Thursday, December 15, 2005

Lange, Bush and Thatch

Well I’ve been away and now I’m back. There are bits of the far South where I can testify that the sun will burn you (and make you sad, sorry, sore, peeled, cancerous ?). Apologies to the poor soul who bumped into this blog by accident (I presume it was so) - thanks for not complaining.

I can also announce that I am still a geek at heart having derived childish pleasure from being conversant with a statistical technique called structural equation modelling (don’t ask).

And here’s my tale for today:

The CIA is morally indefensible. Well at least kidnapping people and then transporting them to compliant allies in order to torture them certainly is. As for Condosleezy Rice trying to sidestep and gamely defend such activities it makes me ashamed to hold a PhD. It appears the lesson here is with academic achievement does not come moral enlightenment (look at me ha !). I cringe though for those in the US who I am sure, feel bitterly ashamed to be represented by such nasty f****rs. Good news the bushboon has admitted that the intelligence he used to argue the case for war was wrong and that going to war was his fault. What I couldn’t see was whether Dick n Don were running the autocue…….. A subtext to all this was the ‘discovery’ that the republican Govt has been buying press coverage (as if Fox news wasn’t helpful enough !) which worries me and brings forth the only original thought of the day.

I was there in 1985 when David Lange gave his speech on nuclear weapons being indefensible. I lived under the yoke of and in the plain knowledge that a four-minute warning was not going to save my life given my location and circumstance. All through my school days the quiet desperation of those thoughts dragged at my soul. This and a few friends changed my life and gave an angry young man a sense of moral direction and purpose. Above all I realised the importance of free thought and an abhorrence of propaganda. It was interesting to re-read David Lange’s speech some twenty years later. Two points stood out specifically. The first was that before giving that speech he was allowed to tour unhindered throughout the US debating this issue. Quite clearly from his delivery he felt that he had been given a far crack at it too. It is difficult to imagine anyone being allowed such freedom in the contemporary democratic joke that is America. The best one could hope was that any message would get lost in the mire of passing news not relevant to America, at the worst one might be stoned by Christian Fundamentalists and misreported by the right wing press. This might be a caricature, but the sentiment is real I genuinely feel that this highlights just what the world and America in particular has lost. Though I am unable to grasp how things got this bad. My second point rests with a reference that Lange made to Margaret Thatcher, my interpretation remains that he, like many saw her as intimidating (which in my opinion was an understatement). Part of that formidable façade was operated through the media. Not the comments in the Guardian about Thatch’s knighthood for the disgraced media warlock Conrad Black and realise that media manipulation was then as it is now. I believe we still cannot see the TV footage of Miners vs. Police at Orgreave colliery (I was there too). The interesting sideline may be that at least then the BBC might have complained these days it does what it is told and shuts up shop in Europe to set up a broadcast rival to Al Jazeera. Now in who’s interests is that, and what exactly is it worth do you think.

Thatch has been on my mind a lot recently, not least because it appears that she is finally losing her marbles. I don’t know for how much longer she we live but these thoughts burn in my mind;

I want to out live her long enough to be as indifferent to her death as she was to the plight of the working men and communities that she ruined for generations under the banner of rationalisation.

I wish to be as crass and arrogant as she was when she sent British Servicemen to war in order to win an election.

I want to be as utterly heartless as she was when she opted to sink a ship full of Argentine sailors who need not have died at all in a war that could so easily have been avoided.

There will be obituaries that will speak of great leadership and reform. But the bitter truth is this. The woman was cruel, heartless and power mad. To this day I find her in presence and in deed to be utterly despicable. My moral fig leaf is this I would be glad if she read this for I will repeat it at here death and at any time afterwards. My only regret is that I will not be amongst those waiting to tramp the dirt down. Should there be a hell, then surely it was made for her.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

The painful politics of ignorance and education.

It seems that the bile is poring out of me at the moment, I’m not bitter……..honest (yeah right!). This issue to do with Te Wananga o Aotearoa (TWAO) is stunning - yes it has appeared before but the quote from Susan Cullen had me asking to for permission to use the C word.

“God sends waves and you have to learn how to surf them.”

”I would do the same again if given the chance.”

All this from someone who made $30 million net profit in five years out of education. I do hope she is as philosophical if she ever gets mugged, robbed or conned. This trite bitch deserves it.

The wananga went from approximately 6000 funded enrolments to more than 34,000 in three years. According to rough funding calculations the government should have given $180,000,000 dollars in 2003. Check out the figures here and here.

The total scam runs to over $74 million. Mahi Ora the main course involved is a simple school level course in how to get a job, its free, it can be done at home and here’s the clincher your kaiako (teacher) can be contacted on an 0800 number using the mobile provided. Oh and there’s a noho marae (learning weekend). So my guess is the bulk of the teaching is done by workbook/video/ audio tape and trusty phone server.

Fortunately for Susan Cullen she was not an employee of Te wananga. Had she been TWAO would have saved approximately $10 million a year. I can only wonder as to whether she ever has been an employee. The $30million made in profit could easily have bailed out Rotorua's Te Wananga o Aotearoa that apparently needed a $20 million subsidy.

The $74 million given to Cullen would have been enough to clear most if not all the debts for HE institutions in New Zealand or employ roughly 1100 teachers; the profits ($30m) from this venture alone could have employed close to 500 teachers on its own. That doesn’t take into account the extra $20m for TWAO Rotorua. In a country where most schools and tertiary/higher education providers are struggling to make ends meet and provide real bums in seats education; it seems absurd that any institution of any credibility could generate that much profit let alone afford to give it away. I would looooove to see the enrolment/pass ratio and please someone send me the curriculum now. This I have to see - the course that actually teaches itself requiring minimum resources. Well bugger me, strangely no one else in the country can do this in fact no one else in the world seems to be this good at education, that is apart from the internet Universities.

All this from a tertiary education provider that champions the concept of Maori values/methods in education and also claims to be a University when it isn't. Forget how much Brash and his mates will enjoy this dish and try and figure out if NZ Maori should laugh or cry.

Don't forget $30 million is the equivalent of $50 for every Maori in New Zealand. Better still about $150 dollars for every Maori kid. But get this, I reckon I could put an internet ready PC in every Maori household for $74million and still have change for a shed load of internet access - perhaps a years free dialup.

Just in case you missed this cuzzes and neffs, Susan Cullen won't be shelling out for any hangi for Tangata Whenua either. Most of the profits are tied up in holding companies and luxury properties no doubt where she wines and dines such lunminaries as...... Donna Awatere-Huata ?

Its no wonder Rongo Wetere didn't need to siphon off funds. When you can pay your kids this much and have your wife as a contractor who needs more ?

What does all this tell us ?

That if this amount of profit can be generated, then clearly the governement is paying too much for education and in particular Maori centred education. (erm not ! I do hope no one is really thinking this)
People in education cannot run their own affairs.
That Maori under the banner of Maori interests will grab what they can get and stuff their kin.
Tino Rangatiratanga once more scores a magnificent own goal.

I do hope the pepole on these courses did learn something useful otherwise it would have been a truly tragic waste.

Susan Cullen is an immoral and reckless a grifter working New Zealand’s conscience for all its worth.
This hands all the ammunition needed to those who maintain a less the flattering cultural stereotype for Maori. But the real criminal of the day has to be the fool who put the finance model in place that allows this to happen. Susan Cullen and TWAO only took what was made available to them. How the F**k can this happen in a modern world ?

Oh of course this will almost certainly mean that some pointy head in Wellington will create another piece of paper work for me to do next year.

P.S. TWAO if you do read this, please note that your intranet seems to be running a mirror for slashdot japan..........

Friday, December 02, 2005

George Best my Dad and Me

Sooner or later I’m going to have something nice to say….but at the moment I will reserve all the niceness I can muster for those I love.

When my dad died he did not look pretty, he did not look well, in fact drowning in your own blood from a perforated liver is a pretty shitty way to die. Yup you guessed it my Dad was an alcoholic (some of you may be way ahead of me by now already). I saw a picture of him when he married my mum, he looked like a film star (sadly I don’t). He didn’t look like a film star when he died. At the time in fact he looked to me like a drunken thief. He had stolen the youth from my sister and I, squandering the best years of my mother’s life on the way. On top of that he drank away the profits of a business to which we all sacrificed some part of ourselves. It says a great deal that my sister and I haven’t spoken for five years passed and my mum and I despite our best efforts rarely communicate. My dad has been gone close to 8 years. Though I’m quite sure that our lack of family cohesion is not entirely his fault the lack money certainly was. In death the greatest tragedy is felt by the living.

With the death of an alcoholic we might expect some respite from an ongoing tragedy, but in truth the misery rarely stops there. So it is with George Best. I will not endorse this media canonising of an alcoholic. My father was a nice bloke but it will never make up for the things he did and didn’t do. George Best was a great football player but it will not dismiss the charming deceit of the celebrity alcoholic. This is a man who made a living out of his tragedy and that which he forced upon others. If some good has to come of this, we need to recognise that you can call a spade a spade and in turn an alcoholic however talented, a bad person. If we continue to romanticise and covertly endorse alcoholics particularly those like George Best, we don’t help Alcoholics or their numerous victims.

It is quite simply unacceptable for the media to come out with lines like “remember the great football players he was”. It’s like me sitting here trying to remember my film star looks dad, it is a denial of the truth.

The line we miss is; I’m an alcoholic, I am a bad person and drinking will not make this better, not drinking just might though.

What I really want to say is this: bury the selfish f****r, stuff the nice bloke garbage and take real good care of those he hurt. Then try to create a society where this is less rather than more likely to happen.