Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Children on flights

The controversy that has erupted about New Zealand member of parliament Charles Chauvel telling a child on an airline flight to shut up reminds me of an incident related to me by a mother who is a cousin of mine.

This woman and her child, an 8 year old boy, were flying from London to New York. Now this child is something of a handful. Her mother admits he a little ADHD but the correct diagnosis is probably Aspergers. Anyway, he is difficult to control at the best of times, let alone when he is confined to a small airline seat for six hours.

I'm not sure exactly what the child did, but the passengers complained so fiercely about his behaviour that the cabin staff asked the mother if they could administer a sedative. The mother refused (she is one of those new-age, liberal, "my child needs to fully express himself" natural remedy type of mothers, which is probably half the reason the child was so unreasonable to begin with) and eventually the child's behaviour was reported to the pilot.

The situation got to the point where the pilot threatened to turn the aircraft around and return to Heathrow if the mother did not allow the child to be sedated. Eventually, she acquiesced and the flight continued on its way. At the time I found the mother's account of the incident hilarious (after all, it is not every child that can provoke a response normally reserved for hijackers) but I'm sure the other passengers on the flight did not.

Putting up with badly behaved children and their irresponsible parents is one of the banes of airline travel. Last time I flew from New Zealand to London we had to put up with a child who screamed pretty much continuously for the whole journey. The entire passenger cabin groaned audibly when we saw the child and his parents re-embark after the transit stopover in Los Angeles, with everyone sharing the common hope that their journey had ended there.

As a parent myself, I'm not sure what the answer is but compulsory sedation is not a bad option. I don't know much about Charles Chauvel as he seems to be one of the least visible members of our parliament, but I can only sympathise with his actions in respect of the misbehaving child.

Monday, March 15, 2010

So what about TV1 and TV2?

The Government has announced it intends turning TVNZ7 into a public service channel leaving TV1 and TV2 to pursue fully commercial ends. Leaving aside the relative merits and political arguments for this move, the change raises an obvious question that broadcasting minister Coleman has failed to address: why would the taxpayer continue to own TV1 and TV2?

If these two channels are to be wholly commercial, the taxpayer has no business or interest in owning them. Presumably the only reason for continuing to own them is political - i.e. the Marxist ideal of the state owning the means of production - and given that the National Government is not meant to be Marxist (at least last time I checked with their manifesto), surely they have an obligation to sell these channels.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Cyclist nomination for Darwin Awards

I ride a scooter to work regularly and I take my bicycle into the city centre on occasions so I am aware of the challenges for those on two wheels using city streets. But today I am going to have a rant about cyclists that are so stupid they should be nominated for the Darwin Awards. Let me tell you about one such idiot.

Yesterday when I was driving my car through the city I came to a 'T" intersection. There was a pedestrian crossing at the threshold of the intersection and I stop to let someone cross. I needed to turn left immediately after the crossing so I had my left indicator flashing. A line of cars formed behind me while we waited for the elderly lady to cross. When she had made it to the other side, I started to execute my left turn. At that moment, a cyclist screeched to a halt on the inside of my car, narrowly missing my passenger door. He then had the audacity to loudly scream abuse at me. Naturally, not being a reticent sort, I gave as good as I got, pointing out to him:

1) He had illegally overtaken on the left (we drive on the left in New Zealand) on a single carriageway road.

2) He had illegally overtaken on a pedestrian crossing.

3) I had been indicating a left turn.

4) Due to the line of traffic behind me and the curvature of the road, there was no way I could have seen him in my rear view mirrors.

This idiot is an example of why cyclists are involved in so many accidents with cars. They think the road rules do not apply to them. They assume drivers can see and avoid them even when they are (illegally) where they shouldn't be. They have the arrogance to assume they are always in the right and that motorists are always in the wrong. In short, they take no responsibility for their own safety. This evening I am going to see Richard Dawkins speak - probably the greatest advocate of Darwinian science in the world - and that made me think about this breed of cyclist in Darwinian terms. They are excellent examples of natural selection in action because their early deaths will ensure their genes are removed from the pool before they can pass them on.

Friday, March 5, 2010

A bit rich coming from her...

Theresa Gattung says about Telecom salaries, "Now that I'm long gone I, with the rest of the country, wonder about the propriety of a company making half the annual profits it did a few years ago but paying its executives considerably higher salaries."

My God, that takes some gall. This is the lady who all but destroyed Telecom, who (according to one analyst) lost more value for Telecom shareholders every day she was CEO than her own inflated annual salary. The same lady who failed to read the very obvious political and economic trends that were driving the call for unbundling of services and increased investment in broadband. The same lady whose idea of business strategy was to commit hundreds of millions of dollars to yet another ill-advised Australian purchase and to an online shopping mall ten years after online shopping malls failed worldwide. At least the current management team is responding (albeit slowly and inadequately) to the political and market winds of change that she, Canute-like, ignored.

This lady was New Zealand's least successful CEO in terms of value lost and she should be ashamed to show herself in print or in the news media ever again.