First you have to understand that I know nothing about economics. I am totally unqualified to discuss anything to do with finance. I leave that all to the brains in the organisation, one JC, to whom I have the good fortune to be married.
So you’re well within your rights, indeed you might even be well-advised, not to continue reading. Then again, you might adhere to the old precept that where ignorance is bliss ’tis folly to be wise and lend at least half an ear to what this Irish ignoramus has to say.
So (It’s imperative these days to begin every sentence with “so”!) I hear that the Governor of the Reserve Bank has cut the Official Cash Rate by .25% to 2.25%. Borrowing money has just become cheaper. This is good news for people who want to borrow money, particularly people who want to buy a house but haven’t got remotely enough money to pay for the house. I”m happy for them of course. Debt has just become cheaper and more attractive. We won’t worry too much that this debt is going to take years, possibly decades to repay. Nor will we depress those happy borrowers with the reality, gained from personal experience, that that cheap mortgage will be an albatross round your neck for all those years or decades, and that the happiest day of your life will be the day you get rid of the bloody thing. No, let joy be unconfined, the doors to the property market have just been opened a little bit wider. Read the rest of this entry »
I read in the Herald that Auckland’s Roman Catholic bishop, Patrick Dunn, has “slammed” Madonna as being “highly offensive to Christianity”.
I know Patrick Dunn quite well and very much doubt that this gentle and rather charming man has ever “slammed” anyone. But one must take into account the tendency of tabloid publications like the Herald to sensationalize in the interests of commercial gain.
Here is what Dunn, as reported by the Herald, said:
“There is no question in my mind that some of Madonna’s material is highly offensive to Christianity and will be found just as offensive to the majority of people of religious faith, as well as many cultural sensitivities.”
That, it seems to me, is quite simply a statement of fact. If you doubt it, check out the video of Madge’s Like a Prayer, in which sex and religious devotion combine to make a potently erotic statement.
Footie player named “New Zealander of the Year”! No scientists, doctors, writers, social reformers, campaigners for justice… Are we a nation totally without judgement or imagination? Rhetorical question.
In an article in yesterday’s Sunday Star Times on the role of imprisonment in the rehabilitation of offenders, Sensible Sentencing Trust founder Garth McVicar expresses the view that the first priority of sending people to prison is to keep the public safe. It’s a relatively moderate statement from McVicar, expressing perhaps the philosophy behind the excellent work done by the Trust on behalf of the victims of crime.
A more characteristic expression of McVicar’s understanding of the proper function of imprisonment appears elsewhere in the article: His “second priority” is punishment:
“We shouldn’t be ashamed to talk about that. Criminals need to be punished for their actions.”
Mr McVicar is, according to the article, worried that our country’s prison policy is more concerned about helping inmates than punishing them. And he’s not a believer in rehabilitation:
“If you can rehabilitate those people then you would have rehabilitated them long before they were imprisoned. The problem is when they get to prison they’re not long off becoming a career criminal… We need to focus on punishment and then rehabilitation once they’ve served time.” Read the rest of this entry »
On Monday, on Jim Mora’s Afternoons panel, I launched a full frontal assault on what I consider the avarice of two professions – vets and medical specialists.
My ire, in the case of the veterinary profession, was occasioned by the cost of treatment for our two cats, Max and Felix, amounting not to hundreds but to thousands of dollars in this year alone and to tens of thousands over their lifetime.
I should add that the care and treatment which the cats received was invariably excellent. I have no complaint on that score.
Nor have I any complaint about the care and treatment I’ve received from medical specialists, which is fortunate since I’m a confirmed and fully paid-up hypochondriac.
As with the vets, it’s less their fees which anger me than their debt-collector mentality to payment.
This was exemplified in a consent form which I recently had to sign before seeing a specialist. What seemed to me an inappropriate and offensive amount of space on the form was devoted to the perils of non-payment of the bill. When I remarked on this during the subsequent consultation, the specialist, to my surprise, entirely agreed. He didn’t like the form either and he hadn’t drawn it up. The professional body representing his specialist field had. Read the rest of this entry »
This year I added a second string to my bow of media appearances. In addition to appearing with my good friend and mortal radio enemy Michelle Boag on Jim Mora’s Afternoons programme, I became a regular panellist on Paul Henry’s morning TV/radio show.
The downside to these appearances was that I had to get up at sparrow-fart to be there on time, I didn’t get paid, and people kept bailing me up in the street to talk about it.
Well, “downside” is really not the appropriate word for people taking the time to tell you how much fun the Henry/Edwards exchanges were and how much they enjoyed the badinage between us.
The last of these appearances was on 29 June. During our conversation I revealed to Paul that I’d never in my life been to a rugby game or even bothered to watch one on television. I found the sport utterly tedious. Give me soccer or netball or limited-over cricket any day.
Paul was astonished and offered on air to take me as his guest to a big rugby match so that I could see how marvellously exciting it was. He’d even arrange a corporate box. I accepted this generous invitation. As I was leaving TV3 a member of Paul’s production team rushed past me and breathlessly called out, “Got to arrange those footie tickets, Brian!”
Well, Paul and I never got to the footie. Not only that, I never heard from the programme or TV3 again. That appearance on 29 June on the Paul Henry Show was my last. Buy why?
However many additional Syrian refugees the Government agrees to welcome to these shores, it will do the Prime Minister no credit. This will have been a victory for public opinion and the media – for the letter-writers to the newspapers, the talk-back callers on radio, the politics reporters, leader-writers, columnists and cartoonists who took a stand on an issue of principle that demanded something more than dispassionate reporting.
It would be nice to think that this tide of sympathy for the plight of the Syrian refugees was what persuaded John Key to change his mind and approve a special intake of these dispossessed men, women and children. But that scenario strains credibility. Why did the Prime Minister have to be persuaded at all? Had he not seen the heart- rending television coverage of a desperate people in flight for their lives? Why prevaricate and why then change your mind?
Well, the simple answer is that Key realised he was losing electoral support, that the country was not behind him and that the political fallout from maintaining his position on the Syrian refugees could prove terminal.
Well, better late than never. But however many additional Syrian refugees the Government finally agrees to accept, the indisputable fact will remain that it was political expediency and not human sympathy that motivated the Prime Minister’s change of heart. And that does him no credit.
Other than referring to a female dog, a rare enough occasion since we’re cat people, “bitch” has been a taboo word in our house pretty well since the first time I used it within earshot of Judy. She doesn’t like it. And I’m comfortable with her not liking it. I’m not a swearing sort of person myself; I think comedians who pepper their material with “fucks” are properly insecure in their comic genius; and, as reported elsewhere on this site, I have on numerous occasions approached total strangers to remind them that the f-word is unacceptable to others sharing the same public space.
But sometimes… Well sometimes… Sometimes “bitch” is quite simply le mot juste. Anything less offensive simply won’t hit the mark.
I find myself in the improbable position of coming to the defence of broadcaster Mike Hosking.
Winston Peters has called Hosking “a National Party stooge whose jowls are up the Prime Minister’s cheeks”. I take this as some bizarre rephrasing of the common term “cheek by jowl” intended, I presume, to mean that the broadcaster and the PM are close buddies. Winnie will no doubt correct me if I’m wrong.
Meanwhile the Leader of the Opposition, Andrew Little, has accused Hosking of “making no attempt at objectivity”. One might have expected a more robust critique. I’m told the words “right wing little prick” have been simply flying down the corridors of the Opposition Wing to describe Mr Hosking. Read the rest of this entry »
Now this is unusual. There are a couple of things I’ve never been good at: apologising and eating my words. But yesterday morning I put up a post about the first edition of TV3’s new programme Story which plays in the slot that was Campbell Live.
It was a pretty negative piece of writing that neither the programme nor its presenters deserved. It was picky and hypercritical. And, as I say undeserved.
The thing is I broke the first rule of reviewing – never review the first programme in a series. It’s on that programme that things are most likely to go wrong. Nerves usually. So you have to allow any programme to bed in before you put pen to paper. Read the rest of this entry »
Here’s a free piece of media advice for you: if you or your company are in the gun and you’re invited to appear on a live TV current affairs show like Fair Go or Seven Sharp or Story, either politely decline the invitation, preferably without giving reasons for your decision – that’s giving an interview! – or, if you’re pretty confident you can handle it, agree to be interviewed “live” in the Auckland studio or not at all. The airfare will be worth it.
Don’t agree to be interviewed “down the line”, which can involve standing in the middle of a paddock or sitting behind your office desk with a hearing-aid thingee occasionally falling out of your ear as you try to talk to some extremely hostile person you can’t see. TV interviewers are most courageous when you aren’t sitting directly opposite them. And least courageous when you are. Well, it’s so much easier to cut someone off or talk over them when you’re the people controlling the switch. Read the rest of this entry »
You will have read that, following his unceremonious dumping by the Board of TV3, John Campbell is to join his close friend and former producer Carol Hirschfeld at Radio New Zealand where he will host Checkpoint. He’ll do the job very well of course, but the visual dimension will be lost. John’s face told you as much as, and sometimes more than his words. His approval or disapproval of a guest was invariably patent.
And then of course there was his ENTHUSIASM!!! That too will be missed.
Campbell may nonetheless be more suited to the hard-edged current affairs that Checkpoint offers than the high-rating, soft-serve confections that apparently turn the TV3 Board on. But I’ll still miss him on the box! Read the rest of this entry »
Since 1964, when I arrived in this country, I’ve mostly, though not always, voted for the Labour Party. My core political belief is that in a caring society the haves have a moral obligation to support the have-nots. I see progressive taxation as the only reliable mechanism for bringing this about. “Trickle Down” won’t cut it. Little or nothing “trickles down” and the concept smacks of charity. Nor can charity itself ensure social and economic justice for those at the bottom of the heap. Charity is capricious and unreliable. So the rich have to be compelled to do their part. That includes me.
If you want to give a name to it, I suppose you’d call this Socialism. I see myself as a Socialist. Not surprising, you might think, since I was an only child raised by a solo parent in a council flat in Belfast. Though John Key had a not dissimilar background.
Bit different now. Judy and I have a nice house, a nice car, a bach up North and a few dollars in the bank. And of course we both get the pension. But I’m still a Socialist. That’s more about principles than party politics. And not complaining about paying tax. Read the rest of this entry »
Mike Hosking is an opinionated chap. He’s paid an enormous sum of money to be opinionated, not only as a breakfast talk-back host on the ZB network, but as a Herald columnist and the co-host of TVNZ’s Seven Sharp. So you can’t really blame him for being opinionated. It’s his job after all.
It was only after the sacking of John Campbell as host of the programme named after him that I took a look at Seven Sharp, the shape-shifter of prime-time current-affairs programmes.
After watching the programme for a couple of weeks and reading his columns I’d had enough of Mike’s opinions and had reached that critical mass of the emotions where I was in danger of putting my foot through the screen and cancelling our subscription to the paper.
I was suffering from what I suspect may be a common complaint in this country: front-person-overload, the medical term for which is Hosking’s Disease. [Note: This can sometimes be confused with Pitt-Hopkins disease, a genetic disorder whose symptoms include developmental delay, a wide mouth, distinctive facial features and intermittent hyperventilation.]
It’s a real disease. Trust me, I’m a Doctor.
Mr Hosking’s role on Seven Sharp appears to be that of lecturer. His class currently comprises only one student, a bubbly and attractive young woman who hangs on his every word. The lectures are, however, telecast to a much larger group of students. The TVNZ calendar lists the lecture series as “Seven Sharp or Everything I Know About Everything – an enthralling series of 2,000 half-hour lectures by one of New Zealand’s most admired long-form interviewers and commentators.”
Having now watched Seven Sharp for two weeks and read several of Prof Hosking’s treatises in the Herald, I am now the trivia king at our local pub quiz. But Judy says I’ve changed – I’m arrogant, up-myself, a bad listener and a pretentious bore! And I speak warmly of John Key.
She’ll get over it!
Hey, by the way, did you know that the latest research on women’s menstrual cycles shows that the commonly held view that wome… CLICK!
I read that Pebbles Hooper, described variously as a “socialite” and “gossip columnist” in today’s Sunday Star Times, has removed a Twitter comment in which she described the deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning of Ashburton mother Cindy George and her three children as an example of “natural selection”.
Tweets are of course easy to remove: ideas are a different matter. It remains a fact that Hooper thought and then gave public voice to the thought that George’s mistake in leaving the car engine running in her garage was an example of such stupidity that it rendered her unfit for survival in the modern world. And, unfortunately, her children too.
The unspoken conclusion from this line of thinking would seem to be that when people make stupid mistakes they deserve what’s coming to them. And, unfortunately, it would seem, their children too. No point in wasting your sympathy on such lost causes. C’est la vie! Read the rest of this entry »
Good news from MediaWorks – their new current affairs programme at 7pm, Monday to Thursday, is to be hosted by Duncan Garner and Heather du Plessis-Allan.
It’s good news because these are, in my estimation, two of the most professional and accomplished reporter/interviewers in the county. And, if we have to make the comparison, both could hold their own anywhere in the broadcasting world.
So what could possibly go wrong?
Well, there are some hints in MediaWorks’ news release about the new show:
First the title: Story. Well yes, journalists do refer to items as ‘news stories‘ and maybe I’m being picky. But when you take the word by itself, it does rather suggest that 7pm Monday to Thursday on TV3 will be story-telling time. Are we all sitting comfortably? Read the rest of this entry »
[As predicted, the National Business Review did not republish this post. Entirely their prerogative of course. And they were kind enough to promote the post on Twitter.]
Here’s a question: when you read the title of this post, did the fact that the “i” in the first word and the “u” in the last word had been replaced with an asterisk mean that you had no idea what either word meant or referred to, or that you did know what the words meant but, thanks to the asterisks, weren’t offended by them?
I would be astonished if anyone over the age of 10, and quite probably many under that age, could honestly answer “yes” to either part of that question. What will come into the minds of the vast majority of English speaking people when they see “sh*t” or “f*ck” in print are the words “shit” and “fuck” and the sound and meaning of those words.
So if I’m right and the absence of these letters makes absolutely no difference to a reader’s understanding of what the words refer to and no difference at all to their feelings about those words, then what is the earthly point in removing the letters at all? I’m b*ggered if I can see any.
Now if these words really are offensive to a majority of the readers of a publication intended primarily for adult readers, then the most sensible thing to do would be not to print them at all. That definition would presumably include every newspaper and most magazines available and on display in New Zealand. Read the rest of this entry »
The departure of “gossip columnist” Rachel Glucina from the pages of the New Zealand Herald will be warmly greeted by lovers of quality journalism across the country. Had Glucina’s role been restricted to showbiz gossip and the back pages of the paper, traditionally reserved for this sort of material, her influence on the general tone of the Herald might have been less malign. But the volume, scope and placement of her material over the past year or so have led to an exponential increase in that influence. Glucina has been a major player in the “tabloidisaton” of the Herald.
Her departure to join the ranks of MediaWorks, whose stable includes TV3, TV4 and a raft of radio stations across the country, was announced by Glucina herself on Twitter:
“I’ve resigned. MediaWorks has headhunted me for a joint-venture partnership to create, run and co-own a new digital entertainment platform.”
Mediaworks CEO Mark Weldon, helpfully explained:
“Digital entertainment brands featuring snackable, shareable content [especially video] are the fastest growing part of the media landscape, and there is a gap in the New Zealand market in this area.”
“Snackable, shareable content” – interesting! A quarter of a century ago media guru Dr Joe Atkinson coined the term “morselisation” to describe what was happening in the field of television news and current affairs in New Zealand. The term referred to the view of television executives at the time (and ever since) that the viewing public was not interested in watching lengthy news or current affairs items or interviews. They wanted their information served up in “bite-sized chunks”. He could equally have said, “snackable, shareable content”.
I rang my friend Joe this morning to inform him of Glucina’s departure from the Herald.
“The trouble with this,” he said, “is that these people don’t realise that there’s no room left for them at the bottom of the barrel. TVNZ’s already taken the entire space!”
My personal view is that, with determined digging, New Zealand television executives will always be able to find more room at the bottom of the barrel.
Over the past three or four months I’ve made several appearances on The Paul Henry Show, theoretically in the role of informed media commentator. If you type ‘Paul Henry’ into the search box at the top of this page, you’ll find a number of seemingly contradictory posts on the controversial Mr Henry. They range from enthusiastic approval of his jbroadcasting skill to a call for his immediate sacking in the aftermath of ‘moustache-gate’, his mirth at the name of New Dehli’s Chief Minister, Sheila Dikshit, his description of Susan Boyle as ‘retarded’ and his offensive question to John Key as to whether the next Governor General after Anand Satyanand would look a bit more like a New Zealander.
I was right on both counts. Henry is a brilliant broadcaster who is never far from and occasionally crosses the line of acceptable broadcasting standards. I know I will regret having said this, but he’s also extremely bright.
Henry and I are of course politically poles apart. I stood as a Labour candidate in Miramar in 1972; he stood for National in the Wairarapa in 1999. And Judy and I were media advisors to Helen Clark for well over a decade. So there’s a bit of generally good-natured sparring between us on the morning show. A month ago, after he had described something I’d said about him as ‘vile’, I responded, ‘I like you Paul – when I am world dictator your death will be swift and painless.’ (I stole the line from one of my stepson’s T-shirts!)
This morning I told Paul that my appearances on his show were costing me my friends and cited an entirely fictional email from Helen Clark in New York warning me against any continued association with him. This gave Paul a wonderful opening to get stuck into the bullying, humourless bloody left. In response I felt obliged to withdraw my compliment of the previous month and inform him that I’d never actually liked him, though I very much liked his mother. Was he sure that this lovely woman really was his mother? It’s quite a fun exchange. Read the rest of this entry »