So, Thursday last…

So what went down on Thursday last week…?

ANZ at its very worst conduct…

Red Crater on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Thursday was the day for hearings into the granting of concessions (licenses) for commercial guiding operations on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. These have potentially great implications for our small local business community, especially the smaller members. I had made a submission on the concessions and needed to be at the hearing to speak to my submission and hear the other speakers. Community stuff.

I was under the understanding that the final decision on the tender for my home would not be until the following day so felt secure heading away for the day. 

At 11AM, just after the hearing started my lawyer messaged me to read my email. ANZ through its lawyers, Bell Gully, has given us til 3PM to accept another $2.5k in exchange for for a pre-Christmas settlement. ANZ has failed again and again to keep us informed on the progress of the forced sale of my home let alone any of the details. It has largely dumped this off on the young local real estate agent – to me, an act of total and abject cowardice on ANZ’s part. 

Most else that i know of the process I learned from the tenderer.

It was difficult to make a decision when we didn’t know what the original settlement date was. Neither did Bell Gully (yes, really!). We discussed options and advised ANZ that we could beat the tender offer and that there was other interest in the property. We thought this other interest was really as they seemed comfortable with the $380k ballpark figure that Harcourts gave them.

Typically – in our experience  – the Bell Gully letter was full of errors, no doubt due to the source of the information in ANZ.

(a) The Property was marketed for four weeks prior to the auction, and this has been followed by a further two week marketing campaign prior to the tender date. Since the auction, the agent contacted all previously interested parties to ensure they had the opportunity to submit a tender.

“…a further two week marketing campaign …” Not quite. The tender was not listed online until I had Harcourts head office on about the lack of marketing. Signage did not go up until halfway through the tender period. Prospective buyers making general inquiries about the district at Harcourts were not told of the property.

Following the marketing of the Property prior to the auction, Harcourts estimated the sale price of the Property would likely be between $250,000 and $280,000. ANZ also obtained a valuation from an independent registered valuer which put the forced sale range at between $262,500 and $300,000. The Tender price is within these ranges.

The tender price is conveniently at the bottom of ANZ’s assessed range. These figures beg the question “Why was Harcourts telling prospective buyer that the ballpark price for the property was $380k?”

ANZ’s reason for adopting the tender process was due to concerns that, in light of events leading up to the auction (including your client’s social media posts), proceeding with the auction at that time may not have resulted in the best sale price reasonably obtainable for the Property.

Blatantly false. If that statement held the slightest drop of water, why did ANZ wait until the morning of the auction, when people were already assembling for it, to cancel it? Surely it had nothing to lose in running the auction and then opting for a tender if the auction did not bring the result it wanted? ANZ was under no compulsion to accept any offer made in the auction and could have passed it in if it was not getting the bids it wanted. Certainly a tender was unlikely to achieve a better return than an auction.


Credit:Shutterstock / Patricia A. Phillips

The reference “…in light of events leading up to the auction…” can only refer to the questions asked by 1 News the previous day. Questions about it’s dirty laundry obviously make ANZ uncomfortable. Ditto for “…your client’s social media posts…”  I checked regularly and was not informed of any adverse effects. Once again, it seems the only issue here is ANZ’s sensitivity to dirty washing and sunlight…

Potential purchasers have been nervous whether they will be able to get vacant possession of the property on the settlement date due to Mr O’Neill’s posts on social media.

Possibly however, again, this was not ever raised in regular checks with Harcourts. There were however discussions re my willingness to remain as a tenant.

There is a risk that buyers may begin to worry why the house is not selling if the sale is further delayed and moved to an 8 week campaign after the holiday period.

Right back at you, ANZ…surely this was the greater risk in the last-minute cancellation of the auction? That was hardly a confidence-engendering action, was it?

The location of the Property and its history have limited the number of buyers attracted to the Property.

“…The location…”? Situated on the volcanic plateau, five minutes drive from National Park Village, on the periphery of Tongariro National Park, directly overlooking the Raurimu Spiral Scenic reserve, twenty minutes drive from the biggest ski field in New Zealand and the one currently undergoing the biggest development in its history.

This location..?

“…its history…” For those who don’t know, here is ‘its history‘.- actually not much more than a piece of muck-raking from the NZ Herald. The truth is that, when this happened the house was barely ten years old…it has spent a greater period as a happy family homes with kids and dogs running around it…and goats and sheep and chickens…and the odd cat..

Further, we discussed ‘its history’ as part of the marketing plan. As that incident occurred over twenty years ago, the only reason that we decided to mention it was to cover any concerns arising not so much from the incident itself but the body of ignorance around it. But again, the reports from Harcourts were all positive, even though this was an issue that we were actively tracking…

The current Tender price may be “as good as it gets”.

Really…? When we said we would better the tender offer and when there had been other buyer interest in the property that had not been deterred by Harcourts’ $380k ‘value’… For perspective the rating value of the property is $425k..

So coming back to Thursday. It wasn’t til mid-afternoon that we were able to respond to the nonsense in ANZ’s latest – the 3PM deadline was never doable – but my lawyer was talking with them all afternoon. 

Early that evening, my mortgage broker, ironically the same one who got us into this property in 2004, said she was confident i could get finance to beat the tender…

Not longer after, this arrived…

This is what getting screwed by ANZ looks like…

It really looks like ANZ was more focused on doing harm that ever realising a realistic return from this sale – it loses as well but that’s how spite works – obviously wanting to send a message about the true cost of standing up to its reckless lending and predatory conduct…It seems to have dead set on blocking an opportunity for me to buy the property back – where it still would have gained more than it got from the successful tender – than ever doing right by its shareholders and seeking the best possible result, which would have been the best result for all concerned…

The ethical divide

…or, as we locals know it, the Tasman Sea, that large wild body of water that separates Australia from New Zealand. The big blue thing that keeps everything known to mankind that can kill you in Australia, and keeps New Zealand clean and green…

…except for banking where the process is reversed and the bad practices now being exposed by Rebecca Orr and the Australian Banking Royal Commission propagate across the Tasman into our fair land… Conversely, it would seem that remedial action, however slow, in Australia, doesn’t swim…

These principles are from ANZ’s 2017 Corporate Sustainability Review. It is largely focussed on ANZ operations in Australia but its scope includes ANZ New Zealand. Sadly, as you can see below, such initiatives by ANZ seem to be only limited to ANZ Australia – where is ANZ New Zealand’s Customer Fairness Advisor?

The former Australian Commonwealth Ombudsman, Colin Neave, was appointed as ANZ’s Customer Fairness Advisor. The Customer Fairness Advisor role is focussed on minimising reputational risk, and the risk of regulatory intervention, which may arise from:

• the retention or development of products which have an unfair impact on our retail and small business customers;

• shortcomings in the way in which we manage customers in financial difficulty and assess suitability for lending; and

• broader stakeholder concerns about the culture and values of large financial institutions.

During the year, Colin Neave developed customer remediation principles to assure our customers that ANZ will acknowledge and compensate for any failures quickly

ANZ corporate sustainability review 2017 p21

It’s not that bold a statement to suggest that ANZ New Zealand’s only awareness of the concept of reputational risk comes from the highly-critical Financial Markets Authority and Reserve Bank’s reports last month on banks’ culture and conduct in New Zealand. They are both worth a read: Culture and Conduct and Bank Incentive Structures.

ANZ New Zealand is:

  • a bank that loaned vast amounts to a borrower recovering from a serious head injury; 
  • a bank that failed to determine if the loans were repayable. When I first found out about them in 2013, the accrued debt was just over $400k, with a company that had assets scarcely half that amount.
  • a bank that failed to to disclose this lending to me as the guarantor of that lending, even though by every standard of conduct, it should have.
  • a bank that, when challenged about this debt, lied about being authorised to disclose this information to me as the guarantor.
  • a bank that continued to lie by claiming that the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act prevented that disclosure to me.
  • a bank that kept on lying when it made up information from the Code of Banking Practice to support its argument that disclosure obligations for guarantees and security are different. (they may be for some banks but for ANZ, by its own definitions, guarantees are part of security.)
  • a bank that, even when we said we could beat the sole tender offer and when there was other interest in the property, still accepted that single low tender offer.

So…ANZ New Zealand, where is your Customer Fairness Advisor? God knows you need one (at least)…

Dear ANZ, are you listening…?

 

ANZ New Zealand is being offered every opportunity to do the right thing…my lawyer has been busy over the last couple of days…sent to ANZ this morning via Bell BGully…

ANZ is now so shy of adverse media it will seek a less profitable outcome to try to keep its dirty laundry under cover…

From this…

Mr O’Neill’s home, situated at 3803 State Highway 4, Raurimu (“the property”) was scheduled to be auctioned by ANZ New Zealand (“ANZ”) at 11.00am on 8 November. My client instructs that there was considerable legitimate interest in this auction.

However, our client instructs that the ANZ cancelled the auction at the last minute when prospective buyers were already assembling at the auction location. The ANZ has given no reason to my client for this last minute action; and I understand that this may have been a reactive response to questions asked by the media with regards to the sale.

The ANZ has not communicated with Mr O’Neill at all. On 15 November 2018, an agent from Harcourts advised him that because he “had a right to know’ the ANZ had instructed that the property was to be sold by tender. Tenders are due by 4.00pm on 30 November 2018.

My client instructs that two days later, noting the short duration of the tender, he was concerned that an online listing had not been posted immediately and raised this concern with Harcourts head office. A listing appeared early the following week; however, signage on the property was not erected until later that week. There has been no contact with Mr O’Neill to arrange viewing opportunities and/or further open homes for interested purchasers. Mr O’Neill instructs that he has cooperated fully with previous open homes.

…to this…really…?

Mr O‘Neill believes, and certainly there appears to be no evidence to refute this belief, that the ANZ did not intend for him to learn of the tender until it had closed.

The notice period for this change in tactic is of concern, as my client does not consider that this approach will result in an appropriate response being obtained from the market. Also, as mortgagor he may suffer considerable loss because of the approach taken by the ANZ, particularly, at this time of year; and after having cancelled the auction process
that promised the best result for all parties concerned.

It is of concern that there appears to be an ongoing failure by the ANZ to communicate with Mr O’Neill either directly or through me. My client is of the view that the switch from an auction to a tender process by the ANZ is potentially a less effective form of marketing. It would also appear that as the ANZ stands to recover less of the debt via tender process, it could be viewed that this action is solely intended to protect the ANZ from unwanted media interest. If that is the case, then the approach could be considered reprehensible and inconsistent with the obligation the ANZ has under the Code of Banking Practice to “act fairy, reasonably, and in good faith, in a consistent and ethical way’.

My client views the situation for ANZ as being entirely of its own making, which includes its reckless lending; and in its conduct since he first raised his concerns five years ago. If the growing media and political interest is uncomfortable for ANZ, then this is unfortunate; however, Mr O’Neill should not be disadvantaged as a result. I would also draw your attention to the effects upon Mr O’Neill’s physical and psychological well-being, which is resultant from the conduct of the ANZ towards him.

Without conceding our client’s position in this matter, our client considers that an appropriate response is an 8 week campaign for a tender after the Christmas period. Alternatively, our client’s offer to facilitate a resolution remains open.

I await your immediate response.

Brighter days…

A weekend away…

It probably wasn’t appropriate that I go away for a three day conference in Wellington, not when I should be at home doing everything in my power to fend of ANZ’s latest attack.

Have cancelled the auction – which it still hasn’t told me about or advised the reasons for – ANZ then opted for a quiet tender sale which I only heard of from the local agent. I think that ANZ was hoping that it could slip this up the radar where no one would notice til it was a done deal…so much for this…

No listing was posted on Friday and I did not check over the weekend but this was up this morning:

Strangely, noting ANZ’s previous insistence that there be a sign on the front gate, there is no sign this time round (not yet anyway)…another sign of ANZ’s intention to keep this latest dirty work as quiet as possible…

Just to be clear,although I fought to halt the auction that fight was against the whole forced sale process and the false premise that it was based on…I cooperated fully for the advertising open homes prior to the auction as it was obviously in everyone’s best interests for the auction – if it proceeded – to realise the best return possible…

The tender sale that ANZ has now opted for does not have the same potential as it is not marketed as broadly, lacks the option for viewing or open homes (no inquiries have been made by ANZ or Harcourts about this), and will not have the same potentially competitive environment of a good auction…It also hasn’t been listed oin Trademe this time, further reducing the coverage and likely return…

Our conference hours were quite civilised at there was an opportunity to wander around the capital. Obviously all this with ANZ was never far from my mind and I could not help note an ironic imagery between some of its facilities and pop culture…

Is that me? Standing before the Dark Tower? Challenging the giant…?

That’s how it has felt for so long as I kept all this inside. Not just out of Kiwi staunchness – yes, admittedly a factor – but also because it has been clear from the start that ANZ’s best option, once its poor conduct was exposed, settling quietly was in everyone’s best interests…

Mike King was the keynote speaker on Saturday – anyone who has not been to one of Mike’s Key to Life addresses should go or at least make sure that their children do…

Mike’s themes is that one of the biggest obstacles to opening up and sharing our problems is that we don;’t want to admit to vulnerability or failure coz Kiwis don’t do either…

Not wanting to admit ir share that I wasn’t top of the world was the other reason that I kept this close for so long…that’s dumb because once I put it out there, I have been overwhelmed by the support and advice and just-being-thereness from all the communities I am a part of…

None of us are every truly this guy…

Life, in the curious state of limbo…

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This was the view as I came down the driveway on Thursday night…pretty much the same thing I see every night when I get home…maybe a few more puriri on the concrete and the grass…tis the season…

3 nov 17 a little dog waits

…and, like most nights, a little dog waits…

I had expected that the previous night would be the last time that this view would be truly mine, that by Thursday evening I would be someone else’s tenant after ANZ sold my home at auction on Thursday morning…

But just after 10AM…

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…less than an hour before the auction was due to commence…

Our assumption is that ANZ New Zealand found 1 News’ attentions rather unwanted and inconvenient and pulled the pin to neuter the story planned to air on Thursday evening. We can only assume that because ANZ has still not contacted me to tell me why the auction was cancelled – or even to tell me that it has been cancelled – or indicate where the journey may take us next; or even propose a way ahead…

Well, it’s not entirely true to say that I haven’t heard from ANZ: they did send me a new bank card yesterday…

…but its silence of this more dramatic turn of events is a major concern. Not so much that it has failed (again) to keep me informed but as a sign that ANZ New Zealand simply does not get it. It doesn’t get the most basic functions of customer service or even the most fundamental survival skill of not digging its hole any deeper…

Perhaps, I am so scary that the members of its board and or executive team are still drawing straws to see who gets to contact me. If so, team you need to harden up and start living some of the leadership stuff you are always talking about. Leadership is not about mega-profits or meeting targets; leadership is about taking it on the chin when one of your crew (or a few of them in this case) screws up…leadership is about doing the right thing…

So, ANZ New Zealand, here’s the expectation, just for future reference…I would expect that if you are going to put someone through the forced sale of their home, and then cancel that sale at the last minute – for any reason – you will front for that decision and tell me personally. You have my email address, my home address (that’s the place you were selling from under me, you get that right?), and my phone number…

I would certainly expect that some THREE working days later, you would have summoned up the moral fortitude to explain yourselves and why you have decided to commit me again to this limbo of the unknown…

By now I had expected to be well engaged in plan after this, knowing what, if anything, I walk away with after the auction, developing options, hopefully sussing out a small piece of land on which to start again, or, worst case, making plans to depart the Mountain community…

What’s your plan now, ANZ New Zealand? Will you wait till all the furore over the FMA/RBNZ report dies away and the media is distracted elsewhere to have another go at an auction…? Will you play divide and conquer with me and my ex-partner to still try to regain the money that YOU so recklessly loaned without proper security or process…?

Before you stick your hand back in the fire, please…remember that the matters you found so uncomfortable when when the media asked you about them are not so much those of the initial lending but your conduct over the last five years where you applied deception and misdirect to obstruct any opportunity for a fair resolution to the issues at hand…

In parting, I can leave you no more damning an indictment than that written by Patrick McInerney on Thursday morning…

pat mac greatness.JPG

Not only are Pat’s words great in their own right, in distilling a complex issue down to a few short paragraphs, there are also a humbling reminder of the communities of which I am a part, even those where actual contact lies deep in the past…

I have been quite blown away by the response to my plight…I have been stopped in the street by people with inquiries or best wishes, called and messaged by comrades who I have not seen in over a decade…this all has been a reminder that we are never truly alone and nor should we feel that way…

Signing off today from Limbo…

#ANZdotherightthing

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Into the unknown….

Share Your World – 2016 Week 36

I sincerely hope you enjoy my questions for this week and find the questions interesting enough to play along.   You don’t think a lot about these questions, unless of course it is FUN for you.  Simply dream and just let loose, or you let your alter ego answer if you want.   Have a fabulous week everyone!! With your answers, please remember we are in the Share Your World world which may not always match our reality.

If you were given a boat or yacht today, what would you name it?  (You can always sell the yacht later)

I’m sorry but I’d be boring…it would be simply The Boat, not even anything wannabe-ish cool like Das Boote…I thought about this when Lotteries NZ used have the Big Wednesday draw that included a boat, rather a flash one, as part of the prize package. It always turned me off more than tempted me to buy a ticket…I mean, some guy just drops a boat off in front of your garage and drives off…what? Gee, thanks, all right..maybe I could put the chickens in it…then it would be The Coop: would that be better…?

yatching2.jpg

…but my parents used to have a yacht…

Which of Snow White’s 7 dwarfs describes you best?  (Doc, Happy, Bashful, Sleepy, Sneezy, Grumpy, Dopey) Plus what would the 8th dwarf’s name be? 

The analysis here pretty much mirrors my take on each of the dwarf’s personal attributes – I’ve included the link just for those readers who have not yet explored the deeper darker recesses of my mind – and I would have to opt for Grumpy, the protective one who tends to act when he senses a need for action…doesn’t mean for one second that he’s right, just that he sees a need for action when his protective gene goes off…

An 8th dwarf..? Do I sense the subtle stench of sequelitis…? The 8th dwarf already has a name and it’s Snow White…clearly she’s assimilated into the dwarf hive and sees herself as part of it…blonde or otherwise, if the other dwarves called her anything behind her back it would probably be Ditzy…

Name a song or two which are included on the soundtrack to your life?

The Mummer’s Dance. I first heard this as an Erich Kunzel cover. I misread the CD cover and always thought that it was from the soundtrack of Prince of Eqypt until my younger daughter corrected me during one of our music nights a couple of years ago…Regardless, it has become of of those soundtrack tunes that is always running in the back of my mind ready to burst to the surface in unguarded moments…

Many years ago, TVNZ adapted Dusty Springfield’s I Only Want to Be With You as a promotion for TV2. The first version of this that I owned was on the Vonda Shepard soundtrack from Ally McBeal…hence the version above…

They always played it just before Babylon 5 screened and I came to associate that catchy tune with the B5 ethos and culture…the last best hope…do the right thing…sacrifice…dedicate…go the extra mile…fighting the good fight…II Timothy 4-7…and who personified those more than Susan Ivanova

…as above, Grumpy with the over-active protective gene…

…and this is what started it all, the original TV2 promo clip…

Complete this sentence:  I like watching…

Amsterdam Nov 13-013.JPG…people…sitting outside with a good hot coffee, watching, wondering, imagining their back stories…why is that one hurrying? Why does that one appear happy, sad, flustered, angry…?

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up? 

I’m grateful that I listed to my muse and committed to the Pre-Hospital Emergency Care course at Hillary Outdoors last week. I wasn’t sure at all that getting back into this world would be a good thing for me. Muse said it would be and that I should just do it…right again, Muse. like usual…

I enjoyed the pre-course study, getting in, exploring and researching. I loved the course – I’d already done some stuff with Henry and Budgie from  Peak Safety before so no worries there but on any course, you’re never quite sure about the course itself until Day One. This course rocked…an eclectic group, for sure, but one that jelled really well, lots of laughs and good to train with…for me the mark of any course is whether I want to repeat it and I would do PHEC again tomorrow, even as a consolidation…

I was worried that my previous training might be out of date or too narrow: while some things have changed and some of the new technologies are sci-fi compared to what we used to have, a good ninety percent was still relevant after I dusted off a lot of cobwebs…so where to from here..? Not sure…I’m wondering whether the local Fire Brigade would be a good venue or whether there’d be more and better experience getting into the eventing circuit…? Lots of questions…

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If only firies still had engines as cool as this…

I baked for the course and am also grateful that went down well; and this this time my orange cake worked, although my banana peel cake wasn’t as deep or as rich the the previous one – not sure if that is down to subbing out the butter with coconut oil, or maybe the peels were not as well pureed as last time..?

Looking forward to next week? I’ve ordered one of these:

…and expect it to be delivered Monday or Tuesday. I’m on a seven day roster next week but hope to get some simple experimentation underway on a couple of nights…just simple stuff to get the basic principles under my hat. Maybe I’ll start by just making my porridge with it each morning and it looks like it can operate as a super-slow cooker so maybe it’ll be time for another round of beets and rice..?

Empty | The Daily Post

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.

Source: Empty | The Daily Post

When I’m working in the study at home, I use Plex to shuffle through the music library and send it down the stereo to play through the house. I often rewarded (and occasionally punished) with an eclectic blend of sounds throughout the day.

If You Only came on just as I was browsing the (long long long) list of unused prompts in my WordPress folder. The sentiment of the song seemed to fit the prompt ‘Empty‘…it’s sad to think that someone you know could be feeling like this, not realising what they have going for them, maybe wanting to reach out but ‘too’, too whatever to make that first move…

If you only knew
Just how we feel about you
You couldn’t hurt like you do

And if you only knew
How everybody loves you
You wouldn’t feel so alone

Well, everybody’s looking
Oh, what must they be thinking?
Oh, what must they be thinking?

And every glance, and every shrug and gesture
It has another meaning
Oh, what must they be thinking?
Well, I know what I think

That if you only knew
Just how we feel about you
You couldn’t hurt like you do

And if you only knew
How everybody loves you
You wouldn’t feel so alone

On every tongue a whisper
Oh, I know what they’re saying
Yeah, I know what they’re saying

Do you see that face, it says

“You have no right to be”
Oh, what must they be thinking?
Oh, what must they be thinking?
Well, I know what I think

If you only knew
Just how we feel about you
You couldn’t hurt like you do

And if you only knew
How good it is to see you
You wouldn’t feel so alone

And on one day
You may find that you’re no different
But ’til that day
We see you waste your days away

But if you only knew
Just how we feel about you
You couldn’t hurt like you do

And if you only knew
Just how good it feels to see you
You wouldn’t feel so alone

Don’t you feel so all alone

Don’t you feel so all alone” That’s not a question, it’s a direction…many people don’t see that, can not make that move to reach out…sometimes they just need that nudge, the random phone call, the casual coffee, the ‘was just passing by and thought I’d drop in‘…

Anyway that’s today’s totally random post…Plex has gone on to The Pogues now…

 

Identity | The Daily Post

Find inspiration in one of the popular topics on Discover. For this week’s Discover Challenge, focus on identity. You may use it simply as a one-word prompt, or tell us what the word means to you. Or you might publish a sketch that represents who you are or how you feel today, a poem about identity in our digital age, or a personal essay about who you once were.

Source: Identity | The Daily Post

I began drafting this post around the time of one of the recent active shooter incidents in the US. It says so much that such incidents are now so frequent that I cannot remember which it was, possibly Orlando…

The aftermath of each of these incidents is marked by bitter ‘weapon’ versus ‘ideology’ outbursts and exchanges. I do not thing that either side really gets the issues: each tragedy is little more than an excuse for each camp to dust off (not dust-off which is a far more noble act) respective meme collections.

It is America’s right to have whatever laws, rights and responsibilities that it wants to inflict on itself. I have no more problem with the Second Amendment than I do with the Fifth although I would offer that the rights of the Second should be read and applied in the context of their context i.e. as the people’s contribution to a well-regulated militia…the key phrase being well-regulated.

The ‘right’ to espouse an ideology probably falls under the First Amendment…the one that protects free speech…but again that comes with responsibilities. We have probably all heard of, if not actually read or heard the actual words, Oliver Wendell Holmes “crying fire in a theatre” quote. For the record, this is what he actually said to give context to those words:

The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic. It does not even protect a man from an injunction against uttering words that may have all the effect of force. The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent. It is a question of proximity and degree.

Those legally bent or who just like to read some exceptionable well-written English can read Justice Holmes’ full opinion in the Cornell University Law School Legal Information Institute Web site.

Contrary to the good Justice’s opinion – the key work in his theatre analogy is ‘falsely’ – in the information domain, the random and rabid shotgunning of the information militia (plural) is as destructive regardless of whether it has elements of truth or fact or not.

Every time those ideological memes fly, their sole function, intended or not, is to fan the flames of ideological conflict. As much as I thought it needed work (thought #1, thought #2), what we are seeing is the phenomenon that David Kilcullen theorised in The Accidental Guerrilla: the more something is ‘fixed’, the worse it gets. This is the irony of irregular warfare.

With regard to the active shooter incidents in America, there is another factor in play that may not be present or which is certainly less present in incidents. A large element of American psyche identifies with the ‘main in the white hat’, ‘one riot, one ranger’, the rugged individual standing against all odds, etc. This ethic is quite commendable and certainly not unique to the US. What sets it about in the US though is the accompanying mindset that a gun is what you use to resolve an issue.

We’re not on any sort of moral high ground here or in Australia where the national equivalent is a punch in the head, or the desire to deliver such but that ‘message’ has to be delivered up close and personal, it cannot be delivered from across the street or even across the room; and it is far easier to neutralise. In the UK, or parts thereof, the local equivalent maybe a cloth cap or the good old ‘Liverpool kiss‘…again, attacks with limited projection or lethality from afar…

It is this overwhelming cultural drive that guns solve problems that is America’s challenge. It’s not how many guns you have or what sort they may be. It’s not what you believe or who you disagree with. It’s not how accessible guns or unsocial ideologies may be. Those may all be separate concerns  but, weapon or ideology, it’s the drive to resolve what angsts you with a gun that is the problem…

Jump to 1:02 The Lone Rider

I love those rugged individuals roles immortalised by Clint Eastwood, John Wayne, Jan Michael Vincent, etc etc but I don’t build my life around them. When I have a beef with the local council or my employer or the grit truck driver or the mailman, I don’t feel I have to to take a gun to resolve the issue or make myself feel better.

It is one thing when the line between reality and fiction becomes blurred. It is quite another when those worlds begin to overlap…where the ‘final option’ becomes the only option…

Having said that, we can hum ‘Imagine‘ all we like…COIN 101 reminds us that cultural shift happens over generations but being honest about the problem is the first step towards a solution…

AS I SEE IT (22 April)

By Terry O’Neill.

Many sports involve physical contact and often only a faint margin exists between physical contact and violence.

Alleged rugby player violence in a game is under initial scrutiny by the referees/umpires who control the game. Once cited, a player is then brought before the sport’s local ruling body which is charged to come to a decision on the alleged violent incident.

Punishments can range from a warning to suspension for a number of playing days up to virtual banishment from the sport, whether the person is a player, administrator or, importantly, a spectator.

How spectators conduct themselves is particularly relevant at the onset of the winter sports season noting that violence is not exclusively a winter sport issue. The NZRFU has initiated a campaign on its policy to deal with violence that will be mirrored by other winter and summer sports.

Violence from the sidelines is usually vocal. Unfortunately incidences arise there amongst spectators and also involving players.

And where are these aggressive loud-mouths? Attend a Saturday morning winter sport and in due course they’ll cut through the air, often parents exhorting their protégées to greater heights, a loftiness the parent never achieved themselves if they had indeed played the game.

Most parents/grandparents are the great models to youngsters they should be, and are sincerely commended.

Positive support at games is the focus in “My Parents Are Ugly“, a NZRU booklet, and it reaches beyond “advice” to players. Surprisingly referees/umpires are abused by critics sometimes basing comments on aged rugby laws now obsolete.

The percentage of abusive spectators is low but their impact can be out of proportion to numbers. Fun for the players, and for their parents, is the essential element in sport. And it’s the referees, those people giving up their time, who ensure everyone else can enjoy the game.

And who at the game moans each referee rule against their darling’s team? Some spectators, and even team officials who should know better, scream “not straight, sir“, “offside, sir“, “knock on, sir“, “hands in the ruck, sir“, with a derogative title substituted sometimes, and could be forty to sixty metres away. And there are the “off-side shouters” who encourage a mob not always in a position to judge.

We welcome the pleasant banter between supporters of competing teams as part of the game. However some sports websites spell out what is, and is not, acceptable and, I hark you, they offer an electronic form to register complaints about bad behaviour.

Ever watched a game without a referee/umpire? I haven’t either. The question asked sometimes is why those public-minded individuals bother when they have to deal with yahoos and mean-minded grandstanders of ignorance.

A prerequisites for referees is not that they can walk on water. They make mistakes. Just like you, just like me.

ENDS

Sadness and gladness of the Last Post

anzac poppy 2016

This was an editorial in one of the national newspapers for Anzac Day 1997…I can’t find any notes I may have made identifying the paper or the author…

The Last Post always makes me cry. I can’t help it. There is something in those crisp clear notes ringing out in the sharp-edged air of ANZAC morning that takes my breath away. It sets up a curious chemical reaction in the soul, where sadness and gladness are fused together and one is lifted out of oneself and into the unending reverberations of history.

The bugler speaks to the dead – the “glorious” dead – inscribed on countless cenotaphs and roadside memorials from one end of New Zealand to another. Not that there is anything glorious about dying. In the paintings of our country’s battles, the death of young men, far from home, in agony and fear, is seldom portrayed with much accuracy. We spare ourselves the horrors of war – and rightly so. Veterans of the real thing seldom speak of what they have seen and heard lest their words conjure up again the screams, the blood, the shattered flesh, the cries of “Mother!”.

The Last Post speaks to the silence beyond death; the space in which we contemplate the meaning of the final “sacrifice”. The Last Post asks us to ask ourselves “What did these young men die for?”

When I was a little boy, I would spend my ANZAC Days drawing pictures of soldiers climbing up the rocky hillsides of the Dardanelles. And, over the vivid colours of the battle scenes, I would print in the laborious hand of the young: “For King and Country”.

I do not think that there are many today who would die for the House of Windsor. But, in the silent crowds of young New Zealanders – more every year – who join the old diggers on ANZAC morning, I sense a longing to serve, to sacrifice, to give something back to their country.

The generations of New Zealanders born after World War II have been spared what the United Nations charter calls “the scourge of war”. It is a mixed blessing. To be sure, we have never had to hold our friends in our arms and watch them die or receive a telegram informing us of the death of a loved one. But neither have we experienced the powerful sense of unity with which a nation at war is infused, not the bonds of comradeship forged when men and women from all walks of life are brought together and transformed into a  fighting force.

Most importantly, the post-war generations will never know what it feels like to play for history’s highest stakes – when the issues of ultimate significance hung in the balance.

I often ask myself: “Is political activism a substitute for war?” “What is it that we go on protest ‘marches’?” “Why do we seek out those moments of ‘confrontation’?” When we see that line of helmeted police officers, their long batons drawn; when we experience that lonely thrill of fear, that sudden rush of adrenalin, are we not, in our own way, playing soldiers?

People often ask me: “What’s wrong with today’s young people? Why aren’t they protesting like we did?” My answer is brutally simple: “Because of what we did” Our generation has reduced those “issues of ultimate significance ” – Roosevelt’s “four freedoms” (freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, freedom from want, freedom from fear) down to just one: the freedom to buy and sell. Once a year, on ANZAC Day, we call forth the dead and invoke the myths that animate our nation. In the half-light of dawn, as the bugler draws out our tears and we “remember them”, remember the living also, and never forget that there are greater things to die for than a balance sheet.

And remembering other young soldiers in other wars…