Congratulations, boys.

My definition of an enthusiast

My definition of an enthusiast (nzherald)

NZ rocket launches into space

NZ Herald | Monday Nov 30, 2009
New Zealand’s first space rocket has launched this afternoon.
The Atea-1 took off from its launch site at Great Mercury Island just before 3pm, after technical problems delayed this morning’s planned launch.

The launch company, Rocket Lab Ltd, started up three years ago with the aim to develop a series of Atea rockets that would make space more accessible, company director Mark Rocket said last week.

“This is the first step in a long journey,” he said.

Did they jump or were they pushed?

(image: www.bonaventure.org.uk)

(image: www.bonaventure.org.uk)

Heads must roll…

Fallout from last week’s blinding flash of the obvious, which I described as classic ‘provider capture’.
Kneecapper and straightshooter Dame Margaret Bazley found that the Legal Services Agency was being routinely rorted by lawyers and that lawyers were effectively asserting control over the legal aid system.

Four resign over scathing legal aid report

NZPA via NZ Herald | 6:20 PM Monday Nov 30, 2009

A scathing report into the state of legal aid has resulted in a cleanout of the Legal Services Agency (LSA) board.

The resignations of chairwoman Carol Durbin and board members Jane Taylor, Alister James and Dr Pare Keiha resignations were accepted by Justice Minister Simon Power today, with immediate effect.
Retired High Court judge Sir John Hansen will be the new board chairman, while the other new appointee is Wellington company director John Spencer. […] The number of board members is cut from six to four. Continue reading →

I continue to find Twitter such a fascinating laboratory

Make my day!

Make my day!

I continue to find Twitter such a fascinating laboratory.
It’s like fast-forwarding time, like those speeded up hot-house films, and exaggerating the human condition, in so many ways. Trends, memes, flame wars … cool!

The sheer number of eyeballs involved (naturally) draws the whole spectrum of homosapiens — from the Valley Girl celebrity culture to the shallow snake-oil salesmen, to the NZ Qualifications Authority and vehicle testing stations … and millions (literally, millions) in between. Wow.

The common ‘measure’ of influence (no. of followers) is, in my opinion, totally bogus. (Easy for me to say that. What are my social media ‘qualifications’? Zip.)

Like that Social Media revolution video — we can all agree something is happening, something is being consumed (time and attention, the currency of the internet age) but how much of it is meaningful?

If you’re the author of a book chosen by Oprah’s book club, the rewards are tangible, the effect is undeniable — as real as physics — just as we discussed here a positive ‘tweet’ from Stephen Fry can skyrocket sales of a book.

But these superstars apart — how do smaller players get on? The vaaaaassssst majority … including those fervently, shallowly seeking to create a ‘following’ so they can ‘monetize’ them.  

Or, one step removed, those who teach others how to ‘build credibility’ using the same ‘breakthrough techniques’ to monetize a following like this which, it turns out is a review of the Pe-lonker bloke who sent me the fax spam about himself.

Any thoughts?

(Wee rant over.)

Unhappy BOTH ways?

German publishers criticize new Google Books deal

  Frankfurt – German book publishers – angered at being included in the Google Books Settlement without being consulted – voiced concern Sunday that they had now been excluded.
   The US search giant and US publishers announced Friday that the revolutionary plan to put every out-of-print book in the world on the internet was now being limited to books from only four nations: the United States, Britain, Canada and Australia.
   Gottfried Honnefelder, chairman of the Boersenverein, the German booksellers’ and publishers association, predicted this would reinforce the global dominance of the English language.
   Speaking to German radio channel Deutschlandradio Kultur, he said, ‘Progress is now passing us by.’ …

(Via MonstersandCritics.com.)

Oh dear.

Pun competition: Dubai’s financial woes

The puns are coming thick and fast in news reports and discussion about Dubai’s financial woes:

“Dubai’s economic miracle built on foundations of sand.”
“It was all a mirage.”
“When the sh*t hits the sand”

Any more?

Oh, this is funny…

emptypromises graphic by Peter Aranyi www.thepaepae.com

Poor Simon Edhouse. If this isn’t viral yet, it will be. IMO.

“If deal goes ahead there will be some good money in it for you.”

— How many times have publishing and design professionals heard this line?

“The project I am working on will be more successful than twitter within a year. When I sell the project for 40 million dollars I will ignore any emails from you begging to be a part of it and will send you a postcard from my yaght. Ciao.”

{{{snort}}}  This reminds me of some of the ‘instant wealth’ experts I see hawking their snake oil around the place.

Read the full ‘interchange’ Continue reading →

Blinding flash of the obvious

Well, who’da thunk it? Doh!

A classic case of Chicago School of Economics ‘public choice theory’ or ‘provider capture’. Read the full story for tales of (shock, horror) crooked lawyers playing the system. (Never!)

Next week's expose: "Dog pisses on lamp post!" (image: NZ Herald)

Next week's expose: "Dog pisses on lamp post!" (image: NZ Herald)

Breathless reportage from the NZ Herald:

A damning review of legal aid says a sea change is needed to fix a system Continue reading →

Why journalists shouldn’t be defending Fox News

(Fox screenshot: HuffPo)

News? or Mutual admiration society?
(screenshot: HuffPo)

I didn’t see this article at the time, but Dan Froomkin makes a good case.

I dislike the hypocrisy of this ‘channel’ — the apparent willingness to distort, their naked manipulation of the ‘issues’ (far beyond a ‘slant’, Fox misleads … in short, like some people I know: a total lack of self-awareness

Sure, Fox ‘News’ has a right to express its (Master’s) opinions, but NOT — in my view — the right to brazenly mislead as it does … and still expect to be taken seriously as a journalistic organ. Oh no you don’t. Continue reading →

The overblown role of religion in conflict

(image: psychologytoday.com)

(image: psychologytoday.com)

I heard a good radio interview today: Radio NZ’s Kathryn Ryan interviewing Rabbi David Rosen — a conversation which opened with the question whether the long running Israel/Palestine conflict is in any way a religious issue.

In essence certainly not. It’s a territorial conflict … a conflict between two national liberation movements: The Jewish national liberation movement which is known as Zionism and the Palestinian liberation movement.

Rosen points to the 1967 war where the main protagonists were professed atheists, so “obviously weren’t going to war over theology but over territory”… Religion, he says, forms part of national identity but isn’t the driving issue.

The territorial conflict, he said, had been “religion-ized” — reaching dangerous proportions in the last decade. Now, he says, the perception in the Arab and Muslim world is that it is at base a religious conflict and that the holy sites are under siege by ‘malevolent and hostile Jewish intent’. Continue reading →

Microsoft helping ‘de-list’ news sites from Google?

CNN reports on 'discussions'

CNN reports on 'discussions'

Wow. Can this be the future?

Microsoft paying News sites to BLOCK their content from Google? (… while, presumably, allowing it to show up on MS Bing)?

OK, it’s still just a rumour.
Here’s the CNN story and this quote from Lance Ulanoff in PC Mag‘s “online news ice age” what-are-they-thinking?’ reaction — which resonates with me.

Could Microsoft really be this tone deaf? I have nothing against some hard-nosed competition, but Microsoft could be setting in motion the biggest online information chill in history. If the folks at Microsoft stopped to think—even for a moment—they’d have to realize that they’ve got their own hand too close to the lion’s mouth. Sure, right now they’re feeding it a big, juicy piece of meat (the ability to get off of Google’s index), but how soon before the lion snaps that hand right off? Seriously, how long before News Corp. says, “Yeah, you helped us, but we’ve been thinking about it, and not only do we not want our content on your index, but we don’t want to see you serving any sites that rewrite or offer synopses of our content/reporting.” Where would that leave Microsoft Bing?

There’s no question that the content of news sites is expensive to produce (consider the cost of the various correspondents, for instance) and it is harvested mercilessly in a parasitic way by websites all over the world (including this one, ahem).

Like it or not, Murdoch’s description of Google ‘stealing’ from him bears more than a passing resemblance to the truth, despite the rising howls of say-it-ain’t-so from ‘new media’. Continue reading →

Playing with numbers

I thought perhaps I might sell my home, and so, I decided to do a little research on when historically the best time might be vs. the best historical sales price that might be obtainable.

From the R100 Market Facts page at the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand web site: http://www.reinz.org.nz/reportingapp/default.aspx?RFOPTION=Report&RFCODE=R100

I downloaded all data, from all dwellings, between the dates of January 1992 to October 2009. I selected the medians calculated over a one month period dropdown box.

I took all the data and then loaded it into my own database. Doing this allows me to place the data into a more readable format so I could conduct my research.

First, I decided to base my study on the Actual Number of Homes that are sold each month. This, I felt is a better indicator of market trend because it does in fact provide the actual number of houses sold in a particular time period (in this case per month); and while the REINZ web site does not provide the actual number of houses on the market at any given time (those not sold) I felt that the number of houses actually sold would be more reflective of market mood and market activity than any other indicator.

Because the year 2009 is not yet complete I decided not to use any data from 2009 and instead used all the data from 1992 to 2008 – a seventeen year period.

Looking at the numbers without a database to manipulate their format is a fruitless task. However, database in hand I went to work. Continue reading →

A discredited profession? — Financial advisors.
About time!

(image: City University of New York Journalism School)

(image: City University of New York Journalism School)

The backlash against the alarmingly greedy pigs on Wall St (“Bail Out People, Not Banks”) was long overdue. Self-inflicted wounds.

We’re also familiar with the loathing of the corporate fat cats who showered excess on themselves even as the punctured airship foundered — and, more scandalously, even in receipt of taxpayer-funded bailouts.

But now I detect a whiff of a different opprobrium — this time directed at the financial planners and ‘advisors’. In many cases, these ‘advisors’ were nothing more than commission salesmen who directed old biddies and the naive to ‘invest’ their life savings into dodgy finance companies and other dubious ‘investments’ — clipping the ticket i.e. getting paid a slice of the capital as commission on the way.

Some disappointed and ripped-off ‘investors’ have sought redress from the their advisors, with little success. In NZ the scandal of the collapsed finance companies (e.g. Bridgecorp and Hanover among others) is only intensified by reports of the inflated commission levels paid to the advisors who sucked funds into the ill-fated companies on their way to oblivion.

Often, it turned out, the investments were made with inadequate ‘diversification’ — or, to put it another way: it seemed in some cases the money was directed by the ‘advisor’ to the firms that paid the highest commission.

In return for a larger-than-normal clip of the ticket, it seems, some respectable-looking advisors sold their clients down the river Continue reading →

Nothing ‘new’ under the sun

TelecomNZNew

New Telecom New Zealand logo

toque

Virgin mobile RE-generation promotion (Canada)

Great minds think alike?

Plagiarism stigma …

‘Uni needs to address plagiarism’ | Stuff.co.nz:

University dean of arts, Associate Professor Jan Crosthwaite, said while concerning, Ihimaera’s actions were not deliberate.

Ihimaera said the offending passages amounted to less than half a per cent of the novel, but respected author CK Stead said that was beside the point.

‘It’s really like saying `well yes I did steal from 16 people but I only took a dollar from each’,’ he told Radio New Zealand.

‘You haven’t harmed them much, but you’ve harmed yourself enormously.’

Stead, who is a professor emeritus of the same university, said he was disappointed at comments from Associate Prof Crosthwaite minimising the seriousness of the fault.

He said students had it hammered into them that they must acknowledge borrowed work and not pass work off as their own. Continue reading →

Plagiarism looks like…

http://sites.google.com/site/whatplagiarismlookslike/

What plagiarism looks like?
(click for link to larger image)

Link provided by Jolisa Gracewood in her blog post discussing her uncovering of Witi Ihimaera’s plagiarism.

Our lawyers prepared a similarly convincing graphic display for our High Court copyright infringement action, which may have helped the plagiarists in our case decide to settle the case last year. Continue reading →