Haka Peep Show

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One of Dunedin’s town councillors has quit the Art in Public Places Committee of the city council, claiming the temporary art in the lower Octagon looked like a black penis.  The sentiment has been widely reported.  I understand it is meant to be a Maori pou.  My dictionary translate that as meaning ‘post’.  What’s standing in the lower Octagon is a tupperwaka condom.

I can only hope that the resignation of the councillor has improved the intelligence quota of the Art in Public Places Committee.  I admit he didn’t get my vote.  It seems to me that the real shame is that this has taken out a quarter of the committee’s annual budget.  It is money that could be better spent.  Unfortunately Dunedin has not created space for art like, say, Wellington has.  Failing that I think we are bad judges of public art.

When Southern Dave and I went through the Octagon for the book-sale and saw the pou his observation was it looked like one of those public collection sites for smokers’ cigarette butts and ash.  I have been amused by those, especially the ones labeled Smokers, make sure someone knows where you are.  My dark humour considers that after you have squeezed one smoker into one of those there wouldn’t be room of another.  So finally art has provided us with a dispensory large enough to dispose of any number of smokers.  A great improvement and amenity for the city.


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Last week M. P. Trevor Mallard posted on the Labour Party Blog Red Alert that Bryce Edwards’ blog Liberation is being sponsored by David Farrar and Matthew Hooton, among others.  Bryce Edwards is a political scientist at the University of Otago whose politics is on the left.  He is critical of the Labour Party.  I assume he finds it too centrist for his tastes.  Farrar and Hooton are decidedly on the right-wing of New Zealand politics, a combination of public relations and political activism.

The posting took a lot of flak.  Farrar and Hooton argued that it was good for their PR work and encouraged the diversity of the political spectrum.  (I write this without checking the exact wording of their comments.)  The posting came under criticism from the readers.  It was a case of political foot-in-mouth for the bloggers on Red Alert.  The mensheviks of the left, now out of power, are turning on each other.

All things considered I took a look at the blog Liberation.  It struck me as ugly, and poorly structured.  It embeds links to articles on the web into paragraphs.  The complete entries cannot be read on the web page, instead there is a link at the bottom of each entry to the rest of the entry’s write-up.  I tried putting it on my aggregator.  It downloaded a list of the pages titles, all incomplete, requiring me to click back to the blogsite for the complete entry, and the links embedded in each entry appeared as text.  I did not check if they were links.  Instead I deleted the feed.

So Edwards is happy to accept sponsorship from anyone across the political spectrum.  The phrase ‘sin money’ comes to mind.  General William Booth of the Salvation Army used it so well.  The resulting blog-site appears to me to be noisy but not well presented.  It could count as money down the drain for right-wingers.

That seems their money well-spent to me.

(Links intentionally left out of this entry.)

Nemi Comic in English

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I’m aware that I’ve getting a small number of hits from people looking for websites with the Norwegian cartoon Nemi in English.  Primarily they are hitting a page I had of a favorite Nemi comic strip.  If that’s what you are here for then I’ve added a link to the London magazine website Metro to my blogroll.  They seem to be the only people who are translating and publishing this comic.  The page only shows the current week.  I’m sure they used to have an archives somewhere.  It would be a shame if it’s lost!  Anyhow scroll down to the link Nemi Cartoon by Lise Myhre in my blogroll and you can get to the page from there.  Good luck!

[Update August 2015: Sorry, no longer current.  This link cannot help you.]

Know the Ways

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I was reminded this week that September includes the feast day of Saint Hildegard of Bingen.  St. Hildegard is popular among creators of imaginary languages as she kept lists of words she invented and included into her writings and hymns.  She is an early example of language invention.  I wonder if this was an encounter between church Latin and Mediaeval German?  I’ve never investigated it in depth.

I have a copy of her work on the religious visions she had in her life.  It’s called Scivias and it is published in the Classics of Western Spirituality series.  It’s very densely written and I have to read it slowly.  I took it off the shelf this week to be my lunch-time reading.  I worked through Visions Four to Six from Book Two, her visions on the church.

St. Hildegard is adopted as the poster-child of hippy new-age Christians.  I’m surprised by that.  From what I’ve read of her the spirituality in her visions is quite orthodox for the age she lived in.  I think her modern redactors have been incredibly selective in the quotes they take from her to make her a exemplary Eco-Christian.

Now I’ll wait and see what new choices arise in my reading for the new week.

Thoughts on the day

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How come Facebook has gone so craptastic overnight?  Possibly McLeod Cartoons has got it right

I was at the Dunedin Farmers Market this morning handing out leaflets for Keep-MMP campaign.  I saw several people going in I recognised.  There was a lot of support for the campaign from attendees to the market.  One friend was grateful to receive a leaflet that explained why we want to keep MMP over the alternatives.

I considered getting out in the afternoon.  Winston Peters from the New Zealand First Party was talking at the Library, and Moving Planet was on this afternoon at the Botanic Gardens.  I chickened out on the first and decided the latter was too far to go as the weather turned cold.  Instead I went into town to see if there was any good entertainment as Dunedin hosts the rugby match England versus Romania.  I watched the band Soul Deep in the Octagon.

Capsicums are down to 2d each at the supermarket.  Sure sign that spring is here.

Parish Council


I reported back to Parish Council.  Fortunately the parish I represent is one that can meet its insurance bill.  It’s gone up from £50 to £200.  This increase is manageable.  Other churches with older complexes have been hit with more severe increases.  The rule of thumb is if the complex, or part of the complex, was built before 1935 then it will not meet the requirements for earthquake insurance and the increase in premiums will be significant.  Some churches are looking at partial cover.  They will not rebuild as heritage sites after an earthquake like what hit Christchurch.  Some churches are looking at alternative suppliers than the insurance provider the national office recommends.  Opoho church is in the situation that it can meet its cover.

We also started making arrangements for a community event in the church hall for the rugby world cup final.  I have stopped feeling anxious about this.  It is all coming together.

Northern Irish addresses and Waldbuhne 2011

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Event for this week was an open lecture at the Centre for Irish and Scottish Studies on form and language in contemporary Scottish poetry.  Apparently the Scottish poets are borrowing from the idea pioneered by W. B. Yeats that the poet must be rooted in community.  Place and location are necessary to any poet; and form and pattern give force to a poem.  It made sense when it produces accessible poetry.  The lecture finished with a consideration of numerology in the poetry of Paul Muldoon.  I concluded that I didn’t understand what they are talking about.  The guy must be a poet’s poet which is a bit beyond my ken.  Numerology in poetry is another idea that goes back to Yeats, so I blame him.

Today’s treat was watching the Berlin Philharmonic at the Waldbuhne.  That was wonderful.  They began with some short pieces: Shostakovitch’s Jazz Piece, which isn’t real jazz, I didn’t detect any improvisation or feeling in it.  As the sun set in the natural amphitheatre then they moved onto more toothier pieces: Respighi’s Fountains of Rome and the Pines of Rome.  They caught close-ups of people in the audience and there was one woman with a child in her lap and a tear running down her cheek as they played Pines near a catacomb.

Then they brought the percussion out and finished with Berliner Luft.  I hadn’t heard it before.  It proved to be one of those special pieces, like being at a Last Nigh of the Proms.  I didn’t know Germans had that in them as they joined in the popular tune with clapping and whistles.  What a special treat, especially for the audience.

Lunch time reading this week has been from Perdido Street Station by China Miéville.

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