Posts by Malcolm

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  • Stories: Life in Books,

    You know, I thought for a while it would be great if we could get a summary of this thread as a kind of geek / intellectual reading list.

    But then I found my secret life being steadily exposed by other people's reading choices. Heinlein, The Stainless Steel Rat, The Illumuninatas Trilogy, Robert Graves, Joe Haldeman, Kurt Vonnegut, Ursule Le Guien, Tolkien, Ian (M) Banks, and the rest.

    How long have you lot been spying on me?

    Since Apr 2007 • 66 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Things we needed to hear,

    I was in Biko squad at Eden park. I remember that at the assembly point, people were invited to join the three 'action' squads, but warned they would be involved in confrontation.

    The atmosphere was surreal, in retrospect. The approaches to Eden park were fortified with big steel rubbish bins. It wasn't just shields and crash helmets. People had scrounged up all sorts of things - I some people in lifejackets. One in kendo gear.

    I think by then a lot of people had become politicized. It wasn't just about giving comfort to an oppressive regime. It was about the willingness of cops to beat up New Zealanders, and of many rugby heads to revel in the fact they were shafting their fellow citizens. Even Colins Meads said he would like to whack a protestor. Good ole pine tree. Fasscinating to see interesting how quickly a population can become polarized. It reminds me of the 'Reds' and 'Greens' in the Hippodrome at Constatinople. Or the tribalism on some NZ blogs!

    I think the Springbok tour was the point at which that NZ lost it's holier than thou sense of moral superiority. All of a sudden, we weren't much different from anybody else. The film 'Sleeping Dogs' had, shockingly, imagined a future where riot police beat up protestors on the streets of New Zealand. Then a few years later, it actually happened. It wasn't a loss of innocence so much as a loss of ignorance, and smugness. And I think it primed people to embrace the social and economic explosion of the mid-eighties.

    Since Apr 2007 • 66 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: British style,

    3410: Your argument lacks a vital ingredient: Muslim power over non-muslims.

    Since Apr 2007 • 66 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Things we needed to hear,

    "did you know he also has a political polling company ... can you imagine how push polling they are? "

    Riddley, you may not realise it, but this comment impugns DPF's professional ethics. He is a member of the Market Research Society of New Zealand, which forbids such practices. Bear in mind he seems to get his livelihood from market research.

    Can I respectfully suggest that you withdraw your comment?

    Since Apr 2007 • 66 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Things we needed to hear,

    The interesting thing is that this stuff is all from the era of a famous Auckland detective, now deceased. This was a guy who had a reputation of beating confessions out of people. The brass turned a blind eye. Mr Asia was on the front page of the Herald with a bloodied face, alleging police brutality. Nothing happened. Later somebody was convicted of murder, partly on the basis of having one of the victims posessions. Later, the victim's body was found, with the possession in question still on it.

    This is why we need civil liberties for criminals. If we let cops do what they want with crims, pretty soon some of them will do what they want with the rest of us. Or at least those of us who are too vulnerable to sustain a complaint.

    Since Apr 2007 • 66 posts Report Reply

  • Stories: Life in Books,

    Well, I'll put in a plug for the ancient Roman authors: Livy, Suetonius, Caesar, Appian, and the like. They are extraordinary stylists, recorders of incredible human dramas and remarkable myths, while being masterful apologists and propoagandists.

    Read Livy, and see how he attributes the first plebian consulship to the jealously between two sisters. Read Suetonious, who has to be the most salacious gossip ever born, willing to repeat any smear, no matter how unbelievable, as long as it's juicy. Try Caesar, who manages to dress up a major defeat strategic defeat against the Germans as a victory, and pass off their subsequent punitive expediation against the Romans as all just a horrible mistake.

    And as for Appian! My god, the story of the proscriptions of the second Triumverate is one of the most astonishing pieces of western literature. He tells the most extraordinary *real* tales of murder and survival, on a whim, with the betryal or loyalty of loved ones, or on the most unlikely chances. Here are a few stories with an escape. The failures and deaths are too tragic to repeat.

    "Apuelius and Arruntius pretended to be centurions and equipped their slaves as soldiers. First they burst through the gates like centurions in pursuit of other people. Then ... they separated, releasing chained slaves and collecting runaways, untile the strength of each man's group was sufficient to ... resemble an army. They proceeded towards the coast, where they encamped on either side of a ridge, observing each other with great apprenhension ... each thought the other was a military force sent against themselves, and they closed and fought, until eventually they realised the truth and threw aside their weapons. "

    "Another man was hidden in a tomb by a freedman, but could not endure the spookiness of the place and was moved to a miserable lodging. When a soldier cam to share the lodging , his fear was again too much for him. He abaondoned his cowardice .. had his head shaven, and conducted a school in Rome itself until the amnesty."

    "Appius was resting in a farmhouse, and when the soldiers burst in a slave put on Appius' clothers, ly down in bed as though he were the master, and voluntarily died in place of his master, who stood by like a slave attendant".

    "Lentulus was unhappy that his wife ... wanted to share his exile ... [and] run the same risks as himself. So he slipped away secretly to Sicily where he was accepted as a military commander by Pompeius. She imitated him and escaped with two slaves ... travelled rough and cheaply, until... she reached Messana ... She discovered the commanding officers' tent, where she found Lentulus not like a senior officer, but unkempt, on a little pallet-bed, and existing in a wretched way because of his longing for his wife."

    Since Apr 2007 • 66 posts Report Reply

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