Walk out. Yeah.

Apropos our discussion of Paul Henry’s ‘No, I’m not giving you an interview’, watch how WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange warned a CNN reporter he wasn’t prepared to talk about his personal legal issues as part of an interview about the latest tranche of military leaks… and walk out he did.

Fair enough too, in my opinion. (Are you taking notes, Kim Knight?) A lot of people are too polite to the news media — and therefore become shark bait.

Assange to CNN: 'If you keep asking me about that now, I'll walk ...' (click for video)

Continue reading →

Words that may not be spoken

Last week I wrote to the local Howick & Pakuranga Times about a long-running local issue of importance to me and my family. I was intrigued by some of the deletions and alterations in the resulting published Letter to the editor.
See what you think:

click to enlarge

My family and I fully support the moves to rebuild the whare in the Garden of Memories.
As a community may we, at long last, bring an end to the undignified and, by all appearances, racist opposition to the reinstatement of this community asset in Emilia Maud Nixon’s garden? Surely we can Can we celebrate her bi-cultural vision? Surely.
The opposition to Maori culture in our suburb, and the tactics adopted by a handful of local politicians — fighting the rebuilding of the whare — shows they’re out of touch. Of course they deny it’s racism, but [L]ike others, I have been appalled at what I believe are the provocative, offensive and sometimes misleading statements issued … and actions they have taken.
Men and women to whom we look for leadership have let us down. Their delaying tactics and subversive legal machinations have cost us dearly as a community. Their misguided fixation and battle against a shadowy hallucination of a ‘full-blown marae’ in our back yard brings shame on Howick’s the name of Howick.
The campaign to suppress Maori culture at the gardens in Uxbridge Road is an embarrassment. (Even more so a delusional ‘declaration of independence’ over the issue.)
We all look like racists as a result.

Peter Aranyi, Howick

Interesting, huh? I have no real complaints. It’s their paper, and the editor (rightly) has the last say about what appears in it — good on them for publishing the letter and the ongoing ‘debate’.

It’s illuminating to see what comments are, apparently, beyond the pale for that Letters to the editor forum.

Ain’t this the truth?

An old saying and a true one … but we often learn this the hard way.

(Spotted in an Italian warehouse/cafe in Wellington this afternoon.)


I had the unpleasant experience yesterday of a website I’m involved with (not this one) being hacked and a script loaded onto the landing page to redirect visitors to a malware site. That’s the first time that’s happened to me.

OK, so why would you click 'Ignore Warning'??

As it turns out, every browser I used to try to access the (original) site warned me that ‘target’ site was listed as a malicious site. (see pic) or detected malware. Maybe, as a boffin suggested, the hackers are relying on that subset of visitors to a corrupted site that use old browsers.

It was the work of minutes to remedy the problem, but let me tell you frankly that once the surprise wears off, one does feel aggrieved when this happens. And, of course, vaguely paranoid about what ELSE they had access to while tip-toeing through the tulips in the site’s code.

A friend when in need is a friend indeed. A friend alerted me to the issue (thanks D!) and told me a website in her empire gets attacked routinely. Another friend, the boffin, help me with advice about what to do next.


Homemade space program

Nice project by Luke Geissbühler and son Max, as reported by NY Mag … from my ‘reading’ of the video, I think the iPhone was used to track his ‘space capsule’, but the video itself was taken with a different (unspecified) bit of kit — not the iPhone, despite the report.

In a burst of science-is-fun educational invention, a Brooklyn dad built a carrier for an iPhone (the current model, with video camera) out of a takeout box, tied it to a weather balloon, and let it go with the camera running. It reached a height of nineteen miles, or about 100,000 feet, which is high enough to show the earth’s curvature and a black sky above the atmosphere.

At that height, the low pressure means that the helium expanded and the balloons burst, whereupon the phone (in its little cushioned capsule) came down, down, down — and landed 30 miles outside New York, signaling to its owners via GPS, whereupon they went and picked it up. The resulting six minutes of rivetingly weird film are sure to make Mythbusters fans weep with joy.

A grab from the homemade space video via NY Mag (click to view below the fold))

REALLY NEAT (‘rivetingly weird’) video below the fold Continue reading →

‘No comment’ with reasons = ‘an interview’? Nope.

So the Sunday Star Times rang Paul Henry for an interview. He said ‘No, sorry, won’t/can’t talk’ (meaning on the record) or words to that effect and was courteous enough to have a brief chat with the journo… who later transcribed the discussion, and the paper published it.

image: greenwichroundup.blogspot.com (click)

THIS sort of behaviour, in my opinion, is part of what gives journalism a bad name (as untrustworthy).

Henry walks off into the sunset

By KIM KNIGHT – Sunday Star Times

WHEN the Sunday Star-Times phoned last week, the one-time Breakfast presenter’s “no comment” ran almost five minutes. On the same day his former TVNZ boss Rick Ellis went to Government House to make a personal apology about Henry’s comments on the governor-general’s ethnicity, this is the conversation Henry had when he wasn’t having a conversation.

SST: Is there any chance that we could have a catch-up?

PH: Look, I really haven’t got anything to say to be honest. I’ve made the decision that, unlike Chris Carter, I will go quietly. …

— five minutes discussion, reported in the paper despite his wishes —

… PH: This isn’t an interview now, is it?

SST: Well, I’m taking notes, but I am curious given money is no object …

PH: It’s important to me that I don’t, I don’t want to say anything now, I don’t want this to turn into an interview.

SST: Well, we didn’t say we were off the record.

PH: In which case there’s absolutely no chance that you would get the interview (laughs).

SST: So aren’t you happy for me to quote…

PH: Clearly this is an interview now so I’m going to have to end it because I don’t want to give an interview.

SST: Well, let’s just go back over what you’ve said. You haven’t …

PH: No, I don’t want to give an interview and I made that quite clear at the beginning.

SST: Nooo.

PH: So, well, we’ll just leave it there, OK?

SST: OK, thanks.

PH: OK, bye (hangs up).

Read it in all its glory here at stuff.co.nz.

He wasn’t being ‘interviewed’, in my opinion. That was clear, and the ‘interviewer’ was pretending (acting as if) that had NOT been communicated. It had. Therefore, the ‘transcript’ of his five minute ‘no comment’ explanation was obtained effectively by false pretences, in my view. Seems shabby to me.

Now of course, if the stakes were higher: if he was a financial fraudster (whether ‘dodgy company director’ or a ‘multiple welfare bludger’) or a ‘crooked industrialist poisoning a local water reservoir’, or any number of other worthwhile targets, maybe there might have been some call for this (politely:) tricky behaviour by the journo. Continue reading →

A sharp foil is a wonderful thing

I am reading and SO enjoying Your Movie Sucks, a collection of reviews by Roger Ebert. My goodness, he’s got the skills. Wonderful.

review of the collection over at Blogcritics includes this line:

Like most critics, these negative reviews are an outlet for the creative side of Ebert’s writing to shine.

That’s well said.  Yes, there’s something about choosing a clean way to express a negative opinion that stimulates a critic’s imagination. I wish I were as good a writer as Ebert. I guess I’ll just keep practising.

Hook this book out and give it a read. There’s something for everyone, as the saying goes.

It’s worth it just for his slam-down of Rob Schneider:

Reading this [a full page ad by Schneider castigating a critic who dared pan Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo] I was about to observe that  Schneider can dish it out but he can’t take it. Then I found he’s not so good at dishing it out either. [Comment: Zing!] I went online and found that Patrick Goldstein [who Schneider had declared in his ad had ‘won absolutely nothing’ in the way of awards for journalism, and not a Pulitzer Prize, implying that thus he was unqualified to criticise the film] has won a National Headliner Award, a Los Angeles Press Club Award, a RockCrtiics.com award and the Publicists’ Guild award for lifetime achievement.

Schneider was nominated for a 2000 Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor, but lost to Jar-Jar Binks. … As chance would have it, I have won the Pulitzer Price, and so I am qualified. Speaking in my official capacity as a Pulitzer Price winner, Mr Schneider, your movie sucks.

Bloomberg ‘Game Changers’ video retrospective on Steve Jobs

Well worth watching…

Bloomberg Game Changers — http://www.bloomberg.com/video/63722844/

48 minutes — 227 MB of worthwhile bandwidth.

(Thanks to TUAW.)

Interview with John Sculley about the genius of Steve Jobs

This transcript of a recent interview by Leander Kahney with former Apple Computer CEO John Scully about founder and rescuer of Apple Steve Jobs is fascinating, if you care.

Just one clip (seriously, go and read it):

Sculley: It’s okay to be driven a little crazy by someone who is so consistently right. What I’ve learned in high tech is that there’s a very, very thin line between success and failure. It’s an industry where you are constantly taking risks, particularly if you’re a company like Apple, which is constantly living out on the edge.

Your chance of being on one side of that line or the other side of the line is about equal. Sometimes… he [Jobs] was wrong tactically on a number of things. He wouldn’t put a hard drive in the Macintosh. When someone asked him about communications, he just threw a little disk across the room and said, “That’s all we’ll ever need.”

On the other hand, Steve led the development of what was called AppleTalk and AppleLink. AppleTalk was the communications that enabled the Macintosh to communicate to the laser printer that enabled… desktop publishing.

I have appreciated my Macs over the years — I bought, new, Aldus Pagemaker 2 which was a revolution in publishing, truly a revolution. Pagemaker, a Macintosh and a Laserwriter changed the world of print — as much for the power and simplicity of the hardware/software as the design aesthetic embodied in them.

Much of that impact was directly because of Steve Jobs — his taste and his aesthetic, his design sensibilities, as Sculley highlights again and again in the interview. That, and his persuasive charm/insistence.

Wow. What an impact.

Oh, OK, one more clip: Continue reading →

Been away, nice to be back

Getting clobbered by my kids on the way back home. This was on the Desert Rd earlier this week. They totally out-gunned me, as you can see, but you gotta play when you get the chance! (Pic by John Miller.)

The escape of exnzpat, Part 4

The Attic

I woke from my dream.  Looking up I found both Lilith and Lincoln staring down at me.  Lincoln licked my face, I pushed him gently aside.

“Yeah Okay, that’s enough Lincoln.”  I rubbed the sleep and his slobber from my eyes.

I stood, saying nothing more.  It was dark outside now and the rain had stopped falling.  I looked at the heavy chrome watch on my wrist.  I had been asleep for only an hour or so.  The weird dream about Lincoln made it seem longer.

I looked at my two companions.  There was an air of expectation in the room as if they were waiting for me to make the next move.  I found this deliciously ironic.  Me?  All this time I’d been under the impression that they had been driving this ship.

Without saying another word I pushed past them and went into the bathroom, closing the door firmly behind me.

*          *          *

I emerged, finding Lilith and Lincoln, who seemed nonplused by my rudeness, waiting for me in the living room. Continue reading →

Another good graphic #4

This works as a headline, as far as I’m concerned. Reproduced here as part of my occasional series about graphics that communicate.

I saw a comment about a pile of a billion (or was it a trillion?) dollars stretching to the moon and back. This pic helps visualise a pile of money. Well done Huffington Post. Makes a point. (Although, come to think of it, I’ve seen photos of even bigger piles of cash in reportage of a drug dealer’s house raided in Mexico.)

A picture is worth a thousand words. What if it's a picture of $100 bills? (click to enlarge)

Well said, and good on you for speaking up

Ben Gracewood, explaining why he took a stand and quit his Breakfast TV gig rather than ‘condone racism’:

So when I read this morning that a Breakfast presenter [Paul Henry] has made yet another trolling statement (this time barely veiled racism), I decided I’ve had enough. Previously I’ve had to be circumspect about my responses to his statements, but I’m fucking sick of it. I love our multicultural, vibrant country to death, and anyone who would like to foment racism simply for a laugh or to get more viewers can take a jump.

For the record: I think Paul is an intelligent guy who does an incredibly difficult job making up crap to say for 2.5 hours every morning, with producers talking in his ear. This makes his comments even more abhorrent in my mind: I believe it’s premeditated.

Ben Gracewood's blog - the comments are worth reading as a straw poll (click)

“I do not wish to appear to condone his perspectives by my inaction.”

Yes, he seems to understand this:
Why Speak Up?

There’s sometimes a price for HOW you state your opinions

No, actually, I’m not talking about Paul Henry.

Dumb move, Rick. Really. (Huffington Post - click)

Over the weekend CNN anchor host Rick Sanchez was fired after a misguided book promo/radio show appearance turned into a rant where he accused The Daily Show‘s Jon Stewart of being a ‘bigot’ towards Hispanics, of working with the ‘north east liberal elite’ to keep ‘people like Rick’ in their ‘second tier’ place; and mocked the idea of Jewish people understanding oppression (given their history); … then re-heated the ‘the Jews run the media’ legend.

It seems Rick didn’t appreciate Stewart’s critique of his work as a broadcaster and CNN anchorman. Stewart had described him as an “over-caffinated control freak” — with video evidence to support his claim. Typical Daily Show fare … and a fraction of what other Stewart ‘targets’ have had to endure. Maybe there was more.

You can read and hear what Rick said (what seethed out of him) to host Pete Dominick here at Radio Sirius. This is a blog post from the Domimick’s brother, which reports the events.

The interview almost presents a case-study of burst ego and hurt feelings mixed with self-important I-love-the-sound-of-my-own-voice delusion. Sanchez calls himself ‘real and transparent’ several times while saying Stewart and Colbert’s shows “skewer people mercilessly” without regard for their targets’ feelings or their family members’ feelings. He says the shows have “transcended comedy” to become “now more important than Walter Cronkite”.

Now of course, Jewish people are just as capable of bigotry as anyone else. Or heroism. Or genius. Radio host Pete Dominick offered Sanchez the opportunity to back out of his dumb claims (he did retract bigot to prejudicial [sic]) but Sanchez came back with the logic-defying attack on Jews, and specifically in the media, ending with this ‘insight’:

“I can’t see somebody not getting a job somewhere because they’re Jewish.”

Hooo boy. Where do you start? Have you any sense of history, Rick?

One of the best comments I’ve read about this was in response a defender saying “Rick was just stating his opinion”

…and he was subjected to the consequences of expressing that opinion. He stated his “opinion” poorly and offensively. There are a dozen different ways he could have shown his dismay of Jon Stewart and his supposedly “jewish” bosses, but to use the word bigot and to bring out the old “jews run everything” nonsense got him fired. His job is to field opinions and to so publicly throw his own narrow opinions casts doubt on his ability to perform his job.

From where I sit, Jon Stewart didn’t mock Sanchez for being Cuban. He mocked his performance on-air, which provided unintentional hilarity (the tasering was priceless, and a gift that kept on giving) and, thereby, fodder for the wags and wits at The Daily Show.

It’s the same as what I said here about discussion forums in response to someone bellyaching about ‘disrespect’:

A discussion forum is a democracy. Posters stand or fall on the quality of their information and their expression of ideas. No-one is ‘owed’ respect. I have my detractors. So does anyone who posts.
If I publish or say something ridiculous or patently false, I should anticipate ridicule and my false information to be pointed out.

Even more so cable TV.

Rick Sanchez seemed a giant self-important target. I didn’t know he was so thin-skinned. I kinda like him for having the wounded feelings, but not for losing it and his silly hallucinatory rant. Way OTT brotha.

Watch that video at The Daily Show and ask yourself: Didn’t he have it coming? Continue reading →

Being Paul Henry

What a tosser. Paul Henry does not represent the New Zealand I want to live in, or see reflected on TV.

About our Governor General, Henry the supposed ‘royalist’ asked the Prime Minister this morning

“Is he even a New Zealander?” ”Are you going to choose a New Zealander who looks and sounds like a New Zealander this time?”

So Paul Henry is ignorant, as well as rude and, apparently, racist.

Well said Ben Gracewood:

“Paul Henry’s comment made me very uncomfortable as a New Zealander, and I don’t wish to associate, or be associated with people who make such comments. Although I doubt that my actions will in anyway influence someone such as Paul Henry, I do not wish to appear to condone his perspectives by my inaction.”

Henry’s apology? Worthless.

Lose the bully-boy TVNZ. See also Say goodbye to Paul Henry the abusive try-hard including this comment from Brian Edwards.