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Drunken bet results in 99-character name-change: "Full Metal Havok..."

Nat writes, "A Dunedin, NZ, man lost a bet five years ago and changed his name by deed poll to the longest name he could make (99 characters, 1 shy of the Dept of Internal Affairs limit). I want to know what they were drinking because the name is fantastic. "The 22-year-old man from Normanby is now legally known as 'Full Metal Havok More Sexy N Intelligent Than Spock And All The Superheroes Combined With Frostnova'." (Thanks, Nat!) Cory 21

New Zealand's spies admit to illegally deleting key evidence in Kim Dotcom case

GCSB, New Zealand's secret police force has admitted to illegally deleting key evidence related to the raid on Kim Dotcom over his Megaupload service. The spies agree that the evidence was illegally deleted, but claim it was an honest mistake, because the data "aged off" their retention system.

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For sale: water-tank castle


If you're in New Zealand and want to have the coolest playhouse/LARP-prop south of the equator, this Trademe ad is offering a concrete water-tank converted to a castle for a surprisingly reasonable $500 (you have to pay to move it, though).

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Glowing 3D printed squid filled with bioluminescent soup


Rebecca Klee and Siouxsie Wiles's "Living Light" is a 3D printed hollow squid filled with bioluminescent bacteria. They've thoroughly documented their build-process, and the project is really shaping up to be gorgeous.

From the lab to the park (via O'Reilly Radar)

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Scholar shows 'three strikes' programs don't reduce piracy

Evaluating Graduated Response, a new paper from Rebecca Giblin from the law school at Australia's Monash University, looks at the impact of "three strikes" and "graduated response" punishments for file-sharing. Countries including France, New Zealand, Taiwan, South Korea, the U.K., Ireland and the U.S. have adopted systems whereby people accused of file-sharing have their Internet access curtailed. This takes many forms, from losing access to YouTube and Facebook until subscribers complete a "copyright training course" designed by the entertainment industry to out-and-out disconnection from the Internet.

A good summary in IT News by Juha Saarinen discusses Giblin's findings from an in-depth survey of the file-sharing landscape before and after the introduction of three strikes rules: "There is no evidence demonstrating a causal connection between graduated response and reduced infringement. If 'effectiveness' means reducing infringement, then it is not effective."

Giblin is the author of 2011's Code Wars, an excellent book on the first ten years of file-sharing data.

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NZ prime minister John Key: We have to spy on you because al-Qaeda has training camps here. Also: FISH!

The New Zealand Prime Minister John Key is trying to ram through legislation to legalize the kind of domestic surveillance that the US NSA and the UK GCHQ have engaged in. When asked whether he thought he had popular support for allowing the government to spy on New Zealanders' entire online lives, he refused to answer the question and kept changing the subject to fishing quotas (seriously).

But wait, there's more! According to Key, it is necessary to spy on Kiwis because al-Qaeda is running training camps in New Zealand. Yes, seriously.

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US spies supplied intelligence on investigative journalist to NZ military

US spy agencies fed "metadata" about a New Zealand journalist's communications to New Zealand's military spies, who were upset that he had reported on human rights abuses against Afghani prisoners of war. Jon Stephenson was writing for McClatchy and "various New Zealand news organisations." The NZ Defense Force later attempted to discredit Stephenson, saying he had invented a visit to to an Afghan base, a claim it retracted after Stephenson brought a defamation suit against it. NZ government is presently pushing legislation to allow its military spies conduct domestic surveillance of NZ citizens, even a leaked NZDF manual discloses that the media are classed with foreign spies and extremist organisations as threats to the state.

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Edison cylinder inscribed on a beer-bottle

Mathew sez,

19th Century technology meets 21st Century music over a bottle of beer in the latest extension to the Beck's Record Label project. This time, the art label has evolved, and been replaced by the grooves of Auckland band Ghost Wave. Their new single was inscribed into the surface of a beer bottle which could then be played on a specially-built device based on Thomas Edison's original phonograph.

The idea originated with creative agency Shine in Auckland NZ, but making the world's first playable beer bottle was a formidable technical challenge. The clever people at Gyro Constructivists first had to design and build a record-cutting lathe, driven by a hard drive recording head. Then they reinvented Edison's original cylinder player, using modern materials and electronics and built to very fine tolerances. The Edison Bottle made its public debut at SemiPermanent in Auckland in May to a standing ovation from the assembled media and design community.

The Beck's Edison Bottle

Comedy boy-band extols virtues of indie games

James sez, "The boys of Viva La Dirt League (a New Zealand boy-band parody group specialising in songs about Starcraft!) have just released this funny, awesome, video about the pleasures of buying indie games. I think their work deserves your viewing!"

I concur. This is what boy bands should all be about: cussing, indie game references, and fursuits.

Indie Game Anthem (Thrift Shop) - Viva La Dirt League

NZ Press Council finds against statement saying "Homeopathic remedies have failed every randomised, evidence-based scientific study seeking to verify their claims of healing powers"

Juha sez, "Amazingly enough, New Zealand's North and South magazine has lost in the NZ Press Council, after a homeopath filed a complaint against an article that stated: 'Homeopathic remedies have failed every randomised, evidence-based scientific study seeking to verify their claims of healing powers.'"

"Mr Stuart [a homeopath] supplied the Press Council with a letter from Dr David St George, Chief Advisor on Integrative Care for the Ministry of Health, who advises the ministry on the development of complementary medicine in New Zealand and its potential integration into the public health system. He was not speaking for the ministry in this case but offering a personal view.

Dr St George believed the statement in North & South's article arose from a misunderstanding of the Lancet study, which had compared 110 published placebo-controlled trials of homeopathy with the same number of published placebo-controlled trials of conventional medical drug treatments. He said most of the 110 homeopathy trials in that study were "randomised, evidence-based scientific studies" which demonstrated an effect beyond a placebo effect. "

Dr St George said there was no debate about whether there were scientific studies demonstrating homeopathy's therapeutic benefit but rather, whether those studies were of an acceptable methodological quality.

Case Number: 2320 CLIVE STUART AGAINST NORTH & SOUTH (Thanks, Juha)

Mr Unpronounceable Adventures, spectacularly weird graphic novel in a Lovecraftian/Burroughsian vein


Mr Unpronounceable Adventures is a book of comics by Australian New Zealand surrealist artist Tim Molloy in a Lovecraftian vein. But that only scratches the surface here. Molloy is incredibly fucking weird, and not always in a funny-ha-ha way (though there's plenty of that). The story loops around and around, almost making sense, almost following a narrative, returning to themes, to iconic panels, full of menace and hectic hilarity. It's really good. It's really strange.

Here's what the publisher says about it:

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Kalashnikov made of bones


New Zealand artist Bruce Mahalski has put a new sculpture of an AK47 assembled from animal bones up for sale, with a starting bid of NZD3500. It's quite a beautiful piece of work.

The latest bone gun by New Zealand bone artist – Mahalski – is a life-size AK47 machine gun(330mm x 940mm) featuring found animal bones from rabbit, stoat, ferret, sheep, hawk, pheasant, wallaby, snapper, snake, blackbird, tarakihi, hedgehog, broad-billed prion , shear water, thrush, seal ,cat and possum (plus part of a skull from the extinct moa ). The gun is made entirely of bones mounted on an invisible wooden frame and is displayed standing upright on two rods on a piece of recycled matai timber (1130mm x 2000mm). You can see more pictures at - www.mahalski.org

KALASHNIKOV - AK47 (LIFE-SIZE REPLICA) Brand new item (Thanks, Bruce!)

Remarkable face-painting from NZ's Daizy Design


Wellington, NZ's Daizy Design is a face-painting studio that does astounding work, as the images here can attest. They also paint pregnant bellies, do custom work for photo shoots, and so on. The rates look pretty reasonable, considering the standard of work on display.

Gallery - Daizy Design (via Geeks Are Sexy)

Hobbit producers to New Zealand: if you tell people how we got our sweet tax/labor deal, no one will want to make movies in your country

The production company that made the Hobbit convinced the government of New Zealand to suspend its labor laws and tax laws. Now the NZ Labour Party is asking for the details of the deal that the company struck with the government to be disclosed, and the production company is fighting it, saying that if the government tells the voters of NZ what sort of sweetheart deal they were handed, no one will want to make movies in New Zealand any more.

Radio New Zealand applied for the documents in November 2010 under the Official Information Act but ministers refused on the grounds they were commercially sensitive.

The broadcaster appealed the decision and on January 31, Ombudsman David McGee ruled 18 documents, including emails between Hobbit director Sir Peter Jackson and government officials, must be released.

In his 29-page ruling McGee said the information in the documents didn't pose serious commercial risks.

But New Line warned this would affect future relations, objecting in a statement included in the ruling.

"If the government is not willing to adequately protect this sensitive information from disclosure, this will operate as a major disincentive to motion picture studios as well as local and foreign talent - to utilise New Zealand as a location for future productions."

Threats fly over Hobbit document release [NZ Herald/Cassandra Mason]

Chinese tourists say crooked NZ tour-operator took them to a "buffet" that was really a church soup-kitchen

Chinese tourists say a crooked tour-operator who'd promised them the best sightseeing in New Zealand and a buffet dinner instead took them to a bunch of public parks and then dumped them in the line at a soup-kitchen:

"I thought it was a real bargain, but the main reason we decided to go with him was because we thought it would be handy to have a local guide who spoke Mandarin," he said.

"I was shocked to find out later from media reports that the Christmas lunch was a charity lunch for the poor and homeless, and that most of the places we had been taken to were free and were not meant for tourists."

A TVNZ Christmas Day news report said Chinese tourists on organised tours were among the 2800 people at the Viaduct Events Centre for the annual charity lunch.

Chinese visitor says tour operator told him charity event was Govt treat. (Thanks, Juha!)