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. Read the rest
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."
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. Read the rest
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. Read the rest
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.
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.
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.
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:
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
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.
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."
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:
Chinese visitor says tour operator told him charity event was Govt treat. (Thanks, Juha!) Read the rest
"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.
Angela Potter, a teacher in Waikato, NZ, has a funny definition of "vindictive":
"My ex-boyfriend is an avid and very successful fisherman who asked me to protect his collection of GPS fishing spot co-ordinates [with my life no less]. Not a problem," she wrote on the auction.
And sold secrets tend to make for an angry man - Miss Potter said her ex was less than pleased to find out they had been shared.
Miss Potter said she would never have sold the co-ordinates had it been an amicable breakup, however, the man packed his belongings into her suitcase, which had sentimental value, and fled the country.
"When he refused to return my suitcase that's when I sold his co-ordinates," she said. "I didn't list them to be vindictive. I listed them as a bit of a laugh."
OTOH, she's now dating a new fisherman and says that she has not shared her ex's fishin' holes with him.
Rob Murdoch sends us a link to his site, where he posts, "Science fiction themed retro looking sculptures of machines, animals etc all made from recycled machinery. Built in Dieselpunk fashion and of very high quality and design!"
They are indeed super cool. Alas, there appears to be no way to buy 'em! Rob, if you're reading this, please drop by the comments and let us know whether and how to buy these things.