The Dim-Post

October 31, 2010

Off the record, on the QT and very hush hush

Filed under: crime,media — danylmc @ 8:12 am

I have this idea for a New Zealand novel in the tradition of Ellroy’s American Tabloid in which everything Ian Wishart writes is real. The SST has his latest scoop:

Family of the two Swedish tourists murdered by David Tamihere are outraged at a report that claims Heidi Paakkonen may still be alive.

The theory was published just days before Tamihere prepares to front the Parole Board on Tuesday in his latest bid for release.

Speaking from the Swedish village of Storfors, the brother of Heidi’s slain fiance, Urban Hoglin, said he was disturbed by the report in the November issue of Investigate.

The article’s author, conspiracy theorist Ian Wishart, said he had received information that Paakkonen was kept alive after Hoglin’s death and transported nearly 300km by road, and then boat, to Kawau Island in the Hauraki Gulf.

I think the last Wishart story that actually stacked up was his discovery that Air New Zealand were leasing planes to the Australian Defence force to convoy troops to Kuwait. The Press Council still upheld a complaint against him ruling the article:

lacked fairness, the cover headline and some details were inaccurate, and the cover montage of an armed soldier, a queue of people and the koru on the tail of an Air New Zealand jet was misleading and inaccurate.

But at least the gist of it was true. That was back in September 2006.

October 30, 2010

The Room dubstep remix

Filed under: movies — danylmc @ 11:35 am

What else is there to say?

A voice from the provinces

Filed under: books,movies — danylmc @ 8:15 am

Literary criticism is not your forte, my dear fellow. Don’t try it. You should leave that to people who haven’t been at a University. They do it so well in the daily papers.

Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest

The Herald’s seventh worst columnist is not a J R R Tolkien fan:

I don’t know what possessed a successful Kiwi film-maker to choose a fey English fantasy for his big number. Lord of the Rings was the book to read in 1971, then deservedly it died.

I tried to read it, four times I think, mainly because it was a gift. It said nothing to me.

Cult books have a short shelf life. Tolkien had done his dash by 1972 and I can’t recall much discussion of his books for the next 30 years. Then Peter Jackson remembered it. He would have been a child when the book was being read and he made a child’s movie of it.

I was a child when I read Lord of the Rings (somewhat subsequent to the early 70s) and I really enjoyed it; and big budget movies are made for children so of course it was a child’s movie. It’s not really accurate to say the book ‘died’ after 1971. In most of the readers polls conducted in 1999 and 2000 Lord of the Rings was voted the most popular book of the century, an indication that many grown-ups liked it too, before Jackson’s movies were made. W H Auden thought it was better than Paradise Lost (although I’ve always been fond of Edmund Wilson’s description: ‘a combination of Wagner and Winnie the Poo’.)

Most of Roughan’s complaints – he didn’t like the movies, they attract the wrong sort of tourists for the wrong reasons – seem to stem from his irritation that money is being invested and people are paying attention to a part of New Zealand that is not Auckland. You’d expect our so-called national newspaper would be a little less provincial about these things.

A reader asks

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 6:14 am

When was the last time a prime minister directly negotiated with a multinational?

Any thoughts? Maybe it’s the kind of thing that happens all the time but we never hear about it because there’s no press release issued.

The travel perks thing

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 5:56 am

The Speaker is ruining the gallery’s fun:

Parliament’s Speaker has introduced new rules preventing public disclosure of individual MPs’ spending on tax-payer funded overseas jaunts.

The change mean trips like those taken by Rodney Hide and his partner to Hawaii and through Europe last year are now secret.

Mr Hide admitted at the time that he made a mistake, but Speaker Lockwood Smith today said the matter was private and should never have been made known to the public.

“It is taken out of members’ salaries and it is private,” Dr Smith said.

“It is not a public expense, it is a private matter.”

Smith’s argument is that the travel perks are factored into the MPs salary – they granted it to themselves in lieu of a pay-rise at some stage –  but because of the media scrutiny and public opprobrium attached to use of the perk they can no longer use it, and so it should remain secret because the way MPs spend their salary is a private matter.

Okay. But there’s a reason there is so much media scrutiny and public opprobrium attached to this perk – it’s that no one else in the entire country gets a private discretionary travel fund and no one (except for our MPs) can understand why they have it. Other VIPs get equivalent high salaries and perks related to their jobs (limos with drivers, say). But the private travel fund for MPs and partners doesn’t have any justification or private sector equivalent, it’s just something nice that MPs gave themselves because they’re the only people in the country who aren’t directly accountable to their employers or shareholders for their remuneration.

October 29, 2010

Don’t you know who we are?

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 9:00 am

I find this idea that Key sold out the nation’s honor when he made a deal with Warners pretty risible: when you’re a very small, very remote country with a tanking economy you don’t get to tell a multi-national corporation with a half-billion dollars to invest in a ‘knowledge’ industry with tourism tie-ins that it’s beneath your dignity to negotiate with them. Sure, it’s bad that an outcome of the negotiation is that they’re introducing secret bills with no oversight in contempt of the democratic process – but that’s how this government passes most of its legislation.

October 28, 2010

The Hobbit Bill

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 4:53 pm

Is online here, as you’d expect from the urgency and lack of process it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. From the general policy statement:

This Bill amends the Employment Relations Act 2000 so that workers
involved with film production work will be independent contractors
rather than employees, unless they choose to be employees by entering
into an agreement that provides that they are employees. Film
production work includes production work for video games, but not
production work on programmes initially intended for television.

So if you’re an actor working on a television program then you are covered by different employment law than your next job on a movie – but if you’re a programmer working on a video game tie in to the film then you’re covered by the same law as the actor on the movie set, but that changes if you get a job coding for a non-video game related project.

I’m not sure as to whether this covers the entire video game industry or just film tie-ins. I also wonder if the wording in the law:

film means a cinematograph film, a video recording, and any
other material record of visual moving images that is capable
of being used for the subsequent display of those images; and
includes any part of any film, and any copy or part of a copy
of the whole or any part of a film

means that anyone could stick a camera in their office and film their employees and then claim that they are exempt from the ERA because they are making a film.

Andrew Geddis asks:

How does that law change, purportedly meant to put Warner Brothers minds at ease about our industrial relations landscape, have anything at all to do with the actor’s actions that allegedly kicked all of this off? Because I can’t for the life of me see any linkage whatsoever.

My guess is that by the time they were sitting at the table with the PM the dispute was no longer an issue except as a bargaining ploy by Warners: ‘we need large tax breaks to offset the increased risk we’re taking in filming in a country with such uncertain labour laws’. And Key’s response – and the piece of legislation they’re passing – was just another ploy: ‘well we’ll just fix up our labour laws so that risk doesn’t exist for you  any more.’


Filed under: books — danylmc @ 4:02 pm

My definition of ‘a good book’ these days is any book that I look forward to reading more of when I have to put it down, and by this criteria Freedom is a very good book. It’s a social satire and as you’d expect it’s about freedom, specifically the way the idea of freedom has shifted in our society from an emphasis on liberty to an emphasis on selfishness and the idea that we should be able to do whatever we want with no consequences (the people claiming that Paul Henry’s right to free speech was violated when people complained about him being a canonical example). The book is about how humans are highly social, interdependent animals reliant on each other for our happiness, and Franzen shows that if you put animals like that in a culture that celebrates individual freedom to the exclusion of all other virtues then you end up with a society filled with depressed, angry, lonely, frustrated people.

There are variations on this same theme through the book: economics and freedom, psychology and freedom, family and freedom (the central theme of the book is illustrated by the characters who feel free to cheat on their partner with someone more attractive and/or younger and are then devastated when their partner is unfaithful or divorces them).

The book references War and Peace many times, and it does resemble the first third of W&P: the psychological sketch of a specific society at a fixed point in history, the difference being that Tolstoy liked his characters and the people of Russia a whole lot more than Franzen likes the US and the upper-middle class intellectuals he writes about. At least Franzen understands his subjects – the culture, the technology etc – and writes about them with realism as opposed to, say, Updike or Delillo who tend to write like alien anthropologists describing another species after being beamed in from their home planet of literary academia.

October 27, 2010

And back again

Filed under: movies,Politics — danylmc @ 7:40 pm

The Herald reports that the Hobbit will be filmed in New Zealand:

The Government will introduce legislation tomorrow to clarify the distinction between independent contractors and employees as it relates to the film industry only.

“This will guarantee the movies are made in New Zealand,” Mr Key said.

Tax rebates will also be changed for Warner Bros, which will mean up to an extra US$7.5m per movie for Warner Bros, subject to the success of the movies.

DPF adds:

  • Government will tomorrow introduce a bill to clarify law on contractors for the film industry (only)
  • A widening of the criteria for major film tax rebates which will come up at US$7.5m per film
  • Govt to commit US$10m towards marketing of the films, in exchange for NZ tourism information being included in materials such as DVDs

A very John Key touch, that last point – including a tourism ad on a major studio film DVD is probably worth a lot more than ten million dollars in international marketing costs. Seems to me that the studios demands and the deal made around taxes lets the CTU walk away with their head held high as well – their talking point was that this was about a tax deal all along. I can’t see Kelly being offered a high spot on the Labour list though . . .

McCarten in Mana

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 1:29 pm

The Herald reports:

Veteran political organiser Matt McCarten is putting his hat in the ring for the upcoming Mana by-election.

The outspoken union boss, who announced in September he is battling cancer, will stand against Labour selection Kris Faa’foi, National MP Hekia Parata and Green Party candidate Jan Logie.

His announcement comes on the last day for candidate nominations.

I think electorate voters are unlikely to select an MP with metastasising bowel cancer even if he is Matt McCarten (who is less well known down here than in Auckland).

So I think the impact on Labour’s vote will be minimal unless he becomes a form of protest vote which – if it were significant – would lead to a National victory. I guess McCarten sees it as a platform to campaign for workers rights.

The howls of treason from The Standard are going to be amusing: they had a post on Mana a few days ago with interesting comments from someone calling themself ‘Swordfish’, who is obviously an organiser on Kris Faafoi’s campaign.

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