October 21, 2004

free your mind

This article on Wired describes a device which can turn off all tvs within signalling distance (standard remote I think). Sort of like an EMP blast effect on sentinels in The Matrix (and yes, I had to research that - I'm not quite such a geek as all that).

Speaking of which, there is a lot of writing about the religious symbolism of the matrix series. I have an inkling that part of the success of the film was its astute use of christian imagery. The sort of stuff which is so deeply welded into the culture we have no idea that it is there.

And, of course, lots of very pretty leather clothing (which is justified because they wear true grunge in real life).

Posted by carla at 09:44 PM

October 19, 2004


I've just spent the weekend in Bavaria near the Alps (very pretty, snow, pines and everything). Anyway I noticed that they all seem to build these huge farmhouses with 20 rooms and large gardens.

Then I get back to England where even people in the wilds of Yorkshire build like they might fall of the edges of a pocket handkerchief if they get too excited.

I also got to see real live Bavarians in lederhosen. The strangest thing was that it actually suited them very well (and I'm no usually a girl who goes for leather trousers).

In fact, I was so generally excited about everything that I quite enjoyed the tube ride from Heathrow to Liverpool St Station. Until I noticed that Londoners have the look of people who know everything within their horizons. Like being in one of the most extraordinary cities in the world permanently ruins you for anywhere else. It made me think fond thoughts about the world-focusedness New Zealanders often have. Our habit of cultural cringe has left us with the conviction that there are better things out there somewhere, and contradictorily that we can get as good as we like because we'll never get close enough to world class to be afraid of failing to be.

Speaking of which, my cousin who lives on a farm at the foothills of the alps is in love with his Swandri. Though I should point out that it is one of the newer boiled wool ones, not one of the traditional checkered flavours.

I plan to steal his cultural artifacts by adapting tile ovens to the New Zealand bbq. This website has some background info and piccies. (Though my cousin's ones were more low key and endearing.)

oh, and weisswurst was much, much better than I remembered.

Posted by carla at 11:01 PM

October 13, 2004

scottish parliament

The finally moved into the new one on Saturday, and I watched it on the telly (on account of not being in Edinburgh personally to see it happen). Here is what the Guardian had to say about it.

Wow. What a massive symbolism fest! Good symbolism mostly. Like the Queen turning up to wish them the best (which is pretty good natured really). Though what posessed her to wear a pink cushion I have no idea. The original crown of Scotland leading the procession. The new, new, *new* building which they ended up in. The procession down from the old castle to the new parliament down the royal mile. The beautiful gaelic singing. The colonels with bows and arrows escorting the Earl of Angus (who is apparently the crown looking-after person and has been since Duncan or some such). Facinating.

Facinating also to note that the Scots used to refer to their monarch as the Queen or King of Scots - rather than the English habit of referring to them as the Queen or King of land. Also that the Scots haven't technically had an Elizabeth before so Liz should actually be called Elizabeth, Queen of Scots while she's over the border. Certainly makes her sound more interesting. Nice to note that she uses a different standard while there (Scots Lions instead of the English ones).

And just plain lovely to hear British people making speaches that actually mean something and invoke feelings. And lots and *lots* of them were obviously joyous to have a local parliament building to be local politicians in. Long may it continued - and I hope for their sake it goes well. Particularly interesting was the First Minister's speach, which was so full of hope that it made me cry. He genuinely seemed to be attempting to call into being a hopeful future and to set the new Parliament up to be a leading light in Scottish affairs and as a guide for the Scots to find solutions to their own problems. It reminded me of the hopefullness New Zealand occassionally shows signs of, and I was moved to see another small country attempting to define itself into the future.

The gaelic singing left me in absolutely no doubt that gaelic culture is profoundly different from English culture. This article indicates some of the differences, including a totally different approach to rhythm (apologies for the horrible background). Even after 300 years of living under the same government and in the same part of the world. It was almost like seeing beneath the English covers of Britain into a foreign land. A land I'd like to see more of, and should be cherished by anyone who visits the area.

Posted by carla at 04:04 AM

October 12, 2004

keep it simple, stupid

These reviews of the Kerry - Bush debates are interesting. Partly because the conclusions they draw about the result are so different. Maybe I am missing something.

Furious George argues that Bush is coming across as angry - something contrary to his campaign strategy.

This article is less sensationalist, and argues that Bush came back strongly in the second debate.

I have no idea which is more accurate. I guess we'll find out when the polls close.

What did strike me was something which I noticed about Bush when I first heard him on National Radio - he sounds really, simply nice. Which is his greatest (personal) strength in my opinion. The reason I don't approve of his presidency is I think he oversimplifies things. But in retrospect, I think that is fundamentally what he is selling.

Americans are nice people (they certainly like to think of themselves that way) and it would appear that a large collection of them really want world affairs to be simple. They want to believe Bush, so that is the level of policy analysis they will get. I have a strong sad feeling that they will end up disappointed.

I've also been struck recently by the fact that the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition are both really smart people. Whether or not I agree with their conclusions about the world (let alone policy) I do feel that they have the intelligence to at least enquire fruitfully. And neither of them have the slightest natural charisma either. Very, very odd for politicians.

If the people of a democracy get the leadership they deserve, I'm curious about what that means for what we are.

Posted by carla at 11:30 AM

October 11, 2004

it's getting hot in here

Optimism is generally regarded as a positive trait. And, no, that wasn't supposed to be a pun. :) I think the nicest interpretation of the Bush administration's approach to global warming is that they have a sunny optimism that any effects of global warming will be largely irrelevant to the way they live their lives.

They might even be optimistic about the effects global warming will have on other people's lives.

Unfortunately, there is a benefit in being pessimistic when you are talking about risks to the way the earth functions. Like being able to find the motivation to respond to world-wide challenges and risks. I always find terror of consequences very motivational.

I very much wish they would find some pessimism and add it to their diet. Climate change is not something we can afford to get wrong.

Posted by carla at 11:09 PM

October 07, 2004


is a damn pretty little city. much, much like Cuba St in Wellington, but with more graffiti and much better architecture. It is like Cuba St's cooler older brother. With Goulash. And a depressingly large number of loud lager-seeking English people. And a river instead of a harbour (with a very pretty Karla's bridge).

There was also a strong sense of economic recovery and social opening - reminicient of New Zealand in many ways. I even went to the Czeck version of a tourism kapa haka group - Vivaldi's Four Seasons with lead cello. They had that mild smurk which says "you think *this* is music? you don't know *nothing*". lovely to see European culture in its indigenous setting though.

Almost no communist architecture in the main city - which was weird. The architecture is massively consistent; more so than Napier even (un*think*able!). I felt more at home than I did in London. Which is sad in a way. I'd expect the city of my birth to provide more of a landing place than a random city in eastern europe.

Posted by carla at 08:46 AM