We’re (almost) All White Jock

June 24, 2010

“He’s fine, he’ll be playing tomorrow…. He’s just resting. I asked him not to train…  Hopefully Ryan is okay. If he’s not, I’ll play…   He’s got a little tummy problem like we’ve all gone through…”    All Whites Coach Ricki Herbert- playing it close to his chest before the Paraguay game.

 It’s just over 7 hours to the All Whites Football World Cup game against Paraguay. As for the last two Thursdays TV ONE’s sports commentator is standing in a deserted rugby ground to introduce the News at 6 Sports segment.  They could just bluescreen in the stadium for Saturday night’s All Black Test against Wales but because they’ve got the mobile technology they’re determined to prove it.

 What’s the first item and the first real live cross? (Though with the agonizing time delays between question and answer it would be better to pre-record and edit). Yes, you’ve got it-the other World Cup. The one we’re doing quite well in, against the odds. The one even more of us are staying up to watch at 2am tomorrow morning.

In the past week the All Whites have done a reverse William Webb Ellis, dropped the ball on their toes and gone for it, carrying a lot of increasingly fanatical fans with them. The NZRU has got cause for pause for thought. Well away from the FIFA fiefdom, the fracture in the Kiwi monolithic rugby pedestal is clearly visible. Whereas the All Blacks have had the heavy hand of expectation since the initial Rugby World Cup-the only time they have won- the All Whites weren’t rated by many at the start of the season to qualify for the Football World Cup, let alone grab at least a couple of points.

With two draws in the space of five days white is certainly the new black . Against Paraguay it will be literally because the All Whites can’t play in all white so they’ll be all black temporarily.

While we’re counting down to kick off let’s remember what’s happened so far and replay the famous goals. A Bafokeng great football moment* at the fag end of the game against Slovakia. Then the opening goal Mbombela bombshell, with Nelsen’s Nelspruit defenders hanging on to draw against the balletic and ballistic world champion Italians.

You have to feel for the Slovaks-Czechmated by the Kiwi’s Lazurus move right at the expiry of three minutes of extra time. Okay, it was more of a stalemate-an improbable draw not a win, not that you would have known by the extent of the domestic euphoria outbreak as New Zealand notched up its first FIFA World Cup point.

Against Italy a few days later the Kiwis displayed grit and elbow grease reminiscent of some of our best netballers. On the other hand the Italians won the diving display hands down and filched a flock of fouls. It was obvious that they’d been trained at the Andy Hayden School of Sports Diving and Method Acting (SOSDAM). The alarm bells were certainly ringing early on and many Italian fans mistook them for church bells, so deep in prayer were they for most of the game.

As The Melbourne Age reported, shortly before the All Whites opened their Football World Cup campaign, their captain Ryan Nelsen was asked whether his team would be putting on a haka to flex the emotional muscles pre-kick off. ”Skinny white guys doing the haka?”, he said, shaking his head. ”Mmm. Very intimidating’.”  

 They certainly found other ways to beef up their self- belief.

Skinny Maori (and Danish resident)  Winston Reid  used his head to net a last-gasp equaliser* against Slovakia to earn the All Whites their first points at a World Cup. “This is the most important goal of my life… I try to get forward more often but don’t often score, so this is great.”  The nation agreed.

In the Italian game Nelsen and his fellow stout defenders didn’t allow tiredness to cramp their style.  Paston was very busy and very protective in goal,  the Italians splaying 33 shots at goal to New Zealand’s 3. 

The All Whites have had to call on the Kiwi diaspora and the pull of the national jersey to field a mixed team of amateurs and professionals to qualify for and play in the finals.  If football transfer fees are an accurate football currency, Paraguayan striker Roque Santa Cruz is worth more than 35 times the whole  All Whites squad.

Whatever happens against Paraguay in a few hours people will remember the leadership and the team spirit demonstrated on and off the field by Ryan Nelsen and his hardy lieutenants.  At the end of both games there were no kisses but more than a few hugs. Goal.com named Nelsen world player of the week by an international football website, for ”inspiring his side to two draws and giving the All Whites a shot at last 16 qualification”.

Nelsen has been battling a stomach bug today. Perhaps after 15 years the dreaded All Black Bacillus has risen Phoenix-like,  like the All Whites themselves.  Even if  the captain makes it safely from the poop deck to the bridge is  it too much to expect his team to complete a draw trifecta, let alone snatch a win, and make it into the next round?

My head says  to be  realistic and pick Paraguay 2 New Zealand 0.  But I wouldn’t put a bet on it and my heart whispers that the New Zealanders might just have one more escape trick up their white sleeves. The elbow of Godzone? Then we really would blow our own vuvuzelas. 

Win, lose or draw the real winner from this extraordinary World Cup campaign will be  football  in New Zealand, though many of us still put our foot in it and insist on calling the game soccer. 

    #Lyall Lukey 24 June 2010 
http://www.lukey.co.nz/  http://www.smartnet.co.nz

 BLINKS Pr-print    Vid-Video   So-Sound   Mm-multimedia

Football World Cup 2010: All Whites at finals   Beating Bahrain to qualify 13/11/09  Vid

Goal against Slovakia The All Whites scored in the final seconds of their first pool game to equalize against Slovakia and gain their first FIFA World Cup point. Vid

All Whites’ goal in 3D animation  v Slovakia  Mm

2010 FIFA World Cup Italy(1) vs New Zealand(1)Highlights   Mm

BP-Big People? The Dinkum Oil

June 19, 2010

“(Obama)… is frustrated because he cares about the small people. We care about the small people. I hear comments sometimes that large oil companies are greedy companies or don’t care, but that is not the case in BP. We care about the small people.”  Carl-Henric  Svanberg  BP Chairman

BP’s credibility is sitting on empty after its latest PR efforts tanked.

While New Zealand health experts are debating the merits of stomach stapling to combat obesity, BP’s PR experts, assuming that they have any, given  the number of spoof sites proferring help*, will be considering the merits of mouth stapling to fight verbosity after Carl-Henric Svanberg’s off-the-cuff comments about “the small people” to reporters* after his White House meeting with President Barack Obama on Wednesday.

This was about the first time since the Big Spill that the BP chairman had poked his head above the public parapet, certainly in the US. His scripted statement was fine,  if somewhat stilted, but his response to questions was less so, no doubt because of language difficulties with slang terms like “the little guy”.  Erstwhile Muppets fans, even if antipathetic, would concede that the urbane chairman was more Swedish chief than Swedish chef.

Svanberg made his comments standing on the path leading into the White House with three senior BP staff lined up behind him. Two looked like Football World Cup players protecting their nether assets from a penalty shoot. The third, BP CEO Tony Hayward, relegated from the spokesman’s role, was protecting his back. This was wise after his earlier petulant sound bite  “I’d like my life back.” So would the wildlife of the Gulf and those who depend on it for their livelihood.

Hayward has become the most unpopular Pom since George III. He was excoriated by US congressmen on Capitol Hill yesterday, especially for his refusal to comment on drilling activities on the jinxed Deepwater Horizon off-shore well as Energy and Commerce Committee members took pot shots at BP for taking unacceptable risks.

It was like shooting dying fish in an oil barrel and it was certainly no barrel of laughs for the wayward Hayward. The more the committee members drillled down the redder his face got as he stonewalled in a manner which have made General Thomas Jackson proud. It may also make Hayward, like Jackson, vulnerable to friendly fire, in his case of a non-accidental variety. It’s hard to see him lasting the distance.

So  BP  still have their backs pinned firmly against the wall despite the fact the Chairman had just announced a long-term US $20 billion compensation fund, after a little help from the President, immediately before his blunder. 

The power of  social media to  amplify and multiply  gaffes at the speed of light detracted from any kudos the company might have won back. 

It’s not  that Svanberg is a dipstick: he fronted Eriksson for five years as CEO from 2003 and turned the company around. Before that he’d earnt the sobriquet the “Gentle Conqueror” at Assa Abloy, where he was key to the lockmaker’s acquisition of 100 firms in five years.

 Svanberg immediately apologised for having spoken ”clumsily” (at least he didn’t use the American politicians’ excuse that he“misspoke”) and gave media the dinkum oil in a subsequent attempt:   ”What I was trying to say – that BP understands how deeply this affects the lives of people who live along the Gulf and depend on it for their livelihood – will best be conveyed not by any words but by the work we do to put things right for the families and businesses who’ve been hurt.”

But his six spontaneous words will come back to haunt him and the company.

New Zealand Telecom head Paul Reynolds did a much better job of consuming humble fish pie in public, while keeping his tongue firmly in his cheek, after the agony of the XT system failures, even if his fly was a little undone*.  A scripted ad is easier to manage than a media bunfight, but Reynolds still did it with style.

But one shouldn’t mix oil and water even if  BP have given it their best shot. Elsewhere in cyberspace  Wwxploration’s website quotes Newsweek in declaring that  “Drilling is the very best tax advantaged investment”.

 “The world is addicted to oil. Put it to your advantage.
• The best tax advantaged investment
• Make up to 65%
Recession proof business
• Minimum investment – 10k
• Monthly dividend for 15 – 20 years
World’s #1 Commodity”

The biggest lesson of the Gulf debacle is that risky, cost-cutting oil exploration in marginal and  difficult sites isn’t going to cut it any longer. The disaster is an oilshed for the development of alternative sources of energy. The oil companies themselves will be increasingly seen to be the fossils fuelling innovation by others to find substitutes for the black gold touted in the ad.

New oil exploration is scheduled off New Zealand’s coast with the same drilling company used for Deep Horizon. Minister of Energy Gerry Brownlee must be nervous in case this turns out to be a case of  going to the well once too often.

Given the stick he’s received recently from more than the  Greens over mineral exploration in Godzone, mineral water to settle the stomach could be just what the doctor orders. That might not be so effective  as a staple diet but it knocks a smaller hole in the ministerial credit card.

#Lyall Lukey 19 June 2010 
http://www.lukey.co.nz/  http://www.smartnet.co.nz

 BLINKS     Wo Words   Vid-Video   So-Sound   Mm-multimedia

 BP Chief: “We Care About the Small People”    Vid 17 June 2010   
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAnsA96JK6Y  Vid   Classic BP Apology Spoof by Bob “Jack Mehoff”  Genz
BP Parody: Press Conference Ends Awkwardly  Vid
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwhXRxGlOcQ   Telecom CEO Paul Reynolds and the XT Network
http://www.wwxploration.com/invest/    Wo  Why Invest in Oil & Gas?

Texas and TEKS: Remember the Alamo! How about Civil Rights?

June 13, 2010

“… ex-hippie parents had better accept that their children look like becoming yuppies. And then Republicans…” Christopher Ricks  Dylan’s Visions of Sin. 2003

It’s not taxes in Texas that’s the hot issue; it’s the future of History. Conservatives want to revise the Texas History curriculum in order to “amend” teaching about slavery, the civil rights movement and America’s relationship with the United Nations.

The State Board of Education has legislative authority to adopt the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) for each subject of the required curriculum. SBOE members nominated educators, parents, business and industry representatives, and employers to serve on the review committees. That’s where the fun started earlier this year.

In regards to the American Civil Rights Movement the student is currently expected to, among other things, “identify significant leaders of the civil rights movement, including Martin Luther King, Jr.; and identify changes in the United States that have resulted from the civil rights movement such as increased participation of minorities in the political process…”

This latter trend culminated in the election of the present White House incumbent and was all too much for some conservatives who, in their curriculum submissions,  insisted on using the President’s full name Barack Hussein Obama because of its negative connotations. Using the middle name is not the usual style when referring to presidents. George Bush Jr only got a ‘W’, though unkind commentators maintain this was his History grade.

Educators argued that some of the proposed TEKS History amendments would politicise education. Conservatives no doubt argued that they were merely rebalancing what was for them an overly liberal retrospective world view.

 History was refracted through a different lens earlier this year when Bob Dylan performed his classic song “The Times they are a Changin’” at the White House Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Movement*.

You can’t imagine George Bush Sr or Jr hosting such a gathering. Right wing Republicans have a long history of demonising folk singers like Pete Seeger as reds who were not only under the bed but jumping up and down on the mattress in an unseemly and public way. Members of The Weavers, Seeger’s group, were redlisted during the McCarthy Era in the 50s.

In the 60s, Seeger re-surfaced in public scene as a prominent singer of protest music in support of international disarmament, civil rights and environmental causes. He was most responsible for popularizing the spiritual “We Shall Overcome” which became the emblematic anthem of the 1960s American Civil Rights Movement.

It was also recorded by Joan Baez and many other singer-activists. Baez was literally instrumental in helping to bring this song of Seeger’s (and other countercultural 60s songs by Dylan, her sometime boyfriend), to the attention of the nation and the world, though in retrospect he is a reluctant figurehead of the social and political unrest he chronicled.

As a song writer, Seeger is perhaps best known as the co-author of the poignant “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?”  Interviewed on his 90th birthday*, soon after performing at Obama’s Inauguration Jan 2009,* Seeger said that he was a fan of small things and small people.  He could have added- and of demonstrating how non-politicians can have an effect by demonstrating.

Bob Dylan didn’t get on the presidential stage at the inauguration but he had the opportunity to reprise one of his most most famous songs at President Obama’s 2010  White House function. He first recorded The Times they are a-Changin’ a month before John Kennedy’s assassination in 1963. This was in his eclectic  pre-electric  folk stage. It’s hard to find an early version by Dylan of The Times on YouTube (but easy to find scores of covers, both amateur and professional). Dylan is diligent in controlling his own recordings, but the White House gig made it to YT.*

The rendition is rather strange at both the start and the finish: before he gets into his musical stride Dylan takes his hand off the neck of the guitar several times and reaches behind him- to what? Adjust his guitar strap? His coat?  A hidden amplifier switch?  At the end there is an awkward half minute after the initial applause. Is Dylan waiting for an encore, a message from the President or someone to relieve him of his guitar? Mercifully, eventually a stagehand eventually does.

It’s still well worth viewing and reviewing. In the words of literary critic Christopher Ricks: “Once upon a time it may have been a matter of urging square people to accept the fact that their children were, you know, hippies. But the capacious urging could then come to mean that ex-hippie parents had better accept that their children look like becoming yuppies. And then Republicans…”

And helping to rewrite the Texas History curriculum?

In the spirit of revisionism I suggest some updated song titles for the Presidential 2011 hootenanny state function: A Hard Oil’s A-Gonna Spill, If I had a Jack Hammer, Slow Train Wreck Coming, The New York Times they are a-Changin’, Rupert the Hardnosed Remainder, Bowling in the Wind, Bye Bye American Piety, Where Have All the Powers Gone? and  Return, Return, Return?

 #Lyall Lukey 13 June 2010 

http://www.lukey.co.nz/  http://www.smartnet.co.nz

*BLINKS Pr-print    Vid-Video   So-Sound   Mm-multimedia

http://www.discovertexasonline.com/  Pr
Kindergarten – Grade 5   The amended draft Pr
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGPBLkZggXI  Remember the Alamo   Kingston Trio Vid  
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XevzVyjCtEc    A 2008 cover by Tony DeSare, with photos, of Bob Dylan’s  1963 song The Times they are a –Changin Mm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zr8PZ3ajEWo Bob Dylan reprises The Times… at President Obama’s  White House function  February 12, 2010 Vid  
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZfXSlmWI_7c  Peter Seeger at 90-still singing his great songs. Vid
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g5KnYADCSms&NR=1  Pete Seeger & Bruce Springsteen  “This Land is Your Land”  Obama Inaugural  19 Jan 2009. Vid
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ovuP3vJO8lI&feature=related Seeger leads the crowd in “Amazing Grace” at his 90th Birthday concert, May 3, 2009 at Maddison Square Garden.Vid
Buy, Buy American Pie   Satirical update of an oldie but goodie-with a reference to Fonterra’s dodgy Chinese milk partner. Vid