Hard News by Russell Brown

A great occasion of state

Maori, who do funerals so well, have gone a generation without such a great occasion of state as the tangi for Te Arikinui, Dame Te Atairangikaahu, will be. I think the ceremony will be good for us all, if only because it - and the subsequent succession - will change the media narrative on Maori for a week or two. The debate within Maoridom about the Kingatanga might be as interesting as anything else.

I'm republican by instinct, but I'm also aware of the mythical and ceremonial value of monarchies, even those, as this one is, without any formal constitutional status. If any readers are attending the tangi and would like to write about it in a guest post, or simply share their observations, they should feel free to get in touch. Good links are welcome too.

Te Ara has an entry on the King Movement, as does NZHistory - and of course Wikipedia. Naturally, Wikipedia is more up-to-date, and its entry for the late queen is being frequently updated this week (it was in fact The New Zealand Collaboration of the Fortnight up to August 13).

Simon Pound, an Atlantic Monthly subscriber ("it's awesome!") has kindly taken advantage of a service offered by the magazine's site which allows short-term links to be generated for friends. There seems to be no prohibition on sharing those links - and I'm sure you'd find Simon very friendly if you met him - so here are the links to James Fallows' Declaring Victory story, which contends that we should "declare the war on terror over" and get on with the next part, and Fallows' follow-up. The links die in two days.

The Bush backlash is definitely on. MSNBC host Joe Scarborough (no weedy liberal) has devoted a 19 minute programme segment to the question of whether the President is in fact an idiot, presenting a reel of Bush's greatest hits as evidence. The humour isn't only in the flubs: the Wall Street Journal columnist gamely arguing that the president is intelligent but simply has a "communication deficit" is amusing. And then Scarborough commits his own Bushism as he signs off, struggling unsuccessfully to find the word "curiosity".

Yamis on Blogging it Real takes a pointless and arbitrary what-if scenario on the NRL points table from the SMH and substitutes it with an interesting and relevant one. How would the table look without the stupid "golden point" rule that prevents any game being drawn? Quite a bit better for the Warriors, it turns out.

From the same source, a look at SPARC's new funding programme, which purports to focus on excellence, but leaves out softball, where our national team has won the last three world championships.

Moana is blogging her 2006 European tour. Lovely pics.

Mark Broatch of NZBC interviews Canterbury University economist - and copyright specialist - Richard Watt.

Spare Room has the story on this week's sizzling Sun scoop with the partying princes. Turns out the photos are three years old and the Sun's story is basically made up. But I can't help but be struck by the fact that everyone in the photo looks trollied. Check out the sweats on the heir to the throne.

Meanwhile, Jim Anderton continues to protect the nation from harm: this time by moving to strengthen the ban on drug paraphernalia legislated by the last National government. I can see some sense in preventing the sale of P pipes - a very specific piece of equipment - but the lengths to which he is prepared to resort to ban the bongs, and even things that could be made into bongs, seem silly. As Keith Richards demonstrated during his visit here, a makeshift bong is never further away than the nearest fresh apple. Ironically, if his ban-the-bong gambit drives pot smokers to lash together a couple of ZigZags (and you can't ban those), Anderton will have succeeded in inducing pot smokers to smoke more of that strong modern marijuana. I wouldn't expect police command to be delighted about having to police this.

Hey, if any readers have DIY bong stories from their misspent youths to share (discreetly of course) they are welcome to send 'em in for the Friday funnies.