Sunday, April 01, 2012

April Internet wading

Today is April first, and also a busy Sunday in a busy weekend, so why not look at what’s caught my eye this week? An April Fool’s joke from Air New Zealand is the perfect place to start off.

The image above is a screen grab from Air New Zealand’s prank, after their reveal. The original headline was that it was “Stand Up Fares”, and they, of course, played it completely straight, treating it as real. Their “Grab A Seat” site is a great way to book cheap Air New Zealand flights, and the prank was promoted on that site. Well, played.

Speaking of April Fools Day, I forgot to mention this before: The new give-way rules were originally scheduled to take effect today, but the government was worried that people would think it was an April Fool’s joke, so they moved it back one week. The change seems to have gone pretty well, actually.

New Zealand's clocks changed this morning: Back one hour. Sadly, that was no joke. The government's increase of the minimum wage, which took effect today, was not a joke, even if it seems like one. Low-wage workers will now receive a whopping 50 cents per hour more.

And speaking of government, today I saw one of the strongest critiques of the current National-led government yet. Writing in the New Zealand Herald, Bernard Hickey called John Key’s government “irresponsible” in its economic policies, and said that the borrowing of money from overseas, chiefly China, to fund income tax cuts for the wealthy was “an act of economic treason and generational selfishness”. WOW! And, of course, I couldn’t agree more.

Nevertheless, a new TVNZ/Colmar Brunton Poll showed the popularity of the National-led government growing—or, did it? As always, poor understanding of polls led the TVNZ journalists to report something that wasn’t exactly true. In fact, National’s support had increased only 1%—exactly the same increase enjoyed by both Labour and the Greens. Minor party support collapsed, their support going to the big three parties. The conclusion that National could govern alone could be true, but stating “National's popularity remains intact, despite the on-going ACC controversy” is utter bollocks: Polling was done around the time Nick Smith resigned his portfolios, but before the implications of other National Party MPs. This story is far from over.

It’s not only New Zealand politicians who are in trouble: It turns out that Mitt Romney took an especially circuitous route to secretly donate to the race-bating National Organization for “Marriage”, using his PAC’s Alabama branch, in a state with loose financial disclosure laws for political groups, to funnel money to NOM just before the 2008 election in which California’s Prop 8 took away marriage rights for gay couples. Perhaps he was concerned about a high profile Mormon giving money to a campaign that was closely identified at the time with the Mormon Church. Since he was already on record as opposing marriage equality, and for supporting Prop 8, it seems very peculiar to go to such lengths to hide his donation. One wonders what else he tried to hide between then and now.

Openly gay TVNZ presenter Tamati Coffey will be the host of New Zealand's Got Talent. I think he's a great choice. However, we'll have to wait until September, not to find out whether New Zealand does have talent, but, rather, whether this programme can showcase it or not. It has cringe-making potential, after all. At least they chose a good host.

One of the funniest things—“OMG” funny, not so much “ha ha” funny—was a look at “accidental racism on Facebook”. I spotted it in Roger Green’s “March Rambling” post, a regular feature of his blog which is similar, in some ways, to these Internet Wading posts of mine. Funny that.

That’s enough wading for now; my skin’s getting pruney.

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