Posted by BE on March 11th, 2017
Here is the first sentence from an Associated Press report which I’ve just finished reading in the online edition of today’s Herald:
“WikiLeaks has offered to help the likes of Google and Apple identify the software holes used by purported CIA hacking tools – and that puts the tech industry in something of a bend.”
Now I don’t know who penned this story but it wouldn’t surprise me if the author was a Kiwi.
Why? Because “the likes of” has almost entirely replaced “like” , meaning “similar to”, in New Zealand journalism and, I fear, in everyday speech. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by BE on February 3rd, 2017
Donald Trump, President of the United States, leader of the free world, dangerous psychopath. No need to go on. Sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words.
Posted by BE on January 21st, 2017
More than half a century ago, when I was a lecturer in German literature at the University of Canterbury, I was myself taught a lesson about effective pedagogy: Never use a long word when a shorter word will do. Keep it simple, Stupid!
I was lecturing on the Czech/German writer Franz Kafka, some of whose nightmarish novels and short stories you may be familiar with: The Trial, The Castle and The Metamorphosis whose central character wakes up one morning to find that he has been transformed into a beetle.
What did it all mean? Well, if you’ve got a lifetime or two to spare you could read all the scholarly books and articles that have been written on that topic. But basically it comes down to this: some people think the books are religious allegories; other people think they reflect Kafka’s relationship with his domineering father. I belong to the second group. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by BE on January 9th, 2017
One of the finest men I have ever encountered has died. Sir Bruce Slane was a gentle, unpretentious, decent, life-affirming proponent of the very finest human values, the whole leavened with an infectious sense of humour, I am just one among thousands who will celebrate his life and mourn his death.
Posted by BE on December 15th, 2016
When I’m writing a post to appear on my site, I take great care to ensure that what I’m writing is factually correct. I may then draw certain conclusions based on those true facts. The truthfulness of the facts will not, however, guarantee the correctness of my conclusions. Reaching those conclusions requires logic and independence of mind .
Those same qualities are required of those reading what I have written if they are to fairly assess or judge my argument. Race and gender are areas in which logic and independence of mind are most threatened by illogic and mental bias. This is scarcely surprising since those areas also provide the best/worst examples of prejudice against and mistreatment of one social, national or racial group by others.
In everyday conversation and debate, however, I am less likely to be so scrupulous. A conversation in which one weighed every word, sentence or statement of opinion before delivering it would be very stilted indeed. My experience of having given literally thousands of off-the-cuff interviews to journalists, whose editors then decided which bits were interesting or newsworthy and which weren’t, has led me to the firm conclusion that fairness and accuracy are most at risk in the reporting of ad lib chats with journalists on the phone. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by BE on December 11th, 2016
I abhor the ‘sport’ of boxing but it would be graceless of me not to congratulate Joseph Parker on his World Championship win last night. I did not watch the fight but I have seen numerous television interviews with this modest and entirely charming young man and I congratulate him wholeheartedly on this remarkable achievement.
So in the highly unlikely event that you read this post, Joseph, here is a piece of well-meant advice from an elderly gentleman who still has a few brain cells left: Take the money and run!
Posted by BE on December 8th, 2016
I like Bill. Bill is just great. Really, really great. And – sorry to blow my own trumpet – but if anyone should know, I should. Well, me and Judy really – the team that brought you Helen Clark. Back from the dead, some would say, but I couldn’t possibly comment. Anyway, back to Bill. Did I say Bill was great? What an understatement! Bill is stupendous, charismatic, a master of oratory and, no point in denying it, a real stud. The stats never lie. And here’s the thing: I’m a dyed in the wool Labour man. A socialist, to be strictly accurate. So this is really tough for me to have to say. But hey, truth is more important than politics. And it will out. Bill is supercalifragalistic, expial… Oh never mind. Bloody brilliant on the box too. And if anyone should know, I should. Did I say that already? Never mind, the truth will out. And here’s the acid test: if I had to choose between watching a 45-minute interview with Bill on some TV show on Sunday morning and watching Paula Bennett figure skating naked on ice, I’d pick Bill. And so would Judy. Charisma, mastery of the language, sex appeal. It’d be riveting, wouldn’t it? Think of Bill as a rivet: solid, reliable, holding things together, grey-coloured. So please, please, please pick Bill to lead you into the next election. If only to please me and Judy and Labour Party voters from the Cape to the Bluff. Bill’s your man. And mine. Thanks. Brian
Posted by JC on December 6th, 2016
Being a media trainer is a bit like being a singing teacher.You have to have a very good ear. It’s not merely about being able to correct glaring examples of poor pronunciation, diction or tone. John Key’s tendency to insert a ‘sh’ into certain words usually before a ‘t’, producing a somewhat Germanic ‘sch’ sound (Aushtralia), and Helen Clark’s rather mannish tone and overly forceful delivery both invited derision and had the potential to prematurely end their stellar careers.
I once had the opportunity of giving a few pointers to John Key on his interviewee performance. TVNZ had decided to arrange some interview training for its high-profile newsreaders, including Simon Dallow. Each had to arrive with a guest of their own choosing, whom they would interview under the critical eye of Brian Edwards and Judy Callingham. Simon introduced us to his choice of interviewee, a chap called John Key, whom I had not only never met, but never heard of. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by BE on November 18th, 2016
Of the several thousand people I have interviewed in my broadcasting career, including forgers, prostitutes and train robbers, there is no-one I have held in greater contempt than Brian Tamaki.
Tamaki’s principal interest in life is not God, it is money. And no amount of money is ever enough to allow him and his wife to continue living the lifestyle to which this self-proclaimed “bishop” has become accustomed – a lifestyle of luxury and excess. Nor has any sight filled me with more disgust than Tamaki standing on a platform and inviting his disciples, principally the poor of South Auckland, to come forward and lay as much money as they can afford, or more perhaps, on the stage in front of him. A blessing! Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by BE on November 10th, 2016
Well, now we have a racist megalomaniac or a brilliant political thespian as the most powerful man in the world. Or maybe both. I’m opting for both. Be very afraid!
Posted by BE on November 6th, 2016
Just read that piece about you by that bitch in the Sunday Star Times. What’s got her knickers in a twist eh? Probably gagging for a good ride! That’s the trouble with the bloody Kiwi press – too many old sheilahs out of touch with the in scene.
What you need is a man’s take, Maxie. A real man’s take.
Well, you’ve come to the right shop there, kiddo – Dr Been There Done That, Still Crazy After All These Years, Bring In The Next One: At Your Service!
So here’s the first rule to staying cool: don’t make an ass of yourself. And especially not a total ass. Looking a total ass is really not cool, Maxie. Get it?
And yes, we all know that you’ve got special circumstances going on. And it isn’t easy.
On the other hand, it isn’t all that hard either. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by BE on October 29th, 2016
Paul Henry has given a lengthy interview to the New Zealand Herald‘s Canvas magazine. The paper teases readers in a banner front page headline: ‘POTTY MOUTH PAUL – Has Henry finally gone too far?’ Having read the piece my preferred headline would have been SUICIDE NOTE FROM A DERANGED NARCISSIST.
Been there, done that. Though the interview I gave to a national newspaper in 1970, when I was making my name on the current affairs programme Gallery, was not riddled with expletives as this interview is. I’ve always thought that needing to pepper your language with ‘fucking’ represented a failure in communication. Or perhaps just trying too hard to impress. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by BE on August 13th, 2016
Hey you! Yes You! The wrinkled old guy with the funny Irish accent! God, you look ancient! Must be 90 if you’re a day! Hold on, I’ll check the file. Jeez, only 78! Time you retired, mate. You’ll bloody wear yourself out! What else? This is interesting: “Made a name for himself on the box. Started that Fair Go thing.” We hate that programme here at the Bank. Bloody consumers knowing their rights! Peasants! What would they know about high finance? No pleasing them. Moan bloody moan!
Which brings me to your letter DOCTOR!!! Passed on to me by our Head of Surveillance. Let’s see: “… saved all my life… told by every government this was the responsible thing to do… managed to buy a house and put away a nest egg for my old age… now being punished for having been responsible…. Interest rates at all time low… people with barely a cent to their name now borrowing hundreds of thousands… not fair… blah blah blah…”
God this is side-splitting, Doc. Tears (of laughter) are running down my cheeks. Can’t wait to tell Bill about this. Still, you’re right and you deserve an answer. And here it is, Doc – Take it to Fair Go, Mate!
Posted by BE on July 11th, 2016
Having of late been more critical than approving of Andrew Little’s efforts in television interviews I now come to praise him: he handled a lengthy and confrontational interview with the terrier-like Lisa Owen on ‘The Nation’ exceptionally well. His ums, ers and y’knows were gone, he was fluent, his eye contact was sustained and he looked confident. The interview should have been a winner.
There was only one problem – the long list of questions he was unable to answer at all! Not from lack of knowledge but because Labour’s policy on each of those topics was not due to be released until the Labour Party Conference on Sunday, which, as we all know is the day after Saturday, when ‘The Nation’ is first broadcast. The world – and Lisa Owen – would have to wait till then.
So we ended up with a whole series of questions which Andrew had to tell Lisa and the audience he couldn’t answer. Conference had to hear them first – on Sunday!
It was really embarrassing.
So here’s my question: How in god’s name did no-one in Little’s office notice that his interview with Owen was the day before the Labour Party Conference which would make it impossible for him to say anything new or of consequence about … well, pretty well anything.
That proved a disastrous oversight with Little repeatedly having to tell Owen he was sorry but he couldn’t talk about that.
Heads should roll!
Posted by BE on July 7th, 2016
Just listened to an appalling performance by Judith Collins with John Campbell on Checkpoint re Ngapari Nui, a gang member doing wonderful work for Maori prisoners. Unthinking, irrational, blindly bigoted, closed-minded, just plain stupid. With these attitudes Ms Collins is not fit to be Minister of any portfolio requiring forward thinking or social understanding. Least of all Minister of Corrections.
Posted by BE on June 30th, 2016
If you type ‘Andrew Little’ into the Search box on this site you’ll find several posts in which the current Leader of the Opposition’s name appears. If you take the trouble to read them all – personally I don’t recommend it – you’ll discover that Brian Edwards thinks that Andrew Little doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of ever becoming Prime Minister of Godzone and that,”maybe, just maybe, Andrew Little is a man for the time.”
Hold on, both of those statements can’t be true, can they? Oh yes they can! And if you’re sitting comfortably, I’ll try to explain. See, I think this Andrew Little is a pretty good guy. Here’s what I said about him just after I’d come to that conclusion: “Whether being good and looking good, whether being yourself and acting yourself are entirely compatible is not something I want to canvass here. But I do know that if you don’t ‘come across’ on television and radio your chances of political success are greatly and quite possibly fatally reduced. Which brings us to Andrew Little. I thought his reply when questioned about why he had won the Labour leadership that ‘it must have been my bubbly personality’ was great. But the irony behind that answer was also a clear indication of his awareness that he doesn’t meet the ‘performance requirements’ that commentators like myself regard as essential in the aspiring political leader. Indeed, in a previous post I wrote him off as ‘a grim-faced, former union leader with little chance of ever becoming Prime Minister’. When his supporters subsequently spoke of his having ‘a dry wit’, I said I was more inclined to regard it as ‘arid’. So his ‘bubbly personality’ response was encouraging.”
I’m no longer encouraged. After 18 months in the job, the Leader of the Opposition still looks dreadful on television and sounds dreadful on radio. His ‘bubbly personality’ joke has descended from irony to farce. In a recent interview – I think it was on Q+A – he said y’know so many times that I eventually gave up counting. He talks to his interviewers but doesn’t engage with them on a personal plane. He looks and sounds like the caricature of an old-style British trade unionist. His personal ratings reflect all of this. That, sadly, is a losing formula for any aspiring Prime Minister. Pity!
Posted by BE on June 30th, 2016
Posted by BE on June 27th, 2016
Followers of this site and of my writing and broadcasting will know that in matters of crime and punishment my approach could reasonably be defined as “liberal”. That approach was perhaps best summarised in Baby in the Monster, a piece about Malcolm Rewa originally broadcast on National Radio’s Top Of The Morning and later included in a collection of columns from the programme, entitled Brian’s Week. Here are a couple of paragraphs from Baby in the Monster:
“So how and why do monsters emerge? My own view as a hard determinist is that nature and nurture conspire to make us what we are. But whether you accept that view or not, it is undeniable that the formative experiences of childhood and youth play a critical role in whether we become saint or sinner. Violent offenders, not least those who abuse women and children, were themselves almost invariably the victims of violence and abuse.
“I like to look at the people around me and imagine them as little babies. The saintly person was once a little baby, but so too was the monster. Baby and saint, baby and monster are not two separate people but stages in the life of one person. Between baby and saint, baby and monster, there stretches a continuum along which things happen to each of them that determine what they will be at any given stage of their lives. (This, incidentally, is more or less the same conclusion reached in the brilliant television series Why Am I? based on the Dunedin Longitudinal Study and broadcast on TVOne.)
“Only by separating people from their personal histories, by treating the person now as though he or she had no connection with the person then, is it possible to condemn them outright, to dismiss them as sub-human. It’s easy, of course, to see the baby in the saint. The real skill is in seeing the baby in the monster.”
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by BE on June 16th, 2016
The prosecution of the bastards in the New Zealand Police who, for all intents and purposes, framed an innocent and incompetent man whom they then knowingly allowed to rot in prison for more than two decades. Justice will not have been served until that grievous wrong has been put right.
Posted by BE on May 24th, 2016
Here’s some free media advice for Hilary Clinton now just trailing Donald Trump in the polls: Stop smiling and waving to “people you recognise” in the crowd. It’s insulting to everyone else, looks (and may well be) dishonest and makes you appear like a movie star rather than a future leader of the Free World. Get some gravitas!