Sunday, 1 May 2016

Is Anzac Day becoming our national day?

You can hardly scan more than a few degrees around this time of the year before your eyes will rest on a poppy. Every Anzac Day schools froth at the mouth in their enthusiasm, and its getting worse.  Ive seen a primary school which transformed itself into a kind of cross between a mausoleum and an All Blacks style rugby prematch hype.There seems to be little or no debate in the classroom as to the morality, the efficacy, the rationality of war.  As predicted by a serviceman himself (I don't like the language-service? didn't he have a gun, and invade another country?), the last of the Gallipoli soldiers has died and that makes room for the 'glorifiers' who revel in this sentimental re-enactment of a terrible mistake-namely going to war.Most of them said what a waste, a stupid waste of human life.There is nothing to glorify they said.
Its fast becoming an act of treason to speak out against Anzac day, or the reverse, to promote the ideals of peace, mutual benefit and conflict resolution. I cower when I raise the question in the public space. I'm probably not far from being tied the tree to which Archibald Baxter was tied for daring not to bear arms against another. And that was in the snow. If you havent read We Shall not Cease by him, then do so and understand what the glorious, courageous soldiers did torturing a man for his pacifism.
Anzac Day has almost become our National day. Waitangi Day celebrations pale in comparison to Anzac Day. The birth of a nation they are saying. If that's how we want to make ourselves a nation, then I'm opting out of the nation.  Again, notice the language: Glorious dead, heroes, courageous, served. They died for us-huh? Its one thing to defend invaders, another altogether to agress another nation in the name of defence. Even then the argument is still up for grabs whether you need to use force.
 Im keen on deifying the 200 odd known conscientious objectors-the real heroes who thought through their values around war and chose to not raise their hands against another. We could look at their lives and what their arguments were.We might look at their courage, We might try to emulate the values of mutual respect and integrity and disobeying at the appropriate time. Wouldn't that be something great to go on the corridors and staff rooms of our schools, public libraries and community spaces?
We need to invigorate our world with other solutions to conflict. As a friend put it, we are too busy training our youth to be cannon fodder;albeit glorious cannon fodder, to invest in other solutions-and we see solutions such as dialogue as weak and ineffective.
There are solutions to be found which acknowledge different positions; we need skilled negotiators who can mediate. And yes, sometimes solutions are incredibly hard to find, almost impossible. We still do not need to use force as a way to get what we want. The legacy of war will continue if we do.
Nationalism is dangerous. It has harmed nations which indulge and promote it. You are not your nation. Your 'nation' doesnt even exist, except in the belief that somehow you are great and awesome because you are a ................New Zealander (substitute your own country). You are already great and awesome. Perhaps if we really believed that, we wouldn't need all this flag waving, posturing, chest beating and sentimentalising a group of hapless young men who, believing they were acting as proud and upright citizens of the free world, walked into a hail of lead.
The white poppy could become a symbol of this new way, whilst sensitively remembering those who were murdered.

Saturday, 20 February 2016

About Hilldoggs cartoons

If you like my cartoons in Organic NZ mag, why not sign up to a free taster of my weekly cartoon blog (clog) Fake Mink Rug? You can sign up for 4 weeks and if you like it, stay on! Get to see cartoons that the papers wont publish; I have tried! You could support a seditious, disobedient and occasionally funny artist and thereby get to see even more cartoons out there. My local paper the Levin Chronicle is too scared to publish my stuff because Rupert Murdoch said so. Do something and vote with your feet for a free world. I wont annoy with any other advertising crap either;just you and me in an arrangement of mutuality!
If you laugh when others aren't, if you like to deepen your understanding of the human condition (by laughing at it), if you celebrate life, then you might like what I do.
Have a look at and look for Duncan Hill under artist; you'll see a few more of my cartoons.
So heres the signup link. its pimps to do.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Build yourself a simple compost toilet

Exploded view of compost toilet
This blog is giving some more detail to the compost toilet I described in the February Organic NZ magazine.So good on you for taking the plunge-ooh that's a bad metaphor when talking about toilets..You should be able to make this with minimal skills but get someone who can help in that area if you get stuck.There are a few tools you might not have.

Tools you'll need:
  • Skill saw or table saw
  • Electric drill eg Battery drill
  • Jigsaw or coping saw (small handsaw for cutting curves) for cutting out the hole in the seat
  • a handsaw
  • Sharp chisel, around 25mm/1 inch
  • 1 sheet 2400 X 1200 plywood 18mm thick. I wouldn't use treated cause its toxic as.Its up to you.
  • A pile of 40mm length square head 8 gauge woodscrews
  • 12 woodscrews length 12mm for the hinges
  • Commercial toilet seat-I picked up our nice wooden one for 10 bucks at the local second hand shop.
  • 2 hinges for the top-50mm butt hinges. Brass is better as it corrodes in there.
  • 20 litre bucket (with lid!)
  • Optional PVC vent pipe minimum diameter 80mm and fittings so that it can go through the roof ie cap and flashing to stop leaks where the pipe goes through the roof.
  • PVA glue
Size of plywood bits:
Back and front 600mm width X 430mm height
Sides 600 width X 430 height 
Base 564 X 600
Top lid 650 X 630 

I've based these measurements around a standard 20 litre bucket, which is 400mm high.Put the sides together with glue and screws.You may need to use a small drill bit (slightly under the diameter of the screw). Use 4 screws per edge. Turn the 4 assembled sides upside down and insert the base. Glue and screw that in place. Now the tricky part is cutting out the hole for the lid. The bucket needs to be as far forward as possible, close to the front-this is primarily for the guys trying to aim and it not being to far if you get my drift. using the bucket draw around it on the lid, close to the front; 50-60mm from the front lip of the lid.Then draw around the toilet seat. And finally draw a slightly smaller circle (about 20mm smaller). Your lid should look like the birds eye view shown below. Using a jigsaw cut that hole out.

The hinged lid. 
Ok so the lid can be hinged so that you lift it up to change buckets. You will need to cut in the hinge so that its flat on the top edge of the box, like I've shown in the diagram above. This means the lid will be flat when its shut-pretty important for smell, flies etc.You will need a coping saw and chisel to cut out that notch.The hinge should be about 50mm from the edge of the box. 
You want the hole in the lid to be smaller than the bucket so that everything actually goes in the bucket! 
I also cut the top off a stainless steel bowl I got at the warehouse. This made a sort of flange which bridged the gap between bucket and lid. You don't need to have this bit- you need a grinder to cut the stainless steel- but thought I would mention it as it makes it a bit more hygienic and easily comes out for cleaning.You can remove the rubber stoppers from under the toilet seat lid if you want a tighter fit -for smell reasons. I haven't and its ok, as I said in the article I hope to fit a vent to the toilet soon. In the meantime I light a match and then sometimes burn an oil burner with lavender essential oil.
An alternative to the hinged lid is just a lid which is removable-you will need to glue or screw small blocks to the underside of the lid which locate the lid and stop it moving.
Righto, its time to decorate it with decoupage photos of your family, or cut up National Geographic pics or acrylic paint or whatever.
Other notes
Other buckets could be used-The ones Matt uses are recycled in Otaki. They are much more squat and wide. In which case you need to build up the base with strips of wood you may have left over or lying around. 
If you get confused by my instructions, give me a comment on this blog and I'll try to clarify.
I'm a non linear thinker so the instructions order may be a bit jumbled. 

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Cultural repair work badly needed

Seen at a local Pack n Save.So if school is so good, why this, and why Harry Potter's success, since it's about the cruelty experienced at school? We are surrounded by reminders of how horrible it is for most children at school-I saw recently a book launch of cartoons, most of which were 'funny' strips from the point of view of a child; a kind of 'funny' Harry Potter with the onerous requirements of school etc-and yet we chuckle as if to say, "Oh well, that's life!". I don't. To me its a sad indictment on a society which will not act in its own interests and put into place the things that brings it well being. The fact that we cant wait to get our kids back to school indicate a serious unstiching in our social fabric.As contributors I nominate the pressure of work; the poorly developed relationships we have with our kids thanks to the industrial work ethic; the inability to perceive anyone's (our children's and our own)difficulty and pain.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Cultural Repair-bringing back the village

I've had lots of discussions of late, and have been thinking about the village and how we recognise our particular, what Mark Silver of The Heart of Business calls our  'jewel'.Your jewel is what you are, who you are and what you love to do. Its the prism of light that you reflect. It is also what others need and therefore basic to a very satisfying relationship with the world, as it encompasses the desire to belong, to connect with others, to have a sense of meaning, recognition and appreciation. It seems that in our culture, the modern urban 'Western' culture, it is no longer enough to be that person that everyone knows to go to for ............ Now you have to sell yourself, market yourself to an unknowing world, town or  community. To me its yet another sign of our spiritual poverty-we dont know who are the doctors, the healers, the bakers,the listeners, the person who understands animals, the literary experts and so on. Once I believe we knew who they all were; now we are lucky if we know our neighbours.
At one time I lived in the Cook Islands and there we found a place where everyone knew who everyone was and what their jewel was. It was a small island, limited by its sea boundary on all sides. Having a vehicle was of some advantage, but you lived in a confined space where everyone knew everyone. The local cop knew who the likely thief was who stole a bottle of gin from your kitchen. Pretty soon you saw him on the back of the policeman's motorbike, heading back to the station, a small office down near the reef, for questioning. You couldn't escape your community, even if you wanted to.
I know many people who are frustrated, lonely poor and unsatisfied because no one knows them and what they can offer. They may be doing some repetitive task for a crust,in our rest homes watching tv commercials or unemployed. They are probably you who are reading this, unless you are of the minority who work at the heart level and enjoy the fruits of doing what they love and are good at and meeting those who want hat service or thing. It appears to me that the industrialised society has paid a high price for convenience, efficiency, and material wealth.
I like to end my chats on a high note; what can be done, what is being done to change the status quo. I keep coming back to efforts to reclaim the village. The place where potentially, all people are held with respect. I think of the people I know who are engaging in what animal tracker and onetime native American apprentice Jon Young calls Cultural Repair. We will be forced to engage in this process-its this or death. And we want it so badly but have yet to be concious that we do. We still expect institutions to take up the values of the village. They are being crushed by the burden of the failed village, the burning village.
So let us start from today; reading this blog, making dinner, catching the train, wherever we are right now. What are you core values? What do you bring to the world? What do you love like nothing else-when time ceases for you at your task? We want to meet you. We need you.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Privacy exposed

I was recently refused a request for a student's contact details via Massey University (the standardised letter came with the irritating "is there anything else I can help you with?" -having not helped me in the first place! Privacy laws prevented them from giving them to me. In contrast to this, people are exposing themselves and all their personal lives, not just contact details voluntarily on social media. There is no privacy on Facebook. So I'm a little perplexed. I spose its another paradox that seems to be the essential human quality;its what makes us unique in the animal world.
I was annoyed and said so. I suggested they tell their boss (assuming them to be minions) that the situation sucked; and received a flurry of emails which eventually got the lead I was looking for. Which also shows that you can get something but you might have to express what you want, and why, in a respectful manner which acknowledged their position in terms of legality.
Get to the boss is a good ploy-too often front desk workers feign helplessness despite the fact that they are the interface for the company and should feel a little more powerful and autonomous in their ability to make decisions.When I was a teacher, a colleague of mine would become enraged at the yawning "I just work here" attitude and shout at the mouthpiece "Who do you work for?!" and then blast out their onus  as a company rep to make decisions and take some responsibility. Followed by his statement to never shop with them again and tell them he would tell all his colleagues to follow suit as they were a useless bunch of ............wits.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

We're flagging.........

I'm lukewarm about flag design. I'm resigned to the fact that the result will be mediocre; referencing the old and delineating our flag from the Aussies'. Having said that, I'm ready for a change, and no time is like the present. As John Key said , it is never a good time. What bugs me though, is the referendum. Its back-to-front.
I read in a book once (shit, I never retain things like who wrote it, title etc) that a kind of media spin tool used by various famous and infamous people is to ask people to choose or answer a question whilst assuming a premise. One of the most famous cited was Adolf Hitler, master of the media and knowledge of the human mind. In his famous 'Jewish Question' as he called it, he would ask " What shall we do about the Jewish question?" The assumption is that there is a problem, its just what are we going to do about it! It is a technique both masterful and dastardly.
Imagine if I said, (to use an exaggerated example) "How shall we best administer corporal punishment?" "By hanging, lethal injection, electric chair or firing squad?". The premise is that we already have decided on corporal punishment. But people by and large don't pick that up Ok, I choose lethal injection. Wait a minute! Inherent in the situation is our hard- wiring; our desire  to trust authority, that 'somebody' knows or 'somebody' has decided.
Fast forward to our joke referendum papers on the flag design which ended up in my mailbox a couple of days ago. Pretty basic fuckup to ask people if they want a new flag after they've chosen one. I heard the politicians debating the flawed document, but now I've seen it for myself I'm a bit stunned. Here's an example below I did as a sendup