AFTERNOONS on RNZ

I’m an old Radio New Zealand listener – can remember vividly the correspondence school piece in the early afternoon – which we always timed our lunch break for….  I miss Cadenza – a useful way to keep those tunes in your head – the Borodin snippet at 5 nowadays is no substitute, and if Cadenza is still going, it is at the wrong time for me, the rest of the Concert Programme is too random-chance, and I’m not on broadband. I guess I might be a dinosaur, in that I can clearly remember the Appointments with John Gordon, and readily recall the theme tune.

Sure we have to move on, refresh, move to the next generation. Sure, society has progressively dumbed-down since ’84. There are still a demographic, though, who desire an up-intellect programme, and this shows through in the emails and comments. It also shows up when I visit folk in my circles. Typically they are listening to RNZ, 1 in 20 maybe the Concert Programme. None do talkback, or advertising.

Most listen to ‘The Panel”, and it would be fair to say, that is the section of the programme that draws the most discussion. Most (and it is a fair rebuttal that my circles might be skewed) think that the panellists tend to be centre and right – which we think reflects Mora’s own attitudes. We then cogitate as to whether he is merely reflecting the current western consumerist middle class (this is my own view) and whether that is appropriate. Meaning that we are out of line in wanting it more our way. Perhaps.

Every now and then, the cat gets out of the bag anyway. I remember a guest named Clive Matthew-Wilson, the man who does the ‘Dogs and Lemons’ car appraisal publication. He mentioned China, and how exponential rates of expansion cannot be maintained. There, I thought, goes a man who understands where it is going. Just like that. The point – the most important to the human race that has – or will ever have – surfaced on the programme, went right over the other heads, and hit the studio wall. So close, so tantalising. Missed. It’s not the only RNZ miss, of course. When Nine to Noon interviewed Jenny Morel, she diverted into an earnest rave about Solar energy, and the need to go there, quickly. Whether she had read my Growing Today (now Lifestyle Block – buy it up folks, I need new centreboards) column (The Good Life) or not, I know not. What I do know, is that when I listened in to the ‘edited highlights’ that evening, the solar bit was the bit that was missing. Somebody in RNZ just set us backwards, rather than fowards, on the road we are already late in travelling. Which is the accusation that I would throw at most of  the Panel.

Occasionally, those middle-class western caffe-latte commentators get close, in spite of themselves – I recall Joanne Black thinking on the hoof, and opining that the planet perhaps had too many people……..so close, but there goes a person who thinks things will go on enough to repay the mortgage on a typical (and oh so necessary) western middle class house makeover. So close, but no ensuite (cigars are soooooo yesterday.

So sometimes I get frustrated. Yesterday we had a John somebody, saying he would go to efficient light-bulbs, but no further. Condescending, sanctimonious – does he buy Shell petrol? The story of Nigerian  Ken Saro-Wiwi, the fellow who was hung by a corrupt regime, and the payoff-before-the-court-case by Shell, should tell us something. We are living at our level thanks to the repression of others, and to the raiding of their resources, for our use. Which proves, when you think (?) about it, my point about a finite planet, and finite resources. He is essentially stating that he is happy living at someone else’s expense, which is corroborated when he doesn’t want to pay for carbon pollution. This is a borrow from our kids – from the future. We have no chance of paying that debt back – the resources will be gone, the place will be too compromised, we will be too old, too out of condition, too unskilled, too unready. If you do that – borrow with no chance of repayment – is that not fraud? Worse, it’s fraud perpetrated on those who didn’t even sign up yet. What social arrogance is that?

It’s fine to have those folk on, as they do exist, but the task of the media is to approach the truth, not the wish. Which means that the discussion needed someone with more knowledge and understanding, than was demonstrated. Maybe they’re not there. I’d do it standing on my head, but I’d be anathema to someone like Mora. Perhaps Gary Moore might make it, Clive Matthew-Wilson would be a ‘sitter’.

I went through high school a year behind Mora, that year included Barry Corbett, who lived in my street, so I have some handle on where this echelon comes from. What never ceases to amaze me, is that from the same standing start, Mora and Corbett (from what I hear on RNZ) don’t ‘get’ what folk like me have ‘gotten’ since the ‘seventies. Maybe it’s an ‘arts’ brain, rather than a ‘sciences’ one, who knows. The whole of the media, with the part-exception of Kim Hill and Chris Laidlaw, and the whole exception of Bryan Crump, don’t get it. There’s no-one else.

Does it matter? To me, hell bent on educating and well aware we are out of time, yes. If, however, the main aim is to entertain, then no. That says the rest of the afternoon is fine. I find it interesting to hear so many folk I know – I flew hang-gliders with Tascha McLellan, for instance – and some of the things like ‘big pile of books’ are great. It’s only The Panel I have trouble with – in that it is masquerading as Current Affairs, but it persists in looking at the lifejackets, not the sinking. You can’t just discuss the sinking, ad infinitum, of course, but everything else has to be seen in light of it. Perhaps Associate Prof Bob Lloyd (Energy Studies, Physics Dept, Otago Uni) was right when he digressed in his ‘growth’ lecture. He got into ‘dissonance’, ‘cognitive’, the state where the brain can carry two diametrically-opposed concepts concurrently, and still be content. He acknowledged he was out of his area of expertise, but that it was the only conclusion he could come to. I just call it denial. Of reality. I’ve already apologised to my kids  for knowingly using their resources, and shitting in their nest……………

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