2007 has certainly been a turnaround season for the NZ Breakers. The Auckland-based ANBL team have given a kiwi basketball fans something to cheer about this year, with a uncharacteristic run of wins from an exciting lineup that has gelled together well.
Unfortunately, the team's rising fortunes were looking shaky after serious injuries to both the American players.
Coach Andrej Lemanis also admitted a number of the regular squad were also carrying niggly injuries into tonight's matchup at home against the South Dragons, but managed to keep up the pressure down the stretch for a 3-point win, 107-104.
Posted at 10:05 p.m. Monday, 26 November 2007
For people who've outgrown the limitations of free blog services or social networking sites, the next step is building and hosting your own website. But with hundreds of different hosting companies vying for your business, it can be difficult figuring out which company and package is right for you.
A great site to check out if you're in the market for professional web hosting is webhostingchoice.com. It offers a free comprehensive guide to selecting a web host that meets your requirements, while not breaking the bank.
The site has a searchable directory, which lets you narrow the hundreds of webhosting companies and plans by setup fee, monthly cost, disk space, and bandwidth limits. An advanced search is also available, if you're needing specific features like PHP, ASP, or Shopping Carts.
Web Hosting Choice also has a great 'Learning Center' for those new to the concept of web hosting, with good info about getting started with your first site, avoiding scams, and a big list of common 'FAQs' or Frequently Asked Questions. I recommend checking out this site before you take the hosting plunge.
Posted at 9:53 p.m. Sunday, 25 November 2007
Daft Punk's catchy song "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" was first released back in 2001, but a live version of the track was released just last month, to promote the French house music duo's new album, Daft Punk - Alive 2007.
The song has become popular with a new audience, after being was sampled by US rapper Kanye West, for his new single "Stronger".
"Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" is also doing the rounds of the office emails, thanks to its use in a very clever Youtube video...
Check out the original clip, "Daft Hands"...
And here's a very sexy twist on the original... "Daft Bodies",
featuring two half-naked young ladies...
^ Ola - S.O.S. ]
^ Shayne Ward - Tangled Up
Posted at 10:01 p.m.
John Howard was unable to upset the pundits this time around, as the Liberal/National coalition was defeated in Australia's Parliamentary elections yesterday.
Meanwhile the man expected to replace Howard, former Treasurer Peter Costello, has announced he doesn't want to lead the Liberals from the Opposition benches, and will also be looking to leave politics. That leaves the way clear for an interesting fight over control of the Liberal Party.
Maybe John Howard should have followed Tony Blair's lead, who stepped aside to make way for Gordon Brown to take over as British PM.
Mind you, Blair was very philosophical in considering his decision... just check out this brilliantly edited clip, "Should I Stay, or Should I Go?"...
Posted at 8:50 p.m. Thursday, 22 November 2007
What is it about Dunedin-based Labour Party MPs?? They certainly punch above their weight in the "dodgy mass media story" stakes!
David Benson-Pope has led the way in recent years with his run of headline-hitting sagas, while Pete Hodgson made the news in 2005 when Police found he committed assault against a female political protester at Otago University.
Former Otago (now List) MP David Parker looked like the best of the southern Labour bunch, being reinstated to Cabinet following his rehabilitation for dodgy financial dealings relating to a Property company.
But now Labour's Climate Change ambassador (and State Services Minister) has again hit turbulent waters, with claims of political interference by him at the Ministry for the Environment.
Former employee Erin Leigh claims Dunedin-based Labour Party activist Clare Curran was hired on contract (in a non-competitive process) by the Environment Ministry in the middle of last year "to look after David Parker's personal political agenda".
This is the same Environment Ministry previously overseen by David Benson-Pope, which had just fired Madeleine Setchell over a possible "conflict of interest", because she was the partner of National Party press secretary Kevin Taylor.
The National Party says these latest developments in the Setchell/Curran saga prove the New Zealand public service is no longer neutral, and that departmental budgets are helping advance party political agendas.
Labour's professional "bovver boy" Trevor Mallard led the party's defence today, but the State Services Commission is to investigate the Environment Ministry's hiring of Clare Curran.
Curran works as a communications consultant in Dunedin. She is the Otago/Southland representative on Labour's national council, and is standing against Benson-Pope for the party's Dunedin South nomination (although after these revelations, her chances must be slim).
* 3 News: "Political Interference" (Video clip)
* NZ Herald: Activist was minister's watchdog: Staffer
* NZ Herald: Inquiry clouding Parker's future
* NZ Herald: SSC takes another look at Labour Party activist's contract
Posted at 9:38 p.m. Wednesday, 21 November 2007
It was Wellington's turn today to protest against the draconian and anti-democratic changes to New Zealand's electoral law, planned by Labour and their cohorts.
The Electoral Finance Bill is a scary statement revealing the true level of arrogance the current minority coalition Government has for democracy, free speech, and everyday New Zealanders.
As the protesters rightly cried out, "We don't want this fascist law!" The Labour Party are moving this country further and further away from a free and open society... and more towards the kind of "democracies" enjoyed by the likes of China and North Korea.
The select committee charged with amending the hugely unpopular draft of the bill gave officials just two days to add in rules governing anonymous political donations. (The additions were demanded by the Green Party, in return for their support).
The select committee also ignored all other official advice, and went about making token amendments to the original figures, which inserting additional anti-free speech measures like including anyone who speaks over a megaphone or loudspeaker!?
MPs on the select committee also rejected the recommendation of the Electoral Commission to set an election year spending limit of up to $300,000 for "interest and advocacy groups"... instead going with a more miserly $120,000.
Personally I am against the whole idea of legislating against free speech in any form at all. Unlike some others who are opposing the bill, I believe there should be no restrictions at all on how much an individual/group/party wants to spend on "political advertising", and no restrictions on what they want to say. True freedom for all.
* Kill the Bill - The Free Speech Coalition
* Whale Oil: Compilation of protest march coverage
* Excellent ongoing coverage also at Kiwiblog
* NZ Herald: Donation law devised in just two days
* Stuff: Labour’s paranoia stamped all over electoral bill
Posted at 8:10 p.m. Tuesday, 20 November 2007
Now this is a fantastic idea that will hopefully catch on quickly in other parts of the world... American media conglomerate CBS Corporation has announced plans to create a free wireless high-speed network in Midtown Manhattan.
The "CBS Mobile Zone" will let New Yorkers (and Manhattan tourists) access the internet for free, by using their wi-fi enabled cellphones, laptops, or other devices.
The HotZone will cover a generous 20 city blocks in Midtown Manhattan - from Times Square to Central Park South, and from 6th Ave to 8th Ave (indicated in red in the map below...)
The large "CBS Mobile Zone" will be powered by transmitters fitted to the company's Outdoor billboards, as well as the panels above some MTA subway stations.
The plan is likely to prove a hit with the growing number of Apple iPhone and iPod Touch users. The CBS Wi-Fi HotZone is already available in limited areas, but will be fully operational by the end of November.
I'm looking forward to being able to use the network on my next visit to New York City... I'm enjoying the video capabilities of my new Apple iPod Touch gadget, but unfortunately haven't been able to do much exploring with its wi-fi capabilities, due to the fact New Zealand is somewhat behind the times when it comes to wireless hotspots.
* Source: CBS Offers Midtown Manhattan Free Wireless Internet Access
Posted at 9:05 p.m.
My vacation this year in New York nicely coincided with the annual "Broadway on Broadway" celebration in Times Square. The free open air concert attracts thousands of people, as Broadway officially opens its 2007-2008 season.
This year's event was hosted by former N'Syncer Lance Bass, who is currently appearing in the hit musical Hairspray. The concert featured over 200 Broadway performers, presenting songs from most of New York's top musicals.
The concert finished with Frank Sinatra’s classic tune, New York, New York, while a blizzard of colourful confetti rained down on the crowd in Times Square...
Posted at 5:27 p.m.
The Speights Great Beer Delivery was one of the more inspired marketing ideas of the year... picking a bunch of "regular" kiwi lads to help take a genuine Speights pub (full of beer) to the UK, by sea.
I was lucky enough to have a quick trip onboard the boat before it departed Dunedin, NZ on its voyage, but unfortunately I was still going to be travelling when the guys were due to arrive in London.
However, through no intentional planning whatsoever, my own arrival in NYC from London happened to coincide with the lads' arrival in port.
Nelson Blue, down in Manhattan's South St Seaport district...
The Speights Great Beer Delivery crew toast to NYC,
along with a few hangers on at Nelson Blue... ;-)
Posted at 5:14 p.m.
The final cut of one of the most popular and widely viewed documentaries about 9/11 - Loose Change - has now been released online and on DVD in the United States.
The documentary follows the events before, during, and after September 11 2001 and reveals how much of what the US Government and "mainstream media" have been selling the public simply doesn't add up...
Loose Change includes startling interviews with high level insiders, original TV footage which contradicts the later "official story", and alternate theories on what really may have gone on.
Were the Twin Towers really brought crashing to the ground by two aeroplanes? Or was it really a "Secret Controlled Demolition", with bombs and internal explosives set to go off in the basement and lower floors of the buildings?
And did a Boeing 757 really crash into the Pentagon that day? Really?? Loose Change aims to uncover "the truth of 9/11"...
"The central premise of Loose Change is that the United States Government was - at the very least - criminally negligent in allowing the attacks of September 11th 20011 to occur.* Loose Change 911 - Official website
However, when one looks deeper into the evidence, one might come to the conclusion that our own Government might have been directly responsible for the attacks themselves."
Posted at 3:07 p.m.
The issue of Police Tasers has hit the headlines recently, after a video surfaced showing a 40 year old Polish immigrant being tasered by Canadian police at Vancouver International Airport, just minutes before he died.
The amateur video shows Polish man Robert Dziekanski writing and screaming in pain as he is hit repeatedly by a taser gun. Four police officers then piled on top of the traveller to try and control him. The officers have since been "reassigned to different posts".
Canadian federal police have defended their use of Tasers as being "safe and effective in most cases", despite 18 people having died in Canada in the past four years after being struck by a taser.
Now it's been revealed that three American men died over the past weekend in seperate incidents, after being zapped by Tazers during police confrontations there.
Police are worried that incidents like this will increase public pressure to ban or further limit their use of taser guns. Police in New Zealand have been trialling tasers for the last year, but they have yet to be approved for use by frontline officers.
Maybe the public would be more receptive to tasers if the NZ Police bought models like these ones...
* Source: OhGizmo!: Be Nice To Baby Seals (Or Else)
[ Right now I'm listening to:
^ Duran Duran (feat. Justin Timberlake) - Falling Down ]
^ Sugababes - About You Now (Dr Luke)
Posted at 2:06 p.m. Wednesday, 14 November 2007
Yeh, I know I got back home from my month-long vacation in early October, but things have been flat out with work and Grease and everything ;-)
Here's the start of my promised updates about where I went and what I saw during my annual break this year...
My pilgrimage to 'Maratone' in Stockholm...
This innocent looking building houses Maratone Studios - home of the "World's Greatest Music Producer" Max Martin (along with Rami, Arnthor Birgisson, Savan Kotecha and other geniuses.)
Posted at 10:19 p.m.
Posted at 10:14 p.m.
Prominent NZ blogger David Farrar from Kiwiblog has raised the idea of forming a new political party, with the specific aim of campaigning against the draconian "Electoral Finance Bill". The Labour Party is trying to ram the very dodgy bill through, with the help of their equally dodgy partners including Winston First, the Greens, and United Future.
David Farrar (with perhaps a hint of 'tongue in cheek') points out that a party aimed at seeking publicity against the EFB would have a spending limit of $1 million, rather that the ridiculous level of $60,000 which Labour want to introduce.
The Labour Party was (not surprisingly) in the extreme minority during submissions to Parliament's Electoral law and justice committee.
The other groups strongly backing the EFB were The Alliance (who?), CTU, PSA, Campaign Against Foreign Control of New Zealand (is this a NZ First vehicle?), and a Community Law Centre in Whitirea (where?)
* Kill the Bill - The Free Speech Coalition
* Kiwiblog: Some Electoral Finance Bill ideas for election year
* Whale Oil Beef Hooked: PM stands firm - election law won't be axed
Posted at 8:57 p.m. Tuesday, 13 November 2007
I meant to get this up last week but life was a bit hectic, but it's still worthy of promoting if anyone in the country did happen to miss it... ;-)
Television News is the ultimate in "live tv", because so much of it is "live and unrehearsed" and there is so much scope for things to go wrong.
Here's a strong contender for "Best NZ TV Blooper of the Year"... State TV's One News cross back live to Suva for some 'Breaking News' from their hard working Pacific correspondent Barbara Dreaver...
Former Channel 9er Jared the Mason was the cameraman keen to appear on telly... (He apparently sees the funny side of it now ;-)
Jared says they received no calls from the control room, so he assumed Barb was just practising her script as he went about checking the lens, sorting out a microphone, and framing up his camera shot just as the "live cross" ended...
I also love how composed Wendy and Simon are after the cross... Wendy looks down intently at her "notes" as she recaps Barabara's info, and pretends like nothing went wrong ;-)
* Hat tip to Dan News for the clip...
Posted at 8:29 p.m. Friday, 9 November 2007
The Popular and competent Labour MP for Dunedin South, David Benson-Pope, now faces four challengers keen to win the Labour Party nomination for the seat next election.
Local PR woman Clare Curran was the first name to surface earlier this month, although she was reluctant to officially put her name in the hat until the EPMU announced they were putting up their president, Don Pryde, to get the competition going.
High profile but failed Dunedin mayoral campaigner Olivier Lequeux was next to announce his aspirations for the safe red seat, while Dunedin union organiser Keith McFadyen was the fourth to add his name to the list.
Dunedin South is a very important electorate to the Labour Party, responsible for around 5% of the party's total membership, and significantly more in terms of financial backing.
Blogger Clint Heine (via Insolent Prick) has some very interesting details about Labour Dunedin South's healthy property portfolio... including Benson-Pope's own electorate office in South Dunedin (which is rented by Parliamentary Services by way of the unsuspecting taxpayer). The local electorate also makes generous donations and "loans" to the national Labour Party organisation.
He was forced to resign from Cabinet after revelations of political meddling into staff matters at the Environment Ministry (leading to the sacking of Madeleine Setchell). Even his Popular and competent Prime Minister has refused to publicly back his plans to stand again.
Benson-Pope has been a Dunedin electorate MP since 1999, after a short stint on the City Council. He became Labour's Senior Whip (no pun intended ;-) in 2002, and then gained a raft of portfolios in 2004 including Associate Minister of Education.
More recently, he was appointed Minister of Social Development (including responsibility for the 'Child, Youth & Family' department) following Labour's return to the Government benches in 2005.
The MP told the Otago Daily Times this week it was simply "democracy at work" and he is "delighted so many people are prepared to serve the electorate". Good news for Dunedin South voters too then? ;-)
** Update: DBP seems to have changed his mind, and is now a bit grumpy about the five-way race for Labour Dunedin South, claiming "a small group of people have taken their eye off the ball". However, he's ruled out the option of standing as an Independent candidate if he isn't selected by the Labour Party...
Posted at 6:44 p.m. Friday, 2 November 2007
I'm getting ready for the opening night of the musical Grease in Mosgiel (just out of Dunedin). It's being staged by Taieri Musical Society, although the majority of the cast and crew come from Dunedin city.
The show started rehearsals in early September while I was still overseas on a month's vacation, but I was able to get a cameo role which I slotted into when I got back home again.
(The New Broadway Cast Recording of Grease, featuring Max Crumm and Laura Osnes and the Broadway revival cast, is now out on CD).
Here's something a little different though... West End and Broadway star Denise Van Outen (who co-hosted the US version of the TV talent hunt) leading this very sexy modern remix of Look at me, I'm Sandra Dee, featuring a few other favourite Grease tunes...
Posted at 7:22 p.m.