I said things along these lines for a while: thereâs Facebook fatigue, Facebook is the new Digg, etc. Based on who I am seeing leave Facebook lately, thereâs increasingly more truth to this. I scrolled down my own wall earlier today to find a bunch of links to other stuff. If youâre wanting to know what I am up to, youâre better off messaging me and asking: âWhat are you up to?â Itâs refreshingly old-fashioned, kind of like when we had pen pals, carefully selecting the right stamps to go with personal correspondence.
I donât think thereâs any one cause to this. I was writing about Facebook fatigue long before Edward Snowden made us all worry about NSA snooping. (Interestingly, a caption of mine on Instagram changed yesterday: a chunk from the middle of the sentence vanished along with my hashtags. It makes you wonder: even though I donât suspect spooks, I do think Google Android and the apps are dodgy, and we all know the former sends plenty of data to the authorities.) But the fact is telling all your friends about what you are doing is tiresome. Itâs not even that necessary.
Itâs not that youâve become a less fascinating person, but itâs very much like my experience with blogging. Why havenât I blogged about the nitty-gritty of branding and its theories lately? Largely because my viewpoints on how it all works havenât changed a great deal in the last decade. Yes, we are applying those principles to a different world, and social media have altered the considerations behind them, but the underlying premise remains the same. This blog isnât like your television where you have been able to watch, over the years, La femme Nikita, The Point of No Return, Nikita and Nikita. I havenât been recast, you see, so thereâs not that much point for me to retell some of the ideas I havenât changed my mind on.
And while every now and then I will waste your time by treading over the same ground (e.g. there is a very high probability I will have another whinge about Google), itâs my contrarian side creeping up, as if to say, âWake up! Why is this brand, proven to be so dodgy, still doing so damned well in the surveys each year? What are you seeing that I am not in the face of all this evidence?â And itâs only healthy that some of us play the contrarian.
But when it comes to your real life, just what exactly changes? Itâs not income-dependent, either. If you were Sir Richard Branson, for instance, I bet there are only so many times you want to tell people you are vacationing with celebrities on your own personal island. Now, if I suddenly had a personal island, that might just appear as my next status update. But not Sir Richard.
As I type this on a Sunday during which Iâve had to work (deadlines loom) there wasnât that much about the last 24 hours that was that interesting. Some relatives came by, and that doesnât really seem to merit a status update. My work was very interesting, but confidential, so that doesnât merit a status update. What does? Links about Leonard Nimoy do, of course, as well as that realization that all this time he had been wearing a gold and white outfit on the original series of Star Trek.
As with my first days on Twitter, nearly a decade ago, I question whether anyone wishes to read about my culinary skills and the fact I made chicken drumsticks tonight; and while I did Instagram the roast chicken I made for New Yearâs Eve I really didnât think it was an ĂŠsthetically pleasing roast chicken, as far as roast chickens go. Our own lives are just that: they might well be good and at this point, my friends already know about mine. Write any more about it and it becomes a rerun.
Facebook became Facebook really with the start of the recession. Many of us were on it before, especially if you were at Harvard during its nascent stage, but for me, recessions meant looking for new opportunities. One might as well explore this new website and this whole âsocial networkingâ lark to see where it would take us. Other than a brief pick-up with the release of Timeline, I wonder if we have now explored every nook and cranny of this same-again site, just as we have done with various Google properties. The only thing that would now make either more interesting is being able to see the nightly transmissions of personal data to the NSA writ large on the welcome page.
If Facebook becomes a thing of the past, and of course it will, just as Altavista has, it will be due to the freedom we have on the internet. We might just have grown tired of retelling our stories. Which, to me, means the next big thing online will even be more exciting. We might just stop selling ourselves, becoming the fodder of Facebook and Google. We might even make some cool stuff of our own. Or we might even find a little bit of joy writing about our thoughts long-form, just as I have done.
I have just under a year before my British passport expires. In the great tradition of apartheid, it’s a British overseas national passport for those of us born in the colonies, and both in 1996 and 2006, I had to use a different form to British citizens. I presume Britain was worried about overseas British subjects flooding to their country if anything happened, and as we all know, they would much rather that Johnny Foreigner from the Continent head there to get work.
Naturally, they don’t make the renewal easy. Once upon a time, you got the form, filled it in, paid the fee, and went along to the British High Commission. It approached New Zealand levels of efficiency, which is very un-British, as it goes against the national tradition of strikes. However, I bumped into the new High Commissioner late last year (strangely, I never saw his predecessor in all the years she was here, so presently I still wonder whether she exists) and he advised me that these were all being done from the UK. It does beg the question of why we need High Commissions, just as I’m sure Gordon Brown was asking once why Britain needed all that gold, and earlier leaders why Britain needed a domestically owned car industry. You just never know what is round the corner.
But I digress.
I Tweeted the British High Commission’s account to ask about this, and they pointed me to www.gov.uk/browse/visas-immigration. It’s not terribly useful. Here was how our Twitter conversation unfolded:
I did try the form for regular British citizens, which is one thing a search gives you. I’ve been through it, and there’s nowhere in which you can tell them you’re a BNO. This might be good news, because it means the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland has started treating us the same as everyone else. Except you just know that that’s too good to be true. And the silence from the High Commission is interesting. You can always count on the Foreign Office to make you feel second-class. By telling them you are BNO, it rules out that you have any blue blood from their lot, so they have nothing to fear if you are a pleb.
This is not atypical of the British High Commission: I had a query in 2001 on a fairly serious matter, and they ignored my correspondence. The Foreign Secretary then ignored it. The Shadow Foreign Secretary then ignored it. Thank goodness for Ms Doreen Welch of the Prime Minister’s office, who acknowledged it, to the point where I took her correspondence to Britain to show that even if the FCO were incapable, the PM accepted my viewpoint. (Who knew? Tony did good.) We return to the question of just why we need High Commissions if they actually serve no function for British subjects abroad. (The only High Commissioner who ever bothered responding was George Fergusson, because of our St Mark’s old boys’ connection, but in classic British fashion his people got the address wrong on the envelope and the correspondence took months to get from Thorndon to Kilbirnie.)
I enquired again, this time with the Passports’ Office. I have cited the wrong link below, but at least I admit it when I am wrong.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
The British High Commission in New Zealand provided me the link to your new service at https://passportapplication.service.gov.uk, and it looks very easy to follow.
However, I am a British overseas national. I note your website has a separate PDF form for us, and a separate set of guidance notes. What your website does not detail is the process and where we send this PDF once completed.
Most websites seem to point to the above link.
Please can you enlighten me on the actual procedure? If it is the first link given, then I am happy to proceed through it and do it online. However, if the presence of the PDF on your website is any indication, then I suspect we have to jump through different hoops, and I would appreciate your guidance on that.
Here is the reply. This is in full. Salutations, you see, are no longer part of FCO correspondence. That makes it officially one step down from responses from Amazon.com.
Thank you for your reply. So you are saying that there is no difference whether I am a British Overseas National or a British Citizen, and that I follow the one procedure at your link?
This also means I can ignore the downloadable PDF on your website for British Overseas Nationals: is this correct?
That’s the thing. There are two forms. One is the standard one, and the other is the BNO one, for which there are no instructions. No addresses are given on where to send this form. And when you ask them, no one will tell you a thing. Britain is sworn to silence when dealing with British subjects.
Now, you might think, why don’t I just follow the link given? Sure, but this is the UK. I am happy to follow it and pay the fee but if they cock up, I pay again. It’s not like New Zealand where you can explain this to someone and they do the logical, right thing. It’s not even like Hong Kong or Singapore, places blessed with a decent civil service when the sun still shone on the Empah, but where the functionaries actually function. This is why I want to be sure. And you would think this was a delightfully simple query, innit.
No one appears to have blogged about their experiences, hence this post. I even used my last-resort search engine Google to take a look: you know I got desperate when I allowed the NSA to know and to pass that on to the GCHQ.
If you’re a BNO who has been through this post-2013, please feel free to comment.
It’s in stark contrast to my urgent New Zealand passport renewal last year, which was done by the DIA in Wellington in four hours. That was not a typo.
I realize that with electronic media somewhat difficult for this department, I will give them a call during the working week. To make sure that I get an answer, I will adopt an American accent, because we all know the British government listens to those.
Failing that, one might have to fly there just to get this done.
I’ve gone into the reasons I support ânet neutrality elsewhere, but it was nice to hear about this on the wireless:
even though we still don’t know the specifics, as the FCC has kept this to itself for now. (We do know that Google has written a letter to the FCC, and that ‘an entire core part of the document was removed with respect to broadband subscriber access service,’ according to dissenting commissioner Ajit Pai.)
While I knew Comcast had spent tens of crore lobbying against ânet neutrality, the rest may surprise you. According to SumofUs.org (emphasis added):
Just six months ago, we were facing staggering odds. Big corporations like US cable TV giant Comcast had spent more than $750 million lobbying for a corporate-controlled Internet. Google, the biggest lobby in the industry, was refusing to speak up. The FCC chair Tom Wheeler, a former Big Cable lobbyist, was hostile to Net Neutrality.
You’d think that Google would want to keep its squeaky-clean good-guy image up, but not speaking up seems to support Julian Assange’s allegations that the firm is a âprivatized NSAâ, becoming increasingly militarized. Gordon Kelly in Forbes goes so far as saying that Microsoft and Google have swapped places, with Google now the old-school establishment firm trying to defend the good old days.
This highlights even more the importance to keep the ânet neutral, away from some of these larger firms whose mandate is, at best, uncertain and, at worst, unethical. When you think about innovations, including some of the websites we use today regularly, many were started by the little guy, and I’d like to see more of what independent minds come up with. (Facebook was one; Duck Duck Go was another.) Keeping the internet neutral in the US for all playersâand that includes New Zealanders selling their wares thereâis a good thing.
And if you needed a reminder, here is perhaps the most widely seen argument for ânet neutrality of them all in 2014:
I was very interested to see this graphic on the Geely Instagram account today:
Spot the issue? I commented (and I wonder if they will delete it): ‘I would be a bit worried if the Geely GC7 found 71Â·5 mph its “flat out” speed. That would make it only as fast as a CitroĂ«n 2CV!’
That reference to the French 2CV (which I note the Germans called the Ente or, even more humorously, the DĂ¶schwo), is intentional. Not only is 71Â·5 mph the top speed of a CitroĂ«n 2CV, but here’s an advertisement from over 30 years ago (found here):
Found on my wall today. While it’s over three months old, the responses from Prof Reza Aslan of the University of California Riverside address a lot of the comments that have surfaced post-Charlie Hebdo head-onâwhich shows that we continue to go round and round the same arguments and not making an awful lot of progress.
In October, he contrasted the coverage between Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, the Canadian Muslim who murdered Cpl Nathan Cirillo in Ottawa, and the Norwegian Christian mass murderer Anders Breivik who killed 77 people, in an opâed for CNN:
In the case of Bibeau, his violent behavior could have been influenced as much by his religious beliefs as by his documented mental problems, his extensive criminal past or his history of drug addiction. Yet, because Bibeau was a Muslim, it is simply assumed that the sole motivating factor for his abhorrent behavior was his religious beliefs âŠ
Nevertheless, a great deal of the media coverage surrounding [Breivik’s] actions seemed to take for granted that his crime had nothing to do with his Christian identityâthat it was based instead on his right-wing ideology, or his anti-immigrant views, or his neglectful upbringing, or even, as Ayan Hirshi Ali famously argued, because his view that “Europe will be overrun by Islam” was being censored by a politically correct media, leaving him “no other choice but to use violence.”
Aslan does accept that ‘religious beliefs can often lead to actions that violate basic human rights. It is also true that a great many of those actions are taking place right now among Muslims,’ which will require more than a blog post to analyse, but adds, ‘When we condemn an entire community of faith for sharing certain beliefs with extremists in their community, we end up alienating the very people who are best positioned to counter such extremism in the first place.’
Aslan probably came to most people’s awareness after his interview on Fox News about his new book Zealot: the Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, where he was questioned why, as a Muslim, he would write a book about Jesus Christ.
As a religion expert who has to defend his position academicallyâand in the mainstream mediaâAslan makes a far more compelling case, backed by research, than some of the anti-Islamic rhetoric that has made a reappearance in social media lately.
Thoughts today on social networks, chatting to friends about issues stemming from the Charlie Hebdo massacre and the hostage saga in Paris’s 11th arrondissement.
In response to an Australian friend of Chinese heritage:
[Muslims] have been [speaking out against violence] since 9-11 and probably before but no one cared or no one could be bothered translating it into English.
As to why [certain members of this religion engage in violence], itâs an accident of history.
Had air travel and the internet been around 100 years ago, Iâm sure we would be the ones doing some of this because of the way colonial powers were carving China up.
Extremists will use whatever they have as a means to unite others behind their cause. If plain old sympathy does not work, then they will make it religious, or at least, about ideology. Itâs why there are even Buddhist terrorists in history. Yes, this is being done in the name of Islam, just like the Troubles were in the name of Christ. Thereâs plenty of killing going on in the Old Testament of the Bible.
Without social media it certainly seemed that mainstream Protestant and Catholic voices were silent in that conïŹict, and by this logic, endorsing the violence.
And not everyone has the privilege to make these statements. We can in a free society but some of these people live in fear.
But we in the west have played directly into their hands anyway with the changes in our laws and clamping down on free speech, when we should have held ïŹrm with our own traditions and beliefs, and told these folks to get with the programme in a globalized society.
The more confused the occident becomes and the greater the economic chasms in our own society, the more the disaffected youths might think: you do not have the answer and maybe these nut jobs do. Hence you see them come from poor areas where religion is one of the things they feel some fellowship with.
And with the negative sides of western civilization, as there are some, no doubt they will seize on that to get recruits. For politicians who do not believe that inequality (real or actual) is a problem, then they had better wake up fast, as no amount of legislation about stripping foreign ïŹghters of citizenship is going to stem the tide.
Like I said in an earlier thread, no Muslim I know would engage in or endorse this stuff, but Iâm in a privileged position as are the Muslims I have met. Not so these guys, and they have a wonderful targetâus, living in comfortâto sell others on.
Muslims are the stereotyped bogeymen for now, and then in another age the mainstream will have chosen another minority to pick on, telling us how their beliefs are evil.
And to an American friend and colleague, who points out MEMRI has been translating, in some ways a postscript:
Iâm definitely not denying that there are plenty of nut jobs in that part of the world who push their crazy on to others. You only need to get a sense of what gets broadcast on al-Jazeera (as opposed to al-Jazeera English) where they get a ready platform.
But, once again, it is where we are technologically as a people, with many disunited and hypocritical.
When you’re a minority, you can see how majority thought can work against you. I’ve heard, depending on where I am, that Muslims (or even all Arabs) are terrorists, whites are undisciplined, or Jews are stingey, and at some point you just have to say no to stereotypes when you realize that you could be the next group to be singled out and targeted. Remember when Chinese were Triads, a popular one that was within the lifetimes of most New Zealanders reading this blog? That was the mid-1990s, when a few years before I was denied service at Woolworths because of the logic that trade was not supplied and all Chinese must be greengrocers.
It beats being called a Triad or a terrorist.
I was watching France 24 about half an hour after the Charlie Hebdo attack and made the above graphic a few hours later, in support of press freedoms and the victims’ families, and showing solidarity with other members of the media. One friend has made it his Facebook profile photo and I followed suit about a day later.
We have come across the usual, and expected, ‘Everyday Muslims should say something and be openly against extremists. Silence means they endorse these actions.’
Some have, of course, but no more than Christians came out to condemn the actions of Protestants and Catholics groups during the Troubles (although at least the IRA told you to get out of a building), or white American Christians came out against the KKK prior to the Civil Rights Movement.
I wonder if there are double standards here.
Perhaps this Muslim writer put it best in a Facebook comment: âI was just making a larger point about how easy it is to make the assertion and equate “silence” to passive aggression. Most Muslims are from non-English speaking countries. Just because they donât tweet in support and arenât given enough media coverage, doesnât mean they directly/indirectly propagate the oppression conduced by radical Islamists.
âIâm a Muslim who vehemently opposes attacks such as the one in Paris. I can only say this to you because Iâm equipped with the privileged circumstances to do so. Most people on this planet (let alone Muslims), do not. Claiming that I have a stake in these attacks, however, is blatantly unfair too.â
I’m not denying that those engaged in acts of terror do so in the name of Islam, just as the Klan proclaims itself a Christian organization. They have been able to spread their hate more readily because of where we are in history, namely in an age of easy movement across borders and the internet. But had the same technology been ready 100 years ago, it isn’t hard to imagine Chinese terrorists taking it to the west for what western colonial powers were doing inside China. Would the PLA have been more widespread for the same reasons? Probably. It’s hard for me to have it in for any one faith since we’re not that far away from doing the same, and the fact we aren’t is down to winning the lottery of where, when, and to whom we were born.
I definitely have it in for those who are committing atrocities, and they need to be identified and dealt with. We can debate on whether we have a suitable legal framework to do this, and that is another topic. Simon Jenkins should have the last word on this topic:
[The terrorists] sought to terrify others and thus to deter continued criticism, and they now seek to reduce the French state to a condition of paranoia. They want to goad otherwise liberal people to illiberal actions âŠ
Osama bin Ladenâs attacks on the United States, culminating in New York in 2001, were exceptional. Since he could not hope for an American capitulation, the intention must have been to scare the US into a hysterical reaction âŠ [Y]ears of war ensued, years that realised al-Qaidaâs wildest dreams. Western nations plunged into battle, at a cost of some $3tn. Thousands of lives were lost and regimes were destabilised across the region. Democratic governments lurched towards authoritarianism. Almost willingly, it seemed, governments tore up many of the central tenets of their liberties. In the more belligerent states â the US and Britain â habeas corpus, private communication, legal process and even freedom of speech were curtailed or jeopardised. The forces of state repression suddenly found themselves singing the best tunes.
Bin Laden was handed his triumph. For a decade he was able to rally supporters to his cause. He boasted at the vulnerability of this supposedly superior society. He taunted democracies that claimed immunity from the devious tactics of militant Islam âŠ
Terrorism is no ordinary crime. It depends on consequence. It can kill people and damage property. It can impose cost. But it cannot occupy territory or topple governments. Even to instil fear it requires human enhancement, from the media and politicians.
That is why the most effective response is to meet terrorism on its own terms. It is to refuse to be terrified. It is not to show fear, not to overreact, not to over-publicise the aftermath. It is to treat each event as a passing accident of horror, and leave the perpetrator devoid of further satisfaction. That is the only way to defeat terrorism.
Autocade hit 3,000 models before December 31 was out. The 3,000th: the Renault Espace V.
There are still some big omissions (for instance, all the full-size Japanese sedans, all the Toyota Celicas, and it needs more Corvettes, Ferraris and Maseratis) but a lot of the mainstream model lines are there (all current Geelys, all the Volkswagen Golfs, and more and more current model lines). For a site made primarily out of personal interest, it’s doing reasonably well, with a few thousand page views daily.
A quick summary then, based on the stats grabbed in early December:
March 2008: launch
July 2008: 500 (four months for ïŹrst 500)
December 2009: 1,000 (17 months for second 500)
May 2011: 1,500 (17 months for third 500)
December 2012: 2,000 (19 months for fourth 500)
June 2014: 2,500 (18 months for ïŹfth 500)
December 2014: 3,000 (six months for sixth 500)
March 2008: launch
April 2011: 1,000,000 page views
March 2012: 2,000,000 page views
May 2013: 3,000,000 page views
January 2014: 4,000,000 page views
September 2014: 5,000,000 page views
Currently, it’s on 5,473,963, so the rate is increasing slightly, probably helped by a new Facebook fan page (with a mere 60 members).
We have been chatting about some radical changes to Autocade in 2015. Should this happen, I’ll blog about it when I am able.
Finally, the resolution to my problems around Linux was putting Linux Mint 17.1 on to a bootable USB stick using Rufus, which happily (and unlike a lot of programs) does what it says on the tin. (The allotted hard drive space for Ubuntu 13, which was determined when I installed 10, became insufficient for 14, hence the Christmas project of trying to upgrade.) Neither Ubuntu 14 nor Mint 17 allowed itself to be installed without hard drive partitioningâit is not poor memory when I say that Ubuntu 10 presented no such hassles in 2011âand that is too risky based on my computing knowledge while I have data on every hard drive that I need to keep. (Again, this is down to experience: an earlier attempt following instructionsâthat old bugbearâcost all the data on one hard drive and having to Dial a Geek and pay NZ$100.) I could not put either on to the hard drive I wanted, despite selecting the ‘Something else’ option. Putting either into a VM Ware virtual machine made little sense, though I tried it at the suggestion of a good friend, only to find that the only screen resolution that was possible was a tiny 640 by 480. (Going into display settings did nothing: it was the only option available; trying to force different ones through the Terminal also failed, while downloading new drivers for the screen did not make any difference.) After hoursâpossibly even days wasted if you totalled up those hoursânone of the usually helpful forums like Ask Ubuntu had answers that matched my circumstances.
The USB set-up is good for me for now, since I do not get that much work done in Linux, but I cannot believe how complicated things had become. As with the browsers I have, there is very little on my computers that is so customized that they would be considered extraordinaryâI do not have those computing skills to make changes at that levelâso it makes me wonder why there is such a gulf between the claims and the reality when it comes to software, constantly. Yosemite taking 12 hours to upgrade, browsers that stopped displaying text, and now Linux requiring a computing degree to install, aren’t good signs for the computing industry.
Unless you are in the support business, then they are wonderful signs for the computing industry.
You’ve run for office, Jack. What is your favourite political speech? Something from MLK? JFK in Berlin?
No, it was a completely fictional one, from the minds of Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn:
Iâm a good European. I believe in Europe. I believe in the European ideal! Never again shall we repeat the bloodshed of two world wars. Europe is here to stay.
But this does not mean that we have to bow the knee to every directive from every bureaucratic Bonaparte in Brussels. We are a sovereign nation still and proud of it.
We have made enough concessions to the European commissar for agriculture. And when I say commissar, I use the word advisedly. We have swallowed the wine lake, we have swallowed the butter mountain, we have watched our French friends beating up British lorry drivers carrying good British lamb to the French public. We have bowed and scraped, doffed our caps, tugged our forelocks and turned the other cheek. But I say enough is enough!
The Europeans have gone too far. They are now threatening the British sausage. They want to standardize it, by which they mean theyâll force the British people to eat salami and bratwurst and other garlic-ridden greasy foods that are totally alien to the British way of life.
Do you want to eat salami for breakfast with your egg and bacon? I donât. And I wonât!
Theyâve turned our pints into litres and our yards into metres, we gave up the tanner and the threepenny bit, the two bob and the half-crown. But they cannot and will not destroy the British sausage! Not while Iâm here.
In the words of Martin Luther: Here I stand, I can do no other.
âParty Games’ is one of the most instructive Yes, Minister episodes ever. Thanks to this incident on Fox News for inspiring this post.
For the last few years, Iâve looked back at the events of the year in a tongue-in-cheek fashion. (In fact, in 2009, I looked back at the decade.) Tumblrâs the place I look at these days for these summaries, since it tends to have my random thoughts, ones complemented by very little critical thinking. They tell me what piqued my interest over the year.
These days, Iâve been posting more about the TV show I watch the most regularly, the German Alarm fĂŒr Cobra 11: die Autobahnpolizei. A good part of my Tumblr, at least, and of Danielle Careyâs, whom I first connected with via this blog, features screen shots and other photographs from it. But Cobra 11 asideâand for those âculturedâ Germans who tell me itâs the worst show on their telly, may I remind you that you still make Das Traumschiff?âI still will be influenced by everyday events.
So what do I spy?
Sadly, despite my intent in wanting to blog humorously, it turns out that 2014 doesnât necessarily give us a lot to laugh about. And weâve had over a year after that Mayan calendar gag, and 13 years after Y2K. Itâs still not time to laugh yet.
I made a spoof English Hustle poster given all the hype about American Hustle, which seems to have, prima facie, the same idea. It meets with Adrian Lesterâs approval (well, he said, âHa,â which I gather is positive).
I post about Idris Elba giving a response about the James Bond character. (Slightly ahead of my time, as it turns out.)
Robert Catto wrote of Justin Bieberâs arrest: âSo, J. Biebs is arrested for racing a rented Lamborghini in a residential neighbourhood while under the influence (of drugs and alcohol) while on an expired license, resisting arrest, and a bunch of previous stuff including egging a neighbourâs house. With that many accusations being thrown at him, this can only mean one thing.
âThe race for Mayor of Toronto just got interesting.â
I wrote to a friend, âIf there was a Facebook New Zealand Ltd. registered here then it might make more sense ensuring that there were fewer loopholes for that company to minimize its tax obligations, but the fact is there isnât. Either major party would be better off encouraging New Zealand to be the head office for global corporations, or encourage good New Zealand businesses to become global players, if this was an issue (and I believe that it is). There is this thing called the internet that they may have heard of, but both parties have seen it as the enemy (e.g. the whole furore over s. 92A, first proposed by Labour, enacted by National).
âRight now, we have some policy and procedural problems preventing us from becoming more effective exporters.
âItâs no coincidence that I took an innovation tack in my two mayoral campaigns. If central government was too slow in acting to capture or create these players, then I was going to do it at a local level.â
And there are $700 trillion (I imagine that means $700 billion, if you used the old definitionsâ12 zeroes after the 700) worth of derivatives yet to implode, according to I Acknowledge. Global GDP is $69Â·4 (American) trillion a year. âThis means that (primarily) Wall Street and the City of London have run up phantom paper debts of more than ten times of the annual earnings of the entire planet.â
The Sochi Olympics: in Soviet Russia, Olympics watch you! Dmitry Kozak, the deputy PM, says that westerners are deliberately sabotaging things there. How does he know? âWe have surveillance video from the hotels that shows people turn on the shower, direct the nozzle at the wall and then leave the room for the whole day.â Sports Illustrated does an Air New Zealand safety video.
This was the month I first saw the graphic containing a version of these words: âJesus was a guy who was a peaceful, radical, nonviolent revolutionary, who hung around with lepers, hookers, and criminals, who never spoke English, was not an American citizen, a man who was anti-capitalism, anti-wealth, anti-public prayer (yes he was Matthew 6:5), anti-death penalty but never once remotely anti-gay, didnât mention abortion, didnât mention premarital sex, a man who never justified torture, who never called the poor âlazyâ, who never asked a leper for a co-pay, who never fought for tax cuts for the wealthiest Nazarenes, who was a long haired, brown skinned (thatâs in revelations), homeless, middle eastern Jew? Of course, thatâs only if you believe whatâs actually in the Bibleâ (sic). For those who want a response, this blog post answers the points from a Catholic point of view, but the original quoteâs not completely off-base.
My friend Dmitry protests in Moskva against Russiaâs actions in the Crimea. This was posted on this blog at the time. He reports things arenât all rosy in Russia when it comes to free speech.
Another friend, Carolyn Enting, gets her mug in the Upper Hutt Leader after writing her first fictional book, The Medallion of Auratus.
MH370 goes missing.
And this great cartoon, called âIf Breaking Bad Had Been Set in the UKâ:
I call Lupita Nyongâo âWoman of the Year 2014â.
A post featuring Robin Williams (before that horrible moment in August), where he talks about the influence of Peter Sellers and Dr Strangelove on him. I seem to have posted a lot of Robin that month, from his CBS TV show, The Crazy Ones.
A Lancastrian reader, Gerald Vinestock, writes to The Times: âSir, Wednesdayâs paper did not have a photograph of the Duchess of Cambridge. I do hope she is all right.â
A first post on those CBS TV attempts to create a show about Sherlock Holmes set in the modern day in the US, partnered with a woman: on 1987âs The Return of Sherlock Holmes.
The fiftieth anniversary of the on-sale date of the Ford Mustang (April 17).
The death of Bob Hoskins. Of course I had to post his last speech in The Long Good Friday, as well as the clip from Top Gear where Richard Hammond mistook Ray Winstone for Hoskins. They all look the same to me.
Judith Collinsâ story about what she was doing in China with Oravida collapses.
Someone points out there is a resemblance between Benedict Cumberbatch and Butthead from Beavis and Butthead.
Jean Pisani Ferryâs view on the origins of the euro crisis in The Economist: âSuppose that the crisis had begun, as it might easily have done, in Ireland? It would then have been obvious that fiscal irresponsibility was not the culprit: Ireland had a budget surplus and very low debt. More to blame were economic imbalances, inflated property prices and dodgy bank loans. The priority should not have been tax rises and spending cuts, but reforms to improve competitiveness and a swift resolution of troubled banks, including German and French ones, that lent so irresponsibly.â
Sir Ian McKellen says, âDid I want to go and live in New Zealand for a year? As it turns out, I was very happy that I did. I canât recommend New Zealand strongly enough. Itâs a wonderful, wonderful place, quite unlike [the] western world. Itâs in the southern hemisphere and itâs far, far away and although they speak English, donât be fooled. Theyâre not like us. Theyâre something better than us.â
Lots of Alarm fĂŒr Cobra 11 posts.
Liam Fitzpatrick writes of Hong Kong, before the Occupy protests, âHong Kongersâsober, decent, pragmatic and hardworkingâare mostly not the sort of people who gravitate to the barricades and the streets. Neither do they need to be made aware of the political realities of having China as a sovereign power, for the simple fact that postwar Hong Kong has only ever existed with Chinaâs permission. In the 1960s, the local joke was that Mao Zedong could send the British packing with a mere phone call.
âWith that vast, brooding power lying just over the Kowloon hills, tiny Hong Kongâs style has always been to play China cleverlyâto push where it can (in matters such as education and national-security legislation, where it has won important battles) and to back off where it cannot.â
It didnât seem completely prescient.
The General Election campaign: National billboards are edited. Doctor Who goes on tour prior to Peter Capaldiâs first season in the lead role.
The suicide of Robin Williams.
Michael Brown is killed. Greg Howard writes, âThere was Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla., and Oscar Grant in Oakland, Calif., and so many more. Michael Brownâs death wasnât shocking at all. All over the country, unarmed black men are being killed by the very people who have sworn to protect them, as has been going on for a very long time now âŠ
âThere are reasons why white gunâs rights activists can walk into a Chipotle restaurant with assault rifles and be seen as gauche nuisances while unarmed black men are killed for reaching for their wallets or cell phones, or carrying childrenâs toys.â
Like so many things, such a statement of fact became politicized in months to come.
Darren Watson releases âUp Here on Planet Keyâ, only to have it banned by the Electoral Commission. With his permission, I did a spoken-word version.
Journalist Nicky Hager, who those of us old enough will remember was a right-wing conspiracy theorist, is branded a left-wing conspiracy theorist by the PM because this time, he wrote about National and not Labour. The Deputy PM, Bill English, who commended Hagerâs work 12 years ago over Seeds of Distrust, and even quoted from it, remained fairly quiet.
It wasnât atypical. I wrote in one post, âIn 2011, Warren Tucker said three times in one letter that he told PM John Key about the SIS release. Now he says he only told his office but not the PM personallyâafter an investigation was announced (when the correct protocol would be to let the investigation proceed) âŠ
âKey did not know about GCSB director Ian Fletcherâs appointment (week one of that saga) before he knew about it (week two).
âKey cannot remember how many TranzRail shares he owned.
âKey cannot remember if and when he was briefed by the GCSB over Kim Dotcom.
âKey did not know about Kim Dotcomâs name before he did not know about Kim Dotcom at all.
âKey cannot remember if he was for or against the 1981 Springbok tour.â
Some folks on YouTube did a wonderful series of satirical videos lampooning the PM. Kiwi satire was back. This was the first:
Matt Crawford recalled, âAt this point in the last election campaign, the police were threatening to order search warrants for TV3, The Herald on Sunday, RadioNZ et alâover a complaint by the Prime Minister. Over a digital recording inadvertently made in a public space literally during a media stunt put on for the pressâa figurative media circus.â
Quoting Robert Muldoon in 1977âs Muldoon by Muldoon: âNew Zealand does not have a colour bar, it has a behaviour bar, and throughout the length and breadth of this country we have always been prepared to accept each other on the basis of behaviour and regardless of colour, creed, origin or wealth. That is the most valuable feature of New Zealand society and the reason why I have time and again stuck my neck out to challenge those who would try to destroy this harmony and set people against people inside our country.â
And my reaction to the Conservative Partyâs latest publicity, which was recorded on this blog, and repeated for good measure on Tumblr: âEssentially what they are saying is: our policy is that race doesnât matter. Except when it comes to vilifying a group, it does. Letâs ignore the real culprits, because: âThe Chineseâ.â
The passing of Richard âJawsâ Kiel.
John Barnett of South Pacific Pictures sums up Nicky Hager: âHager is a gadfly who often causes us to examine our society. He has attacked both the right and the left before. Itâs too easy to dismiss it as a left wing loony conspiracy. We tend to shoot the messengers rather than examine the messages.â
New Zealanders begin vilifying Kim Dotcom: I respond. I blog about Occupy Central in Hong Kongâwhich led to a television appearance on Breakfast in early October.
Iâm not sure where this quotation comes from, but I reposted it: âA white man is promoted: He does good work, he deserved it.
âA white woman is promoted: Whose dick did she suck?
âA man of color is promoted: Oh, great, I guess we have to âfill quotasâ now.
âA woman of color is promoted: j/k. That never happens.â
Facebook gets overrun by bots: I manage to encounter 277 in a single day. (I eventually reach someone at Facebook New Zealand, who is trying to solicit business for one of the fan pages we have, and point this out. I never hear back from him.) The trouble is Facebook limits you to reporting 40 a day, effectively tolerating the bots. It definitely tolerates the click farms: I know of dozens of accounts that the company has left untouched, despite reports.
Kim Dotcomâs lawyers file a motion to dismiss in Virginia in United States v. Dotcom and others, and summarize the case so far: âNearly three years ago, the United States Government effectively wiped out Megaupload Limited, a cloud storage provider, along with related businesses, based on novel theories of criminal copyright infringement that were offered by the Government ex parte and have yet to be subjected to adversarial testing. Thus, the Government has already seized the criminal defendantsâ websites, destroyed their business, and frozen their assets around the worldâall without benefit of an evidentiary hearing or any semblance of due process.
âWithout even attempting to serve the corporate defendants per the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, the Government has exercised all its might in a concerted, calculated effort to foreclose any opportunity for the defendants to challenge the allegations against them and also to deprive them of the funds and other tools (including exculpatory evidence residing on servers, counsel of choice, and ability to appear) that would equip robust defense in the criminal proceedings.
âBut all that, for the Government, was not enough. Now it seeks to pile on against ostensibly defenseless targets with a parallel civil action, seeking civil forfeiture, based on the same alleged copyright crimes that, when scrutinized, turn out to be figments of the Governmentâs boundless imagination. In fact, the crimes for which the Government seeks to punish the Megaupload defendants (now within the civil as well as the criminal realm) do not exist. Although there is no such crime as secondary criminal copyright infringement, that is the crime on which the Governmentâs Superseding Indictment and instant Complaint are predicated. That is the nonexistent crime for which Megaupload was destroyed and all of its innocent users were denied their rightful property. That is the nonexistent crime for which individual defendants were arrested, in their homes and at gunpoint, back in January 2012. And that is the nonexistent crime for which the Government would now strip the criminal defendants, and their families, of all their assets.â
Stuart Heritage thinks The Apprentice UK has run its course, and writes in The Guardian: âThe Apprentice has had its day. Itâs running on fumes. Itâs time to replace it with something more exciting, such as a 40-part retrospective on the history of the milk carton, or a static shot of someone trying to dislodge some food from between their teeth with the corner of an envelope.â
Doctor Who takes a selfie and photobombs himself.
Andrew Little becomes Labour leader, and is quoted in the Fairfax Press (who, according to one caption, says his motherâs name is Cecil): âIâm not going to resile from being passionate about working men and women being looked after, having a voice, and being able to go to work safe and earn well. Thatâs what I stand for.
âThe National party have continued to run what I think is a very 1970s prejudice about unions âŠ We have [in New Zealand] accepted a culture that if you are big, bold and brassy you will stand up for yourself. But [this] Government is even stripping away protections [from] those who are bold enough to do so.
âI think New Zealanders are ready for someone who will talk bluntly about those who are being left behind. Thatâs what Iâll be doing.â
Iâm not a Labour voter but I was impressed.
I advise my friend Keith Adams in Britain, who laments the driving standards there, that in order to have the road toll we have, theyâd need to kill another 2,000 per annum. âThe British driver is a well honed, precision pilot compared to oneâs Kiwi counterpart.â
Julian Assange on Google, and confirmation that the company has handed over personal data to the US Government. He calls Eric Schmidt âGoogleâs secretary of state, a Henry Kissinger-like figure whose job it is to go out and meet with foreign leaders and their opponents and position Google in the world.â
The Sydney siege and the tragic deaths of Katrina Dawson and Tori Johnson.
The killing of NYPD officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu. The NYPD doesnât look very white to me, but a murderer used the death of Eric Garner as an excuse to murder a Dad and a newlywed.
My second post on those CBS TV attempts to create a show about Sherlock Holmes set in the modern day in the US, partnered with a woman: on 1993âs 1994 Baker Street.
Craig Ferguson hosts his last Late Late Show. And moreâs the pity: heâs one of the old school, never bitter, and never jumped on the bandwagon attacking celebrities.
During the six hours wasted with Ubuntu today (13 would no longer upgrade, so I removed it and decided to start afresh with 14âbig mistake, since it would not let me use the same hard drive), I had to open up my five-year-old Windows Vista laptop and upgrade my Firefox. After all, what were the odds that Mozilla would cock up its flagship browser on two OSs? After all, it’s fine on Mac OS X and Linux.
As it turns out, pretty high. Just as in Windows 7, Firefox for Windows Vista displays no text. And unlike Windows 7, which was solved by switching on hardware acceleration, Windows Vista proved a bit of a bugger to fix.
During the months where I was trouble-shooting, and after my last post, one of the more knowledgeable Mozilla volunteers admitted that there is a fault with the Cairo rendering engine in Firefox: ‘This means that (at least in your case) the issue is most likely specific to the cairo drawing backend. Good to know, thanks.’
It is still definitely related to the 2011 bug I filed where PostScript Type 1 fonts were incompatible with Firefox due to something breaking that time.
Firefox for Windows Vista’s bug, as far as I can make out, is down to Type 1 fonts being incompatible with the browser, even though they are compatible with nearly everything else on the OS. This is slightly different from the Windows 7 fault, as I still have PostScript Type 1 fonts on that computer, but Firefox simply ignores those when specified in a stylesheet in favour of what it can load under hardware acceleration (usually the default).
Despite my updating some of the system fonts that were particular to my Vista set-up to OpenType (which Firefox might have trouble with sometimes, too), that did not fix it. Firefox requires you to delete fonts off your system.
On some websites, including Facebook, Helvetica is specified before Arial in stylesheets. If your Helvetica (not Neue Helvetica) is PostScript Type 1âand it probably would be on a Windows machineâFirefox will detect it, and return blank spaces.
This is still a daft state of affairs with Cairo. Here’s how (to my very basic layman’s mind, and obviously to the minds of everyone at Adobe and a bunch of other places) how a program should deal with fonts:
* Is it installed on the system? Yes.
* Use it.
Firefox seems to adopt this approach:
* Is it installed on the system? Yes.
* Let’s ignore the ones our programmers dislike in favour of the ones our programmers like, which would only be certain TrueType fonts, and to heck with the people who have licensed other fonts and installed them in good faith. Let’s punish anyone who decided to carry over older software. Let’s also fail selected OpenType fonts such as the italics in Source Sans Pro for no apparent reason. [PS.: If the first font family is incompatible, let’s display nothing. On a stylesheet, if one does not work, we won’t load the second one, but we will try to load the system font even if that is incompatible, too.]
When it comes to stylesheets, neither OS makes much sense. Normally a program would go through each font specified, and display in the first one available. I don’t understand the rationale but Firefox will skip the ones in the stylesheet even when installed, even when compatible, and opt for system fonts or those specified as defaults in the program.
All of this is counter-intuitive, and if it weren’t for what must be my OCD, I’d never have found out, and have given up to use another browser.
Not that IE11 is much good: