Matt Nippert - panhandler*, Auckland

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Hey brother, can you spare $25,000?*

"Well if you wanna start a blog, just don't mess with Matt Nippert, he's a crazy mo'fo'." - Paul Buchanan
Some of you may have been wondering where Fightingtalk has gone since the wild and early days where we dealt with, and to, serious politicians and issues. We're now decrepit, cobwebs hanging in the wind, with only Lyndon Hood saving us from a pronouncement that we're officially dead.

We post irregularly, like David Slack, but minus a book deal to show for our vacancy.

It's not like nothing's going on - there's interesting discrepencies between stories I've written and official comment soon after (yes, I've got notes - but I'm no Wishart); pimping myself for money*; lush corporate junkets involving drug experiences with TV personalities - but these are stories best kept for a better-read, and paid, forum.

Blogging, if it's first-person potential is to be realised, needs to twitch. Such as this half-recollection I've come up with off the top of my head:

Leeching off an extravagent junket funded by Coca Cola, a fat penguin sat behind me screaming himself hoarse at a bout reminicent of professional wrestlers on ether. At least the bloodlust is alive and well amongst our better paid. Next week I'm going to K1 where the beer is cheaper and the blood more frequent.

"He's your bitch David!, Slap 'em about!" gets coupled with "Don't slap em! Punch him!". Wifebeaters with cumberbuns are in this winter, and I bet these guys aren't the ones who end up on domestic violence charges.

His final encore really kicked in a flashback of margarine dolphins, botulism and underage barstaff "It's a smorgasbord David! Take what you want! It's Valentines!".
On the other end of the blogopshere there's a game the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy call "What Would Wishart Write?" Take this generic example.

What a good way to get rid of some bad press - a death scare for the PM. Whether staged or not (I would happily believe it actually happened) the PM’s air scare has got everyone talking about that rather than John Tamihere. Very convenient timing.
(Link withheld to protect the innocent, and not encourage the guilty. PS: Gary Lindsay - your blog is shit. And yes, the Chiefs are still retarded.)
The worst are truly filled with passionate intensity.

So where has this gang gone? Well, we've found something else to do. Well, at least I have. Patrick Crewdson might have kept blogging, if only he can take a break from hosing down the Office. Without Hood, we'd be flatlining. (And, if that happens, please pull the plug. I know none of here want to pull a Terri and become a bit-part in Weekend at Karl Rove's.)

Blogs are, as even the disreputable fellows at DogBitingMen are now acknowledging, only water wings for playing in the shallow end of the media pool. To plagurise a radio station whose attitude sums up the pigheaded arrogance out here; all blogs are shit.

A whole year ago, practically at the birth of the internet, Fightingtalk was founded. Since then the scene has totally sold out. Public Address is practically Fox - well-funded, chatty and chillingly assured. NoRightTurn could competently replicate Triangle news, while David Farrar's most likely on that tape you just recieved from that video dating agency. And this is the best New Zealand can offer? Get serious, or get off-line.

One day, at least the most far-sighted of you, are dreaming of paddling in the deep end. Letters to the editor, I can assure you, are far more intimidating, insightful, and engaging than any internet feedback you'll ever recieve. You might even get sued. (Threepointturn breaches name supression, but no one cares. At least Rob Moody got some press mileage in flicking the finger to the law over the Berrymans.)

Jesus, even Damian Christie has figured this out - Cracker's barely registered a pulse since the Herald on Sunday decided to make him the voice of yoof. He's got his priorities straight - cash money over AV club adoration. Simon Pound's cashed his sterling. So where are you at? (Read further for a chance to escape this hellhole.)

So, all of you must be asking, why blog at all? (Here I asume, not without inconsiderable evidence, that 99 percent of our readers are also bloggers - imagine a Narcissicist Anonymous pow-wow without the free biscuits.) This a question you should be asking yourselves, and almost universally answering in the negative.

It's been said that blogs are the new diary writing, but at least diaries were never seriously expected to be read. A written diary maintains the romantic fantasy that it might, someday, be secretely read and realised as a work of tortured genius. This delusion of possible granduer is only maintained because it's never tested.

No one will ever break into your room, jmmy the hackneyed half-lock on your My Little Pony book of secret confessions, discover you've had an eight-year crush on David, and declare that you're the new Alebard. It's not going to happen. Get over it. Now.

Like Mutually Assured Destruction, blogs are good in theory, but god forbid people be allowed to deploy them. They are read - but only by a few, and mostly only once. So, readers, push the button and get it all over with. It's marked "delete".

This is my last ever blog on Fightingtalk. I've come to the conclusion, and time in my life, where I realise writing is a cruel process only compensated by hard, cold cash. Everything else is whoring for free. It's also known as being an information slut.

Yes, I'll miss you all. And yes, I can hear my own echo in here. Boo hoo - I can hear myself crying.

*Yes, I'm after money. I've planning on running away to the lair of Bush. If, perchance, you're after positive feedback, please feel free to contribute to the 'Ostracise Matt Nippert to New York' fund. I'm an equal-opportunity brown-noser.

PS: Some APN bigwig has asked me if there's any unsigned writers in the blogosphere who might be worthy of paid columns. I've got a few (believe me, very few) in mind, but if you've any suggestions, get in touch (matt_nippert@yahoo.com, those who I think are worthy will hear from me very soon). It's your only ticket out of this ghetto. Believe me, you should try to check out.

Oh - and for the one person who contributed to my Haiku competition, here's a moment of web-glory for the contributor:
The war at seven
Serious current affairs
Time for our book club
Holly Walker, your mag's alright.

And, if you're into funny shit, click on this link. Someone, hire Geoff Brischke before I do, he's worthy...

Lyndon Hood - website slut, Lower hutt

Those of you who follow Scoop with the same avid attention you give this weblog may have noticed - I've had a couple of pieces Scoop.

I expect this trend to continue. I'll be re-posting, or at least linking to them, on FIghting Talk, so if you're afraid of indy media don't stress.

And no doubt I'll supplement them with more personal or pointy-headed FT exclusives. Not that I'm making promises about the future content of a weblog, because that would be foolishness verging on hubris.

For those who missed the last two...

The Member of Tamaki Makaurau
Some time ago, on the discount table at Cash Converters, I came across a handwritten manuscript of great age (unfortunately I've lost the receipt). Looking over what was still legible - the paper has unfortunately been chewed over continuously by a variety of creatures - it became obvious that I was looking at one of the lost plays of William Shakespeare, titled 'The Member of Tamaki Makaurau' ...

How Transpower Ended Up In The Caymans
From: usaattorneyfirm@webmail.ru
To: parliament@govt.nz
Subject: Urgent business proposal

CONFIDENTIAL ATTENTION: Chairman, Chief Executive Officer or Minister of State Owned Enterprises.

Warmest greeting! I hope my message finds you to be in good health.

My name is YOUR NAME HERE. I have a genuine business proposal that may be of interest to you and your state-owned enterprises ...

Lyndon Hood - Cock-up theorist, Lower Hutt

Monday, April 18, 2005

In Saturday's Dominion Post: "But do people today really understand the Holocaust, asks David McLoughlin."

Surely there should be a question mark in there somewhere.

Anyway, as a description of what's so bad about the holocaust and why offhand comments about it tend to rile people, the article that follows is pretty good.

So it's odd that I'm bitching. I don't want people to think I have a crush on McLoughlin.

My beef is this: there are exactly two sentences on the whole page mentioning that anyone other than Jews were mudered.

The Nazis began rounding up Jews as well as political dissidents, homosexuals, gypsies and other groups and sending them to concentration camps.
If you add the dead from all of those groups, plus Russian prisoners of war (also mentioned in the article in passing), Slavic civilians and the intellectually and physically disabled, then the toll of the Holocaust rises from the suspiciously accurate figure of 5,860,129 (a sidebar table sums the number of Jews murdered by country, with Poland at exactly 3 million and so on) to closer to 11 million.

The type of person who complains about this kind of omission usually goes on to imply that dark forces are deliberately distorting our vision of history. I believe I could hear letters to the editor being scribbled all over Wellington all weekend.

There's no conspiracy. While I'm a more than a little bemused that this particular article turned out as it did (the range of the victims was one of the first things that struck me when I looked into the subject), I see it more as what's called a 'cock-up'. Or maybe just lazy.

Perhaps because of its sheer enormity, societies tend to concentrate on the part of the Holocaust that applies most to them. The Polish have tended to thing of it as a Polish tragedy. Jewish groups concentrate on the Jewish aspect (which, let's face it, is a hell of a big aspect). And when citing Martin Niemoller's famous quotation which begins ...

First the came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist - so I did nothing...
... Americans have been known to skip that bit and start later in the quote.

Another example of this effect is the Spanish Inquisition. This was very much something that happened to Jews; my impression is that people who are aware of this are mostly Jewish.

Anyhow, New Zealand doesn't really have it's own angle, and as it happens that Jewish element of the Holocaust has primacy, not least because of the relative scale and the sense it was the core around which everything else was built. But we should strive for the fullest awareness of the Holocaust's victims as we can, and for a number of reasons.

Firstly for historical understanding; every lesson that can be learned should be. For instance, it may well be the most glaring instance of Homosexuality being persecuted and then that persecution being written out of history.

Secondly, for people who aren't deep enough thinkers to work it out anyway, it shows that the Holocaust wasn't just something that happened to Jews, it was something that happened to people. The same generalisation should also be drawn from the perpetrators: the holocaust was a human tragedy.

Thirdly, for a variety of reasons, it will surely annoy the Holocaust deniers, who no doubt imagine a holocaust that only kills Jewish people something of a soft target. For one thing, with the admission of all that additional evidence, they go from having no case to having less than no case.

I think that's something we can all get behind.

Lyndon Hood - less unemployed, Lower Hutt

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Who'd be Jewish?

Seeing as I've already weighed in on the John Tamihere thing, I feel the need to ask one rhetorical question. Not the one in the title. A different one.

But first, some background.

Such research as I've done into the Holocaust - or more particularly, into holocaust denial - has left me with little patience for people who don't want to talk about it. There are still lessons to be learned, and these days we seem to be mostly forgetting.

I'm aware that other, less charismatic genocides don't get as much press time. That's not a reason to stop talking about this one. I'm aware that lots of people who weren't Jewish died in the Holocaust. That's not a reason to stop talking about the Jewish dead.

I'll also take this opportunity to encourage the letter-to-the-editor-writers that I'm sure avidly read this blog to learn to differentiate a the various Jewish organisations from each other and also actual Jewish people. And, if you're getting the hang of that, from Israel.

And that there are people living in this country who lost their families and/or nearly died themselves. I can accept both that Tamihere didn't expect his comments to be made public and that this one was peripheral to what he was talking about. Not a great excuse, but a lot of the people coming out of the woodwork don't even have that.

Perhaps the only silver lining in the whole affair is that, in the process of semi-coherently supporting Tamihere, Kyle Chapman acknowledged the reality of the Holocaust. I'd been wondering.

What I took the guy from the Simon Wiesenthal Centre to be getting at - and I agree - is that political leaders need to know about the Holocaust in much the same way that space flight engineers should be interested in what happened to Challenger.

I'm not entirely sure it's a hanging offense in and of itself, though. If willful ignorance of important matters disqualified a candidate from parliament, we'd have trouble filling all those seats. It's just nasty and stupid, much like everything else he said.

The rhetorical question I have in mind arises from the way Tamihere's turn of phrase seems, like a biased survey question, to have set the terms of the whole debate. I refer to the guilt thing.

As it happens, the Allies do have some blood on their hands, both from refusing refugees early in the piece and, depending on your morals, not bombing the death camps out of operation as soon as they could. That's not what I'm talking about, though.

So here it is: when someone tells him how many Jews died in the gas chambers, why in the name of all that's holy does he think he's being made to feel guilty?

Matt Nippert - pontificating poet, Auckland

Thursday, April 07, 2005

I have been reliably informed that the correct plural for haiku is actually haiku - it being Japanese. But, if I wanted to anglicise it, haikus would suffice. (Thanks Patrick, and your email header "If you're a pedant and you know it ..." sums up my thoughts entirely.)

Never mind the apostrophes.

Considering the feedback I've had, I'm opening up the Fightingtalk haiku contest, with the best each week getting a run. Keep them topical, and humourous. New Zealand varieities preferred, but all welcome.

Here's one to get you started.
He bleeds red when cut
Why self-harm Tamihere?
Use staunch as a verb

Send entries to matt_nippert@yahoo.com.

Bring them on...

Matt Nippert - precision poet, Auckland

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

A great way to waste time, writing haiku's on current events for the Guardian. Apparently there's a prize each week for the best poem. Here's mine;
Dead vegies, Teri and John
I won't eat my greens
- Shared credit with Nick Smith

Lyndon Hood - radio listener, Lower Hutt

Monday, April 04, 2005

It looks like the opposition has found their angle on the Tamihere thing.

On Checkpoint, across whatever it was Gerry Brownlee said, Rodney Hyde [sic] explained that this showed that Labour was rife with factions and interest groups, and should therefore not be allowed another term.

To solve this problem, we should vote for - get this - ACT and National.


I look forward to Don Brash decrying Helen Clark's autocracy in effectively firing one of her own front-benchers who publicly disagreed with her.

Lyndon Hood - concerned citizen, Lower Hutt

You won't be shocked to learn that I find "The Sensible Sentencing Trust" to be an entirely misleading name.

Generally, what bothers me isn't so much that I entirely disagree with their ideas or that they're noisy about promoting them, but that they seem to be taken seriously by the Phil Goffs of this world.

But they do appear to actually be a trust and so far they have mainly been concerned with sentencing.

Now the Dom Post (April 2) reports that the trust will be campaigning in support of Paul Kingi, who was convicted in March of the manslaughter of his uncle. While Garth McVicar's press release on the subject is dated as the first of the month, it doesn't seem to be an April Fools joke.

That said, the only other evidence that it's for real is the way that according to Google's cache Paul Kingi used to be in the Trust's offender database and now he isn't. Not that their database is famous for its accurate details anyway.

The press release is more helpful than the article about what's going on in McVicar's head (and apparently that of Dermot Nottingham, last seen advocating that the cop who shot Steven Wallace should got to trial). Looks like he's not saying that getting involved in a dispute over a bull which ends with you hitting the other guy so he cracks his head on the concrete floor and dies is always okay, or proposing the establishment of a new 'I was angry' defense.

It's just that this case was "in reality no more than self-defense".

This line was actually tried in front of that jury in March, but our campaigners claim to have "hard evidence" of perjury by Crown witnesses. They're just holding off until the sentencing later this week. The implication is that if Kingi gets prison time they will lay their cards on the table.

It's hard to imagine how much difference it could make. The jury presumably knew the (60 year-old) uncle had hit a farmhand earlier in the day and, if he wasn't actually attacking Paul Kingi, was sure riled. What they found was that the accused used, in the Post's words "excessive force". Given that he's a 33 year-old professional kickboxer once titled the strongest man in the country, that's easy to imagine.

Incidentally, both these guys are apparently Mormons. Just goes to show, I guess.

Anyway, the temperature of the argument was no doubt taken into account by the jury (who would also have assesed the credibility of the witnesses). If they'd thought he used reckless force and was deliberately trying to injure his uncle, they could probably have found him guilty of murder.

It's not actually okay to kill someone in a fight. If McVicar wants to change that bit of the system, it would mean releasing some of his most-cited felons.

And there has to be some kind of proportion even to pure self-defense. To take an extreme example, someone bitchslapping you isn't permission to get out your Uzi. Even then, if there's uncertainty as to whether you were really defending yourself, it needs to go to trial.

Still, they might have something earth-shattering that I'm overlooking. We can but wait and see.

What I'm vaguely hoping is that acting to clear a convicted criminal is outside the official scope of the Trust. With a bit of creativity it could probably be jimmied into their goals and policy, but I wistfully imagine the Companies Office came down on McVicar's ass.

At the very least, he's diluting his brand. I suppose that's all good.