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Home page: http://www.richardbeddie.co.nz
Posts by Richard
I’m on my band-wagon again. Well, one of them. My ‘sheez the media is crap, especially considering they are (supposed to be) professionals at it.’ band-wagon, to be precise.
Anyway, in the last week I have seen so many cases of either sloppy reporting, or misleading headlines/sub-headings that I decided to post about it. Two examples here are from today, but the best example I can cite is actually from a week or so ago (more on that later).
Today’s example 1: Wrong facts
This one states ‘CEO Mark Ford …“. The problem here is Mark Ford isn’t the CEO, he’s the chairman. A very important distinction, especially considering the current criticism for the ex-CEO. OK, a simple error perhaps, but it should have never got past the proof reader. And if it did, it shows that either the proof reader didn’t do their job, or doesn’t know their content. Mark Ford is a professional DIRECTOR, he’s not a CE of anything that I know of at the moment. I know this, why doesn’t the person writing and proofing this?
This sub-heading reads ‘Cantabrians who have made Earthquake Commission claims will be investigated‘. Now there are 200,000 or so claims in Canterbury (from memory), so that means 200,000 people might be quite interested in this story. Except one important word has been missed out.
When one clicks on the headline, the full story reads quite differently it starts ‘Cantabrians who have made false claims…‘. There is the key word FALSE. So what the actually story is saying is that false claims will be investigated, not ALL claims. That word should have never been left out of the sub-heading.
The story has it in the first line (as shown below), why not the sub-heading? Because sensationalist headlines are in, that’s why!
But the best (or is that worst?) example was a few weeks ago when the NZ Herald lead on their web site with the headline “Gay marriage bill approval“. The article also initially stated “The Select committee approved gay marriage…”, when BOTH statements are totally incorrect. The select committee RECOMMENDED that the bill be approved. HUGE difference. It’s politics 101, how our parliamentary systems works. Once again, why doesn’t a journalist know this? Why wasn’t this very basic, yet fundamental error picked up? And just to be clear, this approval means the bill (ie not yet law) goes back to the house and parliament votes on it again (called the 2nd reading), and only once it is passed and approved the THIRD time by parliament is it law. THEN and ONLY THEN is it approved by anyone! A full summary of this process is here.
Over the course of several hours I noticed the headline and story edited several times, but the most fundamental error (the ‘approval’ vs recommended) error wasn’t picked up until the end of the day, and even then the headline was still factually misleading (it still said ‘approval’).
Black and White Version: Headlines are important. Facts are important. Media screw up both too often.
It passed it’s first reading 80 to 40, and as a result has been passed on to the Government Administration Select Committee (yeah, who knew there was one!) public submissions were invited, which closed yesterday.
My submission is below.
I believe we should live in a society were all law abiding citizens are all treated equally under the law. It is the (rightful) role of Government to set laws in such as way as this principle is upheld.
Marriage of two people, who choose to commit to one another, should have no barriers based on sexual orientation. This is both fair, and right. Equally as important, as already stated above, it is the role of the Government to ensure this happens.
Human rights, such as the right to marry the person one chooses, regardless of gender or sexuality, should not come down to popular vote, even though the majority of New Zealanders support this. It comes down to doing the right thing.
Religious beliefs should have no bearing on a person’s support for this bill. I support people holding beliefs that differ to mine, and moreover would fight for their right to hold such views and express them. However, I do not expect them to follow my moral code, nor do I expect to be forced to follow theirs. I do however expect everyone to have the same freedoms and obligations as a citizen.
If some individuals find it offensive that two men or two women wish to marry, that is not a valid reason to stop this bill. There will always be persons that hold views that are discriminatory, divisive, or wish to provide one part of society with less rights than others. But regardless of why a person holds such views, they should not be allowed to override the principles of justice, where we are all treated equally.
We also need to consider the message sends to the future generations of New Zealanders, and in particular what message the current law sends to a young LGBT person. Already New Zealand has atrocious youth suicide rates, and being LGBT is a significant determinant factor. Research is clear that direct discrimination is one of the leading factors influencing a person’s decision to end their own life – one only needs to look at all the various groups that have high suicide rates to know how significant this is. As such, MPs have a unique opportunity to end one of the last pieces of legislation in New Zealand that is discriminatory of LGBT persons, and in doing so, not only provide equality for LGBT couples, but also send a clear signal to LGBT youth that New Zealand lawmakers do not support discrimination in any way. MPs have an obligation to protect citizens. Passing this legislation will do this.
In summary, I urge all MPs to make the right choice to end discrimination; make the choice to allow people who love each other full rights ability to choose under the law; and make the decision to send a signal to New Zealanders, and indeed the world, that New Zealand is a tolerant and open society that treats all its citizens equally.
I intend to personally present to the select committee considering the bill, and will be making the same statements to them, just more firmly. The more I think about this, the more I am of the view that MPs have an obligation to pass this bill, for all the reasons outlined above, but mostly because it is the right thing to do in ending legislative discrimination in New Zealand.
Today the Christchurch Press reported, that ‘Sex stereotype proven‘, and the byline ‘University students have long been stereotyped as promiscuous – and new research shows it is true.’
Unfortunately, when one reads the article, NOTHING in it supports this claim. The research makes a whole bunch of findings, such as:
- 20 per cent of respondents reported at least three partners in the last 12 months.
- Ten per cent reported having sex with between 10 and 20 people
- 3 per cent reported more than 20 sexual partners.
- Out of those surveyed 32 per cent had been drinking when they last had sex.
- Almost half of the respondents reported at least three sexual partners in their lives.
- 57 per cent of people reported only one sexual partner in the last 12 months.
All good so far, so now for the comparison with some agreed norm, or with some other group, right? I mean the headline read promiscuity is proven right?
Either we need to see a comparison with other persons of a similar demographic (age, gender etc, perhaps say compared to Polytechnic students, or even just people of a similar age not in higher education) or they need to make an absolute reference to some agreed norm on what is promiscuous. Is having two partners a year promiscuous, or three, or ten? We don’t see ANY comparisons, just a bunch of findings. So what we have is just a whole bunch of percentages measuring how much uni students have sex, and that often alcohol is involved (although note this doesn’t mean it’s caused it, they just imply that, they could also have found that 50% of people ate a meal before having sex, would they then imply food causes promiscuity?). Ummm, so what?
Anyway, my point is, this is a good example of research that says nothing but a bunch of random facts, and provides little in real information. There is no comparison to any control group for the purposes of comparison, there is no comparison with any agreed norm about what promiscuous is, and no comparison with say, ten years ago, to show any change over time.
The article’s text even admits there is no comparison:
Canterbury District Health Board clinical director of sexual health Ed Coughlan said it was “really difficult” to say how the sexual behaviour of Canterbury students compared with the rest of the country.
The only thing remotely worth of the team ‘research’ is a passing comment at the end of the article:
The study also found students who reported being attracted to both men and women were “significantly more likely” to lose their virginity before the age of 16.
That finding is worth further investigation, as it indicated a certain group is more likely to pre-16 sex (which is both illegal, and also has been associated with higher risks of pregnancy and/or STI transmissions). Perhaps this group could be targeted for education and/or condoms and/or something else. But no, they prefer just to post random figures about who does who and how often and call it research. Research should provide meaning information to help inform decisions – and the one bit that did that was glossed over!
I think I’ll do my own research, and here is a finding: 90% of research is twisted and misreported by the media.. (I made that up, but you couldn’t tell right?)
Research needs to be meaningful. For this, any claims made needs to be factual, or at the very least, strongly indicated by the research. ‘Proven‘ and ‘show it to be true‘ are strong claims, and in this case there is nothing to support the headline.
Black and White Version: Some research is crap, some media misreport things. It looks like this is both.
Let’s cut to the chase here: The new Logitech ultrathin keyboard for the iPad (2 or new) rocks. It ticks all my boxes (and I use my iPad HEAPS when travelling): It’s totally ‘Apple-esque’ (aka it’s sexy and slim and even shiny in the right places), it took me 15 seconds to set up without a manual, and it adds a bunch of functionality to my iPad while also being a protective cover. It even fixes the big gripe many people have with iPad keyboards (read below for more on that).
The acid test: I now have it on my iPad permanently, need I say more?
A week or so ago I decided to go paperless.
I am not going to go into why I did it – way too many books, blog posts, etc go into why one should do it, but very few actually go into how to do it.
Anyway, I am doing it, and here are my steps:
Step 1: I bought myself the book Paperless
You can get a pdf of it here for $5, or buy it on iTunes for US$4.99 (It would be somewhat hypocritical to buy a physical copy now, wouldn’t it? ) If you are thinking about going paperless, and only do one thing, do this! It’s so worth the $5, and it’s a super practical guide (Warning: Mac/iOS focused, but you have a mac, right?)
Step 2: I read the book (kinda important)
Step 3: I took action:
3(a) – Firstly, I got the tools:
- the best scanner there is for this kinda work – the Fujitsu Snapscan S1500M (m for mac). It’s $1200 in NZ, but only $400 US on EBay ~ $NZ600, so guess which one I bought it from? If you wanna do what I did, Google review it – it rocks!
3(b) – Download, install, and set up the right software on my mac:
- Hazel (to auto file stuff, automates other things too!)
- Install Text Expander (saves typing the same thing over and over)
- Get PdfPen pro – OCR stuff, edit and tag pdfs etc (which is made by the same people who make Text Expander)
3(c) – Download, install, and set up the right apps for my iPad/iPhone:
- PdfPen for iOS – sign/edit pdfs on iPad etc
- JotNot Pro (photo/scanner) app
- Pdf PROvider – convert word, excel files etc to PDFs on iOS device
- Goodreader – viewing, annotating, storing PDFs (excellent integration with DropBox btw, including two way syncing). Note: This was the only app I already had.
All up, under $1,000, and now I have all the
toys tools, I am set for the next phase: making it happen.
Making it happen
Broadly speaking, there are now three main areas of paper to address:
1) The existing paper around my office
Solution? Scan, file (name, tags, file location etc) and
throw out recycle paper. This should save me around half the storage I have in my office at present, and around a third of my desk space.
2) New paper that arrives in my office
Solution? Same as above, but do it before it turns into a pile. My system is having a scanning day, and do it all then (estimate about an hour a week). This is everything from receipts for expenses to claim, warranty cards/receipts for personal purchases through to important letters (like insurance) or contracts etc.
3) Stuff I am working on right now
I’m kinda agnostic about this bit. If having a piece of paper makes it easier to deal with something, I’ll do this. IMHO, going “paperless’ doesn’t mean never touching a piece of paper, but rather removing all necessary paper from my life. That’s my approach anyway. I just need to make sure this group doesn’t turn into group 2.
This is all rather early days for me. I have only JUST set this all up. I haven’t yet scanned everything in from group 1, nor have I undertaken many weekly scans as outlined in group 2, but I wanted to put it down
on paper in print, so I can review what I said I would do in a month or two.
Btw, in case you missed it, the first step was getting an AWESOME book on the how to of going paperless (pdf here for $5, or on iTunes for $4.99 US). It covers all the key stages, from getting the tools, to developing workflows, as well as discussing various filling systems that work. The e-book has lots of short useful videos too – very cool! It’s very Mac/iOS centric, but all the ideas work fine on any platform/OS, but the software suggested won’t all be available across all OS’s, nor will some of the specific hints, like how to use Mac’s print to pdf creation via automator to auto name and file documents.
Black and White Version: Phase one of going paperless set up. Let’s see how I go compliance-wise (I think that’s the real test).
Late last year I posted about a short film that touched me.
I received a really wonderful email from the writer, Elliot London (you can follow Elliot on twitter here) about his new short film, out just in time for Valentines day (for some of the world at least)
But wait, there is more. This is part of something bigger, best said in Elliot’s words:
Black and White Version: The more I see of Elliot’s stuff, the more I wanna see.
2nd Feb 2012 is the 5th Annual Hug A Gay Day.
For more details please see my previous posts on this, well worth a read (IMHO):
And to recap:
- Anyone can hug a gay today (best to ask 1st)
- Gay guys hugging gay guys is OK – but you do that anyway right? So its more about str8 mates hugging you to show how cool and modern and metro (if they are a guy) they are.
- Self hugs don’t count (even if you are gay)
That is all.
Black and White Version: You can hug a gay any day, but especially on 2nd Feb.
Today the NZ Herald had a headline Quake demolitions anger ex-owners.
In it they quote various sources including John Key, the some ex-quake destroyed house owners, and Labour’s spokesperson for earthquake response, Lianne Dalziel.
The central issue reported is:
The first of the red-zoned homes will begin being destroyed today, with a trial demolition of 11 government-bought properties taking place on Seabreeze Close, Waireka Lane and Kokopu Lane in Bexley .
The properties will be cleared over a four-week period.
And some people aren’t happy with this. The EX-owners wanted to be told about this (consulted even?, I can’t tell from the story). Umm, over what? And why?
You got offered compensation, you agreed to it, you got paid it, and then moved out. Move on, let go.
Sure you can always have an interest in a former home, just like I always check out the house where I was bought up as a kid if I drive past it (it has a new owner now), but I dont expect anyone to CONSULT me over it.
Something we all (well I hope all!) have learnt from the Christchurch quakes is that it’s just STUFF. What matters is people, and lives. Sure having ones home destroyed is never nice, but it’s a FORMER home. Which an EX-Owner has issues with. This is not the story they make it out to be.
Once again Key shows that he gets the issue, and how most former home owners would react, and was quoted as saying:
…for the most part, I suspect there’ll be many who will have said “it’s been a terrible situation but I’m building myself a new home or I’ve bought a new home, and that’s the Government’s problem not mine’.”
Black and White Version: Media are making a story out of nothing (again). And Labour are just stirring the hornets nest to try to get a response. -ve -ve -ve. Fail for both of you.
Hat Tip: Mr Payne – thanks Mike!