Hard News by Russell Brown

A bit of fun

We've given you a lot to chew on this week, so I'll keep it brief: David Slack and I are hosting the morning show on Radio Live tomorrow. It's just a one-off until Graeme Hill starts next weekend and I'm quite relaxed about it.

We've set ourselves a theme of "New Zealand outside the mainstream", and between 8am and noon we'll be talking to (in order of appearance) John Campbell, David Herkt, Ans Westra, Graham Reid, Tim Shadbolt, Gordon Dryden, Sue Bradford and Ant Timpson. Should be fun.

Today's NBR carries a front-page story by my old mate Tom Frewen about TVNZ's "secret" satellite digital service, with information about channel offerings from "industry sources". Wow. If I'd known it was such a secret I'd have made more of a palaver when I wrote about it, told people where to buy decoders and listed the channels available
a year ago in The Listener.

Readers weighed in on the dog-chipping issue. Brendan Smith was first on the draw:

As I see it, it's a technology issue. All dogs have to be resgistered. We mark registered dogs by attaching a piece of plastic to their collar. Now that newer technology is available (and has been for some time), the bit of plastic will be replaced by a micro-chip. I can't see how so many people can make so many issues out of it.

Danielle doubted that the bill would fill its purpose anyway:

The point, of course, is that the people most likely to have dogs who run loose and attack anyone are also the least likely to microchip their dogs. How will microchipping help to prevent dog attacks?

It's probably a good idea for all sorts of other reasons - I'll probably end up microchipping both of mine. But as an attack-preventative measure? It's a stupid idea. Even if you don't care about dogs, the prospect of a law this illogically-reasoned should give you pause.

Bruce Thorpe said:

I read you do not care much about this dog legislation, but in fact like children, mortgages and people with disabilities, dogs are part of a lot human families, and probably have been since human beings branched off from the other primates. Of course humans are irrational about the whole subject, but that is not enough reason to ignore their genuine distress about this legislation. Like music, mind-altering drugs and sex, we are all a bit puzzled about the other guy's priorities, but it is part of a fair society that we actually try to live with other people's values.

Of course a lot of what is being said is strange and even weird, but so was the middle class mania that followed the attack by a registered dog in that park a couple of years ago, and the nonsense pushed by the RSPCA which is scientifically on the level of intelligent design. If only somebody would give a full discussion the sort of media space that "unbundling" has received, you might know better just why Parliament is in meltdown on the subject.

Ben Wilson was more in my court:

Yeah, ditto that. I'm inclined to let this one go as a glorious victory for the Opposition. They do need some bones every now and then, or the howling gets unbearable.

John Stulen said that if Sue Kedgley is right and we humans are next for the implants …

Look at the bright side - farmers (who really run our government) will probably lobby successfully to be excluded. So smart money may be on filling in your next census form (which itself may be microchipped) to say you are a farmer!

I'm not sure I could fake it …

Meanwhile, the news is already having a startling impact in that microcosm of New Zealand society, Moenui, where there has been a jump in the number of dogs seeking work.

And Simon Foggo gets the big girly swot prize for history, by drawing attention to the 19th century Dog Tax War in the Hokianga. That's actually really interesting - and possibly, as he notes, ironic, "now that the white-bread Federated Farmers are up in arms regarding the state regulating mutley."

And finally, if you haven't read David Haywood's interview with Iranian refugee Shahzad Ghahreman, please, make the time. It's quite inspiring and one of the best things we've ever published.

Have a nice weekend - and big ups to the lads from the Downlow Concept, representing Auckland in tonight's national final of the 48 Hour Film Contest, which is live on C4 from 8.30pm tonight.