Say goodbye to Paul Henry the abusive try-hard

image: wqxt.com

TV breakfast shock jock Paul Henry was over the line with his “retarded” comments about Susan Boyle the Broadcasting Standards Authority found, and TVNZ didn’t do enough to rectify the matter.

The BSA ordered the broadcaster to “read an agreed summary-of-decision statement on Breakfast within a month.”

Given his history, Paul Henry appears to believe this abusive (‘schizo’, ‘unnatural’ homosexuals, ‘moustache on a woman’ and this ‘retarded’ comment) bullshit is part of his ‘charm’. I don’t agree. It’s pathetic attention-seeking discrimination and denigration, just as the BSA found.

Enough.

Drop him.

Pressure and persuasion

Cost of principles? Too pricey, it seems.

image: Huffington Post (click)

‘Tested and found lacking’ would be one way to describe Google’s push-me-pull-you relationship with the Chinese government.

Highlighted first in March Google ‘leaves’ China over censorship with worldwide fanfare and admiration that they’d finally grown some stones, it started to unravel a bit (The cost of principles?) and now it looks like Google joins the ranks (if it wasn’t there already) of those schmucks who talk a good game as far as standing up for what’s right but, when pressured, retreat to ‘commercial realities’.

China Renews Google’s License Despite Censorship Row

Joe McDonald | 07/ 9/10 03:15 PM | AP via HuffPo

BEIJING — China renewed Google’s license to operate a website, preserving the search giant’s toehold in the world’s most populous country after the company gave up an attempt to skirt Beijing’s censorship practices.

Google said Friday that Chinese officials had approved its Internet content provider, or ICP, license but gave no details of what services it would offer.

Renewal had been in question after Google began automatically redirecting users in China to an uncensored Hong Kong search site. But the company dismantled the virtual bridge to Hong Kong last week after regulators objected to the sleight of hand and threatened to revoke its Internet license.

Caving in to a power-play. Appeasement. Gutlessness.

I see this all the time. People are lured into alliances with immoral operators, their eyes firmly fixed on the potential gain for themselves, ignoring the integrity and veracity ‘principles’ they’re compromising. They revise or swallow their initial — probably more accurate — intuitive assessment of the issues, the situation or the character of those involved. It becomes akin to an act of prostitution.

Google, it appears to me, is taking a view that they’re better compromising and operating in the world’s fastest growing economy (even if it is a totalitarian one-party state) than being shut out with their integrity intact. By thus doing, they’ve confirmed something negative about themselves and trained the Chinese government to see them as craven and easily able to be intimidated.

And the thing is, chickens come home to roost.

The internet’s ‘completely over’ — or is it just blogs?

Here’s an alternative view of the growth of the interwebs … from Prince, whose new album is going to be a free insert in this Saturday’s (10 July) Daily Mirror. Interesting.


“You must come and listen to the album,” he says. “I hope you like it. It’s great that it will be free to readers of your newspaper. I really believe in finding new ways to distribute my music.”

He explains that he decided the album will be released in CD format only in the Mirror. There’ll be no downloads anywhere in the world because of his ongoing battles against internet abuses.

Unlike most other rock stars, he has banned YouTube and iTunes from using any of his music and has even closed down his own official website.

He says: “The internet’s completely over. I don’t see why I should give my new music to iTunes or anyone else. They won’t pay me an advance for it and then they get angry when they can’t get it.

“The internet’s like MTV. At one time MTV was hip and suddenly it became outdated. Anyway, all these computers and digital gadgets are no good.”

Read the full interview at the Daily Mirror website.

Meanwhile, there’s this: about the changing landscape and possible ‘death’ of blogs …

The evolving blogosphere: An empire gives way

The Economist 24 June 2010

… Earlier in the decade, rates of growth for both the numbers of blogs and those visiting them approached the vertical. Now traffic to two of the most popular blog-hosting sites, Blogger and WordPress, is stagnating, according to Nielsen, a media-research firm. By contrast, Facebook’s traffic grew by 66% last year and Twitter’s by 47%. Growth in advertisements is slowing, too. Blogads, which sells them, says media buyers’ inquiries increased nearly tenfold between 2004 and 2008, but have grown by only 17% since then. Search engines show declining interest, too.

It’s interesting how the advertisements are used as a metric. Of course, the ‘monetization’ of the internet (or our daily lives) by the various ‘internet marketers’ and snake-oil merchants will, no doubt continue as they move from business niche to niche, from valley to valley like the rapacious carpetbaggers they are — shabbily cloaking their exploitation in devoutly-expressed (but unbelievable) claims they’re ‘helping’ their victims ‘live the life of your dreams’.

Both these articles are worth reading. (And so, too, are their comment threads. If you’re interested.)

Giving scumbags a second chance

Surely this is an argument for lifetime bans from business and legal practice.

image: psychologytoday.com (click)

It was a surprise to read over the weekend that Blue Chip’s shonky lawyer had, like Mark Bryers and other crooks, come back for a second bite of the cherry — i.e. just as with Bridgecorp’s Rod Petricevic, the failure to drive a stake through this arsehole’s professional heart after an earlier debacle meant he used his ‘second chance’ to destroy a whole new bunch of people’s dreams and make them miserable.

I’ve said before the real crime of the Blue Chip-type investment rort is that it penalised those who got off their chuff to do something about providing for their own retirement. From my observations, I saw the BC snake-oil slippery sales operation targeted naive people with equity to exploit. (And oh boy, they were SLICK!)

My former colleague, now Herald on Sunday business editor Maria Slade’s story Lawyer’s past censure hushed shows the Law Society fluffed a previous ‘censure’ and restrictions on Jonathan Mathias — which had been in response to previous misconduct and skulduggery by the lawyer. They allowed him to recommence his practise, with the past misconduct (including raiding funds in trust accounts) swept under the carpet.

Let me be clear: the scam that was Blue Chip was only made possible because ‘repectable’ ‘professional’ faces like Mathias, and Walters Law and Lowthers accountants (not to mention the former cabinet ministers John Luxton and Wyatt Creech and former senior Simpson Grierson law partner Jock Irvine) lent their names and reputations — their ‘legitimacy’ — to the Mark Bryers blood-drinking circus.

In my personal view, those professionals, not the window dressing directors, effectively connived and conspired with Blue Chip to enable them to extract money and equity from the investors. (I think I read that 75% of Mathias’ business was from Blue Chip — so, ask yourself: Who was he working for? The buyer/investor or Blue Chip?)

It worked like this: Continue reading →

Incredible Science

My hat’s off to the Faculty and Students of the Auckland University Science department who put on a brilliant day for kids (and, ahem, accompanying adults) at yesterday’s Incredible Science Day.

image: scottthong.wordpress.com

Wow we had a good time and the place was buzzing. Special mention to the Wow Physics show which was a heady, indulgent mix of geekery, high voltage, aliens and explosions.

Best line:

“By themselves, Ricies don’t burn very well at all. You can try it at home. But add some liquid oxygen like this and they turn into rocket fuel!” Whoosh!

The Tesla coil blew everyone’s mind with two metre sparks but the explosives and pyrotechnics made a huge impression.

I would have loved to had an introduction to University science at such a young age (the boys I took are 9 years) … and following on the Brain Day we went to at the University medical school earlier in the year, well, I’m grateful that my son is getting a chance to imprint on the place and start getting a tangible picture of his post-secondary school study options — before he’s even left primary school.

Thanks to the Scientists for all the effort they put in — even a souvenir T-shirt for the boys!

Great stuff!

Re-touching to the point of distortion

From an eye-opening Dove soap commercial. Kudos to them!

The 'raw material' — fairly standard nice-looking young woman albeit with shaped eyebrows...

Good lighting, professionally coiffed hair and makeup. So far so good...

Now the DECEIT starts. Photoshop to 'lengthen' the neck, reposition and enlarge the eye sockets, changing the jawline and forehead (!), shaping the lips, 'carving' off the shoulders, neck ... over all, setting an impossible, unachievable target for young women. 'No wonder our idea of beauty is distorted.' There isn't a real person who looks like this.

Watch it happen in high speed stop-motion below the fold.
Continue reading →

What an amazing coincidence!

Er, does anyone really expect anyone to believe this? (It appeared in my browser all by itself this morning after I visited who-knows-what dodgy website.)

Or is it a sign of a ‘scarcity mindset’ to even question my good fortune in ‘winning’ this ‘prize’?

'Click "OK" to close window'? Uh, No thanks. I can close a window other ways. (image: unknown advertiser)

Oh boy. (It jiggled and blinked on the screen, too, in case I missed it. Thanks, Adobe Flash!)

Meanwhile,

Fraud takes new forms on internet

By Helen Twose | NZ Herald |Friday Jul 2, 2010
…. Cardiff University professor Michael Levi, [says] after nearly 40 years studying fraud and white collar crime nothing surprises him.

Levi is in New Zealand as the keynote speaker at the White Collar Crime and Serious Fraud Conference today at the University of Auckland Business School.

He joins Serious Fraud Office chief executive Adam Feeley, barrister Paul Dale and academics speaking on fraud detection, regulation and prosecution.

Levi said the internet has transformed the scale of fraud.

“There’s nothing new about international fraud.

“It’s not itself a product of globalisation but the internet has certainly transformed the potential for schemes because people have got used to supplying their credit card details or responding to international calls even if in some cases they think they’re dealing with someone in their own country.”

Yah. It’s like that. And in some cases the smooth-talking internet hucksters can and do make all sorts of claims (‘top’ this, ‘most successful’ that, ‘most-trusted’ the other etc.) without people checking up on them … until it’s too late.

The cost of principles?

Not a flattering headline, but I’m sure they have their reasons for the [reported] backpeddle after this brave start back in March: Google ‘leaves’ China over censorship

Will Google roll over for China?

By Marianne Barriaux | NZ Herald Wednesday Jun 30, 2010

BEIJING – Google has changed tack in China to address government complaints about its attempts to evade censorship, as it vied to get its business licence renewed in the world’s largest online market.

The US web giant said it would stop automatically redirecting mainland Chinese users to an unfiltered site in Hong Kong, a process it began in March in response to censorship and cyberattacks it claims came from China.

“It’s clear from conversations we have had with Chinese government officials that they find the redirect unacceptable – and that if we continue redirecting users, our Internet Content Provider licence will not be renewed,” Google’s chief legal officer David Drummond said on the company’s blog.

Is it just me, or does anyone else find Google’s attachment to the valued Chinese-government issued ‘Internet Content Provider licence’ funny?

Internet Content Provider? Who? Google? Content provider?’Content’? Whose content? as Rupert Murdoch might ask. (Just a minor amusement.)

Barack Obama’s Facebook Feed

http://www.slate.com/id/2258126

Very funny.

Heads must roll! (Not really)

image: mudflats blog (click)

Move over General McChrystal, here’s someone else who has been fired for expressing his opinion outside of his authority …

“I must be the only guy ever to have been fired in New Zealand for telling the truth,” Gibbs said. “It was a big call to go with what I thought was right or upset my colleagues.”

… Tony Gibbs says he was “fired for telling the truth” from the board of Guinness Peat Group, ending a 20-year association with Ron Brierley after making an unauthorised statement objecting to the investment company’s plan to spin off its Australian assets.

He is “very pleased” to be keeping his role as chairman of insurer Tower and Turners & Growerstwo of GPG’s biggest investments in New Zealand. Gibbs holds about 10 million shares of Guinness Peat, worth $6.8 million at yesterday’s price of 68 cents.

Gee, ya think?

from the NZ Herald

Good bit of advice


from PropertyTalk, in response to someone declaring they’ve been sold a pup by a smooth-talking Kiwi property spruiker running ‘seminars’ in an Asian city (ha! who’da thunk it?) … this good advice-slash-confession from someone who clearly knows what he’s talking about (poacher turned gamekeeper?):

Hi Chan,

I am sorry to hear that you are in such a difficult situation. During the sales pitch, Mr D will tell you all about ‘positive cash flows’, and how he made his fortunes from a tiny house he bought while he was a student-how easy it is to purchase a property, rest on your laurels and await to reap a hefty profit. Next, he will probably tell you that it is a triple low, low currency, low interest rates, low prices. Maybe even a quadraple low, with taxes at an all time low. All this while wearing a smile on his face with a giggle or two and a spring and a swagger in his steps. Arrogance is the stance.

Such an invigorating and moving speech. After the sales pitch, the agents will move around and call out units that have been sold – like serving hotcakes in macdonalds. You will feel uneasy. Is this a investment of a lifetime? Will this opportunity ever come again ? Mr D is the guru, and if he says buy, we buy. Agents will probably tell you that there have several properties of their own – and more on the way. Envy is the emotion of the moment.

Before you know what hit you, your heart beats faster, and in the next moment, you have signed on the dotted line, and given the agent your cheque/credit card. Continue reading →

More property rights go up in flames in Fiji

image: dancing flames -- pollsb.com (click)

Last week we discussed the (then) latest development in property investment in military-rule Fiji. A ‘stagnant’ resort development (Momi Bay) was seized by the government — over the protests of the receivers of Bridgecorp the NZ funder which held securities over the project. Basically, leaving them whistling.

I also briefly related how property spruiker Dean Letfus had, apparently as part of his sales pitch, offered personal guarantees on sections in another planned resort development nearby Coral Lagoon. Dean Letfus was on-selling these sections to his ‘students’/clients — personally guaranteeing their purchase funds (“full payment in advance” to be “disbursed directly  to the developers” before title issued, he explained), until the purchasers actually received title.

He even compared the sections he was selling (favourably) to the now-SEIZED Momi Bay development “next door”! Crikey. A quick scan of the website of the re-christianed Coral Lagoon resort (now marketed as Malomalo) shows the project is still VERY MUCH DELAYED … although the developers are still chirping optimistically about “the political situation stabilising in Fiji”.

We’ll have more to say about Dean Letfus and his personal guarantees another time … but these comments are just as background to today’s development in Fiji — reported tonight on the stuff.co.nz website by longtime Pacific correspondent Michael Field…

News of another ‘decree’ — an ‘oppressive restriction’, a different property grab — if anything more brazen than last week’s seizure. Can things get any worse in Fiji?

Tough media laws hit Fiji; Murdoch ordered out

Michael Field | 17:25 28/06/2010| stuff.co.nz

LATEST: Fiji’s military regime has cracked down on the already heavily censored media and ordered the top circulated Fiji Times to remove Rupert Murdoch as its major owner.

Under the Media Industry Development Decree, announced today by military appointed Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum publishers and journalists can face thousands of dollars in fines for breaking the decree.

When first drafted earlier this year, the decree prompted outrage from international media organisations.
… “All media organisations have three months from today, to ensure that their directors and 90 percent of the beneficial shareholders of the media organisation are Fiji citizens permanently residing in Fiji,” Sayed-Khaiyum said.

“I wish to make it clear that any media organisation which fails to comply with this requirement shall cease to operate as a media organisation, and shall also be liable for an offence under the decree.

“At this stage, Fiji Times is the media organisation that needs to comply with the ownership requirements.” The Fiji Times, Fiji’s oldest and biggest circulated newspaper, is owned wholly owned by Murdoch’s News Ltd.

Read Michael Field’s full story at stuff.co.nz

Any business person or investor attempting to navigate the crazy political-economic situation in Fiji has my sympathy, including Dean Letfus. I guess it’s just one of those lessons someone with more experience would have perhaps learned before ‘on-selling’ sections that didn’t exist yet to their ‘students’.

Questionable news value

I can’t see what, exactly, makes this six-month-old story worthy of a front-page splash…

Nonsense.

Last line of the ‘lead story’:

News of his daughter’s arrest has come at an unwelcome time for Phil Goff, who replaced former prime minister Helen Clark as Labour leader when she stood down in 2008. Polls have had him lagging way behind National’s John Key and a further drop was seen in popularity polls last week amid revelations of Labour MPs misusing their ministerial credit cards.

When could such news ever come at a ‘welcome time’ for any father?

from the Sunday Star Times. (Hardly gunning for a Qantas Media Award with that front page, are they?)

Do your opinions invalidate your reporting?

While we’re down this your opinions make your journalism questionable rabbit hole, if you’re interested, in the US a reporter/columnist for The Washington Post, David Weigel has just been fired/’resignation accepted’ after email trails revealed his rather robust private-ish views of some in the right wing movement (Tea Party etc) it was his beat to cover…

image: zazzle.co.nz (click)

Weigal:

“I’ve always been of the belief that you could have opinions and could report anyway …. people aren’t usually asked to stand or fall on everything they’ve said in private.”

I agree.

One conservative(?) er, ‘publication’ which got hold of his emails, launched a hit piece of their own against Weigel, like this (reporting/commentary by Jonathan Strong, DailyCaller.com):

Weigel seems to harbor special contempt for a type of conservative he calls a ratfucker, a favorite phrase of his.
In a thread with the subject line, “ACORN Ratf*cker arrested,” Journolisters discussed how James O’Keefe, whose undercover reporting showed officials from activist group ACORN willing to help a fake prostitution ring skirt the law, had been arrested in another, failed operation at Sen. Mary Landrieu’s (D-LA) office.

Weigel’s response: “HAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH.”

“Deep breath.”

“HAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHHAHAHA.”

“He’s either going to get a radio talk show or start a prison ministry. That’s was successful conservative ratfuckers do for their second acts,” Weigel wrote, likely alluding to Nixon aide Charles Colson who converted to Christianity after a stint in prison for obstruction of justice and founded Prison Fellowship.

I don’t have a problem with any of that. Jeez, those comments are his (private? public? who cares?) reaction to that larcenous character setting up ‘sting’ type operations to create political embarrassment … for Democrats. That he got arrested trying another stunt? That *IS* funny.

And razzing Chuck Colson is fair game — although a friend of mine says he’s become a giant of man since ‘turning his life around’. Sounds fair enough. Second although: I’m not sure the Religious Right is all that good for American politics, however.

I actually like the form Weigel used …. may use it myself. This writing, for example, is 1) simple and 2) effectively makes its point:

“I think pointing out Coakley’s awfulness is vital, because it’s 1) true and 2) unreasonable panic about it is doing more damage to the Democrats,” Weigel wrote.

Read the intensely partisan, agenda-driven, anti-Weigel piece Jonathan Strong wrote:  ‘E-mails reveal Post reporter savaging conservatives, rooting for Democrats’ at Daily Caller and decide for yourself. I read the extracts about what Weigal said about Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich etc and found myself nodding — and sometimes chortling — in agreement. Continue reading →

You say potato, I say …

Cry me a river.

Hanover Finance co-founder Mark Hotchin will not be moving into his $30 million Paritai Drive mansion.
Instead, it will be sold, and Mr Hotchin seems likely to stay overseas.
Klaus Sorensen, who is acting as a spokesman for Mr Hotchin:
“We’re not saying why it’s being sold, we’re just simply saying that it’s going to be sold and people are just going to draw their own conclusions,” Mr Sorensen said.
“I mean, the reasons are probably pretty obvious.”
He said the property had become a lightning rod for all the “vilification” and investor anger over Hanover’s failure. NZ Herald Sat 26/6/10

What some call vilification, others might call ‘consequences’, ‘chickens coming home to roost’, or ‘a little bit of just desserts’.

If one uses lets say ‘questionable’ marketing claims (‘built to withstand any conditions’) and then, as the house of cards is collapsing, one uses ‘questionable’ tactics whose effect is to leave 16,000 investors in one’s ‘enterprise’ and out of pocket and outraged, while one creams tens of millions in ‘questionable’ dividends and continues to live an enviable lifestyle … well, of course one may cop a bit of opprobrium. Hello?

It’s the same on a smaller scale with low-rent versions of these spruikers. They’re just wide-boys with glossy marketing and a plausible manner.

What do they want? A knighthood?