Thursday, January 31, 2008

Lucia From Vampires to Christ

Many years ago, when I was in my early 20's, I became very much taken with Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles series.

I first came across the books when I had just moved to Sydney. Back then, there was far more available in Sydney than would ever grace the bookshops in Wellington, and The Vampire Chronicles were certainly representative on what more was on offer.

I had grown up watching vampire movies, as my mother liked watching horrors and for some reason Mum let me stay up to watch many horror movies with her. They weren't as gory back then as the are now, but boy were they bloody scary. I remember one that terrified me so much that I cut out giant paper crosses and stuck then up all over the house to prevent possible attacks by vampires. I was a very imaginative child and even though I knew the chances of there actually being real vampires out there to be very remote, I thought it would be better not to take any chances.

So, maybe now in retrospect my attraction to reading the books was just a hankering for home and childhood. Though the books certainly explored the nature of evil, power and immortality. Until very recently the idea of living forever, or for a thousand years or so, seemed very attractive to me.

I think also, exploring darkness from the point of view of evil makes provides a way in to this genre for those of us who are easily terrified. Evil becomes normal, accessible and understandable and as long as the victim isn't yourself, even attractive.

Which leads me to what prompted me to write this post. Last weekend I managed to get an Anne Rice book back from my cousin which I had lent to her nearly a year ago. I don't blame her for not reading it as I did jokingly warn her that the book was a major factor (out of many) in my reverting back to Catholicism in late 2006.

The book was Christ the Lord; Out Of Egypt. A major departure for Anne Rice, but then again not so much. After writing about vampires, witches and exploring S&M under a different name - this book goes beyond evil and debauchery. Sometimes a person has to be in darkness for a long time before they realise there is nothing there worth staying for. If they honestly search for truth and accept it when they find it, they will be lead out into the light.

I do believe all human beings have this capability, to recognise truth when they see it. However, internal dishonesty (lying to oneself) will cause the truth to be elusive.

Out of Egypt is the story of the truth Himself, the ultimate immortal - God incarnate as a seven year old child. The story starts with Yeshua (Jesus) accidentally killing another child in a game, then bringing him back from the dead, much to the consternation of the adults around Him.

It for me it was a very difficult book to read. I would pick it up, read a number of chapters and then put it down for a month or so. Not because the story wasn't interesting or captivating, but probably because it was both those things and more. I think it took me nine months to read it. How's that for symbolism? (If you don't get what I mean, nine months is how long it takes to grow a child ready for birth).

At the end of the book, Anne Rice talks about her journey in writing the story. She spent ten years doing the research. She also realised that she had been working her way back through time to that point in history. If you have read any of her books, this will make sense, as they are all very well researched historically and offer a real glimpse of what it must have been like in the time periods she's written for.

I haven't read all of her books as I lost interest. The last I read before Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt was Memnoc the Devil. Now, reading the review I can see why I couldn't read any more Anne Rice books for a long while.

The fifth volume of Rice's Vampire Chronicles is one of her most controversial books. The tale begins in New York, where Lestat, the coolest of Rice's vampire heroes, is stalking a big-time cocaine dealer and religious-art smuggler--this guy should get it in the neck. Lestat is also growing fascinated with the dealer's lovely daughter, a TV evangelist who's not a fraud.

Lestat is also being stalked himself, by some shadowy guy who turns out to be Memnoch, the devil, who spirits him away. From here on, the book might have been called Interview with the Devil (by a Vampire). It's a rousing story interrupted by a long debate with the devil. Memnoch isn't the devil as ordinarily conceived: he got the boot from God because he objected to God's heartless indifference to human misery. Memnoch takes Lestat to heaven, hell, and throughout history.

Some readers are appalled by the scene in which Lestat sinks his fangs into the throat of Christ on the cross, but the scene is not a mere shock tactic: Jesus is giving Lestat a bloody taste in order to win him over to God's side, and Rice is dead serious about the battle for his soul. Rice is really doing what she did as a devout young Catholic girl asked to imagine in detail what Christ's suffering felt like--it's just that her imagination ran away with her.

If you like straight-ahead fanged adventure, you'll likely enjoy the first third; if you like Job-like arguments with God, you'll prefer the Memnoch chapters. --Tim Appelo
It went into a direction I was not ready to explore at the time. I had also just become a mother and decided to give up a number of my "dark obsessions", which also included reading Patricia Cornwell's serial killer books.

In hindsight, I can now see that reading such books prepared me very well for being able to last a year on an abortion debate board a couple of years later (probably in the late 1990's). I lived and breathed abortion arguments every day before it got too much for me. I think that the evil that humans do and justify to themselves is far worse than any vampire we imagine up. Maybe vampires are just projections?

What I found really interesting in Anne Rice's journey in writing Out of Egypt, is that she found most scholars who spent their lives researching Jesus didn't like Him very much.

In sum, the whole case for the nondivine Jesus who stumbled into Jerusalem and somehow got crucified by nobody and had nothing to do with Christianity and would be horrified by it if he knew about it - that whole picutre which had floated around in the liberal circles I frequented as an atheist for 30 years - that case was not made.

Not only was it not made, I discovered in this field some of the most biased scholarship I'd ever read. [...] Many of these scholars, scholars who apparently devoted their life to New Testament scholarship, disliked Jesus Christ. Some pitied him as a hopeless failure. Others sneered at him, and some felt an outright contempt. This came between the lines of the books. This emerged in the personality of the texts.

I'd never come across this kind of emotion in any other field of research, at least not to this extent. It was puzzling.

The people who go into Elizabethan studies don't set out to prove that Queen Elizabeth I was a fool They don't personally dislike her. They don't make snickering remarks about her, or spend their careers trying to pick apart her historical reputation. They approach her in other ways. They don't even apply this sort of dislike or suspicion or contempt to other Elizabethan figures. If they do, the person is not usually the focus of the study. Occasionally a scholar studies a villain, yes. But even then, the author generally ends up arguing for the good points of a villain or for his or her place in history, or for some mitigating circumstance, that redeems the study itself. People studying disasters in history may be highly critical of the rulers or the milieu at the time, yes. But in general scholars don't spend their lives in the company of historical figures whom they openly despise.
After reading the book and then Anne Rice's comments on the scholarship around Jesus, I realised as a person growing up in the 80's I had been duped. I don't like being duped. History for me has always been fascinating because I have wanted to know the truth. I'm not into having my own personal pet ideas backed up by biased research. I'm sure that's surprising to a number of readers, as I probably seem very sure about the direction I'm heading in now. But that direction, that sense of surety that I have is based on years of finding dead-ends and recognising them as dead-ends. I'm not the type of person that wants to live a lie, no matter how attractive the lie is.

Anne Rice is coming out with next book about Jesus in February. It's called Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana in March this year.

Anne Rice’s second book in her hugely ambitious and courageous life of Christ begins during his last winter before his baptism in the Jordan and concludes with the miracle at Cana.
It is a novel in which we see Jesus—he is called Yeshua bar Joseph—during a winter of no rain, endless dust, and talk of trouble in Judea.

Legends of a Virgin birth have long surrounded Yeshua, yet for decades he has lived as one among many who come to the synagogue on the Sabbath. All who know and love him find themselves waiting for some sign of the path he will eventually take.

And at last we see him emerge from his baptism to confront his destiny—and the Devil. We see what happens when he takes the water of six great limestone jars, transforms it into cool red wine, is recognized as the anointed one, and urged to call all Israel to take up arms against Rome and follow him as the prophets have foretold.

As with Out of Egypt, the opening novel, The Road to Cana is based on the Gospels and on the most respected New Testament scholarship. The book’s power derives from the profound feeling its author brings to the writing and the way in which she summons up the presence of Jesus.
Hopefully, the book will be available here in NZ. There's a real dearth of pro-Christian books in the mainstream bookshops. It's almost as if the publishers are far more confident of selling anti-Christian books in NZ than they are of pro-Christian. But, if it doesn't make it to our shores, I'll be buying it from Amazon. Hopefully it won't take me nine months to read like the first one.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Fletch Helen Clark - Me Too!

Last year, National Leader John Key was accused of being a "me too" man, and National accused of being 'Labour-lite' in terms of policy comparison with the Labour Party.
There seems to have been a turn-around on this though with Helen's speech this morning basically mirroring Key's speech yesterday in regards to youth and education.

Both leaders appear to be targeting troubled youth, specifically the age groups between 14 and 16.

As regards youth violence, I don't think we can be too surprised: I really think it's only going to get worse; the reason? The anti-smacking law.

Sweden banned smacking in the 1980s and their rates of youth violence have shot up dramatically.

At least two studies in Sweden were initiated in the 1990s because of societal concerns about increasing youth violence. One rationale for one study was that “There is also much evidence that our [Swedish] society has a growing propensity for violence” (Statistics Sweden, 1996, p. 5). Another study’s rationale began, “Since the mid-1980s, the
Swedish public has been increasingly concerned about juvenile violence” including “football hooliganism, excessive celebrations on Midsummer eve, acts of violence with racist and xenophobic motives, squatters’ actions, street fights between politically opposed groups, violence at school, and recurrent juvenile tumults at the end of summer vacations, between gangs
of Swedish or immigrant background, and skinheads and groups of young female ‘kickers’ . . . In light of this, it seems difficult to deny that the Swedish society in recent years has been hit by a wave of juvenile violence” (von Hofer, 1995, p. 1). Juvenile violence clearly appeared to be increasing during the 1990s according to Swedish social scientists, warranting studies to understand it.


Hopefully we will have a referendum will bring this subject to the fore again.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

ZenTiger Mass child beatings

Frog Blog are going on the offensive on behalf of Sue Bradford, and doing a beat-up about the s59 petition. They title the post "The right to beat your child petition". Yep, as commenter Will so accurately said on that thread:

"I’m not paranoid enough to imagine that there are 300,000 people in New Zealand who are agitating for the right to beat their children. Most of them just want to be left alone to raise their kids. It’s hard enough to begin with."

Related Link: Frogs abuse 300,000 decent people

ZenTiger NZ Conservative Blog Protest

We've organised an official on-line protest. To participate, just turn your sound on and yell out the occasional slogan that strikes your fancy. Or boo and hiss. Just be careful people don't think you have finally flipped out and gone insane. Last thing you'd want is to be thought a professional left wing protester.

Ah well, that's my lunch time over. I can feel the crack of the whip on my back. Ooh, argg. Ow.

Click here for the NZ Conservative Blog Protest

Hattip: KiwiBlog Protest March

Update: link fixed!

Lucia Why on the front page?

Today's Dominion Post has a full-frontal picture of an idiot in a Borat costume plastered across the top of it. Do the Dom Post editors not think of the children?

My 6 year old, who normally ignores the paper unless he sees a cartoon or a sudoku puzzle, immediately wanted to know why the man was wearing something that "just covered his nuts." So, I had to explain to him that there are some pretty disgusting adults out there that don't have a sense of what they shouldn't wear in public. He agreed, and said that the man looked like he was drunk and on drugs. Or maybe he took drugs and then got drunk - he wasn't sure.

Whatever happened to putting such pictures on page three?

Monday, January 28, 2008

ZenTiger Green with Envy

Helen Clark - Champion of the Earth!

So whenever Green Party Co-Leader, Jeanette Fitzsimmons tries to criticise the Labour Party on the empty rhetoric and platitudes uttered by Helen Clark when it comes to protecting the environment, Mike Williams will be leaping up in outrage.

"How dare you say that about our fearless Prime Minister! Helen Clark is the undisputed Champion of the Earth!" Al Gore, stand aside. Green Party, you are officially redundant.

And Jeanette, why are you turning that violent shade of Green? Hang-on, that was just a trick of the light. Definitely purple. With steam.

Related Link: Barnsley Storming (Thanks Barnsley)

...and just to finish, who is promoting form before substance?
The annual United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Champions of the Earth award recognises individuals from each region of the world who have shown "extraordinary" leadership on environmental issues...

"It is clearly the responsibility of government to give leadership. It reflects our belief that pursuing sustainability is not only the right thing to do but is also a strategic investment in New Zealand's overall future." [said Helen Clark]

New Zealand is hosting World Environment Day on June 5 with the theme "kick the carbon habit".
If the Labour Party needed any justification to make New Zealand an economic basket case, I think Helen just got it.

Lucia Greens spinning so hard it hurts

What's that joke?

What's green and red, green and red, green and red?
- A frog in a blender.

Well, this frog is being shredded by a Tiger and refuses to yeild - just like the Black Knight who gets his legs and arms chopped off.

Related Link: Hello to the Exclusive Brethren ~ FrogBlog, Green Party Mouthpiece

Lucia Green MP to keep John Key in line

What a strange story. Sue Bradford is keeping an eye on NZ Political parties to make sure they don't succumb to public pressure because of the up and coming anti-smacking petition.

A petition which looks set to pass Go, collect 300,000 and force a vote on whether or not NZ'ers want the anti-smacking law. A nightmare scenario for both the Greens and Labour. National is most likely really worried, what with John Key's statements on the matter in the article.
However, a Herald Digi-Poll taken over January indicates the issue has died off in the public's mind - just 4.2 per cent of those polled picked the anti-smacking law as an issue that was likely to influence their vote.
Um... wasn't that poll about what was the most pressing issue that you'd vote on in the next election on? I don't think it was a "tick all issues that concern you" type poll. Tax cuts won, and I'm not surprised.

The issue hasn't so much as died off - it's just completely subsumed by more pressing concerns. Concerns such as lack of money at the end of each month which is far more immediately worrying that the consideration that six policemen might turn up on your doorstep because someone hears squealing coming from the house. That last scenario is something out of "horror stories that occur to someone else", and no matter how possible it is, it still defies the imagination that it could actually happen.

No, there is no imagination needed when you look at your rapidly depleting back account after supermarket shopping or filling up on petrol. The government's got way too much money of the public's that they don't need and everyone wants it back!
The law's original promoter Sue Bradford said she was watching for signs that parties such as National which initially opposed the law, were wavering to try and get the Christian vote.
And what is Sue Bradford going to do if she sees "signs"? The tone of this part of the article is the part that I find really strange. It almost implies that Sue has something on NZ political parties and National in particular that she will use if there is any "wavering".
The bill passed into law by 113 votes to 8 in May last year after a compromise clause negotiated between National's John Key and Prime Minister Helen Clark meant police would not prosecute for "inconsequential" breaches.

Yesterday, National leader John Key said until he saw evidence that the compromise was not enough to stop minor incidents being prosecuted, he was happy with the law.

"We've been consistent since the day we signed [the compromise]. But if we start to see good parents being criminalised for lightly smacking then we will change the law."
Uh huh. But inconsistent prior to National's change of tune. National opposed the bill. Then for an incomprehensible reason, Key comes on board, smiling with Helen to save the day by signing the bill. What the?

And The compromise Key managed to negotiate does not prevent investigation of light smacking incidents by burly policemen. A very intimidating experience which a number of parents and children have already been subjected to.
[Key] said many of the signatures were gathered before the compromise clause was reached and he believed the majority of people were now happy to wait to see how the law was applied before calling for change.

He said the petition was "a significant but not overwhelming group" of people who believed it was still an issue.
John Key doesn't listen to talkback, obviously. It comes up constantly.
[Key] said the lack of interest in the anti-smacking law shown by respondents in a Herald Digi - Poll proved his point.
Key is not that stupid, is he?

Is he???

Related Links:
Voters want tax cuts ~ NZ Herald
Bradford keeps careful watch on parties' anti-smacking positions ~ NZ Herald

Hattip : WhaleOil

Lucia Incredible!

Hattip: Crusader Rabbit

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Lucia Catholic Cabinet Ministers may be revolting

Two Catholic Cabinet Ministers in Gordon Brown's UK Government are calling for a free vote in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. Currently the order that has gone out to the MPs is, vote for the bill or else. However, this bill seriously undermines the value of human life - something all Catholics ought to oppose at every turn.

In this bill in particular, the MPs opposition to the bill stems from mainly two issues - one to do with the creation of human-animal hybrid embryos and the second to do with allowing children to be born by IVF without a father's involvement.

The Observer article also lists a number of other MPs who have serious concerns with the bill - and explicitly states that they are Catholics.

Ah, well, those Catholics ...

But what I really wanted to say is, will the concerned Catholic MPs find their inner backbone and refuse to back a bill their conscience and their faith tells them is wrong? Wouldn't that be wonderful, politicians that stand up for what they believe and know to be right?

So, what would happen to them if they voted against the bill? The article mentions "disciplinary action". I wonder what "disciplinary action" that could be? Secretary taken away for a month? Loss of the big limo? No cheese and crackers for afternoon tea? Or worse yet, a pay-cut?

Oh, the agony! At least they are not alive during the English Queen Elizabeth I's reign or even Roman Emperor Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus's. They won't get hung, drawn and quartered if they vote against the bill. Or beheaded or thrown to the lions or even tortured. Not even a little bit. Well, maybe the loss of cheese and crackers might be thought of to be a little torturous.

Early Christian Martyrs

I'm currently reading a fascinating book called: We look for a Kingdom: The everyday lives of the early Christians. What is clear from this book (which focuses on the years AD 100 - 313), is that even thought difficult to be Christian, people still wanted to do so. Christians of those times had to expect that their faith and society would come into conflict. They had to be ready to choose their faith over what was expected by society, even if society just wanted them to light a little incense to the gods. Just a waft and you won't be tortured and killed. It was a belief that pointed to something greater than this world and for that reason, Christianity spread. Here's a little excerpt from the book on this:
The martyrs played a powerful role in the conversion of many. Saint Basil the Great wrote in hindsight, "the blood of the martyrs, watering the Churches, nourished many more champions of true religion." The martyrs proved there must be more to Christianity than the average person was hearing about. Justin Martyr, who, as his name implies, was himself a martyr, wrote, "For I myself, too, when I was delighting in the doctrines of Plato, and heard the Christians slandered, and saw them fearless of death, and of all other things which are counted fearful, perceived that it was impossible that they could be living in wickedness and pleasure." The knowledge that the Christians were serious people who were being wickedly oppressed by the government caused many people, who were already having grave doubts about the direction their culture was taking, to explore Christianity further.
So will they compromise?

I wonder what the MPs will do if they are told they will not have a free vote, that they should just do their jobs and vote as the government tells them to vote and to leave their faith at the door. I wonder if they will think, oh well, I tried. At least I'll still be in parliament or in the Cabinet to do some good in the future. If they do think that, then they will be wrong. Those people that think they must compromise now for possible good in the future have sold out. Maybe to oppose this bill is the whole reason they are there, maybe their whole life has lead up to this moment, this point in time and that will the absolute best good they could ever do. Not only in blocking the bill, but in setting an example, showing people that doing good outweighs compromise, overrules tampering with life itself. Maybe like the martyrs of the past, where they don't even need to spill blood, they will prove by their actions that there is something more to Christianity, authentic Christianity, that what the average person has seen for a long time.

Related Link: Pro-life MPs seek free embryo vote ~ The Observer, UK

ZenTiger Decent People

From the Sunday Start Times Editorial:

The Right has found a heavy club to beat the government with: a referendum on smacking at the next election.

The 'right' disagree with the social engineering policies of the Greens and Labour. Should they mobilize, the left paint this as extremist behaviour, and only about the election - not about the actual issue at hand.

This is a brilliant ploy by the religious extremists of Family First.

This issue is of passionate interest to people who believe in the importance of the family, and the rights of parents to decide how to raise their children. And this leftist can only see this as "a ploy". I suspect his/her world view filters everything, and therefore he can only see motives that mirror his/her thinking.

It will gather not only libertarians, Act voters and other motley fanatics of that kind, but many decent and ordinary people.

So apparently, Libertarians are not decent people, and ACT voters are fanatics. The left are increasingly looking unhinged as they reclassify anyone in disagreement with a Labour/Green policy. Looks like this name-calling was the final straw for Lindsay Mitchell. Well done Lindsay.

It is as though the Brethren had found a cause that appealed to the mainstream.

Except this protest against the repeal of s59 has nothing to do with the Brethren. But associating anything with a Christian based group, and in turn, then with the Brethren, has become the standard leftist bashing technique. It speaks volumes on their continued media based persecution of the Brethren and the sweeping ill-formed generalisations they will make to sway opinions.

The political and social effects are likely to be large and wholly malign.

WTF? Now they stop to consider the social effects? As for the political effects - just like the EFB - this is the reaction when politicians just stop listening to the people they supposedly represent.

Referenda are tricky and can easily be subverted.

and the article then launches into all the reasons we should not let the people decide. It's one thing to get 12,000 signatures together demand the government do something to stop whaling. It's another to give any form of acknowledgment to nearly 300,000 signatures.

"Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence?" is about as neutral as asking: "Should cold-blooded murderers get their just deserts on the gallows?"

Again, not only incapable of being able to distinguish between a smack and assault, the question has to be equated to cold-blooded murder. Maybe they really do want to institute the death penalty for smacking?

So the article concludes:

Family First was an active player at the last election, and it has found an ideal vehicle to drive through the next one. But do you really want to get in the passenger seat with them? Perhaps amid the fury of the election campaign, voters might pause to think before making a knee-jerk reaction. But don't hold your breath.

So now that the editorial has done its best to paint people opposed to criminalizing parents and making a smack illegal, it urges all decent people not to associate with Family First, Christians and those fanatics from ACT and the Libertarianz.

I'm wondering if Helen Clark will seize upon these ideas as justification for refusing a referendum. I mean, given the EFA the left seem so over this 'democracy thing'. In the words of the Greens over at frog blog:

"As for the whole direct democracy thing - human rights are not appropriately decided by referenda." and “majority rules, and stuff the minorities!” I’ve always thought that was the basic flaw with democracy.

Yeah, it's indecent that 300,000 extremists are allowed to live in New Zealand. So, what are the Greens and Labour going to do about it?

Related Link: Beware Extremists

See also: Kiwiblog - Smacking Referendum Likely

Print out and sign the petitions
The Anti-Smacking Petitions
Petition explanation sheet

ZenTiger How not to listen

It's Election 2008 and our MPs show us "How not to listen". With 273,000 signatures collected (target 300,000) John Key manages this:
If there is demonstrated evidence that good New Zealand parents are convicted for lightly smacking a child, then I will act to change the law. But at this stage, I haven't seen enough evidence of that
and Sue Bradford, to prove she is totally NOT on the ball says:
I don't think it's really about hitting children at all, for many people it's part of a campaign to get the National Party elected.
They either don't listen, are so biased in their thought patterns they are incapable of listening. Consequently, they show no understanding of the concerns of those against the Green Party's social engineering. And in the case of Sue Bradford, comes across sounding paranoid - now every-thing against the Greens is no doubt a National Party Conspiracy.

Oh, and does anyone remember how excited the anti-whaling people got when they had 12,000 signatures? The same number of protesters against the EFB and less than 5% of the signatures collected for the s59 referendum.

Related Links: SST, 27 Jan 2008, page A3 (Article not online yet)

The Anti-Smacking Petitions
Petition explanation sheet

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Lucia Vatican art exhibition in Auckland cancelled!!!!


I was going to make a special trip up to Auckland just to see the Vatican Art exhibition.
Auckland War Memorial Museum has cancelled its planned Vatican exhibition after key artworks were withdrawn from the travelling display.

The pieces include a copy of Michelangelo's Pieta [pictured] and works by Bernini.

Museum Director Dr Vanda Vitali was not happy with the amended content and believes visitors to the exhibition would have been shortchanged.

Shortchanged! So the solution is no change, then? Surely what would have come would have been worth the visit?

Related Link: Auckland Vatican exhibition canned ~ TV One News

Friday, January 25, 2008

Lucia Friday night free for all

Chat time!

I've just come in from the garden, doing a spot of planting in the evening cool. Not that it's cooler, it's just not frying me to death right now. Instead I'm being eaten by sandflies so am forced to put on something with sleeves. * Sigh *

Lucia Chris Trotter calls for the sacrifice of the leader

Chris Trotter thinks that sacrificing Helen Clark for Phil Goff may just help Labour survive the next election. I don't think doing that will be enough. Labour and the Greens gave us the anti-smacking bill. 250,000 signatures have been gathered calling for a referendum on this issue. The ruling party is bloody lucky that's not 250,000 pitchforks!

However, a change of leadership and throwing the Greens out on their ear and a reversal of last year's two most hated pieces of legislation might be enough to call off the mob.

Thanks to Barnsley Bill for the link.
Asking the inevitable question

There are some questions that should never be asked. Deplorable words which, once spoken, can bring down whole empires.

"Can the King be put on trial?"

"Are East Germans now free to cross into West Berlin?"

"Should Helen Clark go on leading the Labour Party?"

That last question has not been seriously broached in a decade. Not since May 1996 has anyone dared to challenge Helen Clark's near total control of New Zealand centre-left politics.

That control is based upon three key attributes: her encyclopaedic knowledge of the many quirks and quibbles of the NZ Labour Party organisation; her network of friends and allies – extending into nearly every corner of New Zealand society; her first-rate mind – augmented by a hitherto invincible bodyguard of finely honed political instincts.

Together, these attributes have kept Helen Clark safe from all potential rivals.

She has also enjoyed what the Chinese call "the mandate of heaven" – that peculiar combination of good fortune and good management which produces the unanswerable arguments of political and economic success.

Three victories in a row; three successful minority coalition governments; eight consecutive years of economic growth, falling unemployment and rising living standards: these are not achievements to be sneered at.

But, what the Gods can give, they can also take away. And it is very difficult to read the events of 2007 as anything other than proof of Euripides' famous observation: "Those whom the Gods seek to destroy they first make mad." For what else was Helen Clark's dogged defence of Sue Bradford's "anti-smacking" legislation – if not sheer political madness?

After the experience of the 2002-2005 parliamentary term – when Labour's social liberalism had served to mobilise the Christian Right against the Government – the Caucus had been told that for the next three years everything would be going quiet on the social reform front.

There would be no more bold social initiatives like legalising prostitution and civil unions; no more instances of middle-class do-gooders telling working-class battlers how to live their lives.

Between 2005 and 2008, the Prime Minister insisted, Labour was going to concentrate on delivering tangible economic benefits for working families, and on combating global warming. Social liberalism would be sitting on the back burner for a while.

It was a very sensible strategy – and the great mystery is why the prime minister was so willing to deviate from it in order to keep alive a private member's bill [Sue Bradford's anti-smacking bill] vehemently opposed by upwards of 70 per cent of the population.

Her handling – or non-handling – of the legislation reforming electoral finance was even more ham-fisted.

From the beginning of 2006, when Don Brash unleashed his attack dogs against Labour's campaign over-spending, Helen Clark's only viable political response was to commission a comprehensive inquiry into the conduct of the 2005 general election.

Sure, Labour's reputation would've been damaged but National's reputation would've been damaged much more severely. (Just think of the evidence Nicky Hager could have laid before the inquiry!)

Inevitably, the inquiry's recommendations would have formed the basis of a bi-partisan legislative programme to reform New Zealand's system of election funding. Severely compromised by the evidence, National wouldn't have dared to oppose them.

Instead, Helen Clark allowed Mark Burton to introduce the Electoral Finance Bill, a grotesque political cudgel with which Labour will be mercilessly beaten right up till Election Day in November – probably to death.

So, here we are, at the beginning of 2008, with Labour in the electoral dog-box. A worryingly large chunk of Labour's core constituency has become alienated from the Helen Clark-led government, and it is to be seriously doubted whether they can be persuaded back while she remains Labour's leader.

This vital chunk of culturally conservative, economically stressed voters, a great many of them married men in their thirties with young children, large mortgages and high aspirations (both for themselves and their kids) could represent as much as 5 per cent of the electorate. And, at the moment, John Key has got 'em.

If the Labour Government is to have a serious crack at winning a fourth term, it has got to get these voters back.

It won't get them while Helen Clark is prime minister.

Put Phil Goff in charge, and it just might.
I think Trotter ought to try his hand in fiction. He seems a bit wasted as a political analyst. He's saying what the left doesn't want to know and the right already have a good idea of. In a very colourful way. I like that bit especially about Labour being beaten to death with the EFA cudgel...

Related Link: Chris Trotter - From the Left ~ Dominion Post

Thursday, January 24, 2008

ZenTiger Innocence Lost

Even reading about this chips away at my soul. I don't recommend people under 16 or sensitive people follow the links. And this link is milder than others of this ilk, but still...Abortion. How is it done?

There are many methods of abortion. The procedure used depends largely upon the stage of pregnancy and the size of the unborn child. Dr. J.C. Willke, in his book, Abortion Questions and Answers (Hayes Publishing Co. Inc, Cincinnati, 1985), has divided the methods of abortion into three main categories: those that invade the uterus and kill the child by instruments which enter the uterus through the cervix; those that kill the preborn child by administration of drugs and then induce labour and the delivery of a dead baby; and, those that invade the uterus by abdominal surgery.

Related Link: Different Types of Abortion

Lucia It's Christian Unity Week (Jan. 18-25)

As I've been spending a bit of time on various Protestant sites over the last while, I thought the following message from the Pope might be enlightening:
At the Last Supper Jesus prayed that his disciples would be one so that the world might believe, Pope Benedict said.

"That the world might believe -- today we strongly sense the realism of these words. The world suffers from the absence of God, from the inaccessibility of God. It wants to know the face of God. But how can it recognize the face of God in the face of Christ if we Christians are divided, if one teaches against another, if one stands against another?" the pope asked.
The sad thing is, I've heard absolutely nothing about Christian Unity Week at all in the Parish I belong to. I wouldn't be surprised if very many Catholics are even aware of it. Just goes to show how out of touch we are here in NZ. Either that, or not much notice is taken of what goes on in the Vatican.

Related Links:
Pope says in praying for unity Christians identify cost of divisions ~ Catholic News Service
Full Text of Pope's Speech ~ Vatican

Lucia Scottish Gay Rights Leader facing child pornography charges

How interesting. Jamie Rennie, the chief executive of Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Youth Scotland has been arrested and is accused of:
[...] "taking, or permitting to be taken, or making an indecent photograph or pseudo-photograph of a child". He is further charged with "sending a message or other matter that is grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character".
It makes me wonder, when I read all the things the guy was involved with, how much his personal desires pushed his work with children. Reminds me of the Sex Ed pioneer arrested for the molestation of boys.

Related Link: Gay Rights Chief Held Over Child Porn ~ Daily Record

Lucia Anti-social behaviour - are we tackling it in the right way?

Andrei writes today on a new Government initiative to combat Conduct Disorder/Severe antisocial Behaviour in 3-7 year olds. The plan is for teachers to take note of which children exhibit behavioural problems - which could include things such as "interrupts others when they are speaking" and whether or not the child "takes his/her turn when others are waiting". Not that those particular behaviours will necessarily be on the list as the government wants to reinvent the wheel themselves, but for goodness sakes!

I'm really horrified by this. On the one hand I agree that children need to be trained how to behave. Having two boys myself, I am well aware of how often this needs to be done. And not only do children need to be trained, they need good examples of appropriate behaviour around them modelled by the adults that have the most influence on them - namely their parents. This influence is on-going and the training needed for children is on-going. They seem to hit various ages where they test the boundaries in new ways. They also want to know why so and so is allowed to do certain things and they are not - that's a fun one to try to explain.

So I agree in principle, but I don't agree with the identification needed of these children. Surely teachers would have some idea of how to train the children in their care in appropriate social interaction? You would think they'd be able to, anyway. I do remember the nuns back in my day were very capable of sorting out youngsters very quickly.

The Steiner school my children used to go also had teachers were able to keep children in line. Though being hampered very much by their inability to use physical discipline, they instead were able to still have a certain amount of success by being very strict, not letting things slide, and even calling in the parents if necessary. One other major success factor seems to have been having the same teacher for years (not just one year as is the norm in most schools). If a teacher had a problem child, they needed to work it out as they'd have the same child for a long time. They couldn't just wait it out until the next year when the child would move onto another class. Much like parents really - we have our kids for 18 years or so, so we have a vested interest in them that goes beyond the interest of most other people.

However, this governmental intervention system seems to be the result of everything else we have now. Building more prisons to tackle petty crime is anethma to most socialists. Our prison numbers would look really bad then, not just mildly horrendous. So we can't have that. Plus there is this aversion to discipline and punishment and allowing children to fail. Character building has fallen by the wayside to be replaced with feel-good measures of limited effectiveness, but that also necessitate the increasing intrusion into families. Just horrifying, really. Because once the system is in place for intrusion, it's very difficult to remove it even if it becomes no longer necessary.

I'd just like to finish with something from the Pope on educating children. I doubt it will get reported here, so here is a ray of light that will counter the darkness:
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In a letter to the faithful of the Diocese of Rome, Pope Benedict XVI said today's younger generations are not being well educated in the fundamental values of life.

The result is an "educational emergency" that has left many young people unhappy and disoriented, he said. The letter was made public at the Vatican Jan. 23.

The papal text touched on a sensitive issue in Italy, where the school system has been the focus of political battles and student protests in recent years.

"Educating has never been easy, and today it seems to be increasingly difficult. This is well known to parents, teachers, priests and all those who have direct educational responsibilities," the pope said.

It's unfair to blame the children, but blaming today's adults doesn't tell the whole story either, he said. The problem involves the personal responsibilities of young people and adults, but goes beyond that, he said.

At the root of the problem, he said, is "a widespread atmosphere, a mentality and a form of culture that lead people to doubt the value of the human person, and the very meaning of truth and goodness."

Values cannot be inherited but must be taught to every new generation, he said, and when such "essential certainties" are ignored, there are bound to be problems.

That's why parents today are so worried about the future of their children, why some teachers are distressed at the degradation of their schools, and why young students feel anxious when faced with life's challenges, he said.

He encouraged educators to take heart, however, and said the problems were solvable.

The pope listed some requisites of an authentic education. For one thing, he said, teachers need to recognize that true education must provide more than superficial facts or information. It should provide a sense of empathy and trust that comes from love, he said.

Nor should parents and educators try to keep children from every negative experience or failure in life, he said. Suffering is part of life, and without it "we risk raising, despite our good intentions, people who are fragile and not very generous," he said.

Above all, the pope said, educators and students need to find the right balance between discipline and freedom.

"Without rules of behavior and of life, respected every day even in small things, character is not formed and one is not prepared to face the trials that will appear in the future," he said.
Related link :
Pope says youths are not being well educated in values of life

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

ZenTiger Six Education

When the state decides to preempt a parents decision on when and how to teach their child sex education, without permission, they are both arrogant and condescending. To teach a class full of kids, they must necessarily view the children not as individuals with different temperaments and levels of maturity, but as simply a mass of "6 year olds" or "12 year olds" to which "one lesson fits all".

They should realise that this approach is more an accommodation due to lack of resources. It's not ideal. Accordingly, they need to be more mindful and respectful of the role the parent would like to play in the education of their children.

And perhaps seek permission from said parents before blundering ahead with their "we know best" attitude. Or are parents irrelevant now?

A PARENT has complained her five-year-old daughter was taught sex education at a school in Hobart and revealed she was assaulted by two boys in her class just after the visit from Family Planning...."That's when she told me that two boys in her class had put their hands down her pants, and she said she bashed them," the mother said. "She said it happened in the dolly corner.

Related Link: Six Education

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

ZenTiger Who snubbed who?

Sean points out the Royal Snub over the Queen or a member of the Royal Family not making Hillary's funeral. What, an opinion contrary to mine? This cannot be.

Sean Sir, this glove across the face says you are impertinent Sir. If dawn is not too early, we should settle this in a gentlemanly fashion.

You speak of a snub. If anything, the GG is being snubbed. Yes, the GG. Here we have an especially appointed Queen's representative, selected for quality of character, life experience and wisdom - and suddenly they are not good enough for all the important stuff? Reduced to 'cut a ribbon, have a cup of tea and see you Tuesday'? I think not!

Listen Guv, we are talking of the Governor. A man who can dissolve Parliament or dismiss a Prime Minister, with the merest of nods and winks. But suddenly, going to a funeral is "too important" an occasion for our GG to handle?

OUR GG. Not the Brits. Ours. And you don't want him?

And what is the alternative? Any Royal Tom Dick or Harry would fit the Bill? I think not Sir!

How does a fresh faced 20-something whose OWN MOTHER had not even been born when Hillary took a leak at the peak of his career, suffice at such a sombre occasion?

No sir - the snubs and insults are towards our Honourable Anand Satyanand.

Twice over.

Once for not being satisfied that our permanent resident GG was not distinguished enough for the job, and again for suggesting Harry (no offence Hazza) would convey far more dignity in remembering our nations hero!

Pistols, at dawn methinks.

Well, actually, maybe not. On second thought, I can see where you are coming from Sean. Yeah, fair point I suppose.

Cancel the pistols, but for goodness sake New Zealand, send the GG a card or a thank you note. We have our very own Queen's representative living on the estate, and that's all right by me.

Related Link: Sean's comment

PS: Thanks for providing the fodder, Sean :-)

Monday, January 21, 2008

ZenTiger Around the traps

So many stories to comment on, but too little time. So maybe short answers are called for:

A Royal Funeral
Hillary maybe the equivalent to royalty in NZ, but I personally don't feel snubbed by the Royals not making it over this time around. I'm largely with Craig Ranapia on this one, who had some wise words on Kiwiblog, and on his blog, High Windows.

The Sea Shepherds
Boarding another ship without permission on the high seas is tantamount to piracy. Idiots. And who are they kidding with their outrage over Greenpeace not supplying them coordinates? Greenpeace know the SS are not going to behave themselves. No use blubbering about it. And currently, the whales are doing a good job of staying off the radar. Go whales.

Tom Cruise
There's some sort of video floating around of Tom Cruise earnestly explaining how he is in a good position to help people. Many people are putting the boot in for him "being so fanatical". I saw the clip, and I had no problem with it. So I'm on Tom's side. Geez guys, chillax. If you see a car crash, then stop and help. Simple.

Anonymous Blogging Standards
I have a few more posts to do around this. But I'm busy. And the subject just keeps coming up anyway! The latest angle is that the guys over at the Standard have been [allegedly] accepting the help of the Labour Party to host their blog. A silly move really. And all sorts of interesting questions raised as they might relate to the EFA and the left's demands for "transparency".

Maybe I'll get around to a planned post on "How not to be seen" and staying anonymous on the Internet before they setup their new site?

I suspect Tane's insistent "I don't even vote Labour" is only because he is a committed Green. It's really beside the point. An "independent" blog should obviously be independent. This revelation increases the likelihood at least one of them works in a highly political job. Like the Monty Python Argument sketch I'm sure "they could have been blogging in their spare time". All the more reason to separate hobby from work. At least I hope it's that. They wouldn't lie would they?

Related Link: The Standard gets 450+ comments at Kiwiblog

ZenTiger The discovery of Electionarium

Wellington Hospital and the Ministry of Health started an experiment 9 years ago that is reportedly nearing fruition. They were short a linear accelerator used in cancer treatments. With waiting lists exceeded and people dropping like flies, they decided to invent a "Make A Decision Machine".

The Make A Decision Machine is powered by the chemical element Administratium. It has no protons or electrons and thus has an atomic number of 0. However, it does have one neutron, 10 assistant neutrons, 20 vice neutrons and 34 consulting neutrons, which gives it an atomic mass of 64. These 64 particles are held together by a force that involves the continuous exchange of meson-like particles called morons.

After 9 years, the Make A Decision Machine has finally yielded one decision by the DHB: "We should buy a linear accelerator."

The DHB has graciously offered the machine to Health Minister David Cunliffe. He said he expected to receive the machine next week and would therefore make a decision soon.

The next step for the DHB and Ministry is to invent an "Action Machine" which will, after the decision has been ratified, allow the DHB to actually purchase, install and operate the linear accelerator.

Scientists are already investigating the element said to be the power source for an Action Machine.

"It's early days yet, but we think we have discovered an element called Electionarium. Electionarium is something that fires off many promise-particles in a three year cycle. We have found some unused Election Pledge Cards that may prove to be a plentiful source of Electionarium and enable us to convert the promise-particles to action.

However, the side effects look extremely toxic. People exposed to Electionarium 3 years ago are showing signs of a new form of radiation sickness, tentatively called taxation poisoning.

It seems that whenever Electionarium is used, the incidence of taxation poisoning has increased. The government however, has stockpiled an antidote called "surplus". Scientists and Labour Party Strategists are predicting that if some of the surplus was released at the same time people were exposed to Electionarium, then any negative side effects may well be neutralised.

Although the Ministry of Health was 100% behind the use of Electionarium, scientist William DeBuvitz cautioned: "The cure may be worse than the disease. Use Electionarium at your own risk."

Thanks to William DeBuvitz for the discovery of Administratium. [Link fixed 11:54PM]

The background to this post is here: It still hasn't happened.

ZenTiger It still hasnt happened

Incompetence dressed up as good news.

Nine years ago, Wellington Hospital identified a need for a third cancer treatment machine - a linear accelerator, used to blast tumours. Six years ago, the capacity of the 2 machines was exceeded. Waiting lists sat at up to 12 weeks, instead of a maximum of 4 weeks. They still don't have one.

The Ministry of Health, at some point in time, finally approved $5M dollars and the DHB then wasted more time arguing about how the extra $500K needed should be funded. This is the same DHB that added 64 more managers (annual cost well over $500K) and commissioned a report to see where cost savings could be made. The report cost 250K, and recommended firing 50 doctors.

The Dom Post published the decision to buy a linear accelerator as a "good news" story on the front page of last Friday's paper. They spoke as if the waiting was over. Families of people that have died, or suffered unnecessary stress may not see it as fantastic news. And don't believe for a second the matter is closed. They still need final sign off, purchase, delivery, installation and assurance we still have the staff capable of operating the extra equipment.

It is an election year, so no doubt we'll see this story on the front page several more times as the machine arrives, then is put into action.

The one thing the government has increased capacity for is an army of press release writers. Perhaps they should be called "Political Accelerators"? I say this because it reminds me of a scientific paper released in 1988 by William DeBuvitz [Source].

This is socialism working folks. Virtually unlimited tax payer money to distribute and allocate resource as required for the betterment of all. The Government has increased spending in the Health Sector by billions of dollars since they came into power 8 years ago. They promised the creation of 21 new DHB's would allow them to gain efficiencies and reduce the Head Office staff count. It hasn't. Head Office numbers are up and the money has poured into Administratium. The money goes into hiring middle managers that are not empowered to make decisions, just review and advise.

One of the measurements of success are the waiting lists. Here, we have six years of data proving the waiting lists were exceeded. We had three years prior indicating it was time to schedule a new machine. The government has finally done something - but it still hasn't happened.

It still hasn't happened.

What has happened is that any-one on a waiting list longer than 6 months has been taken off it. The government tries to change reality by changing the way figures are collected. This act alone should have seen them turfed out.

But it doesn't seem to penetrate the mass voters. Instead they read the paper and see that Wellington finally, after nine years, is getting a new linear accelerator.

Well, it still hasn't happened.

An alternative take on this: The discovery of Electionarium

TBR discuss the $47M increase across government in media staff: Pravda

See also: Wellington loses the Oncology Department

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Lucia Support the Pope at midnight tonight

If you are up at midnight tonight, please consider praying the Angelus.

Midnight NZ time is midday in Rome when the Pope will be praying the Angelus in St Peter's Square.

Here's the story:
In Italy and in the world, millions tomorrow will pray the Angelus with the pope

Enthusiastic participation everywhere at the invitation from Cardinal Ruini to join the pope in the Angelus prayer tomorrow, as "a gesture of affection, serenity, and joy" after the controversy and cancellation surrounding the pope’s visit to the La Sapienza university. 150,000 are expected in Saint Peter’s square. Giant television screens will be set up to broadcast the event in Milan and many other cities. The participation of the Catholics in China.

Rome (AsiaNews) – The Angelus of Benedict XVI will be followed tomorrow by millions of people in Italy and all over the world. The idea comes from Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar of Rome, who has invited Catholics and all the Romans to come to Saint Peter’s Square tomorrow to participate in the traditional Marian prayer recited by the pontiff. The purpose is to "express closeness and affection to the pope", and to "share a moment of collective serenity and prayer" after the regretful cancellation of his visit to the university of Rome.

Benedict XVI was supposed to have gone to La Sapienza university to present the inaugural address for the academic year, in a visit scheduled for January 17. But fierce opposition from a small group of teachers and students – together with the inaction of the political and academic authorities – forced the pope to cancel the visit. Without intending to stoke the controversy, the pope in any case sent the text of his address (which AsiaNews published in its entirety; see ‘Pope tells university to seek truth and goodness instead of presumption and division’).

On January 16, when the pope’s decision was made public, a press release from vicar of Rome Cardinal Camillo Ruini, recalling "the sad events that have forced the Holy Father to cancel his visit to the Universit√† La Sapienza", said that "the Church of Rome expresses its full and filial nearness to its bishop, the pope, and expresses the love, admiration, and gratitude for Benedict XVI that live in the heart of the people of Rome. To allow everyone to demonstrate these sentiments, I invite the faithful, but also all of the Romans, to be present in Saint Peter’s Square for the recitation of the Angelus next January 20. It will be a gesture of affection and serenity, an expression of the joy that we feel in having Benedict XVI as our bishop and as our pope".

To those who thought that the gesture might seem to be nothing other than a proof of political power, in "L’Osservatore Romano" (on January 18) Cardinal Ruini reiterated that the Angelus "is a prayer. Therefore it is absolutely not directed against anyone, it will be a gesture of affection and serenity". If, therefore, "anyone wants to interpret this event in any other way, he will interpret in an absolutely mistaken manner".

The invitation has met with an enthusiastic response all over Italy. In Rome, 150,000 persons are expected in Saint Peter’s Square. Many more will participate in the prayer from their own cities. Big screens will display the event in many churches, to help those present pray together with the pope. In Milan, the Sunday prayer will be broadcast live on a big screen in the central square of the city’s cathedral, at the initiative of the city council.

Even in faraway China, there is widespread response to the invitation. In Hebei, the Catholics will meet in the chapel at 7 p.m. local time (noon in Rome) to pray together with the pope.

Related Link: AsiaNews

And now for the prayer, The Angelus:

The Angel of the Lord declared to Mary:
And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee;
blessed art thou among women
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Behold the handmaid of the Lord: Be it done unto me according to Thy word.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee;
blessed art thou among women
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

And the Word was made Flesh: And dwelt among us.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee;
blessed art thou among women
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray:

Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection, through the same Christ Our Lord.


UPDATE: KG of Crusader Rabbit has asked for an explanation of the above prayer.

Catholics believe that Jesus is both truly God and truly Man. This is called the Incarnation - from the Latin "to make flesh". Jesus is sometimes called "The Word" or "the Word of God". The Incarnation is sometimes called "The Word made Flesh".

The Angelus is a prayer in honour of the Incarnation and the Virgin Mary through whom the Incarnation was made possible.

The Angel of the Lord declared to Mary:
And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.

The first part of the prayer summarises the Annunciation, where the Angel Gabriel comes to Mary, tells her of God's plan for her, with the result being that she conceives. This is followed by the Hail Mary prayer:

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee;
blessed art thou among women
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

The first two lines above are from the Holy Bible, Luke 1:28 (And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.)

The second and third lines also incorporates Mary's cousin Elizabeth's greeting to her when Mary came to visit Elizabeth once Mary was pregnant (with Jesus) and Elizabeth was pregnant with John the Baptist (another miraculous conception in that both parents were very old and childless). From the Holy Bible, Luke 1:42 (And she cried out with a loud voice and said: Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.) The name Jesus, is an addition to the Biblical phrases.

The second part of the prayer is called the Sinners Prayer, asking Mary to pray for us now and at the hour of our death.

There are three Hail Marys through the prayer. The number 3 is significant as it's also the number of the Trinity (God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit). In Hebrew it's a superlative where if something is said three times.

Behold the handmaid of the Lord: Be it done unto me according to Thy word.

That's Mary's response to the angel, and it comes from Luke 1:38 (And Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord: be it done to me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.)

And the Word was made Flesh: And dwelt among us.

This refers to the Incarnation: Jesus (the Word) became flesh and lived as a human being among us.

The rest of the prayer is hopefully self-explanatory.

ZenTiger Do teachers need a clip on the ear?

Rosemary McLeod (Sunday Star Times, today, A10) draws the very obvious parallels between the story of the father out with his boys, who, thanks to a teacher, now has a "record" for giving one of them a clip around the ear and yet another teacher seems to see nothing too serious with a gang of school bullys violating a student. Both teachers have displayed a serious lack of judgment.

Rosemary also makes a good point:
Here was a father spending time with his children, helping them learn to enjoy physical exercise, and taking on the challenge of teaching them to do so safely. He wasn't perfect, but who is?
Much of the thinking from the law making authoritarians relies on making all people guilty of breaking a multitude of laws, and then the police or a government agency having the power to 'forgive them' and let them off with a warning. This is Sue Bradford's 'the law is working' mentality.

The fundamental problem with this is that good people are hard enough on themselves in any event, and don't need the full weight of the law sitting on their shoulders as a reason for trying harder. And the bad ones simply don't care.

So what is my point? If both teachers were community minded, they would have got involved with the situation. The first teacher could have stepped in and offered to help the Dad deal with his injured child and made sure the other didn't ride into traffic. They didn't need to call the police - they did because they didn't want to get involved and wanted to reduce the situation to "Dad is bad".

The second teacher, the Principal, also didn't want to get involved. He didn't want to report this to the board, he didn't want this to reflect on his job, he didn't want to deal with the bullys in any meaningful way and he certainly didn't want to empathise with the student who was attacked. He failed in his duty to get involved, and in this situation, it is a duty not only of conscience and ethics, but it was his job.

The place we live in is determined by the people who live in it. What we see here is a withdrawal from the community and and abrogation of responsibility by people who should know better. Take note of their example, think about it, make sure we find it unacceptable, and let's look out for opportunities to determine how we can live in the kind of community we expect.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Lucia Friday night free for all

I'm wilting, wilting ... but the chat is on.

Lucia Outrage over teeshirts works and are they free-speech?

Jay Jays has pulled the offending tee-shirts due to public outrage over labelling children with adult foibles. Which has brought up an interesting point - were these tee-shirts considered free-speech?

Normally I wouldn't have thought so, but Whaleoil, who considers himself a conservative blogger, does seem to think so. (Note we had him down under liberal right on our blogroll.)

I think the problem here is that if a person holds to moral relativism as a standard (ie there are no standards, because everyone's standards are different), then it is very easy to get confused in this area.

I believe in free-speech. Not in an of itself, but to protect those who would speak the truth. Free-speech is just a means to an end, not an end itself. The end is truth. We don't want to protect those who would speak lies.

Unfortunately, in a morally and intellectually confused society such as ours, what is truth? Many people can't even recognise it any more. Truths have been replaced by lies and the lies have been hoisted onto petards and adored.

Which comes back to the tee-shirts. Labelling a child with "Miss Wasted" or "Mr Well-Hung" - what truth do they speak of? Children should not be "wasted" and cannot be "well-hung" - there is no truth here not even in the farther-most mind of the most idiotic parent.

All the tee-shirts are, are marketing techniques aimed at parents who would think it funny to mock their children. Even Whaleoil admits he would not let his kids wear them.

Related Link: Ok I'm boycotting JayJay's because they caved ~ Whaleoil

ZenTiger World Clock

Have a play with the world clock. Try the NOW button.

Related Link: World Clock
Related Link: Earth Clock

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Lucia Lust and Stupidity take on the Pope [Updated]

Rome has historically not been a safe place for popes. The first one (St Peter the Apostle) was crucified there. The next four successors were also put to death. After a gap of three popes, the following five were also killed. The 3rd century saw three executed popes. The city became much safer for popes and all Christians after Constantine declared Christianity the state religion in the 4th century.

However, after the collapse of the Roman Empire, Rome eventually became so dangerous for popes that they relocated to Avignon in France in 1309 for 100 years or so. Not that Rome was much safer when the popes returned, so the 1400's saw a number of popes who needed to exercise military skill to get the city under control. As you would with any city that is constantly rioting and revolting against the rulers.

Now Rome is again turning against the current Pope. The picture on the right comes from the recent protests against Benedict XVI's now cancelled visit to speak at the "La Sapienza" University. A university ironically established in the Middle Ages by a previous pope.

It has been reported by the BBC that the main reason for the protests against the Pope's visit are his previous comments of more than 20 years ago on the trial of Galileo. However, the picture in this post tells a different story.

Homosexual activists are driving the campaign against the Pope. The main message, being reported in Italy, is that the Pope is homophobic, therefore should not turn up to speak at the university.

Homosexual activists against free speech, how unusual. (Where's the sarcasm icon?) Readers may or may not know that here in our very own NZ, a haven of homosexual activism - The AIDS Foundation, have previously lobbied for hate speech legislation in NZ. I suppose now that we have the EFA, maybe that will be next when the politicians get back from holiday. But I digress ...

The Pope has cancelled his proposed visit, so the activists may seem to have won for now. However, hopefully their actions are being exposed to the world. Even without knowing what the protests were about, I'm sure most people would consider the actions of the university protesters to be infantile.

Fr Z, whom I link to below, has a very interesting comment on why there has been this level of protest:
The Church in Italy has been very involved in some matters in the public square. After decades of having no real opposition, the Left is freaking out now because the Church and the Italian bishops are no longer being filtered through the monumentally mediocre and now defunct Christian Democrat party. The Church is weighing in on matters like assisted fertilization, civil unions for homosexuals, euthanasia, abortion, etc. The Left and the deviants don’t like this new development at all. Their reactions? Level death threats against the new president of the Bishops Conference and then behave like snotnosed delinquents when faced with opposing views.

UPDATE: Zadok the Roman explains how this is being perceived in Italy:
Mainstream political opinion in Italy is almost entirely in support of the Pope with reference to the whole Sapienza debacle. Even those who do not agree with him see this as a defeat for the principle of free speech. Amongst ordinary Italians there tends to be an attitude of great embarrassment that the Pope seems to be more welcome in Turkey than he is in the country's largest university. Some of the signatories of the notorious letter which opposed the Pope's attendance are also trying to nuance their position. They claim that the letter should have been private and that it was 'used' by the protesters in a way that was not intended. The rector of the university is speaking of a 'defeat for reason and secularism.'
Related Links: Fr Z ~What does the prayer really say

See also, previous coverage by Andrei at TBR

ZenTiger Mr Offensive

"The messages are light-hearted and are no more than humorous comments made by the wearers about themselves," he said.

So does a 10 year old really want to joke that they are:

Mr Well-Hung
Miss Floozy
Miss Wasted
Miss Slut
Mr Masturbate
Mr Blow Job ?

"We are disappointed that there has been some criticism..."

Why, does that interfere with your freedom of speech?

So Dr Cindy Kiro is looking for evidence that parents need a license in order to raise a child. What will her criteria be? That parents buy these things are "well rounded and ideal parent material" or that such parents are somewhat "deficient" and might as well wear their own T-Shirt:

Mr Shit-For-Brains
Ms Should Know Better

And another thing. The idea on TV is to have "age-inappropriate" advertising and program content after "bed-time". Really, what's the point?

Related Link: Little Miss Crass

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

ZenTiger Welcome to Helengrad

I think it is extremely bad form when people publish name and address information of others. Russell Brown, left wing journalist recently "discovered" WhaleOil was hosting Andy Moore's web site "Don't Vote Labour". To prove the connection he published WhaleOil's real name and address. It was unnecessary, as I'll explain.

Furthermore, Russell's comment encouraged another on the thread - this person took the opportunity to denigrate Andy and published Andy's home address. The 'connection' between WhaleOil was implied as sinister because it (supposedly) hadn't been publicly disclosed. I'll say it again - bad form!

This harkens back to a recent post about how publishing an address, like when signing a petition, can make people uncomfortable. Especially when some nutter tries to steal the petition and get the addresses. Another case recently was a Police Officer looking up the address of a rape victim he had a connection with. Understandably, the victim has every right to feel that there was no good reason for this man to access this information.

Another despicable tactic is for a commenter to "take" the name of another and pose as them. I've also been threatened and abused when some-one misread the comment names and attributed the previous comment to me, rather than the actual idiot who said it (I was the next idiot to comment). Also, as an ex-member of Sir Humphrey's, I got used to wingnuts, nutters and Che Tibby accusing me of having the same opinions as my colleagues. I think I spoke for all of them when I said that we didn't speak for each other.

Now the connection between WhaleOil and Andy came about because Andy respected a request by his father not to publish their home address on his website. His father wanted to ensure some Labour nutter didn't lob a brick through the window and endanger the rest of the family. WhaleOil stepped in and offered Andy space on his web account so that Andy didn't have an easily discoverable name and address. The connection was no more suspicious than that. A simple charitable act.

Meanwhile Andy still has to deal with the Electoral Commission and a possible court case for not publishing his address on his non-commercial website. Such are the requirements under the Electoral Finance Act.

I finally come to the point of my post. I was chatting to Crusader Rabbit recently and I've promised to write a post on how to properly anonymise yourself on the internet. I'll include how to set up masked web sites. I'll get this post done over the next week (I hope).

The techniques I will put forward are beyond what I've personally bothered to do, but in an environment where your relationship to political people can affect your job prospects (the two recent high profile cases were where M. Setchell lost her job and Clare Curran got one uncontested); or where some nutter can decide to hunt you down and commit acts of violence (as has happened), and perhaps even to combat lefties that like to keep lists. Like that would ever happen in New Zealand?

Welcome to Helengrad!

Related Link: Wonders never cease
Minor update 3pm

Monday, January 14, 2008

ZenTiger Doing a Bradford

[A reenactment of the crime. Please do not try this in your neighbourhood]

A concerned citizen (a school teacher) saw one child crash on their bike, and another who was partially responsible for the incident, going to ride off without parental supervision, clipped around the ear by his father and told to stay put, whilst the father tendered to the injury of the first child.

"I could see it was pretty serious, one kid potentially hurt - the other about to ride off and the father frazzled. So rather than offer to lend assistance, I thought instead it was more appropriate to call the police," said the informant, who declined to be named. "I need no further reward. Doing a Bradford is reward enough."

Six policemen turned up:
"Well, we considered just shooting him on the spot, but the kids were in the line of fire. Always concerned about the welfare of sprogs, we decided just to give him a dressing down and threatening to take the kids into state care. It didn't cross out mind to offer assistance.

As it turned out to be no big deal, putting this little incident on his permanent record seems to be an appropriate response.

His name is Mason by the way - M - A - S - O - N. Rhymes with Jason. That serial killer guy."
No one from the Greens, not even Sue Bradford, were prepared to say on record at this time that it was great the man had been publicly named. Neither did they point out that this was something they would like to see, and made no parallels to publishing the names of drunk drivers. Therefore, these points should not be assumed even though Sue Bradford has declared previously that such matters "prove the law is working".

Related Link: Doing a Bradford

Crusader Rabbit: Kiwis are free people

KiwiBlog: Six Police Storm the Scene of the Crime

Sunday, January 13, 2008

ZenTiger Outright Lies #13: Financial Assistance to Cannabis Growers

[From Sir Humphreys Archives - with updates]
The Greens are claiming the EB brochures are filled with outright lies. I'm having a look at the claims, one by one, to see how the EB may have formed their opinion.

Outright lie #13: Offer financial assistance to cannabis growers for alternative employment.

I have been able to find no information to justify this assertion. The closest I got were these two statements:

1. An inference that (illegal) cannabis growers might be encouraged to grow hemp in the economically depressed Northland areas. "What is most interesting about the new policy is a pilot scheme to integrate commercial hemp crops into economically depressed areas like Northland that have traditionally been reliant on cannabis for their income." It is possible the EB mistook growing Hemp, with low THC properties as part and parcel of the drugs issue. Hemp crops are an interesting possibility for NZ, but that's another post.

2. The Greens Drug Reform Policy states: Commercial cultivation and trading of marijuana for profit would remain illegal, and areas currently relying on large scale illegal cultivation for their income will be assisted in making a transition to other work. Now, this all hinges on what kind of assistance would be offered in making a transition to other work. I can't quite see them getting "extra money" over and above the benefits they probably already claim. More likely some very expensive but flawed tax payer funded job jolt scheme.

A minor point though: The Exclusive Brethren (EB) could argue that tax payer money would be spent, based on the above statement by the Greens and presumably the EB simply want large scale growers caught and locked up. The Greens are instead suggesting we "assist" these criminals to transition into alternative employment. In this regard, the EB are correct. Which approach is the best one is, as usual, debatable.

I'm going to give the Greens the benefit of the doubt on this one, but I can kind of see where the Exclusive Brethren got their idea from.

However, Jeannette called this an "outright lie" and she said: Our drugs policy does not include offering financial assistance to cannabis growers. This is wrong and offensive. [Source] Given the above two statements by the Greens, including a commitment to "assist" growers rather than prosecute them, I'd say its more an "outright misunderstanding."

Verdict: Greens Innocent, but EB not yet caught in a lie.

Related Link: Greens Drug Policy

Related Link: Back to main post

Saturday, January 12, 2008

ZenTiger Outright Lies #6: Cut Defence Spending

[From Sir Humphreys Archives - with updates]
The Greens are claiming the EB brochures are filled with outright lies. I'm having a look at the claims, one by one, to see how the EB may have formed their opinion.

Outright Lie #6: Cut defence spending by 50% and disarm our forces

Let's cut to the chase. Keith Locke said this at a Green Party Conference:
The Green Party has announced at its annual conference that it will campaign to halve spending on defence from $1.6 billion to $800 million. "We see this cut as a 'peace dividend' providing much-needed money for social and environmental projects," said Green Party Defence Spokesperson Keith Locke, speaking at the party's annual conference in Wellington this weekend.

"The saving will come from disbanding the offensive capacity of the Defence Force.

"We'll save $650 million by removing the frigates, their support ship Endeavour, and the air strike force.

"Another $70 million can be saved by disbanding the SAS and the expensive and irrelevant anti-submarine capacity in our air force and navy.

"A final $180 million could be saved in unifying the three services, eliminating duplication across the senior brass, and shifting the focus from big land operations to peacekeeping, civil defence, disaster relief and fisheries monitoring.
So that's pretty much a direct hit. On their web site, they had this snippet: To mark Hiroshima Day on the 6th of August '99 we launched a new web section on our Peace Dividend - our plan to save $800 million dollars by halving defence spending. What would you spend the money on? Hospitals and schools? [Source]

But to look at it another way, that was a press release from 1999, and they may have changed their policy? (And would this mean canceling their "Peace Dividend" projects ?)

A visit to the Green Policy List on their web site finds many policy statements, but NONE on Defence [as at Sep 2005]. On the issue of Home Security, they want to abolish the GCSB and close its two signals intelligence bases at Waihopai and Tangimoana. They have been on record being very happy dismantling our Strike Wing, resigning from the Sirius project:
"Why should we waste hundreds of millions of dollars equipping the Orions with a cutting-edge anti-submarine capability ... When did we last see a hostile submarine around New Zealand's coast?
It is a fair opinion, when speaking of defence capability, to use the term "disarm our forces" to put forward the idea that if our defence capability is wound down too much it will be almost useless. That is not to say a token defence force will not exist. The Greens use this very logic all the time: when the Greens say there will be no public transport under Brash (and JF pretty much said that recently), she was trying to get across the idea that Public Transport needed more money thrown in to improve it, and continuing with the same expenditure will leave a token transit system. That is opinion. And so is the EB statement that a decrease in spending will effectively disarm our defence capability. To refute their point by taking the meaning that they want to disband the armed forces completely is disingenuous. Apparently, they just want to hamstring it.

Ironically, Jeanette's rebuttal [source] could almost be considered an "outright lie":
We do not suggest disarming our forces. The "50%" claim is based on our 1999 opposition to National buying F16 fighters. Currently we support some refocussing of spending towards creating a civil defence, peacekeeping and resource protection capacity. We believe it is possible to phase-out the two frigates and introduce vessels more suited to the South Pacific, creating some savings. We also support raising New Zealand foreign aid budget almost three-fold, from the current 0.24% of GDP to 0.7% of GDP. If this package of Green ideas was implemented, the amount of money the Government spends on making the world a safer place (defence, peacebuilding, foreign aid) would not decrease.
The 50% claim wasn't just based on the F16 fighters, as I've proven. Note also, the Greens want to redefine what defence spending includes. They want to add in the cost of civil defence and foreign aid to the defence budget. They want to increase foreign aid threefold, and then add that in to the defence budget and call it "peace building" and therefore part of defence. I find this spin astounding. We all know "defence" is a euphemism for "attack", so to redefine defence spending as anything that makes the world safer, seems a little naive. Defence Capability is for the time the peace keeping initiatives fail Jeanette.

The next time Kiwi soldiers are asked to die for their country, we'll simply get them to throw bundles of cash at the enemy, thus averting another Hitler taking over the world.

Verdict: No real defence to this one. Greens are Guilty.


Source: Greens to Halve Defence Spending

Related Link: Back to main post