Sunday, February 22, 2009

New Zealand's new Copyright Law presumes 'Guilt Upon Accusation' and will Cut Off Internet Connections without a trial. is against this unjust law - help us

Delusions of grandeur

Have you any idea who I think I am?

It's not the gratuitous spending history (who takes photos of receipts for crissakes), the name-checking of minor celebs, nor even the vague racism - foreign waiting staff, goodness - it's the ridiculous belief anyone gives a shit. Surely this is a parody?

Update: Kate accuses me of sexism on her blog. I've replied but it's not up and as Kate's previously censored replies I've written to her direct challenges I'll paraphrase here.

I take the charge of sexism more seriously than Kate's other responses. Gender's not an issue for me on this or many issues for that matter. I didn't introduce gender or genitalia into the discussion and don't really see how it applies? For the sake of clarity, it was the gratuitous vanity post that I challenged (plus the none-so-subtle appearance of racism). If Kate's allegation of sexism was, however, a way of invalidating my criticism, then it demeans her and not me. I'll not bother with the other comments, they're just distraction.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


New Zealand's new Copyright Law presumes 'Guilt Upon Accusation' and will Cut Off Internet Connections without a trial. Join the black out protest against it!

One of the most vexing issues in public policy is the impact of technology on our lives. Whether it's surveillance, stem-cell research or property rights, near constant innovation and ever increasing access means policy and regulation are always going to lag behind consumer practice. I'm anything but expert, I'm possibly a little careless in fact. I keep a watching eye the legal ranglings around file sharing and also net filtering but that's about it.

The concerns expressed by expert commentators, such as Russell Brown, about changes to New Zealand's copyright laws have recently refocused my attention. Russell makes the critical point that a balance between creators' and users' rights must be struck but that achieving this requires sensible dialogue on both parts. I remember when the parrallel importing legislation was rushed through the NZ Parliament (circa March 1999) some of these issues were bought up but only resolved with respect to enforcable trade agreements.

Parliament needs to guide the courts, the pace of techological innovation must surely mean existing laws will not be fit for purpose. But it seems to me that copyright holders are looking for a quick fix to staunch the loss of business rather than adapting to the fundamental shift in patterns of consumption.

Per head of population, Australian consumers reputedly illegally download more television content than any other country (I've read this in the MSM but can't now find a reference). This must infuriate broadcasters who pay big money to rush series from overseas - House and CSI for example. Without giving too much away, some earlier frustration I had about Nine's scheduling of the Sopranos sent me towards torrent sites.

All this is by way of explaining my support for the the Internet Blackout N.Z. I recommend following the developments here and here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

It's simple Malcolm, simple

Turnbull's on the backfoot as the media speculate about his leadership. Having been on the wrong side of the stimulus debate, the Liberals have replaced the Shadow Treasurer since the alternative was to replace the Leader. But news reports that Cossie rejected the offer to succeed Bishop have simply revived debate about Cossie's leadership ambitions.

Turnbull's tonight defended Cossie's right to play a bit part but still be the media tart. Did he have an alternative? Not really, but he could have been stronger by saying something like:
Peter Costello has decided to stay on the backbenches despite my offering him the opportunity to help lead the opposition to Rudd's profligate spending. That's his right. As it was his right to rebuff the leadership offered to him by Howard and other senior Ministers after the last election. I respect Peter. I also respect his judgment that the renewal of the Liberal requires new and not retreaded leadership.
The Liberals probably felt they had little room to move on the stimulus package and some of their concerns might prove to be true if, in the long term, deficits become entrenched. But by the time their position is finally proven right or wrong, Turnbull's fate will have been long since determined.

Postscript 1: Tony Jones quizes Christopher Pyne on Lateline and compares the current leadership tensions with those that existed between Howard and Hewson. Ouch! Pyne sticks to the line that Costello can join the front bench whenever he wants but this simply invites Jones to ask if it's Hockey or Turnbull who's the seat-warmer? So long as Cossie remains in the caucus, the media will speculate about his ambitions.

Preface: Larvatus Prodeo also (earlier) noted Costello's frequent media appearances.

Postscript 2: GST's worst advocate and former Liberal leader Dr John Hewson leads the charge against Cossie declaring him a lazy eunuch.

Wellingtonhive comes full circle

In a few of my more combative moments, I rebuked the Wellingtonhive for one or other indiscretions only to have them dismiss my criticisms as the irrelevant musings of a smalltime blogger (my words, not there's). Fair enough.

The irony now is that dearjohn, the Hive's apparent successor, has experienced a predictable decline in readership. Whereas once the Hive's author(s) tracked their ascent up Tumeke's ratings, now Charles Finny advises dearjohn is being "reviewed". I enjoyed Finny's postings on many issues. Clearly expert in trade and related matters, his observations were a good insight into the thinking of a senior and influential advocate for NZ businesses. I didn't enjoy the more shrill and partisan posts and I said as such.

There's an important space in the blogosphere for informed and independent comment. Ideally, it's separate from the inherent compromises of media ownership and perhaps also from membership. Perhaps Charles will continue to comment in the 'sphere even if dearjohn is discontinued?

News or advertising, whatever fills the pages...

I lament the demise of news media. Newspapers are increasingly irrelevant as sources of information. I got all hot and bothered about the conflation of news and advertising when Naked used social media to spruik a crappy Jacket. Today's Crikey (subscriber only) highlights an advert on Seek for an APN journo - note the blending of journalism and sales. If it were an advert for television, there'd be subtle references to presentability too.

Journalist Sales Assistant.

Do you consider yourself a writer and do you have an outgoing bubbly personality? We are looking for a dynamic person who can perform a dual role blending journalism and sales at our Monto Office.

A degree in Journalism is not necessary but the ability to write and to assist selling advertising is necessary (when required) due to the nature of the business.

As the journalist you would be required to produce quality editorial and photographs to reflect the news, information and entertainment of your region. As the Sales Assist you would be required to assist the Advertising Sales Executive when required. You may also be required to provide holiday relief to other Central & North Burnett Times journalists at times.

The role is challenging and rewarding offering an attractive base salary and incentive scheme plus Superannuation. It is ideal for someone living in the region or wanting to reactivate or commence a newspaper career and all you need is the drive to succeed.

If you think this is you then contact the (deleted). Pre-requisite: Drivers Licence.

Emphasis added.

Lockwood's bloody good...

I'm listening to Parliament for the first time since the election. Lockwood's got lots of praise from many sources for his performance as Speaker. I'll add mine. He's clear, he's consistent and he's focused on Ministers acquitting themselves properly to the public. Excellent. I'd've thought he'd struggle since he's never been a particularly strong performer, I was wrong.

I've got a mixed history with Lockwood. I once said he was gutless for refusing to meet with 100 students who were literally sitting arms and legs folded (which I don't resile from). On the other side of the ledger, I've also publicly credited him for elements of tertiary reform in the mid-'90s.

I hope he's able to continue this approach and that the Parliament supports him.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

What Paula Bennett needs

... is a pair of ear muffs.

I don't imagine that Bennett will, for one second, consider taking advice from the commentators at Farrar site or from Cactus Kate herself. Parenting's bloody hard without having to worry about the press or wannabes.

As for Holmes's comments, well he probably means well and has some experience to call on however he could at least have made his comments in private. Surely he'd realise public speculation and debate doesn't help. Moreover, what works for one kid might not work for another.

My recollections of Paula from student politics are pretty limited - I was leaving as she was entering (I think), but she struck me as a smart woman who'd seen enough life to navigate it herself. I'm sure she'll manage without the 'advice' from David's regulars and Kate.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Naked's Mat Baxter walks?

Ahh, the nobility of self sacrifice - the last temptation is the greatest treason, to do the wrong thing for the right reason - Mat Baxter's gone from Naked. A marketing martyr is born. They claim it's unrelated to the lies, the other lies and the gloating, but I doubt it. Baxter might be a clever chap, I don't know, but none of Naked's crew should be proud of their actions and frankly the recent attempt to brazen it out was further evidence of spectacularly poor judgment and someone had to take a bullet.

Friday, February 06, 2009

'Happy' Waitangi Day

I'd lost track of this, a little, until I saw others' blogs (particularly the handmirror's Waitangi Wahine summary). It's odd thinking about Waitangi Day from Australia. 355,000 Kiwis are here and there are a number of Waitangi events, but I'm not involved.

The angst associated with Waitangi Day is frequently commented on. I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing. Contrast it with Australia Day celebrations which are increasingly jingoistic, perhaps it's ok that we have mixed feelings about the nation's awkward early years? There's some that think this is bad for us. I understand, but don't agree, their perspective. An uncomplicated celebration would be nice, but can it be possible while many issues remain unresolved? If you feel no responsibility, direct or indirect, then I understand the protests seem like an unecessary distraction.

However, and despite my ancestors arriving towards the end of the Land Wars, I still think of myself as having benefited from what are now understood as unconscionable acts. This too, however, draws a negative response; should we judge the actions of the then colonial powers by today's standards? I've not resolved this for myself, but don't know that I need to in order to justify a process of reconciliation and restitution? I see the latter as being justified by the Treaty of Waitangi.

Where will it end? When will it end? How will we know? Though I understand the limitations of the deficit model for approaching these questions, I still think it's reasonable to set benchmarks about educational attainment, labour market participation, infant mortality, incidence of diabetes, access to housing etc. By these measures alone, we've not honoured the Treaty.

Someone may accuse me of having Pakeha guilt. I don't accept this. I might be a hopeless Liberal, but I remain inspired by the idea New Zealand might become a leading bicultural society (the merits of this, compared with multi-culturalism, I'll leave for another time). And here's the real risk of deficit thinking; what will I lose in a bicultural society should be replaced by what will I gain? Perhaps a great first start is expanding teaching Te Reo Maori as Grant Robertson, and many others, have proposed.

The News Quiz

And here's another extract from a favourite podcast, the BBC 4 News Quiz. The following exchange was between Jeremy Hardy and David Mitchell. The question related to government investment in the automotive industry:
Hardy: Does it produce less carbon if we burn money, maybe we should do that? I
think we should just stop doing everything. Because they're inventing money to
make things that nobody wants - presumably nobody wants to make them, they just
want to get paid for making 'em - so maybe we should just stop doing everything. And just be calm. Maybe the whole world should lie down in a darkened room until the recession is over?

Mitchell: Yes actually, that should be the next budget; 'Let's just give it a
year, on everything, just stay where you are, don't move'. Like we've nationally
dropped a contact lens...

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Stephen Fry's podgram

I'm not sure who put me onto Stephen Fry's podgrams, someone during my visit to NZ for the election I think? Anyway, here's an extract from Fry's most recent podgram (any errors, will be my errors of transcription).

It's a cause of some upset to me, that more Anglophones don't enjoy language. Music, it seems, and dance and other athletic forms of movement, people seem to be able to find sensual and sensuous pleasure in almost anything but words. Words belong to other people. Anyone who expresses themselves with originality, delight and verbal freshness is more likely to be mocked, distrusted or disliked than welcomed. The free and happy use of words appears to be elitist or pretensious.

Sadly, desperately sadly, the only people who seem to be bothered with language today, bother with it in quite the wrong way. They write letters to broadcasters and newspapers in which they are rude and haughty about other peoples' usage and in which they show off their superior knowledge of how language should be.

I hate that and I particularly hate that so many of these pedants assume that I'm on their side. When asked to join into a 'lets persuade this supermarket chain to get rid of their 'five items or less sign', I never join in. Yes, I am aware of the technical distinction between less and fewer, and between uninterested and disinterested and infer and imply, and all the rest of them but none of these are of importance to me. None of these are of importance, I said, you'll notice. The old pedantic me would have insisted on none of them is of importance to me. Well I'm glad to say I've outgrown that silly approach to language.

Oscar Wilde, and there have been no more greater and more complete lords of language in the past thousand years, once included in a manuscript he was delivering to his publisher, a compliments slip in which he'd scribbled the injunction, 'I'll leave you to tidy up the woulds and shoulds, wills and shalls, thats and whichs etc'.

There's all kinds of pedants around with more time to read and imitate Lynn Truss and John Humphries than to write poems, love letters, novels and stories it seems. They whip out their Sharpies and take away and add apostrophes from public signs. Shake their heads at prepositions which end sentences and mutter at split infinitives and misspellings.

But do they bubble and froth and slobber and careen with joy at language? Do they ever let the tripping of the tips of their tongues against the tops of their teeth transport them to giddy euphoric bliss? Do they ever yoke impossible words together for the sound-sex of it? Do they use language to seduce, charm, excite, please, affirm and tickle those they talk too? Do they? I doubt it, they're too farting busy sneering at a green grocer's less than perfect use of the apostrophe. Well sod them to Hades. They think they're guardians of language; they're no more guardians of language than the kennel club is the guardians of dog-kind.

The worst of this sorry bunch of semi-educated losers are those who seem to glory in being irritated by nouns becoming verbs. How dense and deaf to language development do you have to be? If you don’t like nouns becoming verbs, then for heaven’s sake avoid Shakespeare, who made a ‘doing word’ out of a ‘thing word’ every chance he got. He ‘tabled’ the motion and ‘chaired’ the meeting in which nouns were made verbs. Pedants whinge that phrases such as 'He actioned it' are ugly. Well it’s only ugly ‘cos it’s new and you don’t like it. Ugly in the way Picasso, Stravinsky and Eliot were once thought ugly, and before them Baudelaire.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Podcast recommendations?

I used my iPod most days including at work if I'm able. When I have writing to do and can ignore the phone, I'll use my iPod to screen-out the office background noise. I listen to a pretty limited range of music in this situation, usually instrumental stuff so that lyrics don't distract me.

Increasingly, away from the office, rather than listen to music, I've been preferring podcasts. Hence the request. I'd love others' recommendations of their best podcasts. I'll not give any guidance save for saying the two podcasts I most enjoy are BBC 4's New Quiz and ABC radio's Background Briefing. I'd welcome any suggestions.

I shouldn't but I do...

Peter Costello's a bit of a guilty pleasure. His politics aren't mine, his earnest Christianity bugs me and he was a senior Minister in what I consider an amoral government and yet, I thoroughly enjoy him. Last night's inteview on ABC's Nightline perfectly encapsulates the man. Preening, posturing, glib and smarmy and yet, undeniably good politics. He excoriated Rudd, he wedged Gillard, he smote Turnbull (well, not really but I wish he had) and ignored Howard. Tony Jones seemed even to enjoy the occasionally patronising remark. He's apparently unelectable as PM - so Liberal and Labor pollsters will tell you - but were I Turnbull, I'd be nervous as hell.

Again, though I don't agree with Costello on many issues, I can't not appreciate this:
You know, actually, we ought to be much more assertive here. We're Australian. I think the Australian model is what can be held up around the world. So why doesn't Kevin Rudd want to say that? Because there's a certain ideological fervour to him. He can't say the Australian model's the answer because he wasn't part of putting it in place. That would be to give too much credit to the Coalition Government. Now, I think at a time like this, he ought to drop his pride; he ought to say as Julia Gillard - in all fairness, Julia Gillard had the honesty to say, "Yes, the Australian model was the best." And he shouldn't be ashamed of actually giving credit to the Liberal Party, rather than writing these appalling essays for The Independent Monthly.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009


I'd not been a fan of Rafa and would've prefered Federer to have won the Australian Open but this is classy:
But for me, too. Roger is, we have a relationship and was tough moment for him … too much emotion is there yesterday, no? But probably in the future when we see that moment on the TV it's going to be nice, but when you live that moment, it's tough. Because I can't enjoy 100 per cent the victory because I saw him cry.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Chappell/Hadlee series well and truly alive

Cheating, denials, invocations of past injustices, a close win... brilliant.

I've got my tickets for the new Trumper stand at the SCG for Sunday and am prepared for an unusually hostile audience. Kiwis are usually merely gently mocked at the SCG, or any cricket ground in Australia for that matter. Few expect the Kiwis to win, even if they look a chance for 20 overs. Aussies expect to win against every opposition, Kiwis particularly. But no more.

Four ODI defeats in a row. This, after two series lost at home and a third away (I'm counting the tests and ODIs against South Africa as separate series. The prized number one status gone just like heros of the past, Warne, McGrath, Gilly and now Hayden. The new boys, initially promising, dismissed by brave fields - when was the last time you saw a silly mid off in an ODI? Cricket's pop-blogger, McDouall is himself is astounded:
The openers were both dismissed at silly mid off. This was a field placing of enormous chutzpah by Dan Vettori, and the fact that it was the giant Peter Fulton who was standing there, like a surly bouncer at a nightclub, shows intellectual finesse. I remember years ago the All Black lock Murray Pierce standing as close as he was allowed to an Irishman about to kick a penalty. The elongated Pierce raised his arms, challenging the man in green to successfully kick over an eight foot human barrier, let alone the goalposts beyond. The placing of Peter Fulton, as massive as Pierce, was similarly disruptive.
Last time I went to see the Blackcaps in Sydney, Chris Cairns will still playing. Flem too. That side, the 2004/05 side, actually looked the goods. Particularly when they restricted Australia to 261. But even then, even when Mills was in knocking boundaries all over the ground, we still lost. We lost just like the Aussie's did at the WACA; unable to play out our 50 overs.

Bloody hell, how'll we keep a lid on expectations aye? A win in Australia. Rare as! But then when was the last time Australia lost five ODIs in a row? 2005. England won two and we won the next three... but that was the Hussey side sans a number of the big guns and in NZ. Losing five at home? You have to go back to January 2002 and the last triangular tournament involving South Africa and us. I like that omen!

Update: the Australian squad for the two remaining games in the series has been announced. Two new players, one uncapped, and Ponting is rested. Contempt? Panic? Focusing on bigger goals? I don't care if we win in Sydney and take out the series.

Update 2: Controversial former umpire Darrell Hair thinks Haddin was at fault also. He stops short of calling Haddin a cheat but makes clear the dismissal was wrong and that Haddin was best placed to know. A replay is here (hat tip: Vibenna via Deborah)

Feeding an obsession

Not all media are responding to Naked's campaign with quite the same resigned acceptance. Whereas Fairfax think it's an innocent hoot, Newscorp see it in different terms.

The Australian's article clearly states that Naked have lied, on several occassions in fact. Whether the original lie, the fictitious Heidi and her mystery man/jacket, can be explained as just clever marketing is important, but no more so than the other deceptions. The lie that Naked wasn't involved, they were. The apparent lie that media interest was accidental, not a direct consequence of Angela Cuming's involvement. If Naked seeded the story through an intermediary, Cuming, then their previous protestations will be even more hollow. To me, their denials seem less and less plausible.

Whether they're guilty of anything more than unethical behaviour remains unclear. The provisions of the Fair Trading Act mightn't apply unless liberally interpreted. Should this practice be allowed to develop without constrain - because professional restraint doesn't appear to exist - then the already flimsy division between news and advertorial will be impossible to maintain.