Monday, November 26, 2012

The Genius of Charlie Brooker


I have blogged before about Charlie Brooker and how I think he is a genius. But the great man is at it again. His latest column for The Guardian is stunning:
Incredibly, Christmas – a festival in which a creepy old man labelled a saint by much of society dons outlandish clothing and promises to make children's dreams come true by sneaking silently into their homes at night – hasn't been cancelled in the wake of Savilegate.
Astonishingly, his take on the new John Lewis ad is even funnier:
First up, John Lewis, the store that made headlines in 2011 with a weepy fable about a kiddywink counting the minutes until he could horrify his parents with a gift-wrapped dog's head in a box. This year's effort is a stab at romance. It starts with a snowman falling in love with a snowgirl. She smiles, but she's not really reciprocating. Hey, maybe she's frigid.

Undeterred, our "hero" goes on an epic journey to the shops to buy his cold, inexpressive partner a gift. We've all been there. Since he can't move on his own, old snowbollocks presumably needs to be dismantled and rebuilt literally hundreds of times along the route, most likely by children, which makes the whole thing a disgraceful celebration of child labour. And at Christmas too. Unforgivable.

Anyway, without so much as a "thank you" to the underage slave army that made his expedition possible, selfish Mr Snowman eventually makes it back, and presents his snowy goddess with a new pair of gloves and a hat – a gesture that warms her heart, although not quite enough to make her tits melt off. Fortunately, the advert ends just before he clumsily attempts to mount her like a donkey, which is just as well since being made of snow, she can surely only be a few days old at the most. And we've all had enough paedogeddon for one year.
The man is incredible and it appears he has a new book out. It would make an ideal Xmas gift for someone. Myself included.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Is Ad-blocking stealing?


Stuff.co.nz has an interesting piece on the use of Ad-blocking software.
If the advertising isn't too over the top then I'm usually prepared to disable AdBlock Plus on specific sites to support them. I guess that leads into the big question here - if you block the ads, are you "stealing" the content? You could ask the same about skipping ads in television shows. It's a grey area and everyone tends to draw their own moral line in the sand.
I've been using ad-blocking software for years now and I am of the opinion that it isn't stealing. People are entitled to use advertising to support their sites but that puts no obligation on you to look at and read it. And if you take the next step and simply block it that is fine. I can't imagine anyone considers it stealing to mute ads while watching TV.

If you use ad-blocking software the one thing to consider is the future of the content you use. Online advertising will be an increasingly important revenue stream for many businesses in the future (it already is for some), if the uptake of ad-blocking software continues it makes this business model less viable and the content you take for granted may disappear.

Not sure what the fuss is? Head over to http://adblockplus.org/en/ or http://chrome.com/adblock/ and have a look. You may not be able to believe the difference.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Woohoo!!!


Stuff.co.nz reports:
Vodafone has joined the ranks of the large cap broadband providers after it revealed a 200GB "Chocka Naked" broadband plan, without fanfare, early this week.
Larger data caps are always great news but the best news is the price:
The Chocka Naked plan costs $105 per month ($75 for those with a Vodafone on-account mobile plan) for 200GB. If users also take up the $40 per month 'double-data', they can get up to 400GB per month, which would cost $145 per month ($115 for Vodafone on-account customers).
While still expensive in international terms it is a major step forward for NZ. And with the Vodafone acquisition of TelstraClear being approved I should be able to upgrade, soon I hope.

Why the Monarchy is good for New Zealand. Say what???


Monarchy NZ's Chairman Dr Sean Palmer has a piece in the Herald today about why the Monarchy is good for New Zealand. Unfortunately it is little more than a puff piece, heavy on platitudes and very light on facts.
Our democracy, with our constitutional monarchy at its foundation, is one of the most successful in the world....The monarchy has a stabilising effect on our constitution and a growing number of scholars are acknowledging its role as a constitutional safeguard
Unfortunately Dr Palmer appears to have forgotten to link to these esteemed scholars, which is lucky considering they probably don't exist. The Monarchy offers no constitutional safeguard whatsoever. The Monarch's singular duty is to appoint the Governor General on the exclusive advice of the Prime Minister of the day. I would argue that our democracy is one of the most successful in the world in spite of the Monarchy. Monarchies in essence are anti-democratic after all.
It drew the world's attention to many of New Zealand's industries, people, and its arts and culture. As with all royal tours, the world's media watched closely. This tour raised New Zealand's profile on the world stage and offered great publicity to our national industries.
I am going to be a little lazy here and admit that I can't be bothered to investigate this claim. It smells suspiciously of bullshit however. I imagine the Hobbit has provided a lot more free advertising than the latest Royal tour, most of it outside the gossip pages as well.
This trip has further enhanced the warm relationship Prince Charles has with New Zealand. He has maintained close contact with many New Zealand organisations and individuals throughout his life. Not only does he know New Zealand well
This drives me nuts. What relationship with New Zealand??? As far as I can tell Prince Charles has only ever visited New Zealand seven times, he has never lived here, he has spent hardly any time with the people of this country. Know it well, he barely knows New Zealand at all. I would also love some specifics on the organisations and individuals.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Movie Review: How to Meet Girls From a Distance


I was lucky enough to win two tickets to the flicks.co.nz preview screening of How to Meet Girls From a Distance at the Paramount last night so me and my flatmate Schmidty headed along.

The basic premise is that our protagonist Toby has rotten luck with women. So when he meets the girl of his dreams he decides to do a little background research before asking her out.

The problem...his background research is a little bit stalkerish.

While undoubtedly low budget it is a great movie. Toby (Richard Falkner) is a nice if slightly misguided guy and his love interest Phoebe (Scarlet Hemingway) is a complete babe and perfect girlfriend material although you will question her choice of boyfriend.

Set in and around Newtown and Mt Victoria it is lovely image of our beautiful city. A comedy with plenty of laughs the undoubted scene stealer is Toby's therapist Carl Stewart (Jonathan Brugh) who has the best lines of the entire film.

Well worth it not only to support the local film industry but to see a great film.

Monday, October 29, 2012

New Tyres


After eight days of back and forth with the supplier I finally received my new tyres on Friday.

And it was well worth the wait. I took them out for a ride on Saturday and right away I could feel the difference. My back tyre had been almost completely bald and was not holding pressure, making me think I was riding on a flat but the new tyre felt great.

Additionally I hadn't realised how much the wear on my tyres had affected their grip on the road, leading me to think I might need new brake leads. But with the new tyres the grip was incredible and I noticed a real improvement in my cornering and felt my brakes working much more.

Only three more training weekends until Taupo! Plus my first 140km ride on Saturday.

Blu & Exile




My brother put me onto these guys just the other day and it is excellent. It is hip-hop of the highest quality and is also perfect to chuck on and listen to on a hot afternoon.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Taxing Parking


Stuff reports:
Employers who give their staff free car parks will have to pay tax on them as the Government moves to tighten the tax rules on perks used as tradeoffs for salary.
It's great to see the government acting on good advice. The only pity is the short-sightedness of the Labour party.
Labour's revenue spokesman David Clark rubbished the change, saying it was a desperate attempt to help the Government meet its Budget target. It amounted to "trying to get blood out of a car park".
But I guess when you're in opposition whether a government policy is a good idea or not is irrelevant.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

R-Money


Just came across the best nickname for Mitt Romney in the comments section of a Vice article. Introducing:

R-Money!!!

The NZ Herald


Would simply reporting the news be so terrible?? Spaces at a memorial service are not a competition.

Based on our respective populations and the numbers that served at Gallipoli we are getting a disproportionate share already.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

New Years Eve


So September is about to turn into October which means there is only three months left until New Year's Eve and the New Year. Now the New Year is a time for "rebirth", "reawakenings" and resolutions, but New Year's Eve is a chance for a massive blowout before all that.

The problem with New Year's Eve is that it is built up to such a massive degree that people expect it to be the night of the year (the equivalent of ten awesome Saturday night's in one) and it often just turns into another average Saturday night.

There are exceptions of course, NYE 2010 which I spent in Budapest was fours days of absolute mayhem and it was awesome (The image above is from the Sparty we went to).

So the question is how do you have a blowout New Year's eve or at least dampen the expectations that come with it?

The great thing is that this year you don't have to worry. Last year La De Da was a wet, muddy and miserable experience and to top off the horrible weather the headline act was absolute pants, despite the fact they have a video that tugs at the heart strings of scarfie memories and talk that they were awesome live (they weren't). In January of this year there was no chance I was going back to La De Da. But...

But they have managed to redeem themselves. This year the headline act for La De Da will be Shapeshifter. Shapeshifter (for those that don't know) are New Zealand's premier live band, they don't do concerts they do earth-shattering out of body experiences. With Shapeshifter bringing in the New Year at La De Da it is guaranteed to be an epic (and hence elusive) New Year's.

De La Soul are also dropping by but more exciting are likely to be Dub FX (who were one of the highlights of last year) and the Wellington rapper Tommy Ill and band Brockaflowersaurus Rex and The Blueberry Biscuit.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Naked Truth


Jonathan Jones has a fantastic piece on the Kate Middleton topless photographs scandal.

The best bit is:
The real distress the Closer photographs have caused the royal family is not personal, or private, but political. They undermine the fabrication of royal power. In a year when the British have reinvigorated their archaic cult, these pictures revealed the naked truth that royals are just like everyone else. The royal titters in the Pacific suggest that to anyone who joins the Windsor family, that idea is so difficult to comprehend, it's funny.

Friday, August 31, 2012

His First Shit


Fevered speculation broke out among the Whanganui press pack today as rumours circulated that after eighteen years on the inside Stewart Murray Wilson (known as the Beast of Blenheim to the impartial members of the New Zealand media) was about to take his first shit as a free man.

Speculation centered on the colouring and density of the shit in question. With clear lines being drawn between the Fairfax reporters (deep brown, hard and stodgy) and the APN News and Media reporters (brown with a green tinge and a runny mud like consistency).

Mediaworks staff were spotted negotiating with the local sewerage company to try and get exclusive access to the shit, while Mark Sainsbury helicoptered in from Auckland in the hope his considerable charisma and moustache (not to mention his prodigious pooing ability) would secure the first live interview.

A Corrections source confirmed that Wilson had been shitting regularly while in prison (often twice a day) and while the consistency had fluctuated early on, a change to his diet had produced a browner and more solid excrement.

An outraged Michael Laws demanded that Corrections build a separate sewer system as he did not want his shits associating with Wilson's.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

What's been happening of late?


Last night Parliament voted 80-40 in favour of Louisa Wall's The Definition of Marriage Amendment Bill. It was expected to pass easily but the margin of victory was something else.

It still has to go through select committee and then another two votes, however I find it hard to imagine it not passing now. If anything I would expect it to pick up more votes as MPs start to think about whether they wish to be on the right side of history or not. So hurray!

In other news the Dowse Art Museum has been coming under a bit of criticism for having a women's only exhibit. Personally I don't see the big problem. The women in the photographs allowed them to be taken, in the understanding men would not see them. Men are not banned from the Dowse itself, rather they are not allowed in one tiny curtained off area. I can't help but wonder if the person complaining to the Human Rights Commission even wants to see the exhibit or is just miffed that he is excluded.

NZ film maker Summer Burstyn made some insensitive and inflammatory comments on Facebook about the death of the three New Zealand soldiers in Afghanistan. Now I don't agree with their presence in Afghanistan and you can quite easily argue that they lost their lives for no reason. But Summer Burstyn is a complete muppet and while some of the responses to her comments were over the top she was never in any real danger.

I have also just come across a fantastic new show. It's called Bored to Death and has all the hallmarks of a comedy classic. It stars Jason Schwartzman, Zach Galifinakis and Ted Danson. Schwartzman plays a writer who has recently broken up with his girlfriend and begins to pose as a private detective. I call it a new show, however it has already broadcast three seasons in the states. You can catch it on Soho as reruns or download it for viewing when you want.

Finally, tonight MPs will vote on whether to raise the Alcohol purchase age. Let's hope the common sense from last night flows on and they keep it 18.

Monday, August 20, 2012

A vigorous Fourth Estate


The standard of journalism in this country is often of concern. Our major news websites are little more than light entertainment. But all is not yet lost...

It is with a sense of great relief that I discovered journalism.org.nz today. In the words of Bernard Hickey:
Journalism.org.nz is a not-for-profit trust dedicated to supporting and building public interest news, analysis, comment and debate.

We aim to gather a group of supporters able to fund, build and flesh out a community of journalists and the platform they need to report, analyse and publish the news that matters. That means investigative, probing, enterprising and explanatory journalism, rather than celebrity-driven churnalism and PR.

New Zealand needs a strong and vibrant fourth estate that challenges, probes, questions and holds to account those people, institutions and forces that affect the lives of all New Zealanders.
Bloody brilliant!!!

The Right to Die


I have previously been in support of voluntary and legalised euthanasia. However in Saturday's DomPost Sean Plunkett had a piece on a public meeting he chaired recently on the issue.

And one paragraph in particular caught my attention:
If we are happy to have a justice system which allows one guilty person to walk free to minimise the chances of the innocent being convicted, I cannot see how we can condone a system that might kill one unwilling patient so that others might exercise their "right to die".
I had never had it put to me like that before and it has made me consider my previous support for voluntary euthanasia.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Richard Dawkins vs Bill O'Reilly


Rage Against Paul Ryan


Last week Mitt Romney picked Paul Ryan as his Vice Presidential running mate. Paul Ryan is a colourful character to say the least. But one of the more interesting facts about him is that one of his favourite bands is Rage Against the Machine.

You know Rage Against the Machine, the anti-capitalist, avowedly socialist band who represent everything Paul Ryan stands against. So it seems a bit odd. Rage guitarist Tom Morello certainly thinks so, as he explains in this op-ed for Rolling Stone:
I wonder what Ryan's favorite Rage song is? Is it the one where we condemn the genocide of Native Americans? The one lambasting American imperialism? Our cover of "Fuck the Police"? Or is it the one where we call on the people to seize the means of production? So many excellent choices to jam out to at Young Republican meetings!
Morello also thinks Paul Ryan has a lot of rage, but maybe his rage is directed against other issues and people than Rage Against the Machine's.
Don't mistake me, I clearly see that Ryan has a whole lotta "rage" in him: A rage against women, a rage against immigrants, a rage against workers, a rage against gays, a rage against the poor, a rage against the environment. Basically the only thing he's not raging against is the privileged elite he's groveling in front of for campaign contributions.
This election could be a lot of fun.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

How piracy kills NZ films


Stuff.co.nz has an opinion piece from New Zealand producer Tui Ruwhiu: How piracy kills NZ films.

It is a little bit of a "poor me" piece and is really just about how hard it is as a producer to make money from films.
If we do have to forego fees then the only opportunity for producers to be rewarded for their work is through a slice of the revenues generated by box office, television, DVD, Blu Ray, video on demand, in-flight entertainment and other existing revenue streams. But producers' chances here are meagre if not non-existent. Promotion and advertising costs, international sales agent and distributor fees, deferments, financing, equity recoupment, profit shares with investors, creatives, cast, and the myriad other entities and individuals who get bites of the backend must be paid first.
I was really interested to see his take on how piracy kills NZ films. But despite the title (a little misleading I now think), he doesn't offer any reasons. Just this short paragraph at the end.
For producers who choose a path where revenue streams from content sales are vital to pay for the film's production and distribution (and hopefully give them and their investors some kind of pay day), piracy snuffs out that light. It takes the money away from those who have earned it-often with blood, sweat and tears-and puts it in the pockets of those who have no claim whatsoever.
This suggests to me that Tui Ruwhiu doesn't have a clue about modern piracy. Nobody I know would pay anyone for a pirated movie, they just download them for free. (Unless he means ISPs?)

Again this is the film industry looking for someone to blame. Maybe if they (and the music industry) hadn't had their heads in the sand at the dawn of the digital age they wouldn't be in this position.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Anonymous Donations


The Herald on Sunday's editorial speaking clearly and sensibly on campaign finance:
But it is time to go further and stop anonymous donations altogether. Nobody expects disclosure of the source of each coin thrown into a plastic bucket at a meeting. But it is fundamentally inimical to the idea of democracy that people can donate large amounts of money to political campaigns without voters' knowing about it. Generous donors don't give money to politicians without expecting something in return, and we should know who is giving what, not for the hell of it, but so that politicians' behaviour can be assessed in the light of the largesse.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Amazon Redesign?


Has anyone been on Amazon.co.uk lately? And does it look like this?

A New Cold War?


Co-founder of Pacific Fibre Rod Drury has revealed the super power politics also played a part in the failure of the Pacific Fibre international cable.

As reported by the Herald:
Drury said yesterday that during negotiations the company discovered a "whole lot of political stuff", including tensions between the United States and China over investment.

Asked if the United States had security concerns over potential Chinese involvement in Pacific Fibre, Drury replied: "What I will say is you start connecting cables and those are the sort of national concerns that all governments would have.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

A good opportunity for a Public-Private Partnership?


The Government is spending $1.5 billion dollars on setting up ultra-fast broadband around the country. Unfortunately while it is a great idea the benefits are set to be limited for a couple of reasons.

First, data caps in New Zealand are so absurdly low that you will be able to use up all your available data in a few days and be paying enormous excesses for the rest of the month.

And second, the price of broadband in this country is incredibly expensive. At my flat we currently pay $75 a month for 60GB of data from TelstraClear. Contrast this to the UK where I was paying £13 a month for unlimited data with O2 (This included a £5 discount for having my mobile with O2).

New Zealand is miles away from where the vast majority of the content is produced (the US and the UK) and our population is relatively small, so we may never see the sort of deals offered in the UK. But the major problem is the Southern Cross Cable which limits capacity as it is used for all international communications out of New Zealand (data and phone) and as the only international cable has a monopoly.

What New Zealand needs is a second international cable to increase capacity and competition, and in turn bring down prices. But as the DomPost reports:
Pacific Fibre, backed by big-name entrepreneurs including Sam Morgan, Stephen Tindall and Rod Drury, launched in March 2010 aiming to build a 13,000km high-speed fibre-optic cable connecting New Zealand and Australia to California.

But this afternoon, chairman Sam Morgan said Pacific Fibre had failed to raise the required US$400 million ($490 million).
This is bad news for consumers and innovative businesses in New Zealand. Which leads me to ask?

Isn't this a great opportunity for a public-private partnership? Something the Government could use to sell the idea to New Zealanders?

(P.S. I see now the broadband plan I had in the UK is £12.50 a month, whether you have an O2 mobile or not.)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Freedom of Speech


The UK has had a problem recently with a number of people being arrested for sending racist messages on Twitter. While I don't agree with what they have said, I don't think they should be arrested unless they are inciting violence (i.e. hate speech).

However the Guardian now reports that the British Police have gone further. They have arrested and issued a harassment warning to a teenager who insulted British Olympic Diver Tom Daley on Twitter.

The teenager tweeted (After Daley's failure to win a medal in the 10m Synchronised Dive):
You let your dad down i hope you know that.
Tom Daley's father died from cancer last year.

I think we can all agree that the message is reprehensible. But there is no way on earth he should have been arrested for it and I don't understand how it constitutes harassment.

The response of other Twitter users had already forced him to apologise and that is where it should have eneded.

These curtailments of freedom of speech are just one aspect of a police force in the UK that is clamping down on civil liberties. Others include the shooting of Mark Duggan, the response to the G20 protests in London and the death of Ian Tomlinson and Police infiltration of environmental groups.

And then there is this: the UK Police arrested 182 cyclists during the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony. They were part of the Critical Mass monthly cycling event and had nothing to do with the Olympics. They (including a 13-year old boy) were arrested under the Public Order Act:
Some of those arrested have told the Guardian they were kettled and detained through the night in a windowless police "garage" and single-decker buses.
I can imagine it will only get worse before it gets better.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Marriage Equality


John Key has confirmed that he will support Louisa Wall's marriage equality bill through all its readings. This all but guarantees the passage of the bill as any unsure National MP's are likely to fall into line behind JK.

I have found the number of different reasons opponents of marriage equality come up with quite interesting and thought I would look at a few of them:
The definition of marriage is between a man and a woman.
The definition of marriage used to include a ban on inter-racial and inter-faith marriages, as well as a ban on divorce. Marriage also used to involve the transfer of a woman from her father's possession to her husband's. The definition of marriage has been evolving for years, in fifty years time the idea that gay people weren't allowed to marry will seem ludicrous.
Marriage is about procreation.
There are many reasons people decided to get married, procreation being one of them. It has been known for quite a while now that to have children you don't need to be married and that being married doesn't force you to have children. Every time somebody repeats this statement it is a kick in the guts to married couples who are unable to have children, as if their marriage is somehow worth less.
Children need both a mother and a father.
Children need parents who love them. Anyone who can explain to me how the Kahui twins were better off with their mother and father than they would have been with a loving same-sex couple wins fifty dollars.
The children of same-sex parents will be bullied at school.
There are thousands of children of same-sex parents already at New Zealand schools and some of them are bullied. I don't understand how society recognising their parent's relationship as equal to others will make this worse.
Same-sex marriage will lead to polygamy
This misses the point on a number of levels. I'm not aware of any movement within New Zealand to legalise polygamy, most New Zealanders are and I imagine will remain committed to monogamous relationships. Marriage equality is about an end to discrimination based on sexual orientation, not about the number of wives one may have, which I think we can all agree is a lifestyle or religious choice. I may not personally agree with one man having multiple wives, but if three people, regardless of gender, are in a loving relationship, why shouldn't they have legal recognition of that?
Mr Craig told 3 News that people choose to be gay rather than being born that way, many as a result of being abused as children.
Colin Craig is quite the piece of work. But at least he brings a bit of colour to the debate with his insane views. I imagine that before he made this statement he spoke to not a single gay person about the "choice" they made or the sexual abuse that precipitated it.
Civil unions already provide marriage equality.
This just isn't true. Legally civil union couples, whether homosexual or heterosexual, are denied the right to adopt children. Civil unions also create a second tier of relationship, based upon a person's sexual orientation, which is discrimination and Government's should not discriminate based upon sexual orientation.

The DomPost has a verus opinion piece today between a Catholic priest and a Presbyterian minister. Margaret Mayman's (the minister)piece is fantastic. Merv Duffy's (the priest)piece is all over the show. But does include this gem:
The Civil Union Act generated a huge bill for government departments as innumerable forms required adaptation to allow for the public recognition of those unions. The same departments will incur another significant expense as every marriage document and database has the words "bride" and "bridegroom" removed and replaced by some bland gender-neutral term.
When you are arguing against marriage equality because of the cost to Government departments I think you are losing the battle.

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Olympic Spirit


The 2012 London Olympic Games kicked off over the weekend (I know that technically the first events started last week, but it doesn't truly start until the opening ceremony).

I can't remember back to the Beijing opening ceremony but I thought Danny Boyle's was pretty darn good. And despite my aversion to her constitutional role in NZ, I had to admit it was great of Liz Windsor to appear with James Bond.

Even Rowan Atkinson as Mr Bean (A character I have never liked) was incredibly well done and Becks driving the flame along the Thames was great. I imagine most people assumed that the E3 on Dizzee Rascal's jacket was a brand name, so I felt it was quite the privilege to know that it is actually the postcode of the borough where he grew up and these Olympics are being hosted. I suppose the only major criticism is how long you have to wait to see the NZ team come out.

But the events are what people really want to see and monopolistic evil bastards they might be but Sky have really delivered on this stage. We have six entire channels devoted to the games, all showing different sports and it is fantastic. I have never watched Archery before but found myself absorbed by it yesterday. And when I tired of that I switched over to judo and peppered my flatmate with questions about it, he took a year of ju-jitsu so is the flat expert in my eyes.

And it just goes on and on for the next couple of weeks. Bring on the Kiwi medals!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Tragedy and Oversensitivity


Over the weekend a tragedy occurred in Aurora, Colorado. Twelve people were killed and fight-eight were injured in a senseless act of violence.

Much of the reaction will focus on gun control in the States. But what I have noticed in the last few days is, to my mind at least, an overreaction and oversensitivity towards certain things following the shooting.

The Herald has reported in the last few days:
DC Comics is asking retailers to postpone sales of a Batman comic book out of respect for victims of the shooting at a theatre showing The Dark Knight Rises in Colorado.
and
A scene in which bullets are fired into a crowded theatre is being removed from upcoming film Gangster Squad following the Colorado cinema tragedy.
I always wonder about these sort of reactions to tragedies. I understand they are trying to be sensitive, but I feel like they are being oversensitive and treating people like idiots. I don't think people reading the comic or seeing the film would see it as a joke at the expense of the people in Aurora. Most people would understand that they were produced before the shooting and understand.

And when they censor art/pop culture like this following a tragedy. Are they not letting the "bad" guy win?

Madonna has also been criticised for her use of fake guns in a concert in Edinburgh, days after the shootings. The fake guns have been used as part of the show throughout the tour. They have nothing to do with what occurred in Colorado and the concert was in a city thousands of miles away. And yet she has been called "crass and insensitive."

Maybe I'm the one being insensitive, but it just doesn't make sense to me.

Friday, July 20, 2012

A Puff of Smoke


Everybody knows that multi-national corporations can be vile, disgusting creatures. Arms manufacturers, pharmaceuticals and finance companies toe a very fine line between right and wrong. But surely the worst are tobacco companies: they sell a deadly product which is extremely addictive and yet completely legal.

Across the western world they are facing increasing restrictions on their products and in turn their profits.

In New Zealand the major issues facing tobacco companies are increased tax, outdoor smoking bans, retail display bans and plain packaging.

And here in New Zealand Philip Morris Tobacco is fighting back. They have launched a website
https://www.myopinioncounts.co.nz/
to gather opinions from smokers on these key issues and use them to lobby the government to stop and roll back regulation.

The great thing is that anybody can register. So why not share with them your views on the disgusting products they manufacture and the harm they do to our society!

Note: I am often loathe to see governments restrict the personal freedoms of their citizens. I mean why shouldn't a grown adult, responsible for their own choices and actions be allowed to smoke tobacco. But in this case I feel the negative effects of smoking outweighs this, particularly the effect on children.

I don't know if I support an outright ban as the best solution. I would probably prefer to see a ban on nicotine first and see how many people kept smoking. We probably wouldn't even need a ban after that.

Chill Out


Yesterday Jacinda Ardern made a joke about Hamilton:
Building and Construction Minister Maurice Williamson says having identical homes could bring down the costs of building new houses but he told the social services select committee that New Zealanders might not be ready for such a culture change.

Labour MP Jacinda Ardern said the concept already existed in New Zealand. “It’s called Hamilton.
It's a great gag. But the Waikato Times reports, some Hamiltonians are upset:
Her remarks have drawn return fire from several local politicians, including city councillor Dave Macpherson who said that the ''foolish swipe at Hamilton by a little-known Labour party hack would have been more hurtful to the city, had it been made by a representative of a more relevant party, such as the Greens.'' Councillor Angela O'Leary jeered at the comment online as tacky and unfounded.
Obviously they can't take a joke. Incidentally Ardern is from the Waikato so this isn't some big city elite picking on the little people. And speaking of little known who the hell is Dave Macpherson?

Then there is this gem from Mayor Julie Hardaker:
Hamilton is often the butt of jokes but anyone that has been to Hamilton knows it's a great place.
Bullshit!

Always Moaning


The Herald reports:
More than 100,000 New Zealanders have overpaid a total of $6.4 million on their student loans.
And fresh from looking like wallys over the ProLife Auckland pamphlet, AUSA are at it again.
The system has been criticised by a students association, which says graduates are overpaying their loans because the system is too hard to understand.
These people are university graduates. If they are finding the system too hard, it is too easy to graduate in this country.
The president of the Auckland University Students' Association, Arena Williams, said Inland Revenue's system needed to be changed. "Everyone with a student loan has been through hours of fighting with Studylink while they were at university. There's definitely a perception that Studylink deliberately makes it difficult to manage your student loan," Ms Williams said.
They are lending student's thousands of dollars of others hard earned money, a few hours on the phone over a three year degree doesn't seem like that big a deal. All this fuss from AUSA over a median overpayment of $2.57 and 76% of overpayers having overpaid less than $20.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Herald Gets Tough On Prostitutes


The Herald Editorial today takes a tough line on street prostitution.
Soliciting in all such places should be a criminal offence. If councils have to specify prohibited areas there is going to be uncertainty, boundary disputes and needless difficulties for those charged with enforcing the law. If localised bans in South Auckland send the trade to other parts of the city there will be an outcry. Parliament must fix this problem once and for all.
I'm no expert on street prostitution but I imagine the percentage of transvestite prostitutes is higher in street walking and that many of them will struggle to find work in brothels.

Rather than attacking vulnerable woman maybe Parliament needs to look at criminalising the 'Johns'.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

What does the leaflet actually say?


David Farrar posted the following today: Is there freedom of speech at Auckland University?

Basically what happened is that ProLife Auckland distributed a leaflet on the Auckland University campus. Someone complained anonymously to the Auckland University Students Association that the leaflet was misleading. So AUSA have called a meeting to disaffiliate ProLife Auckland from AUSA.

Now clearly this is an outrageous breach of the right to free speech and fingers crossed the AUSA members will see sense. But everyone has been blogging about that, so I figured I would look at what the leaflet actually said!

First up the leaflet is mainly text, there are no pictures of aborted foetuses so it's intention is not to shock but to inform. However to my eye there are a number of things that may have annoyed people.
Imagine if your sister or a close female friend was about to have an operation. This operation isn't necessary to save her ife, and its effects can never be undone once it is carried out. She goes to a clinic where she is told that this operation will be a quick fix and that it will provide a good outcome to the problem she is facing. But she isn't told the full facts about her condition, or about the risks associated with this operation.
Nothing in this first paragraph is factual, it is all emotive. It carries on in this tone for three paragraphs. Then you have the facts.
Terminating pregnancies can lead to reproductive problems, which can include subsequent premature births, miscarriages or even infertality.
I'm not a medical professional but it is entirely possible these claims are true and I see a family planning doctor has confirmed the increased risk of subsequent premature births to the Herald. However I also wouldn't be surprised if these risks were associated with any operations on a women's reproductive organs.
In the worst case scenario abortion can even cause death to the woman....Although this tragic scenario is something we have not yet seen in New Zealand, recent figures, obtained from the Ministry of Health under the Official Information Act, show that almost 900 New Zealand women were admitted to hospital between 2009 and 2011 for the treatment of complications following their abortions.
It is the worst case scenario in almost every operation that someone may die. However as they say this has never occurred in New Zealand. On the other hand the maternal mortality rate in New Zealand in 2009 was 22 per 100,000 maternities. Which suggests to me that pregnancy is in fact more dangerous than abortion. Between 2009 and 2011 there were 50,000 abortions in New Zealand, with 900 complications that is a rate of 1.8%. I couldn't find any stats on surgery overall, but my doctor flatmate reckons the rate is probably between 1-3%.
Women who obtain abortions are at increased risk of subsequent mental health issues, including major depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and drug and alcohol related problems. Studies also indicate that post-abortive women are three times more likely to commit suicide. This indicates that, for some women, an abortion causes severe and long-lasting psychological suffering.
There are a lot of things that can increase the risk of mental health problems, war for example. ProLife Auckland clearly thinks this means we need to criminalise abortion. I however think it indicates the need to ensure that services are in place to support women following an abortion.
Women also have the right to know about all the different options, not just that of abortion, that are available to them, options which on discussion, may be more beneficial to their personal situation. This shouldn't be about the politicisation of information.
To my mind there are three options available, giving birth and raising the child, giving birth and putting the child up for adoption and having an abortion. I find it hard to believe a woman seeking an abortion is unaware of the other options. And if a woman decides abortion is the right choice for her personal situation to ProLife Auckland support her in that decision?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Sports Broadcasting Revolution


TVNZ reports:
Sports broadcasting is on the brink of revolution in New Zealand, as the Oceania Football Confederation considers the launch of a new free-to-air TV channel.
This could be absolutely massive for the coverage of football in New Zealand. But it isn't just about football:
It is understood the Oceania plan is for 24-hour broadcasting, including live events, built around football but also encompassing other sports - many of which struggle to meet the financial demands of subscription satellite provider Sky TV.
The financial demands of Sky have been a major problem for many NZ Sporting Organisations. Hockey NZ was reported to have been charged upwards of $100,000 by Sky to broadcast the Champions Trophy earlier this year and anything that opens up the field to more competition is great news.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Gordon Campbell


Gordon Campbell's latest blog post is on "the lack of context (and love of tears) in our news bulletins".

It includes this fantastic summary of the average news bulletin:
The average news bulletin consists of a series of talking heads standing in front of the latest footage of weeping crime victims/storms/plane crashes/war carnage punctuated by the day’s flying cat light relief, some exhaustive coverage of the weather …and a few clips of the latest sporting highlights, the latter presented with a lover’s confidence.
I particularly like the mention of the exhaustive weather coverage. If you are relying on the news for your weather report you are truly living in the 20th century.

He could have also mentioned the ridiculous advert for ASB Bank in the middle of the news which masquerades as financial news.

Additionally I love the fact that the screenshot I found of the news includes the caption "Cat-astrophe"!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Voices of Wisdom


Two weeks ago 17-year-old Wellington native Brittany Trilford gave a fantastic speech to the Rio+20 Earth Summit.

And today the Dominion Post has a fantastic opinion piece from 16-year-old Jess Palairet on the Alcohol Reform Bill.

Some highlights:
The Alcohol Reform Bill is not achieving what it should. It is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to objectively evaluate the drinking culture. It is a chance to make the tough calls now, for the benefit of New Zealand in the long run.
The Alcohol Reform Bill is doing little to tackle New Zealand's binge drinking culture, rather it is punishing Adults for the behaviour of 13-year-olds.
The debate around the reform has so far focused on lifting the age – seeming to place the blame for our bad drinking culture on the shoulders of young people.
I'm not sure if I agree with that.
In a recent survey of under-18s conducted by the Children's Commissoner's Young People's Reference Group, one young person said, "What's never focused on is the fact that young people are the victims".
When it iss put like that it seems so obvious, but I have to admit in all my thinking on New Zealand's binge drinking culture I have never really thought about young people as the victims. But its true.
They are the victims of the media, which has generated this image that young people have to drink to be normal, de-stress and have a good time.

Advertising for alcohol is plastered everywhere young people go; at sports games through sponsorship, on floats at Christmas parades, on television, billboards and on the internet; all of which are near-impossible to get away from.

Children and young people are also the victims of alcohol-related abuse, violence and broken families because of alcohol.
The Alcohol Reform Bill will do little about any of these and Jess finishes with a real flourish.
For these reasons the Government's action needs to be stronger and not tokenistic. There needs to be action that prioritises young people over the alcohol industry. The proposed age change is avoiding the problem and consequently putting the blame on young people.

It should be targeting alcohol advertising and banning alcohol sponsorship for events, such as rugby games; making sure alcohol is not cheaper than milk, simply by raising the price of alcohol; stopping the production of ready-to-drink alcoholic, but seemingly non-alcoholic, drinks.
I know as a teen and even now the best ads on TV are often the alcohol ads and have a big effect on impressionable young people. Similarly what impression does it give when Zac Guildford can go on a drunken rampage in Rarotonga, come back and play in Rugby gear covered in Beer logos in Stadiums covered in alcohol advertising and make the All Black squad?

Raising the drinking age is a smokescreen from a Government and politicians without the guts to take on the Alcohol industry. Thankfully our young people don't seem so afraid.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Football Football Football!!!


It has been a little while between posts so I thought I would start back with the European Championships currently on in Poland and Ukraine.

The Euros are often considered to be a better tournament than the World Cup. With the exception of Brazil and Argentina the sixteen teams competing are generally the best teams in the world. You don't have any of the rubbish teams from Asia or North America (or the All Whites). There are few dud matches and it throws up amazing groups like Germany, Portugal, the Netherlands and Denmark.

For some inexplicable reason UEFA have decided to increase the number of teams competing to twenty after this years tournament, so it is one to be cherished. Another reason to cherish this tournament is the participation of a Spanish side right up there with the greatest sides in history and a young German side going from strength to strength.

So far things have been going to plan. The Spanish have been passing their opponents into submission while the Germans have been beating teams with speed and vigor. Not wanting to disappoint the English went out on penalties this morning with Wayne Rooney again failing to perform in the knock-out stages of a major tournament.

This first tournament in Eastern Europe was littered with potential problems and apart from a few instances of racism (and the expectedly weak response from UEFA) it has gone well. Human Rights campaigners who have tried to draw attention to their cause by exposing their breasts may have picked the wrong tactic for the alcohol fueled mainly male fans.

On Thursday (NZ time) Portugal take on Spain in the first semi-final followed by Germany versus Italy the following day. And all things being right in the world we can hopefully look forward to a European classic between Spain and Germany on Monday morning.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Week That Was


It has been a wee while between posts and plenty has happened in that time.

- Elizabeth Windsor celebrated sixty years as the head of state of the United Kindgom over the weekend. I have decided to refer to her as Elizabeth Windsor in the future as hereditary titles are disgusting and have no place in the 21st century. Some people want New Zealand to wait until Elizabeth Windsor passes before moving to a republic, but I say bugger that, it's time to remove this archaic institution. It would have been a great moment to start when...

- John Key met with Elizabeth Windsor this week. He gave her some Kapiti Cheese and she asked for a status update on the ChristChurch Cathedral, but didn't care to ask about the 200,000 children living in poverty in New Zealand ,the thousands deciding life is greener on the other side of the Tasman or the changes to the welfare system (You might think the world's largest welfare beneficiary would be interested in that sort of thing but I guess not).

- The Green Party had their AGM and celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Values Party. As they go from strength to strength in the polls they are preparing for a future in which they will be part of the government and not on the outside and how this will effect the consensus decision-making the have practiced.

- Education Minister Hekia Parata has been forced to back down over planned class size changes after practically every man and his dog came out against them. It has been one big embarrassment for the government and the questions now is will she stay or will she go?

There were some other small bits and pieces going on:
- Bronwyn Pullar was cleared of blackmail by the police and now ACC has some serious questions to answer.
- Philip Mountbatten was appointed to the Order of New Zealand. WTF???
- Robyn Malcolm tested over the legal limit at a random breath test.
- Vodafone wants to buy TelstraClear.
- In an attempt to deflect attention away from Hekia Parata, Paula Bennett announced the sterilisation of abusive parents (That may be a slight exaggeration).
- Christchurch got snowed on.
- and my man Julian Savea got named in the All Blacks' starting line-up for the first test against Ireland.

Lastly, its economy might be going to hell in a handbag but it's good to see Greek politicians are not letting that get in the way of an open and reasoned discourse:

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Crap Journalism


The state of news journalism in New Zealand can be pretty damn poor at times and today we have this rubbish article from the NZ Herald, titled Govt cool on insulation extension. It says
The Government has not committed any new money to a housing insulation scheme despite reports showing it had provided $1.2 billion in health benefits - a four-fold return on its funding.
This seems incredible, how could the government be so short sighted on this issue! However the article continues
Housing Minister Phil Heatley announced last Thursday that the scheme had been so cost-effective that the Government could extend it for a year and help insulate 41,000 extra homes with the original budget. The funding was now expected to run out in July 2014.
Oh right! So the scheme will not run out until July 2014. The Government has over two years to decide if it wants to extend it.
Mr Heatley said through a spokesman that National would make any considerations on its future "in due course".
So rather than being "cool" on an extension to the scheme, the Government will look at in the two years it has until the scheme runs out. This article would have been better titled "Average Journalist writes crap article."

Monday, May 28, 2012

A little risk would pay off for KiwiSaver


The NZ Herald Editorial today is on KiwiSaver. It looks at number of aspects starting with the deferral of auto-enrolment:
A boost to New Zealand's savings culture has been put on hold with the Budget announcement that automatic enrolment in KiwiSaver in 2014-15 is no longer possible .... The deferral is unfortunate. Auto enrolment, which would place all employees, not just the newly hired, in KiwiSaver, has been strongly recommended by the OECD. Now, it will not be considered until there are sufficient surpluses to pay for it.
I mentioned this in my Budget blogpost yesterday and I feel it will keep cropping over the next wee while. The poor personal savings rate of New Zealanders is of real concern to the Credit Rating Agencies and I can't help but feel that the government has missed a trick in deferring auto-enrolment in its quest for a budget surplus.
The KiwiSaver default-provider arrangements have proved even more a bone of contention, and more damaging to the creation of a significant national savings pool that would propel economic growth. This is because they are not working in the best interests of young and young-ish KiwiSaver members .... Within those default schemes, their money is, by default, put into conservative funds. These are comprised mainly of low-risk, low-return assets, such as fixed interest .... But it makes no sense now for 25-year-olds with 40 years of KiwiSaver ahead of them to be in a conservative fund. History shows that, over time, growth assets provide by far the better returns, whatever the short-term fluctuations.
Four or so years ago when first signing up to KiwiSaver I was going to let my money go to one of the default scheme providers and not worry about it. Luckily enough my father, who is much more financially literate than I am, advised me to put it into a growth fund. When the market went down it lost money, but it was also able to buy plenty of shares at these low rates and when the market rebounded it made back what it lost and them some to the point where it now has a lot more in it than I have invested.

A lot of other young New Zealanders will not be as lucky as I was so it is fantastic to see the Herald arguing for a change in the default-provider scheme to more pro-growth funds.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

"It's clearly a budget. It's got a lot of numbers in it."


"It's clearly a budget. It's got a lot of numbers in it."
      - George W. Bush
The news this week has been dominated by Bill English's second Zero Budget.

The Budget's main aim is to get the government's books back in surplus by 2014/15, which has taken on something of a holy grail importance in the government's eyes and that of the public, whether it actually is or not. See Low hanging rotten fruit for some potential alternative aims.

Unfortunately that means it is not a particularly inspiring budget and anyone hoping for news to encourage economic growth will be sorely disappointed.

Stuff.co.nz has a summary of the main points here, but I would like to focus on a few of them.
Closing a tax loophole for those who rent out their bach and boat, saving $109m over four years
This appears to be the Government's vaunted plan to broaden the tax base and while you can't rarely argue against it, it is a pretty week effort at broadening the tax base (Anyone for a capital gains tax?).
Three tax credits abolished, saving $117 million over four years.
This appears to be part of the broader tax base as well and while I'm not opposed to the removal of any of them, it suggests a government really scraping the barrel, devoid of any big ideas.
An excise tax hike on tobacco, taking the price of a pack of 20 cigarettes to more than $20 by 2016
My only problem with this is that it should have been more. A 10% increase each year seems like nothing, 25% would have really said something.
Deferring KiwiSaver auto enrolment
This policy would have cost a lot of money so it does make some sense to defer until the government is running a surplus. However on the other hand the Credit Rating Agencies have been a lot more concerned with our low rate of personal savings than Government debt or deficits, so wouldn't the benefits of increased KiwiSaver participation have outweighed the negatives?
Increasing student loan repayment rate to 12 per cent
I have already blogged that I don't have a problem with this policy. The changes to the Student Allowance entitlements are concerning however, especially the potential impact on post graduate students.

The aim of the Government is to ensure a return to surplus in 2014/15 on that level it succeeds. Unfortunately New Zealand needs something more than that, a budget that encourages economic growth and adresses the major issues facing it, the ticking time bomb of superannuation and interest free student loans.

Unfortunately for New Zealand this Government doesn't want to face it and I have serious doubts that the alternative have the ability to face them.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Human Rights Baby!!!


Just last week I was blogging about the decision of North Carolinians to place themselves on the wrong side of history. And in a delicious twist history decided to show up.

On the 9th of May, my homeboy, Barack Obama went ahead and confirmed what we had all assumed he believed all along:
It is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.
While his words do not carry any legal weight and he has no intention to introduce federal legislation anytime soon, the simple fact of the most powerful man in the world affirming his belief in marriage equality is a big fucking deal!

It also has the effect of pushing same-sex marriage to the fore in this country and forcing our party leaders to voice their own views on same-sex marriage.

John Key:
I am not personally opposed to gay marriage.
Metiria Turei
Their policy is that same legal rights and responsibilities should apply to all couples regardless of whether that couple is gay, lesbian, transgender or heterosexual
Tariana Turia
she would support same-sex marriage on the basis that individuals and whanau had the right to choose for themselves whether or not to marry.
and this pathetic statement from David Shearer
I fully support marriage equality in principle but would like to see the detail of any legislation before giving formal support.
So the party leaders representing over ninety percent of the seats in the house support same-sex marriage. How come we can't get a cross party bill going? Step up John Key:
It's not my number one issue, that's for sure. That has been true of most of those conscience or moral issues. The previous Government had a lot of those on the agenda from prostitution law reform through to civil unions. We haven't had any and that's reflected that these are tough economic times and we need to spend our precious time in Parliament resolving those issues.
Fair enough I suppose, the government has limited time on it's and needs to focus on the really important issues, like the possible mass arrival of asylum seekers. Dickhead! If you have time for imaginary boat people, then you certainly have time for marriage equality.

Labour MP Louisa Wall has a Same-Sex Marriage bill ready to go in the members ballot so fingers crossed some time in the near future we can have an end to discrimination and equal rights for same-sex couples!

New Monbiot


The latest from George Monbiot:
The unbiblical and ahistorical nature of the modern Christian cult of the nuclear family is a marvel rare to behold. Those who promote it are followers of a man born out of wedlock and allegedly sired by someone other than his mother's partner.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Ginger News


In this edition of Ginger News: Chairs, especially designer chairs, are evil!
I hate to piss on the party, but chairs suck. All of them. No designer has ever made a good chair, because it is impossible. Some are better than others, but all are bad. Not only are chairs a health hazard, they also have a problematic history that has inextricably tied them to our culture of status-obsessed individualism. Worse still, we’ve become dependent on them and it’s not clear that we’ll ever be free.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

WTF


A mate of mine has set me on to a press release from David Parker (pictured) the Labour Party Finance spokesman.

Entitled Nek minnit economics – disappointing growth means disappointing books.

I am slightly confused about the intention of this release. Are they trying to get down with the kids? Are they trying to paint John Key as the Nek Minnit guy? Or were they just hoping it sounded clever and catchy?

Whatever the actual reason, this is douche bag politics.

We the people


As reported by the Guardian, the people of North Carolina have decided to place themselves on the wrong side of history.

A constitutional amendment has been passed by a vote of 61% to 39% defining marriage as between a man and a woman. Unfortunately the amendment goes further than that and will have consequences for all manners of domestic partnerships.

Overall the trend in the states is towards marriage equality but it may a little longer in coming for North Carolinians.

The Guardian's Ana Maria Cox has a great piece on the North Carolina amendment, the overall context and what it means:
There are no pink processionals crowding the streets of Durham, and while my St Paul neighborhood sees a lot of pairs of women pushing one stroller down the street, I have yet to be invited to the big "WE ARE UNDERMINING THE FOUNDATIONS OF YOUR MORALITY" party, which social conservatives seem to imagine taking place just out of sight. The fact is, both of these initiatives are propelled less by the presence of an in-your-face homosexual "agenda" than by the gradual, inevitable, and growing normalization and acceptance of gays and lesbians as complete equals in our society.

New Monbiot


George Monbiot's latest column is available at Guardian.co.uk. It is a cracker, enjoy!
Modern government could be interpreted as a device for projecting corporate power. Since the 1980s, in Britain, the US and other nations, the primary mission of governments has been to grant their sponsors in the private sector ever greater access to public money and public life.

Ginger News

It has been a few weeks between printings but allow me to present Ginger News Issue Two.

This edition looks at the age old question: Is fiction good for you?

Monday, May 7, 2012

What's that got to do with the price of razor blades?


Stuff.co.nz reports: Manufacturers continue to hit consumers with price rises by stealth by cutting product sizes. Basically, rather than raising prices companies are cutting quantity to avoid the consumer backlash associated with a price rise.

So what you might say. Isn't that the just what we should expect in this greed orientated capitalist society we live in?

Probably and while it is a little devious it is also quite clever. Companies costs rise which means they need to raise their prices, nothing devious there just a fact of commerce. Consumers don't like prices rises (although they do like pay rises in their own jobs which contribute directly to price rises, although that is not the only factor) so companies are trying to keep their customers happy while maintaining their margins. A little devious, a bit dishonest but quite clever.

Ultimately it is the consumers responsibility to ensure they are getting a deal they are comfortable with. You don't need to be furiously checking every item you buy, just clever, especially when it comes to the more expensive items.

But what caught my eye in the article was this paragraph:
The world's biggest producer of men's razors, Gillette, is the latest culprit cutting the number of replacement cartridges in its Mach3 Turbo packs from five to four while keeping the price the same, effectively a 20 per cent price increase.
I believe New Zealand men and women are getting royally ripped off when it comes to the price of razor blades in the country. For instance from Countdown.co.nz you get a four pack of Gillette Fusion blades for $25.99 ($6.50 per blade), while in the UK you can get the same pack for £10.05 or $20.38 ($5.10 a blade) from www.boots.co.uk, over five dollars cheaper. And that doesn't take into account the fantastic deals you can get in the UK on bulk packs. Take this option from Superdrug.co.uk: a razor with blade plus ten spares for only £20 or $40.55 ($3.69 a blade).

So you can see why I thought there was a problem. So I asked Google if there was someway to get razor blades cheaper in this country and in it's infinite wisdom it gave me this.

Clicking the link will take you to BestBuyBlades.com who appear to have had the same problem as me.
We are three young and creative kiwi entrepeneurs that were sick of paying ridiculous prices for good genuine razor blades which are a every day necessity. Consequently we decided to do something about it; we scoured the globe to find large international exporters and whole salers which were able to supply us with your quality everyday razor blades (both Schick and Gillette) and have parallel imported them so that we can deliver them directly to your door step via our unique service set and forget while providing you with massive savings.
And it's true. A four pack of Gillette Fusion blades is $18.99 ($4.75 per blade) including delivery to your door. If you use their Set and Forget service it is $16.99 ($4.25). Brilliant savings and you just need to be clever about it. In my case just using Google solved my problem.

Disclaimer: I haven't received payment or razor blades in kind for this post. I was just upset about the price of my razor blades and think these guys offer a fantastic service.

Herald Editorial: Student Loans

The Herald editorial today is on the changes to Student loan repayments: Govt right to tighten up on student loans. Most of what they say is common sense and rather obvious. However there is this paragraph:
In terms of student allowances, the Government plans to cut costs by tightening the eligibility rules, especially in relation to the definition of income. It also wants to focus allowances on the first years of tertiary study - there will be a four-year cap - and on students who can least afford to study. Such targeting is welcome. Too many allowances are being paid to youngsters whose parents could afford to offer support but, instead, are exploiting income loopholes.
I blogged before that I support a universal allowance, however if we don't have one, those who need it the least shouldn't be exploiting it. However I have to ask the questions, how many students are exploiting the current loopholes? How are they going to clampdown? And is it even worth it? I suppose we will find out come Budget Day.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Battle for TVNZ 7


The NZ Herald reports:
United Future leader Peter Dunne has labelled a move to replace TVNZ7 with a channel repeating TV One programmes a "disgusting insult".
The channel in questions will be TV One + 1. Which is simply TV One running an hour behind. It is the same as the TV3 + 1 already running on Freeview which is a copy of the various UK channels that were doing it while I lived there.

And the Honourable Peter Dunne really does go to town on them:
"TV One represents the worst of television in this country. It is crass, superficial, lowest common denominator rubbish.

"It is too obsessed with its own self-imagined 'stars' and the culture surrounding them than to have any credible claim on being a legitimate national broadcaster.

"By contrast, TVNZ7 has always appealed to a higher standard - both in terms of quality and the range of programmes offered.

"To replace TVNZ7 with the rubbish of TV One is a disgusting insult to the hundreds of thousands of regular TVNZ7 viewers."
Right on man!

Let's have a look at the TVNZ logic.
In a statement, TVNZ said changing viewer habit have seen "time-shifted channels" established internationally.

"Long working hours, shift work and traffic problems have had an impact on the numbers able to watch the evening news in its traditional time slot, and there is now an identifiable global trend towards time-shifting by consumers," the statement said.

TVNZ acting chief executive, Rodney Parker, said the "plus one" channel meets the broadcaster's strategy of reaching more New Zealanders.

"TV ONE has been selected as the time-shifted channel to maximise exposure for the great local content, news and current affairs that it features," Mr Parker said.
If people are having trouble watching the news in a traditional time slot, there are a couple of options available to them. They could record it or they could go and watch it online. Do we really need another channel for the handful of people who don't own personal video recorders and are incapable of using the internet? What about the people who can't watch the news at Six or Seven? We now need a TV One + 2 channel. Rather than wasting his time coming up with bullshit logic, Rodney Parker should be using it to maximise exposure for the great local content, news and current affairs on TVNZ 7.

It is great to see Peter Dunne coming on board with this. With asset sales a likely Dunne deal (See what I did there!) it would be nice to see Peter Dunne leverage his vote to save TVNZ 7.