Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Ruth is stranger than Richard

You know those weeks when you think you couldn’t make up the sort of stuff that has been happening, because nobody sane would believe it? Well this has been one of those weeks.

One of the odder events this week was Gezza Browneye letting fly with his idea of a satirical send up of Finland. We shouldn’t have been surprised of course because this was the same danger to shipping who called Christchurch mayor Bob Parkup a clown. A fair call you might say, but somewhat ironic coming from Oliver Hardy’s double.

Of course the Finns had his measure and according to Finnish comic, Tuomas Enbuske that measure would be three ordinary people.

But on a more serious note; you would have to question the mental capacity of someone like Gezza letting fly with an off the cuff ramble like that just to try and score a point or two over David (the) Shorn. Any half way intelligent person would know that such an outburst in Parliament would lead to consequences that included the boss having try and explain to the Finnish president - especially after he had to mumble a grudging apology to young Bob only a couple of months back following the clown comment.

Another of the stories you couldn’t make up was the ACC privacy breach saga. I don’t expect too many of us are surprised at a government department making a cock-up of such huge proportions – after all this sort of thing has happened many times before. But what many of you might have missed was a much more disturbing admission/boast alleged by Deborah Coddington who reckons Bronwyn Pullar should have just returned the files and let things alone. I can’t find the audio but Coddington claims Mary Wilson interviewed an ACC specialist claimant barrister recently who blithely said he had been receiving wrong files regularly for six years and simply immediately sends them back each time.

So who was this twerp? And is he really a barrister? If so he needs a shake-up because unless somebody makes a fuss about this sort of stuff that results in resignations and sackings, there is no incentive for them to be more careful.

In this same week we had the story of the twit in Whanganui who drove himself to court. Nothing strange in that, you might think until you learn that he actually drove IN to the court, as in up the stairs and in through the front door. He was dobbed in by a member of the public after he reversed out and had another go at finding the ideal parking spot to view proceedings. In explanation he said he was "frustrated with the failures of the system". Hmm – I should imagine after that display they will be more than happy to accommodate him, albeit not in the manner he had in mind.

Meanwhile in the good ol, USA a pilot on a JetBlue flight from New York flipped out in flight. He began ranting about an Iraqi bomb on board and how they were all going down (presumably out of the sky – if not his timing was lousy). Either he was tripping off his face or he had done one loop the loop too many. The co-pilot had to lock himself in the cabin and take control of the plane while three or four passengers had to wrestle the foaming flyer to the ground until the plane landed and he was carted off to bedlam or whatever they call it in Amarillo Texas.

But I was just thinking; how could the passengers be sure which of the two flyers was telling the truth? It could have been a very ugly mistake if the guy freaking out had every reason to and the evil co-pilot was the one who was going to ensure their collective demise.


Lovers of the more obscure sorts of music may well recognise the title of this blog. For those who don’t; it is the title of an album by Robert Wyatt, a percussionist, pianist, singer and more who used to be in bands such as Soft Machine, Wilde Flowers and Matching Mole and was a recent collaborator with Bjӧrk. In case you haven’t guessed, it is a play on the old adage, “truth is stranger than fiction.”

And it was a very good title for Wyatt to use because he has had an interesting life. He was born Robert Wyatt-Ellidge in 1945; the son of a BBC journalist and an industrial psychologist. His half brother is Julian Wyatt-Glover; a noted Shakespearean actor who has also featured in many films including one each of the Star Wars, Indiana Jones & Harry Potter sagas. Robert began as a drummer and a pretty good one at that. But like many drummers he liked partying hard out a bit too much for his own good and in 1973 he managed to fall out of a four storey window which put him in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. He gave up drumming for the most part, because he couldn’t use his feet, but simply picked up where he left off with the rest of his music and has continued to record and tour ever since.  

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Whatever happened to the goodies?

Maybe I was just a naive kid, but it seems to me that once upon a time you could tell the goodies from the baddies. I like to think I still can, but it is definitely a tougher job these days, especially when it comes to those we don’t have a personal relationship with.

I can recall the time when we accepted a lot of things at face value. For example most people believed policemen were honest upholders of the law rather than cynical pursuers of ‘clear-up figures’. Lawyers, priests and, yes, even to a certain extent, politicians were generally thought to have the best interests of those they were paid to work for at heart.

To say that we have now discovered these people have feet of clay would be a gross understatement. They are up to their knees in brown stuff alright; but it ain’t clay.

I just began ticking off a list of disgraced persons the other day and it really started to make me a bit paranoid (who said that?). It reinforces the unfortunate fact that you can’t trust any bugger these days and the consequence of that is much more serious than any ‘loss of innocence’ on the part of the wider public. It will ultimately make it harder for genuine people to be heard.

The agonising thing is that most of these people actually did do some good for a while or were good people for a while or in certain settings. One is left wondering whether they were actually always heading towards the dark side or simply encountered circumstances in their life that made it easier for them to change than to remain honest.

The money sharks

One category that shouldn’t surprise us is the finance sector. We have always known that money men are part of a secret society that seems to operate according to its own rules and to the benefit of nobody other than its own membership. Banks have always operated on a basis of usury under the guise of ‘lending’, but even they have become more rabid of late and you have to blame the advent of fractional banking for this. It came into being well over a hundred years ago, but in the beginning it was only a fraction (pun intended) of what it is now. Banks were required to back up most of their funds with reserves of gold, but over the years the requirement has been loosened to the point where most could not afford to pay out even 10 percent of their creditors if they had to.

This means they are trading most of the time with ‘funny money’ that actually isn’t worth even the cheap paper it is printed on. Furthermore the same sort of jiggery pokery has been going on in the finance companies only they are not as universally supported by governments, so they have been crashing and burning all their investors. The only survivors from these smoking ruins have been the directors who usually caused the car wrecks that once held the hopes and dreams of those trying to save for their retirement.

Most of the culprits from these disasters have been the usual sorts of vermin that have scuttled out from the skirting boards of finance houses for years, however lately there have been a few who probably seemed okay to large sectors of the public before these fiascos.

One such person would have to be Sir Douglas Arthur Montrose Graham, former Attorney-General, Minister for Courts, Minister of Justice, Minister for Disarmament & Arms Control, Minister of Cultural Affairs and Minister in charge of Treaty Negotiations. Doug Graham has a pedigree that should make him one of the relatively good guys, although I won’t tell you what my wife always said he looked like unless one of his rich mates (does he have any other kind?) decides to sue me. He was a National Party MP for from 1984 to 1999, his great grandfather was an Independent MP from 1855 to 1868 and his brother Kennedy Graham has been a Green Party MP since 2008.

However Dougie has been convicted along with another former Justice Minister Bill Jeffries of breaching the Securities Act in regard to the failure of Lombard Finance of which they were both directors. At this stage I should declare a (hostile) interest. I once hired Bill Jeffries when he was practicing as a lawyer and he was bloody useless. But I digress...

So Sir Dug (a hole for himself) who for about 15 years had the support of many thousands of New Zealanders turns out to be just as dodgy as the rest of those finance guys.

Another who put himself about as a goodie was Allan Hubbard, that affable old duffer who seems to have hoodwinked thousands of investors in his South Canterbury Finance Company into thinking he was a financial whizz-geriatric who upheld all the old fashioned values of honesty and integrity. The reality turns out that he was about as on to it as the old grocer we all used to go to with a pencil behind his ear to add up your purchases in the days before electronic tills. As for his honesty and integrity; all I can say is that we will never really know because proceedings against him by the Serious Fraud Office have never been completed due to him being killed in a car crash a few months back. The fact that others associated with the companies are facing charges probably indicates this was no idle witch-hunt by the SFO.

Our esteemed sports stars seem to be just as likely to turn up in some messy situations of their own making, too. We have had allegations of match fixing and New Zealand cricket stars mentioned in connection with this. I can only assume these allegations do not involve Black Caps games because frankly there is no need to get them to deliberately lose matches; they can do that quite easily without any incentives.

But one sportsman who has turned up and been linked to dodgy financial stuff is sadly the late Jock Hobbs. Jock always seemed like a good honest bloke and he had a lot of mana through his roles as a core member of the Canterbury NPC team during the mid 80s and as an All Black who played 39 matches for the team and captained them on a tour of Fiji. After he had to give up the game following one knock too many on his scone, he got into the administration side of the game and chaired the NZRFU through some turbulent times. He has been credited with swinging hosting rights for NZ for the 2011 Rugby World Cup. I don’t know how I missed this, but blame it on me being distracted by said RWC; but Jock was investigated last year in connection with the failure of Strategic Finance of which he was a director. Strategic Finance went into receivership in 2010 owing $368M to 10,000 investors and the Financial Markets Authority launched an investigation into whether Hobbs and others had committed a breach of the Securities Act. They dropped their investigation against Hobbs in June last year when they discovered how advanced his cancer was. However the matter is not closed and others still might be prosecuted.

This is just the tip of an enormous ice-berg which is threatening to destroy our faith in bloody nearly everyone. In the last couple of months we have heard about Martin Elliott, former principal of Fraser High School in Hamilton who was charged with diverting hundreds of thousands of dollars of Ministry of Education funding towards building projects on personal homes of his. He cut a deal with the prosecutors and pleaded guilty to a pair of representative charges in return for having most charges dropped.

We have just heard of a Corrections Department Officer, Chanel Scanlan who took bribes of cash, drugs, booze and firewood (?) to fudge records and let offenders off their community work obligations. As if most of the sentences weren’t weak enough to begin with!

We have had countless cops convicted of everything from theft to rape and countless priests and care-givers convicted of abusing their position of trust by sexually assaulting and robbing those who needed their professional help most and I haven’t even started on MPs who steal the identity of others or use their headed notepaper to push the cause of people they might have had an inappropriate relationship with.

Whew! I think we should make all the good guys wear white hats so we can tell the difference more easily. Mind you I don’t think we need to put in a very big order for those chapeaux.      

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Now there’s not many people know that

This week I thought it was time to enlighten you, dear readers about some little known pearls I have recently become aware of. Some might make you laugh, some might make you cry, some might make you begin looking for a heavy calibre weapon and others might just make you go, “Huh?”

Not many....#1

The first of these is a bizarre contradiction I personally encountered in the last week. I recently developed an abscess under a tooth and had to go to the dentist. As is the norm, the dentist prescribed some antibiotics to help with the healing. However when I went to fill my prescription the pharmacist demanded a payment of $15 for the common antibiotic amoxicillin. I asked why this prescription cost $15 rather than the $3 that is normally charged for the same drug. What they told me was a real eye-opener as to the fiendish lengths governments go to in order to save a couple of dollars while trying to tell us all that they are backing our health needs.

It transpires that I had to pay $15 because my prescription was written out by a dentist and not a GP. My dentist is a Doctor of Dental Surgery and not just a Bachelor of Dental Surgery, which means her qualifications are the equal of my GP; and yet if he had written my prescription for the same medication it would have only cost me $3.

Either this is the height of stupidity or it is part of an evil plan to hoodwink the public into thinking the government actually cares about our health needs. After all such medications are only prescribed when there is an infection and whether that infection is in my tooth or my leg, really doesn’t much matter.

Not many...#2

This next one I saw a few weeks ago and I only saw the one reference to it so imagine not too many people know about it yet, which is probably how TAG Oil and Apache would like it to stay.

A report appeared on Stuff on January 29 that had my eyes bugging out. It turns out the Gisborne District Council has already granted some consents to a joint venture between the two Canadian oil companies to begin “activities associated with drilling shallow shot holes and seismic testing," No supwises there you might say, given the current government’s long held desire to leap headfirst into an orgy of drilling and fracking and whatever else they can think of to ensure every minute particle of ‘valuable resource is extracted from our soil, rivers, lakes, mountains, beauty spots and (coming soon to a house near you). Okay I made that last one up – but it might not be too much of a stretch for these turkeys.

But what makes this little snippet different form all the other clodhopping the government is doing in the face of substantial popular opposition is that these consents were issued without any prior public consultation at all. In fact they were so secretly approved even Mayor Meng Foon didn’t know they had been granted. GDC Councillors are defending their actions because they only have to notify consent applications if "the activity will have, or is likely to have, adverse effects on the environment that are more than minor". Of course they know this will not be the case, eh? Well they must do because TAG Oil & Apache have both assured them the fracking they will be doing and the drilling of two wells up to 2500m deep will not be a problem. When the council said they didn’t have the expertise to assess the effects, the consortium agreed to send council officials on a paid trip to Canada to consult with some experts (of the consortium’s own choosing, of course). I wonder what sort of conclusion they will come to.  GDC’s chief executive (Chief FullofBull) has defended the trip saying it was a chance for council staff to upskill. Yeah, right; only if upskilled is a synonym for brainwashed.

Not many....#3

This one is a real shocker, I think. Have you ever wondered why so many convicted sex offenders re-offend? I’m sure most of you have your own theories about this, but I recently happened upon a little nugget of information that must surely be playing a big part in this.

It has recently come to my attention that there are no mandatory programmes for sexual offenders while they are in prison. Programmes are there but the offenders can choose to take them or choose not to take them. Now that seems ludicrous to me. What better time to address their offending than when they are unable to simply not turn up to their sessions. I wonder if the expression ‘captive audience’ has any resonance with the Departments of Corrections and Justice.

And if you think that is bad; get this – when they leave prison, if they wish to do something about their rehabilitation they must pay for the courses themselves. There are no funded community programmes for those who have sexually offended against adults. So the justice system is leaving it to the good sense and consideration these people might have towards their potential victims and is also reliant upon them being either willing or able to fund such a course. Duhhh!

Not many....#4

This next one comes literally from the twilight zone. Sanwa Corp, an enterprising (?) Japanese company has come up with the ultimate accessory for those too stupid to get the fuck away from Fukushima. It is a handy little Geiger counter designed to work with your i-Phone. For just 9800 yen (or NZ$165) you can detect exactly how many thousand millisieverts you are being exposed to while simply breathing in and out.  The press release didn’t say whether the device could detect how much you were subjecting yourself to from the i-Phone, itself, but I guess that’s a market they could expand into as well. Somehow I can’t help feeling it is a bit like sticking your hand deliberately into a furnace and then hankering for a little device to go on your phone so you can morbidly enlighten yourself as to how hot that fire is that is peeling the flesh from your bones.

Monday, 5 March 2012

The sin bin

It shouldn’t come as any great surprise that New Zealand is one of the leading nations on a table of shame for instances of child abuse.

It seems there is hardly a day goes by when we don’t hear another report of a child who has been abused sexually or physically or neglected to a criminally callous degree. So why is this the case? Is it that we are a nation of lowlifes and scumbags?

I don’t believe we are. Without wanting to appear smug, I think the average Kiwi citizen is a pretty decent sort of person. However as a nation we have a growing problem of family dysfunction that began its growth spurt about three or four generations ago. It has begun to evolve into a very nasty canker that has the potential to blight and seriously damage our nation. When the seriously dysfunctional grow up and breed they spread the bad seed and unfortunately in most cases, their offspring will be just that much worse than their parents. However it is important to remember this is not a problem that resides among only the poor or immigrants or Maori. It knows no boundaries of race, economics or religion.

 So how did this come about and why are we not managing to slow it down?

In answer to the first question, I’d have to honestly say, I really don’t know, other than I think a shift in our society towards a more selfish type of human being could be a big part of it. And when I say selfish, I mean that in its broadest sense. To me selfishness is the state where people decide they will do what they want irrespective of how it might impact upon others. Greed is a subset of selfishness and as most of us would readily acknowledge, there is an awful lot of that about these days. Furthermore it is epidemic among our so-called leaders and that includes industry leaders as well as political ones.

A climate of selfishness has been created that has been made worse by a general drop in the standards of behaviour people have come to accept and a widening gap between the obscenely wealthy and the pitifully poor. This has led to a lot of very damaged people of varying sub-types. Some think they have a divine right to power and wealth, some feel continually frustrated by their apparent lack of power and/or wealth and both have been brought up by parents whose attitude was similar if not quite as extreme as their own. Kids run undisciplined all over the show and rather naturally are puzzled when they grow up and find they cannot always have their own way and then of course there are the disgraceful failures by those whose job it is to keep our kids safe. Fixing such a mess will take a strong and focussed team, unlike that which is currently on the field.

To take a rugby analogy the front row of this current team of dropkicks is filled with useless parents. Among these are the bitch who was jailed last year for assaulting her 9-year-old daughter with a machete and a hammer, kicking her in the crotch while wearing steel-capped workboots, tearing off her toenail and pouring salt and boiling water on the wound, and writing abusive words on her body; Lisa Kuka and her disgusting family who were jailed for torturing poor little Nia Glassie before ultimately causing her death, and the Kahuis, whose twins were killed (certainly by family members) yet nobody has been convicted over their deaths.

In the second row you will find hopeless wankers working in schools, crèches, churches and anywhere else where kids might gather, who are too lazy/stupid to check the references of people they will leave in charge of the kids. These include the educated idiots who hired the man with ten aliases and a record of paedophilia to work in their schools, and whose real name nobody is yet allowed to know; and the churchmen who for so many years simply shifted child abusers in their ranks to different locations where a whole new basket of ‘goodies’ awaited them.

On the side of this scrum of horrors hang the dimwits from CYF, the courts and the probation service who seem unable to adequately deal with the scumbags that come to their notice. The ore recent notable examples of these ‘loosies’ would be the cretins at CYF and 24 other so-called child welfare agencies who despite their involvement with the family were too dim-witted to keep safe that 9-year-old girl in my earlier paragraph and the judges who routinely suppress the names of such lowlifes..

And then at the back of the scrum is a feeble government that covers the arses of their useless ministries and continues to propagate policies that serve only to increase the social problems. Worse still these wallies show no signs of having any idea how bad the problem is. The 9-year-old girl had allegedly been sexually abused while in care and so some genius decided to send her back to the very home she had been uplifted from because of abuse there. The ‘mother’ subsequently wrote (or got someone who knew joined up writing to write) to Jianqi telling him her kid was out of control and asking for help. Jianqi passed on the letter to Paula Bumfat Minister of Retarded Development replied with some no doubt brilliant advice to get her into sport and signed off another 6 counselling sessions for her. It would seem the idea of actually sending someone around unexpectedly to see what the fuck was going on did not occur to them. FAIL.

So it would seem our forwards really aren’t fit and most of them should be red-carded off the field. It would seem it is up to us backs to try and bring about a change. We’re not as big as the forwards, but hopefully we have a much larger bench to draw from. All we can do is spread the word and dob in the scumbags. So keep your eyes peeled for a lowlife near you; and don’t leave the reporting to someone else. Teachers, doctors, social workers and all the rest of us owe it these kids, because if you think our current crop of so-called leaders are a motley crew; wait until the next generation grows up.