After attending the 'Public Sector blogger' discussion at the National Archives last week I thought I'd better give you all a run down of what was said. Especially in relation to the important question: "that suppression order, and writing about stuff when you aren't technically supposed to have an opinion". Problematically, I wanted to also try to finally give you the run-down on where I reckon all the best noodles are.
A conundrum it seems. Let me answer this problem by just stating the obvious. Eat more fowl. You know the little bastards are asking for it. With their beady little eyes and freakish-skinned feet...
For those of you who aren't here for the noodle talk, just skip past the blockquote.
One good place is HK Cafe on Cambridge Terrace. The décor is conversely hip or tacky depending on which way you're facing in the restaurant, but the BBQ duck on rice is a great deal at $9.50. And seriously tasty. They also do a very reasonably priced dumpling soup that should not be overlooked. Although, I discovered last night that the wonton noodle soup is the exorbitant price of $10.50! All in all though it's the most authentic restaurant of its type I've encountered in Wellington.
The next, and little-known, place is Tans BBQ. With no street frontage it's not easy to find, and hides in behind the Fish N' Chip place next to the A-Mart over the road from New World. To be honest? The BBQ Duck soup ($8.50) is served simply and in foam bowls, but the duck far surpasses HK Cafe. There are too many noodles in there, and the décor is pretty much "Alley-chic", but who the hell cares?
For simple wonton noodle soups I'd recommend two separate places. Upstairs at whatsamathingo in Manners Mall, and Basin Noodles on Adelaide Rd. The former involves trying not to look like you've been into the porno stores when you go to leave the building, but they do a great lunch. What I'd consider 'real' egg noodles, decent amounts of BBQ pork, and a great chicken broth. The latter has the exact same dish, but far, far better. For the glorious price of $6.5 you get to share a table with a stranger in a slightly dingy premises and indulge in probably the best noodles in town. I've eaten there a number of times, and you're guaranteed to get a huge bowl of noodles topped with shrimp, BBQ pork, home-made wontons, the works. But! In an extra bonus you also (on occasion, it's a bit erratic) get some kind of savoury chilli sauce and a type of vinegar to garnish the dish. Fantastic.
Ok. Now for serious business. The public sector bloggers talk I attended last Thursday was interesting. It was myself, Tom from WellUrban, Hayden from Grabthars Hammer, and Geoff of Thorndon Bubble, and we ranged across a number of subjects.
I had kind of wanted to expand the issue of free speech and the obligation to adhere to the Public Service Code of Conduct, but we never really got round to it. As it turns out I pretty much said everything I needed to say back in November of last year, and I still concur with many of the points I made in that post. And that includes the effective suppression of a democratic voice the Code of Conduct creates.
The Nichols case featured fairly heavily in discussion though, which is hardly surprising considering the timing. I'm drawing a long bow, but in a way the Code of Conduct acts like a suppression order because it ensures that particular ideas and knowledge are not discussed openly in the public sphere. Sure people will discuss their gripes and ideas between friends, but airing these ideas in public is not advisable.
By way of example, a few weeks ago I learned the details of the emails that are/were being circulated about the Nichols case, but did not air them here. You can guarantee that it would have pushed my readership through the roof, as Farrar is doing (and as is common to many bloggers), but do I really need that much attention?
The simple fact of the matter is that, despite the suppression order, cops are just not the sort of people you want to fuck with. My most recent official interactions with police have been on the whole very positive, but growing up in the parochial atmosphere of Mount Maunganui in the 70s and 80s the very last people you involved in your life were the local cops. Two phrases spring to mind, when thinking about the local constabulary in the old days of the tit on the head, "thugs", and "god-complex".
So I won't say anything about the allegations of rape Nichols levelled, and the matter has been settled by the Court. What did interest me, and what was not discussed at the blogger discussion at the Archives, is the morality of the defendants. It was publicised that the jury were asked not to consider the question of the immorality of the defendant's behaviour, and Russell mentioned this the other day.
What in the hell were they thinking? There's a good chance that they were unaware of what they were doing, being themselves "young, dumb and full of [expletive]" as the saying goes, but doesn't their behaviour sounds a lot like grooming? I'm no shrinking violet myself, but what these guys were up to is not the sort of behaviour I'd encourage any son of mine to engage in.
Whether they choose to exercise it or not, cops possess extraordinary levels of power compared to the average bloke. A guy I know despises fireman because they use the hero image to pull chicks (when in fact they spend most of their time growing moustaches), and cops have long had the same kind of aura. Choosing to use that power to manipulate what was effectively a child into extraordinary sexual behaviour is almost despicable.
I know that at the age of 17 Nichols was legally an adult, and should have had more ability to control the situations she found herself in, but what we the public don't seem to have been privy to are the finer details of the defendant's behaviour surrounding their direct interaction with Nichols. Was there any systematic abuse of their role as police to gain access to other women for example? Did any interaction that could have amounted to grooming of Nichols occur, and was it inadmissible?
As I say, all these details are probably buried in the case somewhere, and I have no access to them. Hopefully someone else out there has the info, and the ability to shed greater light on this case so that everyone can learn from the wreckage of these people's lives. I know I've already learned the wisdom of the phrase, "don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys".
PS And speaking of cowboys, can anyone tell me how seriously to take this article? Because it scares the piss out of me. Rumours of a plan to use nukes against Iran? WTF?