Who has got the cure for the sit-at-home blues? Ask Dr Grabthar. Now with bigger, easier to read font!

Friday, March 31, 2006

Micro Blogs

1. The day I finally decide (or rather finally get my arse in gear) to write about the crap weather everything clears up! Everyday this week I have been expecting to see the tortured remains of frigate F69 to be washed up in Houghton Bay.

Is anyone else sick of these 100 year storms that show up every other week? I’ve not lived in
Wellington to know if this is the norm, but at least we had a good summer this year.

Anyway, if there was ever a day for Fish and Chips (or Fush and Chups) in Waitangi Park today’s the day.

2. Last weekend I hired an Xbox 360 from my local video store with a copy of Madden 06. I was impressed by the console (though it was the “budget” $514 version with no hard drive) but the game sucked.

Actually now I think about it, the console was LOUD (it hummed louder than the TV volume) and the controllers didn’t vibrate (which is a small thing but how could I know my player was touching another player?)

The game felt like they had taken the non-360 version and just made it prettier. And MAN, was it prettier! The players really did look like they do in real life (well, you know, sort of), that is the big money, big name players. I took a closer look at Philadelphia Centre Hank Fraley and he was just a cartoon fat guy. It was also cool that some players had their actual voices recorded from real games.

The game play was terrible however. This seems to be because the game is meant to be a taster for Madden 07. There were no mini-games, no commentary from Madden or Al and the franchise mode was woeful at best. The player movement was a little weird though. A player sprinting at full stretch still looked like they were jogging and the intros to every game were the same (including the Superbowl) and there are no celebrations afterwards.

Speaking of games here is an American take on Rugby 06. I love the quote:

Still, it's good fun. Rugby 06 isn't as pretty as the bigger EA Sports games, but it isn't as larded down with excess crap, either; just lots of teams, lots of tournaments, and what we'll assume are famous players in a good tough sport

3. I have now joined the storied ranks of the Wellingtonista crew. I have been enlisted to fill in bits and pieces about sport and what-not around the Capital.

4. Has anyone seen the new Up-and-Go ad? It shows two fellas camping out get tickets for some event. There is another guy in the line ahead of them. They drink the product and when the other guy falls asleep they move him to the back of the queue.

What is the products theme? Drink Up-and-Go and become a jerk. It seems that this might be a new trend in advertising.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

[Sport] Haka is the plural of Haka

Continuing a grand tradition here at the Hammer of bringing you the best in internet haka videos, here is New Zealand’s Haka against the Tongan Siva Tau (sorry if that is spelt wrong) at the last rugby world cup.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

[Sport] A Dirty Three-way

So the Jets finally traded DE John Abraham (28yrs old, average 8.9 sacks per season). He had become quite surly in New York and was obviously angry that the Jets had franchise-tagged him just to trade him (which is now illegal under the new collective bargaining agreement, it’s in there trust me).

The trade went three ways between Atlanta, Denver and the Jets. Everyone got what they wanted: the Jets got an extra pick in the first round of the draft; Abraham gets to play for Atlanta (which is closer to his mother and his daughter); Denver gets the #15 pick this year (in addition to the #22 pick they have from Washington); and Atlanta gets Abraham (to complement DE Patrick Kerney) and a couple of third round picks.

Here is a run down of who got what and what they gave up for it.


Gave up


New York Jets

DE John Abraham

2006 first round pick #29


2006 first round pick #15

DE John Abraham

2006 third round pick #93

2007 fourth round pick #??

Denver Broncos

2006 first round pick #29

2006 third round pick #93

2007 fourth round pick #??

2006 first round pick #15

Personally I think Atlanta may have done quite well (unless Abraham gets injured again). The Jets will be a little disappointed to get #29 instead of #15 or (especially) #22, but it’s still a good deal, an extra low pick like 6th rounder might have been a nice sweetener though. But the Broncos traded three draft picks to move 14 places up the draft order. I’m unsure if this is a wise move but we’ll find out in a few years.

Adam Schefter wrote about a nice coincidence regarding this trade:

It only figures that the Broncos would land the 15th overall pick in the upcoming draft. The Broncos have more history in the slot than most teams.

In 1996, with Mike Shanahan's first first-round draft pick with the Broncos, Denver selected linebacker John Mobley at No. 15.

In 2000, the Broncos traded up in the draft and selected cornerback Deltha O'Neal at No. 15.

Then two years ago, the Broncos wanted wide receiver Michael Clayton, who wound up going to Tampa Bay at No. 15. Denver then opted for linebacker D.J. Williams.

Now, thanks to the three-way trade involving Atlanta, the New York Jets and Denver, the Broncos are back in familiar territory.

Skeleton’s in my iCloset

I’m just going to do this like a band-aid. Here is the list of the “Top Ten songs on my iPod that I am always afraid will come up when other people are listening”:

1. Say My Name – Destiny’s Child (Destiny’s Child: Greatest Hits)

I put a bunch of songs on my iPod from Amy’s CDs, this was one of them. There are two other D-Child songs on the iPod but I like them more.

2. I’m a Slave for You – Britney Spears (Britney)

Cough. Um, I am actually surprised that there aren’t more Britney songs on the iPod. I got a bunch of remixes of Toxic a while ago and I am a sucker for pop music. Oh, they are on my computer not my iPod. This was Britney’s “dirty” phase when she was in direct competition with Christina Aguliera.

3. In da Club – 50cent (Get Rich or Die Tryin’)

This is the ultimate song for White Boys who like to think they are “Gangsta”. Sigh, I am SO white, but I have no illusions about my gangsta-ness. I just like the way 50 (pronounced “fity”) mumbles his way through his songs.

4. Star Wars Cantina Song – John Williams (Star Wars: A New Hope Soundtrack)

Oh God! I am such a geek! I also have the Imperial March, but I really like that song.

5. Saturday Night(’s Alright for Fightin’) [Live] – Elton John with Anastacia (One Night Only)

Now, I wouldn’t be embarrassed if this was the original recording (or even if it was a live version from back in the day). But an old, fat, flamboyantly gay Elton teamed with pop “star” Anastacia singing about knife fights just doesn’t seem right.

6. What a Feeling – Irene Cara (Flashdance Soundtrack)

Damn you Amy! This should’ve been removed when I tidied up on the weekend. Previous songs from Amy on my iPod include Boston’s More Than a Feeling.

7. Rock Your Body – Justin Timberlake (Justified)

What can I say; it’s catchy and reminds me of Michael Jackson’s Thriller era.

8. Enter Sandman – Metallica (Metallica)

A spectre is haunting my iPod, the spectre of boganism.

9. Angie – the Rolling Stones (Goats Head Soup)

Having often voiced my opinion that I do not like the Rolling Stones, there is an irony (or hypocrisy) in me having a Stones album on my iPod. I like most of the songs but I do hate this one. Seriously.

10. Freakin’ it – Will Smith (Willenium)

Like the Britney Spears entry above, I am surprised that I only have one Will Smith song on my iPod. However, for some reason it is the worst song by him that I have. And like Justin Timberlake the album is a pun on his name.

Wow that was an extremely self-deprecating thing to do first thing in the morning. Feel free to send me your barbs and arrows. Or you could send me your embarrassing song lists. Whatever.

Now on a different note…

C’Mon Everybody! Do the iPod Shuffle!

Setting my video iPod to shuffle I get…

1. Goldfinger Shirley Bassey (James Bond 30th Anniversary Disc)

Ah, the classics

2. Do One – Gomez (Split the Difference)

I really love the twangy country-esque sound of this song. Big ups to Jose for putting me onto Gomez.

3. Nowhere to Run to – Martha and the Vandellas (???)

I can’t remember where I got this from but I’ve had it for ages. “Martha and the Vandellas” has to be one of the cooler band names in history.

4. Ize of the World – The Strokes (First Impressions of Earth)

Ah, New York rock.

5. Wrong Way – Sublime (Sublime)

This takes me back to 1997. What a great year!

6. Stone the Crows – Roots Manuva (Run Come Save Me)

This is easily Manuva’s best album. I found his last one was too dark and on Brand New Second Hand, it felt like he was still finding his feet.

7. Sir Psycho Sexy – Red Hot Chili Peppers (Blood Sugar Sex Magic)

Ever listened to the lyrics of this song? This was back when the Chilis were still edgy and cool and not just easy radio rock (if you’ll excuse Under the Bridge). I really don’t like the Chilis now. This is perfect first date music (ho ho)

8. She Don’t Use Jelly – Ben Folds Five (Lounge-A-Palooza)

Ah the Lounge Revival. I’m still waiting for the Lounge Revival Revival.

9. Eclipse – Robyn (Robyn)

I got this CD for the song Konichiwa Bitches (which is bloody awesome) and then found that the rest of the album was a non-offensive mix of angry pop songs so I dumped the whole lot onto the iPod. She's from Sweden by the way.

10. Boom! – The Roots (The Tipping Point)

Ah, there’s the Hip-Hop! The Tipping Point is a very good album that I only got recently. Happily, it is surprisingly dancy.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

We want Big Brother to watch sometimes

“Claims of Australian-biased television coverage of the Commonwealth Games have sparked controversy [in Australia]” says this article on Stuff.

Smaller nations, such as the Isle of Man (yes!), have been complaining about not getting to see medal ceremonies. The Isle of Man won its first gold medal in 20 years but claims that the medal award ceremony wasn’t shown because there were no Aussie medallists (given their current medal tally I find that hard to believe). Games chairman Ron Walker says it’s not the case (which means it probably is) but that they have implemented changes so that it won’t happen again.

We were talking about this the other night while taping our podcast (The Dropkicks: The world’s first southern hemisphere rugby podcast [plug plug plug]). In this current age of technology where I can get real-time image feeds of downtown Paris (France) from my desk in Wellington (New Zealand). But for some reason I can’t see the sports and ceremonies that I want to at an event that is COVERED in cameras! Hell even Zanzibar has a webcam!

TVNZ has free video on it’s website but this is just the coverage that would have on TV which has the same problem of being Aussie-centric (I also can’t watch it at work).

Kiwis haven’t had it so bad because we tend to be good at sports that Aussies are also good. That is to say we are lucky to see the games, not necessarily win them. The Aussies have to pay it seems for their web coverage, but I don’t think that they’ll be complaining too much.

Our idea (which, naturally, means that it is the best one) is to have all the cameras at the games going (which they always are) capturing the various events from various angles. Then have all of those feeds available for TV stations to pick from.

So, for example, TVNZ would pay $X for footage from X events can get to pick which camera feeds it wants and when. So if TVNZ wants to cut from swimming to cycling then they just have to change it themselves without having to put up with what the local Aussie channel wants. You could also offer packages to particular broadcasters (like Isle of Man TV) that could be cheaper and more specific (like showing that bloody ceremony).

You could probably make more money this way, and everyone would be happier. Remember the 2000 Olympics when the Kiwis came into the opening ceremony and the footage cut to ads?

Now if only we could actually win some bloody medals!!!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Feels like a blog day

Blog issue #1:

I finally made myself a “Good Morning” playlist on my iPod. This was after a gruelling session on the weekend improving and tweaking the iPod’s library so that I can put the thing on shuffle and not have to worry about crap songs coming up.

The reason I finally made the list (which I call “Good Morning Starshine”) is that post-daylight savings we have decided to continue to get up at the “same time”. This means getting up at 5am (which last week was 6am) and also means an extra 20mins before the bus shows up. In that 20mins I made a very kick-ass list.

Yes, 5am DOES suck.

Blog issue #2:

Today I, and a few others, was sent this email:

Please tell ten friends to tell ten today! The Breast Cancer site is having trouble getting enough people to click on their site daily to meet their quota of donating at least one free mammogram a day to an underprivileged woman. It takes less than a minute to go to their site and click on "donating a mammogram" for free (pink window in the middle).

This doesn't cost you a thing. Their corporate sponsors/advertisers use the number of daily visits to donate mammogram in exchange for advertising.

Here's the web site! Pass it along to people you know.


Now, I don’t normally do this sort of thing but I felt that I had to in order for me to reply to the e-mail’s sender:

I don't want to be a downer, but this is an American site.

Shouldn't I donate my time to the New Zealand version first? Is there a NZ version? Do I have to buy a tshirt?

I was dubious of the site from the start. Especially considering all of the paraphernalia that was being sold including “Breast Cancer tennis-style diamond anklets” (I had to ask what tennis-style was).

There are bigger issues that surround this. One is the idea of disconnected social interaction (i.e. by clicking a [dubious] button on a website I have contributed to the wellbeing of society and can rest on my laurels).

I had a look around all of the associated sites. A quick check in the FAQ section of The Hunger Site revealed that one year after the site won various awards (including a Webby) it was sold to two guys. The FAQ page also says that the Hunger Site is NOT not-for-profit (i.e. they make money off it).

Don’t click everything you see on the internet. [I clicked it and I hope that it helps someone, I really do]

I also noted (because I am a guy) that there don’t seem to be any sites of a similar nature for prostate cancer (which is essentially the “male version” of breast cancer).

Blog issue #3:

The reason that there have been no long rants here about the Super 14 is that I now do that through the medium of “podcasts”. The Dropkicks are the world’s first ever southern hemisphere rugby podcast and, to be very very modest, we are BLOODY funny.

But it is nice to know that the Super 14 is as boring as I expected it would be.

I have decided that I will write a special extra large rant regarding the current salary cap woes of various sports and how it could all sort itself out if the only listened to me. We make sure you come back for that one!

Sneaky Son of a …

Mike (aka Sideline Mike) has sneakily uploaded a great big hoary bunch of new photos! Quite a few are from his tour around Europe (with New York and Singapore thrown in as well). Mike’s a brilliant photographer and his snaps are well worth a look. What were you going to do anyway? Work?

PS. I just discovered that it has been a year since Mike has updated his photos so this is a BIG event.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Aardvark to Zebra

The other night I had Escargot for the first time. For those who are in that same category they tasted like mussels, which didn’t surprise me. As we were eating them we talked about Amy’s idea that we should actually eat less species because we already eat quite a lot. Especially the French, who eat a wide array of beautiful food made from the most disgusting things you can think of.

This reminded me of French zoologist Baron Georges Léopold Chrétien Frédéric Dagobert Cuvier. No it really did.

Baron Cuvier (1769-1832) was part genius part basketcase. He would throw elaborate parties in his mansion that would include parts of his menagerie including his drinking bear (which died of liver poisoning. Cuvier had vast halls filled with fossils and was the world’s greatest anatomist at the time. He discovered the Mammoth and was influential in the discovery of dinosaurs (influential in that he set it back many, many years, ironically by calling the bones those of a bird).

But I recalled the Baron, while eating snails at Francois, because he once declared that he wished to eat his way through the animal kingdom. Guests were occasionally served his gastronomic experiments such as mice on toast, giraffe casserole or shrew dumplings.

I liked the snails (very garlicy), but I don’t think that I’ll make it my regular entrée. The ice cream-filled pastry for dessert, however, that’s another story.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

[General] New New Zealander

(Nope not a typo.)

Tonight’s the census! I love censuses! No, really. I just love filling out forms. At the last one I made it sure it was me that filled out the household form for my flat.

Ahhhh, tick-box bliss.

But this year there has been a strong debate around the ethnicity question. Here is a quick blog run down:

And that’s about as far as I bothered looking this morning.

I looked at the partial form image that Tom had up and thought to myself, “What would I pick?” My milky-white skin and red hair pretty much gives me away as not being any of the options from Mäori to Indian.

My mother was adopted and I have no information about my (genetic) maternal grandfather. On my father’s side I am a pure WASP (which is not on the census form I might add).

HOWEVER (and this really does need to be capatalised) my father’s family came to New Zealand aboard the Monarch. The Monarch arrived before “the first four ships” (but after the first seven canoes as my girlfriend constantly reminds me; she has been here longer) and berthed in the Akaroa harbour and thus the Greens came to Aotearoa.

This does seem a bit long winded but my point is that my family is possibly one of the oldest non-Mäori families in New Zealand and I have never been to England (though I did get to Portugal and France). This means that I feel loathe to tick the “New Zealand European” box.

I work with census data a lot in my work and I understand what StatsNZ is hoping to get from the population so I’m not getting riled up. Like some people. What StatsNZ want, and what this question is usually used for later on, is only just a little bit deeper than “Where did you (or your ancestors) come from?”

To get around this I propose that Ethnicity should no longer be one question but a series of question devoted to the understanding of where you fit conceptually in society (a census of bees or ants would be so much easier). Of course the census cannot be changed due to reactions. StatsNZ were asking for submissions in late 2004! Gerry Brownlee getting angry now is no good.

That’ll do for my thoughts this morning. While I think that most of the angry people (including whoever sent out “that email”) are idiots, it does feel nice to have the debate. Don’t ya think?

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

[Sport] To Cap It All Off...

Another quick note on salary caps.

The NFL has had a salary cap for 12 years now. In the 12 years (1994-1983) prior to it introduction in 1994 there were six different winners and eleven different finalists*



Winner (previous wins)




Jan 30, 1983

Washington Redskins (1)


Miami Dolphins


Jan 22, 1984

Los Angeles Raiders (3)


Washington Redskins


Jan 20, 1985

San Francisco 49ers (2)


Miami Dolphins


Jan 26, 1986

Chicago Bears (1)


New England Patriots


Jan 25, 1987

New York Giants (1)


Denver Broncos


Jan 31, 1988

Washington Redskins (2)


Denver Broncos


Jan 22, 1989

San Francisco 49ers (3)


Cincinnati Bengals


Jan 28, 1990

San Francisco 49ers (4)


Denver Broncos


Jan 27, 1991

New York Giants (2)


Buffalo Bills


Jan 26, 1992

Washington Redskins (3)


Buffalo Bills


Jan 31, 1993

Dallas Cowboys (3)


Buffalo Bills


Jan 30, 1994

Dallas Cowboys (4)


Buffalo Bills

This means that In these years there was a non-repition rate of 0.45. (This is the number of different teams in the final divided by the total possible number of different teams. The lowest it can get is 2/[number of years], this would mean that the same two teams play in the final each year. A non-repitition rate of 1 is the "best " outcome).

In the years since it was introduced (1995-2006) there have been nine different winners and seventeen different finalists*.



Winner (previous wins)




Jan 29, 1995

San Francisco 49ers (5)


San Diego Chargers


Jan 28, 1996

Dallas Cowboys (5)


Pittsburgh Steelers


Jan 26, 1997

Green Bay Packers (3)


New England Patriots


Jan 25, 1998

Denver Broncos (1)


Green Bay Packers


Jan 31, 1999

Denver Broncos (2)


Atlanta Falcons


Jan 30, 2000

St. Louis Rams (1)


Tennessee Titans


Jan 28, 2001

Baltimore Ravens (1)


New York Giants


Feb 3, 2002

New England Patriots (1)


St. Louis Rams


Jan 26, 2003

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1)


Oakland Raiders


Feb 1, 2004

New England Patriots (2)


Carolina Panthers


Feb 6, 2005

New England Patriots (3)


Philadelphia Eagles



Pittsburgh Steelers (5)


Seattle Seahawks

That is, a whopping 0.7 non-repitition rate of teams in the Superbowl!

Also, there were over 50% more teams in the final and 50% more teams winning the whole thing. And of the teams that won between 1983 and 1994 only two (the Cowboys and 49ers) also won between 1995 and 2006.

In the Super 12/14 there have been three different winners in 10 years with six different finalists**.









45 – 21





23 – 7





20 – 13





24 – 19





20 – 19





36 – 6





31 – 13





21 – 17





47 – 38





35 – 25


This means a non-repititon rate of 0.3, which is bloody awful***.

If the Super 14 were to take up a salary cap and follow the same trend as the NFL that would mean in the next 10 years there would be four different winners (of which only one would be the same as the previous ten years) and nine different finalists.

Imagine that! A competition where the team you support (no matter which team that may be) has a chance of getting into the finals! Nah, what am I thinking with a salary cap in place the players wouldn’t get paid what they are worth.

[Just take a moment and let that sarcasm sink in]

* Out of a possible 12 different winners 24 different finalists

** Out of a possible 10 different winners 20 different finalists
*** Just for comparrison the salary-capped NRL has had an N-R rate of 0.69 in 8 years; the uncapped MLB has an N-R rate of 0.59 over the last eleven years (since the last player strike)