Monday, April 28, 2008

Lucia Income Splitting and Societal Effects

I'm all for income splitting - the idea that a couple ought to be taxed as a joint entity rather than individuals. In a society where tax is used as some sort of social equaliser as it is in NZ, it doesn't make sense that a working couple with the same income as a single earner couple get taxed different amounts. You'd almost think that the government wants to penalise couples who have one partner (typically the wife) stay at home to look after the children while the other goes out to work.

I know there are many arguments against income splitting, such as what about single parents and it's not fair on those couples with children. In an ideal world, I personally think that income tax ought to be abolished completely and replaced with GST on everything. The privacy aspect alone of income tax allowing the government to know far more about us than they should is enough of a reason to abolish it completely.

However, these things take time and in a country where it is evident that it would be incredibly beneficial to encourage the mother to stay home and look after those children while her husband goes out to work - then why not?

Or do we want every parent working and their children looked after by the state or carers that are not their parents? Because except for a few that have to really stretch to make it work, that is what is happening right now. And what are the results?

In fact, this income splitting scheme ought to be extended to all married couples, whether they have children or not. Other than that, I think Dunne's idea is a good one.


Related Link: Debate on letting parents split income for tax gain

Older related posts at SirHumphreys: The Best Slaves
How to create Socialist Man

Saturday, April 26, 2008

ZenTiger Poltical Boobs

Stephen Franks dropped a risque Danish road safety video on his blog and it was linked by David Farrar who has RSS readers constantly scanning for "road safety" and "boobs". Now, had this been Farrar's post, I doubt much issue would be raised by it. However, this is tied back to Stephen Franks. And it's an election year.

The more rabid supporters of the Labour Party have sniffed an opportunity to make an attack and it will be interesting to see if they try to pick this up and apply the heat to one of National's most promising new candidates.

For example, commenter "roger nome" (aka phillipjohn") comes in on the first comment with an attack on Stephen Franks. However, before we look at what he said, let's see his opinion on the "Boobs on Bikes parade". You will recall the Boobs on Bikes Parade is a topless parade held in Auckland featuring porn stars on motorbikes - a parade designed to advertise a sex expo. roger nome/phillipjohn says this:

It always amuses me when men are willing to tell women what is morally right for them to do as women. Do you know the purpose of the rally? Have you spoken to any of the women involved? Sure it sounds dubious to me, but I’m not willing to lambast people for doing something when it’s harmless and I know nothing about their motives or message. Jees, anyone would think that you guys had been transported here from Victorian England.

And later he says this: Encouraging women to have a sense of responsibility for their own bodies, i.e. they use it as they see fit - doesn’t seem disempowering to me - what do the women here think about this?

And now, as roger nome, his line of attack on Stephen Franks requires a complete shift in attitude. Remember, this video is a comedy stunt, not a promotion of porn (like in his previous comment):

Creepy. Why am I not surprised that there’s a hat-tip to the elderly free-market ideologue Stephen Franks? What is it with his type’s fascination with young foreign women? They’re often easily bought on the open market i guess? Supply and demand, supply and demand…. An extension of their extreme take on “property rights” perhaps?

And a bit later: Hey, what’s this about me having no sense of humor? I laughed at the boobs with you guys didn’t I? Didn’t those women look silly with their boobs all wobbling around like that, vulnerable, in public?! But at the same time you kind of want those silly women! Desire and disrespect come together in one perfect union! hehe, love it! More of this stuff DPF!

For readers that don't understand the use of sarcasm, note the use of the word "vulnerable". You can see this leading up to an attack on Stephen Franks, and I suggest this opinion of his has been manufactured solely to attempt to create an election backlash for Stephen Franks. It makes sense, as Stephen Franks has a strong centre-right following, and there would be a good proportion of conservatives in that mix.

Roger soon moves to connect this video to the objectification of women, misogyny and ultimately, rape.

How many racists will admit to being racist? How many misogynists will admit to being misogynists? How many rapists will admit to being rapists? The reason most of them won’t admit to what they are? They actually don’t recognise that they are.

Bloggers have speculated that this commenter may well be a paid flunky of the Labour Party, or simply a useful idiot who feels it is his duty to generate a scandal out of any issue that might provide fuel for the Labour Party political machine. Either way, I'm questioning his motives in this matter.

He raises a good point about objectification of women (worth a separate post), but I suspect his concern only extends as far as the election. Now let's see if he can make this "scandal" fly. If so, it required the usual amount of dishonesty we expect from the loony left.

Related Link: Boobs on Bikes - First Opinion
Related Link: Slowing Down Stephen Franks

minor update 9:20pm

Fletch Illegal Government?

I am up to chapter 18 of Ian Wishart's book Absolute Power - almost finished it - and it's been very eye-opening. One of the points he makes is that "New Zealand's current political system is [...] technically illegal".

This is because when we (the Government, actually) declared ourselves independent from Britain in 1986 the Government lost the right to Govern because they lost the right conferred by British Parliament and there should have been an election at that stage straight away to let voters choose the party they now wanted and to "ratify the new constitutional position", as Ian puts it. Nothing has been done about it since then.

Does this mean that every decision that has been made by Parliament since then has been illegal?

I would love to see this given to some high-power lawyer and have every decision ever made by the Govt since 1986 made null and void (especially the decisions made since Labour took over in 1999).

Then maybe we can all start again fresh without all the crap laws that Helen and co have passed since then; go back to the beginning.

Wouldn't that be nice?

Friday, April 25, 2008

ZenTiger Who's yer daddy?

It appears that Molly enjoys casual sex with passing strangers confident in the knowledge that any offspring will never take after “daddy”.

She hasn't done this just once either. This carry-on has been going on for 70,000 years. Not that Molly is that old. Her mother did the same, and her grandmother and so on. This is the problem you get when the father isn't around. Actually, it's worse than that. The little trollop doesn't even have her father's DNA.

Can you imagine the court case when suing for maintenance? "You little tramp - you have wasted the courts time - you look nothing like your father, and the DNA test came up with zilch. So who is the father?

Well, Molly is a fish (The Amazon Molly) that needs to "date" males of other species in order to reproduce. There is no male Amazon Molly. And here's the thing that Evolutionary Scientists are agog over: although the sperm of the stranger male activates development of an embryo, none of the male's DNA is passed on to the offspring and only the mother's genes are inherited.

Theory predicts that it should be impossible for any species to survive in such circumstances. According to Muller's Ratchet, a law devised by Hermann Joseph Muller, an American biologist, without the genetic reshuffling of sexual reproduction, an asexual population will accumulate mutations which over many generations should spell its doom.


So here is another wrinkle in our understanding of evolution. Which brings me to Intelligent Design (ID).

I think this is the most important thing about the Intelligent Design debate - we are challenged to look at what we know with a more critical eye. From what I've read there are enough gaps in Evolutionary Theory to make me think there are some important pieces of the puzzle missing. Much of this I expect to be explained by the latest happenings in genetics, and essentially the synthesis of genetics and evolution.

Whilst I'm neutral on ID (it doesn't help knowing nothing in this field) I'm enjoying warming my frontal lobes from the heat of debate. I'm looking forward to seeing "Expelled". Sounds like Expelled is to Evolutionary Biology as Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth is to the Environment. Actually, putting aside the debate around Evolution, it could be this movie speaks more to the willingness for the scientific community to be open to alternative modes of thought. I see much the same thing in the vaccination debates, and that is one area where I believe we don't get "full and frank" disclosure.

This is all starting to sound rather fishy. Do we follow the money? Who's yer daddy?

Related Link: Go Fish
Related Link: Molly want a snapper?

Fletch Friday Night Free For All

Don't know if everyone's away on holiday etc etc, but I'll unlock and put out the Pineapple Lumps (get 'em before the Govt bans 'em!)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Lucia Three News Items Stood Out Today

Plans to ban gay jokes rejected by the Lords
Comedians and church leaders have claimed a victory for free speech after Government plans to ban jokes about homosexuals were rejected in the House of Lords. In a late night vote, peers inflicted an overwhelming defeat on the Government by amending the Criminal Justice Bill to protect the freedom of speech of comics, rap artists and those who criticise other people’s sexuality.


Christians Find Alternatives to Pro-Gay 'Day of Silence'
Thousands of students across the nation will participate on Friday in what has become known as "The Day of Silence" – a vow among students to remain silent throughout the day in recognition and protest of the perceived “silence faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their allies in schools.” ... In response to The Day of Silence, conservative and pro-family groups have organized themselves to oppose the event, urging parents to keep their children away from school that day in a measure of counter protest.

"Gay" Sex Kills
Can you imagine officials at a middle school, junior high or high school setting aside a day to promote "tolerance" for heavy smoking and drinking among children? How about a day where teachers encourage kids to "embrace who they are," pick up that crack pipe and give it a stiff toke? ... While the medical consensus is that smoking knocks from two to 10 years off an individual's life expectancy, the IJE study found that homosexual conduct shortens the lifespan of "gays" by an astounding "8 to 20 years" - more than twice that of smoking.

Fletch Hillary could 'obliterate' Iran in Defence

There was an interesting response from Hillary Clinton today on ABC's Good Morning America when asked what she would do if a nuclear-powered Iran attacked Israel.

"In the next 10 years, during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them. That's a terrible thing to say but those people who run Iran need to understand that because that perhaps will deter them from doing something that would be reckless, foolish and tragic."

"I want the Iranians to know that if I'm the president, we will attack Iran (if it attacks Israel)."

I'm wondering, is Hillary (if elected) going to be a President with an itchy trigger finger? And how does that compare to her criticism of the Bush administration going into Iraq?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Fletch The Angry Atheist

These are some thoughts I was having about Zen's latest post on the anger of some as regards the death of the young Christian trampers a couple of weekends ago.

Some very thoughtful replies on that thread also - John Tertullian's quoting Shakespeare's "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing" as regards the rage of the Angry Atheist, as I call him (in general).

It strikes me as strange how an Atheist doesn't believe in God but feels the need to bring Him into the equation so he has someone to be angry with, i.e "I don't believe in God, but if I did I'd be very angry with Him". If an Atheist doesn't believe in God then it's nobody's fault and he has no one to be mad at - to him we come from nothing, are here for a short while, and are going to nothing. Perhaps he is angry at Christians because he feels they aren't angry enough at God, but they're the ones who seem to be handling the tragedy best.

And what does Jesus say about it?

"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." - John 14:1-3

Sunday, April 20, 2008

ZenTiger Condominiums and Abortion

The Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act (CS&A Act) was established to prevent easy access to abortion, and yet the actual provisions of the law are being flouted. 99% of the 18,000 plus abortions last year came after a brief consultation and approved on the grounds of "mental health".

[SATIRE ALERT]
Lawyers warned late last year that ignoring the intent of the law set a dangerous precedent, and opened the way to legally change the way all laws in New Zealand were applied.

Their warning was made too late.

The most notable adoption of the CS&A Act was a change of policy at Kapiti Coast District Council (KCDC) last week. The KCDC has responded to public demands to improve the building consent process by embracing the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act.

From July 1, all building permits will be subject to the same provisions of the CS&A Act. Any person requiring a “permit” simply sees a licensed “consultant”, who will immediately approve any building requirements on the grounds that a person’s mental health may suffer if they cannot go ahead with the construction. The $80 fee is means tested, and in most cases will be met by the government.

Previously, such fees were excessive: engineers, planners and architects were called in, at the victims expense and would try to counsel the victim out of taking such a rash course of action, or they would place a series of deliberate road blocks to slow the project down. A small renovation might cost over $1,000 in fees. Subdivision costs are typically over $40,000. Furthermore, council staff were obliged to point out the inherent dangers of adding to existing buildings, and regale victims with stories of leaky homes and DIY projects gone wrong.

In a complete turnabout, this entire process can now be ignored and a person simply decide they want to build something. Human Rights activists point out that it should be every persons right to build something and any consultation trying to talk them out of it, or placing excessive fees is an affront to the dignity of the person.

“Right to Build” spokesperson David Carpenter suggested that the consultation process was there to ensure the safety and integrity of the renovation project. “Whilst we expect 99% of the consultation cases to be approved on the spot if the victim indicates mental stress, there is a small chance that some victims are only going ahead with the building due to a condition known as “Joneses Syndrome”.

“It’s clear that people suffering from this condition are building for the wrong reasons. We advise the increased use of small apartments to reduce the incidence of unwanted buildings”. David Carpenter said that people with greater access to condominiums are less likely to request a building extension, although this fact is disputed. The Anti-Quarter Acre Coalition have produced figures to say easy access to condominiums has not abated the need for building renovations.

The Greens have come out very strongly against “The Right to Build” and claim the planet already has too many building extensions and more extensions will cause a catastrophic impact on the environment. Jeanette Fitzsimons, Green Party Co-Leader said that their policy was to set a limit of one building extension per family. “It’s a simple matter of family planning. Extensions would not be needed if the government taxed additional rooms and encouraged the use of bunk beds.

--Ends

Slightly Related Link: Abortion Supervisory Committee Should Be Replaced

Saturday, April 19, 2008

ZenTiger Faith and Suffering and Listening

My heart goes out to Peter Cresswell who reacted poorly to the recent tragic deaths of six Christian college students and their teacher. Such is his desire to believe there is no God, he seeks proof of his non-existence at any opportunity. His faith in atheism is, well, like a rock. He asks questions, but he also provides the answers. The questions then are not genuine, but simply and opportunity for an attack, and the tone of his post is unfortunately deeply disrespectful.
When these young Christians died yesterday, where was their God? When they left their Christian school en route to their adventure, and no doubt prayed to God to keep them all safe, where was God? When they prayed that morning for success in their trek and God's guidance to get them through it safely, where was God? When they listened that morning to the weather forecast, which would have told them that heavy rain was on the way, where was their brain -- and where was God? When the heavy rain began flooding down the canyon and they first knew they were in danger, and no doubt prayed to God again ... where was God? It's the same question any honest person must have in every disaster.

What the hell is this 'god' doing? According to his adherents, he's supposed to be all-powerful, all-knowing and all-good -- and one famous argument for his existence argues that "part of what we mean when we speak of God is 'perfect being'" (and if he's not all-powerful, all-knowing and all-good -- and perfect -- then what would make him god anyway?). So where was he, this omnipotent being, and what the hell was he doing when seven of his adherents put themselves in his hands? Didn't he want to look after 'his' children?

I think you know the answer.
We have a certain amount of freedom in this world, and we use it to make choices every day. Some times these choices will lead us to immense suffering, just as they can lead us to profound joy.

I don't know why, given the history of the world Peter thinks that a Christian believes they live lives protected from all harm. It's a childish belief that Peter uses to build his own case for no God, and it is as a child he demands we believe him. Why? Because God does not always protect us from suffering!

A person's faith is not a shield to protect them from harm, it is a belief we are loved by God no matter the pain and suffering we experience. In understanding this, it can help to try our best to offer such love and charity to others. The Christian message doesn't have to get much more complicated than this.

Maybe somewhere there is a world where people are denied free will. Where they are magically prevented from making bad decisions and wrong choices. We know that place isn't here, and most people can understand the possibility that a loving God has a bigger plan for us, one that extends beyond this life, one we therefore cannot see or properly understand. We understand that God has given us free will, that we are not perfect beings, and that ultimately means we live in a world with consequences.

Ironically, free will and freedom in the purest sense are important concepts to Peter in supporting his own belief system. Issues of freedom, even to make mistakes, form the basis of Peter rejecting government intervention at almost every level. If Peter is genuinely interested in an alternative answer to his question, the answer is out there for him. It's just a matter of listening.

Related Link: Where was God?

JT's grist for the mill: On Evil and Suffering

Friday, April 18, 2008

ZenTiger Friday Night Free For All

Yes it's Friday and it's still Free. That's because the government, in all its various guises hasn't yet decided to "solve" another problem by taxing blogs. Or conversations for that matter.

The latest new tax idea is a "congestion tax" for people driving into the city from one or two roads. Interestingly, whilst such taxes are often touted as the "fairest thing to do" there is no suggestion of taxing drivers living in the Airport Suburbs, or over Karori way, or driving down from the back roads of Johnsonville.

Secondly, this congestion tax is on top of a newly added regional petrol tax, instigated to raise funds for regional roading projects. In addition to our general taxes, rates and the current huge set of taxes on fuel.

And the government is also talking of increasing car registration rates, making third party insurance mandatory and the Greens want to add more taxes to pay for carbon emissions. Apparently, there is no problem that cannot be solved by another tax. Look at the IRD, you pay your tax late and you get penalty taxes.

But to a lefty, the money that represents your payment for work was never yours, so they have no compunction in taking it any way they can.

Monday, April 14, 2008

ZenTiger Labour Off Key

Whale Oil has the latest video of Labour MP's singing for their supper. I don't think he created it as a satirical piece, this time I think he simply copied it second for second (other than the opening credits perhaps).

Obviously, in this music video the Labour Party are off Key. But they really need to change their tune. This stuff isn't clever, or funny, it's just painful. A FTA with China? Sounds more like a Karaoke Agreement with Japan. One we didn't need. On the bright side, the whole thing could hardly have a value of more than one dollar. Shouldn't hurt their campaign budget too much. Equally, National might want to use it in theirs? I didn't see a copyright symbol.

Whale Oil provides A link not really worth following, other than so you can warn your friends

ZenTiger The Ugly Truth

I don't pay much credence to this "left wing ugly, right wing beautiful" theory generated by a former Italian Prime Minister. But other people seem to be taking this very seriously. Take the left wing Gonzalo, who obviously felt like life had handicapped him unfairly. Now firstly, how do I know he is left wing? Well, the moment people want to create taxes to "equalize" things we know what we are dealing with.

Gonzalo wrote a book called Ugly! which calls for a tax to be levied on good looking people. Given the current working theory that left wing politicians are uglier than right wing politicians, we can see what Gonzalo is driving at: another attack on the right. A tax on the Right Wing, and on those that score 6 or more out of 10.

Now, whilst I may be the first to poo-poo this theory, I am willing to offer up another theory that goes some way to explaining things. If you are "beautiful on the inside", then even an average or poorly looking person can seem attractive. The welcoming eyes, the open smile, the empathetic look, the head tilted in interest - these are the traits that help lift a person's attractiveness. We may not all be lookers, but your attitude to life and other people can give make you plus two or a minus three.

So yes, the tall-poppy, envious, cut every-one down to size and use the government to force ones insecurities and pettiness on to others with a myriad of laws against one thing and another - these are the left wing traits that destroy inner beauty, and we ultimately see the mind shape the body.

There are many left wing people that feign concern for fellow man. Their real feelings turn them ugly. And same with the right. If you are out just to make a quick buck and you see the wider community as impediments that need to be trampled over so you can do what you want, you're going to turn ugly.

So Gonzalo, lets have no more talk of your ugly tax. It's socialist thinking taken to the extreme, and reveals its hideous ideology in the bright light of day. And man, that's one ugly idea. You know I make sense.

Related Link: The Ugly Truth

Friday, April 11, 2008

ZenTiger Friday Night Free For All

It's the fifth day. Beethoven's day. Beethoven's fifth at least? Whatever, it's quiet out there. Too quiet. Can you feel the storm brewing? No? Well, let's have a chat and just perhaps keep one eye on the river.

It's one of my favourite songs actually:

Look out, Mama,
there's a white boat
comin' up the river
With a big red beacon,
and a flag,
and a man on the rail
I think you'd better call John,
'Cause it don't
look like they're here
to deliver the mail
And it's less than a mile away
I hope they didn't come to stay
It's got numbers on the side
and a gun
And it's makin' big waves.

Daddy's gone,
my brother's out hunting
in the mountains
Big John's been drinking
since the river took Emmy-Lou
So the powers that be
left me here
to do the thinkin'
And I just turned twenty-two
I was wonderin' what to do
And the closer they got,
The more those feelings grew.

Daddy's rifle in my hand
felt reassurin'
He told me,
Red means run, son,
numbers add up to nothin'
But when the first shot
hit the docks I saw it comin'
Raised my rifle to my eye
Never stopped to wonder why.
Then I saw black,
And my face splashed in the sky.

Shelter me from the powder
and the finger
Cover me with the thought
that pulled the trigger
Think of me
as one you'd never figured
Would fade away so young
With so much left undone
Remember me to my love,
I know I'll miss her.




Thursday, April 10, 2008

ZenTiger Words that should be banned

Here is a word that is very dangerous: S H O U L D. I humbly suggest it be immediately banned from the English Language.

Naturally, it would completely destroy the majority of left wing ideology (give it a go - explain WHY progressive tax is fair without the word "should") and social engineering would be stopped dead in its tracks. But it goes deeper than that. The word is just plain dangerous.

This is not a case of "we should ban it", it is a situation where it MUST be banned. You know I make sense.


And Antarctic Lemur and Dr Phil were both very suspicious of the use of the word "But". Yes, but....essentially means "disregard everything I say before the but, and accept everything I say after the but.

Capice? You should just say yes - no buts, no maybes.

From the Sir Humphrey Archives: Words that make you go "hmmmm"

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

ZenTiger Hazard of the Job

Surely, it goes with the territory? A hazard of the job. My initial thought simply was "And your problem is???"

Two young men who were shot at after committing a string of burglaries and car thefts were scared for their lives, a Wellington Court has been told.

Taylor told the court he had been driving a stolen car around the Wairarapa village of Ngawai when he was pursued and fired at. Diamond said the driver of a Hilux had tried to run them off the road while shooting at them.


OK, they stole stuff, were chased and fired at and got scared and maybe even wet their pants. And I say again, "the problem is??"

The only confusing thing in this article is that the shooter has been charged with "recklessly discharging a firearm". As usual, they put the wrong people on trial. Stick the thieves in jail and make them pay compensation to the shooter for recklessly enraging the general population. If it turns out these guys are repeat offenders, it would blow the current case to smithereens and we can instead immediately indict the Justice System and Law Enforcement System for failing to adequately protect citizens and their property.

OK, I'm a little edgy today. You wanna make a deal about it? Don't you go confronting me man. Just back off.

Related Link: Dom Post, today, A3.

ZenTiger All the tea in China

It's a small world we live in. We've tried to separate sport from foreign affairs, foreign affairs from morals and yesterday Winston Peters tried to even separate foreign affairs from trade.

So where has that got us?

China spent a fair amount of effort to host the Olympics, figuring they can market the country just as well as Nike can flog products made on the back of cheap labour. They got their wish, and have, in efforts to prove how much they are improving on issues of human rights, demolished many homes and summarily turfed out citizens to make space* for the Olympic venues. They have banned factories and cars from operating in days preceding pollution measurements in efforts to assure athletes to leave the air bottles behind. When it comes to making the games go ahead, they exemplify the Nike motto; "Just Do It".

But their biggest problem with the Olympic PR exercise, is that it all seems to be unraveling over the perpetual thorn in their side - Tibet. It's not just the Lama and Richard Gere now, but protesters around the world are disrupting the traditional Olympic Torch relay, and the flame is being snuffed out. With it, the Olympic Brand takes a nose dive, and the separation of sport and politics is no more.

Not that it ever was. Remember Munich 1972? Cricket with Apartheid South Africa? There are numerous examples, but the marketing of "the separation of sport and politics" has always been up there with the "church and state" mantra. Can we agree it's over now?

Now just to change the subject for a moment, somewhere else in this small world of ours Mugabe is struggling to retain control in Zimbabwe. After bankrupting the country a few years ago, he went around the world begging money. He got money from Iran ($25 million) and, wait for it, China.

He got a loan of $200 million from China, and started working on a further 2 billion from them. The $200 million is significant. It was the same amount of money Mugabe spent on military equipment from China a few months earlier.

And speaking of military equipment, France has been lobbying hard (since at least 2004) to drop the EU ban on selling military gear to China. [Incidentally, this has made Taiwan very nervous as Taiwan have long been A-list customers of France military hardware, and relied on China not having detailed access to French technology. Too bad, mes amis.] Anyway, France may have found a loophole around the EU trade restrictions with China by selling their missiles to Pakistan. Pakistan and China are joint developers of the type of fighter planes sold to Mugabe. They share information.

And in France, protesters have just snuffed out the Olympic Flame.

Meanwhile, little old NZ does its best to re-ignite the flame by declaring to the world we want to trade with China. We want to sport with them. We want to chat about Tibet over a nice cup of tea, as trading partners are wont to do. We want to help them save face in these troubling times, just as they have extended the hand of friendship to those other down and out countries such as Zimbabwe.

We like to think we punch above our weight in international affairs. But as Peters says, this is just another trade deal, and we'll stay in our corner when it suits. It looks like that sports might be the bigger political stick. The Olympic brand is all about countries getting together to place sport and camaraderie above politics. It's a brand image that is failing fast. From the streets of Paris, sure to represent only the first of many comes the cry "Sports over Politics?? Not for all the tea in China"

*[There were a series of you-tube videos of this floating around, if some-one has the links please let me know, and I'll update the post]

Friday, April 4, 2008

ZenTiger Mata Nui - Lego Transformed

An epic post from TBR by Ropata on the merits of Lego and Lego Creatures with weapons. Awesome, and I must confess, an essential part of my boys upbringing. Currently, they are into Lego Bionicles. THe most lethal fighting force known to boykind. Which is why the linked "Transformers versus Bionicle" movie is so lame. It's good, but lame. Check out this Bionicle Story first, and then tell me the second video was stacked.




And while we are on the subject, Scrubone brings some historical perspective to lego. I'm wondering if a FTA with China will see parallel importing of fake and inferior lego gear. Or will China market completely new lego themes?

Related Link at TBR: Boys Love Lego and Guns

Related Link: Bionicle Web Site

Fletch Friday Night Free For All

Well, since I'm here first, I may as well open up, turn the lights on, put out the sausage rolls (they're slightly cold, sorry) and welcome one and all to our Friday Night free-for-all.

Make yourselves comfortable!

Fletch Clark Tries To Defend China Trade Deal

This morning on the TV news they had clips of Helen Clark from an interview she did on BBC World News trying to defend her stance on the Free Trade Deal she is soon to sign with China.

She says -

"I'm conscious that in my lifetime China will be the world's biggest economy. It will be a super power and it's important to me that we get on the best terms we can with that large and powerful country."

OK, well, getting on good terms is one thing but I'm not sure whether because a country will be a super power is a good enough reason to sign up to a free trade deal with them. Would we sign up with Iraq if it turned out they were going to be a super power? Or Afghanistan? It's unlikely that Iraq or Afghanistan will become super powers, but I'm just trying to make a point here. If the world were to become unstable with a conflict developing and battle lines drawn then with whom would we be allied? Communist China? It's worth thinking about.

The PM joked that New Zealand would never narrow its world outlook and said if New Zealand was only to trade with countries which it agreed with "we would be down to Ireland, Switzerland and Scandanavian economies".

I think it's one thing to trade with people we don't agree with - all countries have to do that, but it's not just the political ramifications we have to consider it's the moral as well. Shouldn't morality should be one of the considerations that come into any decision-making a leader does? I know we have to try to do what is best for our country economically, but this has to be tempered with empathy for those affected by our actions; in this case, largely Tibet. It might make us slightly better off economically, but what is the cost?

I think we're going to have cause to regret signing this deal in the not-to-distant-future. Is the tainting of our country's reputation worth the 30 pieces of silver?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

ZenTiger A Form of Performance Art

When you are a pseudo intellectual PC socialist it is very hard to judge how worthy art is. But somebody without talent has to do it.

One thing is clear to such people though: you take tax money and you give it to those projects supposedly most artistically deserving. Thus, under new Arts Council requirements in the UK, organisations applying for grants are being asked to state how many board members are bisexual, homosexual, heterosexual, lesbian or whose inclinations are “not known”.

Audrey Roy, the director of grants, said that the council needed to understand who its audience was and to whom its funding was going. “We see diversity as broader than race, ethnicity, faith and disability,” she said.

Actually, it almost seems as if they see diversity only in terms of sexuality.

Question 22 of the Grants for the Arts forms, relating to sexual orientation, was not compulsory, she added. Except the form states that it must be answered. Ah, "optional but mandatory" - a pseudo intellectual PC socialist that engages in double-think.

I call it performance art.

On the other hand, An asian Pakistani Muslim with one leg who happens to be a transsexual lesbian ballet dancer in thigh high leather boots is a shoo in for 50,000 quid to promote a one hour monologue featuring her screaming anti-feminist swear words at an audience of 18 that (according to the program guide) portray a deep sense of rejection of women's attempts to shrug off the "mother" caricature imposed upon the career female who ultimately faces emotional assault from the male archetype in the workplace.

Providing s/he can assemble a suitably diverse board of Directors to fill out the form. With special attention to question 22. Good old question 22. The mandatory optional one. Joseph Heller, how did you know?

"The council said that the answers were confidential and exempt from release under the Freedom of Information Act. It said that it does not issue guidelines on how to persuade board members to reveal details of their sex lives."

Glad we cleared that up.

Opening salvo quoted copiously from: Money for trisexuals

ZenTiger Truth in Advertising

An oldie, but perhaps worth another look - in the break below I've dug up a few advertising slogans that, when translated into a different language, for a different market, came out a little differently than expected. Perhaps truth will out?

As we prepare for an onslaught of political spin in the coming election year, we can stay on the lookout for similar mistranslations, when converting from Politik into English.

Remember the award whinging slogan "You're better off with Labour"? Translated from Politik into English, it comes out as "You've made Labour Better Off".

"The Electoral Finance Act" translates to "You've made Labour Better Off".

And the recent "chewing gum tax break cancelled" becomes "You've made Labour better off"

Can't wait to see their pledge cards this year.

ADVERTISING PITFALLS

Cracking an international market is a goal of most growing corporations. It shouldn't be that hard, yet even the big multi-nationals run into trouble because of language and cultural differences. For example...

The name Coca-Cola in China was first rendered as Ke-kou-ke-la. Unfortunately, the Coke company did not discover until after thousands of signs had been printed that the phrase means "bite the wax tadpole" or "female horse stuffed with wax" depending on the dialect. Coke then researched 40,000 Chinese characters and found a close phonetic equivalent, "ko-kou-ko-le," which can be loosely translated as "happiness in the mouth."

In Taiwan, the translation of the Pepsi slogan "Come alive with the Pepsi Generation" came out as "Pepsi will bring your ancestors back from the dead."

Also in Chinese, the Kentucky Fried Chicken slogan "finger-lickin' good" came out as "eat your fingers off."

The American slogan for Salem cigarettes, "Salem - Feeling Free," got translated in the Japanese market into "When smoking Salem, you feel so refreshed that your mind seems to be free and empty."

When General Motors introduced the Chevy Nova in South America, it was apparently unaware that "no va" means "it won't go." After the company figured out why it wasn't selling any cars, it renamed the car in its Spanish markets to the Caribe.

Ford had a similar problem in Brazil when the Pinto flopped. The company found out that Pinto was Brazilian slang for "tiny male genitals". Ford pried all the nameplates off and substituted Corcel, which means horse.
When Parker Pen marketed a ballpoint pen in Mexico, its ads were supposed to say "It won't leak in your pocket and embarrass you." However, the company mistakenly thought the spanish word "embarazar" meant embarrass. Instead the ads said that "It wont leak in your pocket and make you pregnant."

An American t-shirt maker in Miami printed shirts for the spanish market which promoted the Pope's visit. Instead of the desired "I Saw the Pope" in Spanish, the shirts proclaimed "I Saw the Potato."

Chicken-man Frank Perdue's slogan, "It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken," got terribly mangled in another Spanish translation. A photo of Perdue with one of his birds appeared on billboards all over Mexico with a caption that explained "It takes a hard man to make a chicken aroused."

Hunt-Wesson introduced its Big John products in French Canada as Gros Jos before finding out that the phrase, in slang, means "big breasts." In this case, however, the name problem did not have a noticeable effect on sales. Colgate introduced a toothpaste in France called Cue, the name of a notorious porno mag.

In Italy, a campaign for Schweppes Tonic Water translated the name into Schweppes Toilet Water.

Japan's second-largest tourist agency was mystified when it entered English-speaking markets and began receiving requests for unusual sex tours. Upon finding out why, the owners of Kinki Nippon Tourist Company changed its name.

In an effort to boost orange juice sales in predominantly continental breakfast eating England, a campaign was devised to extol the drink's eye-opening, pick-me-up qualities. Hence the slogan, "Orange juice. It gets your pecker up."

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

ZenTiger Earth Hour 2008

There are 8760 hours in a year. March 29, 2008 we turned the lights off for one of them. We've saved the world. Crisis averted. Although next time, perhaps keeping the hospital machine that goes "ping" switched on will be on the "excluded" list. Our condolences to the families concerned.

You can be part of the tipping point by watching the video and basking in the power of protest. If you missed the event, then turn your lights off for an hour now. Then watch the video.

As Earth Hour is being hailed a success around the world, one blogger reports that they discovered something perhaps more important: turning the TV off for an hour. Now that's something I've been advocating (and living by) for ages. I just didn't realise I was an environmentalist.

ZenTiger Political Bribes

A cartel of charities have been accused of accepting money from an unknown political party. Winston Peters was reported to be livid that his party had been described as "unknown" but he really did need to gain a few more percentage points in the polls to progress to "relatively unknown".

It was not known how long this cartel had been extracting money from NZ First, and what pressure they had placed on Winston to think of his fellow man and open his wallet.

One thing was clear however - the Cullen Charity (also known as IRD) had missed out and was reportedly fuming that they would not have the revenue to invest in health. Dr Michael Cullen, Minister of Finance (and registered as a charitable trust) explained that every dollar directed away from Inland Revenue represented another person dying in Accident and Emergency. Things were reportedly so serious, they were thinking of reducing the waiting list cutoff from 6 months to 5 months in order to improve outcomes (statistical outcomes).

Winston's inability to repay tax payers money had also impacted on retiring MPS. "Our European jaunt has been severely undermined" confessed Marget Wilson, Speaker of the House. "We are looking at putting our support staff up in three star hotels now, and we'll probably have to share a government limousine to the airport. It's just tough"

The only people not complaining was the tax payer. Joe Taxpayer was reportedly not worried Winston had used his money to payoff the Charity Cartel. Times have been so hard, that they now rely on Meals on Wheels for a decent dinner. "The money has ultimately gone to the right people. I might pay $15,000 a year in taxes, but since Winston has paid of the charities, I now get a small slice of fruit cake with my roast beef and mash."

"Let them eat cake" said Winston.

Related Link: Hush Money