Thursday, December 30, 2004

Physics 1, Teenager 0

The Herald reports how a teenager was shocked to death when he climbed through a barbed wire barricade and up an electricity pylon. Just goes to show that imbecilic morons cannot be stopped, no matter how many laws you threaten them with.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004


(STR/AFP/Getty Images)

When the night shows
the signals grow on radios
All the strange things
they come and go, as early warnings
Stranded starfish have no place to hide
still waiting for the swollen Easter tide
There's no point in direction we cannot
even choose a side.

I took the old track
the hollow shoulder, across the waters
On the tall cliffs
they were getting older, sons and daughters
The jaded underworld was riding high
Waves of steel hurled metal at the sky
and as the nail sunk in the cloud, the rain
was warm and soaked the crowd.

Lord, here comes the flood
We'll say goodbye to flesh and blood
If again the seas are silent
in any still alive
It'll be those who gave their island to survive
Drink up, dreamers, you're running dry.

(Eranga Jayawardena / AP)

When the flood calls
You have no home, you have no walls
In the thunder crash
You're a thousand minds, within a flash
Don't be afraid to cry at what you see
The actors gone, there's only you and me
And if we break before the dawn, they'll
use up what we used to be.

Lord, here comes the flood
We'll say goodbye to flesh and blood
If again the seas are silent
in any still alive
It'll be those who gave their island to survive
Drink up, dreamers, you're running dry.

Words: Peter Gabriel

Monday, December 27, 2004

Reasons to be Cheerful

2005's movie listings are making quite a few freaks and geeks go apeshit in anticipation.

1. King Kong - A Christmas without a new Peter Jackson movie seems odd. Thankfully, King Kong will brighten next year's Seasoned Madness.

2. Star Wars 3: Revenge of the Sith - The final prequel to the 1977 classic hits theatres around the globe in May. Expect retro-70s design and lots of heavy breathing.

3. Batman Begins - Forget the camp crap of Batman Forever or Batman and Robin. Memento director Chris Nolan steers the American Psycho star through a labyrinth of dark places. Mind-buggeringly good support cast (Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Katie Holmes, Morgan Freeman, Rutger Hauer)

4. Sin City - Frank Miller, inspiration behind the Batman Begins grit, penned this noir comic back in the 90's. He teams up with Robert Rodriguez to put three of the stories onto film; Sin City, That Yellow Bastard, and The Big Fat Kill. Another gob-smacking cast, and Tarantino directs a story.

5. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams is dead but, before the dolphins took him, he wrote the screenplay for this movie.

6. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - not my thing, but Miss Ann Thrope made me include it.

7. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - I'm not throwing out the Gene Wilder DVD yet, but Depp and Burton are the right people for the job.

8. Aeon Flux - If this movie is half as kinky as the TV4 show, I'm in. With Charlize Theron in the lead role, I might be in twice!

9. War of the Worlds - Having grown up with the spooky soundtrack and a vivid imagination, this film will have some strong preconceptions to improve upon. Spielberg and Cruise did a good job on Minority Report, so here's hoping there's not a friendly ET in sight.

10. The Brothers Grimm - Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas director Terry Gilliam returns to the big screen after The Man Who Killed Don Quixote washed out.

11. The Rum Diary - F&L in Las Vegas stars Johnny Depp and Benicio del Toro twist one of HST's tales into celluloid.

12. The Fountain - Darren Aronofsky has been linked to many almost-movies since Requiem for a Dream shattered people in 2000. There's been Batman: Year One, Watchmen, and Kazuo Koike's Lone Wolf and Cub. Although they are currently filming this post-modern masterpiece, I'll wait til the trailers start popping up before getting too hopeful.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

It was 90 years ago today

Around the western world, credit cards are warming down from the Mad Christmas Shop and preparing for the Post-Christmas Sale. For their owners, it may be worth taking some time to remember one past Christmas present beyond the reach of cash.

Ninety years ago, the armies fighting World War I had their first Christmas in the trenches. On the Frelingien-Houplines part of the front line, German and British soldiers met in No-Man's Land for a game of soccer.

Have a very Human Christmas.

Peace, Love and Understanding,
Will, aka Zippy

Friday, December 24, 2004

Elgoog beats Chinese Govt restrictions

Here's something. Go to Google and type in "elgoog". Click the first link in the results. You can now search any subject you like, as long as it is entered backwards. eg. sgniR eht fo droL. This is a great tool if you live in China, as the government restricts access to subversive sites such as BBC News. The (literal) Google mirror circumvents this censorship completely. Have a look in New Scientist for the details.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Silly Season Headlines

You can tell the silly season is upon us by observing our media. Today's headlines are no exception. Auckland City Councils are looking at banning aerosol paint to under 18 year-olds in a hopelessly naive effort to stop taggers from defacing property. Never mind the article points out that taggers are diversifying with marker pens and window gouging. Banning spray paint will fix the problem.

The Councils shouldn't bother. For one, Chairman Jim wants every aerosol labelled, signposted and restricted to adults soon, as three or four people died from huffing the fumes off them a while ago. His SOP aims to ban everything that might possibly maybe hurt stupid teenagers. (Note: one of the deaths that brought this SOP into daylight was a 27 year-old).

Secondly, no-one in the Auckland Councils seems to suggest mentoring these taggers in their artistic skills is a Good Idea. Auckland is one of the most boring places to grow up in, and it is no surprise kids are making their own fun. Although their talents might be better aimed at becoming the new Colin McCahon, the designated mantra of government to everything is: if in doubt, ban it.

Banning things only works if you can enforce it. Who will do that? Another Council Business Unit perhaps, like the Brothel Patrol, the Smoke Police, the Health Inspectors, the Dog Poo Crew, or the Noise Control Killjoys (first The Temple, now the Speedway. Who is next?). I know! Let's get our police to enforce it, along with the gazillion other things government heaped on the under-funded, resource-scarce and crap moraled police force.

Meantime down in Christchurch, the highly-competitive herbal high market is causing concern. Drug Foundation Exec. Direc. Ross Bell said there was "hysteria" from some Christchurch doctors who said young people were checking into A&E after eating too many pills. There are reports that Christchurch Hospital has been getting a 'cluster' of admissions; six people a week. Are they the same six people each week?

Even if they aren't, I'm certain more people get admitted to hospital with gardening injuries. The media aren't seeing this as a cause for concern. Legal party drugs sold without labels dangerous: watchdog, screams the Herald. Where's the danger? "People might not know what they are taking and might not know the recommended dose." Gee, sounds like they're talking about homebrew. I suppose the Herald must maintain the same level of proportion they used for the P epidemic, just to be consistent.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Speedway, Schmeedway

I can't understand what the fuss is all about with the Western Springs Speedway. If you live in the city, expect noise. If you live in the country, expect shit on your car tyres.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

The Art of Circumlocution

Interesting comparing the TV headlines tonight. TV3 had Judy Bailey firmly in their sights, headlining the news of her stratospheric salary. Much talk of "heads will roll" and other sound and fury.

TV One had time to show two news headlines in the time it took to show TV3's headliner. Watching Judy Bailey announce how her salary package got her bosses into political hot water was an exercise in pokerface. The news item, covered chivalrously by Mark Sainsbury, glossed over Bailey's involvement. It seemed a mere technicality in the political shitstorm that followed.

TVNZ, bringing meta references into the mainstream.

New Zealand Upgrades Armed Forces

I wouldn't normally post chain emails, but this one got me good.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Doing the Cuba Mall Shuffle

Just got home after collecting signatures in Cuba Street for the referendum. Absolutely stoked by the level of support for a new flag. If this level of interest continues, Kiwis will get to have a say on election day next year in a Citizens' Initiated Referendum on the issue.

The people in Wellington never cease to amaze me. A diverse bunch of ethnicities and eccentricities, styles and smiles. Even the few people who disagreed with the 'change the flag' idea did so in an amicable way. No wonder I moved back here.

A highlight was getting former mayor and National candidate for Wellington Central Mark Blumsky to sign the petition. OK, it was a soft sell. He pointed out the flag he was flying from his apartment roof further up the street.

Couldn't resist name-dropping David Farrar into the conversation. Old habits die hard!

Friday, December 10, 2004

The unbearable dangers of safety

You'll find more children playing Virtua Cricket on PS2 than the real thing these days. No wonder the Black Caps still rely on Chris Harris and Cairns. The joy of riding a bike has become a chore ever since bike helmets were made compulsory, yet the Health freaks gasp in surprise at rising obesity problems.

'Behold the wholly sanitized childhood, without skinned knees or the occasional C in history. "Kids need to feel badly sometimes," says child psychologist David Elkind, professor at Tufts University. "We learn through experience and we learn through bad experiences. Through failure we learn how to cope." ' So writes Hara Estroff Marano in A Nation of Wimps.

Interesting times

A big congratulations to Tim Barnett, David Benson-Pope and all the others who persevered in the face of the Chicken Little wackos and nosey do-gooders to pass the Civil Union Bill into law yesterday.

Some years ago, I made a promise never to get married. The Civil Union Bill will allow me to circumvent this pact without condemning me to a life of solitude. OK, there are a few things to sort out still, such as finding a woman who can tolerate my highly-strung antics. But it's a start!

My prospects in finding a suitable partner will not be increased by the anti-smoking law that came into effect last night. Another attempt at extricating free will from human nature, the smokefree law provides one more reason to stay at home. L'enfer, c'est les autres!

Not content with banning doubleplusungood habits indoors, the anti-smoking lobby is now looking at putting age restrictions on movies which feature smokers. I can just imagine it; Winston Churchill's memoirs rated R18 due to gratuitous cigar smoking. Casablanca has no sex or graphic violence but will be adults-only viewing because Bogie likes his ciggies. Steven Spielberg will re-release Saving Private Ryan, digitally inserting carrot sticks where cigarettes used to be. Never mind the horrors of war. Think of how many Allied soldiers died from passive smoking!

It is bad enough that live theatre performances will make all roles non-smoking whether it suits the character or not, thanks to another stupid law. The Safety Nazis will not be happy until they curse all art with their presence too.

Thursday, December 09, 2004


The MPs have just gone in for the final reading of the Civil Union Bill. Coincidentally, the weather has just turned to shit. Is Brian Tamaki in town?

Working for the dole

For an unemployed person, I'm pretty damned busy. Not content with putting my hand up for a few NORML things, I've just gone and doubled my workload by volunteering as the Wellington co-ordinator for the referendum campaign. With a little luck I might one day talk myself into a position that actually pays the bills!

In the meantime, there's intense media training to be done. I'll soon be learning all the buzzwords and soundbites for the media outlets. I've already been reading up, perusing books like Seven Highly Effective Ways to Sell Ice to Eskimos and the Goebbels Guide to Marketing. Very soon, I reckon, I'll excel at spouting bullshit communicating effectively with target markets.

If anyone from WINZ reads this, I am still actively seeking employment, OK?

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Zippy Gonzales has left the building

David Farrar pointed out in the Weekend DominionPost that political blogs should have real names. Fair point, I suppose. Anyone can rant behind a pseudonym. Therefore, I have taken his advice and removed my alter-ego from the site.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Spam the MPs on CUB

Well, it's less than 24 hours before the MPs mass debate the Civil Union Bill in the House. Do-gooders and control freaks have been lobbying like crazy. I've spent the best part of the afternoon throwing out pro-CUB emails.

Act, the Liberal Party, are looking at voting 5-4 For. It's a pity new MP Kenneth Wang has sided with Muriel, Gerry and Stephen. Don Brash, a closet liberal, also looks like he'll be voting against the Bill. But until they vote, you just don't know.

Try the lazy bastards' guide to lobbying MPs at the CUB letter engine here. Remember, democracy only works if you use it!

First select committee appearance cut short

Just got back home from appearing before the Health select committee, which is currently hearing submissions regarding the Misuse of Drugs (No 3) Bill. This nasty Bill wants to extend police and Customs powers above and beyond the call of reason, make possession of Coldrex without an excuse a crime, and repeatedly strip search people held on suspicion of concealing drugs internally.

Now I'll be the first to admit I'm not the best in front of crowds, but it would have been good to at least have a chance to finish what I had to say. These are public submissions after all. After spending hours upon hours researching this thing, following due proceesses and deadlines, I would have thought they could at least humour me for ten minutes. Nup.

Health Chair Steve Chadwick, a model of politeness, felt they shouldn't take up too much of my time. I tried to point out I was free until 4:20, but to no avail. So much for the many valid uses for amphetamine, ethedrine and pseudoethedrine, which would be affected by the P witch hunt. So much for the demonstration of social and economic sense behind government-controlled meth clinics.

In fairness, I can see why I was shut down. Everyone else who gave submissions at the meeting was an expert. The Drug Policy Foundation were there talking to the guy from the Needle Exchange Program in Auckland. Sage professionals filled the room, lamenting the failure of prohibition to prevent drug abuse, and were heard by the committe chair in rapt awe and attention. Me? I was with the NORML ppl.

Ah well, "Nobody Takes Me Seriously Anyway," as Split Enz used to say.