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l'enfer du North Island

  haunt of coot and hern Friday 25 September 2009 link

Brian Edwards has clearly read Derailing for Dummies. Or, if not, he's internalised a lot of it. He's posted a rather contentious opinion piece on his blog. A large number of people have leapt on it. I'm particularly impressed with the way that he ignores the well-reasoned comments from people who clearly know what they're talking about, in favour of making snide comments to the more annoyed commentators (thereby subtly equating the serious points with the angry ones). Bonus points for rewriting the original post to remove some of the language that sparked off the vitriol, thus making his commentators look more unhinged. Why, they're flying off the handle at nothing!

Brian Edwards may be a well-respected New Zealand media commentator. But put him on the net and he's just another opinionated blowhard acting like a dick on discussion forums.

In any case, his argument seems to be that writing is hard, so he should get paid more for it. After all, people are taking advantage of his writing by borrowing it from libraries - that's money he's potentially missing out on. Ignoring the various flaws in his argument - check the comments on the original article for an examination of them - I'd just say this. Was he, prior to undertaking this hard work of writing his books, unaware of the relative remuneration? Had someone hidden the existence of libraries from him, and kept him unaware of how they work and the financial consequences thereof? No? He knew all that and decided to do it anyway? Then he can shut his whingeing cake-hole. He knew the deal, there's no bloody point whining now. Tch.

Times have definitely changed. The other day, I had reason to visit my bank manager. I went in the middle of the day, so I was wearing my work kit. My work dress could best be described as scruffy casual. My concession to discussing the loan of a pointlessly large amount of money was to wear long trousers. While I was sitting at the bank waiting, it occurred to me that twenty years ago I'd have felt the need to get dressed up in a suit. Seeing a bank manager was a big deal, and you had to look your best. Tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis, eh?

This was brought more forcibly home on Wednesday night, when the mobile mortgage manager sat back at the end of a discussion about requirements for potential further lending and asked me who my tattooist was. I was in short sleeves, and he liked the forearm tat; turned out he had a backpiece and a half-sleeve. We had an amicable discussion about tattoo styles, and the deal was done. So remember kids: when your parents tell you that getting a tat prevents you from getting a good job, take it with a grain of salt, eh?

And then he txt'ed me to let me know how the pre-approval was going. Truly, we are living in the future.

  play misty for me Monday 21 September 2009 link

One day I shall decide that I never want to get anything productive done again. Upon that day, I shall create an account on facebook.

Which is to say: apologies for the lack of posts, and I don't even have the excuse du jour, facebook is killing blogging. I blame a high workload and the recent purchase of a computer game.

Psychological violence in late 1970s/early 1980s girls comics.

I realised last week that the vast bulk of the music I listen to can be categorised as follows:

There are a few border cases - I'm not quite sure about PJ Harvey, for instance - but those three categories do cover about 90% of what was on my iPod at the time.

But recently we've been having a clean-out of the CD collection. We've weeded out a lot of stuff that we don't listen to any more. One consequence of this is that we've come across rather a lot of CDs that we haven't heard for a while. So I got organised and ripped rather a lot of this stuff to iTunes so I can give it a blat on the iPod at work. The net result is that I now have 4GB of stuff I haven't listened to for years knocking around on my current playlist. It's a rather mixed bag: the Aphex Twin, Missy Elliott, Coil, Liz Phair, Autechre, Nine Inch Nails, Meat Beat Manifesto, Front Line Assembly, that sort of thing. It's kind of like, a snapshot of the music that I really liked a decade ago, but not so much that I still listen to it regularly. It's been an interesting exercise, and one I highly recommend.

Sometimes life leaves a hundred dollar bill on your dresser, and you don't realize until later that it's because it fucked you.

Shit My Dad Says

  the pusillanimity express Tuesday 1 September 2009 link

I was at the supermarket at lunch yesterday. As I went in, I saw a couple with a young child. The father was about 6'2", big with it, with gang tats on his neck and hands. He and a woman, presumably his partner, were doing what looked like the weekly shop, with a preschool kid sitting in the trolley.

After my shop, as I was loading the stuff into the car, I heard a lot of shouting. "What the fuck you looking at?" was interspersed with more general yelling and threats, plus wailing. Looking around, I saw that the family were having a screaming match in the middle of the carpark. The bloke was alternating between screaming at the woman, and turning around to shout threats at any bystanders who appeared to be paying attention. They were also struggling over the young boy - the woman holding him in her arms, the man trying to pull him away. This was in the middle of a busy carpark at lunchtime; counting myself, there must have been about 50 witnesses.

But what struck me was the reaction. All of us kind of expected someone else - maybe someone closer, maybe someone bigger, maybe just someone Not Me - to do something about it. But none of us did. We watched while the dad grabbed the kid and marched off out of the carpark, with the woman sobbing after him.

But that's not true. From where I was, about 20 metres away, I could see three separate people clearly calling the police on cellphones. They were standing just out of sight behind cars, occasionally stepping out to look over and answer some question from the despatcher before stepping back out of sight before the bloke threatened them. As the family left the carpark (on foot, for some reason) you could clearly see these people moving so as to keep a view of what was happening, constantly updating the despatcher on the other end of the phone. And the rest of us relaxed, because someone was doing something.

It just struck me as an odd consequence of our connected world. The ability to call in the appropriate authorities removes the imperative to do things yourself. When no-one else can become involved, there's an onus on those who are there to do something. Cellphones remove that, and we can all go about our cowardly fucking ways with a clean conscience. Or rather, we still feel the need to do something; but "doing something" is now just making a phone call.

In a refreshing contrast to the self-loathing of that last paragraph, it seemed to work. As I drove off, I saw some other bystanders further down the road pointing a police officer towards the couple. The last I saw was the bloke running away as fast as he could across the grassy centre margin of the road, having pulled off his coat to reveal a sleeveless jacket with a Nomads gang patch. So it seems that our disengaged, report-rather-than-remedy culture can get it right on occasion.

Last couple of episodes of the Fabric podcast have been most interesting; Surgeon going through his influences. Nice. I'm a sucker for anyone who drops the Art of Noise, Coil, and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop into a DJ set.

Go, go Greg Henderson. Stage 3 of the Vuelta d'Espagna, beating out a lot of the world's best sprinters: well done. He's now second in the standings, after Fabian Cancellara.

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unspoilt by progress

calm, peaceful, sweary

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