Wednesday, 28 September 2011

What if they held a party and nobody stood?

I wasn’t going to do another election blog before the end of the RWC (kerchang – sound of copyright lawyers tallying my sins), but events have driven me to it. I mean the idea of Don and Rog sharing a toke or two and sniggering about how JB just ain’t hip, was too tempting to leave.

I can’t help but wonder if Don HAS actually been at the weed, and consuming far more than is good for him, because to pull an idea like that out without first sorting things out with the one horse they are backing who might just get over the finish line seems, well pretty out of it, actually.

Without it ever being one of their poster campaigns, ACT has always been in favour of decriminalisation of dope, albeit more because of their views around personal freedom, but to chuck it out front at this stage of an election year does sound a tad desperate. It is all the more bizarre when espoused by somebody as unlikely as old Dong.

But then I guess the ACT Party has become a bizarre animal that just keeps getting weirder by the day. I don’t know how many of you have visited their website lately, but it is fronted by two grinning geriatrics and a younger male who appears to be gurning. Either that or he is from Dannevirke or Tasmania or Barnsley or...(fill in your own local inbred capital here).

First stop should be the ‘People’ tab which reveals ‘ACT’s People’. The only trouble here is that this includes Rodders who has basically been fired, Bosco who has allegedly just quit, Hevva who was also shown the door, Hills who has also been rather unceremoniously dumped and the aged incumbent Rog who has also signalled his retirement from Parliament.

And if that isn’t bizarre enough; take a look at their 2011 Party List. Now here we have a really funny situation. When you click on any of the three links in the top of the site to meet the team you encounter a most unusual ‘list’.

Grinning inanely back at you from the top is Dong and sitting in number two spot is one of the more shadowy members of the ACT of Stupidity Party, and number three slot is also occupied by a similar dark silhouette of a man. To save you looking it would seem that candidates two and three on the AoS Party list are top secret and we not only may not see their faces; neither are we allowed to know their names. Just fills you with confidence, doesn't it voters?

In other words the ACT list currently has nobody at numbers two or three. This seems bizarre enough on its own, but how do the others sitting at positions four to ten feel about that? I can imagine Dong having to explain how they are all worthy of their respective positions, but it’s just that none of them are good enough to fill places two or three. Dong apparently doesn’t want any of his current batch getting too close to him and presumably has a couple of tame patsies lined up to fill those spots nearer the date when it is too late for any of the others to make a fuss.

That seems the most logical explanation to me. Either that or the AoS Party simply doesn’t want anyone to notice they can’t even muster a list of ten candidates for the election. Perhaps Dong thought the voters were too stupid to notice he had not named anyone for slots two or three?

On the other hand, with this talk of decriminalising the old electric puha, maybe Dong has an even more bizarre agenda. What if he intends to actually run that list as is at the election, and he was simply too stoned when he put it together to noticed his omissions? And what if the electoral commission accepted said list? And what if the ACT of Stupidity Party actually pulled enough votes to land more than one of their space cadets in Parliament? – I know it’s a pretty wild concept, that last paragraph, but bear with me. What then would happen? Would they have to allocate an empty seat in the chamber for the invisible ACT list member?

I know this sounds nonsensical; but let’s not forget a certain John Hadfield who was able to jump parties mid-term, and win a bye-election on the ticket of an unregistered party. Furthermore he now draws a larger draught from the public trough on the grounds he is the leader of a Parliamentary Party that wasn’t even registered to contest the election that put him in as its leader.

Maybe we shouldn’t be too quick to dismiss wild speculation where our political system is involved?      

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Chorus hit bum notes

Oh my blog I’m running late. And why am I running late? Because this has been a week of hassles beyond belief, that’s why. But as with everything in life, you have to take what lessons you can from it and my lesson for this week was that you have to speak up and make a fuss if you are not happy. And don’t mince your words if somebody has really stuffed you around; go on the attack.

So why am I so fired up? Well the first thing to get me going this week was a problem with my Internet connection. I say this week, but in actual fact this problem has been with us for months. We had complained to Vodaclone many times and they weren’t listening properly. You see the fault is a regular one that causes our connection to drop out virtually every day at approximately the same time of the day (within a 3 hour window at the most), and it lasts between 2 and 15 minutes each time.

When you get a problem that is as predictable in its behaviour as this, it is more likely than not to have the same cause each time. Yet Yodafone didn’t seem to be able to understand this and each time put us through the usual nonsense of switching off the modem and the computer waiting 3 minutes....if you’ve ever had to deal with these companies you will know the rest of the script. And therein resides the first problem. It is a bloody script. I am convinced these people have been given little or no training whatsoever and instead been issued with a list of FAQs and the corporate answers that must be used to customers. Should the customer ask about something that was forgotten in the FAQ list, the call centre operative finds the next nearest one and answers with that. After analysing the answers I was given I came to the conclusion this must be the case as they were all so carefully structured and rigid. Each time I queried the logic it resulted in a long wait listening to poorly recorded and mostly awful music while the operative rushed off to their supervisor for advice or another handful of ‘stupid’ pills.

That is the background to this fiasco. Zapping forward to the present, things came to a head last week when we got fed up again and decided to insist on somebody coming and sorting the problem out. We reasoned there must be a simple explanation for it and it was looking increasingly like some sort of outside force was impacting on our connection each day. Somebody must be doing something around that time each day that affects our line. This time for no apparent reason we were taken more seriously and told Chorus would be sent out to check on the fault. He was to come on Friday 16 September at around 1.30pm. We told them the tech had to contact us before he came or turned anything off as we needed to know for work flow reasons.
Friday ended with no sight or sound of any technician. On Saturday we went out for part of the day and when we got home there was a message on our answerphone saying the tech had been but we weren’t home and to ring for ‘another appointment’ which was rich since he hadn’t turned up for his first appointment. On the Sunday we also got a text saying something else which I am still struggling to understand. My best guess was they were coming at 7pm that night (once again without making an appointment).

Sunday came and went unlike the Chorus guy who did neither. On Monday I received another text saying they had been again and we weren’t home and to make another appointment. This time we had not been out so we knew this was complete bollox.

So I rang Chorust Almighty and asked them what they were talking about. It transpired they had gone to an address in Pyes Pa that is not remotely similar to ours and where we have never lived.
My next call was to Vodastone and they got an earful for giving the Choruster the wrong address.
By this stage my pupils had disappeared and my head was about to start doing 360s. I hurled myself upon my unfortunate victim savaging her ferociously and demanding compensation. My teeth had barely grazed her skin before she conceded and admitted they had fucked up owed me BIG TIME. All good. However we still had that matter of an Internet connection that likes to disconnect itself for a while each morning.

So it was agreed the Sodaphone person would inflict some of the nasty wounds I had given her on the contracted choir and arrange for their tech to come to the correct address – always useful if you want to fix the correct connection. She promised he would come at around 11am that day (to the correct address).

You just knew this couldn’t just self correct at this time, didn’t you? And you are so right. The technician who looked about 17 turned up to meet a very angry Writerman who said unto him, ‘It’s a good job you turned up now because the Internet is off again – and this is the second time this morning.” Yeah, I’ve just been working on it,” the fresh faced fool then said.

Of course he claimed nobody had told him we needed to know BEFORE he turned things off. At this point my wife remarked the company was probably called Chorus because they all seem to be singing from the same song sheet.  To which I said, but what a shame none of them can sing in tune?

As of this writing we still haven’t had the fault fixed although the Song & Dance company have stuck a 72 hour analyser on the line to find out what is happening. So we wait yet again, but as I have already pointed out to Vodagroan my meter is running and the longer it takes the more it will cost them.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

We might as well just start digging

Well the Ministry of Transport has come up with some figures that show Auckland’s urban roads are the most dangerous places to drive in New Zealand. To those of us who have driven on Auckland’s urban roads this comes as no surprise. In fact, given New Zealand’s poor standards of driving and Auckland’s population it would be odd if it were otherwise.

However some of the other figures released are a little harder to explain.

For example when we look at all roads in each area and not just the urban ones, we find that Auckland is not the riskiest place in the country to be driving. That honour goes instead to Waikato. Now there ain’t much in it; just about 50 deaths over a period of 10 years that makes them worse than Jaffaland, but considering how many fewer people there are in the Waikato area you would have to wonder why this is.

I realise Waikato is a major transit point for vehicles travelling between Auckland and points south, but this does not explain why Waikato road deaths are more than twice those of their near neighbour Bay of Plenty. Granted the Waikato region has a larger population, but it isn’t twice that of BOP. In fact according to the 2006 census it is only about 45 percent larger which should mean that road toll ought to have been more like 450 for the ten years rather than the 677 that it was. Considering population estimates for the BOP region have predicted it would virtually catch the Waikato region in 2009 this suggests their road crash statistics really are out of control.

The implication is that either the roads in the Waikato region or the driving skills of its residents are much worse than anywhere else in New Zealand. I have done a lot of driving on Waikato roads, especially over the last four years and I would say they are pretty good by NZ standards. That is to say they are no worse than many other locations and actually much better than many. So that only leaves the driving skills, unless there is some kind of mysterious Taniwha hiding in the Waikato river that leaps out and grabs cars, pulling them into the paths of others.

My first instinct is that this mysterious Taniwha comes in a brown bottle and isn’t L&P. However on browsing the stats for myself I found there was no significant difference between the percentage of Waikato drunk drivers and those from Bay of Plenty. In fact the more I look at the figures the less I can see any explanation for the difference. Drivers in Waikato don’t seem to be especially worse at any of the usual things like poor observation and poor handling than their counterparts in the Bay. I can only assume those East of the Kaimais are better at turning a potential crash into a lucky escape, so in that respect maybe Bay of Plenty drivers are slightly more skilled.

However if we are to improve our road safety or more accurately, reduce our road carnage, then it is going to take more than some nob in a blue uniform with a radar detector writing out tickets for people exceeding the speed limit by less than the normal tolerated variation in their speedometer.

Accidents seldom happen on roads. Let’s start calling them what they are; fuck-ups, brain explosions, or for the more sensitive – crashes or smashes. That is step one. People need to realise that making a mistake when driving is not a goofy moment you can gloss over because it didn’t end in a crash. The more appropriate reaction when one screws up on the road is to accept responsibility for it and make sure you don’t do it again. A mistake while driving should send a shiver down your spine cold enough to wake your ideas up and realise that you and others have had a lucky escape and you might not be so fortunate next time. And if someone hoots at you for some dumb-arsed act on the roads, adopt a ‘mea culpa’ stance and bloody learn from it. REMEMBER what a dork you felt and don’t go there again.

Unfortunately Kiwis don’t use their horns to deride cretinous driving and so those few who do usually get a myriad of hand and other signals in return. Sometimes they will even get a punch in the gob from some knuckle-dragger whose fragile pride is hurt by them drawing attention to his feeble attempts to drive. If it became the norm to be hooted at by 20 other motorists every time you did something dumb and dangerous, there would be more hooters than nitwits and it just might begin to turn attitudes around. That and some meaningful responses by the judiciary for reckless and stupid acts on the road.

Yeah right, that’ll happen.  No point in wasting our time waiting for that to happen. We may as well just start building another couple more cemeteries in the Waikato region.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Incoming from the crazy zone

You will have noticed sites like Stuff and various print media often run a column called Crazy News or Oddstuff or something similar. In this column they show snippets about some of the more bizarre and ‘out there’ news items of the time.

However I have always believed there is nothing stranger than the truth; which for many people today – especially our politicians really is a stranger. Add to that the fact there is nothing odder than folks and we have a reality that is actually surpassed by its accompanying feel of unreality.

This week there have been several of these things, so I thought I might put together my own version of the Oddstuff type things and call it Weird Shit, which probably isn’t a name that would be all that marketable. However I think it leaves you in no doubt about what you are getting.

A very sick joke

Did you hear the joke about the paedophile comedian? Philippa Cunningham did and she’s having a huge laugh at our expense.

If somebody was to tell you that it was okay to go down on your four year-old daughter after a night on the turps if you can make people laugh; I am sure you would be quite rightly shocked and outraged. Yet this is what Auckland District Court Judge Philippa Cunningham apparently thinks. She is the stupid cow who let a ‘well-known comedian’ get away with no conviction for doing just that, despite him pleading guilty to the charge. Furthermore she has suppressed his name permanently on the pretext she was protecting his victim. The only thing sillier than Philippa in this case is the so-called comic’s claim that he mistook the four year-old’s parts for those of his wife! So not only has Philly allowed a child molester back onto the streets; but she has also allowed him to remain without a conviction and unidentified. He is perfectly able to apply for any sort of inappropriate type of employment and technically we couldn’t call this scumbag a kiddie fiddler even if we knew his name because he was never convicted.

I think this is a potentially very dangerous situation because while this lowlife might not try to become a teacher or an after school carer; there is every possibility he could end up as a kids’ entertainer. I’m guessing that most of his (probably former) colleagues will know who he is and as a result his normal work opportunities will dry up. This could ultimately see him donning a funny wig, a bulbous nose and gigantic shoes to make his living. There are enough kids scared of clowns as it is without people like him giving them a good reason.

Tales from the Brain Dead zone

Now from creepy comics we go to brain-dead government departments. Government departments are pretty comprehensively brain dead as far as most of us are concerned, but this week the prize for the most useless wastes of space must go to the Department of Labrats

Charged with monitoring our health and safety legislation they have shown themselves to be as useless as tits on a GE Bull with no calves. (That is one that just goes straight from knee to hoof)

As a direct result of their incompetence and that of the useless articles who drafted the regulations, one fireman lost his life and seven other fire-fighters suffered varying degrees of injury. This all happened in the fire at the Tamahere coolstore in 2008.

The first failure in this shambles seems to have been Mobile Refrigeration Services, the useless company that installed the equipment that had failed so many times before that fatal day. But even their shortcomings could have been overcome if the Department of Labrats had followed up after an earlier incident. It would seem that following an earlier leak of hydrocarbons at the site the company had been told to fix the problem and was issued with a temporary three month operating certificate in the meantime. That was in 2005 and NOBODY from the Department of Labrats had bothered to follow up because they don’t have a follow up procedure in place. Or a brain between them, it would seem. Of course if anybody in Government ever gave a shit about any of these things they would see to it that legislation and regulations are CAREFULLY drafted so even half-wits like those at the Dept of Labrats would know to CHECK that people have done what you have ordered them to do.

Dodgy territory

 My last item for this week is a more controversial issue. I was somewhat conflicted about it myself until I reduced it to its most basic parts. I am talking about the decision of the Serious Fraud Office to drop all charges against Allan Hubbard following his death.

On the surface it seems a reasonable enough move because: (a) the man is dead, and (b) it sounds cruel to continue given his wife’s age, injuries and obviously her grief.

However I can’t help but feel this is somehow inherently wrong. Many millions of dollars were lost in circumstances which have never been fully investigated. Whether Allan Hubbard was a fraudster or not, we will now never know. His supporters are adamant he isn’t and paint him either as some kind of affable old duffer or the messiah himself come to earth.  

Now I don’t know this man at all. But I do know a few things that are relevant here. First of all; show me a conman who is a complete arsehole that everybody hates. There is no such thing. The very nature of the beast is that they present as trustworthy and charming. So let’s forget all about appearances. But even if Hubbard wasn’t a fraudster that still doesn’t rule out the possibility he was negligent to an unacceptable degree with other people’s money and did not follow the regulations under which companies such as his are obliged to operate.

It will be very interesting to see what unfolds over the next couple of weeks on this because should any of these possibilities have been the case, then some kind of reparations would normally be due to those whose money was lost. However if we are not going to take these matters any further then the potential is for money owed to those people to pass into the Hubbard estate instead. It might sound petty, when put that starkly but I shouldn’t think it would sound so petty to anyone who has lost tens of thousands of dollars or more and has to stand by watching what money is left slipping away from them like water down the drain.