Tuesday, July 26, 2005

More Name Suppression High Jinks

Stephen Franks in parliament today -

"[TVNZ] has supported a Queen’s Counsel in repeated court applications for name suppression for a star so that it can save the programme ratings until the programme ends..."

Franks also states
the person is "accused of a serious violent sex offence" and that he first raised the issue in written questions dated 3 May 05.

You Got Served

Labour's Student Loan policy is certainly impressive, especially when compared to National's polished turd of a policy.

The predictable response from National is that this is an "election-year bribe" unlike say, an unspecified personal tax-cut, and that it is unfair to those who have already paid off their loans. Sure, that is inequitable, but it's also unfair that those who enjoyed a virtually-free tertiary education in the 80s have no loan to pay. That argument is similar to claiming that a store is not allowed to discount a product after you agreed to pay twice the price for the exact same product five years ago. There are also concerns that students with "rich parents" will take out a loan to pay their university fees instead of using the funds which they have saved for that very purpose. Perhaps the "rich parents" will instead use these funds to "create and drive economic growth" like National's "tax cuts" are meant to.

The other argument National is spinning that it will "encourage increased student borrowing", that's quite likely, but that will be significantly counter-balanced by the pace at which the loans will be paid off. And quite frankly, the removal of interest charged on student loans is a removal of a significant barrier to accessing teritary education, for most people this cannot be a bad thing.

At the very least it's an attempt to address the student loan problem instead of meaningless window dressing we've had in the past.

The election is so on now, girlfriend.

The (Not so) Great Debates

The election's been announced and so have proposed details of the televised leaders debates. Disappointingly TVNZ have opted for Mark "Walrus" Sainsbury over Simon Dallow to conduct their debates.
Why? Why? Why? Dallow is one of the few television presenters who will not allow his interview subjects to repeat the same talking points over and over again, he asks pointed questions repeatedly and most of the time calls politicians on their bullshit.
Sainsbury seems too much like he wants to be an MP's 'special friend' and his "political insight" seems to be based on whatever John Armstrong wrote in the Herald three weeks ago.

TV3 have opted for their own version of NZ Political "Survivor" with the bottom two of the eight parliamentary parties to be 'cut' from their six-party debate. Taking it as a given that the Progressives will be bottom, it's going be a interesting fight between United, Act and the Maori Party for those final two spots in the 6 party debate. TV3 will make the decision based on their own polling, which in June would have seen ACT cut on the basis of their 1.5% to United's 1.9%. It will be interesting to see what TV3 will do if a non-parliamentary party like Destiny polls 2% and sneaks ahead of ACT and United Future.

Along with the multi-party free for all debate, TV3 will also hold a leaders debate exclusively for Labour and National. However they reserve the right to invite Winston if they choose to. Labour should be lobbying TV3 hard to get Winston included. Splitting the oppostion and undermining National's credibility as the legitimate opposition party is a strategy they must pursue. Not to mention Helen and Winston tag-teaming on Brash would be television gold for the ages.

Monday, July 25, 2005

America! Fuck Yeah!

I could be completely wrong but maybe the "Americans under the bed" campaign is more about showing the differences between National and NZ First rather than just Labour.
There is a large undecided anti-Government vote and it is obviously in Labour's best interests to ensure as many of those voters go to Winston rather than National.
And what better way to indirectly highlight those differences than by portraying Don Brash as an indecisive leader willing to "cosy up" to American interests. Which when contrasted with the popular perception of Winston Peters as a strong nationalistic leader, makes the decision for Joe at the TAB who hates the "PC Social Engineering of the Government" more clear-cut. Splintering large chunks of the anti-Government vote off to NZ First and United Future could end up being the difference-maker for Labour come election-day.


Perhaps I'm giving him more Machiavellian credit then he deserves, but I find it odd that just hours after he was informed that the candidate he is managing was assaulted on the streets of Wellington, that DPF would post an item about a wacky "left-wing" blog rant calling for "Blood on the Streets" if Don Brash is elected.
On the other hand we have to give DPF "props" for putting this post immediately after this post in his blog. If only we were as brazen at testing name suppression laws as he.

GTA - Waste of Time

NZ's classification board has decided to waste time and money reclassifying the video game - GTA San Andreas after Hillary Clinton other American politicians with nothing better to do kicked up a stink about 'hidden' sex scenes in the game which can only be unlocked by altering part of the game's code. It's a tad odd to base a rating of a game on something which is not viewable without "hacking" or altering part of the game code. Much like what happened to "Dead or Alive: Extreme Beach Volleyball" what would happen if someone made a 'mod' or alteration to the game "Rugby 2005" to remove the player's uniforms and have them play naked? Would that then require the game's rating of "G" to be changed?
Given the Censors gave the game "Playboy - the Mansion" a R16 rating and GTA San Andreas already has the rating of R18 there's little prospect of a rating change or a ban, which makes for a big waste of time for all concerned and good advertising and sales for the game itself.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Poster Children of Mediocrity

In response to the successful albeit decitful Don Brash-Iraq attack ad campaign, the batshit crazy nut-jobs at Sir Humphrey's have taken the bait and mocked up their own equally retarded Saddam-Helen Clark poster, which for a blog that wants to infect the PM with the ebola virus is a relatively moderate position I suppose.
In retaliation Labour's "MSM communist femo-nazi death robots (Youth Division)" are rumoured to be releasing these new Brash posters shortly to let the country know exactly where Brash really stands on other historical hypotheses.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Charlie Horse

In light of recent events, one would expect that this upcoming TVNZ-Touchdown tv show will be cancelled.
Oh irony, you truly are a wonderful thing.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Lying in the Gutter

George Bush and Iraq are now a key part of Labour's election campaign according to the latest salvo in the ongoing trite and stupid political billboard war. It's only a matter of time until Brash dressed as Hitler or Helen Clark as Stalin appears on a wall near you.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Stop the Tour?

The New Zealand Basketball team left for a tour of China this morning, with not a murmur of protest from those opposed to the NZ cricket tour of Zimbabwe. I guess "making a stand for human rights" by cancelling sports tours only applies when the destination country has no money or power.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Louder than Bombs

Events like the London bombings bring out the best and worst in people.
The best - people like the bus driver who stayed to help his injured passengers.
Then there's the worst of people - obviously those who committed the crime are just that, but a special mention needs to be made of those far removed who pass judgement on a situation they know little about. Whether it's equating terrorist attacks with Civil Union legislation or Fox News reporting an already discredited story that Israel had prior knowlege of the attacks.
Our own NZ Blog Clique is symptomatic of this - personal ancedotes of the event aside, blogs are nothing, if not totally redundant immediately following an event like this - whether it's using the attacks as "evidence" that the West is winning/losing the War on Terror™ or to justify your vile bigotry.
Ignoring the known crazies, the stupidest idea I've heard is that "they had it coming" because of the Iraq invasion.
Did they really?
Yes, we put a higher value on the lives of Westerners than other human beings and that is sickening.
Yes, when we aren't ignoring their deaths, we trivialise them, reduce human tragedy to a single sentence on a news broadcast, sometimes even calling incidents killing dozens of human beings "fantastic stuff".
This is all very wrong, but that is no justification to say the London bombing victims "deserved it". For better or worse, Tony Blair and Bush II are accountable for their actions. The London bombers whoever they are, are not. They are an anathema to humanity. The rule of the thug.

Further more, if the British and other Western nations "had it coming" over the Iraq invasion, where does that rationalisation end?
The Iraq clusterfuck didn't exist at the time of the 2001 WTC attacks, so maybe they "deserved" it because of the creation of a Jewish state in the Middle East? If not that, maybe Western involvment in the Iranian coup of 1953? Centuries of British colonialism perhaps? How about the defeat of the Moors in 15th century Europe? The Crusades? Roman Emperor Theodosius making Christianity the official religion of the roman empire?
So to completely satisfy the Islamist radicals said to have carried out these attacks all we have to do is reverse 2000 years of Western civilisation. Sounds pretty rational to me.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Silly Point

In today's Herald the Executive director of Amnesty International NZ has the only rational solution to the controversy over the NZ cricket tour of Zimbabwe
"If they decide not to protest by refusing to go, they must protest some other way."

However the Green Party have a 'solution' to the Zimbabwe cricket tour issue - reactionary ad hoc Terri Schiavo style legislation.
This bill is deeply flawed and potenially dangerous and will not achieve anything positive for anyone including NZ Cricket and especially those suffering under Mugabe's regime.
Those who are prescribing the impractical solution are not the ones having to swallow it. I'll be interested to see whether these same opportunistic souls jumping on the Anti-Zimabawe tour bandwagon will be opposing the NZ participation in the Chinese Olympic Games come 2008.
(By the way, if you are idealistic enought to support sporting sanctions against China - I ask you to inspect the underside of the computer mouse you're using right now and read the words "Made in China". Remember kids, victory begins at home.)

The Zimbabwe Cricket Union could actually stand to gain more in dollar terms if there was a cancellation by NZ Cricket. The compensation they would recieve from NZC via the ICC will be based on the ZCU's own inflated estimates of gate-takings and TV revenue, and they will still play their games against India and South Africa, both far bigger cricketing drawcards for television and ticket sales than New Zealand. The ZCU would also gain considerable sympathy from many of the "non-white" national boards over this issue, further solidyfing Zimbabwe's position within the ICC and widening the white/non-white divide even further. The fact that the other 'white' nations - England and Australia have toured Zimbabwe recently makes our case for a non-tour look even weaker. If Phil Goff was actually serious about finding a constructive solution, India and South Africa would be the first nations to open dialogue with. Australia may 'support' us but are they going to ban any future Zimbabwe cricket tours and risk their 2011 Cricket World Cup bid? I think not.

So should we destroy New Zealand's leading summer sport purely for principles that we as a nation only seem to believe in when it is convinient and/or an election year?
If we wish to pursue sanctions against Zimbabwe it must not be done in a reactionary cynical way, but rather with other like-minded countries in an effective and realistic manner that could actually instigate change in the country rather than the ineffectual moral posturing we are witnessing now.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Call on Me

Foreign-owned Telecom and state-owned NZ Post are throwing their support behind the NZ flag petition, by including a petition with every Telecom bill in August which will reach approximately 1.4 million NZ households. According to their respective corporate spin merchants this does not mean they support the petition "We're not taking any position at all" and "It's merely a case of helping Kiwis share their opinion on the topic", both companies doing their part to provide more material for at least few more tired beer advertisments. Perhaps in the future both companies will combine again to distribute petitions calling for increased competition in the telecommunications and mail-delivery markets since that's a "good debate to be having" too.

Personally, open corporate support for trivial issues like this makes me feel kind of icky. Perhaps I'm old school, but I prefer shady backroom deals, an army of lobbyists and anonymous "donations" as the principal corporate method of manipulating government policy.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Getting Shirty 2

An amnesty.org alternative NZ Cricket Shirt
There's no reason for NZ Cricket not to do this as there's no way in hell that the National Bank is going to want the PR nightmare of having their brand associated with this tour. According to the ICC Regulations, "Any Commercial logo shall be decided by each member board",
National Bank could "suspend" their sponsorship at no cost to NZ Cricket as a gesture of goodwill, NZ Cricket would then be forced to seek another "shirt sponsor" at short notice, a generous individual could then step in and offer NZ Cricket $1 on behalf of Amnesty NZ to sponsor the team for the tour.
The only catch in the regulations I see is that "A visiting team shall abide by any law of the host country which restricts advertising of a product." Of course if Zimababwe decided to then make a issue of advertising Amnesty, it would then put more international and regional focus on Zimababwe and what Amnesty and other organisations are reporting. Even if (as I expect) I'm completely wrong and the ICC did decide to fine NZ Cricket over a "commercial sponsor violation" it surely would be much smaller than even the minimum $NZ2.8 million fine charged for not touring. That would be a fine worth paying.

Getting Shirty

Here's a quick Photoshop rendition of a proposed Black Caps ODI uniform featuring Amnesty International and Actionaid logos, two of the organisations most responsible for making the rest of the world aware of what is going on in Zimababwe right now. A white armband could be used instead of the black with this One Day uniform for obvious reasons.