template. Please tell me if you like it by leaving a comment.

Using the Blogger templates has been great however getting the subtleties of HTML is taking a little longer.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Best Post of the Week!

LaughyKate posts here the best (IMHO) post of the week.

God kiwi's do understatment well.

RIP Natasha Richardson

Stuff reports that the actress, Natasha Richardson, has died.

The wife of actor Liam Neeson, Richardson is not as well celebrated as perhaps other members of her family i.e. the Redgraves. She was however a very fine actress.

It was reported that her family was by her side when she died from what, it has been described, as an awful accident.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

On a More Serious Note.....

Clarke Gayford (you may remember him from such shows as Getaway and C4) is up for the Best Job in The World competition as the caretaker for the islands of the Great Barrier Reef.

Having seen his video application, young Clarke stands up well against the competition but needs our vote to help ensure success.

It would be good to see the local boy beat the rest of the world (check out some the other applicant vids) however he has some pretty stiff competition. One girl, from Taiwan has over 130,000 votes! Clarke has 2400.

So, let's get behind the Kiwi, and help him kick the crap out of the opposition. Click here to vote.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Case of the Century (well, so far)

Watching the news at the moment, it is apparent to me that a circus is in town.

Let me start by explaining something. For some reason, many countries measure their status, maturity or whatever, to America. Our lust for celebrity now echoes that of the US (though I'm unsure if Mark Ellis and the entire cast of Shortland street make a great celeb pool). Our love of cars of status or our "Reality Shows" that depict the desperate conflict within that most representative of demographics - the female fashion model, is straight out of America.

Like the O.J Simpson case, a case burned into the american psyche, New Zealand now has the three ringed circus that is - "The David Bain Retrial"! (queue lightning effect offscreen and ominous "da-da-da-DA" music)

The similarities are extraordinary. The Bain murders shocked the nation when discovered. In the same way that all americans were glued to their TV sets watching that 4x4 cruising down the freeway shadowed buy one third of the LAPD vehicles that were available at the time ( you just can't buy that sorta publicity, said the LAPD communication consultants). Ok, so instead of being pursued down a road by enough 4 wheeled, steel hardware to make a magnet horny, David Bain was carried out in a wheelchair to a waiting ambulance. Slightly more sedate, I'll grant you but sensational never-the-less.

In the same way as the OJ trial, we now have up to the second reporting with both major TV networks stationing permanent reporters on site. These two journalists bring us "up to the moment" news and any breaking reports liable to blow the breath from us by virtue of their blistering insights. They are aided in this by in the courtroom blogs, the in court cameras and flashbacks to old footage ad nauseum.

With complete respect to the two journalists, and only to purport my analogy, these two are the clowns. The people whom we get closest to, who have the most interaction with Joe Public (or Joelene Public, whichever you prefer) . Their tricks are the live crosses from the courtroom steps, the desperate but futile efforts to speak to the incoming defense team. Lets face it, they know that the defense team is not going say a word, they need to make it a little more sensational by following them yelling "David, David, how do you feel David?. It gives the broadcast a little more Hollywood zest.

Then back to the studio, to the high wire acts called the news anchors. The people that we look up to. The best of the best, the anchors are the stars of the show. The glitz, the glamour..... ahhh the lights, those pinnacles of human evolution coordinate a complex act of trickery moving between the live crosses, the expert commentators and the "eyewitnesses" who years ago, once ran past the Every St address and, whom can attest to the mood of the time and subsequent shock.

Then, in the middle we have the ringleaders.

If we were to follow the analogy we would imagine seedy, unshaven little men in jodhpurs, ill fitting red riding jackets equipped with long coach whips and megaphones. Like spiders in the middle of a web, they carefully pace and orchestrate the action to ensure a show of note. These people are there to ensure value for money.

And thats what the case of the century (well so far) is about. Money.

David Bain's innocence or guilt is almost incidental at the moment. The networks and the other news organisations have fodder for the screens and nothing is going to come between them and selling at least 5 weeks of the most complete Bain trial coverage. Coverage that they will use to sell their brand. That would make the Directors of Programming the ringleaders. Except now, the clothes are are a bit cleaner, more fitting and the amounts of money at stake is a great deal larger than a circus.

We are being marketed to. In a place like the US where even the news reporters are celebrities, look for the news reporters rather than the proceedings to be the focal point. Mr Bains case is going to take a long time to conclude and the bits that are seriously in the public interest and are of note would probably fill up a full 5 minutes of screentime - including the verdict!

So in the meantime, enjoy. Roll up, roll up. The media circus is in town.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Putting It Together

You know when you have those days when everything just seems a little........mmmm........not quite there? Know what I mean? A bottle short of a six pack perhaps or off colour ...... or even off white? Maybe a spanish cream with a little duck egg thrown in? Or perhaps a lighter shade of pale (snigger). It's been one of those days.

I've had a ton of work to do which I have achieved perhaps 60%. I've also had a list of things to action on my desk all with the priority number "1" scratched beside them in pencil, pressed hard down on the paper so it makes an indent on the page for extra emphasis. And I've done two of those. There is not too much that I will get a bollocking for - hell I run my own business so it will be interesting to write myself a written warning. And if I do that then I'll need representatives from both sides to witness the procedure so do I get two people or can I save money with just one?

It's just I haven't been able to put it together today. Something hasn't been gelling.

Well it's just gone 5 o'clock- the end of the working week - and I have only just solved the mystery. Actually I haven't solved anything. Merely found a salve for a troubled mind. See, when things sorta pile up on you, sometimes its just best to bathe in hope and look elsewhere for inspiration.

I went to YouTube and in the search engine wrote words without consciously thinking...... and this is what came up:

Whether or not you agree with his politics, whether or not you even like this guy, the words of this song are enough surcease to let you lean back, preferably with a nice glass of wine, and think yeah.... I can do that.

So , my "End of the Working Week" thought is this:

Give yourself a break, give yourself time to put it together and always remember, as my Grandad used to say around duck shooting time, "When there's lead in the air, there's always hope".

Have a great weekend all.

Education Boost.

From Stuff today:

"The Government has allocated $41 million for new or expanded buildings in 81 schools, Education Minister Anne Tolley said tonight.

Ms Tolley said the allocation of property funding was part of the Government's infrastructure package to help stimulate the economy during the recession."

Yay! Some good news. And given the amount of bollocks that has been spread round lately with ACC and Prisons, I hope this piece reaches the MSM.

Perception is Everything

Cactus Kate breaks a great story here about Diagnostic Medlab's attempt to pervert the law through the manipulation of the media and, therefore, us.

Not living in the mighty Auck would probably lead to some saying "well what do you care". And to a point they may be right. However it is a wonderful example of how corporations try to sway natural justice through artificial means to the point where what has actually occurred - what is real - is not the point. These people are trying for an outcome through duplicitous means. I.e they are bullshitting. Some might call it marketing.

The same goes for Real Estate agents. These people are the masters of perception over reality. "We paint pictures with words" you may hear them say or "We accentuate the positive". This is actually funny because this accentuation (if there is such a word and I guess there is now - I just made it up) can be so good that the current occupiers may not know how good it is. If in fact everything that the agent said was true about the house they are selling, 50% of vendors wouldn't shift at all! There would be delights to their section that they had never experienced.

For example:

"Wonderful Harbour Views" translates as "If I stand on tip-toes, I can see a square inch of the Harbour Bridge out the window of the back toilet".


"Gracious Family Living" translates as "A korean family with 6 kids , 2 dogs and an elderly relative once stayed here".

So while, in the most minutest way, the claims may be true, reality is dwarfed by perception. And this is it - the point of the post. A leading auction house and realty company has for it's slogan "Marketing is Everything".

These days the most trivial of things are marketed to us. Our news is tailored for us on the basis of demographic, whose got the most upright male anchor and which female anchor may be justly inheriting the title "Mother of a Nation" (though lets face it - no one could replace Judy Bailey). Even that most well worn of media cliches "If it bleeds, it leads" still holds true.

Even our government feels the need to be branded which is another form of marketing. Have you ever noticed that at the bottom of ads detailing public services, there is an icon (sorry - logo) that says New Zealand Government with a very swept up and groovy swoosh through the font. No doubt, armies of media consultants, visual artists and graphic designers were paid extraordinary amounts of money to come up with that wee pearler of originality. It's even an example of how perception becomes a self sustaining industry.

That same industry will argue that, in todays busy world, even the smallest and meekest of organisations need to fight for our attention and therefore marketing is needful. They may be right. However there is something oh so cynical at work when we need to be marketed to for even the basest of goods and services.

And when the marketing comes from a company, like Diagnostic Medlab, for the purposes of profit - not from a genuine commercial point of view, rather a "we cocked up and we are going to lose everything, Lets screw the New Zealand justice system" angle, well we live in troubled times then if we let perception become our reality.

Well done Kate for being the NZ blogosphere's version of Kevin Milne and Fair Go (although, I hazard to guess, a damn sight more attractive than Kevin).

Thursday, March 12, 2009


unPC (How do I start a new sentence when the proper noun of whom I'm talking about is in lower case? I feel slightly dirty) has read my blog....... well bits of it.

unPC publishes her own blog here which I have admired for sometime for to it's witty prose, style and bare-faced honesty (or bare-faced lying passing as bare-faced honesty - I can never tell which is which). She is also read by a great many people through the blogosphere who have blogs of their own.

And she had nice things to say about it - at least the two sentences she has read so far. So to say that I am satisfied in my progress towards my goal of global literary domination would be true!

Read unPC. You will laugh. I did.

Poor old Rod

I see Rod Petrecivic has had his 2005 911 Black Porsche finally sold after it being seized by court bailiffs last year in the aftermath of the Bridgecorp collapse.

I feel greatly for Rod. I once drove a 911 Porsche (actually Rod, I think mine was a later model than yours) and it was stunning! I'm more a "corrolla" or "legacy" sorta guy by circumstance rather than choice so driving something that powerful and cool was a treat.

Like all kiwi males born on the farm, not only am I confident that I could drive just about anything with three wheels or more, I am confident that I could drive them in ways that would make Colin Giltrap ring me (if he knew me, that is) and say, "Mate, we're not doing so well in the A1GP this year. D'ya think you could come, drive and get us back on track?"

So to say that I understood the Porsche, would be spot on. And, I like to think, the Porsche understood me. After all, we are so similar. Great styling, superb handling and balance, well engineered and a roar on ignition to make the hairs at the back of your neck stand up just to get a better view.

And perhaps Rod, me old mate, perhaps thats where you and I are different. Me, with the spirit and verve akin to a 4.2 litre, turbocharged, quad camm beast under the bonnet. And you with the prospect of a 6 x 9 enclosure for a significant period of time.

So as I said, I feel for Rod a wee bit. He may have glimpsed what a car like that is about but he's not going to be able to drive one for a long, long time. Mind you Rod, I guess you'll rest easy in your cell, knowing your wife can.

Timing is Everything

This in Stuff this morning: Farmer Levy May Double


At a time when sheep and beef farmers are doing so well, Meat and Wool New Zealand are asking the cockies if the can double their levies - not just increase - double! Good thinking Meat and Wool. And from a sector that has experienced rapid growt..........grow.......um...has experienced record prices over the las..............la........well........yes. Sure I can see you reasoning, expanding your service especially in the economic services.

"Information from the economic service could also help Meat & Wool better perform the industry leadership role many farmers asked it to take on. "We've probably been over-emphasising the consultative nature of our organisation and we're seeing increasingly from farmers they want us to stand up and talk about what's good for the industry in far stronger terms than we have in the past."

Yeah? Well you've picked an interesting time in the global economic cycle to start.

After all, timing is everything in Meat and Wool.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I Shudder to Think

I was at a function on the weekend at which a member of the police was also attending. Great food, lovely wine and great conversation flowed like fondue cheese.

During the evening the Detective was asked "So whats the scoop on the David Bain case?" Without a moments hesitation the Detective said that he was as guilty as sin. "But what about the whole Privy Court, conviction set aside thing?" the question was asked. The detective explained that they had spoken to a guy that was on the investigation and that there is no doubt. The detective then went on to say that why would they (the police) prosecute an innocent man? "After all" said the Detective, "the Police don't get it wrong".

It was at this point I couldn't hold my self back any longer and the argument began in earnest (it finished at about 4am in the morning). I couldn't believe the arrogance and the intractability of this police officer. The Detective actually believed that there is no way that David Bain could be innocent.

And that highlights the issue for me: if the Police decide that you are guilty, you are stuffed!

What if innocent bloggers like you and I were to be wrongly accused of a crime, yet the investigating agency refused to consider another line of inquiry. Shouldn't we all be a little scared? Is this the culture that inhabits the police?

Now it's important to note that we were at a social event, the detective was not on duty and was expressing their own opinion.However I think that it is indicative and relevant if this is in any way representative of the culture within what is the investigative arm of the criminal justice system.

The Police are not there to judge. They are there to enforce the law and gather information for prosecution. If they take it on themselves to only consider the easiest option, I shudder to think of the state of or police force.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I Think I Get It Now


This maybe the hardest thing I have ever written about and the chances of making a complete fool of myself are high. A topic that bears ridicule when trivialised, oversentimented or any other way killed by massive, blunt, cliche trauma.

Had I not promised that the subject would be addressed - albeit after equal large amounts of sun, food and alcohol - I would probably never go near it.

Here it is then.)

I was at a wedding the other day. Nothing unusual in itself except for the first time, I was at a wedding where one of the two main participants was a very, very, close friend.

This may sound callous and if there are people reading whose wedding I have been to, I apologise if you thought I liked you more than I do. But to explain, the groom at this wedding is part of what I call "The Front Row", this being my three most important mates who prop up my life from time to time. They are the the guys that do the hard yards -often unnoticed but never ignored - behind the scenes. And one of these Front Rowers, the loose head prop, was gettin' hitched!

The girl that he was marrying is one of life's amazing people. Burdened with beauty and brains, she never-the-less carries it off with superb aplomb. Bright, articulate, caring and generous, she is one of those people whom, if you only met once, is able to worm her way into your subconscious leaving an indelible mark. You could be on your deathbed, your mind addled with age, confusion and small amounts of morphine yet, like a bonfire on New Years eve, you would be able to remember her face clear as day. And she was marrying my loose head prop.

To say that she was the person that I'd imagined my prop marrying would be wrong. Not that he wouldn't deserve such a paragon, she just probably wasn't what I'd had in mind when thinking of the girl whom the prop would eventually join with.

With that in mind, you may not be surprised to learn that I'd previously always viewed the Bride with a degree of skepticism, as if she had hijacked my best friend and was taking him on a voyage that would lead to disaster. "This" I thought to myself, "is going to lead to me picking up my mate, dusting him off and telling him that he'll get over it in time" after the bride had systematically pureed his heart to a fine paste then served it on crackers with a garnish of fresh spring onion and a nice cup of tea.

But I didn't get it.

To say that there is a hint of jealousy in the paragraph above would be like telling Bill Gates' son that there maybe a future in this whole personal computer malarky or warning the Dalai Lama that those Chinese fellas mightn't be as friendly as they seem. After all, she couldn't know what was best for a front rower, could she? Only a fellow forward would know that.

But because he is in the Front Row, I was paying a bit more attention than usual. I actually watched, listened and absorbed on a level I'd previously reserved only for Oscar nominated films or woman whom, after I'd slept with them, lyingly told me how good I was in bed!

Even at this point, I didn't really get it. Sure, I noticed the devotional words, the slightly embarrassed grins from them both as the most poignant and sentimental vows were spoken - such words as they are should only ever be voiced once in your life. Even at the point where the union was blessed with the phrase "man and wife", my conceit meant that I still didn't get it.

It was only until the speeches that things started to become clear.

The nice thing about be a spare wheel at a wedding (something I'll talk about more in a later post) is the general absence of responsibility. One isn't laboured with a partner,wife or girlfriend whom you feel compelled talk to every once and a while. Likewise, because there is such a mix of the bride and groom's friends and relations, chances are that you will be seated beside a person that, since you don't know them that well, you can choose to not talk to them and it isn't seen as rude - merely nervous. So, you get the chance to look and listen a lot more than if you were in the midst of it all. And it was there that I saw it - on two distinct occasions!

Through a break in the crowd I watched as the Front Rower was looking at the woman who had recently promised to join him in matrimony. It was a long look. So long, in fact, that I thought he'd gone to sleep with his eyes open and a grin on his face. She was talking to the bridesmaid so had no clue that he was watching her.

This look was powerful......... but gentle. It was loving but not smothering. It was lustful yet kind. And I'd never seen the Front Rower look at anyone the way he looked at his bride. He is not the most expressive of people at the best of times. Indeed, this guy could qualify from Human Statue College with a double degree in granite looks and still motion with honours! In all the time I have known him, the front rower never gave much away with his eyes or face. Except here. He had given it all away.

I reached for a tasty beverage to consider what I'd seen. The bugger was more in love with this woman than he'd let on! Sure, there was the whole "marriage, declaration before friends, family and the world" thing but surely he would have told me if it was really "The One", wouldn't he?
I looked back at him to find that he had turned away to someone else, and this time, the Bride was looking at him. To say that the look that the bride gave the front rower was the same as his but magnified would be a wonderful understatement. It was more.

She had this smile dancing across her face. Only a small smile, you had to watch her a while to make sure the disco ball lights weren't playing "Purple Rain" with your eyes. And this smile said, "I know you better than anyone. I know you love me and I adore you".

I looked away as if I was seeing something I shouldn't. Something intensely private, R18 or not meant for general release. Another tasty beverage was called for to cool the heat of embarrassment from witnessing something so personal.

Then I got it.

Love is looking at someone else and, whether or not they are looking back, letting them know how you feel. And for such looks, words are not needed. It made me fervently hope to look and be looked at like that one day myself. And the reason that the Bride and the Front Rower could look at each other so long with this gaze on their faces was that they had "got it" long ago. I also realised that my vision of my mate's interior organs being served as hors d'oeuvre was way outta line and certainly wouldn't come true. I also realised at that time that there could be no other bride for my loosehead prop. Even props need front rowers of their own.

Because she does know the Front Rower better than I . She does things for him what no other woman could, gives what no other friend could provide and looks at him in a way no words can truly encompass.

So there you are. Thats what I think love is. If you don't think thats right, feel free to comment, but thats my line and I'm sticking to it.

For Keith and Helena

Friday, March 6, 2009

The New Worker

I have just finished reading Chris Trotters new op-ed piece at his blog site Bowalley Rd in which he gives voice to his opinion of Andrew Little, the new Labour Party President, the Labour Party's current situation and also yearns for the old days when the Labour Party was full of passionate debate united by a common thread of a socialist path for New Zealand.

Since I started The Home Office, I've been investing a lot of time in reading more of the leftist blogs such as Bowalley Rd, The Standard (always a staple), Socialist Aoteroa and the Workers Party.

What has come to mind has been that the militisicm of old, that stereotypical waterfront worker staring the police down on the waterfront in 1951, that kind of violent say-with-my-fists-what-my-mouth-can't passion seems to have gone. Sure, there are traces of it here and there. And the "about" tabs of some of these blogs seem to be transposed directly from Marx's Communist Manifesto. But even Chris seems to lament that core stereotype of the New Zealand worker.

What defines a new Zealand worker as we grow older as as a nation?

We are in a world full of Gen - Y's (Gen Y Neos, they tell me now) where the Ipod is king, consumerism is rampant and communication is on a scale never seen before. In fact my 14 yr old niece's cellphone appears to be hardwired to her fingers, she doesn't need to look to string a text message together and she can even converse in a somewhat meaningful way while she does it! We are moving to a more knowledge based economy that means more and more people are moving from the factory floor or the waterfront to the air conditioned office and the computer keyboard. There seems little room for the old stereotype of the militant socialist - or even the vociferous one at that. Chris Trotter comments himself on the fact that the Labour Party, with it's roots deep in the workers heart, now numbers perhaps 2000-odd paid up members. Where have the old days gone? Why are there not more people struggling to rise from the grip of the imperialist fist?

Perhaps the question should be: Is the socialist movement in New Zealand keeping pace with the changes in society? Who is "The New Worker"?

There will, I hope, always be a Left and Right - two opposing opinions on how the state of affairs should be run. Democracy requires this so that consensus is reached and the will of the people is acceded to. There is no doubt, if recent polls are to be believed, that the Left is in a state of tatters while the Right is in the ascendancy. This is reasonable I guess given the fact we have had a significant shift in thinking as evidenced in the result of the last election.

However, sometimes I wonder about the relevance that the socialist side has to todays world and is that movement answering the question above: Is the socialist movement in New Zealand keeping pace with the changes in society? Who is "The New Worker"?

I think Andrew Little has an idea who that new worker is? Chris bemoans the fact that he is respected by the people he represents and the people he purports to battle. I would have thought that this was a good thing; consensus being the way forward and all that democratic type of stuff.

I apologise in advance if I malign anyone with the stereotype of "the worker" painted above or indeed their views and opinions. However I think it valid to point out that while such an able bloke as Phil Goff languishes at the bottom of the polls, perhaps some stereotypes the old left may have need to be broken and the needs of the New Worker identified.

A Lake Current Affair

This morning on Stuff.co.nz there is an article about Eel fisherman complaining about a proposed tax by Ngai Tahu on their quota of catch from Lake Ellesmere in Canterbury.

The short history is that Lake Ellesmere was ceded to Ngai Tahu as part of their 1998 Treaty of Waitangi settlement and now the iwi proposes to levy an annual 8% levy against the quota of eel taken from the lake (Te Waihora) chiefly for the environmental protection of the lake.

I can see the ire of many being raised by this story. After all, isn't this an example of the exactly the fears that have previously been raised by many as to what could happen had not the Foreshore and Seabed legislation not been enacted by the previous government? Might this not set a precedent for other iwi around the country so that your average New Zealander may be denied the freedoms of the past whether financially or via access - especially access? After all, 8% of $360k or $28,800, is a fairly sizeable chunk of cash. This could seriously impact the livelihood of the eel fishermen? Is it fair?

Yes, it is.

Consider it this way.

If you or I owned the lake and someone else was using it for commercial gain, wouldn't you feel justified in taking a small cut? I would. Likewise, any self respecting corporation or business entity would probably insist on more and call it a Joint Venture. After all, its the same as using someone else's land to grow a crop for sale. One would generally sign a lease in such a situation and look on it as a "cost of goods sold" scenario.

Granted, these fisherman may have been doing this previous to the ownership change. Granted, the iwi also receives revenue from the leasing of the quota. However, once again if you applied the same reasoning as the analogy of a block of farm land - and a quota and lease agreement are two separate and distinct agreements - then sure, any reasonable, business orientated body would levy such a tax. You can't use the "because it's always been that way argument" because as everybody knows, thats not really an argument at all.

And the iwi are quite right about cleaning up the lake. Locals have known for years that there are a multitude of environmental issues around the lake - not the least of which is that it is bloody filthy. It definitely does need to be cleaned up. Just the amount of dairy run-off that leaches into it makes me shudder to throw a stick in it for the dog to chase (if I had a dog anyway). And the money for this needs to come from somewhere. Any where else, we would expect the owner of the property to clean it up - especially when the owner remains committed to free public (not commercial) access.

And the plain fact is that Ngai Tahu do own it.

It will be interesting to see where this story leads.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Isn't Technology Just Grand?

This morning, I did all the ordinary, mundane things I usually do while struggling to activate myself.

Get out of bed, shower, coffee, endure the stares and piteous wailings of my underfed cat then settle into my cheap, semi-executive chair, press the button and wait for my gateway to the world, news, issues and free penile enlargements (interestingly enough offered FREE because by some amazing chance I am the 1,000,000th person to press the letter "L" that day) to open and come spewing forth at breakneck, ADSL speed to my computer.

"Error: Couldn't connect".

Thats all it said.

My morning was ruined. The steady flow that is routine was stymied by those three words. I was speechless and, like a freshly landed 20lb snapper, was left sitting there with my mouth just opening and closing.

My caffeine hit had yet to take its full course, the cats meowing was penetrating my foggy mind and the pressure was starting to build. A bead of sweat broke out at the base of my hairline. I could hear the "tick, tick, tick" of the kitchen clock from down the hallway to the kitchen. Time seemed to slow and my vision started to compress.

Withdrawal was setting in.

Action was needed and judging by the rate of perspiration wending it's way down my stubbled cheek, action was needed soon lest the cats wailing inflicted torture hitherto unseen since the days of the VC and their sharpened bamboo splints!

A call to Telecom was made. Usually this call is only made in desperate times as a journey through their automated telephone labyrinth is not undertaken lightly. However this was a time to be bold and as Basil King said, "be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid". And they did.

Not only was the wait for a "real" person mercifully quick - better yet, she was competent, attentive and engendered trust (no, Telecom did not give me a credit nor are they sponsoring this blog in any way.......yet) - she assured me that a technician would be on the job as soon as possible.

With that problem masterfully dealt to, there remained the problem of the router. It would need to be reconfigured. And even the word "router" itself implies defeat. And given that, short of an MIT doctorate or the Taihape School Short Course Diploma in computing certificate, would be needed to do so, I only wrestled with the thing for an hour before accepting the inevitable and calling the ISP for help.

Once again speed and competence were evident because as of 3pm, this afternoon, access to the outside world, news and cut-price canadian pharmaceuticals was restored. My blood pressure had dropped to more manageable levels and the cat now lies content on the floor after a feed to hold off starvation for another couple of days. All is right with the world.

Y'know, it's times like these when you ponder just how much computers have added to our lives. We must have been so naive back "in the day" getting round our daily lives with all the speed of a medicated snail. Especially compared to todays world with all these marvelous tools on hand to assist us.

Isn't technology just grand?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Oh God, Please no!

Reports coming in that Michael Jackson is considering a comeback. He was great and his musics effect on the world is undeniable. That was then. This is now.

Please Jacko, stay gone.

A Word of Caution

There is no doubt that the attack by the Korean student on his teacher in Auckland yesterday, is simply unacceptable. Nor would anyone condone such behaviour.

However, watching TV1 news this evening and it's comments by other students that the teacher may not have been the paragon that he was first reported to be on Tuesday night reminded me that sometimes we are ready to accept anything thats dished in front of us by the media - even when the information is incomplete.

It's like the Civic Child Abuse case in Christchurch, where Peter Ellis' supporters maintain his innocence and questions still lurk, appearing to cast doubt on the issue. Do the public have all the information? Enough to have an opinion ourselves?

The difference between the two cases is that one as opposed to the other has been through the court system and we have to accept the courts decision. The alternative is chaos.

However the question that remains for us mere plebs is "do we have all the information?" and is it enough to form opinions? In the case of the Korean boy there maybe mitigating circumstances we don't know.

What are they thinking?

Christchurch has adopted a plan to play soothing music (i.e. the dulcet tones of one Mr B Manilow) from loud speakers around the city centre in an effort to pacify the local hoons who have been terrorizing the inner city.

I can see why they are attempting this.

Christchurch has in recent times developed a bit of an image problem. What with the boy racers in their "pimp my ride" rides (I have just been told that I am a sexist swine for applying the term "boy racers" when there are many girl racers as well. I apologise heartily if I have offended any and all of the wee bairns) tearing up the inner city, to the detriment of local business and local eardrums as well as some fairly thuggish beatings in the early hours around the local bars with a nice dollop of asian racism to top it off - I can see their problem. And it needs a solution. Gosh, even the Germans, that most peaceful and historically benign of nations, have been down here documenting the Christchurch's issues with it's young people for all and sundry potential tourist to see.

But hang on a minute.

Lets just take a step back and have a look at this.

If I was a tourist from, say, Latvia - maybe thats not a good example. Apparently Barry is idolised there. Perhaps Italy then, the country of cool, the place that oozes urbanity and sophistication just in the words "Lets take a summer in Italy". Lets say your average Italian gets off the plane and arrives fresh in Christchurch ready to explore the charms of that most english of cities and arrives to find said Manilow subtly crooning around the ears of our friendly Roman rover.

If that was me, I would be wondering if it was the valium, 3 scotches and the fish meal that I'd consumed en route that was giving me this vague sense of nausea or if everybody that arrived in downtown Christchurch after a stopover in Sydney was similarly afflicted.

What are they thinking?

Or are they thinking at all?

I agree that the problems need to be addressed however surely there are other ways that don't entail Christchurch becoming the butt of Paul Henry's disbelief and jokes and the laughing stock of the entire world.

How long before this makes it to the last bulletin on the BBC news. You know the one, its the space that they have the world over which is after the weather and after the they have recapped the days news that they leave for the oddstuff. The news that says "and if you think that other people think we've got problems, take a look at this!" with sarcastic smirks on the news readers faces. The news editors love it cause after the clip has shown, it gives the (mostly) vacuous newscasters the opportunity to legitimately make fun at someone else's expense and look like an intellectual paragon beside it!

Also, consider this: isn't there something darkly Orwellian in the fact that we need to "pacify" people?

Perhaps it is the alarmist in me but doesn't it seem slightly creepy that we feel the need to control people rather than enabling them? It's almost like "A Clockwork Orange" where the anti-hero, Alex, has his behavior artificially modified by means of music and other neurologically screwing methods to quell riotous behaviour deemed unhealthy and dangerous by the state. Anthony Burgess meant with A Clockwork Orange, just as Orwell did with 1984, to be a warning to us and while I don't think that this is the first step on the Christchurch City Council's path to nationwide domination via a police state and behaviour modification, perhaps there is something to be said for this?

Christchurch, just take a step back more a mo' and think about what you are doing.

The First Post

I am a blogging noobie.

I am going to make mistakes.

I am neither particularly technoligcal by nature nor particularly expositional.

Well the last part is bollocks otherwise I wouldn't be doing this at all.

Inspired by others, such as Chris Trotter from Bowalley Rd, David Farrar from Kiwiblog, Cactus Kate from........well...Cactus Kate, I thought perhaps another more centrist approach to comment (especially social and political) may be warranted.

Actually whether it's warranted or not, I don't care, I'm going to publish it anyway. It is your choice whether or not to notice, read, comment if you deign to and, if its not to much to ask, provoke some thought from time to time.
This probably sounds quite "uppidy" and pretentious however, once again, I don't care.

Please treat anyone who perhaps comments with respect. If you feel that someone has grossly offended or maligned you in some way, please contact me to discuss. I can only promise to give you a fair hearing and any judgement, punishment meted out and/or subsquent comment is mine alone based on my idea of whats right and wrong.

This doesn't mean that anyone has to agree. In fact, hopefully people who don't agree by nature will feel free to come here to yak, comment and discuss. This means people from all ends of society, the political spectrum and every facet of todays world are welcome. If you have an opinion. please feel free to express it.
If you are here to troll, victimise, hound or otherwise make yourself disagreeable, the bugger off.

So, after all this load of bollocks, welcome to The Home Office.