In the news, 1984. Some photographs.

My (endless?) decluttering continues, and with it, blasts from the past rise to the surface.

During 1984, before I trained as a journalist, I set out to create a portfolio of photos of people who interested me – who were ‘In the news’ at the time. As a starting point, I approached figures I’d heard interviewed by Sharon Crosbie on her Nine to Noon National Radio show. Some were regular commentators – and I even asked Crosbie herself.

Most of those I approached were gracious and agreed to be part of the project. Most didn’t know me from a bar of soap, but kindly let a stranger visit them to take some photos. Here are some of the pics I came across recently (with the original slides, which is good even by my own nascent archivist standards).

All the shots were taken on 35mm Kodachrome 64 loaded in one of my Canon SLR (Single Lens Reflex) cameras, either with natural light or with a portable flash unit bounced into a slivered umbrella set up on location. I had a Canon 100mm f2.8 lens I used for portraits in those days.

In the news, 1984 – pics by Peter Aranyi (click to enlarge)

The subjects are: (Top L-R) Peace campaigner Owen Wilkes, economist Len Bayliss*, then-Mayor of Wellington Ian Lawrence, Victoria University Political scientist Rod Alley, Actor and activist Tungia Baker;
(Bottom L-R) The NZ Film Commission’s Lindsay Shelton, Broadcaster Sharon Crosbie, Victoria University Religious studies lecturer Jim Veitch.

It was very kind of these people to allow me to come and take up their time in this way. It said something to me then, and now, about how open and approachable New Zealand public figures can be. Good on them.

– P

*Len Bayliss died very recently. In his world he was a giant – see Len Bayliss’ courageous voice by Michael Reddell at
Owen Wilkes passed away in 2005, as did our beloved Tungia Baker. Tempus fuget.

Archive copy of Newsroom article

Jordan Williams and Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance – Putting the ass back into astroturf

click to enlarge

Follow this twisted tale … start with Peter WM …

Oh no! Could Steven’s avatar have been appropriated by a Macedonian teenager’s Twitter-bot-for-hire which then, somehow, mysteriously ended up ‘supporting’  the (cough) Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance? Weeell, maybe.

Continue reading →

Stages of grief after an electoral loss

Don’t let anyone tell you this stuff isn’t real.

Can somebody remind me which stage of grief this is?

It’s absolutely natural to cast around for blame, and then a fresh-faced leader after a not-exactly-unexpected-but-oh-boy-we-got-our-hopes-up election loss/disappointment.

How long before Dr Jonathan Coleman is persuaded to throw his hat in the ring again?
He’ll be getting sweet-talked by now, I reckon.

Pic: Alan Weller, Getty (click)

– P

Ask not for whom the bell tolls. (Betteridge’s law of headlines.)

Almost never a good sign:

It can be unsettling when the political chattering classes start asking leading questions.

Anyone familiar with Betteridge’s law of headlines knows how that works …

Click to read Wikipedia entry

But Bill English says calm down, it’s OK. Well, for him, anyway. (That’s too bad about Paula Bennett, then, eh?)

What isn’t he saying?

Personally, I don’t think Bill English did enough ‘wrong’ in the last New Zealand General Election to deserve having the skids put under him by ambitious people in his caucus. I think he absolutely blossomed in the campaign – except for his awful, credibility-eviscerating backing of Steven Joyce’s so-called $11-billion-dollar-hole attack. But what practical choice did he have? He had to fudge it, at least.

Oh, and there was English’s ghastly, nauseating complicity in the slippery Todd Barclay police investigation/non-investigation farce. That was very messy. It took the shine off his ‘Honest Bill’ moniker.

But still, I think English did enough to be allowed to leave the National Party leadership on his own terms and timing. That said, the Labour-led Coalition government arrangement – which sees the somewhat-chastened Green Party ‘in power’ for the first time, as well as the triumphant return of Winston Peters to Cabinet, does feel like a generational change.

And then there’s the Jacinda Ardern effect. National has to respond, somehow.

– P


Einstein on simplifying

I wish you well this holiday season.

Go well. If you can, refresh & simplify.

That second aspect, simplifying, is a path I have been on for a little while now. I’m not finding it easy, but I do feel lighter for every bit of baggage I shed. Also: cycles, seasons & timing are real, tangible things.

Best wishes, -P

Tintin in The Matrix – cool

Wouldn’t this be cool?!

via Jean-Phillipe de Tonnac twitter: @inthemoodfortw (click to visit tweet)

h/t to @becs and @CamilleStein

Alec and Sierra ‘Animals’

I loved this couple when they won X-Factor USA.
This is from their 2016 album ‘As Seen On TV’. Cool.

Sadly for fans like me, they announced in September this year that they’ve decided to stop being a group, after ending their romantic relationship some time earlier. Too bad, but one has to respect their decision.

I wish them well.

Visit their website for more info.

– P

John Key’s flying pig falls to earth

John Key – batted away the truth with… something less than the truth

David Fisher took literally years to shed even a little light on how Teflon John Key misled New Zealanders about a mass surveillance system on our internet his government was commissioning for the Americans.

The whole very carefully, diplomatically written article is worth reading: John Key, mass surveillance and what really happened when Edward Snowden accused him of spyingNZ Herald

Teflon John’s Chief of Staff (and every bit the mafia consigliere) Wayne Eagleson, apparently, “regretted” a terribly misleading misstatement: responding to an Official Information Act request as if the Prime Minister’s office did’t have copies of “sensitive security and intelligence documents” when Oh-dear-Mr-Ombudsmen-we-just-don’t-know-how-we-could-have-accidentally-overlooked-these-ones-in-our-filing-cabinet-until-after-John-Key-had-retired

And there was further information which challenged Key’s set of events although his Chief of Staff Wayne Eagleson initially said it did not exist and then insisted the information that did exist was wrong.
When the Herald sought details of Speargun through the OIA, Eagleson passed the request straight to the GCSB, saying “it is the long-standing practice of this Office not to retain copies of sensitive security and intelligence documents”.
But three years later, after the intervention by the Office of the Ombudsman, Eagleson admitted there were two sensitive security and intelligence documents which had been kept by the Prime Minister’s office.
Eagleson said passing the request to the GCSB to handle meant those documents were overlooked – a fact he said was “regretted”.
When the information was eventually released, it appeared to show the Speargun project was still active when part of a critical briefing given to Key in July 2013.

See, I’m cynical.

– P

PS The Prime Minister’s office under John Key got decidedly slippery. Here’s an example of Wayne Eagleson kicking another OIA request into the long grass with a ‘no records are held’ and, later, an ‘oh dear, that would be so hard for a staff member to do accurately’. Forgive me for being skeptical, eh?

Bob and weave, duck and dive. Wayne Eagleson’s contribution to Official Information Act obfuscation history will be legend in the corridors of power. Forget any revisionist descriptions claiming the Key administration ushered in a new era of ‘transparency’. Lol

Of course, we now know, thanks to David Fisher and the Ombudsman, that “does not exist” and “cannot be found” are not perfect nor final states in the Prime Minister’s office on Planet Key. Full document here (PDF 222kb)

Murky PR update: ‘The Bloggers Club’

The Bloggers Club – influencer marketing and digital talent management agency. “Authentic”

Alex Casey at The Spinoff had some emails leaked to her which revealed a behind-the-scenes attempt at opinion manipulation via news media. See ‘Mum’s the word’: The online influencers secretly paid to go on 1News

Two prominent online “influencers” appeared in a 1News story about Kmart without having disclosed payments from a PR company acting for the retailer, The Spinoff has learned. News of the secret payment, which came to light in emails leaked to The Spinoff, has prompted TVNZ to remove the story from its online archive and pledge a review of its processes, saying it had on this occasion been “duped”.

… Both [Melissa] Jack and [Maria] Foy have made strong statements about the importance of disclosing commercial relationships with brands they write about. Foy specifically stated this year that she has never been paid by Kmart.
In an email obtained by The Spinoff, an account manager from Undertow Media set out the terms for the appearance. “Kmart is keen to move forward with both Maria and Melissa for tomorrow from 3.45pm to 4.45pm for the One News x Kmart interview opp,” she wrote. “As discussed, each blogger will receive $250 cash payment (as invoiced via The Bloggers Club) and $250 Kmart store credit (provided via gift cards tomorrow onsite) for their involvement in the opportunity and also to repost the One News video link across their socials.”

Oh dear. It reminded me of that time on Media3 when Russell Brown got Cameron Slater to admit pretty much the same thing: Dirty PR — see my post ‘As playful as he is psychotic’. Slater Jnr tried to justify it as him being paid to present his own political opinions. Lol. (Follow that ‘psychotic’ link and listen to the 1′ 30″ audio. It’s priceless.)

This was in 2012, well before Nicky Hager’s book Dirty Politics (also based on leaked emails) lifted the lid on Slater Jnr, Carrick Graham and Cathy Odgers in the chapters ‘Cash for Comment’ and ‘Chaos and Mayhem Limited’.

Some things seem to not change, really.

I’d never heard of ‘The Bloggers Club‘ until now. I’m not a member, obvs. If this marketing firm is like a clearing house for subterranean payments to “influencers” seeking to monetise their following through deceit like this, as Alex Casey’s story implies, well, bleurgh.

“Mum’s the word on the remuneration.”

Like we need more of that.

– P


Archive copy of Alex Casey’s article ‘Mum’s the word’: The online influencers secretly paid to go on 1News from The Spinoff (PDF 2MB)
I recommend you click through to their site and watch their 7 min video documentary on ‘Influencer’ marketing, also sweetly posted to youtube. Highlight: a likeable man from ‘The Social Club’ talking about the age-old question: ‘What defines a commercial relationship?’ (Hint: apparently “It’s a really grey area at the moment”. Oh really?)

Facebook is not the devil

Hey, don’t get me wrong, I have been terribly troubled by Facebook’s ‘surveillance economy’ model: the way it tracks and analyses its users’ social graph and extrapolates a map of their ‘interests’ and demographic information before delivering them (the users) and their privacy up like lambs to the slaughter on the altar of commerce and, it turns out, to political campaigns.

The flaw with Facebook is in its DNA, or perhaps better put, in the at-base dishonesty and untrustworthiness of its founder, the deceitful Mark Zuckerberg. For instance, I have always taken this exchange at face value, reproduced in 2010 by Business Insider:

According to SAI sources, the following exchange is between a 19-year-old Mark Zuckerberg and a friend shortly after Mark launched The Facebook in his dorm room:

Zuck: Yeah so if you ever need info about anyone at Harvard
Zuck: Just ask.
Zuck: I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses, SNS
[Redacted Friend’s Name]: What? How’d you manage that one?
Zuck: People just submitted it.
Zuck: I don’t know why.
Zuck: They “trust me”
Zuck: Dumb fucks.

Leave aside the clear evidence of Zuckerberg’s duplicity dealing with the Winklevoss twins and the outcome:

They are known for co-founding HarvardConnection (later renamed ConnectU) along with Harvard University classmate Divya Narendra. In 2004, the Winklevoss brothers sued Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, claiming he stole their ConnectU idea to create the popular social networking site, and ultimately received $65 million.

The many and varied intrusions Facebook makes into its users’ privacy over the years, the overreach the site routinely makes, and the exploitative, cynical attitude Facebook seems to operate with – these have put me off using the service for personal interactions except superficially. Continue reading →

Styling Dr Who

The character Dr Who has always displayed a wide palette when it comes to styling. The idiosyncratic Time Lord’s sartorial ‘look’ has allowed viewers to enjoy projecting or interpreting the asynchronous and anachronistic elements. Capes, long coats, quirky hats and long scarves, steampunk gizmos etc.

With the upcoming first regeneration as a woman, the gates were flung even further open. So far so good. She looks cool in this shot. Even the braces. Man, this is going to be great.

But then, gee, in the long shot. Love the coat, but wha?
Continue reading →

“Let’s put aside the obviously cynical nature of [Simon] Bridges’ faux-outrage …”

Simon Bridges MP. (click to read Andrews Geddis’ column at

Best line I’ve read all week. From a delightful column by Andrew Geddis at Pundit:
Simon Bridges thinks that Simon Bridges is eroding parliamentary democracy‘.

Seriously, it’s a lovely column. Go and read it if this stuff appeals to you. With bonus Edglering in the comments.

Bravo to all concerned.

Even my Tory mates think Simon Bridges is wearing a hole in his credibility with this ‘faux-outrage’.

– P




Update: LOL Simon Bridges gets the last laugh, as Radio NZ reports:

Simon Bridges (arrowed) cuts a deal. Hilarious! (click to enlarge)

A hasty deal has been struck between National and Labour on the floor of the House after Labour failed to muster a majority to have its MP Trevor Mallard elected as Speaker.
Five government MPs and one National MP were absent from Parliament as MPs were sworn in this morning.
That left National with a majority and after a quick consultation between party whips and senior MPs, Labour agreed to increase the number of select committee positions from 96 to 108.


Some people in this photo are … being misleading. (Journalists look for euphemisms in these situations.) In politics, just like in business, one remembers the names of those who cheated you or acted with deceit. (Pic: Kevin Stent, Stuff)

“Some might call National’s act blackmail, and they aren’t far wrong.” — Tracy Watkins, Fairfax

Robert Mercer’s gag reflex is alive!

Robert Mercer. Pic by Oliver Contreras, Washington Post

Robert Mercer is a ‘hedge fund billionaire’ who has used his money to enable hate speech, white nationalism and islamophobia – mainly through funding the toxic ‘new media’ organ Breitbart News, and his financial backing for Donald Trump’s election campaign. Mercer family interests have also, it seems, until very recently, backed the rise of provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, an English personality (permanently banned from Twitter) whose propaganda/writing was recently exposed by Buzzfeed News as heavily influenced by neo-Nazis and other deplorables. (They love it when people call them that.).

Yiannopoulos is a hero to the derivative copycats at a local hate blog. Its owner-operators appear to be big Milo fans who also extol and overtly set out to ape the Breitbart fake news operation – complete with its two-faced stance on the use of boycotts to exert pressure on advertisers.

Ironically, just like Cameron Slater, Yiannipoulos has been shown to repeatedly publish ghostwritten attack material under his own name, as if it was his own writing. (A thoroughly shabby practice, in my view, as we have discussed before.)

Buzzfeed’s exposure last month of Yiannopoulos’ role collaborating with neo-Nazis, and his (hidden, successful) moves to inject White supremecist propaganda and ideology into Breitbart (Here’s How Breitbart And Milo Smuggled Nazi and White Nationalist Ideas Into The Mainstream) was significant.

Reporter Joseph Bernstein reproduced leaked emails and messages (stop me if you’ve heard this before) which shed light on the skulduggery – and also on the Mercer family’s significant and ongoing behind-the-scenes financial and other support for Yiannopoulos.

But that was then. Bernstein’s reporting has changed things. That’s the best kind of journalism, in my view.

So, now it’s just emerged, through a statement from Robert Mercer that he’s calling ‘Time’s up’ on his involvement with Breitbart and Yiannopoulos. Well, sort of.
Continue reading →

Hey kids. Be smart. Be like Todd Barclay. Don’t talk to the police.

from ‘Barclay offered to play tape: PM’ in Mountain Scene June 26, 2017 (click to visit)

Fairfax NZ reports today No charges from Todd Barclay re-investigation – police

Former National Party MP Todd Barclay will not be prosecuted by police after he once again refused to speak to them.
Police reopened an investigation into allegations Barclay, the former MP for Clutha-Southland, illegally recorded a staff-member after it emerged in July that former prime minister Bill English had been a key witness in the case.
Barclay was accused of secretly recording the conversations of his staffer Glenys Dickson. It is illegal to record a conversation you are not a part of in New Zealand.
Police have now closed the case as they have insufficient evidence. No warrants were executed and Barclay again refused to be interviewed.

I rarely express the thought that our Members of Parliament should set an example for behaviour. They are, after all, just folks like us, put through a rigorous selection process by the political party of their choice and pressed forward in elections with the party’s endorsement and a request that we vote for them.

The Barclay case is interesting because by refusing to cooperate with police (despite, reportedly telling his National Party handlers and the re-selection committee that he had) Todd Barclay has set an example for people everywhere in New Zealand: NEVER TALK TO THE POLICE IF THEY’RE INVESTIGATING YOU.

Todd put it like this:

“During the process my lawyer was asked by police if I wanted to make a statement. We talked about it and decided to decline the police’s invitation, as is my right.”

That expression “as is my right” is worth noting. It’s echoed in the police statement reporting the fizzle end of the investigation, ‘Outcome of re-investigation into Todd Barclay allegations

“Police took further steps to interview Mr Barclay who again declined, as is his right.”

So, you know what kids? If Todd Barclay has the right not to be interviewed by the police investigating him, so do you. That’s fair isn’t it?

What’s the lesson we should all draw from this example of how the elite treats law enforcement? Simple: Don’t talk to the police.

And here’s a thoroughly entertaining and excellent (US) law lecture, featuring law professor James Duane and a police investigator, explaining why you should NEVER agree to be inteviewed by the police – especially if they’re investigating you.

Share it with your friends. Be smart. Be like Todd Barclay.

– P

PS: Hey look – it’s catching on. Judging by their own media statement the police have picked up Todd Barclay’s signature move:

click to read the police statement in full

Facebook is holding ‘your’ readers captive

A little while ago I helped a mate extinguish his Facebook profile. He’d had enough of it. In my own case, I run a very limited profile there and often wince when people (‘friends’) post material which refers to me. I see that as adding data points to the humungous conglomerated information that the rapacious Facebook/WhatsApp/Instagram empire is building … on its users.

I admit, this is another case of ‘horses for courses’.  I’m sure there are people who gain enormous value, connection and satisfaction from their interactions with this worldwide (well, banned in China) network.

Build an audience – but for whom?

And I’ve always felt uneasy about ‘building an audience’ at Facebook. News media companies are learning the pain of having their content (yuk) used as bait and engagement-prolonging chow for the monolithic Facebook beast – feeding the very monster which is eating their advertising lunch.

That whole idea: ‘build an audience’ through Facebook while it’s Facebook (not you) who controls exactly what that audience is exposed to, seemed dumb from the start. Also, you obviously want to be able to contact your audience – but, short of artificial promotions to try to capture ‘your’ audience’s contact details, Facebook doesn’t facilitate that except through their channels – ka-ching!

And, what we’ve learned through the comprehensive rorting of the 2016 US election (which is still unfolding) is that Facebook will deliver ‘your’ audience to anyone willing to buy the right to advertise to what Facebook treats as a segment of its billion-plus members, including the fake profiles set up by Macedonian teenagers to peddle fake news, for almost any cause.

That old saying, ‘If you are not paying for it, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold’ applies in spades. You pay – with your eyeballs and attention, your data and the information that the monster gathers about you from your interactions with it, and your fellow cellmates.

As for that ‘build an audience’ thing, cartoonist Matthew Inman who posts to and is frequently wonderful, nailed it recently:

Click to visit

Then, hilariously, Facebook offered to ‘boost’ his post… oh boy:

Hard to beleive

Is this ‘protection racket’ sinister? No, it’s just business.

– P

Hat tip: John Gruber, Daring Fireball.