Armageddon 50% longer, but is it any better ?

Although I am struggling to get over a cold, I must say I was disappointed by Armageddon this year. This year for the first time Armageddon in Christchurch runs for 3 days, including the NZ Queen’s Birthday public holiday Monday 4 June. The number of international media stars attending as guest speakers, is more than ever before. However there just seemed to be less people attending during the day (Saturday), and less stalls. Perhaps audience numbers will be spread out more through Sunday and holiday Monday ?

Several “major players” who are ALWAYS at Armageddon, were noticable by their absence … Trinity Treasures, Reel Collectables, and Retrospace. Even Blastosaurus was missing (not so major, but a significant self-published graphic novel and NZ local comic author). It turns out, Richard Fairgray who writes and draws Blastosaurus, has re-located to Hollywood California and is well involved in the comic-book scene there.

Congratulations go to MADMAN who had a large well-stocked and well-staffed stall selling a good range of merchandise, but I am afraid I must hand the wooden-spoon of last place to “Mighty Ape”. Usually they are one of the biggest merchants at Armageddon, but this year their stall is the second smallest size available. It is by the looks of it, one-sixth the size of last year’s stall (and with 1/6 the stock to sell by the looks of it).

Sorry MightyApe usually you are my best-mate, but this year I’m calling you “Mini-Ape” ! Very disappointed with your stall and showing. Windows computers had a large setup with many computers available for a free gaming session and some kind of live interactive chat-show was happening in the corner of the Windows area, talking about gaming, but being located  just opposite the MiniApe stall, with speakers blasting so  very loudly that you couldn’t even think straight.

The best thing about this year’s Armageddon was the amazing costumes, worn by many participants, including some children and whole families. Anime, Star Wars, Dr Who and Star Trek featured often among the many amazing costumes.

Much of my loss in enjoyment this year is because of the new rule (or at least newly-publicised rule) that says that the audience may not video-record the guest panel talks. I had been assuming that the management would be videoing them and later selling DVDs (one camera was “usually” trained on the guest speaker(s) but it didn’t have a dedicated operator so at times was filming thin air as the panel talk participants moved around the stage at times. So, no, it looks like no permanent record was made, and DVDs will NOT be made available for sale later.

Also missing this year were ALL of the “eating competitions” which are IMMENSELY popular with children and young adults, ie the vast majority of their principle target demographic. In past years, eating several ice creams without using hands, or chowing down on a pizza covered with extra hot sauce has provided much amusement to the audience.

Parked outside, talking to the attendees as they entered the  building, was K.I.T.T. the intelligent Knight Rider car from the hit TV series of the 1980’s (not necessarily the actual original car !).  Laser-tag games were available in a dedicated area inside the building (I believe an extra charge applied for that), but I did not see any large sit-in-the-seat type comupter games like there had been in past years. Elsewhere, areas had been set aside for some screenings of anime’ and an area  was said to be dedicated for card-gamers, but I never noticed any.  (In past years there had been organised competitions and many tables of active card-gamers). I stuck my head in to the area set aside for anime’ screenings a couple of times, but never saw more than 3 people in the audience at a time, yet enough chairs had been set out for over 40 people. Perhaps more people watched at other times when I wasn’t looking ?

Armageddon is a fun experience again, to be sure, but this year it just seemed to be a lot less fun. Maybe it’s because I’m still struggling to get over this cold-bug, or maybe I’m just plain getting too old !

Here is a link to one of the video segments I did film at ChchGeddon 2018.

The Christchurch Press newspaper’s online website Stuff has a write-up, which on Sunday morning described the attendance on Saturday as “Hundreds” (perhaps this was just a figure of speech and perhaps it should have said “thousands”). In the past the numbers hit 5,000 for a Saturday and 4,000 on a Sunday. Being a three day weekend this time, I think the organisers would be very disappointed if they didn’t get at the very least 4,000 people each day. (UPDATED… shortly after the convention closed, the organisers have said that total attendance was in excess of 19,000 people. Given it was a cold, rainy wet weekend and with road-works and detours around the convention centre area, that is a very respectable number indeed. This year did have the greatest number by far of international guests so hopefully the organisers did well enough financially to run another Armageddon for us sci-fi and media-starved Christchurchians next year ! ) Here follows a link to the Stuff story, about Saturday that went online during Sunday.

https://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/104426730/fandom-and-costumes-on-display-at-christchurch-armageddon

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Innocent driver, convicted of Manslaughter

I have been following a case in the media for some time now.

On 24 June 2016, Lance Robinson aged 28, was driving along a road up near Hamilton in the North Island. He was driving a high performance Nissan Skyline and he is suspected of driving at well over the speed limit (suggestions are about 150kmh). He lost control of his car and went over the centre-line, subsequently crashing head-on with a van travelling the other way.

The van driver did survive the crash but was badly injured and his van one assumes was totally wrecked. The media reports have not detailed whether his financial losses were covered by insurance, nor has it been reported to what extent he has recovered from his injuries. (It is possible that news media in the North Island has covered this story in more depth).

Unfortunately Lance Robinson while driving, had three passengers in his car, and in his care, and they all died. So that was him as the driver and all three passengers, dead. Tests later showed he had more than three times the legal limit of alcohol in his system and slight traces of methamphetamine and other drugs. (would you call that “well pissed”, or just “as-drunk-as-a-skunk”  ?)

Now obviously this is a tragedy indeed, especially for the families, friends and greater whanau of all of those involved.

But it seems to me that a grave injustice has been done by our legal system.

Perhaps the coppers and their mates at the Crown Prosecuter’s Office were just having a bad hair day, and feeling all sour-faced that they couldn’t bust Lance Robinson for speeding, drugged and dangerous driving leading to the injury and death of his passengers (because Lance being dead, effectively, legally,  he “got-away-with-it”).

Anyway, in their infinite wisdom they have charged another younger man, who was in the general vicinity at the time. They even charged his front seat passenger with several alleged offences !

Dylan Cossey, aged 20, was driving his Honda Integra and Stephen Jones, 20, was his passenger.

Now just to be clear, there has not, certainly going by media reports, been even the slightest hint or suggestion that Dylan’s car actually bumped into the Nissan car which crashed. It is not even suggested that Dylan’s car even came close to bumping into the Nissan, requiring the Nissan driver to make a dangerous swerve, leading to a loss of control.

No, Dylan was simply driving along the same stretch of road at the same time. (I do not know that stretch of road, but assume it was dual lane, and that Dylan was in the left lane and Lance in the right lane).

Police allege Dylan Cossey was also speeding and engaging in a “race” with the Nissan that was being driven by Lance Robinson which later crashed into the van.

Yeah well it takes two to tango boyo, if the guy, Dylan was speeding and police have evidence, charge him with that.

Now as far as we know, the cars had no particular mechanical defects and were NOT fitted with experimental remote control devices.

LET US BE CLEAR. THE SPEED OF THE NISSAN WAS CONTROLLED BY LANCE ROBINSON’S FOOT ON HIS CAR’S ACCELERATOR PEDAL. If he went too fast and crashed and killed himself and 3 others and injured the van driver, that is 100% Lance Robinson’s fault. One, Hundred, Percent, Lance, Robinson’s, Fault !

Was Dylan Cossey unwise to enter into an un-official illegal race (if that is what he did). Yes certainly. Could he, should he, be charged with relevent offences, like exceeding the speed limit and racing. Certainly.

But charging someone else driving down the same road, with four counts of Manslaughter is at the very least “heavy handed” and to my, untrained legal eye, seems like a GROSS ABUSE OF LEGAL PROCESS !

Initially they even charged Dylan’s passenger, Stephen Jones, with failing to stop at the scene of an accident.

What drugs are these people on ? (The coppers and crown persecutors I mean !). He was the passenger for frack sake.

Much has been made lately of how Dylan ‘got off easy’, as being ultimately convicted by a jury of four counts of Manslaughter, he has been given the soft option of home detention for a year and community work.. He has been forbidden to drive for 7 years. The Crown Prosecutor wanted him jailed for a minimum of eight years. (I wouldn’t call that “heavy-handed” i’d call that absolutely obscene !).

To me that seems a terrribly harsh penalty for just driving down the road and NOT having a crash !

I am un-clear of the exact law regarding stopping at the scene of SOMEONE ELSE’s crash, to render assistance (where you were NOT a party to the crash itself). It’s my understanding that if you are INVOLVED in the crash you must stop and render assistance. “Render assistance” can mean to remain in your locked vehicle and phone or radio for help, this is what armoured security cash vans do. NZ Case law, from the 1980’s allows you to leave a crash scene without stopping, but ONLY if you have fears for your safety. The case involved back then was a street riot was going on, but one could be endangered by spilled fuel for example. If it was a large petrol tanker truck, perhaps driving on, about half a kilometre down the road and then calling in the crash from there !). In the 1980’s case, the authorities tried to get the driver for “hit-and-run”, but failed in court, as he had indeed called for assistance and made himself known to traffic authorities, ‘as soon as practicable’ afterwards, when he was a safe distance from the accident site.

Obviously we would expect most people to be civic minded and human enough as to stop and render what assistance they could at the scene of a crash. However without just stopping to rubber-neck and become a traffic hazard in themself.

Especially if a person DID NOT have proper first aid or rescue training, a person’s best way of helping at the scene of a crash, might be to drive on carefully past it, keeping well out of the way, to a place further along where one can get a good cell-phone signal or use of a landline phone at a house or petrol station etc and phone the emergency services from there.

There is no doubt about the tragic loss of life that the crash caused. Four youngish men are dead, one man was badly injured and his van buggered up, (and goodness knows if he’s had any joy from insurance and ACC). But, in my opinion, to charge the even younger Dylan Cossey with such serious offences seems like massive, well, “over-kill” on the part of our legal system.

One article re-prints the “question trail” which the jury in the trial had to consider.

Now a “question trail” is a common way, agreed to by all, the judge, the prosecution and the defence lawyers, as a way of helping a team of non-legal trained jurors to reach a safe and legal verdict, one way or the other.

Here is the question trail as printed in the Stuff online Fairfax newspaper site of 20 February 2018.

“…The jurors were asked:

Are you sure that Dylan Cossey was operating a motor vehicle on a road?

Are you sure that he was operating the motor vehicle in a race?

Are you sure that he intended to operate the motor vehicle in a race?

Are you sure that the race was not authorised by law?

Are you sure that Dylan Cossey caused the death of Lance Robinson by operating a motor vehicle in a race?

The jurors had to consider each of the other charges the pair are facing with the assistance of similar question trails. …”

Well I have concerns that the jury may have made an error in this case, as I think that they have erred with respect to that last question.

Being… “Are you sure that Dylan Cossey caused the death of Lance Robinson by operating a motor vehicle in a race?”

Listen get this through your heads, Dylan didn’t “cause the death”. Lance Robinson CAUSED HIS OWN DEATH by having his foot down hard on the accelerator pedal and keeping it there.

Dylan did NOT have a remote control making the accelerator of Lance’s car go faster. Dylan wasn’t reaching in through Lance’s car with a long piece of bent tree-branch pushing down on Lance’s accelerator for him.

Lance was pushing down on his own accelerator, he chose to do it, and he did it willingly and continuously until he died, because, he was either a full time idiot, or at the very least, was a wee bit of an idiot, having a bit of a silly moment at that particular point in time.

Even *if* Dylan wanted to drive his car at a speed that was faster than the legal speed limit, Lance did not have to also drive at a fast speed.

(As I drive down the road at the legal speed limit myself, and other cars blast past me doing 30 km/h+ over. I hope none of them are as pissed as chooks, because if they later crash into a van further down the road, *I* might be charged with manslaughter too !) That really is how stupid, this recent court case has been.

Lance, AND LANCE ALONE decided on the speed his car would travel at. If he made bad decisions and went too fast for the conditions, that is Lance’s fault, NOT Dylan’s, (and that goes whether it is too fast because it’s wet, icy, or a gravel road etc).

I realise that Dylan Cossey and his passenger were both represented by fully qualified and competent lawyers in their court appearances. However I wonder if a different legal strategy could have been taken during their defence at trial, and if a different outcome, a better outcome for Dylan Cossey, might have been obtained ?

Here are links to the stories about the trial verdict and later, the subsequent sentencing. I will mention again that there might be more to this story that I haven’t heard, as Hamilton is in the North of the North Island, a long way from here in Christchurch.

My condolences go out to all of those that died in this tragic accident and to the van driver who suffered substantial injuries.

https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/101589802/guilty-verdicts-for-driver-in-quadruple-death-crash-manslaughter-trial

https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/103275003/why-a-driver-convicted-of-manslaughter-isnt-going-to-jail

ADDITIONAL… after writing this  blog article I came across another item in the media, dating from February 2018. It mentions several other cases where drivers of “other cars” were charged with offences related to the crash of a car that they were NOT driving.

https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/101680368/quadruple-death-crash-manslaughter-verdict-a-lesson-for-hoon-drivers

UPDATED 25 May 2018… those plonkers up in Hamilton-land have appealed ! Yep that’s right, like Inquisitors grinning at a witch-burning ritual, the Crown Persecutor’s department are appealing the sentence handed out to the young man for simply driving fast along a road and NOT crashing into anyone ! The article linked to below contains mostly a re-hash of the story so far, apart from a few updated lines detailing that an appeal has been lodged against the sentence already handed down. What part of the facts don’t these highly paid public servants understand ? The other guy, Lance Robinson, was as drunk as a skunk, and on drugs. He and he alone pushed his accelerator to the floor, and kept it there until he was dead. He’s the phukk-wit, stop trying to make other people pay the price, because Lance chose to throw his own life away !

https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/104217915/appeal-lodged-against-dylan-cosseys-home-detention-sentence-for-hamilton-airport-crash-that-killed-four

Why “scalping” of concert tickets is a good thing

There has been a lot of hoo-har lately about “ticket scalping”. ie the selling of football or music concert tickets for more, often much more, than their originally issued price.

Currently in New Zealand ticket scalping is permitted for “almost all” activities. There have been a handful of exclusions specifically set out in law, but apart from that, scalping, ie the on-selling of concert tickets is legal.

(Apparently in Australia, there are far more exclusions where it is NOT permitted).

Of course there will be many cases, especially when the tickets for many music concerts are sold months, sometimes almost a year, in advance, that a change of circumstances will mean that someone cannot ultimately attend. Perhaps they suffered an injury or illness, or moved address to the far end of NZ.

Concerns have been raised in two main areas. Firstly how primary sellers like Ticketmaster sold completely out of tickets, tens of thousands, within just a few minutes of sales opening online. And then how so many of those originally sold tickets ended up on Ticketmaster’s own re-selling website just MINUTES later, for greatly inflated prices.

However more consternation has been caused by Kiwis using a Swiss based re-selling site, “Viagogo” to buy tickets. Viagogo pays for internet advertising in such a way that it appears at or near the top of web search pages, often above even the original ticket seller’s own webpage.

Now just to be clear, Viagogo is NOT a scam. It is a genuine site, a web platform that allows people with “excess tickets” to place tickets for sale and it acts as intermediary, taking a commission. They also guarantee that tickets bought through the site are valid and will be honoured. Many folks have had trouble getting that guarantee itself honoured though, as telephone support is difficult to access in NZ with automated assistance options only in French, Italian and Swiss-German.

There’s also the distress factor caused when people turn up in say Auckland for a concert, having paid for airfares and hotel accomodation as they’ve come from elsewhere in NZ to attend a music concert, only to be turned away at the venue’s turnstyle gate, as the tickets they have are not valid.

Some people have suggested that NZ should go the way of Australia and some other countries and ban ALL ticket re-sales through secondary or third party platforms

However here are my thoughts. Now I enjoy listening to music at times, although I am not as into music as some folks are. (I’ve only ever been to one actual real concert, in the 1980’s when friends shouted me a ticket to see John Denver with multiple support acts opening for him including from memory Little River Band ). I’ll happily live the rest of my life without ever going to another real music concert again. Yeah it’d be nice to go out to another concert, but living without attending music concerts or football grand finals matches would not cause me any real distress, loss or hardship in my life.

However If I had to live without adequate housing, that would be a severe problem.

And yet our current housing systems, specifically buying, amount to basically a “scalpers market”. Also we hear stories about how in Auckland and Wellington, even renters face almost a “scalping” type situation as they effectively ‘bid’ to try to secure a place at home viewings.

The provision of housing, especially in our main cities is artificially restricted (mostly by specific  government policies at a national and local council level). Many people buy houses they do not intend to live in, just so they can sell them on at higher prices a few weeks,  or months later, walking away with a substantial profit (often tax-free).

One recent newspaper article concerned a woman known as “Pippa the Flipper” (Pip Hally).

Just to be clear… Lady, you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.

She refers to being “chuffed” at having sold on a house to a new purchaser having inflated the price by over $100,000 in just a few weeks or months, from what price she originally bought it for.

(And to be fair, at least in her case, she says she adds insulation and has 50-year-old wiring and plumbing renewed), whereas many other house “flippers” do little more than splash a bit of paint around and run the whipper-snipper ’round the garden, before bunging a few zeroes on the price and re-selling the house (as they walk away, laughing all the way to the bank).

In another example, from Auckland, a cash-strapped historic bowling club sold off some of their land. Only later did they realise that a same-day on-selling, netted a related party $525,000 cash in their back pocket ! (Money the bowling club could have well used themselves).

UPDATED 16 April 2018 On the consumer reports series FAIR GO on TVNZ-1, the Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi was quoted as saying that the government was “committed to stopping the secondary market in ticket scalping” and further that “I think that you shouldn’t have to pay too much for a (concert) ticket”.

It seems to me wrong that some governments have banned, or are thinking of banning, the on-selling of music concert and football game tickets, and yet they openly allow, facilitate and encourage folks to re-sell houses and land, often at huge profits. People can live without the luxury entertainment of concert tickets but cannot live without essentials like housing.

Just to be clear, the title for this item is a cross between tongue-in-cheek and a windup. I actually “don’t” support selling tickets for more than their original issue price. Perhaps if houses and land were required to be sold for the same, or  less than, their original issue price, that would help fix our currently very broken, “housing market”. Certainly folks that buy a brand new car expect to lose 30% of the value as they drive it off the dealer’s lot, and then continue to lose 10% of value each year after that, no matter how well maintained the car is.  That’s the price of having the newest car in the street with the glossiest paint. Shouldn’t about the same formula apply to old houses ?

Note the recently instituted “2 year bright line test” is a bit of a joke as you only have to claim something is your “family home” anyway, for it then to become automatically exempt !

Here follows links to the original stories about Viagogo concert ticket re-selling and House and land flipping for a profit.

https://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/sport/102394783/fraudulent-viagogo-ticket-holders-turned-away-from-highlanders-v-crusaders-clash

https://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/homed/102084851/pippa-the-flippa-and-the-flipping-housing-market

https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/property/91243185/House-flippers-made-180-000-in-two-days

https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/property/101794140/bowling-club-land-was-sold-twice-in-one-day–with-a-525000-price-jump

https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/102695728/random-act-of-kindness-leaves-elderly-woman-out-of-pocket

Building’s owner, has two-thirds of protected public tree hacked away, to get better sea-view

S1140008Some years ago I was living in Western Australia and I recall just two episodes, as bad as this, where residents of expensive waterfront property, did irreparable permanent damage to the publically owned tree-scape along the bank of the Swan River, and to a  protected rock reef, on Rottnest Island.

This is the longest of 8 filmed segments at Sumner beach, this Saturday, (not Sunday !) 17 February 2018. Apologies for one incident of strong language ! Sorry but I felt very strongly about this.

Just previously on Wednesday afternoon, the building owner John Visser, “got” (paid or tricked him ?) someone with a large carpenter’s handsaw to hack away about two-thirds of a protected, 90-year-old, Norfolk Island Pine tree.

The tree was specifically “protected” and was on council land. Due to the growth habit of this particular type of tree the damage is irreparable.

Navi Singh is the tenant who runs the Blackbird Cafe and Bar, operating out of the building and he says people have cancelled bookings since the tree was hacked at.

The council are investigating. I hope they sue the phukkers responsible for whatever it costs to replace this tree with one which looks like what this looked like before, and as described in my video, the costs for doing a “not ordinarily possible” task are likely to amount to NZ $250,000 or more (maybe much more).

 

Here (hopefully !)  is a link to a video I recorded earlier today.  But if the clickable link fails, just try searching Youtube for a video titled

751. “eco-terrorism” Hacked Norfolk Pine tree, Sumner, 17/02/18

 

 

Following that is a link to the first, and then second stories, as featured on the Christchurch “Press” newspaper’s, Stuff website. (They both worked when I checked them earlier).  It’s worth noting that a photo accompanying it in the newspaper was from a different angle and showed some different details, than the several photos accompanying the website articles.

 

https://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/101455443/diy-tree-trimming-job-in-seaside-christchurch-suburb-ecoterrorism-community-board-member-says

 

https://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/101482972/man-regrets-ordering-branches-to-be-cut-from-protected-sumner-pine-tree

Lifestyle block residents in prestigious area, complain about annual $30 water charge

HouseNEroadisland2Sorry, I have no sympathy for these folks. This tiny community on Banks Peninsula, not far from Akaroa, has a small community water service which costs them just $30 per household, per year, and is run as a community co-operative.

The water is not treated and often fails to meet recommended health guidelines. Simply engaging a formalised study will cost them almost $1,000 per household. Many residents currently either buy bottled drinking water or have folks bring in containers when visiting nearby Akaroa, or Christchurch.

Well DIKK-HEDZ, just get y’self a friggin’ rainwater tank ! I had just one 900 gallon tank in remote Western Australia, and because it refills several times through the year, it works out that I could get about 4,000 or 5,000 gallons out of it. At the time of buying it, 1995, the tank cost about $600 and was guaranteed for 25 years (but if located in a shady area, such as under my verandah, had an expected lifespan of 50 years).

I used that water for my drinking, including unboiled refrigerated water and never had any related health problems, and there was no treatment to my water, except for a basic “leaf” and debris filter at the rain entry point. I once found a small scorpion in there, washed almost clear in colour. I guess I did ingest a microscopic amount of scorpion cell colouration chemical ! He was still alive and healthy though, so I liberate him a few hundred metres down the road.

These people are so lucky and blessed to live the lifestyle they do in their community, and they’re whinging for no good reason ! Suck it up, and get yourself a small rainwater tank just for drinking etc. Note that on a very rare occasion, I think just once or twice in 17 years, when my scheme (“city) water supply was discoloured in Western Australia, I simply hand carried in buckets water from my rainwater tank to fill the washing machine. However some people with countriy properties are entirely dependant on rainwater tanks, or at the very least, have the tank water plumbed on separate pipes to come into the house for convenience. The photo above is of my WA rural property, photo taken about 2005, from the road just to the North of the house.

Here’s a link to the original article in Christchurch Press newspaper’s Stuff website from 11 February 2017.

https://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/89033679/okains-bay-residents-want-drinkable-water

UK Poolice… are you shitting me ?

According to the texts, human digestion takes one to three days. I guess it depends mostly on different individuals and how much of what vegetables. or meats have been eaten lately.

One has to wonder, how on Earth, some UK “Poolice” have been allowed to keep getting court orders to allow them to keep a suspect in custody with no actual evidence. Lamarr Chambers, aged 24 from Essex.

They claim that they are waiting for him to poop out some drugs, but as it passes day 21, and they seek further court orders, I would seriously worry if this is not just a deliberate abuse of court process. Perhaps they suspect his backside of being a particularly large “chamber” ?

Yes, most healthy adults can “hold it in” for a short while. Y’know how it is, you’ve got to “go”, but you’re only halfway home and the car’s stuck in traffic etc. So yes, most healthy adults can hold it in for awhile. But soon after getting in the door, you run to the loo and do what ya gotta do !

I find it hard to believe someone can deliberately not-poop for more than 3 weeks, and therefore wonder if this is just another way that “poolice” are using to harass people they don’t like, but who they have no actual evidence against.

In NSW Australia, cops have taken to using “drug-dogs” as an excuse to stop and search people in public, even though such searches have about a 95% false positive failure rate. Curiously that is about the same failure rate as the electoral roll “corrections” that were performed by the Republican run electoral commission in Florida USA, as they stripped primarily Democrat voters from the rolls, just before the state election, and therefore the win Federally, went to the Bush presidency (George W. Bush) in 2000.

Just how much longer, will these temporary court orders keep getting renewed ? In Egypt the court there has been extending monthly, for more than a year now, the detention of an AlJazeera journalist. I am not sure if he is being accused of anything, other than, being a decent bloke, and in Egypt it seems, that’s a serious charge.

UPDATED as of 2 March, there’s still been no “movement” and Lamarr Chambers, the accused person, after 44 days, is still locked up in a jail cell by agents of the local Gestapoo ! A person could be forgiven for thinking the judge was at least inept, if not outright corrupt, as the only evidence against him is a claim that “officers saw him moving his head towards his hand as if he was eating something,” prosecutor Kathy Wilson said. (yeah so maybe a fly was buzzing around his head, and he gave the famous “Australian Salute” ! ).

 

FINAL UPDATE … A report from 7 March (UK time)  said the charges were dropped and he was released from poolice custody after 47 days locked up. He has been taken to a hospital for observation (possibly they will give him a laxative, possibly they will give him private access to a toilet so he can sit down and have a poop in peace, with privacy and dignity). Poolice have though charged him with some vague OTHER offence about drugs. Something I find terribly disturbing about virtually every single report I have read about this case, is how the UK based media have continuously assumed that (1) the guy is guilty of drugs offences and (2) that he is “refusing” to go to the toilet. Firstly, he *might* well be completely innocent of all charges, and secondly, perhaps he just has not needed to go. Maybe, however unlikely, he has a really weird digestive system, or perhaps he has not ever felt the urge to go, given that, according to one report, there are two grown men in the same room with him, at all times, day or night. I know that’d give me the shits ( well the un-shits !) .

 

Here’s a link to the article on Christchurch newspaper’s “Stuff” website.

https://www.stuff.co.nz/world/europe/101284827/suspected-dealer-has-refused-to-poo-out-drugs-for-three-weeks-uk-police-say

“Future Slums” coming soon to YOUR street

Throughout all of New Zealand, but especially in Auckland and Christchurch, we know that there is a shortage of housing and a massive shortage, of “affordable” housing.

(Indeed if instead of using the government’s modified interpretation of the word “affordable” to mean “actually affordable under normal bank lending criteria by a worker earning what wages are actually paid”, then there is zero affordable housing available to be bought in Auckland and Christchurch).

Congratulations therefore would seem appropriate for the two young men (Matthew Horncastle and Blair Chappell) who have, according to an article in this week’s newspapers, built more homes in inner city Christchurch than even the Government.

Given their kickstart in life by being part of the Horncastle real estate family dynasty, (which they admit has helped with their education and finances) they’ve still put in a lot of effort themselves.

However I fear that much of their efforts have been misguided and they have simply been building (what one commentator, Jono5 described as) “future slums”. The guys suggest in one article that their buildings will stand for 100 to 200 years. That could be an awful lot of slum-living for an awful lot of unfortunate people. Their buildings in my neighbourhood of the Central City area, look little better than a prison. There seems to have been no thought given as to efficient solar passive design for example. Just plain rectangular boxes, two-stories high.

Another article pointed out how many people are against their 39 unit development opposite Hagley Park. Yes I’m sure it’s being built to comply with all council and legal requirements. But since Christchurch “Shitty” Council recently changed their rules, new housing is permitted with ZERO car-parking on site and ZERO direct motor vehicle access.

Their currently under-construction Hagley Park “future slum” is in an area which already suffers from a massive shortage of parking. Many nurses and other hospital support employees already have to be bussed in on extra private shuttle buses from parking areas well away from the area. That’s because some bright-spark decided to do massive re-development to Christchurch’s main hospital at the same time as surrounding buildings, all while no parking building was available.

(After several years of talking, they are now saying a new parking building will be built in another two or three years. It’s been suggested that it’ll be privately owned and operated, probably by the likes of Wilson Parking, a Singapore owned company, famous for providing minimal actual “service” at maximum cost).

I live in the inner city, a small block of 1970’s built units, four being two-bedroom and a three-bedroom unit. We all have one garage space and one car-parking space on the drive beside. Yet as a “micro-community” we usually run to well over 12 cars, and that’s even though several of us have bicycles which we do use sometimes also.

Just down the road from here is one of “Williams Corporation’s” builds. It’s been finished for a couple of months now and sits empty, by the looks of it, un-sold and un-rented.

By amalgamating two unusually very-small individual house’s sections, they have built six tiny two-storey units. Just simple rectangular boxes. Not even with small upstairs balconies (it’s been known since the 1950’s that balconies “should” be installed on two-storey and above buildings). By checking the council website it seems they each occupy about 70m2 of land (includes a small outdoor courtyard,  and room to park your bicycle and council rubbish bins).

In common with the William’s ethos, there is zero car-parking on-site, and currently just one legal car-parking space on the road outside. (Full disclosure, it’s on the corner of a busy intersection, and the arrangement and future re-painting of yellow lines might at some later date be tweaked to allow 3 street-side car parks).

In a wander around the neighbourhood a few weeks ago I saw several more of their constructions, they seemed to be built to exactly the same plan. I will go back for another look later, but I do not recall seeing any car-parking available on-site there either.

The guys claim that folks nowadays prefer to use their bicycle to go everywhere or to pay for “Uber” taxi rides. Although that’s true to a VERY limited degree, I think the people able to pay NZ $375,000 for a one-bedroom apartment, are likely to also have the financial means, and the requirement, to own a car.

Here follows two links. The first is to one of the original stories this week, and the Second is a link to a short video showing the outside of one of their “future slums”. I have been waiting for a “Home Open” when I could go in and take some photos of the inside, but have never seen a home open advertised. Although several of the windows sport “For Rent” signs stuck to their insides. Those six nearby units appear to still be empty. (UPDATED 13 February 2018. I was past earlier and saw several windows opened. I’m not sure whether they were just airing the places out prior to a “home open” or showing, or perhaps some people have moved in there now. I’ll check it out more closely later, and get back to you.)

https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/100925722/we-get-to-design-cities-williams-corporations-ambitious-development-plans