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.