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Ghost of BE returns to speak for too-humble Brian

Ghost of BE

Now as every devotee of this site knows, BE’s defining characteristics are humility, modesty and self-effacement. He keeps his light hidden, it is said, not under one bushel but under several. His idols are Gandhi, Mother Theresa and the New Zealand All Blacks. The words ‘brag, crow, vaunt, bluster’ and ‘skite’ are not in his lexicon.

I rebuke him from time to time for this lack of ego, but he merely looks down at his feet and quotes Ecclesiastes: ‘Vanity of vanities, all is vanity’.

Frankly he can be a pain in the arse.

‘You’re a pain in the arse!’ I sometimes say to him, but he invariably replies, ‘How true. How very true.’

A bloody great pain in the arse!   Read the rest of this entry »


On whether Angelina Jolie made the right decision to have a double mastectomy.



‘Absolutely heroic!’  That was Brad Pitt’s description of his wife Angelina Jolie’s decision to have a double mastectomy and subsequently to tell the world about it. I thought the description entirely apt. No one, least of all one of the world’s most famous and  glamorous movie stars, makes a decision like that lightly. And it is hard to imagine any woman deciding on such a drastic course of action without compelling cause.

That cause, in Jolie’s case, was that she had been diagnosed with the faulty BRCA1 gene, a common predictor of breast cancer and ovarian cancer. Her doctor put the risk of her developing breast cancer at 87 percent and of ovarian cancer at 50 percent. The assessment was in part based on hereditary factors. After a decade-long battle with cancer, her mother had succumbed to the disease at 56. Jolie is 37.

Last Wednesday the Herald republished a Telegraph Group story in which Jolie told of her reasons for having the double mastectomy, described the process in detail and explained her reasons for going public:

‘I wanted to write this to tell other women that the decision to have the mastectomy was not easy. But it is one I am very happy that I made. My chances of developing breast cancer have dropped from 87 percent to under 5 percent.  I can tell my children that they don’t need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer.

‘On a personal note, I do not feel any less of a woman. I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity.’    Read the rest of this entry »


Perfectly Timed Photos (An Occasional Series)



A dissenting view of Aaron Gilmore

Rod Emmerson's cartoon in The Weekend Herald 11/5/13

Rod Emmerson’s cartoon in The Weekend Herald 11/5/13

[After Question Time in the House today (Tuesday) , Aaron Gilmore made a considered speech, in which he expressed regret for the events which had ultimately led to his resignation from Parliament. He apologised to the Prime Minister, his colleagues in the House and the National Party at large for any embarrassment his conduct had caused. His words were without rancour, accusation or blame. They were greeted with applause from all members. It was, in my view, a dignified exit.]


It’s possible that only the Germans, whose language is full of nouns composed of (sometimes several) other nouns joined together, could have invented the term ‘Schadenfreude’. Schaden means harm and Freude means happiness or joy. So the two joined together can be roughly translated as ‘joy at other people’s misfortunes’.

There was, it seems to me, a significant degree of Schadenfreude in the nation’s response to the downfall of Aaron Gilmore. It was combined with the righteous indignation of a populace seemingly without sin and therefore more than willing to cast not just the first stone but a positive volley of stones. The Germans could no doubt produce an exceptionally long word to describe this phenomenon.

Prominent among the righteous were Gilmore’s former friends, colleagues and acquaintances a number of whom, preferring to shun the limelight, took to dobbing him in for a variety of past crimes, real or invented,  via the honourable device of the anonymous leak.  Read the rest of this entry »


Perfectly Timed Photos (An Occasional Series)



“Why I hate school but love education.” Discuss


Comprehension (20%) : Discuss the artist’s approach to formal education as outlined in the video clip.


Could a reasonable person or a decent human being have voted against the Marriage Amendment Bill?



Question: Could a reasonable person or a decent human being have voted against the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill?

Tom Scott’s cartoon would seem to suggest that only dinosaurs – ancient, stupid and rather ugly creatures – could have charged mindlessly in where angels feared to tread.

The cartoon interested me because it reflected the Janus-like quality of so much liberal thinking: permissive of almost everything except contrary points of view.

So let’s look as some specific areas.

The Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill, as its title so unambiguously stated, was a bill to change the legal definition of marriage. Could a reasonable person, a decent human being find cause  to object to that?

I would have thought so. Changing the legal definitions of words is always a serious business and no more serious than when those definitions refer to longstanding human institutions and are enshrined in a multitude of laws, contracts and traditions.

You don’t have to be a dinosaur to say, ‘When you change the meaning of a word, you simultaneously change the reality to which that word refers, a reality which in this particular case has existed for thousands of years  in myriad cultures.’

You’ll note that I’m not saying that opposition to the legislation is right. What I’m saying is that it expresses the natural discomfort that an entirely reasonable person, a decent human being, could be expected to feel when they are required to redefine not merely a common word but their lifelong and previously unambiguous understanding of the meaning of that word. I’m saying that it is understandable.   Read the rest of this entry »


Of knuckleheads, long-running stories, media beat-ups and Judith Collins parting the waters

images (13)

Referring to John Key’s current dissatisfaction with the ‘knuckleheads’ of the Fourth Estate, a prominent journalist, who shall remain nameless to protect the guilty, observed to me recently, ‘No Prime Minister who ever attacked the media got re-elected.’ He was evidently out of the country during both Rob Muldoon’s and Helen Clark’s three terms, but his remark was less than flattering to the members of his own profession. Journalists, it seems, will revenge themselves on politicians who criticise them, in the process abandoning their duty to report objectively and dispassionately.

Key’s response to media attacks on his credibility, and to the Press Gallery’s  dealings with him during ‘stand-ups’ in the corridors of Parliament, has been to suggest that he’ll either abandon the stand-ups altogether or at least greatly reduce the number of questions he will take.

I would suggest the former. It makes absolutely no sense to throw yourself into a pit of hungry bears who have been practising tag-team mauling while they waited for your arrival. It would be hard to think of a more uncontrolled, uncontrollable or  dangerous arena.    Read the rest of this entry »