Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: How much speech does it take?

554 Responses

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  • Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    I recall some years back (too long ago to be able to recall what or where) reading a piece related to what I presume is behind Flavell's "frustrated" call for condemnation of suicide-committers. It quoted some youth overhead at a tangi saying something like "wow, this is awesome, I wish I could hear everyone saying such nice stuff about me at my tangi". It seemed to me, however, that the solution was not to stop holding tangi for suicides, but to introduce some new tradition which allowed youth to hear the sentiments expressed at tangi while they were still alive - i.e. that the solution was not to remove glorification of the dead, but also to glorify the living.
    Such an event should be held early - 14 or 15, for example - and should be a celebration of the youth's life and potential (rather than a celebration of alcohol, and therefore not like a 21st). If time and/or cost were an issue, it might be possible to hold these celebrations in cohorts of youth, so long as sufficient time were dedicated to each individual.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 585 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    with so much of the seafloor unexplored, it’s not unreasonable to hope that some deep-water species might still exist…

    Having just got back from two weeks in a darkened room exploring the seafloor, I can assure you that it's really astounding how difficult it is to find things down there. Even things you have a fairly good idea should be there. There's a lot we have yet to learn.

    I'd still be pretty astonished if trilobites were found, though. They've just been out of the fossil record for so damn long. Moreover, we have a fairly good idea of what sorts of organisms inhabit the deep sea - if not the precise species. Even coelecanths are, after all, bony fish, and we know there's plenty of bony fish in the sea. As it were. Trilobites are so distant from anything now extant - we'd surely have found something related in the fossil record, even if not the trilobites themselves.

    Still, there's plenty we're yet to find. I guess you never know.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    Some people have very cool jobs...

    Yeah, I take your point about the fossil record and the fact that nothing close to a trilobite has been around for a long, long time. Wistfully, though, I note that not all habitats are conducive to forming fossils. In any case, I'm pretty sure there will be plenty of marvelous, unexpected discoveries yet to come, even if they aren't trilobites, because every major expedition seems to come back with some.

    Marine biologist - another career path I wish I'd taken.

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 982 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby,

    back on free speech and tolerance:

    italian ex-minister defends ideas of norwegian terrorist, "[his] ideas are in defence of western civilisation."

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Kracklite,

    Some people have very cool jobs...

    Believe me, it's one of those things that's much cooler to talk about than to actually do. Especially at 4am. (I mean, yeah, it's cool, but that's because the edited highlights in my mind are a lot more entertaining than the actual Interesting Things: Boring Things ratio.)

    Also, I'm a microbiologist, and while there are more important microbiological things visible to the naked eye than you'd think, most of the Interesting Things are macrobiological, meaning that I spent a lot of time going "Oh, look, it's a red blob thingy. What's that again?" and the rest of the room going "Uh, we're geologists, but if you want to know about the lava..." The actual marine biologists were in a different darkened room all the way on the other side of the continent. And one in a darkened room at NIWA, come to think of it.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Che Tibby,

    italian ex-minister defends ideas of norwegian terrorist, "[his] ideas are in defence of western civilisation."

    I was timing him (Borghezio, not Tibby).

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    who was it who said recently that the biggest threat to Europe isn't islam, but resurgent fascism?

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Che Tibby,

    who was it who said recently that the biggest threat to Europe isn’t islam, but resurgent fascism?

    Me?

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    you will doubtless be familiar with this then - growing up neo-nazi in germany.

    anyone to hazard a guess when we can start suppressing hate speech again? can we just drop the pretence of loving these fckers to their “inevitable” demise? :)

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    introduce some new tradition which allowed youth to hear the sentiments expressed at tangi while they were still alive - i.e. that the solution was not to remove glorification of the dead, but also to glorify the living.

    Great idea. Why we arrange things so the only time people gather to say good things about a person is after they can't hear them is beyond me.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19735 posts Report Reply

  • Marcus Turner, in reply to Kracklite,

    I think Triops (tadpole shrimps) might be related to trilobites, too.

    Since Nov 2006 • 212 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Sacha,

    Well, celebrating birthdays is a common practice. But I think some of these are more crucial than others. When kids are young is the most important time, but increasing intervals from there, synchronized with times of social/cultural significance makes sense. That's what 21sts were originally about. But to me seems like every birthday until 13 is important, then probably 15, 18, 20, 25....etc. It might start getting closer together at the end of life, where every year is hard won, and the social isolation of aging needs more formalized efforts than people will tend to spontaneously give.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10655 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby,

    i think what we're missing is the importance of rite of passage. 21st used to be about recognising adulthood, but these days they're actually about getting loaded.

    to stand and be told by your family that you are a (wo)man, with the responsibilities of that status, is something we lack in ongoing glorification and perpetuation of youth.

    oh, and get the fck off my grass.

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Che Tibby,

    Yes, I was deeply jealous of a kid I was at intermediate school with, who was from Niue. He told me that he had gone through a rite of passage recently, something that was culturally important and recognized as such by his people. It involved an exciting trial - he had to singlehandedly navigate an outrigger across the ocean to a neighboring island, a trip that took 2 days, given no provisions, so he had to fish to get anything to eat. I believe he also had to camp out for a bit too at the other end.

    After that, he was acknowledged to be a man. This was a 12 year old. My respect for him grew immensely, and I did notice that he acted a lot more grown up than everyone else too.

    Whilst that particular trial is perhaps more appropriate for a different time and place, I do think that symbolic rituals involving a display of independence and character are a fantastic social mechanism. I fully intend to use those ideas with my own children. They might involve something like navigating alone across the city, using public transport. Or arranging to meet an important stranger and interviewing them. Getting a driver's license is a particularly important rite of passage in NZ.

    They need not be particularly difficult things. The main thing is the symbolism of marking the occasion, and laying out the new rights, but also responsibilities, of that milestone.

    There is a danger, of course, that some may fail these tests. However, being able to redo them is good. I distinctly remember failing the final test when I went to get my motorbike license in Australia. It was galling. However, when I went back they presented all of us first-fails with a very curious statistic - having failed the first test, we were statistically far less likely to die on a motorbike. The humiliation was an important lesson in itself.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10655 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby,

    you'd like a friend of mine. he was planning on strapping his 6-month-old to a small chariot, and strapping the chariot to the family cat.

    oh the adventures!

    my own rite was standing in a kitchen till 2am, dishes piled higher than my 11-yo backside, then taking the money home for the family. sure learned the value of a dollar, and that being a man is nothing but hard work.

    flippancy aside, have been wondering about recognising adulthood in my own family as well. tricky one - driving won't cut it.

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Che Tibby,

    my own rite was standing in a kitchen till 2am, dishes piled higher than my 11-yo backside, then taking the money home for the family. sure learned the value of a dollar, and that being a man is nothing but hard work.

    Working for money seems like an important rite too. If it came with sound advice about investing it, that could be extremely useful, but unfortunately, most adults don't have a fucking clue about that either. I'm no exception. I did learn a rather bad thing about money quite early on - having saved up my pocket money for a week, I had twice as much as my brother. He then took my money and his and divided it in two. That practically killed my interest in saving for at least 20 years. I think there's a deep metaphor in there for NZ society.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10655 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to BenWilson,

    He then took my money and his and divided it in two.

    Sounds a lot like the creation of the Euro...
    with similar knock on effects.

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7948 posts Report Reply

  • Sam Vilain,

    Sorry if someone already brought this up, but how cognitively dissonant are these two Farrar posts:

    Opposition Leader Phil-Kim Goff said that no one briefed him that the election was being held that day.

    vs

    │...Hitler Youth...

    That really is an incredibly offensive and stupid thing to say.

    San Francisco (was Wellin… • Since Jun 2007 • 24 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    or the old NZL taxation system. 68%? w.t.f..

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Che Tibby,

    anyone to hazard a guess when we can start suppressing hate speech again? can we just drop the pretence of loving these fckers to their “inevitable” demise? :)

    Does the gang patch law count? Somehow it wasn't written to outlaw neo-Nazi regalia.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5439 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Che Tibby,

    It's not so much that I objected to my brother's tax, it was more that it actively discouraged me from saving. If the money had been placed beyond his control, I think I might have thought it a better idea. I didn't know about bank accounts at the age of 6.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10655 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    just for criminal association wasn't it? if ur nazis are law-abiding then the law is useless?

    @ben you didn't get the old post office booklets then.

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    we used to have rites-of-passage, more practical than symbolic - my Dad went out to work at 15 to support his family (despite being dux of his primary/intermediate school) - not much social welfare in those days to support his blind father and mother - if you grew up in a poor neighbourhood it was hard to get out - he did eventually get a degree (first in his family ever) on the NZ equivalent of the GI bill after coming back from North Africa/Italy

    we truly have it easy ....

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Nom de grrrrr...
    I take on board the various reasons outlined above for using pseudonyms or just plain anonymity (or is that Anon-Walter-Mitty ) - but I do take particular issue with Mainstream Newspapers not allowing anonymous letters in their print editions, while creating often festering sinkholes of bile with their (allegedly moderated) web versions.
    Are there not laws against using electronic media (phones, emails, etc), or even normal mail, to intimidate or threaten others?
    So perhaps there should be a web ombudsman or investigation unit that has the right to obtain the registered email or IP addresses and other identifying information of anonymous commenters who repeatedly stoop to abuse or hate - as others have said freedom of speech is a right and privilege to be used responsibly and accountably, and people need to be mindful of the consequences of their, sometimes impulsive and other times wilful, actions

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7948 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to BenWilson,

    I fully intend to use those ideas with my own children. They might involve something like navigating alone across the city, using public transport.

    This kid could have used such skilz
    When I were a kid this sort of thing only happened if you were drunk.
    I once woke up in the Dartford Train yards at 4 in the morning after "drinks after work" aged 15.
    Ah, the good old days...

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

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