News at 6

Plucked from the headlines, online and in print

And the winner is … Chorus

Get ConnectedThe gushing news reports would have us believe that everyone in Dunedin is celebrating their little corner of the world winning the much-hyped Gigatown competition but let’s be honest: it’s Chorus that should be doing all the celebrating.

This year-long marketing “competition” was a brilliant marketing ploy for the company: the lovely citizens of the various towns and cities wanting access ultra-fast broadband took part in quizzes and promotions that used the “gigatown” tag, and directly promoted Chorus. In return, they got the opportunity to be the town finally selected for the big Gigatown deal.

I’m not saying that ultra-fast broadband wouldn’t be an awesome outcome, and getting it for a while at a reduced cost is even better. And the $200,000 development fund and $500,000 community fund Chorus is offering is the icing on the cake. But really, how good is that proverbial cake? The publicity Chorus has received from this competition is phenomenal, with news stories popping up everywhere each week to keep the momentum going. How much would that level of promotion over the course of a year have cost the company? I’m betting a lot more than the probably-tax-deductible $700K they’ve stumped up for those two funds.

There’s no doubt Dunedinites will benefit from getting UFB, and getting it at a discount is not to be sneezed at. However, we already pay too much for fairly average broadband in this country so in reality, the prize is probably more of a “UFB at the price it should be” offer.

Congratulations Dunedin. And congratulations Chorus: I’m not having a dig at you guys for running a marketing campaign masquerading as a competition, because that’s how all giveaways work. However, dragging it out for an entire year or more is pretty impressive.


Ice, ice baby

It seems like everyone in celebrity-land is jumping on the ice challenge bandwagon at the moment, with a raft of famous faces taking part in a soggy challenge in the name of a good cause.

And it has to be said: Bill Gates has geekified the whole thing and taken it to a new level.

Do I detect a spot of deja vu? Didn’t we already do that here? OK, so our watery warriors were acting in the name of the Cancer Foundation and the northern hemisphere Johnny-come-latelys are raising awareness of ALS, but you get my drift.

For anyone who may have been residing under a rock for the last little while, the ice bucket challenge involves dumping a bucket of ice water on your head to promote awareness, and to encourage people to donate to the cause. If you do the challenge, you also get to nominate others.

Celebrities have taken to it like the proverbial duck to (icy) water and the ice bucket challenge has exploded on social media.

Unfortunately, there has also been a lot of grumbling about it all online, with complaints about it being a waste of water, the whole slacktivism argument and reminders that we’d be better off just donating to the cause.

While I usually agree with anyone who pokes a sharp stick at slacktivism, in this case I reckon it’s pretty inoffensive. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or motor neurone disorder, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease) is a terrible illness that offers little more than a grim and short life for those diagnosed with it. Every muscle in the body eventually atrophies until the sufferer dies

Awful, truly awful.

A friend of my in-law’s died from this disease and each time they visited her they saw her struggle more and more just to swallow, to speak. Just to breathe.

It’s also relatively rare, so anything that raises awareness has got to be a good thing. Awareness means there is more chance of research, and the more research there is, the better the chance of one day finding a cure and/or prevention.

While I’d like to hear that all those well-paid celebs uploading their cutsie videos are also chucking a few dollars at the research fund, I can’t feel to peeved about them putting the spotlight on this disease.

Slacktivism normally bugs the living crap out of me, particularly when it’s done via Facebook or other social media sites. You know what I mean: the stupid, pointless status updates about how there are people in this world with [insert illness/fear/whatever here] and how if you are brave enough you’ll copy and paste this post into your own status to show your support. Ooooh, yes, very supportive.

Or the equally stupid, equally pointless cryptic updates that involve mention of the colour of your undies, or some outrageous statement about being knocked up to raise awareness of breast cancer but with the warning to not let the men in your life in on the secret, just to make it fun. Um, sure. Because we all know breast cancer’s fun, right? And cryptic messages that we keep secret from half the population? What an awesome way to raise awareness.

Yes, that was sarcasm.

The ice bucket challenge is raising awareness. Let’s just hope it also raises some cash.

Oh, and really northern hemisphere dudes, us Kiwis were a tad tougher about the whole thing, it being the middle of winter and all!



Now you see it …



He was such a nice boy



Small victory for fat chicks

Radio presenter Rachel Smalley found herself in the poo after a not-so-timely comment or two this week but it was her attempt to weasel her way out of it that offended me.

Smalley thought her mic was turned off after a news story about the effectiveness of an emergency contraceptive pill for women weighing more than 70kg. Obviously gravely offended by the knowledge that the average New Zealand bloke-ess weighs in at  (gasp) 72kg, she was heard to comment that we Kiwi chicks are “heifers” and a “bunch of lardos”.

Outrage ensued both online and off, and Smalley did the cliched “apology” thing: I’m so sorry, please forgive me, yada, yada, yada …

But let’s be honest here: she was apologising because she was caught out, not because she felt bad about what she said. Because if that had been the case, she wouldn’t have said it in the first place.

As someone who falls into the slightly more generously proportioned category, I’m not particularly offended by her comments. I am, however, offended by yet another person in the public eye who has cocked up and expects us to believe that suddenly, they have seen the error of their ways and want us to forgive them.

On Facebook, several people commented that Paul Henry has said worse. And yes, he has. And I have no doubt he will continue to say things that offend the masses. However, at least he owns it. Love him or hate him, there’s no denying the man says what he thinks and would never consider offering a bullshit apology just to stay in the good books.

I’d have had more respect for Smalley if she’d just told all us heifers to fuck off and eat a pie.



Bet that was uncomfortable

news courtney

This is why it is important for headline writers to have dirty minds!


No wuckin’ furries

In the greatest scandal to rock children’s television since Big Bird started toking up and imagining a big hairy critter named Snuffy, a mum in Cardiff reckons her young daughter has picked up a naughty word (starts with F, ends in UCK; rhymes with duck) from Peppa Pig.

To be honest, I initially thought she was just having a bit of a whinge, but after listening I have to say it certainly sounds like one of those words that would have made my Standard 1 teacher Mrs Bridgeman shudder. And Mrs Bridgeman was pretty resilient (and hairy, too. But that’s probably not relevant to the conversation. But damn, that woman had a hairy chin).

But I digress. Have a listen: what do you reckon?


Peppa Pig taught my little girl the F word


One for the haters

The sad death of Charlotte Dawson at the weekend has reignited the whole debate over online assholes being, well, assholes.

Not that it’s much of a debate: “if you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, then keep your trap shut” is probably a good code to live by. Unfortunately, there are plenty of trolls out there who get their kicks from aggravating and annoying.

If you’ve spent any time on a message board or chat room, or if your name is in the media for any reason, you are likely to become a target at some point. For most of us, we can shrug off their bullshit. But some people are a little more fragile, and sometimes the bullying and bullshit becomes a lot more persistent.

A few years back, there were a couple of quite public suicides in a relatively short space of time, one of them actively encouraged by chat room participants who egged on the victim as he put in place the rope he planned to use to hang himself.

Since then, online bullying seems to have become more and more common. As wrong as that is, I’m sick of seeing the blame being laid with Twitter, or (a stupid fecking site, certainly, but participants are there by choice) or any other site. The blame belongs to none other than the person doing the bullying.

Although, I’m seeing several young people I know personally getting themselves worked up into a lather lately over questions and comments on their accounts and am starting to think that sometimes the “victim” needs to take some of the blame. Not a lot, and not all the time, but sometimes. If you are being abused on Twitter or Facebook, you can block the person but you can’t really stop them saying what they want. However, the sole purpose of seems to be to set yourself up to be asked dodgy/sexual/nasty/leading questions. Really people: don’t go there if you don’t want the negativity!

Sure, I’ve had some thoughts that I’ve shared online about the like of Justin Beiber being a douche, but he brings that on himself by doing stupid and uncool shit like spitting on his fans, driving like an idiot and generally behaving like a spoiled brat.

Anyhoo, the little ditty in the video is both catchy and timely.


Wonder what gave it away?



Unlike the parrot, she isn’t pining for the fjords*

It was a story that had the makings of a Hollywood tearjerker: hunky jock loses both his grandmother and the love of his life in the space of six hours, then goes on to lead his football team to an astounding upset win instead of going to his girlfriend’s funeral because she wanted him to keep playing.

Wow. Break out the tissues.

But did Lennay Kekua (the girlfriend) really die? More to the point, did she ever really exist?

The story of the tragic Manti Te’o and his inspirational efforts certainly got plenty of attention in the media but the attention the story is now attracting isn’t so flattering: this is a huge read but well worth the effort. Click here to check it out.

* If you don’t get the reference, here’s the explanation:



Jillian "George" Allison-Aitken

I live in the deep south of New Zealand, where smelly dairy cows are taking over from sheep in the livestock stakes. My hometown is the small but perfectly formed city of Invercargill, which is also the hometown of the original boy racer, Burt Munro. Find out more about me here.


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