Hard News by Russell Brown


Brown bigots etc.

I wasn't surprised to see that old witch Titewhai Harawira insert herself into Brian Tamaki's crusade for religious bigotry at Waitangi yesterday, but it was disappointing to see two Ngapuhi Anglican ministers welcome him too.

Destiny is really just a boil on the bum of belief, but it is disturbing to see people who should know better joining Tamaki in his bid to force the coloniser's religion down everyone's throat.

As a non-believer, I have no particular interest in declaring the truth of anyone's god, but I know racism when I see it; or rather, hear it, as in the case of his flagship sermon, Vipers of Religion, the sermon where he attacked "immigrants ... who won't change their demon religions."

Of course, it would be wrong to suppose that most Christian churches share such views. The clergy of St Matthew's-in-the-the-city, as you might expect, came out in support of religious tolerance, as did, apparently, most Anglican and Catholic bishops.

Best part of the Herald's story today:

The drama of the protest, which overshadowed the dialogue meeting itself, was marred from Destiny's viewpoint only by a spelling mistake in the bishop's declaration, which stated: "We formerly recognise New Zealand as a Christian nation."


In a much less widely reported story, an impassioned letter by Sapna Samant about what she regarded as a fundamentalist Hindu muscle-flexing - at the expense of Indian Muslims - at a conference opened by Helen Clark in Wellington has been picked up by Michael Field. The story has since made it to India and Britain.

Moving on to secular belief systems, it was interesting to see the Herald lead yesterday with a story about the failure to renew part of the government's licensing deal with Microsoft:

The problem was over licensing deals said to be worth $100 million over 10 years.

Education Minister Steve Maharey said Microsoft insisted the Government pay a licence fee for all Apple Macintoshes in schools to use Microsoft Office.

But the programs were used on only half the machines.

"The ministry could not justify the extra $2.7 million being given to Microsoft for software that would not be used," said Mr Maharey.

He said Apple supplied a program similar to Microsoft Office, and NeoOffice, an open-source program developed by volunteers, was also available.

But Mr Le Sueur said NeoOffice was littered with problems, and its website warned that users could expect lots of bugs.

"That's not the sort of software we should be expecting kids in New Zealand to be using."

Oh bollocks it's not. I downloaded the open-source NeoOffice (a Mac port of OpenOffice) and, if a little slow on some tasks (it's Java-based), it works just fine. In some respects - notably, converting formatted documents to HTML - it comprehensively trounces Microsoft Office. It also supports the Office 2007 Word format better that Microsoft's own product for the Mac does.

It integrates with Mail and the Finder and its home page describes the suite as "fully functional and stable enough for everyday use". Works for me.

The government and Microsoft trumpet their schools licensing deal every year, but the problem is that it's the gift that keeps on taking. The money at issue this year was $2.7 million. I imagine that re-purposing that much money into the development of NeoOffice would would be very effective indeed.

Geoff Palmer take a similar view in his PC World blog, declaring "the dead hand of monopoly has fallen on our schools."

As Power Line, celebrates five long years of bleeding credibility, InstaPutz records some of the one-time Blog of the Year's greatest misses.

Faiza, the mother from A Family in Baghdad has continued to write her blog in exile. It's pretty depressing:

Here in Jordan, all the stories of the Iraqis are sad, ranging from the humiliation of expatriation, the tight budgets, and the lack of resources. Even the rich Iraqis yearn for Iraq, not satisfied to take on another substitute country…

Amman is filled with Iraqi restaurants, and Iraqi bakeries, whose customers are Iraqis…

The restaurants closed their doors in the hell there, and moved on here, and the Iraqis are happy with them, for they remind them of their heritage and their past days, when they used to go their in Baghdad, and other, safe, Iraqi cities…..

In Syria, meanwhile, young Iraqi women, refugees, are being forced into prostitution.

Oh, and in case you hadn't noticed, the Herald's unfortunate experiment with "premium content" officially ended on Monday. I presume that the "free trial" (funny, I don't recall it being announced at the time …) that commenced with the launch of the revamped website in December allowed APN Digital staff to demonstrate to Mr O'Reilly that there was more money in being free.

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