Hard News by Russell Brown

TV-Internet cultural crossover

Don't be too surprised if you see The Daily Show turning up on local free-to-air television this year. There are negotiations. I hope we get the full-whack daily Daily Show, and that it's on in a decent slot, but apart from that: cool, we get a little bit more of the TV-Internet cultural crossover in real time. The only downside is that it'll take the fun out of downloading the thing.

Out there in the local right-wing blogosphere, there has been a good deal of sniping between National and Act adherents, and, in some cases, between Act party members themselves. Not my quarrel, clearly: the two Act MPs I thought were worth a damn got back in Parliament, the others didn't. Carry on.

But what happens to Act MPs when they rejoin the public? Madder than ever, it would seem. Muriel Newman's latest is really out there on the perimeter. When Newman was in Parliament, she made a couple of statements effectively endorsing the widely-debunked theory that a separate race called the Moriori settled these islands before the Maori: and thus, Maori were not really the tangata whenua.

This week, free of the shackles of public office, she declares a PC conspiracy to cover up the true status of the Moriori, who were really here first. Well, them or the Celts. Or was that the Chinese? Muriel lavishes praise on the work of former submarine commander Gavin Menzies, whose book, 1421, posited an epic journey of discovery by the Chinese navigator Zheng He, suggesting, she says, "that Chinese colonies existed in New Zealand for hundreds of years before the arrival of Maori."

But before Keith and Tze Ming start formulating their land claims: the late Michael King reviewed Menzies' book with respect to its New Zealand section (which, among other things, posits that persons unknown transported a nine-metre-tall giant sloth from South America to New Zealand) and concluded that it "exhibits more false information and a more dishonest manipulation of evidence than any that I have encountered in a book issued by a reputable publisher. The book is, in short, a disgrace."

Muriel claims that resistance among some Maori to National Geographic's global Genographic project is - with the collusion of the government - aimed at suppressing the unpleasant surprise of discovering that the Chinese (or, as noted, some incredibly enterprising Celts) settled here first. Personally, I find the various objections to the genetic research project unconvincing, somewhat arrogant and virtually constituting an argument against knowledge.

But unfortunately, for Muriel, all the evidence from genetic research so far points to the conventional theory: that the ancestors of the Polynesians gradually came south from Taiwan to navigate and colonise the South Pacific, from edge to edge. The nine-metre giant sloth might have been a bit tricky to fit in the waka.

So what is it next week? Suppressed inventions? Mind-control experiments? Can't wait.

On a not-unrelated tip, Adam Gifford has a useful consideration of National health spokesman Tony Ryall's statement that National would be unlikely to continue the very small amount of support available for "unproven" traditional Maori health practices in a few regions. It's not as straightforward as it might seem.

Riverbend blogged about the Iraqi translator murdered during the abduction of Christian Science Monitor journalist Jim Carroll. She discovered it was her friend, Alan, the guy who used to run the local record store, who loved Pink Floyd and knew everyone. It's sad.

Some late entries for the Big Day Out blogging collection: the reggae blog NiceUp covered Channel One Sound System (who I really cannot account for missing); Lemon pointed out the extremely prolific photoblogging work of Petra Jane; and the legendary Jimmy Kumura provides an extremely amusing account of seeing the Stooges and stuff.

And finally, the younger boy and I replicated the Mentos-and-Diet-Coke experiment on Monday afternoon. We didn't quite get the three metre fountain as-seen-on-the-Internet, but we're refining our technique for further experimentation (more Mentos, we figure). Meanwhile, here's our video of the experiment.

NB: The video is in the tiny-wee 3GP format used by current videophones. It will definitely play in QuickTime, not so sure about Windows Media. I quite like this format - the file size is well handy - and I'm keen to publish any interesting mobile video you readers care to send me. Just click "reply" below and I'll get back to you with an email address.