Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Updates to fill the time

I’m incredibly busy with work, which is why I haven’t been posting. Until I have enough time for real posts, here are a few updates to some earlier posts:

No tsunami, yes media

The tsunami spawned by the horrific earthquake in Chile ended up devastating only that already ravaged country. It’s impossible to know for sure how bad a tsunami will be until it actually approaches, so countries throughout the Pacific Rim, including New Zealand, posted alerts.

But unlike the tsunami after the Samoan earthquake last September, this time the New Zealand media and Civil Defence did a pretty good job of making sure people were informed. TV One interrupted its normal programming with updates every half hour—and they don’t normally have news broadcasts on a Sunday morning.

Civil Defence also made an effort to be more informative, and faster, than last year. There’s still more work to do, and people have got to be kept off the beaches, but all things considered, this time the information was much easier to come by.

Still a bad ‘Morning’

Early last month I wrote about TVNZ’s “Good Morning” sacking their openly-gay co-host, Steve Grey. I said that the first scene of their first episode of the year “struck me as a particularly aggressively heterosexual way to introduce” the new co-host. Since then, they’ve repeatedly done what I can only describe as “flaunting” the heterosexuality of the co-hosts. It doesn’t help that I just don’t like the new co-host, but add it all up and I now turn the TV off when the programme comes on (I used to leave it on for background noise), and haven’t seen more than ten minutes this year. I don’t see that changing.

Making lemonade

Later in February, I talked about my surprise at seeing an artificial sweetener listed among the ingredients of a bottle of lemonade not labelled “diet”. At the time, I said I wasn’t singling out the pictured brand, “Pam’s” (the house brand for Foodstuffs stores Pak N Save, New World and Four Square) because “for all I know, they all do it.”

Since then, I’ve been to the grocery store and checked labels of other brands. The two leading brands—7up and Sprite—do not contain artificial sweetener. Neither did the medium-priced brands, but another brand that didn’t was “Signature Range”, the house brand for Progressive (Countdown, Foodtown and Woolworth’s). Only the cheap generic brand had artificial sweeteners, as did a few of the brands priced between it and “Signature Range”. That doesn’t mean they never will, but they didn’t when I checked (as I always will from now on).

I also re-read the label of the drink in that weird plastic can and found that it, too, contained artificial sweetener.

I’m guessing that the chemical sweeteners are cheaper than real sugar, which is why it’s found in the cheapest drinks. While I’m not a fan of artificial sweeteners in general, they’re legal and the companies have the right to use them. But I still say they have a moral obligation to point out that they’ve used chemical sweeteners in products where you don’t expect them, like drinks that aren’t labelled “diet”.


toujoursdan said...

I had Radio NZ International on my wi-fi radio as the tsunami was coming ashore at Gisborne. It had all the hype, and letdown (for the reporters) of an American local news station. I had to wonder if people would take such warning seriously next time.

Arthur (AmeriNZ) said...

The media still has work to do on how to report such events, but the public won't take any notice until there's damage or someone's swept out to sea. TV News did a better job: In the aftermath they talked to a diver who was nearly caught in one of the later surges and dragged out to sea, so that makes it a little more real.

But it doesn't help that we have people like Michael Laws, one of NZ's most pompous and arrogant talkback radio hosts (and mayor of Whanganui), who actually declared on his radio show last September that the concern over the tsunami was nonsense because tsunamis "never hit New Zealand". If he knew anything about New Zealand history or natural science, he'd know that, in fact, tsunamis do hit New Zealand: On average, twelve tsunamis over a metre in height hit New Zealand every century. Three over 10 metres have been recorded.

Part of the complacency of people like Laws is that only one death has ever been recorded (in 1868). One day, that total will inevitably be added to.