I was lucky enough to see a show by Mulatu Astatke at the Melbourne Jazz Festival on Sunday. It was quite stunning. Here’s a really lovely video I found over the weekend. Have a geez.
You know that melancholy sense we sometimes get when recalling memories of growing up, playing games with your sister in the house you grew up in, visiting your grandma for your tuesday pie, those long days playing on the beach. These memories have a ripe sweetness as we fondly reflect on times we can never get back. The graph below is reproduced via The Standard and Auckland Transport Blog. It illustrates an apparent growing gap between global fuel supply and demand. This is not to suggest that fuel supplies are running out, but economics tell us that once demand outstrips supply the price will start spiraling steadily upwards. All data such as this is a forecast so the timing it is arguable, but unless we develop some amazing new technology the mechanism are inevitable. Just as we inevitably grow old and loose our time and abilities to play, Mankind is aging and the youthful supply of cheap energy is coming to an end, and with this everything changes. Our food supplies are based on cheap oil, our globalized transport systems are based on cheap oil, the design of our cities are based on cheap oil, even the power supply for the internet is based on cheap oil. All this must change. And the data in the graph below is from the USA Department of Energy. This is serious, and its not happening in twenty years, but in two or three years.
There is something terrible afoot in New Zealand at the moment and it is being played out in a few different ways all over the country.
Aucklanders’ are being swindled with changes to their local government, leaving them with say over only about 35% of what their new Supercity council does. Control of utilities is being given to a non-elected body run by a CEO who will answer to the Minister of Local Government. This means Aucklanders will be at the mercy of interests of the rest of the country, with national parliamentary elections their only opportunity to exercise their democratic rights and have a say about how water and roading are run in their city. Considering that it is current Local Government Minister Rodney Hide who has overseen the erosion of Aucklanders’ democratic rights I don’t think Aucklanders should be too happy with this corner that their democracy has turned.
And then there is the situation in Canterbury. All elected members of the regional council Environment Canterbury (ECAN) were recently sacked and replaced with a board of commissioners. This was in response to a government ordered review of the council’s performance and concerns about its management of water in the region.
Canterbury has over 70% of New Zealand’s fresh water supply, mostly stored in a huge network of aquifers under the plains. Since 2002 there has been a huge increase in dairying in this geographically dry region, an industry that requires lush green pastures to sustain it. I grew up in here and each time I return to visit I notice more and more of the land is covered in huge green circles, the product of massive irrigation systems. What is so scary about this is that no one knows how much water there is in those aquifers. Scientists haven’t been able to accurately estimate the volume and regeneration rate of water and there are no real measures in place to track or control how much water is being taken out of them by agriculture and industry. I will also go out on a limb and say that dairying is now New Zealand’s number one polluter. Farmers fertilise soil with nitrogen to make lots of grass grow for their cows. And then the cows shit and piss a whole lot of nitrogen back into the soil and into water systems in the area. Nitrogen leaching in soil is a problem to which there is currently no solution and it takes decades for its river and lake choking effects to become apparent. Increasing nutrients in water systems and soil cause things like algal blooms which have severe effects on the ecosystem and kill other species. Dairying is draining and polluting the Canterbury aquifers, NZ most valuable water resource, and our minister of the Environment Nick Smith is busy helping dairy farmers to get irrigation consents by sacking the very organisation set up to manage water use.
According to their website “Environment Canterbury is the regional council working with the people of Canterbury to manage the region’s air, water and land. We are committed to the sustainable management of our environment while promoting the region’s economic, social and cultural well-being.” So get this, the Creech report into ECan’s performance says that “ECan put too much emphasis on the environment”. I’m a tad confused, isn’t that what it is suppose to be doing?
There are some serious conflicts of interest in all of this too. Wyatt Creech the is a director of Open Country Cheese, which has convictions for dirty dairying. Creech’s firm has been twice prosecuted for contaminating Waikato farmland and rivers. And Nick Smith’s brother Tim Smith has just pleaded guilty to 21 charges brought by ECan because of unconsented discharges in the region. Last June Tim had this to say about ECan “I told them their organisation was bloody hopeless and they were all useless bastards who should be sacked,” he said. “I also told them that with some luck my brother and Rodney Hide would do something about it”
It turns out that they did do something about it.
After sacking the council Environment Minister Nick Smith has cancelled the upcoming ECan elections and Cantabrian’s won’t be able to vote in a new council until 2013. This is a blatant removal of democracy and in my view suspicious and totally unnecessary. If the real issue was that this council weren’t up to scratch then surely an election later this year would have been the perfect opportunity for improvement.
What is Rodney Hide up to removing our democratic rights? Something stinks and I think it is the National Government. Here is some more interesting reading on the issue: No Right Turn.
And I have ranted this much without even talking about their intention to mine in the Coromandel, one of New Zealand’s most valuable conservation areas. And how convenient that they don’t have to pay anyone to mine on conservation land! They also want to privatise the management of our prisons and introduce a ‘three strikes and you’re out’ policy in an attempt to reduce crime. It doesn’t work in the US so why would it work here?
A friend of mine put it well recently: “National releases new fuck everyone policy”
In Lyall Bay this afternoon, over cups of tea and dominoes, a bunch of got talking about art and communication. Which lead to discussion about language and how much is communicated by the way things are said rather than what is said. I think we were talking about acting exercises where you repeat the same phrase with the stress on different parts of the phrase, thereby changing it’s entire meaning each time. Anyway… autism came up. And we remembered this video made by an autistic woman to try and explain her experience of the world.
When I watch it I can’t help but think that her direct communion with the physicality of life is something I look for when making theatre. Only it takes hours and hours of exercises and experimentation in order to “let go” enough to be able to do what she can so naturally. And then put that communication into a context that will make sense to an audience. There is something to effortlessly truthful about responding physically to your surroundings without the filter of language to change and reframe experience. I love the way dance can do that.
The rediscovered poem and accompanying images from David Greene, 2004.
To butterfly brains
Keep your brain like an
Exposed nerve he said
To dreamers and slackers
To workers for the beauty
To prisoners in the
Revolving door between
The room called doubt and
The one named belief
To the slaves who work for
The small triumphs of
You can roll a piece of
Steel any length
To those who prefer the
Parking lot to hypersurface
To those who think a
Traffic jam is a temporary
To the cybernetic park
To those who love the
Crystal before the palace
To those who see the park
As a paradise for learners
Dreaming in the city
Stuffed with objects and
We can dedicate
This park to the birds and
To the invisible
Data networks of the modern sky as we smell
To the imagination of the
Flowers and to the
New blue-tooth cell-phone
Event life into the
David Greene, 2004
Below is a new video from unzed reggae funk legends The Blackseeds. Its classic Blackseeds style, I especially appreciate the video that has been edited and produced by the very talented Nektar Productions also from Wellington. The video uses what I assume is public domain footage, making a beautiful and moving sequence of unrelated films clips feed together into the narrative of the song. Its slightly subversive, its moving and beautiful. Reminds me of the bit of graffiti I saw the other day. “The future is bleak, uncertain, and beautiful.”
I only have time to put up one post, its either a link and some commentary about sexism in the architectural star system by Denise Scott Brown, or the video below about a cute pet and geeky technology. I promise I will do the other one soon.
Here’s a great article with fancy graphs from business insider . com. It illustrates the massive financial inequalities in the states, and how progressive regimes there have worked to increase them. It also shows the fallacy of understanding politics as a competition between left and right ideologies. These graphics illustrate that politics is now simply a clever method of transferring even more wealth to the already very very wealthy.