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

Friday, March 31, 2006

Time for Braces to Bugger Off 

The NZ Cricket selection panel really is full of crap, and it's time for someone - namely a Mr John Bracewell - to be shown the door. First, he couldn't pick an opening combination if he fell over them (although how hard would it be to memorize the following: "Don't put anyone with the last name "Marshall" in to bat as an opener"?)

The moron looks set to drop Scott Styris (test average of 40.02 and 18 wickets in 24 test matches too) so he can play Jacob Oram, but he only needs to "make room" because he insists on Hamish Marshall opening. Plus it seems fairly certain he instructed Fleming not to bowl Styris in the second and third tests, notwithstanding his success in taking 2 top-order West Indies wickets in the first test.

And now it looks like NZ Cricket is set to lose Matthew Sinclair because, well, they prefer to keep James Marshall and Craig Cumming among their 30 contracted players.

Let's deal with Sinclair first: sure, he's had more troubles than successes in recent years, but right now he's the most in form batsman in the country (or possibly a close second to Nathan Astle). He scored 656 runs for Central Districts in the State Championship at 54.66, with three centuries and four half-centuries.

Now let's deal with the other chumps: James Marshall (averages 23 in tests, 7 in ODIs, and hasn't represented the Black Caps since August 05, when he managed to amass 15 runs in two turns at bat against Zimbabwe); Craig Cumming (averages 26 in tests, 15 and ODIs and hasn't represented the Black Caps since March 05).

Fuck, enough said: here's my team

1. J. How
2. L. Vincent
3. M. Sinclair
4. S. Fleming [cover: H. Marshall]
5. N. Astle
6. S. Styris [cover: J. Oram]
7. B. McCullum
8. D. Vettori
9. J. Franklin
10. S. Bond
11. C. Martin

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Bartercard Cup 

Enough gets written about the NRL so I thought I'd fill in a few people on the Bartercard Cup now and then during the season. And it's a long season with 18 rounds (two full rounds home and away) plus 4 weeks of playoffs.

The competition has had major changes to it in terms of the teams that will participate. The organisers have tried taking it in the direction that the NRL has headed in over the past decade or so, cutting down the number of teams in it's central city (Sydney in the NRL and Auckland in the BC.) and introducing regional teams.

The competition has reduced from twelve teams down to ten teams with 5 from Auckland down from the 7/8 of past years. Those 5 Auckland teams are all regional sides which include feeder clubs rather than what we had before which was individual Auckland club sides. The idea behind the changes have been to include more clubs in Auckland and so hopefully get more of a following and also to raise the standard. The other positive benefit will be that more players will be available for the Auckland club competition.

Downsides are that many club supporters in Auckland.... HATE the Bartercard Cup and wish the NZRL would sod off and give the clubs back their players. The club supporters have not supported the BC and are still obviously far more likely to go wand watch their local club side on a Saturday than go to watch a handful of their players turn out alongside a bunch of players from other clubs in a regional team which may or may not exist in a few years from now. one club which hated it more than most were the Marist Richmond Brothers who declined to climb into bed with the Mt Albert Lions and so basically got shown the door. The other marriage was the Otahuhu Leopards and Eastern Tornadoes. Other sides such as the Tigers have been swallowed up by a North Harbour franchise, as have the Glenora Bears by the West Auckland initiative, and the Raiders by the Northland side. All other teams have remained as they were.

Personally I think it's a decent idea but it will only work if it ends up with the support of feeder clubs. I have heard rumours consistently over the past few years that many players have more loyalty tot heir local club than the BC and so don't turn out for BC sides. Also the 'low' wages (read: none) and travel (particularly for non-Auckland sides) are further disincentives for players.

Anyway, onto the comp.

The teams are:
Northern Storm (representing Northland plus the Hibiscus Coast)
Harbour League (representing North Harbour, and yes it's a stupid bloody name)
Waitakere Rangers (representing West Auckland)
Auckland Lions (representing central Auckland, though basically it's the Mt Albert Lions side that won the comp last year)
Tamaki Leopards (representing east Auckland witht he name Leopards coming from the Otahuhu club)
Counties Manukau Jets
Waicoa Bay Stallions (representing the Waikato, Coast to the west, and Bay of Plenty)
Central Falcons (representing the central North Island)
Wellington Orcas
Canterbury Bulls

First round results were
Waicoa Bay 58 Counties Manukau 16

* Word on the street here is that up until a few weeks before the comp started Counties Manukau were getting shitty training turn outs before losing several key players to the Waitakere Rangers across town and then Dean Hunter their coach stepped down.

Tamaki Leopards 38 Northern Storm 16

Harbour League 12 Waitakere Rangers 6

* Matt Rua, former NRL grand final winner with the Melbourne Storm scoring Waitakere's try

Central Falcons 41 Wellington Orcas 40

*must have been a decent match to watch after the Orcas led 28-16 at the break. If the name Wellington orcas looks familiar it's probably because that is the name of the side that they attempted to get into the NRL when it last looked at expansion. mark my words, they will be in the NRL in the next decade. There is just too much talent coming out of NZ and ending up in Aussie sides.

A major reason why the Warriors aren't sucking up all this talent is that they don't have a reserve grade side. They also don't have other sides nearby them that they can poach off or monitor closely.

Anyway, on to the Monday night game.

There are Monday Night games scheduled all season as a promotional initiative with each of them screened live on maori television. Commentary is in English with occasional comments in Maori. The first match was between grand finalists from last year the Auckland Lions and Canterbury Bulls at North Harbour Stadium and Auckland ran out winners by 28 points to 16 after the scores were locked up at 16 all with a few minutes left.

It was a fairly scrapy game which is probably what we should get used to considering all these games will be played at night and in wintry conditions. Standout players for me were the 13 and 9 for Canterbury and 11 and 3 for the Lions. I can't be arsed going back to check who they were except that the 13 for the Bulls was their captain. Auckland looked the maore talented side with ball in hand but Canterbury played a basic game where they defended well and attacked a lot up the ruck area. As soon as the Lions spread the ball wide though they found holes with Start running in 3 good tries and as suggested by the commentators, we will see this kid in the NRL in a couple of seasons.

Here is a good wrap of the game by John Coffey at

One thing which will have to improve is the crowd numbers. There can't have been anymore than 50 supporters there. Not particularly surprising really but they have got to go down to local clubs and practically beg, kicking and screaming, plus a bit of cash wouldn't hurt, to get people along, especially to the televised games. Free entry and one free beer would about do it for me ;)

Next scheduled Monday Night Game is between Harbour League and Counties Manukau Jets at North harbour stadium. Expect to see the Harbour side run out comfortable winners.

And if dc_red is keen I might pop along to the Waitakere Rangers game v Central Falcons at Waitakere Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Monday, March 27, 2006

More advice to NZ Cricket 

Playing tests in late March is always going to be tenuous. To increase your chances of bowling 90 overs per day, you need to be able to start a lot earlier than 10.30 AM (due to the probability of bad light some time after 3 PM). If it's bright and dry at 9.00 AM you should start then and make runs while the sun shines.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Minus 2 

No not the temperature in Dunedin, it's what the Warriors are now on.

Marking exam papers sucks.

Buying 7 foot tall Karaka trees for 10 bucks and 7 foot tall lacebarks for 4 dollars does not suck.

Good night.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

On being presidential 

As much as I enjoy reading about the low levels of support for George Junior, and the various woes he's experiencing, and as much as I think these are well-deserved, the fact is it doesn't really matter. Barely a jot. He's the President. Again. He got his second term. Even if he leaves the Presidency with 8% popularity and everyone except for a few dirt farmers in Alabama thinking he's crap, he still have "served" his 8 years, the maximum amount of time possible. So he won. Not fairly or squarely but that hardly matters now.

Very huggable 

A midwife is found not guilty of manslaughter, raising some interesting legal and medical questions. Does the TV news cover these? Well, TV3's angle was: "Not guilty verdict for midwife: we tell you who she hugged first." Fuck. Off. No wonder I've stopped watching.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Bullshit, lies and chicken thighs 

Courtesy of

Weeks after thse invasion of Iraq began, Fox News Channel host Brit Hume delivered a scathing speech critiquing the media's supposedly pessimistic assessment of the Iraq War.

"The majority of the American media who were in a position to comment upon the progress of the war in the early going, and even after that, got it wrong," Hume complained in the April 2003 speech (Richmond Times Dispatch, 4/25/04). "They didn't get it just a little wrong. They got it completely wrong."

Hume was perhaps correct--but almost entirely in the opposite sense. Days or weeks into the war, commentators and reporters made premature declarations of victory, offered predictions about lasting political effects and called on the critics of the war to apologize. Three years later, the Iraq War grinds on at the cost of at least tens of thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars.

Around the same time as Hume's speech, syndicated columnist Cal Thomas declared (4/16/03): "All of the printed and voiced prophecies should be saved in an archive. When these false prophets again appear, they can be reminded of the error of their previous ways and at least be offered an opportunity to recant and repent. Otherwise, they will return to us in another situation where their expertise will be acknowledged, or taken for granted, but their credibility will be lacking."

Gathered here are some of the most notable media comments from the early days of the Iraq War.

Declaring Victory

"Iraq Is All but Won; Now What?"
(Los Angeles Times headline, 4/10/03)

"Now that the combat phase of the war in Iraq is officially over, what begins is a debate throughout the entire U.S. government over America's unrivaled power and how best to use it."
(CBS reporter Joie Chen, 5/4/03)

"Congress returns to Washington this week to a world very different from the one members left two weeks ago. The war in Iraq is essentially over and domestic issues are regaining attention."
(NPR's Bob Edwards, 4/28/03)

"Tommy Franks and the coalition forces have demonstrated the old axiom that boldness on the battlefield produces swift and relatively bloodless victory. The three-week swing through Iraq has utterly shattered skeptics' complaints."
(Fox News Channel's Tony Snow, 4/13/03)

"The only people who think this wasn't a victory are Upper Westside liberals, and a few people here in Washington."
(Charles Krauthammer, Inside Washington, WUSA-TV, 4/19/03)

"We had controversial wars that divided the country. This war united the country and brought the military back."
(Newsweek's Howard Fineman--MSNBC, 5/7/03)

"We're all neo-cons now."
(MSNBC's Chris Matthews, 4/9/03)

"The war was the hard part. The hard part was putting together a coalition, getting 300,000 troops over there and all their equipment and winning. And it gets easier. I mean, setting up a democracy is hard, but it is not as hard as winning a war."
(Fox News Channel's Fred Barnes, 4/10/03)

"Oh, it was breathtaking. I mean I was almost starting to think that we had become inured to everything that we'd seen of this war over the past three weeks; all this sort of saturation. And finally, when we saw that it was such a just true, genuine expression. It was reminiscent, I think, of the fall of the Berlin Wall. And just sort of that pure emotional expression, not choreographed, not stage-managed, the way so many things these days seem to be. Really breathtaking."
(Washington Post reporter Ceci Connolly, appearing on Fox News Channel on 4/9/03, discussing the pulling down of a Saddam Hussein statue in Baghdad, an event later revealed to have been a U.S. military PSYOPS operation--Los Angeles Times, 7/3/04)

Mission Accomplished?

"The war winds down, politics heats up.... Picture perfect. Part Spider-Man, part Tom Cruise, part Ronald Reagan. The president seizes the moment on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific."
(PBS's Gwen Ifill, 5/2/03, on George W. Bush's "Mission Accomplished" speech)

"We're proud of our president. Americans love having a guy as president, a guy who has a little swagger, who's physical, who's not a complicated guy like Clinton or even like Dukakis or Mondale, all those guys, McGovern. They want a guy who's president. Women like a guy who's president. Check it out. The women like this war. I think we like having a hero as our president. It's simple. We're not like the Brits."
(MSNBC's Chris Matthews, 5/1/03)

"He looked like an alternatively commander in chief, rock star, movie star, and one of the guys."
(CNN's Lou Dobbs, on Bush's 'Mission Accomplished' speech, 5/1/03)

Neutralizing the Opposition

"Why don't the damn Democrats give the president his day? He won today. He did well today."
(MSNBC's Chris Matthews, 4/9/03)

"What's he going to talk about a year from now, the fact that the war went too well and it's over? I mean, don't these things sort of lose their--Isn't there a fresh date on some of these debate points?"
(MSNBC's Chris Matthews, speaking about Howard Dean--4/9/03)

"If image is everything, how can the Democratic presidential hopefuls compete with a president fresh from a war victory?"
(CNN's Judy Woodruff, 5/5/03)

"It is amazing how thorough the victory in Iraq really was in the broadest context..... And the silence, I think, is that it's clear that nobody can do anything about it. There isn't anybody who can stop him. The Democrats can't oppose--cannot oppose him politically."
(Washington Post reporter Jeff Birnbaum-- Fox News Channel, 5/2/03)

Nagging the "Naysayers"

"Now that the war in Iraq is all but over, should the people in Hollywood who opposed the president admit they were wrong?"
(Fox News Channel's Alan Colmes, 4/25/03)

"I doubt that the journalists at the New York Times and NPR or at ABC or at CNN are going to ever admit just how wrong their negative pronouncements were over the past four weeks."
(MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, 4/9/03)

"I'm waiting to hear the words 'I was wrong' from some of the world's most elite journalists, politicians and Hollywood types.... I just wonder, who's going to be the first elitist to show the character to say: 'Hey, America, guess what? I was wrong'? Maybe the White House will get an apology, first, from the New York Times' Maureen Dowd. Now, Ms. Dowd mocked the morality of this war....

"Do you all remember Scott Ritter, you know, the former chief U.N. weapons inspector who played chief stooge for Saddam Hussein? Well, Mr. Ritter actually told a French radio network that -- quote, 'The United States is going to leave Baghdad with its tail between its legs, defeated.' Sorry, Scott. I think you've been chasing the wrong tail, again.

"Maybe disgraced commentators and politicians alike, like Daschle, Jimmy Carter, Dennis Kucinich, and all those others, will step forward tonight and show the content of their character by simply admitting what we know already: that their wartime predictions were arrogant, they were misguided and they were dead wrong. Maybe, just maybe, these self-anointed critics will learn from their mistakes. But I doubt it. After all, we don't call them 'elitists' for nothing."
(MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, 4/10/03)

"Over the next couple of weeks when we find the chemical weapons this guy was amassing, the fact that this war was attacked by the left and so the right was so vindicated, I think, really means that the left is going to have to hang its head for three or four more years."
(Fox News Channel's Dick Morris, 4/9/03)

"This has been a tough war for commentators on the American left. To hope for defeat meant cheering for Saddam Hussein. To hope for victory meant cheering for President Bush. The toppling of Mr. Hussein, or at least a statue of him, has made their arguments even harder to defend. Liberal writers for ideologically driven magazines like The Nation and for less overtly political ones like The New Yorker did not predict a defeat, but the terrible consequences many warned of have not happened. Now liberal commentators must address the victory at hand and confront an ascendant conservative juggernaut that asserts United States might can set the world right."
(New York Times reporter David Carr, 4/16/03)

"Well, the hot story of the week is victory.... The Tommy Franks-Don Rumsfeld battle plan, war plan, worked brilliantly, a three-week war with mercifully few American deaths or Iraqi civilian deaths.... There is a lot of work yet to do, but all the naysayers have been humiliated so far.... The final word on this is, hooray."
(Fox News Channel's Morton Kondracke, 4/12/03)

"Some journalists, in my judgment, just can't stand success, especially a few liberal columnists and newspapers and a few Arab reporters."
(CNN's Lou Dobbs, 4/14/03)

"Sean Penn is at it again. The Hollywood star takes out a full-page ad out in the New York Times bashing George Bush. Apparently he still hasn't figured out we won the war."
(MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, 5/30/03)


"This will be no war -- there will be a fairly brief and ruthless military intervention.... The president will give an order. [The attack] will be rapid, accurate and dazzling.... It will be greeted by the majority of the Iraqi people as an emancipation. And I say, bring it on."
(Christopher Hitchens, in a 1/28/03 debate-- cited in the Observer, 3/30/03)

"I will bet you the best dinner in the gaslight district of San Diego that military action will not last more than a week. Are you willing to take that wager?"
(Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly, 1/29/03)

"It won't take weeks. You know that, professor. Our military machine will crush Iraq in a matter of days and there's no question that it will."
(Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly, 2/10/03)

"There's no way. There's absolutely no way. They may bomb for a matter of weeks, try to soften them up as they did in Afghanistan. But once the United States and Britain unleash, it's maybe hours. They're going to fold like that."
(Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly, 2/10/03)

"He [Saddam Hussein] actually thought that he could stop us and win the debate worldwide. But he didn't--he didn't bargain on a two- or three week war. I actually thought it would be less than two weeks."
(NBC reporter Fred Francis, Chris Matthews Show, 4/13/03)

Weapons of Mass Destruction

NPR's Mara Liasson: Where there was a debate about whether or not Iraq had these weapons of mass destruction and whether we can find it...

Brit Hume: No, there wasn't. Nobody seriously argued that he didn't have them beforehand. Nobody.
(Fox News Channel, April 6, 2003)

"Speaking to the U.N. Security Council last week, Secretary of State Colin Powell made so strong a case that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein is in material breach of U.N. resolutions that only the duped, the dumb and the desperate could ignore it."
(Cal Thomas, syndicated column, 2/12/03)

"Saddam could decide to take Baghdad with him. One Arab intelligence officer interviewed by Newsweek spoke of 'the green mushroom' over Baghdad--the modern-day caliph bidding a grotesque bio-chem farewell to the land of the living alongside thousands of his subjects as well as his enemies. Saddam wants to be remembered. He has the means and the demonic imagination. It is up to U.S. armed forces to stop him before he can achieve notoriety for all time."
(Newsweek, 3/17/03)

"Chris, more than anything else, real vindication for the administration. One, credible evidence of weapons of mass destruction. Two, you know what? There were a lot of terrorists here, really bad guys. I saw them."
(MSNBC reporter Bob Arnot, 4/9/03)

"Even in the flush of triumph, doubts will be raised. Where are the supplies of germs and poison gas and plans for nukes to justify pre-emption? (Freed scientists will lead us to caches no inspectors could find.) What about remaining danger from Baathist torturers and war criminals forming pockets of resistance and plotting vengeance? (Their death wish is our command.)"
(New York Times' William Safire, 4/10/03)

More children die in farm bike accidents 

So reports the Canadian Press:

ROCKLAND, Ont. (CP) - Provincial police are investigating after a nine-year-old boy died while riding an adult-sized all-terrain vehicle near Ottawa. ...

Police say there were no witnesses to the accident. ...

The use of ATVs by children has come under scrutiny in other provinces following recent deaths of young riders.

A 13-year-old boy was killed earlier this month in Prince Edward Island when the all-terrain vehicle he was driving overturned.

In October 2005, two teenaged girls died and another was injured in an ATV crash near Shubenacadie, N.S.

Exclusive Brethren at it in Tasmania, too 

Here's an interesting report from The Age, noting the apparent success of an anti-green campaign in Tasmania run by none other than our old friends the Exclusive Brethren. Maybe they view Green politics as unnecessarily burdensome in light of the imminent arrival of the Rapture ... just like Homer on the Simpsons on Saturday.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Auckland CBD not worth $6. Or $10. 

Congestion charging in Auckland is a truly crap idea, not least of all because in the absence of a ring road, one needs to travel through the CBD to access other parts of the urban area. You can't go from North to South, or West to East, for example, without heading through the CBD.

If you live in Takapuna and are heading to the airport, your only real choice is to go through downtown Auckland. In theory, I guess, you could take the Greenhithe Bridge, then hit the NW motorway, then go up Mt Albert Rd, etc. etc. until you reach Mangere Bridge, but that would take about 5 hours and cost more in petrol than you'd save by not paying the congestion charge.

Speaking of which, remind me again why we pay so much tax on petrol? I thought it was to pay for roads and public transport.

BUT, and here's the crucial point for me, it would still be cheaper for me to drive into the city at $6 a shot than to catch a bloody bus. Subsidised? Yeah right. We live 12km from downtown and it's $5 each way on the bus, or about $1.50 petrol each way. $5 each way ... that's not public transport, it's highway robbery.

So ...

Bus: $10 + a decent walk from the bus stop to work.
Car: $3 petrol + $6 congestion charge + a decent walk + a dollar in my pocket.

They actually would have to introduce a $10 parking charge just to make it worth my while ... but then where would that $10 go I wonder? Just how many more hundreds of millions do roading projects in this country really need? Especially in light of our national incompetence when it comes to undertaking construction projects in a timely manner.


pretty much fucked already.

minus 4 still after 2 rounds.

They play the Tigers at Jade Stadium next week which is almost a certain loss judging by the fact that in 9 NZ games outside Auckland they are winless and the Tigers will be rebounding from a hammering on friday night v the Bulldogs.

So they will then rock up to Newcastle at Energy Australia and get their asses spanked and so 4 rounds into the season they will be 8 to 10 points outside the top 8.

Season over, thanks for coming.

And why do we get so excited about Commonwealth games medals in sports in which only two or three countries are any good at and we are one of those countries? Of course we are going to win a fucking medal. I enjoy watching the games, but for christs sakes a little bit of realism from the media wouldn't hurt instead of pumping it up to something it's not just to boost their ratings.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

School Bullying ... TXT this 

Since Saturday's NZH cover story about "non-suspicious deaths" linked to cell phone bullying, the media's been full of reports of schools looking to ban the use of phones in school. Which basically means that pupils will need to return to the age-old tradition of bullying each other face to face during the school day, and by every other means conceivable after hours.

Here's a provocative suggestion: the problem isn't cell phones, it's schools. Y'know, the places we adults and our elected legislators compel children to attent to undertake at least 11 years of group socialization.

Many of the unpleasant aspects of school experiences are the predictable outcomes of children being forced to interact with others they don't like or have nothing in common with beyond year of birth and temporary geographical proximity.

My sense is that things change significantly at University/College: although you can't pick your classmates, you tend to have rather more in common with them that just age and location, and moreover there is generally no compulsion to interact with
those you don't care for. (e.g., you can choose not to sit next to the sniffing guy in the next lecture). Moreover, to a large extent, you're there by choice ... not by order of state and parents.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Day of Infamy ... Martin Sneddon's record shattered 

The headline on cricinfo says it all: "Australia post 434 for 4 ... and lose." The first-ever 400+ total in the history of ODI cricket, which is swiftly followed by the second-ever 400+ total, and the South Africans give Ricky and team a good spanking, with 1 ball and 1 wicket to spare. Boy, that would beat going to watch the Warriors, even when you get in for free!

I guess people will remember the high-scoring batsmen ... a creditable 175 from Herschelle Gibbs,* following a useful 164 from Ponting, but let's not forget the bowlers, specifically some Aussie shmuck called Mick Lewis who has finally removed a New Zealand from atop the ignominious list entitled: Most expensive bowling in a ODI. Yep, Lewis went for 113 off his 10 overs, confining all memories of Martin Sneddon's 23-year record of 105 from 12 overs to the trash heap of cricketing statistical history. Plus old Marty took 2 wickets in that game, whereas Lewis went wicketless. Good on ya, South Africa!

Now if only a test team could somehow conspire to be dismissed for 25 or less in an innings, and remove another unwanted New Zealand world record. You'd have to back New Zealand's chances of dismissing the West Indies very cheaply bowling first on a soggy green seamer under dark cloud and in 3 degree conditions in Dunedin, in April. Now why didn't we send them there?

* The highest individual innings by a New Zealander is Lou Vincent's 172 versus Zimbabwe. And that poor bastard can't even make the test team ... nice work, Braces.

** Look for Matthew Sinclair to replace Hamish Marshall in the second test, irrespective of what happens later this morning.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

And the strange headline award goes to... 

"Former U.S. president Clinton says Middle East peace one of his great regrets"

So it's just as well the US "elected" Bush, who as the Onion accurately foretold, ran on a secret platform to end "our long national nightmare of peace and prosperity."

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

A "can't do" kind of country 

I've been struck lately by a mediocrity in the national character ... a "we can't do this" and "we can't afford that" mentality which undermines improvement. I'm not talking about the bloody Whangamata Marina, or Project Aqua, or other proposals that might have fallen afoul of legislation intended to protect what's left of the natural environment - but rather the more routine, humdrum aspects of life where urgent progress is needed.

Like the state of New Zealand houses, for example, many of which could aptly be described as shacks or "trailers on foundations", with much-needed improvements deferred for decades. A cluster of townhouses we lived in still had an unsealed drive 35 years after the original occupants moved in, for example.

Or like the state of New Zealand highways and motorways, where upgrades take years (decades?) because no one is willing to bite the bullet and pay for 24-hour construction (3 crews working 8 hours each) wherever possible. I'm estimating it's over 5 years they've been buggering around with Spaghetti Junction, for example, in large part because the work sites are idle for the majority of the time. Why? It's not like there's any local residents to disturb with noise at night, except for a few pigeons maybe. And when an addition is finally completed, albeit belatedly, you find it has one bloody lane. Honestly, what kind of country builds one-lane onramps and offramps in its busiest city?

And don't get me started on our state highway system, where they're too bloody cheap to bypass towns like Timaru or Cambridge, so you have to wind your way through suburbia at 50kph for miles on end. I would say: 1/ If you want to build on, or live adjacent to, SH1 you'll have to put up with cars going faster than 50kph; and 2/ Where the damage has been done, as in the two foregoing examples, build a bloody bypass!

Friday, March 03, 2006

Way too much pressure 

Wow, for evryone out there who thought Jelena Dokic's old man was a freak (which he most undeniably is) check out this protective tennis dad.
A RETIRED French colonel accused of trying to boost his children's tennis results by drugging their opponents has admitted he spiked the water bottle of a rival player who later died in a car crash.
Christophe Fauviau, whose daughter Valentine, 15, is one of France's brightest prospects, made his confession at the start of his trial in the south-western town of Mont-de-Marsan.
He is charged with the manslaughter of Alexandre Lagardere by unintentionally causing him to fall asleep at the wheel of his car. Mr Lagardere had earlier been overcome by drowsiness while playing Fauviau's son Maxime in the final of a local tournament.
Fauviau, 46, a former helicopter pilot instructor with an exemplary military record, is also accused of administering toxic substances to 21 of Valentine's opponents and six of her brother's.

In this bloody era of political correctness it's now a crime to try and help your kids to succeed.

Seriously though, don't you think maybe his kids might have started to suspect something was amiss when all their opponents kept like, you know, collapsing in their matches?
Other opponents suffered various symptoms including weak knees, dizziness, nausea and fainting. Some needed hospital treatment.

Or perhaps, as the French would say, they just thought it was a case of deja vu?

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

No news is good news 

Our household has made the resolution not to watch the TV news on a routine basis ... we will turn it on when national or world events warrant some AV attention, but otherwise the bloody TV is off between 6 and 7.30. And so far we're lovin' it and missing nothing ... no protracted weather reports, no celebrity scuttlebutt, no cats-stuck-up-trees (whether proverbial or otherwise), no tired rehashing of the same old stories (e.g., bird flu ... "Nothing to report: STAY ALARMED!"). And I must say that the time frame we're talking about here lends itself to all sorts of other exciting things, like putting more effort into meals, and making the most of daylight savings. So bugger you TVNZ and TV3, and your poxy advertisers too! p.s. we're in your target demographic.

I get high with a little help from my friends 

Earlier in the week we had 20/20's expose on the sinister cannabis drug market operating from a Grey Lynn park bench:
I only came in part-way through 20/20's 'Playground Pushers' story last night, but that was enough to form the impression that it was a fairly alarming piece of work.
It seems some youths have been using a bench at Grey Lynn Park, near the playground, to sell small quantities of marijuana (I guess property prices make tinny houses a bit tricky these days). That's certainly a fair enough story, but some of the gibbering hidden-camera silliness that followed was not.
The treatment was, at times, outrageous. Children around the several youths selling small deals of pot were being used as "cover" intoned reporter Hadyn Jones. An in-studio policeman helpfully observed that prams and dirty nappes were a good place to hide drugs: cue a shot of someone getting something from a pram.

Today we have Jenny Ling from the Central Leader warning of P-laced pot.
Gangs are lacing cannabis with P in a bid to hook youngsters on the class A drug.
Auckland police inspector Jim Wilson says it's a way of introducing people to the "hardcore drug scene".
"People need to realise the whole drug scene is controlled by organised criminals, ie gang members.
"They are unscrupulous and are happy to supply young people with drugs."
Cannabis is a class C drug unless processed as hash or hash oil. It then becomes class B.
Mr Wilson says people might not realise the danger involved in buying what is seen as a softer drug.
"They are dealing with gang members and organised criminals ultimately. Those people are involved in all sorts of serious crime across the board.
"Those gang members will take retribution if drug deals go bad."

Holy shit....gang members taking retribution what next?

It goes on:
"Police have identified the top 10 tinny houses in the area and executed search warrants.
"As a result, people have been charged with offences including cannabis cultivation, possession and dealing."

Thanks Jenny but there's one thing I still don't understand.

If the gangs are lacing pot with P and the pigs pounced on the tinny houses then how come no-on was has was charged with possession of P?

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