This page written circa 4 December, 2023.

I am surprised that Messiah rates as high as it does (7.6) on imdb. It rates 45% from critics but 88% from viewers on Rotten Tomatoes, which is perhaps the reverse of what I expected. Granted, the acting is only OK, the plot is a bit chaotic, and it runs longer than might be necessary, but the theme is kicked home when you get to the last scene. I expected critics to appreciate that, but regular viewers not so much. It seems the regular viewers like the stretched out plot and action, and don't care about the acting or script... oh yes, now I get it.

I am in transition, between two countries, between working and being retired, between being married and being single.
"Before" I was a professor on week days, and otherwise a husband and father, a gin distiller, a designer & renovator of apartments, a woodworker, a builder of railway microlayouts inside furniture, a watcher of films, and I lived in a quirky architected house with a large garden and a large dinner table that saw frequent guests.
"After" I plan see out my grad students, return to loving cooking, help with a startup that aims to commercialise my research patents, to entertain, to work with Saluda Medical, to read more books, perhaps to renovate a larger apartment (though I love this light-filled, compact studio), to soak up bohemian Sydney, see plays, revitalise this web blog, keep in touch with kids & friends in NZ, renovate old friendships, explore online dating, and watch films.

What I do already have is more time to think. I suppose that makes me more dangerous.

On the transition between two countries, I thought NZ to be proactively well run in the past 5 years. Australia, on the other hand has had a string of dodgy leaders, and is not well run, has little accountability, and still acts as nanny state. Things now reverse. Mr Albanese seems like Mr Biden, a passable caretaker. New Zealand's new "centre-right" government shapes up to be apalling, repealing progressive anti-smoking legislation to allow tax cuts (they admit this, I am not accusing!) and committing to the scientifically-inconsistent pledges of cancelling the Onslow pumped-hydro scheme simultaneously with increasing the wind-and-solar power contribution.

I am in favour of a strong, centralised defence system. I am in favour of national health, French style. On the other hand, I am a libertarian. I believe that the government should be prevented from legislating on any moral issue, even if such restriction results in risk; for example, government should not be able to legislate on euthanasia or abortion any more than on treatments for hangnails. Nor should it be able to make any legislation or decision that is scientifically unsound. There is a place for government to prevent misleading advertising, require product labelling, and block activities for which nobody can be held accountable. There is a balance between free speech (to be guaranteed) and lying (to be prevented), although the implementation can be tricky, as Elon is discovering with X/twitter. One might ask what a messiah (or your god) might leave up to you, and what she might demand of you.

Tim Minchin, asked by Kim Hill why his musical Matilda became so successful, replied that people love "a story of an underdog with a heart of gold who discovers he has special powers and rises up." More so when they see a character with "massive power and a moral centre", like Harry Potter or Luke Skywalker. Messiah paints a different picture; he is used, abused, hated or ignored, despite doing no wrong nor asking for anything. Perhaps this is because the arrival of a messiah requires thought and sacrifice from the people. Harry & Luke were heroes who solved problems without demanding thought or action from the people. Closer to Greek than Christian or Islamic mythology. It is clear that I have an interest in social justice... but I am not sure if I am for or against.

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