Hard News by Russell Brown

We've got a PVR

Our My Sky PVR was installed yesterday. And, no, yours wasn't, and if you haven't signed up for one already (or possibly even if you have) you won't be seeing it until March next year. Perks of working for the evil MSM, you see.

I'm quite impressed with it. Given that it's basically the same system that's been in use by Sky's British and Australian siblings, you'd expect it to be a doddle to use, and it is. The remote is large, but it has dedicated buttons for all the major functions and the UI is fairly intuitive.

The only quirk I've noticed so far is that the "series link" option doesn't seem to be available for most series, when you'd think it would. Sure, I'd like to be able to connect it to a network and be able to take files off it, but a pay-TV broadcaster isn't going to let you do that.

Two other observations:

(a) TV is still largely a load of arse. It's nice to be able to set My Sky to record ABC Nightline in the wee small hours, but there are still a lot of shows I want to see that aren't available here. I can't see BitTorrent operations being suspended any time soon.

(b) Part of the installation (which was carried out by two very nice, competent chaps who said it was the first one they'd done) was the replacement of the LNB on the Sky dish. And, of course, the My Sky box is a new decoder; which made me realise how bad our old decoder was. The picture and sound are at least 50% better, and we finally actually get widescreen as broadcast. If I'd known, I'd have demanded a new decoder ages ago.

The introduction of Sky's PVR service is yet another problem for TVNZ, which, after Ian Fraser's startling select committee appearance yesterday, hardly needs any more problems. I'm writing about that for money, so I won't comment too much here, but Scoop's Kevin List has a report on it all, as does The Thorndon Bubble.

In the meantime, feel free to read my Listener column this week, which looks back at another pivotal time for television in New Zealand, and speculates on what might have happened had the Kirk government not cancelled the private warrant for a second channel and instead let Gordon Dryden have his TV station. Things would have been different. And better.

Anyway, what with all the recent discussions about people using other people's words - or not - Gareth Robinson catches National MP Richard Worth plagiarising (yes, I know, the irony, the irony …) The Maxim Institute. It's a straight-up copy-and-paste job. I thought my taxes would have been sufficient to pay for someone to write Mr Worth's newsletters, but apparently not. James Guthrie blogs it too.

NZBC's Rob O'Neill, a Sydney resident, has a thoughtful post on ethnic gang wars past and present.

I think the events at Cronulla and since have tended to lure New Zealanders into a certain smugness. Which is something I'm wary of, not least because my sister is officially Australian now, and her husband is one of the nicest blokes I've had the pleasure of knowing. Intriguingly, my niece's New Zealand heritage appears to add a sort of ethnic colour in Newcastle. She was lined up to deliver the "Meri Kirihimete" in class.

That notwithstanding, a couple of comments from the email:

Was born in Australia and live in Godzone on my Oz passport. I have (again) requested the papers to apply for NZ citizenship. Last time was when the Tampa thing was going on.

When I lived in Sydney I was torn between the fundamental nice-ness of your typical strine, and the raving red-neck that lurked beneath.

It was surreal, like some Sci-Fi thing where they land on this perfectly ordinary paradise planet, and then get served boiled-alien-baby for dinner or something. You'd be chatting to a perfectly sane Strine about tax avoidance (a most popular Bar-B topic) and all of a sudden some bizarre Nazi statement about "Abo's" would pop out.

The whole ethos was centred on assimilation (aka integration, to use the PC right-wing term). You _will_ become dinky-di Aussies. Resistance is futile. Spooky. Too spooky for me.

During the Tampa thing I came as close as I ever have to smacking someone in their ( extremely large and obnoxious) gob. He was repeating the Howard Govt bullshit lines about refugees. No rational argument, just keep repeating "throw babies in ocean".

Recently I noted the Federal government are running TV ad's saying "beware... we're under attack... they're all out to get you". All this crap serves to feed an underlying feeling that the Australian way of life is under threat by people who wear different clothes. The Howard government has validated the ravings of the right wing nutters by it's brown-nosing with Bush.

Howard has consistently made me ashamed of the passport, and the Australian people for succumbing to such blatant FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) tactics.

I just need to find the $$ for the citizenship application now!

And Ben Wilson:

I spent 5 years in Melbourne, working firstly for an NZ software house selling software to a huge ozzie milk company, and then in the most reputable stockbroker as IT support and eventually as a support manager.

Not once in all those years did I see one aboriginal in employment anywhere. In fact I scarcely saw any aboriginals at all, except hanging around the train station sinking piss. I met more maoris and PIs there. Which was odd since Victoria was reputedly the most densely populated part of Australia prior to european colonization.

When I asked people about aboriginals, I was shocked to find moderate educated people telling me things like 'they're a fucken useless race', or 'we're not sure they're actually the same species'. 'Rock apes' was not an uncommon phrase.

The papers persist to this day in calling aboriginals 'Blacks', without the slightest hint of embarrassment. When I asked one 'leftie' guy about that, he said 'well, they are black'. I warned him not to do it in NZ if he liked having his original teeth.

It kind of sickened me, to see how low a people could be driven. You begin to wonder to what extent the aboriginals brought it on themselves. Then you do a bit of research and find that systematic slaughter and relocation happened on a scale that make the maori land confiscations look like acts of altruism. The first employment ever given on an official basis to aboriginals was the job of tracking down and killing other aboriginals for rustling sheep. I believe in Tasmania you could buy a license to shoot any aboriginal you wanted from the post office.

So that's just the attitudes to aboriginals, to set the scene. Immigrants fared better - barely. The PIs and Maoris that I met were never in the corporate environment, they were entirely in jobs of manual labour or semiskilled trades. But not unhappy with that lot, it would seem - at least they earned good money. Statistically they were an insignificant group - one in a thousand, it seemed like.

The real tension in Melb was between 'skippies' ('Anglos' in Sydney?) and mediterranean folks, particularly Greeks and Italians. They fared quite well, the Italians better than the Greeks. Italians were represented right up to upper middle management. But in the stockbroker they were completely absent from the board of directors. Similarly for the Greeks.

Attitudes towards them ranged from mild annoyance to open contempt, in the skippy crowd. The same didn't seem to go in reverse. But I think Melbournites don't realize quite how much the fiery latin temperament has rubbed off on them. Italians were always blamed for gang activity, although I think they were not responsible for any more than their fair share of the hits, protection rackets, pimping, drug selling and standover tactics which seemed to be so widely accepted there and so foreign to me. It is a strange experience to see a cop come into a restaurant, abuse the owner, get a free meal, then help himself out of the till before leaving.

Asians were totally underrepresented in business. None in any management role I ever saw. I saw violence towards them several times, and constant niggling.

Kiwis were the most tolerated bunch, generally, however much australians complain about us. There is so much cultural similarity that the oppression I felt was about as lame as what I'd feel being an Aucklander in Wellington. Generally, we're hired as expendable attack dogs. Many people are genuinely fond of kiwis, seeing us as their little brothers. Until we assert ourselves, of course, then every silly stereotype comes flooding out. I kept thinking of Wellington when it happened.

My perspective, not scientific, but it's what I've got. I'll never forget in my life the vitriol I received when I resigned from my management role and suggested my second in command, a Greek lady, be my replacement. You find out who your friends are and who are merely sycophants.

To be fair, I met many non racist ozzies. But they were mostly what would be considered 'extreme lefties' here.

On the other hand, thanks to Sam Scott for drawing my attention to this rather good satirical Cronulla news report from The Chaser. Nice to see that a sharp sense of humour is alive and well.

John at AmericaBlog has collected up some of the prize publications of the American Family Association, the religious conservative group that turned Ford Motors all anti-gay. They're variously anti-semitic (a Jewish upbringing predisposes to a life of crime, apparently), racist and, of course, crazily homophobic. Ford should have told these fascists to get lost. Why didn't it? Because the AFA has 200 radio stations and its own "news" agency and Ford got scared.

And Synthetic Thoughts notes the BBC's release of video clips of 50 "iconic events" under a Creative Commons licence. They're available in the first instance to UK residents only, but presumably there's nothing to prevent them being file-shared. Any information on that would be welcome.