Posts Tagged with "new-zealand"

Speaking of Sheep…

January 3rd, 2007 at 12:19 pm by Mark
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Man, that Bartholomew is sick!     New Zealand was the first place I ever heard, “Hey, Mark, you know why we fornicate with sheep at the edge of a cliff?  They back up!”  MP Grant Gillon got into a mess on July 4th, 2000 after making a similar joke during a conversation about the medical implications of cloning:

I’d ask the Minister whether … it’s appropriate in this case for a woman’s body parts to be inserted into a sheep when that’s normally been the domain of Tory males…

     It might have come off more funny if he hadn’t done it in the middle of Parliament, but hey. Some people never learn.

     Of course, those sorts of comments are easily made there. There are roughly forty million sheep in New Zealand, and only three and a half million inhabitants. Tall women, short men, a female Prime Minister, so well, you do the math… 😉

     Weta, famed for it special effects in Peter Jacksons’ “Lord of the Rings” trilogy and “King Kong,” has finished a new project called “Black Sheep.”

     Everyone needs a good tongue-in-cheek horror flick now and again.; Personally, I would’ve called it “Violence of the Lambs,” but I’m a bastard like that. 😉

Center of the Universe

September 12th, 2001 at 11:43 pm by Mark
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     Wasn’t so long ago we were there, my wife and I…

     I took her on a Holiday through the US and Canada. She’d never been before. She was awed by Chicago’s Field Museum, Toronto’s CN Tower, Niagara Falls, Washington D.C., the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the like.
     But nothing matched her mixture of fear and excitement as our walk through the streets of Manhattan, seeing the Twin Towers and climbing all those steps to the crown of the Statue of Liberty.

     The thought has crossed my mind a few times today… “What if that happened when we were there?!”

     This morning in New Zealand was like any other morning, except one of the local News sites (who I’m sure I’ll be prosecuted by if I name it — hopefully their US parent is firing the idiot responsible) said “Six people dead, as plane crashes into the World Trade Centre.”
     No big deal, no cause for alarm.

     By the time I got to work at 7:30AM, there was still nothing. I went to MSNBC and CNN.

     I was so angry. Six people dead, indeed.

     I called my wife a couple of times on her mobile to give her the news.

     A bit later, the first other person showed up at work. The first thing I heard from the Natural Born Kiwi is “Ahh, the American dollar sure is flattened!”
     What a cunt.
     I mean, the whole world’s currency is “flattened,” for chrissakes! And how could someone be so cold and emotionless to think about anything other than the tragic loss of life?
     Astounding myself, I actually stood there and said, “People don’t think like that in the States… we…”
     “Oh, yes, it is!” she interrupted. “It’s all over the news! Go look anywhere!”
     She kept talking, but I switched off. I turned and walked back to my desk, finding solace in the thought of how brief the conversation would have been had she been a man.
     I suppose I’m old fashioned that way…

     Through the morning, I watched (at times, attempted to watch) video over the ‘net about the events as they transpired.
     Eventually, the BBC (who are normally quite good, I think) reported that the US was bombing Afghanistan. This news, of course, directly conflicted with everyone else’s news. At the exact time of the report, US officials (even the President, himself!) were denying all involvement with anything that was happening in Afghanistan.
     The BBC continued to report that the Americans weren’t denying it… in direct conflict with everyone else’s news. Blah, blah.

     Family, friends and I all chatted back and forth through the day by ‘net and telephone. We passed one another bits of breaking news and not-so-breaking news.
     None of us could believe it.

     On New Zealand radio, people were calling in giving a mixture of commentary, the majority of which could be described as “speaking just to hear themselves talk.”
     Most memorable is “Yeah, nah, I figure the US brought it on themselves!”
     After a remark like that, one tends to get riled and ignore anything positive that might have been said afterwards.

     It makes me even more despondent…

     I’m American. And apparently that simple fact makes it acceptable for most everyone on these tiny little islands to treat me like shit…

     Tonight on New Zealand news, there’s a lot more “talking just to hear themselves speak.”

     Most memorable are the comments like, “We’re just gutted! Nah, yeah, we felt like this when Princess Diana was killed.”
     Somehow, that doesn’t mean shit to me. I suppose maybe if she’d died amongst several thousand and there were a few less memorable landmarks in the world because of it, perhaps it would. Or am I just missing the point…?

     Somehow, I doubt it.

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Napster of Puppets

July 27th, 2000 at 11:45 pm by Mark
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     By order of Chief US District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel, Napster is shut down. Earlier this morning, she signed an injunction to shut them down pending the outcome of their trial.

     If you’re not familiar with Napster, or if you think you are, I’ll give you a run-down of what it is. Basically, it’s a program that allows users to download free music. The Music Industry claims that Napster is a “dangerous Internet rival that could short-circuit traditional music sales.”
     Plain and simple, right?

     In a word, No…

     Not only is the whole Napster ordeal reason number one hundred and seventy-eight why people think Metallica suck, there’s also the fact that technically it’s only a Network. More specifically, it’s an Internet Relay Chat (IRC) Server not altogether unlike Undernet or DalNet that a lot of Internet users chat on. Instead of using an IRC-client however, there’s a front-end program that allows users to share files. Again, this is not altogether different than the DCC file servers and such available to IRC users, but whereas with standard IRC most people are chatting, the majority of Napster users are transferring files.
     When one logs into Napster, the contents of a shared directory on your hard drive are made public to everyone logged into the server. Running the “Search” inside the program searches a database of all connected users and finds matching filenames in those shared directories and lists them.
     Napster itself, as an entity, doesn’t have any of those files, which are Songs in this case. The users share them between one another.

     Officially, Napster itself claims that they do not promote the use of their product for the illegal transfer of copyrighted or trademarked material. Music information on their website, despite what you’ve heard, is restricted to un-signed artists who opt to self-promote their music.
     It’s been great. Finally, there was a way for un-signed musicians to promote themselves and make a few dollars without being raped by Music Industry thugs who care more about marketability factors and profitability rather than the Art of Music.

     Basically what the Recording Industry Association of America (incorrectly referred to as the “Music Industry”) is attempting to do is overturn many former legal precedents set worldwide so they can make a quick dollar. The case is ludicrous, and could be easily overturned (with damages granted to Napster for their loss of Advertising revenues during the injunction period) if only their Lawyers would do some very basic legal research and urge the Honourable Patel to uphold the verdict of another Judge. No Judge likes to see their verdict overturned, especially by a lesser-experienced, un-impartial Judge with a mindset strictly adverse to the Spirit of Law.

     The defence avenue that comes immediately to mind is BLAHBLAH (insert litigant here) vs. America Online (Internet Service Provider). In each of these cases, it was ruled that a content or service provider cannot be held liable for the actions of its users. Some AOL user had posted a web site in bad taste in their free space on AOL, someone was offended and tried to sue AOL instead of the person who did it.
     In most cases, the content was actually illegal (either defamation, hate-crime related or boasting of illegal behaviour) and violated AOL’s Terms of Service, something that a simple e-mail to tos@aol.com could have taken care of it. But Lawyers, intent on getting as much money as they could rather than using a bit of common sense, saw the need for legal action such that a Precedent could be set and their other Lawyer-buddies could make even more money if the case was actually won.
     (Ian C. Ballon, Esq. comes to mind — the man who attempted to sue a child a few years ago for the use of the domain name “gumby.org” claiming that regardless of whether it was the kid’s nickname, it was a registered trademark of Prema Toy Co. — as he claimed [on his Hong Kong partners’ site] that he lost at least one of these AOL cases. After writing a long volume about the verdict being wrong, he proceeded to draft revisions of standing laws and claimed [again on the Hong Kong site] to have submitted some to the series now dubbed the International Intellectual Property and Trademark Acts. I’m sure he’ll sue me for using his name here, actually. Common Sense and any interpretation of Law says, however, that even though I have, and even though I think he’s a wanking leech and a bottom feeder, he can’t sue me for Libel or Slander as what I have posted is A. truthful by information he or his colleagues have given, B. within the realm of public knowledge, and C. a matter of subjective opinion protected under an inherent right of Freedom of Speech.)

     The bitch of it all is that there is a world-wide Common Sense which says that a manufacturer can’t held liable for damages caused by illicit use or misuse of their product. If your kid goes out tomorrow and overdoses on Viagra (strangely not uncommon), are you going to sue the manufacturer of Viagra? What if he/she shoots him/herself with your shotgun, are you going to sue the gun manufacturer?
     What if your next door neighbour puts up a web page on Ihug claiming you’re a rapist? You’re using the ‘net to read this, so you know that you’d sue the neighbour, and that the provider can’t possibly police everything on their network.
     What if someone with a Hotmail address e-mails you a Trojan that sends someone all of your business records and then deletes them from your machine? Of course, you can’t sue Hotmail. But what if that person started distributing your confidential information to people on auckland.nz.undernet.org? Would you try and get the server shut down?

     Of course not.

     You prosecute the offender, not the means by which they offend. It doesn’t take a barrister’s degree to figure that out.

     But if things keep going the same way in the United States, look out. New Zealand has signed the same laws on Copyrights, Trademarks and Intellectual Property, and it might just turn into a mess here, too.

     But if it should happen that the manufacturer of the Napster program is found liable for the illicit actions of its members and New Zealand follows suit, then I should bloody well be able to sue Clear Telecommunications for that loud, screaming bastard who kept calling me over and over with the wrong number in the middle of the night.

New Zealand PM in Trouble Over Sheep

July 6th, 2000 at 6:21 pm by Mark
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“I’d ask the Minister whether … it’s appropriate in this case for a woman’s body parts to be inserted into a sheep when that’s normally been the domain of Tory males…”
— Grant Gillon, Alliance MP, New Zealand Parliament

Man, that Bartholomew is sick!     It was a serious day in Parliament on July 4th. One can imagine that the conversation regarding the cloning of human organs would have been rather dry had it not been for Alliance MP Grant Gillon, who delivered one of the best one liners NZ Parliament has seen in a good while.
     Most every Kiwi will agree that they’ve made a similar joke at least once in their lives. New Zealand’s media has made a farce of the situation, most notably TV3 and their coverage of the incident. Apparently, some people both in and out of Parliament are less than impressed, taking stances against “moral outrage” rather than having a laugh.

     Gillon rescinded the statement immediately and apologised for the joke, but this isn’t good enough for some MPs who seem more intent on continuing the mudslinging of late (not to mention the outrageous cries for “accountability”) rather than doing anything for the common good.
     Former Prime Minister Jenny Shipley seemed the most outraged at Gillon’s comment as she was interviewed by TV3. After first attacking Gillon’s behaviour she went on to explain her disdain, saying that “bestiality” is “pornographic,” and that this sort of behaviour, besides being illegal, was “intolerable.” Her language and use of pronouns made it unclear what, specifically, was illegal — the joke itself, making a joke in Parliament or buggering sheep.

     As if that weren’t ludicrous enough, other media reports have been offered regarding Gillon’s statements as being “sexist.”
     In defence of local media however, there was a later report that more than twenty years ago Gillon made a “sexist” statement in Parliament. Unfortunately, that was the entirety of the report, and it fails to elaborate the least bit. We are all left to wonder whether he did something direct like calling an up-and-coming Women’s activist a “bitch,” or whether he humorously vocalised his disdain at having Tampon commercials broadcasted during televised Rugby games.

     One has to wonder about peoples’ inability to take what Gillon said as the joke that it obviously was. Perhaps the ones most argumentative about it possess a guilty conscience.

     But someone said the comment was sexist…?

     Ok, fine… Maybe it’s not just the guys doing it…

Note: author of cartoon cannot be found, or s/he’d have credit.

Smoke & Mirrors: New Zealand Hurts Marijuana Reform

May 12th, 2000 at 2:29 pm by Mark
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On Tuesday 9 May 2000, Marijuana reform took a knee in the groin from the New Zealand Parliament. In what the media has referred to as a “late session,” an additional tax was imposed in the form of a $1 NZ per pack increase in the cost of cigarettes.

The public outcry is increasing daily. All I’ve heard on Talk Radio for the last three mornings were complaints about the issue. The few callers supporting the measure have had their arguments shot down quite intelligently by others. Some have protested the sheer cost of a pack of cigarettes, stating that pre-tax prices were nearly expensive enough to be unaffordable. However, the few proponents who still hinged onto this assertion were able to expostulate their theories in a manner rationale, as they took the aid and example of 180 Smoke herb vaporizers. Such vapourisers may come at quite a cost, but are quite beneficial in the long run, owing to their long shelf life and minimal cost incurrence. It seems that a good number of non-smokers also protest, speaking vehemently about Government overspending and arguing that the NZ economy has continued to drop against the US dollar despite many other new taxes created in the last year; comparisons to newly imposed gasoline and road taxes were sideline topics.
The paranoia and anger of other callers compares the current Labour government to that of George Orwell’s 1984. Their prophecies range from home grown tobacco and black market cigarettes to complete bans on public smoking and Gestapo-esque raids of pubs that allow it.

Government claims the price increase is due to the burden on the Health Care system caused by smoking. That’s all fine and good, but using Marijuana is also smoking. And since this is an attack on Smoking, it nullifies any hope of Marijuana reform, doesn’t it?
Some say “If marijuana is legalised, they’ll tax the Hell out of it and get their money for Health Care.” This avenue was already discussed. Statements made by MP’s and committees alike have agreed that increasing the street value of Marijuana to compensate will only increase the currently shocking amount of illegal sales by independent growers and dealers.
And of course, repealing a law they’ve just passed would make them lose face in the sight of the public, wouldn’t it?

Me? I’m sitting here enjoying a Dunhill and thinking… This brings the price of cigarettes to roughly the same price as a small bag of wonderfully aromatic Northland Marijuana, which may be purchased at https://www.discountpharms.com/seeds/.

Can’t do it, tho… Damn allergies.