Tuesday, 27 January 2009

On writing and sexual frustration

When Beck Eleven finally gets laid again, The Press is going to be just that little less entertaining. Just saying...

Friday, 23 January 2009

Twenty instructions in Tai Chi (Peter Rawnsley)

Twenty instructions in Tai Chi (Peter Rawnsley)

Stand and let
gravity fall through you.

Part the mane of the most
beautiful of all horses.

Be a crane alighting
a brief flash of wings.

Turn and brush away
whatever hinders.

Lean back, let your fingers
play the strings of a lute.

Repulse four monkeys
until your mind is still.

Stroke a sparrow's tail
pull down the sky.

Press upon the air
push forward.

Gather like a whip
spiral out, touch.

Let yourself float
drift like a cloud.

Reach high and pat the most
beautiful of all horses

Kick out
the world will part before you.

Bring your fists together
box in your enemies.

Let yourself flow down
like a snake or waterfall.

Stand like a cockerel
on one leg, balanced, still.

Work the shuttle
threading between yin and yang.

Pick a tiny needle
from the bottom of the sea.

Fan out, turn, strike
whatever is an obstacle.

Draw back and apparently
withhold, yet push forward.

Raise, lower, stand
let gravity fall through you.

Friday, 16 January 2009

A brief note to the Yes on Prop 8 campaign

Item buried in page 6 (local news) for the Press, the major Christchurch daily:

Game of love sees gay MP score the man of his dreams

They met playing together in the country's first gay rugby team - the Krazy Knights - and today the happy couple will tie the knot in a public display of love.

"I said in my maiden speech - we're proof that it pays not to stereotype," Wellington Central MP Grant Robertson said.

The gay Labour politician and former No. 8 is swapping vows and rings with his sweetheart of 10 years, Alf Kaiwai - an ex-halfback - this afternoon in a civil union cermony at Old St Paul's church in Thorndon, Wellington.

This was last week. To the best of my knowledge, my straight engaged friends are still engaged, and my straight married friends are still married. Wellington has yet to sink beneath the waves, and we've been having gorgeous weather recently. This only got recorded because it was an MP and because of the rugby angle.

If you voted Yes on Prop 8, or you have similiar views - grow up. And join the rest of the civilised world.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Battlestar Galactica speculation

Warning - may be spoilers, may be complete codswallop.

I came up with this as a throwaway on Pandagon, but the more I think about it, the more it makes sense.

The major remaining mystery of Battlestar Galactica as we head into the final season is - who is the fifth Cylon - the one missing between Lee Adama and Tigh in this photo:

Some clues already given:

- It's been noted that "The fifth Cylon will be "organic and satisfying. It won't be some day player from Season 1." says SciFi Channel VP Mark Stern.[5] Stern describes it as "delicious" and "one of those things that are right under your nose and you don't expect it -- but it makes total sense." He says, "it doesn't feel arbitrary, It feels like it could have been planned all along."[6]"

- "The First Hybrid says this about the final Cylon:
"The fifth is still is in shadow, drawn toward the light, hungering for redemption, that will only come in the howl of terrible suffering." (Razor)"

- "D'Anna Biers's vision of the Final Five led her to speak of "the one who programmed us." (Rapture)"

My guess is that the fifth Cylon is, in fact, the Battlestar Galactica itself. I'd rate it at about 30-40% probable - it seems silly on first glance, but the more I look at it, the more it seems possible, and both a twist and an organic part of the whole series.

- The purpose of the final Five is to find Earth. If Galactica is pulling their strings, this would explain the musical episode. And what else is more likely to be there if the fleet succeeds?
- The Galactica, using the other four and perhaps Baltar's Number Six as unwitting catspaws, has been manipulating the humans and also manipulating the Cylons, without the Seven being generally aware of what has been happening. The Cylon pursuit of the Fleet has been a spur towards the goal of finding Earth.
- There is no reason why a Cylon should look human - at all.
- The key argument against this theory is that it is a military ship, presumably with every inch maintained on a regular basis. How are you going to hide a Cylon brain on board? This makes sense until you consider that both the ship's chief petty officer and its second in command may have been manipulated - the two people most able to conceal the truth.
- The directors have said that they were leaving clues, and then they came out with the "Last Supper" picture. This conspiciously had an empty place. But, then again, perhaps they're just enamoured with their own cleverness enough to leave the clue in plain sight - look closer and it is not an empty place at all. The Fifth Cylon is right there...

Okay, so it seems unlikely. But, considering it, it is a narratively brilliant stroke, and considerably more satisfying than having Zarek or anyone else turn out to be the candidate. I'd wager on it if anyone would give me two to one odds.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

More game-playing foolishness

Consider this bit of news:

President-elect Barack Obama is resurrecting an idea that fell short of enactment twice in 2008: allowing companies a speedier recovery of their current losses through refunds of taxes they paid on earnings in previous years.

The extension of net operating loss carryback from two years to five, which is favored by Republicans, would provide instant refunds to some of the firms that have been hit hardest by the recession, including large portions of the financial services and real estate industries.

Economically, this doesn't appear to be very clever for two reasons.

Firstly, it fails as an economic stimulus. The research is best illustrated by this, from Firedoglake.

If you are going to try to stimulate the economy, reducing corporate taxes is not the best way to do it.

Firedoglake also points out one means of gameplaying via this provision. Another immediately springs to my mind, and this is the encouragement of exaggerated expenses and valuing losses associated with a specific corporate identity as, again, a means of gaming the system. A company that makes a loss might be considered worth acquiring precisely because that past loss might be offset, post acquisition, against a tax burden on other profits. or you might run global expenses through an American subsidiary precisely to incur a loss.

I'm almost economically illiterate. If I can see the potential for corporate gameplaying involved with this, the smart money must be rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect.

And the very last thing the American corporate and financial structure needs now is yet another reason for people to distrust it.