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Bag a Duckshooter Today!

Ducks at dawnDuck shooting season begins today. I can understand the necessary killing of animals for food, but I’m damned if I can understand anyone taking pleasure in shooting a beautiful creature out of the sky. They call this a sport, but it’s a kind of uneven contest – a human being with a sophisticated modern weapon that can fire projectiles hundreds of metres into the air against…  a bird. The only evenness in this contest may be their intellects. 

To make things fairer, we need to equip ducks with small heat-seeking missiles, triggered by the sound of shotgun fire, and programmed to zero in on the occupants of maimai across the land.  With any luck the project will be underway in time for next year’s ‘Bag a Duckshooter Season’.

Meanwhile here’s a foretaste, drawn to my attention by Q.


How to Handle (and Not to Handle) Fair Go

Eleanor Black wanted to go to the Simon and Garfunkel concert at the Vector Arena in Auckland. According to the Ticketmaster ads, tickets would be on sale on line and on the phone from 9am on Friday, April 17. So Eleanor got onto her computer dead on nine only to discover that by 9.01 tickets for the seats she wanted were already sold out. She then tried for cheaper seats. Sold out! Undaunted, she decided to try the phone, but couldn’t get through at all. After 20 minutes she gave up.

But there was a mystery here. There was seating for 10,000 people at the Simon and Garfunkel concert in the Vector Arena, so how could the seats have sold out so quickly. Eleanor took her story to Fair Go. Read the rest of this entry »


Mt Albert Musings

In his column in today’s Sunday Herald Matt McCarten accuses Labour Leader Phil Goff and the Labour Party hierarchy of ‘a stunning display of political cowardice’ for having ‘kneecapped’ list MP Phil Twyford in his bid to be selected as Labour candidate in the Mt Albert by-election.

McCarten’s argument is that Labour bosses were so fearful of a return to Parliament by Judith Tizard that they persuaded Twyford to fall on his sword, possibly with the promise of the Auckland Central nomination in 2011. With the departure of Helen Clark, I no longer have the inside gen on the Labour Party, but McCarten’s thesis at least sounds plausible. Read the rest of this entry »


Lest We Forget.

PoppyOn Anzac Day my parents used to take me to dawn parade.   It was dark, it was cold and it was eerie.  I watched my father, medals on his chest, standing rigidly to attention, and saw him as a stranger. Too young to understand the symbolism, I still shivered at the sound of the Last Post.

In my teenage years they left me in bed, my wails and protests not worth the effort, not worth marring a morning that was always special for my father.  I think it was the only day of the year apart from Christmas that he ever took a drink. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Powerlessness of Prayer


Watch almost any television news bulletin and you’ll  hear someone praying for something to happen, or not happen. The background to their prayers is normally a real or potential  tragedy of some sort.

Individuals pray for themselves or those close to them to be cured of life-threatening illnesses. The relatives of people who have gone missing pray for them to be found and returned home safely. Families pray that the names of loved ones will not appear on the lists of those killed in plane crashes. Churchgoers pray for the victims of natural disasters.  World leaders pray for peace. Read the rest of this entry »


Leaf Blower Hell

[Warning! Violence and Obscene Language!]

Judy and I were taking our regular constitutional around Herne Bay last Saturday when our ears were assaulted by what had to be a fleet of  SAS attack helicopters landing on the normally tranquil Marine Parade. There could be no other explanation for the impenetrable wall of sound that threatened to  knock us off our feet. 

‘Maybe we should go back,’ I said.

‘No,’ said Judy, ever the brave one, ‘This could be serious. There could be casualties.’ Read the rest of this entry »


They Shoot Designers, Don’t They?

I spend most of Q+A with my eyes closed.  It’s not that the people are exceptionally ugly, or pull hideous faces, or have annoying tics. It’s just that the moving lines on the background drive me nuts.  I can’t concentrate on what anyone is saying; my eyes are riveted on those hypnotic orange stripes. Read the rest of this entry »


To Smack Or Not To Smack

Here’s the thing I find difficult to understand – that any civilised person should be so upset by the idea of it being against the law to hit children that they would go to the trouble of organising a  petition to parliament seeking a referendum on the issue, with the express aim of having that law overturned. Read the rest of this entry »


Easter Bannit

Easter bonnetIf I were a retailer, I’d be pretty hacked off that in the middle of a recession, with punters keeping their hands firmly in their pockets, I was about to lose two days earnings. And all because a couple of thousand years ago a Jewish preacher and revolutionary was executed in Judea and, according to his supporters, rose from the dead two days later.

Yes, it’s the annual Good Friday, Easter Sunday shutdown for shopkeepers who don’t want to be turned into criminals for making a living. Under the Shop Trading Act 2008, both days are designated ‘restricted trading days’. Unless a shop is specifically exempted, it’s an offence to open on these days, and law-breakers are liable to a $1,000 fine. Read the rest of this entry »


What’s To Be Done With Paul?

Is Paul Henry really an obnoxious prat or is this just an act to keep him in the papers? If it’s the latter, then he’s succeeding admirably.  There is no better way to raise your profile than to polarise your audience. In general, the most successful broadcasters – Judy Bailey being the glorious exception – have been simultaneously loved and loathed.

It’s the same for newspaper columnists. People with considered views, who can see both sides of an issue, need not apply. A columnist’s success is judged by the number of irate letters his or her editor receives. Essential characteristics –  one-eyed, dogmatic, over-the-top, contemptuous of other views. Best current New Zealand examples – Michael Laws and Garth George. Read the rest of this entry »


Killing Boston Legal

Many years ago I had a heated debate with Neil Roberts who was then Head of Television at TVNZ. The debate was about standards, about quality, about good and bad programmes. Neil’s view was that there was no such thing as a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ programme. The terms were essentially meaningless. There were programmes that people liked and programmes that people didn’t like. It was purely a matter of individual taste. ‘Standards’ were arbitrary and personal with no objective validity. ‘Quality’ existed solely in the eye of the beholder.

There is logic to this argument, just as there is logic to the argument that ‘good’ and ‘bad’ are themselves entirely subjective concepts, that nothing is inherently good or bad. But you can’t live like that. You end up with anarchy and social collapse.

And other than ‘I like it’ or ‘I don’t like it’, Roberts’ approach makes judgements about television programmes impossible and conversation about their merits or lack of merits futile.   

The same could be said about every form of criticism, from food to the arts. Nothing good or bad. Everything just popular or unpopular. Read the rest of this entry »


At Last A Current Affairs Show!

The past two weeks have seen the welcome return of Agenda, now renamed Q & A and fronted by Paul Holmes. Holmes is a considerable improvement on previous host Rawdon Christie, who was fine on Dragons’ Den, but completely out of his depth as a political interviewer. But Paul will have to remember that Q & A is not Holmes and not an appropriate vehicle for his personal opinions. His role on our only significant political programme should be as a facilitator – a role in which he is unsurpassed – and not as a contributor to the debate. Read the rest of this entry »


Of Necks and Knees

One of these days someone will design a lounge chair or a couch that doesn’t undermine interviewers and their subjects on television. Sadly, anything comfortable in the way of seating will probably make you look dreadful on camera. Read the rest of this entry »

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