Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Global brand does not mean global service

I'm in the middle of a protracted service debacle because my Mitsubishi dehumidifier has a faulty fan. I bought the damn thing in NZ but have since moved to Australia. As surprising as it might seem, Mitsubishi Electric Australia can't fix it without me having to arrange for parts to be shipped from NZ. Each country builds its own products obviously to different standards. So what to make of this statement from Mitsubishi global:

"The Mitsubishi Electric Group is concentrating its efforts on business expansion from a global perspective in an aim to foster and strengthen operations that will prosper on the world stage. We aim to further bolster our business structure through greater global integration and by tying together our worldwide management infrastructure. Specifically, we will foster manufacturing collaboration between mother factories and local plants..." (emphais added).
What's the point of having a global brand if global service is not available? Are these things franchises? Shits me big time! So much for borderless capital, weightless economies, symbolic analysts, servicisation of manufacturing and all that shite to do with globalisation - all I want is the fan fixed and this seems to require first arranging a new free-trade agreement between Australia and NZ...

At least BDT in NZ is giving me a refund on the motor and have provided excellent service, its on the Western side of the Tasman that I'm getting the run around!

Monday, May 29, 2006

While we're at it with youtube...

If I had a theme song, say for when RNZ asks me to take over from Kim Hill, this would be it... Mo Better Blues.

The movie of the same name isn't Spike Lee's best, but this is a fantastic track and Denzel Washington is very believable as the leader of the band and trumpter, Bleak. The soundtrack is by the Branford Marsalis Quartet featuring Terence Blanchard on trumpet.

Brandford Marsalis is a gifted saxophonist. I've never seen him in person, I saw his brother Wynton in 1989 in Auckland, but the footage I've seen of Brandford suggests he's every bit as charasmatic. He's got all the best lines in Sting's documentary, Bring on the Night. The last album of his I bought is I Heard You Twice the First Time which is excellent and features Kenny Kirkland (another Sting collaborator), and other members of the Marsalis family.

Every breath you take... ode to the Chair of the Fed

Youtube can suck hours out of an evening when you should be working. I meant to work I swear but somehow I ended up discovering a version of the Every Breath You Take re-worked as a cautionary ode to Ben Bernanke, the new Chair of the US Federal Reserve Bank. I particularly like this line:
"First you move your lips
hike a few more BPS
When demand then dips
and the yeild curve flips
I'll be watching you"

Equally pretty cool is a version of the same song, albeit more faithful, by Robert Downey Jnr with backup by Sting - this one obviously played somewhere in the Spanish speaking world... I wonder what they made of Ally McBeal?

Phillippe Sidney de Quetteville Cabot

Sidney de Cabot's solitary game for the All Blacks tells you little about a quite remarkable man - the founder of both the NZ University Sports and the NZ University Students' Association in the mid- to late- 30s. From memory, he was awarded several doctorates from Otago University and US universities as well as degrees from UK universities. I didn't know who he was until the NZUSA offices were moved in 1995 unearthing a photo of the very first executive committee. Interestingly, sports proceeded politics in NZ - the political body was only set up after the sporting entity had hosted a few national competitions - interesting but not surprising.

80 mins of the test pattern

Despite cleaning up the office tipping comp for the second year running, I'm still disappointed with the Super 14 final.

I'm going to blame Gerry Brownlee. He's from Canterbury and produces an inordinate amount of hot-air. One try, lots of penalties, endless Garryowen's, knock-ons, dropped passes... and we lost. Shite.

I will, however, be able to drown my sorrows in wine - the bounty for winning the tipping competition is 30 bottles and bragging rights for another year.

Allez les Noirs

Graham Henry's focus on the Rugby World Cup is clear. By naming two full squads, he's learned the lessons of past campaigns which have failed, in part, because of injuries in critical positions. NZ can now field two full teams, both of which are capable of playing in the final at Stade de France in October next year... should we get there. No other team have this depth which gives NZ a distinct advantage.

Naming Jerry Collins to captain the first two tests against Ireland is a genuine surprise. Anton Oliver's chances of captaining seem to have been undone by the Highlanders poor Super 14 but what of Rodney So'oialo? Not that I'm criticising, Jerry is a talismanic figure, particularly for Hurricanes fans and is clearly the one of the best blindside flankers in the world.

Biggest ommission, Reuben Thorne - he's had another very good season, can play both at blindside and lock and has been there before. If McCaw were out of the competition early, who would captain the All Blacks in a final? Great to see Kaino back in the squad, I wonder if Flavell has the temperament, Scott Hamilton's season has its rewards, and gotta feel sorry for Andrew Ellis.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Are we there yet...

Well it's bound to be seen by some as anti-American, something I simply am not, but there you go...

Bugger British Paint, how cool's this...

adweek links to this Russian blog which has these great images for Benjamin Moore Paints - adweek don't believe they're real but I kinda hope they are.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Brash: a unique loser?

Over at kiwiblog, andrewfalloon claimed that Don Brash could easily win a number of electorate seats and was a strong candidate (compared with the anonymous Brian Connell).

This of course reveals Mr Falloon's relative inexperience and youth - Brash lost the 1980 by-election for East Coast Bays to Gary Knapp for crissakes. Knapp who locked himself in a portaloo. Knapp of Social Credit or whatever it was called at that point. Knapp who was once described by Lange as one of the few politicians to have had the courts find him unsuitable to sell lottery tickets.

Assuming Brash is not the leader of the National Party at the next general election, he may well be the only leader of a NZ political party to have neither won an electorate seat or a general election as leader. A dubious honour!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

The Bondi Budget: Not!

Michael Cullen has just handed down the NZ government's budget which does not include tax cuts. If you believe the hype, tax cuts are a major issue in NZ and the lack of them is causing economic stagnation. Despite the fact this is patently untrue, the NZ economy is doing nicely thanks very much (hey, don't take my word for it, here's the IMF's view), National's tactics are incredibly shortsighted for a number of reasons.
  • one, simply cutting taxes will not instantenously increase NZ's productivity
  • two, if the last election is any indicator, the electorate want more from government than tax cuts
  • three, even if the first two are only partially true, Labour can cut taxes in the next budget thereby stealing National's thunder in the lead-up to the next election.
On this last point, I can't imagine that the Nats don't understand this and some members must be comtemplating a change in the leadership as a knight's-move to give them the opportunity to develop a few more points of difference with the government.

Remaining tax competitive with Australia ought to be and is a goal for the government but Labour are not so simple as to believe that people will up sticks and move West simply because they might earn an extra $10 a week. Again, a quote from the May 06 IMF report might assist:
Tax competitiveness with Australia, along with incentives for tax planning created by the gap between the 33 company tax rate and the top personal income tax rate of 39 percent, appeared to be possible issues for reform in an otherwise very sound tax system. (page 9 emphasis added)
Sure, I live here with my family but it's not because I might earn more - Sydney is a great place to live for many reasons, a number of which are outside of any government's power but none of this means that returning to NZ does not remain a real option. As Dorothy is fond of saying; there's no place like home.

Lipstick lesbians kick arse

The consumerist blogs on the latest FCUK campaign involving two women kicking the crap out of each other for voyeuristic thrills as well as a rip-off (shot by the same director) set to a remix of Go West's We Close our Eyes. The videos, both of which are probably best viewed away from the office, are here.

You can watch a 30 second clip of the original Go West video (directed by Godley and Creme - anyone remember the song Cry?) as well as some of their other tracks here.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Labor promises massive investment in broadband infrastructure

In his reply to Costello's budget speech, federal Labor leader Kim Beazley promised to invest 2.75 billion to partly-fund a joint venture to develop a national broadband infrastucture. Beazley promises to increase speeds to "at least 6 megabits". This story is getting good play in the media and appears to be well received within tech-blogs.

This is clever politics for Beazley because it draws attention to the fact that the current Telstra-led plan will only covers capital cities and will exclude regional and rural Australia.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Coping with boredom

Tasmanian miners safe: Talking Boony breaks the news

In a bizarre twist to the Tasmanian mining rescue, there are reports that a talking David Boon doll spontaneously burst into speech around the same time the two miners were walking out of the Beaconsfield mine... According to Sydney ABC's drive time show last night, at 6am or thereabouts on May 9, the talking Boony asked for a beer - some 1000 kilometres away from Sydney, Boony's fellow Tasmanians Todd Russell and Brant Webb were also considering a tasty beverage!

Hat tip: More about Boony at Mr. Speaker

Saturday, May 06, 2006


I love pizza. Good pizza. And I enjoy it cold. Pizza discovered in the fridge the day after the night before is the benchmark for food-fortuitousness. But, it can all be very disappointing if stored incorrectly. Storage is actually quite important to the morning's enjoyment and I'm begining to think keeping the pizza in the box it arrived is better than some tidy/fussy mixed-media gladwrap and crockery sculpture. It seems to maintain crust integrity? Could it be? Why? Something to do with cardboard?

From memory, there's only two places to buy pizza in Wellington, NZ, they are Pizza Pomodoro and Hell. In Sydney, Crust is great for take-away and La Disfida for dining in.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Two very different ads

Since starting this blog, I've realised how much bandwidth is soaked up by adverstising; viral and otherwise. Here's two very different ads, reflecting their products and markets no doubt, that are particularly good. This one is for Campari and is well saucy! This one is for Trumpets, a NZ icecream, is typical of NZ humour.

Hat tip: Lisa and Duncan's TV Land.

There's countless sites/blogs that critique and showcase great advertising. The ones I regularly visit are and thespunker although thespunker hasn't been updated for a while. It's worth taking a look around before you open some of the links you stumble across, some are not work-safe for instance, this one is border-line (however the link is from the MSM, Fairfax no less).

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

RBA increases cash rate...

The Reserve Bank of Australia put the cash rate up 25 basis points today. Watch for Howard's rating to take another hit. Does anyone remember the attack advertising at the last federal election... maybe this one, where the Liberal's speculate on how much more mortgage rates will increase under Labor...

Could the Wallabies win the RWC after fulltime (like the 2000 Bledisloe)?

In the second Bledisloe Test of 2000, the All Blacks lost to Australia by a solitary point when Nobody Eales kicked a penalty 13 minutes after fulltime (according to me and at least 36,000 other fans). It was one of the most frustrating defeats of recent years. Not just because the week previous the All Blacks had beaten them at Olympic Park in what is generally described as the game of the century. Not just because it meant that the Bledisloe would again stay on the wrong side of the Tassie. But also because the penalty was conceded ages after fulltime should have been blown.

So to last weekend, when a similar event took place in an AFL match between the St Kilda Saints and the Freemantle Dockers. This time, the siren was sounded by the timekeeper but the on-field umpire didn't hear it and as play continued, St Kilda kicked a goal to draw the game. The result has been appealed and the AFL Commission will make a determination as to the final result. The rule is the timekeepers keep time (rule 4.4.1) but that time is called by the on-field umpire (4.4.2). I'll blog the result when it's announced.

Update: Freemantle have been awarded the game. The AFL have determined that time was signalled but that a human error allowed play to continue.

The real issue is this: could it happen in a real sport when it really matters, like here?

Yes and no. According to 5.3 and 6.4.A of IRB rules, the match referee determines time and in internationals, there's an official time-keeper - this makes the AFL situation unlikely. But playing ages of extra time, that remains the prerogative of the match referee. I'm keen to hear what the NZRU say... will keep you posted.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Economics of higher education

Auckland University has published an analysis of its value to the Auckland region in 2005. Oddly, the report only focuses on the economic impacts of expenditure related to the existence of the University; salaries for academics, students paying rent and buying text books etc. The impact is estimated at $4.4B in 2005.

As interesting as this is, it doesn't address what I'd consider to be the much more important questions about the impact Auckland University has on the knowledge creation, labour market participation, workforce productivity, innovation etc? As it stands, this report might have been about Auckland hospital, Sky City, or the NZ Warriors. Is $4.4B a lot? Is it more than might reasonably be expected, is it more than the Auckland Theatre Company, is it more than the Auckland Blues?

Even Vice Chancellor Stuart McCutcheon notes the limitations of the report including saying that it doesn't assess the value of research which is nevertheless "increasingly important to [Auckland Uni] ". Really, then why not assess its value?

I wonder why they bothered?