Monday, October 25, 2010

Power to the people means more than 240 volts AC.

To paraphrase the Bible: whither thou goest, I shall go.

First there’s America. Uncle Barry’s boys in the West Wing got the printing presses going, and gave the banker-wankers a couple of trillion bucks to bail them out of the trouble they’d gotten themselves into by having Bush and his bully-boys give them a couple of trillion dollars to they could ease up and regulations and oh god it’s all so circular.
Suffice to say, Bazza McBama now been stymied by the Republicans, and soon won’t be able to do a damn thing.
The only way out for America now is for the nation to get together, roll up their collective sleeves, and innovate. They’re good at that. They need each and every American worker to start working and producing good stuff, at such a rate that one American worker produces what it takes 20 Chinese workers to produce. Then they’ll be in a position to compete.
Unfortunately, America has trained vast swathes of its population how to sit on their arses while other vast swathes of Americans serve them a Starbucks coffee.
New Zealand took note, and followed suit, by bailing out inefficient and potentially crooked finance companies, while also amalgamating Auckland’s nine cities / boroughs into one. They obviously took a long right-wing look at what was happening, and understood that competition doesn’t always make for efficiencies and higher productivity. John Key wittered on endlessly about how his biggest priority is to get Newzillind wages and salaries equal to Australia’s – and then promptly looked for new and more efficient ways of making more Newzillinders unemployed. Yeah, John. That’ll work.
And in the UK a right-wing gummint (as Johnkey would say) has upped and fired 490,000 public servants… while the so-called public-sector has no way of employing them.
There is no protection for the worker any more. There is no government for the people, by the people, of the people. There is government for the corporations, by the corporations, of the corporations.
We, the little fellows who do the work of production, of support, and of paying for the corporate structures, and who are also the ones who make them work.... well, we're are allowed to think we have some say. In New Zealand there’s a charade every 3 years. In America they vote incessantly. In Britain, it’s once every five years.
And each vote that’s cast – it doesn’t matter for whom – turns around kicks the voter in the teeth.
We need to find a way back from the Reaganite / Thatcherite / Rogergnomic “market forces” ideology, and start slapping some people protections into the law. What American corporations and banks have done over the past 20 years is almost evil. And people like Johnkey are tiny little minions of the devil. Greed ain’t good, Gordon Gecko. And I’m tired of being made to play in your sandpit

re porn: read this -

Reading: Celtika, Robert Holdstock. pretty good so far.
Listening to: Jeff Beck. Again. Over and over.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Chi, Chi,Chi, le,le,le

What an extraordinary bunch of men. The story of the Chilean (and one Bolivian) miners who survived a mine collapse has entranced the world. Humanity put on its best face: the Chilean President, beset with all manner of problems - mainly financial, and mainly not of Chile's own doing (look to Wall Street, brother) - stepped up and put his credibility on the line when he said that rescue efforts must carry on..
And his gamble paid off. After seventeen days, contact was made with the missing men, and there had been no fatalities. There were 33 of them, trapped 700 metres underground.
You'll know the story. Today was the day they winched the last miner to safety. The Chileans called in nhelp from around the globe: Canada, Australia, New Zealand, America, South Africa. NASA stepped in, with boundless generosity and expertise.
I was thrilled by the whole story. Of course, god got a lot of the credit for the hard work and ingenuity of everyone who gave of themselves for the rescue, and that in its own small way is a measure of the humility, dignity, grace, and nobility of humankind.
And already the unimaginative media are already getting it wrong. I heard the miners today described as "celebrities". They are, of course, nothing of the kind. They are miners. They're certainly famous.Made so by the circumstances they found themselves in. But in a day when a celebrity is someone with falsely white teeth, perfectly botoxed skin, and a photogenic backside, these men are so much more than mere celebrities.
They were also described, mistakenly in my opinion, as "heroes". Brave, yes. Resourceful, definitely. Tough - without a doubt. But heroes? No. They've done nothing more ( and what a nothing it is! Brava! Brava!) than to survive in conditions that would kill or cripple - physically and/or mentally - most other people. They are, folks, survivors.
They have, by their forebearance, fortitude, courage, resourcefulness, patience, good will, and trust in their fellow humans, set an example that the rest of the world should take note of, and try to emulate.
Unfortunately, in these days of ten-minute wonders, their story and example will be brushed off our screens and front pages by the ongoing antics of parasites and wastrels such as Paris Hilton and Simon Carrow (Calloow?)... oh, whatsisname.
For two months, humanity glowed. Would that the glow could be fanned into a fire that would light our way to understanding what we could acheive if we would just set our minds to it. 
READING: Scott Turow, "Ordinary Heroes". So far, so good. Also Joe Haldeman, "Starbound".
LISTENING TO: Rodrigo e Gabriela, "11-11"

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Things I've Learnt Lately...

I went to meet a new client today. He was, as it happens, an Indian. Very thick accent, in the early stages of dementia, and only ten years older than me. Dementia may be striking him (and his family), but he still speaks (and reads) three languages.
He was seated in front of the big screen tele when his daughter invited me in. He was cross legged, wearing a pair of what looked to be superbly comfortable light cotton pants... and an All Black shirt.
Even before I'd met him, I'd responded to his daughter's "G'day, how's it going, want a cup a tea?" with the thought that here was someone who could end up as Governor General, or Prime Minister, or or whatever in this rather fabulous little country of ours.
If I hear Paul Henry's name once more, I'm going to be physically sick. His nasty little comments should be allowed to fade like an old stain. So, of course, should he. But he won't. One of our three nation-wide radio networks will snap him up. Actually, one wouldn't touch him with a well disinfected syringe. But then, Radio New Zealand National doesn't depend on "fame" to sell its programmes. They rely on quality, and intelligence.
Another thing I learnt: that TVNZ is a disgrace. Its glorious leader Rick Ellis hinted that they might have made a move toward getting rid of PH, because they were starting to lose advertising revenue. Not because it was the right ethical choice to make, but because they might lose some dollars.
A couple of weeks back I hinted that I'd been starting to think about the nature of love. Watch this space, I said.
First observation - and yes, it's taken me a couple of weeks to reduce this to something that I can state with confidence:
The fact that I love someone should in no way impact on their decision making process.
It's taken me a long time to learn that. I have, in the past, sincerely (and stupidly) said things along the lines of "But you can't do that to me. I love you..." and "Come on, do this for me. After all, I love you.."
Hmm. Nope. Doesn't work like that. Love gives. it doesn't take.
Leonard Cohen has it absolutely bang-on: There ain't no cure for love. I've come to understand that, too. I love my Jenny more than life itself - and that has given me the strength of heart to love others. Properly, with no demands, no requirement that the love be returned. Just knowing that such a love is possible, and that I have it within me, is extraordinarily liberating. 
I shall share more thoughts when I can be little more coherent...
READING: "The Boys" Comic-book series, by Garth Ennis. very, very good.
LISTENING TO: Jeff Beck. Again.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

We've been together a long time...

It's been forty years that we've spent together, but I'm afraid our ways must part. Over the past four decades there've been times that you've been so very, very good. It's been especially noticeable when times have been bad: they've perversely been your best times. But those worst of times, the times that really inspired you to go further than anyone could have expected or demanded, have spoilt the good times.
You see, I look on you now, when times aren't so bad, and you simply disappoint me. You're striving for mediocrity - or, even worse, you're mugging for the cheap seats.
I'm really not all that nostalgic for the so-called good old days. Really, when I compare the capabilities you had then with what you're able to do now, I shake my head in wonder. You had so little, and you did so much with it. I recall thinking that if you could do that now, what would you be able to do in the 21st century? Well, it seems that all you've been able to do is put pearls on a dung-beetle.
I guess the rot set in when you changed your religion. You used to worship at the altar of Story, of Substance, of Truth, of Veracity - of Responsibility. You looked at what you had to do, and you worked so hard to do it well, assuming that I was a trusted friend, someone with intelligence and wit, someone who was worthy of your respect.
Then you were tempted by the glittery idols of popularity, fame, and celebrity. You saw the cover of the Women's Weekly, and its siren-call brought you too close to the hidden reefs of of the slum-lords. You stopped working for Story and Substance, and allowed yourself to be seduced by the Strumpet of "Success". You looked at me, and were disappointed in me, because I remained wedded to the idea that you were so much better. You sold me out for a mess of pottage, and, in doing so - you broke my heart.
And so, TV1 and TV3 News, it is sayonara. When you stopped having confidence in my ability to think and analyse, when you took away from me the strong meat and drink of real news and demonstrated your total contempt for me by serving up self-congratulatory pabulums that included inanities and jovialities and non-stories about television shows that your light-entertainment department were screening later that night.. well, that's when I knew that our marriage was over.
What hurts is that, just a month ago, you showed me how capable you were of acheiving true excellence. The coverage you both gave me of the Christchurch earthquake showed me you're still capable.
But you mopped the sweat from your brow, and got back to the real world of entertainment of joviality.
So, it's goodbye. Don't feel too bad. I feel that some of the fault lies with me: I forgot to demand more of you. I'll invite you in occasionally in the future. Nostalgia will demand it of me. But we'll never be close again. Not even good friends.
READING: Joe Haldeman, "Old Twentieth". Again, sci-fi the way it should be. Demanding.
LISTENING TO: Jeff Beck, "Emotion and Commotion". Bloody hell. He is beyond brilliant.
Still having trouble connecting to the WiFi with the baby 'pooter - and, as that's the one I have "Heroes" on, I'm afraid that's where it stays. bummer.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Is That All There Is?

There are a lot of talented New Zealanders. It seems to me that we may, in fact, be over-burdened with talent. I’m quite sure that we have more World Champions per square metre than pretty well anywhere else in the world. Minor and major sports are well-represented by New Zealanders. Anything from Synchronised Drowning to Golf has seen a Kiwi at the top of the pile. Well, golf not so much.

Academically, we do all right, as well. We’ve a few Nobel Prize-winners on our honours board, the world wouldn’t have heard Neil Armstrong saying “One small step for Mother Goose” if it hadn’t been for a Kiwi, and Stephen Hawking would be just another guy in a wheel-chair if it hadn’t been for a New Zealander doing some pretty impressive stuff with a slide rule in the 1950s.

Our farmers are better than world-class: the rest of the world wants their farmers to be New Zealand-class. Our pollution rates are right up there, and we are world-beaters when it comes to making dumb investments in dodgy finance companies. Some of our writers have been feted around the globe, and some of them have even sold a copy or two of their books. Our film-makers take $NZ15, and turn out something that Hollywood could only achieve by tossing a lot of zeroes around.

Our politicians are as good – and as venal – as anyone anywhere else can boast. Our women are better looking, our men are sensitive and caring, and all our children are above average.

So how is it we promote the likes of Paul Henry to demi-god status, and put up with his ignorant behaviour? The man is a racist, sexist, bigoted creep. And ordinary New Zealanders are applauding his filthy mouth and degraded mind.

If Paul Henry is all there is that TV has to offer then we need to take a long hard look at ourselves. A self-referential poll on Stuff shows us that there are more people who consider he’s done nothing wrong than there are people who think he should be fired. It’s not an accurate poll.. but it’s an indication of just how this tiny nation’s standards have fallen.

We can do better than Paul Henry. It’s about time we actually did do better.
READING: "the messiah Of Morris Avenue". Tony Hendra. If there has been a book published in the past ten years that might help me give a nod to Jesus Christ, this might be it. Not in an "I believe in god' way, but in a "Yeah. He had the goods." way.
LISTENING TO: Jeff Beck. "Emotion & Commotion". Holy crap! He has the goods, orright....
No "Paper Heroes". Strange things going on with baby 'pooter.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Sunday Scribbles LII

Yesterday was almost perfect. I say "almost", because the one person who would have brought it to a nadir of excellence was at work. I really missed Jenny's presence.
My niece (the self-same one who had been tossed around so much in the Christchurch 'quake) came and visited me. She arrived with her extraordinary daughter, and new "friend". Interesting euphemism.
It's always a fine thing to be in the same room as Meagan: she has a way of sharing her smile that is truly enriching. And her daughter has the same gift: they're both people who genuinely fill a room with light.
I made scones for the visitation. Yum. I wonder why the Americans call them "biscuits" - it seems odd. Not all Americans, of course: many know the scone by that name, but they pronounce it with a long O. Of course, when you look at the word, that's the way it should be pronounced: single vowel, consonant, end letter E. Plane, bone, meme: the vowel preceding the consonant is lengthened by the E at the end. So, yes, SCONE should rhyme with BONE. Bit it just doesn't.
This is how prejudice works. SCONE has always been pronounced SKONN, so that's the way it should always be. People with a different skin colour aren't as (insert adjective here) as me, and that's the way it will always be. Trivial, pre-known "facts" are always correct, because we've never really thought about them. Where is Socrates when you need him?!
So, next time I hear someone blither on with an unthinking pre-judged theme, I'll kick myself with a SCONE, and not a SKONN. Anything that helps me think twice about what I'm saying.
A beautiful Sunday, today. We're going visiting Jenny's sons for lunch. Maybe I'll whip up another batch of scones.
Actually, thinking of this reminds me that I once made some pikelets for the guys at the office. A young South African called them pancakes. I mean - really.
Meagan's visit, and a chance observation at the supermarket, have got me thining about the nature of love. I have some more cogitating to do - watch this space. I have an awful feeling I may be finally growing up.
Listening to: Sinead O'Connor, "The Lion and the Cobra".
Reading: "North Korea", by photographer "Philippe Chancel. Stunning. Horrifying. I've finally got to the end of "A Madness of Angels". A little suspension of disbelief is required (something all fiction readers should find easily) - and, voila, we have the foundations of an entirely new urban mythology. Excellent. Really, really excellent.
More "Paper Heroes":
“In bringing us back to life with this handicap,” said Crayne, “you’ve effectively crippled us. You might just as well have held a gun to our heads and blown our brains out.”

Charles was rocked back on his heels by the argument. The horror that these man wanted: the freedom to rage, the liberty to allow hot anger to course in their veins. Add to that the accusation that he, Charles Windsor, had visited violence upon them! Despite his own truncated embot programming, the horror engulfed him. Charles, turned, walked away, close to vomiting. That someone should accuse him of bringing harm to another human by omission or commission was unthinkable. He leaned against the wall, weakly, and waited for his own embots to bring order to his thoughts, for them to bring his body chemistry back to normal levels. Within a minute, the adrenalin had been neutralised, and in that minute he had made his decision. He sub-vocalised to his I-See, which responded that to have their systems stripped of embots would require a two hour visit to The White Room. His I-See also suggested that Sleepers’ cats should also be made embot-free, as Prester had demanded.

Then, because he had never been either a stupid or unfair man, he had his own embots fully de-commissioned. If he was to fully understand his charges, he must be as like them as possible.

Two hours in the White Room. A lifetime. Everything changed. They had all moved into the room with some trepidation, but the embots had soothed them. As one, they lay on the floor, and were raised on the force-field. A musical tone sounded, and they all instantly fell asleep.

Grey, the cowboy, was the first to stir. He was the smallest of the six Sleepers, and he hopped down from the invisible bed.

Memories flooded back to him: gunfights in Laredo and Tombstone, killings on the range, fighting with the Confederate cavalry in the War Between the States . His mind was filled with images of the hard labour of the cow-trail, riding herd on thousands of longhorn cattle trampling through the dust, the constant dust, to the beef-hungry greenhorns in the East. He recalled the code he lived by: rigid, unquestioning, black and white, with no room for doubt.