Friday, 29 April 2005

Some interesting posts from Kiwi blogs...

Luckily, I live in Dunedin... However, I was still baffled that Aucklanders elected a guy whose claim to fame was making Breakfast Cereal as their Mayor last year. Of course, since then it's been apparent that the slightly-left-of-Jim-Anderton Bruce Hucker is actually running things these days in New Zealand's biggest city.

It's nice to see that it's not just the few politically aware that have noticed Dick's lack of achievements since he was elected...



* Dick Hubbard Tui Billboard image originally from Rodney Hide's weblog, Hidesight...

* Also check out Aaron Bhatnagar's thoughts on his blog...
"I'm not sure this is what Dick Hubbard thought would happen..."


In another good local blog, David Farrar has noted that this past Sunday marked "Tax Freedom Day" in New Zealand (the day where the income you've been working for all year stopped going to the Government, and was able to stay in your own pocket!)

The most shocking tax statistic he points out is that in Kiwiland, the top 50% of households effectively pay for 100% of public expenditure, as the bottom 50% receive more in social expenditure than they pay in taxes! Yep, they're the ones that are always protesting and whinging... when in fact they're already being propped up by half the country...

* David Farrar: Tax Freedom Day this weekend
More interesting statistics here...

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Sunday, 17 April 2005

Is texting killing the English language?

* The New Zealand Herald: Teen sends 8,000 texts a month

Interesting story this one... about a 17 year old Christchurch teenager who somehow manages to send 8,000 texts a month on his mobile phone, and still hold down a job as a sales assistant!

His friends think he texts too much (ya think?!), although he's well down on the 15,000 a month when Telecom allowed for unlimited texts. The guy spends around $280 a month on texting, and calls it "the way of the future".

Okay... Rant ahead... ;-) Now, I'll admit it. I'm not a big fan of the whole text thing. I'm a crap texter, even with predictive text (which only tends to result in some strangly worded messages!) I usually get too frustrated trying to tap out a response, that I give up and just call the person who's texting me.

And that's the part I don't get. How can you call it "the way of the future", when what you're essentially doing is sending an electronic telegram... Don't people know you can actually use these phone things to speak to people with your voice? And they don't even have to be in the same town!

PXTing has been pretty much a spectacular failure so far, and Telecom's new 3G "third generation" mobile network, offering video services is likely to face a similarly slow uptake. Apart from the excessive cost for these services (even though they try to lure customers in by offering them for free to begin with), it's obvious that at this stage, people are happy with plain old black and white characters on a screen, and maybe hearing the odd voice in their ear.

Another reason I'm not a big fan of texting or internet "chat/instant messaging", is the new language that's developed... The long list of abbreviations to make it quicker and easier to send your friends messages. The trouble is, people are using them more and more in everyday emails, letters, and advertising. Teenagers who're already appalling spellers are now going through school believing that the likes of "wot" is actually the correct spelling of the word formerly known as "what", and "gr8" is an acceptable replacement for "great".

I work as a TV reporter, and have noticed a major fall in standards in recent years, as far as spelling and vocabulary goes. Many trainees, work experience students, and even full time journalists are unable to string a coherent sentence together, and have no clue about punctuation. A lot rely on spell checkers - a device I hate with a passion - I would prefer to see the occassional word misspelt, than to rely on a computer trying to analyse what you actually meant to type!

The excuse I often get in return is that "in TV you don't have to spell correctly" is a poor crutch. There's still a number of people along the line that have to be able to understand your work - newsreaders, producers, staff compiling stories for the web. The Radio Network station Newstalk ZB posts news stories on their website every day, complete with obligatory spelling and punctuation mistakes, and sentences of 'gobbledygook'.

I'm concerned the English language as we know it will be a shadow of its current self in ten to twenty years time, and we're on a slippery slope to regressing back into caveman communication.

I'm not usually a fan of documentaries on State TV, but a new ITV series hosted by Melvyn Bragg that began this morning is quite interesting. The Adventure of English traces the development of the English language, from an obscure Germanic dialect, to one of the most widely understood languages in the world. It looks to be an interesting and strangely informative series, but unfortunately you'll have to turn over to State TV One to catch it, at 10am on Sunday mornings for the next few weeks.

* The NZ Listener: Review of the book The Adventure of English
* Plain English Campaign: Home Page

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Buy Lynne Truss's excellent book,
Eats, Shoots & Leaves:
The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation

here now, through Amazon UK or USA...



or

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Saturday, 16 April 2005

Was 80's music really that good? ;-)





You Scored 75% Correct





You are an 80s expert
You never confuse New Order with the Pet Shop Boys
You know which classical musician Falco rocked
When it comes to 80s music, you Just Can't Get Enough!

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Monday, 11 April 2005

Phil Keoghan stops in on Dunedin

Kiwi-born TV personality, Phil Keoghan, was in Dunedin recently promoting his new book No Opportunity Wasted, based on his new TV series of the same name. He's best known by most people around the world as host of the Emmy award winning Reality TV Adventure series, The Amazing Race.


This is of course my favourite show on TV, so I was stoked to be able to interview Phil Keoghan during his short stop in Dunedin for his promotional book tour. Here's a transcript of the interview...
---------
You've been on your book tour here for No Opportunity Wasted for the last few weeks... What's it like to come home to New Zealand?

PHIL: Well I come home actually quite a bit, I have a place in the Coromandel, and I've been home every month since November... Any excuse to get home, I'm actually shooting a documentary as well about New Zealand being a great place to shoot movies. I've brought The Amazing Race here in Season 2 and Season 5, I've shot a few Discovery specials here... It's always good to find a way to get paid to come home - you know, when you're working.

You started your career in New Zealand in shows like Spot On and Short Sportz... and I understand it was a kiwi that inspired you to go overseas?

Yeh, well I had wanted to go overseas, but then I was on a shoot in Queenstown once, and I was talking to this guy about Sam Neill, and saying that I always admired what he'd done with his career... and while I was having this drink with somebody in Queenstown, he said "Oh, he's my neighbour. Why don't you write him a letter and I'll give it to him?". So I wrote him a letter, and he wrote back to me and gave me some pretty inspiring words... and I'd put in the letter to him that I admired the fact that he'd made it, and he wrote back to me and said "Well, in life you don't really make it... You shouldn't really feel like you're making it, you should just go out on a journey and see what happens". And so I've kindof tried to follow in that... Well, I would like to think that I'm on a journey, and that hopefully I'll never "arrive somewhere", that I'll always feel like there's something more to do... and I know that's how he's lived his life.

When you went off to the United States, you did a bunch of travel and adventure series' before The Amazing Race came along?

Yeh, I actually worked for Fox when I first went over... for four years travelling around America doing live news reports and things around the country - more like entertainment news stuff - and that was huge, you know, to do four years of live TV in the States... for a cable network at that point.

You're now heading towards your eighth season of The Amazing Race later this year... How many countries have you seen in the world?

Well, even before The Amazing Race, I had shot and travelled in 60 countries... and now, having done The Amazing Race I've revisited many, and I think I've pushed up over a hundred countries... I think there's some special club you can join if you go to more than a hundred countries!

You've been through seven series of The Amazing Race, with a whole range of different characters... Have you noticed a common thread in the people who do well, that do succeed in the competition?

I don't know what the secret is to doing well in The Amazing Race, because I've seen the most dysfunctional teams win, like Flo & Zac... I think my favourite winners would have to be Chip & Kim from Season 5. Prior to Season 7, Season 5 was definitely my favourite... I love Chip & Kim, I thought they were great... and they were probably the most popular winners that we've ever had on The Amazing Race... but they were totally different from Flo & Zac, and totally different from Season 1. Every season is totally unpredictable, and I think unlike a usual race where you're able to see people and know that, well you know, Dave is a really good runner or a really good driver or whatever, and chances are he's going to do well because he's won his last three races... On The Amazing Race when they start at the starting line, you have absolutely no clue... and that's part of the appeal of the race I think, because these so called "ordinary people" who are racing around the world for this million dollar prize... and we don't know anything about them... we find out along the way.


You're here in New Zealand promoting your new book, No Opportunity Wasted, which links in with a new series you've been doing in the States?

The book's essentially to help other people write their lists of things to do before you die - 8 ways to create a list for the life you want... It was a television series also in the United States, and I want to bring that to New Zealand. I've been getting people to go to www.noopportunitywasted.com
and find out all about the show, and just guaging people's interest. The way it works is we give people 72 hours and $3,000 to go out and do something that they've been procrastinating about... So people would apply... they don't know they've been chosen until we literally walk up to them, knock on their door, and say "Hey, is your name Dave, and was your dream to go ride a big, bad bull called Jack? Well you've got 72 hours and $3,000, so go make it happen... Stop procrastinating, Stop talking about some day, one day, wish I could've, would've, and should've... Go do it, Now!"

D: When you were 19 you wrote for yourself a pretty ambitious list of things you wanted to "do before you die", and you've managed to achieve a fair few of them?...

My list continues to grow, I continue to do new things... The whole point of having a list is that you should constantly be adding things, taking things off, moving them around, prioritising, that sort of thing... So it's not like you write one list and then you go, "Okay, I've got the list... done, finished, no more"... You should be adjusting it all the time.

So what's the main message you're trying to get through to people in your book and show?

The main message is that you can get more out of life if you focus on what you actually want out of life... And that if you write a list, you're writing a contract with yourself to set out to do the things you really want to do... and that there's no reason why you shouldn't be paid to do the things you really want to do in life. When I wrote out my list of things to do before I died, I decided early on that the best life I could have would be to actually get paid to do the things I wanted to do, like travel, meet new people, work in television overseas, and do different things. So, through design and focus you can come up with a list... and I think it's actually more difficult to write the list, than it is to do the things that are on your list... You know, it's just that you have to really focus, you've got to know what you want to do... Do you want to write a screenplay?, do you want to climb a mountain?, do you want to get married?, move to a new city?, travel?... What is the thing that is most important to you in your life? And your list should be very very different, completely different, from anybody else's... It should speak to what you want to do... And you might look at my list and go, "I don't want to go to the top of a volcano and eat dinner, I mean that's not what I want to do!"...

Yeh, I've seen the footage of you sitting on the top of a volcano having dinner... It must have been a pretty amazing sort of thing to do?

Well, for a while I was looking at doing different things in life... My list has kindof steered more towards helping other people live out the life that they really want... so I'm very focused on getting this book into people's hands, because I think it's a tool that can really help. When I test people about the things they want to do in their life, it's really interesting to me that... I'll say to them, "If you were to take your last breath tomorrow at 3.00, what's the one thing you would regret most not doing?"... And a lot of people sort of stop, and they go... "I don't know!"... And that kindof scares me, you know, it's like if you don't really know what you want to do with your life... then what is it you're living for?... What is it really that drives you?

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Buy Phil Keoghan's book, No Opportunity Wasted,
here now, through Amazon.com...


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Sunday, 10 April 2005

State TV drops the ball on Tamihere 2

What was happening over at State TV today?!

Did they really drop the ball that badly on the day's top local story, or is just that the entire staff are fully paid up members of the Labour Party, and on the Government payroll?!

The Sunday papers came out with further revelations from Ian Wishart's controversial Investigate Magazine interview, where John Tamihere made some badly misguided comments about the Holocaust, while trying to explain the attitute of Maori claimants and activists.

TV3's evening news led with a story following up these revelations, with an item from Amanda Gillies featuring representatives from the Jewish Community, as well as other MPs. 3 News continued with a live cross to Amanda, who gave us the latest details, including Prime Minister Helen Clark's announcement that Mr Tamihere was now on "extended leave" due to "considerable stress".

However, over on State TV One, they led with Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles' wedding. Fair enough. Bernie then tried to convince us that State TV had "Breaking News", which consisted of a live cross to a Political Reporter who began by talking about the story from the morning papers.

He followed this up with the claim that there was a fax coming through from Helen Clark - the same one Amanda had already held up a few minutes before. However, there was no track at all to go with the top NZ story of the day... looks like TVNZ would have ignored the new revelations if it hadn't been for the late breaking fax.

State TV's "effort" follows the feeble attempt by TV One's Agenda programme to try and prove Ian Wishart's interview with Tamihere was in fact "off the record", with claims that staff at Soljans Cafe didn't see a tape recorder on the table, as Wishart asserts.

Ian Wishart promises more revelations over the coming weeks from his interview... just don't expect to see or hear about them on State TV!

* NZ Herald: Tamihere on extended leave after offending more of his colleagues

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Friday, 8 April 2005

I'm vaguely normal ;-)

It's official... I'm apparently fairly normal, according to this test at Blogthings... (I'm still not convinced tho ;-)





You Are 55% Normal
(Somewhat Normal)





While some of your behavior is quite normal...
Other things you do are downright strange
You've got a little of your freak going on
But you mostly keep your weirdness to yourself

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Monday, 4 April 2005

John Tamihere's "Liquid Lunch" Outburst

NZ Herald: PM reacts to Tamihere's outburst
RodneyHide.com: Tamihere speaks out

Just when you thought John Tamihere couldn't dig himself any deeper, he goes and gives an interview (well, he thought it was "off the record", despite Investigate Magazine Editor, Ian Wishart, plonking a tape recorder on the table before they began their lunchtime meeting.

Tamihere then spent the next 70 minutes slamming his colleagues, and dishing a bit of dirt on the Government. (See the story above for full details, and a selection of quotes from the interview). Of course, he's not wrong about a lot of the things he mentions (like Steve Maharey being a smarmy operator, the PM's minder Heather Simpson being a dangerous woman, and what a load of bollocks Unions are ;-)

Here's my favourite pieces...

* "Unions, I can't stand them... It's always about threats and intimidation, and 'we've got big balls, what have you got?' "

* "They [Helen Clark and her mates] don’t have families. They’ve got nothing but the ability to plot."

* "So there’s operators like him [Maharey] who are very swarmy, very clever, but no substance."

* "But she’s [the PM] no good with emotions. She goes to pieces."

* "[The most powerful network in the Labour executive?] The Labour Party Wimmins Division."

* "I think we f…ked up with out 2004 amendments to the Employment Relations Act."

* "(The Parliamentary press gallery are) utterly and totally useless. And sycophantic. You know and I know there's no investigative journalism done in that bloody gallery."

* "I hear Maori talking about how they were burnt out of the Orakei marae in 1951 and so on. Big deal."

* "We wouldn't survive without (Finance Minister Michael) Cullen -- he can cut a deal on a piece of legislation, he can change a single word in a piece of legislation without those other b**tards (coalition partners) knowing about it."

I think I've changed my mind about this fellow... Keep him in Parliament, just move him to the other side! ;-)

[ Right now I'm watching:
^ The Bourne Identity ]

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Sunday, 3 April 2005

Tamihere "loses the plot"

SUNDAY STAR TIMES : Tamihere slammed over Nazi comments

TV3 is considering legal action against MP John Tamihere and the Labour Party over an attack by Tamihere on Labour's website likening TV3 head of news Mark Jennings and reporter Duncan Garner to Nazis.

Garner and TV3 broke the story of Tamihere's acceptance of a golden handshake and financial improprieties at the Waipareira Trust that led to Tamihere resigning as a minister last year.

In his weblog on the Labour Party website, Tamihere accused Garner and Jennings of telling lies and broadcasting allegations they knew to be untrue, and likened them to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and his propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Helen Clark said she was aware of the weblog, but did not intend to have it removed. An hour after this comment yesterday afternoon, Tamihere's blog was pulled from the website.

As the 'publisher' of the weblog, the Labour Party is potentially liable if legal action is taken.

Jennings said the comments appeared to be strongly defamatory. TV3 would seek discussion about Tamihere's comments with Labour tomorrow, and was considering legal action.

'I think John has lost the plot a bit - it's time he regained the plot and settled down,' Jennings said.

'Normally we would be very reluctant to pursue legal action, but this is just getting silly, and if he doesn't stop we are going to have to do something about it.'

The weblog comments follow an attack by Tamihere last week in which he claimed improper conduct by Garner in reporting his dealings at Waipareira. Tamihere did not return calls."

* Buy your favourite TV Shows on DVD here

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Bowyer and Dyer disgrace Newcastle - Football - ABC Sport

* ABC Sport - Football - Bowyer and Dyer disgrace Newcastle

Newcastle fans should know better... Whenever there's good news, it's always tempered shortly after by some equally bad news to balance things up ;-)

The good news came on Friday that Alan Shearer has postponed his retirement for another year, and resigned with Newcastle United FC as a Player/Coach, extending his contract by twelve months. Shearer will continue to play for the club, but will also have "coaching responsibilities", alongside Newcastle Manager Graeme Souness.


The bad news, as you can read above, is the full-on fight between Magpie teammates, Lee Bowyer and Kieron Dyer, as Newcastle were trailing Aston Villa 3-0 at St James Park. Both appeared in a news conference with Souness after the game, but neither actually really apologised to the other. They'll both miss Newcastle's next three games as well.

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Friday, 1 April 2005

TV3 Cameras banned from Parliament by Madame Speaker

* National Business Review (NBR) - TV3 banned from Parliament

Little Maggy Wilson has gone and banned TV3 Cameras from shooting proceedings in Parliament for one week (from next Monday), allegedly because they breached rules by showing Associate Education Minister David Benson-Pope fast asleep in Parliament.

It's her attempt to try and get a bit of revenge, after being quite accurately made to look like an ineffectual nutcase recently by ACT's Rodney Hide and Richard Prebble.

However, it seems Mags hasn't banned cameras from her bezza-mate Helen Clark's favourite channel, State TV One, despite the fact that they apparently also broadcast an image of Benson-Pope fast asleep on the job (albeit a copy of TV3's footage).

(Exchange in Parliament...)
Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I wonder whether I could seek the leave of the House to have the bell rung in order to wake up the Minister of Education, David Benson-Pope, for question time.

Madam SPEAKER: That is not a valid point of order.


* Diary entry on David B-P's nursery time from Rodney Hide's blog

Here's hoping the media will now treat Mags Wilson with the respect she deserves ;-) Look for some sort of scandal involving Wilson to come out in the lead up to the General Election...

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