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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Just Call Me "Switzerland"!

My Political Views
I am a centrist social moderate
Left: 0.08, Libertarian: 0.55

Political Spectrum Quiz

More for my own edification than anyone else's. I was quite surprised to see how moderate I was. Scrubone is updating the political compass for NZ Bloggers here.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Jim Anderton for Chch mayor??

David over at Kiwiblog raises the spectre of Jim Anderton running for mayor of Christchurch.

Christchurch City has, for some considerable time, been a Labour hotbed. We’ve had a consistent range of good Labour candidates (Brendon Burns being the possible exception riding in on the coat tails of his predecessor) along with an inner city population that is either apathetic of strongly idealistic.
This seems to translate to local government as well. The “on the ground” party machine kicks into gear as well for local body politics as for central. Their campaigning is superb. The grass roots organisation of 2021 (read local union and Labour party) is effective. The only aberration in recent times has been the election of Bob Parker.

Whilst Jim is a living breathing anachronism, it is this campaigning machine to be feared. And rightly so.
Whether or not one agrees with his politics (and I, for one, don’t), it doesn’t take away the fact that the campaigners and strategists can use Jim as a talisman. He has a long record of public service – especially for his electorate which is swayed by sympathy and a “he’s always been there” attitude election after election (being and electorate MP also gives credence to any claim). He is consistent in attitude and approach – an excellent quality in any dictator and has extremely high visibility and integrity (well, the socialist version of integrity perhaps).

The smooth, debonair ex – TV star? Or the grizzled, hardbitten man of the earth who speaks his mind (and others too, if you get offside with him) and has had 40 years of service to his people and his country?

A publicist’s dream.

Not good.

Having met Jim I can testify he engages well. So he should after 40-odd years of meet and greets. Don’t write this bloke off. I think he would be a terrible mayor that would see Christchurch regress to the 1960’s rather than looking forward to the 2060’s. However, his claim is strong and it will need a mighty effort from other quarters to unseat him should he get a toe hold.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Respect is Hard Earned

I was re-watching Sundays edition of Q + A on TVNZ's Ondemand service this morning. I'd missed a fair chunk of Hone Harawira's interview with Paul Holmes and was keen to see the rest after it had begun with Paul giving Hone a roasting over the "White Mo'fo's" incident. If you missed it, it is here.

I don't agree with Hone a great deal of the time. Some of the things he has said and done in the past have been outrageous. Do I think that he's racist? Some of the time, he comes pretty close to it - an obdurate hypocrisy when measured against what he stands for.

But one thing that has never failed to impress me about Hone is his mana - or respect. Holmes gave him a thrashing in a way reminiscent of his roasting of Denis Conors many years ago. Holmes pressed for answers on the question: Does Hone think that all white people are Mo'fo's? To which Hone (eventually) replied "no". But Holmes kept battering on, trying to trip Harawira up. Hone was having none of it. He gave answers and stood by them. The answers weren't in flowery, political  lingo. They were honest, to-the-point and heartfelt.

This was in contrast to Phil Goff's performance earlier in the program where he ducked and dived like any other politician - the time honoured tricks of repeating the question back to the interviewer but in different language, not answering a direct question and instead talking about something different coming to the fore. And the panel of experts, Jeanette Fitzsimmons, Therese Arseneau and Mike Moore - actually congratulated Phil on a more "polished performance".

And the contrast struck me as being peculiar in that what was valued was a smooth tongue over honesty and integrity - something Hone had in spades over Mr Goff.

Some will say that I'm being simplistic. That the leader of a major party has to more urbane while an MP from a minor party can afford more blunt language. That this is just politics and, perhaps, Hone is slightly irrelevent himself.

I don't think so. As I said I don't agree with a lot of what he says. But I listen when he says it. He speaks with an honesty and earnestness that seems to be right at home in New Zealand. It hearkens back to when we were known as a blunt spoken, practical people who meant what they said and often let actions speak more eloquently than words ever could. He has Mana. He earns respect by speaking then standing by what he says. And those are the sort of people that I would have thought we want leading our country.

No one in New Zealand will deny that race is an issue in New Zealand. But bridging the gulf that exists won't be done with a silver tongue and empty promises. It will be done with honesty, integrity and a willingness to change.

Monday, February 1, 2010

News Pap is Universal

Ana Samways is a delight in the NZ Herald's Sideswipe column and she is online here.

This, from her blogsite today:

Sunset on the Sound of Summer

For the whole of the summer 95/96, How Bizarre blared from every car stereo, lounge and backyard in New Zealand. From the streets of Otara to the backblocks of Balclutha, Pauly Fuemana's hit song had us all moving and laughing: enjoying the sun, long luxurious days and the sense of "feel good" that summer brings.

It was sad to hear of Pauly's death on the weekend. I never wondered where his money went or what position on the US charts the song made. How Bizarre was an anthem for a great summer and whenever I hear that song, I'm moved back to that time, the people and the places. Such is the power of music. Thanks Pauly. You did that for me and I'll always be grateful.

What are the songs that have defined summer for you? What pieces became your Summer Anthems?

Friday, January 29, 2010

Telecom more like Teletubbies!

XT, Huh? Does that stand for "Xtra Terrible"?

Telecoms mobile woes continue into a third day. Unbelievable, really when you think that Telecom is home to half of NZ's mobile base. This has certainly made Telecom look like a childrens television show rather than a cutting edge service provider. However the thing is is that its Technology. With a capital T. I give it a capital T because it's a "thing" in its own right. And like all things, fallible.

It always amuses me when people get shitty about their flight being delayed because of bad weather. You know. I'm sure most of you have stood by some anxious traveler mouthing of at Air New Zealand et al for ruining their plans by being late. And quite often it's due to weather. As if Pacific Blue can control windspeed and rainfall.

What these people don't seem to realise is that flying is not exactly natural! For example: a Boeing 737, when full loaded, weighs in at around 80 tonnes. Thats 80,000kgs of metal, composites and plastics held in association and sent up into the air using physics and a crapload of power. If that doesn't boggle the mind, think of an Airbus A380.590 Tonnes!

Just think on that for a moment. Isn't it crazy? 590 bloody tonnes!

Now, apply this to cellphones.

I'm sure that not a few of you will remember Star Trek. Remember William Shatner flicking his "communicator" out to talk to the Enterprise? This was in the 60's. 50 years later, we now have that technology. We can now transfer our images and data the same way. And they are now commonplace in society. When you contemplate this, like the flying analogy, its bloody amazing! But even Kirks communicator didn't work all the time (a fact that James Doohan, playing "Scotty" is forever thankful for).

Now I'm not apologising for Telecom's performance. It has been shabby, dreadful and, at worst, perhaps negligent. Engineering may have been incomplete, network maintenance - dour and project planning perhaps poor.  But the fact still stands. It's Technology with a capital "T". It's new and made by mankind therefore fallible.

So next time you flick out out the phone and whisper into it "beam me up, Scotty", just pause for a mo and contemplate 80 tonne flying bits of steel and Star Trek in your pocket.

Maori Political Studies Under Contract to Harpers Bazaar

This from Stuff this morning:

Air New Zealand's new uniforms are disrespectful to traditional Maori symbols, a Maori academic says.
Canterbury University Maori and Indigenous School head Rawiri Taonui said Maori symbols such as the koru on the Trelise Cooper-designed uniforms did not treat the cultural symbols with respect.
"It's way too busy and inelegant," he said.
"It's obviously been drawn by someone who doesn't appreciate the culture or understand the deeper symbolism."
Taonui said the Maori symbols on the uniforms each had different meanings and should not be randomly mixed together.
"When you look at traditional Maori sculpture ... each symbol is quite distinct," he said. "With [the uniform], they're sort of thrown together in seemingly no pattern."
He was happy for koru and other symbols to be used on clothing, provided it was done "with elegance".

Did I hear the word "precious" echoing round the halls of Canterbury Uni?

My God, this is really scraping the bottom of the barrel. Prof. Taonui must be up for a funding review for his department and felt that a little publicity would help sway the funding committee.

I really worry that a great deal of maori academia (and not just Prof. Taonui's dept, despite it's recent history) is sometimes out of touch with the real world. Isolated within it's own conceit and distinguishment, it seeks a relevance that continues to elude it. It doesn't need to be so outlandish to garner credence. Professor Taonui should have the self confidence in himself to know how vital history is its application to the present and future. Especially without having to resort to banal press releases.

If I were more vehement there might be other - bad - words I could use about this, but then that would accomplish the good Professors goal of the comments provoking a reaction.

Like an errant child, perhaps the best thing to do is ignore them.

Or how much does the Super Nanny cost? She wouldn't put up with this.

Hat Tip: NZ Conservative

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Caption Contest

Ah, the internet. Oh sooo good in sooo many ways! But can we do better than the caption already there?

Racist Labour?

Liberty Scott blogs here about Ruth Dyson's latest press release in her capacity as Labour's Health Spokesperson.

He laments the fact that Labour seem to believe that people simply cannot think for themselves. That without government there to enforce some dietary regime through whatever programs might be necessary, people simply couldn't grasp the idea that a better diet and exercise might help them lose weight.

I'm astonished. Changing your diet is impossible without the government. The carefully hidden knowledge that eating mostly vegetables, fruit, lean meat, fish and cereals, and avoiding high fat and high sugar foods helps you lose weight is something that almost nobody knows surely. In addition, without the government how COULD people go to the gym, or go for a walk or swim?

However, I'm interested in the fact that in the full press release Ms Dyson singles out Counties Manakau as her example. Is it these particular people that can't think for themselves, Ruth? And why would that be? Is it because Counties Manakau has a very high proportion of Maori and Pacific Island residents?

Ms Dyson says in her press release that it is because oh the propensity for the population towards Type Two Diabetes? Could be. Diabetes is slightly more prevalent in Counties Manakau than other places in New Zealand (116 hospitalizations per 100,000 people versus the 92 per 100,000 average across the country) but then again - no where near the record 246 per 100,000. So why Counties Manakau? According to the Counties Manakau District Health Board, there are at least 13 different, if not equal or greater health challenges to it's populace.

Before going too much further, I don't think that Ruth Dyson is a bad person. I believe that she is doing the best she can with what shes got in the Labour framework that she has chosen to inhabit.

And there lies the rub. Labour's condescension towards people - and Maori and Pacific Islanders in particular - is evident in their thinking, as Ruth has demonstrated. Labour seems to believe that they need to talk to Maori and Pacific Islanders as if they were children - sometimes wayward children - as demonstrated by their boorish and rude approach to morehu at this years Ratana service described by this article on Young Labour's website.

Labour clearly believe that this population segment cannot think for themselves. They obviously have no aspiration or intelligence and what they so firmly need is a clear and fatherly guiding hand. A Micky Savage-like figure to dispense justice, wisdom and to be told what to do. Why else would Ruth nominate Counties Manakau as her example? Why else would Shane Jones castigate Maori so for daring to rise up with their own representative voice? After all, says Phil Goff, they are only ordinary people, not intelligent freethinking individuals in their own right who have goals and desires and who, given the opportunity, would work tooth and nail to achieve them.

Labour just don't get it. They still can't work out why they were thrown out at the last election and this is a reason why. Their evident racism and condescension towards these "ordinary people" was wearing thin and people wanted someone who believes that we can all do well - no matter what race, colour or creed.

I keep on saying it: we need a coherent and responsible opposition in parliament for our democracy to work. At the moment, the Labour Party is neither of those two things.

Hat Tip: Kiwiblog, Liberty Scott

Statistics: CMDHB Website, CMDHB Health Profile, May 2001

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Goff gets something right!!!

For the life of me but I can't think as to why this guy has not been Prime Minister before? And then this timely reminder.

Goff says "You'll just have to put up with me".

Ha! You know it, Phil! In fact Phil, please refer here to see why there is an extremely small chance you will be. Relevant, that is.

Bless the Beasts and......... the Firefighters?


Just when you think the Americans are all about the dollar, they go and spend thousands on 50 firefighters and various resources to rescue.......................a dog. Some say you can judge a society on how well it treats those who have no voice.

Good on'em I say.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Flying a True New Zealand Flag

John Ansell and Kenneth Wang have a fantastic idea here at John's blog - instead of waiting for referenda ad infinitum, take a leaf out of Nike's page book and "Just Do It".

Their idea is to literally fly a true  representative New Zealand flag (and not someone elses idea off what a flag should look like) over the Auckland Harbour Bridge on Waitangi Day using a helicopter.

You can donate to the cost - about $20,000 - by emailing John at john@johnansell.co.nz

Unleash the Cougers!

Ladies and Gentlemen,................... I am distressed!

I have just read Stuff's take on Air New Zealand's fantastic viral campaign to Save the Cougar. With contributions from eminent and distinguished people such as Rosemary McLeod (Huh?), Victoria University associate professor Delores Janiewski (that is more like it) and, finally, the comedienne Penny Ashton (I thought I wrote eminent and distinguished?), this piece must surely be authoritative and informative.

Bollocks, bollocks, bollocks.

Firstly, Prof. Janiewski weighs in and says " the ad was funny and cheeky". Then the Professor moderates her comments a little and says:

but it was hard to tell whether the ad was encouraging or denigrating single women.

Mmmm. Thanks for that, Professor. She obviously have a funny bone however is too scared to admit it in public lest she have her job ripped away from her by being painted a "sexist cow" for making comments that might seem to offend 0.2% of the population.

If the Professor's comments couldn't help you formulate your opinion then have no fear. That towering intellectual heavyweight, Penny Ashton is here to set things right!

However, Auckland comedian and poet Penny Ashton said the ad was sexist, and painting women as predators and men as their feeble prey "incensed" her.
"Men are not helpless. Surely if you say no a couple of times it should work?"

Sexist, eh? Incensed, you say Penny. Poor woman! Someone who knows Penny please call 111 immediately!  No doubt the girl is a slobbering, catatonic mess on her kitchen floor and requires medical attention after this vicious assault on her senses. Oh, the horror.

Lastly, "Dame" Rosemary McLeod chimes in to ad her take. She said the ad was "lame" and that:

"I think older women should think very carefully before tackling young men in gay bars, as disappointment is bound to follow."

And this is why Rosemary McLeod should be knighted - or at least tapped on either shoulder with a large stainless steel spoon . She doesn't really care for the ad yet Rosemary doesn't let that get in the way of a bit of humour and more to the point doesn't let something she doesn't particularly like overwhelm her.

Personally, I thought the ad was extremely good, not only for the content but for the style and manner it was delivered. Well done Air New Zealand! Innovative advertising, eh? It's no wonder you were voted the worlds best airline. Really, this piece by Esther Hayward in the Sunday Star Times couldn't have played out better. I think I will fly with you all the time now and thumb my nose at the others. Job done!

I suspect, however, Penny may not be overly happy and unless someone else is making and paying for any travel arrangements (a performers preferred travel option), Air New Zealand could well be on her shit list. Poor Air New Zealand.

C'mon Penny - harden up!

Is your poor ego really that fragile as to let a viral campaign on the internet completely defrock you (or should that be unman)? This is a funny ad. I'm not really sorry that you don't like it - there are ads out there that make men out to be complete and utter, bumbling oafs (think any washing powder ad with a male in it) but I don't get "incensed". It's comedy - surely you must recognise that. Apparently, along with poetry, that's your profession.

And this, Ladies and Gentlemen, is what distresses me. Where has New Zealand's ability to laugh at itself gone? Gosh, we take ourselves so seriously. That "cougers" are out there, there is no doubt. With the emancipation of woman this was always going to happen - a woman was going to go out and get her some lovin! Fantastic. And it is a funny situation. If you've ever seen an older woman seduce a younger man (cue: Simon and Garfunkel music) you will chuckle all night long.

So, for Christ's sake, live a little NZ. Chuckle along instead of trying so hard not to offend the minority of one. Sunday Star times - please don't give Penny anymore airtime. Having been to one of her shows, she is perfectly capable of spreading her opinion with her voice alone. And Penny, in between poetry readings and your other funny stuff, please go see Dame Rosemary so she can instruct you how to harden up.

In the meantime, watch it all again and laugh. I did.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

An Open Letter to John Minto

Hi John,

This is a personal appeal.



It was interesting to watch your progress to South Africa on TV not so long ago. I couldn't believe that you had protested so loud, so long and so vociferously against something that you had no experience of.

As a youngster at the time of the Springbok tour and at the height of HART, I had no opinion beyond that which was given to me by my parents: i.e. Let sport be separate from politics. In succeeding years as I developed my own opinions, I was proud of the way that NZ had "contributed" to the downfall of such an abhorrent regime. 

Then I traveled to South Africa - first in the time of De Klerk, just after "reconciliation"  - then later under Mbeki and I found out what the issues were and realised just how ineffectual and off the mark HART was.

You had no idea what was going on.  You had no idea what life was like in South Africa. You may have known some South Africans but you certainly didn't know South Africa.

And when, on that TV program I saw your attempts to "rally socialism in a true marxist spirit" amongst the black people, I realised that you are not fighting for those people at all. You are fighting for your own selfish beliefs - USING those people as an excuse to further your own agenda - impinging your own ideals on faith and cultures that you have no knowledge of.

John, I've seen the devastation that war between Israel and Palestine has caused. I have lived it and seen with my own eyes the impact of daily violence on ordinary humans and, like you, am aghast that it happens in the modern age. We should, given our past history as a species, have learned the consequences of such behaviour.

Yet in the midst of this media age where our views are served to us by outlets with agendas (sorry - did I say Fox Network out loud?), there has been and never will be any excuse for being there and truly knowing.

John, your credibility is slightly shot.

You have no moral right to protest over things you know little to zip about.

Sure you will probably say you have "friends" that feed you information. You may have even "stopped off" in the area once.

But you have no idea really. You don't know what it's like to walk a mile in Shahar Peer's shoes. Or a Palestinians for that matter, I wager.

Do what is right, John and live up to at least one of the principles that New Zealand was created upon: egalitarianism.

Be fair. Because at the moment, you are displaying the worst aspects of racism and cultural jingoism that for so long you opposed.

And hypocrisy is a bitter pill to swallow.