Tag Archives: NZ

All Black – but What’s in a Name anyway?

Filed under New Zealand, Random Grumps & Raves
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A NZ Herald editorial on Saturday 6 June discussed a possible deal between the NZ All Blacks and the American company, and opposed the deal.  It had this to say:

To prevent the undermining of the  All Black brand, the New Zealand Rugby Union has jealously guarded its trademarks and copyrights.

It is all the more surprising, therefore, that it could be contemplating an advertising logo across the front of the All Black jersey. The suitor is reported to be insurance company AIG.

The rugby union has not denied the suggestion, and says it is talking to several potential sponsors in the lead-up to the Rugby Championship.

Advertising on the All Black jersey would not be new. There was a discreet Steinlager logo in the mid-1990s. That was not well received by many fans. The name of an American insurer with a problematic profile emblazoned across the front of the playing strip would be many times more intrusive and would, therefore, create a far greater furore.

The level of opposition should lead the rugby union to reconsider. So, too, should the prospect of damage to the All Black brand.

A black jersey adorned only with a silver fern and the manufacturer’s moniker makes a powerful statement. Not for nothing does it have a worldwide status akin to that of Italy’s soccer shirt, a strip also noted for its commercial-free purity.

If the All Blacks went the way of the Wallabies, the Springboks and British rugby sides, it would only devalue that status.

The All Blacks would become just another team, and any immediate financial gain would have to be balanced against the long-term implications of a serious diminishing of the brand.

I agree that we should oppose the deal, but for a fundamentally different reason.   The Herald editorial surrenders before it even begins the fight, because it concedes that “All Black” is merely a brand.

“Coca Cola” is a brand.  “L’Oreal”, “Colgate”, “Ford”, “Apple”, “Microsoft”, “Mobil”, Betty Crocker”, etc are brands.  You get the idea…

“All Black” properly should be grouped with words or phrases like “Anzac”, “New Zealand”, “New Zealander”, or “Maori”.   While they all have powerful brand value (the successes of our tourist, film and dairy industries illustrate that very clearly) none of them are brands, none should ever be brands.  They are much more than that – they are definitive identifiers.  They are who and what we are, and are not for sale, not to be qualified by tags of commercial ownership or patronage.  Can you imagine it – the Mobil Anzacs, the Hyundai New Zealanders?  Changing the iconic TVNZ programme “Country Calendar” to “Hyundai Country Calendar” is bad enough, thanks.  But in TVNZ’s defence, they did create the programme and own it and the name outright.  It is entirely their business if they choose to diminish their own brand for commercial reasons, and all I can do is express sadness that they found it necessary to do so.

The NZRU did not create the All Blacks name.  In this case, “Diminishing the brand” doesn’t even begin to describe the issue.  If we describe the proud name of our national side as a brand, the damage is already done, because we have already diminished it.

It’s OK to allow that the All Blacks are “proudly sponsored by AIG”, and we could acknowledge it with an AIG logo discreetly placed on the Jersey in the same way as the Adidas logo is now. But to emblazon the AIG or any other logo across the front of the jersey is too close to calling our team “The AIG All Blacks”.

No.  The name is not for sale.  Neither is the All Black jersey.  Let’s leave that kind of sell-out to the Wallabies and Springboks.


Joe Bastardi – The Message or the Medium?

Filed under Global Warming
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Joe Bastardi is a weatherman.  He works for Weatherbell, a US-based forecaster, that provides global weather reports and forecasts through its website, http://www.weatherbell.com/.  Joe also has a number of corporate clients, for whom he prepares specific detailed forecasts tailored to their weather information needs.

If one judges a weatherman by the success rate of his seasonal forecasts, then Joe is a super-weatherman.

When my wife and I came from New Zealand to live in the Haarlem in the Netherlands in 2008, we needed local weather information.  My Dutch language skills were non-existent, so I went looking in the internet for English-language reports on current conditions and forecasts.  The most accurate forecasts for Haarlem at the time were on the website of Accuweather, another global weather forecasting company, at http://www.accuweather.com/en-gb/nl/north-holland/haarlem/quick-look.aspx.

I had long been interested in the Anthropogenic Global Warming debate, which had wide publicity in New Zealand.  My interest (and suspicions) had been aroused by the way in which every weather event was described as evidence of human-influenced global warming.  However, the concept behind the idea seemed worthy of investigation, so I was interested in finding out more.

A Dutch television channel showed a film called “An Inconvenient Truth” featuring Al Gore showing a PowerPoint presentation which presented Michael Mann’s hockey-stick graph and argued in apocalyptic terms that the earth was in danger of a runaway greenhouse effect, caused by human beings, and specifically, the CO2 that we produce.

That film was a tipping-point for me.  “An Inconvenient Truth” was far from being a reasoned, scientifically-based presentation.  It was full of half-truths and special pleading, presented by a salesman.  For the first time, I began to suspect that the AGW scare was a textbook real-life example of the behaviour illustrated by the classic fable of Chicken Little.

One of the blog links on the Accuweather site that caught my attention was also hosted by Accuweather.  Joe Bastardi’s European Weather blog.  Bastardi is no Shakespeare, but his postings were always entertaining and well-argued.

Now Joe Bastardi has left Accuweather, and resurfaced at the Weatherbell site.  Inexplicably, his blog posts are behind a paywall – they are in the premium section of Weatherbell.  That is tragic.  One expects to pay for premium services – after all, they are a big part of the income of a web-based service.  But to pay for blog-posts?

Bloggers blog to be read.  They blog to communicate, to give their ideas the widest possible coverage.  Including pensioners who cannot afford the premium subscriptions. I am over sixty-five years old, and at the end of this month, I too shall be a pensioner.

So long, Joe.  I shall miss your posts.

A Judge who thinks NZ Murderers don’t really mean it

Filed under Random Grumps & Raves
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On Tuesday 8 March 2011, Justice Joseph Williams sentenced Rikki Leigh Scott Ngatai-Check, 23, to life imprisonment, with a minimum non-parole period of 17 years, for kicking a two-year old toddler to death for wetting his pants.  Seventeen years before he can even apply for parole.  That’s pretty strong these days, when our penal systems are organised on the precept that all criminals are basically good guys, who need only TLC and rehabilitation to set them right, in spite of our appalling rate of criminal recidivism.

The sentence is deservedly strong.  Here is the shocking sequence of events, transcribed from the NZ Herald report:

The murderer was in charge of the little boy, who slept on the couch while Ngatai-Check spotted cannabis with a friend.  The boy woke up wet.

Ngatai-Check spun the child around, slamming him into a coffee table.  The impact broke the child’s ribs, causing internal bleeding.  The caring killer took the wounded boy to the toilet and left him there, while he went to the bedroom to play video games.

Five or ten minutes later, the boy came into the bedroom, trailing toilet paper.  Ngatai-Check sat up and planted a roundhouse style kick in the boy’s stomach, tearing internal tissue.  Then he kicked him again, ramming him against the wardrobe door.  This time the impact split the boy’s pancreas.

Ngatai-Check then took the boy to hospital, where he died.

One might expect the judge’s words to be at least as strong as the sentence.  One would be wrong.  This is what Justice Joseph Williams said:

“You did a monstrous thing, but I do not think you are a monster.  No one says you intended to kill Karl”.

Noting that Ngatai-Check had no previous history of violent behaviour, the judge said the stress of his hidden relationship was possibly made worse on the day because “you probably didn’t want baby Karl dumped on you again and just wanted to chill out”.  Moreover, Justice Williams said beatings from a stepfather when he was young had taught Ngatai-Check that children should “harden up”.  The judge noted further that in later years Ngatai-Check had been in the shadows of the Wanganui drug and gang scene, which normalised brutality. There, “violence is not just OK, it is downright cool”.

But the judge said there were “sadly too many cases like this”, in which adults abused the trust of vulnerable children – some much worse than Ngatai-Check’s.  He also stressed that the mandatory 17-year non-parole period was introduced by Parliament as a reminder that “these little people are at our mercy. We can so easily kill them”.

In NZ, murder means unlawful deliberate homicide.  Intent must be established to the satisfaction of the jury for a murder conviction to be obtained.  Yet here we have a sentencing judge who states that the killer, poor little Rikki Ngatai-Check, did not intend the killing, that he is a victim of his upbringing and gang lifestyle, wanted nothing more sinister than to chill out, and is receiving the heavy sentence only because an act of parliament made it mandatory!

What on earth is the judge thinking of?  All I can offer is a very astute quote from a Daily Telegraph blog posting by a British journalist, James Delingpole:

“We no longer understand or value our civilisation; indeed many of us feel rather embarrassed about it. We have been taught to view all our great historical achievements through a filter of post-colonial guilt; we have learned the weasel art of cultural relativism where, in their own special way, cultures that practise female circumcision and bury homosexuals under walls are just as vibrant, valid and meaningful as the one that gave us Michelangelo, penicillin and the splitting of the atom; we’ve been persuaded that elitism and authority are undesirable”.

Judges like Williams may be part of the reason that Parliament found it necessary to impose a seventeen-year minimum parole period for child-murderers.  I am sad that it was necessary, but glad they did so.  Frankly, I wish they would do so for all murders.