August Miscellany

bunnyLost and….?

Spotted in Auckland’s burbs, last week: a child’s favourite bunny – tied firmly to a lamp post to make sure Big Ears returns home…

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The best defence against bullshit is….

We farewelled John Campbell with a suspicion that the Beehive was somehow behind his departure. What management in the world would lose a talent like him and, faced with viewer hostility and a 100,000 signature petition, persist? On the other hand the guy was a persistent thorn in the side of Government and its neglect at every level. Why he was such, such… such a damned journalist! And thank goodness he’s now off to Radio New Zealand – which makes it the next media target.

Campbell Live brought both levity and gravitas to the screen. So did American satirist and commentator Jon Stewart who made his last TV appearance on his Daily Show last month. Both share a passion for truth in the public interest but there are obstacles…. Stewart made that his theme in his final appearance last month, opening the show by announcing in his usual impish manner that ‘bullshit was everywhere.”

“There is very little that you will encounter in life that has not in some way been infused with bullshit” he said. “The more pernicious bullshit comes in three flavours. One is making bad things sound like good things” he added, listing America’s Patriot Act, and the need to be on guard when words like freedom, family, health and America were tossed about.

The second was hiding bad things under what he described as ‘mountains of bullshit’. And lastly he cited the bullshit of ‘infinite possibility’ under which unending inquiry ensured no action would be taken on issues like climate change.

“The good news” he told his audience, “is that the bull-shitters have gotten pretty lazy and their work is pretty easily detected. The best defence against bullshit is vigilance, so if you smell something, say something”

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Truly yours – a snip at $185 million…

Just for a moment forget the stats and controversies surrounding Labour’s figures on Asian house buying habits in the Auckland market. Here’s a glimpse from True Commercial of significantly larger deals in the commercial market:

‘Bayleys (Real Estate) undertook a number of substantial transactions to South East Asian investors in the latter part of 2014, including:

  • ‘The sale for around $185 million to Indonesian and mainland China investors of three of the four buildings the agency sold in the Spark head office complex in central Auckland;
  • The sale of the Pakuranga Plaza shopping and office complex for $96 million to Singaporean investors;
  • Large land holdings in East Tamaki and West Auckland for close to $90 million’.

‘More recently, Bayleys concluded the sale of a substantial Auckland CBD development site to a mainland China developer for in excess of $50 million. On a somewhat smaller scale, a Hong Kong investor has purchased a six level building in Anzac Avenue in central Auckland for $6,350,000 and a Chinese investor purchased seven of the larger retail units in the Foundation, a recently completed retail convenience centre in Albany, for just over $11 million’.

(True Commercial is a media outlet of NZME which owns the NZ Herald and other newspapers).

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The US ruling class and all that

‘…the political establishment is mystified. They don’t understand that the biggest political phenomenon in America today is a revolt against the “ruling class” of insiders that have dominated Washington for more than three decades’ – Robert Reich, who has served in three national administrations, as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton and in an advisory board capacity with President Obama.. See http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/robert-reich-theres-revolt-against-ruling-class-brewing-elites-dont-see-it-coming

Could the same pattern be repeated here now that unemployment is growing, dairy farmers are up in arms over Fonterra, and there’s anger over weakened health and safety legislation for workers? Is  the pot on the boil?

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Paul Smith

Paul is a veteran journalist, non-fiction author and writing mentor. He has also served on boards ranging from TVNZ to UNESCO.