With Autocade exceeding the 5,000,000 page view milestone (it’s on 5Â·12 million), I thought it might be fun to look at a few of the models on the site: the most popular, the least loved, and the first on the site.
Looking at the stats, here are the most popular models. These shouldn’t be surprising: for a long time, our page on the E100 Toyota Corolla was the most-read. That’s since been overtaken by the Ford Fiesta Mk VII, the Toyota’s rival, the Nissan Sunny (B14), and the older Nissan Bluebird (910), probably thanks to a link from Wikipedia.
5. Toyota Corolla/Toyota Huaguan/Toyota Limo (E120). 2000 to date (prod. n/a). 3-, 4- and 5-door sedan, 5-door wagon, 5-door minivan. F/F, 1364 cmÂł diesel (I4 OHC), 1398, 1598, 1796 cmÂł (I4 DOHC), 1995 cmÂł diesel (I4 DOHC). Corolla grows to its biggest size up to that point but limited by Japanese taxation requirements (setting the maximum width to 1,700 mm before it goes into a higher tax bracket). Shortened Toyota Vista (V50) platform, 2,600 mm wheelbase. Torsion beam axle at rear, replacing independent rear suspension. Sedans sold as Corolla Altis in some Asian markets. Wagons named Corolla Fielder, with hatchbacks taking Corolla Runx and Allex names (the latter replacing Sprinter). Corolla Spacio denoted a minivan model, sold as Corolla Spacio in Europe. Toyota Matrix, a different small van or tall hatchback, sold in US, renamed Corolla Matrix in 2005. Platform shared with Pontiac Vibe (or Toyota Voltz). Competent small car, hatchbacks in fact quite stylish, though interior design dull. Mid-life facelift 2004 in Japan. Japanese production ended 2006; some other countries 2008; continuing in China into the 2010s as Corolla EX, running alongside E150 successor.
But what of the least popular? Itâs unfair to go to the bottom of the statisticsâ page, because youâre going to get a newer page that might become popular later. The following four are models which Iâve seen at the bottom of that page even after they had been on the site for a while, suggesting not too many are searching for them.
1. Riich X1. 2009 to date (prod. n/a). 5-door sedan. F/F, 1297, 1497 cmÂł (I4 DOHC). B-segment city car with SUV looks, exported as Chery Beat to some countries. Meant to have been absorbed into the Chery range when the Riich marque was killed off in 2013, and continued to appear on Cheryâs export site, though it vanished from domestic listings. Based on the Riich M1.
3. Buick Park Avenue (WM). 2007â12 (prod. n/a). 4-door sedan. F/R, 2792, 2986, 3564 cmÂł (V6 DOHC). Chinese-assembled version of Holden Statesman (WM), but with differences such as visually large grille, different bumpers, and no indicators and vents in wings aft of the front wheels. Smaller Australian-built 2Â·8-litre unit related to one from Cadillac CTS available on Chinese edition, along with 3Â·6 from Holden Commodore (VE), later both replaced by 3Â·0. Otherwise mechanically similar to Statesman. Killed off in 2012 due to slow sales.
Finally, the oldest photos on the site tell us which articles I wrote first. A few of the oldest photos have been replaced for quality reasons, but itâs safe to say the following five cars were among the original ten or dozen entered on to Autocade.
2. Trabant P601. 1964â91 (prod. 3,000,000 approx.). 2-door saloon, 3-door estate, 2-door utility convertible. F/F, 595 cmÂł (I2 OHV), 1093 cmÂł (I4 OHC). East German subcompact car descended from DKW, made with cotton-based plastic (Duroplast) bodyshell. Sold in UK till 1965. Made with 595 cmÂł engine (26 PS) until 1989 when larger and cleaner Volkswagen Polo 1Â·1-litre engine adapted under licence. Estate variant called Universal. Utilitarian âoff-roadâ convertible model called Tramp. Kitsch value toward the end of its life as a relic of the DDR, but unloved for most years.
3. Ford Falcon (E240/FG). 2008â14 (prod. n/a). 4-door sedan, 2-door utility truck. F/R, 1999 cmÂł (I4 DOHC), 3984 cmÂł petrol, 3984 cmÂł LPG (I6 DOHC), 4951, 5408 cmÂł (V8 DOHC). Extensively revised series launched in February 2008 with three grilles, for regular Falcon, G6 (which replaces the Futura and Fairmont nameplates) and XR. V8 engine restricted to sporty XR8 model only. No station wagon (EA169 platform carried over on facelifted model briefly). Very little change in fuel economy figures compared with predecessor. V8 produces 290 kW. FG designation supposedly meant to evoke memories of now-defunct Fairmont Ghia nameplate. Marketed as larger than Mondeo Mk IV, but in fact smaller in key dimensions except overall length. At time of launch, petrol models gained a five-star ANCAP safety rating, one up on its main competitor, the Holden Commodore (VE). EcoBoost turbo four from 2012, when FG also had a minor facelift. Smaller 5Â·0 Miami V8 for XR8 from 2013.
4. Ford Falcon. 1970Âœ (prod. 26,000 approx.). 2- and 4-door sedan, 5-door wagon. 250 inÂł (I6 OHV), 302, 351, 429 inÂł (V8 OHV). For half a model year (built JanuaryâAugust 1970), Ford transferred its Falcon nameplate from the compact model to the intermediate TorinoâFairlane bodyshell (117 in wheelbase for sedans; curiously, the wagon was on 114 in), making the Torinoâs engine options available. Still marketed as an economy car, the last American Falcon is characterized by its swooping design. After 1970, Falcons were made only in Australia and Argentina (with an assembly plant for Australian models in New Zealand).
5. Hyundai i30 (FD). 2007â11 (prod. n/a). 5-door hatchback, 5-door estate. F/F, 1396, 1591, 1975 cmÂł petrol, 1582 cmÂł diesel (I4 DOHC), 1991 cmÂł diesel (I4 OHC). First Hyundai designed specifically for Europe, rivalling Volkswagen Golf. Designed in RĂŒsselsheim, Germany with excellent dynamics, among the best for the Korean brand. Quality survey in Germany in 2010 put the car at the top. Estate added at end of 2007 and sold in some markets as Hyundai Elantra Touring. Sister car to Kia Ceeâd (2006â12), released earlier, but lacks that modelâs three-door hatchback style.
Jo Komisarczuk referred, on Twitter, this piece by Rory Cellan-Jones. The title, ‘Twitter and the poisoning of online debate’, gives you a good indication of the topic, and it centres around an incident dubbed ‘Gamergate’. While I haven’t followed the Gamergate controversy, I am told that it centres around sexism and misogyny in the gaming industry, to the point where, in Jo’s words, ‘women are now scared to talk about it publicly’. Cellan-Jones refers to Twitter attacks on women, including threats of rape, and:
And for weeks now women in the video games industry have been under attack. There have been death threats, “doxing”âpublishing personal information onlineâand all manner of insults directed at women who have expressed views about gaming deemed unacceptable by some gamers.
It’s disgraceful, though sadly not altogether surprising, that this sort of misogyny carries on in the 21st centuryâbut when the gender gap has not closed and the way women are portrayed in media is still generally slanted against them, it reminds all of us that there is a great deal of work to do in treating everyone fairly and respectfully.
Twitter, however, isn’t helping.
For a long while, Twitter was different, a place where people were who they said they were and were aware that a tweet was a public statement for which you could be called to account. Now though, a rash of spam and so-called sockpuppet accounts have started to poison this well too. High profile users under assault from such accounts find that they block them, only for new ones to pop up instantly.
I Facebooked earlier today (ironically, despite my saying I was decreasing my interaction on the service last night): ‘Like so many other technologies (e.g. email) it starts off with new, optimistic early adopters. Then the low-lifes, spammers and bots start coming in.’ You could also add one politician’s wife whose sole intent on Twitter was to launch attacks.
I saw a lot of trolling in the 2013 campaign but none in 2010, and put it down to mere politics, but to be reminded by Cellan-Jones that this happens to people who aren’t putting themselves out there to be elected is disappointing. Those of us who seek public office should, by the very act of running, expect it, but I never had threats of harm directed at me. If we’ve descended into this, having to field personal attacks and threats, then what is the point of some of these services? These aren’t even conflicting opinions, in the cases I observed last year, but people out there for the sake of shit-stirring, to be reactiveâit is effectively pointless. Does this not discourage everyday people from putting themselves out there, at a time when we keep saying we want our representatives, be they political, social or commercial, to be folks who are in touch with us?
You can see these same arguments apply to the blogosphere and Nicky Hager’s point that attacks on private citizens dissuades others from standing for public office. You can take similar arguments into other areas: if you make a position so unsavoury, then we miss out on good people who could become great leaders.
We can’t expect people to keep migrating to new services where the trendy, friendly early adopters reside, since they never have the reach. Restricting freedom of speech goes against some of our basic values. Making your account private to only a handful means creating a bubble, and that doesn’t serve you. Confucius might say that education and self-regulation are the key, but that could depend on whether netizens want to be on these social networks to speak out against this negative behaviour in the meantime.
We might say there is nothing new under the sun, and these latest incidents simply expose behaviours that were prevalent for years. Even if that were the case, it’s not too late to change things. We’d all prefer a level of civilized debate and a decent exchange of viewsâand it may be up to everyday people to simply ignore the attackers and trolls, and not give them the satisfaction of knowing that got to someone. If it gets to a point where a crime is committed (e.g. a threat of harm is made), then the authorities should be involved. As to the victims, we should convey our support to them.
Or is there yet another way?
Iâve blogged several times about the bot problem that Facebook has, and this is an issue that runs alongside the click farms that operate on the website.
One of my groups has over 12,000 members, and itâs a magnet for click farm participants, who target these bigger ones. And when you look through the Facebook users weâve blocked, they are predominantly based in Morocco, with a smaller number in Algeria and Tunisia.
Theyâre very obvious, and their purpose is either to spam (one that accidentally got through proceeded to do just that) or to legitimize themselves for when they are asked to like a page for a client. This all makes engagement worse, and it helps the bottom line for Facebook and the click farm companies paying these people a pittance.
When I look through the blocked list, it almost looks like weâve been racial profiling, although my moderators and I will look through each name to check. Of course we want more membersâbut we want legitimate ones.
The sad thing is the number of groups, other ones with membership in the tens of thousands, who accept these click farm contractors. They obviously arenât as strict, but in accepting them, they become accomplices to their deception. Theyâre nearly as bad as those who accept friend requests from botsâI found one yesterday who had accepted requests from over a dozen bots. You really have to ask: why would you accept people whom you donât know?
All this is getting to the point where Facebook is just another tiresome site, and if it werenât for the management of groups, the promotion of some businesses, and keeping in touch with a number of friends, I wouldnât log on. Over the past week Iâve only irregularly updated my statusâI compare this to the heavy use I had on Facebook when Timeline came out. I equated status updates to getting instant gratification, that someone out there cared. You can update all you like these days, but you might hear nowt.
Which is no bad thing as we head into summer. The action, as some predicted long ago, is shifting. Instagram is where that gratification now takes place, at least for me, despite having a third of the numbers following me. Facebook was perhaps wise to acquire it, and while bots are a problem on Instagram, too, presently I encounter fewer of them each day than on Facebook (it wasnât always this way). Of course some enterprising companies are trying to sell fake likes there, too, but Instagram hasnât attracted corporate accounts to quite the same degree, yet. Those fake likers arenât yet hurting engagement, and it certainly wouldnât surprise me if the site continues to grow.
Social media continue to fragment as we head into 2015. Whatsapp, Snapchat, Wechat and Viber allow for more intimate conversations; Instagram allows one to interact with a newer community. Facebook looks very dull indeed at this point, with its bots and click farms plaguing the entire system, no doubt adding to the companyâs less and less credible claim of how many users it has.
Itâs sad to read the news that Motor-Presse Stuttgart will not publish the Auto Katalog annual this year. That means last yearâs, the 57th, could have been the ultimate edition.
There are complaints on Amazon.de, and I was all ready to buy a copy myselfâtypically I would have an order put in through Magnetix in Wellington (and wait the extra months). Auto Katalog is part of my childhood, too. While my father had various Grundig books through work, which were my introduction to the German language, it was the 1978â9 number of Auto Katalog that got me absorbing more Deutsch. To this day I have a vocabulary of German motoring jargon that is nearly impossible to get into conversation. And to name-drop, I owe it to Karl Urbanâs Dad for my first and second copiesâhe gave them away to me after a new issue came in the post.
My Auto Katalog collection has a gap between 1980â1 and 1986â7, which would have marked the first year I saw it on sale in New Zealand. They were priceyâover NZ$20âbut for a car enthusiast, well worth it. The sad thing is that they declined in quality in the 1990s, and by the 2010s there were noticeable omissions and errors. (MG, for instance, finally showed up in an appendix last year, though the marque had returned to mass production in China many years before.)
Nevertheless, as an extra reference for Autocade, they were invaluable, and I always found their structure more suited to research than the French Toutes les voitures du monde from LâAutomobile, which I would pick up in France or in French Polynesia. (Iâve now ordered the 2014â15 edition online, as itâs not available locally.)
There was great support for Auto Katalog, and I canât imagine Motor-Presse not making money off it, but the announcement in Augustâwhich I only read in the wake of noticing that the 2014â15 issue had not gone on sale abroadâindicates that such information is more readily available online.
Well, itâs notânot really. There may be national sites, and there are a few international ones (Carfolio and Automobile Catalog) but none pack the information quite as nicely into a single, easily referenced volume as Auto Katalog. Thatâs where weâre happy to pay a few euros. And, like Autocade, there are omissions: if these other sites are like mine, then they have one chief contributor and a few very occasional helpers. All three sites are trying to create a history of cars, too, not just new models, so we can never fully keep up with the current model year while we fill in the blanks of the past.
A few years ago, a Polish company put together several volumes of what are regarded to be the best international car references this side of the 21st century, but even that did not last long. The research and presentation were meticulous, according to friends who bought it, but the language left something to be desired. It was never available here, to my knowledge, and by the time I found out about them, they had dated.
We had also discussed doing a printed version of Autocade, but my feeling remains that there are just too many gaps in the publication, although proudly we do have information on some very obscure cars on the market today that even Auto Katalog had missed.
If Auto Katalog does not return, then itâs likely its spiritual successor will be found in China. Here is the most competitive car market on earth, with the greatest number of models on sale: it would make sense for a future publication to use China as the starting-point, and have other countriesâ models filled in. China would also have the publishing and printing resources to compile such an annual, with the chief problem being what the Poles found, despite a multilingual population and even a lot of expats in China, making such a publication less accessible and readable. (That is a challenge to prove me wrong.)
Last month, I Tweeted Facebook, asking them to raise the reporting limit for bots. Right now, you can report around 40 bot accounts before a warning box comes up asking you to slow down. If you do another 10, you are barred from reporting any more for 24 hoursâeven though you are trying to help Facebook clean up its act.
I said that the rate of increase in bot accounts was exponential, and that raising the limit to 200 immediately might be useful.
Tonight, the 200 barrier has been broken. In other words, in one evening, not counting click farms (which are also hitting our groups like crazy, with a growing number from Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania and Tunisia daily), I came across 277 bot accounts on Facebook. All because I have a few groups and I was checking to see who was joining.
And here I was, thinking that over the last few weeks, when I was seeing a maximum of six daily, that Facebook had this problem under control.
Obviously, the bot nets found a way through whatever defences Facebook had.
I won’t republish the list of 277 here. There might be slightly fewer as there could be doubling-up in my listâyou can lose your place at night copying and pasting. If you do want to have a peek at what bot accounts look like, the second part of the list at my Tumblr blog will give you an idea. And if you’d like to report them, you’re most welcome toâthough since it’s neither your job nor mine, I wonder why we should bother. Facebook loves to brag about its numbers of how many people it has using the site. If in order to fool advertisers it shows a quarter-on-quarter increase by counting the bots, then maybe we should let it be, and eventually let the site fall over (and let’s face it, the frequency of that happening has increased, too).
All of which point to a website that is becoming less and less useful as a marketing toolâno wonder the likes of Ello saw an increase in usage in the last few weeks.
Mrs Palin and I have very different political beliefs and I’m not a fan of hers, but I’m curious why no one had a go at Google in 2009. Such an error by one of the largest companies in the US deserves more ridicule than whatever she said, which is akin to President Obama’s 57 states and his mispronunciation of corpsman, or Vice-President Biden’s belief that a hypothetical President Roosevelt could go on television in 1929.
This was not version 1 of Google Maps, but version 5.
This means that in five versions of Google Maps, no one had checked where the White House was. And do you wonder why I don’t have much faith in Google?
At the time, I wrote:
Nothing around here even looks like the White House. Can any American readers please explain what I am doing wrong, or is this another one of those computer glitches that only happens to me?
If I have done nothing wrong, then here are some possibilities of what has happened:
the White House doesnât exist and never did. I only dreamed that it did;
the White House only exists in fiction, like Ernie Wiseâs wig;
the boss of Google voted Republican;
the White House has been moved to another location, like they did with the Museum Hotel;
the White House has been blocked from Google Earth for a 9-11-related reason;
UFOs have beamed up the entire White House;
the Manhattan Project has beamed up the entire White House.
A Washingtonian confirmed that when they typed the same address into Google Maps, they got the same result, so it wasn’t just me.
Since 2009, this error has been remedied.
I know Iâm not alone among expats watching the Occupy Central movements in Hong Kong. More than the handover in 1997, itâs been making very compelling live television, because this isnât about politicians and royalty, but about everyday Hong Kong people. I Tweeted tonight that if I were a student there, Iâd be joining in. While the idea of direct elections is a recent developmentâthey started in 1985 for the Legislative Council, itâs important to remember that all UN member nations should permit its subjects the right of self-determination. It doesnât matter when they started, the fact is they did. The latest protests arenât about Legco, but the election of the Chief Executiveâthe successor to the role of Governorâwhich Beijing says can only be for candidates it approves.
Legal arguments aside, protesters are probably wondering why they could enjoy free and fair elections under colonial rule from London, and not by their own country from their own people.
I cannot speak for Beijing, but their perspective is probably more long-term: in the colonial days, the Legislative Council was appointed by London, not voted by Hong Kong subjects, for most of its existence. The Governor was always appointed by London. Surely what it is proposing for 2017 is far better?
And given that the Chief Executive currently is selected by an election committee of Beijing loyalists, then 2017 presents something far more open and akin to universal suffrage.
Those are the issues on the surface as I understand them, but they ignore some of the history of Hong Kong.
Hong Kong was a backwater until 1949, when the Communists revolted, and refugees poured in. My father was one of them, having made the trek from Taishan with his mother and sister. Other members of the family had got there on other journeys. The stories can happily fill chapters in a novel.
He recalls in his first days in Hong Kong, police officers had three digits on their shoulder. âI donât know how many policemen there were,â he recalls, âbut there couldnât have been more than 999.â
Hong Kongâs population swelled, and the colonial authorities found a way to accommodate the new arrivals.
I donât have the exact figures but at the dawn of the 1940s, the population of Hong Kong was 1Â·6 million, and it was close to 2Âœ million in the mid-1950s. When I left in 1976, it was 3 million.
The reason most people went there and risked their lives to escape the Communists: freedom. Most were skilled workers and farmers fearing prosecution.
Dad recalls that in the lead-up to the family home and farm being seized things were getting tough at school, with false accusations made against him by teachers and students. The vilification of land-owning families had begun.
The day he left, he saw a notice on the front door and the family departed for Hong Kong, where my paternal grandfather already had contacts from his military days.
Assuming a million people came across from the Peopleâs Republic of China, then itâs not hard to imagine a sizeable part of the modern population of Hong Kong to have grown up with negative impressions of Beijing.
Those same impressions saw to the mass exodus of Hong Kongers in the lead-up to the handover, with most expecting doom and gloom despite assurances under the Basic Lawâthough of course many have since returned to Hong Kong since things hadnât changed as badly as they feared.
They were the reasons my parents left in 1976. My mother simply thought a generation ahead and figured that by the 1990s, it would be hard to leave Hong Kong since some western countries would start going on about yellow peril again. (She was right, incidentally.)
While in the post-colonial days, there is more contact between Hong Kong and the rest of China, it will take a while for those impressions to subside.
It would be fair to say that culturally, we are predisposed to taking a long view of history, and the Cultural Revolution and the mismanagement of the economy in the earlier days of the Peopleâs Republic stick in our minds.
Even if the PRC proved to be a benevolent nation and made no wrong moves since 1997, the suspicion would remain.
It hasnât been helped by June 4, 1989 and its aftermath, continued censorship within China, and, more recently, some Hong Kongers feeling that theyâre a second class in their own city when mainland tourists pop over for a holiday.
Then you get people like me who cannot understand a word of Mandarin, which these days tends to be the second language many people learn. When the language of the colonials is easier to grasp, then that doesnât bode well for our northern friends. Thereâs a sense of separation.
This may explain a natural resistance to Beijing, because the way of life that the Chinese Communist Party envisages is so very different to what Hong Kongers believe they should enjoy.
Scholarism, meanwhile, from which Occupy Central has spawned, has come from this culture: a group protesting the introduction of âmoral and national educationâ as a compulsory subject in Hong Kong. The subject was seen by opponents to be pro-communist, with the teaching manual calling the Communist Party an âadvanced, selfless and united ruling groupâ.
Itâs hard, therefore, for Hong Kongers who grew up in this environment not to be suspicious of Beijing.
That explains the solidarity, the sort of thing that would have inspired me if I was a young uni student today in Hong Kong.
Now we are looking at two sides, neither of which is famous for backing down.
One possible resolution would be for Beijing to accede yet bankroll a pro-Beijing candidate come 2017, which could, in the long term, save face, but provide the protesters with a short-term victory. Itâs not what they are fighting forâthey want everyone to be able to stand for the post of CEâbut it may be one way events will play out.
Hong Kong isnât prepared to risk its economic freedom and progress, and it remains proud of its stance against corruption which has helped the city prosper. Citizens also place faith in the rule of law there, and the right to a fair trial.
Beijing, meanwhile, isnât prepared to risk the danger of an anti-communist CE being elected and having that trip up the development of the rest of the nation.
I have to say that such a fear is very remote, given the overriding desire of Hong Kongers to get ahead. If Hong Kongers are anything, they are pragmatic and ambitious, and a Chief Executive who is imbalanced to such a degree would never get elected. With the rise of the orient and the sputtering of the occident, the âcompetingâ ideas arenât so competing anyway. The United States and Australia have laws either enacted or at the bill stage in the name of national security that they can hardly serve as an ideal model for democracy. After all, Edward Snowden went to Hong Kong first.
The Cold War is over, and what is emerging, and what has been emerging, in Hong Kong and the rest of China since the 1990s has been a distinct, unique, Chinese model, one that has its roots in Confucianism and which takes pride in the progress of the city.
The ideal Chief Executive would more likely be a uniter, not a divider, balancing all sides, and ensuring those they represent a fair go. They would be a connecter who can work with both citizens and with Beijing.
Under my reading, there shouldnât be any concerns in Beijing, because pragmatic Hong Kongers would never elect someone who would risk their livelihoods or their freedoms.
And when Beijing sees that such a development can work in Hong Kong, it could be a model to the rest of China.
Taiwan, too, will be watching.
Itâs disturbing to see so many Kim Dotcom jokes post-General Election, with plenty of Kiwis happy to ridicule the bloke because of Internet Manaâs terrible showing in the polls, and the loss of Hone Harawiraâs seat.
Yet not too long ago, the overall public perception was that this was a guy hard done by the authorities, with the criminalization of his alleged copyright infringement and the victim of illegal spying that forced a law change, by an all-too-eager-to-please New Zealand government trying to impress the FBI.
I thought it was above us as New Zealanders, first, to kick a guy when heâs down, and secondly, subject him to ridicule when absolutely nothing about his legal position has changed.
However, the perception now is heâs a foreignerânot only that, a German owner of a copy of Mein Kampf against whom we should now display a heightened level of xenophobia once reserved for Basil Fawltyâs hotel guestsâwho had interfered, along with some other foreigners, in our political processes.
Iâll admit that my first impression of this hard-partying, fast-driving playboy with his Mercs wasnât a positive one. But as news of what he had allegedly done came to light, and the US still refusing to let him see all the evidence so that he can defend himself, my thoughts about him changed.
Since the legislation was enacted, Iâve been involved twice in DMCA allegations against our firmâthough I send out dozens of take-down notices each yearâand the standard procedure that we follow, as do Google and Facebook, is pretty clear. If you find it, weâll remove it. But till you tell us about it, we donât know. In Dotcomâs case, as with Google or Dropbox, there are so many files that they donât know. Further, there are privacy laws preventing his former company from looking into what youâve stored on his servers.
So hereâs a guy that, as far as I can see, is doing the same thing as the big players when it comes to copyrighted materials. Iâve no comment on the racketeering, money laundering and fraud charges, as I simply have no facts on themâand I donât think he has, either, with the secretive processes the US prosecutors have used. Thank goodness our judiciary remains independent.
Thanks to him, weâve learned that the GCSB has been spying on him and other New Zealanders illegally, prompting a law change that applied retroactively. And that is important for us as New Zealanders to realize. We should be concerned about the misuse of a government agency, and we should be concerned that the US has been taking the lead on our copyright laws, including the âthree strikesâ amendments that the Prime Minister was for before he was against, and before he then decided to vote for anyway.
Put yourself in Dotcomâs shoes: youâre a guy who is running a business in the same way Google and Dropbox are, and youâve been pissed on by the country you call home with illegal activity, an armed raid, and a government who has taken all your stuff and has frozen your assets.
You can shrug your shoulders and let them keep pissing on you, or you might just want to take the fight back to the minister in charge of the GCSBâthe Prime Ministerâand who knew or did not know about you or your name.
You might just want to bankroll a political campaign and find the easiest way in there to get some hard facts about what is going on, so you can simply bloody defend yourself.
I said then that this was the oddest marriage and it felt doomed, but maybe it was the one option he felt was available to him.
Most didnât complain when Bob Jones did it with the New Zealand Partyâand I don’t accept that that was for the public goodâor when he said he wanted to field a bunch of contestants in the local body elections in 2010 here in Wellington. Nor did we complain when Colin Craig decided he would use his own cash to bankroll his own party.
Iâm not a fan of money influencing politicsâcertainly not corporate donors wanting to extract favours from candidatesâbut if these guys want to sink some cash into the country in which they reside to make a change, then that is their choice.
Sure, this is a convicted criminal who probably shouldnât have been let in in the first place, but the fact is we did let him in, he is now a New Zealand resident, and he is entitled to do the same things other New Zealand residents can.
And to all those who complained that here is this one foreigner living here who involved three other foreigners in his backfiring âMoment of Truthâ last week (embedded above), I take it that you all have never commented, and will never comment, on the politics of the countries that Dotcom, Assange, Snowden and Greenwald are residents of.
I donât know Kim Dotcom and we have exchanged only a couple of Tweets over the years. I canât tell you if I think he is a good bloke or not. I believe that Kim Dotcom is out for Kim Dotcom, rather than the New Zealand public, but that’s his prerogative. But I can tell you Iâm grateful for some of the stuff that has come out because of his caseâyou donât need Nicky Hager to put any slant on it, the facts are on the record, from both his and the governmentâs side, so you can make up your own mind. Maybe âbrand Kim Dotcomâ, as he put it, was poisonous to Mana, which he has apologized forâbut not long ago, âbrand Kim Dotcomâ was heroic for revealing to us that things werenât fair in our nation.
The fact remains that he is a New Zealand resident who is innocent till proved guilty, that he has been denied the sort of due process you and I could have if we have been accused of the same crimes, and if he didnât deserve the xenophobic, toxic remarks before, he doesnât deserve them now. Honestly, folks, I thought we were better.
The problem with all of this is: whereâs Labour, in the midst of the greatest gift an opposition has been given for years?
One friend of a friend noted that maybe Labour shouldnât be attacking, because we Kiwis donât like whingers. It is the charge I hear from friends on the right. Labour should, instead, be coming up with solid policies and leave the attacks to the Greens (which is doing a marvellous job) and Winston Peters (need I say more? He remains a great political wordsmith).
For me, Iâd like them to do both if they are to stand a chance. The job of the Opposition is to oppose.
And failure to oppose strongly may suggest to the electorate that the same thing could happen under Labour.
Six months out from the election I contested, I had my policies publishedâwhich one blog noted was unusual but welcome. That meant my policies were out for twice as long as my opponentsâ.
Weâre talking about a party that has been in opposition for a long time, long enough to know what it wishes to do should it be handed the reins of government.
And yet, apart from a few policy announcements here and there, it has been silent. Youâd think the names of the Shadow Cabinet would be in our consciousness by now. Embarrassingly, I even forgot David Cunliffeâs name recently in a conversation. I could only call him ânot-Robertsonâ. (It is better than the PM calling Grant Robertson âPerry Masonâ today, I hasten to add.)
It makes me wonder if Labour isnât working and whether the anti-National vote will, indeed, head even more to the Greens this year.
My last paragraph was off about where the anti-National votes went, but the old Saatchi & Saatchi headline held true in the 2014 General Election: Labour isn’t working. I don’t think I need to restate what I wrote four months agoâand what I had been saying even before that.
It described employees passing the buck and committees falling back on the âGM nodââwhen everyone in a meeting agrees that something should happen, and no one actually does it âŠ
Kelley had sued GM in 2003, alleging that the company had dragged its feet addressing dangers in its cars and trucks. Even though he lost, Kelley thought that by blowing the whistle heâd done the right thing and paved the way for other GMers to speak up. Now he saw that heâd had the opposite impact: His loss, and the way his career had stalled afterward, taught others at the company to stay quiet âŠ
Kelley had been the head of a nationwide GM inspection program and then the quality manager for the Cobaltâs predecessor, the Cavalier. He found flaws and reported them, over and over, and repeatedly found his colleaguesâ and supervisorsâ responses wanting. He thought they were more concerned with maintaining their bureaucracies and avoiding expensive recalls than with stopping the sale of dangerous cars. Eventually, Kelley threatened to take his concerns to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Frustrated with the limited scope of a recall of sport-utility vehicles in 2002, he sued GM under a Michigan whistle-blower law. GM denied wrongdoing, and the case was dismissed on procedural grounds.
and what happened to Woods (who also lost against Boeing and its team of lawyers):
There was some animosity between quality and production. I would bring up a quality concern and they would say, well, that’s not helpful to production.
On several occasions, I would go check out these repairs while they were being done and after. There are inspection points all throughout the repair process where an inspector is supposed to come over and check something and mark it down that he checked it.
You’re never supposed to go past an operation that’s not checked off. I would see a defect and I’ll look at the inspection sheet and there was no note of it, and I know in the specifications that all anomalies, even small anomalies, are supposed to be recorded in the inspection.
So I would bring an inspector over and show it to him and say, “Could you please note this down in your inspection?” And they say okay, so I’d walk away. Then I’d come back later that day or the next day and it’s still not noted.
So then I would go mention it to the supervisor and go back another couple of days and still not noted. It became very frustrating on several occasions, to the point where people were angry at me for bringing it up.
If we cannot trust the NHTSA over GM, can we really trust the FAA?
As a New Zealander, I would like our national airline to assure us that we’re not getting lemons, and just how we can be sure that we’re not the guinea pigs for testing the planes like those early Comet passengers were.