Thursday, June 12, 2008

It Never Rains

Must say, this is the nicest start to winter I can remember. Bugger all wind, stuff all rain. Still life with Brooklyn windmill. People are wearing sunglasses in June. If this is global warming, bring it on. Wellington's got an almost alpine crispness, an air more like Taupo than old windy Welly. Which is more than can be said for Whakapapa skifield (with a scant 20 cm of snow, and opening in three days).

Which is just as well. Seems there's more than enough to keep ourselves worried about without worrying about the bleeding weather as well (or is there?). The world economy is quickly turning to shit, what with speculation that oil will stretch to US$250 a barrel soon. It's peak oil, but not as we know it. The US economy is teetering on the edge of recession. "It's unambiguously ugly," as one economist quoted in the NY Times called it. From the article:
"Professional and business services — which include lawyers, accountants, architects and management consultants — led the way down in May, shedding 39,000 jobs, according to the report. Construction declined by 34,000.

Manufacturing lost 26,000 jobs. Retail payrolls shrank by 27,000 and transportation and warehousing by 10,500. Finance and insurance lost 3,700 jobs, amid continuing worries that more red ink lies in wait for banks."

The fun times are over. Now, everybody hurts. In NZ, the real estate agents are getting very worried, with Kapiti agents having a realty check and disturbing talk of editorial menaces.

In the UK, the Commons has voted to effectively suspend habeas corpus to terror suspects for up to 42 days. The Guardian has a story about a bloke who suffered a mere six days of psychological torture. Frak knows what 42 days can do to someone, though I suppose it's better than seven gunshots to the head.

Not that we're that much better off in NZ. Former dental nurse and current Minister of Justice and Police, Annette King, is seeing the last rites performed on centuries-old precedent with the fait accompli Criminal Procedure Bill. Ta to Graeme Edgeler for cutting this thing to pieces because, frankly, I don't have the time. Not Guilty Yet? No worries. Tired of stupid laws coming to bite you on the arse (eg. Making meth for supply a Class A offence)? Eliminate the High Court backlog by foisting it onto the District Court, that bastion of judicial efficiency? Fuckin' A. Must admit, I'm schizo on the Depositions thing though.

I have entirely given up on Labour being able to write any legible law. I'm even having my doubts on whether the Geoffrey Palmer in the Law Commission is the same Geoffrey Palmer who wrote the elegant Bill of Rights, which fits nicely on two sides of an A4.

It's amusing to see Labour apologists disavowing Michael Bassett, in light of his book on the Lange government (Fact-backed vitriol at its finest. Can't wait to read it). I do not use the term apologists lightly. For if Bill Rowling was a shiver looking for a spine to crawl up, Lange was a punchline looking for an applause.

Harsh? Consider this. Even Lange's most famous quip, the uranium on your breath comment, was someone else's idea, as Gerald Hensley pointed out in his memoirs. Lange never had an original thought. Once Joe Walding died, Margaret Pope was the only one Lange trusted.

Pope is no Yoko Ono though, more Groucho Marx's third wife but without the youth (While women have three ages (maiden, mother, crone), men are always boys, eh). Pope reminded Lange of his idealistic youth, the days when actions were not so irrevocably linked to consequences. As a madame once told me, "You can tell a man three things and he will always believe you; that he is intelligent, that he is handsome, and that he makes love well." Works like a charm.

From what I've heard from the Bassett reviews so far, he is calling it as it was. For example, the old man used to go on about the PM's tendency to drive himself home after a hard day at the office. The Billy Bunter enthusiasm that Lange had for imagining himself a rally driver did not mix well with Lange the drunk. "There's a reason for government limos," Trev would say. "18 hour days, a couple of drinkies, a stack of paperwork to read when you get home. Don't drive. Your mind's not with it."

So it's good to see transTasman spitting Brian Rudman's Bitter Whine back in his face:
"We could have sworn in earlier times the pair were close enough for Bassett to pass on to Rudman material for some of his finer journalistic exploits..."
If current reaction is anything to go by, Working with David is set to become the Bloody Mary episode of NZ non-fiction. And bloody hell, who would have thought that the abortion debate was going to be an election issue? On the record, I reckon we should formalise in law what already happens; abortion on demand.

But how about this weather we're having? There's that power crisis thing, isn't there? What level of crisis are we at, or is this the pre-crisis crisis? Is it anything like a pre-earthquake crisis, in that something could go horribly wrong at any moment and we'll all die crisis? The best that has come out of this whole saga so far is Rawdon Christie throwing a coulda-woulda-shoulda tongue-twister at former Lange minister and Electricity Chairman David Caygill on Agenda. It should be viewable here, not that the sodding thing loads on Firefox.