Friday, January 29, 2010

How to get ahead in advertising

Like my other love, politics, I have a rather bipolar interest in advertising. A century of self has left the masses with the want without the why. We want Bernays sauce now, damnit!

That said, I'm rather curious to see what The Ad Show is all about. The pomo promo displays as much flair as the best of them, making the most of fuck all.

Insert pithy title here

First there was how to write an incendiary blog post. Now there's How to Report the News. Every network news story ever:

HT BoingBoing

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Boom, bust, doom and anti-trust

Hayek and Keynes fear the Boom and Bust:

Elizabeth Warren on the Daily Show the other day:

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Elizabeth Warren from a couple of years ago describing the Death of the Middle Classes (HT Bernard Hickey). I wouldn't be at all surprised to see NZ has fallen into the same trap:

Commerce Minister Simon Power looks at introducing corporate criminal liability, according to today's NZ Herald editorial. I would also recommend exchanging the cap on fines for fines based on market capitalisation. That way you get proportional disincentives into the boardroom.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Let's Go Native

Well, it's been a while since Cliff Curtis was Stereotypical Foreigner #24 in Hollywood. Three Kings, Bringing Out the Dead, they were beauties. Die Hard 4, 10,000 BC and Eddie Murphy's latest clanger, not so much. The 90's reduced to resuscitating the 80's, eh. Poor bugger.

The point remains that NZers can fit in anywhere in this world this side of a Nordic nightclub. We blend in. We also prefer not to cause a fuss. I'm generalising, I know. There's the occasional mad farmer or suicide princess, but that's because we also specialise in outliers.

Which reluctantly brings me to Col. Willie Apiata. I imagine he's ESPing a STFU to everyone who matters right now, seeing it's his neck (and his mates) on the line. But this thing has a long way to go yet. He's been caught up in the political dredge net.

John Key pulled in the brass to try and shut it all down with a press conference, but this one looks like a bleeder. There's one of John Key's point blank blurts on what exactly the NZSAS contingent will and won't do as part of their duties, and how that might contradict a random foreign photojournalist with a scoop. I mean honestly, what are the odds?

Colin Espiner has a good take on it all (welcome back Colin). If Labour don't have a ball with this one in the first Question Time, it should be Phil Goff's balls on a plate to his caucus. And here's hoping Willie Apiata gets a medal or promotion for dealing with all the political bullshit.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Agent of Chaos George

While we're waiting for Werner Herzog's steering of Nicholas Cage and his iguana through New Orleans, why not make do with Herzog's reading of Curious George*. HT Daily Dish and Dim Post.

* Not really Werner Herzog.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Keep it dark

I'm fairly certain that there's an SAS member somewhere in my extended whanau. Never met him, but I hope he's avoided the blitz of publicity that Colonel Willie Apiata and colleague have been through in the last couple of days. The last thing I'd want is a black ops family member plastered all over the national press.

Yes, they look hardcore. There's a certain mindset, a certain outlook that men get when their job involves killing others face to face. That infinite stare. It's not like the Yanks who push a button and wreck havoc thousands of kilometres away, or wear clean-shaven bravado and sunglasses as they throw puppies over cliffs. These guys are professionals.

Just as recent artist impressions of how Osama Bin Laden might look these days could help to identify this elusive nemesis, so contemporary shots of high profile armed forces members might make them a target. What better way to drive a wedge between coalition forces than remove one country's top men. Little wonder the SAS hierarchy are shuffling things around a bit.

I'm all for the publication of the coffins of the war dead returning home and similar stuff, but posting pictures of active servicemen is a trickier matter. Some things are best kept in the dark.


I have nothing worth saying, so it's just as well Russell Brown did. Glad to see he's another convert from bike-curious to a convert of slow motion. And thanks also for the MIA earwig and this particular video:

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Around the blogs

# Aardvark looks at the non-lethal uses of pulsejet technology in civil control devices.

# Pundit marvels at the transparency precedent the Tax Working Group has followed in the preparation of its report.

# Michael Geist links to this very interesting ACTA discussion:

# Brian Rudman writes on NZ loosening the Windsor knot.

# Two Gentlemen of Lebowski, if Shakespeare had written The Big Lebowski.

# Graeme Edgeler at Public Address looks at the 3 Strikes Law.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Prince and the Porpoise

I saw this guy today, name of Bill Windsor. According to the law of the land, this young bloke has been ordained by god as the second in line to be New Zealand's Head of State. Not just any god either, but the Church of England god. His Nana is our current Head of State.

Now don't get me wrong. I have nothing against Prince William personally. We not only share a first name, but are both embedded in wildly dysfunctional families, including one dead parent. So I can feel for the guy. Hell, we'd both be at home sitting around the peace pipe as well, or is that just Harry?

Nevertheless, I was compelled this morning to attend his opening of the new Supreme Court building and protest for the Republican Movement. This is not to be confused with the NZ Republican Party, half of which were also present - all three of them - across the road from where our larger and more diffuse protest was based.

It was all a bit touch and go for a while. Early morning fog around Wellington and its airport had refused to fog off, and Prince William's plane dawdled above the city waiting for a gap in the mist. The delay tempted a gaggle of Brit journalists off from their perch on the steps of the court and over to check on this whole Republican Movement business.

Although Lewis Holden couldn't be there in person, the Republican Movement secretary Mike Smith handled it all very professionally. Strangely enough, no NZ MSM took the opportunity to show any curiosity in the cause except a few cameras, art for the words. Nope, I lie. There was one media attendee who made their support known. Nice.

His Highness finally turns up in a flashing motorcade of Holdens. Formalities are performed and in he goes. And that's it for another day of peaceful protest.

And now, here's Moko the friendly dolphin. Not so much a porpoise, more like an aquatic Skippy the bush kangaroo:

Sunday, January 17, 2010

4:20 News

# Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg discuss hash brownies:

Snoop: "Trying to make some brownies, but we're missing the most important part of the brownies."
Martha: "Which is, which is, which is ..."
Snoop: "No sticks no seeds no stems."
Martha: "You want green brownies."
Snoop: "Yes."
Martha: "He wants green brownies. Brownish green brownies."
Snoop: "The greener the better!"

# The Wall St Journal looks at the growing marijuana legalisation effort. Washington State, California and Oregon are all looking at pro-marijuana ballots. The New York Times reports New Jersey has passed a medicinal marijuana law. The UK Telegraph notes that Breckenridge, a ski resort high in the Colorado Rockies, has decriminalised marijuana.

# Don't you wish all Mums were this understanding?

# Meantime, over in Europe, it's not just cannabis that the Czech Republic has decrimmed. It's all drugs:
Under the new laws (which come into force on January 1) Czech people will be allowed to possess up to 4 ecstasy tablets. 15 grams (half an ounce) of marijuana, 5 grams of hash and 1 gram of cocaine with prison sentences still a potential threat for those in possession of more.
# The replacement for Dr David Nutt, the head of the UK expert panel on drugs who was sacked by his political masters, has been announced. David Nutt has started his own expert panel on drugs, the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs. We'll keep an eye out for who cracks first.

# In New Zealand, the big news is the adventures of Dakta Green, who is accumulating police harassment like bees to honey. All we can add at this end is, Good Work, Dakta Green! Keep up the good fight.

# Nick Smith at the Sunday Star Times looks at the economics of drugs. On the subject of coca and cocaine, opium and heroin, here's a look at Auckland's Chelsea sugar refinery. Brought to you by Pacific Beat St, it shows how Oz sugar cane is distilled into yummy sweetness. No high fructose corn syrup required.

UPDATE: There's a guest post by NORML's Stephen McIntyre over at Public Address. It was originally sent to the NZ Herald as an OpEd piece, but was refused by the Herald. Nice to know that even during silly season, it's impossible to get this subject out in the Granny.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


"Parliament has collapsed. The tax office has collapsed. Schools have collapsed. Hospitals have collapsed," he said. "There are a lot of schools that have a lot of dead people in them."

- Haitian President René Préval

"This is a catastrophe," the first lady, Elisabeth Préval, said. "I'm stepping over dead bodies. A lot of people are buried under buildings. The general hospital has collapsed. We need support. We need help. We need engineers."

- both quotes from the Miami Herald

Reuters is live-blogging information on the Haiti quake, including some of its photo-journalists on the scene. This is one example taken by Lionel Perron:

Monday, January 11, 2010

Drone wars

A few years back, some high-powered US diplomat or spook visited Wellington. The results of their meetings are lost in the filing cabinet, but the legend of the US departure lives on. The US jet left the capital's stunted airstrip heading into a stiff nor'wester at a damned near vertical ascent.

Using the superior design and horsepower that only the world's biggest military budget can provide, it's as if the pilot was ordered to get the fuck away from that miserable, pokey little island nation as fast as Americanly possible.

It is bleeding edge technology like that rocket out of Wellington that has helped maintain US supremacy throughout the 20th century and into the 21st. And it just might have something to do with its delinquency too. The inevitable has occurred. By the end of 2010, the US will have introduced domestic surveillance drones on its populace.

If there's one thing worse than Britain's CCTV state, it's America's Eye in the Sky. This is going to get nasty.

Friday, January 08, 2010

A sense of proportion

Ana Samways at Sideswipe highlights the lack of geographical knowledge on American Airlines:

Like the island in Lost, NZ is off the charts. Maybe the writing staff for that torpid rag were playing silly buggers with their subeditors, or maybe it is blind ignorance after all. You could fill the universe with things Americans don't know.

There are a few bright sparks amongst the idiocracy, for example the guy who came up with this idea:
Worldmapper is a collection of world maps, where territories are re-sized on each map according to the subject of interest.

That's the land area squeezed and stretched to represent the world population distribution. NZ looks about the same as usual, although Oz and the US look skeletal. In fact, NZ looks remarkably proportionate in a lot of the charts. Take this Tourism Profit map showing that the Spanish Empire still exists in the hospitality sector:

The one chart that really bloats NZ up is the meat exports one:

Speaking of meat exports, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's visit to NZ will be interesting, or as Tim Wilson explains, a good get. Will Hillary freak out, he asks. More to the point, will NZ? There's Free Trade to talk about, as well as that pesky Top Secret Copyright Treaty to horse trade over. Oh, Worldmapper has a royalties chart too, where again NZ looks decidedly average alongside the corpulent US:

There's a lot at stake. It'll be interesting to see just how far Murray McCully and John Key are prepared to sell NZ down the river.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Priest wins Darwin Awards

The 2009 Darwin Awards have been announced. A floating priest equipped with parachute and GPS wins the vote, preferring to rely on god for navigation and survival. Hat Tip /.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Say goodbye to Hollywood

"Strange,' mused the Director, as they turned away, 'strange to think that even in Our Ford's day most games were played without more apparatus than a ball or two and a few sticks and perhaps a bit of netting. Imagine the folly of allowing people to play elaborate games which do nothing whatever to increase consumption. It's madness. Nowadays the Controllers won't approve of any new game unless it can be shown that it requires at least as much apparatus as the most complicated of existing games.'

- Brave New World, written in 1932 by Aldous Huxley. pg 26.

Joseph Goebbels was a master at reading and writing the public mood in Nazi Germany. While the Soviet politburo was pushing out dire propaganda films such as Tractor Farmers, Goebbels was commissioning Triumph of the Will. Say what you will about the Nazis as an ethos, but their spinner knew how to stroke the public psyche.

The list of German films commissioned between 1933 and 1945 describes an arc of the Nazi psyche. The early films flaunt the fulfilled destiny of Hitler personally as the successor to Frederick the Great, as well as the Volk's common destiny as the master race. In 1926, they even experimented with 3D films.

Sherlock Holmes was also a popular subject. In 1936, there was Hound of the Baskervilles. 1937 featured The Man Who Was Sherlock Holmes and Shadow of the Gray Lady. In between such fictions, atrocities were also being promoted. 1937 was the year of The Jews Unmasked and Victims of the Past (euthanasia agitprop).

Fast forward through nationalistic zeal, romcoms and genocidal anti-Jewish rationalisations of WWII and have a squizz at the output after D-Day. The Nazis are losing the war. Desperation has set in. Frosty the Snowman and Wedding in the Coral Sea sum up the fantastical, distract the masses at all costs productions. Frankly, no-one wanted to cope with reality.

So I'm not rushing off to see Avatar, the $300 million allegedly anti-establishment environmental movie financed by a conglomeration of corporations. Or Robert Downey Jnr's Bam Kapow drug-free Sherlock Holmes. Hollywood has long since given up on any idea of source loyalty or lack of irony. The nadir for me was Wall-E merchandise.

And if anyone sees me with a Kindle, an iPhone or an X-box, please thump me.

Taxing questions

The Tax Working Group has handed in their homework to the cabinet. The public have to wait a few more weeks before seeing their workings, but there's selective leaking from people within such as NZX's Mark Weldon:
Investment property should be the target, such as dumping loss attributing qualifying companies (LAQCs) which allowed some wealthy people – including some on the Government's own Tax Working Group – to pay no tax at all, Weldon said. Weldon is a member of the Tax Working Group.
I'm curious. I wonder how much tax each member of the Tax Working Group paid under their own names last year. Of course, it's none of my business and it's an OIA too far for this arm's length review. Still, even a collective figure would prove illuminating.

Meantime, at, Bernard Hickey uncovers how much blood is being sucked out of the country by commercial interests. He asks some good 'uns:
It raises questions about why foreign owned businesses are so much more profitable and whether they pay a fair share of corporate taxes.

Way I see it, with schemey scams such as Paula Bennett subsidising McJobs, they could do with a bit more stick and a lot less carrot. Just how much tax does Vodafone, McDonalds, Starbucks, etc pay to the government? Are we just socialising their expenses like gratuitous tax loopholes for large budget films?

It's OK, I'm a cop

Click to embiggerate

Operation Blue Cunt might have successfully stifled any inappropriate fun for the public. However, the police's New Year's celebrations are another story entirely:
One of the men is alleged to have approached a woman in a parked car and demanded her name and address. When she refused, he allegedly told her he was a police officer and pressed his badge against the windscreen. The woman - whose 11-year-son was in the back of the car - again refused to give the pair her details and told one of the officers that his fly was down. The Herald understands one of the officers is alleged to have then exposed himself to the woman and her son.

Unlike the "Whangamata chaos", which the police has no problem sexing up for the media, the blue hierarchy are staying tight-lipped on this matter:
Police will not confirm the exact nature or circumstances of the incident.
Luckily, the public don't have to rely on police sources for the truth, eh. No Right Turn and Tumeke say their pieces. I don't agree with Tumeke's point that this behaviour is best left to police bars, where this sort of abuse of power is tolerated out of sight and out of mind. It's just that sort of us and them mentality that lets control freaks with booze and badges think they're above the law.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

To blaspheme is human

Atheist Ireland is challenging the new blasphemy laws in Ireland, starting with 25 Blasphemous Quotes:
From today, 1 January 2010, the new Irish blasphemy law becomes operational, and we begin our campaign to have it repealed. Blasphemy is now a crime punishable by a €25,000 fine. The new law defines blasphemy as publishing or uttering matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby intentionally causing outrage among a substantial number of adherents of that religion, with some defences permitted...

Despite these quotes being abusive and insulting in relation to matters held sacred by various religions, we unreservedly support the right of these people to have published or uttered them, and we unreservedly support the right of any Irish citizen to make comparable statements about matters held sacred by any religion without fear of being criminalised, and without having to prove to a court that a reasonable person would find any particular value in the statement.
 They're all good quotations, but Mark Twain is a highlight:
“Also it has another name - The Word of God. For the Christian thinks every word of it was dictated by God. It is full of interest. It has noble poetry in it; and some clever fables; and some blood-drenched history; and some good morals; and a wealth of obscenity; and upwards of a thousand lies… But you notice that when the Lord God of Heaven and Earth, adored Father of Man, goes to war, there is no limit. He is totally without mercy - he, who is called the Fountain of Mercy. He slays, slays, slays! All the men, all the beasts, all the boys, all the babies; also all the women and all the girls, except those that have not been deflowered. He makes no distinction between innocent and guilty… What the insane Father required was blood and misery; he was indifferent as to who furnished it.”
Good luck with fighting this stupid and anti-democratic law. In our own small way, NZ has to deal with this issue too. Consider this story in the latest Werewolf, The Jesus Cringe:
“Christians make me feel safe. They’re less ironic and ascerbic. They’re not as judgmental and don’t make mean or rude statements that throw off a conversation. I like knowing that I’m in the presence of people who have an agreed sense of morality.”

Jon says that he is constantly aware and made to feel awkward by thoughtlessly negative comments towards religion, often around alcohol. He mentions having to point out to people that they are putting down Christianity, in front of Christians. “It is conversation that seems like easy laughs and no laughs come easier than from demeaning people that you don’t know.”
At least we can be thankful that in NZ it's not illegal to hassle the god botherers.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Police declare Operation Blue Cunt a success

Attempted terrorist attacks on civilians and actual ones on spooks. A homicidal nutjob rampaging through a shopping mall. The caretaker with the best job in the world has had a nasty incident with an Irukandji jellyfish.

None of this happened in NZ over the New Year's Eve celebrations. Nor are they likely to. Hell, we don't have any snakes, let alone serious ideological cleavages, serial killers and spindly killer fish. Yet TV3 sees fit to lead with the hysterical headline of Police endure chaotic NYE at Whangamata. What a load.

Virtually all the "chaos" was police arresting people for breaching the local body busybody liquor bans and public drunkeness. You'd think that the Law Commission recommendation for making being drunk in public illegal is already here, for all the cop presence. No murders, no rapes, no robberies, no riots, no vandalism, only a few assaults. Only a control freak could describe that as chaos.

The road toll for the week old holiday period stands at 6, less than one a day. One of those deaths was due to a man trying to evade a police checkpoint. Earlier in the lead-up to Xmas, a police checkpoint in the Manawatu-Wanganui stopped 3000 drivers without finding a single drunk driver.

This was part of a trans-Tasman effort by police to clamp down on the moral panic of rampant drunk driving:
More than 1100 police hit the streets over the weekend. They found 47 licensing breaches, 139 liquor infringement notices issued, 115 assaults and 369 arrests for alcohol-related offending on Friday and Saturday nights.

They also stopped 35,690 vehicles and found 291 drivers over the limit.

By alcohol related offending, they mean breaching liquor bans. No-one has done anything more serious than breaking a local bylaw. You don't get cops arresting people for parking on an expired meter, but for some reason, central government has agreed to pay the bill for enforcing this petty misdemeanour. Easy stats to put in their reports, I suppose. But what is the bill?

The fact of the matter is that NZ is a very quiet, boring place. Nothing much can go wrong here. Yeah, we like to drink, but that goes with the territory, and we drink a hell of a lot less than our trading partners (apart from Americans, who drink like pussies).

Lacking anything to get too wound up about, our control freaks tend to micromanage. Lacking any meat to their stories, the MSM pump up trivialities as the latest end of civilisation moment. A good example is this Manawatu Standard story on the NYE celebrations that lead to complaints of swearing:
One Palmerston North mother said people had been approaching security guards with their concerns about, in particular, the band's use of the f-word during their performance. The women asked not to be named. Deaf Lemon lead singer Pip Hansen had been getting kids to sing along to the words "my s...", she said. Event organiser Karen Heaphy said she had gone backstage to speak to the band about their swearing. "We asked them not to. It's a family event, [Pip Hansen's] been spoken to. That's all I can say really."

I love this country but for fuck's sake NZ, lighten up. And while I'm griping, why can't we bring back the traditional beachside bonfire? Oh, that's right. We're too stupid not to set the sand dunes on fire.

New Zealand; 100% puritan.