Been away, nice to be back

Getting clobbered by my kids on the way back home. This was on the Desert Rd earlier this week. They totally out-gunned me, as you can see, but you gotta play when you get the chance! (Pic by John Miller.)

The escape of exnzpat, Part 4

The Attic

I woke from my dream.  Looking up I found both Lilith and Lincoln staring down at me.  Lincoln licked my face, I pushed him gently aside.

“Yeah Okay, that’s enough Lincoln.”  I rubbed the sleep and his slobber from my eyes.

I stood, saying nothing more.  It was dark outside now and the rain had stopped falling.  I looked at the heavy chrome watch on my wrist.  I had been asleep for only an hour or so.  The weird dream about Lincoln made it seem longer.

I looked at my two companions.  There was an air of expectation in the room as if they were waiting for me to make the next move.  I found this deliciously ironic.  Me?  All this time I’d been under the impression that they had been driving this ship.

Without saying another word I pushed past them and went into the bathroom, closing the door firmly behind me.

*          *          *

I emerged, finding Lilith and Lincoln, who seemed nonplused by my rudeness, waiting for me in the living room. Continue reading →

Another good graphic #4

This works as a headline, as far as I’m concerned. Reproduced here as part of my occasional series about graphics that communicate.

I saw a comment about a pile of a billion (or was it a trillion?) dollars stretching to the moon and back. This pic helps visualise a pile of money. Well done Huffington Post. Makes a point. (Although, come to think of it, I’ve seen photos of even bigger piles of cash in reportage of a drug dealer’s house raided in Mexico.)

A picture is worth a thousand words. What if it's a picture of $100 bills? (click to enlarge)

Well said, and good on you for speaking up

Ben Gracewood, explaining why he took a stand and quit his Breakfast TV gig rather than ‘condone racism’:

So when I read this morning that a Breakfast presenter [Paul Henry] has made yet another trolling statement (this time barely veiled racism), I decided I’ve had enough. Previously I’ve had to be circumspect about my responses to his statements, but I’m fucking sick of it. I love our multicultural, vibrant country to death, and anyone who would like to foment racism simply for a laugh or to get more viewers can take a jump.

For the record: I think Paul is an intelligent guy who does an incredibly difficult job making up crap to say for 2.5 hours every morning, with producers talking in his ear. This makes his comments even more abhorrent in my mind: I believe it’s premeditated.

Ben Gracewood's blog - the comments are worth reading as a straw poll (click)

“I do not wish to appear to condone his perspectives by my inaction.”

Yes, he seems to understand this:
Why Speak Up?

There’s sometimes a price for HOW you state your opinions

No, actually, I’m not talking about Paul Henry.

Dumb move, Rick. Really. (Huffington Post - click)

Over the weekend CNN anchor host Rick Sanchez was fired after a misguided book promo/radio show appearance turned into a rant where he accused The Daily Show‘s Jon Stewart of being a ‘bigot’ towards Hispanics, of working with the ‘north east liberal elite’ to keep ‘people like Rick’ in their ‘second tier’ place; and mocked the idea of Jewish people understanding oppression (given their history); … then re-heated the ‘the Jews run the media’ legend.

It seems Rick didn’t appreciate Stewart’s critique of his work as a broadcaster and CNN anchorman. Stewart had described him as an “over-caffinated control freak” — with video evidence to support his claim. Typical Daily Show fare … and a fraction of what other Stewart ‘targets’ have had to endure. Maybe there was more.

You can read and hear what Rick said (what seethed out of him) to host Pete Dominick here at Radio Sirius. This is a blog post from the Domimick’s brother, which reports the events.

The interview almost presents a case-study of burst ego and hurt feelings mixed with self-important I-love-the-sound-of-my-own-voice delusion. Sanchez calls himself ‘real and transparent’ several times while saying Stewart and Colbert’s shows “skewer people mercilessly” without regard for their targets’ feelings or their family members’ feelings. He says the shows have “transcended comedy” to become “now more important than Walter Cronkite”.

Now of course, Jewish people are just as capable of bigotry as anyone else. Or heroism. Or genius. Radio host Pete Dominick offered Sanchez the opportunity to back out of his dumb claims (he did retract bigot to prejudicial [sic]) but Sanchez came back with the logic-defying attack on Jews, and specifically in the media, ending with this ‘insight’:

“I can’t see somebody not getting a job somewhere because they’re Jewish.”

Hooo boy. Where do you start? Have you any sense of history, Rick?

One of the best comments I’ve read about this was in response a defender saying “Rick was just stating his opinion”

…and he was subjected to the consequences of expressing that opinion. He stated his “opinion” poorly and offensively. There are a dozen different ways he could have shown his dismay of Jon Stewart and his supposedly “jewish” bosses, but to use the word bigot and to bring out the old “jews run everything” nonsense got him fired. His job is to field opinions and to so publicly throw his own narrow opinions casts doubt on his ability to perform his job.

From where I sit, Jon Stewart didn’t mock Sanchez for being Cuban. He mocked his performance on-air, which provided unintentional hilarity (the tasering was priceless, and a gift that kept on giving) and, thereby, fodder for the wags and wits at The Daily Show.

It’s the same as what I said here about discussion forums in response to someone bellyaching about ‘disrespect’:

A discussion forum is a democracy. Posters stand or fall on the quality of their information and their expression of ideas. No-one is ‘owed’ respect. I have my detractors. So does anyone who posts.
If I publish or say something ridiculous or patently false, I should anticipate ridicule and my false information to be pointed out.

Even more so cable TV.

Rick Sanchez seemed a giant self-important target. I didn’t know he was so thin-skinned. I kinda like him for having the wounded feelings, but not for losing it and his silly hallucinatory rant. Way OTT brotha.

Watch that video at The Daily Show and ask yourself: Didn’t he have it coming? Continue reading →

Being Paul Henry

What a tosser. Paul Henry does not represent the New Zealand I want to live in, or see reflected on TV.

About our Governor General, Henry the supposed ‘royalist’ asked the Prime Minister this morning

“Is he even a New Zealander?” ”Are you going to choose a New Zealander who looks and sounds like a New Zealander this time?”

So Paul Henry is ignorant, as well as rude and, apparently, racist.

Well said Ben Gracewood:

“Paul Henry’s comment made me very uncomfortable as a New Zealander, and I don’t wish to associate, or be associated with people who make such comments. Although I doubt that my actions will in anyway influence someone such as Paul Henry, I do not wish to appear to condone his perspectives by my inaction.”

Henry’s apology? Worthless.

Lose the bully-boy TVNZ. See also Say goodbye to Paul Henry the abusive try-hard including this comment from Brian Edwards.

Being Glenn Beck

There’s a REALLY interesting profile on Glenn Beck in the NY Times magazine.

Totally worth reading. – P

Rahm Emanuel

Well, the mediagasm was right. He’s outta there … Too bad.

“Rahm Emanuel, Barack Obama’s White House Chief of Staff, was given a dead Asian carp as a farewell gift from colleagues before the former presidential aide resigned in order to run for mayor in his home town Chicago.”
— Telegraph.co.uk

AFP/GETTY via Daily Telegraph

“The mantra in the West Wing is that no one who works for the president is irreplaceable. And yet that’s how they describe Emanuel, a whirling force of ideas and energy with expertise in foreign policy, political campaigns, communications and the legislative process. Obama’s aides talk of an unquestioned loss.”
Huffington Post

This, which we chuckled about in my post in April, is even more meaningful now…

But Daley said he hasn’t offered Emanuel any advice about a mayoral run. “I don’t give any advice, I don’t give people advice. I don’t advise people, I’m not an adviser.

Riiight

Bishop Eddie Long — the unravelling of bling theology

Trumpet with snake – click to enlarge (freakingnews.com)

Last week as I referred to in Shame, not shock, we learned that the cult-leader Bishop Eddie Long, the ‘spiritual father’ of Destiny Church’s Bishop Brian Tamaki was being accused of sexual abuse of young men in his ‘flock’.

Here’s an insightful article — harsh, in parts, but fair, it seems to me — about Bishop Eddie Long from a different point of view. Civil rights and ‘bling theology’. Worth reading.

From David A. Love of BlackCommentator.com

The Bishop Has No Clothes

…. These accusations will be addressed in court, and who knows, maybe there will be a quiet out-of-court settlement. To be sure, this is not the first religious leader to face accusations of sexual and professional misconduct and abuse of authority, nor the last. Similarly, the Bishop is not the first homophobic preacher to be outed as a gay man.

But Bishop Long’s sexual orientation ultimately is not the subject of this commentary, although it provides some valuable context. Now, if these accusations are true, then Bishop Long is at least guilty of hypocrisy and self-hatred. And if the charges are not true, he is still an anti-gay minister who has damaged many people. Either way, he is a prosperity preacher who preys on the black community and shames the legacy of the civil rights movement. And that’s most of what we need to know.

When the Southern Poverty Law Center decides to write an intelligence report about you, you know you’ve done something wrong. SPLC calls Bishop Long “one of the most virulently homophobic black leaders in the religiously based anti-gay movement.” In one sermon, he says to gays and lesbians, “God says you deserve death!” The message of “hate the sin and the sinner” are strong words in a religion that is supposed to teach love, healing and redemption.

via Huffington Post

Let me say it: This does not fill me with confidence about Destiny Church’s Brian Tamaki, nor his judgement or character. Continue reading →

Spooky. Is privacy passé now?

Following up on our discussion about how people can be ‘tracked’ through Facebook, Facebook leaks like a sieve, here’s another twist.

Ars Technica reports research which found:

“a significant number of popular Android applications transmit private user data to advertising networks without explicitly asking or informing the user.

Um, by golly. I don’t like the sound of that.

They used TaintDroid to test 30 popular free Android applications selected at random from the Android market and found that half were sending private information to advertising servers, including the user’s location and phone number. In some cases, they found that applications were relaying GPS coordinates to remote advertising network servers as frequently as every 30 seconds, even when not displaying advertisements. These findings raise concern about the extent to which mobile platforms can insulate users from unwanted invasions of privacy.

I remember reading about a Disney-branded cell-phone you could buy your little darling, with built-in GPS tracking — but that’s for YOU to help keep an eye on where YOUR FAMILY member was.

That’s a far cry from an advertiser tracking your movements by GPS.

What the hell…?

Don Draper is the devil?

Here’s a fantastic review of Mad Men, by Mary McNamara of the Los Angeles Times, suggesting Don Draper is … the devil.

While everyone has been sidetracked by tortured-soul vampires and loveable werewolves, Don has been quietly taking over the world, one manipulative half-truth at a time.

She makes a good case. (Very good writing too.) Food for thought.

And on a related thought, here’s a meditation by Sam Keen, author of Fire in the Belly.

The Evolution of the D/evil

The Devil’s Notebook.

I have been thinking recently about the evolution of evil.

How innocently it begins, how invisibly it grows. Continue reading →

OMG is the ‘inter-generational wealth transfer’ meme gaining currency?

The cover of the current North & South magazine features a young bloke wearing Jed Clampett-inspired depression couture with the headline:

Ripped off by baby boomers? / The Broke Generation / or a bunch of wingers?

I haven’t read the article yet, but it probably has some roots in the same ideas Bernard Hickey promulgated with his open letter to Gen X & Y (avec wailing and rending of clothes)… after the June 2009 (yes, 2009) Budget: Leave the country as soon as possible

Now, I know any defence of ‘existing privilege’ makes the defender — by definition — a Conservative — a Tory. I know that. It’s not how I see myself, but if you do, well, I guess I’m fair game.

But the argument that Bernard proffers in ‘Leave ASAP’ i.e.

Generation X and Y need to leave the country as soon as possible because Baby-boomers have cemented in the biggest transfer of wealth between generations in the history of New Zealand

… misses a few points, in my view, is redolent of something akin to schadenfreude, and even approaches wishing a pox on the houses of the baby-boomers. Here’s why. Continue reading →

What you say ‘No’ to

Sometimes the ‘opportunity’ isn’t worth the cost.

Facebook had 'onerous terms' — TUAW (click)

Earlier this month there was some discussion about Apple and Facebook not agreeing terms for co-operation…

… both Facebook and Apple had spoken about integrating more closely with the new iTunes social network Ping, but Facebook asked for “onerous terms that we could not agree to” regarding Facebook friends connecting on Ping.
— Steve Jobs via TUAW The Unofficial Apple Weblog

Yeah, I know what he means.

Years ago, one of my best friends saved me from overpaying for a property deal that I had become slightly besotted with during negotiations (the thrill of the chase) — by pointing out that my language wasn’t helping me.

I had said, out loud: ‘I just want to get a deal with these people’ (meaning the sellers).
Mike pulled me up and said, ‘Whoa, Peter, whoa. You don’t just want to “get a deal”. You want to get an excellent deal.’ I stopped and thought: ‘Yes, that’s right.’ And walked away. (It was an important lesson. Not every deal is worth pursuing.) Walking away if the price was too high was the best move at that time, just as Apple decided with Facebook.

On a related thought, over the years I’ve frequently had invitations to co-operate or form an alliance with people and businesses which, although they might have appeared to share some outward similarities with us, weren’t a ‘match’ in crucial areas. Our values, predominantly. (Oops, choir boy/high horse alert! ;-))

Continue reading →

Shame, not shock

I wish I could express the same shock and astonishment at the allegations of sexual coercion by the leader of a religious sect that Destiny Church’s Bishop Brian Tamaki does (“Sex claim against mate stuns Bishop Tamaki”).

Like many others I’m sure, the news that a persuasive ‘spiritual’ figure is being accused of multiple cases of using power and religious mumbo-jumbo justifications for his predatory sexual behaviour filled me with: ‘So what’s new?’

If that’s true about Bishop Eddie Long, how shameful — but sadly a case of same-old-same-old, business-as-usual. At least the Pope has had the grace to fulsomely apologise for generations of sexual abuse by Catholic priests recently. His own role in allegedly ‘enabling’ repetitive abuse by sitting on complaints is yet to work its way into the light, it seems.

I recall reading Peter McWilliams’ book Life 102: What to Do When Your Guru Sues You when it was originally published … and in it reading his gut-wrenching allegations against the ‘guru’/leader of MSIA John-Roger (Roger Delano Hinkins) … allegations which could be categorised as the same style as those against Bishop Eddie Long — grooming young men in the ‘church’ for sexual favours.

What is it a about these cults and churches? They attract needy people, with their ‘God-shaped hole’, ‘turn your life around’, ‘join God’s holy flock’ schtick and, it seems in so many cases, there are abuses of power. Sometimes it’s financial (fleecing the flock) or sometimes it’s sexual exploitation of vulnerability, and then dark shameful agonising secrets.

Now, fair’s fair: it’s not just religious charlatans. Sexual abuse is rife … we read the same accusations of power abuse now and then against employers, politicians, medical doctors, psychologists, even a recent case of a carer in an old peoples’ home … there’s a predatory sexual urge in some which is disturbing.

One of the best ethics statements I’ve read is the one published by a group I’ve had some dealings with in the Men’s Movement: The ManKind Project.
Take a look: Continue reading →

Obama — a version of America we can identify with

As I mentioned, I’m reading Robert McCrum’s Globish, and really enjoying it.
After digesting a pretty gruelling part of the history of English: 300 years of slavery, the settlement of America, the American Revolutionary War, the Civil War and the ‘end’ of slavery, followed by the bankrupt introduction of Jim Crow laws and segregation, and World Wars, the civil rights movement, McCrum wrote:

Obama at the UN, September 2010 (photo by Ben Steele) click for bigger

The election of Barack Obama concluded some of the unfinished business of the American Revolution, and also signalled the eloquence of the African-American tradition and its global appeal. … Part of Obama’s extraordinary gift is to crystallise the hopes of his audience, to represent their dreams. So, to young Americans he offers ‘change we can believe in’, to African-Americans, he becomes the symbol of their struggle for recognition; across the world, he embodies a version of America everyone can identify with – even the Irish, who composed a ballad in his honour, claiming a shared inheritance.

… and so on, in an interesting way.

That last point about Obama’s international appeal was echoed in this quote from an article on Bloomberg previewing his appearance this afternoon at a development summit at the UN (where my pal Ben is working):

“I am not sure there is any region where he is not popular,” Vanu Menon, Singapore’s ambassador to the UN, said in an interview. “It’s because the U.S. is seen to be engaging with the world, and the response is positive even if there is not always agreement.”

Yeah, I still breathe a sigh of relief that he’s President.