Bridge Over Troubled Water

October 13, 2010

Happy birthday Paul Simon, 69 today.

This isn’t the best recording of the song, but I was at the concert and they way the audience responded when the sound system failed was unforgettable. (It sounded better in the audience without the tune-less bloke whose voice dominates on the recording).

When they finished the song, Art Garufunkel said that was the nicest thing an audience had ever done for them.


Word of the day

October 13, 2010

Taphephobia – fear of being buried alive.

Today’s word comes as a tribute to the 33 Chilean miners who have been trapped in the San José mine near Copiapó for 69 days.

Reuters has a live video here.

The NZ Herald has live updates here.


Labour to take tax off weather

October 13, 2010

The Labour Party has announced a further plank in it’s economic policy – a proposal to take the tax off weather.

Party spokesperson Fairly Desperate made the announcement in response to the release of the September Food Index :

Fruit and vegetable prices rose 2.6 percent, with broccoli prices rising 49.5 percent and lettuce prices increasing 13.5 percent. “Vegetable prices were affected by unusually windy, wet, and cold September weather in different parts of the country,” Statistics New Zealand’s prices manager Chris Pike said.

 “Obviously the weather has a significant impact on the price of food and our policy to take the tax off it will make a huge difference,” Mr Desperate said.

When asked to quantify the cost and benefit of the policy Mr Desperate said that wasn’t the point.

“We don’t want to let figures get in the way of a good sound bite, but you can be sure that tax-free weather will be a winner with the people we’re trying to confuse in to voting for us.

“We’ll be the only party offering voters tax-free weather and that’s sure to resonate with people at the supermarket and ballot box.”


Compass: A Triptych

October 13, 2010

This Tuesday’s poem is Compass: A Triptych by Nancy Mattson.

Among the links in the side bar are Renee Liang’s Open Letter to Mr Peter Brown of New Zealand First.

And A Greening by Saradha Koirala.

If you’re interested in, or puzzled by, poetry you may also enjoy Emma Neal’s piece in the ODT: Not all cats are black, not all poetry rhymes.


Right or left brained?

October 13, 2010

If this figure is turning clockwise you’re right brained, if it’s turning anti-cockwise you’re left brained, which is the majority.

I had to think for a moment before knowing which way was which so it’s no surprise I’m right brained – better at feelings than logic.

Hat Tip: Jim Mora


Hell hath no fury like an MP scorned

October 13, 2010

When you’ve been kicked out of the party you say you love you have several options.

Chris Carter has chosen the ballistic one:

Expelled former Labour MP Chris Carter has declared war on Labour and its leader Phil Goff, threatening to dish dirt and name those he said were involved in plotting to oust Mr Goff.

Mr Carter was booted out of the party by its ruling council on Monday night – the first such move since MP John A Lee was ousted in 1940 – despite an hour-long plea from Mr Carter laced with threats to reveal embarrassing skeletons. At one point he told the council: “I can be friend or foe. If it’s foe you want, its war.”

An ex-MP who has acted somewhat irrationally at times doesn’t have a lot of employment options.

One of those open to Carter is writing a book and it’s in his interests to keep himself in the headlines to generate sales.

But he may not be Labour’s only problem.

In his submission, leaked to The Dominion Post . . .

Was Carter the leaker or is there someone else in the party with issues?


Whose culture rules at our place?

October 13, 2010

Respecting other people’s beliefs when you’re on their territory is good manners, but how far should you go to accommodate other people’s beliefs when they’re on your territory?

This is just one of many questions being asked after a request for women who are pregnant or menstruating to stay away from a behind-the-scenes tour of Maori artefacts at Te Papa.

The request is being made to women from regional museums who will be going on a back-of-the-house tour of some of Te Papa’s collections, including the Taonga Maori collection, Te Papa spokeswoman Jane Keig said.

The Taonga Maori collection is not open to the general public and the request does not apply to them.

Ms Keig said the issue was a “cultural consideration” to respect Maori beliefs.

“There are items within that collection that have been used in sacred rituals. That rule is in place with consideration for both the safety of the taonga and the women,” Keig said.

She said there was a belief that each taonga had its own wairua, or spirit, inside it.

“Pregnant women are sacred and the policy is in place to protect women from these objects.”

“If they understand that they can attend at another time [when they are not pregnant or menstruating].”

The idea that the safety of the taonga or women could be compromised if they disregarded the request to stay away defies logic, as many cultural and religious beliefs do. Culture and religion are belief systems not science.

Margaret Mutu, head of Maori Studies at Auckland University, said women should not be offended by the request.

“The reproduction area is extremely powerful and can do damage to things that are not tapu. It’s about the power of women, not about stopping them.”

Mutu said the objects were obviously dangerous and the hapu they came from would have told the museum about how to treat them.

“They are tapu and pregnant or menstruating women are tapu. It would be very unwise to put the two up against each other.”

Mutu said in her hapu, women were also prevented from going onto gardens or fishing areas while tapu.

Many religious and cultural beliefs had a basis in health and safety and in ancient times keeping women who were menstruating out of kitchens and gardens may have been justified on the grounds of hygiene. It’s not so easy to find a reasonable basis for the concerns over pregnant women but even if there was a good reason then it doesn’t stand up in the 21st century.

The idea of taking a week or so off cooking and gardening every month has some appeal and may have worked well when people lived communally. But it’s impractical in modern life because it would rule women out of any work in kitchens and gardens.

Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Chris Finlayson  quite rightly said he didn’t get involved in Te papa’s day to day affairs and he pointed out it was a request not an instruction.

Fair enough, and if the display was on the owner’s property that request should be respected.  But Te Papa is our place, it says so on the logo . In our place, our rules apply and among them are the ones which made women equal citizens.

This issue has led to many posts including:

On the inconvenience of periods and pregnancy at In A Strange Land Cross posted at The Hand Mirror where Julie posted on Tricky balancing act ahead (the comments on all three express a wide variety of views).

Superstition encouraged at Te Papa at NZ Conservative.

Don’t you just love modern cultures? at Credo Quia Absurdum Est.

Cultural twaddle makes us see red at Roar Prawn.

Superstitious bull at Kiwiblog.

Feminism vs multiculturalsim at Lindsay Mitchell.

Here’s a matter worthy of protest action and Margaret Mutu tell us more at Alf Grumble.

Two PC tribes have a spot of culture clash at Oswald Bastable.

Something to do if you’re menstruating  at Dim Post.

Why does Te Papa hate women so much (and other outraged thoughts) – Andrew Geddis at Pundit.

No place for women at our place – at No Right Turn.

PC priorities at Kiwipolitico.

Update:

Cook your own F***ing eggs I’m menstruating at Cactus Kate.

UPDATE 2:

Grandfather’s sword at Bowalley Road.

Te Papa revisted at Dim Post.

We should be encouraging women to come to Te Papa at Alf Grumble.


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