Friday, September 27, 2013

Two Cups, Some Barrels and a John

Now that the America's Cup funneth over, John Key's government is seriously considering how many more barrels of cash to throw overboard into the deep blue. Perhaps that money could be sacrificed to a greater sporting good? Here's another two Cups that NZ could enter to raise its profile.

The Yankers Cup:

A high-octane off-road motorsport, traditional to Hawaii. For over a hundred years, with rules and conditions mutually agreed by the two competitors, this high performance motor race around the active volcano Mauna Kea battles the United States Armed Forces against the native Hawaiians. The Hawaiians have never won a contest.

The Yankers Cup is an endurance race, beginning amidst sandy beaches and hotels. The route then winds its way through the national park and up a forty metre wide track carved into the side of Mauna Kea by army engineers back in 1963 (Prior to then, only a narrow road existed, built by slave AIG executives). The race concludes with the car leaping into the mouth of the volcano. Points are awarded for speed, jump techique, and how long it takes for the driver to stop screaming.

John Key's interest in the Cup began as soon as he heard the word Kea. "That's us," Key said. "Keas have always had a competitive edge in moving really fast away from things. From planes to motorbikes to jet boats to brain drains, Keas are world leaders at running away. We can win this thing, if we throw enough money at it."

Mount Ruapehu has been considered as a likely local site if New Zealand wins the contest. The prime minister conceded that White Island may also be considered, largely due to the new Maritime Act keeping environmental activists away.

Treasury is the department with statutory responsibility for evaluating the economic merits for the Yankers Cup. In a short statement released earlier today, Treasury denied it was pressured by Finance Minister Bill English to amend its position.

A five thousand page alleged draft report had been leaked to the press raising grave doubts as to the cost benefit assumptions, whilst Treasury's official report was a four word statement: "We relaxed with it."

The Rendition Cup:

Teams must take the standard unit of CIA freight (half a ton of cocaine) from Guam to Guantanamo Bay. First to arrive at Guantanamo Bay without getting spotted by the MSM or other teams' listening posts wins.

The contest began not long after 9/11, when various US security agencies competed to see how brazenly they could rendition terror suspects without getting snapped by the mainstream media or international courts.

The most regular winners so far have been the Black Seals, who are rumoured to use a nuclear submarine to deliver the payload by traveling via Antarctica and New Zealand's territorial waters.

John Key denies hearing about the competition from the GCSB, although he is open to New Zealand taking part in the contest. "Our research department has been working on stealth technology for some time," admitted the prime minister.

"Cringe Cloaking is based on the principle that if you do something so lame and embarrassing, people will actively avoid looking at you. Haka Overuse Syndrome is a good example of this."

A recent prototype of the special fabric was tested during the America's Cup regatta:

Cringe Cloaks

"Phosphate dredging around the Chatham Islands should help bung up the Black Seal's water coolant intake as well," said the prime minister. We can win this thing, if we throw enough money at it."

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Downstage Down

It's a sad to note the demise of Wellington's Downstage Theatre. I've seen some good plots there, Ian Mune's King Lear topping the list.

It is some small consolation that one of Downstage's board treaders (Untold Tales of Maui's Taika Cohen) has managed to monetise his art into a memorable skit adored by dope fiends and Soccer Mums alike:

It's a sort of sequel to Two Cars One Night, which was set outside a pub, the most common childcare centre for Generations X and older.

Presumably there's a third part, involving Mums monged on prescription meds. As the Law Commission pointed out in their drugs review (Part One, pg. 43), between 1958 and 1971, 11.6 percent of married women were on prescribed hypnotics, tranqs (or both). If recent research is anything to go by, little has changed in this area.

Friday, September 13, 2013

True Colours

And so the sun sets on the penultimate day of the New Zealand Labour Party's premiere leadership primary. For most of the past month, the primary has led the politics columns. This has allowed National to get on with business, undisturbed by the turbulence that has rocked in for the rest of the year. For everyone's sakes, I hope this circus was worth it.

For truth be told, Cunliffe had this one in the bag from the start, the caucus ABC's be damned. The Labour cowmatua gave it a gamble with Shearer. That outsider didn't work out, and might have brought to a head the rank and file disgruntlement in the form of the new primary rules.

Cunliffe is a relatively safe bet in comparison to the Shearer gambit and, besides, it's his turn. That's Labour logic through and through.

Grant Robertson has done his next stab at the job no end of good, raising his visibility beyond the loyal Beltway. Jenny Michie did no foul to him, yet this loyal and hard working Labour Party stalwart's treatment at the hands of Cunliffe foreshadows future fickleness.

The Devil in Mr Jones has rehabilitated as much as he is ever going to. It's sad to see that Shane "Te Dude" Jones was the best option that the Pragmatic Labour caucus had to throw into the contest. Such is the debilitating effect Helen Clark had in sowing salt within their ranks.

It would be interesting to see what would happen if Helen Clark's name appeared on the voting ballot. I reckon she'd still be top of the pops with the base, five long years since the voters threw her out.

There's a lesson there, but whether Labour's rank and file grok that is another story. After all, no-one can accuse Chris Trotter of being a neo-Marxist. There's nothing new at all there. Yet he has no qualms about muddying the name of liberalism with a neo prefix.

This is what happens when you sow the Fourth Labour false narrative into the myth:

Sitting Ducks, the Failure of Marxism by Bedard

Here's Dangerous Minds with a balanced retrospective of Split Enz's Mr Philip Judd.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Ouija in Kiwi is Yeah, Nah

Contemporary society scoffs at the Victorian era quacks, who believed such nonsense as phrenology, the art of determining a person's character by the shape of the head. Today's quackery is much more sophisticated. It's called psychometric testing.

Like the original Ouija board, psychometric tests such as the Myers Brigg Type Indicator might be wholesome entertainment, but I wouldn't like to stake my career on one of them. So it's good to see this black box bigotry is getting challenged, because this HRD voodoo has to stop.

It's culturally biased and loaded with false positive discrimination (maybe the subject likes opera because they're gay, maybe the subject likes being alone because their workmates are discussing X Factor).

It loads recipients with expectations of certain self-censoring behaviours, and then wonders why their workforce is scoffing anti-depressants (At least Freud knew repression was bad).

But worst of all, it creates an underclass borne of superstitious orthodoxies which can't be challenged.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Lost in the Damascus Experience

Adam Curtis not only looks at the the hands behind Syria's modern history, but also at the terrible misunderstandings that deaf people can bring to a diplomatic incident:
The Americans had been planning another military coup, code-named Operation Wappen. The CIA man in charge was called Howard "Rocky" Stone, and he terrified the Syrians because he always stared intensely at them. But Stone did this because he was almost completely deaf - and he was trying to read their lips.
This is one of the many reasons I never applied for a job in MFAT.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Primary Colours

Rodney Hide cannot resist putting the boot into Labour's leadership primary in his column today in the Herald on Sunday. Which is a bit rich coming from a former party leader who gained his thorny crown from Act's leadership primary in 2004.

Here's me describing Act's season of Dancing with Leaders back when the Greens were looking for Rod Donald's replacement:

Fortunately for the Greens, there is precedent for them to go off. The leadership scrap in Act showed how not to do things. Like the Greens, Act believe (or at least used to believe) in direct democracy. The primary race, while good on paper and ideologically sound, is a dangerous thing for a niche party to do in practise. I re-joined Act when it became clear that Prebs was standing down. Like most Act members, I had made up my mind who to vote for way before the big day. I joined so I could vote for Rodney and keep Stephen Franks and the Rabids from taking over.

I went along to a Meet the Candidates meeting anyway, just to be certain of my decision. Speaking order was very fairly decided by random ballot. One by one, the four contenders stood at the podium and gave absolutely no clue why they would be the best leader for Act. Oh yeah, everyone got the blurbs, the CVs, the former glories. Staying true to Act's core values was mentioned more often than the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi are mentioned in statutes. The meetings didn't change a thing. They only provided media fodder to highlight rifts in Act.
Which is it, Rodney? Amnesia, willful ignorance or just plain old tribal shit-stirring?

In Act's primary, half its then-caucus stood for leader; Rodney Hide, Stephen Franks, Muriel Newman and Ken Shirley. You could say each faction had their hat in the ring. The populist Libz, the conservative Rabids, the nutty Rabids and the moderate Libz (for Libz and Rabids definitions, please see here).

The Labour primary also has all three tribes of the Labour caucus represented; Careerist Labour, Union Labour and Pragmatic Labour. Needless to say, Pragmatic Labour is the underdog by a long shot. For a party three times the size Act ever was, it still has fewer divisions than Act did.

If there's any criticism to be aimed at this Labour primary, it is the Byzantine voting procedure that's as clear as mud. The Greens and Act have a clean vote for their leaders, one vote per person. Whereas Labour has this mess of weighted votes that may well render a victory so opaque, it might have well been decided in a back room deal in the first place.

I suppose that's what happens when Labour tries to retrofit a true democratic system onto a representative one. As the saying goes, a horse designed by committee is called a cow. A horse designed by a Labour committee is called a cow's ass.