The Lineup
B.I.R. Column Of Fame
Man of Steel... Wood... and Mud: Bear Grylls
Rock Legend: Tom Morello

League Gods: The Emperor and Alfie

Str-8 Shoota: Malcolm X

Str-8 Shoota: Zack de la Rocha

Super Bad mofo's

Comrade Hillary

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Time for a new tosser... 

Since Vettori is simultaneously our best bowler and best batsman he has maintained legendary status. However, Milton's been there long enough with his crap airline, so how about a new contender for the post...

Preliminary suggestions:

1. Michael Cullen for the petrol tax rise tomorrow

2. John Bracewell for being a crap coach

3. Stephen Fleming for being a crap batsman

4. Don Brash for trying to reinvent himself as a moralizing conservative crusader

5. Stephen Franks for consistently being the biggest tosser in NZ

Comments & suggestions by tomorrow thanks. Now go fill up your gas tanks.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Why the Warriors lost 

Very simple really. Their first half discipline was shameful.

Steve Price has come from a team which couldn't control their emotions off the field to one which can't control them on the field.

Last week v the Broncos they were very calm and collected and virtually played the perfect game of football v good opposition. Today they played some damn good football but ruined it all with a procession of brain explosions when the Cowboys weren't going anywhere. More on the possible reasons later.

The first loss at home v the Sea Eagles came because they just didn't do the basics well enough but when you tackle pretty well, and make good yards all game with the ball you should come away with a win 9 times out of ten.

They'll be missing a couple of players next week through suspensions and deservedly so. Price must be in the dressing room giving out a few uppercuts as well. Hopefully to Monty Betham who is so often the instigator of disaster for the Warriors. If he can go a game this season without giving away a penalty for lying all over the tackled player for 20 seconds or smacking someone in the head then I'll take up underwater ice hockey as my new pastime.

He pumps his fist in the air like he's the man when he scored our first points. Well really he needs to pump up his brain because he had just given 4 points away at the other end.

Regarding what has happened in our first three weeks I'd say they really need to take a look at how they are approaching their matches. It seems they are getting too wound up for home games where they really want to put out a big performance in front of their long suffering fans but maybe they need to relax a bit and keep their emotions in check and look for a more machine like performance like the one v Brisbane. I'd like to know how they felt going into that game and how they felt coming into this one.

It's once they start stringing together a few home wins that opposition sides will start to come here and capitulate before the siren even sounds for kickoff.

As it stands they have lost several home games on the trot and even the worst team in the comp knows they can come here and play solid football and win.

Which should be interesting given we have the woeful Knights away next week and the crappy Rabbitohs at home the week after.

If they don't pick up at least one win from these two games then the season will be on a slippery slope and of all the teams in the comp the Warriors are the most in need of confidence.

All that said though, the Cowboys should waltz into the top 4 and don't be surprised to see them there on grand final day. Their forwards are slightly better than adequate and their backs are electric. That was where they won today after the Warriors really dominated up front with their forward yards. Well that and our constantly giving them the ball. Also remember the bonus 6 pointers on the siren in both halves plus 4 points from penalties. That accounted for half of their points.

Oh and Byrne had a good game. If he keeps running angles like that he'll turn into a clone of the joker we had a couple of years back from Aussie when we were going real well. Can't remember his bloody name. He also made some good tackles when they looked threatening. Other guys to go well were Price (outstanding) and his propping partner (not going to attempt the name at the moment without checking it). He was also fantastic. Jones was decent and good to see him try a tiny little nudge ahead which he got a penalty from. He obviously gets my posts fed to him by the coaching staff. I tell ya man, those little kicks behind the line work.

Right, off to drink some wine and watch The Grudge. It's a movie about Monty Betham and his feelings towards every opposition player in the NRL I think.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

NRL Round 3 

This week's battles:

1) Roosters versus Broncos
Jessup's backed the Roosters, I've backed the Broncos

2) Panthers versus Dragons
Both gone Panthers. At $1.35 the panthers are worth betting your house on.

3) Eels versus Sharks
Both gone Sharks and so too have the Aussie punters:

Glenn Munsie from TAB Sportsbet said two NRL matches had attracted most interest from his punters. "By far the biggest betting game so far has been the Sharks-Parramatta match-up," he said. "Parramatta are favourites to win but all the money had been for the Sharks. With 4.5 points start, the big bets on the Sharks include $10,500 at $1.85, $6500 at $1.85, two bets of $3500 at the same price and then two more bets of $3000 at the $1.85."

The same start at NZ's TAB is paying $1.80.

4) Warriors versus Cowboys
Both gone Warriors -

5) Sea Eagles versus Storm
Both gone Storm but while Jessup's picked 13+ I reckon it'll go down to the wire and wouldn't be betting any money on the game. With Hoppa gone perhaps the Eagles will get even better.

6) Bulldogs versus Tigers
Both Bulldogs although apparently the punters are taking the Tigers.

7) Rabbits versus Raiders
Again this is going to be close. Jessup's taken the raiders 13+ and although I took the Rabbits in my NRL picks the money the Raiders are paying looks great. I'm going to take the Raiders too.

I cleaned up Jessup's sorry ass last week picking up five matches to his three.

After round 2: Bennyasena 10 Jessup 8.

In other news it must be tempting for one of the Sunday papers to out this dick. A lot of people are going to be shocked if he does get named.

Elections 2005. To Nominate: A right of each Cuban. Posted by Hello

The CNN mindset at Harvard 

My good friend from Boston sent me an e-mail about a conversation he had with a girl at Harvard who was handing out Anti-Cuba propaganda on campus. He shared some of her claims, and I share with you my rebuttals:

I am very glad that you e-mailed me this girl's comments. As it gives me a lovely opportunity to rebuttal in an educated manner. As I'm sure the more and more I teach, the more and more this kind of silliness will come up. I'm disappointed that this girl is attending Harvard and is still thinking in the CNN context though. Very disappointing. Okay, here we go:

Leafleting for a "pro-democracy" thing: Interesting way of campaigning for the World’s Super Power to meddle and fuck with the on-goings of an independent republic. Certainly this pro-democracy rhetoric looses a lot of ground after the Iraq war. Let’s not forget other pro-democracy events for Cuba like bombing their airplanes and tourist hotels. Broadcasting (illegally) radio signals that tell people to overthrow their government. An interminable blockade and a tightening of a blockade with food and medicine. And the every lingering threat of war. All of this orchestrated in Miami and Washington.

Grandparents were executed during the revolution because they tried to leave Cuba: Cuba, like the U.S., does allow capital punishment in extenuating circumstances for such crimes as war crimes, terrorism, and murder. In 2003 Cuba executed 4 people for hi-jacking a Havana Bay ferry, holding people at knife point, threatening their lives, and taking a dangerously over-loaded boat out into the Florida Straits. Before then, Cuba has not executed anyone since the mid 1960s. Also, unlike every other Latin American nation at this time, Cuba did not "disappear" anyone, or torture anyone. I'll let Galeano take it from here,” [in 1959] the worst [of Batista’s] torturers go up against a wall. The aptly named “Bonebreaker” faints each time the firing squad takes aim. They have to bind him to a post.” (Galeano, 1988). While I do not support capital punishment in any context, I regret to say that, if in fact this girl’s grandparents were executed, it is likely in retribution for crimes that go well beyond leaving the island.

Cubans can't leave the country without special permission: Yes! This is true. They do need special permission, just as every citizen of every country needs permission to leave their country. It is called a passport. (Amazing how words and ideas can sound scarier than they are) The international departures terminal in Havana is chalked full of Cubans coming and going freely. Cuba has more embassies in the world than the U.K.; they also have more foreign embassies on their soil than any other Latin American nation. This is a grand statement of internationalism. Why so many embassies overseas? Because there are Cuban citizens and residents overseas. To invite a Cuban citizen to visit a wealthy nation some extra regulations are put in place to ensure that the Cuban travelling abroad will be financially secure. For example a Cuban who visits the U.S. must show that they will have accommodation, travel, and expenditure costs covered because most people make under $30 a month, and they could blow a month’s wage on a taxi ride from the airport. Within the country $30 is almost enough to cover costs, it goes nowhere in any other country, and as such Cuba does not want its citizens living like poppers in guest countries, so proving that a host will cover costs is sometimes necessary.

There’s no popular vote at all: This year is an election year in Cuba. People have a vote at the local, provincial and national level. Candidates do not campaign through advertisements – they meet with citizens on an individual basis and discuss issues. See Arnold August “Democracy in Cuba and the 1997 – 1998 Elections” And also see the attached photo.

Foreigners are carefully prevented from seeing or visiting most of the country: That’s complete horseshit. I’ve been to every single province in Cuba – every single one. You can go anywhere. Meet anybody. Do what you wish. I know foreigners who retire there, work there, live there, marry there, and have children there. There is only one place in Cuba where movement is closely restricted. Where foreigners are excluded and military rule prevails: The U.S. Naval Base on Guantanamo Bay. Let’s not forget the detained group of Haitians in 1995 who tried to escape Gauntanamo to make a better life in Cuba. This was in 1995 with 18 hour rolling blackouts and a food shortage, and people deciding, “hey its better there than here!”

Media is restricted to pro-Fidel propaganda: Considering the work of Fox News and CNN, this is another case of the pot calling the kettle black. Radio, newspaper, and television are state run. It brings with it state bias, just as corporate media brings corporate bias. It is, however, very critical of the system when it wants to be. One of the most critical outputs in Cuba is the film industry which makes scathing critiques about the disorganized and chaotic life on the island. Check it out, if you can. Oh wait, the U.S. restricts the importation of creative arts, (as well as science and medical journals) from Cuba. Maybe next time.

The public health stats are total lies: The health stats are checked and double checked by the U.N. Mark Twain said that all statistics are damned lies, but I think that the WHO has some credibility. I’m not convinced that they are a pack of liars. As far as I’ve seen, everyone is fed, everyone can see a doctor, and everyone has a place to live. Resources are pinched tightly, thanks to Jesse Helms and his band of thugs, so sometimes the allocation of wares is difficult. Check it out:

Also, Fidel, not the CIA, had Che killed: Some charge Cuba for Che’s demise, because they did not contribute resources to his fight. Cuba was happy keeping the revolution in Cuba, and spreading influence by other means, Che wanted one, two, three, many Vietnams. Different approach. The decision to execute Che came from the CIA, and was done by Bolivian forces who were CIA trained. Che did not want to take over power in Cuba; he saw the revolution as a hemispheric struggle, while Castro saw it as a national one. During a time of nuclear readiness between USA and USSR, Cuba would not be fingered as the one turning a cold war hot and hence stayed out of Che’s plans. See John Lee Anderson’s book for a definitive account of Che’s life and times.

Well Tom, I hope that helps. You really have to dig deep to find this kind of stuff out. And once you do find it out, the popular media will dismiss it all as lies anyway. Chomsky’s Hegemony and Survival talks about this. What is sad is the amount of mis-information that this girl has received before she decided to hand out leaflets

Perennial Stranger 

I’ve been in Korea almost 4 years now, and it’s still as bewildering as the moment I stepped of the plane at Ulsan airport on that stunningly bright day in August 2001, got into a taxi with my two mates who were waiting for me, and proceeded to go for a 120km an hour death trip through city traffic. And one of those things that still gets me is how quickly Koreans are willing to jump on foreigners for any real or perceived wrong doings. And when they jump, it’s usually in large numbers.

Korea has had a tragic history, mostly at the hands of imperialistic powers all too willing to trample over what they viewed as an inferior race of people. So, I guess, it is to be expected that the society as a whole still harbors at least some form of distrust of foreigners, though you’d expect that it would be mainly the Japanese to receive the brunt of lingering hatred.

But it hardly excuses what can almost be seen as an almost compulsive need to whip up a nationalistic resentment against some foreign straw man at periodic intervals. Just after I first arrived, it was American speed skater Apolo Ohno who was the subject of the nation’s ire, for apparently having the temerity to be fouled by a Korean skater during a Winter Olympics gold medal race (see here for comments on the incident from people who actually saw it)

This certainly cleared up my confusion at having Korean men shout at me “Fuck Ohno” while visiting a Pusan temple (initially I thought they may have been spokesmen for Celibacy in Korea, but with a less than stellar grip on English grammar)

Then came the granddaddy of all incidents that finally allowed the simmering resentment of the American army to burst into full flower. In June 2002, two 14 year old Korean schoolgirls were hit and killed by an American army vehicle along a narrow road near the DMZ.

(There is a pretty decent summary of the incident here, and here is a typical reaction to the accident one week later)

To put the accident into perspective, according to this site, 252 children were killed on Korean roads in 2004, out of (get this) just over 2500 pedestrian deaths. And on a more personal note, a Canadian friend of a co-worker was riding his motorcycle late one night with his Korean girlfriend on the back when he was plowed into by a drunken Korean man driving home. The poor guy is now a paraplegic and his girlfriend was killed instantly. Now, in a country where 6,563 people were killed on the roads last year, I don’t expect Koreans to be aware of this accident. But I guess that’s kind of my point.

The two soldiers went to trial under the American’s jurisdiction, rather than be turned over to Korean authorities (as has been done before, mostly in any cases of American soldiers sexually assaulting Korean women). This caused an outcry in itself, which only intensified upon their acquittal. Suddenly, what was originally a tragic accident was now proof of the American’s complete disregard for Korean life.

Grief and anger in something as horrible an accident as this is completely understandable, but it still does not excuse, for a second, the sight that greeted me as I walked along the main shopping street in Ulsan on a trip back there to visit friends. A group of Koreans had set up a street side display recounting the accident, with school photos of the two girls on one panel, smiling, innocent and so young. It was heartbreaking. My sympathy for the girls, however, was quickly overtaken with disgust at the organizers of this little information kiosk when I wandered further down and was assaulted with graphic photos of the girls lying on the road following the accident. There they were, like rag dolls, blood everywhere…….there’s no point describing further, because it’s not the sort of thing you’d ever want to see or hear about. But there it was, on a busy street on a Saturday afternoon, the pictures there with absolutely no intent other than to stoke the flames of anti-American sentiment among those Koreans previously content to judge the case on it’s merits, rather than twist it around and use it as a wedge in a ridiculous us versus them verbal war.

But that’s Korea. Since I’ve been here, life has been punctuated with such incidents, villainizing someone non-Korean and blowing it up to a national obsession that slowly recedes until a new outrage has the time to come to light. Recently, it was a website used to find jobs for teachers and the like, where a message board forum was dedicated to partying with Korean girls (and was apparently pretty damn laddish, with typical boasts about how it easy it is to bed a Korean girl etc. You know, the preening arrogance that you find on pretty much every single message board in existence) which, of course, meant that all western teachers were really here to shag as many Korean girls as they could before leaving (You typical case of 1 + 1 = 6547). Suddenly, every single Korean I knew was aware of this website, and how it portrayed Korean girls as easy and dumb, even if none of them had actually been to it (truth be told, neither have I. It’s gone now).
(There is a summary of the effects here, though I think it’s a little overblown)

Then came a report on an investigative program for the Korean channel SBS, which was dedicated to demonstrating just how degenerate English teachers can be. Now, Koreans have a right to ensure that their children are being educated by competent, honest teachers (as this guy points out), and I know from talking to enough strangers at bars that there are some very dubious people who come to this country for basically a free ride. But surely it goes without saying that this is a small percentage of cases, and that it is hardly a problem limited to non-Korean teachers (I still remember vividly seeing a video on the web that came from a hidden cell phone showing a (Korean) male teacher full-on punch a high school girl in the face in front of her classmates).
But that’s not an angle that’s going to stoke the fires of Korean nationalism (or is it more an anti-everybodyelseism?), so again it’s the foreign teachers who are the devils of the Korean education system (that, in itself, is a topic for another day). What it means, however, is now you have the kind of people who cut their fingers off because the Korean government is arguing with the Japanese over some relatively useless islands lying in the Sea of Japan….uh, I mean the East Sea, you have these kind of people now finding a new demon to rally against, blond haired, blue eyed English teachers (I happen to cover all three bases, so I guess I’m screwed).

(Actually, tonight my girlfriend informed me that Korean’s aren’t so worried about English teachers anymore, seeing as everyone hates the Japanese again. Well, I guess I don’t need to continue the taekwondo lessons)

To be honest, I have seldom encountered racism first-hand, as most Koreans are civil and friendly when it comes to personal encounters (and yet remain remarkably easy to inflame, and remarkably intolerant, as a group – a fact that is mentioned in the excellent book, The Koreans, written by Michael Breen). That is not to say I have been immune – once at a bar in Hongdae, my friend got into a dispute with a Korean, and it was the foreigners who got kicked out and threatened by the burly bouncers, even though we weren’t drunk or causing any trouble; walking down the street with a Korean girl has provoked mumbles of discontent among the Korean male foot traffic; I’m pretty sure my boss detests the fact that his whole job revolves around having to help and work with foreigners (or maybe it’s just me); and dancing at a club with Korean girls can quite often generate a lot of “accidental” bumps and blocking, though this is more genuinely hilarious than annoying (one of my friends actually had four Korean guys spring up from a table and interject themselves in a line between him and a Korean girl, upon which one of the guys tried to claim she was his fiancée, and started to get downright aggressive. It was amusing then, a little later, for me to go up to him when he was in the middle of hitting on a completely different girl and tell him that his fiancée was looking for him. The look on his face was something to be shot, framed and hung on my wall)

But it has become tiring to be confronted by screeds of Korean outraged with something a person (a person who has nothing to do with me, who I’ve never met, and to whom my only connection is probably a big nose and pasty skin) has done. Suddenly, we are all the same person. What some Canadian does in Kangnam suddenly reflects badly on me. How does that work? It’s happened so often that it’s has even motivated me to blog about it. That’s how serious it has become.

And the scary thing is, given what I read in the NZ Herald editorial pages, it won’t be long before New Zealanders are as blatantly open to scape goating entire ethnic groups to with selective reporting. Or are we there already? One of the things I’ve appreciated about New Zealand is that we are not especially quick to work ourselves into a national frenzy over isolated incidences or unusual situations (though when we do, it’s often over the darndest things: the All Blacks losing against France in 1999, newsreaders salaries (?)) I’d hate to think that the one thing that really turns me off Korea as a place to live long-term could ever crop up in good old NZ.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Damn Asians 

Suddenly the Chinese community have become representatives for all of Asia.

What with the Asian kidnapping epidemic where as far as I know it's Chinese triads and gamblers plotting and carrying out the acts on other Chinese people.

And now we have this Asian drivers license scam where it's Chinese driving instructors advertising their services in Chinese newspapers and getting Chinese people asking for and getting these licenses.

Way to not report it you dumb fuck journalists out there.

Next I expect all Westerners to be talked of when the mafia starts causing trouble.

Sickeningly poor taste 

This from the NZ Herald:

A truck driver was flown to Hawke's Bay Regional Hospital after crashing his truck and trailer west of Napier this morning. The man failed to take a corner near Lucky Hill on State Highway 5 and the vehicle rolled and came to a stop against a bank, trapping the driver in the cab, said a spokesman for the Lowe Corporation Rescue Helicopter.

Sorry. He's OK though.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Don Brash ... accidental leader? 

A couple of thoughts on Donald Brash's leadership of the National Party:

1. After Orewa II seemed to suggest he didn't care whether National went up in the polls or not, or how the public responded to his message. Note to Don - you might be in the wrong business. My impression was that you just don't care whether you become PM or not.

2. Why aren't you running for an electorate seat? And why isn't the media asking this question? I know it's not a requirement, but almost every other party leader does it, right from Helen Clark on down ... some of them win (Clark, Peters, Dunne, Anderton, Turia) and some of them don't (Fitzsimmons) but they front up and seek to represent a particular locality, and achieve apersonal mandate. There are, one assumes, plenty of winnable National seats in the Auckland region ... Rodney, Epsom, North Shore, Tamaki, Pakuranga. Note to Don II - I know the people of the North Shore rejected you twice in the 1980s, but even so.

3. Know your policies. Last night on Checkpoint it was abundantly clear that you didn't know anything about your "new" youth offender policy (clearly the "brain child" of Tony "moral panic" Ryall), and yet strangely the interview proceeded rather calmly, and the Mary Wilson Attack Dog was kept on its leash. Oh for George Hawkins (who, whatever his faults, does understand something about his own policies) to enjoy such polite questioning. There's no way any other leader, even of a minor party, would have allowed themselves to be so badly caught out, restricted to parroting one sentence to the effect that "this policy works in the United Kingdom". Note to Don III - keep making those donations to Radio NZ.

How is it that this chump is still good enough to enjoy ~35% support from the electorate?

Monday, March 21, 2005

Please, the children 

Languishing in the polls, National has come out a revolutionary proposal to punish parents for their children's indescretions.

The National caucus has been wary of proposing the "parenting orders" Dr Brash will announce today, fearing they could be seen as too punitive.
Such orders, which would be made by Youth Court judges, are already used in Britain, where it is claimed they have helped to halve youth offending.
I wonder if Tony Blair was ever spoken to about this incident?

Shit, with the United States' three strikes and you're out rule Bush could be in trouble.

There has sometimes been tension between Bush and the media over coverage of his daughters, especially when both had run-ins with the law over alcohol three years ago.In an incident in Austin, Texas, in 2001, Barbara was sentenced to perform community service and attend an alcohol awareness class, while Jenna, who had been found with a false ID, was fined US$600 and lost her driver's licence for 30 days.
It seems even the world's most prominent people can have kids who rebel.

And NZ First is calling for children as young as 12 to be tried as adults.

The New Zealand First youth justice policy will include:
· Requiring offenders 12 years and over to be dealt with by the District and High Courts not Youth Courts
· Providing the Youth Court with guidelines as to when anonymity of proceedings should be removed to reinforce the offender’s accountability to the community
· Make special military-type training sentences involving supervised control and intensive rehabilitation an option to recidivist offenders.
Can someone please explain why the fuck we would want to give youths who have a propensity for violence "military-type training"?

If we're going to make 12 or 13 the age at which society will hold children fully accountable for their actions - as we do right-minded adults - then logic would suggest this is the age at which we extend to children other adult entitlements too: like voting, drinking, smoking and gambling right? (Sorry Polar Bob)

While staying on the issue of law and order; why is it the Rugby Union is prepared to name players - some of them All Blacks - facing its judiciary yet the New Zealand Court system won't?

Friday, March 18, 2005

League, dope and chocolate 

Right, I've decided to slightly alter the Bennyasena versus Jessup points system.

I've decided its going to get too messy if we play the 12-and-under and 13-and-over game too so we're just going head to head.

Not because I lost against him in round 1 - I didn't - we both tipped five matches correctly and I picked all of the five wins by the correct margin compared to Jessup's two - and that's giving him the benefit of the doubt on the Dog's match.

I saw the Bulldog's versus St George match last week and Sonny-Bill played as well as all the media reports suggest. Reminded me of the way Ali Lauitiiti could set a game on fire.

Graham Lowe made a similar point in the Herald this morning.

Since Ali Lauitiiti was sacked early last year they have not had a ball-playing second-rower to create any opportunities in the attacking zone, and this was once more very evident against Manly last week.
The sad thing is that the big former Warriors second-rower could have been doing the same sort of damage that Sonny Bill Williams does for the Bulldogs.
Christ the Panthers played poorly to lose against the Sharks. If they play like that again this weekend they'll go down to the Roosters by 13+.

Round 1= Bennyasena 5 Jessup 5.

Round Two of the NRL:

Cowboys v Bulldogs: Jessup - Cowboys, Bennyasena -Bulldogs
Raiders v Knights: Jessup - Raiders, Bennyasena - Knights
Dragons v Storm: Jessup and Bennyasena - Storm
Broncos v Warriors: Jessup - Broncos, Bennyasena - Warriors
Sea Eagles v Sharks: Jessup Sharks, Bennyasena - Sea Eagles
Panthers v Roosters: Jessup - Panthers, Bennyasena - Roosters
Rabbits v Eels: Jessup Eels, Bennyasena Warriors

Now I know Yamis ripped shit into the Warriors for their round 1 performance but I think Manly's currently red hot and the Warriors will turn it around with a win over the Bronco's this week.

Anyways, it's taken a while, but here is a rebuttal to Polar Bob and his case against the demon weed:

As to relaxation of cannibas law in NZ. No. People keep looking at the fact it is a mild drug that does littl harm. True. They also look at it as no worse than smoking. Also true. As stated previously (and repetitively by me), it should be illegal to sell cigarettes due to health issues or addiction. Same with dak.
If we're going to advocate the State banning substances or activities because of their potentially adverse impact on health, or addicitive qualities, then surely we'll also be getting it to ban alcohol, TAB's, sugary products, and race tracks right?

What the fuck am I going to do in the weekend Polar Bob?

Driving through the Waikato and swimming on the West Coast are also potentially harmful - they'll have to go.

How about contact sport - how far do you advocate the State going to protect us from ourselves?

OK, maybe that's drawing a wide bow but no wider than linking spliff butts on the ground to syringes as an argument for criminalisation:

And how many [cigarette] butts do you see on the ground? Or thrown out of windows? A lack of respect for your surrounding in general. So lets add spliffs around the neighbourhood to that. Or needles. Personal choice right?
Discarded needles endanger peoples lives while discarded spliff butts - unlike their cigarette cousins are cardboard and biodegradeable.

And if goods being discarded in environmentally irresponsible ways is an argument for their illegality then pamphlets and Pump water bottles will be banned.

Now lets say we should relax the laws. Only for adults of course. In their own home only because in public there are other people who don't want to partake second-hand style.That's fair. But the kids should be in a different room. We can trust people to do that, ay?

Right, so cannabis should remain illegal because some irresponsible users may puff around their kids......

Like you say Polar Bob its a mild drug which does little harm - and I'd argue the criminalisation of people for imbibing does greater damage than people having a toke.

While its illegal status may provide the police with an effect tool to disproportionately target and arrest cheeky darkies, it does not, has not, and never will stop people from smoking it.

Further its illegal nature forces particularly young smokers to send their business the way of tinny houses run by gangs.

If the harm inflicted upon people punished for consuming a good outweighs the harm caused to them by its consumption then shouldn't that be reason enough to decriminalise the good?

Helen Clark has in a a round-about way admitted she's puffed pot, if she'd been caught would she be PM today?

You need to chill out Polar Bob.

And for chocolate lovers out there here's a concerning industry development.

My sources tell me that New Zealand Cadbury is deliberately sacrificing the quality of its chocolate in an attempt to increase profit margins.

Apparently the best cocoa beans are sources from Ghana yet Cadbury has turned its back on the more expensive African beans and is now buying solely from the inferior South East Asian cocoa-growing region.

The Cadbury executives know they are sacrificing their product's taste and quality yet their desire to make a bit more profit is outweighing any concern for the consumer or their companies reputation.

Apparently Whittakers gives a shit about the quality of their chocolate and still sources from Ghana and is the better buy.

I wouldn't know I don't even eat chocolate.

Thursday, March 17, 2005


I didn't realize Vettori's injury problems were quite so serious:

Vettori's 60 tests [have taken] a terrible toll on his lower back, where a cluster of stress-fractures have caused the left-armer on-going problems.

So serious was the situation in Christchurch that Vettori awoke on the morning of the first day to find himself completely immobile, and had to be brought back to life on the physio's table as his team-mates warmed up outside. [...]

"I'm reasonably confident of getting through the rest of the series," he said yesterday. "I'm not having many issues with the bowling side of things, it's just the fielding and the day-to-day maintenance, and getting on planes and things.

"I woke up the other morning and couldn't move, which is normally a bad sign. It's a bit of a concern - especially at 26 - but hopefully it'll go away when I stop playing."

Too fucking right, mate. Why has NZC been so spectacularly useless in preventing and managing the injuries of its players (and in particular its top players) ... I think in particular of the games - and sometimes entire seasons - missed by such useful contributors as C. Cairns, R. Hadlee, M. Crowe, S. Bond, D. Nash and of course D. Vettori. I'm sure there are others I'm forgetting.

There's a few players who have done remarkably well in terms of playing regularly and avoiding serious injury (Fleming being a notable example, and Parore in the past too), but otherwise we've been fucking hopeless on this front for at least 15 years.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

JetsGone – And good riddance! 

Canada’s most low budget, unsafe, incompetent, and unfriendly airline went tits up over the weekend. On one side you have some screaming at our feds saying it was their fault for not creating a fair market in which to compete. Others are not at all surprised that such a poorly run airline tanked. We have a smiling picture of Robert Milton (Air Canada’s Über Fuhrer) to the left there, and trust me this guy could fuck up a cup of coffee let alone run Canada’s international carrier and organize the fun and games of Star Alliance, but JetsGo’s president Michel Leblanc has the economic smarts of a wet fish. This is the third airline that he has sent into bankruptcy. Unlike most airlines that go into bankruptcy (Air Canada, United Airlines, Air New Zealand), LeBlanc runs his airlines into the ground so hard that he can’t even afford the gas money to move his planes off of the runway. He has been in charge of, and hence completely responsible for, one third of the airlines in Canada that have gone bankrupt in the past ten years.

Yes, it has been hard times on the airline industry as of late. Air travelers get taxed higher than smokers. And, if they do pay the taxes, it is for a lot of passive-aggressive surveillance and hassling at airports. Airlines have been forced to reduce their ticket prices and profit margins, but many discount carriers were, and are still, making money. Certainly fewer taxes at the airports would be nice, and would help the business out greatly, but it alone cannot be blamed for crippling the airline, and should not be blamed for JetsGo’s death.

This airline had old and cramped planes with a well pressed ass groove waiting for you in each seat. Their planes consistently ran out of fuel. I was on a direct flight from Toronto to Vancouver and we had to do the emergency landing in Winnipeg for fuel, because, get this, “it was just too windy.” At 30,000 feet, you think it might be windy. Inside the plane you were forced to stare at a big goddamn green happy face. After six hours in that cramped cigar tube, (2 hours more than normal) never in my life have I been closer to murder. The flight attendants looked like 3rd Reich dominatrixes, with leather jackets and army boots. The service matched that too. More often than not JetsGo paid WestJet and Air Canada to carry its luggage, because either it did not have the space or it wanted to save on fuel costs. Let’s not forget the fact that one happy-faced plane recently skidded off the runway in Calgary, and another spewed engine parts all over Toronto’s runway. NAV-CAN would not allow the planes to fly above 25,000 in response to JetsGo’s dismal safety record.

Lower airport taxes? Please. But you can’t blame the government for a poorly run, incompetent and inefficient airline shitting itself to death. Now, if the government allowed Leblanc to start up another airline, then yes, call an election. But, let common sense prevail and admit that Leblanc should not even be put in charge of dressing himself let alone running an airline. It’s not just good business sense, it’s just good sense; that being sticking to one’s forte. I don’t know how to fix car engines, and hence that’s me not working in a garage. If Leblanc insists on working in the airline industry then it should go no further than him selling pencils at the airport.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Quality of Life 

Once again the annual survey is out.

Here's a few results...
1. Geneva & Zurich
3. Vancouver & Vienna
5. Munich, Dusseldorf & Frankfurt
8. Auckland, Sydney, Bern, Copenhagen

14. Wellington

25. Honolulu & San Francisco

Better luck next year Wellington.

Where's Christchurch?

Nah, kidding.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Auckland, the city where many stuffs happens 

It's funny that I should read Graham Reid at public address having a bit of a go at how Auckland has been getting dogged (quite a lot lately) about not having much going on in it etc etc. It's pretty damn boring hearing such nonsense, especially from Wellingtonians who have somehow got the idea that they are the events capital of New Zealand. Yeah right guys.

Here's what Reid wrote on the subject...
Usually I don't bother responding to those who bait me about my hometown, they are usually parochial yokels whose opinions about Auckland are based on something they saw on the news. Traffic and crime for the most part.

But this week an aside from Linda "I mean" Clark really irritated me, it was one of those smug jibes from someone living in Wellington which seems to style itself as some crucible of aesthetics and arbiter of the arts...

...Anyway back to what Clark said this week. It was in a discussion about the AK05 festival and how it hadn't pulled quite the numbers the various promoters had hoped. At this Clark sniffed and laughed, "Aucklanders and art".

The subtext was clear: Aucklanders aren't interested in the arts.

I'm not sure about that, and was pleased that Carla Van Zon who had worked on the International Festival of the Arts held in Wellington said on television that it had taken a decade before it had made a buck.

Clark's snide aside about Auckland needs to be put in some larger kind of context, so here goes. My two cents worth, as Kent Brockman on The Simpsons says.

Auckland is a city and, like it or not, other places in this country are large towns or villages. And I include Wellington in that. It is a big town and, at best, maybe a really small city.

During AK05 we went to a few things: the sellout Town Hall show by Zakir Hussain and the opening night of the much over-rated play Three Furies which received a fair and damningly polite review by the Herald critic. If I'd read that review I wouldn't have bothered going.

During that fortnight we also went to a couple of movies (there are about three dozens screens within a 10 minute drive from our place, six within a five minute walk) and went to the art gallery for the Mixed-Up Childhood exhibition.

We also went to the International Cultural festival at Potters Park, and walked around the corner to spend half a day at Pasifika.

I mention this because Auckland isn't a big town, it's a city. A lot goes on in diverse arts all the time.

International rock bands and musicians regularly pass through here without venturing anywhere else in the country; there are pocket-sized film festivals regularly; at least half a dozen dance/DJ events on Friday and Saturday nights; dozens of art galleries; and blah blah blah.

So AK05 wasn't the only thing on our agenda the past fortnight. Aucklanders don't feel we have to rush off to every damn arty thing, there will be more coming down the turnpike.

That's the problem arts festival organisers here have to live with, but of course isn't a problem if you are an arts consumer, or even just like getting out of the house, in a big city.

During AK05 we also went out to dinner a couple of times, on both occasions to Ponsonby Rd oddly enough which isn't a place we normally go. Why not, when it's the Restaurant Mile?

Well, we live five minutes from the intersection of Valley and Dominion Rds (where we can choose from a dozen different Asian restaurants, an excellent GPK and a Russian place), or can walk up to Kingsland which is the new Ponsonby (at least the Ponsonby News devotes pages to all the café's, funky shops, restaurants, frock shops and so on which are within the 100 or so metre-long strip).

There's also multi-ethnic Sandringham a five minute drive away. And Parnell, Newmarket and other suburbs I suppose.

Oh, and one afternoon I went for a swim at the beach at the end of Sentinel Rd in Herne Bay which is literally a five minute drive from the foot of Queen St. (Yep, Auckland Harbour water may not be the cleanest on the planet but at least it is warm).

So when civilians from elsewhere in the country are sniffy about my city I generally couldn't give a shit. I like where I live: it is an interesting, diverse, amusing and lively place.

Hell, even the mayors of Wellington and Hamilton conceded it was the economic powerhouse of the nation when I interviewed them a few years back.

(By the way, Auckland didn't lose the V8 race, it didn't want it. Wellington is now stuck with it, and already rates are going to rise and the bike race there illustrated how even such a small event can disrupt traffic. I wish you luck with big noisy cars in the middle of your town.)

So that's my take on my city. I don't decry the place where anyone else lives, that's their choice. But maybe we need some perspective. Auckland is a city.

And "Morningside for life," as Prince Charles says.
Probably also worth mentioning the Kumeu A & P show which was on in the weekend and attracted tens of thousands over the two days as it has been doing for as long as I can remember. It used to be limited to a one day event in the past but has proved so popular that it's become a two day event on the local calendar. In fact before it was split over two days it was the largest single day event in New Zeland. And people think us Aucklanders don't know anything about getting our hands dirty. Hah!

The same venue has already had a classic car and hot rod festival (the largest car festival in NZ), the Auckland folk festival, the Kumeu wine festival (repeated in various other parts of Auckland over summer), and later this year will have the Kumeu garden show which should nicely compliment the massive 'Elerslie' flower show at the Botanic Gardens.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

It was the same team David!!!! 

Spitting the dummy here....

Well, I sat with a little anticipation in the new East Stand at Ericsson Stadioum in amongst a lot of rather subdued/non-expectant through to fairly expectant fans and what did we get?

Well basically we got the Warriors 2004 edition all ovetr again. The only improvement on last year was that the defence was a little bit tighter but here's the problems as I see them.

* We signed two props who are very influential but in terms of footballing prowess are past their best (that's not to say they won't do some damage for us this season just that it won't be as much as they have done in the past). Aside from them we signed a decent hooker in NAthan Fien and a very, very average winger in Todd Byrne. He's tidyish but guys like him are a dime a dozen in this comp. So therefore what do we really have?

Answer= The same team as last season which finished last equal plus two ageing props.

Now to continue the problems...

* Our kicking game is absolutely atrocious. If there is a team in the league with two worse kickers than Stacy Jones and Lance Hohaia then I sure as hell wouldn't want to be supporting them. I don't know what Ivan Cleary has been doing outside of giving goal kicking tips but I sure as hell hope he focuses on kicking in general play. Jones has been doing the kicking at this level for ten years and still sucks apart from the cross field up and unders which only really account for about 20% of all your kicks. Everything was too deep, straight done somebody's throat or the short kicks looked like they would go further than the long ones. One effort from Hohaia reminded me of Jones at his best years ago when his 'chip' kicks behind the line would end up belting into the fullback who was 20 metres back.

Why oh why they don't just pull out video footage of Alfie Langer putting in little nudges that went 3 or 4 metres behind the line is beyond me. All the kicks have to do is beat the defensive line and allow you time to waltz through and pick it up so you can draw the full back and pass to the 3 guys in support. I know I'm making it sound stupid but these guys have an enormous amount of room to play with which is why they even attempt them in the first place and they just slam it at the fullback and don't get anywhere near regathering it.

Soft feet boys, soft feet.

* Next problem. We struggle to make 30 metres in our sets of 6 as the game gets older while they take a 20 metre tap and the next thing you know they are putting up a bomb near our tryline after they mozzie 60 metres down the field in 6 tackles. We are too slow off the line and when we hit it up we are standing too wide. The Sea Eagles were simply standing 2 metres wide of the play the ball, short pass, the guy gases it and he make 10 metres and get's a quick play the ball. Repeat 5 times and we have stuffed ourselves and our field position.

* Next problem. Clinton Toopi. He spilt the ball 4 times in the first spell and then tried to beat Hill's head in (not a bad thing) but Hill was talking to him the whole half knocking him off his game and Toopi fell for it hook line and sinker. If he repeats a performance like that again I'd drop him completely.

* Next problem. We had an entire year of getting thrashed and the guys never won any game last year by much at all. It's been a long, long time since they carved anybody up and I think many of them have forgotten how to do it. In their ealry days the Warriors got a lot of stick for not being that flash but some of those early teams would have put 40 points past that Sea Eagles team simply because they were actually trying to do just that. These guys are playing a safety first type game which isn't wearing out the opposition and isn't stretching them.

and myth???

Do we really have the most talent in the NRL like we always tell ourselves?

Week after week there are opposition players who make our guys look average. Stacy Jones is nowhere near as good as he used to be, let's not kid ourselves. Hohaia is OK but there are a dozen other standoffs in the comp who can match or better him. Our forwards are tough but dumb. Byrne is not that good, Martin falls in the same category. Toopi is an idiot who needs ahand transplant. He might have some good footwork and have made some great breaks and tries over years but surely being able to drop the ball less often than anybody else in the comp must be taken into consideration when saying he has talent. Francis Meli is a very talented player who really needs to be getting a little more attacking ball in good positions which these guys can't seem to give him. Maybe try bringing him in to run off a few forwards like Webb always tries to do. Now Webb is a pretty decent footballer. Dangerous with the ball and pretty damn keen but even then there are guys in the comp who are better fullbacks than him.

I really hope for much better things as the season goes on but looking at the next few weeks I really can't see it playing out any other way than this...

Loss away to Brisbane, 50/50 call at home to the Cowboys, win over the Rabbitohs at home followed by two 50/50 games away v the Tigers and the Knights.

That's probably the easiest opening draw of any team in the comp. If they don't some out of that with 6 out of a possible 12 points there then it's only going to get worse.

Ah well, nothing we haven't all been through before is it?

Friday, March 11, 2005

Bennyasena vs Jessup Rnd 1 

Alrighty then, Peter Jessup's made the following picks for Rnd 1:

Bulldogs vs Dragons: Dogs by 12 and over (typo its 13 and over or 12 and under) so I'll say he reckons 1-12
Tigers vs Eels: Eels 1-12
Roosters vs Rabbits: Roosters 13 plus
Sharks vs Panthers: Panthers 13 plus
Warriors vs Sea Eagles: Warriors 13 plus
Storm vs Knights: Storm 13 plus
Broncos versus Cowboys: Broncos 1-12

Rightio then here's mine

Bulldogs 13+
Eels 13+
Roosters 1-12
Panthers 13+
Warriors 1-12
Storm 13+
Broncos 13+

Punt of the week: Panthers to beat Sharks at Shark Park at $1.60.

See you at the game Yamis and enjoy your feed ya corporate whore!

Here's Jessup's picks for the season.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Marshall ya Champion!!! 

So far so good in the first test.

Hamish Marshall showing how a good technique will get you a good average so I hope lot's of kids are taking note. He's not much bigger than them either. He's now up over the 200 run average mark in tests. Not sure if he's twice as good as Bradman just yet though.

Also fantastic stuff from Cumming on debut on a pitch that was offering some early life and the worlds best don't normally need too much extra help.

It looked as though Vincent was sawn off on the one normal speed replay I saw but probably needs more analysis from moi to confirm suspicions. Fleming led from the front pffft. Is that just a way of saying that he will be first out in the middle and first back in the pavilion?

And Astle is looking reasonably confident at the crease.

One thing to remember though is that this pitch is playing very, very flat so is we don't make runs in this innings then we won't make big runs at all in the series. Thank god Ponting decided to put us in. I'm quite amazed that he chose to do that. I know there was a bit of green on it and jiuce in it but you'd think they had the lineup that would make 300+ in their first innings on a bad day.

Nevermind, cheers mate.

One thing we might be regretting now is going in without Wiseman. We will be bowling last and I'm pretty sure Fleming was going to bowl first which is why they left him out. He didn't answer Peter Sharpe's question of what he would have done if he'd won the toss which basically say's we didn't want to do what they are making us to do.

That actually get's me on to something I've wanted to say for a long time.

The toss has a very important part to play in cricket, a million times more than any other sport. There must have been countless tests and test series won and lost on the toss of a coin and the same goes for results right throughout the game.

This has led to to suggest two changes that could be made.

Firstly the toss should be eliminated accept for teams playing each other for the first time. Instead of a toss the team which didn't get to choose what they would do last time get's to choose this time. So an alternating choice type arrangement. For example Australia chose for this test so for the second test NZ can pick whether they bat or bowl first. It means that one team can't win all three tosses and get an unfair advantage over the other side.

Now that is fraught with danger because thena team will know months in advance what games they will get to choose in so they can go to the groundsman and tell him what kind of pitch to prepare and then when the time get's nearer they can confirm what they will do and the pitch will be tailormade for them. But fuck, home teams do that anyway.

The second change I would make, and this one is a lot easier to make and fairer is that the 12th man should be named AFTER the toss has been made. It seems ridiculous that a teams selection can be thrown in jeopardy because of what way the coin falls. For example, NZ loses the toss, get's put in and then they could select Wiseman and leave out O'Brian.

I don't see what the problem with that would be. The Aussies have got the team they wanted for bowling first so why can't NZ get the team they may want for bowling last?

And I'm not really interested in arguments about tradition. It's a minor thing that will make the game fairer and there are plenty of technological changes made all the time so why not one to help level the playing field at the toss just a little bit?



I'm going to be sitting somewhere in the new stand. My contact has scored tickets and we can have a few drinks and get a feed before strolling out and watching the game. Shame they aren't free like they used to be.

A National Disgrace 

News that cricketer Daryl Tuffey had consensual sex with a woman in Christchurch last November has sent shockwaves through the New Zealand sporting community and the public is now rightfully demanding an end to his representative career.

New Zealand cricketer Daryl Tuffey's career appears to be on a knife-edge after two British tourists allegedly filmed him having sex with a Christchurch woman.

One avid sports follower bloggingitreal spoke to broke down in tears after hearing the heinous allegations laid against Tuffey, and called for the New Zealand Cricket disciplinary board to ban him for life.

"Sex is not a natural act, for our international cricketers to be engaging in this sort of leud behaviour is just simply not acceptable," the sporting fan said.

"What sort of a message does is it send to all the young boys playing cricket over the summer in their backyards - that they too can have sex with women when they get older?"

"New Zealand Cricket needs to act now and send a strong message to the community that this sort of behaviour is not acceptable - on or off the field."

In news just to hand - Darly Tuffey has given an exclusive interview to bloggingitreal and has apologised unreservedly to the nation for having had sex sixth months ago.

"I've let myself down, I've let you down, and I've let the whole of New Zealand down."

"Most of all I wish to apologise to my parents. My mum and dad brought me up knowing that sex, under any circumstances, is wrong and sinful - especially sex acts involving milkshakes."

"I'm sorry mom, dad I've brought the game into disrepute but worse I've let you down I know you would never have stooped to this sort of filthy behaviour," Tuffey cried.

"As a second-rate strike bowler I know that the public is entitled to own, comment on and judge me on my private life and what I do off the field. I've failed an off-field role-model."

Although Mark Todd was unavailable for comment a spokesman for Google said there had been unprecedented 'Daryl Tuffey' hits in the past several days and suggested perhaps NZC could use the incident as a cheap publicity stunt and putting him back in the national team could spur ticket sales - "hey they did it with Jeff Wilson," he said.

"If this sex video got online it could be of Paris Hilton magnitude, imagine how many Tuffey shirts NZ Cricket could sell," he said.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Another terrorist caught 

According to the DomPost, "terrorists" come in all shapes, sizes, and - err - species. However, this nefarious character just met his match.


Still haven’t found what I’m looking for 

The presidency for the World Bank is up for grabs. And word around the campfire is that U2’s Bono may be up for the title. Now, I know that it’s not unusual for a celebrity to take on a heavy political portfolio, but that has usually been limited to U.S. domestic politics. Sure Canada now has NHL all time great Ken Dryden as our minister of families, but the World Bank is a bit different, one would think.

Bono has done a lot of good work lobbying heavy-weight politicians to invoke debt relief in Africa. Canada led the charge on this one, and it looks like some debt relief is occurring. Good for you Bono. But, there are a few sleeping tigers with our Irish Pop Star. First off, Bono is a bit of a corporate whore. U2 has their own iPod design for God’s sake, and with it comes their latest hit “Vertigo” which is a song engineered for marketing purposes. Seriously, albums like The Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby are long gone, and U2 keeps churning out crappy tunes for the consuming masses.

Second, the World Bank is a traditionally western-catering structure that is deeply embedded in policies that practice unfair trade and support neo-liberal economics. Sure, the Bank has been trying to put a rosier face on lately, but you won’t escape their underlying agenda, which, as one World Bank employee told in Mexico, sounds something like this: “There’s no better way to spread democracy and freedom than through the consumption of U.S. products.” Ahh yes, more vacuum cleaners in dirt huts please. Could we get a new fridge to the house without electricity? How about we send some more SUV’s to cities whose roads are physically too small for them.

My fear then is that with Bono at the helm of the Bank we’re going to see iPods in Africa before anti-retroviral drugs. Bono is all for sending Aid to places that “need it.” This is a tricky idea. The food (rice and beans) that the U.S. alone sent to Sri Lanka from the Tsunami relief has effectively crippled the Sri Lankan rice farming economy. It was a hay-day for U.S. rice and legume farmers. Sell the wares to the Red Cross, and then the Red Cross dumps all the free food in Sri Lanka and bankrupts the local farmers. Now there is too much rice and beans in Sri Lanka, and it is rotting in warehouses as we speak.

I’m sure that Bono won’t be of too much worry to the Botswanian mp3 industry, but more of the same charity that we saw with the Tsunami is something to worry about from the perspective of small-time farmers. It’s the kind of charity that sells well to the Northern audience, and Bono sure knows how to sell. Achtung baby, achtung!

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Since the Red River Rebellion... 

With the NHL season cancelled two things have happened in Canada. 1) The Pregnancy rate has gone through the roof. 2) There has been nothing on TV. In fact, I’m sure that I saw CBC Hockey Night in Canada sportscasters selling pencils at the airport. Now, all of a sudden, our TVs are overwhelmed with action – all coming out of Northern Alberta. Just down the road from Edmonton, the home of this year’s Brier (curling championships, which make for some fine TV viewing) is the town of Mayerthorpe, where every television camera that isn’t occupied with the Brier seems to be pointing. This is the town where James Roszko shot four RCMP officers to death. Now this is an ugly, terrible event that is slowly becoming a media circus and an opportunity for politicians to use this tragedy as their own personal campaign platform.
It’s strange who we decide to make martyrs and heroes of in our society. Certainly four officers being shot dead is a tragedy that deserves recognition, but it gets a little dangerous for our society when we idolize the victims beyond mourning and take them to martyrdom, and begin to base policy on the outcomes of this terrible, but unique event. If we’re going to base drug, gun, and policing laws around this massacre, then we should also base our policy around some of the more common, and less TV friendly, dangers that go with policing.

How many officers are killed in automobile accidents each year? Quite a few more than four. Indeed these events usually warrant a bit of TV time, but not to the scale of the Roszko killings. How many more suffer the consequences of alcoholism and drug abuse? TV cameras look far away from this one, but most cops do have drinking problems. It is so common that the force takes it upon itself to pay for the officer’s trip to Betty Ford. Suicide is also quite high amongst cops. As is domestic violence. As the media does a lousy job of telling these stories, our tunnel-vision society does a lousy job of understanding them, and hence our policy makers ignore them.
The media has been doing an outstanding job, however, in turning Roszko into a monster in a matter of days. One news agency has already called him a terrorist, “he terrorized the community of Mayerthorpe for years.” Wasn’t he a part of this community? People are lighting candles in his memory. How did this community influence him to think the way he did about things? The media loves to make monsters. Hitler wasn’t a person. Bin Laden is larger than life, and Saddam Hussein is a rabid dog off of his leash. For the media, and hence for public opinion, it is impossible to see such figures as part of a society or a community. It’s easier to see them as demons, because in that context we don’t have to be a part of them, and hence are freed of responsibility. Alcoholism, car accidents and domestic assault are a bit trickier to turn into bogey men.

For a minute there, I hoped that Canada could serve and digest such events with a bit more intelligence and a little less frenzy. Sadly, I’m mistaken. I met this guy in a bar in L.A. who was en route to Fiji from Canada. I asked him what he thought about Canada. He said, “I think that a lot of Canadians are quite naive.” Although a little offended at the time, I’m agreeing with this guy more and more each day.

Suckling on the public teet 

Deborah Coddington, ACT MP and erstwhile businesswoman, recently flew from Auckland to Wellington at taxpayer expense, despite having accumulated considerable private wealth. "Such actions test the patience of the long-suffering taxpayer," stated DC_Red, local media commentator, "MPs should not draw on public funds in the execution of their public duties in this manner."

Yamis, an Aucklander soon to swear allegiance to the Queen and her loyal successors as part of a supposed job requirement, contacted bloggingitreal to ask: "Does the public know that it is forking out hundreds of dollars in a single day to subsidize the travel of this wealthy woman? I can barely afford to put petrol in my car, and food on my wife's plate, while Deborah Coddington jets around the country without a care in the world."

Bloggingitreal can also err, exclusively, reveal that Deborah Coddington was in the headlines recently when she required taxpayer-funded security to fend off the alleged attentions of another obscenely wealthy individual.

"It's time to stop this woman suckling on the public teet, to the detriment of lowly--paid and highly-taxed New Zealanders," said Bennyasena, Auckland journalist and reserve grade rugby league prop. "If I'm out at a 'function' and some wealthy skank sends unwanted attention my way, I rely on my private initiative and not the nanny state to deal with it."

In other news, ACT MPs are reported to be issuing ever more outrageous press releases, in a vainglorious attempt to raise their profiles before the next General Election, expected in September. However, on current polling they will, to paraphrase Don Brash, be gone by October.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Yamis' allegiances 

From norightturn:

A moral panic brought about by a female teacher traninee having communist allegiances "led to the passage of what is now s. 162 of the Education Act 1964, which requires all teachers to swear an oath of allegiance to the crown. The Act is still in force, and to this day teachers must swear to 'be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her heirs and successors, according to law' - exactly as police and soldiers do."
Good luck choking down that one Yamis! I know you're a big fan of both capitalism and the royal family, and have never engaged in seditious thought over a few beers! :)

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Some thoughts on the Super 12 

The New Zealand public, led by the breathless cheerleaders in the corporate media, are led to believe that every Super 12 game is a triumph for athletic prowess, and each season another truly magnificent entry in the encyclopedia of human achievement. The good, the bad, and the indifferent are received with the same uncritical appreciation. The inability of players to complete such basic tasks as catching a ball and running with it elicit no comment. The absence of talent, skill and excitement - and the certain dilution of these things in the future with the expansion to 14 teams - matter not a jot for a public as poorly informed and easily impressed as that found in New Zealand.

This is serious 

Four RCMP officers have been killed executing a raid on a farmhouse in Alberta. Because the raid was conducted on the basis of a warrant to search for marijuana, it is inevitably being linked to the war on drugs. This was particularly apparent in the early reporting (and this first message inevitably stays in people's heads, a la "Saddam Hussein personally ordered 9/11"), although it's still being reported in this way by the NYT:

On Thursday, four officers of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police were shot to death in Alberta, British Columbia's neighboring province, as they were searching a marijuana-growing operation, one of many on the rise there. The killings stunned a country that has apparently not lost that many officers at once since the mid-19th century.

Leigh H. Winchell, special agent in charge for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Seattle, which investigates border crimes and is part of the Department of Homeland Security, said the police killings in Alberta were stark evidence of "how serious the B.C. bud issue is getting, how much money is involved and the lengths to which these criminals are willing to go to protect it."

Right, so "BC bud" is just a synonym for marijuana growing anywhere in Canada, and in fact for Canada's "lax" drug laws more generally then? Dicks, you think America would have more to worry about than BC bud, like this guy for example. Yes, I am one of those citizens and taxpayers who likes to ask how many murderers and rapists go free because law enforcement resources are devoted to the war on drugs, and the prohibition of cannabis in particular.

Anyway, American reaction is essentially irrelevant here. Thus far, the link to marijuana in this case is tentative at best ... or, rather, it appears to be barely related to the actual offending. The shooter, now dead by either his own bullet or one of the police's, was known to police for being one of those guys with an unnatural love for guns, including the automatic type that are especially effective in killing sprees (and note how the first reaction of the media is to link this event to marijuana, not the issue of gun control). The police officers weren't killed by this idiot, a convicted dirty ped*phile, throwing joints in their direction.

The chain of events seems to have gone something like this: farmer purchases Ford truck on finance; farmer stops making payments on Ford truck and finance company sends in the baliff to repossess it; baliff is denied access to property as farmer - who has shot at trespassers in the past - releases his dogs; baliff re-enters with RCMP and sees several new trucks have been dismantled and the grand total of "about 20" mature marijuana plants; the RCMP gain a warrant to enter the property on the grounds that marijuana is being grown there; they enter a barn-like structure on the property and are shot.

Apart from the police using the presence of marijuana as a pretext for gaining a warrant to investigate other issues (nothing new there), I would venture to suggest this is not really about marijuana at all. Unfortuntely there will always be those who cannot appreciate such nuances, including the dastardly Anne "Queen Rat" McLellan, whose first reaction, it seems, was to propose "tougher sentences" for marijuana growers. Four police are dead and that's the best you can do? Perhaps you should emigrate to New Zealand and join United Future.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

A quick 348 to win, and sipping beer by 5pm 

We knew it was going to happen sooner or later ... Australia getting close to 350 batting first. If any more proof was required that New Zealand is a one-man team, a look at the bowling figures might be of some assistance:

Mills 10 1 67 1 (1w)
Hamilton 10 0 76 1 (1nb)
Canning 10 0 80 1
Vettori 10 0 37 0 (1w)
McMillan 7 0 63 1
Cumming 3 0 17 0

Could be worse, I guess, we could be Zimbabwe.

I can accept us losing from here, but for god's sake let's put up a bit of a fight. Captain Fantastic, I'm looking at you and the chocolate teapot to remind us exactly why you're in the team. Perhaps a quickfire 91 off 61 deliveries from Fleming, followed by 141* off 127 from McMillan.

Hey Fleming: time to put Vettori in at #3. Or just have your resignation letter on my desk by 9am Monday.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Broken record 

Right. More domestic cr*p. I know it's about all I've been writing about for the last few months so I promise that we are very close to the end of it and I can soon concentrate my efforts fully on the soap opera that will unfold out at Ericsson Stadium during the year.

After waiting 9 days to get jetstream 'connected' I found it didn't work so they put us on a dial up connection and said wait for a mere 13 days and we will send a technician out. The technician comes out and then spends two hours trying to get it connected and then decides that we are 5 km's outside the area which can receive it.

Now quite how that wasn't all worked out when I originally called and asked if we could get it and how he took two hours to work it out is beyond me. What's even more pathetic is that the guy lost our dial up connection and then said to my wife to tell me that he's real sorry and then he departed. I wasn't home at the time of course. Lucky for them I took a whole 30 seconds to get the dial up connection working by simply plugging the fucking phone cable directly into the computer rather than running it through a redundant modem like he was trying to do. And they pay these people?

All my expriences of call centre disasters etc recently have made me conclude that our unemployment rate is far too low and that I can name several more people who should be on it.

Of course then there's the lounge suite I bought about 6 weeks ago. We got a call yesterday to say that it'll be delivered today. Then I call them to confirm a time and the lady say's no they won't be coming in until the 10th (6 days later). So then I checked my phone messages and find it had shown up at another store and was ready to get sent out. I then call up the first lady and inform her of sh*t that she should really be telling me. She was telling people that this shipment from Aussie wasn't due in until next week when in fact they had already bloody arrived.

Right, f*** that sh*t. On to sport.

I'm really looking forward to the Warriors season kicking off. There's a sense of anticipation and expectation around I think amongst leagueies. Probably much more so than in past years. Every year the supporters of any team hope like hell that their team comes flying out of the blocks and creams everybody on the way to the title. Unfortunately for most it's often a year full of swear words, sackings and mediocre performances.

With the Warriors though people simply won't accept shitty on field performances this year. At the very least folks are expecting them to make the playoffs (which is me) and plenty have bizarre dreams of glorious days come grand final time. Personally I can't see them getting that far as it's still much the same team as last year and if the new signings get injured or don't provide the huge inspiration needed then what's to say they won't stumble their way to 12th spot?

My pick at this stage would be for them to finish 7th and win their first playoff game v a high ranked team and then crash out after that. Which'll do me fine so long as they are stronger the year after. I really can't see a team going from dead last to champions one year later. Does that kind of shit happen anywhere ever? Feel free to post any examples below in the comments. In professional sport that is.

Now, that's it for me. I've got to get my arse over to my parents to watch the Blues beat the Reds and then the Brumbies dispatch the Bulls.

Oh and did you know that the Simpsons is drawn entirely in Seoul, Korea and has been for the past 15 or so years?

Calling all snipers 

I know they've been copping a lot of flak in recent weeks about so I'm glad to see the boys in blue are "taking all appropriate security steps" to ensure the Prince's safety.

And how will they do this? By publishing his schedule in intimate detail.

His Royal Highness arrives in Dunedin tomorrow evening, Saturday 5 March. His public engagements include a church service at St Paul’s Cathedral on Sunday morning and a visit to the Royal Albatross colony at Taiaroa Head. On Monday, 7 March, he will visit a Central Otago sheep station before flying to Wellington late in the afternoon.......

Reefer Madness 

The latest research emerging from Otago University's prominent cannabis researchers suggests heavy cannabis use leads to higher levels of psychosis - such as paranoia - in susceptible individuals.

Professor Fergusson says his research, based on participants in the Christchurch Health and Development Study, indicates that there is a clear increase in psychotic symptoms after the start of regular use, with daily users of cannabis having symptom rates that are 1.5 times more than non-users.

“These findings add to a growing body of evidence from different sources which suggest that heavy use of cannabis may lead to increased risk of psychotic symptoms and illness in susceptible individuals,” he says.

Perhaps if the average cannabis smoker could have a puff legally and not have to worry about having play dress up with Senior Sergeant Solomona and his buddies if they get caught they could relax a little more.

Police staff in the Counties-Manukau district were put under the spotlight after Solomona was found guilty of assaulting 17-year-old Angelo Turner at a South Auckland service station last March.

Judge Davidson strongly condemned what he said were disturbing police practices including photographing a 15-year-old boy wearing a sign that read: "I belong to Senior Sergeant Solomona."

The offending photo was "lost" in internal police mail while Solomona's partner during the assault testified to the court that he saw nothing.

Anway back to the pot.

In an intelligent interview on Breakfast yesterday Professor Fergusson says he advocates a relaxation of the current drug laws.

However, in Indondonesia it seems masterminding the deaths of 200 Aussies and Kiwis is far less a crime than the dubious importation of pot.

For bringing 4kg of leaf and heads into Bali a young Aussie girl faces death - even though the dodgy Indonesian authorities have refused to fingerprint the bags which could have proved her guilt.

I see Howard has begun to diplomatically question the trial and the Indonesian authorities handling of it.

Send in the commandos John - or another Aussie will be left to die at the hands of those corrupt, incompetent, ignorant fucking Indonesian authorities.

Meanwhile the Bakir muppet gets two years.

I Got This Fucking Thorn In My Side 

Further to my comments yesterday, Australia seems to have completely lost the plot. Here's some sycophancy par excellence from the SMH:

The oxygen of publicity had already been consumed by the phenomenon that is Crown Princess Mary of Denmark.

"That's the power of the throne, I suppose," chuckled the federal Health Minister as he waited for someone - anyone - to notice his arrival at the hotel near Circular Quay.

But those happy to spend $175 on lunch for the Mental Health Foundation had eyes for one person alone: the stylish young woman in the raw silk pants-suit.

The bunyip aristocracy was struck down in NSW in the 1850s when the idea of life peers was laughed out of court, most notably by Dan Deniehy. The popularity of this visit by the crown prince and princess has caused some to wonder whether the desire for titular recognition was ever truly defeated.

Mr Abbott, a monarchist to his bootlaces, certainly believes in the redemptive power of kings and queens and fairytales.

"I want to thank you, Princess Mary, for reminding a sceptical world of the magic that can be involved in a monarch," he told the lunchtime audience of 560.

"Every time one person's dream comes true the world is a better and brighter place for all of us. Your marriage was a gift to the people of Australia. Thank you for what you have done for us."

For heaven's sakes, man, pull yourself together. Whatever your multifarious failings, at least you have the mandate of the people, with whom sovereignty must surely rest in any society that actually values liberty, democracy and equality (and I personally hold these things in much higher esteem than "magic", for all that I enjoy LOTR and Harry Potter). You know, Tony, as an Australian and a Catholic you have no chance of becoming your own country's head of state, you are automatically disqualified on those counts ... how do you feel about that? Come to think of it, just drop dead.

Australians more generally - buck up! If you've got $175 weighing down your wallet, donate it to the tsunami relief and actually try to do some good in this world. Don't waste it on this crap (and in any case, given this Mary chick's apparently supernatural powers of oxygen-depletion, being in her presence may endanger your health).

You wouldn't put up with the formation of a local aristocracy in the 1850s, and this inpenetrable speech was met with great cheers (there is a joke in there about a platypus if you care to look for it), so why act in such a pathetic toady fashion today?

There's more lickspittle reporting in the NZH under the headline "Charles disarms Republican town with regal wit" ... the essence of the story being that his speechwriter gave him something amusing to say in front of 100 suits in Melbourne, and then he impressed an elderly monarchist at the markets with an off-hand remark. Hoo-fucking-ray. Look, Chuck, I got nothing against you personally, but I'm more than capable of electing my own head of state, thanks.

Last night's "TV One Close Up" debate on the monarchy was the usual fare, polarized opinions, a couple of school kids, regular cuts to the leader of the monarchist league getting in the way of ad breaks and Simon Dallow flogging the lousy 0900 poll. The funniest part was when they cut away to an octagenarian pensioner, from Christchurch I think it was, surrounded by pictures of Betty Windsor, who claimed that we were "the luckiest country in the world because we had such a successful monarchy." This ludicrous claim went unchallenged ... I could have sworn there are no performance criteria for being a monarch (other than, perhaps, not having your head chopped off), and really no way to distinguish a successful monarch from a middling one, or a failure.

In fairness, one of the republicans in the audience did later make the point that monarchy is the ultimate form of nepotism ... nice one.

One of the most disturbing claims of the selected monarchists, including Ron Mark, was the suggestion/insinuation that it was inappropriate for we commoners to even be debating such issues. The worst kind of Tory.

A rather more measured and learned analysis of last night's debate, which nicely spells out the ways in which the "powers of the monarch" do not protect us as citizens (because, in both law and practice, they are devolved to the Prime Minister of the day), can be found at the Holden Republic. There's also some interesting commentary on NRT. Good stuff, but we'll be keeping it feisty over here at BIR.

Right, that's enough possible sedition for one day.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

My Life Has Purpose 

Well ladies and gentleman its time to jump on TradeMe and flick your old TV, your bedding, spare clothes, sister's kidneys and renew your TAB betting account.

The NRL is about to begin - only eight more sleeps in fact.

You wouldn't know that from looking at the TAB though, who say they can't be arsed offering odds on anything other than NRL winner, but hey that's old ground and there's league to look forward to.

Went and watched the Warriors destroy the Presidents X111 last Sunday at Albany although the $5 a pop Lion Reds put a dampner on it, well not really but it did encourage shall we say some creative purchasing methods.

Hard to see too much into the performance really but here's the Peter Jessup round up of it. I agree, like he says just too slick.

This season I'm blogging each Friday with my tips versus Jessup's in the league and seeing who comes out on top.

Also I'm going to run a Sione Faumuina dropped ball counter.

OK so round 1 we've got Bulldogs versus Dragons on the Friday night - Bulldogs to win.


Sharks and Panthers - Panthers to win, 13 and over unless the Sharks new no. 1 supporter's speed rubs off.
Roosters versus Rabbits - Roosters but perhaps by 12 or under.
Wests vs Eels - Who cares? Probably Eels.


Broncos vs Cowboys - Broncos easy.
Storm vs Knights - Storm by 13 and over.
Warriors vs Manly - Warriors.

The Raiders have unluckily got the round one bye. Not as unlucky this guy though.

As a league commentator said after the Newcastle incident "these guys have got battleship bodies and rowing boat brains".

What's wrong with monarchies, part I 

When particular royals are popular, ordinary people behave like sycophants around them, losing any semblance of normal dignity, with much tugging of forelocks, acting on a twisted perception that they are somehow better for having merely glanced upon such magnificence. This bird really gets the Ozis going, while Chuck's visit barely elicits a mention. Ha ha, it was hilarious the other night to see some footage of his Ozi tour, walking down a pathway through a thronging mass made up of one grandma frenetically waving a Union Jack.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

I don't like cricket, oh no 

Well something has to be said after that hapless display (the fourth in a series of five). And luckily for me, it's being said by others. So here's a selection of amusing quotes and insightful comments that I agree with.

Richard Boock in today's NZH:

Expect mothers to start locking away their young sons this morning as the New Zealand cricket selectors gather to name their side for the first test against Australia.

Devastated by injury, stress and incompetence, New Zealand's elite ranks have been stretched past breaking this summer, to the extent that anyone of eligible age and gender is in danger of being called up.

At last count, the number of defections for the first test was looking like something out of Exodus, leaving coach John Bracewell and his fellow selectors to comb the country in search of solutions.

As New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming dryly noted this week, "Anyone in white clothing is in the frame at the moment," fuelling a suggestion that Bracewell might do away with the invitational approach in favour of conscription.

The mind boggles at the thought of a dozen frightened young men being herded into Jade Stadium to begin preparations for the opening test against Australia.

Well someone's been using his thesaurus. Well done, very poetic, and with that vital undercurrent of truth that makes satire bite. Richard continues:

But given Bracewell reckoned the Australians had psyched Sinclair out in the one-dayers, and Brett Lee had effectively knocked Papps out, you could be excused for thinking that he might be inclined to stick with Cumming for Christchurch.

Yeah, OK. But what's the deal with Papps? Is he still injured, and sufficiently seriously that he's unable to play? If he's physically recovered he should be back in the team (he was deemed good enough to make the team on Saturday, after all, although that's not necessarily saying a lot). If he's not, then we should hear about the extent of his injury. I doubt it's the first time he's been hit, and it probably won't be the last, so I don't accept this "psyched out" crap.

And here's the reaction of Yamis over on the Great New Zealand Discussion Forum:

Too many bowlers sending the ball down at the same speed and in the same place.

For the 10th time on this thread I repeat that we fucking well need slower guys in there that suit our wicket and offer variety to our attack. Look at India for decades selecting a couple of mediocre 'quicks' and 3 spinners. We should choose 2 seamers and 4 dibbly dobblies or spinners. And in tests we can go with one extra seamer (left armer for variety or whatever). [...]

Meanwhile the robotic attack of Mills, Cairns, Wilson and Hamilton are plastered into oblivion. It's like facing a bowling machine set on the "boring" setting.

Hear, hear. Why on earth didn't we play a spinner (say, one who recently took the handy figures of 9/13 in a first class game) in place of Vettori? It's absolutely unfathomable. There's no way, as Yamis has argued, that Wiseman would go for more than 6 an over.

Meanwhile, Boock makes an ominous comparison with the infamous "Invalids" tour of South Africa in 2000:

The last time New Zealand toured South Africa, Fleming found himself in a similar position, losing all the one-dayers against the Proteas and then watching as his side were crushed in the tests at Bloemfontein and Port Elizabeth.

The only thing he lost more of was players, with nine out of action at one stage, and others dropping so frequently that a headcount became obligatory at the hotel breakfast every morning.

There's been some good stats work from the contributors to the discussion forum, including Dinkas with this gem of knowledge:

If you look at the stats for this season's State Shield, you will see how pathetic the batting has been. Only 8 centuries for the whole season (2 for McMillian, 2 for Vettori, 2 for Papps, and 1 each for Astle and Gaffeney). Sinclair is just behind McMillian with 353 runs and I would pick him in the squad if we weren't playing Australia.

Dinkas also had this to say about media darling Stephen "The Mullet" Fleming:
On Fleming's captaincy, f*** Flem frustrates me. Sometimes, I can't understand his decisions. Like the other day, he brought Wilson back for his second spell, bowls one over and goes for 2 runs, then he takes him off and brings back Tuffey and he goes for 14 runs (can't remember exactly but between 13-15 runs). I couldn't understand it. Also, not getting Astle to bowling out his overs when his economy rate was just over 4 an over was stupid as well.

Fleming's contribution to date: bad decision to send Australia into bat, bad management of the bowling attack (except for the one time he bought Astle in for the 11th over, and banished Tuffey from the crease), and crap batting: 5, 1, 1, 37. That's an average of 11 runs per innings.

Ah, I give up.

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