Thursday, 26 June 2008

Recreate a Classic Kiwi Olympic Moment

Here's a project for any budding photographers/videographers out there, particularly those into acting or playing dress up ;-)

An online competition is calling on New Zealanders to recreate an inspiring moment from Kiwi Olympic history, to win a trip for 2 to the Beijing Games. Organised by Samsung, the "Bring It Home" competition is aimed at building support for the New Zealand Olympics team.

People can upload their re-enacted Olympic moments via photo or video to the Bring It Home website. Organisers recommend the more detail in your entries, the better. Visitors to the website can rate their favourite videos and photos, with the Top 10 being reviewed by a judging panel.

There's some good attempts already up on the website, but I'm sure those with creative minds can come up with some even cleverer or more authentic entries.

The top prize is a 5-day trip for two to the Beijing Olympics, with a Samsung fridge and Smartphone on offer for the runners up. You can enter as often as you like apparently, with entries closing at 5pm next Wednesday (25 June).

Hat tip: Spare Room

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Tuesday, 24 June 2008

C4 denies going 'Back to the Future'

Free to air New Zealand TV channel C4 seems to be drifting back to its roots, as bosses look to move its programming away from music television towards more drama and comedy programmes.

The network started life in 1997 as "TV4", a free to air urban youth-focused station created through a clever "juggling and rejigging" of frequencies by TV3. The channel had a number of theme nights during the week, including Brit Comedy Wednesday and Sci-Fi Thursday.

Under programmer Bettina Hollings, TV4 launched with a diverse range of youth programming, but later became more of a dumping ground for declining TV3 shows like Melrose Place and Baywatch.

After struggling financially and in the ratings, the station was relaunched in October 2003 as music channel C4. The new channel operated on a slim budget, broadcasting a selection of music videos and related programming.

That schedule was gradually expanded with content from MTV and Comedy Central, and more recently with shows like the US version of sitcom The Office.

For the coming season, C4 is adding a number of hour long dramas to its schedule, including the new season of sci-fi revival Battlestar Galactica, and NBC's American football series Friday Night Lights.
The Office US and Everybody Loves Chris also return with new episodes, along with the great sitcom 30 Rock (based around a fictional Saturday Night Live-style show), which struggled for viewers on TV3. The Sunday night "classic" movie slot will also be back this season.

But director of C4, Andrew Szusterman, denies the channel is becoming a dumping ground for failing TV3 programmes, saying the changes reflect "C4's move towards being a complete entertainment channel". He says unlike TV4, the channel will still have music programming at peak and off-peak times.

As part of the changes, C4 has secured a move to channel 12 on the Sky Digital platform, alongside other entertainment channels E! and Fashion TV. (It was previously buried up at channel 64, alongside other music channels like MTV, Juice, and Alt TV.)

* Stuff: C4 takes on TV2 with new season content
* NZ Herald: Renovations at C4

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Monday, 23 June 2008

Balmy Palmy is Flu Capital of NZ

Palmerston North has been named the "Cold and Flu Capital of New Zealand", in a Colmar Brunton survey undertaken on behalf of Panadol.

A thousand New Zealanders were polled, with 72% of people reporting suffering from a cold or flu already this winter. Things were slightly worse in Palmerston North, where an impressive 79% of people had come down with a cold or flu. Tauranga residents were the healthiest, with just 62% of people there falling ill.

Panadol says 66% of those with a cold or flu used specialised medications to help ease their symptons. They say the best thing to do when the 'cold takes hold' is to drink plenty of fluids, rest as much as possible, and (of course) reach for a specialised cold or flu medication.

Demographic breakdowns revealed Pasifika people were most likely to take cold or flu remedies, while Asian people were most likely to visit the doctor first. The dreaded "Man Flu" was also evident in the survey... 8% of males said they go straight to their doctor as the first sign of the sniffles, against just 3% of females.

The PR company who released the survey points out that Palmerston North does "have many great things going for it too", including no overhead power lines, cheap movie tickets, lots of trees, and free buses for University students and staff.

And according to the Palmerston North City Council's website, "Palmerston North has less annual rainfall than New York City, and warmer weather than London" - although as the press release notes – if you’ve ever been to London, that's not a particularly strong claim to fame.

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Winston Peters' announcement greeted with humour

Whale Oil has christened NZ First leader Winston Peters the new "Comical Ali", after the MP compared his apparent imminent comeback to champion boxer Muhammed Ali. (The original Comical Ali was of course Iraq's former Information Minister, Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf).

(Image 'borrowed' from Whale Oil...)

The veteran politician confirmed yesterday that he's going to attempt to win back his former seat of Tauranga, which he lost to National's Bob Clarkson in the 2005 election.

The Winston First party managed to survive despite the leader losing his seat, polling just over the threshold with 5.72%. This time around things look less promising, and with NZ First hovering around 3% in the polls, the lifeline of an electorate seat could be the party's only hope.

Foreign Affairs Minister Peters says he has a lighter travel schedule for the rest of the year, which will allow him to campaign regularly in the Tauranga electorate.

Watching the return of Jeremy Wells' tv show, The Unauthorised History of New Zealand last night, I was amused to hear Sir Bob Jones reveal that "Winston Peters wears a wig... he won't mind me saying that... he has done for about 25 years".
"Mr Peters, Is that your own hair you're wearing?"

Keep an eye on the back of Winston's head the next time you see him on the telly... It's the gap between the neck and the "hairline" that is usually the biggest giveaway for wig wearers... ;-)

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David "Kiwiblog" Farrar is thirsty in London

Prolific New Zealand blogger David Farrar (Kiwiblog) is currently holidaying in the UK, and being the organised chap that he is, made sensible plans to meet UK friends for drinks at the Speight's Ale House in London.

David set a time, and even had the exact address details, complete with postcode. Unfortunately, fellow blogger and prolific alcoholic Clint Heine has pointed out that the travelling Ale House actually closed earlier this year, after problems with the Westminster Council and other issues.

The original Speight's Ale House was sent to London last year, by way of a high seas pub crawl marketed as the Speight's Great Beer Delivery. A bunch of "great mates" were selected to accompany the ale house on its journey to the UK, travelling via Samoa, Panama, the Bahamas, and New York.

The fully-working pub arrived in October 2007, and was soon set up beside the Temple Tube Station in London. Unfortunately, it seems the little southern bar was just too popular with thirsty kiwis, and so Speight's decided to send it home again this year "to prepare for its next salvation mission".
An all-new "bigger and better" permanent Speight's Ale House will be built in London (not sure of exact location), but in the meantime the full Speight's beer range has gone on tap at The Southerner bar (formerly Hemisphere Bar, just around the corner from Temple station).

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Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Aucklanders use Inflatable Dolls to beat Traffic Rules

The quirky New Zealand story of our frustrated drivers on Auckland's North Shore are taking blow-up dolls as passengers to beat traffic rules is still doing the worldwide rounds, thanks to Reuters.

Cars/vans/trucks need to have 3 or more occupants to be able to use the far left "Transit lane" (motorbikes and bicycles are exempt). The right hand lanes usually move at a snails pace, but if you try to sneak a solo ride in the "express lane" and get caught, you'll get an instant $150 fine.

North Shore city council traffic safety bosses report some drivers have come up with a few inventive ways of trying to beat the system (by making it look like they've got more people in the car)... including blow-up dolls, dressing up large pets in jackets and hoodies, and using pillows with baby clothing on.

(And it's not just something that kiwi drivers have come up with... Frustrated drivers in the United States can even buy a specially designed blow-up doll named "Carpool Kenny" to bring along for the ride!)

TV3's Campbell Live show investigated the claims on the North Shore, and learned that some drivers are being caught because their "fake passengers" don't move. The show suggests that giving your dolls a bit of a shake as you pass the cameras might increase your chances of success ;-)

* Video - Campbell Live: What do North Shore residents do with inflatable dolls?

* North Shore City Council: Dolls, dogs and invisible children cheat transit lanes

* - Carpool Kenny
[ Right now I'm listening to:
^ EMD - Jennie Let Me Love You
^ Cyndi Lauper - Into the Nightlife ]

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Topless warmup to Euro 2008 by Women's Soccer teams

Austria drew first blood in the first of this week's big football clashes against Germany, winning a one-off Women's Topless football match between the two countries.

"Erotic actresses" from Austria and Germany took part in the five-a-side topless beach soccer match in downtown Vienna, in a warmup to their crucial Euro 2008 clash.

The match was organised by an internet chat room company, and attracted a large (mainly male) crowd, keen for a "morale booster" between the crunch match between Austria and Germany.

Football fans described the match as a "very nice version of the beautiful game", but agreed the girls might need to work on their technique.

Germany's goalkeeper Jana Bach admitted football wasn't her strongest talent. "I was supposed to hold the balls but I really have no idea how to do that... Maybe it is because I am not all that much into soccer. I am more into shoes to be honest."
The traditional post-game swapping of team shirts had to be skipped, but players did join their new fans for "alcopops and dancing at a beach club alongside the Danube."

Oh, and the scoreline? The Austrian Topless Women's Soccer team beat the German Topless Women's Soccer team 10 goals to 5.

* Stuff: Austrian women streak to victory in topless match

* UPDATE: In the "real" Euro 2008 football clash that followed, three-time champions Germany beat co-hosts Austria 1-0 in Vienna, to ensure a place in the quarter-finals.

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Sunday, 15 June 2008

Firefox 3 aims for World Record Download Day

* Update: Download Day officially starts on June 17th at 10 am PDT (For New Zealanders, that actually works out to 5am on Wednesday June 18th...)

Set aside some time this Tuesday to join in "Download Day 2008", which aims to set an impressive Guinness World Record for the most software downloads in 24 hours!

Tuesday July 17th is the official launch date of Firefox 3, the latest version of the speedy and customisable web browser (descended from the Mozilla Suite).

Download Day - English
Firefox 3 has been in beta testing for the last few months, and users say it's much faster, has increased security, and adds a bunch of great new features that will change the way you used the Web.

The newest version of Firefox has more than 15,000 improvements, and features one-click bookmarking, a "smart location bar" which tries to guess which websites you're trying to get to, and much speedier performance (particularly with Java-based sites like Gmail).

Firefox 3 also includes phishing and malware protection, plus instant site ID info. The session restore feature has been improved, you can zoom in on websites with the browser, and enjoy built-in spell checking. Plus there's over 5,000 add-ons to customise and tailor the browser to your individual tastes and needs.

To help Firefox set its new record (and do yourself a favour by getting the latest and greatest internet web browser), download Firefox 3 on Tuesday June 17th. (The official "24 hour period" will begin when the software is released online, so those in the Southern Hemisphere may have to wait until Tuesday afternoon, local time).
Download Day

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Want to be an MP? Apply Now!

Ever had a burning ambition to be an MP? Newly formed political party icount is now taking applications, through the New Zealand job recruitment sites Seek and TradeMe.

President of the icount Party, Paul O'Connor, says they're serious about recruiting 6 Members of Parliament before the 2008 election, and they've already received applications "from a number of fantastic candidates."

The party says politicians have historically ignored their promises, and haven't adequately addressed issues like Tax Cuts, the Number of MPs in Parliament, Anti-smacking legislation, Electoral Finance Act, Increased petrol prices, and Touger sentencing.

icount MPs would have to sign a Code of Conduct, and be bound to vote in Parliament in accordance with "icount policy polls", or forced to resign. The party says it will ensure its MPs are "experts in their areas, and have a positive attitude about making New Zealand the best place to live in the world."
I gather Dunedin South MP David Benson-Pope is looking for a new party (having been dumped by Labour, and rejected an invitation by the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party), but I suspect he may not meet all of the job requirements...
Candidates must have the following attributes:
- Desire, passion and ability to help New Zealand move ahead
- A sound understanding of how the New Zealand political system operates
- A strong understanding of several specialist topic (see the icount discussion area) areas eg Health, Education
- Strong written skills to help inform a balanced view for icount members on political decisions
- Ability to work with other parties and icount members to form policies and law. You must be an icount financial member
- Personal Integrity (eg no punching other MPs, no exaggerating or lying to voters)

Remuneration - 150k+ package
- Base $126,200
- Expenses $14,280
- Executive assistant in his or her parliamentary office
- One full-time equivalent staff member as out-of-Parliament support staff
- Free domestic air, rail and ferry travel
- Free accommodation (for parliamentary business)
- Security system reimbursement
- Landline, internet and cellphone use
- Parliamentary superannuation
- Plus many other perks
Still interested?? Apply online now...

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Friday, 13 June 2008

US Democratic Primary Race in 8 Minutes

If you're an American who hasn't been paying attention for the last 6 months, or are a New Zealander or other international reader who's struggling to understand terms like "Primary", "Caucus", "Delegates", and "Popular Vote", here's a complete summary of Everything you need to know about the US Democratic Primary Race in 8 minutes...

(Video clip by the guys at online video magazine,

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Thursday, 12 June 2008

Labour turns to USA to find a Happy Family

How many faux pas can one Government make in an election year?? Labour's latest misstep is using a stock photo from an American website to illustrate a "happy New Zealand family" after this year's budget.

The Labour Party is refusing to say how much the pamphlet cost to produce and distribute to New Zealand households. It gives details of Cullen's tax cuts and his new train set, as well as information about increase in "Working for Families" welfare payments and other services.

The glossy brochures have been paid for out of taxpayer funds, through Parliamentary Services. However they're likely to be counted as "election advertising" and possibly a "donation" under Labour's flawed Electoral Finance Act, and so will have to be included in the party's $2.4 million spending cap.

Rod Emmerson Cartoon: Why are these people smiling?

* NZ Herald: Watchdog investigates Labour's pamphlet

* NZ Herald - Audrey Young: Labour's fake Kiwi family obscures bigger sham that is EFA

* NZ Herald: Labour's fake Kiwi family is a fake Aussie family too

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Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Website aims to ease Petrol Pain

An ambitious New Zealand website believes sky-rocketing petrol prices will help increase the rate of signups to a newly formed "big buyer group", aimed at "reducing the burden" on everyday people.

The Cheap Petrol Petrol hopes to initially sign up 10,000 individuals, with a goal of 50,000 members by the end of the year. Those behind the website say a group that size would use over 100 million litres of petrol a year.

They're hoping that will give them enough clout and buying power to negotiate a cheaper rate on petrol for members.

The idea is to gain a discount of a similar level as that offered by supermarket vouchers (4-10 cents a litre), but through a petrol discount card that can be used as often as you want, and whenever you want.

The Cheap Petrol Project was started by Sammy Mishriki, who says the company is already in talks with all petrol providers (BP, Shell, Caltex, Gull, Mobil and GAS), and will look to go with the company that offers the cheapest petrol deal with no additional costs.

The petrol discount card is free for members, who can sign up online at the project's website. (It's planned that cards will be sent out once the initial target of 10,000 members is reached).

* Official website: The Cheap Petrol Project (NZ)

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Friday, 6 June 2008

Air NZ: Fares up, Flights down

Air New Zealand says high jet fuel prices have forced the company to announce its second airfare price hikes in three weeks, and cuts to some weekly and seasonal services.

Air NZ is increasing its Domestic, Trans-tasman, and International fares by an average of 4%, and will cut back the number of flights on some routes to Australia, Japan, and Hong Kong.

The latest fare hikes come into effect from the middle of this month, and follow an average 3% rise for domestic fares announced in mid-May.
The continuing high cost of jet fuel has put pressure on airlines all over the world. Air NZ believes its in a better position than most, but has been forced to make two profit downgrades in the last two months. The company is now forecasting a pre-tax operating profit of $200-220 million for the year to June.

Air NZ was bailed out from bankruptcy in 2001 by the Labour-led government, to the tune of $1 billion, and is still under 77% state ownership.

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Tuesday, 3 June 2008

The templates, they are a'changing

Following this blog's recent move to a 'custom domain', I am now in the process of switching "Dave Gee: Life from Right Field" to a new and updated template, which includes moving to a wider 3-column format.

The switchover has gone relatively successfully, but I still have a few teething problems to be sorted out over the next week...

Therefore please excuse any clashing colours, bad links, weird layout, etc that you may encounter as I continue to make tweaks and changes to this blog's template... :-)

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Monday, 2 June 2008

Greens taking the p**s with "Coalition Preferences"

At the time of New Zealand's first MMP election in 1996, the country had 3 "Green" political parties... The Green Party (then part of the left-wing Alliance grouping), the free-market Progressive Green Party (Stephen Rainbow, Guy Salmon, Gary Taylor), and the Green Society.

Today there is just one party remaining that bears the "Green" brand, and unfortunately for anyone who cares about environmental issues, it is the far-left Green Party now headed by Aussie import Russell Norman (former activist with the Socialist Workers Party).

While many of the original Green Party members came out of the "Values" movement, the more moderate environmentalists like Mike Ward have been replaced by the likes of beneficiaries activist Sue Bradford.

As the documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle (which screened on Prime NZ over the weekend) pointed out, the "Green" movement has been taken over by radical socialists and neo-marxists, who use it as a populist front to promote their failed policies, and campaign against Capatalism.

Even the mild-mannered Jeanette Fitzsimons is a closet communist, telling a Green publication in 1994... "If socialism is to survive as a relevant political movement in the 21st century, it must develop a response to the ecological crisis and a socialist strategy to build a sustainable future."
Now the Green Party is trying to persuade New Zealanders (or at least the media) that they are "keeping their options open" on Coalition Preferences, and won't reveal which party they prefer until closer to the election.

Admittedly Norman has reason to describe National and Labour as "Father Coke and Mother Pepsi", because they are "so similar" (since John Key forced National to take a hard left turn), voters know the current Greens lineup would never agree to form a coalition with the National Party.

The Greens are deserving of their old "watermelon" tag, with many "red" policies and beliefs hidden behind the populist "green" exterior.
There's also a weird and dodgy spiritual Gaianism element to the grouping (a neopagan religion), no better evidenced than by the candle lighting ceremony that began the party's conference, calling in the guiding spirits of the sun and the earth, and of fallen comrades.

The Greens do not have the security of an electorate seat, and are dependent on staying above the crucial 5% threshold to remain in Parliament. The party's election support has never matched its previous heights in political polls, and it will be careful to ensure it doesn't scare any potential voters back to Labour.

* NZ Herald: John Armstrong: Hello spirits ... woops, goodbye National

* Dominion Post: Greens' fears of old enemy colour views

* New Zeal: Was the Green's "Mr Clean", a Marxist-Leninist?

* New Zeal: Jeanette Fitzsimons and the Communists

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Sunday, 1 June 2008

Sceptics debate the Climate Change Prophets

An interesting evening of Television tonight... Credit must go to Prime Television (Sky) for choosing to broadcast The Great Global Warming Swindle, and for organising a relatively balanced local debate after the documentary.

It is extremely rare to see alternate viewpoints on "man-made Global Warming" given the light of day on TVNZ or TV3, or in the country's newspapers.

I did note the "disclaimer" made by Eric Young before the documentary screened, that the views were not those of Prime or Prime News. I'd love to see similar disclaimers the next time the Green's Aussie-Marxist Russell Norman, or Labour's soon-to-be-demoted David Parker are wheeled out.

The Climate Change crusaders quoted US statistics that suggested over 60% media coverage in America in the past challenged or disputed the theory of man-made Global Warming.

However, as any New Zealander will know, the so-called mainstream print and broadcast media here have swallowed the lies hook, line, and sinker, and anyone who dares to question the UN's global religion is a "heretic".

I did find it interesting that the "sceptics" (Leighton Smith and Dr Willem de Lange) were constantly interrupted by the 3 Global Warming prophets, but that rudeness was not reciprocated.

Leaving aside the Gaian campaigner Cindy Baxter, the two climate change scientists on the panel did at least admit in passing two things...

* that all scientists do not agree that CO2 is a major contributor to global warming
* and that the IPCC does not represent the unanimous views of "2,500 of the world's top scientists/experts" (a line the NZ "mainstream" media likes to use).

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Cullen's budget fails to halt Poll slide

The two major NZ television channels revealed the latest results of their respective political polls tonight, and neither had good news for the Labour Party.

Both included polling after Michael Cullen's Colby Budget, where he very begrudgingly "believed" in tax cuts, after nine years in the job, and after cancelling the "chewing gum" tax cuts he announced back in 2005.

Michael Cullen announced a multi-year tax cuts package totalling $10.6 billion, but for many workers that barely covers the "fiscal drag" over Labour's 9 years in power... that's the technical term to describe the loss in real earnings for workers, when tax thresholds aren't adjusted for inflation and don't keep pace with wage growth.

Both political polls recorded a drop in support for Labour, which is well behind John Key's National Party.

TV One's Colmar Brunton poll puts National on 55%, with Labour well back on 29%. That's a gap of 26%, and is apparently the worst result for Labour in at least 7 years.

TV3's TNS political poll normally favours Labour, and records a smaller but still significant gap of 15%... with National up to 50% and Labour down to 35% (says 38% online).

Both channels have the Greens over the 5% threshold (TV One: 7%, TV3: 5.8%), which they must stay over to remain in Parliament, with no hope of winning an electorate seat.

Winston Peters' return to his traditional campaign mantras of senior citizens, immigration, and public ownership have boosted NZ First slightly (4.4% and 3.9% respectively), but with no electorate seat for Winston the party would get 0 seats.

The Maori Party is still on track to cause a significant overhang in the next Parliament, recording just 2-2.5% support, but tipped to win 6-7 of the "Maori" seats.
ACT haven't yet moved up from their current 2 seats, while United Future is in danger of joining the JAPs as a Party of One.

* No Minister: Liarbour and Dear Leader: Down she goes!!!!

* Not PC: Cullen's budget didn't deliver tax cuts, and MSM finally notices

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