Posts tagged ‘Nadine Isler’


When the media advocate racism to hide the real culprits behind bad driving

07.03.2015

This op–ed in the Fairfax Press smacks of typical yellow peril journalism that has come to typify what passes for some media coverage of late.
   Yes, some Chinese drivers are awful in their home country and they will bring those bad habits here. But I’d be interested to get some hard stats. For instance, Chris Roberts, CEO of the Tourism Industry Association, tells us that 5 per cent of accidents are caused by tourists, and 3 per cent of fatalities are caused by them. That has been the case for years. The only difference is the mix of tourists. We were never that concerned when Aussies, Brits and continental Europeans were causing that 3 per cent. All of a sudden, we are concerned when Chinese tourists are causing part of that 3 per cent.
   Roberts also notes that Australian tourists are the worst culprits when it comes to accidents here—no surprise, since more Aussies travel here.
   In the last three years, 240 were killed on our roads by drunk drivers. None were killed by a drunk visitor.
   So what a shame when a writer cannot uncover some basic facts and advocates ‘benevolent racism’, citing a book written by an American about Chinese drivers in China in support.
   I wouldn’t have a problem if we were up in arms in earlier years about all the accidents caused by tourists, and the media, especially talkback radio, were filled with calls to make sure the many Aussies and Brits were tested before they got behind the wheel of a rental car here.
   But to devote so much time and column inches now smacks of hypocrisy.
   There’s a difference between the everyday Chinese driver in China and a more educated tourist who has the means and smarts to go abroad—just as there is between an everyday Kiwi driver in New Zealand and those of us who opt to drive and travel in countries where they drive on the other side of the road. I’d be surprised if you told me you were as relaxed as you normally are in New Zealand when you drive abroad.
   I have done my own study on this—a tiny sample to be sure—where the incidents of bad driving in this country are—surprise, surprise—exactly in proportion to the racial mix. It is always troubling when we buy into a stereotype.
   You can easily argue that we drive more kilometres over a year in our country than a tourist might over a small period of time. However, I understand from my friend Nadine Isler, whose father is the expert in this area, that even when you factor this in, we Kiwis still fare poorly. The xenophobia, then, that I see in our country is disturbing, especially when it relates to the yellow peril.
   Many of my friends who visit here comment on the appalling behaviour of local drivers, and they notice a marked decline in the driving ability they witness after they arrive. As Dave Moore—also of the Fairfax Press, but a journalist who prefers to research and cite facts—has rightly pointed out, our road toll per capita is substantially higher than the UK’s. He has said so for years, consistently, warning us about our own low standards. This should tell you something about where we stand, and just how appalling the average Kiwi motorist is. As I say to British friends who bemoan their own driving standards: you need to kill another 1,400 Britons each year to get an idea of where New Zealand is. (I am using a mix of 2012 and 2013 figures for that number.)
   His solution, which also appeared on Fairfax’s Stuff website, has merit, but, of course, it forces us to take a long, hard look at ourselves—something we’re not happy doing when there is an easily identified group to blame. And blame, and blame.
   As I said in an earlier status update on Facebook: if we want to target the driving habits of tourists (and it is not a bad idea), then let’s get the 95 per cent of trouble-makers—Kiwis on Kiwi roads, and predominantly white—up to speed as well. If we are going to do any profiling of who the dangerous drivers are on our roads, it’s not Chinese tourists we should be concerned about.

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Posted in cars, China, culture, media, New Zealand | 5 Comments »


The dystopian future has arrived, and it’s called Ryanair

12.07.2011

Ryanair plane

This was too priceless to share only with my Tumblr readers. It’s an excerpt from a review of Ryanair, sent to my friend Nadine Isler, who has since published (with permission) on her site:

Entering the cabin, I was greeted by a blindingly bright yellow ceiling that would be more at home on the back of a poisonous tree frog or gay banana. Below stretched a farm of sterile blue plastic seats that looked like they were taken straight out of a Smurf porno. As if plastering the overhead lockers in tacky advertising wasn’t enough—we’re talking ‘buy buy buy, free free free, super extra premium gin rum vodka’—they had actually glued the safety information cards to the back of the seats, completing a scene that had all the ambience of a South Auckland brothel.

The whole piece is here, though I am at a loss on what a ‘gay banana’ is.
   Everything I have heard of the airline turns me off, though I have never flown it. I can tolerate some budget concessions, such as having to pay for your meals, but most (negative) stories are along the same lines as the review on Nadine’s site (though not as humorous). The taxes and inconvenience are sufficient turn-offs. As I was raised to believe that good manners should be free, the review indicates that Ryanair skimps on those, too. But you begin thinking what else they have skimped on. Aircraft servicing? Passenger safety? Pilots with sanity?
   I can’t criticize them for outright deception. It’s not as though the marketing tells you that the airline is comfortable when it isn’t. Everything screams budget, so it’s a case of caveat emptor. Naice airlines do not publish calendars with their air hostesses in swimsuits or nothing at all. If they’re willing to objectify their own staff, you’re not in much hope of getting a red carpet. (Meanwhile, this union has some concerns about the airline.)
   The plus side, which I’m sure Ryanair and other low-cost fliers would state, is that people can now get to where they want without too much cost. It wasn’t that long ago that jetting about would necessitate taking out a mortgage. I remember looking at an ad in 1980, where it was considered a “special” for a family to fly return to Hong Kong for NZ$3,000. That’s 1980 dollars, too.
   The Ryanair stories, nevertheless, remind me that the flip side can go too far. How much more toward the dystopian 21st century of last century’s films do we need to go? Is the rich–poor divide now so pronounced that Ryanair can even fioat the idea of standing on your flights, locked in à la Hannibal Lecter? The battery-hen analogy in the review suddenly seems more apt. Let’s make it as undignified as we can for those who didn’t pay for it. Let’s serve Soylent Green on the flight in a few years’ time (with an extra charge, of course).
   I know, I can easily get political from this point, and segue into water ownership or a similar issue. One rule for the rich and one for the poor. It jars with not only my social conscience, but all the ideas I developed practising and (many years ago) teaching design: that no one should go without good stuff.
   So my impressions of Ryanair are all second-hand. Still, they’re enough to keep me hoping that I don’t have to experience them first-hand.

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Posted in business, culture, humour, marketing | 3 Comments »