Hard News by Russell Brown

Beautiful things

I knew the stars were aligned when, just as I set foot in the Control Room, the PA began blaring out The Saints' splendidly jaded consumer anthem 'Know Your Product'. That horn riff - DA-DAT-DAT-DAT-DAA - never lets me down.

We were there to see The D4, and it was comforting to know that someone had made the connection a little further up the lineage of antipodean rock 'n' roll. The D4 rocked, but you knew that. It was nice to hear them play both some new tunes and their cover of the Flamin' Groovies' 'Shake Some Action'. There's a seriousness, decency and sense of style about rock 'n' roll like this.

Meanwhile kids, if you like The D4, then you really ought to check out The Saints' Best Of 1976-1978, a Raven Records' double CD that collects everything from the "classic" Saints era. It's a beautiful thing and it illuminates my life.

The Saturday mood was helped of course by the sport: four centuries in an innings by the cricketers, an amazing win over Australia in the rugby league test, and Auckland going through to the NPC final in an absolute thriller. On the other hand, a reshuffled All Black team lacked cohesion and purpose against a quite feisty Canadian team. I'm not overly worried at this point - they don't need to peak until the quarter-finals - but there were some serious underperformers out there.

Tracey Nelson's match stats make it quite clear how shabby the All Blacks' first-half performance against Canada was. It's a wonder there were any rucks and mauls at all, so tardy were the forwards in getting to them.

Lots more discussion on Slashdot of the latest e-voting story - a PR push by Diebold and other companies to assure the US voting public that everything's alright, really …

The Wired story includes this quote from Stanford University computer science professor David Dill:

The voting machine industry doesn't have a PR problem. It has a technology problem. It is impossible to determine whether their machines, in their current form, can be trusted with our elections."

Here's my Unlimited column on the Diebold fiasco and how it relates to earlier technology schemozzles.

Neil Morrison has his own weblog now, The Sock Thief - and quite good it is too. Among other things, he points to a useful roundup of the scientific debate in GM agriculture.

So the bill providing for the end of appeals to the Privy Council and the establishment of a new Supreme Court has been passed, capping a last-minute "debate" so shrill and politicised that it was hard to know exactly what to be worried about. Finlay Macdonald offers a welcome note of sense in this week's Listener editorial.

And, as promised, here's my Listener column on VeriSign's despicable conduct as keeper of the .com and .net domains.

The reliably brave and diligent Seymour Hersch has the most revealing story yet on how US intelligence on Iraq got so bad - the usual suspects in the Pentagon are fingered yet again. He discusses the story and the current state of the Bush Administration here.

In a new report, Human Rights Watch flags its concern over the number of civilians being killed by US troops in Iraq.

Closer to home, Karl du Fresne tried to find out what's wrong in the Wairarapa for the NBR.