Friday, January 02, 2004

Two double oh four in effect.
My new years eve started off with a swim in the sea in the afternoon, absolutely fantastic, then off to Aotea Square for the free festivities in the evening - ended 2003 sitting on the grass in the square listening to Goldenhorse, for free! Thats pretty choice. And to think, John Banks had a hand in that, somehow.

Been catching up on my reading over the holidays, plowing thru Michael Kings excellent History of New Zealand, and I got given Sweet Soul Music by Peter Guralnick for xmas, been dipping into that too. I read a letter in the December 2003 Vanity Fair that got me thinking. It was a response to an article called Saving the Saudis, about the Bush administration helping members of the Bin Laden family and other Saudis depart the US days after Sept 11 2001.
The letter writer, Florence Petris from Las Vegas, expresses dismay that the President helped 140 Saudis leave the US within days of Sept 11, and says "No wonder Osama hasn't been found. He never will be, as long as Bush is in power".
Then again, a few months ago it looked like the US would never manage to find Saddam Hussein. But then he is captured, just in time for Xmas. What a great morale boost to the US troops, to the Iraqi people, to GW Bush back home. Now, a few commentators have picked how convenient this all was, and what are the odds that, just before the US Presidential elections in November this year, they manage to find Osama? I know that seems hopelessly cynical, but Bush's cronies like Richard Perle have just published more suggested plans for regime change, in Iran and Syria. Its got the endearing title of An End to Evil: How to Win the War on Terror.

Howard Dean is a Democratic presidential hopeful who has some interesting fans. Check out punxfordean.org, set up by a 28 year old punker who met Dean and went home and set up this website. The Herald published a peice on Dean and his growing support recently. Wired magazine's Jan ish has a good article backgrounding Deans use of internet networking. Heres a slice of it...

It is 83 days before the Iowa caucuses, and I'm sitting at a small table on a private jet above Colorado getting a pure dose of Internet religion from Howard Dean. "The Internet community is wondering what its place in the world of politics is," Dean says. "Along comes this campaign to take back the country for ordinary human beings, and the best way you can do that is through the Net. We listen. We pay attention. If I give a speech and the blog people don't like it, next time I change the speech."

The biggest news of the political season has been the tale of this small-state governor who, with the help of Meetup.com and hundreds of bloggers, has elbowed his way into serious contention for his party's presidential nomination. As every alert citizen knows, Dean has used the Net to raise more money than any other Democratic candidate. He's also used it to organize thousands of volunteers who go door-to-door, write personal letters to likely voters, host meetings, and distribute flyers.

"We fell into this by accident," Dean admits. "I wish I could tell you we were smart enough to figure this out. But the community taught us. They seized the initiative through Meetup. They built our organization for us before we had an organization."

British scientists are still waiting for a signal from Beagle 2 on Mars. They got Blur to compose a nine-note tune for the unmanned space explorer to send back when it landed. Perhaps they might've been more successful if they'd chosen someone like Brian Eno? Just a thought.

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 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.