Sunday, November 30, 2008
Thursday, November 27, 2008
1. In a nod to Roar Prawn's White Ribbon day story, I have had family members point loaded guns at me twice. On both occasions I was unarmed, not dangerous, under 18 years old and not "asking for it". The first time ended up with me getting shot in the leg with a slug rifle. The second time, I was almost mistaken for a burglar and had a shotgun trained on me.
2. I haven't been able to drink whisky, rum or most other coloured spirits since an unfortunate incident with a walk-in wardrobe of a liquor cabinet when I was 15.
3. Unlike Winston, I have never ridden in a helicopter. But I to used to have a Chopper bike. Neither helmets nor bike pants had been invented then. It was in the days when it was fun to have the wind in one's hair and only Bob Wigglesworth, the PE teacher, shaved his legs.
4. The first time I met Ruth Richardson was as a seventh former on detention. I hadn't done my economics homework, and Ruth was touring the schools prior to the '87 election. Deputy headmaster Errol Brookie showed her through to D1, although he waited until after they left the room to point out why him and I were exchanging funny looks.
5. A district court judge once called me a wanker. Off course, he was drunk as a lord at the time.
6. When in Oz, I stayed at a backpackers in Cairns where 90 percent of the occupants were Irish. There were so many Emerald Islanders, I picked up a lilt in my accent and ended up travelling with three wonderful girls; Emer, Bebhinn and Dierdre.
7. Osama Bin Laden personally ruined my OE. I went to Oz to seek my fortune in the F&B trade, to use that work as a springboard to travel overland around the world. I was arranging an interview for a waiter's job at Hayman Island. That's where Judge Judy, the Chili Peppers and other big tippers went for their breaks. Two days before the meeting, it was Sept 11, 2001. All the US celeb bookings cancelled. The management weren't taking on any more staff because of it. I was reduced to picking bananas for enough money to return to NZ.
Whew. OK, the rules are:
* Link to the person who tagged you. Check.
* Post the rules. Check.
* Share seven random or weird facts about yourself. Check.
* Tag 7 random people at the end of the post with their links.
So here's tagging llew at SunnyO, Blair at Mulholland Drive (just to piss you off), anyone at Pundit, as there should be more than a few anecdotes to draw on there, Homepaddock for all the linky love, anyone at Wellingtonista, Bomber or Tim at Tumeke, just so you guys can lighten up for once. Speaking of which, final tag to WhaleOil, who at least is occasionally open to new ideas. Next year, look out for the WhaleOil Full Moon Drumming Circle in East Auckland.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
It's time to vote in the Wellingtonista Awards. Still waiting for the Aucklandista awards. No pressure.
Agenda dead, wtf? It had an audience, it had a format, it broke stories. Of course you kill it. So what of the dissonance in Richard Harman's support of Nat broadcasting policy? Is a Front Page phoenix to arise next year? Whatever happens, can someone PLEASE bring back the Ralston Group?
McDonalds is trying to patent sandwich making.
Still thinking hard on NZX and Tyler Cowen points on economic reform.
Current US bailout costs more than Marshall Plan, Louisiana Purchase, moonshot, S&L bailout, Korean War, New Deal, Iraq war, Vietnam war, and NASA's lifetime budget combined! Wired has excerpts from a new book, Sex and War. If you want to know what's at stake if we mess this recovery up, have a read of the future of war.
Obama chooses War on Drugs nut as attorney general. Where's the Change?
Why does James Bond never travel to NZ? Whatever happened to Molesworth & Featherston? Is the fear of rhymes homophonophobia?
Off to blogger drinks at the Backbencher today. If you want me to stay, you can bend my ear for the price of a beer. On non-sport subjects anyway. Poverty breeds sobriety.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
The grin became less malevolent as she went to say that the old man was to be in government shortly. He had lived. I found out the details in drips and drabs later that week. The only part of parliament that had been bombed the other night had been Muldoon. But it was the first of many rude awakenings as Trev ascended into the lofty heights of government and public awareness.
As a fourth former at Palmerston North Boys' High, I became reluctant spokesperson for Trev. I was confronted one morning by school mates asking whether the old man kept a shotgun under his bed. The Dominion had a story quoting from a speech he had given the previous day. From that day forth, the Chemistry teacher (Dr Furness, as I recall) referred to me as Buckshot. In order to keep ahead of the curve, I scoured newspapers and television for signs of Trev. I saw more of the old man on the TV than I ever got to see him in person.
Thankfully, media saturation wasn't at the same level as today. My stepmother was spared the level of intimacy sought by some hacks from Peter Davis. I was spared the ethically elastic angles of a papparazzi hanging out in front of the house on election night. I didn't have a Google News section in my name.
The families of MPs have enough shit to deal with as it is, without the media sticking their nose in too far. Leave them the hell alone.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
The Pentagon is used to getting what it wants, as evidenced by its recent spending spree. The "base" defense budget, which excludes the expense of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, has grown 40 percent since 2001 to an estimated $518.3 billion requested for fiscal year 2009. But this doesn't tell the whole story. If you figure in other military expenditures, such as those incurred by the departments of Homeland Security, Energy, Veterans Affairs, and the numerous defense "supplemental" bills that the Bush administration has relied on to fund its foreign adventures, US defense spending stands at a staggering $863.7 billion. This exceeds the collective annual defense spending of the world's militaries combined.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Can you please remove this email address from all Act databases, email address lists and other forms of correspondence forthwith. I am sick of repeatedly receiving messages from Act, in spite of repeated attempts to unsubscribe from them. I am no longer a member of Act, and would rather seek sexual favours from alligators than support Act again. If further correspondence from the Act party continues, I may be forced to lay a complaint under the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act.
Will de Cleene
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
"In the last week, I've spoken with a gaggle of experts, some of them in finance, some in real estate and some in just plain investments. I've interviewed media magnates, both foreign and domestic, an investment banker, a manufacturer, and a former banker. This is what I have to report: Economically, we're in a recession. Psychologically, we're in a depression. The reason: None of these experts knows what to do."From Richard Cohen at Real Clear Politics. Meantime, Stiglitz lists the Seven Deadly Deficits.
Life at War was an uncomfortable coffee table book that would make some people lose their lunch. It was a graphic account by war photographers from the Spanish Civil War through to Vietnam and the Arab - Israel conflicts. If any book made me who I am today, it is this one.
So it's great to see TimeLife collaborating with Google to have these images and more available at this photo archive (Hat Tip /.) There is one image that struck me in this harrowing book then that reverberates for me still: the young German boy outside Belsen concentration camp.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
I'm pleased that the appointment of Jonathan Coleman as Broadcasting Minister has met a good reception. Harman reckons National's policy of opening the fund to all players is a good step. Now is a good time to get rid of uneccessary duplication. And woe betide any government who tries to cancel Agenda!
Monday, November 17, 2008
I haven't meditated on a single image this long since I got rid of my Tarot decks. Every time I look at it, I'm drawn to the thick red line of US national debt, and compare it with the grey block that represents GDP. Both are adjusted to real 2007 dollars. Even from the thumbnail image above, three distinct phases of their relationship stands out.
Between 1920 and 1950, the relationship is fairly steady. The narrowing of the gap over the 1940s is easily dismissed as the inevitable cost of WWII added to the accounts. These were the days of the massive Marshall Plan investments in Europe and Japan, so the glitch is justified.
Between 1950 and 1980, national debt remains level at around 2 to 2.3 trillion dollars, while GDP over that period triples. These are the golden days that baby boomers constantly refer to, and rightly so. Then there's 1980 to the present, where the lines remain parallel. All GDP growth has been derived from national debt. The only time the gap widens is during the 90s and the Clinton administrations run of surpluses, but otherwise it's pretty much constant.
Then take a look at the note below the globe: "The federal government doesn't follow the same accounting practices it requires corporations and state and local governments to follow. If it did, the actual national debt would be $59.1 trillion."
That's about six times the US GDP. Now would be a good time to give Roger Douglas, Ruth Richardson and even Michael Cullen a hand for getting and keeping NZ out of a similar situation. Even with the figures haemorrhaging out of Treasury or the Reserve Bank these days, they still pale in comparison with what the US is now facing.
Consider the $700 billion bailout plan. Where has the first $350 billion gone and at what price? No one seems to know. Have the banks inserted that money into the system or are they hoarding it? Seems like the latter. Should the car makers get a hand out or should two and a half million jobs reliant on them be put on the block? Maybe the over-excited Ashton Kutcher was right on the last Real Time with Bill Maher for the year. Maybe the oil companies should bail out the car companies, not the government. Vested interest and all.
And before the Republicans get too high and mighty over this dilemma, they might want to eye up that other inefficient job factory known as the military industrial complex. Or the war in Iraq. Suffice it to say, the US is inevitably facing a massive readjustment, the likes of which will make Rogernomics look painless.
Consider the state governments, facing massive blowouts due to declining revenues from sales, income and property taxes, face some hard choices. Say what you will about Colorado's experiment with TABOR, Gordon Campbell, but at least Colorado's budget shortfall is a puny $20 per capita. It's miniscule compared with California's $711 per capita, and that was before the bushfires.
Call me a pessimist, but things is the US are facing a god-awful crunch. This crisis isn't over by a long chalk. And just because there won't be identical images of 1930s soup kitchen lines, doesn't mean that a depression might not be on its way. It would look different, as Drake Bennett at Boston.com says:
Most of us, of course, think we know what a depression looks like. Open a history book and the images will be familiar: mobs at banks and lines at soup kitchens, stockbrokers in suits selling apples on the street, families piled with all their belongings into jalopies. Families scrimp on coffee and flour and sugar, rinsing off tinfoil to reuse it and re-mending their pants and dresses. A desperate government mobilizes legions of the unemployed to build bridges and airports, to blaze trails in national forests, to put on traveling plays and paint social-realist murals.
Today, however, whatever a depression would look like, that's not it. We are separated from the 1930s by decades of profound economic, technological, and political change, and a modern landscape of scarcity would reflect that.
...[A]bove all, a depression circa 2009 might be a less visible and more isolating experience. With the diminishing price of televisions and the proliferation of channels, it's getting easier and easier to kill time alone, and free time is one thing a 21st-century depression would create in abundance. Instead of dusty farm families, the icon of a modern-day depression might be something as subtle as the flickering glow of millions of televisions glimpsed through living room windows, as the nation's unemployed sit at home filling their days with the cheapest form of distraction available.
In other words, life would be the soul-crushing isolation of the unemployed trapped at home, the supposed nirvana that some right wing blogs describe as bludging. Welcome to my world. Believe me, it's not that glamorous.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
"Paedophiles, like homosexuals, 30 years ago homosexuals had, according to experts, a disease and they needed to be cured and it was a spectacular failure because homosexuality is a sexual orientation, so we decided that because there were 10 per cent of people who were homosexual it was no longer a disease."Can't wait for his maiden speech in parliament.
UPDATE: You can view the episode here.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
There is hope that some bees will rise from the comb sometime next year, once the loathed Electoral Finance Act has been democratised. Here's hoping they find new pastures to plunder soon.
[Clinton's] confidant today suggested that the role of Secretary of State, with its clearly defined parameters, might be a "better job" than that of vice-president. Bringing Mrs Clinton inside the tent would have the added advantage of removing her from the battlefield should Mr Obama's administration, constrained by economic crisis, begin to go back on campaign promises such as introducing universal health care coverage.While Obama's support for protecting the endangered car factories is an early mis-step, the advice he's getting on putting together his administration team is top-notch.
Friday, November 14, 2008
A gay old night in Gore
Eating Media Lunch host Jeremy Wells has found Gore folk have long memories, a television industry source said.
Wells was in the Southland town for One News election coverage on Saturday night and found some locals had not forgotten his last visit 10 years ago when he and Mikey Havoc lampooned it as the gay capital of New Zealand.
I hear that after the election broadcast Wells and Hugh Sundae were accosted by a group of 20-something males at a Gore petrol station, taking offence to his last visit. "They followed them to their motel and harassed them and wanted a fight, said the source.
The police were called, said the source, adding that Wells had managed to appease the Gore locals but they had been hassled around 90 minutes, during much of which Wells had been trapped in his motel room.
"He even called Mark Sainsbury saying he needed help," the TV source said.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Judging from the expression on Maori Party president Whatarangi Winiata's face, it looks like Key has offered them a mana-enhancing offer they couldn't refuse. The hui will have the final word, of course. But from those smiles, there's something solid to sell their constituency.
Meantime, the Greens are locked out with their high maintenance hang-ups preventing them from being anything more than a bookmark for disgruntled Labour voters. As eredwin says in the same thread, the Greens are taking a narrower definition to the consensus politics that Rod Donald saw in MMP. Instead of investigating what, if anything, was on offer from the trader and taking it back to their members, the Greens can sit in puritanical isolation.
Here's some other muppets:
Mind you, it gets even weirder when you see companies like American Express asking for a US$3.5 billion bailout too.
John Banks is taking a chainsaw to Auckland City Council capital expenditure. Faced with breaking some election promises in order to fulfil others, Banks hopes to avoid ratepayer robbery by cutting council spending. Some chops are readily excusable. Buying new park land is a 'nice to have but not at the moment' project, and no harm it being shelved.
"I have a good grip on the money and I'm going to be careful. I know I am going to make mistakes and I know there is going to be quite a lot of disappointment about pet projects," [Mayor John Banks] said.Pet projects to be cut include cleaning up literally shitty beaches and maintaining footpaths (does anyone walk in Auckland any more?). No mention is made on how many council gnomes are in for the chop. But the one pet project that will bankrupt the city, that big and increasingly hungry rabbit known as the Eden Park refit, is left unscathed. Nice stadium, shame about everything else.
Sure as hell, John Banks is no Key-nesian.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
It had to be Phil, because any other choice would have left the possibility that Helen Clark sat in the backbenches twiddling with a Universal Remote Control and an RFID chip in, say, Cunliffe's brain. The best thing for Labour is for Helen Clark to depart with graceful yet great haste. Nice of John Key to oblige with support for an international posting for her. Real Helen can then re-emerge from behind the PR gloss that increasingly constrained her and play a mana-enhancing role for NZ overseas.
Regime change is necessary in Labour, and with Goff's political baggage, he'll need to take a more truthful stance than would be possible with Clark hanging about. Just as Clark had changed the political ball-park for the Nats, so too with Key. His style will influence the style of future government challenges. A shift to the far left would not only step on the the Greens vote, one third the strength of Labour's seats, but it would also leave Labour out of the running for at least two terms by alienating that middle electoral vote. Quite simply, Goff will have maintain the centre and reconcile his support of the Rogernomics era. Goff will have to out-Key Key with a Labour compromise.
It all reminds me of the old Khrushchev letters:
Leonid Brezhnev, upon taking office found the two letters and a note Khrushchev had attached:
"To my successor: When you find yourself in a hopeless situation which you cannot escape, open the first letter, and it will save you. Later, when you again find yourself in a hopeless situation from which you cannot escape, open the second letter."
And soon enough, Brezhnev found himself in a situation which he couldn't get himself out of, and in desperation he tore open the first letter. It said simply, "Blame it all on me." This Brezhnev did, blaming Khrushchev for the latest problems, and it worked like a miracle, saving him and extending his career. However, in due time Brezhnev found himself in another disaster from which he could not extricate himself. Without despairing he eagerly searched his office and found the second letter, which he tore open desperate for its words of salvation. It read thus:
"Sit down, and write two letters."
If I were fierce, and bald, and short of breath,
I'd live with scarlet Majors at the Base,
And speed glum heroes up the line to death.
You'd see me with my puffy petulant face,
Guzzling and gulping in the best hotel,
Reading the Roll of Honour. 'Poor young chap,'
I'd say - 'I used to know his father well;
Yes, we've lost heavily in this last scrap.'
And when the war is done and youth stone dead,
I'd toddle safely home and die - in bed.
Monday, November 10, 2008
With 5 MPs in the House, will the co-leadership remain or will the Maori party choose one leader to lead them all? Since Angeline Greensill missed out winning Hauraki-Waikato, it leaves Rahui Reid Katene as the only other woman in the Maori party caucus aside from Tariana Turia. Maybe the co-leadership will disappear and Hone Harawira will emerge as the heir apparent.
As for the Greens, there will be an interesting contest between Sue Bradford and Metiria Turei for the co-leadership. My money's on Met.
Sunday, November 09, 2008
1975 Rowling thumped by Muldoon. National 47.6 percent of the vote, Labour 39.6
1990 Moore thumped by Bolger. National 47.8 percent, Labour 35.1
2008 Clark thumped by Key. National 45.5, Labour 33.8
As a percentage of the vote, Labour's 2008 result was the worst in a long time. Aside from 1996, when Labour received only 28.2 percent as the vote splintered with all the newbie minor parties, it is the lowest percentage of the vote since 1928.
Saturday, November 08, 2008
Friday, November 07, 2008
Just the other week, during Helen Clark and John Key's debate (for airtime) with John Campbell, was a great example of this. Just as either Key or Clark got in their stride, JC would interrupt to remind people to vote on TV3's poll on who was the better debater.
Outside the MSM, things have been a bit better. Alt TV has been one of the better sources of information, as opposed to the cootchy-koo spoon-fed pabulum from primetime. Rough as guts and no bloody polls. Good onya.
Will Winston Peters be the first ever NZer to be sued to death?
Prior to the feminist ascension, I was quite looking forward to a matriarchy for a change. While I wasn't quite expecting the historical precedents of Amazonian princesses and temple courtesans doing it for the goddess, I was hoping for at least some balance to the Muldoon-Lange-Bolger trifecta of phonies (Muldoon pretended he knew what he was doing, Lange pretended to know what he was reading, and Bolger pretended to be good at mimicking foreign accents).
Unfortunately, we didn't get a Bodiecea. We got Supernanny Shipley and Maximum Discipline Nanny Helen Clark instead. We sought warrior queens and ended up living with our Mums. So I think NZ is ready for a go with a male prime minister, if for no other reason thank to get the drunk-on-power nanny off to rehab.
Thursday, November 06, 2008
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
CNN's Vote Prediction drumroll and graphic, as well as the pop-up box ping that goes off like Vista are both really starting to get on my tit. Almost glad to return to