Archive for the ‘Fun Things’ Category

The WAXING & WANING of JUSTICE

November 16th, 2014 at 9:00 am by Kokila Patel

By John Stringer

Brazilian

 

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All Blacks in Chicago and the politics of USA Rugby

November 4th, 2014 at 6:24 am by kiwi in america

On Saturday November 1 something remarkable happened – one of America’s most iconic NFL football stadiums, Soldier Field in Chicago – home of the Chicago Bears, hosted the first game between the USA Eagles and the All Blacks in over 30 years in front of a sellout crowd of 62,000 AND the game was broadcast live on NBC, one of America’s big three broadcast TV networks (not on NBC Sport – one of its subsidiary channels only seen on cable). This was unprecedented exposure for rugby here in the US. I was caught completely off guard by the popularity of this event procrastinating getting tickets for only a few weeks only to hear it had sold out! What was even more remarkable was, according to expat mates at the game, the bulk of the crowd were Americans.

Since 2006 I have been an assistant coach of a High School rugby team and I referee Union 15s and 7s plus Touch rugby. I knew something big was brewing when 14 year old boys on our team asked about the game and asked me whether I’d ever seen the All Blacks play. As I recounted the many test matches I’ve watched the ABs play at Lancaster Park, Carisbrook and Eden Park, the new boys this season all gathered around and peppered me with questions about the men in black and rugby in NZ. These are boys who live and breathe football, most of them play it and attend college and NFL games regularly, are enrolled in numerous fantasy football teams and watch gridiron on TV as much as parents will allow. And yet despite that, they are in sheer awe of the All Blacks and ripple with adolescent excitement at the prospect of their first game of rugby. I have probably coached several hundred boys since moving here and 2/3rds of them also played football (the two seasons don’t overlap – they play high school football August to November and rugby January to May). A good number of these boys were starting Varsity players (equivalent of the 1st XV)  for top high school programmes here in Arizona. And yet once they began to play rugby, there was not a one of them who did not prefer rugby to football despite still loving football and some even managing college scholarships. I call it the rugby drug – a few hits and these boys get addicted. They get infinitely more game time than football’s large squads, they all get to touch the ball as opposed to just the quarterbacks and receivers in football, rugby is player managed/football is coach managed – teenagers love the independence to make their own plays in real time as a rugby game unfolds and the clincher, and any current and former rugby players will nod their heads in agreement, is the post-game adrenaline high is so much bigger and lasts longer with rugby because they are on the field exerting themselves aggressively for so much longer!

I’m sure you are wondering that, knowing all this, why the US, with all its vast wealth and its tens of millions of athletic kids (and believe me I still marvel at the massive factory of fast, physical and genetically gifted athletes here) is still only able to produce a team that an All Black B team can put almost 70 points on and trust me, had the field been the regulation 50m width (not the 43m forced by the narrower gridiron configuration), the ABs might’ve nudged the ton. The answer can be summed up in one word – politics.

Don’t get me wrong – the game on Saturday will do much good for the game here and it was fantastic that the NZRFU agreed to do it. The Blacks clearly had a great time, they were very gracious in victory and it was a great warm up for Dan Carter and a stunning reminder of Sonny Bill Williams’ supreme talent that, rusty from his post league transition, he came within one forward pass of a hat trick of tries. But this was a top down exercise born of pure financial expediency. The NZRFU made a very tidy profit to compensate for its dwindling gate sales in NZ’s major city stadiums, NBC got to preview rugby to its vast US Olympics audience so it had its eyes firmly on 7’s at the Rio Olympics rather than grassroots rugby in the US and AIG, major All Black sponsors based in New York, got to get its name in front of a large prime time US network audience.

Rugby administration in the US is dominated by men who grew up playing what passes for club rugby here. The pattern is repeated cross all major and medium cities across America. For decades, most Americans discovered rugby as adults albeit young adults picked up from: a high school football coach who spent a stint in the UK in the military and played rugby, a Canadian work mate who played rugby there before emigrating (where the game has a more solid footing); some worked for a period in rugby playing countries or in locations where Kiwi, Aussie, South African and English expats congregate and discovered rugby there, still more are expats themselves wanting to keep playing the game and others still discovered it from expat work mates in the US. The bottom line was and is the same – Men’s rugby clubs typically cover a large age range of 19 to 40’s and include fit and capable athletes with overweight and out of shape older men in it for the boozing and socializing. A few promising players would travel overseas to play rugby in heartland countries but for some reason the generation that now administers the game in the US, they mostly visited the northern European countries and so learned that style of playing and refereeing.

The biggest growth of the game in the US in recent years has come from college rugby and it from those ranks that the US 7’s and Eagles National team is usually chosen. The game is beginning to grow more rapidly at the high school level and so development squads of U19 players have also fed to the national level. But unfortunately the stultifying politics of USA rugby is dominated by men who really have no clue what top class rugby playing and administration looks like. This is manifest in a variety of ways summed up by my own experiences and observations:

  •  When you come from NZ, you naturally draw on what you saw when you were growing up and knew as an adult about rugby in NZ – you are brimming with ideas and suggestions as to how to improve the game in the US because when you first arrive, you become immediately aware of the gaping holes in quality at every level (playing, coaching, reffing and administration). The Americans mostly don’t want to know about our experience. They don’t care where you are from and what you might know coming from the world’s best rugby playing nation – they are comfortable in their dysfunctional space and don’t want upstarts telling them what to do. This acts as an immediate dampener on getting involved with the administration of the sport. For one thing who will vote for you when they all elect their local mates who won’t (and can’t) point out their inadequacies. For that reason, I and other expats have concentrated on building a good programme with our local high school teams. Even then after helping build a programme that has won the AZ state championship 3 times on the trot, lost the 2014 US High School Nationals by only 5 points and ranks 5th nationwide, my fellow kiwi coaches and I are still largely ignored.
  • Sometimes opposing coaches ask us to only do old men’s uncontested scrums even when the players our boys are playing are normal size kids or, get this, to persuade our players to not tackle too hard!
  • I referee in the southern hemisphere style. My heroes are Jonathon Kaplan, Paddy O’Brian, Steve Walsh, Craig Joubert and Glen Jackson. I play the advantage aggressively (only half the refs here know how to properly play the advantage). I also try not to be whistle-happy and talk to players to avoid excessive penalties. Here lack of fitness and English style pedantic refereeing means lots of whistle blowing despite playing on mostly hard fast fields in dry weather. When reffing High School rugby, I am commentating the game a lot because you are almost coaching and reffing due to so many inexperienced players. One of my referee coaches criticized me for being too vocal and when I told him that’s how the Super 15 coaches ref, I was told not to follow them! For real!
  • When talented former NZ coach and administrator Dick Thorburn was appointed as Performance Manager of USA Rugby he didn’t last long and left frustrated over these very same issues. Whilst some of it is a lack of a budget to pay for talent from down under, some of it is the ‘we don’t need your help’ attitude. The sad thing is often here they don’t know what they don’t know. If you don’t even know the scope of your deficiencies then it’s hard to ask for the right help to overcome them.
  • One time a fellow Kiwi coach and I were assigned to coach the U19 AZ select side for a national tournament in Denver. We had the head of the AZ Rugby Union constantly interfering and telling us how to coach and do our job – a guy who’d never coached and only ever played the crappy Club rugby here. We could never choose the best players in the State and only took those players whose parents had enough money to pay for the trip so naturally we couldn’t perform as well.
  • This problem is replicated all over the US. Salty Thompson, a gritty former Irish International player from the 80’s, is the US U19 coach. He visits our team to watch for talent and we’ve had the odd boy chosen to play for the USA U19 team but again, he can’t pick the best team, only the players whose families can afford the cost of flying the kids to the training camps in Indianapolis. He has any number of big fast Polynesian boys born in the US who are real talent and would lift the game of the USA U19 team but he can’t get the few rich white men who sponsor such things to look beyond their usual comfort zone of white middle class boys.
  •  For years the State High School final was reffed by an aging white haired ref (who is a prominent ref coach here) who was a good ref in the day but just couldn’t keep up with the pace of a high school game and missed a lot plus he was grumpy and whistle-happy. Finally the High School rugby administrator had a ref mate of his from Colorado in town who agreed to ref the 2013 final. He was the best ref we’d ever had at our level as most of our games are reffed by shockingly bad refs (I can’t ref my own teams’ games). So for the 2014 final, a good mate of mine from the North Harbour union (who has reffed Men’s Div I and High School finals in Auckland) was visiting to watch his son who plays for a Utah college against ASU and I asked the local union if he could ref – he had all his credentials from NZ that showed he was experienced. They said no because it ruffled too many local feathers!

I could go on. Suffice it to say that it’s frustrating. We’re making progress where we can. We’ve built as good a programme as we can with the limited experience of boys not raised in a rugby culture. We bring boys up from NZ to go to school here and play on our team to help mentor our local players, we travel out of state to play teams in states where high school rugby is more developed and we have formed U14 and U12 teams to feed to us and get them started younger. And finally in the last year we have an energetic Aussie expat as the local union head who is also driving youth development hard and he’s managing to break through the flabby layers of useless attitudes and administration and make a difference. America could be a rugby El Dorado. The sheer number of amazing athletes here, even at the high school level, is staggering. One day hopefully USA Rugby will do what US Soccer did when they hired German super star soccer player and Manager Franz Beckenbauer to teach them how to build a world class football programme. That was 25 years ago and now the US women are now ranked No 1 and the Men No 22 in the world in soccer. It can be done. It’s exciting to be here and watch the game we love grow and be a small part of it but boy you sure come to hate the politics!

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Review: Still Mine (DVD) 2012

November 2nd, 2014 at 10:00 am by Kokila Patel

By John Stringer

1StillMine

I watched this relatively new film (2012) on DVD with an old friend yesterday.  It stars James Cromwell (Farmer Hoggett, Babe; LA Confidential etc) who I love, and Denevieve Bujold who was new to me.

Cromwell is Craig Morrison, a tall, proud, wiry 89-year-old New Brunswick (Canada) traditional farmer.  His strawberries are no longer wanted, because they must now (due to bureaucracy) be delivered in refrigerated trucks.  He can’t afford that. “They were on plants 2 hours ago.”

Bujold is Anne his wife of over 60 years. She begins to suffer from early onset Alzheimers and starts smoking again, for example, after 50 years, and forgetting basic things.  This was therefore a very poignant film for me. See…

http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2012/10/guest_post_living_with_dementia_my_story.html

The title STILL MINE I think refers to his wife and marriage, but also his retaining his honour and credibility as a master craftsman in the face of bewildering and oppressive modern rules, and managing to build a new home on his land for Anne (a bit like Noah inThe Notebook). It is a blend of The Notebook and Man Alone vs the State.  It is beautifully filmed, with lovely colour vistas and the sensitivity to humanity, family and relationships Canadian films do so well.

The plot revolves around his building a new, smaller house, after his wife falls down the stairs.  But bureaucracy hinders him.  So, we have this proud gritty resistance set against the time delays of bureaucracy and modernity. There is also a lovely Babe Ruth baseball sideline.

If you liked the scene, “That’ll do Pig. That’ll do” from Babe, you’ll love this, especially when Craig goes to the funeral of an old community friend.  Craig Morrison has the same single determination and self-respect as Farmer Hoggett.

Life-long friends die, the community rolls timelessly along, except that change (modern rules around lumber, farming and building – Craig was taught building by his shipwright craftsman father.  Houses in the area are still standing 200 years on), and his wife’s failing memory and their changing relationship.

This is a wonderful movie.  It deals with aging, and the humanity of decrepitude.  There is passion, love, frustration, anger,disconnection (with his adult children). There are no easy answers, just a story of courage and the nobility of facing death and decline with human dignity.

This was great, and I’d recommend all young people view it in schools, because it’s about aging, which faces us all.  This is a perfect film for a wholesome audience, your kids, a chick flick, but also a great date night DVD.  Watch it,  8/10.

Here’s a clip.

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Review “Fury” (Brad Pitt) the Tank movie 2014

October 27th, 2014 at 9:59 am by Kokila Patel

By John Stringer

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FURY opened on Friday and I went to the premier.  I really enjoyed this movie and give it 9/10 stars. It is directed by David Ayer of Fast and the Furious (2001).

Spoiler Alerts.

Set in April 1945 as the war is drawing to a close, Bratt Pitt, the Sgt commander of a US A4 Sherman tank crew, has been “killing Germans first in Africa, then in France, now in Germany…It’ll be over soon, but before then Norman, a whole lota more people gotta die.”

The Allies are making their final push towards heartland Germany but encountering dogged resistance every step forward, so the merciless killing escalates. The film actually opens with a txt on black…“In WW II American tank crews were out gunned and out armoured, and suffered greatly at the hands of superior German technology” or words to that effect. Ok, that pretty much sets the scene for us.

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This is a grimier, dirtier, more ghastly portrayal of war, especially tank warfare, than Saving Private Ryan 1998 (Tom Hanks). It’s more in common with Enemy At the Gates 2001 (about Stalingrad with Ed Harris, Jude Law). But it’s a quality addition to the WW II war movie genre. It’s about the traumatised men: their numbness, shock, endurance, and tenacity.

Brad Pitt plays a battle-hardened tank sergeant (Sgt. Don ‘Wardaddy’ Collier) commanding a M4 Sherman tank and her five-man crew (2nd Armoured Division). They are out-numbered, out-gunned, and have a rookie soldier thrust into their platoon who was trained to type 60-word- a-minute.  His first task is to literally scrape the face of his predecessor off the inside wall of “Fury,” the tank, their “home.”  He vomits.  The bucket of cold water just smears the blood everywhere.

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Clockwise left to right: 1) Navigator radio op. Boyd ‘Bible’ (arya saved?) Swan; 2) asst. driver the greenhorn Norman; senior driver ‘Gordo’ Garcia, Sgt Don ‘Wardaddy’ Collier, and the sinister brute gunner Grady ‘Coon-ass’ Travis.

The gunner is a volatile menacing moldy-teethed brute called Grady ‘Coon-Ass’ Travis played by Jon Bernthal, better known to us as Rick’s family friend Shane in Walking Dead 2 whom he was forced to murder at the end of the season.  Then there’s Boyd ‘Bible’ Swan, a weeping, smoking “are you saved” Christian with doe eyes (Shie LaBeouf). Latino Michael Pena plays ‘Gordo’ Garcia the all-important driver, and “Norman” is the rookie assistant driver and machine gun operator who goes to church.

There’s lots of philosophical jostling about war, life and death.  “Boys, God says we can kill ‘em but not screw ‘em!” There is a facetious tank crew motto, “Best job I ever had.”

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This would be their tank shoulder patch [the 2nd Armoured Div] and you glimpse it occasionally in the movie.

The 2nd Armoured Division crew are advancing with the 66th Armored Regiment in a normal platoon of four tanks. Pitt’s 5-man team is the only crew to have come through together since D-Day.  Pitt has the usual head-holding stress attacks like Cpt John Miller of Private Ryan (Tom Hanks) about losing men, but hides it. But you can see it in his eyes.  Nevertheless he’s ruthless, cynical, hard-bitten, and will do whatever he has to keep himself and his men alive. This includes ‘blooding’ Norman in to shooting a German prisoner in the back.  “It’s you or him…you gonna get me killed Norman?…shoot him.  Do your job.”

 

There’s no Cpt. Miller letting Germans go in this movie and Pitt rips up the Germans family photos before he’s shot.  This is tough love and the raw morality of the jungle.

Norman resists and, a church goer, tries to hold on to his humanity, but as they pass power poles with children hanging from them and other SS atrocities, this incongruity is evoked.  His ‘humanity’ risks the lives of his crew-members and when he acts too slowly, a tank crew is hit in front of them and a tanker burns to death.  “That’s your fault Norman, that’s on you, you see what you did? Do your job!” They are, lirerally, a killing machine and must not falter.

 

Some great scenes in this film.  A highlight is their encounter with a much-feared Panzer VI (Tiger I) tank which ambushes their 4 tank platoon and “boils up” three (men roasted alive) while Pitt and “Fury” charge it to get around behind it and pierce the back armour.  Their missiles bounce helplessly off.  It takes composure and nerve while their mates are being blown to literal roasted pieces around them. High stress white knuckle stuff.

 

This is the best tank duel I’ve seen on screen.  It is fierce, deadly, nerve-wracking and desperate. You get how vulnerable, scared cr**pless the tankers must have been up against a Tiger, and how utterly brave they all were. The American attrition rate was catastrophic.

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Two of my own 1/72 painted WW II models. I have four 3-tank platoons of Tigers (top) and about 40 Shermans (right); about the right ratio for a fair duel.

The Tiger was actually the first German tank to be captured by the Allies.  There is only one working Tiger left in the world today. Some sobering statistics: it took ultimately several thousand Shermansto wipe out 1500 Tigers (each tank has a crew of 5).  Shermans were a piece of tin against a better-designed, harder-hitting, longer-range metal monster.  It would normally take 4 or 5 Shermans to take out a Tiger, which is why it was feared so much.  The Russians simply mobbed them with T34s.  There are supposed to be no more Tigers left, but Pitt’s platoon is ambushed by one.

I really like how the CGI is done for the armour-piercing rounds.  It’s so violent, so fast, so total in its devastation. Like lasers of death.

Another great scene, is after a battle and the US Army haven take a town.  Pitt and Norman go upstairs and connect with two German civilian women. It is tense with suggested occupier rights to imminent rape, but Pitt intervenes with some eggs he’s found and asks for them to be cooked (women as cooks rather than rape victims). There is some piano playing and singing, a sanctuary of civilisation in this otherwise ghastly hell-hole. Until the other crew-members arrive.

before they arrive, young Norman takes the younger women in the back room (Sgt Collier: “If you don’t take that healthy lookin’ girl in back, I will!”).  When the older German woman tries to intervene, Pitt says forcefully, “Nein!  …They are young, and alive.” (ie, let them be).

But belligerence arrives emphasized by some discordant gorilla bashing on the piano in contrast to Norman’s previous playing by the other tank crew-members as Pitt attempts to preserve this small island of normality centered around the poached eggs. (Sarcastically) “Oo, it must be Norrr-man day.” “You weren’t there in France Norman.  You like horses? It took us three days to shoot all demhorses…the swarms of flies were like fog.”

In this scene we also see that Pitt’s back is completely burned.  However, the war calls, and they have to press on.  It is reminiscent of the little French girl scene and her parents in the sniper incident in Private Ryan. Good people die.

The film comes to an almighty climax, as Pitt’s platoon is ordered to hold a cross roads to stop an unknown German troop getting around the side.  3 of the 4 tanks are knocked out en route by the Tiger, but Fury decides to go anyway and hold the cross roads alone. Their track gets blown off and they are immobilised.  Then a crack SS Panzer Grenadier troop (“maybe 2 or 300 hundred”) with tracked vehicles advances down the road toward them on dusk.

They disguise the tank with a burning German and other debris and set a point blank ambush. All hell breaks loose and it is a sustained and dramatic finale to an excellent movie.

One brickbat (Spoiler). When some Germans finally get two stick grenades inside to finish off a dying sniper-riddled Pitt, they explode. But when Norman crawls back inside through the floor hatch, Pitt is not minced all over the interior of the hull, as he should have been. I deleted one star from 10 for that. I guess Pitt is too pretty for that.

The action is dramatic and riveting.  The characters are solid. I especially liked the interplay between several of them about theology and in the end when Pitt surprisingly quotes Isaiah 6 back at ‘Bible’ Swan.  Like Pitt, I knew the reference, which was gratifying. This recalls Cpt Miller and the secret of his pre-war vocation (English teacher) among his platoon.  Perhaps Pitt was a minister or something before the war and has hidden it to be a killing machine to keep his men alive. It surprises ‘Bible’ Swan. Later he does the same when he’s shot and dying, quoting scripture to Norman. So there is a strong tilt to the redemptive qualities of Christianity in terms of duty, death, and redemption in this movie. This is contextual and valid in the context of WW II American soldiers.

But it is not clean.  Human flesh is squashed indiscernibly into the mud. Heads and limbs get blown off and people rejoice in their killing.  I also appreciated this is not American 100 bad guys shot to every 1 good guy Gun-ho. No, this is more realistic. Americans are out-gunned. They die.  No nationalist propaganda here, just the cruel hard, soul-destroying realities of tank warfare in the mud of 1945 German fields and towns with Tigers prowling around.

Some great lines in the movie:

“Norman, ideas are peaceful, history is violent.”

“Ya see that Norman?  That is a city on fire.”

Some visuals I enjoyed: the grimey mud and subdued palette of the film without drawing too much attention to itself; the small round tanker rock climber helmets they wear, which are a bit dorky, but utilitarian and for me, juxtapose the heroic male coolness factor. Just men doing the hard stuff.  I liked the look.

I totally recommend this film, especially for the blokes. To conclude, I can’t leave you without this commentary and the Tiger fight scene (spoiler).

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Air NZ does it again

October 24th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Another viral smash video from Air New Zealand. Really well done.

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The Internet Party of Ukraine

October 13th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Love this ad by the Internet Party of Ukraine.

Related to this Stuff reports:

In a galaxy far, far, away – Odessa, the third-largest city in Ukraine – several Star Wars characters have managed to register as official candidates in the upcoming election. With names like Darth V. Vader, Stepan Chubakka (Chewbacca), Master V. Yoda, and Padme N. Amidala listed on the candidate roster, voters can’t be blamed for looking twice at the ballot.

Here’s another of their campaign videos

In a galaxy far, far, away – Odessa, the third-largest city in Ukraine – several Star Wars characters have managed to register as official candidates in the upcoming election. With names like Darth V. Vader, Stepan Chubakka (Chewbacca), Master V. Yoda, and Padme N. Amidala listed on the candidate roster, voters can’t be blamed for looking twice at the ballot.

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Great ad from Powershop

October 12th, 2014 at 12:14 pm by David Farrar

Was sent this by e-mail:

Subject : MR BRIAN BANSTER

FROM THE OFFICE MR BRIAN BANSTER
POWERSHOP NEW ZELAND (PSNZ).
WELLINGTON.
NEW ZELAND.

AWESOME SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT ROLE.

I AM BRIAN BANSTER, THE CTO OF NEW ZELAND POWERSHOP HERE IN WELLINGTON, NEW ZELAND. DURING THE COURSE OF OUR AUDITING,, I DISCOVERED A JOB OPPORTUNITY FOR A SOFTWARE DEVELOPER AND AFTER GOING THROUGH SOME OLD FILES IN THE RECORDS I DISCOVERED THAT THE ROLE IS AWESOME.

AND NOBODY HAS DISCOVERED THIS ROLE AS THE PREVIOUS OWNER OF THIS ROLE IS A FOREIGNER, HE DIED, SINCE 2003 AND NO OTHER PERSON KNOWS ABOUT THIS ROLE OR ANY THING CONCERNING IT, THE ROLE HAS NO OTHER APPLICATIONS AND MY INVESTIGATION PROVED TO ME AS WELL THAT PREVIOUS HOLDER DIE. I AM CONTACTING YOU THIS ROLE CAN ONLY BE APPROVED TO ANY SOFTWARE DEVELOPER WITH VALID INDUSTRY EXPERIENCE OR DRIVERS LICENSE AND BANK ACCOUNT BECAUSE THE MONEY IS IN NZ DOLLARS (NZ $) AND THE FORMER OWNER OF THE ROLE IS A FOREIGNER AND DIED.

WITH MY INFLUENCE AND THE POSITION OF THE TECHNOLOGY OFFICAL WE CAN TRANSFER THIS ROLE TO YOU WITH ASSURANCE THAT THIS EXPERENCE WILL BE AWESOME. ON THE CONCLUSION OF THIS TRANSACTION YOU WILL BE ENTITLED TO 100% OF THE SALARY AS GRATIFICATION AND ALSO TELEPHONE BILLS, WHILE 21.8% WILL BE FOR ME.

SO ON THE INDICATION OF YOUR WILLINGNESS I WANT YOU TO FORWARD TO ME IN STRICTEST CONFIDANCE YOUR :FULL NAME: EMAIL ADDRESS: GITHUB IF ANY FULL CONTACT ADDRESS: PHONE: CELL: FAX: CITY: STATE:ZIP CODE COUNTRY: OCCUPATION AND ALL THE NECESSARY INFORMATION WILL BE SENT TO YOU ON THE ACCEPTANCE TO CHAMPION THIS RUBY JAVA NET TRANSACTION WITH ME.

THANKS
IN TRUST
BRIAN BANSTER
POWERSHOP NEW ZELAND (PSNZ)

Very well done. I like the spelling mistakes, and the caps, just like real scams.

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Nudists coming to Wellington

October 10th, 2014 at 1:46 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The capital will bare all in 2016 when it hosts the world’s largest nudist conference at the Wellington Naturist Club’s HQ in Upper Hutt.

The 2016 International Naturist Federation (INF) World Congress was secured in a joint push from the New Zealand Naturist Federation (NZNF), Tourism New Zealand’s conference assistance programme, Upper Hutt City Council and Business Events Wellington.

Every two years the INF World Congress is hosted by different Federations around the world and this is the first time New Zealand will be hosting the event.

”Along with the Federation Executive and our 1500 members nationwide, we look forward to welcoming the many expected international delegates to New Zealand,” NZNF national president Wendy Lowe said.

You have to feel sorry for the conference staff and waiting staff :-)

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Election Race 20 September 2014 ~ John Stringer

September 21st, 2014 at 12:51 pm by Kokila Patel

20Sept2014

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iPhone 6

September 10th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Apple have announced details of their new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6+. The 6 has a 4.7 inch display and the iPhone 6+ a 5.5 inch display. The iPhone 4 by comparison is 3.5″ and iPhone 5 is 4.0″

Features include:

  • Thinner (6.9 mm and 7.1 mm)
  • Higher Res (1920 x 1080 for the 6+)
  • 64 bit A8 chip
  • An M8 co-processor that can calculate elevation, number of steps climbed etc and also be a barometer
  • 8 megapixel camera
  • A near range wireless chip which can be used to make small purchases – very exciting
  • Battery life of 11 or 14 hours
  • Handoff to allow you to switch between Apple devices

I’m definitely buying one. Not just for the new features – but mainly because my 4s battery only lasts around four hours now before draining!

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Google Drones are coming

September 1st, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Google has made a big bet developing airborne drones capable of delivering anything from candy to medicine – and has been testing the flying vehicles on a Queensland farm on the Darling Downs.

Google X, a division of the US-based technology company dedicated to making major technological advancements, tested Project Wing near Warwick earlier this month, the first time “non-Googlers” had been involved.

Google X director Astro Teller said Project Wing’s goal was ultimately to build a system for delivering small and medium sized packages within minutes to anyone, using self-flying vehicles.

Bring it on.

“There’s no reason we should all have a power drill in our garage when, at any one time, the world is using one hundredth of a per cent of its power drills,” he said from the company’s headquarters in California.

“Also, there are situations like emergency response after a flood, or an earthquake, or a tornado, where bringing medicine or other supplies to people who are in need can be very valuable and time can be of the essence.

“We’re looking at the whole spectrum of value that can be delivered using self-flying vehicles.”

The prototype drone used in Queensland was a “tailsitter”, which allowed for vertical take-offs and landings and high speeds during flight – up to about 90km/h.

Very cool.

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French Minister says women have a duty to wear bikinis at the beach!

August 24th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

It is a French woman’s duty to wear a bikini on a beach, says the former minister for families, Nadine Morano.

Ms Morano, 51, provoked a political row yesterday by complaining that she had seen a Muslim woman sitting on a French beach in headscarf, long-sleeved tunic and trousers while her husband stripped off and bathed in the sea.

“When you choose to come to a country of secular laws like France, you have an obligation to respect our culture and the liberty of women. Or you go somewhere else,” Ms Morano wrote on her Facebook page.

I never realised bikinis were compulsory in France!

I am pro-bikini but as a classical liberal I do not support it being mandatory :-)

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12 reasons cats suck

August 18th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

I love cats but Elite Daily gives you 12 reasons to join the Gareth Morgan camp:

  1. The reason you even like cats in the first place is because of a parasite in your brain
  2. Cats who cuddle with you don’t actually love you
  3. The way cats do show their love is really creepy
  4. If you are alone with your cat and you die, he will eat you immediately
  5. Cats don’t like sweet things, which means they don’t like dessert, and everyone knows you can’t trust a dessert-hater
  6. Cats kill a hell of a lot of innocent animals for literally no reason
  7. Cats are irritating show-offs
  8. Cat poop could give you a fatal disease
  9. Cats’ purrs are manipulative
  10. Cats are f*cking stupid losers
  11. You know how when you like someone, you’re attracted to his scent? Well, cats hate your scent.
  12. Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, Mussolini and Hitler were all afraid of cats

No 4 is the one that worries me!

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The best scrabble player on Earth is a Kiwi

August 15th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Oliver Roeder at 538 writes:

When the 2014 National Scrabble Championship begins Saturday in Buffalo, New York, the odds-on favorite will be a 47-year-old New Zealander who resides in Malaysia named Nigel Richards. He is currently ranked first in North America. The difference between his official rating and the second-place player’s is about the same as the difference between second place and 20th. 

Wow.

Beyond all that is the sheer virtuosity of his gameplay, his uncanny gift for constructing impossible words by stringing his letters through tiles already on the board. The ultimate Richards word story: In a game in 1998, then-newcomer Richards had a rack of CDHLRN? (“?” denotes a blank tile). There was an E available on the board; Richards could have played CHILDREN for a bingo and a 50-point bonus. Instead, Richards played through two disconnected Os and an E. The word? The 10-letter CHLORODYNE.

If like me, you wonder what that is, it was a 19th century patent medicine!

Richards’s rating sits at 2180. His peak rating of 2298 is the highest anyone has ever achieved with a minimum of 200 games played. According to Scrabble data site cross-tables.com, his peak rating is even higher than that of Quackle, a powerful artificial intelligence Scrabble player developed by human tournament players Jason Katz-Brown and John O’Laughlin.

He can beat an actual computer with a full dictionary!

So, really, how does he do it? As Richards said in an interview posted on YouTube, “I’m not sure there is a secret. It’s just a matter of learning the words.” All 178,691 of them.

Easy!

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Hagar-ography…

August 15th, 2014 at 9:00 am by Kokila Patel

 

Squeaky Lino intheHallsofPower

Hagar

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A fascinating copyright case

August 11th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

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The Herald reports:

Staring straight into the camera, lips pulled back into a grin – it could be regarded as a perfect “selfie”.

The series of “self-portraits” of a crested black macaque monkey were shared around the world over the internet and on social media.

But the now famous images are at the centre of a bizarre dispute over who owns the pictures.

David Slater, the British nature photographer whose camera captured the picture, has asked Wikimedia, the organisation behind Wikipedia, to remove the image.

He claims its inclusion in a media library that allows other websites to use it free of charge is harming his ability to make a living.

But Wikimedia has rejected his request, claiming the macaque that pressed the shutter on the camera owns the copyright of the image, not Mr Slater, who now faces a legal bill estimated at 10,000 ($19,900) to take the matter to court.

He said: “If the monkey took it, it owns copyright, not me; that’s their basic argument. What they don’t realise is that it needs a court to decide that.

What a fascinating case. Copyright generally rests with the person who takes the photo, unless they are being paid by someone else to take it. So who owns the copyright when a non human takes the photo?

Does the fact the photo was taken on his camera give him some secondary claim to copyright?

Would it matter if he had encouraged the monkey to take the photo? Could he argue he had creative control?

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The Vulcan for Epsom?

August 4th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

I had to laugh at the Herald Spy profile of five single politicians, who were asked for examples of their perfect date. ACT’s David Seymour’s response was:

His perfect date would be with someone “who would be a best friend even if there was no romantic interest at all

Call me old fashioned but my idea of a perfect date does not include no romantic interest at all!

But this may secure the Vulcan vote for ACT – however I suspect they already had it :-)

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Beer Pong must be banned

August 1st, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The ODT reports:

The Green Party is under fire for supporting binge drinking after challenging Dunedin supporters to beat MP Gareth Hughes at a game of ”beer pong”.

However, Mr Hughes said the challenge was an attempt at humour by a Dunedin Green Party member and there was never any intention to play ”beer pong” at the event – which he was attending in North Dunedin tonight.

”I wasn’t actually aware that was on the Facebook invite,” Mr Hughes said.

The Green Party members who organised the invite had since voluntarily removed the reference to beer pong.

Mr Hughes’ comments come after National Addiction Centre director Prof Doug Sellman said it was ”irresponsible” to have politicians encouraging drinking games.

”Essentially … there is an underlying message that binge drinking is a good thing and that the Green Party supports binge drinking.”

Prof Sellman was also critical of Prime Minister John Key, who downed several cups of beer after accepting a challenge to play beer pong at the Big Gay Out in Auckland in February.

”It’s the same thing, and to have the prime minister [doing it] is even worse.

Beer pong must be banned, says the wowsers.

Next they’ll try and ban Whizz Bang Boing!

I am rather bad at the former game but very good at the latter!

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Not a trend we want to encourage

July 29th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Nelson MP Nick Smith and his Waitaki counterpart Jacqui Dean are accustomed to pressing the flesh but one of them will be exposing it in public and online come the end of the year.

Smith hopes it won’t be him.

“I really need Nelson to pull out all stops as they do not want to see me wearing my togs in Trafalgar St,” he said.

Dean has a similar view: “I don’t think that Wanaka is ever going to be ready to see me in a bikini, not now, not ever.”

The National Party pair, with an eye on pre-election publicity, are backing their electorates in the Gigatown competition, which is currently led by Wanaka, with Nelson holding third behind Timaru.

They’ve pledged to take a “selfie” wearing their togs on the town’s main street and posting on their website or Facebook if their town is pipped.

If neither town makes the final top five, to be selected at the the end of September, they’ll both be stripping.

This is not a trend we want to encourage. I prefer my MPs in suits, not togs :-)

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The Comcast service rep who won’t take no for an answer

July 23rd, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

This is incredible. I would have told the service rep to go copulate himself long before the call actually concluded.

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Squeaky Lino

July 14th, 2014 at 10:00 am by Kokila Patel

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Happy happy joy joy

July 7th, 2014 at 11:50 am by David Farrar

Throng reports:

SKY’s brand new entertainment channel, THE ZONE, will have local fans of Science Fiction, Cult, Fantasy, Superhero and Horror genres battling for the remote.

Launching this November, THE ZONE’S line-up will include some of the planet’s most anticipated premiere series including Guillermo del Toro’s The Strain, Defiance featuring New Zealand’s own Grant Bowler and Robert Rodriguez’s From Dusk Till Dawn, along with a mix of modern and classic series including drama and comedy, movies and the odd documentary.

THE ZONE, made right here by Kiwis for Kiwis (with the occasional Kiwi appearance too), will be available to all SKY’s domestic customers at no extra charge as part of SKY’s Basic package and will also stream live from launch on SKY GO, so fans won’t miss a minute of the action wherever they are.

Yay, yay, yay. I’ve campaigned (and lobbied) for some time for Sky to bring the Sci Fi channel to NZ. They’re gone even better, by producing a customised channel – and including it for free to the basic package. Hell, I would have paid for it.

THE ZONE has a fairly broad remit for acquiring programmes, our rule of thumb being that anything which could feasibly promote itself at Comic-Con has a place on the channel.

That’s a great rule of thumb.

I’m more excited about this, than I am about the election!

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Headline of the week

July 1st, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Student gets stuck in giant stone vagina

An easy headline for the sub-editor.

What was meant to be a funny dare turned into an utter embarrassment for an American exchange student, who found himself trapped in a giant stone vagina in Germany.

Damn Americans!

The unnamed man is believed to have been dared to climb inside the sculpture, which sits outside the university’s institute for microbiology and virology.

I did wonder why there was a stone sculpture of a vagina!

A total of 22 firefighters, five fire engines and a number of paramedics were sent to the scene, and quickly freed the man “by hand without use of equipment”, the newspaper reported.

22 firefighters for one stuck person? You could just imagine the scene at the station when they get a call that someone is stuck in the giant stone vagina – no one would want to not see that one, so they sent out five trucks!

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The Fart Bomb Generator

June 29th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Beat Bowel Cancer Aotearoa has created a fart bomb generator, where you can add farts to any Youtube video.

It’s a fun way to draw attention to a serious cause – getting people to get tested for bowel cancer once they turn 50.

I’ve had fun adding some bombs to a few Parliamentary videos :-)

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The top 16 Game of Thrones deaths

June 19th, 2014 at 4:35 pm by David Farrar

The SMH gives its list of the top 16 GOT deaths.  They rate them out of 10 for surprise, gore and impact. Their top 10 are:

 

(more…)

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