Category Archives: Opinion

Act of Faith

Once again New Zealand is at the leading edge of social reform with the passing today in Parliament of the Religion and Faith Disestablishment Act and the Religion and Faith Freedom of Association Act.
Essentially, with effect from 1st July, 2017, all organised religions or faiths will cease to exist in their current form and be handed over to private enterprise to administer. Assets held by religious organisations will be sequestered and made available, under tender, to the new private providers

 

The Bills received their third reading today and were speedily ratified by the Unified Parliament. A spokesperson for The Ministry of Social Development said that it was gratifying to finally clarify the distinction between State and Church. ‘These necessary reforms also reflect the Government’s will to allow market forces to shape the future for all of our estates. The Church, in that sense, is no different from Health, Transport, Prisons and Defence – all of which are now being effectively managed by private providers.’

All citizens must register as members of one of the sanctioned Faith and Worship Providers (FWPs).
FWPs must provide a prospectus setting out the full range of services and related costs. Government will strictly regulate how the FWPs operate and ensure that there is no prospect of cartels or restrictive trade practices having a negative impact on competition for worshippers. ‘We don’t want the Anglicans and the Catholics getting together to fix the price of absolution. That would never do’ said a spokesman from the Secular Audit Office (SAO)

It is expected that the advent of corporatised religion will foster a number of radical departures from previous practice and the Government will provide favourable tax concessions to FWPs that invest in approved architectural initiatives that reflect both religious and corporate philosophy.

To ensure that all Citizens’ rights of Freedom of Association are properly observed, units of the newly-formed Shaolin Security plc will be stationed at key Corporate Cathedrals, Mosques and Synagogues throughout the country. ‘We are determined to enforce these freedoms’, the Prime Minister said at a press conference today.

What is This?

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What it is, is positive proof that in the race between disaster and education – disaster is forging ahead. Trump is the first post-literate President of the United States. As Philip Roth notes, Trump is ‘wielding a vocabulary of seventy-seven words that is better described as Jerkish than English’
Now that’s pretty funny. And the media, the internet, is awash with scathing, humorous critiques of the new President and his entourage. But as we all laugh at these ad hominem attacks and reassure ourselves that we haven’t replaced thinking with laughing – have we paused to consider what it is we’re laughing at and whether we’ve stopped thinking while we laugh?
Before the Election, the television-viewing public was already consuming Trump; Waiting for his admonishment; Gratified by his judgement. Legitimised by his ‘You’re fired!‘ volleyed at an unfortunate contestant. There’s really no difference between that and  firing Boeing or a Security Advisor is there?  No more than there is telling Putin that he likes him and his product – and will back it.
So while we figure out whether the medium is still the message and whether or not we can somehow restore our attention spans  to the degree necessary to withstand the media deluge – we’ll also need  to re-establish our desire to have that same media at the forefront of the eternal struggle for decency and compassion. It’s either that or  the noxious hybrid of an Orwellian prison hosting an insane vaudeville. And that’s no laughing matter.

In Praise of Dishonesty

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I’m not painfully honest. I’m serenely dishonest. I have to be – there’s a lot riding on it.
Imagine what might happen if I told you the truth. Before I examine that ludicrous proposition – do you even know what the truth is? And before I examine that ludicrous proposition – do you even know what a lie is? An untruth; a mendacity; a porky; a fib; a load of cobblers. Or shades thereof? Obfuscation; dissembling; weasel words; deception; disinformation.
You see? Dishonesty comes in many guises. Dishonesty has evolved in a way Darwin would have understood. If you’re an advanced thinker, like me, you’ll understand that language is cognitive – a survival tool. Shielding others from harmful facts, for example, has become an obligation that may only be discharged by the most noble and wise amongst us. We’re willing, even content, to assume the burden of disapproval and rejection in order to ensure that you – yes, I mean you – are able to lay your head on the pillow at night and pull the wool over your own eyes. Suspecting everything but knowing nothing. Confident that your ignorance, your very unknowingness, will provide the fuel to light not just otherwise meaningless lives but entire industries. Every train-home discussion, every pub argument, every social media thread, every public service meeting has a symbiotic relationship with the radio, with the television, with the press, with the government, with the public relations spinners, with the marketing Buddhas, with the advertising creatives, with the Internet. And therefore with Bloggers like me. Can you trust me? Trust what I say? What I’m saying now? Is it true?
Which brings me back to where I started. What is the truth? Is it what you see, what you hear, what you smell –  when you walk into a room? What about the others that walked in with you? They’ll all have a different agenda. They will all be liars. Maybe just mistaken. But that’s pretty much the same thing, isn’t it? And what if each one of them believes that their experience was the truth? And that your experience – and all the others – was untrue. A lie. What then?
Don’t worry. I can answer that.
The aggregate of all those untruthful, mistaken ideas, opinions, points of view far outweighs the one objective truth that can, by definition, exist only in the abstract. But there is a mutual dependency which is an immutable law of nature. We need the myriad lies in order to identify that singular truth. Entire economies, whole nations, established belief systems – our continued existence as a species – is dependant upon our ability, individually and severally, to lie at every opportunity. To strive to raise the levels of dishonesty in every facet of our lives. Not only lying to others but to ourselves. Even to our pets. The more successful we become at that, the more we will cherish that elusive, single truth. Not just the idea of the truth but the reality of the idea of the truth.

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Ali The Killer

He came dancing across the canvas
With his poems and his puns
Fighting for the new world
And a place to share the sun

On the floor lay the Draft Board
With their orders and their laws
By himself he often wondered
About their secret world

And his followers stood round him
Some sat at his knee
He saw their many colours
More than the Gods could see

And the ideas all were beautiful
And the principles were strong
His freedom would be sacrifice
So others could go on

So hate might be a legend
And war be never known
That peoples work together
And together lift the stone

The fight he took to many lands
Some died along the way
He built up with his gloved hands
What can’t be built today

But I hope he’ll be remembered
For what he did that day
When he killed the men who wanted
To send him on his way

He came dancing across the canvas
Ali, Ali
What a killer

Splat

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mean Mistreater – Blues For John

You’re a mean mistreater Johnny
Don’t got no place to live
You’re a wife beater Johnny
My wife beat so bad
She ain’t got no more to give

You’re a blot on the landscape
See your city from the Moon
A political date rape
My people beat so bad
They come looking for you soon

You wear a black hat John boy
You the villain of the piece
You use a black jack John boy
You need my life so bad
I’d like to give you peace

You just lying where you stand man
The truth ain’t got no use
Count the fingers on my hand man
When you shake it so bad
My only change is loose

You’re a mean mistreater Johnny
Nothing deader than your eyes
But you’re on the meter Johnny
It’s really not so bad
If nothing lives then nothing dies

Splat

 

 

 

Paul Henry and the Flag

When I was a young man, I was, contrary to what you may think, extraordinarily shy. I had enormous difficulty talking to girls my age and grew increasingly frustrated as my raging sexual curiosity was thwarted by an almost pathological fear of meeting a girl, let alone being intimate with her.

I’m sure that you will be aware of the measures that men take in such circumstances and I was no exception. But you need not spend too long imagining my suffering and its remedies. Instead, let’s move on to a happier circumstance and a conversation over coffee with an older friend who was concerned by my often melancholic, ‘somewhat florid’ (as he put it) expression.

His gentle, probing enquiries drew from me a relieving torrent of a confession. I was no catholic but instantly he had become my father confessor and after a little deliberation he suggested how my salvation may be best achieved. He told me about a part of town where certain establishments, or their employees at least, offered socially incompetent but sexually competent ‘punters’ like me, gratification. At a cost.

Again, I won’t trouble you with the details of the empirical process that ensued, but I agreed terms with a particular young woman  and we subsequently met 3 times a week for our mutual benefit; mine physical, hers financial.

Now this may all seem very cold-hearted and clinical to you but the fact is that over the course of the following months, the young woman and I, inevitably, got to know each other a little – even sharing opinions and non-physical intimacies from time to time. We became friendly you might say. Then one evening, she turned up sporting a  completely new hair-do; punky I guess. Short, spiky and imperial purple. And she asked me what I thought about it.

Well, I’m a traditionalist and I don’t care much for change of any sort. Especially not radical change. So I told her; ‘Look love, I don’t like it at all. Doesn’t get my vote. But your hair isn’t really the bit that interests me. I’m not here for your hair, am I ? I’m here for the sex and so long as that doesn’t change, we’ll be fine. But I do hate your hair.’

Well you would, wouldn’t you?

Splat

And Generation X Shall Inherit The Earth

Dateline January 2036 –  New York

So how does it feel now that you’re in your 60s or 70s to finally have thrown off the yoke of the Baby Boomers? Now that they’re all gone. Or mostly.
It started 20 years ago with Bowie. And since then, Spielberg, Scorsese, McCartney, Dylan, Queen Elizabeth and King Charles, (Although I acknowledge the cruel irony of Chazza  surviving  only until the day after his coronation. Still, Wills makes a fine representative of modern monarchy as he cycles each morning, clad in blue overalls, to his job at the Recycling Plant.) the Clintons, Putin, Letterman, Clapton, Cameron and all of the Murdochs in that attack on Chequers in 2020, (That brought about Corbynism of course, the dissolution of the Upper House and the abandonment of hereditary titles and the Honours List. That is why, dear readers, I must now address you as plain, humble Wilson Parking, my knighthood having been rescinded.) Mick Jagger, Rod Stewart, Oprah Winfrey, Stephen Fry, Germaine Greer, Meryl bloody Streep, Bob Geldof and, finally to much relief and global celebration, Bono.
So they’re all, more or less, gone. Keith Richards remains in suspended animation at the Brian Cox Centre for Immunology Research in Weybridge while scientists investigate the strand of alien DNA that was found after a routine examination following yet another accident involving Keef and a palm tree. (More irony. To think that Keef may be the source to the unravelling of that most impenetrable of mysteries; the meaning of life.) There’s a few sports commentators such as Ian Botham, Vince McMahon and, in New Zealand, Keith Quinn who are still hanging on. But mostly they’re gone.
I’m still here of course. Just. As I’ve got older, I have to admit to turning gradually into my opposite. Corbynism was not for me. So I came Stateside. Individuality is still respected and following President Trump’s assassination at an NRA rally in 2018, wealth and privilege are virtues that inform every aspect of life here. Particularly as the NRA is now, by far, the largest political party and Barack Obama is but a distant memory.
That’s our legacy you Gen X questers. You can have it. And when those that remain finally meet the conqueror worm, you can explain it all to Generation Y. Good luck with that.

Wilson Parking

Splat