Monday, June 27, 2005

The Week Outside Parliament

From my desk I have a superb view, over the roof of the National Library, of the forecourt outside the House of Representatives. This is the space where dignitaries are received, flags are flown, and rallies and protests gather. Since this is an election year, I expect things to be quite entertaining from time to time. I've got a decent set of binoculars with me, so I can read all the banners and placards, though numberplates are tantalisingly not quite legible.

The last week or two have been busy. The tally:

Flags flown
  • Pakistan - President Musharraf paid a call. His bodyguard suffered some confusion at Auckland airport as to just when they were expected to surrender their guns.

  • China - The deputy premier was here a couple of weeks before this with the motorcade and all, and was greeted by pro-Tibet protestors as well as a more welcoming contingent, but I don't know who it was for this time.

  • Olympic - The Olympic standard was flying from the otherwise unoccupied poles for Olympic Day. They were flying for two days, in fact - perhaps as long as it was June 23 somewhere in the world...
Crowds gathered
  • Large numbers of schoolchildren congregated for a street march to promote road safety. Lots of small people in traffic-cone orange and zebra-crossing stripes to make the point. Easily the biggest crowd of the week.
    8/10 including a bonus point for cuteness

  • Orchardists gathered to protest Australia's continued denial of apple exports from New Zealand. Apparently, Australian growers import New Zealand budwood, which can carry fireblight, while denying access to the fruit. Protestors dressed as cricketers used apples in a re-enactment of the infamous underarm incident to help get their point across.
    7/10 including a bonus point for humour

  • A somewhat confused and low key appearance. While the PRC's flag was flying out front, something that looked like a small, cheap Chinese festival dragon wended its way across the paving and halfway up Parliament steps. Suspecting some form of human rights protest, I was bemused by the lack of security personnel, or indeed anybody else. A look through the binoculars revealed a couple of small placards carried in support with the Green Party logo and nothing else. When the dragon, or whatever it was, was laid out across the steps, lettering down the side read "WGTN dumps 1000 bottles every 1/2 hour." Even the Greens' own web site has nothing to say on the topic of glass recycling later than a press release on 26 May.
    2/10 with points docked for lack of point, organisation, spectacle, timeliness, and relevance

  • Federated Farmers, dressed in orange overalls, deliver two orange coffins full of petition forms protesting Government changes to land access rights. "They abused and jeered senior ministers including Michael Cullen and Mr Sutton, who gave as good as he got."
    5/10 including two bonus points for colour coordination and props and another for Minister-baiting, but docked a point for failure to engage public understanding and another point for being a late second to the party with the use of orange

Saturday, June 25, 2005

He must have missed out on the Halliburton job

The "Last Word" column in the Saturday edition of The Dominion Post is a regular repository for quirky items, often reader-submitted. I'm sure the type is common to many newspapers. This entry from the 19 June edition caught my eye.
We couldn't help but notice a member of ousted Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's legal team is none other than Giovanni di Stefano, last seen in these parts when he was exposed as a British conman after arriving in Auckland in 1990, claiming to have $100 million to invest in real estate. Before gaining Saddam as a client, di Stefano was living in Belgrade where he claimed as "good friends" another now-former dictator, ex-Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, and another butcher, the infamous Serbian warlord Arkan, aka Zeljko Raznatovic. He sure gets around.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Simple numbers

There's a paean of despair I've seen over and over, exemplified by this remark and response in a recent comment thread at Eschaton.
B1: As soon as the pictures became public, there was outrage all across the country. Don't sell the American public short...

B2: Never forget that half the fucking country voted for chimpy. Don't make excuses for them.
No! No, no, no, and again I say, no! Eligible voter turnout in the 2004 Presidential Election was 60.3%. Bush took 50.7% of those votes.

I make that pretty much bang on 30% of eligible Americans voted for Simius Rex. Less than a third. More people didn't bother to vote at all than voted for the missing link.

Pull yourselves together! You know there is no mandate. There must be hope.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Sherwood Forced?

Bobo's World is essential but relentless and ultimately depressing reading. Today it brings us an update on the story of Representative Don Sherwood (R., Pa.), he of the twitchy digits.

Snippy snippy follows. The whole thing is over here. (No attribution for the original press source.)
U.S. Rep. Don Sherwood of Northeastern Pennsylvania repeatedly punched and choked a Maryland woman during a "five-year intimate relationship" with her, according to a lawsuit filed yesterday.

Cynthia Ore, 29, of Rockville, Md., says that after each "unprovoked and vicious attack," Sherwood, 64, promised he wouldn't do it again and begged her not to leave him, according to the four-count lawsuit filed by Patrick M. Regan, a Washington lawyer.


The complaint states that throughout the relationship, Sherwood repeatedly struck Ore on her face, neck, chest and back, violently yanked her hair, and tried to strangle her.

In the complaint, Ore states that she lived with Sherwood in Washington for much of the relationship and that he repeatedly promised to marry her and start a family.

Sherwood is married and has three daughters.


Metropolitan Police said at the time that they saw no physical evidence of injury to Ore and noted that "both parties have left out significant information or are not willing to discuss in detail what actually happened."

Police said Ore "did not appear to be of sound mind" and initially said she was choked, then changed her story.

Ore said she was dazed and distressed when the police arrived, but denies changing her story.

Sherwood has denied choking Ore and has referred to her as a "casual acquaintance." He told police he was giving her a backrub when she "jumped up" and ran.
No matter how high they rise, deep down the Sherwoods of this world are trailer trash. You can see it in the relationships they form. It doesn't matter one iota if the assaults did or didn't happen; both parties are plainly dysfunctional whichever way you slice it, and the whole thing reads like something from COPS. Plus, why do I keep feeling like Cynthia's surname is missing a leading apostrophe?

No threesome with Mary Carey for you, Don.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Cheap shot du jour

In mail from a friend.

I see the coroner's conclusion that Schiavo's brain had shrunk to half that of normal and she could not have formed conscious thought.

Why am I thinking "presidential candidate" here?

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Apples and Oranges

Eschaton commenter "Fielding Mellish" (I didn't get it, but Google is my bestest friend) posted this in a Memorial Day thread there. It made my blood run cold.
I just heard this anecdote. My brother-in-law (more of a brother, really) has a cousin in Iraq. Like so many others, his mother bought him body armor because the regime wouldn't.

He recently told his mother that he didn't have it anymore, and asked for a replacement, telling her that someone stole it. However, he related the real story to my brother - he had to throw it away because "it took one in the front, two in the back."
Think about it. The guy's not even listed as wounded, so he appears in no statistics, but if that had been Vietnam he would be dead or, if he was really lucky, invalided out. So when the chickenshit chickenhawks bandy the numbers about to prove there's less mire in this quag, you know which orifice they're talking out of.

Your rulers despise you.