"Party time around the world": As you were probably already aware, there was an inauguration yesterday, and it was the cause for much joyous celebration. Clearly, in Washington DC, it was celebrated with star-studded inaugural balls, the champagne flowing, the faces of the beautiful people rendered even more beautiful with last-minute Botox. But how, I wondered, were people in the rest of the world enjoying this monumental occasion? Fortunately, the Herald obliged. "...Toasts were offered at black-tie balls in Europe...", the article offers. Well, that makes sense. Meanwhile, "Bulls and goats were slaughtered for feasts in Kenya ... and shamans in Latin America chanted Barack Obama's name with reverence." We all know that, even if there were a building big enough in Africa to hold a ball, there wouldn't be enough tuxedos to dress the guests. Latin America, meanwhile, is a continent best known for its mysterious pagan rituals; we know little more about it than that the loud chanting could be heard from Texas. No such chanting of Obama's name took place in the US yesterday, of course.
I don't know whether it's better or worse that there is no follow-up in the (short) article about these claims, making them something of a casual, throwaway remark. Does that make them more or less painful/ridiculous?
On another note, the article goes on to really push the boundaries of journalism by asking - get this - a black man what he thinks about a - wait for it - black president. Turns out he thinks it's good.
Serious business in Whakatane: "Don't let the sun go down on me/ Although I search myself it's always someone else I see." That may or may not have been what the inhabitants of Whakatane were singing in the shower this morning, as the town reeled from the most controversial decision since the Supreme Court handed the presidency to George W. Bush (remember him?). It seems Blenheim has received the much-vaunted title of New Zealand's sunniest 'city' from NIWA (government science types) after ruling out Whakatane's record number of sunny hours as suspicious, with claims of 'faulty equipment' and 'sabotage'. Now a war of amusing words is raging among the Eastern BoP region, the Marlborough District Council and NIWA. It turns out that Whakatane rocketed up from third place in 2007, with 2550 hours, to first place in 2008 with... Oh, I'm sorry, I seem to still be talking about this 'story'. I don't know what came over me.
The industry strikes back!: You may remember from yesterday my rage at the story about Tony Ryall cancelling a health conference to save money. Well imagine my surprise when I turned to page A6 and saw this headline: "Industry fury at Govt for cancelling conferences"! Maybe I was wrong! Perhaps this conference really was one that was going to improve New Zealanders' health for the better. So I read the article. And, funnily enough, it turns out that the industry upset with the government for cancelling conferences isn't the health industry at all. It's the 'conference industry'. And, according to Conventions and Incentives NZ chief exec Alan Trotter, the government is sending "completely the wrong message”; presumably that junkets are a complete waste of everyone's time. Alright, so the guy is just sticking up for his economic interests. But why is the Herald getting its knickers in a twist about this? My guess is that journalists love the free booze at conferences.
Your Views on Obama: No, I don't mean your views. I mean those of the manifold contributors to the Herald's very own version of talkback radio, the online 'forum' of Your Views. It's a fascinating cross-section of the populace; while, to get published in a major media outlet, you used to need to have both something reasoned to say and a substantial-enough grasp of grammar to say it, now all you need is an internet connection. Every day, some contributions make the cut and get into the newspaper proper but, like with any research, to get the best data you have to go to the primary sources. So here are some highlights of the forum on hopes for Obama:
'Altvox': "I hope Obama re looks at the USA unblinding support for the Isreali's. Interesting how Isreal agreed to a cease fire just days before Obama is inorgirated." [sic]
'Andy': "I hope the Obama writes off all American debts owing to all other counties so as to get America out of the red. There is nothing stopping him from doing this because America is still overwhelmingly the greatest military power in world."
'Craig': He wants to take America down the road to Socialismm [sic] my hope is that he will not succed in achieving this goal. I am also hoping he will not attempt to bail out everyone and everything. I am hoping he will maintain a strong armed force and that he will keep homeland security at a high level. I also hope I can have a playstation for christmas because ive been a good boy. [Ok, so I made the last bit up.]
'Schwann': I just hope that Obama can do what the other great Presidents have done in this century. The priorities are:
1) Prevent global pandemics such as the Great Plague and the Spanish Flu.
2) Prevent genocide such as happened in the Holocaust.
3) Prevent World Wars such as WW1 and WW2
4) Prevent nuclear holocaust such as Hiroshima
Your Views: it may not be the most coherent news forum, but it should be – do try it.
Party on, Garth: I was particularly looking forward to today, seeing as Thursday is the day when my arch-rival (no, he doesn't know who I am) Garth George publishes his column. What will it be about today? Single mums cause AIDS? Helen Clark causes abortion? Who knows? Turns out that he actually wrote about... Obama. And it's not even controversial – it turns out that he's reasonably excited about Obama, and wishes him well. There goes my meal ticket. Still, there's always next week.
Misleading headline of the day: "UN chief launches attack on Israel". If you can't beat 'em...