Monthly Archives: January 2012

Here, have a cicada

I’ve been away, but don’t fret dear reader. I met this charming little fellow just long enough to find the macro button on my camera. The green and yellow markings probably indicate that it is a greater bronze cicada Kikihia caut.

New Zealanders have a wonderful shared experience of cicada song – a droning that is a soundtrack to summer.

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Junger on war

Sebastian Junger has breathed some context into the most recent US military scandel de jour, the urinating Marines.

I immensely enjoyed Junger’s film Restrepo, though blinded by the fatigues I struggle to tell most of the featured soldiers apart. I’m not alone with this innability to distinguish; Ridley Scott once complained of US servicemen on camera “they all look the same with the uniform on”. The companion book War follows many of the exact scenes shown in the film, but it is withen written prose the men find their voice.

And it’s cynicism, warped by the shitty situation that is the stalemate of a decade of war in Afghanistan.

The offers of weapons started on my first trip and continued the entire year. Sometimes it was a handgrenade “just in case.” Other times it was an offer to jump on the 240 during the next contact…

Guns were the point, the one entirely good thing of the whole shitty year, and the fact reporters don’t carry them, shoot them, or accept the very generous offers to “go ahead and get some” on the .50 just made soldiers shake their heads.

10 glorious years

The New York Times is marking the 10 year anniversary of the Guantanimo internment camp by publishing some harrowing accounts from former prisoners.

Lakhdar Boumediene’s prose is spare and excruciating.

I believed my captors would quickly realize their mistake and let me go. But when I would not give the interrogators the answers they wanted — how could I, when I had done nothing wrong? — they became more and more brutal. I was kept awake for many days straight. I was forced to remain in painful positions for hours at a time. These are things I do not want to write about; I want only to forget.

I went on a hunger strike for two years because no one would tell me why I was being imprisoned.

Big Dog

In celebration of the opening of the primary season I bring you the best of the campaign so far. When I first saw Ron Paul “Big Dog” I was speechless.

The mind is willing but the wallet is weak

Strike me down with a feather. Danyl at the Dimpost seems to be getting cynical about the official response to NZ’s abnormally high rates of child abuse.

This isn’t a new problem, and New Zealand politicians have spent a long time insisting that ‘someone must do something’ – well, there are actual, proven policy solutions to the problem of endemic child abuse. Our MPs are ‘someone’ and they have billions of dollars and incredible scope to do ‘something’. But so far as I can tell, no one in New Zealand is even looking at these solutions.

Danyl picks the issue, but seems to miss the territory.

A few months ago at the Well Child forum at the Wellington campus of Otago Medical School I listened to similar howls of frustration about NZ’s continued exceptional child statistics. Numerous wonks bobbed up out of their seats, paused briefly to introduce their identical-sounding NGO/interest-group name, before laying into the lack of government interest in addressing the problem. The take-home message: evidence-based solutions have been available for fifteen years, we simply don’t care enough to invest in them.

Instead we get the current minister slotting the Green Paper into the electoral cycle. It’s asking us tough questions about mandatory reporting: clearly the minister believes child abuse can be solved if only the teachers, doctors and social workers in our world be stopped from conspiring to conceal it.

Bennett’s media strategy dovetails the Green Paper’s focus on reporting with white-knighting of individual cases of abuse, all but ensuring her department wont engage with systemic (read: expensive) solutions. No wonder people within the sector express so much frustration.

I’m not the first critic of the point of the Green Paper – see Stuff for cogent words from Annette King and The Met.

For Danyl – Turei in particular is one to watch. I know sneaking into the back row of the Well Child political forum to watch crowd reaction to various party’s manifestos on child wellbeing isn’t a scientific guide, but there wasn’t a lot of contention floating around whenever she opened her mouth…

a short note

I’ve been thinking about Busby for the past few days. What a silly name for a blog I thought as I uttered it; “Oh Busby”.

I went back and flipped through my copies of King and clOrange*. I veered from Wikipedia (fine) and Te Ara (rather better). I like that Te Ara notes that he had few friends, used an ear-trumpet and describes him as “tiresome”.

Oh Busby: you weird bugger.

*linked for expeditious sale dear reader