Steve Jobs get away with absolute nonsense, then dies

Steve Jobs gets away with absolute nonsense, then dies

By J.R. Kuwanski

Experts around the world have been dumbfounded that seemingly good IT design and dying gives you a licence to talk absolute bollocks. Following the death of Apple creator, Steve Jobs, linguistics experts have been left in a state of shock when they observed supposedly non-retarded journalists and ‘friends’ frothing over a speech that’s conclusion was something you’d expect from a 15 year old girl’s twitter account, or Peter Andre’s Facebook update.

In 2005, Steve Jobs, who was wearing sneakers at the time, went to Stanford to deliver a commencement speech. After articulating what appeared to be a string of coherent and reasonable thoughts, that had some bearing to reality, Mr ‘Sneaker’ Jobs opened his mouth and human excrement flowed out. Further shock ensued when the audience also opened their mouths and swallowed the buckets of faecal matter in their entirety. The verbal sewage that flowed from Jobs’s mouth was was:

“I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”

Professor of Linguistic and Bullshit Studies at the London School of Economics, Roger Mayweather, explained the phenomenon: “We’ve seen this happen before. People that are usually sane and mentally well-adjusted, lose their sensibilities in a moment of primitive adulation. Even usually reasonable people in a cult environment will happily believe complete lies. Put simply, when people froth real hard, they lose their shit”.

Colleague and fellow academic, Professor of Mathematics, Roy Austin, added: “We’ve run the numbers, and it’s patently obvious that Steve Jobs is lying through his sneaker-wearing teeth. There is no way he lived every day of his life, or even 5% of the days of his life, as if they were his last. If that were the case he would’ve been found dead, covered in maple syrup, high-grade cocaine and sticky pictures of Shania Twain by the time he was 23. Statistics clearly show that there is no way in f**k that he woke up, looked in the mirror, told himself he would live that day as if it were his last, and then settled into a 12 hour set of coding, just no f*cking way.”

The situation was explained further following an interview with a member of the audience on that fateful Commencement day. Phd student, Ivan Hipsteranovitch, said: “Apple and Steve Jobs have changed my life. I’m unemployed and in thousands of pounds of debt but my Mac keeps me warm at night. I’m gonna continue to grow a beard, and follow my dream of creating the best interactive vintage clothing website ever. And not just vintage clothing; vintage telephones and board games and furniture. I won’t stop until I’ve raped and bastardised every subculture that has ever existed before me and replaced it with faux-cool, well-designed fonts and hollow pretence – and I couldn’t do it without Steve Jobs. Thank you, thank you so so much.”

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From a town just outside of London

From a town just outside of London

By J.R. Kuwanski

“‘ello stranger”. He swanders across the tired carpet to one of the younger female workers. “Y’ight?” A rhye, knowing, smirk across the face, as if he knows something or as if something is funny. Neither is the case. Now whispered voices begin. Inflated work-gossip, with inflated complaints, to match his inflated belly – that’s filled with meat and cheese and instant coffee.

After a brief faux conversation he begins his departure. The air conditioning hums. “A’ight then, see ya later love”. Wearing the same smurk, that seems almost permanently worn. Now the swander down the hall-way, but it’s more of a waddle. Although it’s clear from his facial expression that in his mind it’s a swagger, he’s convinced himself of that. A few throwaway comments now, to colleagues either side of the hall. “A’ight Peter? You holdin’ up”, the thin lips creep up on either. There’s no time to answer. This is purely ceremonial. “Me? Oh unno (shake of the head), busy busy busy. Fighting fires. Ha ha”. Some gossip about someone leaving here, some gossip about a disciplinary there. Blackberry in hand, raised every 2 to 3 minutes. Raised in the middle of conversations.

He’s been waiting all his life for this. Waiting all his life to do this. Seen his Dad do it. And his Dad’s mates do it. School and youth were not good times, even though they were supposed to be. There weren’t many girls, there weren’t that many parties. Never really got into music or art. But now it’s all changed. It’s so much more comfortable now. Now he can ask to meet people and they have to. Now he can wear a suit and everyone else wears one. No need to worry about taste, his wife takes care of that. Now it’s obvious that he’s making some money, he’s in charge. He can walk around, at pace (cos he’s busy; busy, busy, busy), filled with “going-forwards” and “at-the-end-o-the-days”. Oh, it’s all so important now – but he does it with wit and humour, cos he’s so witty and humorous.

Leaving speeches, forced laughter, how-was-your-weekend, stale air, fake smiles with tired eyes, work drinks, leaving cards, best-wishes, corporate inductions.

No need to really make friends anymore, hasn’t been for some time. No need for an opinion. No need for an interest in culture anymore. Got a family to excuse all of that stuff. Can complain at work about no time ‘cos of the family; can complain at home ‘cos no time ‘cos of work. It works brilliantly. It’s all accepted. Just gets knowing nods and pseudo jokes about plumbers, boilers and taxiing the kids. Oh hilarious stuff! Riveting stuff. Nope, no time or money for music, film or literature. “Oh, I wish. But that’s long gone now, ha, ha. Stuck on boring things, power and electrician bills, ha ha.” But he doesn’t wish, and power and electrician bills are not the problem. It’s the big home and the big travel distances. But that way he can be close to all the others, who all use the same excuse, and look the same, and talk the same.

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In the beginning it was cold and there was a need for fire.

In the beginning it was cold and there was a need for fire.


By J.R. Kuwanski


In the beginning it was cold and there was a need for fire.


The tribe would gather before dispersing into the forest to collect wood. They would return to the meeting point and dump their collection. A fire was started.


As the tribe continued to collect wood the fire took on a small size. It produced little heat and the tribe knew that there was no time to rest. For if they delayed in collecting the wood, and neglected to continually feed the flame, it would falter and die and without the warmth
of the fire the tribe would not survive. It was a matter of life and death. As such the tribe worked constantly, sometimes throughout the night.


It was dark in the forest and bitterly cold, as they were far from the flame there. But they could see the fire growing and knew that one day soon they would be able to stop for a while and bask in the fruits of their labour, enjoying the warmth of the flame.


One morning the tribe awoke to the gleeful and excited squeals of one of the tribes’ members. When they had arisen they saw one tribesman holding an unusual contraption. Questions began to be asked and the tribesman explained his invention. It was shaped like a large bowl with a large handle on top. It was made of flax and seemed fairly sturdy in structure. At first the tribe couldn’t understand why the inventor was so excited. While the large flax bowl was intriguing, they couldn’t see the use. And then it became clear. The inventor began placing pieces of wood in the basket. After the second or third branch the tribe gasped. This was going to change everything.


With the new invention in use, wood was gathered at a drastically faster rate. And for the first time, one of the tribesmen was performing a new role. The inventor, for long periods, would sit resting in front of the fire, making his baskets. He was the first tribesman to ever really sit and enjoy the heat, the benefits of all the tribe’s hard work. But the tribe was happy enough with this, for while he sat and made more of the large flax bowls, the tribe could collect much more wood. They would all see the fire growing rapidly as a result.


As time went by the fire grew and the tribesmen could take small breaks in their labour and from the cold perilous journeys into the forest. But these were only small breaks and all the tribesman were still very fearful that if they hesitated for too long the fire may dwindle and die, putting their very existence would be in peril.


The tribesman worked so hard collecting the wood, most of the time entire nights were spent in the forest, in pitch black and biting cold. Several died from exhaustion and exposure. But the tribe knew that at this point the fire just wasn’t big enough. But someday in the near future, they figured, it would be and they would be able to join the large flax bowl maker by the fire, who was warm, sometimes even hot, throughout the day and the night.


Some time passed and a remarkable thing happened, an astounding event. The tribe awoke one morning to the unheard sound of stone grinding on stone. What they then saw was a tribesman leaning over a boulder scraping something furiously. When the tribe demanded the individual explain himself, the tribesman turned around presenting an object never before seen – seemingly something from the future. It appeared to be a large stick with a very sharp thin stone attached to the end. From the markings on the boulder it could be seen that the tribesman had been sharpening the edge of the stone all night and the result was an impressive blade. The tribe began considering what the use of such an usual object could be. Some thought it bore danger and could be used in attack. But the inventor protested that this was not the intended use and beckoned for the tribe to follow him. He took them to a tree at the edge of the forest and then performed an act that would change all their lives irrevocably. The inventor wielded the tool high and wide behind him and swung the object with great momentum. Crack! The blade of the stone stuck into the side of the trunk. Again the inventor pulled back and wielded the tool with great vigor at the trunk. Crack! The small tree began to teeter. The tribe caught on and began to murmur, some breaking out into hysteria.


As the large flax bowl inventor had done, the stone blade inventor sat by the fire and one after another produced more stone blades. With both new tools in use by the rest of the tribe, the fire was growing exponentially. By now it was indeed substantial and the two inventors remained warm day and night. It became clear that their health and general wellbeing was much greater than that of the rest of the tribe. But because it meant the fire was growing at such a rate the tribe were appeased and let the inventors get on with their work.


From time to time other tribesman would try and create inventions of their own or even imitate those of the large bowl or stone blade. But the two original inventors would not teach their skills with any accuracy and ensured that the location of their materials remained a secret. The flax and specific stone, required for the inventions, were not easy to find and many had observed the inventors in the middle of the night scurrying in the distance, hoarding the materials in secret locations. When one of the tribesmen spent too much time attempting to invent or reproduce the tools, the rest of the tribe would turn on him and demand that he return to work. For the fear was that if too many of them attempted to invent, as opposed to toil in the forest, there would be no one to collect the wood and the fire would die.


By now the fire was a formidable blaze, verging on inferno. The two inventors were experiencing great heat. The rest of the tribe however still were working almost constantly. They remained exhausted, often sick. Many were also experiencing ghastly injuries as a result of the new tools – deep gorging gashes from misplaced stone-blade swings and falling trees had left several tribesmen with devastating head injuries. And the forest, while always having been dangerous, was now looking haggard and hacked, robbed of much of its mystique.


Some more time passed and now the fire was almost overwhelming in size. The inventors having spent so much time next to the blaze became somewhat immune to the heat. And what was previously considered to be warm, was not enough for them now, they moved closer to the ferocious blaze, sometimes even burning themselves. The rest of the tribe had continued to work tirelessly and some began to ask at what point they would allow themselves to rest. How big, exactly, does the fire have to be before they can stop, rest and enjoy the fruits of their labour?


This debate was a sensitive topic but it began to grow. Those who were enjoying the fire the most, the inventors, were those who most vehemently opposed any notion of slowing the fire’s growth, despite its almost overwhelming size. They constructed elaborate fables of a distant tribe that slowed in feeding their fire and instead began to enjoy the heat. It was said that this almost immediately resulted in the fire dying, followed by mass starvation and death. Some of the other tribes’ people wondered why they couldn’t just collect enough wood to sustain the fire instead of continually growing it. To them it seemed to be much more than what was needed to keep the tribe warm and at no immediate risk of teetering. But most of the other tribesmen were so terrified from the inventors’ repeated stories that they continued on collecting wood, out of fear alone. They had become convinced of the fables and they too began reciting them to other tribesmen. The legends were so well ingrained by now that those who proposed otherwise were starting to be considered heretics and a threat to the tribe.


Some tribesmen however had managed to walk to other side of forest, as they were now forced to travel so far to get wood, most had been burnt. These tribesmen returned with witnessed accounts of other tribes. They told of how they saw, first-hand, smaller fires where most of the tribe enjoyed the warmth for vast parts of the day and night. These tribesmen were not frantically running back and forth to the forest and they observed no such hunger that the inventors had talked of. As the tribesmen recounted these discoveries the others listened but in the hectic pace of collecting they had little time to really hear and the disturbing fables of the inventors, retold so fervently over and over, tended to drown out these opposing accounts.


It was beginning to be the case now that the tribesmen were having to constantly trek vast distances to collect wood, through extensive wastelands of smouldering tree stumps and sharp hazardous blades amidst the debris. It became clear to them that they were collecting and cutting timber much faster than it could possibly grow. Some tribesman wondered what would happen when all the wood ran out. Surely it couldn’t last forever at this rate. When such concerns worked their way around to the inventors, the inventors quickly began accusing those who held such concerns of being lazy and simple-minded. They encouraged resentment within the tribe against such doubters. Although sometimes the inventors would adopt a different approach and invite the doubting tribesman to the fire where they would allow them to experience the joy of the warmth. This often took the doubters’ mind off the forest and they too, after a while, began to want more and more heat.


Many of the tribesmen now had to work harder than their parents did in their youth, despite the fire being twice as large. The forest was so much further away than it had been a generation ago and the tribesman were fighting mercilessly amongst themselves to salvage the remaining of what was left, so they could have their moment by the flame, in the hope that one day they could rest.

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Keeping it clean

Keeping it clean


by J.R.Kuwanski


The phrase ‘keeping it clean’ seems to have etched its way into the modern dialect. Its use and scope is considerable and is often taken to represent a grander function, a life mantra if you will.

The Collins online dictionary really demonstrates the diversity of the term:

clean adj

1. free from dirt or impurities, clean water,

2. habitually hygienic and neat,

3. morally sound, clean living,

4. without objectionable language or obscenity, good clean fun,

5. without anything in it or on it, a clean sheet of paper,

6. causing little contamination or pollution

7. recently washed, fresh,

8. thorough or complete, a clean break with the past,

9. skilful and done without fumbling, dexterous, a clean catch,

10. (Sport) played fairly and without fouls,

11. free from dishonesty or corruption, clean government,

12. simple and streamlined in design

13. showing or having no record of offences,

14. (Slang) innocent, not carrying illegal drugs, weapons, etc.

15. verb: to make or become free of dirt.

If one is to live according to clean values in any substantial sense, one could not boast about an aspect of their life being clean while others remain dirty. For, in reality, this in sum would mean that they are still living a partially dirty existence. And while no one can realistically live a completely pristine life, it is inauthentic and delusional to claim your keeping it clean if one aspect of your being is pristine while others wallow in soot.

Allow me to illustrate by way of example. Let’s take a middle-aged house wife, Judy. Her husband and sole means of income, Rod, is an investment banker and he has several lucrative port-folios; some are reputable businesses while others are investments of more dubious social value.

Judy likes to provide a clean home for her loved one. She likes to keep the domestic facilities in perfect working order and free from dirt and debris. She scrubs away at the oven to ensure all charred residue is removed, spraying and wiping down the benches to guarantee all traces of harmful bacteria are dissolved. After some time she is left with a spotless kitchen, hygienic and functional, ready for hubby when he returns home from a hard day’s work.

The house is vacuumed, the kitchen’s been sanitized, the floors are mopped. Even the windows have been wiped and the sun rays shine in for inspection. It can be told that the house is sparkling; no dirt remains.

The housewife reclines at the end of her duties, meditating on a full sense of satisfaction that she has kept it clean, as far as she is concerned, and feels fulfilled that her obligations have been met and order has been restored to her universe.

The problem, however, is that the cloths she used, the cleaning agents she dispersed and the very house itself that she was so passionately scrubbing, came with some very dirty repercussions. You see the house was funded off some of hubby’s investments. And some of hubby’s investments weren’t so clean at all.

One particular investment produced some significant dividends – an oil company that had recently cut-costs. Those cut-costs had resulted in a failure of equipment. This failure resulted in a major oil spill. That spill left oceans polluted and wild-life to suffocate on black gold, gasping for air, wrapped in thick grease. Entire eco-systems were in fact dilapidated with schools of fish starving and communities of fisherman and their families thrown into poverty.

Another lucrative investment was an arms dealership that does not pass any judgment on its customers and delivers its products far and wide. Some of the more consistent purchases come from the Congo where rifles and submachines go-a-plenty, often at bargain basement prices. These pieces of weaponry find their way into militias that use the vast amount of younger people in their local villages, from the ages of 6 to 13 years, in their combat. So hubby’s profits come from putting a rifle in a 9 year-old’s hands to go an kill another 9 year-old for the domination of territories in which coca is grown. The problem is that the young boys and girls that are forced to kill with hubby’s guns don’t have the cleanest dreams. No, instead they are filled with very messy visions of amputated limbs and screams.

So while Judy basks in her contentment that her abode is clean, it has come at the filthy cost of turtles writhing and suffocating, a stoic fisherman weeping in the early hours of morning distraught how he is to feed his family, and a seven year old child breathing shallow breaths in the night, pondering the horrors of the day. It can be seen here, that wifey isn’t keeping it so clean.

One doesn’t have to look as far as the Congo to see whether you’re keeping it clean or not. One can observe something as close as one’s own relationship. The world seems to be sullied with relationships that put forth the veneer of tidiness, of streak-free cleanliness. But upon a little further inspection a plethora of grime and destructive emotional residue resides. Two people can convey to themselves and one-another and their friends and their families that they are engaged in wholesome, giving, honest love. But as soon as the cameras are off, and even sometimes when they’re still on, the very despoiled and unsanitary truth rears forth. Instead, of an honest and selfless love what becomes apparent is their emotional and financial dependence, fear, cowardice and habit. There really seems to be nothing more honorable about many ‘romantic’ relationships than there is with a smoker and their chosen brand of Rothmans – they’ve shared a lot of time with one another and can ease the pain when the going’s tough, but the relationship is ultimately addictive, and sustained by the user being too lazy to give it up.

One can look even closer to home and see if they’re keeping it clean. One can look at their own beliefs. For example if one pronounces their belief in equal opportunity but then takes a job based on nepotism, ones’ beliefs are soiled with hypocrisy. Or if one touts the claim that they earned all their great wealth by themselves, from the boots up as it were, and as such avoids paying tax, but then goes on to recall their years of wealth accumulation in which they drove on roads paid by others, went to school paid by others, the laws were enforced by paid others, then their beliefs are encaked in the filth of contradiction and the stench of ideological self-delusion. And the messy consequences of patients languishing in hospital hallways and children coughing blood due to uninsulated public housing are left to smolder as tax revenue runs short.

Even on a more literal level the very notion of cleanliness is misused on a daily basis. For when we get out of the shower, after a rigorous scrub, we can claim our freshness. But what if our bodies are still sullied from a weekend of drugs, booze, cigarettes and saturated fats. For while our exterior is sanitary, our internals are rotting with carcinogens, our arteries are blocked with grease and our synapses are struggling to fire due to A-class grunge.

In fact it can be seen that an individual who struts out onto the street feeling crispy, shaved, hair slicked, looking the part, is can in fact covered in filth. His or her tax avoidance, disingenuous relationship, murderous investments and decaying liver leaves a long slippery trail of putrid mess behind them. All the filth that they’ve swept under the carpet does not go away. It just piles up with alarmingly harmful consequences.

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Rich New Zealanders become 20% richer
The richest 150 New Zealanders today exclaimed their disgust that they had only become 20 per cent more obscenely rich in the last year and not 100 per cent grotesquely opulent.

In a time of economic recession and public spending cuts the richest 150 New Zealanders expressed their dismay as they couldn’t afford to buy the entire country outright. Close mate and fluffer, John Key, shared in their shock: “It’s a sad day when rich people can only become drastically richer while the rest of population loses jobs and state assets. Rich people were sent here by God and I for one won’t stand by while they can’t afford to buy Niue in one foul swoop. And in a World Cup year, we should all be ashamed of ourselves”.

Part time blogger and full-time wanker, David Farrar, commented: “How can this country ever expect to get out of the third world when we’re treating our nation’s best like this. Surely during a time of economic recession we should be giving these billionaires our children and Toyota Camrys, not school funding in the form of tax cuts, or a pesky New Zealand owned bank.”

Ministers were also astonished by the revelations. Anal enthusiast Rodney ‘five fingers’ Hide said: “I mean where do these bloody socialists think the money’s gonna come from for their state funded ‘health’ and ‘education’ and ‘housing’ (while frantically making air quotes with his fat little fingers). It’s made clear by these latest figures that the rich clearly can’t afford to give any more in tax. The poor bastards have only increased their wealth by a fifth in the last year! How do you expect to buy five thai lady-boys on that salary. It’s ridiculous.”

Bill English put down a small child he was eating and shared in the sentiment: “Let’s get real New Zealand, how are we going to afford put our kids through a decent state education when the richest New Zealanders are only getting richer by 20% during an international recession. It’s time to stop living on some cloudy dreamland where Lefties say we can afford to raise the minimum wage and throw money away on things like public transport. If my mates can’t afford to build a giant golf course from Henderson to Opotiki then what hell can they do.”

National MP, Murray McCully, sympathised and recanted an anecdote: “Recently I had some snivelling woman in my office who was being repeatedly beaten by her husband. She was wining on about how the local Women’s Refuge centre had closed due to a withdrawal of government funding and consequently she was unable to escape her abusive partner. I told her in no short terms that Graeme Hart has only $6.5 billionaire dollars, there’s simply no money! I’m a personal friend of Graeme’s and he has told me that his bags are packed sitting by the door and if the tax rate is raised (or returned to what it was before John cut it) by just one per cent, he’s gone. He’s already bought his tickets to Korea where there’s still some sense of perspective and the country isn’t held to ransom by the arrogance of the working classes. When this supposedly ‘battered’ women had the gall to enquire as to exactly how many millionaires would there have to be in New Zealand before we could afford to provide such basic services I smacked the tart square in the face and told her to get the hell out of my office. Some people, honestly.”



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The End of the New Zealand Dream

The End of the New Zealand Dream

by J.R. Kuwanski

Since arriving back in my homeland of New Zealand I have felt a pressure to analyze my feelings towards this awkward South Pacific atoll. Apart from the inane observations (that it’s warmer than the UK, more humid and there are Polynesian people) a few realizations did come to me. One was what appeared to be the lack of any coherence in the culture, making my task of assessing it a difficult one. The nature and identity of this place is so diffuse and ambiguous it is difficult to put a finger on.

A drive to Henderson to complete my UK visa paper work seemed to confirm this suspicion – vast areas of simply unused land. Not in some kind nature reserve ‘unused’, but simply a chaotic and random allocation of property development ranging from the Immigration Center itself to Chinese superrettes to quarter acre housing developments – and no relationship between the three.

The culture, in a discussion with a friend, was made analogous to a dish that entailed spaghetti bolognaise wrapped in a tortilla inside an apple pie. There was plainly no congruence, no common bond. It seemed that, in one way or another, a various range of people found themselves on this land at the bottom of the world and were merely doing what appeared to be obvious – getting a job and filling in the rest with whatever came easiest – namely a house, wife and kids.

The people themselves seem to wander in a state of bewilderment, of passive confusion. There is no guiding common style, ethnicity, lifestyle or relations between people. There is no coherence, dare I say it, no community whatsoever.

It was around this time that I realized that any New Zealand story, a national story, that I had previously and desperately clung to was in fact nothing more than an antiquated and outdated myth – to be packaged, stamped with a silver firm, endorsed by Sir Edmund Hillary and sold to the highest Chinese bidder. While I am aware that most national narratives are myths (the American dream, the British way and so on), it seemed that the NZ narrative was replaced with nothing. The American dream was replaced with a vast beauty of counter culture, music, literature and film. The British way was replaced with a vibrant combination of ethnicities and unique outcomes of Caribbean-South Asian and British fusions1. But the Kiwi dream, the narrative of two peoples, the quarter acre block, the batch, the unionized job was replaced with, well … nothing. Just an unintentional hogwash of indebted people who are concerned with petty pragmatics (rent or a ridiculously over-priced mortgage), if anything at all, and no real desire of communal living.

When living in Wellington a few years ago I felt, at times, that I was part of some movement, part of something. The Clarke administration had battled back the vulgarities of the 80s’ and 90s’ right wing reforms and a sense of becoming a progressive community within the South Pacific was emerging. A new national identity forged and represented by the new music (the dub-reggae-jazz-funk) of Fat Freddy’s, Solaa and Opensouls, and a resurgence of NZ film and literature demonstrated by Taika Cohen, Emily Perkins and others. Interest free loans, Working for Families, Creative New Zealand funding were both reflecting and producing a nation that wanted to be something more than a cash cow for rental properties and walking tracks.

But now the dream seems to have well resided and J.K profoundly represents the new movement. No universal message, no grand narrative, just hollow clichés, bad dressing and a vomit inducing accent. ‘More roads, more cheap imports and more tax cuts please’ is now the mantra. And the aged euphoria of that hopeful era now seems crass and contrived. Fat Freddy’s songs on reflection seem to be nothing more than excessively long and mundane horn section, and impersonations of Flight of Concords are  as heinous as those of Austin Powers. But there is no resistance from the populous, and I guess that is my point. The NZ narrative and art seem to be a crust of self-creation, completely non-reflective of real life and NZ culture. Underneath the crust is nothing – just vacuous urban sprawl. There is no substance behind the songs, the films, the writing. The nation either lives in cultural voids of Asian eateries like Balmoral or Botany downs, or pseudo communities like Grey Lynn that have now become no more than a t-shirt and a suburb of Ponsonby. Urban sprawl takes hold and before you know it you’re living in a two person apartment in Flat Bush so close to your Korean neighbours that you can hear their tamagotchi. For validity of your existence you can pop down the road (2 km) in your dihatsu to visit Mitre 10, Hell’s Pizza or an ice skating rink. 

Ofcourse this is all justified in minds of the citizenry as they are getting on the property ladder, and therefore making life meaningful. For when you’re 45 one may be able to get a three bedroom place in Epsom. And goddammit by the time you retire you may be able to remortgage for a lifestyle block in Albany. This is all part and parcel of Auckland city. Well more non-city. The fact is everyone wants all the good aspects of a city: jobs, services and so on, but no-one is willing to actually live like they’re in a city. God for bid Aucklanders vote for substantial public transport, centralized housing or capital gains tax.

The NZ dream, come myth, of a quarter acre, a back yard, a batch and trips to the beach is now reserved for the elite few. This privileged oligarchy has managed to buy up all the land and rent it back to the population, at ridiculous prices. And because everyone is so hooked on the mortgage opium they buy it! Fight tooth and nail to buy it! And soulless urban sprawl, spiritless chain stores, shopping malls, and faux communities follow. No more know your neighbour, no more local butcher, no more regular working hours – just chasing the property dragon whichever way how. While John and his mates enjoy a kiwi sav and a weekend at Omaha.

And maybe that is perhaps the New Zealand dream. Land at all costs. Home ownership and a mild climate at all costs. At the cost of culture, community, scenery, markets, public transport, travel, spirituality … society. Simply living to own. And an ice cream at Devonport once a year.

[1] I guess I am really exclusively referring to London here. The rest of England is a morbid sh**hole.

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The Way of the Battler

The Way of the Battler

by J.R. Kuwanski

Since the inception of the Labour government’s 1999 campaign, the notion of the ‘kiwi battler’ has been ever present in New Zealand society. In its original use the term referred to ‘every-day-hard-working-New-Zealanders’. This description, in its literal sense, is ofcourse a meaningless truism – as there is no credible New Zealand political party that would appeal to ‘fortnightly lazy foreigners’. But the people that the party was referring to were working and lower-middle class New Zealanders. However, following the creation of the term, as is common in language, the reference metamorphosed. ‘Battler’ began to refer to a group of kiwis that were less than mediocre by nature; a group of people that were not honest with themselves or others about their limitations but instead chose to simply ignore hard decisions and opt for a path of least resistance, mindlessly flowing with trends or fads and in essence existing as the meat-and-potatoes of life.

While the battlers themselves obviously existed before this time, as a demographic they have come into more prominence of late. This is due to the increasing complexity of the modern age, in which our range of choices are exponentially expanding as each day passes. It is the battlers’ failure to cope with this expansive list of choices that defines them.

A key component of the battler spirit is a strong but confused distaste for reflection, especially of the introspective kind. In fact any form of critical thought is avoided. It is this debilitating allergy to extended thought and consideration that leads the battler to make poor decisions, time and time again, without recourse or learning. The battlers remain stuck in their modes of thoughtlessness and behaviour in a state of mindless abyss and contentment, similar to that experienced by a plant or algae.

The battlers’ completely unfounded sense of confidence at some point crashes into reality, something the battlers struggle to get to grips with. This collision comes usually in the form of unserviceable debt, bankruptcy or social rejection – usually all three.

While non-battlers identify their wants, desires and ambitions and then prioritize their resources to achieve them, the battler does not engage in ordered activity but instead continues on whatever ever path they are on currently or changes completely on a whim – ultimately achieving little or nothing, or something at disproportionate cost, or entirely by accident. In this regard the battler is the pin-ball of humanity, bouncing from one infatuation to the next, most likely at a cost they can’t afford, and eventually ending up in the corner down a hole.

Another cherished cultural phenomena of the battler is confusingly both ‘getting a bargain’ on things that require a higher priority and quality (like health or education), and excessive spending on tedious objects, like i-phones. This in turn further restricts the battlers’ lifestyle as they suffer from illness and low wages and end up spending more time and resources than they saved. But ofcourse no change is made and the battler holds steadfast to the mindless course of tiresome consumerism.

It is this ability to consistently make life more difficult for themselves that distinguishes the battler. A focus on the short-term, an ambivalence to the long-term and all marred with egotism, arrogance and solid dollop of plain laziness are the defining features of this cohort. Fortunately, for the battlers being discussed here, they were born in New Zealand and the consequences of their incompetence are partly shielded by the welfare state and a moderate climate.

It is not a conscious purposeful decision that leads the battlers to live their hectic lives but ambiguous ineptitude and dishonesty. For if one was to purposely choose not to live within their means, not learn more about themselves or others, not address injustice or inequity, not attempt to improve themselves, their own lives or others but simply go through the motions – they would not be a battler. They would be bizarre and self-destructive but not a battler.

But this is not to say that the battlers are without blame or responsibility. While their lifestyle is not a conscious choice, it is a conscious choice not to address it. They do have the ability to change, and in fact this is a critical component of the battler definition. If the battler didn’t have the ability to act beyond their backward state they would simply be mildly retarded, disabled. But no, the battlers’ failure is perpetuated by, like most atrocities, fear and laziness. The battler never accepts that resources are finite, that one has to take responsibility and make sacrifices. They are masters of excuse, complacency and procrastination.

Common past-times include dependent destructive relationships, facebook and the New Zealand Herald. Another favourite is hollow and inconsistent criticisms of politicians. Frequent discussion includes a generalized dismissal of politics itself as simply a self-serving society filled with ‘what-will-they-do-next’s and ‘its-all-b.s.-anyway’s. No legitimate argument is ever formed and certainly no action is ever taken.

The original group that was made reference to by the Clarke led administration was not mutually exclusive the contemporary battler. But they are certainly not synonymous. Many members of the working and lower middle class are some of the strongest practitioner’s of self-responsibility, self-improvement, learning, honesty, humility and self-awareness – and therefore the very antithesis of a battler. The battlers’ social class is merely a symptom of the battler mentality and way of life.

Battlers are certainly not exclusively blue and light blue collar members though. To the contrary, with the children of baby boomers now well into adulthood, several trust fund off-spring roam the suburbs of Auckland and south west London. These battling lads and lasses often come from private schools, socialize in circles of polo shirt wearers and are perpetually funded from Daddy’s wealth which came as the result of property speculation, tax embezzlement and Rogernomics. The silver spoon battler is often free from the repercussions of their incompetence and, more to the point, their completely baseless over-confidence. This further spurs the vicious cycle of self-denial and their own vulgar and moronic selves.

While the majority of battlers are not vicious criminals, although many criminals are battlers, they still do cause substantial harm to themselves and others. It is this fact that changes the battler from a quirky phenomenon to a cause for great concern. Along with casual tax-avoidance and public service exploitation, it has always been the case that inaction or seemingly minor everyday decisions are in fact the very foundations of tyranny and injustice. For it is the complacency of the masses that allows those perpetrators of great cruelty to continue their reign and atrocities. The most obvious of examples is political apathy. Or, and perhaps more poignantly, the tendency of battlers to vote against their own interests and for the interests of an equally imbecile class – the New Zealand wealthy.

So it can be seen that what on the surface seems to be a harmless quaint group of New Zealanders are in fact a silent cancer of New Zealand society. Their classless desperation to be ‘modern’ and wealthy led them to commit scarring-of-the-earth development in Orewa, the creation of the North Shore and vulgar attempts at European inspired alfresco dining in Mission Bay. Their complacency and self-delusion led to the empowerment of the National party. And their ignorance and refusal to sacrifice, perpetuates the gravest of human rights violations in sweatshops, and dictatorships. In light of this, perhaps the political party of ‘every-day-hard-working-New-Zealanders’ has come full circle and what now need to be created is a party that stands particularly in opposition to the kiwi battler. Rich or poor, North or South Island, these heathens need to be addressed.

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