Thursday, April 21, 2011

Underthinking America's Cup

So today it was announced that the NZ government has pumped $36 million dollars into the 2013 America's Cup event. To be fair to the National government they were contractually obliged to give this money because the previous Labour government signed up a deal with the Team.

"Yes that's right, sign under where it says you will give us anything we want"
What a ludicrous waste of money, does anyone outside the NZ media actually give a rats arse..

...about the America's Cup event? I mean I know it keeps Peter Montgomery employed but that is about the only purpose its seems to serve, I think they may have edited that immortal line of commentary.

"The Americas Cup is now New Zealand's Cup! and I am employed for 5 more years" - Peter Montgomery
None of the other NZ sports journalists complain about the existence of Team New Zealand either, because it means instead of doing war stories, in Baghdad, or Kabul, they can just sit in the French Riveria, or off the coast in Spain, and send back puff pieces about how Team NZ has won some trophy, when they entered their multimillion dollar boat into some local boat race in the mediterranian.

This may get me a Pulitzer...
...but I would rather just chill and get my tan on.
 Seriously no mainstream media outlets outside of NZ actually cover the America's cup, or at least not as a sporting story.
Your are more likely to see a story on CourtTV or the Economist, then you are on ESPN or SkySport UK. The Americas Cup has always been about social elitist sailing their boats against each other.

"I say Old boy, after we have shown these foxes what's what, we should go have jolly good yacht race"

In the recent past it has descending into madness, we too rich men, who both for some reason want the trophy have been fighting each other in the courts over how the race should be played. As soon as the fighting started and when people starting buying our yachties Team NZ should have quit. Larry Ellison and Ernesto Bertaralli could probably both buy our country so we have no business getting into rich man's fight, we will never win.
"We have both brought small countries, and we will be having them go to war, to see who is the best rich guy"
 I mean where does the America's Cup actually rank on a world yachting event? There seems to be multitudes of races, and events in the yachting world, which shows the best dominance? World Cup? Olympics? Round the World race? See I would put all of those events above the America's Cup because they have set rules that don't change. You want to win the Gold in Board sailing you better turn up on a windsurfer, and not a Sunburst.

Dave and Fred kept wondering why they kept get disqualified from the boardsailing.
Whereas in the America's Cup if you win the cup, you can change the rules to what ever you want, hence you see 3 mast ships, catamaran's, trimarans, single hull warships winning the America's cup of the year.
NZ plan for the America's Cup if they win it next time.
Imagine if other sports let the current champion write the rules for the next competition.

If NZ wins this years World Cup, look out for some big changes.

The argument many people put forward is it helps promote our yachting industry?? I mean I know we make good boats, but surely if we just sold a good boat to Larry or Ernesto this would be just as good as marketing?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Underthinking RWC payment

So recently I was made aware of the fact that because Mastercard has the sponsorship for the Rugby World Cup, EFTPOS will only be available in Auckland and Wellington, and only for Mastercard holders. Otherwise you need to use Mastercards Tap and Go card.  

Tap and Go, now that is a secure system.
They claim that it will speed up transactions, and it is pretty standard exclusivity deal. I, however have a few issues with it. They claim that EFTPOS terminals are not readily available in Stadiums, well I am pretty sure that's a lie, I have been to many stadium in the South Island and yes it is slow, but there is always EFTPOS avaliable. And since portable EFTPOS machines are readily available then it would seem a non issue to make them available.

My last Taxi Driver had one of these, I am pretty sure a Stadium could get one
Secondly, you can't you use a credit card for EFTPOS anyway, so presumable the machines will accept any card, just they will only let you use it if you can prove you have a Mastercard, surely this will slow the process down, since you have to present two cards to pay for items? Three if alcohol is involved.

"Okay, one of these shows I am over 18 to buy beer, one buys the beer, and one proves I can buy the beer, but which is which?"
I get that this occurs with other products, for example at this world cup, since Heineken is sponsoring you can only buy that brand of beer in the stadium. Fine that's a one off event, you don't have to change your drinking habits outside the game.

"SIR, You attended a RWC game last week, you must continue drinking Heineken"
Whereas with methods of payment, you have to change to Mastercard to be able to purchase things electronically within the stadium, which seems like a bit of a crock. I don't have figures but anecdotally, most people I know use VISA, over Mastercard, it seems like a bit overkill to change how you purchase things for a one off event.

But hang on you say, Azzy, there are other methods of payment, you could just get a tap and go card, and get rid of it after the World Cup. Yea okay, but these cards seem to have a few flaws.

1/. Your money is locked in

You can't reload this card and it costs $5-$10 to buy one every time, which seems like a flaw. The Oyster card, which one can use to get around London on the public transport system is reloadable, so its not like the technology doesn't exist.

"Look Harry, I have run the numbers, and I don't think we can ever make these cards reloadable"
So this means you have to decide how much money you will spend before you load one up.

"How much beer and pies will I require?"
That isn't so bad you say, just overestimate how much, and use it up later. I don't know about you but I haven't seen any of these Tap and Go places around the place, so you would have to use it up at the RWC or wait until it takes off I guess.
I guess you could spend it all on food and drink and the game and try and sell the excess to other punters.

This guy overestimated how much money he would need.
2/. The security on them seems a little lax

So, how do these cards work? Well its in the name, Tap and go, you tap your card and the appropriate amount is deducted. Sure this is fast, but how secure is it?
Suppose you are going to 4 World cup games you might load on $500 or something for all those pies, you are going to eat.
So all someone has to do is steal your wallet, and then they can have spend your $500 on pies and beers (so not lucrative theft, but does save them money).

George Fields: Tap and go Thief.
With the old system once they have stolen your wallet, they would still have to figure out your pin number, or at least make an attempt at forging your signature. Granted forging a signature is not exactly hard work, but at the very least it would slow down the thief's pie consumption.

"Goddamnit I wish I had stolen a tap and go card."

The last word is, I guess you could just ignore the technology completely and take a wad of cash to the game. I mean it would be just as quick, you can use the excess cash anywhere, and it is just as secure as carrying a tap and go card.
If you are going to World cup are you going to tap and go? or carry cash?

Either way I will see ya there

Friday, April 15, 2011

Underthinking the Price of Milk

 So tonight for some unknown reason I decided to watch Campbell Live. Campbell Live is the tabloid of NZ TV, the guy picks a crusade and harps on about it for months at a time. Last year it was Brian Tamaki.

I am sorry BISHOP Brian Tamaki
The thing is John Campbell never actually has a story he just whines about inane things and because he is so excited people think he is actually telling them something. His interview tactic involves him yelling his opinion over the guest he has on, how this guy remains on TV as a respected interviewer/journalist/presenter is beyond me.

"And I would say to you, Oi Campbell NO, you are a hopeless presenter"
Anyway John's latest crusade is against the price of milk in this country. Now I understand that Milk is expensive, but there is no rort going on, no one is making more than they should off the product. On his own story tonight, we got told that the $4.80 2L bottle of milk can be split into the following components.

$1.39 for the Farmer.
A good thing too, Tractors aren't cheap.
$1.36 for Fonterra

How Campbell sees Andrew Ferrier (CEO Fonterra)
$1.73 for the Supermarket

No wonder this little man is so happy.
$0.72 in GST

"So, we take 0.72 cents every time someone buys 2L of Milk, that's awesome"
I mean this breakdown seems pretty legitimate to me, yet John Campbell claims we are paying too much for milk, where exactly does he see the cuts to the price coming in?
The Farmer? Out of that $1.39, he need to buy his cows, service his machinery, feed his cows, pay off debt he probably has from the land, irrigate, and pay his Carbon tax in 2012. I am not sure he can shave too much off that $1.39.
Forget the tractor if we cut the costs there.
How bout Fonterra surely they don't need that whole $1.36, those greedy bastards! No its not like thy have to go pick up the milk from all around the country and with the cost of petrol these days that is not cheap, process the milk, package the milk, then distribute the milk.

With the price of Petrol, that $1.36 probably goes into gas money.
How about the supermarkets? Well they need to store the milk, they need to pay the guy to put the milk on the shelf, they have power bills. I mean sure most of the costs aren't entirely reliant on milk sales, so there probably could be some cuts here, but this isn't who John decided to attack, no the evil Fonterra, and farmers they are the greedy ones. But even if the supermarket could cut costs, it would it would probably bring the cost of milk down by $0.10, which probably isn't going to make a huge difference to household budgets.

With all his savings on Milk, Maurice could finally afford to live large.
The GST component, is another area I guess for cuts, but things get rather complicated when you start having variable GST on different products, so I will avoid discussing this.
The other thing that gets me, is John is unhappy paying $4.80  for this product, that has so much go into it, where the processing is expensive. But I bet he is happy enough paying $2.50 for a 750 ml bottle of water.

This is all that is required to get water to put in bottle
Seriously, turning on a tap is slightly less complex than farming animals, to produce milk, but John Campbell has no issues with the mark up on this product does he?
 John Campbell wears shoes and clothes, that are probably manufactured by some poor Chinese kid for about $2 at cost, but yet sold to the consumer for prices well into the hundreds of dollars, why is there no stink being kicked up about this markup? Some people are getting very rich off these products.

Put it this way, I don't think Fashion people are concerned about the price of milk.
 I seriously wonder about people in this country sometimes, they seem to live in a fantasy land, where milk comes from nowhere, with no work required to produce it, so can't understand why isn't given away for free. 

"What do you mean manufacturing and distribution costs?"

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Underthinking Greenpeace

Let me caveat this post, by saying some of my favourite people are hippies, I enjoy them for their carefree and fun outlook on life.

Look at them embrace life, Go Hippies!
But their is a sinister side to these hippies, and unfortunately they ruin it for the rest of the hippies.

And they own Warships
Look I have no problem with people disagreeing with other peoples outlook on life, but I do have a problem with having the opposing opinion shoved down my throat. Just recently in NZ we have seen these hippies protesting the exploration of oil of the coast of NZ. They are worried about pollution, but despite the high profile cases of oil spilling in the Ocean, most oil rigs extract oil with no pollution at all.

How Greenpeace thinks Oil rigs work.

 Look I am not sold on the fact we should be drilling Oil off the coast of NZ, but this company has paid for the survey rights to that area, and are acting under the law. Waiariki MP Te Ururoa Flavell said calling in the navy to deal with the protest smacked of Libyan tactics, well no it doesn't Mr Flavell it is more like calling the police to remove people trespassing on your property.

"It's okay, I have called the police"
 I am not even sure what Libyan tactics mean, I know there has been a lot of talk in the news lately about Libya, but its Libyans fighting Libyans, so what side are using Libyan tactics?

And which side stole the plutonium and gave it to Doc Brown.
Regardless if you agree with the corporations or not they tend to have gone through the proper channels to do their explorations, granted sometimes they don't. But despite Captain Planets insistence most industrialists are not evil geniuses.

The BP annual picnic.
These corporations use legal, and political channels to move forward with what they want to do. Greenpeace however think they are wrong, so they can stop this happening by getting in the way, destroying property and often putting people's lives at risk.

Granted it is often their own lives
You know who else thinks they are right, and use any means possible to get their point across? That's right every Terrorist, Dictator and Military Regime on the face of this planet.
So the hippies don't want us to use Oil, okay then we will build hydroelectric dams. 
No, that will destroy our rivers!!
 Okay freaking Hippies, we will build wind farms.

No, it will destroy our views!
Okay, you stupid hippies, we will build Nuclear Power plants, the cleanest, most efficient power in the world.

Just no.

What they want us to use, is experimental and inefficient, and unreliable power options, like solar power, or tidal power. This would be okay if the population of the planet was 100,000. But it is over 6 billion we need the most efficient power resources we have at our disposal. That is the problem with the Hippies they know what they don't want, they just haven't really given a lot of thought about what happens if they got their way.

Hmmm you have given up using Oil, now what?

 For example their claims we should all eat organic food, because it is better for the environment. Yes but the use of pesticides and fertilizers have allowed us to increase food production by 200% in 70 years, without this increase there would not be enough food for every one on the planet. Current estimates say that if we all had organic food we could feed 4 billion people, that is a lot, but it kinda of means 2.5 billion people would be going without food.

Well if we could convince these two countries not to eat we should be fine.
And don't get the hippies started on GM food, it is bad for us! Science is evil, we shouldn't trust it. Despite the fact this GM modification can make food resistant to disease, and allow it grow faster, helping us feed the planet.

How Greenpeace see GM food.
Sometimes their two goals cancel each other out, they protest farmers in NZ feeding their cows palm kernel, because Indonesians are cutting down protected forest to grow it. Okay fair enough hippie, but palm kernel is waste product, do you know what from? Its what's left over when you make Palm oil, do you know what that is used for Hippie? To power your biofuel cars? So really you are destroying the forest, and the farmers in NZ are just trying to mitigate your monstrous creation, what say you?

Just shut up.
So yeah, I love Hippies, and because this is my blog it is my personal opinion, and if you want to prove me wrong or argue with me, please do so in the comments.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Underthinking Commentary

Firstly I must apologise for my absence for the last week. Currently the tolls of life mean I can't post every day, but I was hoping to change my schedule, so that I will post Monday/Wednesday/Friday. Which I was trying to start last week, however I got called away to Invercargill to commentate ice hockey last Wednesday.

The man I aspire to be Don Cherry.
This man actually gets his suits made out of curtain material see the below video.

And then on Saturday night I listened to my friend Peter Lambert commentate the NZ- Australia Ice Hockey match live from Melbourne where the Div II World Champs were taking place. Australia were victor 2-0.
But these two events got me thinking what is the role of the modern commentator, I mean in the olden days when all you had was a radio, the role was clear tell the listeners at home what you see, so they get an idea of what is happening.
Not this Wireless.

"I say mother the colonial Jonah, has just trampled one of our fine English players"
But with the advent of television, viewers at home can actually see what is happening without the commentator telling them. I mean we have to allow for blind people but the percentage of them in the population probably doesn't warrant the rest of us having radio commentary on TV.

"...and then Carl Hayman raises his hands into the air..."
So what we really want is a commentator that can give us insight into what is happening with the play, why the play is unfolding how it is, the reasons for the the team attempting to do this. This is your play-by-play man and then you have an expert who knows the players, and has deeper knowledge of the rules, and every so often tells stupid jokes to add colour to the commentary, know as the colour commentator.

"I am the WHAT commentator"
1/. The professional Play-by-Play man

 The problem I have is a lot of sports have a professional play-by-play man who can talk really fast and coherently about what he sees, but has never played the sport, therefore has no deeper knowledge then the average fan. They figure this is okay because they team him with the expert in the sport, so no knowledge is lost. The problem is sport happens fast, and commentators need to be able to think on their feet, and if you have no knowledge of the sport, the fill is hard to come up with. We got this in the 2010 Winter Olympics with the BBC ice hockey play-by-play commentator.

1st Timer instead of One-timer

Game winning shots instead of Shootout
He also suggested that the leading scoring D-man for Canada should be moved to forward despite his scoring coming from the point where a D man specialises in scoring from. Or that holding the puck for 45 seconds was poor puck possession, where in fact that is almost perfect puck possession. The list goes on of inaccuracies he was making, and because of the speed of the game the expert commentator was unable to correct him.
All commentators need to have an understanding of the sport, to allow for some good chatter, to add to you viewing experience. The professional play-by-play man needs to specialise in a sport, just because you talk fast and clearly, doesn't a good commentator make.

2/. Not understanding the audience.

Although the commentator should be deeply knowledgeable in the sport, he must be aware of who is listening, for example commentating ice hockey in NZ. It is all well and good to use the correct terms one-timers, and slap shots, and face offs. But when you first introduce those terms you must explain them to the audience otherwise they might as well be listening to Greek commentary.

"...straight off the draw, from the faceoff, Crosby unleashes a one-timer, but the goalie gets a glove on it, and freezes the puck..."

"Say What?"
3/. Finally a word on Cricket

The people that need to be the most knowledgeable in world are cricket commentators. Unlike most sports we watch there are long periods where nothing is happening. So in other sports your inadequate knowledge of the history of the sport can be brushed over. But in cricket if you have less than 300 stories about cricket, which you can relate to the events that are currently unfolding you are sunk.

That's why they are so old. But also so awesome

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