Mr. Yang admitted that in the 1980s and early ’90s, before emigrating to Australia and then moving to New Zealand to teach at a university, he studied and taught at two Chinese educational institutions run by the People’s Liberation Army, China’s armed forces.
The Economist reports:
A larger-than-life sculpture made of manure that depicts the hapless environment minister, Nick Smith, defecating into a glass of water has been a hit.
Some American politician should steal the New Zealand First party’s idea for the SuperGold card:
The SuperGold Card, a discounts and concessions card for senior citizens and veterans, has been a major initiative of the party.
New Zealand First established a research team to design the SuperGold Card, which included public transport benefits like free off-peak travel (funded by the government) and discounts from businesses and companies across thousands of outlets. Winston Peters negotiated with then-Prime Minister Helen Clark, despite widespread opposition to the card on the grounds of high cost. As a condition of the 2005 confidence and supply agreement between New Zealand First and the Labour Government, Peters launched the SuperGold Card in August 2007.
The card is available to all eligible New Zealanders over the age of 65. The card provides over 600,000 New Zealanders with access to a wide range of government and local authority services, business discounts, entitlements and concessions, such as hearing aid subsidies. A Veterans’ SuperGold Card, also exists for those who have served in the New Zealand Defence Force in a recognised war or emergency.
SuperGold Card came under threat in 2010 when National Minister Steven Joyce tried to terminate free SuperGold transport on some more expensive public transport services, including the Waiheke Island ferry and the Wairarapa Connection train. The Minister retreated when he came under fire from senior citizens.
Give old people a card that gets them free stuff! They’ll love it!
I was interviewed on the phone with someone from this great website in New Zealand. (A stressful interview because I was late to meet Nick Wegener at Callendar’s, let’s hope I didn’t embarrass myself!) I mentioned I’d been reading up on New Zealand’s prime minister John Key. She suggested I look into John Key’s son, who is a DJ who drives around in a Ferrari apparently.
Here are some photos of him, and here is his song:
John Key is the prime minister:
In November 2012, Key told students at St Hilda’s Collegiate in Dunedin that football star David Beckham was “thick as batshit”. The comments were picked up by UK papers The Daily Mirror and The Sun. On the same day, there was controversy over Key’s comments to a radio host that his shirt was “gay”. “You’re munted mate, you’re never gonna make it, you’ve got that gay red top on there”, he told host Jamie Mackay on RadioSport’s Farming Show. The following day, Lord of the Rings actor Sir Ian McKellen said in a blog entry that Key should “watch his language”.
It would appear from a brief scan that Key’s nemesis is internet pirate king Kim Dotcom:
The event causing perhaps[original research?] the most embarrassment to John Key was the arrest of Kim Dotcom and the subsequent revelations that the New Zealand Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) had illegally spied on Dotcom.
Going to Christchurch, New Zealand for the WORD Readers and Writers festival at the end of August. Doing some research, I found this picture. Looks cool!
If I had the time I would like to bike the Queen Charlotte Track:
That looks cool but I guess it will be cold.
Who was Queen Charlotte, exactly? She was George III’s wife, a tough job.
What were once called the Queen Charlotte islands in British Columbia are now Haida Gwaii. I agree that’s a better name.
This lady sure got a lot of piney, fjord type areas named after her.
Professor McHugh is off to Berlin to deliver a talk. In ancient India, they conceived of thought, the mind, and the soul as being located in the heart. So what did they think the brain was for? That’s the theme, wish we could attend. Haven’t been to Berlin since Jones was working on a movie there (Speed Racer?). Mat W is just back from Pittsburgh, where he toured an old iron factory…
Beyers says he plans to come down for Thanksgiving, should be rowdy as always. He’s been watching Hip Hop Evolution on Netflix, hosted by Shad. A fun introduction to various hiphop scenes, organized semi-geographically. We watched the one about Memphis and Three Six Mafia, the one about New Orleans bounce and Cash Money records, the one about Houston and chopped and screwed (DJ Screw was making thousands of dollars selling tapes out of his house), and the one about Atlanta crunk and Lil Jon: very fun. Lil Jon in particular seems to have bloomed into something like a civic booster and public face of Atlanta.
Hip Hop Evolution led to watching The Carter documentary about Lil Wayne. The most dramatic moment of the film occurs around 56:00 when Wayne has had it with a European reporter who’s trying to get him to place himself in a New Orleans musical tradition. Lil Wayne’s not having it.
We played a game called Ranker (or is it Rancor?) over at Vali’s. Someone leaves the room, and the group then comes up with a number from one to ten. Eight say. The guesser then returns and takes turns asking people questions like “US cities” or “movies from the 70s.” You try and give an answer that will steer them towards the correct number. It’s fun, try it, Jen Crittenden is credited with introducing it to us.
Dave and Esther are back from Italy. Esther’s been doing great work on TikTok on the categories “Hot Girls” vs “Pretty Girls” (no offense is intended, take it in spirit its intended). Dave’s excited to see Pavement at the Orpheum this week, we’ll be joining.
Boy, how about Flightline? We trained down to Del Mar on Amtrak’s Surfliner for the Pacific Classic, and we weren’t disappointed. Standing right by the rail I was convinced I’d just seen the fastest horse to ever run, but in fact Flightline was seventeen one hundredths short of breaking the track record (set by Candy Ride, 2003). Two seconds shy of the 1 1/4 mile world record. Maybe it was the heat. Still, nice to see excellence of any kind. After the race you can bet Red Tracton’s was lively.
If you’re going down to Del Mar, bring an old racing book you don’t need anymore, and you can trade it for another at the Helen Watts’ Memorial Library, at the southeast corner of 17 Hands. You wouldn’t think a bar would be a likely place for a trading library, but there it is!
Everyone’s excited for the release of W. David Marx’s book on status and culture. The galley was hard to get, an instant “status galley” – cunning marketing on Dave’s part? Sounds like we might get to hear him on How Long Gone soon… Greaney’s on his way to Mexico to see his buddy Alma, who built himself a house out of volcanic rocks. We lunched at, you guessed it, Terroni… Congrats to Tim Robinson on winning an Emmy, he earned that one!… Our correspondents from overseas had reports for us: Chileans rejected their draft constitution. A boy in New Zealand discovered a giant worm (click that link at your peril if you have Scoleciphobia)… We’re under the heat dome here in Los Angeles but we’ll make it, we always do. The Giants are coming to Dodger Stadium this week, if you’re going over there make sure you’ve studied the shade map.
Our post about the food scene in Papeete, Tahiti was one of the most popular posts ever on this site. The obvious conclusion: I should become a South Pacific food critic. You may think I’m not qualified, because I’ve spent no more than 25 days or so in the South Pacific, and that’s generously assuming we count New Zealand and Australia. You may think a South Pacific food critic should be a big jolly rotund character who loves food, not a picky eater with a skinny frame. But, we must follow where called, so here is our latest dispatch, on the food scene in Honolulu.
Above are the dumplings of the day (a spiced beef, on this particular day) at Koko Head Cafe, Lee Ann Wong’s (of Top Chef) brunch spot in the cool, chill Kaimuki neighborhood. Fantastic for post-hike feasts.
The Don Buri Chen is no joke, and the fish eggs are serious as well.
Shave ice, of course, this is at Kokonuts:
Obama’s flavors are said to be Lemon Lime and Cherry, went with Lemon Lime and cocoanut, maybe because they were toasting cocoanut inside which aromated the strip mall joint in a most pleasing way.
Musubi, Japanese seaweed and rice-wrapped pyramid sandwiches, very solid. I’m not into the classic spam musubi, ground beef and tuna both solid and satisfying:
That’s from Mana Musubi, which was sold out by Friday around 11 am. What a packable food!
Piggy Smalls, offshoot of The Pig and the Lady, is making incredible new Vietnamese food in a former burger joint location:
Failed to photograph the Burmese Tea Salad before devouring. We intended to visit the legendary shrimp trucks of the North Shore, but were stopped by torrential downpour, luckily this hit us just as we rolled up on Aloha Shrimp Truck in Hauula. (Remember when pronouncing Hawaiian words: there are no silent letters).
Simple? Yes. Excellent? Yes.
A beloved Oahu institution is Zippy’s fast food, which has a pretty extensive menu and some baked goods as well. Had to try the Zap Pak and the Surf Pak.
Look, is it delicious? Kind of. Is it convenient? Also kind of.
Fête in downtown Honolulu rules:
Ridiculous Italian food with local Hawaiian-raised meats and ingredients.
The queen of Oahu foodstuffs however must be the poke you can buy by the pound at the counter in the back of Tamara’s liquor store, there are several locations:
You eat that on a cracker and you’re having a great time. This is the classic tuna in Tamara’s sauce. I became a poke convert.
For some Hawaiian food/plate lunch classics, Highway Inn, several locations.
A good poi introduction.
The Oahu institution we failed to try was Leonard’s for malasadas, but Pipeline, around the corner from Koko Head, seemed excellent.
For freshness, invention, and wild array of influences, Honolulu gotta be in the conversation as a food destination. The cuisine skews a bit fatty and decadent, I must say, a salad seems harder to come by than a mai tai, but if you’re cutting loose on vacay and pairing with some outdoor adventures, it’s pretty grand.
Maximum mahalo to friend and local guide Kim H. for knowing all the spots!
Hawaii has kept low Covid #s in part by taking great care in letting people in, you must produce a negative Covid test taken within 72 hours of departure. And not just any Covid test, a Hawaii-approved test. Don’t be like this knucklehead and take the wrong kind of test!
Look, once you get the original Hawaii 5-0 theme in your head, it’s hard to get out, but man, is that the best TV opening ever?
August is often a contemplative month over here. A leisurely month sometimes, and thus a fruitful time at Helytimes.
Here’s a gathering notes and thoughts from previous Augusts.
We hope all Helytimes readers and enthusiasts are having a relaxing and refreshing August. We appreciate you.
After he landed in Tahiti in 1769*, Captain James Cook met an island man, Tupaia, who drew him a map of islands of the South Pacific.
That Cook respected and trusted Tupaia is evidenced by the fact that for an entire month, he let Tupaia navigate his precious ship through the archipelago of the Society Islands, and on southward across open waters to Rurutu in the Austral Group. Tupaia turned out to be an invaluable linguistic and cultural translator for the crew, especially so in Aotearoa/New Zealand, where Cook landed next. Only when the Endeavour reached Australia did Tupaia’s powers to communicate fail; he eventually fell ill and tragically died in Batavia, today’s Jakarta in Indonesia.
Only copies remain, and they’re hard to comprehend:
For almost 250 years, Tupaia’s Map posed a riddle to historians, anthropologists and geographers of the Pacific alike. Until more recently, only a rather small number of islands on the map could be reliably identified. The British on Cook’s ship knew little Tahitian, and their linguistic talent was limited. They wrote down what they heard Tupaia say when he named the islands he drew, in an often very corrupted English transcription. What is more, many of the Tahitian island names are no longer in use in the region. But the more foundational problem is that even those islands which could be identified are hardly where one would expect them according to the logic of a Western map. By the standards of maps in Mercator projection as Cook used and drew them, the islands seem to be all over the place: Islands thousands of kilometers apart appear right next to each other, islands which should be to the south of Tahiti appear in the northern quadrants, small islands can have very large outlines, etc.
To cut a much longer story short: In Tupaia’s cartographic system, avatea marks a bearing to the north. It references the direction of the sun in its highest position at noontime (which south of the tropic of Capricorn, and most of the year south of the equator, points due north). Tupaia thus overrode the cardinal logic the Europeans set up for him: For the islands he subsequently drew, north would no longer be ‘up,’ east ‘right,’ south ‘down,’ west ‘left.’ North would from now on be in the center of the chart. What he thus also overrode is the logic of a singular, central perspective.
In Tupaia’s logic, there is no singular orientation abstracted from the traveller. True to his wayfinding tradition, the center of observation is always the va‘a (canoe). Rather than imaging an aloof bird-eye perspective, Tupaia must have invited his European collaborators to situate themselves in the chart, on a va‘a at any of the islands he subsequently drew.
One can’t help but be reminded of Super Mario Bros. 3, World 4:
* thanks to the many emphatic readers who noted my error (Cook’s voyage reached Tahiti in 1769, not 1767 as originally stated)
What is the deal here when Trump calls Elizabeth Warren Pocahontas?
At Helytimes, we like to go back to the source.
Sometime between 1987 and 1992 Elizabeth Warren put down on a faculty directory that she was Native American. Says Snopes:
it is true that while Warren was at U. Penn. Law School she put herself on the “Minority Law Teacher” list as Native American) in the faculty directory of the Association of American Law Schools
This became a story in 2012, when Elizabeth Warren was running for Senate against Scott Brown. In late April of that year, The Boston Herald, a NY Post style tabloid, dug up a 1996 article in the Harvard Crimson by Theresa J. Chung that says this:
Of 71 current Law School professors and assistant professors, 11 are women, five are black, one is Native American and one is Hispanic, said Mike Chmura, spokesperson for the Law School.
Although the conventional wisdom among students and faculty is that the Law School faculty includes no minority women, Chmura said Professor of Law Elizabeth Warren is Native American.
Asked about it, here’s what Elizabeth Warren said:
From there the story kinda spun out of control. It came up in the Senate debate, and there were ads about it on both sides.
A genealogist looked into it, and determined that Warren was 1/32nd Cherokee, or about as Cherokee as Helytimes is West African. But then even that was disputed.
Her inability to name any specific Native American ancestor has kept the story alive, though, as pundits left and right have argued the case. Supporters touted her as part Cherokee after genealogist Christopher Child of the New England Historic Genealogical Society said he’d found a marriage certificate that described her great-great-great-grandmother, who was born in the late 18th century, as a Cherokee. But that story fell apart once people looked at it more closely. The Society, it turned out, was referencing a quote by an amateur genealogist in the March 2006 Buracker & Boraker Family History Research Newsletters about an application for a marriage certificate.
Well, Elizabeth Warren won. Now Scott Brown is Donald Trump’s Ambassador to New Zealand, where he’s doing an amazing job.
The part of the story that lit me up was this:
The best argument she’s got in her defense is that, based on the public evidence so far, she doesn’t appear to have used her claim of Native American ancestry to gain access to anything much more significant than a cookbook; in 1984 she contributed five recipes to the Pow Wow Chow cookbook published by the Five Civilized Tribes Museum in Muskogee, signing the items, “Elizabeth Warren — Cherokee.”
What is the best way to handle it, the best strategy, when the President is treating you like a third grade bully, repeatedly and publicly calling you a mean name?
Best advice to someone getting bullied? I googled:
We would amend “don’t show your feelings” to stay calm. We would urge any kid to put “tell an adult” as a last resort.
- if the problem persists, hit back as hard as possible, calmly but forcefully, at the bully’s weakest, tenderest points.
Such a Lisa Simpson / Nelson vibe to Warren / Trump. Are all our elections gonna be Lisa vs. Nelson for awhile?
from this 2003 episode:
Lisa easily wins the election. Worried by her determination and popularity, the faculty discusses how to control her.
Asked our correspondent Barcelona Jim in Sydney to sum up of what’s up down there. He writes:
Australasian Politics has had a dose of Trump style mix ups, send ups, controversies, ejections and elections and chaotic decisions in this last week.In a short period that involves New Zealand as much as it involves scandals, the new Prime Minister of NZ was told by the media she had won the election whilst painting her back fence in her track pants.
Ardern got straight to work, looking seeming bored when receiving a congratulatory call from President Trump, but had an enjoyable conversation with a journalist phoning her team to ask the correct pronunciation of “Ardern” – only to get straight through to the PM herself to have a genial chat.Meanwhile – Australia is in an uproar about a long forgotten amendment to our constitution, Article 22.This states that members of parliament cannot hold dual citizenship.Beginning with a right-wing party calling out a left-wing member the news achieved enough attention to call the deputy PM of Australia, Barnaby Joyce, along with several others into question.
In a decision handed out yesterday by the high court of Australia, Barnaby and four other senators are foisted out, leaving the opposing party with no longer a majority.Meanwhile the previously mentioned party organised a federal police raid on the opposing party’s Australian Worker’s Union, but was tipped off by media leading to a Federal Investigation and a resigning of at least one staffer and possibly a leading member.Many members, senators, leaders of parliament are in a current flutter of back-stabbing, investigations, constitutional rediscovery.If this sounds confusing… It is.Best of wishes to Mueller.
He said he had not named the Chinese military institutions on his application for New Zealand citizenship, and had instead listed “partner institutions” as his employers, because that was what the Chinese “system” had told him to do.
Mr. Yang conceded that he had taught English to spies, but said he had never been a spy himself, was no longer a member of the Communist Party, and had been contracted and paid only as a so-called civilian officer.
Mr. Yang has not been officially investigated in New Zealand or charged with espionage.
But Nicholas Eftimiades, a former officer with the Central Intelligence Agency with extensive experience on China matters, said the title of civilian officer was a fluid one in China.
Mr. Eftimiades, now a lecturer at Penn State Harrisburg in Pennsylvania, said officers moved seamlessly between military and civilian assignments to include Chinese army units and work in the defense industry, think tanks and universities.
Joshua TreeGaililee, RI
New ZealandTwo HarborsLos Angeles
By reader vote, these were considered
The Top Ten Helytimes Posts Of The Year
about Geoffrey Blainey’s book on how that country became what it is, and their national cry Cooo-EEE!
9) Jo Mora and Mora Update
about how the Uruguayan-Californian artist influenced almost a century of design
Conversations between Tony Blair and Bill Clinton
A visit to that famed city and the Diego Rivera murals hidden around it
On Incan rope counting systems and their decipherment
An investigation into a photo of the former first lady
This was by far our most popular post by views
A trip to the national park, and its place in our national consciousness
2) Lady Xoc
About the Mayan queen of the 8th century
The definitive winner for the year?:
A review of writing by and about fighter pilot John Boyd, who offers a way into DT’s thinking.
a brief look at Sanders and Trump
about you know who, comparing him to Tim Ferriss.
a big wild roundup.
on how a Swiss chocolatier came to own freshwater springs in Southern California
about the Vietnam War correspondent, Kubrick pal and Zen Buddhist
on the work of Randall Collins, an underappreciated hero
extracts from a 1769 description of California,
a dispatch from rainy New Zealand,
and a personal favorite,
about Willa Cather, Walt Whitman, and America.
The most popular post of the year
by views, was
You can email us anytime at helphely at gmail. Let us know what you think.
All the best for 2017.
John Quincy Adams
Dad was president.
Former Secretary of State.
Front row kid as Chris Arande says.
Pretty much a murderer.
Prone to fits of wild anger.
Considered by the JQAs of the world to be impossibly vulgar.
Some ways in which Jackson was better than Trump:
- Jackson was a legitimate self-made man
- Jackson had done something of service to his country (Battle of New Orleans)
(What to make of the Seminole War?
Some of things he did were
- deport 45,000 Indians
- more or less shut down the national bank
- paid off the national debt
- preside over an economic panic
READERS: what do you think? Comments are open.
First got this idea from a questioner in New Zealand, who (I believe) admired Jackson.
1828 could’ve also been compared to the the Gore Bush election of 2000 (with Martin Van Buren as Karl Rove)
I’ve got to consult:
Is Trump like Jackson? WORSE? BETTER??
Is JQA like Hillary?
JQA was later in Amistad with Matthew McConaughey.
Here are some takes and items for your Sunday enjoyment!
The coach on Netflix doc series Last Chance U:
The most compelling, complex character on “TV” right now
In an old folder of articles I found this one, about Peter Thiel’s Zero To One
Thiel and his ideas are interesting to me. I’m open to the Vali/OwenE take that he might just be a kinda smart guy who got lucky and thinks he’s a genius. He definitely should not be on the Supreme Court.
I loved Zero To One, but Thiel’s support for Trump makes him seem like a much darker and more troubling figure than I felt he was when I was reading it.
Two interesting points in the article that had new meaning in light of Thiel being a Trump guy:
Is that something like what Trump did (old grouchy white men? white American nationalists? you’d think they’d be served by a lot of political competitors but maybe there was a hole in the market)? What about this?:
Unfortunately, Trump is good at sales and Hillary Clinton is kind of bad at sales.
Sometimes this campaign we get a reminder of how good at sales Bill Clinton is. Here is Bill talking about the Clinton Foundation. This clip is used by GOP and conservative sites as I guess kind of scummy because Clinton compares himself to Robin Hood:
Maybe comparing yourself to Robin Hood is a little much, but when I hear Bill explain the Clinton Foundation as asking for money from people who have a lot of it and giving it to people who don’t have any, it makes it sound a lot better.
Does anyone effectively refute the claim that almost 10 million more people in more than 70 countries have access to life-saving medicines through the Clinton Health Access Initiative?
Silence Of The Lambs
Not topical or relevant at all but for forever I’ve had in my phone a bunch of screenshots of this movie, one of the most gripping movies ever. Saw it on TV some months ago and was struck by how much of it is just a closeup of a person’s face. How unsettling/compelling!
This jumped out at me
In a not otherwise “sexy” article about English literary critic William Empson’s book The Face Of The Buddha:
Enjoyed the caption on this one, from National Geographic’s Instagram:
Thomas Frank, profiled in the Politico 50 list:
Frank went to University of Kansas, University of Virginia, and University of Chicago. Can he be trusted?
Doing some reading about AquAdvantage salmon, a genetically modified animal
A growth hormone-regulating gene from a Pacific Chinook salmon, with a promoter from an ocean pout, was added to the Atlantic salmon’s 40,000 genes. This gene enables it to grow year-round instead of only during spring and summer. The purpose of the modifications is to increase the speed at which the fish grows without affecting its ultimate size or other qualities. The fish grows to market size in 16 to 18 months rather than three years.
Asked Anonymous Investor to take a look at the financials of the AquaBounty company.
I haven’t looked into the science, but if their salmon is all that they claim, AquaBounty should have a big pricing advantage. Because their fish grow so much faster than a normal salmon, they should be much cheaper to produce, and sell — undercutting their competitors.
This reminds of the tiny speculative biotech companies I invest in. There’s no money coming in, only money being burned. But you’re hoping someday for a big FDA approval that will open sluices of torrential cash. In this case, the FDA approval has come But the primary problem (they have a few) is that major buyers like Kroger and Target vowed not to carry the product. My guess is the company will eventually make inroads, just as Monsanto, Syngenta, etc, have in the past. But it might take a long time. Big money usually wins in the end. And the hippies, as always, will go whining back to their yurts.
AquaBounty is selling for around 64 million dollars. Not a bad price for a what looks like a pretty decent lottery ticket.
Not sure why AquaBounty only trades in London. The volume is extremely thin. This is a stock not on many people’s radar.
I do know that AquaBounty is controlled by Intrexon (the same company trying to battle Zika via their patented breed of mosquitos). They own over 50% of AquaBounty. Intrexon trades here under the ticker XON. It’s a 3 billion dollar company. (A year ago it was worth more than 6 billion). Intrexon does a lot of interesting Monsanto-type things, and the stock is sort of a darling of Wall Street. But lately doubt has crept into the story. Intrexon has been slow in providing evidence for many of it’s scientific claims. The company says they don’t want to divulge their trade secrets by releasing too much data. Skeptics speculate that they’re not disclosing much, because, they believe, much of the science probably doesn’t work.
Interesting. Here’s what Intrexon (NYSE: XON) has been up to:
“I couldn’t be more pleased with the birth of these adorable kittens,” noted Blake Russell, President of ViaGen Pets. “As the largest global provider of genetic preservation services for companion animals, we look forward to expanding the life-enriching connections that people form with their pets. Our goal is to bring this opportunity to all pet owners and their families.”
Sure. Anonymous Investor adds:
In the salmon world, AquAdvantage salmon are considered “ugly”. In a test 95% of salmon chose to mate with wild salmon over AquaBounty salmon.
American Dad co-showrunner Brian Boyle has a very fine set of glasses with the AD characters on them.
One fan’s opinion? the show should do more with Reginald.
The Flemish Giant
Somebody at work mentioned that the biggest kind of rabbit is called a Flemish giant.
Well worth the image search.
A good, clear discussion of an often misunderstood issue from this classic
On the subject of Boston:
In Australia this kind of coconut frosted cake is known as Boston bun. Everyone was baffled when I told them I’d never heard of it.
A Boston bun is a large spiced bun with a thick layer of coconut icing, prevalent in Australia and New Zealand. Traditionally the bun contained sieved potato, and modern versions sometimes contain raisins. It is often served sliced, to accompany a cup of tea. The origin of the name is unknown.
In New Zealand they’re often called a Sally Lunn, especially in the North Island
from good times in Australia. A bizarro version of the United States, upside down and weirdly (to a USA observer) developed in all kinds of ways. For instance, Australia people talk about “the deep north” as like a joke on the way we talk about the “deep south.”
Important to remember that on the other side of the equator, you have to flip countries upside down to think about them. Their south is our north. If you think about that pointy part of Queensland as Florida, the Northern Territory as Texas, Tasmania as Newfoundland or Nova Scotia, Melbourne as Boston and Sydney as New York, you’re still way off but getting somewhere.
Huge thanks to the many people of New Zealand and Australia who helped me out. Puts me in mind of this week’s scripture, Matthew 25:35.
Bummed to miss
Had to come back to the USA before the Brisbane Writers’ Festival, so I missed Lionel Shriver of We Need To Talk About Kevin fame apparently light it up with a wild speech about cultural appropriation (attacking what seems to me to be a ridiculous straw man?)
I can’t find a photo of her wearing a sombrero, as she is alleged to have done. Did she really refer to herself as a “renowned iconoclast”?
Which Australian state library is the best?
I enjoy Melbourne’s State Library of Victoria so much:
I mean how can you not admire that they have Ned Kelly’s armor on display?:
Some great illustrations on Ned’s wiki page:
Let’s take a virtual look at Australia’s other state libraries:
Would a better state library be a step towards helping Tasmania’s insane illiteracy rate?
New South Wales:
Impressive. Classic if slightly dull exterior, solid interior, I rate it a 9 (out of 11).
A big swing on the exterior, the interior kind of interesting but also kind of a like a weird mall. I’ll give it a 7.
No independent library building, it’s housed in the Parliament House which is kind of cool. DNQ for the rating system.
Trash exterior, interior so weird as to be kind of interesting. 8.
The old version, once housed in Hackett Hall, appears to have been pretty cool:
Aw yeah! 11/11.
Australia/New Zealand publishing is so good at short books. I read a bunch of short books while traveling.
This one began as speech Flanagan gave, focusing on his disgust for the abuses, catastrophes, and inhumanity at Australia’s offshore detention centers for asylum seekers, but also about a general disappointment in political and cultural life:
Conformists par excellence, capable of only agreeing with power however or wherever it manifests itself, they are the ones least capable of dealing with the many new challenges we face precisely because those challenges demand the very qualities the new class lacks: courage, independence of thought and a belief in something larger than its own future.
The new class, understanding only self-interest, believing only in the possibilities of its own cynicism, committed to nothing more than its own perpetuation, seeks to ride the tiger by agreeing with all the tiger’s desires, believing it and not the tiger will endure, until the tiger decides it’s time to feed, as the mining corporations did with Kevin Rudd, as News Limited is now with Julia Gillard.
He goes on about the alternative:
If I may make a crude summary Flanagan’s argument could be he wishes Australia remembered Matthew 25:35 a little more.
Flanagan and I once shared a publisher, and I’m told his books are masterpieces, especially Narrow Road To The Deep North.
Also good, and more lighthearted if at times equally scorching:
Here’s a taste, where Pieper is digressing about a dog he adopted:
Took a page out of Vali’s book and wrote Mr. Pieper a short and simple fan letter complimenting him on his book. He wrote a gracious note back. Gotta do this more often.
I can’t write to the great New Zealand short story writer Katherine Mansfield because she’s dead:
If I could, I would compliment her on “The Garden Party.” This story starts out so boring and stodgy and Victorian I really thought I was in for it. But it pays off. Spoiler alert this is the last page:
What life was she couldn’t explain. No matter. He quite understood.
‘Isn’t it, darling?’ said Laurie.
This scene, on Brisbane’s Southbank, really reminded me of this one, in Paris a hundredsome years ago:
Impressed by this massive painting at the Milani Gallery in Brisbane by Australian indigenous artist Richard Bell.
(The price in Australian dollars is 55,000.)
Bell caused controversy in April 2011 after revealing that he selected the winner of the prestigious Sir John Sulman Prize through the toss of a coin.
Traveling across the South Island of New Zealand by train, I was trying to work out for myself how big exactly the country is.
With the help of OverlapMaps, here’s a comparison of New Zealand to California:
The total land area of New Zealand, says Google, is 103,483 mi²
In US state terms, that makes it just smaller than Colorado, at 104,185 mi².
Colorado has about 1 million more people.
Colorado: 5.356 million (2014)
New Zealand: 4.5 million
Pop wise New Zealand is about the size of Kentucky or Louisiana.
The folks at Brilliant Maps do fantastic work in this field. Here are some of my favorites:
US in China by population:
And The Circle:
Here’s one more for you, from OverlandMaps:
Australia’s population is 23.13 million or so, so it’s about three million people bigger than Florida (20.2 mill) and smaller than Texas (27.46 mill). Whole lotta room down there. About as many people as Illinois and Pennsylvania put together, in a land area (2.97 million square miles) that’s about as big as 51 Illinoises.
In New Zealand I got invited to participate in the Great New Zealand Crime Debate, which was a blast. I was on a team with Christchurch lawyer Kathryn Dalziel and sociologist Jarrod Gilbert, who got badly beaten several times while writing this book:
My job it turned out was to roast the members of the other team, namely New Zealand broadcaster Paula Penfold (who was lovely and a good sport):
Anyway, afterwards they had the Ngiao Marsh Crime Awards. Who was Ngiao Marsh?
She was a New Zealand writer of detective stories, mostly starring Roderick Alleyn. Some of the covers of her books are great:
Marsh never married and had no children. She enjoyed close companionships with women, including her lifelong friend Sylvia Fox, but denied being lesbian, according to biographer Joanne Drayton. ‘I think Ngaio Marsh wanted the freedom of being who she was in a world, especially in a New Zealand that was still very conformist in its judgments of what constituted ‘decent jokers, good Sheilas, and ‘weirdos’’,’ Roy Vaughan wrote after meeting her on a P&O Liner.
It sounds like her mysteries, which revolve around poison on darts and that kind of thing, are exactly what Raymond Chandler was ranting against in his essay “The Simple Art Of Murder“:
This, the classic detective story, has learned nothing and forgotten nothing. It is the story you will find almost any week in the big shiny magazines, handsomely illustrated, and paying due deference to virginal love and the right kind of luxury goods. Perhaps the tempo has become a trifle faster, and the dialogue a little more glib. There are more frozen daiquiris and stingers ordered, and fewer glasses of crusty old port; more clothes by Vogue, and décors by the House Beautiful, more chic, but not more truth. We spend more time in Miami hotels and Cape Cod summer colonies and go not so often down by the old gray sundial in the Elizabethan garden. But fundamentally it is the same careful grouping of suspects, the same utterly incomprehensible trick of how somebody stabbed Mrs. Pottington Postlethwaite III with the solid platinum poignard just as she flatted on the top note of the Bell Song from Lakmé in the presence of fifteen ill-assorted guests; the same ingenue in fur-trimmed pajamas screaming in the night to make the company pop in and out of doors and ball up the timetable; the same moody silence next day as they sit around sipping Singapore slings and sneering at each other, while the flat-feet crawl to and fro under the Persian rugs, with their derby hats on.
Chandler calls for something a little harder edged:
The realist in murder writes of a world in which gangsters can rule nations and almost rule cities, in which hotels and apartment houses and celebrated restaurants are owned by men who made their money out of brothels, in which a screen star can be the fingerman for a mob, and the nice man down the hall is a boss of the numbers racket; a world where a judge with a cellar full of bootleg liquor can send a man to jail for having a pint in his pocket, where the mayor of your town may have condoned murder as an instrument of moneymaking, where no man can walk down a dark street in safety because law and order are things we talk about but refrain from practising; a world where you may witness a hold-up in broad daylight and see who did it, but you will fade quickly back into the crowd rather than tell anyone, because the hold-up men may have friends with long guns, or the police may not like your testimony, and in any case the shyster for the defense will be allowed to abuse and vilify you in open court, before a jury of selected morons, without any but the most perfunctory interference from a political judge.
It is not a very fragrant world, but it is the world you live in, and certain writers with tough minds and a cool spirit of detachment can make very interesting and even amusing patterns out of it. It is not funny that a man should be killed, but it is sometimes funny that he should be killed for so little, and that his death should be the coin of what we call civilization. All this still is not quite enough.
In everything that can be called art there is a quality of redemption. It may be pure tragedy, if it is high tragedy, and it may be pity and irony, and it may be the raucous laughter of the strong man. But down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid. The detective in this kind of story must be such a man. He is the hero, he is everything. He must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor, by instinct, by inevitability, without thought of it, and certainly without saying it. He must be the best man in his world and a good enough man for any world. I do not care much about his private life; he is neither a eunuch nor a satyr; I think he might seduce a duchess and I am quite sure he would not spoil a virgin; if he is a man of honor in one thing, he is that in all things. He is a relatively poor man, or he would not be a detective at all. He is a common man or he could not go among common people. He has a sense of character, or he would not know his job. He will take no man’s money dishonestly and no man’s insolence without a due and dispassionate revenge. He is a lonely man and his pride is that you will treat him as a proud man or be very sorry you ever saw him. He talks as the man of his age talks, that is, with rude wit, a lively sense of the grotesque, a disgust for sham, and a contempt for pettiness. The story is his adventure in search of a hidden truth, and it would be no adventure if it did not happen to a man fit for adventure. He has a range of awareness that startles you, but it belongs to him by right, because it belongs to the world he lives in.
If there were enough like him, I think the world would be a very safe place to live in, and yet not too dull to be worth living in.
Wow. The world’s big enough for both kinds of mystery I guess.
This year’s award was won by Paul Cleave:
For his book Trust No One:
Stormy day in Lyttelton, New Zealand.
Named, apparently, after George Lyttelton:
Shackleton left from Lyttelton on his first Antarctic expedition:
On this day, there was a ship in the harbor called Cape Flattery:
I had to look up where Cape Flattery is:
Cape Flattery is the northwesternmost point of the contiguous United States.
Cape Flattery is the oldest permanently named feature in Washington state, being described and named by James Cook on March 22, 1778. Cook wrote: “… there appeared to be a small opening which flattered us with the hopes of finding an harbour … On this account I called the point of land to the north of it Cape Flattery.
I learn that beloved 1930s movie characters Ma and Pa Kettle live on Cape Flattery:
Ma (Phoebe Kettle, played by Marjorie Main) is a robust and raucous country woman with a potato sack figure.
Wikipedia helpfully links to the article on potato sack:
I like watching movies about mountain climbing, and I think I’ve seen all the ones avail on Netflix Instant.
1) Touching The Void
See Touching The Void. One of the best documentaries, period. Incredible story, great twists, so intense but also there’s a lovable semi-schlub who got caught up in things.
Very cool. Doc/reenactment about the first successful Everest ascent. Worth watching just for the fashion, the style on these guys was rad.
A great story of internal competition as well, as the team members were vying to be the guy who got to make the final ascent. The brash New Zealanders against the stuffy English public school guys. Edmund Hillary and Tenzing such cool examples of calm badassery. Hadn’t occurred to me that Hillary, who in his old age was usually portrayed as a kindly old hero, was also of course an extremely intense, driven, and competitive athlete, more Kobe than Dalai Lama.
There’s lots too on the great John Hunt, who organized the expedition.
Also has some of the clearest visualizations of Everest’s geography I’ve seen. You can really wrap your head finally around, like, where the Khumbu ice fall is.
Some great shots of old school climbing. But it’s set in 1936, it’s in German, and the characters are not not Nazis enough to really get behind.
4) The Summit
Compelling characters, a good story, kind of frustratingly told. Odd editing choices botch a compelling narrative of how fuckup x fuckup x fuckup + misfortune = catastrophe.
5) Everest IMAX
Some cool shots I guess but this is elementary stuff. We’re past this.
Would most like to have on Netflix:
The Blue Light
K2. What is this movie? It started as a play?
Saw Anthony Bourdain enjoying some grilled oysters in Baja California on “No Reservations,” so I fired some up for Fourth of July.
How To Grill Oysters:
Get the grill really flaming hot (I used mesquite charcoal and mesquite chips)
Put the oysters down, shell on.
(don’t be confused by that top image: the oysters should be in the shell, and the shell should be closed. If the shell’s open, chuck ’em)
In 3-4 minutes they’ll pop open.
Take ’em off (with a glove or towel because they’re hot!).
Pop ’em open with a flathead screwdriver.
For sauce, I used this recipe from Food52 (ht Wrenshall).
Let’s learn more about oysters.
The type I grilled were Pacific oysters. Maybe the most widely grown bivalve in the world.
Crassostrea gigas was named by a Swedish naturalist, Carl Peter Thunberg in 1795. It originated from Japan, where it has been cultured for hundreds of years. It is now the most widely farmed and commercially important oyster in the world, as it is very easy to grow, environmentally tolerant and is easily spread from one area to another. The most significant introductions were to the Pacific Coast of the United States in the 1920s and to France in 1966. In most places, the Pacific oyster was introduced to replace the native oyster stocks which were seriously dwindling due to overfishing or disease. In addition, this species was introduced to create an industry that was previously not available at all in that area. As well as intentional introductions, the Pacific oyster has spread through accidental introductions either through larvae in ballast water or on the hulls of ships. In some places in the world, though, it is considered by some to be an invasive species, where it is outcompeting native species, such as the Olympia oyster in Puget Sound, Washington, the rock oyster, Saccostrea commercialis in the North Island of New Zealand and the blue mussel, Mytilus edulis, in the Wadden Sea.
Specifically we had Pacific Gold and Carlsbad. Carlsbad are farmed in Carlsbad, CA:
Here’s Thomas Grimm, co-founder of Golden Shore, which owns Carlsbad Aquafarm:
What’s the history of oysters in California? Well everyone knows Jack London was an oyster pirate.
But beyond that? My research ends with the mysterious Mose Wicks.
I wanted to learn more about different types of oysters, with maps. I found this great guide on WaitersToday.com.
Since the mid-1800’s most oysters have been cultured or farmed.Clad in rubber boods and rain gear,oyster growers spend hours on blustery beaches nursing their crop.
Along with current efforts to globalize oyster stocks,the growers we use have helped to foster the interest in boutique oysters – gourmet strains,with names reflecting their bays of origin.
In the old days it was simply “Hood Canal Oysters”.Now we’ll have Hamma,Sunset Beach,Pleasent Cove,Annas Bay,Little Creek,and Dabob Bay just to name a few.All of which are Hood Canal.
Many of these oysters come from small scale farms,which like regional vineyards have proliferated in the past 20 years.
What a helpful site! I look forward to reading more on WaitersToday.
Readers seriously interested in oysters will enjoy Mark Kurlansky’s great book on the subject.
Kurlansky tells us:
Diarist Samuel Pepys often mentioned eating, giving, or receiving oysters for breakfasts, lunches, and inners – in all he mentions oysters fifty times in his diaries. Dr. Johnson fed oysters to his cat, Hodge, buying them personally because he feared that if he sent servants, they would end up resenting the cat.
William K. Brooks, the nineteenth century Maryland pioneer in the study of oysters, said, “A fresh oyster on the half-shell is no more dead than an ox that has been hamstrung.” If the oyster is opened carefully, the diner is eating an animal with a working brain, a stomach, intestines, liver, and a still-beating heart. As for the “liquor,” that watery essence of oyster flavor that all good food writers caution to save, it is mostly oyster blood.
In 1932, at a convention of the Oyster Growers Association in Atlantic City, Dr. Vera Koehring of the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries said that it was cruel and inhuman to crack open an oyster’s shell and pry the animal loose. Dr. Koehring proposed, “The oysters, before being shelled, should be given an anesthetic.”
The New York of the second half of the nineteenth century was a city overtaken by oystermania. It was usual for a family to have two oyster dinners a week, one of which would be on Sunday. It was one of the few moments in culinary history when a single food, served in more or less the same preparations, was commonplace for all socioeconomic levels. It was the food of Delmonico’s and the food of the dangerous slum. The oyster remained inexpensive. Shucked oysters were sold by street vendors for twenty-five cents a quart. The poor person might eat raw oysters from a street stand or have a stew at the market – it was cheap enough – or a wealthy man might get the same raw oysters to start his meal or the same stew for a fish course at the most expensive restaurants. At Delmonico’s, a serving of six or eight oysters, depending on the size, cost twenty-five cents.
This is also just a great book about New York. Maybe the best pop history of Dutch New York after Shorto:
Here’s a good NYTimes article from 2006 about oyster varieties. First two paragraphs:
A FOOTLOOSE young American named Jon Rowley sat in a down-at-the-heels room in Paris one day in the mid-1960’s, reading “A Moveable Feast,” Ernest Hemingway’s posthumously published memoir of life in the city during the 1920’s.
One passage above all seized his attention. Hemingway had written, “As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.”
I guess my point is, oysters are interesting! Let’s agree to meet back here and discuss oyster gender sometime.
1) George Saunders, from a Chipotle bag.
2) Rev. F. Washington Jarvis, speaking at the International Boys’ School Conference in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand in 2009:
3) Cormac McCarthy, in The New York Times magazine, April 19, 1992.
“There’s no such thing as life without bloodshed,” McCarthy says philosophically. “I think the notion that the species can be improved in some way, that everyone could live in harmony, is a really dangerous idea. Those who are afflicted with this notion are the first ones to give up their souls, their freedom. Your desire that it be that way will enslave you and make your life vacuous.”