marsden_online: (write)
After all I am one of the lucky ones; not only did I not lose anyone directly in the quakes I even benefited materially from the "repairs" to my home*. My life and work were mostly unaffected and since have continued on a generally upwards trajectory.

*( Like many the assessment was questionable, the workmanship left something to be desired in places and the scope was "tightened" several times between assessment and implementation meaning some things which probably should have been done rather than others were not. But my claim was acted on (un)fairly quickly and my home was still in better condition when they finished than before the quakes.)

If I only paid attention to my own situation or that of people like myself that might leave me content. But my social circles contain many who were not so fortunate. Their homes, lives, families, studies, health ... have been massively disrupted and I do not choose to disregard their experiences and those I read of from further afield. For so many people the past five years have been one battle after another; not all quake related but certainly quake-exacerbated, and so much of it seems to have been unnecessary.

In some ways the February 14th aftershock this year was beneficial. Some people might have been in danger of believing the platitudes which will have been spouted today about how well we are all doing; how well the rebuild is progressing. Instead as PTSD kicked in and "old" responses rose sharply to the surface there was an up-swell of awareness that no, everything is not all right; yes, we still need help.

In the last five years we have seen proof (if there had been any doubt) that the insurance industry is more interested in holding on to its money than in meeting it's contracted obligations. We've seen the one locally owned insurance company which was by nature overexposed to the risk "bailed out" by the government then promptly chopped up; the "good" bit sold off to one of the same overseas re/insurance companies which fights determinedly to not return the money they have taken from other insurees in premiums over the years (IAG) and the "bad" bit put into limbo (Southern Response, which can only progress so far without the goverment actually stumping up some money to cover the work that needs doing).

We have seen that we have a government who are more interested in bottom lines and doing deals with those same insurance companies than in standing up for the rights of the people they purport to represent. More interested in a magical accounting "surplus" than in the wellbeing not only of Christchurch but of the entire country. Only interested frankly, to all intents and purposes to improve the lot of "people like them" no matter the cost to anyone else. Quick to promise financial relief but very slow to spend any money which would not already have been spent.

We have learnt that our EQC disaster recovery fund had already been plundered by the government (through simply directing it to put the money into government-issued bonds), and there is no indication this government has any plan to rebuild it against future need.

We have seen control of "Christchurch's Recovery" taken away from Christchurch from the word "help". Hijacked by people who are more interested in vanity projects (which they then turn around and demand the people of Christchurch make ourselves responsible for paying for) than in the places people live. More interested in cutting costs and corners than in the human cost or actual repair. More interested in being "in charge" than in delivering what a broken city needs.

Today, the 22nd, is a day for reflecting on what we have lost in and around Christchurch. Not just people and buildings but well-being, dignity and agency. So much of which has not been taken by the quakes themselves but by the deliberate actions and inactions of those who claimed the people of Christchurch would be "looked after".

For those outside Christchurch it might be worth thinking about, "if a major disaster struck where you are, what would you lose?"

Emma summed up neatly why in her earthquake anniversary post so I am going to borrow her words to finish. "Because this isn’t about the past, five years on. Things are still happening."
marsden_online: (Blueknight)
- It "wasn't a problem in your day" aka "the youth of today" argument

- it wasn't happening /despite/ your obliviousness

- you have any right to disregard/diminish/dismiss other peoples lived experiences because they don't match your narrative

- you are in any way excused from trying to pull your weight in addressing the issue now that you /are/ aware of it.

Ref: Fix up, young men & subsequent comments thread
marsden_online: (write)
Last week Public Address put out an appeal for donations not just towards keeping the server lights on but towards keeping the site owner/manager paid. The latter bit was new, the former happens periodically. Aggregated I probably throw $100-$150 at PA a year (or would like to), that's probably comparable to the cost of a quality dead-tree subscription (I really have no idea.) That is a measure of the value I see PA providing as a current events forum and community.

Comparatively I did not sign up with the NZ Herald when they experimented with a paywall a while back regardless of the amount of personal value I was finding find in their site because they were locking the content away from everyone else. (And signing up for a subscription / having to log in to see stuff / just seemed too complicated. There's a low but non-trivial barrier there.)

I repeatedly refuse to take out a subscription to The Press (local dead-tree paper) when the telemarketers call because I have no interest in the bulk of the content, even though it would leave me better informed on local events and I do eagerly read the interesting parts of the paper whenever I happen across a copy. I would probably subscribe to a pdf version of selected sections delivered to my inbox daily.

Back to PA - some discussion surfaced over there about how to pay for "the good stuff" in general - not just stuff that brings value to the individual but that adds to the entire conversation. Or provides the forum in which to have the conversation, which PA excels at. As Russell sums it up (emphasis mine)
But there is another model. The subscriber radio model. My readers don’t actually need much persuading that the argument for paying so that everyone can have nice things is a strong one. In the past two years, I’ve made more from asking them for a contribution than I have from advertising. Keith Ng has also had some success in asking readers to crowdfund his stories – after he’s published them.

But this needs a permanent structure, and it needs to work for all of us. One solution I see is this: a simple, voluntary subscription system which can be joined by any New Zealand website or blog at one end, and any reader at the other. In concept, it’s simple.

As a means of funding advertising just doesn't cut it, especially for the niche sites and site-specific subscription models / paywalls only seem to work if you have a (large) critical mass of subscribers who find personal value in what you deliver.

But the things I find myself paying for in something like a subscription manner are those that match the bit I emphasised in the quote above - those who can afford contribute so that *everyone* can have nice stuff, and can hopefully be secure in the fact that should they fall on hard times they (which includes quite a bit of "I") will still have access to those services.

This is the model Livejournal used to have before it was sold to someone who wanted to make a profit from it and the model Dreamwidth is emulating since it opened up basic accounts.

Wikipedia is another site that I consider "new-media" which I contribute to periodically. And I have put my bit towards crowd-funding other initiatives like NWZ

Heck even the photo-hosting I pay for is to ensure others continue to get use and enjoyment from my putting them out there, off-site backup is a bonus.

I'd happily pay for the things FaceBook does well - essentially providing hyper-local news about my social circle and event management - as long as it meant that my friends also continued to be able to use the service and were treated a little less like "product". I'm not sure how much I'd be willing to pay; maybe around that $100 a year; maybe up to $300 in small chunks. That might sound a lot in this digitally priced age but remember conceptually I would be paying not just for me, and it would still be less than a dollar a day.

There is certainly a personal use component - Twitter or Tumblr could both operate on the same model and at the present time I wouldn't "subscribe" because I don't use them a great deal although I have accounts and follow some people who surface interesting stuff. But I'm certain there are plenty of people who would.

Another model I saw some time ago - and I can't remember what it was called now - was a Tip jar model where you paid in some amount each [time period] and sites authors could embed a click widget - at the end of the [time period] however much you had put in was divided among the people whose content you had found valuable enough to 'Tip' on. As I recall the service folded because of not reaching critical mass.

And that is really the rub when it comes to setting up a mass provider/subscriber model. Not only do you need the people willing (and able) to pay for the greater good and the people willing (and able) to help generate content with value (including the work of maintaining the spaces/communities where good conversation happens around the content) you need to strike the balance where they break-even. I say break even because I don't think there is a for-profit model here. Instead you have people being paid for producing content, people being paid for maintaining communities, developers being paid to improve those communities with new features, web-hosts being paid to host them .... quite a lot of people (hopefully) making a living, quite a lot more people getting value from the work they do, and really what more do you need?
marsden_online: (Blueknight)
Because I'm probably going to want to look these up again
- Chris with some dollar and per head figures for the value of MPs
[link]In 1975 the average weekly wage was $95 per week (equivalent to around $850 per week in 2012). This rose to $157 per week by 1979

> Next stop, comparisons to the median wage where data is available.

1978 MP salary $18,000 divided by average hourly wage (1979)$4.52= 3982.3 hrs
1979 MPs= 92 population=3137800 rep 34106
2012 MP salary $141800 divided by average hourly wage(2012)$26.92= 5267.5 hrs
2012 MPs=121 population=4561000 rep 37694

So roughly and all perks aside, an MP’s value is now 1285.2 average working hours (32 weeks) more (24%), The average* number of New Zealanders represented by each MP being roughly 10% higher

I/S provides a definition for "strapping the chicken"
>>** strapping the chicken.**

> Is that like spanking the monkey?

More like “stacking the deck”.

Its a piece of jargon from the US Star Wars program, where incredibly expensive but ineffective lasers were “tested” by shooting them at point-blank range at stationary targets, which had been painted black (to increase absorbtion) and tensioned to ensure they exploed messily at the slightest pinprick, and then declared “effective”. This was compared to strapping a chicken to a table, shooting it at point-blank range with a shotgun, and concluding “shotguns kill chickens”. The “result” is really an artefact of the artificaly simple test, rather than anything real.
marsden_online: (Blueknight)
Last week a new ISP appeared on the radar. Fyx offered flat-rate broadband and a "global mode" which would mitigate some of the geolocking preventing kiwis from viewing certain content over the internet (even if prepared to pay for it).

Not entirely surprisingly global mode has already been pulled for the meantime. Fyx has dropped their prices and offered refunds in compensation.

I was less interested in global mode than in how the pricing stacked up against the capped plans more generally on offer. Having an unexpectedly free evening I've done some spreadsheeting.

It's difficult to exactly compare like with like - every company has a slightly different take. But what I'm looking at here are phone+broadband packages with the phone cost (typically about $40) stripped out because although Fyx don't provide a phone service their baseline service does require you to have a copper landline with another provider. I may do the naked broadband comparisons in another sheet at some point. I've included TelstraClear's fibre options although it's not really an apple/apple comparison. I've charted Gb used (on the x axis) vs Cost ($ on the y axis) up to 100Gb.

Conclusions? Slingshot is generally the cheapest option followed by Fyx, although at the very top of the range (100Gb) Fyx is overtaken (undertaken?) by Snap and Telecom is closing fast. Although both those providers have steps coming up that won't cause them to lose much ground. At the slightly more expensive rates Fyx initially offered (with global mode enabled) I don't know that it would have beaten Slingshot at any point. OTOH it's not generally considered hard to beat Slingshot on service... which beings us to it being important to bear in mind that this is purely a $/Gb comparison, it doesn't take into account speed (promised or actual) or anything else.

This is of course purely academic as I'm not considering switching away from my fibre connection - almost but not quite the most expensive option.
marsden_online: (dragon)
Typical, work starts rolling in again after a couple of quiet weeks and I have earthquake-brain. So I'm just going to dump some thoughts out here.

So, are we accepting the new reality yet? In September we felt we'd dodged a bullet, in February we realised that things might not be so simple but I think people still clung to the assumption that there would be no more major events. Queens Birthday was stressful but written off as an aftershock - yesterday's one-two combo should make it quite clear that major events are still a very real possibility, even if there is increasingly little physical damage which -can- be done to some areas.

On Public Address Russell wrote
Watching earthquake scientist guy Mark Quigley on Campbell Live, the look of defeat in his face as he was interviewed outside his house in Avonside, I felt sad. The poor bastard so wanted to say it would get better now, and he just couldn’t say that.

Here are some other quotes bouncing around in my head from that thread and the follow-up started specifically for yesterday's quakes.

Ben Wilson
It’s almost like the city is battling with a potentially life threatening illness, with slow progress of therapy and sudden disastrous reversals, as well as the underlying and constant malaise.

A call from a psych trauma specialist friend in the US this morning (just who we needed to hear from). He says that this is an unprecented natural disaster in that three have happened in a short time along with the 6800 or so aftershocks. The first we we all unprepared for; the second we were in training and could dust ourselves off and do it all again.

This time he correctly surmised (in my case and from talking to others here) that many people will be feeling powerless and that picking up the pieces is futile and more will leave. It’s apparently a recognised psychological stage called Repetitive Crisis something (I can’t remember the last word but you get what I mean).

Also... the students? Are in the middle of exams. They'll not be digging us out in a hurry this time round. And dear gods, how TIRED they must be. This is the time when we need outside help coming in.

As I wrote at the time, it became clear to me that what happens on the “good” side of the fence is as important – or in some ways more important – than what happens in the red zone itself. If people clear out, the area dies. It’s not hard to extrapolate that to the city itself.
Hebe again
Life will never be the new normal. It is irretrievably different, on the physical, mental, and emotional planes. Bugger rebuilding, let's talk about building a city anew; probably in the same place but in a head-space sense.

I don't think the worst damage is in the Central City any more (if it ever was). I think that rebuild, inasmuch as it has to go ahead, is too narrow in it's focus both geographically and emotively. Christchurch doesn't just need *rebuilt* now, it needs *re-invented*.

So I propose a new title taking our current negative and giving it a positive spin - not "The Garden City", but "The City that Moves".

It might seem easy to pontificate from my relatively undamaged home, not having lost any one, not at risk of losing everything I've put into a home or business, job secure. I just ... don't know what else to do. My skillsets are not the ones needed here. Getting "out there" would just be getting in the way.

I do fear that a new quake from an unexpected direction might prove the "West" side not as stable as we think it is. The possibility of losing my home does lurk at the back of my mind and I'm really not sure how I'd cope.

And you folk who have someone/s specifically that you can worry about the safety of, can re-unite with and comfort and be comforted by - Ghod I envied you that as I just watched the stream of people check in online.
marsden_online: (Blueknight)
Hauled myself out of my shell and off to the Christchurch launch of a couple of Public Address books. Knew maybe half the people there, managed to meet some of the others :)

I can now say that I have purchased a copy of Emma Hart's breasts ... I mean book.

Photos of course

Aside - my internets seem to be making pretty heavy going of it tonight. Never mind, it's bedtime.
marsden_online: (Blueknight)
Over at Public Address guest columnist Anke Richter explains from a German POV why events such as the recent Lincoln University party are so offensive.,

If you have a grown up in Germany, then the Third Reich is not about winning or losing. It's not about military accomplishments, Hogan's Heroes or Dam Busters. It's about human tragedy and atrocities of the worst possible kind. It's shameful, and it's painful, and it's impossible to grasp in its monstrosity. Your grandparents were either victims, perpetrators or witnesses. Your parents -- some not even born at the time -- were affected by it as the surviving or post-war generation. They were in denial or became overtly political.

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