Saturday, July 24, 2021

Hypocritical Cunts

Is Bomber Bradbury's vituperative defence of Martin Devlin simply a bombastic defence of his own deficiencies?

What skeletons are in Martyn's closet?

Quite a few if industry gossip is anything to go by.

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Double Fucking Standards

While I think of it.

I'm really interested in Judith Collins and her position on hate speech laws. You know, the ones she's announced a National Party led Government would repeal because of the importance of free speech and the rights to self-expression.

I hear National MP Todd Muller got forced out because he gossiped to a reporter about a colleague - the one with the dodgy expense claims.

Free speech warriors always tend to defend the speech they like. Not so much the barbs that cut a little too close to home.

Many years ago, more years back than I care to remember, back when I was a cub reporter in Christchurch, I was given a tip about the SIS carrying out surveillance on the Al-Noor mosque. This was back in the days when the 9-11 attacks were fresh in the memory; the USA was at war in Afghanistan and was making its moves to invade Iraq. It was a time when all things Muslim were being treated with great suspicion.

Add in the euro-centric and barely closeted nature of Christchurch racism, and you can see that Christchurch was probably right up there with Alabama when it came to religious tolerance and cultural understanding.

The SIS monitoring or, to put it bluntly, spying on the mosque was pretty Mickey Mouse. According to my source, the panel vans were relatively obvious, and the awkward Caucasian blokes slouching around, trying to fit in while trying to take note of who was going in and out of the mosque were, “a bit fucking obvious”.

It wasn’t quite pie and a porno in a briefcase level of tradecraft, but it was pretty close.

From what I was told, those at the mosque initially didn’t make waves. After all, the mood of the times wasn’t great, and they didn’t want to make a fuss. But, as time went on, it became a bit irritating. As far as those who attended the mosque were concerned, they weren’t doing anything wrong, and if there was a problem, the authorities should do the decent thing and raise it with them.

It was a complicated story to stand up. Noone associated with the mosque wanted to go on the record. The SIS did what the SIS does best – refused to comment, and all that was left was speculation, rumour, innuendo and a few pictures of a panel van and men in Hallensteins suits looking furtive.

Fast forward a decade or so, and the pressure was back on the Muslim community as ISIS rolled across eastern Syria and western Iraq like a thunderbolt. News that extremists were travelling to the region to join the so-called Caliphate put the role of the intelligence services and national security firmly back in the spotlight.

Out of this came one of the most disgraceful episodes I’ve ever seen from the SIS, their responsible Ministers, and the Government of the day. It centred on those women who were tagged, Jihadi brides.

At Select Committee hearings, the head of the SIS, Rebecca Kitteridge, along with the relevant Minister, Chris Finlayson, expanded on details about New Zealanders that had gone to fight with ISIS as well s those who had indicated an intent to do so. The Government of the day was very close-mouthed on details. All that was really said was that around five New Zealanders were known to have travelled to Syria to join the terrorist group.

However, some extra details were dropped at the hearing indicating the New Zealand women intended to travel to Syria to be brides for ISIS fighters. But, who they were and where they were was not specified for reasons of national security.

It wasn’t until well after the event that it emerged the women in question held dual citizenship and lived in Australia. None of them were in New Zealand. Not that you would have got that impression from the Government and the SIS when they announced the issue in public.

So, every Muslim woman in new Zealand was tarred by this association. Even though none of them were actually on the SIS’s radar, as had been heavily implied, it was a shameful act by the SIS and the Government of the day, and it’s one they should never be allowed to forget.

There are enough demons in this world without creating false ones in our own back yard.

Monday, June 07, 2021

When political shit goes south

It's funny, but if you observe politics long enough you see the same patterns played out over and over again.

Take, for example, the current travails besetting the National Party - which is currently about as popular as an STD-riddled knocking shop. It only seems like yesterday that the Labour Party was in a similar state. It wasn't so much that they were "Nigel no friends" as they were "Karens without a cause".

As Goff was to Labour, Bridges was to National. If David Shearer was Labour's 'mumblefuck' (people in his own inner sanctum called him this), then Muller was National's "clusterfuck".

Which kind of makes Judith Collins National's answer to David Cunliffe.

Now, as disturbing as that sounds, and as much as both of them would loathe the comparison, it actually holds some weight. Cunliffe led a party that had seen its vote collapse. In a desperate bid to shore up its vote he took it to the left - and in doing so he abandoned the middle. You know, that juicy piece of political real estate where most of the voters hang out.

And we all know how that worked out.

Collins has been doing the same. When you're polling in the 20s, and incidentally well below that mid-30s mark you've previously signalled as a benchmark for stability of leadership, you're going to try and pull any sort of rabbit out of hat to try and shore up your support. In this case the rabbit is a redneck with overwhelming overtones of racism.

This approach might have got Don Brash to 40% in 2005, but that was a generation ago. Demographs have changed, and while there remains an innate core of conservatism and racism in the country, its not the force it was 16 years ago. Playing the race card plays to the National Party base, but not so much to the centre as it once did.

The irony is we're hearing some of the same arguments over the relevance and importance of the centre as we did a decade ago. I remember sitting absolutely gobsmacked as a senior Labour MP declared to me (completely seriously I might add) that there was no centre in New Zealand politics and any suggestion it existed was the fevered imagination of the mainstream media. There was also the vehement denial of the polls and the stubborn insistence of, "that's not what I'm hearing on the ground".

Of course it's not. You're shoring up your base, you're talking to to your own supporters. Of course they're going to reflect your expectations.

John Key may have been the least ideological Prime Minister in recent history. He may have been a poll-driven populist who enjoyed the attention and adulation Prime Ministership brought him. He may have also had the least consequential political legacy of any Prime Minister New Zealand's ever had (cough .. flag ... cough). But, he was incredibly plugged into the electorate and innately tuned to their needs, wants, and fears - and he knew how to meet them.

The National Party no longer does.

Thursday, June 03, 2021

The shit you find when you least expect it.

Like this blog, for example. I literally forgot I ever created this thing and, now that I've rediscovered it, can completely understand why I had expunged it from the recesses of my memory. Must. Do. Better.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Finding History II

11th November 2006 Somewhere near Aswan.

As I write this we're gently cruising down the Nile on our Felucca, lying in the sun, and generally just blobbing out. I bought some supplies this morning - 24 bottles of water and 24 bottles of beer. I also picked up a kheffiyah and along the way sold my watch. I got about 50 bucks for it so I've actually come out ahead on the haggling today. More so considering the watch was just a cheap knock off I picked up in Thailand.

5pm - Stopped for dinner and beer and discover the booze is non-alcoholic. Egypt strikes again! As the sun sets we're sitting around on deck having a smoke on a water pipe. Life doesn't get much better than this. The guys at home would be so jealous - I must send them a card and let them know what they are missing as this is definitely the best part of Egypt.

12th November - On the Nile.
12.30 pm - not much happening today. Got woken at the crack of dawn by the muezzin then paid a quick visit to a temple at Kom-ombo. Back on the Felucca in time for a quick rain storm. Not what we expected in Egypt with the desert so close.

5pm - We've just noticed how the crew on the felucca are preparing our meals. All the food and utensils are being washed in the Nile ... I foresee a lethal case of the shits somewhere in the immediate future!! Still it's probably irrelevant as we've been swimming in the river several times. So if dysentery doesn't get me he Bilharzia still might.

There's a mixed bunch of us on this boat. Tim and Anton (South African) are OK. They've been working in Israel before coming here and are looking after a pair of Hungarian guys who don't speak much english (and even less Arabic) and are trying to save them from being ripped off by the locals. There's an Aussie called Richard - a physio by trade having a bit of a world wander. And lastly, but not leastly, there are what I like to call the hard core trio; Seamus (Irish) and Michael and John (both Aussies). They're into their pot and generally having a good time as often as they can.

6pm Still moving downriver after dark which is a little hairy as we have no lights on our Felucca. It makes it hard for the multitude of tour barges, that ply incessantly up and down river, to see us.

13th November Still on the Nile.

7am - Wow what an eventful night. We sailed as close as we could to Edfu after dark. As the light dropped we could see these filthy black clouds and lightening way off in the desert. Assumed it was a sandstorm. We somehow lost the guys on the other Felucca so just tied up and had some dinner.

Then it started to piss down. The rain was coming down in bucketfuls and there was absolutely no shelter on deck where we've been sleeping at night. We quickly looked like a motley bunch of bedraggled souls so the skipper and his offsider took pity on us and invited us to share the small cabin they have at the front of the boat. Talk about cramped - just try getting 8 people into a space designed for two. It made drunken twister look mundane! Poor old Anton got hit on majorly by the skipper. Tim's a blonde chap and the Arab's love blondes (of either sex). They have a saying "Women for work, boys for pleasure". He fled outside and ended up sleeping outside in the downpour muttering something about preferring pneumonia over a stretched sphincter.

9.15 PM - caught up with the guys from the other boat. They were happy to see us as we're carrying all the food. Their night had been as wet as ours but worse in that they had bugger all to eat.

We met another group of Felucca cruisers today. Turns out their trip was an absolute horror. Drugged food, girls sexually molested by the crew, and widespread tummy bugs. One girl was so bad (ie running at both ends) they resorted to putting a life jacket on her and towing her behind their boat. Not so pleasant for her - but less shit splatter on board .... apparently.

Our Felucca captain gave us a good send off. Though Anton copped it again. The captain was imploring him to stay with him. Even blew him a kiss or three as we were on the bus leaving. Needless to say we thought it was hilarious. Anton was less amused.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Finding History

So I've just moved house. Shifting is always an interesting experience. Not so much for all the hassle and stress, but more for the stuff you find that you forgot you even had.

After having most of my possessions packed away in boxes for the best part of three years opening some of them turned up all sorts of unexpected stuff.

Case in point the travel diary I kept from a trip I did almost 13 years ago. Here are a few excerpts:

4th November 1996 (Bangkok)
Went temple touring this morning (Golden Mount and Golden Buddha) in a tuk tuk. A nerve-wracking experience in BK traffic - involved a lot of flinches and prayers. Pretty cheap though at 20B an hour but you have to put put up with the scams the drivers try to snooker you into. Usually gemstones. I bought a watch for 600B which promptly broke when I tried to put it on.

Bangkok 1 - me 0.

Somehow in 35 degree heat I've managed to catch a cold. Go figure that one out!

7th November 1996 (Bangkok-Cairo)
4am - currently flying over Saudi Arabia and can see cities and oil rigs in the gulf all lit up like candles. We made the airport safely tonight but did see a American tourist getting ripped off in Khaosan Road over a tour. The people at the travel agents looked like they were about to deck him. Their country their rules I suppose. But if the guy hadn't been so obnoxious to them maybe they might have been prepared to compromise?

Flying on Egypt Air which is interesting, Food is ok and the service is good but I think me and Lisa (my travelling companion) are the only westerners on the plane.

8.30 am - Drama in the wee hours!! Lisa was majorly culture shockede on our arrival (to be fair I was too but perhaps not quite as openly as her). A tout tried to rip us off and our taxi driver subsequently did as well. The 20 pound fare from the airport was probably about right but then the driver added on a heap of extra charges which I'm sure were dodgy.

7.45 pm- What a day!! It began with Lisa still being apprehensive about being ripped off by unscrupulous Egyptians. This wasn't helped when we were accosted at the hotel's reception by a pair of gentlemen offering us a deal to go and see the pyramids. Lisa was very worried and I was none too confident myselof either!

The deal was 25 pounds ($NZ11) for a ride to Giza, Saqqara and then back to the hotel refreshments included. Too good to be trues we thought. However this guy (turns out he is a dentist .... "just call me Doc'")was very insistent. He even pulled out a folder full of glowing references from other backpackers as well as a TYNT article in which he featured.

At this point I began to be convinced ... barely. Lisa was very dubious and left the decision up to me (if something goes wrong I get the blame?).

Took the chance and it paid off!

First he took us to a cafe for coffee and a nargileh (water pipe). Spent a very happy half hour there. Then it was off to a papyrus institute. More free drinks. I caved and bought a scroll for may father. Fisher, an errant Aussie whom we'd collected on the trip bought two.

Next it was off to the pyramids where we were plonked on the back of some very scrawny horses and rode round the area for about three hours. Poor creatures - they are so badly looked after that they literally drop dead from exhaustion (there was evidence to be seen!). I refused to trot or gallop my steed. I felt bad enough riding it to be honest.

We went inside Chrephen Pyramid. If you suffer from claustrophobia I'd suggest giving it a miss. I climbed the Great Pyramid (against all the rules - more on this later) and thenj it was off to the Stepped Pyramid at Saqqara. Spent the late afternoon and dusk walking around the ruins.

The Doc' bought us dinner then helped us book a felucca crusie on the Nile. The total cost of the day (including the cruise that we're about to go on and its associated travel and accomodation) was less than $NZ100. Not bad for a first day in a new country.

That's the saccharine stuff. I'll pull out some of the dodgier episodes and post them later.

Saturday, May 02, 2009


'Tis the end of days ....


BTW what I had last week (see below) was in no way related to the current goings on.

Although I may have said that I had Swine Flu before it became fashionable.