Brian Edwards Media

Archive for January, 2013

“You can take my leaf-blower from my cold, dead hands!” Leaf-blower hell revisited.

images (5)3.20 Thursday, 31 January. The guy who’s employed by the rich folks who live down the path two properties away from our house started leaf-blowing in the grounds of  the top house 20 minutes ago. We abandoned our afternoon coffee in the garden, as we regularly have to, because of the intolerable noise. It’s not just him of course. The tree-lined avenues of Herne Bay are probably one of the noisiest places in Auckland: leaf-blowers, petrol-driven hedge trimmers, lawnmowers, weed-eaters,  chain saws, water-blasters, concrete-cutters, and every conceivable noise associated with house renovation and house-building.

3.35 Thursday, 31 January. The guy who’s employed by the rich folks who live down the path two properties away from our house has emerged from the grounds of the top house and begun to drive the leaves down the path towards the second house. I could keep giving you reports on his progress, but I already know that he’ll finish leaf-blowing the houses on the path (and the path itself) at around 5 o’clock,  two hours after he started. I know this because I bailed him up one evening and, with as much politeness as my frazzled nerves would allow, asked him how long leaf-blowing the grounds of the rich folks’ houses and the path that connects them would take. “About two hours,” he told me. It was around 6.15 on a beautiful summer evening on that occasion and I told him I thought it was pretty unreasonable to be making all this racket when most civilised people at that time would rather be listening to the birds than his leaf-blower. “Well, what do you want me to do?” he asked. “I’d like you to stop.” “OK,”  he said.  “I’ll come back and finish in the morning.” So I thought he was a pretty reasonable guy.   Read the rest of this entry »


Why David Shearer should give up acting: He’s just no good at it.

State of the Nation speech 2013


In her post yesterday first-class honours graduand in Political Studies, JC, explained the rules for next week’s confidence vote on the Labour Party leadership and for the selection process which will be automatically triggered if David Shearer fails to win 60% plus one (or 22 out of 34 Caucus members) support for his leadership.

If Shearer doesn’t get those 22 votes in Caucus, it seems highly unlikely that he will survive a leadership contest a month or so later, in which Caucus, the party membership and union affiliates have a 40/40/20 say. Failure to gain the required numbers in next week’s Caucus vote would itself be corrosive of confidence and support.

On the other hand, Shearer’s chances of getting those numbers have been enhanced by his improved showing in the polls following his Labour Party Conference speech last November and his axing of David Cunliffe from Labour’s front bench. And it is the polls which will decide Shearer’s ultimate fate.   Read the rest of this entry »


Confidence in the House: a layman’s guide to Labour’s new voting rules and their possible consequences.


WitchOn Monday, 4 February 2013, members of the Labour Caucus will take a confidence vote on the leadership of the parliamentary party. This happens in the middle year of each electoral cycle, and generally passes without note. Not so on this occasion. November’s Labour Party Conference put the cat among the pigeons by deciding that this confidence vote would be held under unique conditions. 

In past electoral cycles Labour Party rules required the leader to gain a simple majority of the mid-term vote  to retain the leadership. That will also be the rule in future. However, this year is a one-off: the leader needs 60% of the vote plus one. That means David Shearer needs 22 of the Caucus of to vote for him on Monday.  Should 13 or more of his colleagues vote against him, it will trigger a leadership contest.

Monday’s vote is a secret ballot. There will be independent scrutineers, usually senior members of the Labour Party such as the General Secretary and the President.

Previously the Caucus alone voted on the leadership, but the party wrested that absolute power out of its hands at the last conference. From now on a Labour Party leadership contest will be decided not by Caucus alone, but by an electoral college which includes the party members and its affiliates. Read the rest of this entry »


Unlikely things to hear in a police station (No reason – just for fun!)


I write a letter of complaint to Fair Go about their former host, and my former friend, Kevin Milne

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Dear Fair Go

Complaint Re Mr Kevin Milne

Today a large parcel, addressed to Judy Callingham and Brian Edwards arrived at the Ponsonby Post Office. The sender was one Kevin Milne, whose name will not be unknown to you.  My wife explained that it was probably a present from my former colleague to celebrate my 75th birthday – which was three-and-a- half months ago. Mr Milne had another engagement on the 4th of November, probably filming a commercial for hair restorer or erectile dysfunction pills in Hawaii, and had been unable to come to my party. He had apparently phoned her to say he’d been looking for an appropriate present ever since.  I was very excited. This was clearly it.

The parcel was quite heavy and an unusual shape – 60 X 600mm. As we sat drinking our flat whites at a local cafe, I examined the gift with my fingers, trying to guess what exciting and no doubt expensive present (Kevin is loaded!) it might contain. Anticipation, as the Germans say, is the greatest pleasure. (Die Vorfreude ist die größte Freude)

Whatever it was appeared to be in a frame. Undoubtedly an artwork, quite possibly a recently discovered McCahon triptych. (Kevin is extremely generous!)

“Or at least a framed piece of carpet!” I joshed.

We sped home in the Mini Cooper, the McCahon triptych carefully stowed in the back. I tore off the outer wrapping. There indeed was a stylish birthday card.

It is too painful for me to quote the words that Mr Milne actually wrote. However, if this is essential to my complaint, I will ask my counsellor to sent the card to you. But the simple bitter truth is that the present was not for me at all, but for my wife. In three-and-a-half months Mr Milne had not been able to find anything for me. ‘So you get the gift, Judy,’ he wrote, ‘Brian won’t mind.’

Well, if a more serious case of false advertising combined with breach of promise has ever come your way, I’d be very surprised.  This is like having a wedding photographer lose your photographs or finding your Big Mac is half the size it looked in the ad. Only ten times worse!

Milne must pay for my hurt feelings and he must pay dearly.

Could it get any worse? Oh yes, Fair Go crime fighters, it could. For Milne’s gift was indeed a painting. And like the McCahon I had thought it was, it did have writing on it. And what it said, the very text my wife would display on her office wall for all to see , was grossly defamatory of her husband, the birthday boy!

I look forward to your urgent response. I am available to be filmed at any time and assume you will provide make-up and a hair stylist.

Do I get a fee?

Dr Brian Edwards

Attached: Photograph of Mr Milne’s ‘present’ to my wife.  Read the rest of this entry »


An unusual case of avian racism from Gareth Morgan

Felix photographed by Marcus Chan

[Update: Gareth Morgan appeared on Campbell Live last night. It’s worth pointing out, since no-one on the item, including Gareth himself,  did, that all of the cats shown killing native birds were feral cats. Domestic cats, the ones Dr Morgan seems most concerned to rid the country of, did not feature at all.]

My daughter Naomi is an actuary and occasional stand-up comedian. Her on-stage persona is a not-very-bright young woman called Dolly Putin. Dolly was responsible for this gem: ‘I can’t understand all this fuss about endangered species.  How can they be endangered when there are more and more of them all the time?’

I was reminded of Dolly when I read a story in this morning’s Herald, headlined, ‘Morgan calls for cats to be wiped out’. Morgan is economist Gareth Morgan who, according to the first line in the story, is launching a campaign to ‘eradicate’ domestic cats.

Despite the Herald’s sensation-seeking hyperbole, Gareth Morgan doesn’t actually want to kill cats; he wants cat owners to keep their pets permanently inside and not to replace them when they die – a sort of benevolent eugenics. No domestic cats would be killed, but the species would die out in New Zealand. ‘Cats,’ the Herald reports Dr Morgan as saying, ‘are sadists and natural-born killers that destroy native wildlife.’  Read the rest of this entry »


Just looking out the window – can the New Zealand Metservice really do any better?

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Over the years, both in print and on this site, I’ve taken several swipes at the New Zealand Metservice. The thrust of these critiques has been that their weather forecasting results are little better than tossing a coin or looking out the window. To make the point I’ve invited readers to take note on a Monday of the forecast for the following Monday, then watch how that original forecast gradually changed during the week to conform to reality.

On several occasions I’ve received replies from the Metservice’s ‘Weather Ambassador’, the lovely and hugely entertaining Bob McDavitt. Bob usually points out that the closer you are to a weather event the more likely you are to get the forecast right. That is undoubtedly beyond question. But you might have thought that with all the electronic wizardry that’s available to today’s forecasters and with our planet circled by weather satellites, they might be able to get it pretty well right a week ahead and absolutely right for tomorrow. But they can’t and they often don’t.

I’m in a better position to pontificate on this now than I was a decade ago. A decade ago I took almost no exercise. Today Judy and I walk for at least an hour every day. So I’m interested in and familiar with the weather. I am, if you like, a weather-watcher.

This has led me to the conclusion that Metservice getting the forecast exactly right is the exception rather than the rule; getting it more or less right is closer to the norm; and getting it wrong far too frequent to justify the term ‘science’.  Read the rest of this entry »


TVNZ exchanges current-affairs for a mess of pottage at 7pm

[On the same day that this post was published TVNZ’s Head of News and Current Affairs, Ross Dagan, resigned. Spooky eh?]

I think it was my good friend Joe Atkinson who coined the term ‘morselisation’ to describe what began to happen to news and current affairs programmes in this country from around 1989 when real competition for viewers and the advertising dollar arrived with the launch of TV3. The term reflected the view of television executives that viewers had a limited appetite for serious current affairs programming and could only handle information if it was served up to them in bite-sized chunks. News items consequently got shorter; the 15-second sound-bite shrank to 5 seconds; and long-form interviews were relegated to the advertising-free viewer wasteland of Sunday morning.

If you were so ungenerous as to point any of this out, the executives would remind you of Holmes and later Close Up and Campbell Live, top-rating current-affairs programmes which they broadcast in prime time.

My own view was that these were actually magazine programmes with a heavy emphasis on ‘infotainment’, not least in the confrontational styles of their host/ interviewers.  Read the rest of this entry »


Just in case you missed the intellectual firepower driving the case against gun control in the USA, here it is.