Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Where nature may win

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  • BlairMacca,

    Tom: too fucking soon mate, there’s no need for class warfare at times like this.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2007 • 200 posts Report Reply

  • webweaver,

    Before we deify Mr. Whittle, we should consider the fact that as the CEO he has been in charge of an organisation now responsible for the worst industrial accident this country in almost a century

    Crikey Tom, the poor guy's only been in the job a few weeks - I think he's doing bloody well - and it's hardly fair to pin the entire historical operational responsibility on him when he's barely had a chance to get his feet under the CEO's desk.

    And as for accusing him of being "a company man" which I guess is code for management (as opposed to the workers), maybe you could read up on his background - from the Pike River website:

    Peter Whittall brings close to 30 years experience as a coal miner and mining exeuctive to his role as CEO. Prior to his appointment as Chief Executive, he was Pike's General Manager Mines, a position he held since joining Pike in 2005. During that time he was responsible for all operational aspects of the business including mine design and development, and the essential areas of safety and environment. Peter has also been involved in the broader Pike River issues of coal marketing and capital raisings. Peter's background includes manager of underground coal mines for BHP Billiton in NSW, development of the greenfield Dendrobium mine in Illawara Coal and operation of the Tower and Appin coal mines in NSW. He holds a Bachelor of Engineering (Mining) and a Masters of Business Administration.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 329 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Neil Morrison,

    We went out tonight, and the soundtrack to Wim Wenders' Faraway, So Close was in the car stereo. U2's 'Stay' came on, and if they played that tomorrow night I'd be sobbing like a giant man-baby.

    And if you look, you look through me
    And if you talk it’s not to me
    And when I touch you, you don’t feel a thing

    If I could stay.. then the night would give you up
    Stay, and the day would keep it’s trust
    Stay, and the night would be enough

    Faraway, so close
    Up with the static and the radio waves
    With satellite television
    You can go anywhere
    Miami, New Orleans, London, Belfast and Berlin

    And if you listen I can’t call
    And if you jump, you just might fall
    And if you shout I’ll only hear you

    If I could stay.. then the night would give you up
    Stay then the day would keep it’s trust
    Stay with the demons you drown
    Stay with the spirit I found
    Stay and the night would be enough

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11617 posts Report Reply

  • Leopold,

    For both Mr Whittall and Ray Knowles:

    F you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
    If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;

    Since Jan 2007 • 145 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens, in reply to webweaver,

    I don’t disagree, I am just saying we need to be cautious about judgment on every participant – good or bad – until we understand what caused this disaster.

    What I fear most is we are going to discover that once the decision was made to build the mine, this tragedy was inevitable due to an inherently bad decision made in that first instance.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1711 posts Report Reply

  • Sam F,

    Just got an email from a friend asking me to join a Facebook memorial group for the Pike River miners, and Gmail’s ad banner flashed up a plug for West Coast job vacancies on TradeMe.

    Almost literally raged at my screen before I realised that no human was likely involved.

    Sympathy to the families of the 29 - may the cameras and microphones now recede, and let grief do its painful, healing work.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1549 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    You're right to a certain extent -- and we're going to get a coronial inquest and the inquiry whose terms of reference are going to be released on Monday that should pose all those questions in exhaustive and exhausting detail. I just didn't see WTF was going to be achieved by Mary Wilson haranguing exhausted, distressed people who weren't buying into the narrative she was pushing.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11617 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Today is for the departed

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15741 posts Report Reply

  • chris,

    Well said Sacha: "Today is for the departed". People sometimes respond to grief with ill considered words and actions. Engaging in spats and flaming and matters of "told you so" and "he's to blame" is simply a means to delay the inevitable acceptance and mourning of the loss together, responsibly and peacefully.

    中国 • Since Jan 2010 • 888 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to chris,

    Well said Sacha: "Today is for the departed". People sometimes respond to grief with ill considered words and actions. Engaging in spats and flaming and matters of "told you so" and "he's to blame" is simply a means to delay the inevitable acceptance and mourning of the loss together, responsibly and peacefully.

    At the same time, that's really - well, human. We all want things to have happened for reasons, even if they're bad ones; want to be able to say "if only we'd known this, done this, it wouldn't have happened". We want to be able to blame because anger feels better than despair. Of course people are "ill-considered" after losing family and friends. They're fucking grieving.

    But there are a lot of people playing the blame game who aren't personally affected and don't have that excuse. They're the ones who need to learn about respect. And dignity. And shutting up, right now.

    (Also, as others have said - thanks for the poem, Craig. That was - right.)

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2087 posts Report Reply

  • ChrisW,

    Today is for the departed

    I got up unusually early this morning. The moonlight shining off the strip of low-tide mud across the river under the still-leafing-up canopy of my 112-year-old walnut tree moved me to try for a photograph with my new-old camera, propped on a beanbag on the back of a chair in lieu of tripod for a 30-second exposure.

    Loaded the photo, and I think it's wonderful - the moonlight and river, the profile of the hills showing through the tree, and a scattering of lights and houses of my sector of Gisborne.

    I check what's come up on PA 'Where nature may win', I'm confused too in my thoughts of the technical and the human and the policy-political at this time. And "Today is for the departed" cuts right through, so simply, thanks.

    Then I see that the lights in my photo may number 29 if I were also to count the patches of reflected moonlight. Immediate sense of connection and connections, as if by fibre-optic cable - they're just out there through the glass, on my doorstep, within my community.

    And it really is low tide - the photo timed at 2.54am, low tide at 2.56 - which means it is high tide on the West Coast.

    The waters of the Pike River join the Grey and are flowing to the sea at Mawhera. I see the river meeting the high-tide wave that will sweep south around Murihiku, up the eastern coasts past me here at Turanganui-a-Kiwa later this morning, past the Aucklanders twice, on the way north and again south after rounding Te Rerenga Wairua, and so down the western coasts of both islands past the Grey River bar this afternoon. Wrapping around this small country, may that wave bring tidings of sympathy this day for the families and community of Greymouth and beyond.

    Gisborne • Since Apr 2009 • 775 posts Report Reply

  • recordari, in reply to ChrisW,

    Can you post the photo somewhere ChrisW? Sounds like it deserves a wider audience.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • ChrisW,

    Recordari - I've emailed photo to RB with request, apologies for inability to do this myself ...

    Gisborne • Since Apr 2009 • 775 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Hosking, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    I am just saying we need to be cautious about judgment on every participant – good or bad – until we understand what caused this disaster.

    Tom: Personally I'm going with 'innocent until proved guilty'. Apart from anything else, for reasons of common decency.

    Craig: Cheers and thanks for the Larkin poem.

    Sacha: ditto your five-word sentence.

    South Roseneath • Since Nov 2006 • 798 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    Woody Guthrie: The Dying Miner

    It happened an hour ago,
    Way down in this tunnel of coal,
    Gas caught fire from somebody's lamp.
    And the miners are choking in smoke.

    Goodbye to Dickie and Honey,
    Goodbye to the wife that I love.
    Lot of these men not coming home,
    Tonight when the work whistle blows.

    Dear sisters and brothers goodbye,
    Dear mother and father goodbye.
    My fingers are weak and I cannot write,
    Goodbye Centralia, goodbye.

    It looks like the end for me,
    And all of my buddies I see.
    We're all writing letters to children we love,
    Please carry our word to our wives.

    We, found a little place in the air,
    Crawled and drug ourselves here.
    But the smoke is bad and the fumes coming in,
    And the gas is burning my eyes.

    Dear sisters and brothers goodbye,
    Dear mother and father goodbye.
    My fingers are weak and I cannot write,
    Goodbye Centralia, goodbye.

    Forgive me for the things I done wrong,
    I love you lots more than you know.
    When the night whistle blows and I don't come home,

    Do all that you can to help mom.

    I can hear the moans and groans,
    More than a hundred good men.
    Just work and fight and try to see,
    That this never happens again.

    Dear sisters and brothers goodbye,
    Dear mother and father goodbye.
    My fingers are weak and I cannot write,
    Goodbye Centralia, goodbye.

    My eyes are blinded with fumes,
    But it sounds like the men are all gone,
    'Cept Joe Valentini, Fred Gussler and George,
    Trapped down in this hell hole of fire.

    Please name our new baby Joe,
    So he'll grow up like big Joe.
    He'll work and he'll fight and he'll fix up the mines,
    So fire can't kill daddy no more.

    Dear sisters and brothers goodbye,
    Dear mother and father goodbye.
    My fingers are weak and I cannot write,
    Goodbye Centralia, goodbye.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • rodgerd,

    I hope that as well as looking after those left behind, the two men who survived get the care and support they will undoubtedly require.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 512 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to rodgerd,

    Ditto. That'll be some serious survivor guilt.
    I likewise hope that Peter Whittall will be given more support by Pike River than has been evident thus far. Including whatever counselling he will almost certainly need after his role in the response to this disaster.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3733 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to ,

    Beautiful blue. So even. It's like there's nothing there :P

    [ETA: That's cheating!]

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3733 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Here's ChrisW's photo.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17969 posts Report Reply

  • Jacqui Dunn,

    Can hardly see for tears as I read the lyrics to the Woodie Guthrie song. But can't see the photo, Russell. Why would that be? Ah, see it now, thanks.

    We are all connected.

    Deepest, darkest Avondale… • Since Jul 2010 • 585 posts Report Reply

  • Jacqui Dunn,

    That is a truly lovely photo.

    Deepest, darkest Avondale… • Since Jul 2010 • 585 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    Had the misfortune to hear Leighton on the radio in the car earlier (imported car without a band-expanded stereo. You know how it is), and he was wittering on about how Knowles’ use of first-person singular pronouns (I, me, etc) rather than collectives such as “we”, or even reference to advising experts, leant itself to the conclusion that he was the one making the decisions, hence the ire in his direction.
    Knowing what I do about the whole system, I first found it infuriating, especially since as IC it is Knowles’ decision, ultimately. Highly-informed and thoroughly-steered decision, but still made in his name. Then I got to wondering if that really is what’s got people so confused and angry about the role that the Police are playing. Anyone?

    Am I the only one waiting for the inevitable “They had four hours, they could’ve gone in” missiles to start flying? Never mind that it was two hours before anyone [ETA: not in the tunnels] knew there had been an explosion, and at least that long again before anything approximating an organised rescue attempt could’ve even been considered, I’ve realised that there are people out there (not just families, either) who will demand instant action if there’s the slightest window of opportunity.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3733 posts Report Reply

  • Jacqui Dunn,

    I found it interesting that the CEO was found to be more "trustworthy" (can't remember exactly how it was put, and apologize for misquoting anyone) than Knowles. My feeling when I watched was that Knowles was able (because of being in charge and therefore expected to keep all information utterly factual, and as unemotional as one would expect from a professional) to do just that, whereas Mr Whittall was probably already grieving, but still hoping for a miracle.

    Deepest, darkest Avondale… • Since Jul 2010 • 585 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Had the misfortune to hear Leighton on the radio in the car earlier (imported car without a band-expanded stereo. You know how it is)

    Smith appears to have somewhat more circumspect than the loathsome Michael Laws, who has apparently been prattling on all week about how if he was in charge he'd have people in there right now.

    I hate to think how he's justifying himself this morning. If there's anyone the country doesn't need to hear from today it's Michael Laws.

    Then I got to wondering if that really is what’s got people so confused and angry about the role that the Police are playing. Anyone?

    Yeah, maybe. I heard it as an appropriate assumption of leadership, but perhaps people didn't get that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17969 posts Report Reply

  • Dismal Soyanz, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    They've been out there (the instant fix brigade). They went silent after the second explosion but, yeah, I expect we will hear a lot more of it soon. I rather suspect that the shock jocks will use the Paul Henry defence ("But I'm only voicing what other people think") in making some fairly silly and not least premature statements on culpability. Taking refuge at PAS seems to be the sensible option.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2010 • 168 posts Report Reply

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