Monday, December 22, 2003

Helen Clark, please explain.
The police in Thailand use missiles. I recently discovered that the plastic casings for these missiles are made in a factory in Auckland, and packed into boxes marked 'missiles'. Does that sound weird to you? Why is our government allowing our manufacturers to get involved in selling arms?

Last night on the street outside our apartment, some drunken fool was playing the bagpipe, about 3am. It was not a pretty sound. Too much xmas spirit.

UPDATE - I got a comment from Coder that NZs arms industry earns more than twice in exports than our wine industry. I will try and verify that information.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Tis the season for creative spelling....
Let's see. There's Lightspeed New Yeah! for Lightspeed's new years dance party, then there's Summadayze Festival, a dance event in jan. They've taken their crazy wacky spelling one step further, with posters advertising individual acts at the event, including one for Groove Armarda (correct spelling Armada). Put my brain on hold and pas me the alcohol.....

What's up with the media beatup on police chases ending in deaths? What about driver responsibility? Two fatal crashes in the last two days, one with a suspected drunk driver (who killed two people, in another car and one of his passengers), another driving dangerously in a stolen car. Are the police supposed to not chase dangerous idiots?

I went to see Return of the King last night. Four word review - It rocks, oh yes. There's the general advice doing the rounds, which I recommend - don't drink any fluids for two hours before, or during the film - its three hours twenty minutes long - and if you have a problem with spiders, don't go. There is a huge freakin' spider in this film.
The Guardian has a good writeup on the experience, commenting on the ditching of footage of Saruman -

"...Without Saruman, it's not good versus evil. It's good versus... a sort of swarming amorphous danger.

...There is no sobering experience of loss, no real sense of the obscenity and tragedy of war and therefore nothing really at stake. That's why it appeals to adolescent boys, and to adults sentimentally loyal to their departed, adolescent selves.

It may seem churlish to remember how shallow The Lord of the Rings is, when the Peter Jackson movies have turned out to be such terrifically enjoyable escapism. I started the series an atheist and finished an agnostic.

With enormous energy and a passionately exacting eye for detail, Jackson has made the regressive-romantic legend live again. He has given the Tolkien myth a turbo-charged rush into the 21st century. It's tripe. But he's made it mind-blowing tripe."

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Close to home
Last night at about 7pm, I was walking down Queen St in central Auckland, when a bunch of cars drove by, the drivers honking their horns and their passengers cheering and waving flags. The front car had an American and Iraqi flag, the other cars had Iraqi ones. There was probably a dozen or so cars, in this spontaneous parade, celebrating Saddam Hussein's capture. They stopped at the lights, kept up the cheers and horn blasts, then drove off to the bottom of town, still cheering.
The effects of the Iraq War seemed like something so distant from where I live (except for puff pieces on local Iraqis by that great humanitarian Paul Holmes), and yet, there it is, driving down Queen St. Local Iraqi's celebrating, just like they did on television.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Heres the News, in American.
Last nights TV news coverage (TV One) of Saddams capture provided some interesting pictures, but was sorely lacking in quality reporting. The local reporters returned to the horrible, overblown language they used during the Iraq War, trumpeting about the formerly defiant leader was now a cowed and broken man; reading online reports yesterday suggested otherwise, as did another foreign report during the TV news.
Reuters reports that several of Iraq's Governing Council were taken to see Saddam. "Shi'ite Muslim leader Adel Abdul Mahdi said Saddam was scornful of mass graves unearthed after the fall of his government which opponents accuse the deposed leader of responsibility.
"When we asked him about the mass graves he said those were Iranian agents and thieves...He did not appear repentant and even justified his crimes," Abdul Mahdi said.

One aspect of the TV new coverage was the lack of any reaction from the Arab world, just scenes of jubilant Iraqis. What I read online yesterday suggests that many in the Arab world were disappointed to see Saddam give himself up, instead of fighting for his life and dying as a martyr, as he had claimed he would.

"For some Arabs, Sunday's announcement of the former dictators' capture was disappointing, because they viewed Saddam as the only Arab leader who stood up to the United States.
According to Arab affairs expert, author and lecturer Abdullah al-Ashaal, many Arab citizens are willing to overlook the alleged brutality of Saddam Hussein because, he says, in some respects they do not see much difference in their own countries.
"They need someone, even if he is a criminal, he should do something against the United States and against Israel," he said. "And, they know Saddam Hussein was harsh against his own people, but they say, Who is not? All the Arabs, all of them are Saddam, but in different clothes. So, I think Saddam still has, in the streets, a lot of support."


There was also an item in the TV news on the possible trial of Saddam. Iraq's governing council recently set up a tribunal to try various former govt officials, and wants to try Saddam before it. As a human rights expert pointed out in the item, the problem with this approach rather than using an international tribunal, is that it would be very difficult to find judges and lawyers in Iraq who were impartial, as they would have worked under Saddam's regime. International tribunals have been used post WWII at Nuremburg, and most recently for former Yugoslavian leader Slobodan Milosevic. The catch with an international tribunal is that it would not hand down a death sentence, which is likely to happen under the Iraqi tribunal.

Monday, December 15, 2003

Ace of spades
The US have captured Saddam Hussein - they shaved off his beard (see pics), and did a DNA test on him, just to make sure it really was him, not one of his body doubles. Back Stateside, Rumsfeld tells Bush, but they hold back from announcing his capture, one, to make sure that its confirmed, and two, so that it can come from Iraq, not the Whitehouse first.
Salaam Pax's reaction is on the Guardian's site, he was amazed that Saddam was hiding in Tikrit, as that's such an obvious place for him to be.
What I'm curious about is when did the US Government start collecting DNA samples of world tyrants? Who else have they got on file? Do they have Bin Laden's DNA?

The hut near where Saddam was found "consisted of one room with two beds and a fridge containing a can of lemonade, a packet of hot dogs, an opened box of Belgian chocolates and a tube of ointment. Several new pairs of shoes lay in their boxes scattered around the floor." Livin' large.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

What a waste
He had 88 previous convictions. Hello? A warning sign?
"Fired up on the methamphetamine drug P, Steven Williams battered his six-year-old stepdaughter Coral Burrows to death when she complained she did not want to go to school.... Just a few hours earlier Williams had finished a night-long P smoking session in Featherston... He punched her unconscious and later fractured her skull hitting her with a tree branch...
When later interviewed, police said Williams demonstrated the sound Coral made when he put her down, but claimed that he thought that she was dead although he said he wasn't certain. He claimed that he hit her on the head with the piece of wood because he "didn't want her to suffer"."


on a lighter note...
"Godfather, I hereby appoint you secretary of soul and foreign minister of funk." United States Secretary of State Colin Powell to James Brown. First duty - bring the funk to Iraq?

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Pet Rock
After going out for ramen noodles the other night, we did a walk round the old QEII Square at the bottom of Queen St. Its now called something else like Britomart Transport Courtyard, and there's some fine public art there.
The Maori warrior that used to be there before rennovation has been returned, and is no longer towering over passerby,as he's been taken off his pedestal and is now planted with his feet on the ground. He's still 12 foot high, so he's no less imposing, and this was the way the artist Molly McAllister originally wanted him installed. Back in the dim distant past, someone at the Council thought they knew better and put him on a pedestal. Now the late artists wishes have finally been met.
There's also a new sculpture, that's a large chunk of rock, cut out roughly into a rectangular shape, that is taller than it is wide. It has Maori motifs carved into the side, and water running down it form the top, which has been cut off flat. There's a pool of water around its base, with yellow and red coloured lights under the water, pulsating on and off. The best part; every two minutes or so 4 foot high flames shoot out of the top of it! How cool is that? Its like a sculpture that wants to be dance party.
If you're near Downtown of an evening, go and check it out. Its outstanding. If anyone reading this knows who the artist is, let me know.

UPDATE.
from Suzanne Sinclair, Britomart Transport Display Centre ...
"The concept of the fire rock comes from the Britomart Architect, Mario Madayag's original design for the project and the carving was done by Ngati Whatua O Orakei stone carvers.One of the design themes of the station represents Auckland as a volcanic region and there are 11 light wells shaped like volcanoes in the roof of the station.The 12th, outside is a real (gas fired) volcano, the fire rock." Nice work.


I'm with stupid.
From the Waikato Times newspaper...

Safety and security procedures at a Taupo bungy operation will not be stepped up after a man threw himself off the platform overlooking the Waikato River on Sunday.
Taupo Bungy marketing manager Keith Lewis said the man, Carl Goodwin from Hawera, had jumped over a locked gate while staff were taking a break during a lull in jumping.
The waist-high gate restricts access to the end of the platform for jumpers and staff only.
Mr Lewis said a 2 metre tall gate on to the platform would not be locked to prevent the same thing from happening again.
He said staff, who did not realise the 30-year-old had jumped until the recovery crew heard him hit the water, would not be required to guard the platform either.
"Osh (Occupational Safety and Health) have told us it is a police matter," he said. "We have had no problems since opening 12 years ago."
Osh Taupo and Eastern Bay of Plenty service manager Murray Thompson said Taupo Bungy had taken appropriate measures to ensure visitor safety.
"If someone wants to do these things and climb fences then they are going to suffer the consequences," he said.
Mr Goodwin was flown to Rotorua Hospital. It is understood he has broken ribs.
Mr Lewis said Mr Goodwin was lucky to have survived the 47 metre drop into the Waikato River.
Taupo Senior Sergeant Tony Jeurissen said police had investigated the incident and decided to take no further action against Mr Goodwin.
Mr Goodwin, who had been drinking, had been in a small boat on the river with two friends before he decided he wanted to jump.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Screw you, CNN
CNN reports.... WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Reuters) - "Thousands of ecstatic fans cheered "The Lord of the Rings" at the world premiere of the final installment of the award-winning movie trilogy."
How did 100,000 people on the streets of Wellington become thousands? Oh hang on, its from Reuters. Oh. Misplaced rage.

I went out to buy the new Missy Elliot album yesterday - official release date in NZ was Nov 28, out overseas on Nov 24, and do you think I could find it? No. Oh, the inhumanity.

And some more reasons NOT to eat McDonalds (like you need em), from the forums at hiphopnz.com. Of special interest to Akld fast food addicts.

"Grey Lynn McDees...
They suck!!!! We got escorted by the police out of the drive-thru cos we wouldn't leave because they overcharged us and didn't give us one of our combo's!! fuckers..........
Anyone else had fast food drama's?"

Another poster responds....
"is grey lynn maccas the one on gt north rd?
if it is...last weekend my friend and his g/f went there for a feed, come back here and realised theyd left their bag there (the bag had like 4 weeks rent in cash in it) so anyways they go back to get the bag and the first employee they talk with describes my friends bag to her and goes to get it...then another employee comes out and says they dont have it.

Bullshit went on for like an hour or so (she got told other tales such as someone else claimed the bag) so our friend rings us and a carload of us threaten to lock all the doors block off the driveway untill the bag is given to us...and whaddaya know they come out with the bag in like 2 minutes...even after all that the managers were not at all apologetic and acted all smug so i showed my digust by spitting all over their window....oh long winded ass story "

and another...
"My mates girlfriend got a cheeseburger combo and it was cold so she took it back to the counter and said it was cold. The girl behind the counter goes 'it's not' this goes on for a little while till the manager comes over , he takes a fucking bite of the burger and then says 'it's not cold' and gives it back to her. She wrote a letter or 5 and ended up with a truck load of mcdonalds vouchers. "

Convinced? What, you STILL want to eat that crap? Good luck to you and your stomach. And then I found this gem....

Dictionary Definition of 'McJob' is Slap in Face, says Angry Burger Boss
10/11/03 . By Rupert Cornwell . The Independent . UK

Poor old McDonald's. Just as the world's largest fast-food chain is trying to spruce up its image (and its profits) it has been dealt another blow - this time lexicographic.
Welcome to the world of "McJobs", defined by the latest Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary as "low paying and dead-end work". The entry is one of 10,000 additions to the latest version of the dictionary.
McDonald's is furious. Jim Cantalupo, the company's chief executive says in an open letter sent to US news organizations, that it is "an inaccurate description of restaurant employment" and a "slap in the face to the 12 million men and women" who work in the restaurant industry.
As is often the way in America, the lawyers may shortly be involved. A McDonald's spokesman said the word "McJob" closely resembles McJobs, the company's training program for handicapped people. "McJobs is trademarked, and we've notified them that legally that's an issue for us as well," he added.

Read more great stories like this one at Mcspotlight.org.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Lost without the autocue.
One conclusion that I came to after watching the Lord Of The Rings premiere coverage on TV One and TV3 - star-struck tv reporters come out with the most banal comments when they don't have a script to follow. The poor wee things are lost without an autocue. There's Paul Holmes down on the red carpet, interviewing the stars, and one of them walks up. Paul says into his microphone "Who's this?" Someone tells him on-camera 'It's Hugo Weaving', and then he starts interviewing him. Meanwhile there's Kate Hawkesby and her amazing cleavage. Who knew? Maybe she rented it for the night.
Over on TV3, John Cambell was his excitable self, telling us "a few moments ago Sir Ian Mckellan was introduced by Peter Jackson, and he thanked the men of Wellington". Now why couldn't we have seen that? And the pressing question - did he thank them all by name?
TV3 also gave us ace reporter Whena Owen, who has followed the previous premieres, both here and overseas. She filed a report covering the leadup to monday nights event. And yet, when faced with Viggo Mortensen on the red carpet, her best question was this stinker - "Viggo, you're a bit of a sex symbol now." Hang on, that's not a question, it's a statement. What was she thinking? Viggo was very humble, shrugged it off, said something about just enjoying the work, etc.
Every second word uttered was either 'wonderful' or 'fantastic'. By the stars or the reporters. Its hard not to be bemused by the hype surrounding the film. Just have to go and see it for myself, I guess.
BFM's Damien Christie managed to blag a pass, and decided to get drunk at 8 in the morning, to avoid being legally responsible when signing the offical press waiver. That's dedication for you.

December 1st was not only big movie day (as we emerge as a nation from post-world cup gloom - which reminds me, how did some All Blacks manage to get tickets to the premiere? Pity?), but also World Aids Day. 8,000 people die every day from Aids, and 40 million people now have the disease.

and something to cheer you up, from The Joint, on Chch's Radio RDU....
"The Man From G.A.L.A.X.Y. appearing on the show today he was able to tell us the worst joke of 2003:
Q: How many MCs does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: Not many, if any..."

Monday, December 01, 2003

The good, the bad and the ugly.
"We were expecting Nicholas Cage or Shania Twain". US Army soldier at thanksgiving dinner in Baghdad, on Bush's unannounced appearance at dinner. Bummer, dude.
Bush managed 2 and a half hours in Baghdad; Hilary Clinton flew in the following day and spent two days in Iraq.

Last drinks ....
The Muse Lounge has gone out of business. Kinda sad, really. I've enjoyed reading Chad's musings on writing, music, life, and related ephemera. I'm not surprised that he's found blogging too distracting from his own writing - William Gibson called it a day on his blog earlier this year for similar reasons. He also notes that the tone of our local media has become ear-splittingly shrill in recent months. To my ears its been like that for the last year. Its one hell of a painful noise to try and block out on an ongoing basis. But what can you do?
UPDATE ... and now Debra Daley announces she's closing up shop too. Sad.