Posts by Matthew Littlewood

  • Hard News: #GE2015: Proper Mad,

    While it's probably no surprise that The Guardian has endorsed the Labour Party, it's worthwhile pointing out that it's a very guarded endorsement:

    In each area, Labour could go further and be bolder. But the contrast between them and the Conservatives is sharp. While Labour would repeal the bedroom tax, the Tories are set on those £12bn of cuts to social security, cuts that will have a concrete and painful impact on real lives. Even if they don’t affect you, they will affect your disabled neighbour, reliant on a vital service that suddenly gets slashed, or the woman down the street, already working an exhausting double shift and still not able to feed her children without the help of benefits that are about to be squeezed yet further. For those people, and for many others, a Labour government can make a very big difference.

    This newspaper has never been a cheerleader for the Labour party. We are not now. But our view is clear. Labour provides the best hope for starting to tackle the turbulent issues facing us. On 7 May, as this country makes a profound decision about its future, we hope Britain turns to Labour.

    I'll be following the online coverage of this. The result could turn out to be, as you say, proper mad. The real question is whether this will fan the flames for a proper referendum on PR, as opposed to the utterly botched AV shambles that the LibDems got from the Conservatives last time.

    Today, Tomorrow, Timaru • Since Jan 2007 • 445 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Villainy and engagement, in reply to Russell Brown,

    But in series one, Ali Campbell was unenthralling as a judge. It turned out he had drinking and heath issues and wasn't that happy

    Ali Campbell was on NZ's Got Talent, it was Daniel Beddingfield who filled in the X-Factor role. He seemed to want to use the role to revitalise his decade-stagnant career. Another example of them gambling on a one-hit wonder.

    Today, Tomorrow, Timaru • Since Jan 2007 • 445 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: We can do better than this, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I wouldn’t act that way, says Bill English. I actually believe him.

    Incidentally, Grant McDougall was just at a Dunedin North “meet the candidates” event, and Michael Woodhouse MP told the audience he “did not condone” civil servants’ information being leaked.

    Also, this morning’s Morning Report item, where gallery journalists ask Prime Minister John Key repeatedly how Collins “has been held responsible” for her actions and not get anything in the way of a concrete answer, is oddly compelling. Armando (In the Thick of It) Iannucci could have scripted it.

    Today, Tomorrow, Timaru • Since Jan 2007 • 445 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Dirty Politics, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Farrar’s post, amazingly completely leaves out the fact that the National MP (and darling of the Lusk-Slater set) was burgled *last year*.

    See also Farrar’s Sometimes people say jerky things in emails to explain some of the more noxious material of the conversations coming out.

    To be fair, I’d also be pretty pissed off too if someone leaked my commercial documents. But he clearly wasn’t hacked.

    Also, there's no way you can defend Slater's comments about ChCh's earthquake victims, private conversations or not.

    Today, Tomorrow, Timaru • Since Jan 2007 • 445 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Dirty Politics, in reply to Steve Parks,

    My faith in journalism in NZ in general will be restored if one or more mainstream journalists takes up the points you’re referring to, Matthew. Won’t hold my breath, tho’.

    David Fisher has already picked up on the Katherine Rich/Carrick Graham angle, as did this interesting feature about Slater by Fairfax's Kate Shuttleworth. And the young gallery members' grilling of Key during his 20 minute stand-up was robust stuff. Andrea Vance, who I rate as a phenomenally good journalist (almost a bit jealous at her talent!), has picked up on the fact that Jason Ede still has parliamentary access. Considering the book was only released a few days ago, there's a lot of material being explored by the journalists. It's actually quite heartening.

    Today, Tomorrow, Timaru • Since Jan 2007 • 445 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Dirty Politics, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    [Seriously, why not just go read the book? It’s quite short! Hager’s pretty good at telling a story. It’s quite an easy read.]

    Yep. It’s only 150 pages (not includes the mutlitude of footnotes and cross-references). Compared to the Hollow Men, the tone is a lot more urgent and even gobsmacked, but Hager is, on all occasions, very careful not to make direct links when he doesn’t have the information (unlike some of those who have made comments about the book this far). If the Hollow Men was principally about the education (and ultimate corruption) of a political novice, then Dirty Politics is about a group of individuals desperately trying to get into the system and trying to poision it for their own means. In fact, the chapter that was most surprising (and disturbing) for me isn’t so much the alleged shenanigans of Slater, Lusk et al- it’s awful, but you wouldn’t expect anything less of them.

    What really galls me is the way Carrick Graham (and possibly even Katherine Rich) tried to use Slater et al as proxies to smear public health advocates. It’s horrid. And certainly worthy of wider investigation. (I guess it’s similar to the chapter in the Hollow Men about how various proxies tired to launder political campaign advertisements through the racing industry)

    Dirty Politics packs a lot of detail in its 150 pages. It’s kinda breathless at times. The Hollow Men was more, shall we say, accumulative in its narrative. But it’s a rare investigative journalist who can write as well as they investigate, and Hager is one of those.

    Today, Tomorrow, Timaru • Since Jan 2007 • 445 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Dirty Politics, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Like Danyl, I think the book has had a significant impact on me. I’ve been on civil terms with some people in the wider circle. I’m not sure I have it in me to do that any more. Fuck them.

    After reading the book, I really wonder who was really responsible for Whaleoil's series of repugnant posts on Tania Billingsley. It seems consistent with the stuff he was constantly being fed and passing off as his own.

    It's pretty bloody appalling, really.

    Today, Tomorrow, Timaru • Since Jan 2007 • 445 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Friday Music: Grey Fucking Area, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    When I was young I attended a respectable middle class protest where the chant was ‘Hey hey, LBJ, how many kids have you killed today?’. We hoped he heard as he drove past.

    Vietnam was an utter tragedy on so many levels, and it also casts a massive shadow over the fact that LBJ was responsible for the most expansive social liberal legislative project in US history. LBJ was a sonofabitch, and flawed as hell, but his civil rights legacy stands. He risked a hell of a lot to push it through. But for Vietnam, he would be feted ever higher than FDR. Which is kinda like "Other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?" but still...

    Seeing as RB has expressed eloquently my own feelings about the Kim Dotcom hoo-ha, I will say that it's great Shihad's latest record will be one of their "hard" ones (they seem to alternate between more songwritery-based records, and tougher rock ones). Killjoy is still my favourite Shihad record, and it's still the one that punches the hardest every time I've seen them live. "Deb's Night Out" remains Toogood's most oddly moving song while "You Again" is a big, concrete-slab of a number in a live setting.

    Today, Tomorrow, Timaru • Since Jan 2007 • 445 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Jim's Festival, in reply to Geoff Lealand,

    I guess that Boyhood is going into general release as it is not in the just-released Hamilton programme. Saw it in London 1o days ago and it is more than excellent. Nevertheless, I think it could have been better titled ‘Childhood’ as it is as much about girlhood.

    The screening at the Civic was sold out. Quite an experience.

    I think “Life Itself” would have been an appropriate title, if Roger Ebert hadn’t already used it for his memoirs.

    It’s as much about the family as it is about the boy. Patricia Arquette’s character, and the choices she makes (good, bad and otherwise) are central to the film, as is the development of Ethan Hawke’s character from callow “absent” father to a fully-fledged mature “adult”.

    The film’s hook is what initially draws the viewer- and indeed it’s fascinating watching people literally age slowly before your eyes- but if anything, the film isn’t too different in approach from Linklater’s other work. Films like Slacker, Dazed & Confused, the “Before Trilogy”, Waking Life and yes, even School of Rock (to a degree)- they’re all concerned with how people talk and how they just take stuff in. He’s not one to overstate things, and I guess the takeaway from Boyhood is that life truly does happen while you’re making other plans. It’s a wonderfully human film. He clearly loves and knows people.

    I also love the accidental details which show what’s changed- like Ethan Hawke’s rants about US politics, or just the way the characters move through various forms of technology to express themselves. It’s also a love letter to Austin, TX. Some of the shots of the landscape were beautiful. It really made me want to visit and explore it.

    I’ve seen a number of great films at this festival, which I might write about later- We Are the Best, The Armstrong Lie, Frank, Leviathan, Maps to the Stars, Kumiko: The Treasure Hunter and the Reunion)– and only one outright stinker (the infuriatingly soulless It Follows, which is too concerned with being a project than an actual horror film). But Boyhood is on another level. Linklater is one of cinema’s great conversationalists.

    Today, Tomorrow, Timaru • Since Jan 2007 • 445 posts Report Reply

  • Field Theory: World Cup of Evil, in reply to George Darroch,

    this article from FiveThirtyEight

    Some of the 538 stuff (such as the article linked above) on the FIFA WC is interesting and illuminating, but a lot of it is either maddening or unintentionally hilarious. All the number-crunching in the world can't hide the fact that the writers often don't get the point of football (or, one could argue, sport in general), particularly the drama and sheer randomness of it. Still, the award for the most pointlessly anorack piece of American writing on the FIFA WC goes to this this Grantland column on how the seedings for the WC should be "fixed", which totally ignores the fact that the FIFA WC has never really been about finding the best team in the world, but the best team in the tournament. Their obsession for the "right" results would also ignore the opportunity for upsets- of which there have been many.

    I thought the Quarterfinals lacked the excitement and tension of the pool phases and the round of 16, and there is a sense that the mania of the early parts of the World Cup is now subsiding as sides "play to win". But this has been the best WC in ages, perhaps decades, in terms of the strength of the competition and football on display.

    It will be a real shame if such an ugly and negative Brazil side win this tournament (who have actually played the least entertaining football of the eight sides remaining), and FIFA are still the most insanely corrupt and mafia-like sporting organisation on earth (they make the BCCI look like models of probity), but I've really enjoyed the football this time around. The All Whites dogged efforts (and Spain's occasional brilliance) aside, I couldn't say the same about 2010.

    Today, Tomorrow, Timaru • Since Jan 2007 • 445 posts Report Reply

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