The council are planning to revamp the Mount Vic lookout. You can view the new plans at Wellington City Council's website. There is a meeting at Tuesday, 23 November 2004 at 7.00pm at the council offices.
Anything which proposes to remove gorse gets my approval. Another go at the Byrd memorial probably doesn't. How many times can they get it wrong?
And it is interesting to note they are using Matairangi as an alternative name. I'd be wholeheartedly enthusiastic, except I rather like Mount Victoria and Mount Albert sitting next to each other like they do. Victoria's memorial to Albert is the most extraordinary thing I've ever seen, especially with all the gold bits cleaned. She may have had little taste, but she obviously thought the world of him. Photos can be found at : this site.
Or we could just dump the union jack from our flag and run with just the stars (until we can think up one we really like).
This article by Colin James puts the Bush administration into pretty stark contrast, and refers to some interesting sources.
My favourite quote is:
"Listen to Ian Buruma, outstanding analyst of Asia and self-styled Americophile: 'Turning the United States into an armed fortress, making it harder and harder for foreigners to enter the country, is the opposite of defending an open society. Legal sophistry in defence of torture casts a dark stain. Harassing harmless campaigners for causes not popular with the current administration damages not only the beauty but also the substance of the American idea of freedom.'"
This neatly summarises the tone of the opinions I heard in Germany.
I've noticed a steady increase in the number of people who are comparing the Bush administration with fasict administrations. They are mostly arguing that the Bush administration is a facist administration. This list of 15 common themes in facist administrations is makes for interesting reading (thank you KR for pointing me to it :)
I was particularly interested in this point though:
8. Religion and Power Intertwined:
I'd suggest that it isn't religion as such, anything with a strong connection to the cultural myths of the nation or race would work as well. From my memory of 1st year politics, the nazis were not keen on the church at all, and tended to use sagic language to couch their message in terms which would evoke a sense of rightness and bypass people's critical sensibilities.
Interestingly, based on this source, it would appear Hilter was inspired by Wagner rather than God. Also, by casting the Jews as a race, rather than a religion, he could place them as opposite to the Aryan race. Conveniently, this meant none of the Jews could convert, and also enabled him to avoid any of the more difficult bits of Christianity (such as "though shalt not kill"). It was almost as if he was claiming to have been sent by the Fatherland, rather than by God.
Bush seems to be using a similar approach adapted for the religious and freedom loving americans. In the speaches I have heard, he is conflating democracy, freedom and God into one justifying principle. By making his justification not based on God but still associated with Godliness he can borrow the strength of myth and religious language, but avoid any nasty theological challenges.
The other similarity they have is a very high level of conviction in the rightness of what they are doing. If Bush doesn't spend at least some of his time sure that he is sent by God, I'd be very surprised.
Whatever I might think of the actual result; this last election at least showed some positive signs for democratic life in the US of A.
1. Best voter turnout since 1960 (it's been falling since then).
2. The President actually won the popular vote (so the Electoral College effect was irrelevant to the result).
Bush is the most genuinely elected president the US has had in decades.
If you thought First Past the Post created poxy results in the New Zealand House of Representatives, you should see the distortions which ar created by the Electoral College system in the USA.
In the Electoral College system, the president is actually decided by who wins the most votes in the Electoral College. Each state has a number of votes in the Electoral College and casts all its votes for the party who won that state. Each state gets a different number of Electoral College votes with the bigger states getting more votes.
So, whichever candidate wins California gets 55 votes in the Electoral Collge. The candidate who wins Columbia gets 3 votes in the Electoral College. The only "split vote" states are Maine and Nebraska. Their Electoral College votes are cast proportionally. Colorado is considering changing to be a split vote state.
This why the swing states are so important - and why the big swing states are extremely important. Florida has 27 votes in the Electoral College so, in a tight race, whoever wins it is likely to win the Presidency.
Check out this article at the bbc for more details.