Sunday, January 30, 2011

A normal man who expresses normal manly sentiments from time to time

Proving he's a typical Kiwi bloke Key said that if he could be any sporting star he'd be an All Blacks captain but added he wouldn't mind taking a swing at being Tiger Woods either.

"Obviously for the money I would be Tiger Woods. You get paid a truckload of money," he said, adding "there are other benefits that clearly come with the job" too.

No, no, no; he is not a typical Kiwi bloke. He is a multi-millionaire who made his fortune in a morally dubious business and who obviously is obsessed with the acquisition of money (a prerequisite for working in such a business, some might say). However, he has a desperate need to pretend otherwise, to assume the guise of "an ordinary Kiwi bloke," hence his participation in events like this one. His supporters, as well, are concerned to present him as normal at any opportunity. It is all becoming quite tiresome.

By the way, did I tell you the one about the fund manager who threatened to kill regulators? Or the one about the sports commentator who assaulted his former partner?

And who is this Dean Lonergan? And is this puffery I see before my eyes?
Dean Lonergan said Key's comment had made him respect the PM even more. "John Key is a strong leader and a very good family man," the LiveSport host said.

"Those women who might be upset at his comments are obviously just disappointed they never made John Key's list and never will.
No, it is just another prehistoric sports broadcaster. Maybe it is the blazers that do it. That's my theory: wearing a blazer for any length of time makes a man think like a schoolboy and lose the ability to understand that women are people.

Kant and the single girl

Getting on in the world is a priority for many. But is social mobility good? As the BBC researches the class system, philosopher Mark Vernon says thinkers like Kant have mulled over such questions for centuries.
So, what would Kant say to social climbers? "Mine's a Sloe Comfortable Screw, love, and why the long face?" Funny, innit, how the British always find ways to defend their class sytem? Funny also, how they always find ways to have a quiz.

Pausing only to reflect that the BBC is full of public school and Oxbridge chaps and chapesses, we note here the variant on the 'it's not good for you' tactic: philosophers say it's not good for you. These days, the British rely on philosophers to tell them how to be happy. It is what keeps Alain de Botton and A C Grayling in business. But here philosophy is being used to tell people to put up with their lot, to stop worrying about the grotesque inequality of British society and just put up with being vulgar and poor. And, being British, the people will do just that.

Career opportunities

Mercure Auckland Windsor is currently recruiting for a Part Time Night Auditor/ Night Guest Service Agent to join our fantastic team.

Reporting to the Night Audit Supervisor & Senior Assistant Manager, you will be responsible for ensuring a smooth hotel operation during the night shift of the hotel and carrying out allocated cleaning duties of hotel’s public areas.

Your key responsibilities will include:

* Achieving established standards of cleanliness and presentation to meet guest’s expectations in regard to the cleanliness of the non room areas and standards for back of house areas.

* Welcoming late arrivals, auditing the day’s transactions, preparation of daily reports, safety and security for hotel guests and dealing with any quest concerns that may arise.

Excellent communication skills and a proactive personality will be the key to success in this busy hands on role.


The successful candidate will be meticulously well presented, confident and highly organised. You should be self motivated and self disciplined.

The ability to ‘think outside the square’, multi-task, delegate and be well organized will be the key to success in this busy hands on role.
Busy and hands on, indeed. They want you to keep the books and clean the bogs, while thinking outside the square; an excellent opportunity, I am sure you will agree, for anyone thinking of a career that combines auditing and cleaning.

Picture and video unrelated

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Deconstructing the Herald

Courage in politics is seldom recognised when it is successful.
It takes courage to challenge a sacred cow, but a well-aimed challenge can render the cow sacred no longer.
Who wrote this crap? Why is it so clumsy? Why does it make me think of someone with a nasal, robotic voice, some office-wallah on some dreadful team-building exercise?
Sitrep at 1047:
Challenged sacred cow.
Rendered cow sacred no longer.
Awaiting further instructions.
Over and out.
Perhaps that is the sort of person the Herald employs to write its editorials.

On the other hand, Chris Barton's piece about Peter Eisenman's Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is superb. Here is a video in which Barton talks about his experience of visiting both the memorial and Birkenau.

Blame the architect

Now that the Turua Street houses have been demolished, we can look back and ask ourselves, "WTF was going on here?"

Lady, Marshall Cook is just doing his job. He is an architect, and a very good one at that. If you really want revenge on him, you can buy his house (I wish I could, but I am a bit short of cash) and demolish it. You can then build apartments and shops on the site.

But don't tell Hamish Keith.

Who would be a painter man?

Or a journalist, for that matter. Look right: you are no better off than the man who paints the financial planner's luxury Tuscan-style townhouse. You went to university, you went to journalism school, you learned shorthand, you edited student magazines. And you are paid the same as a bloke who stands on a ladder all day.

The financial planner and his sales management chums will be on the deck at the back, boasting to each other about their median salaries - which are twice as much as yours.

Meanwhile, your geek friends from school are all programmers now and can afford their weight in Star Wars figurines.

Just think, if you had a Tiger Mother, who deprived you of affection and bullied you to achieve, you might have been a doctor.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Tell them Tony Bagels sent you

From the Village Voice, the 20 Best Nicknames in the Big Mafia Bust Note that among all these Vincents and Anthonys are the somberly named Christopher Reynolds, also known as "Burger" and John Hartman, also known as "Lumpy," "Fatty" and "Fats." I guess they fell in with a bad crowd and ate too much.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

The price of nookie is eternal vigilance

Mr Marsden told The Independent yesterday that he had stepped down from his Shrewsbury seat because of the revelations about his personal life.

He said: "I never had any allegations that I was a bad constituency MP but, in effect, I was forced to step down, because I never knew what was coming next: in 2003 there weren't just strange goings-on with my mobile phone but there was somebody impersonating a police officer trying to discover my whereabouts, which caused great distress to people close to me.

"Someone was getting information from secure telephones and that massively undermined trust and caused a huge amount of upset and heartache... It is hugely important that a democratically elected MP can talk with complete security to a constituent or a cabinet minister and know that that information can remain confidential."
Or, in other words, it is hugely important that a democratically elected MP can shag other women and know that that his wife will not find out.

Somehow, I do not think Mr Marsden will be getting much sympathy on this matter.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Kill the poor

The Government is shovelling out almost twice as many grants to help unemployed people back to work as it did before the recession.

Just over 110,000 grants were paid in the year to September for such things as new clothes and shoes, work tools, removing tattoos and getting unwarranted or unregistered cars back on the road.
Shovelling, I tell you, shovelling; but then:
Larger grants up to the full $1500 annual limit are available for the costs of taking up a definite job offer, including tools and equipment, moving house, initial childcare costs and initial transport costs such as registration and a warrant of fitness if a vehicle is essential for the job.

However, the grant cannot be used to pay for actual vehicle repairs or to buy a car. Work and Income can lend beneficiaries up to $400 for vehicle repairs under a separate policy, but requires repayment. It does not give grants or loans to buy a car.
And then:
Grants made to take up job offers account for almost all the increase in costs between 2005-06 and last year, trebling from $4.5 million to $14 million.
But what about the tattoos? What about the shovelling? What about the blaming Labour? Here's what happened: WINZ granted more money so that unemployed people could become employed than it did before the recession. This would be the sort of thing that you might expect to happen during a recession, given that recessions cause unemployment.

The remarkable thing about this article is that it contains its own contradictions: one does not need to go outside to discover what is wrong with it. The emotive opening paragraph is contradicted by the factual paragraphs that follow. Could this another manifestation of the Herald Effect, the bipolarity which so often is found in Herald editorials? Has the Effect now spread to news items? I think we should be told.

Helping unemployed people with the expenses they incur in getting back into work is both the decent thing to do and the most sensible. People need jobs; the economy needs people in jobs; only barking mad ACT on Campus types would disagree. But the Herald sees a double opportunity: to hate on the poor and to raise the spectre of taxpayers' money being misspent. Sod the facts. It is so much easier to suggest that taxpayers' hard-earned money is being squandered on tattooed bludgers with defunct cars abandoned on the front lawns of their state houses.

Tattoo found here; Dead Kennedys next exit:

It was him

It seems Devlin finally recognised the practical futility of trying to suppress his name in the face of overwhelming public interest. He said yesterday that the only effective way to protect his children from being identified and embarrassed by his behaviour was not to have acted that way in the first place. He is right there, of course. But he would also have been spared a lot of unwanted attention if the seeking of name suppression was not a viable option. This should be the last example of an incident such as this being absurdly inflated by secrecy.
Or, in other words, it is nothing to do with the Herald.

But wait, there's more: Mr Brown has a few words to say about this.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Build it and they will come

p83 Sumner used to be a sleepy seaside suburb but lately it seems to have become an epicentre of new Christchurch residential architecture. Why did you decide to build out here?

Walsh, John, and Patrick Reynolds.
Home Work :
Leading New Zealand Architects' Own Houses.
Auckland, N.Z.: Godwit, 2010.

You are smart people, and I don't think I need to point this out to you but, for the benefit of the hard of thinking: on 4th September 2010, epicentre ceased to be an appropriate metaphor for anything connected with Christchurch. Walsh and Reynolds' rather splendid Home Work was published on 5th November.

That aside, John Walsh's discussion with Kerry Mason, from which this remark comes, is revealing. Here's some more:

Architecture is a business, isn't it?
It is, above all else. You might like it to be about art, but if you have a practice, it's about running a business.

Christchurch is famously an old-school-tie city.
Traditionally, that has been the case, and there's no doubt that Miles and Peter Beaven, who were highly skilled, were also fantastically connected.

Did you go to Christ's College?
No, Lincoln High School. I think now it's more about what you are than what school you went to, but there'll always be some people in Christchurch who don't think like that. Rita is Canadian and she found it hard here initially because people would ask, 'what school did you go to?'

Is there an introversion that can handicap architectural projects in Christchurch? Debate over architectural proposals in the city seems to get quite vitriolic.
Sometimes I think why doesn't our city council, or whoever, say, let's go and get Renzo Piano to do something.' Get the best person in the world. The fees would be higher but the payback would be huge because the architectural pilgrims will come.
Of course architecture is a business, but nobody ever wants to talk about that fact. It is quite surprising to see it in print. Equally frank is the Christ's question. Someone told me of one Christchurch architect who did not go to Christ's but always wears black-and-white striped ties (unfortunately, I forget who it is or who told me; I am useless at gossip) in order to give the impression that he is an Old Boy. As for Renzo Piano, yes please; or they could get Frank Gehry to design something that looks as if it already has been struck by an earthquake. Then there is Zaha Hadid's Evelyn Grace Academy: two schools pushed together over a running track to nowhere (deeply symbolic of British government schools policy, if you ask me). Then there is EASTERN's House Awaiting Death, the sort of thing only a Japanese client could commission and expressing a sentiment you will not find in home and garden books.

But hold on, this is New Zealand. As Walsh and Reynolds record, Megan Rule was building herself a perfectly nice house in Mount Eden, one with a pitched roof and so on, when a neighbour came by and said 'how could you do this in a street of villas?'

Sigh. Answers on a postcard to the usual address.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Awesome obstetrics for pleasure and profit

"Publishing is an expression of one's heart, mind, spirit and knowledge whether it is a personal story, business manual or a book of poetry. I think of each book as being like the author's baby and my role is like being that of their obstetrician."
So Sayeth Ocean Reeve, KiaOraMai Awesome Service Award 2010 Supreme Winner.


Scritti Politti

Nobody could call the Italian president handsome. Nobody would call him anything other than average-looking, and at 74 he should be grateful for even that civility. So how come, according to snowballing reports of his private life last week, he's regularly surrounded by pretty girls performing the age-old rite of prancing about in skimpy undies? And is this proof of his superior intelligence, or of his vast fortune?
Rosemary, I shall try to put this gently: the latter would seem to be the case. At least one of those pretty girls, moreover, would seem to have been too young to do what she allegedly was being paid to do.

Rosemary McLeod is the author of
A girl like I (Dunedin : J. McIndoe, 1976) a comic novel about the adventures of a sexually naïve young woman.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Breaking news

As Week One of the Herald's Mystery Poo investigation draws to a close, we can now look back on a story which has generated a photograph of a dung-spattered Landcruiser, one of best headlines in the history of subbing - another family pelted with poo - and a really bad graphic. This last shows that aircraft fly to and from Auckland International Airport in most directions and that one of the incidents occurred at Ponga Road. Today's installment concerns a retired aircraft engineer with forty years of experience who wishes to remain anonymous. Some might say that this is scarcely a reliable witness.

In other non-news, someone who once worked in Queenstown is accused of murdering her ex-boyfriend in England and then drinking red wine with her friend while his body burned on the garden bonfire. As the Herald reports:
Moonlight Stables owner Geoff Clear told Queenstown's Mountain Scene newspaper he was dumbfounded Windsor was facing murder charges.

"Like any other couple they had their ups and downs, but never in a thousand years would I have thought Kirsti could be capable of something like that, or that David deserved anything like that."
Well you wouldn't, would you? You wouldn't say of someone, "she looks like the sort who would kill her boyfriend and drink red wine with her friend while his body burned on the garden bonfire, and frankly he deserves it."

The Herald chooses to illustrate this story online with a stock photo of a fire, although it made the front page of the print edition with a photo of the alleged murderess. The ever-reliable Daily Mail reveals that she is hot and her ex looked a bit of a dork.

Also in the Daily Mail: really long headlines, such as Tory minister and senior party official accused of sexism after ‘telling high-flier working mothers had no place in the City' and Conwoman faked own death from dehydration in remote Pakistan hospital to claim £2m life insurance.

And finally, a huge shark has been spotted off a beach, in the sea.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The experiment begins

Yet in rightwing circles around the world, Douglas has remained a name to conjure with, or invite to conferences, whenever the time seems ripe again for innovative government. Since the coalition took power, Rogernomics has become a fashionable topic again for British free-market thinktanks.

So will Britain in May 2015, when the next general election is due, resemble the New Zealand of the late 80s?
Answers on a postcard to the usual address.

It wasn't me

Newspaper Publishers' Association chief executive Tim Pankhurst said yesterday that media companies should challenge the suppression to protect the principles of open justice.

"The courts in this country are far too ready to offer suppression. A justice system operates the most effectively in full sunlight and any sort of suggestion that people of influence ... are protected, undermines the system."

Mr Pankhurst said the name suppression put pressure on other 46-year-old entertainers. "We've already had other so-called celebrities saying `it's not me'."
Unlike Tim Pankhurst, I am not an expert but I think him wrong. It was the media, not the name suppression, which has put pressure on other 46-year-old entertainers. It is the media which has been tying to find out who is 46, has a wife, a car and an anger management problem. It is the media which is demanding a public right to pry. The media wants to know, because content of this kind sells product. A public domestic argument is not an issue of media freedom. Or, to put it another way, here is a high horse and look: the chief executive of the Newspaper Publishers' Association is in the saddle.

Disclosure of interest: what I want to know is not the identity of the celebrity but those of the so-called celebrities saying `it's not me.' I think we should be told. Who are these men? Who did they call? What was the response?
"Look, I just want everyone to know that it was not me. My wife and I have a loving and mutually supportive relationship. We have had our ups and downs but we have worked through them together, and our marriage is the stronger for it. She's not just my wife; she's my best friend. The kids are devastated by these rumours. You can put that in your article."

"Um, who are you?"

Meanwhile, stage right, enter a visitor from Hawkes Bay:
Sensible Sentencing Trust spokesman Garth McVicar urged the man to be accountable for his actions and not hide behind name suppression.

"We are against name suppression, and more against it for celebrities," he said.

"Like it or not, they become role models and icons in the community. I believe they should stand up and be accountable for their actions."
I think you will appreciate the subtle distinction made here: they (the teeming hordes of Sensible Sentencing Trust members) are against name suppression [Oxford comma - pause for effect] and more against it for celebrities. Nonentities should be afraid, and celebrities should be very afraid. Why? Because they are role models and icons in the community, that's why. If you allow Mr Personality to get away with this sort of thing, then every man and his wife will be doing it. The only people who will benefit will be the panel-beaters.

So, stand up, whoever you are, so we can speculate on your marital difficulties. You, sir, are an icon and a role model. We demand the right to know everything about you. It is, I am sure you will understand, for the good of the community.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

You'll never see a farmer on a bike

Rising food prices would benefit rural producers, farmers and their suppliers with increased income, Eaqub said.

"But the rural economy tends to employ a fairly small proportion of New Zealand while everybody has to buy food at the supermarket.

"In the near-term the impact on discretionary spending is going to be negative, but if you're looking further out if commodity prices remain high then there is a positive to New Zealand from the higher rural incomes flowing through to the rest of the economy."
Something to bear in mind when you are struggling to feed yourself and your kinsfolk; something to tell the people queuing at the food bank: this is just a negative impact on discretionary spending - it is a positive for the economy in the long run. Meanwhile, people in other parts of the world will be starving, which will present our agricultural sector with an opportunity for higher profits.

In other news, the sale of a big house in the gazebo-infested suburb of Remuera causes the Herald's correspondent to lose all sense of decorum:
An Auckland glamour couple has paid $9 million for one of the city's flashest mansions, official property records show.
Whatever happened to the style manual? What sort of paper allows the publication of adjectives like flashest and phrases like glamour couple, while referring to a big house as a mansion? And why is this event considered to be a news story? Still, it is comforting to know that:
Parties can be held in the pool and tennis court areas simultaneously because both have gazebos with bathrooms and mini-kitchens
In another part of the forest, Mayor Brown expresses his regret that
Auckland Council has apparently not been able to find an affordable way to save three houses in St Heliers despite weeks of hard work and negotiations between the council, the developer and local residents.
Mr Mayor's skill at creating a distance between himself and his council is impressive, especially in his use of the word apparently. Of course, as the NBR shows, an awful lot could have been done but was not. But then, Auckland Council will need all the money it can get for free swimming pools.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

She's no Lady; she's my wife

No, this whole ceremony, complete with 80 Catholic priests on the altar, plus six bishops, was a grand launch for Pope Benedict's new ringfenced section within Catholicism for Anglican dissenters. There has never been anything of its kind before. Its name was unveiled – the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham – as well as the identity of its first leader, Father Newton. He will preside over a church within a church, where the normal rules of Catholicism don't apply. As well as a married priesthood, it can also use its own prayer books and rites, imported from Anglicanism.
Anglo-Catholics: can't live with them; can't live without them. It works like this: these men were Anglicans, Clerks in Holy Orders of the Church of England. They did well and were promoted, eventually getting themselves ordained as bishops. They also got married, to women. But now it seems that other women want to be bishops, and not just wives. The Church of England, which employed these other women as Clerks in Holy Orders, now wants to ordain them as bishops. This promotion annoys the Anglo-Catholic bishops, who like women to be wives, but not bishops.

So the Anglo-Catholic bishops applied to join the Roman Catholic Church. This Church does not allow women to become bishops, or even priests for that matter. So, if their applications were accepted, the Anglo-Catholic bishops could become Roman Catholic priests and would never suffer the discomfort of meeting a woman dressed like them; nor would they ever have a woman as a boss.

However, there was a problem: the Roman Catholic Church does not just insist that it priests be men; it also does allow them to be married to women. Fortunately the Pope had an idea. He has created an enclave, where ex-Anglicans can be priests and can keep their wives. This enclave will be named after a woman, the woman known to the Anglo-Catholics as the BVM (the Blessed Virgin Mary; no, I am not making this up) in her role as Our Lady of Walsingham.

I am sure this all makes perfect sense to some people. The bishops keep their wives and their prayers. It is to be hoped that they will keep the Hymn Book as well, since Roman Catholics cannot sing. The Roman Catholics will get some converts, but they will be quarantined, so as not to contaminate the Church with their singing and their wives. The Church of England perhaps does not yet realise how fortunate it is to be rid of these turbulent priests; or perhaps it does, and is making only a pretense of protest. The Roman Catholic Church perhaps does not yet realise how silly Anglo-Catholics can be. If it does, then it must be really desperate for converts.

The Anglican Church in New Zealand ordained Penny Jamieson, the first female diocesan bishop in the Anglican Communion, in 1990. For reasons known only to itself, the Anglican Church in New Zealand has not ordained any more women as bishops.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Torture seems to be the hardest word

Counsel for the accused Jo Wickliffe said she was concerned about media coverage and the possible effects that could have on a fair trial. Ms Wickliffe objected to media reports updating the condition of the nine-year-old girl and the use of the word 'torture'.
Torture must be such a difficult word to contemplate when you are representing the torturers. However, in the circumstances -
The woman, 30, and her 32-year-old husband were arrested after the girl was found hiding in a wardrobe last month, with injuries to nearly every part of her body. She was starving, dehydrated and anaemic from internal bleeding.
- it is difficult to think of anything more suitable

Fleet of foot

Who could foretell what evolution had in store for the descendants of this pint-sized, fleet-footed predator?
Well, nobody; since there was nobody around at that time and since dinosaurs, fleet-footed or otherwise, are unlikely to have had any powers of foretelling their evolutionary future.

In other news, our Prime Minister is a sad git:
Key today put his hand up to attend the next big Royal wedding - if he gets invited.

"I haven't had an invitation for the Royal wedding but if I do, I'll go," he said.

"At this stage, I haven't had one - that will be up to the couple to determine who comes and who doesn't."
I bet he was like that at school - always inviting himself and letting everyone know that he will be there if he is invited; of course, nobody wants to invite him but now they feel obliged to do so.

Any connexion between these two stories is coincidental: it is not my intention to suggest that dinosaurs evolved into members of the Royal Family, nor that dinosaurs had the social shortcomings of Mr Key.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Product placement in the High Renaissance

Silvano Vinceti claims he has found the letter "S'' in the woman's left eye, the letter "L'' in her right eye, and the number "72" under the arched bridge in the backdrop of Leonardo da Vinci's famous painting. According to the researcher, the symbols open up new leads to identifying the model, dating the painting, and attesting to Leonardo's interest in religion and mysticism.
Maybe, but could it be that Leonardo was interested in shoes?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Information technology for dummies

Secure Connection Failed uses an invalid security certificate.
The certificate is only valid for the following names: ,
(Error code: ssl_error_bad_cert_domain)
* This could be a problem with the server's configuration, or it could be someone trying to impersonate the server.
* If you have connected to this server successfully in the past, the error may be temporary, and you can try again later.

Or you can add an exception
Let's think carefully about this. I am in an Auckland University Library. Posters in this library advise me to check my webmail regularly, because such things as courtesy notices and overdue notices are sent to this address. So I click the tab thing on the browser thing which is marked for the webmail thing and I receive the response above. So I go to another Auckland University library, try again and get the same result.
* This could be a problem with the server's configuration, or it could be someone trying to impersonate the server.

* Security could be extraordinarily tight

* The University IT department could be about as useful as a one-legged man at an arse-kicking party.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Some things hurt more than cars and girls

Road safety campaigners have taken aim at multi-tasking women who apply make-up behind the wheel - and a Herald on Sunday survey proves how many ways Kiwi drivers can be distracted.

Women applying make-up have been identified as one of four killer distractions on Kiwi roads by the Road Safety Trust. It comes in the wake of a British study that revealed one in five women had applied mascara on the move and three per cent had caused a collision while powdering their nose.
Oh dear. It looks like it is all the fault of those pesky women drivers again. It's the same old story: the ladies, bless them, are so concerned about their appearance and so scatter-brained that they cannot drive. What are we to do?

And who ate all the pies? The Herald stationed photographers at a busy intersection
They caught drivers - admittedly while stationary at the lights - eating pies, talking on cellphones, lighting up, drinking from cups and even reading a newspaper.
Perhaps the caveat "while stationary at the lights" has some relevance in this matter. The Herald's investigative journalism will not win it a Qantas for this story.

Anyway, what about those women drivers? Well, we could look at the facts of the matter. How about that research then? Here it is:
18% of the women questioned said they had have applied make up while driving, while more than 3% said they had also crashed their car as a result of it. Diamond managing director, Sian Lewis said, "It's worrying that quite so many women admit to this. With more than 15 million women drivers in the UK, this could be as many as 2.7 million women regularly applying their make up whilst driving on UK roads.
Ah yes, it was a poll conducted by an insurance company. It was that kind of research; the kind that extrapolates a figure to make a very big number proceeded by the phrase "could be."

Oddly enough, cosmetics were not mentioned by the Department of Transport in Britain as a cause of accidents. But then, neither was flirting; Diamond, however, found otherwise:
A nationwide survey by women’s car insurance specialist, Diamond has revealed two-fifths of British motorists flirt with other drivers and 15% have crashed their car or had a near miss after being distracted by someone they fancy.

Diamond quizzed 3,000 people and found almost half of men and over a third of women admit to flirting with other motorists. But the male of the species is the most guilty of flirtatious behaviour, with three times as many men than women admitting they flirt with other drivers on a daily basis.
Clearly, this is a far greater problem than make-up application: the figures do not lie. And then there is the menace of perving:
However, it’s not just the heat outside that’s getting men hot under the collar, it seems members of the opposite sex can also have an effect on concentration behind the wheel, with 29 per cent of men admitting to being distracted by women’s summer attire. This is compared to just 3 per cent of women who admit to being distracted by men’s choice of summer clothing whilst behind the wheel.
This ground-breaking research was conducted by the very busy media centre of a rival insurance company for women. Interestingly enough, the media release was about women being better drivers than men, but the prurient British media carefully ignored this inconvenient truth.

Will the Road Safety Trust take action on the menaces of flirting and perving while in charge of an automobile? Or might it realise that surveys conducted by insurance companies are just vehicles for cheap publicity? And will it learn that making advertising campaigns on the basis of such PR stunts is just a bit stupid and just a bit insulting to women?

I think we should be told.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Classics nouveaux

Admiration for classic architecture has continued undiluted for decades. It's not only pop music of the 1960s that now has seen a resurgence, but also architecture from the 1860s.

In a world that is moving faster, and in an environment of mirror glass in our cities, it is small wonder that a large number of people still seek traditional and classic styles in their homes.

That has been the inspiration of Replica Homes. Founded in Christchurch 10 years ago, almost 400 of these exclusive and carefully built homes have now been erected throughout the country. Even a few shipped to Australia.

Generally larger and more detailed than conventional homes, they cost marginally more than a standard 'brick and tile' home.

Replica Homes do not offer kitsets or do-it-yourself instructions but rather they have authentic design styles, evocative of the French provincial or Victorian colonial era. Then they manufacture special doors, windows and mouldings exclusively for their homes -unavailable elsewhere.

Using modern building techniques and layouts, Replica Homes incorporate their own traditional materials - native timbers, tongue and groove panelling - moulded architraves and skirting to present an ambience that is unique to Replica Homes and otherwise only found in the villas and mansions of the late 19th Century.

But the Replica Homes designs do not 'ape' the century old styles, rather they design them to incorporate the same classic 'flavour' but include the requirements of today's lifestyles.


The interest in Replica Homes seems to be getting stronger as time goes by, living proof that there are some things in life that are timeless.

"Modern Classics."
Home and Building,
December/January 1988,


classic traditional exclusive detailed authentic design evocative ambience lifestyle timeless


Just what is it that makes today's homes so different, so appealing? Maybe it is their evocative ambience of exclusive lifestyles; but then, any other combination of the keywords above will do, such as "authentic timeless design" or "traditional detailed lifestyle."

What I like is the Replica Homes copywriting style, with its combination of traditional words in non sequiturs designed for today's lifestyles. It is all so evocative of the French provincial or Victorian colonial era, presenting an ambience that is unique to Replica Homes and otherwise only found in the villas and mansions of the late 19th Century.

In an ever-changing world it is comforting to find - more than twenty years since this copy appeared in Home and Building - that Replica Homes is still with us. Their oeuvre has expanded to include contemporary styles, as the photo gallery reveals. Yet still, they maintain the timeless tradition of truly awful house designs with names seemingly chosen at random: Granada, Lewisham and Athena; Braeburn and Braeburn Alternative. Mornington Crescent.

And still their copy makes no sense:
Here is the urban, sophistication of symmetry. Pillars and terracotta tiling, monochromatic colours, careful use of space. Understated effects that are both formal and bold.
Imagine gracious surroundings with sweeping staircases, grand entrance ways, with arches, columns and balconies forming architectural highlights. Open up double doors into noble rooms or onto elegant terraces. Put a gazebo a short way from the house and instill everything with a dignified character.
Go on, do it now. You know you want to.

Nice video, shame about the song:

Thursday, January 06, 2011

I am custard, yellow

They found a fire among some electrical appliances near a lift but Fire Safety Officer Ray Coleman, said it was beneath a sprinkler head and when that sprinkler was activated the fire was virtually extinguished.

"Although we have got a reasonable bit of fire damage we ended up with more water damage."

He said it showed the value of a sprinkler system in a fire.

"If the sprinkler system had not actuated or conversely they did not have a sprinkler system we would have had a far more serious fire than we've got. The sprinkler system has been the saving grace."
Not much happened last night in Queen street but, gentle reader, I was there. I was at the scene of the non-event. Had I an iPad or some other new-fangled device I might have given you an exclusive report; but then again, I might not have bothered. I can now tell you that fire tenders were attending, that fans were extracting smoke and that the scene was observed by many teenage girls who had gone out clubbing only to find that the Auckland nightclub scene at this time of year is less interesting than watching smoke being extracted. Perhaps they were hoping for a foam party.

In other non-news, the Herald jumped the shark in a hard-hitting front-page story which almost concluded with the telling claim that "it is awesome, compared to Sweden."

Meanwhile, Herald Subs go wild with headlines such as Cliff plunge ends pro league dream. Point of fact: the cliff plunge ended the man's life; his pro league dream was a secondary consideration. Elsewhere, Illness claims veteran bashed in heist makes no sense whatsoever.

In heritage news, the Turua Street houses, which the Herald recognises as both Art Deco and "Spanish-style" appear to be doomed. Large sums of money were threatened, according to Sandra Coney. Such is the value of our built environment: we save sheds but not houses.

In other other news, this blogeur and many good people have retreated to the #lessambitiousmovies space on Twitter.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Zen and the art of profit

Paul Jackson, director of student support and development at the University of Leicester, said his institution was "looking closely at how to embed corporate skills into the curriculum at the undergraduate stage". He said university managers were discussing whether students should be able to complete their courses without taking a corporate skills course.

"There is no difference between academic skills and employment skills," he said. "We are looking for students who can apply things in a new context."
Well yes, they would not want anybody leaving university without the skill-set to thrive in a dynamic corporate environment, would they? After all, it is the corporate alumni who keep universities going these days.

And look what applying things in a new context can achieve. Take holograms, wrist bands and sports people; mix them together and you get something like this:
The EKEN Powerbands website explains the wristbands, which cost $89.95, work through four holographic discs which "are programmed, through a proprietary process, with frequencies that are harmonious to the human body. Our bodies respond positively to the bands when we wear them. The technology is based on over 10 years of research in electronics and eastern practices."

When architectural historians go wild

The local authority has long argued that the 55 sq metre (600 sq ft) houses, originally intended to last no more than a decade, are so basic it would be virtually impossible to bring them up to modern standards, a view shared by a number of residents, who are mainly council tenants.

But after a campaign by other locals to preserve the Excalibur, so called as the roads were named after characters from Arthurian legend, English Heritage recommended 21 homes be listed. The Department for Culture granted protection to six. Under current rules for 20th century properties, listing is reserved for buildings with few modifications while most Excalibur homes have – at the very least – replacement doors and windows.
Prefabs, loads of them. Will any of the bow-tied Wykehamists demanding their preservation be rushing to live in them? "My dear chap, I have a little Huguenot place in Spitalfields; we could swap; " I think not.