Monday, February 1, 2010

The Tyranny of Appearance

a) Today I learnt a new word. Palindrome. Today’s date is a palindrome: 01022010.

b) Damn! I was going to blog about the massacre of 40 dogs but Rosemary Mcleod’s newspaper’s column this morning said most of the things I was going to say. That’s too many dogs for one man to own. How did he feed them? They were unregistered. There was no attempt at controlling breeding. They roamed at will. No surprise the neighbours ran out of patience and took the law into their own hands. The uproar, whipped up by the media is about animal cruelty. It is the owner I believe who was the cruel one.

c) Colin Espinor’s political column makes a surprising assertion – that Phil Goff had captured the headlines. It seemed to me that John Key surefooted as ever had done that. A week back he was denouncing people who own dogs which attack toddlers. This week it was people who are cruel to animals. Especially dogs. I can hear most New Zealanders saying Hear! Hear! Phil Goff’s appeal to the battlers got lost in the media hype over the public service’s top brass salaries. He’s in dangerous territory attacking bludgers. Many people see beneficiaries in this light. Maybe Goff’s speech was clearer but as reported it did seem so did he. The problem with safety nets is they will also provide assistance to the undeserving. I agree the minimum wage should have gone up more. But my biggest criticism of the Fifth Labour Government is its failure to address the issue of child poverty which is partly a sub-set of the minimum wage allowance and certainly part and parcel of allowances for beneficiaries.

d) Moorpark apricots are no longer available in our shops. Apparently their speckled appearance makes them less acceptable to the eye. But they taste great – miles better than those available now. My desire for apricots, apples and tomatoes with taste counts for little alongside the tyranny of appearance.

e) It reminds me of a meeting called by an advertising agency with a few educators for a campaign. They asked us for an appropriate image for education. We surprised them by saying either an infant class learning to read or a school bus on a dusty country road picking up some students. We discovered they had in mind ivy-covered brick buildings.

f) I’m reading Alice Hogge’s God’s Secret Agents: Queen Elizabeth’s Forbidden Priests and the Hatching of the Gunpowder Plot. After schooling in the Continent, Jesuit priests made their perilous way to England to help they believed the restoration of the Catholic faith. I suspect after the failure of the Armada a fairly hopeless task though the issue was not really settled till a hundred years later when James 11 was forced to give up the throne. Brave men, most of these priests were martyred. Hogge by implication criticises Elizabeth and her ministers. But for heaven’s sake, the Pope had excommunicated her and called for her removal. It was life and death for all concerned. My admiration for Elizabeth is that unlike her father, brother and sister she tried to avoid creating martyrs as much as possible.

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