Posts by BenWilson

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  • Hard News: NZME and you, in reply to Cameron Pitches,

    It’s not unheard of for NZ blogging sites to bring in a hundred bucks a day.

    I think the problem with sites like this is that they don’t attract high value ads. The best value ads are attracted by sites that are basically about the product advertised. They’re high value because the people going to the site are naturally interested in the ads. But what product really has that synergy with people who are interested in the news and general discussion?

    I’d suggest this is also part of the problem with the bloody annoying advertising on MSM too – they just don’t know what to target, because too many people are interested in the news.

    As far as I can tell, there’s a Google ad at the top of this page right now. It’s, unsurprisingly, an ad for a news site, Scoop.

    If this were a thread about the cheapest second hand import cars in town, then probably the ads would be for TradeMe and Mazda, and so on. If someone actually bought a car as a result of clicking through on one of the ads, the payout for the conversion could be quite reasonable. If there was a lively discussion on the topic with lots of in-links, it could even be high ranking in Google. But it would also probably not be the site we’ve come to love.

    Catch 22. I don’t know the answer – it’s a tough one for me to even put myself into the mind-space of: How to get a dying form of capitalism to survive? Ultimately, it’s not the system I believe in, although I recognize that it has produced good works, and supports a lot of people, including people I care about. But it’s hard for me to feel bitter on what has killed it, something between utopia and dystopia, a world where people freely give away their work just because they love it. Utopian because if we could survive doing it, it’s probably what we’d do. Dystopian because we can’t survive.*


    Roll on the universal basic income.


    *ETA: Also dystopian because those who can survive doing it are driven to the worst kind of content, basically writing advertising copy.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 9383 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: A better thing to believe in, in reply to chris,

    I believe essentially the best approach is to expose them to as wide a range of activities as possible and be prepared within reason to follow their lead, without necessarily even limiting the options to sport

    That's pretty much the strategy. "Within reason" being the devil beridden detail. I do believe in pushing children to do things they're reluctant to do, up to a point, if the thing is really worth doing, for them, in my opinion.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 9383 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: A better thing to believe in,

    Following up on that, I have to echo andin's point above a little bit, in that while sport is a good thing to encourage in children, I don't "believe in" it, and I certainly don't "believe in rugby". I know the title of a blog post shouldn't have too much read into it, being like a headline to grab attention. But still - we need to acknowledge that sport isn't for everyone, and definitely rugby isn't the sport for everyone who might otherwise be into sport. There are negatives that have to be seen for what they are.

    It's something I put a lot of thought into, what direction to push my own children. I'm encouraging them to watch rugby, just because it is a nationally important sport, like cricket (which I actually mostly dislike). It's news, something to talk about, social grease.

    But what I will encourage them to actually participate in themselves is a whole different matter. You want to find a balance of challenge, development, socialization, and success.

    A sport that is too hard will be discouraging. A sport that is too easy may lack any real physical development. So rugby will put off the frail children completely. But lawn bowls or minigolf are hardly doing much for the child's physical competence.

    Individual sports can be unsocial - but not always. Swimming, for instance, seems to be social because they train and tour in squads, even though events are individual. Tennis is pretty individual, but then they all hang out in the clubrooms (apparently) so I don't know, maybe it's not so bad.

    Their actual success is something that's also tricky to balance. It might seem that you should get them to do what they succeed at more, but this can lead to rapid specialization and obsession, and isolation. It's got subtle dangers for the parent as much as the child - you could be tempted to take obsessive pride in your child's performance and push them well beyond the point where the sport is beneficial to them. Here we hit the conflict between amateur and professional, since a professional sportsperson is usually built from a young age.

    I am, quite frankly, against it in general. I don't think it should be disallowed - some people have happy lives in professional sport. But I don't think that's the norm. It's not a path I would recommend to any but the most talented and obsessed people (and there's no stopping them anyway). To my mind, a culture of professionalism in sport brings out mostly the worst aspects.

    The bodies of the participants are often wrecked. Their older years are often spent in disability and pain. They way they are encouraged to conduct themselves is often disgraceful. The rewards are incredibly asymmetrical, some get millions, most can barely make a living. The temptation to take performance enhancing drugs is very high, and the health and social messaging effects of these are terrible.

    Then there's what their bodies are like when they're at the top of their game - they typically become idols, but with physiques that are essentially completely unattainable to most people. I don't think this helps body self-image in the general population at all.

    What to do about it, I don't know for sure. Professional sport is here to stay. I think that NZ rugby might just have got some part of this right, although it's only been professional here for a short time so it's hard to see the long term social implications.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 9383 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: A better thing to believe in, in reply to BenWilson,

    watching Fiji beating the shit out of England :-)

    OK, didn't happen. But there was a point about 3/4 time were it could have gone either way :-). I didn't really think at that point that Fiji had what it took, though - they were looking gassed. This is a really fit and fast English team, great to see. Really enjoyed that whole game. Brilliant tournament opener. I think the bonus point thing made the death of the game a lot more exciting. Both teams were really trying hard even to the end, despite the win-loss result being well in the bag for England.

    But mission accomplished! My youngest learned quite a lot about the rules of rugby this morning, and what the tournament involves. Couldn't get Marcus into it, though. And I'm obviously never going to encourage him to play tackle rugby - his multiple disabilities would mean he would just get smashed, and quite probably seriously injured.

    But he does play ripper-rugby at school. He's even scored a try, apparently. I expect that it was the other kids being nice to him, supposedly both teams were cheering him as he ran it in.

    I found schoolwork pretty easy and it was good for me to participate in something I wasn’t gifted at, and to rub shoulders with kids I’d never have encountered academically.

    It's the participation that the important thing, IMHO. I do like that it crosses social boundaries like differences in intellect, race, class and age. Even players who weren't very good had a shared interest, and spectators had their level of participation too. The boundary of sex, however, is not so well crossed with rugby. Waterpolo did much better on that score. Even if only the most talented girls could actually play among teenage boys, we still trained together, watched each other's games, socialized. Not something we've worked out how to do with our main sports in NZ. TBH, I do think that this might have a lot to do with the tradition of sexually segregated schooling too, which I never had to endure.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 9383 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: A better thing to believe in, in reply to andin,

    I think we’re still there

    For sure. I carefully put "historically" in there so as not to deny the existence of the Black Ferns, who have dominated women's rugby completely, winning 4 world cups in a row, and thinking that in the future it's possible they could get the recognition they deserve.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 9383 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: A better thing to believe in,

    All caveats above given, I'll be up in the small hours tomorrow with both my boys, watching Fiji beating the shit out of England :-)

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 9383 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: A better thing to believe in,

    I like to watch but have never played, beyond backyard matches when I was very small. It's rough as heck. My Dad pretty much didn't recommend it, despite having (by his own confession) having only done 7th form so that he could play in the Kelston 1st 15, and being a lifelong rugby lover.

    Perhaps it was the timing - I was about the age to start rugby in 1981 and he was strongly anti-tour (although he sneakily watched every game in the delayed coverage, after coming back from demonstrations). But more to the point, I was anti-tour as probably my first true political decision (of course strongly parentally influenced) and I found much to dislike in the attitudes of the rugby players amongst my peer age (who were, ironically, mostly PI and Maori). Also, it was exactly the same time that NZ was building up to that glorious time we got into the soccer world cup, so soccer was a natural choice. I played that until the day that I got fucking sick of the annoying team manager and quit on the spot.

    I switched to Judo, then later Tae Kwon Do. My father would not accept either choice as sufficient for the sporting side of my development, despite the fact that he was an accomplished Judoka himself. When I showed talent at Waterpolo, he pushed really hard for me to continue, and I reached a high standard, playing it competitively, but still for fun, until well into my 30s.

    I think it was a good call of his - by sport, he meant team sport. There are a lot of very positive aspects of team sports that I got a lot out of throughout my life. To this day some of my best friends are people I played waterpolo with. This has never been the case for the martial arts, even though I've spent at least as much time doing those over the years, and still do them now for fitness and fun.

    I don't think we can generalize my experience or my father's wisdom to all people, though. Some just hate team sports and will never enjoy them, and yet might have a lot to gain from physical training of a more individual kind. And I acknowledge that health-wise, the jury is probably out on the true benefit of sport. Quite aside from the counterbalancing aspect of serious injury, there is that thing that people tend not to do team sports once they are beyond competitive age, whereas individual sport can be for life (even martial arts can be continued indefinitely, so long as you don't compete in brutal competition). And individual physical training need not be sport - even more enduring is healthy habits, which I think are actually negatively influenced by sport, particularly professional sport. In this regard, I think our obsession with sport does us a dis-service, and all the more so because that sport happens to be rugby, a game which has a particularly big toll on the human body, a particularly specific body type and mentality required, and a historically male-oriented culture.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 9383 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: A better thing to believe in, in reply to andin,

    I kid myself it might be groovy if two million yrs in the future our descendants are around to watch as this galaxy merges with the Andromeda galaxy.

    I think that's pegged for more like 4 billion years, so if we're still in this hood we probably won't want to be relying on our sun for much, since it will be turning into a red giant by then.

    But yes, it would be groovy if we could make it to the 2 million year mark. I doubt we'd be in anything like our current form, though.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 9383 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: In Real Life: Ali, Randa and Anthonie,

    Really enjoyed it, thanks to all the people for putting it on. Loved the official proceedings, particularly Tonnon. But as always with PA events, it was the chatting around that was most enjoyable. Really nice to meet Maria, and I barely noticed the cold whilst chatting to Martin - we both looked up from some deep discussion to realize night had fallen, the entire place had cleared out, been replaced with new patrons, and we were both shivering with the cold, and looking forward to jumping on pushbikes straight after. Fortunately for me, it was only to my van. Martin was going all the way back to our mutual 'hood on his crazy .... I don't even know what you call it .... delivery bike?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 9383 posts Report Reply

  • Up Front: Stand for... Something, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    LOL, nice, dude. That's a better message. Sadly, our prime minister employs IT people so it wouldn't slip through the cracks.

    I can't see the NZ, though. I see a silver fern.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 9383 posts Report Reply

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