Friday, January 28, 2005

Have You Been Warned?

I'm posting this at the very real risk of being pilloried by cricket fans. Especially Australian ones. However in a fit of misdirected, and possibly masochistic, optimism I've decided to go ahead.

Over the past week the FICA World 11 have been in NZ involved in a charity cricket series raising funds for the tsunami victims in Asia. Their skipper was spin legend Shane Warne, a man who's achieved fame for his skill at the game but also notoriety for sending naughty text messages as well as serving a year long ban from the game for using a prohibited drug (diet pills provided by his mum no less!). Well it seems Warney may have got in to a spot of bother when he was in Christchurch last weekend. A very reliable source tipped off a national newsroom that Warne had been involved in an altercation outside the Merivale McDonalds at around three AM in the morning following a team dinner last weekend.

The source, (who most definitely won't be named) is adamant Warne had a bit of a dust-up outside the McDonalds restaurant. The local McDonalds spokesman confirmed cricketers had been in the premises on the night in question but is adamant none of their staff (many of whom are cricket fans) saw Shane Warne on the premises and there's no trace of any such incident on their security logs. The Papanui police were asked by a local reporter if any complaint had been laid. The officer spoken to pretty much sent them off with a flea in their ear accusing them of muckraking.

So did something happen or not? If it did, well it's not the sort of news that would surprise anyone given Warney's chequered past. McDonalds are confident nothing occurred, but then would they want the adverse publicity? The line from the Police is nothing happened, or at least if it did it's not worth bothering about. And while not wanting to demonise the Police they've been known to be economical with details on similar incidents in the past. Against all this we have a supposed eyewitness who won't go on the record with their allegations.

Much ado about nothing?

Thursday, January 27, 2005


Christchurch's Cashel Chambers went up in smoke this week. 120 years of history gone in an afternoon of flames and excitement. It's a sad story really, and one that gets repeated on an all too frequent basis. A historic building becomes rundown, it needs refurbishment but the cost of doing it to meet heritage and planning standards are egregious. What happens? The building stands abandoned and derelict as its owner is unable to knock it down, but can't afford (or is unwilling) to restore it. Over time it becomes a hangout for the homeless, streetkids, and vandals. Then one day the inevitable happens ... it burns down. Sadly it happened just after deals had been reached to preserve parts of its facade. So the building that was the site of the first Farmers Co-operative is gone forever.

Fortunately in this case no-one died. Though it could have easily been different. There were people in the building when it caught fire and firefighters actually removed a few of them before the fire really took hold. However there were at least two people that were unaccounted for which had the police nervous for a while. Their problem was that the people involved go by nicknames and pseudonyms and aren't noted for being punctual and checking in with friends and family on a regular basis. Police weren't sure exactly who they might be looking for. However the Fire Service were fairly confident they'd got everyone out. Luckily they were proved to be right. I remember another fire in a derelict house on Ferry Road about 10 years ago that killed a number of streetkids. It wasn't something I wanted to be a witness to then, and I'm glad the experience wasn't repeated.

Police say it was an arson. Now the task is to find out who did it. The smart money at the moment suggests either the homeless people that were squatting there, or young kids who were vandalising the place. Betting odds are about even on this one.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

How to Eat and Reduce Welfare Dependency

This one's for the Don.

Good on ya Dr Brash, your latest Orewa speech has inspired me to think long and hard about how we can beat this so called welfare dependency problem. I think I may have come up with a solution that'll beat both the welfare problem and poor nutrition in our social underclass.

I think we can take it as granted that if you are living below the poverty line there's a fair chance your diet may be somewhat lacking. Who lives below the poverty line? Well beneficiaries, obviously. What I'm suggesting is that we organise some sort of semi-random scheme where we split those on benefits into two categories. Let's call them diners and dinners. Those that are selected as diners are awarded a dinner. The concept being the diner eats the dinner thereby getting fed and reducing a welfare burden at the same time. Broadly speaking we could halve our problems overnight. But if we wanted to think a little smarter we could do even better. Instead of making a person eat one fat dole bludger, why not make them eat three skinny ones. Not only is it better for their health (just think of the cholesterol residing in the haunches of a 20 stone layabout who's studiously avoided paid employment for decades while subsisting on a diet of chips, cheap beer, and chocolate) but it makes an even bigger dent in the dole queue.

Now that's what I call a revolutionary approach to beating the dependency trap. Would you even consider going on a benefit if there was 50/50 chance you might end up being an entree for the person that's beside you in the dole queue?

I thought not.

In an off the topic aside; apparently the Whale Watch firm in Kaikoura has been having a hard time finding any ceteaceans since the Boxing day tsunamis. It seems the whales have disappeared! There's a very sick rumour doing the rounds that they've all headed off to Indonesia for a snack.