NEW ZEALAND’S BEST NEWS MAGAZINE
JESUS: THE FLAWED CASE ‘The Investigator’ Bryan Bruce’s book
The Rena Diary of a cleanup, and lessons learned
The NZ mum whose children were kidnapped in London in 1981, and finally found this year
Dec 2011/Jan 2012, $8.60
CURRENT AFFAIRS, TOYS, CARS, FRANKLY-EXPRESSED OPINIONS & MORE
HIS/contents Dec 11/Jan 12 Issue 129 www.investigatedaily.com
12 THE RENA LESSON Eight weeks ago we’d given up on a Bay of Plenty summer. Now the beaches are open again. Lessons from the Rena spill.
22 JESUS VS BRYAN
The Investigator Bryan Bruce won an award this month for Jesus: The Cold Case. But did he deserve it? Ian Wishart looks at where Bruce got it wrong.
26 ROLLING STONES Mick and the boys are re-releasing their biggest-selling album, 1978’s Some Girls, and preparing for the band’s 50th. Yeah, you heard right.
HERS THE HUNT
It’s the biggest NZ child abduction story that Kiwis were never told about. An extract from the gripping new book, The Hunt.
04 /EDITOR Speaks for itself, really 06 /COMMUNIQUES Your say 08 /EYES RIGHT Richard Prosser 10 /STEYNPOST Mark Steyn
34 /INVEST Peter Hensley on money 42 /MUSIC Bob Seger interview
36 The latest toys 37 The Mall 38 Tech: Amazon’s Kindle Fire 40 Online with Chillisoft
44 /BOOKCASE Michael Morrissey’s ssummer picks 46 /CONSIDER THIS Amy Brooke 48 /THE QUESTION Matt Flannagan
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John Key has proven through a series of natural and human-caused disasters that he has the common touch, the inner sense of how to lead his people through
And the winner is…
t’s been a month of ‘smack the forehead, duh!’ moments of absolute frustration. And not just for John Key. Sure, the Prime Minister fell apart in the latter stages of the election campaign, but personally I blame his advisors rather than Key himself. Having worked at a Cabinet level, I know exactly the kind of strategy sessions and planning meetings that political spin-doctors have. National’s weakness has always been that they are less about standing ‘for’ things than they are about ‘managing’ things. The Nats don’t have the inner mongrel that Helen Clark had. They don’t go into elections as leaders, but as managers. When the world is going to hell in a handcart, bold leadership is needed. John Key has proven through a series of natural and human-caused disasters that he has the common touch, the inner sense of how to lead his people through. However, as the election drew closer Key lost his nerve, or rather, his team stole it. A lack of confidence appeared. Take the tea-cups incident. Instead of hiding behind the skirts of Plod, and allowing speculation and innuendo to run rife, if I had been advising Key I would have told him to front-foot the problem. “Fair cop, you heard me bagging the Act leadership. I’ll own that. I like Don Brash but I don’t think he’s the person to lead Act for the next three years. It’s academic. It’s a dispute among colleagues. We need Act to win Epsom and we’ll live with the result. But if you want uncertainty, who in this room seriously believes Phil Goff will be Labour
4 HISMAGAZINE.TV Dec 2011/Jan 2012
leader in six months, regardless of whether he wins the election? “The real uncertainty is that Labour MPs are plotting to overthrow Phil whatever the result, meaning if voters elect Labour they don’t actually know who they are ultimately voting in as Prime Minister. They don’t know what sort of deal will be done with the Greens. “You want scary? That’s scary. Voters don’t know who they are really going to get if they vote Labour.” And it’s the truth. If Key had come out on Day One and said that, and held to it, the teacups saga would have been over within hours. Phil Goff’s hold on the Labour leadership is over. By the time the election rolled around he was little more than Labour’s hood ornament, not so much ‘Jaguar’ as household moggy. The big grey area around Labour is whether the Left or the Right will come out dominant in the bloodletting that follows, and we have no way of knowing. The media, if they’d been doing their jobs correctly, should have been highlighting this elephant in the room regarding Labour, but they never did. They allowed Labour to present Goff as a future prime minister, knowing full well he’d be rolled fairly rapidly in favour of an unknown. Key needs to spend less time listening to National’s cautious and timid advisory team, and more time finding his inner gut instinct and listening to it.
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Volume 10, Issue 129, ISSN 1175-1290 [Online] Chief Executive Officer Heidi Wishart Group Managing Editor Ian Wishart NZ EDITION Advertising Josephine Martin 09 373-3676 email@example.com Contributing Writers: Hal Colebatch, Amy Brooke, Chris Forster, Peter Hensley, Mark Steyn, Chris Philpott, Michael Morrissey, Miranda Devine, Richard Prosser, Claire Morrow, James Morrow, Len Restall, Laura Wilson, and the worldwide resources of MCTribune Group, UPI and Newscom Art Direction Heidi Wishart Design & Layout Bozidar Jokanovic Tel: +64 9 373 3676 Fax: +64 9 373 3667 Investigate Magazine, PO Box 188, Kaukapakapa, Auckland 0843, NEW ZEALAND AUSTRALIAN EDITION Editor Ian Wishart Advertising firstname.lastname@example.org Tel/Fax: 1-800 123 983 SUBSCRIPTIONS Online: www.investigatemagazine.com By Phone: Australia 1-800 123 983 NZ 09 373 3676 By Post: To the PO Box NZ Edition: $85; AU Edition: A$96 Email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com All content in this magazine is copyright, and may not be reproduced in any form without the written permission of the publisher. The opinions of advertisers or contributors are not necessarily those of the magazine, and no liability is accepted. We take no responsibility for unsolicited material sent to us. Please enclose a stamped, SAE envelope. Inquiries in the first instance should be made via email or fax. Investigate magazine Australasia is published by HATM Magazines Ltd
A SATISFIED CUSTOMER Well, do you know what? Sitting here in Invercargill in front of this collection of plastic, wires, metal I can only marvel at what God has allowed man to manufacture. I am just dumbstruck at the amazing technology that allows me to read online the back issues of magazines that I read during the year. That was the first thought I had. Second was the vision of the people involved in producing this service – your team. It will have taken the efforts of many to be able to produce online newpapers – hard work, commitment – but to be able to read this sort of thing by just pushing buttons as I sit in my kitchen well – ok I pay for broadband and all that – AWESOME. Have a good day. Ingrid Lindsay, Invercargill
EDITOR RESPONDS Thanks Ingrid. For those who don’t already know, our new website, www.investigatedaily.com, has a ‘Subscriber only area’ where subscribers can access full archives of current and back issues of the magazine online, that look identical to the print editions. If you are an existing subscriber on our database, the service is free. Simply email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and contact information, and we will email the password back to you. BREAKING SILENCE My brother gave me his copy of your book Breaking Silence to read. I approached it reluctantly. Whenever the case came up on TV I would not watch or listen to most of it. I did not want to be endlessly reminded
about two babies being bashed, as TV made out. Fortunately your book does not detail this and it was a relief to find that in actual fact the twins were [not subjected to ongoing abuse]. Reading Macsyna’s story, I felt that she had developed a pretty good attitude to, and about, her past. There was a spark of hope in her that I could not work out until the final chapter. Here she states that having you probe into her past and to put it into words, and to be listened to, was a healing therapy for her. What I want to say to you is that not only did you investigate her story in order to be able to write a book and to tell the facts of the case, but you listened to a troubled woman to a degree that she is healing her past and is now surrounding herself with good, and with love – of her son and her partner. You have not just written a book, Ian, you have helped to heal a life. It is a book I would like to see every New Zealander read. Name supplied, Kawerau
In Case of Emergency, Press “Believe They claim to not believe in God all fashion-draped and leather-shod and unconventionally mod yet seeming peas from out one pod. Collectively they cross the quad like singers to an Eisteddfod and join with others of theirsquad to hand a crisp substantial wad with extra-reverential nod to the Richard Dawkins bod and kiss the ground whereon he trod before to suburbs east they plod. Then faced with liquefying sod and crashing Sumner rock and clod did they not call out “Oh, my...!”Cod? Does this strike you as rather odd?” Philip Lynch
6 HISMAGAZINE.TV Dec 2011/Jan 2012
OUT NOW Ask for it at Whitcoulls, Paper Plus, Borders, Dymocks, Take Note, Relay and all good independent bookstores or online at howlingatthemoon.com HISMAGAZINE.TV Dec 2011/Jan 2012 7
You might think you’ve got away with it this time, smartalec, but we’ll get you in the end. We’ll buy the next competitor company you run to, or fix it for them to have an increase as well, at our next unofficial cartel meeting on the golf course
Points of contact
fter receiving the latest extortion demand from my friendly local Australian-owned power company, I wrote to advise them of my displeasure and of my intention to change suppliers. Their reply – and my translation of it to English – is below. Dear Richard Thank you for taking the time to write regarding price increases that have been announced for some Wellington and South Island customers, coming into effect on November 1st. [Oh dear, another complaint. That makes 30,000 just this morning.] I appreciate your views and fully understand that price increases are never popular. This is not a step that has been taken lightly and it’s important that we explain clearly, the reasons behind increasing prices in the South Island and Wellington. [Therefore, we are forwarding you a copy of our bog-standard circular response. It only looks like a personal response because we’re a cynical bunch, and we like to think that you’re stupid enough to believe us.] Over the last 12 months the wholesale cost of electricity that we buy to sell to our Wellington and South Island customers has become more expensive, and this is set to continue. [This is because this is the only way we can make more money.] This is a cost increase which is being driven largely by constraints on the national transmission grid. [Actually this is rubbish. Power costs the same to produce (i.e. largely nothing, for hydro anyway, when you consider that the dams were
8 HISMAGAZINE.TV Dec 2011/Jan 2012
built and paid for, by taxpayers, two generations ago, and the rain keeps falling for free) regardless of whether the tired old Cook Strait Cables can carry it or not.] The result has been that in some instances we have been purchasing electricity on the wholesale market at a price higher than we sell it for. [But it’s not all bad, because we buy it from ourselves, and write the “loss” off against tax.] To expand more fully, electricity demand in the South Island has been growing at more than 2.5 per cent per year over the last 10 years, which is very strong demand growth. This is faster than the North Island’s growth in electricity demand. [In fact, averaged annual demand for electricity, which used to peak in the winter and fall off in the summer, has flattened out in the last decade, with the increasing use of air conditioners and the like, particularly in the North Island. This has resulted in the Southern hydro lakes being drained over the summer in order to feed the North with cheap power (which we make better profits on), meaning that in the winter, we have to supply the South with expensive Northern thermal power instead – but don’t worry, we jack the price up to cover the additional cost of generation (like now), so our profits are still healthy.] However, over the last 10 years, there has been less than 200 megawatts of new electricity generation built in the South Island compared to more than 2,000 megawatts in the North Island. [That the South Island possesses 41% of New Zealand’s installed generating capacity, including 70% of hydro capacity, for 24% of the population, is not something we can see the relevance of. Really.]
The impact of this situation is that the South Island has become increasingly dependent on electricity from the North Island to meet its growing demand. As a result, over the last 10 years the flow of electricity from the North Island to the South Island has continued to increase.[Naturally, this isn’t quite true. Power only flows from North to South about 10% of the time, mostly in the winter when demand in the South is high, and inflows to Southern hydro schemes is low.] This in itself is not a problem – the country (read: taxpayers) should be developing the cost effective sources of new electricity generation, with the transmission system then distributing that generation to customers, [our customers, and therefore our profits] wherever they might be. In this respect, we are investing $3 billion over the next five years in 1,400 megawatts of new electricity generation projects in geothermal, wind, hydro and natural gas-fired power stations. [The $3 billion will be funded, incidentally, by further price increases, but when that happens, we’ll blame something else, like Global Warming, or aliens, or Barrack Obama’s assassination (date to be announced). You can bet your backside we wouldn’t be spending a cent if we didn’t know for sure we’d be getting it back at a profit.] The problem is that while the South Island has become increasingly dependent on North Island electricity generation, investment in the transmission network has not kept pace with generation investment. [This is because none of us privatised power companies could see why we should pay to upgrade a grid which was built by taxpayers – I mean we bought these “businesses” to make money, not spend it. Duh.] The electricity transmission system is increasingly constrained and is blocking the delivery of North Island electricity to the lower North island and then across the Cook Strait cable to the South Island. [Blocking. You know, power can’t get through. That’s why everyone is having power cuts. Oh, what’s that? They’re not? Well, I guess the power isn’t actually being blocked then, so maybe we made that bit up – you know, we lied about it.] The reason for these constraints is essentially historic underinvestment in the transmission grid, [see above] coupled with the removal of part of the Cook Strait cable late last year. [The damn thing was ancient and stuffed and we hadn’t used it for years anyway, but it sounds plausible.] We expect these problems to be addressed, but the Cook Strait cable will take at least four years to be replaced. [Rest assured, you’ll be getting a bill for that, too.] These constraints are leading to increased pressure on the South Island’s electricity generation plant – mainly hydro – and are seeing higher wholesale prices as a result. [Again, we’re lying. There is no additional “pressure” on our hydro generating capacity. There couldn’t possibly be. Installed capacity is fixed to a maximum possible level, and the lakes largely operate at run-ofriver volumes anyway. When there is increased demand, we simply use river flows to generate power, rather than dumping excess water down the spillways and out to sea. I mean what on earth else would we do with it? When a lake is full, it’s full. You can’t stack water.] The situation has arisen whereby the South Island and lower North Island will have higher average wholesale electricity prices than the majority of the North Island for at
least the next four to five years. [You’re screwed, pal, and there’s NOTHING you can do about it, so there.] This is the electricity that we buy to sell to our customers and the increases we have announced are in response to these higher wholesale prices. We value our electricity customers and, again, don’t take these decisions lightly. [It’s a balancing act. If we jack the prices by 10% and only lose 8% of our customer base as a result, we’re still ahead, aren’t we? And we know that most people will grizzle a bit, but they’re too apathetic to actually do anything about it. I mean they were stupid enough to vote for privatisation Governments in the first place, now weren’t they?] There will also be no increase in base directors’ fees at this time – this is in response to the current economic environment. [But just watch the “meeting fees” go through the roof. Clever, eh ;-)] We are sorry to lose you as a customer and if in the future you consider changing suppliers again, we will welcome you back. [You might think you’ve got away with it this time, smartalec, but we’ll get you in the end. We’ll buy the next competitor company you run to, or fix it for them to have an increase as well, at our next unofficial cartel meeting on the golf course.] Sincerely [Up yours] Contact Energy
HISMAGAZINE.TV Dec 2011/Jan 2012 9
The “multicultural society” was an unnecessary experiment. And, in a postprosperity Europe, demographic transformation is an unlikely recipe for social tranquility
St George and the flaggin’
hen it’s not explicitly hostile, Western liberals’ attitude to Ayaan Hirsi Ali is deeply condescending. One thinks of Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times, pondering the author’s estrangement from her Somali relatives: I couldn’t help thinking that perhaps Hirsi Ali’s family is dysfunctional simply because its members never learned to bite their tongues and just say to one another: “I love you.” In Somalia, they don’t bite their tongues but they do puncture your clitoris. Miss Hirsi Ali was the victim of what Western hospitals already abbreviate to “FGM” (“female genital mutilation”) or, ever more fashionably, “FGC” (the less judgmental “female genital cutting”). Group hugs may work at the Times op-ed desk when the Pulitzer nominations fail to materialize, but Mr. Kristof is perhaps being a wee bit Upperwestsideocentric to assume their universality. Miss Hirsi Ali has been on the receiving end of both Islam and the squishy multiculti accommodation thereof. For seven years, she has been accompanied by bodyguards, because the men who killed the film director Theo van Gogh would also like to kill her. She was speaking in Calgary the other day and, in the course of an interview with Canada’s National Post, made a sharp observation on where much of the world is headed. It’s not just fellows like Mohammed Bouyeri, the man who knifed, shot, and, for good measure, near decapitated van Gogh. She noted the mass murderer Anders Breivik, who killed dozens of his fellow Norwegians supposedly as a protest against the Islamization of Europe — if one is to believe
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a rambling manifesto that cited her, me, Jefferson, Churchill, Gandhi, Hans Christian Andersen, and many others. Much media commentary described Breivik as a “Christian.” But he had been raised by conventional Eurosecularists, and did not attend a church of any kind. On the other hand, he was very smitten by the Knights Templar. “He’s not a worshiping Christian but he’s become a political Christian,” said Ayaan, “and so he’s reviving political Christianity as a counter to political Islam. That’s regression, because one of the greatest achievements of the West was to separate politics from religion.” Blame multiculturalism, she added, which is also regressive: In her neck of the Horn of Africa, “identity politics” is known as tribalism. That’s a shrewd insight. We already accept “political Islam.” Indeed, we sentimentalize it – dignifying the victory of the Islamist Ennahda party in post-Ben Ali Tunisia, the restoration of full-bore polygamy in postQaddafi Libya, and the slaughter of Coptic Christians in post-Mubarak Egypt as an “Arab Spring.” On the very day Miss Hirsi Ali’s interview appeared, the mob caught up with the world’s longest-serving nonhereditary head of state. Colonel Qaddafi had enlivened the U.N. party circuit for many years with his lavish ball gowns, but, while he was the Arab League’s only literal transvestite, that shouldn’t obscure the fact that most of his fellow dictators are also playing dress-up. They may claim to be “pan-Arabists” or “Baathists,” but in the end they represent nothing and no one but themselves and their Swiss bank accounts. When their disgruntled
subjects went looking for something real to counter the hollow kleptocracies, Islam was the first thing to hand. There is not much contemplation of the divine in your average mosque, but, as a political blueprint, Islam was waiting, and ready. Multicultural Europe is not Mubarak’s Egypt, but, north of the Mediterranean as much as south, the official state ideology is insufficient. The Utopia of Diversity is already frantically trading land for peace, and unlikely to retain much of either. In the “Islamic Republic of Tower Hamlets” — the heart of London’s East End, where one sees more covered women than in Amman — police turn a blind eye to misogyny, Jew-hatred, and gay-bashing for fear of being damned as “racist.” Male infidel teachers of Muslim girls are routinely assaulted. Patrons of a local gay pub are abused, and beaten, and, in one case, left permanently paralyzed. The hostelry that has so attracted the ire of the Muslim youth hangs a poignant shingle: The George and Dragon. It’s one of the oldest and most popular English pub names. The one just across the Thames on Borough High Street has been serving beer for at least half a millennium. But no one would so designate a public house today. The George and Dragon honors the patron saint of England, and it is the cross of Saint George – the flag of England – under which the Crusaders fought. They brought back the tale from their soldiering in the Holy Land: In what is now Libya, Saint George supposedly made the Sign of the Cross, slew the dragon, and rescued the damsel. Within living memory, every English schoolchild knew the tale, if not all
If Ayaan Hirsi Ali is right, more than a few Europeans cut off from their inheritance and adrift in lands largely alien to them will seek comfort in older identities the details – e.g., the dragon-slaying so impressed the locals that they converted to Christianity. But the multicultural establishment slew the dragon of England’s racist colonialist imperialist history, and today few schoolchildren have a clue about Saint George. So the pub turned gay and Britain celebrated diversity, and tolerance, and it never occurred to them that, when you tolerate the avowedly intolerant, it’s only an interim phase. There will not be infidel teachers in Tower Hamlets for much longer, nor gay bars. The “multicultural society” was an unnecessary experiment. And, in a post-prosperity Europe, demographic transformation is an unlikely recipe for social tranquility. If Ayaan Hirsi Ali is right, more than a few Europeans cut off from their inheritance and adrift in lands largely alien to them will seek comfort in older identities. In the Crusaders’ day, the edge of the maps bore the legend “Here be dragons.” They’re a lot closer now. Mark Steyn © 2011
HISMAGAZINE.TV Dec 2011/Jan 2012 11
DODGING A BULLET LESSONS FROM THE RENA GROUNDING
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It’s hard to believe as thousands return to the Bay of Plenty beaches that two months ago we were writing off summer and preparing for a ‘Gulf of Mexico’ environmental disaster. MELISSA WISHART & SACHA HARWOOD were there when the cleanup teams moved in, and have followed the progress since
n PHOTOGRAPHY: Maritime NZ
t first glance, one might almost not realise the devastation caused by the grounding of container ship Rena on Astrolabe reef off the coast of Tauranga, but the crowds of people flocking to the dunes along the beachfront are a giveaway. Since the fifth of October when the ship ran aground on the reef, hundreds of tonnes of oil have leaked from the wrecked vessel, and dozens of containers have fallen into the water. With waves of oil washing up on the shores nearby, volunteers have been hard at work to clean up their beloved beaches, which just days before, according to some, were black with the toxic sludge. It’s a hideous mental image, but the sight of large patches of seemingly pristine sand stand as proof of the amazing effort put in by those dedicated to cleaning up the shoreline. The words ‘clean me’ formed in giant capital letters on the sand are a lighthearted referral to the devastation
caused by Rena and its many tonnes of oil drifting into the sea. “It’s just a disaster for this area really,” said local man, Steve Ranford, “It’s an environmental disaster but also it’s a disaster for the businesses. “Having been a boy, growing up and spending week after week after week after week on these beaches, it’s just so distressing to know that something like this can come along and screw it up. “It won’t so much affect me now. I mean, when you walk around the mount, obviously it looks really unpleasant and it smells, but it’ll probably affect us a little bit closer to Christmas when you’ve got time off and you’re not going to be able to come down to the beach for a swim. There’s going to be a lot of people who just aren’t going to come here.”
ith many people criticizing the slow response to the disaster, Steve sympathises with authorities in charge of cleaning up the mess. “I’m always aware, bureaucracy always slows things down,” He said, “You’ll always find these people won’t move until they’ve spoken to every single point. What shall I do now? Should I do this? It takes time for them to get to a point where they say ‘ok, now we can move.’ The thing is, the man on the street is always going to say ‘why didn’t we just go in there right there?’ It’s not always possible. I understand that, but I understand how the people at the other end are saying ‘why didn’t we just get in there and sort this out straight away?’ Life’s just not really like that, eh? Especially not now. “I watched John Key on TV, there was a lot of people giving him grief about it but I think he probably did all that he could in the parameters they’ve got. I’m sure they did try everything they could. I mean, no one wants this to happen.” We also spoke to Rosemary, a grandmother of two who has grown up on the beach and said she was “devastated” over the grounding of the Rena.
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“I’ve been away part of my life for about ten or so years but always wanted to get my children back here to grow up here because it was just such a fantastic lifestyle for them,” Said Rosemary, “ So I bought a house very close to the beach and brought the family up here. The beach is all our life. My kids surf, windsurf, we swim every day we can and surf every day and go long-lining, we take a long-line out in the summer. It just makes you feel sick. It’s absolutely devastating.” With her dream of being able to see her grandchildren grow up on Mount Maunganui’s beautiful beach facing a chance of being shattered, Rosemary expresses her fears for the future health of the environment. “Some parts will be ok, but what about all around the Mount where the rocks are? You know, you go there and there’s all the rock pools and all the micro-organisms in the rock pools and they’ll be all killed, and then the fish coming in to eat those and then all the pipis close to shore, they’ll all be contaminated. The fish, all the snapper are coming in at the moment and feeding on those grounds so they’ll be all contaminated as well. So what happens when you’re fishing, longlining and that in the future?” Of course, the contamination of fish and shellfish is just the tip of the iceberg, with over 1300 oil-covered birds found dead along the shore. Over 300 more birds are being cared for at a Wildlife Response Centre in the middle of Tauranga. Val Willis was part of a group of people in charge of collecting the affected wildlife following the grounding of the ship. “I’m collecting any injured, dead or oiled wildlife,” She said, holding a plastic bag containing a lifeless, oil-blackened bird, “We’re checking for seals as well. “It’s pretty horrible, but we’re just trying to save as many birds – not quite so worried about the ones that are already dead – but trying to save as many that are contaminated with the oil around the area as possible.” The amount of dead seabirds she had been finding varied depending on
HISMAGAZINE.TV Dec 2011/Jan 2012 15
the area. Mere days after the accident, she and her group had discovered around 60 dead birds. The day we spoke to her, she had only found four. While the news is reassuring, it’s a fairly hollow victory.
irds being washed off in the Wildlife Response Centre are kept in crates for a couple of days and fed nutrients before workers attempt to clean the oil from them. This is because it is stressful for the birds, who are already traumatized enough to begin with. The process for cleaning an oilencased bird takes about 40 minutes and is often done with a toothbrush. [People at the volunteer sign up place: wanted to stay anonymous] “There’s a lot of public frustration and anger for what’s gone on. Everyone’s looking for someone to blame,” Said a man involved in signing up volunteers to clean up the beach, “But at the moment it’s all focussed on just trying to clean up and deal with the
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issues right at hand. Just clean up the mess.” One thing’s for certain, local beachgoers are intent on making sure that happens, with three to four thousand volunteers officially on the volunteer site within a week of the accident occurring. At this point, there is now almost 8000 registered volunteers ready to help restore the beach to its former glory. “They all have protective equipment, a kit. Basically overalls, gloves, facemasks and gumboots. The big issue is going to be, for those who just bowl up to the beach and start clearing stuff off, is cross contamination. Getting that stuff on your footwear and taking it off the beach. So it’s pretty much spades, digging up, bags.” Paora Sweeney, a keen volunteer originally from Matata is one of the many working around the clock to keep the beaches in their pristine conditions. “I’m a volunteer; I just came to help out wherever I could. It’s been awe-
some, I’ve been here since about ten o’clock this morning, we’ve been working hard, me and my sister. “Really just like shovelling up the oil off the ground. Closer to the shore, it’s really dry and deeper, but when you get closer to the water, it’s all cloggy and stuff, so that’s basically what we’re doing. Picking up and filling up heaps of bags, I must have filled up 48 bags today. Hardout oil. But it’s pretty cool, it’s fun as.” Paora, although tired from a day’s work, is still full of life and excited about his part to play in the clean-up, with a ‘just get on and do it’ attitude. Like many others though, his anger at the cause of the situation still simmers, but he has come to terms with the fact what has happened has happened. “It just makes you feel good about yourself. You really do feel good because it doesn’t feel like hard work, it doesn’t feel like hard labour because you’re doing something good, you’re helping out. Every little thing counts, I guess.
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“I so was angry at the top person. I don’t know what happened or who the person is, but I know he isn’t from New Zealand. So angry as at him, but I was thinking that it wasn’t going to be that much of an issue. But then obviously it kind of is. “What’s happened has happened. I think the way people are dealing with it now is pretty good. If we can get a lot more volunteers involved, you know, the more hands, the faster we’ll get the job done. I was angry at the person that crashed it, but you’ve got to get over it and you’ve got to figure out ways to go and resolve what’s actually affecting our waters.” Those who live on the beach front certainly feel an emotional tie to the area and are devastated over what
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could so easily have been prevented. Like many others though, they’re dealing with it hoping the ordeal comes to a swift end and their beach front houses won’t continue to keep reminding them of the damage done. “It’s pretty bad because it all could have been prevented so easily and it’s not. There’s so many things they could have done to stop it before now.” Jonne’ Pachoud, who lives right on the beachfront, vents her frustrations. “We’re not allowed to leave our property off the front. “We went and cleaned up the other day and then we got told off but then we just did it anyway, kept going. Everyone from pretty much every house along here was just down on the beach wearing full pants and shoes
and gloves. We were just cleaning up stuff, like; you just chuck it in plastic bags and then chuck it in this big pile. Then we got home that night and they’re like “It’s highly toxic, don’t touch it!”
espite the mix of hopeful yet frustrated emotions of the Bay of Plenty public, John Key kept the mood light and positive as he spoke to the Papamoa public and volunteers. “We just don’t know how somebody could drive into a reef in incredibly pristine conditions for no good reason when everybody else seems to be able to drive past it, so obviously we’re going to hold those people to account.” He estimated the cost of the clean-
up to be around two and a half million explaining there are various rules and regulations around who is liable. Although the owners of the ship will be held accountable for the costs, it is the damage it has done that is cause for concern. “It’s more the damage it does that we’re worried about. We’ll get it fixed, whatever it takes. “Around compensation, the local chamber of commerce is dealing with the minister of social development, so in Christchurch when we had big problems with the earthquakes down there, we put together a package to sort of help people through. “The thing is, really, the viscosity of it, the thickness of it, it’s really thick. It’s like Marmite or Vegemite. So that’s
the problem. It cools down and it’s just not made to come off the boat. “Basically, if you think about it, the fastest thing to clean up is the beach. The worst case scenario is when you get into the estuaries, cause there’s limited water flow and that’s a very fragile environment in there. Fin fish swim away from it, apparently it’s not very problematic, but obviously we need to go and test that stuff. We can’t let you go and eat scallops or something, it’s going to be at risk.” John Key continued to explain to the concerned Papamoa public gathered around the surf club that there are a group of laws governing what people do, “for the most part everybody gets it right”, John said. When disasters like the Rena occur, it’s not just about
fixing it but also finding out why it happened in order to prevent it from happening again. “We sort of know there’s two sorts of areas that’ll be affected”, Key said, “Commercial fishing and tourism.” Business owner Janet is in agreement with Key and sees the Rena disaster as a potential business threat to her café at Mount Maunganui’s base. “Because the beach is not safe for the people, they’re not going to come down. They might come for a look, but they’re not going to stay for a few days and enjoy the summer holiday like that. So Mount Maunganui beach is not going to be our best destination for the tourists to come over this summer. “If the beach is black with the oil,
you’re not going to take your children. You might just come down and wander around if you’re living local, but you’re not going to spend all day.” It is hard for most of the public to get their heads around the fact that something like this could happen here, especially to the place so many people call home or their summer holiday get away. Even though the news reports of the same thing happening around the world it is hard for a community to ever foresee something so devastating happen to their own home, the place they are proud of. “Very, very bad luck. It happens in other countries sometimes. Seen it, heard it. That it happened here I cannot believe.” Janet said. Things are beginning to look positive, however, with salvors finally pumping the last oil from the last tank on the Rena. They have been hard
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at work over the past eight weeks, removing 1700 tonnes of oil from the ship, often having to stop for days at a time as their battles with the weather became too difficult to handle.
he next task facing those involved with the Rena disaster will be the removal of the rest of the containers from the ship. Around 80 containers fell off the vessel during bad weather several weeks ago. Only half of these have washed up on nearby beaches. Container removal could take a year. To stand as proof that good things can come out of anything, there are suggestions from the New Zealand Underwater Association that part of the crippled ship be left where it is to not only serve as a tourist attraction for divers, but to help create an artificial reef for fish.
Most of the beaches have long reopened to the public, bikinis and board shorts once again replacing hazchem suits and industrial equipment. But the questions arising from the Rena grounding remain. Shipping companies have for decades paid hundreds of millions of dollars into a government contingency fund for environmental clean-up. When push came to shove, it appears that money had been sucked into the consolidated fund long ago, without the purchase of any specialist oil spill response ships. Privately, one shipping company boss has told Investigate he’s astounded at the lack of preparation given the government levies on the industry. New Zealand dodged a bullet on this occasion. Will we be so lucky next time, he wonders?
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THE FLAWED CASE
HOW ‘INVESTIGATOR’ BRYAN BRUCE FELL FOR A CON
We’ve all seen Bryan Bruce, TV’s ‘The Investigator’ probing recent crimes like the Bain murders, the Mark Lundy case and others. But what happens when an otherwise excellent journalist steps out of their comfort zone. IAN WISHART puts the case for why Bruce’s Jesus: The Cold Case got it wrong
hen TV documentary maker Bryan Bruce won a Film and Television award last month for his Jesus: The Cold Case programme, he was given hearty applause by the audience at the Awards. Question is, did the documentary deserve the acclaim? There’s no doubting Bruce is a skilled programme maker, and his work on modern murder cases has mostly been persuasive, but JTCC was a different kettle of fish entirely. If Bruce had stepped into the role of investigating the history of Jesus Christ with genuine neutrality, his journey could have been interesting. But reading his book on the case it’s clear from the first few pages he has no time for the supernatural, and therefore comes to his task already strongly biased. The second clue that Bruce’s investigation is biased is that he bases his case on interviews
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with fringe players in the biblical scholarship field – The Jesus Seminar. This was a group of 200 relatively unknown ‘scholars’ – often in the loose sense of the word – who voted using beads on which parts of the gospels they believed and which they didn’t. There are more than 12,000 accredited New Testament scholars working at universities around the world – and the Jesus Seminar findings were laughed at by the world’s leading academics working in the field. “To someone unacquainted with the immensity and complexity of higher education in America,” writes Emory University’s Professor of New Testament studies, Luke Timothy Johnson, “two hundred scholars may seem an impressively large number. In fact, however, it is a very small number when placed against the number of New Testament scholars. “Even the number two hundred is somewhat misleading, since it includes all those who were part of
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the Seminar’s proceedings in any fashion – by receiving its mailings for example, or reading its reports. A truer estimate of the number of participants who met regularly, wrote papers and voted on decisions is closer to 40.” Johnson made the point that the Jesus Seminar membership included none of the then faculty from Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Duke, Union, Emory or Chicago – the major universities working on New Testament research – and no “established scholars from England or the Continent”.
adly, it is this rag-tag group of unknowns that Bryan Bruce bases his entire book on. “Most of the Jesus Seminar participants are in relatively undistinguished academic positions,” writes Timothy Johnson. “Some are not in the strict sense in academic positions at all.” The shame of it, in terms of Jesus: The Cold Case, is that the Jesus Seminar was utterly debunked way back in the 1990s – fifteen years before Bryan Bruce decided to write his own book. Bryan Bruce, for all of his scepticism on TV, follows the Jesus Seminar findings blindly, like a faithful puppy, without attempting to investigate the criticism that befell the Seminar. All this quickly leads ‘The Investigator’ on a wild goose chase. He decides Jesus was not born in Bethlehem. He does this not from any hard evidence, but just because the Seminar told him the Gospels that mention Bethlehem must have been written many decades after Jesus was crucified. “What Mark is not telling us is that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, or that his mother was a virgin (and you would think the early Christians would at least have remembered that particular piece of spectactular information - wouldn’t you?). “It is only with the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, both written some 50 years after the crucifixion, that we are told that Jesus was born in Bethlehem.” For Bruce, such old documents cannot contain eyewitness testimony, and must have been made up. Having convinced himself that Jesus must have been born in Nazareth rather than Jerusalem, Bruce then finds himself having to explain why Mary and Joseph
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would make a 120 km trip from Nazareth to Jerusalem with a newborn to present Jesus at the temple for circumcision at eight days old. It is also highly questionable that they could have achieved such a trip within eight days on ancient goat tracks. This is what happens when you start changing historical references to suit your own biases, you end up creating more dilemmas than when you started. Whereas Bethlehem was just a few miles outside Jerusalem – it would have been an easy trip for the parents to make if Jesus was born in the manger there, as recorded. But all of this hinges on Bryan Bruce accepting unquestioningly that the Gospels were written 50 years or more after Jesus died – a point I had long ago debunked in The Divinity Code. Bruce writes: “A book that appears in many ancient Bibles but didn’t make the final cut for inclusion in the New Testament is the First Epistle of Clement (who was the fourth Pope), written in the year 95. In terms of our investigation thhis is an intriguing document because Clement refers only to the letters of Paul and never to the Gospels. So at the end of the first century we have a pope who doesn’t seem to know about Matthew, Mark, Luke or John.” Unfortunately for Bryan Bruce, the Jesus Seminar and also Bishop John Spong who Bruce relies on as well, the apostle Paul was quoting passages from the Gospels in letters dated to 50AD. Now this poses a problem for Bryan Bruce’s source, Spong, because he is adamant in his own book that we can trust the dating on the Pauline letters – “the entire Pauline corpus, written no earlier than 50 and no later than 64”. Having established this, let’s now turn to 1 Corinthians, which contains a number of quotations sourced directly from the gospels of Mark and Matthew. At 1 Cor. 7:10-11, for example, Paul explicitly repeats a teaching which he acknowledges is Christ’s directly: “To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): a wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.” Compare that to Christ’s words in the Gospel of Mark, 10:11-12: “Anyone who divorces his wife and
marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.” Additionally, Paul cites Jesus’ instructions to the disciples in Matthew 10:9 about a preacher being “worth his keep”, and Luke 10:8 on the requirement for disciples to eat what is given to them when offered hospitality. The Lukan reference is not sourced from Mark or Matthew, but we know that Luke accompanied Paul for parts of his journeys so could have passed on some of his own collected quotes of Jesus Christ, which would account for the unique Luke reference. Either way, to claim as John Shelby Spong does, that the Gospel of Mark was not written until 70 AD, 15 years after Paul wrote 1 Corinthians, and six years
after Paul was executed, is ludicrous. To go further and suggest that Matthew didn’t get written until the mid 80s and Luke/Acts as late as 100 AD – a staggering 45 years after 1 Corinthians, beggars belief. Spong needs to spin this yarn in order for you to believe the rest of his book. But if he is wrong about the dating of the gospels (and he is), then Spong’s whole analysis collapses. But it gets worse for Spong (and by implication Bryan Bruce). In 1 Thessalonians 5:2-3, Paul writes: “…for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, ‘Peace and safety’, destruction will come on them suddenly, as labour pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.” Now compare Christ’s words in the
Gospel of Matthew, 24:8: “…These are the beginning of birth pains…”
nd at 24:19: “Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women…” Then, at Matt 24:42-43: “Therefore, keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch…” The ‘thief in the night’ line does not appear in the earliest gospel, Mark, but instead in Matthew. Crushing for Spong and his lategospels theory, Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians is one of the earliest New Testament documents, dating to as early
as 49 AD. Clearly and unequivocally, Paul had access to gospel documents or pre-gospel documents of some kind. In other words, the claim in Jesus: The Cold Case that even the fourth Pope did not know about the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John is a crock – Paul was quoting gospel passages within 20 years of the crucifixion, at a time when many eyewitnesses to the events were still alive and could have challenged the claims. In my view there is so much wrong with Jesus: The Cold Case by Bryan Bruce that it would take an entire book to correct the errors. Er, that’s right, I’ve written that book! I took the trouble to send Bryan a copy of The Divinity Code to point out where he’d got it wrong. It’s a pity he hadn’t read it before he embarked on his awardwinning but factually-flawed journey.
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Jagger’s band on the eve of 50 WORDS BY GEOFF BOUCHER
hese are days of unfinished business for the Rolling Stones as they continue to mine their vault for “lost” material – a fascinating cache of unreleased tracks from the 1977-1978 “Some Girls” sessions has just arrive in stores for Christmas – and gather their dark powers for their 50th anniversary next year and perhaps another tour. Lead singer Mick Jagger chuckles when asked about the advice he would give himself as the band sizes up the golden anniversary and its possibilities. “You can’t be too impressed, I think,” Jagger says. “You could wallow in nostalgia if you wanted, couldn’t you? I don’t think that’d be the right attitude. There are lot of ideas and things to do, some of them sound interesting, some of them sound possible and some of them sound difficult and some sound outright schmaltzy, to be honest. I don’t know really know what’s going to exactly happen – but I’m working on it.” The Stones, of course, have been working on something ever since the JFK administration. The band defies the laws of time, human endurance and pop-culture physics, but it remains a spiky alliance, especially after the publication of Life, the Keith Richards memoir that got its harshest critique (“a bit bitchy,” “tedious”) from a frenemy named Jagger. “It was the only bad review we got,” the guitar hero rasped with delight last month, two days after he and co-author James Fox won the Norman Mailer award for their bestselling memoir. “Ah, what can you do?” Jagger and Richards sometimes seem a bit like an old married couple who stand together only for family photos and then do so only with thin, hard smiles. But, in separate phone interviews, both are clearly enthused about the release this week of
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a tricked-out archival edition of “Some Girls,” the June 1978 album that gave the world “Miss You,” “Far Away Eyes,” “Shattered” and “Beast of Burden.” A concert film, “Some Girls Live in Texas ‘78” will also be released on DVD and Blu-ray as a tie-in to the newly remastered album, which will be available in different editions (there’s a
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two-disc deluxe edition and also a lavish boxed-set version that includes a hardcover book, a DVD and vinyl single) and features a dozen previously unreleased songs. Those tracks were in various stages of completion and polish, and Jagger, Richards and company say it’s been a curious and inspiring exercise to fill in
the blanks all these years later. “It was an interesting autumn kind of project for me,” Jagger notes, adding that he was prepared for the labours by the 2010 release of “Exile on Main Street” with a similar bundle of salvaged tracks. “I learned quite a lot from doing the tracks on ‘Exile’ about how you do this without it being too much psychological
“Part of Mick and me is we always loved country music,” Richards says, “And I mean, ‘Dead Flowers’? Mick has written some of the best country songs of all time. It’s part of what we grew up with and what we love. It just comes from the heart, not from the mind.” music landscape changing beneath the rhythm logic of disco and ethos assault of punk. On a more personal front, the “Some Girls” sessions marked the full arrival of Ronnie Wood as a band member and there was still anxiety in the air about the legal status and lifestyle of Richards, who was coming off a heroin arrest in Toronto. “Going back to the music, it immediately transports me back in time; it’s like, ‘Beam me up, Scotty,’” Richards said. “When I’m listening to it I can see the room where we are, I can smell it. It was the last album I did on the stuff. ... The interesting thing about making that album was we felt an enormous kick ... from the punks. There suddenly was this other generation coming on and they couldn’t play for (anything) but they were kicking (butt). ‘Some Girls’ was the response because we had been cruising before that, I think.”
damage. ... The ‘Exile’ ones seemed really quite old and even though this is just seven years later it was just more immediate to me in some ways. This album was so much of a piece while ‘Exile’ was recorded over such a period of time, over maybe three years and different sessions.” “Some Girls” and these new unreleased additions reveal a band that sees the
ome of the recovered and refurbished tracks were close to finished – like the Chuck Berryinformed “Claudine” and the leering “So Young” – but just didn’t make the cut when the “Some Girls” deadline approached. Others like “Do You Think I Really Care?” required a sort of throwback mentality to finish. “It was sort of half done and I had to sort of get back into the mood of the song,” Jagger says. “It was a bit repetitive, I had done two verses but I needed five.” Richards says he enjoys hearing the varied genre paths the band was following in the 1970s and the echoes of Hank Williams and Gram Parsons tucked into the time capsule. “Part of Mick and me is we always loved country music,” Richards says, “And I mean, ‘Dead Flowers’? Mick has written some of the best country songs of all time. It’s part of what we grew up with
and what we love. It just comes from the heart, not from the mind.” Don Was, the Grammy-winning record producer who has worked with Bob Dylan, Lucinda Williams and Elton John, has been a key figure in the Stones’ archaeology missions. He was the point man on the exhaustive “Exile” project (there were hundreds of hours of material) and, for the “Some Girls” salvage efforts, came across “No Spare Parts,” an artifact deemed so notable that it was released last month as a single. Was says that in a way the Stones are somehow underrated still and he has no interest in listening to the criticism that any rebel outfit has overstayed its welcome when there are 50 candles on the cake. “They are right up there with Duke Ellington’s band and the Miles Davis quintet from the 1960s as one of the greatest aggregations of musicians ever put together,” Was says. “And watching Mick and Keith through the years – when they get along and when they don’t get along – is like a morality play. When you hear the music all the other stuff evaporates. When the tape is rolling or they are on stage, there’s a closeness there that transcends everything else. And I think they should keep pushing toward that 75th anniversary.” But first, there’s the 50th anniversary. Richards, Wood and drummer Charlie Watts are scheduled to gather later this month in London to rehearse for the first time in three years, a clear signal that the Stones are ramping up in some fashion. “The Stones still work,” says Richards. “I know (the prospect of a tour) it’s an all important point but there’s nothing more I’m going to say about that. But the Stones will pull it together. It always comes easy once you get the bunch of guys together. It’s the getting the guys together that’s the hard part.”
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48 YEARS ON AN ADMIRER’S PORTRAIT OF THE ‘ELUSIVE’ JOHN F KENNEDY
WORDS BY JOELLE FARRELL
ohn Fitzgerald Kennedy once told his friend Ben Bradlee, then a reporter who would become executive editor of the Washington Post, that people read biographies to answer a simple question: “What’s he like?” In adding to the many reflections on JFK, Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC’s political talk show “Hardball,” aimed to do just that with Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero. As the title of his sixth book suggests, it is no easy task to sum up or pin down JFK. Yet Matthews, whose fascination with Kennedy began when he was a 10-year-old boy and heard the then-senator speak at the 1956 Democratic Convention in Chicago, offers a readable and accessible book about the 35th president. Matthews reveals Kennedy’s character through the inner workings of his campaigns and some of his decisions as senator and president. Perhaps it’s natural that Matthews, who talks insider politics for a living, would focus on the “inside baseball,” the political tactics and the compromises struck by Kennedy to balance competing interests. As a political reporter, I enjoyed this angle. Matthews doesn’t gloss over some of the rougher tactics the Kennedy family used to help Jack succeed. And he acknowledges that JFK’s father, Joseph P. Kennedy, greased the skids with his wealth.
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since boarding school, told Kennedy what he’d done, Kennedy was “pleased” because he thought it would help her better understand him.
While Kennedy shares blame for the debacle of the attempted Cuban invasion, it’s hard not to admire his handling of the latter situation, a confrontation with the Soviets that brought the country to the brink of nuclear war But I would understand if other readers felt let down that Matthews gives less space to more personal elements of Kennedy’s life, most notably his relationship with his wife, Jacqueline. Still, Matthews offers spare but telling details. Rather than regurgitate wellworn tales of Kennedy infidelities or the problems within the seemingly pictureperfect marriage, Matthews reiterates a
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handful of details that spell it out. On the weekend of their wedding, Kennedy’s friend Lem Billings prepared Jackie for her husband’s promiscuities, telling her that he’d been with many women and hadn’t settled down. He told the 24-year-old bride that she would have to be “very understanding at the beginning.” When Billings, a buddy of Kennedy’s
t first, I thought Matthews was giving Kennedy a pass for his treatment of Jackie, but he later points out instances when Kennedy treated her coldly. After losing the vice-presidential nomination in 1956 to Estes Kefauver, who would run with Adlai Stevenson that year, Kennedy left on a Mediterranean sailing trip with his brother Teddy and a friend. Jackie, eight months pregnant, suffered dangerous complications and underwent an emergency caesarean, but not in time. She gave birth to a stillborn daughter. “He’d shown off his wife at the convention for political gain then left her to suffer her tragedy alone,” Matthews writes. Later, in 1960, when the Catholic Kennedy overcame the odds to win the primary in largely Protestant West Virginia, Kennedy’s celebration excluded his wife. With Kennedy glad-handing a room full of shouting supporters, celebrating his “greatest triumph to date,” Ben Bradlee recalled, Jackie stood alone, ignored. She finally went out and sat in the car until Kennedy was ready to fly back to Washington. Matthews covers some of the ofttold tales about Kennedy, including his heroism as a PT boat skipper during World War II when he towed an injured crew member to safety after a Japanese destroyer sank his boat in 1943. Kennedy suffered from a chronically bad back that forced him to sleep on a sheet of plywood and nearly disqualified him from military service altogether. He also suffered from Addison’s disease, an adrenal gland disorder that can be fatal. But on that night in 1943, Kennedy took a strap of chief engineer Pat “Pappy” McMahon’s life jacket, clenched it between his teeth, and swam the gravely injured man to safety. “As McMahon floated on his back, he had nothing to do but look up at the sky,” Matthews wrote. “He was always aware of the rhythmic tugs of the skipper’s arm strokes. He would remember most the sound of Jack’s hard breathing.”
It’s clear from the way Matthews gushes over Kennedy in his prelude that he admires his subject: “In searching for Jack Kennedy my own way, I found a fighting prince never free from pain, never far from trouble, never accepting the world he found, never wanting to be his father’s son. He was a far greater hero than he ever wished us to know.” Matthews doesn’t hammer Kennedy for skipping the congressional vote to censure U.S. Sen. Joseph McCarthy, a Republican whose witch-hunt for Communists damaged reputations and careers. McCarthy was a family friend, and while Kennedy disagreed with his tactics, he believed the United States needed to take a tough stance against communism. Kennedy scheduled back surgery and was out during the vote. Every Democrat and half of the Republicans voted to censure McCarthy.
While Kennedy convalesced after the surgery, which went poorly and brought on infections that nearly took his life, he and his longtime speechwriter and aide Ted Sorensen wrote Profiles in Courage, a book that pays tribute to eight U.S. senators for taking positions highly unpopular with their constituents. Matthews doesn’t point out the irony. Later, when a colleague called Kennedy out on it, he wryly remarked that he didn’t put his own profile in the book, seeming to acknowledge that skipping the vote was less than brave. When Kennedy finally became president in 1961, he faced far tougher decisions: the Bay of Pigs and later the Cuban Missile Crisis. While Kennedy shares blame for the debacle of the attempted Cuban invasion, it’s hard not to admire his handling of the latter situation, a con-
frontation with the Soviets that brought the country to the brink of nuclear war. Matthews gives readers an interesting glimpse into these crisis moments in Kennedy’s short presidency, but I wished for more. As for the assassination, Matthews doesn’t touch it, other than with a brief quote from Jackie. The book ends with the final days of Kennedy’s presidency and a short chapter titled “Legacy” that reads like a eulogy. Some readers may grow tired of the nitty-gritty of the campaigns, but politicians reveal much about themselves in the heat of a campaign. When you can look behind the scenes, as Matthews does, you get a fuller picture than most ever see. Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero by Chris Matthews; Simon & Schuster (479 pages, $27.50)
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I have said it before, when it comes to finance there are some unbreakable rules. You have to spend less than you earn and it is impossible to borrow your way out of debt
Upsides and downsides
ell, I never thought it would come to this” said Moira. Out of habit Jim responded, “What’s that dear?” Moira growled “Firstly you should use your hearing aids and secondly you could learn to pay a little more attention when I speak to you.” Moira’s tone made Jim sit up, and habit made him repeat his comment, “What’s that dear?” As soon as he spoke he wished he could reach up and grab the words out of the air. “Whoops” he thought to himself. But then again they had been married for over 40 years and she should be used to his mannerisms by now. That was one thing he admired about Moira, she always strove for perfection and he never knew her to let her standards slip. “For one thing, the price of gold keeps going up, which is great for our portfolio. I am pleased that we listened to our adviser all those years ago, it sure has helped recoup some of our losses in other areas” Moira said. “I wish we had purchased some silver at the same time, but that can’t be helped now.” Jim replied “He keeps quoting that elderly commentator from the United States, Richard Russell, who says that in a bear market, everyone loses and the winners are those who lose least”. But then again he thought, this was diversification in action. A loss here and there made up in part by growth in other sectors. Once Moira realised that Jim was indeed listening, her tone softened and she went on to say, “And secondly, The Guardian Weekly says that some of the countries in financial
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strife actually have a plan to get their balance sheets back into some sort of order.” Jim knew that one of Moira’s often repeated comments was that, it was impossible to borrow one’s way out of debt. Jim was also very much aware that Moira was keen to understand how the larger members of the First World were planning to fix the gigantic hole in their respective balance sheets. The majority of them had borrowed their way into an abyss and were now seeking to extract themselves from what has morphed into a debilitating debt spiral. Moira said “Listen to this young man, The Guardian Weekly says the Greek Government intends to sell it’s stake in the two main ports, 39 airports, a state lottery , a horse racing concession, a casino, a national post office, two water companies, a nickel mine and smelter, hundreds of kilometers of roads, a telecom operator, shares in two banks, electricity and gas monopolies and thousands of hectares of land.” Jim liked Moira calling him young, he knew that he wasn’t, but he still liked it. He was keen to hear what else could be put up for sale and listened carefully as Moira went on to quote further from the Guardian Weekly article. “Portugal has a list of similar assets including water utilities, media interests and the national news agency Lusa. The list also included the state airline, including airports as well as an insurance business and the state run bank, CGD. This is interesting” said Moira, “Spain will sell off partial ownership in the world’s biggest lottery, Spain’s famous El Gordo (also known as Fat One).
They could be talking about you Jim, but I know you are not for sale.” Jim was a good humoured soul and did not take offence. “It looks like most of the troubled Governments intend, not only to sell useless tracts of land, but also the family jewels such as lotteries, airports, bookmakers, totalisators, and there is some talk about student loan books. Now that would get student voters attention. I can see the debt collection agencies rubbing their hands together already.” Jim looked quizzically at Moira and said, “But that’s madness. They are getting rid of all that future revenue. They will not have any income. What are they going to use to pay superannuation, not to mention the police, schools and hospitals.” Moira look at him with a warm glow of satisfaction, “So you have been paying attention all these years.” Jim’s back straightened, “Those dirty scoundrels, they will have to increase taxes and cut benefits. They will have to bring back means testing, introduce asset testing, hell, they could even bring back death duties.” Moira reprimanded him quickly and said “No-one’s talking about those things just yet, but you are correct. It is now time to pay the Piper. Future Governments around the world will be faced with the unenviable tasks of increasing revenue and cutting expenditure. And this will be at a time when the previous Government sold off some major revenue streams in order to pay off huge debts accumulated by fashionable, popular baby boomer politicians who didn’t know any better. I have said it before, when it comes to finance there are some unbreakable rules. You have to spend less than you earn and it is impossible to borrow your way out of debt.” Moira went to say, “Now Jim, while you have brought up some excellent issues, there is one thing you are missing.” Jim thought for a while and said “ Apart from maybe missing out on the Government Super and having to pay more tax, I can’t seem to see what else there could be” Moira smiled quietly “How about the opportunity to buy into some companies that are almost guaranteed to generate strong dividend streams, that is, if they are run correctly. Our own
It looks like most of the troubled Governments intend, not only to sell useless tracts of land, but also the family jewels such as lotteries, airports, bookmakers, totalisators, and there is some talk about student loan books Government forecasted in the last Budget that they were planning to sell off their stake in companies such as Solid Energy, Meridian, Genesis and Mighty River. That process must be underway.” “That’s the difference between you and me,” Jim said. “I don’t like the idea of paying tax, yet you are constantly thinking about ways to pay more tax”. “The more tax you pay, the more money you make,” Moira responded. “It is an irrefutable fact.” “Apart from death duties,” Jim retorted. “Well there are none in this country at the moment and let’s hope it stays like that,” Moira responded. Copyright © Peter J. Hensley November 2011. This article is meant to be Class Advice and a copy of Peter Hensley’s disclosure statement is available on request and is free of charge.
HISMAGAZINE.TV Dec 2011/Jan 2012 35
HIS/gadgets Epson MG-850HD projector The versatile MG-850HD is an easy-touse and flexible multimedia system for family home users and professionals that fits comfortably into virtually any setting – whether in the family room for a movie-like experience, at the office in a conference room presentation, or even outdoors around a barbecue. Watch movies, view presentations, share photos, or enjoy content saved on portable devices on a big screen, easily project and play content from an iPod, iPhone, or iPad (while charging), or share high quality imagery from a variety of other media devices, including smartphones, PCs, tablets, game consoles, and more. MG-850HD is compatible with Nintendo® Wii, Sony PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360. RRP is $1,699 www.epson.co.nz
Toshiba AT200 Toshiba Europe GmbH unveiled an exciting new product today – the ultra-thin 25.7cm (10.1’’) AT200 tablet. Despite measuring only 7.7mm from front to back, the Toshiba AT200 delivers a broad range of essential ports and interfaces. It offers an amazing wide-view display for comfortable content consumption plus full web browsing capabilities to meet the preferred usage for tablets. Every bit as powerful as it is stylish and robust, this tablet is built to exceed expectations. To connect with other devices the ultra-slim tablet comes with all essential interfaces and ports onboard: amongst them microUSB, micro-SD, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The micro-HDMI-port allows streaming HD content to the large screen of a TV. Front and back HD cameras are ideal for video conferencing and augmented reality applications. Toshiba’s new tablet also offers a rich web browsing experience including support of Adobe Flash Player, access to more than 250,000 apps on Android Market and Toshiba Places for endless possibilities. www.toshiba.com
Native Union Play Designed by Fabien Nauroy, “Play” is the ultimate video-memo. Slimline and stylish, “Play” has a magnetized back so it can be mounted on a fridge or other metallic surfaces. It is also supplied with a magnetic walltape pad that can stick to any surface. “Play” has been designed and manufactured to the highest specification and includes a high quality video camera, a 2.4“ color screen, and a sophisticated 3 minute multiple message recording system. Messages are recorded with time and date. Suitable for all ages, this smart design allows full operation from 3 simple buttons. www.nativeunion.com
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HIS/mall Revo K2 K2 is a towering column of aluminium and moulded rubber, capable of delivering reception of a wide variety of radio formats including DAB, DAB+, FM and Internet radio. K2 also offers full audio and video playback from a variety of Apple devices, access to online music service Last.fm and the ability to wirelessly stream music files from any connected PC or Mac. K2’s proprietary audio hardware effortlessly produces 40 watts of room-filling high resolution digital audio, courtesy of a quartet of neodymium Balanced Mode Radiator speaker drivers and dual Class-D amplifiers. The result is near 360 degree dispersion, providing a massively expanded listening sweetspot, detailed high-end clarity, rich tones and deep bass. www.revo.co.uk
Thomas Sabo watches This watch, completely immersed in black, is absolutely eye-catching. The IP coating in matt black perfectly complements the design of the THOMAS SABO Watches Collection. The swordshaped stop second hand is based on the jewellery collection. www.thomassabo.com
Sony NEX-7 So much more than a pocket camera, the 24.3MP NEX-7 exceeds expectations. Get performance that would give most DSLRs camera envy, including interchangeable lenses, a 2359K dot Tru-Finder OLED electronic viewfinder, up to 10fps shooting, and outstanding Tri-Navi 3-dial manual control. Record amazing HD movies in super-smooth 60p, standard 60i or cinematic 24p, all at Full HD 1920x1080 resolution. Enjoy the stunning imagery the AVCHD codec delivers or use the MP4 codec for smaller file sizes and easier upload to the web. With the same APS-C sensor size as a DSLR, a higher resolution than most DSLRs and the interchangeable lenses that make DSLRs so attractive, the NEX-7 is still just about half the weight and half the size as its DSLR counterparts. The included E-mount 18-55mm lens will have you documenting the touching, the stunning and the inspirational in no time. www.sony.co.nz
RAZR X HL Irons Engineered to provide distance, accuracy and forgiveness to golfers looking to take their game to the next level, the super game-improvement RAZR X HL Irons feature a cast stainless steel design with a wide, confidence-inspiring sole for smooth turf interaction. A low center of gravity makes the sweet spot more accessible at lower impact locations on the face where many amateurs strike the ball, delivering longer, more consistent distance and improved accuracy. The RAZR X HL Irons also have a fully integrated clubface/ undercut cavity system, enabling engineers to precisely position the center of gravity and engineer the face of each individual iron to maximize ball speed. The multimaterial medallion on the back of the clubhead is made of aluminum and thermoplastic polyurethane to fine-tune sound and enhance feel. www.callawaygolf.com
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NEW KINDLE FIRE: DELIVERS ON PROMISES BUT STILL DISAPPOINTS WORDS BY TROY WOLVERTON
mazon.com’s new Kindle Fire hit store shelves last week as perhaps the most anticipated tablet computer since the original iPad. That’s because the device promises everything previous iPad rivals lacked: an approachable interface; easy access to movies, music and books; a known brand name shared with a line of superpopular e-book readers, and a low, low price. Even before getting their hands on
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it, tech pundits, including yours truly, were already calling it the iPad’s first real competition. I’m not backing off that assessment now that I’ve gotten to play around with the Kindle Fire a bit. It’s bound to attract consumers in droves, if only for its low price and Kindle brand name. But in my short time with Kindle Fire, I’ve found it somewhat disappointing. It’s not that it doesn’t do what it sets out
to do. The Fire runs a heavily customized version of the Android operating system that is generally easier to use than other versions of the software. It has direct connections to Amazon’s robust digital media offerings. And its $200 price is $300 lower than the least expensive iPad, as well as many of the top Android tablets on the market. But the Fire lacks features big and small, and left me wanting more. It comes in a relatively small, featureless black case. Its screen is considerably smaller than the iPad’s – 7 inches in diagonal compared with the 9.7-inch screen of the Apple device. Steve Jobs famously argued that 7-inch screens are a poor choice for tablets, but I’ve generally liked the ones I’ve played with. Tablets of that size are easier to hold than the iPad, and the interface on the Fire maximizes its small screen. The home screen looks like a virtual book shelf. The latest items you’ve interacted with – apps, movies, magazines – are arranged on the top shelf on a virtual carousel. You swipe left or right to bring particular items to the foreground. Below the carousel are smaller shelves of items that you manually choose as your favorites, just as you might put things in a display case. The set-up makes it easy to get into the apps and content you use most. Above the carousel are text links to groups of related items – such as a newsstand where you can access your magazines and newspapers; a books area, which holds your collection of e-books; and a music area, where you can find your digital songs and albums. Within most of these areas are links to Amazon’s stores, so you can buy new songs directly from the music area and download new apps from within the app collection. Some of the areas also divvy up content by what you have stored on your device and what’s stored on Amazon’s computers up in the cloud. The format allows you to easily download – and in some cases, stream – content from Amazon that you don’t yet have on your device. You have a lot of content to choose from. Amazon clearly is positioning the Fire as a means of accessing the company’s vast stores of digital books, movies and music. The company’s Kindle store is the leading
The Fire works best when you use its native applications and content areas. It doesn’t work so well when you go outside of them
e-book vendor. Its music and movie stores rival Apple’s iTunes in breadth of content, and its Amazon Prime streaming video service is a strong competitor to Netflix and Hulu in its selection of popular television episodes and older movies. And the Fire makes it easy to access this content. You can start watching movies or listening to your cloud-stored music immediately. Or you can download songs or books quickly and enjoy them in minutes. If you’re a fan of the company’s Kindles, the Fire will allow you to download all the e-books you’ve bought from Amazon and will remember what page you were on the last time you picked up a particular book. But the device’s ease of use and low price are offset by what it lacks. The first thing you’ll notice when holding the device is that it doesn’t have any buttons other than one to turn it on and off. That can make it difficult to adjust the volume or even to get back to its home screen. That’s a minor annoyance compared with other missing items, which limit what you can do with the Fire. For example, the Fire doesn’t have any cameras, so you can’t use it to take pictures or do video chats. It doesn’t have an antenna that would allow it to connect to the cell phone data networks, so if you’re not
near a Wi-Fi hotspot, you won’t be able to stream video or surf the Web. The Fire works best when you use its native applications and content areas. It doesn’t work so well when you go outside of them. Many of the third-party applications you can use on the Fire weren’t specifically designed for it. Instead, they were designed for Android devices, usually Android smartphones. Many of them just don’t look great on the Fire. Buttons and search boxes often stretch across the screen in unwieldy ways. Menu options are inconsistent with what you’ll find in the Fire’s native applications. And the Fire lacks applications that you’ll find on other devices. You won’t find a calendar or address book applications, for example, even though they come with most smartphones and tablets. The Fire does have a native email client, but that app doesn’t support Microsoft Exchange servers, so you might not be able to check your work email on the device unless you download a separate pricey application. Also, the Fire can’t download applications from Google’s definitive Android Marketplace. Instead, you have to go through Amazon’s App Store. That means Fire users can’t access any of Google’s popular Android apps, such as Google
Maps, Google Goggles or the company’s own YouTube application. Nor will you find some of the most popular thirdparty Android applications in Amazon’s App Store. Among the missing: Facebook, Twitter and Spotify. I love the Fire’s low price and userfriendly interface, but I’m not so happy about the trade-offs. It’s a great device for content from Amazon – but not good for much else. AMAZON.COM KINDLE FIRE Troy’s rating: 6.5 (out of 10) Likes: User-friendly interface; easy access to Amazon content; low price; small, easy-to-hold size Dislikes: Lack of buttons can make it difficult to operate; no cameras, so can’t be used for picture taking or video chatting; no native calendar or address book applications; no access to Google’s Android market, so lacks access to Google apps and popular Android apps like Facebook Specs: Dual-core processor; 7-inch, 1024 x 600 pixel screen; 8 gigabytes of storage Price: US$200 Web: www.amazon.com
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MOBILE SECURITY WORDS BY IAN WISHART
inally found the ultimate smartphone. This magazine was an early adopter of smartphones. Picking up a Palm Treo 650 back in 2004 running on Vodafone’s GSM network, our eyes were suddenly opened to a realm of new possibilities. We could receive and send emails from the phone, genuinely browse the internet (albeit slowly) and even take Microsoft Office documents on planes and edit them inflight using a Bluetooth keyboard. None of these things were possible on bog standard mobile phones back then. Yet 2004 may as well have been 1874 in today’s terms, because technology has improved by magnitudes since. The Treo series was a good range, arguably top of its class, even against the Blackberry and early iPhones, but market leader Palm was soon eclipsed by the war between iPhone, Windows Mobile and the emerging Android platform. Viewing Apple’s range more as eyecandy for the masses than a serious smartphone, our magazine stuck with the latest Treos on Telecom’s old CDMA network and Nokia E71s on Vodafone, before graduating to HTC’s Touch Pro 2
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on Windows Mobile for XT. The HTC was again light years ahead of the older spec’d Treos, and we gave it a good review a couple of years back. However long-term use wasn’t so endearing. The Windows Mobile operating system seemed far too crash prone, and the ½ GHz processor wasn’t fast enough to comfortably run the HTC’s engine room. You got the feeling there was an awesome phone inside struggling to squeeze out through a narrow gate. The new HTC Sensation on Android, available for XT, changes all that. For the first time in nearly eight years, there’s finally a top-of-the-range smartphone with a blistering fast dual core processor – one of the first of such phones to market – that does absolutely everything you expect it to. I’ve now had the phone eight weeks, enough to qualify as a long-term test. No system crashes. Just plain reliable. Seamless wi-fi performance and Bluetooth integration, coupled with the capacity to handle Adobe Flash and HTML5, make this the pinnacle of smartphones we’ve owned or tested to date. The speed is to die for, and the range of
applications available in Android Market leaves the previous Windows incarnation of the HTC for dead. Two must have apps, however: ESET Mobile Security. It’s a free beta download from the makers of NOD32 for PC. With the massive popularity of smartphones – and sales expected to quadruple – the risk of viruses and specialised hacking grows every month. ESET’s Android package does exactly what you expect it to do – throw up a wall around your applications and settings to detect and prevent unauthorised intrusions. There are some nifty extras however. These include an Anti-theft security system: “Simple SMS commands help you remotely locate, lock or wipe your Android device in the event it is stolen or simply misplaced. GSM users can prevent unauthorized use of their mobile devices by registering trusted SIM cards. A SMS alert is sent to your alternate phone silently when any other SIM card is inserted into your GSM Android mobile device.” For now, the application is free. The other must-have app is Juice Defender. Those who have smartphones will already know they are to batteries what the Twilight series is to blood-banks – anathema. Like it or not, those wafer thin mobile devices we are carrying around now deliver far more computing power than the desktop computers of a decade ago, and that sucks charge out of their small batteries like there’s no tomorrow. Don’t be fooled by manufacturer’s ‘specifications’ stating six hours of talktime and 14 days standby. That might be achievable on a test-bench where the phone is right next to the cellphone tower and without any of its other wi-fi functions turned on, but in the real world most smartphone users are lucky to get through a day without topping up at some point. Juice Defender changes that. It works by automatically managing hundreds of tasks that the phone’s computer performs in the background. Many of those tasks are automatic but unnecessary if your phone is sitting on the desk unused for a couple of hours. By controlling what the phone does and when, Juice Defender can turn a six hour battery life into 12 or even 14 hours. Again, it’s free.
we protect your digital worlds HISMAGAZINE.TV Dec 2011/Jan 2012 41
music latest releases | words by brian mccollum/detroit free press
Hollywood Knight: The Seger Sessions
ou arrive at the little cabin 40 miles north of Detroit, tucked in the woods with the turning leaves, and can’t help but think: This is such a Bob Seger scene. The rustic spot is where the 66-year-old Midwest rock icon comes to get away, think and write. Show up on the right morning, and you’ll find lyric pads and rhyme dictionaries scattered about. On the wall are childhood photos of Seger’s son and daughter, alongside images chronicling his five-decade career from local watering holes to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. “If I want to sing really loud on the front porch, nobody hears me,” Seger says with a grin, gesturing at the 60-acre property around him. “I can work at 3 in the morning and not bother a soul.” Since he eased off the music scene in the ‘90s to raise a family, it has been come-and-go for the artist behind such hits as “Night Moves” and “Against the Wind.” This month is all go, as he takes to the road for a new round
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of shows in the US with his Silver Bullet Band. He’s completing an album for release next year. And he’s finally taking the digital plunge, with a pair of remastered live albums (1976’s “Live Bullet” and 1981’s “Nine Tonight”) that have now hit iTunes and Amazon. There was a poignant air when Seger’s tour started in March. Unsure about his stamina, he was convinced retirement was at hand. But that 27-show run, a hits-filled affair that included six sold-out Michigan dates, earned glowing reviews on its way to a US$22- million gross. “I didn’t think there was any way I wouldn’t call it quits,” he says. “But it went so well and turned out so much easier than I thought, I said, ‘Let’s just go finish it.’” Seger’s voice has held up well. The only real struggles are the low notes, he says, humming the chorus of his 1977 hit “Mainstreet.” He’ll address that this fall by adopting an in-ear monitor to better hear himself.
n Dominic Chan/ WENN.com
When I was touring in the past, I always thought, ‘I want to go sailing, ride my cycle or play golf.’ Now I’m back to liking the music more than any of it This latest round of touring is just his fourth in 25 years. His songs might be everywhere – staples of classic-rock radio, soundtracks and his 9-million-selling “Greatest Hits” compilation – but the man himself has been a fleeting figure. For long stretches, the public got just occasional glimpses of Seger, who would pop up at Detroit Pistons games and regattas, the hair a little whiter each time. Though fans clamoured for tours, they seemed to understand: He was raising his family, stretching his legs, doing his thing. “But you know what’s weird now?” Seger asked. “When I was touring in the past, I always thought, ‘I want to go sailing, ride my cycle or play golf.’ Now I’m back to liking the music more than any of it. When you see the end coming, you want to go out with a bang. “I’m 66. Wait – 67? No, next year I’ll be 67. So I know I better get it and enjoy it while I can.” Seger’s digital adventure started with his blockbuster concert
albums, which arrived a decade after iTunes transformed the record business. He knows all about waiting: It was “Live Bullet” that thrust him to national acclaim after years of trying, with sales eventually topping 5 million. Recorded over two nights at Detroit’s Cobo Arena, the record captured Seger and his Silver Bullet Band in full flight. “It was the show we’d been doing for two hours a night, 300 nights a year, fronting for Kiss and Aerosmith and BachmanTurner Overdrive, all these groups, and here we were headlining our hometown,” he says. “It was pretty historic for us.” Seger’s digital move is more welcome news for an industry that is finally enjoying a growth spurt. Album sales are up 3 percent over this point last year, according to Nielsen SoundScan, fuelled by a 20 percent rise in downloads of older work. “We’re getting great digital growth on catalogue, and Bob Seger is one of those iconic artists,” explains David Bakula, a senior vice president with Nielsen. “There’s a big demographic on iTunes that isn’t there to pick out the big hit single of the day, but wants to rediscover these heritage rock artists. And they’re not just cherry-picking songs – they want to hear the full albums as they remember them.” The classics are all fine and well, but Seger isn’t just looking back. He continues to work on his first album since 2006, aiming for release by this time next year. Eight songs are done, including “Hey Gypsy,” a Texas-fried tribute to the late Stevie Ray Vaughan, and “Ride Out,” a muscular commentary on the pace of the modern life. He plans to write at least four more this winter, sticking with a familiar creative method: playing and writing and waiting and rewriting. It’s always been this way. Songs such as “Like a Rock” and “We’ve Got Tonight” were epics months in the making – “blood on the page,” as his friend Don Henley would say. “You’ve really got to beat yourself up to create what Henley used to call ‘rhymes with dignity,’” Seger says. “He used to tell me: ‘Sometimes we can sing it good, if we’re competent singers. But it’s better to be able to read it good.’ So I like my lyrics to read well, and I think they do.” Even the classics get rewrites: “Looking back on it now, I think ‘Night Moves’ was too fast. So we play it slower live and it’s much more effective. I was singing the words really fast in ‘76, when I was young. And that does change.” Seger figures more work time is coming. He and his wife, Nita Seger, just saw their 18-year-old son off to college, and their 16-year-old daughter got her driver’s license last month. “We’re moving into the empty-nest era,” he says. “If I’m going to write, I’ve got to just be really buried in it.” And while he’s not ready to commit, Seger won’t rule out the possibility of more touring. “Live Nation tells me the way I do it is smart because it makes people miss you,” he said. “Which is the exact opposite of what everybody told me many years ago: ‘Tour as much as you can!’ “I look at Lady Gaga. She toured so much and really built a base. And that’s what you do when you’re young. Then later, you let everyone miss you – it’s even more special when you do go out.”
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bookcase BOOKS EDITOR | michael morrissey
Check mate THE RED QUEEN
By Philippa Gregory Simon & Shuster, $30 While Hilary Mantel has become the reigning queen of the well-researched upper middle brow English historical novel – Booker Prize-winning Wolf Hall is one of the best written novels written in English in the last few years – Philippa Gregory and Sharon Penman (lower middle brow?) are also prominent leaders in this highly popular genre. Gregory, creator of six Tudor Court novels, has now forayed into the period immediately preceding the Tudors with The White Queen, a study of Elizabeth Woodville. In this thrilling prequel, The Red Queen, she focuses on the holier than thou but ambitious Margaret Beaufort, thwarted rival to Woodville, daughter of John Beaufort, Duke of Somerset and mother of Henry Tudor. As a nine year-old child, she yearns to enter an abbey and become an Abbess and have nuns read to her so that her knowledge of history will continue to grow. In a slip in of tone register, the narrative voice for the nine year-old sounds as mature as the fourteen year-old who prematurely become pregnant to a man of 33 who she first thought was middle-aged. Throughout her early development, her domineering and politically savvy mother impatiently steers the precocious Margaret from her well-intended but non realisable ideals into the grubby world of practical royal politics: “You are a girl and girls have no choice. You could never choose your own husband ... .And finally, you are of the House of Lancaster.” Amen! The nine year-old Margaret is ordered to break off her betrothal to John Le Pole and marry Edmund Tudor who alas, as a lover, knows not the meaning of either gentleness nor foreplay. Her next marriage to the much older Henry Stafford proves more congenial and she attains a measure of happiness, though, as always, blighted by her unrelenting political ambition for her son, whom she dearly loves. Margaret is a wonderfully delineated resolute character who never loses sight of her goal. The psychological drama reaches its gripping height when she accuses her next husband, the ice-cold Thomas Stanley, of being a coward for failing to ride off to do battle against the house of York. Rather than a coward, Stanley is a shrewd calculator who always bides his time before choosing the winning side – even when his son is held hostage by King Richard. The contrast between the two main protagonists, expressed with telling eloquence on both sides, contains some of
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the most impassioned writing in the book. When Stanley shifts to the York side, Margaret cannot forgive him. But ever alert to the mainchance, Stanley eventually switches back to the Lancaster side and wins the day and the crown for Margaret’s son, the future Henry VII. So in realpolitik terms, all is forgiven. The incessant bloody struggle between the two rival houses of York and Lancaster runs its way through the book like a dark skein, stained bright with the blood of numerous battles, mostly off stage. What we relish is the thrill of intrigue and shifting allegiances. From a moral point of view, The Red Queen is a tussle between heartfelt political ambition, masked as an ideal and the more realistic opportunism of her husband. In the end, the two seemingly fuse and both sides get what they want – a Tudor King. Since the point of view is largely that of Margaret, we are witness to only three battle scenes – the first when the POV shifts to Stafford so subtly, one hardly notices. Then Margaret herself witnesses a battle and is appalled – a telling irony since she has been urging her husband into the honorable task of glorious combat. In the end, I had rather less sympathy for Margaret, who often sees herself as a potential second Joan of Arc, than at the beginning. Taking a charitable view, this is the good novelist’s exploration of moral ambiguity, a pulling back from a portrayal of the girly saint she once aspired to be. At my count, on the enclosed map, York wins ten battles and Lancaster wins four, though for some odd reason the crucial and climatically decisive battle of Bosworth in 1485 which the Lancasterian Henry Tudor, aided by his benign and always honourable uncle Jasper, wins, is shaded as an enigmatic black dot. It was at Bosworth that the previously villainous King Richard III, long regarded as the murderer of the two young princes in the Tower of London though now historically exonerated, was heard screaming himself hoarse for a horse. However, in Gregory’s account, the famous Shakespearean line is plucked from the mouth of King Richard and inserted into the jaws of one of his soldiers. This triumphal climactic scene is somewhat hurried through. At this point in history, people believed God allowed battles to express His divine will and witches (rumouredly rife in Wales) are invoked every time something untoward occurs. Fair trials are non existent and beheadings numerous. The pace is unflaggingly frenetic, and sometimes I wished the novel would dally and detour to give a more expansive exploration to some of the events that occur off stage and less repetition of Margaret’s obsessions. Nevertheless, I guarantee you won’t be bored but enthralled. Needless to say, as the tail feather of the book informs us, a new novel set in France is on the boil. Viva La Gregory!
HIS/mindfuel WHERE HAS MY LITTLE GIRL GONE?
By Tanith Carey Lion Hudson (Distributor: New Holland), $21.99 In the introduction to this alarming book, we are informed that Tom Cruise’s daughter was wearing high heels at age three and a girl of seven had started dieting because a friend had told her she was too fat, prompting another three year old to pipe up “thin means you’re perfect”. Other seven year-olds are wearing padded bras. Clearly, things have changed since I was a child. Whatever happened to skipping in bare feet? Carey’s book claims to be the first book for parents to fight back against the “Lolita Effect” – the title of an earlier book dealing with the same syndrome – the premature sexualisation of young girls accompanied by an unhealthy emphasis on physical appearance at the expense of other qualities of character. Everyone knows that little girls (and sometimes little boys) like to dress up as adults and in the good old days they used to do it for fun. Now the little darlings are serious about it. It is undoubtedly a worrying trend, and this book teems with timely advice on how to deal with this alarming trend which seems to be gathering momentum rather than losing it. It’s important to remember whatever moral or psychological reservations we might have about this tendency to prematurely sexualise young girls, the cosmetic industry is delighted by the marketing goldmine it presents. Each chapter has a prefacing essay then launches into short punchy paragraphs of practical advice subdivided into suggestions for younger and older girls. Often I wished the essay sections were longer and the advice sections shorter. Nonetheless, Carey’s thoroughness is admirable. She has covered the unwholesome topic from top to bottom. The author is English and most of the numerous statistics quoted are drawn from the UK. Among literally hundreds of items of well-considered advice, and pertinent observations, here are a few that stood out for me: No one wants their daughters to be one of the one in three who lose their virginity on a one-night stand or of the fifty per cent who say it happened when they were drunk; compared to her successors, the Bratz and Moxie Girl ranges, Barbie now looks like a natural beauty; teenagers can get so addicted to Facebook that they’d rather post messages all day than go out there and meet and talk to people; if girls are close to their fathers they are also less likely to have sex at an early age; pornography finds them (girls) via viral emails, circulated by older children, pop-up ads, banners on websites, computer viruses, and phones; never mention the word “diet”; divert her from lipstick to lip balm; on average, our daughters see 400 images a day to show them what it means to be beautiful; of hardcore pornography: There is no kissing, no expression of love or moments of tenderness. And there’s loads more. All relevant and helpful. As a male, I was fascinated though not entirely surprised by Carey’s pick of unhealthily sexy pop stars (some, alas, among my favorites). Please note: the comments in brackets are mine – Lady Gaga (ugh!) Beyonce (energetic dancer, mediocre voice), Britney Spears, (mediocre every which way), Katy Perry (authen-
tically pretty, great fun and can sing – better than Prozac for the blues – except the Blues), Christina Aguilera (terrific singer, aggressively sexual, not very brainy) and those that are given the Carey thumbs up as strong and independent – Kate Bush (lyrically inventive, too girly), Annie Lennox (strong voice, fullthroated, haunting, authentic, dreadful hair, dresses from St Vincent de Paul) Bjork (lively, versatile, unpredictable, bring it on) and Ellie Goulding.(sounds like anybody and therefore nobody, manufactured sound, almost as bad as Madonna). In our current Western culture (which thankfully won’t stay current forever), many or even most young girls will – sooner or later – tend to gravitate towards excessive amounts of makeup and sexually-oriented clothes. The overall worthy aim of this informative book is to make it later and maybe not at all. And hopefully to divert attention from the shallowness of appearances to deeper human qualities including – dare I mention the word – love. In an otherwise excellent book, I have a couple of minor criticisms. First, the index is inadequate. Second, she proffers this advice: “For little girls who really love their Barbies (or their Moxies and Bratz) she writes: “Suggest games where Barbie becomes a scientist or a politician.” I could be wrong but I suspect Ms Four Year Old (or whatever age Carey has in mind) won’t buy this one.
REVIEW A More Perfect Heaven: How Copernicus Revolutionized the Cosmos By Dava Sobel Walker & Co. (273 pages, $39.99) Copernicus knew what makes the world go round. Philosopher and mathematician, physician and church canon, he calculated and theorized that the earth moved around the sun. Nicolaus Copernicus “defied common sense and received wisdom” and “fathered an alternate universe,” author Dava Sobel writes. Sobel's A More Perfect Heaven: How Copernicus Revolutionized the Cosmos chronicles and dramatizes the story of the momentous discovery and how it came to be published. Her account is generally lucid and engaging. Sobel succeeds, however, in describing the details of a remarkable life and an Inquisitorial age – no time for free thinkers, before, during or after Copernicus. Galileo Galilei would go to prison and Giordano Bruno to the stake. The portrait of modern astronomy’s framer shows a devoted, shrewd scientist and a sensible, adept church administrator who became a visionary. Yet, concerned about expected criticism, he didn't seek to have his theory published and hid it for 30 years. Mathematician Georg Joachim Rheticus would change that. Drawn by talk about Copernicus’ grand idea at a time when Martin Luther was sparking another revolution, Rheticus visited the elderly Copernicus, who taught him the details of the theory. Worried about ridicule, Copernicus welcomed Rheticus’ enthusiasm for his thesis. And Rheticus would write “an informed summary” of it. The rest is history. Reviewed By Peter M. Gianotti
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We have to be quite clear about this: the future of this country now depends upon individual action. Both major parties’ pre-election plans contain highly damaging policies
Our fate depends on this
was speaking recently with a mother who had attended a meeting of her supportive weekly coffee group, women who had their babies around the same time – shunted home in unholy haste out the hospital door. She felt both sad and guilty. One of the mothers in the group had been crying: with her own baby now six months, she had no choice but to go back to work, putting him in a crèche. Others were shortly facing the same prospect. Mothers who are able to stay at home can nowadays actually be made to feel guilty about this. How can we possibly call this progress? Many mothers who would give a great deal to look after their own babies have these days had this choice removed. Successive decades of wrong-headed political decisions have made it virtually impossible for thousands of them to stay at home and look after their children. Such policies have not been entirely accidental. The childless Helen Clark oversaw her government’s decisions skewing the outcome against mothers staying at home to mind their children by offering financial incentives for them to return to the workforce – although all the research substantiates the fact that the most stable unit of society is a cohesive family. Successive governments, with the once universal and very important child benefit removed, have engineered policies deliberately undermining the possibility for mothers to supply the day-to-day continuity of care, love, and permanence which is best for their children. These political decisions are highly suspect. It is almost incredible, too, given
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the advantages children have who are not farmed out to paid care, that National and ACT can argue for solo mothers to be forced back into work when the outcome for babies is known to be distinctly inferior. And it’s children from the disadvantaged sector of society, in particular, who are causing us so many social problems – guaranteed to be compounded by such a policy. Our political parties, with their media reef-fish, are now intoning a necessity for delaying the paying out of superannuation, although, as a Dominion correspondent pointed out, by Labour’s projected date for raising the retirement age, baby boomers meant to be the blow-out problem will already have qualified for superannuation, and on their way to relinquishing it. Ironically, while making it very hard for mothers to stay home and raise families, thus sustaining a healthy birthrate to balance a superannuated population, successive governments have drip-fed legislation undermining families – with obvious socioeconomic consequences. No matter the results of this election, one thing we can be sure of: politicians will continue to wreak just as much damage on this country, probably even more than they have managed in the past. Not only in the economic, but in every other area in which political interference intrudes now into our lives, individuals, families, small businesses, and our now overregulated, professions and trades are drenched in compliance requirements strangely lacking in areas where they are most needed – as we see from the Pike River Mine tragedy.
HIS/mindfuel New Zealanders are becoming overborne, despondent about the fact that no matter which party manages to contrive to inflict its policies on us for the next three years, we will no doubt see a continuation of the disgraceful vote-buying which has seen minority iwi contrive highly lucrative results for themselves with the continued haemorrhaging of taxpayer-robbed money on now quite blatantly spurious claims – while majority (part) Maoris’ as well as all other New Zealanders’ input is excluded. A caller summed it up: “The political class is not responding to our deeply held concerns, and thoughts.” Whatever has happened is not progress, but regress. As C.S. Lewis noted – “We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road: in that case the man who turned back soonest is the most progressive.” An overview of this country yields the information that our universities continue to slip in their international ranking. Our schools continue to churn out incredibly ignorant and highly politicised pupils cheated of the chance to become literate, reflective, knowledgeable, genuinely educated individuals – who speak even more poorly than celebrity Prime Minister Key – demonstrably quite wrongly boasting about his excellent education…We have among the highest rates in the world of teen pregnancy, sexual promiscuity and sexually transmitted disease. What is accurately called the moral decay of our society is as bad at the top as at the bottom – greed a primary motivation for so many have-lots – as well as ever-demanding havenots…disadvantaging even more the genuinely hard-working employers, workers, small businesses, trades and professionals squeezed in the middle. With their tireless busybodying, the politically correct, too, are found throughout whatever bureaucratic government or local government bodies they can infest, dreaming up new propagandized requirements – today’s educationists among the worst. Hence the demand from the British Qualifications and Curriculum Authority – reflected in Australia’s new curriculum – to replace history’s traditional BC and AD terms with BCE (Before Common Era), BP (Before Present) and CE (Common Era). Only one thing can rescue New Zealand – the commonsense of people – given a chance to exercise it. We have to be quite clear about this: the future of this country now depends upon individual action. Both major parties’ preelection plans contain highly damaging policies. Many New Zealanders, recognising this, will very probably have switched to the Green Party, which, they do not realise – has the most anti-family policies of all. For all the charm and smarm offensive of our electorate politicians, they no longer represent us: follow-the-leader has become survival for them. The list MPs are a deeply undemocratic contrivance, although New Zealanders, because of their deep distrust of the two major parties, will not have voted to jettison MMP. However, a party vote is essentially a vote against democracy – it allows into Parliament individuals whom nobody voted for – and who then become party apparatchiks, unanswerable to New Zealanders at large. Inescapably, the future of New Zealand is not none of our business... Those who think that they are entitled to the luxury
of opting out of putting caring concern into action are a large part of our problem. It can well be argued that it is the actual duty of every rational citizen to contribute to the thinking concerning decisions that affect us all. The most recent article posted on our 100 Days – Claiming Back New Zealand website – (Bad Law – Unaccountable Politicians) – written by an expat New Zealander, one of many who could no longer stand what was happening to this country, points out that this initiative, with its 100% achievable aim of restoring democracy to this country – i.e. empowering New Zealanders themselves to make the final decisions on important issues regarding their future, has become “the most important political initiative in decades. “ How it works, and how we are going to be able to determinedly reclaim our future from the cynically deal-making, political oligarchy which now rules, can be accessed at www.100days.co.nz. We quite simply have no other realistic choice of preventing bad law, throwing out unaccountable politicians, and winning back our country. © Amy Brooke www.amybrooke.co.nz www.100days.co.nz www.summersounds..co.nz http://www.livejournal.com/users/brookeonline/
The claim that moral obligations are, in fact, commands issued by God does not entail that people must believe that God exists and has issued commands in order to be able to recognise right and wrong
When scientists make bad ethicists
ne thing I find particularly frustrating is reading commentary on theology and philosophy written by scientists. To be fair, some scientists I have read are informed and do offer astute and insightful comments; commonly, however, one finds a person who is undoubtedly brilliant in their own field, writing with confident gusto, articles that fail to understand the most basic theological and philosophical distinctions. A recent article in USA Today by influential biologist Jerry Coyne is a good example. Coyne, an outspoken atheist, is disturbed that many Americans, including some prominent scientists, believe that our instinctive sense of right and wrong is “strong evidence for [God’s] existence.” He ventures into moral philosophy to explain why this is clearly mistaken. From the get-go Coyne demonstrates he does not understand the issues. It is necessary to accurately understand the position Coyne is criticising before we look at the paucity of his critique. The argument that our instinctive sense of right and wrong “is strong evidence for [God’s] existence” found its most important formulation in a 1979 article by Yale Philosopher Robert Adams. In it, Adams noted that we instinctively grasp that certain actions, like torturing children for fun, are wrong; hence, he reasoned, we are intuitively aware of the existence of moral obligations. According to Adams, the best account of the nature of such obligations is that they are commands issued by a loving and just God. Identifying obligations with God’s commands can
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explain all the features of moral obligation better than any secular alternative. Consequently, the existence of moral obligations provides evidence for God’s existence. It is important to note what Adams did not claim. Central to Adams’ argument, and to pretty much every author who follows him, is a vital distinction; this is the distinction between the claim that moral obligations are, in fact, divine commands and the claim that one cannot recognise what our moral obligations are unless one believes in divine commands or some form of divine revelation. Adams illustrates this distinction with the example of H2O and water. Contemporary chemistry tells us that the best account of the nature of water is that water is, in fact, H2O molecules. This, of course, means that water cannot exist unless H2O does. However, it does not mean that people who do not know about or believe in the existence of H2O cannot recognise water when they see it. For centuries people recognised, swam in, sailed on and drank water before they knew anything about modern chemistry. This distinction has important implications. The claim that moral obligations are, in fact, commands issued by God does not entail that people must believe that God exists and has issued commands in order to be able to recognise right and wrong. These are separate and logically distinct claims. Coyne conflates this distinction from the outset. After noting that some people believe that moral obligations provide strong evidence for God’s existence, he claims that this is an oft-heard argument, “‘Evolution,’ many argue, ‘could never have given us feelings of
HIS/mindfuel kindness, altruism and morality...’;” to this he rejoins that, “scientists studying our primate relatives, such as chimpanzees, see evolutionary rudiments of morality: behaviours that look for all the world like altruism, sympathy, moral disapproval, sharing – even notions of fairness.” This is confused. Apart from the fact that no one who cites morality as evidence for God actually makes the argument about evolution that Coyne sets out, the claim that moral obligations cannot exist independently of God is not the claim that without God people would not have moral feelings. Feeling that one has an obligation to do something and actually having an obligation to do it are clearly different things. People can feel that they have a certain obligation without it actually being the case that they do. Coyne makes a similar mistake when he argues that secular European countries like Sweden and Denmark “are full of wellbehaved and well-meaning citizens, not criminals and sociopaths running amok.” This may well be true but all it shows is that people can recognise moral obligations and live in accord with them without believing in God. That no more shows that moral obligations can exist without God or that moral obligations are not divine commands than the fact that for centuries people could recognise water and swim without knowing anything about modern chemistry shows that water can exist without hydrogen. Coyne equally fails to address the issue when he asserts that the Bible endorses beating slaves, genocide, killing homosexuals, torturing people for eternity, killing children for being cheeky and so on; texts he claims Christians pass over “with judicious silence”. Apart from the fact that Coyne’s interpretation of these texts is in many places dubious and that far from passing over them in silence, Christian theologians working in the field of Old Testament ethics have written voluminous works on how these passages are to be understood, Coyne’s argument here misses the point. The claim that moral obligations cannot exist independently from the existence of a just and loving God is not the claim that the Bible is an accurate source of information about what God commands. Someone could, for example, argue that the wrongness of an action is constituted by God’s commands but that we know and recognise what is right and wrong from our conscience and not from a written revelation. Some leading writers on theological ethics have suggested precisely this. The only time Coyne is remotely on point is when he argues that if moral obligations are constituted by God’s commands then morality becomes arbitrary; anything at all could be deemed ‘right’ as long as God has commanded it – even stealing or infanticide. Coyne suggests this argument is devastating and has been known to be so by philosophers for hundreds of years. In fact, since Adams’ publication, this argument has been subject to extensive criticism in the philosophical literature. So much so that today even Adams’ leading critics grant that it fails. Adams contended that moral obligations are, in fact, the commands of a loving and just God; therefore, it is possible for infanticide or theft to be right only if a fully informed, loving and just person could command things like infanticide and stealing. The assumption that this is possible seems dubious. The very reason
Coyne cites examples such as infanticide and theft is because he considers them to be paradigms of conduct that no morally good person could ever knowingly entertain or endorse. Coyne seems vaguely aware of the response, stating “Of course, you can argue that God would never sanction something like that because he’s a completely moral being, but then you’re still using some idea of morality that is independent of God.” Here he again falls into confusion. What his response shows is that people can have ideas about and recognise what counts as loving and just independently of their beliefs about God and his commands. Now this is true but this does not show that moral obligations can exist independently of the commands of a loving and just God. Coyne again fails to grasp the basic distinctions involved in discussions of God and morality. Not only does this argument not refute Adams position but precisely analogous reasoning provides a serious challenge to Coyne’s own secular account of morality. After claiming that moral obligations cannot be constituted by God’s commands, Coyne offers an alternative: morality comes from “evolution”, humans evolved a capacity to instinctively feel certain actions are wrong and others are right. But couldn’t evolution have produced rational beings that felt that infanticide and theft were obligatory or that rape was, in certain circumstances, ok? As Darwin himself noted, “If men were reared under precisely the same conditions as hive-bees, there can hardly be a doubt that our unmarried females would, like the worker-bees, think it a sacred duty to kill their brothers, and mothers would strive to kill their fertile daughters, and no one would think of interfering.” Coyne faces a dilemma. If the fact that it is possible for God to have commanded that infanticide is permissible proves that morality is not based on God’s commands then the fact it is possible for evolution to have produced rational beings who feel infanticide is permissible must prove that morality is not dependent on evolution. Believers of God can avoid this conclusion for the reasons I pointed to above; it is unlikely that a loving and just person could command actions such as infanticide or rape whereas, evolution, guided only by the impersonal forces of nature, is not subject to such constraints. Coyne’s argument does not refute Adams’ position but it does appear to refute his own. Now nothing I say in response to Coyne here is new, much of it has been said in the voluminous literature on God and Morality written and published over the last forty years. All Coyne had to do to realise this was actually read it. Of course, like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and a host of other popular writers, Coyne has not bothered to actually read the literature on contemporary theological ethics before wading in. Instead he hopes that his stature as a biologist and his confident tone will convince many unfamiliar with the field that he has offered a devastating criticism. He has not and pretending he has is about as sensible as pretending that because I am a theologian I can offer informed commentary on contemporary genetics off the top of my head. Dr Matthew Flannagan is an Auckland based Analytic Theologian who researches and publishes in the area of Philosophy of Religion, Theology and Ethics; he blogs at www.mandm.org.nz.
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