Sunday, 23 December 2007

Is waterboarding torture?

The person writing in the link below wondered this so he administered it to himself. His conclusion? It's torture. In fact he has this to say

"So, is it torture?

"I'll put it this way. If I had the choice of being waterboarded by a third party or having my fingers smashed one at a time by a sledgehammer, I'd take the fingers, no question.

"It's horrible, terrible, inhuman torture. I can hardly imagine worse. I'd prefer permanent damage and disability to experiencing it again. I'd give up anything, say anything, do anything."

Is Waterboarding Torture?

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Gang City: part of my day

I bought a telescope today. A telescope that you plug into your computer and set it to follow the path you want, take photos etc. Sounds good, doesn't. Well, its fucking crap. In fact it's so crappy I took it back to the store and demanded a refund. They couldn't refuse as the 20mm lense had actually fallen apart sometime between the time it was made and the time I bought it. I was so pissed off.

Actually, part of the reason I got pissed off is that I got all worked up and ready for a fight with the shop. I was ready to quote commerce act shit at them if they tried the old "we don't do refunds" or the "don't do refunds you have to spend the value in the shop" bullshit. But they didn't . It took about 5 minutes of waiting while they taught a new assistant how to reverse charges back into the original bank account. Left feeling tense and wound up so I started a fight with the next hoodie boy I saw. That's a lie of course. I just smiled politely at the shop staff and said, "Thank you. I appreciate the good service".

In reality (that stuff called "real life") I left the store and went back to my car. Gave my pay and display with an hour left to a woman struggling with a double pram and then drove very slowly up the heavily trafficed main street holding up all the cars behind me while I let pedestrians cross in front of me and allowed cars to back out of parking spaces, allowed other cars into gaps etc. The main reason for this was the huge number of "boy racer' types who were being absolute arseholes. They piss me off so I piss them off. One guy resorted to waiting for me to get someway ahead and then planting boot and racing up behind me only to have to hit his brakes and slow down to somewhere between 5 and 10km per hour.

One of them had a crappy mitsubishi of some sort and had 'enhanced' it with all sorts of huge dashboard gauges. Some of them were monsters. When I was behind him I could just about read the number of revs his engine was doing etc. I'm sure they made his car faster. His number plate had a wrapper around it which said, "Welcome to New Zealand. Now SPEAK ENGLISH". Jerk. He was Maori which I thought interesting given his views on speaking English. Essentially he was saying that no other languages had any value.

Gang City

Camille and I are staying in Gang City, the place where a couple of dozen men with tattooed faces and filthy clothes stalk the streets day and night, paralyzing an entire city, terrorizing 45,000 people, and causing Mayor Michael Lies to froth at the mouth. Interesting place. The buildings in the centre of town remind me of a low storey Wellington from sometime in the 70s combined with a population with all the grace and slack jawed intelligence of modern day Upper Hutt.

Our trip here was fairly uneventful. We stopped at a Palmerston North restaurant for dinner. Camille had eaten at the place before for lunch and thought it well worth it but we were travelling and didn't know where it was apart from it being in Palmerston North. However, modern technology came to the rescue and we used my phone to do a quick google search and then a look at which gave us the address. I have to say that the "Aberdeen Steakhouse and Bar' is pretty damn good, particularly if you enjoy a good steak because that's what the menu mainly consists of though they do serve a few other things including vegetarian food for those who, as the menu said, "would really rather be somewhere else". It's a good restaurant. Pleasant layout and decor, excellent atmosphere, good service, uncrowded seating etc. We started off with a beer each and a couple of tapas - sundried tomato & feta infused with olive oil and rosemary tarts, chicken balls rolled in sesame seeds with a soy based sauce. There were more on the menu but we were there to do some serious meat eating so we held back. However, if I were in PN for lunch or if I had more time I would happily do their tapas. The mains menu consists of about a dozen different cuts of steak all attractively described. It even includes Wagyu beef at $45.00 for a 100 grams. I was tempted but I'll wait for another time to binge on Wagyu. We both went for a 180gm eye fillet cooked medium rare. There are a number of accompaniments and sides you can order from. Camille and I were fairly traditional and ordered a baked potato with sour cream (Camille) and the "house fries" which are basically oversized chips. A salad arrived with our mains which was, I think, a cut above the average restaurant salad. The steaks were excellent. Both cooked medium rare. Quite refreshing to find a restaurant that doesn't cook a medium rare closer to medium. Mind you, when a place specialises in steaks one would expect them to be able to do them well. Camille went with a green peppercorn sauce with hers and I selected a horseradish cream. I was a bit disappointed with this as it was more cream than horseradish and lacked bite. We had a Trinity Hill Syrah with our steaks and this was good. I don't know the year as there were no dates on the wine menu. I recommend this place.

We are staying in the Kingsgate Hotel in the city centre. We investigated the Gang City accommodation online and this seemed to be about the best place available. We are booked into one of their "Superior rooms". Is it? Well, this morning I went to the reception and asked them to check our booking as I thought we had been placed in the wrong room. The reply was basically, "No. You are in one of our superior rooms". Obviously this is a redefinition of the word superior because I place this room on a par with second rate and very small motel room. I would hate to stay in one of the Kingsgate Hotel standard rooms.

Now follows a long whinge about the Kingsgate Superior room we are in.

The room itself is a bit larger than, and this is no exaggeration, one of the bathrooms in my house. The bathroom here is about the size of my fridge. Ok - that is an exaggeration but not by much. There is chipped paintwork and peeling wallpaper. The shower is arranged in such a way that when you are in it water flows all over the floor of the bathroom soaking anything that is on it. It's a small miracle that it didn't flow out of the bathroom and into the main room. I suspect that if we chose to have long showers that this would happen. However, it's impossible to have long showers because the ventilation in the bathroom isn't working. The vent grill is filthy and clogged. When the shower is running the bathroom very quickly turns into a sauna and is quite unpleasant to be in. The airconditioning is completely useless. They have a selection of teas but only one type of INSTANT coffee.

No! I can't stand it and neither can Camille. She has left for work and I am leaving this fucking awful hotel. I'm cutting short the whinge and I'm looking for somewhere else.

Later: I am now ensconsed in the hotel-that-begins-with-the-letter-C Hotel. You may have guessed that I can't recall the name even though I checked in five minutes ago. The name is unimportant. What is important is that I am in a far more pleasant place. It's light, airy (perhaps because I have opened all the windows), on the 2nd floor, quiet, no peeling paint or wallpaper. There is real coffee and a plunger to make it in.

I am far happier, as will Camille be when she arrives back, and more relaxed. It may be time to wander the streets of Gang City looking for trouble.