on the NZ housing bubble and looming economic disaster

 

This article from Forbes is pretty interesting reading, essentially arguing that our economy is due to pop at some point due to our overinflated housing prices, the resulting exposure and risk our banks have, and the large borrowing National has been doing. Well worth familiarising yourself with.

Waitangi Day-ish special cultural appropriation post: The Plunder of Glow Worm Grotto

 

How about this (laughable, terrible) episode of an obscure cartoon from the 1980s which makes remarkable use of “Maori” culture and “New Zealand” as a backdrop. Presenting: M.A.S.K S01E55: The Plunder of Glow Worm Grotto.

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All natives are basically interchangeable, after all.

(Sometimes, despite how much further there is to go, maybe we need to reflect on how far we have come.)

 

Thoughts on the Roast Busters

Even though I don’t follow news, the Roast Busters thing has been unavoidable.

Here are some thoughts, most of which I haven’t seen elsewhere yet. Some are tangents into wider issues. I don’t claim they are thought out, comprehensive, or even useful. I guess I will figure out what I think by writing it.

a) I don’t recognise my culture in this.

Rape, sexual violence, child abuse, there’s a whole lot of ugly beneath the surface of our culture that doesn’t get aired enough, which is part of what allows it to continue. And I overwhelmingly support talking about this stuff and shining light on it, and it is an excellent use for social media and the general power of the internet to let us have the discourses we need to have.

But this particular incident feels alien.

This feels like what happens when kids are raised by the internet. This is not something so simple as “blaming the internet”. But there is an ever widening pool of influences that pour in on children. My grandparents’ generation were raised by their parents and community. My parents’ generation were raised by their parents and radio and movies. My generation was raised by our parents and the television – a massive explosion of the world and images and ideas into the home. My niece’s generation – she is of the Roast Busters generation – is being raised by a hypermediated world defined by the internet – access to any damn thing whatsoever. Which is what you make of it. A global cesspit, if that’s where adolescent toilet humour and vileness goes. Or non stop ponies and rainbows.

I was a fairly grubby minded teen with offensive tendencies. I have no idea what I would have made of the internet, and what dark corners I would have found.

b) When I say I don’t recognise my culture in this, what do I mean?

I can imagine teen douchebags I knew getting girls way too drunk and fucking them and thinking that was awesome. And I can imagine them bragging about it to their mates.

I can’t imagine them filming it and sticking it on the internet and kinda trying to destroy the girls and bragging about it to the world. If for no other reason than someone in their family would track you down and give you a hiding.

That, and it just wouldn’t have occurred to anyone as a thing to do.

So what is happening? Maybe this is an imported mentality. There is some other culture in which this behaviour makes sense – maybe not even a real culture, maybe just an internet porn fantasy they couldn’t discern from a reality, hybridised with social media and reality television – and it has infected these young people in our culture. And they (and those around them) just didn’t have the health – or self-knowledge – or fundamental sense of right and wrong – to fight it off.

Or maybe this is just part of the mutation that technology is rendering to us – we are enlarged and magnified and distorted by our new technological extensions, and they reveal us to ourselves uncomfortably – and a world without the expectation of privacy, which encourages sharing everything, was always going to bring some dark things to the surface.

c) In terms of the Roast Busters themselves, I have to wonder, where are their fathers? What did you teach your sons that this kind of behaviour seemed acceptable to them? The internet might be an influence, but surely some basic sense of right and wrong can be instilled on a parental level. If we can’t even do that, we may as well give up on raising kids altogether. Let wolves raise them.

d) The real elephant in the corner is that humans just don’t deal with sex very well. It is a massively powerful force in us that can overwhelm, obsess, and prompt all kinds of crazy. Religion and social mores have done their damnedest to control it across the centuries. Nothing much works to control it. Dealing with it directly and doing a better job of it is the way through this.

How many parents have a conversation with their kids explaining the mechanics of sex? And how few have a conversation explaining the dynamics of interaction with the other gender, the confusions of sex, lust and love, and how strongly these basic drives can kick us around and make us act like animals and drive us out of our minds? How many of us understand ourselves and our own experience enough to be able to have those kinds of conversations with our kids? And if we don’t, are our kids going to be any more able to figure it out than we were?

e) Man, when the police get it wrong, it is a real bad thing. The police have a hard, shitty job to do. If we had better people we wouldn’t need police. They are a symptom of us not having our shit together. But the police are also people who don’t have their shit together, operating within a flawed system. And when justice fails, it is ugly and sad.

f) I have seen a lot of talk about “rape culture”. I find the term weird, and the discussion interesting, though am surprised that a bunch of myths around rape continue and that so much effort is going into continually debunking those, which is a necessary step before we can start having the actual conversations that need to happen here. Because hell yes, let’s talk about sex, and consent, and being responsible for ourselves and our decisions and actions in general.

What I would add is, hey, male culture in this country is completely fucked. This is the invisible pairing with how female gender roles are completely warped. Much has been justifiably written on the warpedness of female gender roles and imagery. However, if the female role is imbalanced, the male role must also be imbalanced. This corollary is unavoidable. The roles are complementary and interlinked; by definition, two halves of a whole.

The male gender role in New Zealand is at least as limited and proscribed and warped. And it is shit. And by shit I mean a horrifically constrained and restricted version of what it means to be a fully alive, functioning, experiencing and expressive human being. The masculine mainstream of rugby and beer are a straightjacket and lobotomy in one.

Drop gender for a minute.

We are human beings, facing the same fundamental circumstance in life, lots of which is pretty rough. We need to be free to be human beings. To feel, to think, to be and do.

We need to update our understanding of what it means to be a human being. Period.

We need to remind ourselves of our needs, our drives, our rights and responsibilities, as human beings.

First, we need to know it in ourselves. Then we can understand that this stuff applies to all of us. And maybe then we can start acting like human beings towards each other.

 

Billy goes to the movies

Or, film fest 2013 review.

Blancanieves

Spanish update of Snow White, recreated as a very stylish black and white period silent film. Snow White becomes a bullfighter but somehow this makes sense. Looked great but felt very long.

The Act of Killing

Absolutely incredible documentary. In Indonesia in the 60s they killed 2.5 million communists. They don’t view this as a bad thing, and the death squads of the time are now made men in society. The doco follows some of them as they make a movie re-enacting (and celebrating) those times. It is bizarre and surreal and terrifying – much of it is incidental in purely how insane and corrupt Indonesia seems to be – but yeah, incredible to see the re-enacting, and their reflection on what they have done (killing a thousand people by hand!)… the film is long, amazingly well crafted, with so many moments of jaw-dropping speechlessness… and the ending is out of this world. Not fun in any conventional sense, but incredibly worthwhile.

The East

Brit Marling’s latest film is another very smart, very well done alt-SF feeling film. This time more of a straight thriller about an agent going undercover with a principled but extreme eco-terrorist group whom she is both sympathetic to and at odds with. Smart, relevant, excellent. Shows up exactly how shit and irrelevant the average Hollywood thriller is.

Utu Redux

Had never seen this NZ classic. Opening is very brutal, the slaughter of a Maori village by English soldiers, but it loses the edge of that beginning, and meanders into its transposed Western form. Fascinating, bemusing on occasion (particularly Bruno Lawrence), holds up with little to induce cringing, and a couple of excellent performances. Nice restoration, worth catching on the big screen as presumably it will get a general rerelease.

Post Tenebras Lux

Won Best Director at Cannes in 2012. No idea how to describe this. Lush, fragmentary, non-linear, bizarre, powerful; with some extraordinary images. Mostly about the life of a young family in rural Mexico; on the meta level seemed to be about relationships, between humans, and humans and the environment, and how these relationships shape us. One for film afficianados rather than casual viewers.

Only Lovers Left Alive

Jim Jarmusch’s latest is a vampire film. While very stylish and enjoyable – his jaded aesthete vampires are charming and sane, and using their perspective on humanity (“zombies”) leads to some sharp observations – ultimately it is maybe a bit pointless. Good music throughout.

Constitutional Advisory Panel

 

Apparently NZ is considering constitutional reform. Something you could easily not know about for all the government is doing to bury it.

If you are interested in amending the fundamental laws of the land, you could check out their website, which includes things like information on how to get involved, and their PDF summarising what they have done so far.

 

watch Combust in Unity free online

 

You can now watch Combust in Unity free online at www.combustinunity.com

Where you can also buy the DVD for cost price, US $1.75 + post to wherever you are in the world.

 

It has been a long strange ride.

the haka as a hymn to Egyptian-Sun-God Ra

 

One of the things about reading lots of weird shit is you come across some weird shit.

Anyhow. Any New Zealander, and a good chunk of the world, will know the haka performed by the All Blacks: Ka Mate. It is variously claimed to attributed to Te Rauparaha, or as being much older, but one that he pulled out of his hat at a particular moment now enshrined in story.

The usual translation is something like;

Tis death! ‘tis death! (or: I may die) ’Tis life! ‘tis life! (or: I may live)

’Tis death! ‘tis death! ’Tis life! ‘tis life!

This is the hairy man

Who brought the sun and caused it to shine

A step upward, another step upward!

A step upward, another… the Sun shines!

(When I was a kid we had a tea towel with a haka translation on it, I remember more about he hairy man, and it seeming pretty weird as a thing for the All Blacks to sing.)

Anyway. So in something weird I was reading I came across a reference to the work of Professor Barry Fells, who ended up tracing lots of ancient language stuff, and more or less arguing that lots of Polynesian languages were descended from ancient Egyptian/Libyan dialects.

In his rendering of the haka via ancient linguisticky stuff, it would translate as:

It is fulfilled, it is fulfilled, Ra has risen, Ra has risen!

It is fulfilled, it is fulfilled, Ra has risen, Ra has risen!

This is the resurrection from the dead. Ascending, ascending,

From out of the abyss. Give light unto us. Cause the Sun to rise!

To rise up! To shine! Rise up, leap up O Ra!

 

Which just strikes me as way cooler.

I mean, seriously, the notion that everyone in this country knows by heart a hymn to an Egyptian sun-God, that rocks.

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(It works better as an invocation of Ra, doesn’t it?)

((Our rugby team has a six thousand year old sun god in our corner, fools. No wonder you don’t stand a chance.))

Fells’ work is not accepted in the mainstream AFAIK, and I haven’t read the original. Just noting it as an awesome orthagonal piece of weirdness.

returning to NZ in a couple of weeks.

Hey all. This mad and beautiful dream of travel will be ending soon, for now anyway. I will be back in NZ just before the election. Will be great to catch up with familiar faces again, and deeply fascinating to see NZ anew.

Also, I will need to replenish the war chest, which has been mauled by the past six months, so am interested in any random job stuff that is coming up that people know of. And any options of places to live, be it a flat, or a house sit, or even a couch or a backyard for a while, anywhere in the country really… everything is wide open. Surprise me. :)

political thoughts from someone who would like a good country to come back to

 

I realise the cheek in posting something like this as I prepare to head off (and the extent to which this is an exercise in projection/lecturing myself.) But I love my country and I would like NZ to be worth coming back to. And National is, honestly, damaging this country, and its future, to an extent that is actually startling.

I’m not entirely sure what the hell National and Key believe in. It seems different from anything I value. At the least, the way they go about things horrifies me, seems actively ridiculous, and completely broken. (This is just what I can remember of the top of my head: Inheriting a country with a budget surplus, then cutting government revenue via tax cuts for the richest, then cutting social programs to pay for that, and doing nothing whatsoever to get us through the recession while stamping on the poor, while borrowing heavily and sinking us in debt, while opening us up to exploitation by big business and letting overseas governments determine our policy, and abusing democratic process to pass extreme laws without oversight under urgency, and failing miserably to handle the Christchurch recovery, or deal with climate change and our collective future responsibly (let alone respectably): a pretty pathetic performance really, from a government that in theory represents us, but instead services a broken ideology divorced from reality. Yet still John Key is popular? WTF?)

-=-=-

Take a moment to feel the horror and rage you would feel over the next three years if National got re-elected and proceeded to brutally fuck the country even further.

Use this feeling as motivation to get involved actively in politics, now. Being pissed off and miserable for three years in which mostly what you can do is complain stinks. Being pissed of and active for a few months before the election is a far more useful expenditure of time and energy. This is what the structure of our democracy means.

-=-=-

I think the Left in general doesn’t grasp that politics is war. (At least, it has only recently really dawned on me.) Assume for a moment that von Clausewitz got it right – “War is a continuation of policy by other means”.

The simple corollary is that regular politics is essentially war, with all that entails.

It is about fighting for what you want the world to be like. It is about doing whatever the hell it takes to win. It is about realising that the other guys realise this, and are not fucking around.

Recognising this does not mean becoming the enemy. But it does suggest that techniques may be borrowed and repurposed; and suggests the attitude that is appropriate – how seriously to take things.

What, to you, is worth fighting for? Because the other team is fighting for something else, something that sucks balls, and, right now, they are fighting better than us.

-=-=-

I wonder how this government would cope with massive public protests against them during the rugby world cup?

On the world stage, with their domestic issues and failings highlighted. A cunning campaign could really put them on the spot. Targeted action. Leverage.

-=-=-

There is a lot of muttering, a lot of energy around the interwebs, a lot of dissent. Shape it. Use it to do something good. Get involved.

Because, scary as it is, we are the responsible generation now. We look up and see the deadwood fucking shit up based on outdated ideologies – those who have lost it. We look down and see kids, and young adults who don’t know anything yet – those who don’t have it.

Look in the mirror. We’re the adults now. This is our watch.

100% pure vs 100% stupid

Govt confirms NZers will pay for any oil spill resulting from drilling offshore in deep water (
http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA1105/S00072/govt-confirms-nzers-will-pay-for-oil-spill.htm)

So, basically, what we are saying is, hi, foreign companies, come exploit our resources, and don’t worry if you fuck it up catastrophically, it’s sweet, we’ll cover your ass.

Not so much 100% pure, as 100% stupid.

Especially when you consider how unready we are to actually deal with an oil spill, as Jez shows with pictures so simple even John Key could grasp their meaning.

I guess this is what being blinded by ideology means.

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