Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Sideswipe

Bike security, London style.

By Ana Samways

How Google sees us: An experiment to see how the world's most-used search engine feeds the stereotypes (minus all the puff about being friendly to tourists). Entering the phrase "New Zealanders are known for" came up with these results in the top 10:

New Zealanders are known for the amount of time we spend in the "great outdoors".

New Zealanders are known for being incredibly understated. In fact, the word "exciting" is not part of the New Zealand vocabulary.

New Zealanders are known for their practical ingenuity and self-reliance emerging from their geographic isolation and pioneer stock.

New Zealanders are known for their entrepreneurial streak - but not for making money.

New Zealanders are known for cutting down successful compatriots in what is called the "tall poppy syndrome".

To make things a little interesting, a second search using the phrase "Maori are known for" was used. Here are those results:

Maori are known for age-old wisdom and curly hair.

Maori are known for having wooooooonderful singing voices.

Maori are known for their tattooing and work with greenstone.

Maori are known for a free-flowing style of rugby.

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Who said business reports - in this case the BNZ business confidence survey - were dull and whining? "I work in the memorial headstone industry. Last month was an excellent month for sales. In fact, I have been busy since reopening in January after the Christmas holidays. I cannot at this stage see a slowdown with orders". Death, huh? It's a growth business.

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As part of Oz tourism's "Where-the-bloody-hell-are-you?" campaign, Tourism Australia is bringing a season of arthouse flicks from the Lucky Country to the Rialto, Newmarket. And boy, don't they just make you want to head over the Tasman and chat up chicks in bikinis on deserted beaches? The mini-fest includes Crackerjack (a bowling club comedy that isn't very funny), Gallipoli (the powerful but misery-inducing war doco), Japanese Story (Toni Collette takes visiting Japanese engineer to the West Australian desert; he ends up dead), Rabbit Proof Fence (Aboriginal kids escape Government camp, walk home), Somersault (dysfunctional-relationship drama in a dowdy Aussie ski resort), Lantana (dysfunctional-relationship-cum-murder drama set in the Sydney 'burbs). Where the bloody hell are you? At another bloody cinema watching a movie that won't bloody depress us.

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You are on to something with your comments about boy racers on suburban streets, says Nat. "On Sunday myself, husband and 3-year-old in buggy nearly got taken out by a maniac teenager and his mates who came speeding around a corner on Mountain Rd, totally lost control, fishtailed and skidded in our direction, just managed to correct and sped away leaving us shaking with fright and fury. I told my father and he said the exact same thing had happened to him on the corner of Mountain Rd and Khyber Pass Rd as he was walking. If this is really a new trend it is obviously only a matter of time before someone is injured or, very probably, worse."

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Another reader had different concerns about the suburban boy racer story: "As a fellow Bollard Ave resident I am gravely concerned about today's Sideswipe article. Feeding nearly 3-year-olds fish 'n' chips? A very serious situation indeed." Rest assured, diet Nazi of Bollard Ave, the children in question are released from their cages only for fried foods and daycare. And as any local should know, the New Windsor Takeaway was nominated for best fish 'n' chip shop in 1995 - a fact they still publicise.

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