More investigation into New Zealand politics

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:

SuperGold Card

SuperGold Card, a flagship policy

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!


Further Investigations into New Zealand politics

Max Key 1

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.

Max Key.

Max Key.

Here are some photos of him, and here is his song:


Brushing up on New Zealand politics

 

John KeyJohn 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.


Christchurch, New Zealand

Christchurch

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:

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 10.45.10 AM

That looks cool but I guess it will be cold.

photo by jimcummings, click for link.

photo by jimcummings, click for link.

Who was Queen Charlotte, exactly?  She was George III’s wife, a tough job.

Queen Charlotte

What were once called the Queen Charlotte islands in British Columbia are now Haida Gwaii.  I agree that’s a better name.

Haida Gwaii

Wiki, attributed to Christian Muise.

This lady sure got a lot of piney, fjord type areas named after her.

 


Elizabeth Warren, Pocahontas, and The Pow Wow Chow Cookbook

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.

source: The Guardian

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.”

OK let’s find an Elizabeth Warren one:
Damn that does not sound good!
Lady loves crab!
It’s claimed here that the book was edited by Elizabeth Warren’s cousin?
If this is the worst thing you can come up with on Elizabeth Warren, pretty weak.   It was a family story.  The cookbook suggests she believed it.  All families have odd stories that may or may not be true.  Maybe she got too enthusiastic?
Btw by far the worst recipe in the Pow Wow Chow cookbook is :

“I like my corn with olives!” source

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. 

A suggestion:

  • 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.

 

 

 


Dispatch from Down Under

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.

(Barnaby seems like a real prize pig)
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.
Asked for a follow up with a summary of the Manus issue:
Meanwhile, in New Zealand:
 Charlotte Graham in the New York Times reports that a former member of the Chinese Communist Party got elected to Parliament:

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.

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.

Is China getting its spies elected to parliaments?  Gotta respect the move if so.
Will World War III be an Info Wars?
Has it already begun?
And:
Plus you must follow Australia’s Parliament House on Twitter:
That’s what’s happening in Australasia
where the constellations change but the mind stays the same.

Best photos I took in 2016

img_5276

Vancouver Island

img_8672Joshua Treeimg_9272Gaililee, RI
daf8272a-51e1-4083-b4c8-a509b10a5a54Death Valleyimg_5124Tofinoimg_5793Cambridge
img_7339-3Victoria
img_7126-1New Zealandimg_9451Two Harborsimg_3649Los Angeles

 


Top Ten HelyTimes Posts Of The Year

Watching the America's Cup Race. Mrs. Kennedy, President Kennedy, others. Off Newport, RI, aboard the USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. by Robert Knudsen

Watching the America’s Cup Race. Mrs. Kennedy, President Kennedy, others. Off Newport, RI, aboard the USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. by Robert Knudsen

Hey, thanks for voting in this year’s HelyTimes Awards!

By reader vote, these were considered

The Top Ten Helytimes Posts Of The Year

black-eyed-sue

10) Shorter History Of Australia

about Geoffrey Blainey’s book on how that country became what it is, and their national cry Cooo-EEE!

jo-mora

9) Jo Mora and Mora Update

about how the Uruguayan-Californian artist influenced almost a century of design

8) Travel Tips From Bill and Tony

Conversations between Tony Blair and Bill Clinton

rivera

7) San Francisco

A visit to that famed city and the Diego Rivera murals hidden around it

khipu

6) Khipus

On Incan rope counting systems and their decipherment

5) Jackie Smoking Pregnant

An investigation into a photo of the former first lady

platypus

4) Twenty Greatest Australian Accomplishments of All Time

This was by far our most popular post by views

the-playa

3) Death Valley Days

A trip to the national park, and its place in our national consciousness

lady-xoc

2) Lady Xoc

About the Mayan queen of the 8th century

The definitive winner for the year?:

coram

1) Boyd, Trump, and OODA Loops

A review of writing by and about fighter pilot John Boyd, who offers a way into DT’s thinking.

Honorable mentions:

Understanding Politics,

a brief look at Sanders and Trump

Four Bits About Donald Trump,

about you know who, comparing him to Tim Ferriss.

Sunday Takes,

a big wild roundup.

Nestle,

on how a Swiss chocolatier came to own freshwater springs in Southern California

The Death of Michael Herr,

about the Vietnam War correspondent, Kubrick pal and Zen Buddhist

Microsociology,

on the work of Randall Collins, an underappreciated hero

A Description of Distant Roads,

extracts from a 1769 description of California,

Cape Flattery,

a dispatch from rainy New Zealand,

and a personal favorite,

O Pioneers,

about Willa Cather, Walt Whitman, and America.

The most popular post of the year

by views, was

American Historical Figure Who Reminds Me Of Trump

Thanks for reading Helytimes.  We really appreciate all our readers.  We write it just out of graphomania and a compulsion to work out, catalog and channel puzzles, curiosities and questions of interest.  It’s wonderful to know there are people who enjoy the results.

You can email us anytime at helphely at gmail.  Let us know what you think.

All the best for 2017.

Buy this book on Amazon or at your local indie bookstore:

sent by reader Katrina

sent by reader Katrina

 


SUNDAY TAKE: is this the election of 1828?

 

jq2John Quincy Adams

Smug.

Establishment.

Very annoying.

Dad was president.

Former Secretary of State.

Front row kid as Chris Arande says.

Against:

Imacon Color Scanner

Andrew Jackson

Blustery.

Outsider.

Slave trader.

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?

seminole-war

Having a hell of a time finding the source of this image, which Wiki says is “Marines battle Seminole Indians in the Florida War–1835-1842.” — Department of Defense, U.S. Marine Corps (Photo #: 306073-A)

The result?

1828

Jackson won.

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

jackson

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:

whgw

Is Trump like Jackson?  WORSE?  BETTER??

Is JQA like Hillary?

JQA was later in Amistad with Matthew McConaughey.

qa

 


SUNDAY TAKES!

Here are some takes and items for your Sunday enjoyment!

The coach on Netflix doc series Last Chance U:

coach

The most compelling, complex character on “TV” right now


Sales:

In an old folder of articles I found this one, about Peter Thiel’s Zero To One

thiel-3

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:

thiel-1

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?:

thiel-2

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

sotl-3

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!

Baltimore can be quite a fun town if you have the right guide

Baltimore can be quite a fun town if you have the right guide

This guy:

sotl-2

 


This jumped out at me

In a not otherwise “sexy” article about English literary critic William Empson’s book The Face Of The Buddha:

screen-shot-2016-09-12-at-3-00-27-pm

William Empson:

william-empson


Millennials

Enjoyed the caption on this one, from National Geographic’s Instagram:

fullsizerender


Mediocrities

screen-shot-2016-09-12-at-2-35-00-pm

Thomas Frank, profiled in the Politico 50 list:

screen-shot-2016-09-12-at-11-42-45-am

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

Am I ugly?

    Am I ugly?

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:

screen-shot-2016-09-12-at-1-27-19-pm

“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.

Reginald

American Dad co-showrunner Brian Boyle has a very fine set of glasses with the AD characters on them.

img_7411

One fan’s opinion? the show should do more with Reginald.

img_7409

Reginald


 The Flemish Giant

Somebody at work mentioned that the biggest kind of rabbit is called a Flemish giant.

img_7452

Well worth the image search.


Boston accents:

bostonians

A good, clear discussion of an often misunderstood issue from this classicbostonians-2


On the subject of Boston:

img_7358

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


Still reeling

aus-states

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.

Ok but flip Australia upside down in your mind.

Ok but flip Australia upside down in your mind.

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:

state_library_of_victoria_3009e

photo by Wiki user Brian Jenkins

I mean how can you not admire that they have Ned Kelly’s armor on display?:

ned-kelly

Some great illustrations on Ned’s wiki page:

a_strange_apparition_ned_kellys_last_stand

“A strange apparition”: when Kelly appeared out of the mist-shrouded bush, clad in armour, bewildered policemen took him to be a ghost, a bunyip, and “Old Nick himself”.

a bunyip:

bunyip

Let’s take a virtual look at Australia’s other state libraries:

Tasmania:

state-library-of-tasmania

Hmm.

Would a better state library be a step towards helping Tasmania’s insane illiteracy rate?

New South Wales:

Mitchell Library without banners

nsw-int

Impressive.  Classic if slightly dull exterior, solid interior, I rate it a 9 (out of 11).

Queensland:

qnsl-ext

qnsld-int

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.

Northern Territory:

parliament-house

No independent library building, it’s housed in the Parliament House which is kind of cool.  DNQ for the rating system.

Western Australia:

state-library-of-wa

slwa-int

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:

231751pd-hackett-hall-before-alteration-december-1960-image-courtesy-state-library-of-wa

South Australia:

ext

Ok…

mortlock-wing

Aw yeah!  11/11.


Short Books

Australia/New Zealand publishing is so good at short books.  I read a bunch of short books while traveling.

img_7360

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:

ad-1

ad-2

ad-3

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:

pieper

Here’s a taste, where Pieper is digressing about a dog he adopted:pieper-2

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:

mansfield

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:

mansfield-2

What life was she couldn’t explain.  No matter.  He quite understood.

Isn’t it, darling?’ said Laurie.


Southbank

img_7200

This scene, on Brisbane’s Southbank, really reminded me of this one, in Paris a hundredsome years ago:

sunday



Richard Bell

img_7207

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.

 


How big are places compared to other places?

img_7009

Traveling across the South Island of New Zealand by train, I was trying to work out for myself how big exactly the country is.

img_7126

It looked big

With the help of OverlapMaps, here’s a comparison of New Zealand to California:

screen-shot-2016-09-09-at-10-48-54-am

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.

screen-shot-2016-09-09-at-10-39-55-am
screen-shot-2016-09-09-at-10-40-59-am

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.

img_7030

The folks at Brilliant Maps do fantastic work in this field.  Here are some of my favorites:

Los Angeles and other cities overlaid on The Netherlands:

holland-empty-city

Not sure I totally understand what’s going on here.

Cali and Madagascar:

cali-madagascar

The size of the Pacific:

allcontinetspacific

Map by Chris Stephens, from naturalearthdata.com

US population in Europe:

Created by: reddit user Tom1099

Created by: reddit user Tom1099

US in China by population:

How the US population fits into China by reddit user jackblack2323

How the US population fits into China by reddit user jackblack2323

OR:

us-china-too

Map by reddit user gotrees

Size of different islands:

The relative size of the 24 largest islands in the world, map by reddit user evening_raga

The relative size of the 24 largest islands in the world, map by reddit user evening_raga

And The Circle:

Map created by reddit user valeriepieris

Map created by reddit user valeriepieris

Here’s one more for you, from OverlandMaps:

screen-shot-2016-09-09-at-11-05-22-am

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.

img_7210

one of Australia’s more densely populated areas.


Ngiao Marsh

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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:

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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):

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Anyway, afterwards they had the Ngiao Marsh Crime Awards.  Who was Ngiao Marsh?

Ngaio Marsh

She was a New Zealand writer of detective stories, mostly starring Roderick Alleyn.  Some of the covers of her books are great:

DeathAndTheDancingFootman

DeathAtTheBar

ArtistsInCrime

BlackAsHesPainted

SpinstersInJeopardy

Says Wiki:

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

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:

Paul Cleave

For his book Trust No One:

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Cape Flattery

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Stormy day in Lyttelton, New Zealand.

Named, apparently, after George Lyttelton:

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Shackleton left from Lyttelton on his first Antarctic expedition:

Shackleton

On this day, there was a ship in the harbor called Cape Flattery:

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I had to look up where Cape Flattery is:

Cape Flattery

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:

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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:

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Mountaineering movies on Netflix Instant, ranked.

Touching The Void

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.

2) Beyond The Edge beyond the edge 3

Very cool.  Doc/reenactment about the first successful Everest ascent.  Worth watching just for the fashion, the style on these guys was rad.

beyond the edge 1A 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.

Everest map

3) Nordwand/Northface

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:

Valley Uprising

The Blue Light

K2.  What is this movie?  It started as a play?

 


Oysters Grilled And Raw

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).

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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.

(If you go down to Australia though?  to eat the oysters there?  you enter a whole new world.

Someday.)

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.

And:

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.”

And:

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.

 

Pacific oyster Crassostrea gigas equiped with activity electrodes to follow their daily behavior 24/7

 

 


Three messages from writers I admire

1) George Saunders, from a Chipotle bag.

photo2) Rev. F. Washington Jarvis, speaking at the International Boys’ School Conference in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand in 2009:

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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.”

 

 


The USWNT

I gotta say, I’m enjoying the women’s World Cup, and I am for the US women.  I like Tobin Heath

Tobin Heath

And Kelley OHara

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And Sydney Leroux

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I like this:

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And I like that Alex Morgan wrote a bestselling book for middle schoolers:

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This is the only one star review:

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Do agree with Ken that this is troubling:

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