Saturday, August 11th, 2007

I’ve wanted to see Ten Canoes for a very long time, so I was pleased when Dan Slevin let it be known that the film was showing at the Lighthouse in Petone.

I’m glad to say I wasn’t disappointed.

Ten Canoes is a didactic tale given by an old Aboriginal man to a young man while they travel with a mob of men somewhere in Northern Australia. It’s the goose hunting season, and while they’re making bark canoes someone tells the old man that the young man, who is his younger brother, covets the old guys wife.

The rest of the film is taken up with the tale of one of the men’s ancestors, who found himself in a similar situation way back near the beginning of time. (more…)


Great book. One of the things I had to keep doing was checking the year it was published, 1992, because Neal has described a number of things that have come to pass.

Snow Crash is rollicking story of an enfranchised America in which central government no longer has any real meaning. A drug called snow crash is circulating, and two characters Hiro Protangonist and Y.T. are collaborating to figure out what it is, and where it’s coming from.

By enfranchised I mean that nothing seems to be owned privately anymore. Everything is run by major corporations, like the Mafia, and everyone who isn’t someone is an employee. This future isn’t as far away as you might think.

What is truly amazing though is Stephenson’s description of the online world, or what we these days call massively multiplayer online role-play games (MMORPG). Designers either copied Stephenson’s ideas, or the man was indeed well ahead of his time. His “metaverse” is basically Second Life. But a little more snazzy…


Well, I should start this review by pinning my colours to the mast and saying, “I’m in favour of universal healthcare”. I never, ever want to live in a country where profit-seeking agencies determine my ability to access medical care.

Now, that is despite my ongoing failure to receive a diagnosis. 19 Months and counting. I’m starting to become resigned to being on medication for years. People in their 80s can get replacement joints, but a productive man in his 30s can’t get a nights sleep. Until my condition degrades enough to warrant attention, that is.

And that’s the problem with SiCKO. While Michael Moore does a good job of contrasting the American system with “socialised medicine” in Canada, Cuba, France and Great Britain, he does ignore that these systems have very important flaws in their delivery of medical services.

He paints the NHS as being a benign environment in which hospitals distribute money, not the other way around, but doesn’t talk about the extreme difficultly some have in getting treatment. Plenty of people like to bitch about the NHS…

That said, universal health care is world better than the American system. Moore has a tendency to gloss over the details of the things he’s documenting, and likes to place emphasis on “human stories”. Personally I see this as a form of exploitation of his subjects. But, even in doing so, Moore is still able to depict the extreme hypocrisy of the medical insurance industry. A system in which profit is vastly more important that patients.

Privatisation of medical care should be resisted in this country at all costs.

So, recognising that Moore’s intention is to exploit emotional investment Americans have in things like 11 September, the film achieves its aims. It demonstrates the hypocrisy of the US medical system, and its leaders, which also keeping the information pretty stupid. I’ve been inclined to describe Moore’s work as ‘mockumentary’, because it works off facts, not with facts, and SiCKO falls into this camp again.

But I guess when you’re dealing with a country that barely educates it’s people, routinely lies to and exploits them for economic gain, and uses financial incentives as its primary means to influence political decision-makers, you’ve got to dumb things down a little.

SiCKO portrays the US as a sick and ailing country, and I’m inclined to agree.