Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Perhaps this goes some way to expaining NZers

Ol'Whig Al has me going with a "get rich quick" - one of these "earn $75,000 in your spare time" - schemes.

Personally I can't abide them, but please don't tell Al that. As far as I am concerned they come under the "...sound too good to be true..." along with "...if it is so successful, why does he want to sell it..."; the kind of offer that appears in some of the tabloids for "I have made thousands winning on the horses with this simple technique - I will sell it for $2,500!!" I can't help but imagine a line of "finders" trading off each other, each adding their little bit to the cost of the oil that I want to buy for my trip to Opononi this weekend.

And that brings me to the explanation - in the Herald (tomorrow?) is this little gem...
Living a morally good life and having free time is more important to New Zealanders than getting rich, according to a recent survey.

The poll, conducted by UMR Research, asked 750 respondents to rate six values on whether they were very important, somewhat important, not that important or very not important at all.

Only eight per cent valued being wealthy as "very important", but most rated living a morally good life (78 per cent), having enough time to do the things you want to do (64 per cent) and having children (59 per cent) as very important.

Climbing the career ladder didn't appeal to many, with only 37 per cent rated being successful in a career as very important compared with 49 per cent who rated helping the wider community by volunteering and donating as very important.
Similar research conducted in the United States shows New Zealanders and Americans rated things much the same as each other, but with one important exception.

While 61 per cent of Americans rated being successful in a career as very important, only 37 per cent of New Zealanders felt the same.

As I said to Al, I am rich. But I am rich in ways that he might not comprehend. The results of this survey suprise me not at all. At least the first three headings of morality, free time and recreation, and family are head of my list.

I do not need money to enjoy any of those.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A day almost forgotten

Yesterday, 30 years ago, was one of the most shameful days in NZ recent history, in my living memory.

Almost as sad is the fact that, other than a 4 minute commemorative on Radio NZ, and a full "Bastion Point Day" on Maori TV, the day passed almost totally unremarked.

The Herald included this article, an interview with Alec, one of the "radicals" from the Hawke family.
It is 30 years since the bulldozers and army trucks loaded with police arrived at Bastion Pt to clear away the tent and plywood town of protest that had become a symbol for hope, or a blight on society, depending on your perspective.

Looking back, my first thought is what an honour it was to be a part of the occupation. What an honour being a member of a larger group, that initially was just whanau in Ngati Whatua o Orakei, and was then joined by supporters - Maori, Pacific Islanders and Pakeha - who came to right a wrong.

As my brother Joe says, we were not there to be arrested, we were there to arrest a wrong, and we did that.

There are news images from the papers of the time, such as here. I will not pirate them - they have almost reached the status of taonga. I respect that.

Take a look at what is one of the turning points in NZ history. Read ALL of the interview with Alec Hawke.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The raruraru about the things you see - 5

Y'know, this is almost getting to the point of total stupidity.

This series of instances all come out of Sydney, thanks Sydney Morning Herald for the entertainment. And yes, from Sydney, the promised land of moral probity and righteousness; the land that brought (and expelled from society) Norman Lindsay for images such as these -

Firstly, and kinda related to the billboard that was erected (gotta watch my language here :) ) in Auckland comes this Blog stream. No, I didn't read any more than the first couple paras, and the opening .gif was more than enough.

Then over the past couple of days comes a parallel to the Cyrus argument. Again, I have not personally seen these images but the news item (including interviews and vox pop from both sides of the argument) gave a fair idea of the content. Seems that the difference between these and the Cyrus cover(less) image is a matter of being far more explicit and much less "demure". That is all on that.

But the hoo-ha is so great that even the PM gets in on the act -
Photographs of naked 12- and 13-year-olds at a Sydney exhibition shut down by police are revolting and have no artistic merit, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says.
The show includes large photographic prints of topless children, one of which was included on the opening night invitation.

Mr Rudd today weighed into the debate about the merits of the artworks, saying he thought they were "revolting".

"I find them absolutely revolting," he told the Nine Network.

I am not going to be judgmental here about the images. The SMH poll is interesting though -
Reader Poll

Bill Henson exhibition and images of naked children
Where do you stand?

It is art and acceptable - 35%

It is art but inappropriate - 24%

It is more offensive than artistic - 12%

It should be illegal - 29%

Total Votes: 5608

And yep, one of those votes is mine. I had to think, and voted accordingly in order to get access to the results. SMH is careful to point out that their surveys are not to be considered scientific and represent the views of only those who wanted to respond. That qualification is apt and required.

But I can't help wondering (and perhaps the SMH did too) if there was a connection between Rudd's comments and this little contre-temp.

As political commentary,

that is an excellent piece of art.
Melbourne City Council has defended its decision to reject a controversial painting by the nephew of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

The painting depicts a Ronald McDonald holding a flaming Olympic torch, while a monk burns in the background.

Van Thanh Rudd's work, which he this afternoon revealed was intended as a homage to British street artist Banksy, shows Ronald McDonald carrying the Olympic torch past a burning monk.


Clearing my (non-existent) mail this morning and turned this out from the Yahoo home page
Is it acceptable for nude photos of underage girls to be shown as art?
Thanks for voting 35455 votes since May 22 2008
Yes 18% 6494 votes
No 82% 28961 votes

Interesting contrast, and the same caveats as the SMH poll.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The raruraru about the things you see - 4

Over the past two weeks I have been reading a book on the history of the photograph as art. Quite interesting, with some fantastic images that I have not previously come across.

Included is this at the top of the page by Henry Peach Robinson, dated 1858 -
Apparently it caused a considerable stir as "inappropriate" and "immoral". Why? Well the clue is in part in the title "Fading Away". A family gathered at the slow death of a daughter and sister.
Presented as one example of how attitutes to images can change over time.
BTW the techniques used are more of interest than the image. Apparently this was made from 5 separate images - an early example of photographic manipulation...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The raruraru about things you see - 3

Prompted by Lucy and her response in the previous post, and because this has gotten me more than just a little irate -

Monday's Herald comes this little piece.

A 16-year-old New Zealand model has been pictured topless in fashion magazine Russh Australia - prompting a "please explain" call from her agent here.

The Australian magazine is being investigated for pictures featuring Auckland model Zippora Seven and 16-year-old male model Levi Clarke.

One image shows the pair in a bubble bath, with Zippora topless and Levi's eyes closed, as if he has passed out. Four bottles of champagne are visible.

The Australian Classifications Act prohibits the depiction of nudity and sexual activity of minors under 18, and a spokesman for the Australian Classification Board said: "I can advise that the board has contacted the publisher of Russh Australia."

Zippora's Australian agent Priscilla Leighton-Clark yesterday admitted the shoot had gone too far.

"It's wrong that our girl has appeared in our magazine exposing her breasts when she is so young," she told the Sunday Telegraph in Sydney.

However, Russh editor Natalie Shukur defended the shoot, claiming it was a homage to supermodel Kate Moss and her one-time boyfriend, actor Johnny Depp.

So the mag considers Kate Moss to be an appropriate role model for young teen girls?

Zippora's New Zealand agency Red Eleven said it had no involvement with the photo shoot.

Director Mandy Jacobsen told the Herald Red Eleven was "shocked" and "disappointed in the pictures", shot about a month ago.

She said the agency would be talking with Ms Leighton-Clark this week, and wanted an explanation.

There is an unwritten law in New Zealand preventing the use of under-18s in nude photo shoots, Ms Jacobsen said.

"We have to be very careful about these girls on shoots, and what the story's about."

Well, for a start, this stinks to high heaven. Despite the very direct parallels to the Cyrus instance there is one distinction that is very clear. I am prepared to accept that the Cyrus photos taken by Liebowitz were not taken primarily for publication; that they were taken as an add-on and forwarded to the magazine as part of a portfolio by Cyrus.

This instance involves, as clearly, the magazine taking the images with the clear intent of publication.

Today's Herald -

The responses in the public forum make depressing reading, even for an old lech like me.

This one is WRONG. Read that ? WRONG!!!!!

It is patently illegal under Aussie Rules. That should be enough for anyone. For me, the rules would be WRONG if they allowed the publication.

That opinion might seem to differ from my somewhat guarded acceptance of the Cyrus photo. The latter was (my vain hope) taken without the intent of publication. I have not seen the Aussie photos, and I won't be going looking for it any time soon. From the description I would have some "difficulty" putting it into the same category as the Cyrus photo.

There are limits. Cyrus I can accept (if only because the photographer was Liebowitz). This example I can not, irrespective of the name of the hack who took them.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

That billboard...

For those who wanted to know, this is the billboard that has been removed as "objectionable".

From granny Herald, with thanks -
Large billboards that leave little to the imagination have drawn complaints, particularly from Auckland's Pacific community, which claims they are culturally insensitive.

The billboards offer "longer lasting sex" to men with erectile dysfunction.

They provide an 0800 number for people to get more information about "nasal delivery technology" from doctors at an Australian company, Advanced Medical Institute.

Tongan mother 'Eseta Funganitao, who has complained about the billboards, was shocked to see them when travelling with her young children in her car from Mangere.

Mrs Funganitao's 12-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son had seen the "ugly ad".

"It's not okay, especially when they are brought up in a Christian family," she said.

In her culture it was not allowed to discuss the subject of sex in front of a brother and sister together, and they would normally be separated for such purposes.

"Sex is tapu, sacred, not to be discussed publicly."

Mrs Funganitao, of Mt Roskill, has complained to the office of her local MP, Phil Goff, and to the Pacific Island Board in its role as an advocate of the Pacific community to the Auckland City Council.

She had also rung the 0800 number to complain to the company but got only a "rude" response.

Mrs Funganitao was also disturbed that the sign seemed to be encouraging everyone to have sex - which did not send an appropriate message to young people.

Asenati Lole-Taylor, chairwoman of the Pacific Island Board, said she had received complaints about the billboards from the Pacific community.

She said the billboards created discomfort and were an insensitive way to display the message. "If people have a problem they should be seeing their doctor."

... and people wonder why it is that I get somewhat "hasty" (as Treebeard might have said) about the impact of religion on me and the society in which I live.

I can but wonder what these well meaning "God-moms" (intended pun on "soccer-moms") might have thought of the Cyrus photo.

(My heart is still on the side of Annie Liebowitz. It is a fantastic image.)

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The raruraru about things you see - 2

First and most important thing to do is go over and read TF's latest post [A Moment of Reflection - 4 May 08]-
This past week I forgot to be pleasant; I was downright ugly, for that I hope you will accept my apology. I considered removing the article since it really is not how I want folks to think of me; then recognized that it might serve better as a reminder, not to repeat such a mistake.

Now to be fair, TF continues from that point in a self-examination which I can but admire.

Can I just add at this point, my own apology for not posting this response until now.

My hat is off, Fraser (or should that be Elwood?). I wish that I can be as honest with myself as you have been with the rest of us.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

The raruraru about things you see...

... on tv, in the printed media, even at the library.

It starts with what I think is one of the saddest posts I have ever read from TF Stern. Not because the topic is "sad" as such. It is sad because it shows a side of his character that I had not previously suspected.

His post is a commentary on the debate he was having at another site which debate includes the following comment...

Mr. Stern,

I am a highly moral, spiritual person. I am a husband, a father, and a stepfather. I pay my taxes and am law-abiding in every way. I try to live an honorable, spiritual, moral life, and I believe in this amazing nation and the wonderful freedoms this country has given me through the Constitution. I am not a Communist or a Socialist.

I am also not a Christian, never have been and never will be. If somehow you believe that makes you superior to me in any way, then, sir, you are nothing but a bigot...

I need add nothing more to that.

The subject is, and it is saddening to an extent, the "Miley Cyrus" affair, concerning a photograph that appeared on the cover of a wide circulation American magazine. It shows a (world famous in America) girl in very next to nothing. That is all that you are going to hear from me - no link, no further publicity...

Amongst all of the heat, smoke and mirrors todays Sunday Star Times includes an op-ed by Rosemary McLeod and - without her pernmission - I want to quote the opening few paragraphs.
What bollocks this Miley Cyrus controversy is - and what a sad signal for young women

Last week the great Vanity Fair photographer Annie Liebowitz actually had to apologise for taking a particularly lovely photograph of the girl, the girl had to publicly repent, Disney suffered a corporate heart attack, Vanity Fair became the Antichrist, and her parents had to beg the world’s forgiveness. All this because the 15-year-old was photographed with a bare back, suggesting that – God forbid! – she might not have had a bra on.

The photograph is a stunning portrait of a young woman on the vulnerable brink of adult life. Once, such an attractive subject and theme would have made for a much-admired painting. Today we take photographs. We even put them on magazine covers. Enjoy.

The trouble is not Miley, but adults’ attitude to the transition from childhood, through the perilous time – post puberty – that nobody remembers without pain and awkwardness.

Rosemary concludes -
So she represents innocence? Miley’s favourite TV programme is Sex and the City. She lives in a country where you can buy "trainer" bras for seven-year-olds, and where everyone who can pay for them has neon-white teeth. With minimal effort, this churchgoing girl can be exposed to as much pornography as she is Christianity.

We made the world she is entering, though we judge her. And we’ve made the climate in which a girl like her can rightly fear becoming what she is designed to be: that scary thing, a woman.

I have a now 30 year old daughter who went through the same process that Rosemary talks of and I accept her word for the self-conciousness and near embarrassment that girls of that age experience. I can recall my Kath getting extremely upset simply because I photographed her in her bathing suit (from behind and without her knowledge). Her major objection - I look fat...

Now, from the same newspaper, comes this article; a sad commentary on attitudes to women and the abuse of female sexuality indeed. Do you think that we will ever see nude male newsreaders? Or nude males on the cover of Vanity Fair?

No, for the simple reason that at least 50% of the population over the age of 25 would be laughing their heads off. And that, I submit, is something that the male psyche just could not bear.

Sorry, TF. You have got it wrong. What is just as sad is that some of the commenters to both your post and the one you take issue with have just got it so wrong or even wronger. Don't get me wrong here. I do not countenance pornography in any shape or form. There is a difference - and this is part of Mcleod's commentary - between that and true art. Like so many things, it is not a sharp delineation. That needs to be considered. But to blame Liebowitz for a pornographic image is wrong. That is in the eye of the beholder.

In the meantime, consider this example - tell me whether you think it is "pornographic" or not...

It centres on a 19 year old lass who came third in a national "beauty contest". She was interviewed (fully clothed) on tv on Friday night. You might catch it here if you want.

She is a student at Massey Uni, studying science. The uni interviewed her for their publicity magazine and asked for a portfolio of photographs. The one that was selected for the cover of the issue including the interview showed the lass in - horrors!! - a bikini!!