Monday, January 28, 2008

NZ has terrorists... ?

I mean, how paranoid should I be??

You and your wife take a late afternoon walk along a beach in the Far North. You are about 4 hours drive north of Auckland. There are the usual family groups and couples scattered along the beach. At the end of the beach there are a few rocks that buttress the hill and lead into the next stretch of sandy beach. Between them is a little cove barely 10m long, a slot in the rocks.

On the other side is a nice sandy beach, littered with interesting rock reefs and backed by cliffs. As you walk, the conversation turns to quenching two thirsts and the preferred means of achieving that end.

You turn and slowly retrace your steps, looking forward to a quiet ale at the hotel on the main beach. As you walk along, you notice two people snorkelling out from the rocks at the headland.

Then as you climb between the rocks on the headland you come across a man. He is dressed in "middle eastern" clothing - the kind of "pyjamas" that you sometimes see people wearing in Auckland. We speak, briefly, and he replies in a very heavily accented english. I ask him where he is from. He says that he is working at the hotel. I ask where he was before that, intending to try and establish his nationality. He gets quite agitated and replies, without providing any detail, that he is also from Auckland.

We left him there.

Now the question is;

"What would you do in those circumstances?"

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A quick potted history...

...of New Zealand as I fondly recall it.

Whakahuihui Vercoe is certainly one of the leading Churchmen of recent times, irrespective of which colour. Have a read through, it is a well written and personal look at the man.

“One hundred and fifty years ago, a compact was signed, a covenant was made between two people…

“But since the signing of that treaty… our partners have marginalised us. You have not honoured the treaty…

“The language of this land is yours, the custom is yours, the media by which we tell the world who we are are yours...

“What I have come here for is to renew the ties that made us a nation in 1840. I don’t want to debate the treaty; I don’t want to renegotiate the treaty. I want the treaty to stand firmly as the unity, the means by which we are made one nation…
The treaty is what we are celebrating. It is what we are trying to establish so that my tino rangatiratanga is the same as your tino rangatiratanga.

“And so I have come to Waitangi to cry for the promises that you made and for the expectations our tupuna (had) 150 years ago… And so I conclude, as I remember the songs of our land, as I remember the history of our land, I weep here on the shores of the Bay of Islands.”

The article concludes...
Sixteen years after his 1990 Waitangi Day speech, how does he assess its value? And in the intervening years, what gains have been made? How much does he think have Maori been able to move away from the margins of New Zealand society?

There’s a tone of resignation in his reply: “My feelings about that,” he says, “are very similar to what I discovered when I took part in war. And that is, in spite of whatever you do, and whatever you say, nothing changes.”

Sunday, January 20, 2008


Our Sunday paper has a feature (Section 3 Page 1 and 2) headed "Why Facebook is Evil" attributed to Guardian News and Media. Neither the SST, nor the Guardian, lists that title in their websites or search engines - which is a little strange.

In the normal course I might not read an article with a headline like that, but the teaser made it ever so much more "attractive".
Facebook is a social experiment, an expression of a particular kind of neoconservative libertarianism. On Facebook, you can be free to be who you want to be as long as you don't mind being bombarded by adverts for the world's biggest brands.

Neoconservative liberalism? Who has this guy been reading? Paul? Mise? Rand?

But suddenly it did start getting interesting. Not for the politics, which might surprise as they fringe, rather than form, the main thread of the article.

The author tracks from the origins of Facebook, to the three people who consitute the Board of Directors of the holding company.

Mark Zuckerberg - "media cover star".

Peter Thiel - "Silicon Valley venture capitalist and futurist philosopher..."

Jim Breyer - partner in Accel Partners, board member of Wal-Mart and Marvel Entertainment and former Chair of NVCA (National Venture Capital Association). So what? Little that is wrong there.

The most recent round of funding Facebook comes from Greylock Venture Capital, who contributed some USD27.5 million - some investment. One of the senior partners in Greylock is Hpward Cox, another former Chair of NVCA. So what? Little that is wrong there either.

Howard Cox is also on the Board of In-Q-Tel.

Say what?
Our Aim
In-Q-Tel identifies and partners with companies developing cutting-edge technologies to help deliver these solutions to the Central Intelligence Agency and the broader U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) to further their missions.

Launched by the CIA in 1999 as a private, independent, not-for-profit organization, IQT was created to bridge the gap between the technology needs of the Intelligence Community and new advances in commercial technology. With limited insight into fast-moving private sector innovation, the IC needed a way to find emerging companies, and, more importantly, to work with them. IQT, as a private company with deep ties to the commercial world, is able to attract and build relationships with technology entrepreneurs outside the reach of the IC. In fact, more than 75 percent of the companies that IQT works with had never done business with the government before partnering with IQT.

Similar to a corporate strategic fund like those found at Intel Corporation, Motorola and Disney, IQT operates for the strategic – rather than financial – benefits to its customers in the IC. IQT targets its technology engagements based on a deep understanding of the challenges of our Intelligence customers to deliver solutions that will provide strategic advantage to the mission of intelligence.

To best serve its customers, In-Q-Tel plays multiple roles:

A technology accelerator, fostering development and introduction of technologies needed by the Intelligence Community

A capabilities builder, helping nascent commercial technologies mature into commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) products the government can buy

An idea lab and forum for innovation, providing the Intelligence Community with insight and access to both new technologies and leading innovators and thinkers

A strategic investment firm, investing in companies and helping build businesses into reliable providers for the Intelligence Community

Life sure is stranger than fiction...

Hello, Big Brother!

Vale - Hone Tuwhare 1922-2008

Aue, but it has been a sad week.

I have always enjoyed Tuwhare's poetry. He wrote from the heart. His words have the power of earth to them.

This about Maori artist Ralph Hotere...
When you offer only three
vertical lines precisely drawn
and set into a dark pool of lacquer
it is a visual kind of starvation:

and even though my eyeballs
roll up and over to peer inside
myself, when I reach the beginning
of your eternity I say instead: hell
let’s have another feed of mussels

Like, I have to think about it, man.

When you stack horizontal lines
into vertical columns which appear
to advance, recede, shimmer and wave
like exploding packs of cards
I merely grunt and say: well, if it
is not a famine, it’s a feast

I have to roll another smoke, man

But when you score a superb orange
circle on a purple thought-base
I shake my head and say: hell, what
is this thing called aroha

Like, I’m euchred, man. I’m eclipsed?

Hone is going home to the Hokianga. I shall pay my respects next weekend ehoa.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

One of life's little pleasures...

... is strolling into the store at Opo and picking up a copy of a previously unencountered magazine.

In this case it was the Derek Fox published "Mana", issue 79 featuring two most interesting articles; "Guerillas in the mist" and a feature on "Moko kauae".

The second is a detailed (a great pity that Mana does not publish on the 'net but I fully understand why not) series of interviews with modern women who carry the tradition of the chin tattoo. It is an intensely written and quite moving (for me at least) narrative.

The cover story though is Derek Fox' personal wend through the events that I outlined in my series "There are terrorists in NZ". At some 10 pages, it would take a month to transcribe (copy) all of it. The following quotes though are pivotal.
In the Ruatoki valley you will occasionally hear the word "idiot" associated with his (Tame Iti) name. But the stocky heavily moko'ed mercurial character has caught the attention of the media, government, police and public for many years. To those with little understanding or sympathy for Maori grievances or the deeply ingrained pain of Tuhoe for the trampling of its mana by Pakeha, Tame Iti's is the dangerous face of MAori radicalism.
Now he's facing problems of his own waiting for the next drama to unfold as he goes to court to face the firearms charges that emerged from the police swoop of 'Black Monday' October 15.
One of the saddest things to come out of this botched operation is the fear sown about terrorism in this country where nothing [none?] exists, and the prejudice that followed from that.

Yes, on that last point, I heard echoes of it at work, and in the clubs I belong to...

Under the heading "A threat to democracy?" Fox has this to say.
On the morning of October 15 Commission of Police Howard Broad must have felt supremely confident. He and his senior officers had unleashed the biggest armed police operation in years against people he referred to in his news conferences as participating in "terrorist training camps".
[His] words shocked the nation. When pressed for more information he said he couldn't say more at this stage and that people should wait for the evidence.

Fox continues and points out that the only evidence published has been carefully and selectively leaked from "confidential and secure" files. He concludes -
Terrorism of the sort we have seen around the world would be a very serious threat to our democracy. As big a threat would be the actions of a police force that didn't get its way under the law stepping outside of it to try its case in the ill-informed 'court of public opinion'. Working outside the law is what police in fascist states do.

Now any who read my thoughts on this as it happened will know that Fox is writing (somewhat more elegantly) the same vein as I was trying to follow. But he has hidden his brilliant best in the middle of another part - easily missed.
One of the interesting pieces to come out of the Solicitor-General's decision [to not proceed with the terrorism charges] that the police and politicians and media people too have highlighted is that "something was happening in Urewera and the police put a stop to it before it could". It's an interesting approach to policing. If this became the norm we could arrest all motorists - that would certainly put an end to drink driving, speeding, running red lights and so on.

Nice one that.
Arresting all accountants would prevent a whole range of crimes

Hey now, hang on just a cotton-picking there Derek. That includes me!!!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Vale Sir Edmund Hillary 1919 - 2008

A man of great courage.

A man of great determination.

A man of great humility.

On being given his knighthood by the Queen -
"I wasn't very happy about it at all. I just didn't really particularly see myself as a titled person.

"Normally I used to wander round Papakura with a pretty grubby old pair of overalls on and I thought, my goodness, 'I'll have to buy myself a new pair of overalls'."

This 5 minute podcast is well worth the listen. Thanks RadioNZ.

The Eleventh Hour Epiphany?

What a pity, what a very great pity that this Administration left this move until now. How much different might the world be if this had happened in 2000?
US President George W Bush told Palestinians on Thursday he believed they would sign a peace treaty with Israel within a year that would give them their own state.

Challenging sceptics on the first visit to the West Bank city of Ramallah by a US president, he told a news conference with President Mahmoud Abbas: "I believe it's going to happen, that there will be a signed peace treaty by the time I leave office."

In some of the boldest language he has used since hosting a summit at Annapolis in the United States in November that relaunched peace negotiations after a seven-year hiatus, Bush added: "I am confident that with proper help the state of Palestine will emerge."

Officials have said that any treaty signed by the time Bush steps down next January would not lead to the immediate creation of a new state. A number of formalities would remain and Israel has made it clear it will not end its occupation of the West Bank until it is sure its own territory is safe from attack.

Bush also said that he was unsure that the isolation of the Gaza Strip, a major part of any future state, could be solved within the year. Abbas lost control of the enclave in June to Hamas Islamists who are fighting Israeli forces. Hamas hostility to the peace talks is a major obstacle to any peace deal.

Bush said Washington, Israel's closest ally and now a strong backer of Abbas' administration, stood ready to provide both political and economic backing but that Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert must "come together to make hard choices".

Speaking at the Muqata compound where the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was besieged by Israeli forces just a few years ago, Arafat's successor Abbas hailed Bush as the first US president to commit fully to back a Palestinian state.

The reticence of the US to tackle the problems of the Middle East head-on, Israel and Palestine in particular, in a fair and rational manner has been one of my major criticisms of successive administrations going right back to Carter and the Camp David meetings.

Will this time around the mulberry bush be any different? Certainly I fervently hope. Reality tells me not to hold my breath.

Christmas 2007

Well it wasn't the Christmas but the return this year.

Originally, we were having Christmas v1 on December 21 with son and d-i-l and the grandchildren, then heading north to Opo followed by Daughter and s-i-l for Christmas v2.

But, someone forgot to book the cat into the catel (hotcat? motcat?)and so Christmas v1 was the full family deal and Christmas v2 was just us.

We were back in Auckland on 2/1 and I was back at work the next day for what has been 8 days, close to 100 hours.

So, the ol' blog has been a bit neglected, with only the odd comment dropped into the blogiverse.