Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Business as usual

It's been a few days since I last posted here. The title of the blog is "An occasional diary" and I always intended the occasional. As always I've been busy. So what else is new?


There was a bit of a management vacuum with the rush project. All four teams had some work to do on it, and nobody was acting as overall co-ordinator. To get the Finance work done I needed some bits of the Systems work done first, and nobody from Systems was available for a couple of days when I wanted to start. Rather than wait I got agreement from Steve & did that part of his work. Production also depended on that work & with no obvious volunteers I established communications with Aus about delivery to us of installation databases we could test against. Next thing I knew I was acting as a defacto project manager, and the expected happened. So a fair amount of the last week has been spent doing the not-so-much fun part of project management - plans, resourcing, Gantt charts and so on. Yuck! Come to think of it, are there any fun parts to project management? In other words, work is strictly business as usual.

The other other blog

I mentioned a few days ago that I'd set-up In theory the site is strictly stock-in-hand, but I've been writing the odd news item here and there. I'm also mining a rich vein of legal content, media releases. These are lumps of text where people or organisations say what they want people to hear about their product, their company, their political views, and so forth. Sometimes they are pretty much factual reports of something they want to tell the world about, sometimes they are just adverts in sheep's clothing.

Where they look like being reasonably factual, and about Auckland of course, I add them to the site with full credit. Interestingly enough, I'm not the only one playing this game. is very open about the fact that they publish a lot of press releases, verbatim; they see it as part of their site's unique sales proposition. At the other end of the scale are the big media. We've always see the NZPA or Reuters bylines in papers, but now thanks to the internet we can see what this actually means. A few minutes following links from Google News quickly show that dozens of papers around the world have the same text for a large proportion of their content. They're just printing what they are sent. Obviously they each decide which of the various articles they are given they will use, but for the material they don't write themselves, that's about it.

Political media statements are interesting, I wouldn't print one verbatim, but cutting and pasting quotes from two or more of them to make the guts of a story can be quite fun. I get the feeling that a lot of the reports in the media are produced in a similar way. My entry into the world of low-budget journalism seems to be business as usual.

Finally, there's headlines. When I see something about Auckland and don't have time or energy to do an article on it I just take a brief quote with a pointer to the original article, tack on a headline (usually the original one) and add an entry into, my other, other, blog. Naturally I provide pointers to all the articles too.


Political media releases are an interesting sub-gendre. Whatever the government does, Act and National savage it. I don't expect any better from National, but Act started out as a party of principles, committed to the Liberal viewpoint. Over the last few years it's downplayed its principles in public in favour of cheap points scoring, chasing the sound bite and becoming progressively more like the conservative rump of the National caucus. I used to say there were only 3 parties in New Zealand worth voting for: The Alliance, The Greens, and Act; all parties that stood for something. Now Alliance is history, Act seems to have lost its way, and only the Greens remain. I find this sad for New Zealand. I could never vote for the Greens, I agree with many of their environmental policies, but I could never agree with some of their more extreme socialist views.

Today's effort, and it's strictly business as usual. There's been a big fuss in recent weeks about the planned new electricity transmission lines to power Auckland, and how it was going to force farmers to give up their private property to make the transmission corridor. Today the Government backed down a bit. The New Zealand Herald reported

Energy Minister Trevor Mallard has written to the Electricity Commission demanding it consider other options to the pylons proposal to meet Auckland's power needs. There has been strong opposition to a line of pylons from the Waikato. Mr Mallard has now said the commission should carry out an "independent and wide consultative process" when considering Transpower's proposed new grid upgrade from Whakamaru to Otahuhu.
So Act applauded the change? Maintained a dignified silence? No. Ken Shirley issued a press statement
"Labour’s cynical attempt to appease angry voters over its unpopular pylon plan is all about electioneering, ACT Energy spokesman Ken Shirley said today. The MP was responding to Energy Minister Trevor Mallard’s announcement that the Electricity Commission will investigate alternative methods of supplying Auckland’s future electricity needs.

“The state-owned monopoly has been studying national grid options for 10 years and all of a sudden the Government is telling it to go back to square one and start again."

and so on.

Council dog control fails, woman attacked

"A woman walking past a house in Owairaka yesterday when a Staffordshire terrier cross and a Rottweiler cross attacked her and pinned her to the ground. The dogs were not confined to the property.

"The dogs have a history of aggressive incidents and the owners have received a number of infringement notices for failing to control the animals. One of the dogs has been classified as menacing, and as such has to be neutered and muzzled in public; the other is in the process of being classified."

You can read the rest at The New Zealand Herald

I took those two paragraphs out of context from the article. One was at the top, and the other at the bottom. This wasn't just a good dog turning bad, these dogs had been trouble before. Why did the Auckland council dog control permit these dogs to be kept? Why were they permitted to stay on an unfenced property?

To me the real crime here wasn't so much the dog owners, as the negligence by the authorities allowing the public to be put at risk, and the sad thing is it happens all the time at all levels of society. Every election politicians talk about "Law and Order" and then for three years it is put in the too hard basket. Meanwhile on the odd occasion a conviction is obtained, we see dangerous criminals back on the streets within hours. The criminal underculture has been taught that they will simply get away with it. The sad thing is they usually do; burglars, dangerous dogs, unlicenced drivers, you name it, they ignore the law, and the people who are supposed to protect us are doing nothing except talk about it. For both sides, strictly business as usual.

Shrug. It came up for Auction; I use and recommend Firefox; It's been a bit painful finding add-ins for New Zealand search, etc. So I bid on it & won. Now to do the site justice. I've installed Mambo & found a theme that wasn't too blinding. Done some basic configuration, now to track down enough content that it doesn't look the idiot son of the open source movement. Strictly business as usual.

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