Thursday, March 4, 2010

Kids: DON'T do the funky chicken

For fans of Chris Morris's legendary series Brass Eye - "Deadly game reaches NZ children":

Education authorities are warning of a deadly choking game that has reached New Zealand.

The fad, which has plagued America and Britain for years, has now made its way to Hawke's Bay playgrounds, Hawke's Bay Today reported.

[...] Campaign group Games Adolescents Shouldn't Play said up to 458 children in the US and 86 in Britain had been killed this way.

It was known by several names including "space monkey" and "funky chicken".

Right. In other news, when will politicians take seriously the epidemic of CAKE?

Meanwhile, headline of the day:


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

1990: Herald and freedom for Mandela

Now, I wonder which bits of this page A3 article - "Herald and supplies dropped to rower" - were written by NZPA, and which by the Herald staff reporter?

Transtasman rower Shaun Quincey had drinking water and two copies of the Herald dropped to him yesterday.

Quincey has been 42 days on the water, trying to become the first solo rower to complete the voyage between Australia and New Zealand.

A shortage of drinking water threatened to scupper his bid until Taupo rescue pilot John Funnell came to his rescue.

He flew a fixed wing aircraft on a nine-hour round trip from Taupo with emergency provisions including 38 litres of drinking water, coffee, two Heralds and a toothbrush.

Quincey had been in radio contact with them after the drop and was "delighted with it", said Mr Funnell. "He said to us 'You guys don't know what this means to me."'

[...] He was running dangerously low on water, with only four litres left. He said it was critical for supplies to be dropped to him if he was going to finish the mission.

- NZPA, staff reporter

Yes, it was good timing; he was also running low on toilet paper.

Wait - who's gushing?

From the front freaking page:

Was it the heat, the heavy uniforms, or the presence of the star?

Maybe it was all of these that left a journalist at the New Zealand Herald light-headed and on the verge of fainting yesterday as the Prime Minister opened a Lower Hutt school's new science and technology block.

It was a hot, muggy morning as John Key was greeted by about 620 school girls and several hacks singing the national anthem.

One overcome reporter was led away to get some water and then seated at the back, away from all the excitement.

Later, as the pupils broke into song again, one of the journalists had to be led to a table at the back for a glass of water.

He was soon joined by two others unable to continue standing.

Mr Key went inside to inspect the building, but later returned to meet and greet the reporters.

"He's such an inspirational role-model," gushed one. "He's so cool," was another star-struck accolade.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

For those of you doing your shopping at Shell

"Service station convenience comes at cost," says the Herald on page A5. An "unscientific survey" has discovered that it's almost certainly cheaper to do your weekly shop at a supermarket rather than a service station.

Convenience or low prices?

That's the choice you have to make when you choose your local service station over the supermarket.

An unscientific survey conducted by the Herald yesterday showed that buying grocery items from the local supermarket could save you about a quarter of your bill.

A purchase of eight items, including milk, bread and toilet paper, revealed savings of $11.13 if customers took the time to go to the supermarket.

Other places that are more expensive than a supermarket:
  • the local dairy
  • going door to door offering people cash for the food in their cupboards
  • Tokyo
On the other hand, it is considerably more difficult to fill up your petrol tank at the supermarket, so it's not just one way.

But Bev Frederikson, who conducts supermarket surveys for Consumer NZ, said service stations were not doing anything to mislead consumers.

[...] The bargaining power of the supermarkets was greater than that of smaller service stations and they could get better deals from suppliers.

Ms Frederikson said the fact that supermarkets were selling a broader range of products in greater volumes than service stations also meant that they could afford to make less profit on each item - in some cases selling "loss leader" items at less than cost to draw people in.

So... no story here then. It's as if a Herald reporter went to a service station, worked out they were paying more than at the supermarket, and decided this was an outrage. By the time someone sat them down and patiently explained that there was nothing interesting about this discovery whatsoever, it was too close to deadline to come up with anything else.

But at least we get to hear from industry types on the social role performed by our duopolistic supermarket chains:
Murray Jordan, general manager retail sales and performance for Foodstuffs Auckland, which owns the New World stores, said supermarket owner-operators were focused on offering customers a "great range of fresh foods and grocery products and a high level of customer service for a good price".
What a nice guy.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Milli Vanilli of crime

Oh Millie. Not aother warrant.