Cautionary tale…

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‘Woah! It’s lucky that the earthquake happened in the middle of the night!’

In civil defence terms, making sure that your city’s residents reliably spend half of every twenty four hours tucked up in their bottomless sleeping bags watching, ‘Cats that Make you LOL’ is a pretty good tactic.

It’s also a popular one. The first Christchurch earthquake in 2010 happened at around 5 in the morning, an occurrence that was treated as an almost zen joke;

‘If massive lumps of masonry fall onto the footpath but no-one is there to be squished under them, did they fall at all?’

Ah, yes, they fucking did actually. And if that quake had struck during daylight hours it would have likely killed scores of people. Just like the second one did, six months later. In terms of a drill, it doesn’t get better than this. The 2010 earthquake demonstrated some of the city’s most dangerous weak spots.

But for some reason nothing was done. Buildings were left open, life carried on as normal.  I’ve said before, at the time of the first Christchurch quake  it seemed as if the city was too invested in the idea that it didn’t get earthquakes to notice that it just had a fucking enormous earthquake.

Wellington, on the other hand, is carefully checking to make sure that, should/when another quake occurs, the city won’t dissolve on top of its residents. Top thinking right there.

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Opportunity Knocks

 Prominent ears and moustaches

A selection of headlines and bylines from the NZ mainstream media, regarding Gareth Morgan’s new political group, The Opportunities Party (with some artistic licence provided for clarity)….

Morgan Compares Self to Trump! (stuff.co.nz)

When asked who he most resembled, Donald Trump, Ghengis Kahn or that sidekick chicky from Zena with the fringe, Morgan compared himself to Trump, saying he was not really like him.

Gareth Morgan; good for ‘local colour’ (nzherald.co.nz)

John Key’s opinion of Morgan, who has consistently provided informed criticism of his National Government, is that he’s cashed up and good for a laugh. Don’t pay any attention to him.

Gareth Morgan Only Relevant to Cats! (thespinoff)

A searching treatise on Gareth Morgan’s new political party, completely comprised of cat-puns! It’s hilarious! Forget Morgan’s long-time, studied engagement in some of the most pressing issues of economic management and social justice, THE MAN DOESN’T LIKE CATS! Stand-by for Morgan’s position on leaf-blowers and microwaving vegetables with the Glad Wrap still on.

Morgan Too Arrogant For Parliament* (stuff.co.nz)

Gareth Morgan thinks he is Socrates. And he thinks he’s so clever he can solve all New Zealand’s problems single-handedly. He thinks politicians won’t solve New Zealand’s problems because they don’t want to ‘disturb the voters’.  Also, his son is rich, not him. Also, he’ll never make it. Also, he’s not very good at political spin, which, as a journalist dealing in political spin, clearly makes him an idiot.

*yes, really!

Sure, it’s easy to pass off all this negativity as normal New Zealand treatment of anyone who has,

A) given some thought to something,

and,

B) decided to do put some skin in the game.

Belting the shit out of their own is what kiwis do best.

However, I think there’s more to it than that. Anyone who is subject to such an immediate (clumsy and feeble) attempt at marginalisation by the media is obviously a very real threat to the status quo.

I know bugger all about Morgan (except his economic thinking, of which I know almost bugger all) but his appeal is evident from space. Morgan appears to be continuing an informed, intellectual interest in some pretty important social issues that the government keeps telling New Zealanders they don’t really care about.

Watch this space.

Interesting things about Wellington, New Zealand; No. 3; Mould.

Oh, hello there!

Oh, hello there!

From the air, Wellington looks like the work experience kid got left in charge – the entire city is laid over steep hills and valleys, with houses perched over vertiginous drops or buried amongst sunless thickets. As a result, some houses never see the sun at all, and many more are dug into steep clay hillsides. The back rooms of a house or apartment, usually bedrooms, can remain in perpetual darkness.

The natural light in these ‘dark rooms’ is limited to an eerie verdigris glow, filtered through a thin film of window-moss. The average inner city Wellington bedroom can feel somewhat incomplete without a complement of expanding MDF furniture and an axolotle. The results are predictable – a ceiling in the traditional ‘hot-coco’ style  (spreading patches of brown-black mould) and a wardrobe containing enough polar fleece to upholster a whale.

Polar fleece, incidentally, is New Zealand’s tartan. I am reliably informed that it cannot sustain mould, which I am inclined to believe – even mould won’t cling to something that smells like annealed vomit.

What I am overlooking, of course, is the hidden genius that is Wellington’s building stock – it’s mostly timber, which rolls and bounces with the frequent earthquakes. Having had the entire city wobble over a couple of times, the early settlers abandoned their grandiose colonial dreams of stone and masonry in favour of heartwood Rimu and other beautiful local species, which of course subsequent generations efficiently plastered over with woodgrain laminate. Thankfully, many buildings are now revealing their origins, including  timbers now commercially extinct, such as Kauri.