Friday, April 28, 2006


A few weeks ago, I made a flippant remark to an old political mate, seeking his advice on my suitability for parliamentary representation. His initial response was diplomatic: “Don’t think it would be right for you,” he says.

“Why not?”

“Because you lack tact, sensitivity, modesty and discretion.”

“They’re completely overrated,” I counter. I then come up with a brilliant argument, if I may say so myself, giving lucid examples of successful MPs in the current House, who either lack tact, sensitivity, modesty or discretion.

He says: “Yes, but they’ve each got one of those qualities.” He then comes up with a vague theory about how successful elected officials are polite to prospective voters, whereas my behaviour is often considered rude.

“Fuck ‘em,” I say. “I’m far more fucking polite to those people than they fucking deserve.”

My faults do not trouble me, since they are so few, and so minor (which makes it a pointless exercise, really, given that everybody I associate with agrees that I am the least fallible person they know, and humility does not come easily to me, but for the sake of this story I will continue in this vein).

But I suppose that it is also true that I am not well known for possessing an abundance of compassion. I don’t see this as a major fault, because I don’t think it’s important. Human history is not compassionate. God offers few favours. Nature doesn’t often just give people a break. For many people, reality sucks.

Reality sucks for them. Most people lead shitty lives. They have mediocre aspirations—if they have any at all. They have shitty jobs. Their spouses are fat and/or ugly, their jobs are meaningless, their children stuff their faces with lard in front of the playstation rather than becoming successful sports fanatics, and to top it off, they’re born stupid.

My life, by contrast, is excellent. I am currently engaged to three different, and very hot chicks. I will replace each of them before I have to front up the cost of engagement rings, let alone the wedding ceremonies. I am involved in productive and well-paid (albeit highly-taxed) employment. I don’t need to worry about where the party is happening on any given evening, because I know that where I go, the party comes with me. And to top it off, I was born with a brilliance of charm and intellect that, to be quite honest, nobody else I have ever met has been able to match.

So I figure, therefore, that if God wanted to add compassion to my many gifts, He would have done so. He chose not to. My lot is not to reason why. And to be brutally clear about this, I don’t think my life would be any more interesting if I was some limp-wristed pansy hand-wringing liberal who cared about stupid people who are too indolent to take responsibility for their own lives first. Rather, that degree of compassion would diminish my sense of being.

Not far from my office in Queen Street, I frequently witness those who have played the worst of what could have been a good hand in life. They sit idly on the pavement, often dozing, with a hat or cardboard box, and a sign, giving passers-by some clue as to the misery of their lives, with the expectation that a stranger will offer them compassion.

Fucking beggars, is what they are. There are perhaps a dozen of them in Auckland city. Most of them have been on the streets for a couple of years at least—which only proves that their lives are not so dire. But nobody does anything about them. At best a large proportion of the swarms of office-workers ignore them. Some of them clearly donate money to them.

Should I feel sad about their plight? Well, I don’t think so. Actually, they piss me off. They often piss me off to the extent that I have frequently stopped to harangue them for messing up the central city. Many of them know who I am by now—after repeated scowls at them for trying to make their shitty lives my problem—they’ve learned not to stop me for spare change.

A few months ago, I popped over to Domino’s Pizza to pick up a feed for my team. One of these bums was camped outside Domino’s Pizza. He was dozing in the sun. He had a sign informing all who bothered to read that he had no money, and needed money for food. I also observed that he was, from a purely medical perspective, chronically obese.

“Hey, buddy!” I say, very loudly, as close to his ear as I dare approach without infecting my nostrils with his stench. He stirs to a state of partial awareness. He takes a moment to adjust his glue/drug/booze-addled eyes, and looks up at me. But he doesn’t say anything. So I say:

“Did you write that sign yourself, did you?”

He nods.

I say: “That’s very good work. Really, it is. Presumably, if you can write, you can also read, right?”

He nods again.

“Stand up,” I say gently. “I’ll show you something that will really help you out. Don’t worry, I’m not walking you anywhere. Stand up.”

So he stands up. I point to a sign on the window behind him. Remember, this is a pizza store. For a guy who’s supposedly hungry, a pizza store is worth looking at. But the sign—no big words that are difficult for somebody smart enough to write his own sign—reads: “WORK AVAILABLE HERE: IMMEDIATE START.”

“There you go, buddy. You’re hungry? Work in a pizza store! You need money? Minimum wage, you get four hundred bucks a week, and people thinking you’re doing them a favour by making them pizzas! It’s a perfect opportunity! You’ll even be able to afford to take a shower once a week!”

Bum mumbles something vague and shuffles off. I go in and pick up my pizzas, relieved that there’s now no chance of me stumbling over him on the way out. The pizza guy looks grateful that I’ve moved him on.

About a month later, I saw another bum with a sign. This was an innovator, as far as bums go. His sign read: “Please give me money so I can buy food for me and my dog.” And to prove his point, he had a small mongrel on a rope. I don’t know what the protocols are in the bum industry—for all I know, there could be another bum who owns the dog and rents it out to other bums, so that they can get the benefit of not just bum-donors, but animal welfare types as well.

So I stop. I say to him: “Is that really your dog?”

He nods. Bums tend to nod. They don’t talk much, unless the words are random streams of semi-consciousness.

“Why did you get yourself a dog if you can’t afford to feed it?”

Bum shrugs.

I say: “You must be pretty hungry, right?”

Bum nods. I’m diplomatic at this point, even though he thinks that the fact that I’m talking to him indicates that I’m going to dip into my pocket and bathe him with coins.

But I don’t. I say: “Here’s an answer to both your problems. If you’re that fucking hungry, then eat your fucking dog!”

I don’t know if either of these guys learned anything from their discussions with me. I like to think that I was doing them a favour, by offering them an opportunity to solve their problems, as well as the potential added advantage that the Queen Street walkers would be saved the inconvenience of having to see these human eyesores. What they certainly do not learn from the bleeding hearts who toss them spare change is to take responsibility for themselves. I don’t know what kind of other state support they’re getting—frankly that’s not my problem. The Government confiscates massive amounts of my earnings already, purportedly to look after society’s least fortunate.

No fucking liberal socialist is going to succeed in making me feel guilty for their failure to encourage people to take responsibility for themselves.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Truth About Cats And Dogs And HR People

Cats bad. Dogs tolerable if they live outside and bite burglars. HR People are mindless leeches.

I don’t get along with human resources people as a rule. Their job in any organization is to set the kind of intra-office regulations that I find meaningless.

Typical correspondence consists of the following:

HR Person: “I notice that you were on annual leave for three days two months ago. Please put in a leave form, and in future, please file a form in advance of taking annual leave, and have your manager approve it in advance.”

IP: “No.”

HR Person: “Those are the company regulations. Why can you not follow them?”

IP: “Because it’s not my fucking job to fill in forms. If you want me to be associated with one of your stupid forms, then you fill the fucking thing in, and send it to my secretary for her to sign on my behalf.”

HR Person: “That is not company policy.”

IP: “I don’t give a fuck. And because you’re irritating me, I’m not claiming any annual leave on those days at all. As far as I am concerned, I was working.”

HR Person: “How were you working?”

IP: “I spent a couple of hours each day talking to fucking clients, to make enough money for the firm so that we can employ stupid nobodies to annoy me. And I’m going to claim a day in lieu for Good Friday, when I spent an hour on the phone to a client who was too busy making money for his business to notice that it was Good Friday. Fill in the form for it and have my secretary sign it on my behalf.”

I am not suggesting that a good HR function is beyond the realm of any corporate possibility. The ideal HR person will spend all their time inducting new employees, and making existing employees feel happy about the workplace they are in. In the case of my workplace, a truly effective HR person would ensure that all new employees have signed a waiver, removing their ability to use standard legal means to complain against me for miscellaneous abuses to their fundamental human rights that working in the same building as me necessarily involves. They should be told, during the interview process: “If IP does not like you, he will use your gender, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, religious belief, and/or state of physical disability as an excuse to discriminate against you. He is not actually discriminating against you on those grounds. He just does not like you.”

Now that would be a useful induction.

An effective HR person would organise parties and booze-ups, to make people feel better about the place in which they work.

An effective HR person would also understand that the purpose of recording misdemeanours at parties and booze-ups is not to punish an employee for the bad behaviour. Discipline is not the HR person’s job. Discipline, in a highly performing work environment, is unnecessary. Punishment for bad behaviour misses the point. Due to a slight anomaly (i.e., the Employment Relations Act 2000), bad behaviour is only used as an excuse to get rid of an employee who is not performing.

Not that I am suggesting that these ideal HR people actually exist. I'm not saying, either, that they don't exist. There may be, in some dark corner of Mogadishu, an errant HR person who is not following the rules, and has somehow understood their true purpose in life: to serve the organisation and people that they work for. I just haven't met such a person.

I was reminded recently of the banality of HR people when I attended a barbecue. The barbecue was a boozy affair. A friend and I had done the honours by spit-roasting a whole lamb over a twelve-hour period, stuffed with turkeys, chickens, and tuis. For extra drama, we wired a pig’s head to the lamb’s neck. To true Roman toga effect, we carved, with the aid of a tomahawk, to raucous applause. Even a visiting vegan was entranced by the spectacle of removing the back fillet, to the extent that I was just moments away from getting him to eat some before I was distracted by more interesting company.

The company in question consisted of a pair of busty wenches who had been at another theme party, and happened upon ours. I never got their ages—twenty-two, perhaps. Not very bright. Worked in hospitality. And they were an hospitable pair.

Until, sometime later in the evening, as I was passing by the bedroom window on my way back from urinating on the lemon tree in the garden, I observed peripherally, as I tend to when I’m drunk, the two hot busty wenches were removing their garters. With their teeth. I yelled out to random party goers: “Hey! The two hot busty wenches are also hot busty lesbos! Excellent!” Two of the more adventurous males in the gathering clamoured to take a closer look. They claimed afterwards to have seen nothing at all. Subsequently, I claimed that they were a pair of myopic liars.

I do not personally recall why I had been banned from this property for more than a year, but drawing everybody’s attention to the busty wenches, at full volume, reminded the tenants of the property why I had been banned on the previous occasion.

But there was still more to come. I was mixing and mingling, and talking at people, and drinking alcohol in unsafe quantities, when I quite suddenly picked up a vibe in my near audience. This particular audience consisted of the two hot, busty wenches, one of the tenants of the property, and two guys I’d never seen before. I turned to the two guys, and said:

“So, which of you two guys is the homo?”

They stared at me blankly, but uncomfortably.

I said: “Come on. One of you guys is a homo, right?”

A number of people in the immediate, and not-so-immediate vicinity, stopped talking. A few people glared at me. I became vaguely aware that I may have said something unseemly. From behind me, a voice said:

“I take great offence at that!”

I turned around. Some miscellaneous ginga chick—a vegetarian who didn’t approve of killing animals, let alone stuffing them inside larger animals and spit-roasting them—was upset. I also witnessed that she was considerably overweight. I wondered, internally, just how somebody who doesn’t eat animal fat can become overweight to that extent. So I say: “At what?”

“Those are my friends.”

“Good for you to have two friends,” I answer with a degree of gallantry and valour that she neither appreciated nor deserved, but in any other situation might have put me into war medal contention. “Why are you offended?”

“Because I’m one, too.”

“A what?” I ask.

“A homo! And it’s not respectful to use that word.” She’s already got the kind of hectoring pitch that only chicks who are too repulsive to get any, can manage.

“No you’re not,” I respond. “Only guys can be homos. I wasn’t accusing both of them. I was only suggesting that one of the two of them is. You’re a chick. You can’t be a homo. You might be a lesbo, tho’. I’ve got nothing wrong with lesbos. I think lesbos are excellent. Especially if they’re hot part-timers.”

I flick another perve at the two hot, busty wenches to emphasise my point.

“What have you got against gay people?” she asks, not wanting to give up the fight.

I sigh, a little tired of her already. “Look, I don’t have anything against homos. God does. And they will fry in hell for their sins. Not my problem. But I don’t see what that’s got to do with you, either.”

“We’re the same!” she says, lamely.

“No you’re not. You’re a lesbo, one of those guys is a homo. Good on both of you. But you’ve got nothing in common with each other. You get licky-licky with girls, he gets it on with guys. As far as gender preferences go, you’re about as mutually exclusive as it gets. I didn’t offend you. You’re just naturally cranky. Have a piece of lamb. It will calm you down.”

Despite my appeals for peace, the overweight ginga lesbo starts getting more cranky. Pretty unreasonable behaviour on her part, all in all. But she can’t voice her frustration. I have won the argument. The two hot, busty chicks are looking at me as if they are less lesbo than I had previously alleged. I am enjoying their attention. Even the two guys, one of whom I had accused of being camp, are both on my side.

And then a bolt of understanding hit me. “Wait a moment,” I say. “Let me guess. You voted Labour at the last election, didn’t you?”

“Yes,” the cranky butch ginga answers.

“And you work for a living, don’t you?”

“Yes,” she says.

“And the kind of work you do… I’m going to go out on a limb, here… but do you, by any chance, work in human resources?”

I almost pissed myself with her final confirmation. They cannot even stop themselves from regulating how people think and talk when they're not being paid for it.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Sing Bravo Bravo!

The road to Napier is paved with good intentions.

So I said to myself, as I veered haphazardly along State Highway Two—a misnomer if there ever was one. I passed a couple of optimistic traffic police on the side of a highway that had no stretches long enough to achieve the speed limit, and made my way into earthquake country.

There is not a lot to say about Napier as a town. The best view can be had from Bluff Hill, looking out to the sea, and away from the semi-urban centre. The Napier folk celebrate the fact that they have one of the largest collections of art deco architecture in the world. There’s a good reason for this. Art deco is fucking ugly. No other city in the world has seen fit to replicate it. Where it has existed, sensible town planners have permitted wide scale demolition. The fact Napier has art deco architecture at all is a historical accident. After the 1931 quake, the authorities simply took a fad that was already running out of time, and applied it on a wider scale to citizens who were still too shell-shocked to realise what was happening to them. If the upheaval had taken place in 1985, the entire town would resemble a set from That 70’s Show.

I blame Susan Wood for my journey. Last week she did an interview with some random dolphin-trainer from Napier’s Marineland, who was at pains to explain how grief-stricken everybody was about the death of one of Marineland’s last two remaining dolphins, despite the creature living to twice its natural age. According to the trainer, even the seals were sad. "I’ve worked here since leaving school," she says. "This is all I know how to do."

I don’t like cat-people on a good day. This chick was the ultimate cat-person. Cat-people do not have lives of any consequence. They fuss and preen over stupid animals that are far removed from their single useful purpose: to catch mice. This trainer had just applied her catness to small marine mammals. She’d set her whole life around the care of two ageing dolphins, in a country that no longer allows the incarceration of new dolphins. So a visit to Marineland had to be funny.
Kelly is the one remaining dolphin at the unnatural age of 36. It refused to spin when instructed, played dead when it was supposed to jump, showed its tail when it was told to bare its teeth, and generally seemed to be incapable of carrying out even the dumbest tricks. Even its species type—the common dolphin—seemed lame. Kelly should have been bottle-nosed. It should have been able to pop the top off my beer with its nose. Then people would flock to Marineland, and even Chris Carter would pay money to allow them to keep more dolphins in captivity.

I don’t object to dolphins being held in a confined space. And to be fair, Marineland has some pretty confined spaces. The seal enclosures—which contains some albino-like North American species of seal—are smaller than some hotel baths I’ve lounged in. If it’s good enough for a german shepherd to be kept as a pet, why not a fur seal, which is basically a dog with flippers? And if seals can be held, why not dolphins? And if dolphins are allowed, why not whales?

Which gets me to whales. I don’t understand why whales are amazing creatures.

They are not great just because somebody wrote a book about one of them, and called the book Moby Dick. More books have been written about Al Gore than have been written about whales named Moby Dick. That alone does not make whales great.

Nor are they great because they are more intelligent than other species. I once had a dog that barked on command. I have not seen a whale that can bark on demand. Dogs have a profound sense of smell. Whales don’t. Dogs can fetch on land and in water. Do I need to go on with this analogy?

Whales have an international commission established—the International Whaling Commission, no less, to manage whale stocks for hunting purposes. Sure, a bunch of greenie weirdoes from New Zealand and other countries have jumped up and down and hijacked the purpose of the commission to attempt to ban whaling altogether—no wonder, really, that countries like Norway and Japan go out on their own.

Whales are not universally endangered as a species. Pilot whales are in abundance. There’s about a million of them floating about, doing their whaley thing. Some of them beach themselves and give rise to great works of literature, such as Whale Rider. Where would Witi Ihimaera be without whale beachings? But I digress. The Japanese could comfortably hunt and chomp through 30,000 pilot whales a year without negatively affecting pilot whale populations. The Norwegians could eat the steaks of 1200 humpbacks a year without depleting existing stock. There’s even ample numbers of Blue Whales—over 10,000, to allow the IWC to start breeding and farming them.

Because, as we know, no species of animal that has ever been commercially farmed, has ever become extinct.

Yes, many species of whales are very big. Many of them are also no larger than dolphins. The dwarf sperm whale, for example, is smaller than a bottle-nose. The big whales are really just the fat chicks of the oceans. They're fun to harrass and lam/harpoon, but unless they're on the menu, what use are they?

So by supporting the moratorium on whaling, what we are really doing is giving in to the morbidly obese people of the world, who want to justify their over-indulgence on the greatness of the whale species. It’s a sham, and I’ve seen through it.

There is only one solution to protecting whales from extinction, and saving the heart-land of the Hawke’s Bay. Napier would be a far more interesting town, and Marineland a far more visited attraction, if they farmed whales in their pools.