Saturday, October 31, 2009

You couldn't make this up

The Weekend Herald isn't like the daily Herald - the journalists can really emphasise the most important events of the whole week. Like this article, from page A3 of today's newspaper:

A pet cat escaped with only three broken teeth and a fractured jaw after falling six storeys from an apartment balcony on Auckland's viaduct.

Graeme and Alison Pike are surprised tabby Camo didn't fall on to someone's plate in one of the restaurants on the waterfront.

If it had, this story would have made the front page.

But when the Pikes took Camo to the vet, she only needed three of her teeth extracted. Her fractured jaw was left to heal on its own.

"The vets eyes were definitely raised," Mrs Pike said.

I think that should be "vet's eyes" (in the paper and online), but don't worry - the Weekend Herald is only, as the article below attests, "read by an average of 618,000 people" every week. It's not like it's a major newspaper.

I don't really know what to say. How did this 'storey' - hur hur - even get to the paper's attention? My preferred version of events is that the owners, amused at their cat's travails, contacted Sideswipe to get the story out there.

"This story isn't fit for Sideswipe," they were told. "No, this is going straight to page three."

[EDIT: Muphry's Law. Where's my sub?]

Friday, October 30, 2009


First thought: that's a bit naff. I thought Obama had better taste than that, for some reason. But I'm bored enough to read the entertainment news on the Herald website.

NEW YORK - Sting isn't a religious man, but he says President Barack Obama might be a divine answer to the world's problems.
Headline: "Sting 'sent from God' says Obama.

UH OH. Someone didn't read the story!

EDIT: It's fixed now. I like to think God Himself was furious at the mixup.

Tens of thousands of dollars!

Here I go again, faced with the choice between Herald sensationalism and Destiny fundamentalism. Fortunately for Bishop, this blog is called 'Editing the Herald' and not 'Editing General Irrationalism'. You may think that a crazy church is more worrisome than a rubbish newspaper - but then you probably haven't read the awful article on page 3 today. Honestly, it makes you yearn for Page 3 of the Sun.
Destiny Church supporters parted with tens of thousands of dollars for the privilege of watching 700 worshippers swear an oath of allegiance to leader Bishop Brian Tamaki.
First, nice use of sarcasm in supposedly factual reporting - "the privilege". Evidently, a lot of people did find it a privilege. But still - tens of thousands of dollars? That's incredible! How on earth did the church members afford to go? I mean, tens of thousands of dollars gets you... a meeting with Barack Obama!
Church officials have confirmed "several thousand" people paid $30 each to attend the ceremony, with a $60 concession for family groups.
Oh. Well that's slightly misleading, isn't it. It would be more accurate to say, "Destiny Church supporters parted with thirty dollars for the privilege...". But then it wouldn't sound as much like Armageddon, would it?

Though the church could not give exact numbers yesterday, some who watched the oath ceremony estimated that about 3000 people were present - an audience which alone would have raised at least $90,000.

The church said there was a subsidy for "those who couldn't afford it", but it is not clear what the amount was.

Not clear what the amount was? Well, let's be charitable - perhaps they paid what they could afford? That's why it would be unclear, yeah? Either that or they pledged their souls in eternal servitude to Bishop. Anyway, let's look more closely at the Herald's calculations. 3000 people would have raised "at least" $90,000, it says. I'm not sure where the "at least" comes from, given that there's no suggestion that anyone in the audience paid more than $30. In fact, it's implied that a lot of people paid less. Destiny Church claims to be very family-oriented, so I would imagine there were a lot of family groups there. If a modest family group of four people attended, they would 'only' have paid $60, straight away taking our total down to $89,940. Then there's the issue of the subsidy. Although the Herald seems skeptical of its very existence, and ignoring the eternal servitude option, any monetary subsidy would have reduced this total further. Perhaps budget cuts at the Herald mean that all the calculators were put on Trademe.
Members were also asked for $10 to fund the Destiny School building extension, and a gold-coin donation to Destiny Television Ministries.
Yeah, well that just sounds like any church - or school - to me.

My point is, of course it's a rort. Of course Brian Tamaki likes the high life, and has to fund it. But you don't need to make stuff up, for a start. And you don't need to bang on about it like you're trying to justify an invasion of Iraq.

Tight poll
Destiny Church supporters last night flooded an poll which asked: How would you describe Brian Tamaki's Destiny Church? Of 10,579 readers who voted by 7.50pm, 49 per cent said it was a "valid church", while 51 per cent said Destiny Church was "a cult". Those results reflected a remarkable change from three hours earlier, when just 4 per cent of 4733 readers had voted for the "valid church" option.
Now look whose prediction was vaguely right. I just love the sense of mock outrage - after all that hard work, Destiny Church ruined the Herald's carefully designed, scientific poll!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

"Feel Bishop's Flow"

Astrology, said J.K. Galbraith, was invented to make economic prediction look reliable. The latter, it seems, could be substituted for journalistic prediction. Last week, I predicted the end of the road for Garth George's Herald column; in the wake of climate change denial (sorry Garth, but it is denial) and a scandal around alleged plagiarism, he had seemingly been demoted to the bottom of the opinion page.

How wrong I was. He is not only back to the top of the page; he has in fact been given the whole page, which features, not one, but two columns about Brian 'Bishop' Tamaki and his 700 sons. If you haven't already read about the oath to honour and obey 'Bishop' and his wife, then you've missed out on one of those hilarious/terrifying moments where you don't know whether to laugh or crawl up into a foetal ball. The Herald is all over the story today: it's the front page lead, as well as the website poll:

Currently 96 per cent of people are siding with 'a cult', but presumably at least 700 people will vote 'valid church' by the end of the day. Quite what is meant by 'valid church', I am unsure. It could, of course, be the technical meaning in logic: a church whose premises entail its conclusion. More likely, I feel, is the idea that the Destiny Church is ridiculous in a way that mainstream churches are not.

The old saying goes that a language is a dialect with an army and a navy. A similar sort of thing could be said about religion: a 'valid church' is a cult with fancy robes and the favour of journalists. Jesus may have said some pretty fundamental things, but if he and his followers weren't a 'Jewish cult', what were they? This isn't a new idea; in The Brothers Karamazov, Ivan tells the story of a resurrected Christ being thrown into the dungeons by the Spanish Inquisition, on the grounds that his return is too dangerous for the Church. In the Herald, however, such irony is unrecognised.

I never thought that I would find myself siding, even in part, with the Destiny Church - but here I am. Of course they're ridiculous - but are "Bishop's" teachings any sillier than most other religions? Garth certainly thinks so and, well-known for his progressive views on gender - he hates male homosexuality but has no problem with lesbians - he mocks Destiny Church for their sexism:

Another enigma in this business is that no mention is anywhere made of the women of the church, apart, of course, from Mr Tamaki's wife, known as Pastor Hannah.

I presume that Mr Tamaki and his church leaders take literally the three-verse passage in Paul's letter to the Ephesians which says: "Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church ... Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything."

On Tuesday, meanwhile, the paper reported on another religious organisation that discriminates against women: the Catholic Church. That time, however, it was a perfectly straight-faced report that didn't ridicule the church at all. I mean, it's an absolute gold mine - funny robes, chanting, having to call the boss 'Holy Father'. I hear the 'priests' even have to take 'vows' not to have sex with anyone for their whole lives! It seems to me that you should take one of two relatively consistent views: either treat them with the same respect, or mercilessly ridicule them all.

One might argue that the Destiny Church is different in another important sense. In 2005, thousands of Destiny Church members, mixed with the odd National Front nutjob, marched up Queen St shouting 'Enough is enough'; the previous year, a rally in front of Parliament had attracted thousands of people to protest New Zealand's moral decay. And these weren't the nice old ladies going to mass on Sunday. These people were loud; they were young; they were overwhelmingly male; they were angry; and (whisper it) they were almost all Maori or Pacific Islanders. Though violence never really broke out, the threat of violence was always implicit - at least, that's what one picked up from the media. This organisation was a threat.

In reality, the 5000 people gathered in front of parliament would have been dwarfed by the crowd seeing Hannah Montana at a mall. When the church's political wing ran in the elections, they got 0.6 per cent of the party vote - more than the Legalise Cannabis Party, but not enough to get anyone into parliament. The fevered reports this morning of cultism are, in fact, the first time I have heard of the organisation in a couple of years. (Actually, that's not true. The Herald on Sunday last weekend carried a fascinating report on Bishop Tamaki selling his house.) Is the Destiny Church really a threat to anything?

Let's just wait for the poll to finish so we can find out.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Groundbreaking study

- Yes; I'm a normal, balanced person.

- No; too many immigrants are already coming here to abuse our lax electronic waste recycling policies.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Too poor for the College Herald

Just enough time to comment on this wonderful article, also from yesterday's paper. If you were worrying about the future of newspapers, you can stop worrying now: the College Herald is coming to the rescue!
The future of newspapers is looking brighter, as college students compete for awards for their journalism - and choose newspapers over blogs.
Well, there's the first lie straight off the bat.

Macleans College Year 10 student James Coventry received one of 19 prizes - a Canon digital camera and $500 for his school - for his article on the benefits of the recession.

He was praised for regularly contributing written and visual work to the College Herald.

But he is exceptional in other ways, too: he does not have a blog, and flips through the newspaper every morning.

In fact, none of four award winners the Herald spoke to have a blog. All said they read a physical newspaper at least once a week.

Right. So, first off, this Herald survey only managed to talk to four of the 19 winners, even though 16 of them were right there. Secondly, the Herald is astonished by the following fact: people who write - unpaid - for newspapers tend to read newspapers from time to time. Or, at least, when a journalist from the newspaper that just gave them $1000 asks them if they read it they tend to say, "Yes". Startling.
The paper also benefited, as the students' work was highly regarded by readers.
"Some [submissions] I had to read three or four times because they were so poignant, written like I didn't think could be written any more," Ms Mihinui said.
Yes, it's because they're so... poignant. Anyway, I don't want to bag the kids - I'm sure half their articles are better than this one.
Unitec and Canon were the sponsors of the pages - and the prizegiving - this year.
And this article.

P.O.G.:The beginning of the end?

I did something foolish, and asked for more interesting work. It turns out they only heard 'more'.

Anyway, anyone for good news?

There he is, for the first time I can remember, at the bottom of the Opinion page. Sure, it is the Prime Minister - well, an aide I assume - at the top, but that's Garth's spot. Wait, does this mean...

Whatever the implications for the continuation of Garth's pie-money, the article itself is more-or-less the standard "nothing will replace newspapers" manifesto that you see so regularly in... newspapers. That's not to say that it doesn't have some great Garth moments:
I am grateful that I do not have to rely for my information on radio, television, or any other electronic means of communication for I would not only be poorly informed, but misinformed and ill-informed as well.
Yes, God forbid.
And the words? These came via teleprinter from the NZPA in Wellington, were sub-edited with pen or pencil, headed, sent to a linotype operator to be set in metal, galley printed, sent to a proof-reader, then corrected and manually placed in a page form.
Ahh, those were the days - way back when Herald articles were subedited.

So - what do you reckon? Will this indeed be the last installment of 'Party on, Garth'? Or can he, like the Lernaean Hydra, only be defeated by scorching the neck stumps with fire?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


How are those multi-billion dollar tax fraud cases coming along?


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Be prepared

Turns out that TVNZ is all over this as well.
Follow this story to ONE News at 6.00pm: Melissa Stokes is live in Auckland with the latest on this story
Oh, thank goodness. A live cross to Auckland Museum, where only hours ago nothing happened. As a journalist acquaintance told me today, the great thing (from a media perspective) about this story is how nicely it was set up for them. First there was the Auckland Grammar-Kelston rugby brawl, where two groups of youths briefly stopped running into each other and started hitting each other - then got back to running into each other. Secondly, there was the Nazi Party nazi party at Lincoln 'University' which managed to outrage the nation for about five minutes. Auckland Grammar School + Nazis? That, my friends, is ratings gold. Plus they have already found all the stock photos and footage!

Anyway, this is why I don't watch the television news - but you should feel free to so you relate the awfulness back to me later.

PS And yes, I did go to Auckland Grammar School. Do I feel, like Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres, "ashamed to be an old boy of Auckland Grammar after the actions of the schoolboys"?

No. I was already ashamed.

Grammar nazis

God, it's so bloody predictable.

News item: teenage schoolboys think it's hilarious to 'worship' a swastika. Is that the best you can do? "Children do stupid thing - no one harmed"? Are the children nazis - let alone Nazis? I can't imagine they are; I suspect that, like other children, their political views largely consist of arguing over who is the best Pokemon, or whatever Pokemon-derivative is popular these days.

Nonetheless, we have to go through the whole boring public flagellation - lest we forget.

Step 1: Contact the president of the RSA to see what he thinks about it. Surprisingly, he's against it.

Step 2: Contact the head of the New Zealand Jewish Council to see what Jews think about the holocaust. Seriously, the only time anyone contacts him is when we've all embarrassed ourselves, and it's all part of the collective punishment. Because we know what he's going to say, right? He's shocked and appalled. We knew that already. So next time someone vandalises a Jewish cemetery or salutes a swastika we can probably just assume that the Jewish Council aren't going to be delighted. Maybe once in a while they could contact the New Zealand Gypsy Council to see how they feel. Just for a change.

Step 3: Force the kids - whose crime, after all, was to get caught - to make a public apology. Then we can film it and write about it and then the millions of victims of the war won't have died in vain.

It's all over the online media: the Herald, the perennially awful, Your Views, ridiculous blogs - yeah, hold them back a year, that will teach them. Here's the lead graphic from

Wait, they perpetrated the holocaust, right?

It's also in the print media, of course. The Herald have helpfully included a swastika next to the article for those readers unsure of exactly what the students were worshipping.

I'm sure Watercare and Partridge Jewellers are delighted with the juxtaposition. In a different delicious, picture-related irony, the same media who lambasted the children for putting pictures of their depraved acts on the internet have responded by... putting pictures of the depraved acts on the internet.

Meanwhile, Your Views is concerned with what this means for the education system. Are our children not learning their history? Probably not, but what that has to do with this case I am unsure. Do people really think this is the first time anyone has made a joke or 'prank' about the Nazis? I'm pretty sure the first post-war Nazi 'pranks' were made in 1945. Get a grip, people. And the Herald is far from the beacon of progressive light that it seems to think it is. Which do you think would have entertained Hitler more: some idiot kids who know nothing about him, or this cartoon?

Anyway, everything will be fine. Let me know when the media is over lynching a group of kids. I'll be in the bar.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Mysterious Asian, I wanna get close to you...

"REVEALED: SECRET OF AISLING SUSPECT"! That's the front page headline this morning, as the Herald seeks to further flog what appears to be a tragic accident. So by 'suspect', they actually mean 'person not suspected of anything to do with it'.
The mysterious Asian woman seen with Aisling Symes was mentally unwell and has a history of trying to lure children into cars with lollies.
Ah, the "mysterious Asian" trope. They're so opaque, Asians; we never really know what's going on in their heads. They're all profound and peaceful on the surface, like the Dalai Lama. But get beyond that exterior and they are cunning and calculating, like Ming the Merciless. Anyway, she's mysterious, right? Because evidently she didn't read the paper and turn herself in straight away.
The Herald has learned the woman was from the Philippines, had a dog and fitted the general description given by the 9-year-old who saw her approach the toddler just after 5pm last Monday week.
Asian? Check. Has dog? Check. (NB - probably for dinner.) Fits general description given by child? Check. Guilty of some sort of crime? Oh, wait...

The article spends a lot of time rehashing the old abduction story. I can just about buy the argument that at least some of the hysteria of last week was justified by the fact that it may have helped find the girl. Hell, maybe referring to her as Asian even had some point then, if it helped people find the woman; now that that isn't going to happen, I wonder what the reason for this reporting is. One has to go down to the ninth 'paragraph' before we find this:

Detectives spoke to the woman on Tuesday night, and Mr Davey said police were "satisfied she's unable to help us further".

He refused to discuss the conversation and said the woman was no longer part of the investigation.

So... the police have no further interest in this woman.... sorry, Asian woman. Because we mustn't forget the importance of her ethnicity. It's lucky she's not also a lesbian, because "Revealed: Gay secret of Aisling suspect" wouldn't have fit on the header. Although perhaps they could have dropped the word "suspect", seeing as "the woman was no longer part of the investigation."

In fact, the scariest part of the article is this:
Police then [after the body was found] said they had located the Asian woman, but refused to identify her.
How dare they refuse to name an (apparently) totally innocent person so that a newspaper who can smell (non-white) blood can more-or-less accuse her of murder? But don't worry, the Herald have done their own investigative journalism to uncover a person of no public interest whatsoever.

An Asian person.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Not again...

The Banjo Killer... are you fucking kidding me? Sorry, but I'm quite angry about this. I honestly can't believe that in 2009 a mainstream newspaper can still treat a brutal murder like it happened in a cartoon.

Hang on, what was the victim's sexual orientation again?

A Hungarian man sentenced to serve at least eight years in jail for bashing a 69-year-old gay man to death in Auckland has appealed his sentence.
Thanks for clearing that up.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sorry - been sick

Should be back at work tomorrow. Until then...

Oh my god, Herald exclusive: if unions withdraw industrial action, management will go back to making money! How generous of them. To generalise:

If the thing stopping the thing happening stops, the other thing will start again.

Friday, October 9, 2009


Today's lead front-page story.

Draw your own conclusions.

Hmm, what's happening today?

Let's have a look to see if there are any big stories going on today. What's on the website?

Not much happening here. What about in the print edition?

Not a lot of news here either... oh wait, what's that in the bottom right corner?

Oh, that's right, the biggest individual tax avoidance case in New Zealand's history just ended with pretty much the most damning ruling that could have come out. As the 'teaser' says, Westpac basically decided themselves how much tax they wanted to pay. It wasn't an error, it was a cynical manipulation - you can tell from the bit where they "sought advice from an external consultant on how much tax it would elect to pay to deflect the attention of the IRD and the public". I hope that individual is sleeping well tonight.

Anyway, the company that does the Government's banking stole a billion dollars from the country, and where is the story? Oh, turn to the Business Herald - because a massive tax fraud wouldn't be of interest to the 94%* of people who don't read the Business Herald, right?And don't tell me that it's an old story that's been reported before. It's like saying you wouldn't cover the Clayton Weatherston verdict because we've heard about the case already.

Call me cynical, but this wouldn't have anything to do with banks being major advertisers in... the New Zealand Herald. Would it?

*Completely made-up statistic (2009).

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Party on, Garth

We all know that weekly columnists are an easy way to fill up space in a newspaper. You don't have to give them a desk, you don't have to pay them holidays or sick leave, and you don't even have to tell them what to write about. To be sure, some of your columnists are generally good; for every Garth George column, there's one from Tapu Misa - someone for whom 'research' means more than clicking the first result on Google. But there's still a fundamental problem with the whole concept of weekly opinion columnists: why should we care what they think? And when a columnist is essentially on tenure, like Garth George, what incentive do they have to produce anything more than a weekly dose of onanism? (At least Mr George usually talks about issues other than himself, which is more than can be said for some Herald columnists.)

I've been thinking about this for a while, particularly since I read an interview with Garth George in Craccum a few weeks ago. He was far from being some malevolent stereotype; rather, he seemed like a normal man (albeit a grumpy, hyper-conservative one) who had had a tremendous stroke of luck: he was paid to write every week about whatever he liked (or, more usually, disliked). Today's column, however, has really tipped me over the edge.

"Copenhagen blabfest is a load of hot air" is the headline of the column, referring to the climate summit that has been held this week in Denmark. But that's not really what he wants to talk about:
Buried on a far back page of world news in this newspaper on Monday was an item recording that an international carbon credits scam worth more than $2.2 billion is being investigated by detectives in at least five European countries.

The fraud, covering Britain, Italy, Spain, Denmark (scene of the upcoming Copenhagen international climate negotiations conference in December) and Sweden involves the buying and selling of emission allowances across borders to avoid value added tax.

For those of us who have known for years that man-made carbon dioxide emissions have nothing to do with global warming, and who recognise that an unnecessary international carbon trading scheme would be wide open to abuse, this comes as no surprise.

No, Garth. For those of us who have known for years that anything involving human beings and large amounts of money leads to corruption, this comes as no surprise. What exactly is the link here between the alleged scam and the alleged non-existence of anthropogenic climate change? There isn't any. It's like claiming that the existence of oil industry cartels proves that oil doesn't exist. Nonetheless, on he goes:

We go along with Bjorn Lomborg, director of Copenhagen Consensus, a think tank, who, writing in the Wall Street Journal, pointed out that some business leaders are cozying up with politicians and scientists to demand swift, drastic action on global warming.

"This," he wrote, "is a new twist on a very old practice: companies using public policy to line their own pockets. This is certainly true of climate change.

"We are told that very expensive carbon regulations are the only way to respond to global warming, despite ample evidence that this approach does not pass a basic cost-benefit test.

"We must ask whether a 'climate-industrial complex' is emerging, pressing taxpayers to fork over money to please those who stand to gain.

"The partnership among self-interested businesses, grandstanding politicians and alarmist campaigners truly is an unholy alliance ..."

That's all fine. It may or may not be true, of course, but if it is it certainly proves the point that 'people are generally bastards who will try to make a buck wherever they can'. I suspect, however, this isn't Garth's point.

The main issue I have is with the first part of the third paragraph: "For those of us who have known for years that man-made carbon dioxide emissions have nothing to do with global warming..."

This is a scientific claim, obviously. I've written about it a number of times before, so I won't dwell on it here. I'm just going to point out, again, that to the best of my knowledge Garth George is not a climate scientist. Nor am I, of course - but you don't see me holding forth on the issue at all, let alone in a major national newspaper.

The irony is, of course, that man-made carbon dioxide emissions make no difference to the climate, which has been going from cold to hot and back again ever since time began, and certainly long before man ever produced any CO2.

So, with the Government setting its mind to trying to solve the problem of agricultural emissions, and linking up with the United States to do so, it's time once again to make these salient points, courtesy of Australia's Carbon Sense Coalition. [What follows is a list of arguments against the existence of anthropogenic climate change taken from the CSC.]

Oh, the Carbon Sense Coalition! Has Garth actually done some research on the issue? Well, I did a bit of 'research' myself and managed to find a fascinating document released by the CSC about their members and goals. Roll out the Nobel Prize-winning climatologists! Here's a selection of their advisory committee - and if you think I'm being unfairly selective, look at the document yourself:
Mr Viv Forbes (Chairman)
Grandfather, Sheep and Cattle Grazier, Soil Scientist and Mining Consultant, Rosevale, Qld, Australia.

Mr Keith Barker
Mining Engineer, CEO Northern Energy Corporation, Brisbane, Qld, Australia

Mr John Carter
Cattleman, Chairman Australian Beef Association for six years, Columnist “The Land” Crookwell, NSW, Australia.

Mr Ken Day
President Director, Terrindo, Sand Mining Contractor, Indonesia,

Mr Rod Dawnie
Geoscientist (paleoclimate studies geochemistry, geomorphology and Quaternary geology). Brisbane Qld, Australia

Mr James Hawes
Ex Science teacher, actually taught biology, chemistry, geology and physics at High Schools and chemistry at University. Past President of the Science Teachers Assn,
NSW and the Aust Science Teachers Assoc. Wombarra, NSW, Australia.

Mr Ron Kitching
Drilling and Conveying Consultant, Columnist, Author “Understanding Personal & Economic Liberty”, Rockhampton, Qld, Australia

Mr Stuart McArthur
Grazing and Land Management Consultant, Yeppoon, Qld, Australia.
I see. So, quite a few miners and cattlemen there - in fact, quite a lot of men fullstop. Sure, there are scientists - one guy "actually" taught science at high school, and another is a self-proclaimed (no PhD) "geoscientist". Maybe the list of "Regional Correspondents and Supporters" will bear more fruit:
Mr Gerry Jackson, Noble Park, Victoria, Australia.
Freelance Political Analyst
"Freelance" = "unemployed".
Mr Ray Evans, Melbourne, Vic, Australia
President of the H R Nicholls Society and Secretary of the Lavoisier Group
President! The H R Nicholls Society, described by Bob Hawke as "political troglodytes and economic lunatics", are dedicated to rolling back employment law (not their words, obviously). The Lavoisier Group just published a book called Thank God for Carbon.
Mr Erich Kern, California, USA
Internet browser and political analyst.
I think I'll stick with Firefox.
Mr Benjamin Marks, NSW, Australia
Student of Austrian Economics, Freelance Writer.
Pretentious, moi?

Meanwhile, Professor Thomas Stocker, co-chair of the section of the IPCC looking at whether man-made climate change is occurring, merely has 130 peer-reviewed papers published in climate science journals. Yes, yes, it's all a bit easy. But the point is that this group just got cited as a reliable scientific organisation in a supposedly serious newspaper. None of the checks and balances that should exist in this case - no self-respecting actual journalist would ever have cited such a source - simply don't, because it's an opinion column.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The sound of one cog turning

Sorry. I couldn't resist.

From the Your Views asking, "Should John Key meet the Dalai Lama?":

'thats life' (Waitakere): [...] Meet the Dalai Lama Mr Key as you promised before you got elected. We all know Mr Key is excellent in getting the bread but also the buttered bread. Mr Key also knows which side of the bread is buttered. The question is Morals or Economics or Both?

Always there are three sides to all equation. It's always a 3 sided coin. Has been will always be. I would meet the Dalai Lama would you?

I think the question is: would he meet you?

Midweek pedantry

From today's otherwise-sensible Brian Rudman column on public broadcasting:
At least, with it's failed experimentation with a Charter, the previous government showed its instincts were in the right place.

[...] TVNZ cries poor over a miserable $3 million and Dr Coleman backs them. But what is this amount compared with the $190 million of taxpayers dollars going into the Eden Park upgrade, the $20 million going into "party central" on Queens Wharf, and the cultural value of sharing the occasion with everyone?

[...] Maori TV has already reminded us what a powerful cultural force the medium can be in it's extended coverage of national events such as Anzac Day commemorations and the tangi of the late Maori Queen.
That's three apostrophe malfunctions in one medium-length article. I don't blame Brian Rudman - his job is to come up with content. God knows I make errors when I post on here, although one might think more care would be taken with actual print material. Nonetheless, I would think that Rudman, like every other writer working for the paper, ought to be able to expect his article to be read by someone - let's call them a sub-editor - who either fixes mistakes or tells him to do it himself.

I know it's 'just' grammar, and we all still understand what it's saying. But it's a major newspaper! It's like turning up at a Buckingham Palace dinner in trackpants.

Estimates of how long it will be until the whole paper is just in text language are welcome.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Would you be happy to hear a word in Maori?

Some people perhaps thought I was being a bit harsh with my treatment of the Herald's article on Maori TV's Rugby World Cup broadcasting bid. Fortunately, the Herald made that judgement a little bit easier today with today's contributions to the 'debate'. Firstly, another article - this time relegated to A3 by the exclusive story "Yesterday was quite cold".
Maori TV's Rugby World Cup commentary would mainly be in English but 5 to 10 per cent will be peppered with Maori phrases.
Good gracious.

It's an interesting story, in a sense. You might think that a reasonable person would consider this a non-story; after all, it's a rugby game, not a Shakespeare production. I don't really watch rugby, but what subtleties are being passed on, what nuggets of wisdom entrusted to the viewer by the commentators? I imagine that 50% of the commentary could be in Aramaic and it wouldn't affect the intelligibility of the game for anyone. But what makes the story interesting is how the rest of it is quite reasonable and mild:

The Maori component would be made up of definitions for commonly used terms, such as drop goal or scrum flashing up on screen and by the commentator making certain calls in Te Reo then repeating it in English.

The amount of Maori spoken would be so small that the majority of its presenters would not have to speak the language, and the Herald understands the station is expected to head-hunt the likes of Keith Quinn for commentary roles.

The rest of the story is just rehashed from yesterday's piece. So why, I wonder, would the Herald publish a prominent piece about how a few Maori words and phrases will be used in rugby commentary?

Oh, maybe this is why: "Would you be happy to watch Rugby World Cup games on Maori TV?":

leonard (Wanganui): Is the mony well spent? Dr Sharples seems to think so. Don't people know that it's rude to speak another language? Answer to that most of the immigrants do that every day.

English please.

Tinnyliz (Wellington City): As long as the commentary is 100% English I don't care which channel it's on. I can't stand watching anything in a foreign language.

But the whole thing is premised on not being 100% English, because... oh look, never mind.

GT (East Tamaki): No, I do not want to have to listen to Maori in the middle of the games. I don't mind if you want to spread Maori culture, but not like this. This would be akin to force feeding.

Don't people know that it's rude to speak another language in front of people who don't understand it? What's the difference between that and forcing everyone to watch Maori TV where they wouldn't understand 10% of the commentary?

The sheer nerve! These Maoris come to our country and dare to speak their language in front of us. Lucky for them we are far more tolerant, and haven't forced them to listen to us speaking English.

(PS. I have bad news for you: 'Tamaki' is Maori! Sorry!)
Altvox (auckland): As A Taxpayer I dont mind funding TVNZ that is the state broadcaster.I object to funding Maori TVs bid for World Cup rights using taxpayer money.

Would have no issues if they used some of the billions of treaty money for this but that seems tied up in new cars and houses for Maori leaders and none for those who need it.
And by "some of the billions of treaty money for this but that seems tied up in new cars and houses for Maori leaders and none for those who need it", I mean "thing I totally made up".

Daytripper (Hamilton): Yes I have issues with taxpayer money being used to fund a bid to have the broadcasting rights to the New Zealand public, not an issue with whichever channel it is on as most people do.

Taxpayer dollars should not be used for this and before anyone moans TVNZ and TV3 were not given taxpayer dollars to put in a bid for this. Like most of New Zealand I am sick to death of Maori being forced down our throats all the time, being blamed for all the ills in maoridom but Maori organisations are very happy to put the hand out for pakeha money.

This is why race-based politics will not work, as the Maori Party is only interested in anything to do with Maori, not all of New Zealand, imagine if the Greens only applied themselves for people who believed in their policies only, if National only promoted things pertinent to their party faithful there would be an outcry, but because it is Maori we are all supposed to accept it and if you make any comments you are classed as a red neck and racists.

No to taxpayer funding for TV channels full stop, Maori have had enough money off taxpayers to be capable of funding their own TV station from now on.

In sum then, definitely no issues about whichever channel it is on.
Tommy (Tauranga): No. Like everything else Maori their TV channel is taxpayer funded, so it shouldn't be there. I wouldn't watch it on principal.
Don't worry, I'm sure there'll be something else on another channel you can watch. Maybe someone less racist can text you score updates.

And so on. It's almost like living in upside-down land, where cats chase dogs, rain goes up, and newspapers publish stories so that crazy people have something to complain about online.


While I'm talking about YV I may as well mention this blog, run by a media studies masters student. It's completely dedicated to the academic study of Your Views, a worthy topic by any measure. How he keeps a straight face while he writes it I don't know - but as it's apparently part of coursework he's not allowed to poke fun at the denizens of the sordid little world. Sucka.

Monday, October 5, 2009


Yes, I just coined a word for a small yet perfectly formed blog, pruned to perfection. Go on, google it.


BREAKING NEWS! Stop the presses and put it on the front page:

Hardly the most serious of his crimes.


Reprise: did anyone else see this above it and make the link?

"We will build a shoe to last 1000 years."


Ah. You must mean these claims.


Don't be ridiculous.


Finally, a contribution from EtH acolyte Hannah-Maria regarding the story of a 'Facebook paedophilia ring'. (Link is to the story, not the ring. Obviously.) Advertising can be so awkward sometimes.

Wait, what's that down in the bottom-right corner?

Classy. This is probably a good time to mention that Editing the Herald has significantly more Facebook fans than the New Zealand Herald.

Bloody Maoris: TV Edition

It's been a while since we've had a really good race-baiting headline on the front page. Remember that time that Maori were going to charge us when we did a haka in our backyard? Well now they're trying to stop good, honest whites watching rugby. The headline on the front page reads "Thousands will miss out if Maori TV wins rights to Rugby World Cup":

Thousands of people will miss out on free live cover of the Rugby World Cup if Maori Television's taxpayer-funded bid for the right to screen games succeeds.

Maori TV has used $3 million or more of public money from Te Puni Kokiri to boost its bid for the free-to-air rights well above those of TVNZ and TV3.

I get it - some people like rugby, and it's such a massive bloody cultural milestone that it simply must be free-to-air, but let's just do a little bit of editing on this. First, let's change 'will miss out' to 'may miss out'. As a former philosopher, I know nothing about how television is transmitted, but it seems perfectly plausible that some accommodation may be worked out by then. And let's change "has used $3 million or more of public money" to something that doesn't imply that this money has already been spent. It's a bid, like you may have seen on that Trademe website all the kids are talking about.

Then there's the money - "taxpayer-funded", "public money". Subtle, aren't we? Of course I'm not delighted that any money at all is being spent on it, but it's not like Dr Sharples went and took the money from the till in a hospital. It's TPK money; if it turns out that broadcasting rugby is the best way to promote Maori interests, so be it. If you have a problem with TPK getting money at all, that's a different issue. TVNZ is a state organisation too - what do you think their bid consisted of? Magic beans signed by Tony Veitch?

On a more banal level, the moaning continues with a classic factual error. From the print edition:

But from the current online edition:

The good news is that Maori TV have increased their broadcasting range by 5% in just one day - except in the caption, which no one bothered to change. This should mean that they will have full coverage of the country by Wednesday, rendering the issue redundant.

Mr [Bret] Impey [of TV3] said he did not know whether the IRB would assess the quality of the coverage the winning bidder could provide, or take whatever bid was the highest.

"The answer to that doesn't come from TV3. It comes from the International Rugby Board."

I'm sure that an organisation famous for squeezing every last dime out of their four-yearly circus will be playing the world's smallest violin for Mr Impey and the citizens of "Kaikohe, Wellsford and Warkworth".

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Force of nature

Thanks to Jordan for spotting this one. As he notes, it seems that the tsunami was more powerful than first thought - it seems to have pushed Vanuatu more than 1000km east, where it now nestles snugly between Fiji and Tonga. From page A2 of Friday's newspaper:

Thanks, Herald graphics team. For those whose knowledge of Pacific geography is as rough as mine, here's Google to the rescue:

View Larger Map

Thursday, October 1, 2009

UrViewz Security Council

Work's awful at the moment. It's mainly the people there, all of whom I detest without exception.

Anyway, having pointed out the decline and fall of Your Views from its pinnacle as a forum for rabid ranting to a nadir of complaining about supermarkets, it's good to see some issues of import being dealt with again. I was delighted to have this topic brought to my attention: "Should Iran be allowed to continue with its nuclear programme?" Well, what is it to be, Herald readers? Yes or no? Nutters on both sides can lock horns over the question with a ferocity that can only come from not having any idea about the issue at hand. Anyway, quick, get on there and have your say before Ban Ki Moon turns up and tallies the votes.
AGW Sceptic (Greenlane): As long as Iran has terrorist connections then they should not be allowed nuclear capabilities, especially if they lie about what they do have.

Honestly, it's like allowing Hitler to rearm prior to World War 2 against the international regulations of the time. I think the difference here is that the crackpot running Iran is intentionally trying to provoke an attack (by Israel especially) on Iran so he can play the victim card, unite with the other looney tunes (UN included), and make the big push for Israel's destruction.

Other differences between Nazi Germany and modern Iran:
  • Iran didn't start the costliest war in world history twenty years ago.
  • You can't generate civilian power with tanks and battleships.
Similarities between Nazi Germany and modern Iran:
  • Not that fond of Jews.
  • Your Views contributors cannot locate them on a map.

Telsh@r (United States of America): When bombs are developed the plans will be spread around. This won't lead to WW3 because there is no nation to fight. If Islam doesn't want to do anything to prevent it then there vicitms must. Iran needs to either accept exclusive use of thorium or stop. Letting Iran develop a nuke is like giving a pyromaniac a blow torch. It leads to trouble.

They'll probably pass the plans around the table at the next big World Muslim Meeting. He (I assume) continues:
0. Iran weaponizes.

1. Saudi Arabia will follow. (they hate/fear Iran)

2. Saudi Arabians are heavily involved with terrorism around the globe. (at least 17 9/11 hijakers were Saudi Arabian)

3. Weapons will be disseminated around the globe through Sunni radicalist Jihad.

4. NZ and other countries give into extortion from radicalists to not be nuked.

5. NZ and other countries choos
e slavery later after skipping sacrafice now.
How to become enslaved in five easy steps (or six if you count Step "0"). This kind of person used to have to shout things on street corners to get an audience; God bless the internet.

Meanwhile, elsewhere on Your Views...

Does firing too many staff makes the Herald ignore spelling? So many great things about this one: the typo in the headline; classic Herald science 'reporting'* with the claim that the study says "letting your children eat sweets could turn them into serial killers"; and the overall idea that, whatever this scientific study says, the truth will be determined on Your Views with the anecdotes of crazy people.

JAFA and proud (Mt Wellington): They spend a lot of money doing supposed valuable research on stupid topics and they come up with the most ridiculous conclusions.

What a waste of resources!

Next, they're going to say if you like a certain colour, you're a murderer.

It's all fun and games until someone loses their mind.

*Albeit apparently stolen in this case from a rubbish Independent piece.