Hard News by Russell Brown


Must-have Mayoralty

Local body office is definitely the must-have accessory for talkback radio hosts, isn't it? Radio Live duo Willie Jackson and John Tamihere appeared on Campbell Live last night to discuss their respective mayoral candidacies for Manukau City and Waitakere City.

Tamihere had a few right-wing slogans ("we've all had a gutsful of regulation all over us") but, it seemed, little or nothing in the way of actual policy.

Jackson certainly has an affinity with south Auckland (although his complaint that south Auckland Labour hadn't swung in behind his five-minutes-old candidacy was downright pissy), but seemed to think he could carry on his radio career too. Do either of them really have the substance for the job?

Watch the video and decide for yourself.

Herald readers seem highly polarised on the issue, with Tamihere's support coming, as you might expect, from angry conservatives.

There are a couple of new posts over at humans.org.nz. In the stories section, Hilary Stace has an inspirational post about life with her Asperger son, and I've written a tart little post about horrible people who administer electric shocks to autistic children.

Che Tibby ponders the British government's new blog-monitoring utility.

Over at the Fundy Post Paul Litterick has posted his review of Ian Wishart's brief best-seller, Eve's Bite, having taken the "we read this stuff so you don't have to" motto to new heights. He does not mock, but finds the book wanting:

For much of this book, Wishart's technique is not to engage in argument but to suggest guilt by association. He is convinced that there is a ruling elite of Marxists who control everything. To demonstrate this, he shoves great blocks of text into his narrative, quotes from infamous Marxists. So a diatribe against the content of the school curriculum is interrupted temporarily by a quotation from Trotsky about supporting atheist propaganda. Other than that, he has no real claim against what is being taught in schools. He just does not like children learning about Confucius or the Suffragettes, so he suggests it is all part of a Marxist plot.

The Nazis are everywhere in this book as well, quoted mostly for their views on propaganda and indoctrination. At one point Wishart even suggests a correlation between statements made about the Exclusive Brethren by Government Ministers and comments made by Hitler about the Jews. Far from being a telling argument, Wishart's analogies collapse into bathos, such as when he suggests that teacher training in modern New Zealand is "centralised at state facilities" and thus is similar to the Third Reich's requirement that all teachers belong to the Nazi Party.

Myself, I've been watching Richard Dawkins' new two-parter, The Enemies of Reason. It's not his best work, especially the first part, where, having surveyed various form of silly superstition, he agonises over why humans must ascribe significance to the series of random events that constitute their lives. Well, because that's how we define who we are.

When he declares that: "It all sounds very poetic, but it's not reality … There's real poetry in the real world. Science is the poetry of reality," it feels as if he wants not so much a world free of superstition as a world free of metaphor.

The second part, focusing on alternative healing, is better, and includes some interesting speculation on an evolutionary basis for the placebo effect. Someone should show it to Sue Kedgley.

Anyway, it's on Google Video: Part One and Part Two.

Other linkage: Kathryn Ryan interviewed myself and Dave Gibson on the future of television on Nine to Noon yesterday. I thought it went quite well. And, of course, Kathryn also interviewed Mr Brown on Wednesday, and that was excellent.

To further whet your appetite for the Great Blend next week (our all-new bigger venues mean you can still RSVP), there's a free track from their debut album, We Are the L.E.D.s waiting for you over at Amplifier. You just have to register and it's yours.

I'll get around soon to another Public Address Big Stereo Bundle with our Amplifier chums, but #1 is still available. It actually shipped enough in a week to nearly make the Top 20 compilations in the national sales charts, but that isn't quite as much as you might think …

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