Monday, July 23, 2007

Chronicle of a death foretold

The demise of Howard has been predicted more times than rain on the West Coast. Still, he hangs in there as desperately as does George Gregan. But this must surely be his end? Poll after poll show the Liberal's losing ground despite all manner of dodgy politics including the entirely predictable union smears. Now facing renewed leadership tensions triggered by the release of a new biography, Howard's days are numbered with some even suggesting he might not be leader at the election.

Australian politics is a mess. The detention of Mohamed Haneef appears a gross breach of basic human rights and each day's news reveals deeper and deeper flaws in the case against him - the latest that his diary was tampered with by the Police. And on the eve of APEC, Sydneysiders are being urged to pack up essentials into a "go-bag" in the case of an emergency - this isn't stupid, but the timing suggests a degree of hysteria. Interestingly, BBC World service interviewed random Sydneysiders in a local shopping mall, asking them what they'd pack? Not surprisingly a number suggested beer. Aren't the colonials cute?

And now today's news that NSW Police Commissioner, Ken Moroney, wants the power to take DNA samples from anyone arrested, regardless of their offence, for storage in a DNA database. This is, of course, obscene. The presumption of innocence cannot be said to be meaningful if, on being arrested and regardless of whether you are tried or convicted of a crime, your DNA is stored for cross referencing against future crimes. Moroney appears to be putting his hand up for even earlier retirement.

Thankfully sanity prevailed on the weekend with both the All Blacks and Silver Ferns beating their trans-Tasman rivals. Sadly, even if you have pay-TV, you won't see the final game in the Netball series as, yet again, ABC have decided against showing the decider live...

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Crowdies interview

Andrew Denton's Enough Rope is easily one of best interview shows I've seen. He manages to get interviews with the best and brightest e.g. Clinton, Geldoff, Bono, Al Gore, Salam Pax, and even Parky himself (a full list is here) as well also hosting compelling interviews with everyday people including cabbies, driving instructors, removalists.

His interview last night with Neil Finn and Nick Seymour was typical; they were relaxed and open to his inquiries and he was informed and able to explore issues in an interesting and, occasionally new, way. Highlights are available online here.

The show that stands out for me is his interview with Richard E Grant. It's particularly good not just because Richard E Grant is clearly very bright and has had a fascinating life, but also because he clearly liked Denton and, wary of Denton's reputation for having done very good research, had done his own and was able to turn the tables on Denton and pick up on the interesting parallels in their lives. This interview is also online here.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Phone a friend

For decades, NZers have known that South African referees are biased, shonky and corrupt. Touring sides have endless stories about dodgy refs awarding dubious penalties for random (and sometimes phantom) infractions... right?

So how can this site be explained?

Surely a Tui ad?

The loss over here has probably damaged their psyche already, particularly in a World Cup year," Larkham said today after marking his 100th Test with two try assists against South Africa. "They've probably got doubts in a World Cup year anyway with the way the last three World Cups have gone.

The Wallabies beat a second-string 'bok side and suddenly they're on top - a classically Australian attitude. It'll be interesting to see how they're feeling after the Eden Park test. Larkham is, howver, playing Australia's main off-field card; the All Blacks are chokers who'll fumble at the final hurdle - in the likely trans-Tasman quarter final. I doubt it, but by losing at the MCG, NZ are now coping the inevitable. Still, it's the game on 20 October that matters most...

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Friday, July 06, 2007

Flight of the Conchords

Apparently the Flight of the Conchords are well cool. Don't take it from me or HBO even, take it from browncardigan.

They're a bit like Crowded House really, great but even greater now that someone else thinks so too! I remember when they were regulars around Wellington and generally thought of as pretty cool and pretty funny but nowhere near as cool or funny as we all think they are now... now, since the BBC series and the HBO gig...

Will Tripod feel the same? Somewhat coincidentally, they're touring NZ.


Oh how sweet... they want to reduce your stress levels whilst increasing your energy levels and improving performance whereas I just want you to buy another round...

WTF file extensions...

Cheezy's apparently a .* (no idea frankly) and I'm...

You are .dll You are dynamic.  You are constantly in danger of bringing down the house, because you don't play well with others.
Which File Extension are You?

My Dad once said...

...always, always, always give to the Salvos. Odd thing for him to say really since he was a committed agnostic. But, he was/is a humanist and recognised the unrivaled good work they do. He's a "give alms to all those that ask..." kinda bloke.

But what's a good cause? If you're charitably-minded, how do you ensure you're not salving only your guilt? Planned giving? Giving in to the chuggers who interrupt your lunch with their Bondi-burned brit-patois? Dishing out your credit card details to the 7 o'clock call centre? Not sure frankly. Still, I figure getup is a good cause and particularly the latest campaign to fund a primetime ad allowing Louise Barry, an Australian survivor of the 2005 London bombing, to ask John Howard (again) why Australia is in Iraq...
"Mr Howard, do you think that these things keep happening, at least in part, because of our involvement in the war in Iraq? The situation clearly isn't getting any better. And I don't want what happenedd to me to happen to any more Australians on anyone else for that matter. Prime Minister, please, it's your responsibility to get us out. That would make me feel a whole lots safer."

Young pretenders...

This is not a comment on the Wallabies, John Key or Kevin Rudd; it's about Christine Aguilera and the rest of the woohoohoos who lay claim to R&B or jazz bona fides.

Unlike Amy Winehouse, what is offensive about the woohoohoos is their inability to see the lyrics as the focus of any given song but instead see them as jumping off points for vocal gymnastics. Aguilera's treatment of Lennon's 'Mother' (on the latest Make Some Noise compilation) is awful compared with the brilliant Amy Winehouse's, uniquely updated, version of Me and Mr Jones.

Aguilera seems to think of lyrics as awkward corners; annoying interruptions to be carefully navigated before the real deal; the straights, where the throttle is let-out, diaphragm expanded and full noise, full volume, full whohoohoohoohoohoo...

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

I'll pay that...

The MCG is a spectacular venue; it is, in fact, the best I've attended in terms of atmosphere. On the weekend however it was not a good place to be as the All Blacks didn't close-out a game they should have and Wallaby supporters are a pretty vocal bunch (particularly when they've won against all odds).

What went wrong? Nothing irredeemable frankly. Yes McAlister missed a tackle or two and so to did McCaw and Jack but our scrum dominated, their lineout was not so flash and, whereas that game is possibly a high-point for the Wallabies, it's most certainly is not for us.

I like the fact that Henry's not panicking and that perhaps it was 'the loss we needed to have'. Either way, the All Blacks should perform well in the next two games. It'd be great to see a settled 15*/22** with maybe only some experimentation around the centre pairing (a game each for Toeava and Smith) and the other lock.

* Carter's not up to his best and that's good. Carter's the best five eighth in the world and needs to peak in the final few games in October, not now.

** Buggered if I know who the best reserves are. Is Mealamu the reserve or is Oliver (depends on the opposition I suspect), is Flavell best off the bench as lock/blindside cover or is Thorne? What about Nonu - better than McAlister at 13, but not 12; better as a back up three-quarter but what about McDonald, Howlett, Sivivatu...