Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Church of the Poisoned Mind

Whenever I despair with NZ politics, I look overseas and feel better about our patch.

Take Russia, for example. My old man was invited to Russia back in the 1990's to help with the privatisation of its state assets that would lay the foundations for today's oligarchs. He wasn't having a bar of it. He may or may not have foreseen their rise, but he wasn't going to be damned for the sizeable and inevitable Peoples' clusterfuck, whatever shape it took.

This year's model of Russian political fallout from that power shift has taken the unlikely form of a punk feminist collective called Pussy Riot, and their imprisonment and impending trial for blasphemy:
The crime in question occurred on 21 February and took precisely 51 seconds. The five women and a film team, plus various supporters and a couple of journalists, entered the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, jumped over a gold rail, stood on the steps of the pulpit (a place where only men may stand) and performed the opening bars of a punk song. You can watch it on YouTube. It starts out as a religious hymn, then mutates into something Sex Pistols-esque, the women kneeling, genuflecting, crossing themselves, jumping up and down and, after a few seconds, being intercepted by security guards and led away.
The Russian Orthodox Church is donkey deep in the Russian state apparatus. It was bought off by a mammoth shopping spree which started in the 1990's as clients (both private and government) sought to buy legitimacy from the church with lavish restorations and donations of icons. The church aristocracy got into the funny pages earlier this year with a shitty Photoshop job trying to hide a priest's $30,000 watch. These cocks in frocks are as bent as the Volga.

Amnesty International has a campaign to support the imprisoned members of Pussy Riot, who have been refused bail before their trial. Help get these non-violent performance artists out of prison. If you don't, the cocks in frocks will win.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Baggie Marry and Violent Bob

The Facevine advises me that today is National Poetry Day. Thank you, People's Poet. Here's one I just cooked up this morning.

Baggie Marry and Violent Bob

Baggie Marry, Baggie Marry
Wed at 18 to Violent Bob.
Within two years she wore
Two heirs; Mark and Barry,
And a constant bruise on her gob.

Ordained by God was Violent Bob.
There was no doubt about it.

By day a cop, the biggest gang in town.
The oaths he'd sworn to uphold
(By book, by Queen, by stone)
All reached one way or the other
To the feet of that Heavenly throne.

By night a sot, the biggest lush in town.
The oaths he swore and toasted
(By book, by Kings, by ring)
He reached for bottle or Baggie.
God had told Bob he could do anything.

Baggie Marry, Baggie Marry
Is clumsy around stairs.
Even level sections
Give her assault and battery
And endless medical repairs.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Break in the Weather

We're over the hump of winter. Not only are the days getting longer, calendar mid-winter has been and gone. So has the rain, thank Dagg. That's the thing about NZ. The weather might be pluvial, even inclement at times. But it does pass. Suck on that, Blighty Summer.

The break in the weather couldn't come soon enough. These wild swings experienced at the ends of the earth require heavy defences. A creative drug regimen only goes so far, when was is really needed is some sun and a mild breeze in the hair.

As opposed to the gales that blew my bastard goNZo flag right off the flagpole, sending it somewhere south-east one howling night, or the banshee blast that knocked the neighbour's big bastard tree onto the front lawn. The frosts that fridged my flat, forcing the cat to seek refuge in the bed next to the hot water bottle.

But back to the drugs. It's good to see Labour's drug guy, Iain Lees-Galloway, backing off minimum pricing of alcohol and considering more rational options. There's no need to infantilise the country and sterilise it of all possible harms. Especially when so many Labour activists are advertising their epicurean pursuits so wantonly on Facebook. The trivial pursuits of the middle classes more closely match those of the working classes than those of the rarefied golf, bridge and Northern Club gentry, so a ceasefire on that hypocritical front seems wise.

However, there's still a hint of naivete and puritanism in there. Take the clean zones around schools, for example. Booze is not the issue around these areas. It's the brand recognition of other, more relevant, drugs which concern kids; fat, sugar, salt. Nana's nagging the wrong niche here.

On the other side of the House, drug tzar Peter Dunne has announced the 'world first' regulated artificial cannabis market, which I presume will be as meaningful as the Schedule D component of the Misuse of Drugs Act, which currently sits with a vacant schedule, just waiting for a single legal high to be approved.

What the flying buggery Jesus does "Mostly Harmless" mean exactly? Does the artificial cannabis have to be more or less harmful than tobacco, alcohol, Prozac, Coke or Viagra before it is permitted to be sold? Ever tried a bottle of low-risk alcohol or a pill of placebo-strength paracetamol? It's rubbish.

Can't they just bring back BZP and go back to the devil they know? Of course they won't. Dunne has just announced a more creative way to just say no to substitutes of the incumbent medicine men in beer, wine and spirits.

It's enough to make you want to clutch all the wine, coffee, cigarettes and herbiage all the much closer to the chest. If the wowsers don't get them, the control freaks will.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Rastachef: Nachos El Grande

Every kiwi flatter worth their salt has their own special nachos recipe. Here's mine. It has been crafted to be not only well-balanced nutritionally with all the food groups, but also taking best advantage of the drug compass too. Damn fine Batchelor Chow too, as the hard yards of the dish can be frozen. 4th placegetter at the Turanga Leela Batchelor Batch Cooking Awards 3013.

Health & Lawyer Warning: May cause/cure constipation, asthma, night terrors, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome and a range of other side effects/benefits. May not be suitable for all enterotypes. Please consult with your intestinal bacteria before ingesting.

Zippy's Nachos El Grande

Makes 2 man portions or 4 woman portions.
Prep time: 10 minutes. Cooking time: 2-3 hours, including cigarette breaks.

What you need (in order of appearance):

Lemon, salt  and pepper not pictured

All Your Base:

The largest onion in the pantry
The largest carrot in the fridge
1 Tbs cooking oil
3 cloves garlic / 1 Tbs crushed garlic

Spice Bomb: 1 Tbs chili powder, 1 Tbs cumin, 1 tsp ground coriander, 1 tsp paprika

200 grams cheap beef mince
Juice from one lemon
Half a punnet / 2 generous Tbs tomato paste
2/3 cup dry red kidney beans, soaked in water at least overnight (preferably a day) and rinsed
A cup or two of water
1 tsp beef stock / 1 beef Oxo cube
Salt and pepper
2 tsp minced chili

For each serving:

1/4 bag / 80 gramsish unseasoned corn chips
10 grates / 1/4 cup cheese
1/2 punnet / 2 generous Tbs sour cream
A few lettuce leaves
2 Tbs Coriander leaf
If it was summer, one tomato

Mis and Method

Put a large heavy-based pot on medium-low heat. While that's warming up, slice the onion and dice the carrot finely. Prepare the spice bomb by mixing together the chili, cumin, ground coriander and paprika in a small bowl.

The pot should be warm enough to put the oil in now. Throw in the sliced onion and diced carrots while you're at it. Stir until the veggies are coated with the oil, then leave it alone and uncovered, and go and have a cigarette break.

After ten minutes of laxing, go and stir the carrots and onions. Stir every minute or so until all the green spines in the onions have disappeared (about another 20 minutes. Maybe longer. Browning onions takes time but it's worth it).

Once the onions are nice and soft, throw in the spice bomb. Be careful not to inhale the fumes, and keep pets and small children out of the vicinity.

After a minute of stirring the spices through the veggies, throw in the beef mince and spend the next five minutes browning the mince, breaking lumps of it up with a wooden spoon. Once the mince is browned, add the garlic and stir a minute. Then add the lemon juice and tomato paste and stir, before then adding the red kidney beans.

Add just enough water to cover the beans and meat, and stir the crumbled beef stock into the mix. Crack some pepper into the mix, and a dash of salt (the stock has already got heaps). Turn down heat to low, put the lid on the pot and go roll up a spliff.

Stir every 20 minutes or so. After an hour, take the lid off the pot and reduce the mixture until most of the liquid has gone. Check how cooked the beans are by trying to squish one with a fork. Once the beans are readily mushable, add the crushed chili, mash the mixture a couple of times and stir. Turn the grill on.

Mis Part II.

Grate the cheese, roughly chop the lettuce, finely chop the coriander leaf. Dice the hypothetical tomato. I'm cooking for one, with the other chow for tomorrow night, so the rest of the prep is for one serving.

Place half the bean mince mix in the middle of a plate and surround it with corn chips. Top mince and beans with cheese and grill for a minute, or until cheese has just melted. Top with sour cream and put back under grill until corn chips begin to turn golden.

Remove from the grill and top with the chopped lettuce. This adds a much-needed dose of natural narcotics to aid digestion. Add imaginary diced tomato and sprinkle the chopped coriander to garnish. Et voila! Zippy's Nachos El Grande with bonus tucker. Bon appetit.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Red Shift and other Fucking Big Questions

The Higgs boson news has been a boon for general interest in science. Finally, popular interest has turned toward the really important questions on light, the universe and everything. The Independent looks at some other phenomenal mysteries.

1. Dark Matter. You know that weird change in pitch as an emergency vehicle gets closer then passes you by? That weh-weh, waa -waa thing? That's the basic tool that lead to a Nobel prize in physics. It's known as the Red Shift, and led to the realisation that not only is the universe expanding at an increasing rate, it pointed out that most of the universe is invisible to every tool known to humankind.

2. Gravitational Waves. Gravy waves are remnants of cataclysms such the Big Bang, like Cosmic Background Radiation but much much stranger. Various Unifying Theories use gravy waves to sew the four forces together.

3. Can we travel faster than light? "A positron is an electron going backwards in time," said Richard Feynman. Ponder that a bit.

4. Theory of Everything. I can't rationally explain my hope that Garrett Lisi's theory of the E8 pattern gets some evidential support during the LHC experiments. Just look at it:

In the meantime, the total geek-out freak-out over the Higgs boson continues over at Public Address. We live in strange, charm, up, down times.

Friday, July 06, 2012

News and Stuff

Gina Rinehart might have sold down her stake in Fairfax, but the newsworthiness of Stuff's website continues to descend into "Ow My Balls" repetition. Today's main page links include:

Falling mascot!
Michael Bay Fireworks Go Ka-Blooie!
Cunning stunt cars!

Still, it beats the omnipresent shitty bling of its sister site, the Sydney Morning Herald. I stopped reading that fluff ages ago.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

To Get Down

It's mid-winter and there's next to no local news. In the Hospo World, the biggest fuck-ups always happen during the slow times.

Parliament is in recess, as Cactus Kate demonstrates with this Speaker's Tour photobombing of the Diamond Cross-Examination (second row from the back):

The Higgs Boson has been finally nailed by practical as well as theoretical physicists. Good on them for that. What with this one fundamental doubt removed at great expense, now is not a good time to pick a fight with physicists:
In what appeared to be the sole negative tweet of the night she lamented to cost of the research involved: “the cost is depressing, $4 billion or thereabouts, only if it makes a real difference.” In later tweets she referred to the “cost to some other priority”, “the sacrifice it required,” “what is not done, who is not fed, who is not saved,” “tradeoffs,” “trying to justify this cost to the people I work for,” and “you can’t deny that something else is sacrificed in the choice [of research].”

Her comments were quickly criticised by a number of local people and, in the end, I think she realised she had made a political mistake.
So much for the Exercise of Vital Powers. I expect more geek from my Greens.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Greg King awarded prestigious IIEKS honour

One of the highest unofficial honours in New Zealand has been awarded to Greg King, barrister-at-law. The current consensus is that the IIEKS position, or If I Ever Kill Someone, will be filled with an IHGK response (I'd Hire Greg King).

The honour is bestowed upon members of the public who perform outstanding duty in defending against sloppy state prosecutions. Former recipients of the award include Mike Bungay, Trevor de Cleene, Peter Williams and Marie Dyhrberg.

Well done Greg King, LLB, IIEKS, IHGK.

When you ask for beer, I pass water

Monday, July 02, 2012

Brown Note in Key Major

Helen Clark once observed that by definition the Prime Minister's Office cannot leak. John Key continues this Up Yours policy by refusing to hold an inquiry into the Dotcom assault by police. The public service doesn't pay to stare at the PM's navel. At all.

Because, as Judge Winkelmann's ruling demonstrates, the police weren't in the loop on the legal details of just why and what the armed raid was in aid of. I doubt that even Police Minister Judith Collins was sufficiently aware of what was requested and why. The order came from Key, for whatever reasons (Conspiracy Nuts need not apply).

Jeez, I'm so affronted, I have half a mind to hitch-hike to Auckland and squat in Kim Dotcom's spa pool.

The English and the Catholics

With the latest news that Bill English is pushing for drug testing as a condition of social welfare,  what better time to compare the current persecution of cannabis users with the old Penal Laws that the English used to try and crush Irish Catholics? As I understand it, most of the South Island's vanilla ancestors emigrated to avoid this historic abuse. Now the Mainlanders are dominant, can they avoid the same monocultural malice?

Wikipedia has this to say about the Penal Laws:
The term Penal Laws in Ireland (Irish: Na Péindlíthe) were a series of laws imposed in an attempt to force Irish Roman Catholics and Protestant dissenters (such as Presbyterians) to accept the reformed Christian faith as defined by the English state established Anglican Church and practised) by members of the Irish state established Church of Ireland.
The Drug Laws in New Zealand, originally designed to minimise harm, have become a multi-million dollar industry for Baptists and Bootleggers alike. Cannabis, MDMA and LSD bad; Booze, Prozac and Coca Cola good. There's big dollars to be made for a savvy few, while everyone else pays the price.

Here's a select few of the Ascendancy Laws of 1691 - 1778, compared with the closest relevant Drug Law of today:

AL: Exclusion of Catholics from most public offices (since 1607), Presbyterians were also barred from public office from 1707. Bar from membership in either the Parliament of Ireland or the Parliament of Great Britain from 1652; rescinded 1662–1691; renewed 1691–1829. Exclusion from the legal professions and the judiciary; repealed (respectively) 1793 and 1829.

DL: Being a dope fiend in public offices today is unheard of. Coming out of that closet is still fatal, no matter who you are. Although there are no obvious witch hunts, it is as effective as blackmail fodder as Alan Turing's sexual orientation was back in the "good old days".

AL: Catholics barred from holding firearms or serving in the armed forces (rescinded by Militia Act of 1793)

DL: Drugs and armies go together like napalm and mornings, yet dope fiend behaviour is a fireable offence. Not only is it a man's army still, it is a drunk man's army.

AL: Disenfranchising Act 1728, exclusion from voting until 1793.

DL: Paul Quinn's Private Member's Bill was picked up by John Key's Posse last term, making any convicted and imprisoned dope fiend lose the right to vote. For those users not imprisoned, John Key's $50 Victim Tax still applies.

AL: Ban on Catholics buying land under a lease of more than 31 years; repealed 1778. Prohibition on Catholics owning a horse valued at over £5.

DL: The Proceeds of Crime Act that the Clark Labour government introduced effectively made every cannabis consumer's home and property liable to be seized by the state. No guilt beyond reasonable doubt needed. Probable dope fiends will do.

AL: Ban on custody of orphans being granted to Catholics on pain of 500 pounds that was to be donated to the Blue Coat hospital in Dublin.

DL: Cannabis use can get your children taken off you by Child Services. And now, social welfare benefits can also be removed from you.

The accoutrements of deviancy have changed from incense and popery to bongs and dopery, but the malice of the vanilla majority goes on.