Hamish McKenzie - no-income bum, London, Ontario

Friday, June 24, 2005

I can be pretty critical of Canada at times. Well, Ontario, at least. Box stores abound; there’s more concrete than grass; and 'fine dining' is characterized by drive-thrus, grease, and a "would you like fries with that?" patois.

But then I'm reminded that Canadians sometimes do things oh-so-right.

As part of Pride Week in Toronto, the city's major league baseball team, the Blue Jays, will host hundreds of homosexuals. An all-male gay chorus, Forte, will sing the national anthem at tonight's game against the Baltimore Orioles. The host of My Fabulous Gay Wedding will throw the opening pitch. And in the seventh-inning stretch, members of the Lesbian & Gay Community Appeal Foundation will don fruit costumes to entertain the crowd.

Says a Blue Jays spokesman: "We have a responsibility to be representative of our community and to reach out to segments of our community and overall just be an inclusive organization."

This is baseball, remember, the sport quintessentially associated with machismo.

Could you imagine this happening in New Zealand?

Picture this: the Auckland Blues run out onto Carisbrook on a drizzly grey Dunedin night. There are boos, shouts of "JAFA," and indeterminable references to fudge manufacturers. The Otago Highlanders follow to loud cheers. Speight's cans are thrown skywards. Then, just before kick-off, both teams and the crowd are treated to a cabaret-style rendition of George Michael's 'Outside'. PVC-panted flounces camp it up big time, cartwheeling over the halfway line, blowing kisses to the drunkards on the terrace.

How long do you think it would take before one of the dancers was wearing one of those Speight's cans on his forehead?

Actually, it would probably be sooner than that.

My feeling is that New Zealand sports -- rugby in particular -- are a long way off acknowledging homosexuals in their game-day festivities. They'll just stick to the safe stuff: kids' rugger teams, bagpipers, scantily-clad cheerleaders. Heterosexuality is where it's at, mate. The gays can go back to their own country. And play soccer. Now, watch me eat this pig.

The Blue Jays example is emblematic of Canada's more mature attitude towards homosexuality. Here there is a debate over whether or not gay marriage should be legalized for the whole country. (It's already legal in seven of the ten provinces, and in the Yukon territory). It makes New Zealand's squabble over Civil Unions -- which don't even go so far as to let homosexuals marry -- look even pettier.

Hamish McKenzie - PR hack, London, Ontario

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

While the New Zealand media has roundly shirked its responsibilities to fine literature, the UK press is thankfully on task. One of the world's best newspapers, the Guardian, has picked up on Richard Meros' shocking book, On the conditions and possibilities of Helen Clark taking me as her Young Lover.

Outclassed by the Brits again. For shame, New Zealand, for shame.

Lyndon Hood - Weblogger, Lower Hutt

Punishment: Known by psychologists to be the worse method of shaping behaviour available

By way of linking to the inaugural kiwi blog carnival (do take a look)...

I don't know if they're talking in shorthand, but Phil Etc and Big News both seem to think that repealing section 59 is to disallow a defense of reasonable force against child assault charges. This isn't really right.

What people are complaining about is the defense of reasonable force in the "correction" of your child. If we did nothing but repeal section 59 (which I understood was the deal), the reasonableness tests that apply to normal assaults would still apply.

Think of it with respect to an adult. If someone you know were derterminedly trying to stick a fork into a power socket, you would be utterly justified in pulling them away. If they were being that stupid, you could also give them a really good slap. But if you broke their arm, that would likely be considered too much.

Of course, adults are generally more sensible than that and have a tendency to hit back.

For all that opponents of section 59 forget this, juries would still get to decide what was reasonable. Not the police or, as Mr Maxim's staggering initial suggestion had it, judges.

Whether this option is better than clarifying in law what is reasonable or adding instructions for the jury (perhaps emphasising that just because it's discipine doesn't make it reasonable) is of course a matter for debate.

But something patently needs to be done. The law as it stands reads okay but it doesn't work. My jury experience would indicate that juries really are sincere about doing the job that they are supposed to but maybe when you throw in kids and reasonableness they need a bit more help.

Hamish McKenzie - closet golf fan, London, Ontario

Monday, June 20, 2005

Seeing New Zealand mentioned in the media over here anytime is a thrill. I felt slighted the other day when Canada's natoinal newspaper, the Globe and Mail, carried a picture of San Antonio Spurs/Tall Blacks basketball player Sean Marks with a caption identifying him as an Australian. I was excited to see a photo of Mt Cook in the same paper a week earlier. And when Russell Crowe was named as an Australian after his phone-throwing hissy fit, I almost cared. But then I realised it was Russell Crowe.

So when I watched Michael Campbell lift the US Open trophy on MSNBC tonight (it's still Sunday over here -- Canada's a bit behind the times), I felt something stir inside me. I guess it was something akin to pride.

Helen Clark, who must have been immensely grateful to finally hear some good news, described it as "one of New Zealand's greatest sporting achievements". Of course, everyone knows Clark is a golf expert of some repute. What's more, she just so happens to be right.

Campbell's victory is more significant than our America's Cup victories. Beating the world's top golfers -- Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh, Phil Mickelson, Retief Goosen, Ernie Els, and so many more -- at a course as unforgiving as Pinehurst, certainly outweighs a bunch of boat-bound privileged white men outracing other privileged white men around buoys. It's better than the 1987 rugby world cup victory, which was really just a victory over the three teams that had any chance of challenging the All Blacks. But it's probably not quite as good as Sarah Ulmer winning gold and setting world records at the Athens Olympics...

Okay, I'm not going to write anymore about whether or not it is one of New Zealand's greatest sporting moments, 'cos you might start thinking I actually care. After all, I don't want to step on Joseph Romano's toes.

Let's just say it was bloody good.

To have a humble, gentle, almost-in-tears New Zealander accepting the trophy, though, was really kinda nice. Seeing Campbell up there talking about his family in that thick Kiwi accent; to hear him telling New Zealanders that if he could do it, they can too; to witness the wussy boy inside of him come out -- it was all very heartening. Here was a New Zealand sportsman who could stand in front of a camera without cauliflower ears and cry in front of millions. And hardly a cliche uttered!

That's a man who I'm proud to point my Canadian friends to and say, "He's a New Zealander".

Lyndon Hood - professional, Lower Hutt

Sunday, June 19, 2005

No Right Turn cites an instance of something that - up until this last week or so - I had never given much thought to: economic prejudice. Actual economic prejudice. The idea that someone's employment status or income somehow makes them a less worthwhile (or to be specific, a more stupid) human being.

Cathy, commenting on DPF makes the assertion more or less explicitly. Hamish's opinion should not be judged on the merits of his argument or on his expertise in the issue (which appears to be greater than that of most if not all of the commenters*). It should be judged on whether he earns more than $38,000 a year.

As in, if he earns less he should "fuck off".

And that without the use of a self-depreciating emoticon or anything.

How odd.

I suppose I had realised that lots of people behave as if this is true. I just hadn't realised that people explicitly thought like that.

Anyhow, my wife is in the top tax bracket, and she says my opinion is worth listening to, so here goes:

The cream of society - or that which, as Terry Pratchett put it, is found floating on the top and is therefore most safely called "the cream" - no doubt has its share of sensible, clever and/or talented individuals. But if people rise by these qualities it is a tendency rather than a rule.

And even these admirable traits don't make people right all of the time.

Much as I would like to go on, I don't know that anything would make the Philip Morgans and Cathys of this world get the point.

For what it's worhth, this may explain they way it worked in at least one case. Jean-Louis Barrault was an influential French actor type in the middle of the twentieth century. In his book Reflections on the Theatre, he tells this story:
One evening I dined with a big industrialist who built ships and who spent the whole meal pitying me because of my profession. A profession which, he said, consisted in smearing one's face like a girl, putting on fancy-dress as it if was carnival, and repeating the same words every evening . . . "and not your own words at that." I said: "You, sir, build ships. Very well. If you lost several million francs per ship built, granting that it wouldn't break you financially, would you go on building ships ?" "No, if I lost millions in building ships I would stop." "Very well, sir, then you don't really love building ships. As for me, if I lost my life acting I would still go on acting. Which proves that I love my craft more than you love yours." I should add that this little exchange bound us together and we went along full sail for the rest of the evening.

*The issue of defamation, that is. Not the issue of child molestation.

And now, one for the fans:

New Hood: Jackson Innocent - Hope For Benson-Pope?

Lyndon Hood - Honest-to-Goodness Satirist, Lower Hutt

Friday, June 03, 2005

Lyndon Hood - Photoshop owner, Lower Hutt

Does this mean everyone gets to fake up a National ad?

What with the poorly-mocked up pre-publicity from Bhatnagar via Farrar, and jamming suggestions coming thick and/or fast, looks like it's open season on annoying, simplistic, disingenuous billboards.

First thing I wanted to say was, if those letters are vinyl (I don't know if they are), they'll pull right off...

... and you could probably re-arrange them too. But I've got a computer and no ladder, so I though I'd do things this way. As a special bonus, they're not all entirely partisan.

And much as people have already got to this territory...

Lyndon Hood - mad anyway, Lower Hutt

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

I can't bring myself not to post about the Greens - conditional - support of Goff's prisoner compenation-that-you-can't-actually-have bill.

No Right Turn points out that they're basically stopping things getting any worse. Guess he's right. Good on them.

I want to be all like, Grr, politics. But I think I really mean, Grr, social and political climate.

And I don't think it's a climate that's actually conducive to work on victim's issues (as distinct from just punishing prisoners) or rehabilitation. These somehow don't seem compatible with the hang-em-high approach.

So I can't see much progress being made before the Green's sunset clause kicks in.