The Wing-Friends and Other Books

In Blogger's slideshows images are greatly reduced, so lose much of their impact. And captions added to them in Picasa Albums vanish, so the images shown above are: the Milky Way, the Orion Nebula, Earth, Earth with New Zealand circled, New Zealand, Auckland & the Hauraki Gulf, Waiheke Island, some native NZ forest, a Fantail and chicks, various doves, etc.

(If you want to see the first ten images in their original size, they are in a posting made on the 24th of November 2011.)

My book The Wing-Friends is an imaginative tale of a small brave boy, a magical adventure, a magnificent Pegasus and the wonderful Kingdom of the Pegasi. It has been given very good reviews, and virtually every reader on Goodreads has so far awarded it five stars. It is available here. Some of my other writings are available as e-books, such as The Lower Deck, which is an over-the-top take on Waiheke happenings--sort of.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

HOUSING INFLATION IS INSANE

We all know that the increase in the price of houses is insane, but I have just checked the current capital value of the house I bought in 1978 for $34,500. It is now listed by the Council at $540,000.

The Reserve Bank's inflation-calculator says that $34,500 is now $213,555, which is less than half $540,000, so the price of that house has rocketed far ahead of inflation. $540,000 is 2.52 times $213.555. $540,000 is 15.65 times $34,500.

The house was new, three bedrooms, in a good neighbourhood in Birkenhead, in a cul-de-sac off a cul-de-sac off a cul-de-sac so it was quiet. Lots of bush, close to schools and a supermarket. I got it on a deposit of $5000.

Crazy, indeed!

Saturday, 3 September 2016

KEEP THE MONARCHY!

A poll has just been published which appears to say that New Zealanders want to ditch the monarchy

God forbid! We would get someone like our damned politicians. Better to have someone born to the job, trained for it, not political in the slightest degree, someone with a broad world view and experience of all matters, and remote enough to be independent and seen to be independent. Someone in the job for life, not someone voted in at enormous expense of money and argy-bargy every few years. Someone not in the least open to even a hint of political interference or bias. All that is the black blot on America's ridiculous system of so-called government.

If it ain't broke don't fix it.

But as the article shows, the 'poll' was loaded, the question put was not neutral, and the figures were jiggered to give the republican outfit that paid for it the answer it wanted.

And to say that the Queen is a British Monarch, although true, is also a lie, because she is a citizen of every country in which she is monarch, which includes New Zealand. She is British, Canadian, Australian, a New Zealander, etc., etc. That underlines how loaded the question was. It was, to put it bluntly, a lie looking for a lie in answer.

The uninformed people who want to dump the monarchy do not understand its fundamental importance. In New Zealand law, for example, one of the most important statutes is the Imperial Laws Application Act 1988, which sets into modern New Zealand law the great laws enacted by royalty, stretching all the way back to the update in 1297 by King Edward I of Magna Carta. And section 29 of that update, which is the section enshrined in the Imperial Laws Application Act 1988, is a great promise: 'we shall defer or deny to no man either justice or right.' It is the right of all those in New Zealand to claim that promise when confronted by official wrongdoing.

Section 29 in full is the fundamental of all the rights and freedom we enjoy in New Zealand, and in all countries where Queen Elizabeth II is head of state: 'NO freeman shall be taken or imprisoned, or be disseised of his freehold, or liberties, or free customs, or be outlawed, or exiled, or any other wise destroyed; nor will we not pass upon him, nor condemn him, but by lawful judgement of his peers, or by the law of the land. We will sell to no man, we will not deny or defer to any man either justice or right.' [disseised means deprived of, have taken away]

We owe a great debt to monarchy, a debt of centuries of rights and freedoms, and a debt to a system that serves us superbly well. Ditching it out of ignorance and replacing it system riddled and raddled with politics would be grossly stupid.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

UPGRADE TO WINDOWS 10 WORTH IT

For a long time I put off upgrading from my desktop PC from Windows 7 to Windows 10, despite the fact that it was free, partly because I was busy with other things and thought it would take a lot of painful hours, and partly it does not impresss me that the blurb that said it combined the best of 7 and 8. Windows 8 was one to be avoided, and what Microsoft called 'the best' made me apprehensive.

I am also chary of upgrades, because so often they mess up your machine by taking it into their software heads to do things that you neither wanted nor asked for. In short, I never expect a smooth ride.

But when I saw that the free offer of Windows 10 was going to expire on the 29th of July 2016 I decided to bite the bullet, first with a nibble by upgrading my backup machine, and if that went well, carry on.

To my delight it did go well. Very well. And not only did my machine look pretty much the same as it had in Windows 7, but I was able to make some judicious tweaks to make to look and behave even better. That included taking this advice to make the colour-scheme more pleasant. The palette of colours in the standard offer is a bit limited. But using Run and Control Color enables very fine tuning (note the American spelling, because it does not accept English).

Do I like Windows 10? YES. Do I like it better than 7? YES. Would I uninstall and go back to 7? NO. It does seem to run a bit slower in some things, in some a bit quicker, but overall about the same, and it is nicer to use, it has some nice features.

The revamped Start Menu has been done very well. You have to prune out of it the stuff that Microsoft wants you to have there and pin to it what you want, but that is easy to do quickly. And it is very configurable. For example it is easy to resize the icons so that they do not shout at you, and to get rid of that silly, distracting transparency, but it is very nice.

At first I missed the Windows Classic look that I had been using for years, but 10's look and feel very soon became familiar and preferred.

The upgrade went easily. A download of about 2GB then a small number of hours chugging away, and it was all done.

The only thing to watch is that near the end of the process it asks you if you want the Express Installation, which invites you to use a big button down on the right, but in small print down on the left it says Customise. If you select express you get a heap of Microsoft applications hurled at you. It is a sell.  I chose Customise, unticked everything, and carried on using the applications that I had been using, which were mainly not Microsoft offerings.

I think the one to avoid is Photos, because it organises all the photos in your machine in way that is not what anyone sensible would want. But some who like what it does. I ignored it all created a Desktop shortcut to my main photos folder, to make it most accessible, because it opens exactly what opens when I Pictures is clicked on in a system menu.

The only little annoyance in 10 is that although the weather in the Start Menu is brilliant–truly 10 out of 10–and can be set to Celsius for temperatures, it insists on reporting the wind-speed in mph and there is nowhere it can be set to km/h or kph. That is silly enough, but even sillier is the fact the the weather button in the Start Menu can somehow show kph, sometimes, but when you click on it the full display still shows mph. That is fine if you live in one of those backward countries that have yet to go metric, but a pain in most the world.

There is a bugbear if you are using Chrome, in the area where you manage passwords, and which you go to if you have forgotten one and want to change it from hidden to show it. Windows 10 annoys by insisting, every single time, that you enter your Microsoft Account password before it will show it.

But, those points aside, Windows 10 is superb. Well done, Microsoft!

Monday, 31 August 2015

FOUR FLAGS THE PM'S CHOICE

Prime Minister John Key wants a fern for the new flag. The Prime Minister John Key got three ferns in the final shortlist of four. Shall we act surprised? He got the panel he wanted; he got the designs he wanted (with something else chucked in to make the thing look like a choice--but even that is the tip of a fern).


We got the bad best of the long list of forty, and it is of course dominated by what John Key wants.

Not one of this shortlist does what a flag should do; not one says to the rest of the world, 'This is New Zealand, and nowhere else.'

And all of them are virtually impossible to define accurately for reproduction. It can only be done photographically, which makes a perpetual problem. The Canadian flag is very precisely defined, with precise measurements and angles. Ditto the British and American flags. These cannot be.

And no one seems to have thought of the variations needed. There need to be variations for the Navy and marine use, and there need to be variations for the army, the RNZAF, Civil Aviation, the police, the Fire Service, the RSA... These designs do not lend themselves to those needs.

The first design has the merit of having only two colours. But although it works for waving at a footy match it is not a good national flag. Far from it. It is boring, stark, and devoid of international meaning.

The second one is superficially attractive, and will probably win the referendum. But it is not a good design. Red is the colour that attracts the human eye more powerfully than any other colour, and therefore must be used carefully and intelligently. In that design it has not been. That red area at the top lefthand corner is the first place the eye goes. But it is meaningless; it is not an element that cries out 'This is New Zealand.' It says nothing. It is just a blob at the mast. It fights for attention with the white fern (the ponga is white on the back, not silver) and the stars. The white fern, with red and blue seen through it, flashes at us, it has a dazzling effect. So the eye finds itself hopping about between three elements fighting for attention. And not one them is unique to New Zealand. It is arrogant for little New Zealand to claim the Southern Cross, which can be seen all over the Southern Hemisphere and parts of the Northern. And ferns grow all over the world; there are even ones with a white back elsewhere. The only reason the fern has achieved some dominance is because early settlers, struck by the prolific ferns, which were a contrast to their native land, called New Zealand Fernland. But the name did not stick. And again the two-tone backing of the fern motif makes it flash at us.

The third one is a bad variation on the second one. Bad because it has four colours, and a maximum of three is ideal. And black does not go with blue, even when there is a comb of white between them. As the saying goes, they hold hands very hard.

The fourth one is the worst of this rubbish. Are we really and truly to consider THAT THING as our national flag!!! Please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Social media has mockingly dubbed it HypnoFlag, The only reason it can have been put there is to ensure that we have only ferns to choose from. Manipulative John Key strikes again.

There are only three things that are unique to New Zealand in the mind and eyes of the world: the shape of the country, the kiwi, and the country's coat of arms. The first and last do not work well on a flag. For the Flag Consideration Panel to ignore what Kiwis are called all over the world is wilful blindness and stupidity. But John Key was pulling their strings... 

http://nobilangelo.blogspot.com/2014/02/new-new-zealand-flag.html

To paraphrase Henry Ford's famous remark about the colour you could have a Ford T ('You can have any colour you like, as long as it's black): John Key and his puppets have said to the nation, 'You can have any flag you like, as long as it's a fern.' What a ferny man he is!

Sunday, 9 August 2015

THOSE 40 FLAGS NOT THE BEST

The Flag Consideration Panel has now released its long list: the forty designs that it thinks are the best of the 10,292 that were submitted. What a disappointment! Many are rubbish; few are worthy of serious consideration; many fail the Panel's own design criteria.

And although the Panel says it wanted something that...

'should speak to all Kiwis. Our hope is that New Zealanders will see themselves reflected in these flags' symbols, colour and stories. ..... In reviewing flag designs, first and foremost, we were guided by what thousands of Kiwis across a range of communities told us when they shared what is special to them about New Zealand' [emphasis added]

...it did not include even one design that has a kiwi. Not even one! All it chose were ferns and stars and koru curlies, despite the fact that ferns, even white-backed ones, are not unique to New Zealand; and that the Southern Cross is common to all countries in the Southern Hemisphere; and that the koru is a stylised fern shoot, and therefore only the Maori word for it is unique to this country.



Not a single kiwi for Kiwis to choose. Not one!

It is obvious that the final choice will be one of the five Kyle Lockwood variations. They are nice, but they do not shout 'New Zealand, and nowhere else' to the rest of the world. To many of us, yes, but not to the world. They have to be explained to the world.

Any explanation attached to a flag should be very simple, and fixed to the flag, as with the flag of the United Kingdom, which is simply explained as the combined crosses of the patron saints of the four countries that make up the UK; and as with the flag of the United States, which is simply explained as thirteen stripes for the original thirteen states and fifty stars for the present number; and as with the Canadian flag, which is simply explained as the maple leaf, the national symbol of Canada. For New Zealand, only the kiwi achieves that simplicity: 'We are called Kiwis, after our national bird, the kiwi.'

Removing the obvious rubbish from the list of forty, as well as the also-rans to the obvious rubbish (the small x's), leaves very few that could be considered, and most of them are marginal because they do not make a flag that is all New Zealand, only New Zealand, and nothing else:



Of those, the simplest one, the one that holds the eye best is the middle one at the top. It has only three colours and a central focus. But it is not balanced. It would be better if the white fern was smaller and the stars larger. To many in the world that white 'fern' is likely to be taken for a white feather, which is the universal symbol of cowardice--hardly something for our soldiers to fight for.

Because it is a physiological fact that red attracts the eye more strongly than any other colour, if there is a red patch in the top-left corner it attracts the eye, which then finds itself hopping between that patch and the stars, although they are what should dominate. The green curly is very marginal, and only gets into the above group because it is nice to look at, not because it is a good design for any nation's flag. For New Zealand it would be a thorough break with the past, and the crooked stars, which are forced to be crooked by the fancy curly, puts it at the bottom of this group of five. It also fails to have a strong central point with which to hold the eye, because the stars are small and are in a crooked arrangement. It is nice to look at but a very bad idea for our flag.

None of those five are brilliant. The best is only the best of a bad-to-middling lot.

But the Panel was picked/vetted by John Key and he has said loudly and often that he wants a fern, so a fern is what got, with a lot of rubbish round it as make-weights, like the dirt in a bag of spuds.

The very least the Panel should have done was to have picked the best of the designs featuring stars, the best of the ferns, the best of the korus, and the best of the kiwis--i.e., the best of four different bases. Then there would have been real choice. This is just ferns, ferns, ferns, ferns rammed down our throats with a bit of pretence at democracy.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

FLAGS AND FLAGS

The huge number of designs submitted to the Flag Consideration Panel are a mix of facetious and excellent, with a proponderance of ones that ignore the well-established principles of good design, or do not do what a national flag should do, or both.

Good design limits the number of colours, ideally to no more than three (which is why the red, white and blue of the present design works so well), and not to have colours on top of each other that cause them to appear to be flashing (such as red on blue, which is why the present design has white between the red and the blue). There should also be good contrast between the colours, and the combination should be upbeat, positive, not negative in any way. The design should have a strong central focus so that the eye is not forced to hop about between two or more competing elements, and, above all, the design should be unmistakably New Zealand; it must should 'New Zealand' and nothing else, and therefore the central symbol should say that.

In the ones submitted to the panel there is also the big no-no of the accidental (or deliberate?) use of phallic symbols, such as 3, 4 and 14 on this selection made for the New Zealand Herald. 14 is particularly obvious. Why could the people who selected those three not see that? Do they want New Zealand to be mocked round the world?



Number 4 is also bad from the point of view of colours; it has only two, and they are ones that do not have nearly enough contrast.

1 is too bland, and does not shout 'New Zealand', as a New Zealand flag should.

In 2 the eye hops from point to point; it is not held by a central focus. If the stars were bigger it would be much better, because they would not be fighting for attention with the vertical white bands.

5 is good use of colour and shape, although the eye is forced to go from side to side.

6 is fine to mark a fighter-jet or helicopter but not to be a flag, even though it has long been used by the Royal New Zealand Air Force. It is designed for a plane not a flag; but it is right to use the strongest symbol of New Zealand, the kiwi, something found nowhere else in the world--unlike a fern with a silver back, which is found elsewhere.

The black fern of 7 is too sombre, and the fern is too detailed to work on a flag.

8 makes the same mistakes as 2 and 7: the eye is forced to hop about, and those tiny stars are too detailed.

9 has two focal-points not one. It would be better to dump the stars.

10 features something no unique to New Zealand, and is too sombre.

11 is not a good variation on 5; the red is better than the black, and the black means that the design has four colours, which is not the best.

12 uses the English cross for some obscure reason (England is only part of the Great Britain from which the New Zealand nation sprang), plus four stars for no apparent reason, because they are not as they in the sky, and again it does not shout 'New Zealand' to the world

13 has been discussed in another blog posting. Obviously I think it is good, and it certainly keeps to the fundamentals of good design: only three colours, bold, a central focus, a symbol that more than any other shouts 'New Zealand.'

14 should not be considered, for apart from its obvious phallic reference, it is too detailed--those stars are two small for a flag.

15 does not shout 'New Zealand' and that dividing line near the bottom says nothing. If it is meant to a long white cloud it says it in an obscure whisper. It does not shout, and has not geographical reference. New Zealand is essential a north-south country between two oceans left and right, not an east-west one.

All elements of a flag's design should say something about the country. The American flag says 'America', it shouts it, every element is about America and nowhere else: the fifty stars represent the fifty states of the United States of America, and the thirteen stripes represent the thirteen British colonies that declared independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain and became the first states in the union. It uses only three colours, colours that have good contrast and that go well together, and that recognise the country's British heritage. There should be something of that. We should at least keep the blue, partly because of that, and partly because we are surrounded by the deep blue ocean.

'New Zealand' means 'New Sea-Land' and the flag should say that.

Any flag that does not instantly say 'This is New Zealand' should not even be considered. 

Most of the thousands of designs that have been submitted do not do that, and are design-disasters. Obviously their creators ignored the very good advice given on the Flag Consideration Panel's website.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

LAW ENTANGLED AND SPOOKY

Section 25 of the Crimes Act 1961 says: 'Ignorance of law--the fact that an offender is ignorant of the law is not an excuse for any offence committed by him or her.'

But the ruling by the 'Independent' Police Conduct Authority's on the failure of the police to prosecute GCSB spies for illegally spying on Kim Dotcom and scores of New Zealanders says in effect that criminal law does not apply to spooks. They can be as ignorant, careless, stupid or crass as they please and do as they please, but when they break the law they cannot be touched.

It's obvious why. They cannot tell the difference between the rule of law and the laws of quantum physics--that bit about disconnected particles, which even if they are on opposite sides of the universe are 'entangled', so one controls the other and affects it instantly. Einstein called it 'spooky action at a distance.' They must have thought, 'We're spooks', so that obviously applies to us. We're entangled with everybody else, so we can control and affect them anyway we please.' Simple really.

;-)

Saturday, 8 February 2014

NEW NEW ZEALAND FLAG

A national flag should be simple, it should have a bold design that is instantly recognised, even at at a distance, and it should say 'this is what we are.'

New Zealand is a long narrow country between two seas; its Maori name is Aotearoa, which means Land of the Long White Cloud; it is the home of a people who are known the world over as Kiwis, after their unique native bird; our head of state is the Queen, who uses royal blue.

This design for a flag combines all those elements.

Tasman Sea        Land of the Long White Cloud      Pacific Ocean
It keeps a connection with the present flag by using the same deep blue, but here it represents the Tasman Sea on one side of the country and the Pacific on the other. In the centre the white panel represents Aotearoa, the Land of the Long White Cloud, and the green kiwi combines our national symbol--long known the world over--with the green that New Zealand is also famous for.

The kiwi could be less stylised than the one shown here, such as the one that has long been used in the roundels on RNZAF aircraft, but green not red:

Tasman Sea         Land of the Long White Cloud        Pacific Ocean


Or the kiwi could be more natural-looking ('proper', to use the heraldic term), such as the variation below, which was one I submitted to the Flag Consideration Panel along with the stylised version. The New Zealand Herald featured it in a selection of designs (where the rather phallic 3, 4, and 14 are strange preferences).


Tasman Sea          Land of the Long White Cloud        Pacific Ocean

The green of the kiwi in that one is the best shade of the three, but getting colours right on computer screens is always a problem. Different software may render a colour in different ways. (The one above varies a little from the one I put on the Flag Consideration Panel's site; the position of the kiwi has been improved by being moved slightly down and to the right to give better balance). 

This design, in detail and in combination, is all New Zealand, pure New Zealand, nothing but New Zealand. There is not a single element in it that does not say 'New Zealand'; and in combination it shouts 'This is New Zealand and nowhere else!'

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

LANGWEDGE

There is language and langwedge. Language is talking to people or with them. Talking to them is good; talking with them is best. Making wedges between them is bad. Driving foul wedges into them is worst.

Talking with people not only strives to communicate--to be heard and listened to and understood--it also strives to please. It strives to use language in a way that gives pleasure, and therefore uses it with care, and
thus shows that the speaker cares about the listener.

That is the heights. The worst depths are what Tolkien called Black Speech. English is the greatest language that has ever existed on Earth. It has hundreds of thousands of good words. Filling one's mouth and other people's ears with constant repetitions of a few foul ones says to the hearers, 'I care nothing for you, you are only a toilet, I want to fill you with verbal sewage. You are only worth being psychologically abused, I am the one to do it, and I shall do it. For I am superior to you, I am worth more than you, I have the right to make a toilet of you, I have the right to violate you with my excrement, and you have no right to deny me.'

It is regrettable that although using such language in or within hearing of a public place has long been illegal in New Zealand, it is a law hardly ever invoked, and that the abuse remains rampant. Most of it is psychological sexual abuse, because the words are black words for the parts of our bodies that make us male and female and and mark us such. Denigrating them in the most vile way is the same under the heading of gender as calling an African a nigger under the heading of race. 'Nigger' is psychological racial abuse; four-letter words are psychological sexual abuse.

Unfortunately most of that abuse is hurled at men. Even the word that on the surface applies only to women is usually used of men by men; for it is the ultimate abuse: it says that a man does not have the mark of manhood. When used of a woman it says that that is all she is, that it is has only the value of abuse, and that she should be treated accordingly.

'Those to whom evil is done do evil in return.' Small wonder that there is so much retaliatory abuse in visual and physical forms.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

A WONDERFUL CELEBRATION OF MARRIAGE

In these days when marriage is under constant attack from evil it is refreshing to see a bride celebrating hers by wearing her wedding-gown across nineteen countries over five years.

Jennifer Salvage has worn it riding through the surf, kissing dolphins, paragliding, playing ice hockey....

THIEVES OF LIFE

There is no replay button in life. We live each second, each minute, each hour, each day, each week, each month, each year only once. Once. Therefore the people who 'design' systems that waste people's time are stealing part of their lives. I am weary of systems designed by bureaucratic prats who cannot design their way out a wet paper bag, even with the help of nuclear weapons, and a squadron of bulldozers. Their bad systems waste time. They are thieves of life.