News at 6

Plucked from the headlines, online and in print

Xtra-ordinary lack of customer service

If Xtra is your ISP, or if you’ve been on Trade Me, you are probably aware of the problems currently being experienced by Xtra’s customers: no international traffic. No facebook, no offshore news websites, no eBay (if that’s your thing) no … well, no anything that involves an overseas server. Like the photos on my website (my site is hosted by a New Zealand company, the photos are hosted by Flickr).

Like many of you, I’ve tried calling Xtra’s broadband helpline. What a waste of time: the message simply says they’re all busy so call back later.

Add to that the fact that the Xtra webpage has also been missing in action and you have a lot of pissed off users! Surely they could have added a little something to their pre-recorded message saying “yep, we know it’s buggered and are working on it.”

For anyone who hadn’t been on the Trade Me message board to see the many threads on the issue, it would all have still been a mystery. There are probably still hundred of people out there thinking the problem is with their computer.

With so many years perfecting the art of cocking up, you’d think they’d be better at handling it by now. Boo-hiss @ Telecom/Xtra.

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Boo-fecking-hoo, poor baby

Did we all feel sorry for the pillock in court last week, facing charges over a high-speed chase?

He was “petrified”, according to the news report. Poor boy thought the police would stop chasing him once he hit speeds of 160kmh so he kept going … and so did the cops. Eventually, he reached 190kmh, which is when the whole “petrified” thing happened.

According to that same court report, the moron in question was spotted driving a car that had been reported stolen.

Judge Barry said Stirling … sped away from police … reaching speeds of 120kmh in the 50kmh residential area.

Stirling had to swerve around vehicles endangering people in the residential area and also putting his life and the lives of his passengers at risk … Police laid road spikes in Havelock, causing the vehicle to mount a kerb, Stirling and a passenger fled the scene while Stirling’s younger brother remained in the car.

Now, I think you’ll find it wasn’t a case of the driver “had to swerve around vehicles” but more a case of him choosing to do that. He could have stopped, after all.

And as for the police road spikes causing the vehicle to mount a kerb … sheesh, once again, it was the idiot driver who did that.

We need to get away from blaming the cops for high-speed pursuits and instead put the blame where it belongs: on the shoulders of the fuck-tards who think they can get away with any crime by speeding away.

They should have Tasered the little cretin once they got him back to the cells, just for the sheer fun of it.

Oh, and I couldn’t believe his laywer trundled out the old “take pity on him because he’s from a broken home” line. I thought that one went out of fashion in the 1970s.

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A case of ‘do as I say, not as I do’

I have no problem with someone wanting to keep their private life private, even celebrities (to a degree, because let’s face it, a lack of real privacy is one of the costs of fame).

But I when it comes to quasi-celebrities — those who are famous for nothing more than having shagged, married, made a sex-tape with or rubbed shoulders or other bits with real celebrities — then I think okay, sure, let them have their privacy. It’s not like we are really all that interested in what the semi-celeb are up to anyway.

However, I think it’s a bit rich that heiress/married-to-celebrity-cricketer/shagged-greasy-haired-hooker-using-actor/quasi-celebrity Jemima Khan has a High Court injunction preventing disclosure of her personal details.

Why do I object? Because she’s been such a supporter of WankerLeaks WikiLeaks dude Julian Assange and his campaign of publish and be damned.

If you really believe that it’s okay for everyone else to have their private details released for all the world to see, the surely you should be happy to do the same. And if you’re not, then grow up and admit that we live in a slightly messy world but we are ALL entitled privacy and that some things are simply better remaining private.

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WOOS: (Word) Occupational overuse syndrome

I know the Christchurch earthquake has been awful, that it has done so much damage to the city it’s almost too much to comprehend.

However, I think it’s time we in the media banned the term “earthquake-ravaged”. Much like the liquefaction, it’s everywhere: earthquake-ravaged this, earthquake-ravaged that, earthquake-ravaged city, earthquake-ravaged central-business district, the earthquake-ravaged eastern suburbs … the list goes on.

It was a good, effective, punchy way of describing the damage. Once or twice. But now it’s been so overused that it’s losing its impact.

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Another sad death

Juma, the Pittsburgh Zoo’s oldest lion, had to be put to sleep a few days ago.

He’d been unwell for a while with an assortment of problems, including liver disease, and things came to a head when he stopped eating.

Juma was one of the five oldest lions in the United States.

According to a news report, Sheba — his mate of 21 years — spent hours grooming him in the days before he died and has been missing him.

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RIP Elizabeth Taylor

I see on the online news that Elizabeth Taylor has died. Very sad but I guess not unexpected with all the health problems she has had over the years.

She was 79.

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Horror after horror

I think I might just be in a bad mood for the rest of the week as I try to get my head around the insensitive, selfish fuck-tards who seem to inhabit some parts of cyberspace here in New Zealand.

These past few weeks has been pretty awful, with the deadly quake in Christchurch and now the awful events in Japan. Like nearly everyone I know, I spent that Friday night glued to the telly, watching the drama unfold but barely able to believe what I was seeing.

That there are people taking to the net to proclaim “oh, it’s just Mother Nature getting her own back on Japan for the whaling” or “well they were cruel to the POWs during the war so they deserve this” is almost beyond comprehension.

Let’s start with the whaling argument: Yes, like most decent Kiwis, I’m against whaling: it should be banned. However, I’m not stupid enough to blame every Japanese citizen for a government that allows this to take place and the crews that actually do it.

I used to have a lot of respect for the work of the people involved in the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, including Kiwi Peter Bethune.  However, after the group officially saying Bethune was banned from its Antarctic anti-whaling missions during his trial for doing naughty things on a Japanese whaling ship last year then turning around and saying “oh, that was just a legal ploy to get him a lighter sentence” as soon as he was back in NZ kind of did away with a lot of that respect.

If you have principles you want to stand up for, don’t know it in a half-arsed way. Do you think we’d all look on the likes of Nelson Mandela with such admiration if he’d renounced his beliefs to escape jail?

Then there’s Sea Shepherd head honcho Paul Watson and his poem about Neptune being angry and causing all this. Punishment for killing whales, apparently.

Get a grip, it’s not every Japanese citizen who hunts whales. Those poor people were simply unfortunate enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time: just like the victims of the Christchurch quake.

As for the “remember the war” crap, I can’t believe there are still idiots out there who think this way. Yes, there were some bloody disgusting atrocities during the war but that was long ago. You can’t blame an entire nation for the actions and decisions of governments and armies of the past: the world has moved on and so should we.

If we were to be held accountable for acts of war by our ancestors, those of us with Maori ancestry would probably be in the pooh with some of the other tribes and our English ancestry would pretty much get us ditched from the Christmas card lists of every nation in the Commonwealth because let’s face it, the Poms invaded and degraded pretty much every country they went near.

Some poor bugger going about their business in a fishing village in Japan 10 days ago was no more to blame for what happened in the war than I am for what happened at Culloden.

What’s happening in Japan right now is truly awful. We saw the terrible devastation from the 2004 (was it really that long ago? Doesn’t it seem like it was just a couple of years ago?) Indian Ocean tsunami in videos that were shared after the event but this was the first time we saw it all happening live.

Of course, things have become even more frightening with the nuclear power plants stealing the headlines for most of the week and while I’m with the rest of the world in hoping the experts manage to pull things back from the brink of disaster, it’s still the sight of houses being washed away  and knowing there were terrified people sheltering within so many of them that sticks with me the most: your home, that place where you should feel safe, turned into little more than a pile of matchsticks in minutes.

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Still here … just busy

It’s been a chaotic week, with the massive earthquake in Christchurch.

It’s heartbreaking seeing the image of a city I’m so familiar with in ruins. And knowing that so many are suffering right now.

Christchurch is my second favourite place in New Zealand (hey, I’m a Southland girl born and bred so there’s nowhere that will take the No 1 spot from my home town) and it’s almost unbelievable that this could be happening.

I say almost because like so many others, I have friends and family in the middle of all that suffering: many of them have lost homes. Several are injured. At least one has suffered a worse loss.

Right now, the death toll is 145 and expected to grow considerably.

It’s been a long week for those of us in the media, bringing the news of what has been happening to a nation that is in shock. However, as tired as was by the end of the week, I’m sure it was nothing on the weariness being felt by those who are currently digging through the rubble of what is left of inner-city Christchurch in the hope of finding survivors.

Sadly, that hasn’t happened for more than three days.

However, while we’ve all been disgusted by the actions of those who have stolen emergency power generators and attempted to loot businesses hit by this quake, it’s worth remembering that those scum-sucking fucktards are very much in the minority. For the most part, Cantabrians have been supporting one another and doing all they can to help those who are in need: including so many ordinary every day people putting their own lives on the line in an attempt to help the trapped and injured in the minutes immediately after the quake.

And the rest of New Zealand has also rallied around, donating cash, clothes, food and manpower.

And it’s also good to see that people have managed to retain that down-to-earth Kiwi way of looking at things, like Don’s neighbour in the video below. I’m sure that (like me) you’ve seen so much footage of devastation and destruction that it’s hard to get your head around it. Here’s something that might just make you smile. It’s new reporting, Kiwi style.

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Sad but not unexpected

It’s sad that Whitcoulls is in trouble but as an avid reader who likes both books and money, I don’t reckon it should come as any surprise.

I make an effort to support local businesses where possible, even if they are a squidge more expensive, which is why Play It Again gets my music-buying custom. However, Whitcoulls isn’t a singularly southern business and the books on their shelves are a bit higher up the price scale than those found at a certain large red building in town. You know, the one where everyone gets a bargain.

Most people are feeling the pinch in this not-so-friendly economy so being able to save a few bucks is an attractive proposition.

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Meanwhile, in the real world

Model Gisele has stirred things up again, this time with the comment that sunscreen is poison.

She was speaking to media at the launch of her organic skincare line, Sejaa. Because, apparently, she protects her skin from the sun’s harmful rays by never going out in the sun after 8am.

That might be possible for someone who makes her living by wandering around on catwalks but for real people, who have real lives, it’s not possible.

And to say we shouldn’t use sunscreen is incredibly stupid and dangerous. Silly bint.

This follows on from her breastfeeding comments after haveing her kid back in 2009: you know, when she said it should be law that every woman should have to breastfeed their little darlings until they were at least six months old. Again, in the real world that’s not always possible and most real women would have a whole lot more real stress and drama to deal with than this woman would know what to do with.

Yes, real stress: money worries, caring for a family and working for a living (sorry, but I don’t see remembering to put one foot in front of the other as you trundle your way down a catwalk as being particularly arduous).

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MEET YOUR BLOGGER

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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