Monday, December 15, 2008

I'll observe with a pitiful eye / And humbly ask for forgiveness

It’s not often I’m ashamed of my homeland but it does happen. And never more so than this morning when I opened the RSS feed of The Jakarta Post.

It’s rare to find any mention of NZ in this part of the world. Unlike Australia or the other nations of Asia, it doesn’t really figure in the Indonesian, or to be honest, South East Asian, consciousness. The rugby never gets a mention, and I doubt if most Indonesians could name a New Zealander is they had to (with perhaps the possible exception of Helen Clark who did have a fairly positive image the small number that knew of her).

So when the words “New Zealand” turn up, they rather jump out of the page, thus I clicked on the link.

This is what popped up:

Indonesia has accused New Zealand of giving “too few” while requesting “too many” special facilities that may harm certain Indonesian industries and cause massive job losses, during an ongoing free trade negotiation that could end in a deadlock.

The negotiation is part of an auxiliary deal under the planned free trade agreement (FTA) between 10-member ASEAN and Australia and New Zealand, agreed upon on Aug. 28, and which will be officially signed by the end of the year.

Sondang Anggraini, the Trade Ministry’s director for ASEAN, East Asia, Australia and the Pacific, and North and South America, argued New Zealand’s request was too much to tolerate and only offered “peanut” facilities in exchange.

She said New Zealand had asked Indonesia to entirely eliminate import duties imposed on beef and dairy products, covered by 12 tariff lines by 2020, while in exchange offering only 10 doctoral scholarships.

Another offer is financial assistance for three years to improve the skills of Indonesians working in the dairy and beef industries, including veterinarians, Sondang said.

“But we dismiss their offers because scholarships are not among our priorities, and the amount of the financial assistance is so small that I’m ashamed to name the figure,” she told The Jakarta Post.

So, assuming the substance of the story is as reported, and I can find no evidence anywhere that it’s not, either in the form of a denial from NZ or an alternative version, the essence is that NZ offered the 4th largest nation in the world a few scholarships and a bit of assistance in return for wiping 100% of their import duties on a very substantial trade.

What, did they offer a few blankets, muskets and beads as well? Because that’s the level this seems to come from.

All I can think is that this is a case of an incoming government either not doing it’s homework or an arrogance compounded by an ignorance that has led to some sort of feeling of civilized superiority on the part of a 'developed' nation.

I’m a New Zealander and will always be proudly one but a few home truths should do no harm. Firstly, Indonesia is a G20 nation, with the 20th largest economy in the world and rising, NZ is around fifty on that list. It may have it’s governmental issues (which is the one major thing, on so many levels, holding it back), but as a nation and a culture it dwarfs so much of the world in so many ways. It has a history going back thousands of years (and archeology to prove it) and that history includes both written and oral philosophies that we should, in New Zealand, look at with some awe. It has a vast, very sophisticated academia which goes back far beyond the history of my small, young nation and has a core of active thinkers, writers and scientists who exist in a world dominated by Bahasa Indonesia, that we, in NZ, can’t begin to penetrate. It has huge mega cities that are more sophisticated in design, cuisine, culture, fashion, architecture and technology than anything found in NZ. It’s capital has a population some 5 times that of NZ as a whole, with 80 (80!) malls, most of which make Auckland’s Sylvia Park look like the Farmers’ Market in some backwater country town.

Outside Jakarta there are massive hi-tech industries that match any in the world and the nation is making noises now about a space industry.

And we offer them ten scholarships and a few other bits and bobs.

I don’t know if this dates from the previous government or if it’s a product of the new grey shoed idealogues from a past age now ruling the roost in Wellington, but either way it’s appalling and as a New Zealander I’m shamed.

Just a question, considering the US$971m trade between Indonesia and NZ in the first 8 months of this year..when will John Key visit? Kevin Rudd has been here 3 times this year.


Saturday, December 13, 2008

I'm up on the eleventh floor / And I'm watching the cruisers below

tijuana-front-500x500.jpg (the above has nothing to with anything....I just wanted to use it somewhere)

I guess you know when it’s the end of another year. I’ve had a few now and they roll around rather more quickly than they used to. It may sneak up on you (and it always does for me…the silly red hats always come as a WTF moment) but the major pointer for me is the lists. We all love lists and of course I love lists (this blog has had a few over the years) and the end of any year provides a flood of these. Some are utterly vacuous (probably the best sort), some take themselves far too seriously, some provoke a ‘says who?’ response, some are just ego rants (maybe that’s me), and some, most notably the who-died variety, provide me with a ‘shit I didn’t know that’ moment or two. Time Mag has a best inventions list which includes such useful inventions as the Hadron Collider, which some consider may bring the end of the world as we know it, as we are all sucked into a man-made black hole…handy…happily it broke.

Then there is The Times (why do Americans insist on calling the one of the world’s oldest newspapers ‘The London Times’?) with their Worst Movies of 2008..all 100 of them. I have to admit I’ve seen two of these… but one, Get Smart, I saw in a shocking Denpasar fleapit (@80c each mind) and I’m happy I did, if only for the experience of trying to watch a movie with a giant, bigger and brighter than the screen, neon No Smoking sign (completely ignored of course) directly in one's line of sight (you needed to look up a bit for the actual screen, which left me with a very strange headache).

I could scour the web for odd lists and no doubt will when I have a moment spare from the intense worrying over Indonesia’s imploding economy, moral confusion and bizarre driving habits, but in the interim, I’ll note that The Times also has a Best Albums of 2008 list up already, also 100 (I guess the paper wants to make sure it covers all bases…satisfied readers return and there is nothing more satisfying that knowing your taste is bang on cos’ you read it in The Times). So, yes it’s quite extensive and I own one or two albums on it, which I may get to in a moment.

The funny thing about these sorts of album lists is firstly, they are so bloody definitive, or at least they think they are. But really, who in their reasonable mind could name one album #1, or another #2, even taking into account journalistic polling. It is so obviously very, very silly. A bunch of albums or records tagged as very good is ok (and If I don’t ramble too much, I may add mine later in this post), but listing in order is just bogus. The second thing about these lists is that some are so predicable…the really dull ones like Q, or Mojo, or the American rawk mags, and this year is no different (is The Kings of bloody Leon really a record for the ages?). But the other thing worth noting, and you can blame the internet for this in a number ways, is that there are now so many completely diverse lists. When I was a lad you got the same 20 records in every bloody list, be it NME or The Auckland Star or Rolling Stone (ok, the Americans usually missed the interesting 20% the rest of the world picked up on, but that aside there was uniformity). It was all so narrow, which made it all very dull.


Now of course, there are literally hundreds, maybe thousands of records which make the lists and you get a list like Fact Magazine (a pretty good list which I’m thinking I’m mostly concurring with) which has virtually no crossover with the Hotpress list, or the various lists at Pop Matters.

Fact head their list with Gang Gang Dance and I’m not really one to argue with that. It’s a wonderful indie pop / electronic mash and for me, the post punk (how many decades can we keep on using that phrase?) bits and pieces have proved to be amongst the things I’ve played most. Aside from the aforesaid GGD, I liked Glass Candy, with their engagingly cute take on Kraftwerk’s Computer Love and toytown electronica which is less Blondie and more Lori & The Chameleons; the, just the right side of twee, pure and concise pop-lite of Cut Copy; The LEDs, whose second album was a slightly edgier version of their first but just as addictive (although sadly they suffered from the hip last week syndrome that plagues popular music) and, had only three tracks over three minutes….bang, bang, bang perfection; and , but very much not least, the wigged out Notwave collection from Rong / DFA which included, amongst it’s moments, Non Stops’ blistering guitar acid-funk. Hydration Explosion.

I found many of the much-lauded albums of the year a little dull. I tried with the much rated Bon Iver but found myself drifting off with thoughts of feral backswoodsmen scribbling down a wannabe Neil Young song between huntin’ n cussing. It wasn’t me. And at first, neither was Fleet Foxes…again, too feral, although it grew and I went through a brief phase when I was able to ignore the yee-ha-ness of much of it and enjoy the, often, gorgeous songs, but that too passed and now I’m fairly neutral. A huge critics fave however….there is something odd about these British urban scribes latching onto all this faux cowboy folk.

And I don't trust young musicians with beards. Save it for your moody later years please.

benga.jpgNightclubs are far healthier than pseudo ranches turned into recording studios (and all this Americana is really mostly recorded in smelly urban drug and booze infested studios as rock always has been). I’m as much of an electronic kid as I am an Indie noise fan and there were literally dozens of singles, mostly English or European that I banged about on the iPod to, far too many to list here and changing daily (as I type the new Pinch is the track of the moment, but that will change within a few hours I guess…yesterday it was Henrik Schwarz’ mix of Ane Brun). But if I had to pick one this year, Ricardo Villalobos’ Minimoonstar, in all its forms, would get the nod.

There were only three albums you could really tag as ‘house’ that got much play around the pool but each got a lot. Really early in the year Prosumer & Murat Tepeli's Serenity struck a warm Chicago styled chord and has continued to do so all year, even if some of the tracks are three or more years old. Toby Tobias’ jaw droppingly lovely album on Rekids got a fair amount of mid year play..I’m a sucker for dubby disco infused house, but only if it’s inventive rather than looping sad old ideas into some sort of big room kiddie anthem.This was.

The other one that got stuck for so long in the car that Brigid pleaded with me to take it out, was the Luciano Fabric mix, which I’m told was full of overplayed tracks, but being as they’re not overplayed in downtown Bali, it was fine with me.

What else? Well I loved, and still do, the Carl Craig & Moritz Von Oswald fiddle-with-Ravel-&-Mussorsky on Deutsch Grammophon. I’m very wary of these sorts of things. Most of the Verve reworkings of Jazz standards / classics are, with the odd exception, a waste of space.

But this worked, partially, says Carl, because these originals are fundamentally coming from the same place as techno…looping rhythms and layering melodies over the top. Utilizing primarily analogue equipment, Recomposed is a thing of great beauty and quite mesmerizing, but I suspect is a boy record.


Also in January came the compilation of my year, the thing known variously as Sessions and Clear and Present, but in any form, was a pretty good oversight of the work of Carl Craig (and we could argue about the gaps forever....Angola?), and, since we’re talking forms, in the digital, for a bargain price you got not only the mixed tracks as found on the CD, but the full 12” length, often quite hard to find, originals. And an extensive digital book. Make it desirable and people will buy it, and they did in this case in huge numbers I believe. I think I have just about every 12” here but, hell, $15 bucks is worth paying for a nice clear digital copy of the 15 minute mix of Throw alone.

On Carl Craig’s label, Kenny Larkin’s Keys, Strings, Tambourines was thoroughly classic warm densely melodic Detroit techno from one of the genre’s legendary figures. I liked a lot.

Jose James’ The Dreamer, a moment of classic Johnny Hartmann inspired vocal jazz, made me shiver, and there were killer mixes of the key tracks on single just to add to the allure.

I liked lots of what they call dubstep and grime, and it's fusion with minimal techno, mostly just singles or tracks but the Benga album was a killer in a wide ranging genre that provides a fairly strong argument against the oft said notion that music is dying. Please….fuck off or listen.

What else? Well the old boys, Paul Weller and, most especially, Elvis Costello, both released their best albums for yonks and it’s encouraging, and nostalgically heartwarming, to see one’s (very late) teen heroes still holding their heads up 30 years on. larkin.jpg

Out of left field, the Serge Gainsbourg (I guess it was a bootleg) collection, Les Annees Psychedelics was utterly fantastic and I’ll keep on playing it forever; and even more from the left, an album from somebody called Plush, who I’d never heard before, released originally in Japan in 2002, crept through and became one of my most listened to records of the year. I’m old enough to realize that I’m gonna be a sucker for any album that sounds like it’s chocker full of soundalikes of those gorgeous post-Lennon-ist tunes that Todd Rungdren used to sprinkle through his early albums. With a little bit Hunky Dory era Bowie tossed in for effect…

Oh, and one more…The Clash Live at Shea I’ve ranted on about it of recent so I don’t think I need to go there again.

Looks like I've done a list again.....

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

There's a lot of things we can't do / But I guess we were born together


The Jakarta Post today reported that Indonesia’s president, without any fanfare, or for that matter, without really telling anyone at all, signed into law the new Indonesian Anti-porn law. He did this almost two weeks ago.

That he did so is hardly surprising. He’s a fairly ineffectual sort of bloke, with roots back the very dark side of Indonesia, and he’s rarely one to make a stand on anything.

To be honest, I’d imagine you’d be fairly hard pressed to find anyone in Indonesia who actually knows what he stands for. In fact, he’s so overwhelmingly faceless and bland there are those here who look a little longingly at the chaos in Thailand.

But sign it he did, against the advice of his, uhh, advisors, who told them to side step this very controversial bit of law, and the fairly obvious conclusion is that he did so, not because he agreed with it but because he was scared he might offend the Islamic purists if he did not. It was a vote catcher.

The law itself is an odd one in an increasingly odd country. It’s stuck somewhere in 16th Century Puritan England or New England and is very fundamentalist Christian in it’s intent and the way it can be applied. Witch burning anyone? The law allows for an undefined level of public enforcement which is not that far removed from such things. And it plays to the very large, often uneducated (this is a nation that spends less than 1.5% of it’s GDP on education…3rd to lowest in the world) mass out there increasingly alienated from a very fast growing urban middle class. Indonesia, if you step back, has a middle class, with all the trappings that means, larger than the population of either Australia or Canada and the overwhelming mass…the other two hundred million odd, don’t have much in common with these folks, and resent their liberal, questioning ways. And it’s an easy step to blame your many woes on what you see as their slipping morals.

The gap in this country between that middle class and the rest, usually quite devout, who live in a world not that far removed from the way they've lived for generations, albeit now with soap operas and motor bikes, is one of the biggest issues Indonesia faces. It's a gap that the fairly clever, and, yes, power hungry in a far more earthly way than their words would suggest, Islamic parties like the PKS happily exploit.

And the gap includes the, swept under the carpet in the name of (fracturing) pluralism, growing schism between the Islamic majority and the other religions, including those, mostly educated and urban, who may have Muslim on their ID card but are not practicing..the so called KTP Muslim. Calls for autonomy or full Independence are heard in Bali almost daily now, massively aggravated by clauses in this Porn Bill which are seen as an attempt by hardline Islamic politicians to slip a little Sharia Law into the nation as a whole as a vote catcher with those masses.

The big question is whether this crazy and poorly thought out bit of legistation will, firstly, make it through the myriad of legal challenges already underway, and secondly, in this land where the rule of law plays second fiddle to the law of graft, whether it will find itself enforced at all.

Sometimes you wonder, once you leave Jakarta, if there is any law in Indonesia. Sure there are multitudes of regulations but it’s impossible often to find out exactly what they are, and these are interpreted at the most financially advantageous way for the implementer at the time. The Dutch left this place in an almighty mess after 300 years of misadministration but it’s hard to argue that successive, so called, governments have made it all increasingly, and dysfunctionally worse, and continue to do so on a daily basis. The concept of government for the people remains alien.

Over at Metro Mad Indonesia, there is an interesting, and amusing, look at the real time effects of the law (bearing strongly in mind that it wasn’t regarded as ratified at the time), on the ground in Jakarta at least (bearing in mind that the Big Durian is really a standalone country in every practical way, or at least one that regards itself as both above and in control of we lesser inhabitants of Planet Indo). The last two paragraphs rather nail it and are worth repeating:

So has nothing really changed? Is the new law a lame duck? Its always been a mystery to me why politicians here thought that they could make traction with this bill ahead of next year’s election. Despite what Indonesia’s electorate may profess in public, the country’s post New Order elections have shown that in the privacy of the polling booth, they have little appetite for the Islamic parties. Let’s just hope that those vigilante groups don’t materialize.

The real sex crimes in this country involve the virtual kidnapping, trafficking and enforced sexual slavery of women, allegedly with tacit support from rogue elements in the police and military. There’s also the cleric in East Java who’s just married a 12 year old girl. Let’s try and keep our eyes on the ball shall we?

Monday, December 08, 2008

Pushing the barrier / planting seeds

Maybe it's a drippy thing to say but it being 28 years today, I will anyway. You can't help but feel that Lennon would've been rather happy with the political endgame of the last part of 2008 in his adopted nation. It was a very Lennon-esque few months.


Chris Bourke's been saying the same thing with these timely YouTube catches

Sunday, December 07, 2008

And on the cool check in / centre stage on the mike

There's an election in Indonesia. It's big news and the posters, some quite massive, are everywhere. They have a certain, how shall we say, individual flavour you don't find elsewhere:


Nice jacket and tie:


Why has this guy got red cross-eyes?:


Vote for me or my gangster brother will not be pleased:


Sometimes the guys doing the postering would do well to step back and check their work, either that or they're still laughing about it down at the warung:


Then you have the posters in Denpasar, put up by the guy who was nominated without being asked (by the PDI, who, compared to Golkar, the party of Suharto..its a bit like the party of Pol Pot running in Cambodia..are the good guys) who's running a campaign that says 'don't vote for me or any of these crooks' (I'd vote for him just because of that).

I started a century / thinking this will never change


Saturday, December 06, 2008

A snip at 1.7 billion

A location to suit:


This company perhaps:


The boss waits:


Wednesday, December 03, 2008

I came from the utter fields / carving shame on the tender shields


"In the aftermath of 9/11 the concern was about a tyrant accused of enormous human rights abuses," but who also possessed weapons of mass destruction, said Rove. "Absent that, I suspect that the administration's course of action would have been to work to find more creative ways to constrain him like in the 90s."
[From Rove: We Wouldn't Have Invaded Iraq If We Knew The Truth About WMDs]

The worm squirms and reinvents..and looks for a rock to hide under.....these pricks don't even have the balls to face up to their past. Manipulate the intelligence? Who us?

One hopes reckoning cometh.


Joan Walsh, over at Salon comments on a revisionist, arse saving, dishonesty that goes up one more notch than Rove:

Bush made a second stunning admission in his interview with Gibson. "The biggest regret of all the presidency has to have been the intelligence failure in Iraq," he said. "A lot of people put their reputations on the line and said the weapons of mass destruction is a reason to remove Saddam Hussein. It wasn't just people in my administration; a lot of members in Congress, prior to my arrival in Washington, D.C., during the debate on Iraq, a lot of leaders of nations around the world were all looking at the same intelligence. And, you know, that's not a do-over, but I wish the intelligence had been different, I guess."

What a cowardly, buck-passing answer. It was his administration that was responsible for the faulty intelligence; his administration that notoriously "stove-piped" the available evidence to make the case for war, ignoring all facts that contradicted the neocons' theories, crushing any dissent in the Pentagon and intelligence establishment. His administration then sold that corrupt evidence to Congress and browbeat members into authorizing the use of military force on the eve of the 2002 midterm election, by depicting them as traitors and sissies if they raised questions. Now Bush is trying to say he was misled by the "failure" of his own intelligence leaders and Cabinet advisors? What a loser.

It's hard to add much to that, except that this President seems determined to finish his presidency on about the same moral plateau he conducted it on over the past eight years. History will not be kind, and I hope, more immediately, that Congress will be even less kind...but I doubt it.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Look what they've done to my song, Ma

he, he, he....

Hat tip to the encyclopedic memory of Jon Cooper

Her final decision is perfection and precision / She's grade A class - number one in her division

Brigid bought me a brand new 17” MacBook Pro, top of the line job. I do love her. After a week or three of living with it I’m thinking (aloud):


1. First off and most importantly to some, it’s very pretty. Well, of course Mac acolytes will tell you it’s much more than that, that it’s a design classic and then bore you for an hour worshiping at the Church of Jonathan Ives. And of course it is all that but to restate the obvious over and over again...well it’s as dull as the design of your average Acer. Shut up.3d_Apple_Logo_102.jpg

2. It’s so magnificently easy to multi-task and I’m told that OSX 10.5 is a huge leap forwards here. I love the idea and application of Spaces and use the mouse in top right corner to take me to desktop repeatedly. And the wee bar along the top is very very smart, and user friendly.

3. The dock is so much friendlier than the Windows task bar, although I find the way it hides multiple instances of an app, say Word, on the same icon, a royal pain in the butt when one is flicking, as I often do between documents.

4. Installation. Universal is just so damn easy. I hate the Windows installation process which has only got worse with all the permissions and registry fiddling that’s required to install even the simplest program on Windows

5. Start up…it’s fast. Shit…50 seconds and you’re typing or doing silly things with the effects menus in the much easier to navigate, clearly optimized for Mac, Adobe CS programs. Which brings me to:

6. Floating windows….why does an application have to use all the screen real estate including any dead space...answer: it doesn’t. Photoshop and Dreamweaver are a dream on a Mac. This simple thing has made my life so much easier and productive. I put things where they need to go, not where Microsoft tells me it ought to go.

7. Battery far, fingers crossed.

8. USB recognition. In a PC it takes an age and gets confused. I’m sick of crawling around the registry trying to fix a printer that Vista used to recognize but now won’t. Or a camera, or a scanner, or a card reader….

9. The DVD more groans and waiting, followed by the not so slight chance that one day Windows will fuck up the drivers so that it tells me it no longer has a drive.

10. Neworks and wi-fi. Turn on..they work.

The Cons:

1. The Office programs are a shadow of their Windows counterparts, with half the functionality, and the Mac equivalent is best not mentioned. Still, you can blame Microsoft for at least a part of that.

2. I miss two buttons on the keyboard….the backspace, which in conjunction with the pc delete button is both easier, and more sensibly user friendly than the Mac setup which is very early eighties..and the mighty Windows key which can be used to do a thousand things from navigation to searches to, well, just about anything, including a lot of things that you need a third party add on to do with the Mac modifier keys.

3. Which brings me to navigation. Maybe it’s because I’m a newbie, but the PC and the Windows environment kills the Mac when it comes to getting around. Windows Explorer has a depth of ease and functionality that Finder doesn’t come close to and many of the very simple things I took for granted as long ago as Windows 95 still require third party add ons, like keystrokes to launch programs or documents, or being able to highlight a file and hit delete to, ahh, delete it.

4. Where is the card reader? You pay several thousand dollars for a wonderful piece of hardware and they leave off the $20 cardreader as an economy move?

5. Can someone point me in the direction of a blog editor…a decent WYSIWYG editor that comes within a light year of Windows Livewriter. I’ve tried a bunch of the more highly recommended Mac apps and they all suck badly.

6. Nothing to with Apple but the Windows apps that either don’t exist for Mac or have punitive Mac upgrade paths (MYOB I’m looking at you…$199 for a Windows upgrade, $500 for a Mac upgrade). Or for that matter web sites that refuse to work under anything but IE Explorer in Windows. I have to run BootCamp just for these.

7. And last, and far and away the most irritating: The Mac acolytes that haunt the forums and magazines. I’ve taken to buying Mac mags and wandering around a forum of two and the verbiage is nausea inducing. Take for example something in last months MacWorld:

If you use a Mac you are automatically hip.

Really, so If I use my Mac to plan a terror attack or draw puerile pictures of naked girls to giggle at in class, I’m still hip?

Or this month in MacLife:

Apple is more than just a company that makes computers, gadgets and software- it’s a game changing free-radical that manifests in multiple dimensions.

Piss off you dick…it’s a publicly listed company which exists to take your money like every other one on the board. It just does that very well.

So well in fact that despite my whinges and niggles I love my new MacBook Pro 17” with a gag speed processor and a bucket of ram, very, very much. As I do my generous wife.

We Have No Sheep On Our Farms

One of the reasons I'm often less than nostalgic for the nest are things like this (via Steve Parkes):

The lead story in Campbell Live tonight was about the annoying, unpleasant, but essentially obvious and uninteresting fact that sometimes dodgy stuff gets in our food

Gosh, flies in the food...dear, oh, dear. That this would even come close to making a current affairs show is pretty funny, in a parochial way. Or at least I would've been if it wasn't for the other events in the world that particular day.

This is what the other lot managed to pull together.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Stand by Your Man

Joe Strummer, somewhere in the USA, talking to Michael Hutchence: Wow it must be strange to be a sex symbol

MH: Well, you’re Joe Strummer..

JS: No I was never a sex symbol. I was just a spokesman for a generation.

I’ve just finishing Chris Salewicz’s Joe Strummer biography, Redemption Song, which I found to be an engrossing and mighty read, trawling with some detail through the life, both high and low, of a man who quite clearly was one of the most important musicians, from any genre, of the past half century. He had a huge impact on me, and indeed, the deaths of only three musicians have bought a tear, the other two being Beatles.

The day Joe died I had a radio show to do and played Bankrobber on the show. It being a dance station I had a couple of texts wondering why I was noting the death of a rocker. I tried, in the most positive way I could, to explain that the dance revolution of the late 1980s was a direct outgrowth and result of the wee revolution led by Joe a decade earlier. It was Joe Strummer, the rest of The Clash, and the likes of John Lydon who made the rule that there were exactly no more rules, which snowballed into the indie revolution, garage electronica, the post punk scene and the club explosion.

You’re a DJ?...thank Joe Strummer.

After I finished the book I watched, with Brigid, the Julian Temple doco, The Future Is Unwritten. It was beautifully crafted and quite moving (although it tried a little too hard, as Temple does and I think I got quite a bit more of the man from the book) but we both agreed as the movie ended that there was much about Strummer that we would both have rather have not been reminded of. And that, despite the critical success of his post Clash band, The Mescaleros, you couldn’t help but feel that the singularly worst decision he took in his life was to fire Mick Jones in 1983. After that he seemed to spend the rest of his life trying, sometimes without direction, sometimes with, to grasp past and lost glory. It felt a bit empty, and the one time I saw him live in this phase, I felt the same. You couldn’t help but think that both of them were slightly workman without the other.

Why am I writing this now? Well aside from the book, which, as I say, I recommend above the DVD of the doco as having a little more flesh and substance, and having a little less of the mouth open idolatry, I’ve been thrashing the recent live Clash album, recorded at Shea Stadium, some 11 months before Jones got the boot.

The Shea concert, supporting The Who, is the stuff of legend. It was the moment that The Clash looked likely to take the USA and the world by storm and become the heirs to bands like The Who and The Rolling Stones. They didn’t of course, they imploded and, for our sins, we got U2 instead.


I’ve got a couple of other live Clash bootlegs, one from mid 1977, all snarl and punk, and one, although unlisted, from I think the (in)famous Bond’s season a year before this and both of those, for want of a better word (and there must be one, I just can’t think of it) rock.

Then there is the earlier live album From Here To Eternity, which largely fails because it tries to hard to be too many things (although the Ska version of White Man recorded in Boston around the same time as this album is a killer) and is a live compilation rather than a set..

But the Shea Stadium show works because it is a band on the edge, a band under silly pressure, and it captures the freneticism of the moment before it all goes pear shaped.

Starting with a very 1977 sounding London Calling, and then stomping into Eddie Grant’s Police on My Back, it roars ahead like a Ramones live set, with only 45 minutes to get through the song before The Who. It’s a band on a short fuse in more than one way and all the better for it.

And then, four songs in, it drops into the much written about Magnificent 7 / Armagideon Time / Magnificent Dub, premiered a few dates before this show, which takes you to the core of where this band had got to, five years after White Riot.

‘Now play it like a twelve inch’, says Strummer, and admits to the band stealing the rhythm one night from the Black New York grooves that Jones was so enamoured of, as it drops from the funk groove into a mighty Armagideon Time skank, much tougher and looser than the single version, before jumping back into the 12” dub mix of The Magnificent 7. It’s along way from even the pointer of Police & Thieves on the first album, and it’s one of these reasons why the band’s implosion was a such a sin, at least from a fan’s point of view.

After that little journey the album hiccups a little with a slightly plodding Rock The Casbah (which, lets face it, was one of their lesser tunes anyway), and set filling Train In Vain but then tears in into a scorching quartet of tunes, the magnificent Career Opportunities (also on the earlier live album, and also on a the CD as a video…only Joe Strummer could possibly have looked cool in a coonskin cap, although that may be subjective), a couple from from London Calling, and then English Civil War, as strident as it needs to be when one considers both the venue and the war in the band, which had already seen Topper Headon sacked.

But what pulls this album together, and makes it one of those very rare beasts, a live album that works without the visuals, is the sheer force of Strummer the very British showman. With the genius of Mick Jones’ melodies, and his own very raw almost stripped Staxish vocals, and lyrics, it’s Strummer the great rock poet of the post Lennon era who makes the record soar in a way that a thousand U2 albums could never approach. It was Strummer, the populist revolutionary punk poet who waved the flag, beat the drum and pulled it all together just for a brief few years before it disappeared forever, not just for us but for him.

Where’s the hair gel? We can’t start the revolution without hair gel!

Joe Strummer, 1982

Monday, November 24, 2008

Wanna Know the rest / buy the rights

 So a huge pat on the back to Savage (South Auckland's hip hop superstar if you didn't know) who has gone on to sell 1.1 million copies of his track Swing as a download and a ringtone in the USA.

It's a mighty feat and I know more than most know how much hard work and sweat, let alone nights on the road and knocking on radio and media doors goes into this sort of thing. It doesn't happen overnight and is also a mightily expensive exercise, so much so, that single sales of this sort are unlikely to have made much of a dent in the bill.

The NZ Herald, as I linked above, posted a story about it on Wednesday, which in itself is good as NZ should be making more fuss about this.

However, in it's normal fact free way (remember, this is the same paper who said the Debbie Harry was a Brit Pop singer a few months back) the Herald now tells us that Savage has sold 1.1 million:

outselling hits by OMC and Crowded House.

Now I don't wanna be a sourpuss but surely a quick check of the facts before posting this would've been in order. I have no idea what Don't Dream It's Over sold but I know exactly what Pauly Fuemana and Alan Jansson sold with How Bizarre.

The thing is, it's impossible, in the US at least, for Swing to have outsold How Bizarre, or undersold it for that matter as it was never released in that territory as a single. It's number one status in the US came on airplay charts as the licensing label, Mercury, made a decision to only release the track as a one song on the album of the same name. That album reached number 39 in the US and to date has sold just over 1.5 million copies in the US, thus making it a platinum album. The single was exported extensively from Canada to the US but that was the only way it was ever available.

Globally, to date, How Bizarre has sold some 2 million singles and just over 2.2 million albums.

So, once again, this is in no way meant to take anything away from Savage but just a note to correct the Herald's shonky reporting..again.

Oh, I'm sorry, but it's time to make a stand / Though we never meant to bite the lovin' hand

And over at Apple, home to the cult of all sorts of things, they seem to be having a customer service meltdown with older versions of iTunes spitting the dummy after taking money for tracks and JobsCorp saying, essentially, fuck you...

my favourite response from the good folks at iCentral comes from one Brooke:

I understand that since your computer does not meet the system requirements you

would like a refund. I am very sorry to hear you have run into this issue. I

will do my best to assist you!

Your request for a refund was carefully considered; however, according to the

iTunes Store Terms of Sale, all purchases made on the iTunes Store are final.

This policy matches Apple's refund policies and provides protection for

copyrighted materials.

You can review the iTunes Store Terms of Sale for more information:

I would recommend that you ask someone who has a computer that meets all the

system requirements if you can download your purchases. Once you have found a

computer that meets the requirements, reply and I will allow you to redownload

all of your purchases. After downloading onto that computer, you can burn all

your purchases to a disk and copy them to your computer.

I hope you continue to enjoy the iTunes Store, and if you have any other

problems with this issue, don't hesitate to reply to this email, and we'll be

more than happy to help you out! I hope that this information will assist you

with your issue. Thank you for contacting the iTunes Store Support Team. Have

a fantastic day!

Best Wishes,


They might have the best PR in the world but they are still frigging corporate back to writing about how much I love my new MacBook Pro.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

God is a concept By which we measure our pain

From the church never forgets file: John Lennon

A Vatican newspaper has forgiven the late English singer John Lennon for saying four decades ago that The Beatles were more popular than Jesus.

The paper dismissed Lennon's much-criticised remark that the Beatles were more famous than Jesus Christ as a youthful joke.

The paper described the remark as "showing off, bragging by a young English working-class musician who had grown up in the age of Elvis Presley and rock and roll and had enjoyed unexpected success".
Gosh.....I guess the past 28 years waiting outside the pearly gates are over. Next they'll be forgiving Martin Luther

Monday, November 17, 2008

There’s no speech or language where the voice is not heard

The photo that’s been doing the rounds in Indonesia this past week or two is the one below.


It is, as you may have guessed, the last moments before going sub-terrestrial, of one of the Bali Bombers. Now, I’m not a supporter of capital punishment at all, even in this case, but I can’t feel any sadness at the death of these three. Or for that matter, though, any feeling that justice has been done either. The scary thing here is because of the bumbling way the Indonesian government handled this, they managed to turn these three from convicted murderers into minor celebrities here. The larger version of this image appeared in print, in various local newspapers was a little scarier being as it showed a much larger crowd. And it caused quite a stir, not least when it was revealed that several high ranking cops attended as observers.

But for all that it demands a little perspective. This execution had had a several week build up, and a massive media frenzy (both inside and outside Indonesia) had accompanied the days before and after the shooting. The funeral of Samudra and the others was widely expected to provide a focal point for the hotheads and pull a crowd of the ardent caliphate desiring believers (or them what you will).

It, according to all reports, had a crowd of some 1000. We know they came from inside and outside the village:

Abdul Rahim, a key figure in the group, said: "Hundreds of us are waiting in Solo to come … but on the day of the execution there could be 1000 here."

In a country of 230 million.

Even allowing for the fact that most Indonesians living outside of Java would have found it hard to get there, there are still 130 million people in Java…so they managed, not even taking into account the local village population (200?, 500?) to pull one in 130,000 Javanese.

Huge. Your average wacko Church preaching the end of time in Alaska does much better than that, I’m sure.

Wandering around the top floor to Borobudur the other afternoon I offered to take a photo for two young-ish girls (20ish) who were climbing the central dome (quite contrary to the signs on the rather spectacular 9th Century monument, but in Indonesia rules are at best vague). The two, from somewhere in the country…the monument pulls in more local tourists than offshore, and it pulls in a fair few of those…but likely Java were dressed as about 10-15% of girls their age are here, with modest clothing and ħijāb. I thought nothing of this, smiled and clicked the phone’s camera button.

They then giggled at the bulé, said thank you and asked to take our photo. I don’t get a ‘can I take your photo?’ request that often, it’s much more often the other way around. So I said yes and they clicked.

I thought nothing of it as they wandered away but then it hit me, how much my attitudes had changed since I’d arrived in Indonesia. I first came here as a visitor and later a resident I was shockingly naïve. Sure I’d seen folks in various Muslim attire and even known a few across the years to talk to. And had spent the early part of my life in Singapore.

However never had I been immersed, for a very long time in such an alien culture to my own. We pride in ourselves in New Zealand and Australian at our diversity and multi-culturalism but the real truth is that we are mostly conservative folks out of the European grand tradition of what we see as liberalism, with a few bits of exotica around the edges to make ourselves feel diverse. And those bits around the edges are expected to divest themselves of where they came from, apart from a token nod here and there, over a generation or two, if they want to stay.

So to come and live in a society where I was the alien, and expected to conform was a shock.

I have to be honest, when I first delved into Java (Bali is different, there isn’t quite that cultural abyss to deal with..some but not absolute…2 million smiling tourists a year does that to an island).

But Java, yeah, especially once you leave the mega-opolis of Jakarta, is something else and we are taught in the west to be, more than that...terrified of it, and photos like the one above and the media, and relentless travel warnings all play their part.

This is, we a told, a nation that is 90% Muslim.

The reality, of course, as those girls are evidence, is quite different, dramatically so. And the Muslim mass, ħijāb or not, or the thousand variations of that religion that make up that 90% figure, are a million generous and welcoming kilometres away from that miniscule turnout at the funeral, or the travel warnings written in the comfy offices of Canberra and then transcribed without really any understanding of what they might actually mean, in further comfy offices in Wellington.


And so, this week, for perhaps the thirtieth time over the past four years, Brigid and I went back to Java. This time it was different. We’d decided to make our trek to the last beach at the end of the road, Jepara, by road trip from Yogyakarta, through the highlands of Jawa Tengah to Semarang and then north. The last part we’d done many times and much of it is a shitty endless stretch of endless road works.

The first bit, though was new to us both. So we’d contacted Ali, our driver (after the brief thought to hire a car had been dismissed) and said drive on down please.


We were staying as many times before at the Grand Hyatt in north west Jogja. It’s a big old sprawling behemoth, with a big curling swimming pool that goes under rock pools, waterfalls, bridges and down steps, and is a refreshing place to enjoy a snog with th’wife and a Bintang after a day in the grime of Javanese factories.

Last time we were there together they had a Mexican evening and I managed to stand next to a mass murderer, Suharto, a first for me.

This time, there were two events of note. Firstly there was an Audi convention. This meant that as we checked in Audi-less, our Hyatt Gold Card meant nothing. I flashed it and you could see the girl thinking ‘No TT, no upgrade’ thus we ended up on the ground floor.


The other event of note was the Cigarette Sales Convention. Anywhere else in the world post, about 1970, this would be a low-key event, so as to avoid negative comments verging on abuse. Not in Indonesia. Here the folks proudly wore their khaki uniforms with large Marlboro branding on the back and a dozen other badges on the front. And they sat in the restaurant for breakfast puffing with some pride. In fact the guy at the next table managed to eat, text on one phone, talk on the other one (important people always have two here) and smoke half a packet.

Ali arrived about 8 and we headed off.


I really had no idea what to expect. It was only 100km or so but in Indonesia, depending on the traffic and the quarries they often call roads that can take a while.

Ali said 2 hours would do it, which was ok, and happily it took a wee bit less than that. The road was little worse than large parts of the national roading system in New Zealand, albeit with the usual fairly hefty dose of homicidal maniacs. Fortunately the maniacs drive at a slower speed than the maniacs in the west, 80 km/h being a fairly high speed.

Ali had one of those in the front TV / DVD players that are so popular here..watching a sinetron, or singing karaoke, whilst swerving past or avoiding belching trucks and buses is quite the thing to do. He offered to put it on.

But since we’d not been this way before we demurred, deciding, for a variety of reasons, on the view.


The thing about Java is that it mostly consists of areas of unspeakable grime which, without warning, mutate into areas of unspeakable beauty. And so it was as we left Jogja and went uphill. But the higher we went the lovelier it seemed to become, and even the grimy bits, like the almost alpine desa of Ambarawa with it’s mix of Chinese Temples, towering Christian Churches and stately Mosques, seem quite pretty and aloof from the chaos of the bigger towns down the hill.

And it, as always in Java, hits me how clean, if you can call grimy clean, Java is compared to the trash that sadly covers Bali now. The rivers, excluding the big cities, run garbage free unlike any in Bali these days.java5

No, Java has a beauty and a serenity that runs counter to the fact that it’s the most populated space on Earth and the Javanese are, even in the mega-cities, perhaps the most gracious, welcoming people I’ve met. Not once have I felt as threatened as I do on an average Saturday night downtown in Auckland or Sydney. Not once have I felt the threat that the western media, paranoia and travel warnings tell me I should feel in this island where I am not just a minority but a bizarre oddity representing something that people can mostly only imagine from images and the mass media which offers them as twisted a view of the west as we have of places like the hills of Jawa Tengah. Where evil Muslim madrassahs are supposed to fester.

The next day, having worked our way through the endless concrete road works out of Semarang, being rushed to preempt the rainy season and the flooding that washes out the old bitumen road every year, we found ourselves back in the car, a shitty Izuzu Panther that shuddered above 60km/h and has broken back seat springs which twisted my back in a way that has meant I’m still stuffing painkillers in my mouth.

TV? No thanks Ali. So Ali put on a CD with a selection of some of the worst songs ever recorded, all cover versions mind, and off we trotted to visit Borobudur.

Borobudur was / is quite something. I think both Brigid and myself felt that we’d been remiss in not making the 15km trip there in past trips to the area, but there you go, and we’d made it now.java8

Outside it was your typical slightly rundown Indonesian tourist attraction. Lots of stalls selling the same sorts of things and dozens of folks who swooped on the tourist from the moment he or she alighted. We found our very own permanent attachment just after we got out. Brushing aside the masses wanting sell us fans/ books/photos/ things that made noises / dolls and everything else we’d never need, he introduced himself as Ali. Another one..but as one would guess Alis are never in short supply in Java. He was short, had shocking teeth, all smoke stained and broken but he grinned widely through them and offered us his miniature stone Buddhas. Do we need these…no…sorry…ma’af, pak, tak mau..

Only Rp100, 000 said he….

tidak, pak

We wandered in and Ali followed.

You have KITAS? He asked…


Ali pointed us to the locals’ entrance, where it was Rp9,000 (80c) rather than the tourist gate (US$11) and I smiled gratefully at him

Rp70,000? He said…

I was not that grateful.

He wandered in and pointed us in the direction of the big grey pile of ancient stone up the hill. A couple of wheeled trains sat by the gate with hopeful Indonesian families sitting in them. They were not, it seemed, going anywhere fast so we walked up the hill.

Borobudur was everything I’ve ever thought it might be. It was awe inspiring and we stood at the top of 1200 years (much of it spent covered up and lost) looking down at the clouds and the Indonesians, kids, army guys, families and students wandering around with obvious self pride in this monument to centuries of civilization, back to the time when Europeans were still thinking about working out stone castles and this was constructed, as were the other great monuments in the region. To the great Hindu Kingdoms that ruled this region and the Islamic armies that drove them east to Bali.

We walked down the stairs, the trains had still not left and the families still sat hopefully (Indonesians understand patience in a way I will never) and Ali was waiting.

Good, eh?



Tidak, mas.

As we walked out in search of the carpark, the swarms came at us again, but many more. The batik fans now came in all sorts of sizes and there were t-shirts. Ali brushed them away.



Anda berasal? said he.

New Zealand..Selandia Baru I replied. Anda?

Dari Indonesia, Bapak, he replied.

I smiled at that, how could you not, and looked for the car.

Tempat pakir disana, pak, he said and pointed towards our car.


No I said, and pushed a Rp10,000 note into his hand..for your help. Terima Kasih, Pak Ali..hati hati..

Ali did a happy little skip, shook my hand and ran off looking for someone else to help.


Writing this, and working online to clarify names, I realized just how little data there is available about Java. Type Java into Google and most of the hits come from the programming language...even Wikipedia has the island as second on it’s google ranking. And this island, the 13th largest in the word, with one of the world’s largest cities on it, and the centre of the 4th most populous nation in the world, has a far smaller entry (1969 words) than the programming language (6425 words).

We know nothing about it apart from some idea that we need to be scared of it.

We need to be very afraid, not necessarily of those people in the top photo but of the arrogance, blinkers and ignorance that add to that fear.

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

It's a force of habit

It won't last but the Grafton Bridge entry on Wikipedia right now is fantastic:

In January 1980, John Jenkins made history by being the first person to jump of Grafton Bridge and survive. His large ears caught an updraft, and he was blown back onto the bridge. John, a minor personality in Auckland's punk scene, had been depressed for some months, after leaving the band Proud Scum. He said his suicidal tendencies had been encouraged by the band's song "Suicide II", and by his "friend" Warwick Hitler. Apparently John will be making another attempt later this month, in a vain attempt to protest the AK79 revival show.

Young and Tender / I think you're the girl for me

One for the eighties kids..

More to be found at Chad's Facebook, assuming they own you already

And one more in passing...

I love this song. The dub on the 12" is the best track Prince never released, but likely wanted to.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

You say you're so lonely / well that's all that you deserve

A few weeks back Brigid and I sat in a restaurant on Hong Kong’s peak with a few friends. One of these, Felix, had brought his dad, Kevin, along.

His dad was an enormously successful importer / exporter out of and into Hong Kong. We talked and we laughed a fair bit and I enjoyed his company.

After a while he asked where we came from. New Zealand I answered, explaining that we were Asian based expats.
You must be enormously proud of your Prime Minister said Kevin.

I explained that proud was not really the right word…well yes it was a word I’d use, as below but perhaps supportive and grateful were more appropriate.

Supportive because I generally agreed with both her philosophical and policy. And grateful because of the enormous strides the industry I’d been involved in had been able to take over the past decade as a direct result of her active personal input in furthering the industry. Last month there were, in one week, 13 New Zealand albums in the NZ Top 40. That would have been unthinkable if we’d had a continuation of National’s arts policies of the 1990s.

Kevin seemed an unlikely fan though...he was a very conservative aging businessman, the sort of person you’d assume would support the right. So I queried his opinion.

His opinion of Ms. Clark, he said, was based on how she was perceived outside her home country. Kevin explained that New Zealand’s mighty, and much improved in recent years, reputation, at least in the Asia-Pacific region, rested in no small part upon the way she was perceived. As honest, decent, clean and principled. And, importantly, independent.

It’s hard to overstate how positively New Zealand is viewed beyond it’s shores and it, too, is hard to overstate the role Helen Clark has in that perception. It wasn’t always so. Before 2000 we were seen as pretty much a US satellite state. Clean though…

As a non resident New Zealander I feel a little, no that’s silly, more than that, quite a bit, saddened by the end of the Clark era. She’s someone who, and I think my opinion is echoed by most New Zealanders I meet offshore, that does give me some pride. Taxi drivers around Asia ask where I’m from...they either respond to my answer with “Kia Ora!” or a thumbs up “Helen Clark!”.

She has substantial international mana and I’m pretty sure John Key, who from a distance looks like a personality free zone (an opinion emphasized by his pathetic leap onto Obama both before the election and in his victory speech…does he have his own personality or simply borrow?), will be lucky to achieve same level of respect beyond the nation’s shores. And of course that respect translates back to New Zealand’s standing.

This election, in an odd way also changes, ever so slightly, my feelings for my home country. In the last few years, since I left NZ, I’m finding some parts of it harder and harder to relate to and this change unfortunately confirms that distance.

I don’t quite get the bile that’s infested parts of the political landscape of NZ, such as the rampant hate of many of the right wing blogs and those that inhabit them. Or the likes if the wacko fringe like Ian Wishart or Lindsey Perigo. Maybe I missed it before, but did we always have these sorts of nutters? Maybe we did but before the net came along they simply festered and hung out at dusty halls shouting slogans at candidates before the police rustled them off. Now they get an audience and the festering…with slogans like Helengrad and Liarbor… finds bizarre currency. Or they wail endlessly corruption without having any idea of what corruption actually means to the sort of kids in third world countries who spend years studying and passing exams but are unable to get the paperwork to prove it because their parents can’t afford to bribe the teacher and headmaster...that’s corruption, not the signing of a picture or not, or a hundred other things that’ve been thrown at Helen Clark.

This despite the fact that both her, and her unfairly maligned husband are amongst the most dedicated and profoundly decent people I’ve met, in or out of politics. The need to slur them, and god, haven’t they been slurred, says more about the sludge who make the slurs that the targets.

Today the sludge won and I really don’t know if I want any part of it.

Myself, I think history, and we need to wait a few years, for this will view the last Labour Government, but in particular it’s leader as important and of substantial note. Someone said she’s of the ages which is a bit tough..she is after all, still alive…but the idea is correct.

That said I can’t help but feel that maybe it was time for her to move on, not because of what she had or had not done, but because she was of her time and that time, in NZ at least, and not for the better, seems to be passing.

The old cliché about a country getting the government they deserve has been tossed around a fair bit in recent hours and I can’t help but concur. Maybe it’s time for the gray, mediocre drones to have their shot. That last bit may be a little unfair but having lived through several National governments, it feels that way each time.

But they surely reflect a side of New Zealand that I don’t miss or crave.

Thank you Helen.

You step inside but you dont see too many faces / Coming in out of the rain to hear the jazz go down

I guess I'd better see if I have any grey slacks left in the back of the wardrobe...last worn in 1999.

I'll need them next time in in NZ to blend, if you will..oh and one of those nice thick brown belts you get from Hallensteins..

Friday, November 07, 2008

I seek to cure whats deep inside / frightened of this thing that I've become

Is it wrong of me? Maybe...but I'm thoroughly enjoying the US rightwing implosion after this week's rout. Witness the reliably odious Michelle Malkin:

Sarah Palin worked her heart out. She energized tens of thousands to come out who would have otherwise stayed home. She touched countless families. I didn’t agree with everything she said on the campaign trail. But two fundamental conservative stands she took mattered greatly to me: She vigorously defended the Second Amendment and the sanctity of life more eloquently in practice than any of the educated conservative aristocracy.

And she did it all with a tirelessness and infectious optimism that defied the shameless, bottomless attempts by elites in both parties to bring her and her family down.

Shame on the smearers who don’t have the balls to show their faces.

Malkin's no fool..she thoroughly despises her audience, she's in it for the bucks, but knows that they lap this stuff up and there's potentially (a few million) dollars in it for her in the future if she pushes this line.

This is in response to Fox's increasingly bizarre 'fair and balanced' reporting that Palin didn't know Africa was a continent:

I'm not sure if I buy that at all. She's conniving and dumb but surely not that dumb..although on second thoughts maybe she is, there is voluminous evidence that points in that direction, much from her own mouth. But more likely this is just the other side swinging first, and as Malkin correctly says, McCain chose her, and that, regardless of how thick or dishonest or just plain nasty she is, really is the bottom line. That she accepted, of course, is another matter altogether and speaks unpleasant volumes about her. Surely you know when you are not up to the job. Maybe not.

can't you be somebody else? (no)
look at you described to a tee (huh)
you're a fool of many in society
I know some more, I shall go on
and continue in the song, fooled the fool*

This guy is a fool, but hell, he gets published. His odd fact free argument is just to stomp his feet and say it ain't true, with gems like:

The McCain camp simply wanted to use Sarah Palin. And the liberals are quick to tear at the flesh thrown to them. Fact of the matter is.. She scares the living crap out of the left because she is sharp, talented, independent and a quick study.

and then there is:

Like she really couldn't name a Newspaper. More like she didn't want to single any particular one out.

And I also think McCain's concession speech was thoroughly dishonest. After all the sludge and slime that he has not only been a part of, but actively encouraged, how can he stand in front of that seethingly ugly and inconsolably angry crowd, who think that American has elected a Marxist Child Murdering Terrorist because he and his ilk have repeatedly told them so, and preach unity.

If you have a spare moment and a thick skin, go to Redstate, right now it's better than The Onion or The Daily Show. These guys rock!

So you go Michelle....this will only get better as the crazies try and out-froth, and consume each other.

*courtesy of A Tribe called Quest

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

they still call it the white house / but that's a temporary condition too

All I really need to say is thank god I was wrong. I'm a firm believer, especially as I'm now residing in the land where voodoo, or a local variation of it, is a legitimate political philosophy, that one should not be too optimistic about these things

I'm a pessimist but I'm also hopeful.

I'm hopeful that Obama will have the foresight and wisdom to invite all the Clintons to his inauguration, but most of whom George, who will then be persuaded to perform the original version of Paint The White House Black (or Chocolate City as it's more correctly called) as the song's been thirty years in the wings waiting for this very moment.

We went to an American expat gathering in Sanur to watch the flag go down on eight years of Republican hell. It was a fairly uncontroversial gathering...a straw poll (anonymous) gave Obama one hundred and something votes to one, and the appropriated named organiser, Jack Daniels, wisely advised the lone Repug to keep very quiet.

That, of course was hardly a surprise, since, from personal observation, Republicans rarely travel unless they are a) posted places by big corporations, or b) in the army. Hell, most don't leave their county I'd imagine.

The two hired Indonesians dressed as Uncle Sam, on stilts, really looked the part. I'm just not sure what part it was supposed to be.

It was all going rather well..the food was overpriced but OK and the beers were even more ludicrously priced but try as we might we couldn't win any thing in the raffle, aside from two very un-American Heineken towels...until they announced the CNN forecast of an Obama slam.

This was followed by a very loud rendition of Hail To The Chief which seemed odd since the chief was nowhere to be hailed, either in Sanur or in Chicago at that stage. And then the speakers roared out The Boss. Born in the USA came rattling out of the PA at deafening levels and the bloke next to us, who I think was European rather than American..or maybe he was just born in Hawaii and grew up in Europe, as you do..screamed out something that sounded like hallelujah, and burst into tears.

Bruce, evocations to the almighty, and was all too much and I decided I'd pass on the reduced ($7.50) Obama 08 t shirt on sale. They gave me an official Obama / Biden badge instead which was fine and will go well with my, keep-the-Marxists-together, Mao t shirt from Shanghai.

The chap from Europe was happy. We all, bar the lone Republican in hiding (we think it was Tom, who sells grossly overpriced 'antiques' on the Bypass) , were.

And then, with some timing, the AV guys decided to fine tune the CNN feed as Obama was about to hit the stage. A flurry of hands at the guys, not least from the distraught guy next door to us who was about to miss his moment. And it came back on, with a red tint..which seemed out of place this late in the game.

The guy next door shouted out series of whoops and Obama wandered on and said his, very impressive, bit before handing back to Wolf Blizter. The Indonesians dressed as Uncle Sam wondered what it was all about. Tom from the Bypass looked depressed and Jack Daniels said it was time to party, but being midday we thought it was time to leave.

I'm very happy.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I can’t / say it a hundred times or more / never a deviation

A few weeks back I expressed an opinion that John McCain was going to win the US Presidential election. Part of that was the polling, part was a relentless lack of faith in the American mass...the bits in the middle, and a part was a strange desire to play devil’s advocate.....just in case

Of course in the interim a couple of freight trains hit his candidacy, as both the economic chaos and the insane, and irresponsible, choice of Sarah Palin imploded on him.

The first didn’t have to impact quite so badly, although there is no doubt that anything with the tag “Republican” on it would have been a target then, but McCain’s response simply underlined that he was a man out of time, as Obama put it. That said I almost felt sorry for the poor old fella, quite clearly out of his depth and floundering about when reasonably he should’ve been sitting in one of the 13 homes he, as a maverick, owns, enjoying the quiet life. Instead we were all exposed to one of the more pathetic sights I’ve seen in politics, as he tried, like the train in the old children’s story....I know I know I can, I know I play catchup and understand, except, unlike like the train, with his relentless breathy, gormless “Fight for.....”slogans, John simply couldn’t.

Then there was Palin. It was bizarre watching the media fawn all over her post RNC. He speech, read from a teleprompter and cliché ridden simply wasn’t very good. It was dishonest and insubstantial and she had little to with it beyond providing a well dressed talking head. Of course, those same commentators have changed their wee minds now.

mc1 But, she got the raves then. And she did exactly what she was expected to do, she, to, to use the cliché, energized the Republican base. Unfortunately, that base, overwhelmingly was scaringly batshit crazy, and Sarah soon exposed herself as both viciously ambitious and alarmingly ignorant (which appealed to those who see intelligent thought as elitist). Those outside the base..the other 55% of America who are not nuts, went fuuuuuuucccccck and ran a mile…or at least most did. Some, happily sit somewhere in between..your swinging voters who are really too dim to make their minds up either way after months of this.

I have to be honest, I get some sort of perverse pleasure reading the wacko sites and blogs, and I don’t think I’m the only one. A fine place to start for an hour’s WTF entertainment is the Readers’Blogs section of Real Clear Politics, itself a fairly good resource for articles and links, as well as polls although the right wing bias of the place means it’s fairly selective about who it uses in its averages...GWU, with a strong Republican bias is fine but Research 2000, commissioned by, but independent of, KOS is not. But if you head down to the lower right hand corner of the front page and click you are on your way to Obama is Marxist (Obama is the new Stalin is a current fave) / socialist / baby-killer / Muslim / Manchurian candidate / terrorist / terrorist lover / non-American / N**ger and every other insane variation of that selection, and, yep, there you’ve found Palin’s Republican base: ignorant but angry as hell, and the result of years of isolationism, shitty media & education and money raking hate vendors like Malkin and Limbaugh. Those are Palin and Rove’s real Americans. Do you laugh or cry?

And I’ve become a polling addict....I go to FiveThirtyEight several times a day. I’m really finding hard to give a toss about what’s happening in my home country but I’m fascinated by the massed moronic soap opera that is the American election.

So, do I still think McCain will win..well yes, given the way the “energised base” laps up every little scrap of fear filled garbage about Marxism and wealth redistribution without having any idea what either term actually means, and the way that middle bit still lives down to my expectations, maybe. Is the divide in America too great between that elite and that energised base?

I hope not. that playing the devil’s advocate enough?

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