Archive for the ‘Thoughts’ Category

My take on the smoke-free ad debacle

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

See the update at the end of the article

By now most people in New Zealand are probably aware of the Health Sponsorship Council’s decision to edit their “Smoking not our future” ad, or as the New Zealand Herald put it “Piri Weepu’s baby bottle advert ban” (for further reading check the links at the bottom). Though the article did say that breastfeeding support group La Leche League‘s opinion was canvassed (among others) it also incorrectly attributed an email campaign to them and left the general populace with the incorrect assumptions that LLL were butting in where they weren’t welcome, had started a campaign and banned the advert. In reality they merely provided feedback when asked that resulted in 2 seconds of film being removed while still maintaining the message of positive male parenting through a smoke free environment. The 2 second clip featured Piri Weepu, a hugely popular All Black after his incredible kicking efforts during Rugby World Cup 2011, bottle feeding his daughter. The Ministry of Health is actively trying to increase New Zealand’s low breastfeeding rate so the feedback from all the groups was to remove the clip and thus try to prevent undermining an important government funded health campaign. There was never any comment that Piri and his partner should be breastfeeding, there was no criticism of them at all, only that the images this ad may have contained would work against other ads. But alas this was lost in translation into eye catching headlines. On most Herald articles there is link to send a link out via Twitter and a link to see who had already done so. Today I followed that link and immediately saw someone who had got the wrong end of the stick and thought I could perhaps correct them. It didn’t work, and I got labelled a troll, spam and an ass for trying to stand up for reality. Here is the transcript of the back and forth with @kchawkings:

KH: Hell to the yes! Go Piri! “They are my kids, I’m not going to have anyone tell me how to raise me kids.” via @nzherald

CS: @KCHawking ….said the man in the how to raise your kids advert to the people not telling him anything about raising his kids.

KH: @craigstanton dude, do you have nothing better to do than hunt down every mention of that article on twitter?

CS: @KCHawkings @NZHerarld linked to all the tweets at the top of article, I’m just doing what I can to correct a massive misunderstanding.

KH: @craigstanton And again I ask: Do you have nothing better to do? @NZHerarld

CS: @KCHawkings Do you have nothing better to do that comment on the article to start with? Maybe spend some time looking into the facts first.

KH: @craigstanton I commented because I support Piri being a great role model for fathers everywhere. Did they not stop to think that the benefits of the images would outweigh the negatives? That’s not to mention the numerous reasons a baby may not be able to drink from the breast. A fair amount of the people who follow me subscribe to the same beliefs, judging by the positive response I’ve received. As far as I’m concerned there is nothing wrong with Piri bottle feeding his daughter, and in my opinion it’s PC bullshit gone mad. It should never have been an issue in the first place. Now get off your high horse and go SPAM someone else, because that’s all your tweets are: Short Pointless Annoying Messages.

CS: @KCHawkings The benefits existed in all the other shots in that ad. They made no comment at all about whether or not he should bottle feed. I made that comment in support of a wonderful volunteer organisation who were asked and gave their opinion.

KH: Come on Kate, there’s no need to feed the trolls. Just because some guy is being an ass doesn’t mean you need to reply. Just block him.

CS: @KCHawkings I’m not being an ass, read what really happened, you’re dumping on a great bunch of people because the NZHerald misinformed you

There seemed no hope of getting the message across that LLL had not told Piri or any other parent what to do within the confines of Twitter, so as a last ditch attempt I have emailed her directly and await a reply, though I honestly don’t expect one.

I’m sorry if I came across as an ass to you, that was never my intention. Nor to troll nor spam. If you’re willing to hear what I have to say about how the NZHerald has twisted what happened then please read on. If you’re already reaching for the delete key then you can at least be sure that I won’t try to contact you again.

I’m glad you’re still reading. I read the Herald article and saw the link to tweets that mentioned it so I went to see what people thought. I was really surprised at how many people thought that the breastfeeding group, particularly La Leche League had criticized Piri in some way. They definitely didn’t. They have no knowledge of his situation and even then I’ve never known them to criticize people for their choices, they just provide support for people who have made the choice to breastfeed. Despite the headlines of “ban” and “protest” etc etc what actually happened was very simple. The Health Sponsorshop Council made an ad to promote the non-smoking message. They consulted with multiple breastfeeding groups and received the same feedback from all, that the bottle feeding scene would go against another government funded health message trying to make breastfeeding more acceptable. It was not an attempt to degrade the value of bottle feeding, they have been very clear on that. The HSC edited out 2 seconds of footage from the ad and maintained their message that a loving, caring dad looks after his children in a non-smoking environment, with absolutely no comment on how he chooses to feed them. If it ended there the ad would have gone to air and no-one would have any anything to worry about. But then the Herald ran a piece that many people misunderstood to mean that these groups wanted the whole ad banned, and that they were having a go at Piri when then really weren’t.

So why do I care? Well I know a lot of people involved with one of the groups that were asked for feedback. They are wonderful mums giving so much time to a volunteer organisation that is saddens me to see so many people calling them names like Nazis and Breastapo. Some of them even bottle feed their children, but are still on hand to offer advice on breastfeeding when it is sought. They were simple asked their opinion and gave it, then New Zealand replied with an outpouring of hate. It was a matter of keeping New Zealand health messages on target and not contradicting each other. Akin to making sure no-one in a sober driving ad is smoking. Your tweet seemed be based on what I thought would be a simple to correct misunderstanding about what the groups said (or in fact didn’t say) about Piri’s parenting. I had hoped that if I could point you towards the facts of the case you might see that you were mislead and that there would be one less voice denigrating the work these ladies do.

With all that said I really am sorry if you felt harassed on Twitter, or if this email is too much. Your website has a Contact Me button so I figured you’d be open to listening to random strangers from the internet. I won’t bother you again.

Craig, proud father to be, T minus 10.5 weeks and counting :-)

Further reading:

NZ Herald feedback page
La Leche League’s press release about the ad
La Leche League FAQ about supplementing milk supply, note there is no judgement in the words “…recommending a specific infant formula is beyond the scope of La Leche League. Please consult with your health care provider.”

Health Sponsorship Council’s response to the Positive Men group on Facebook when asked to reinstate the footage

Thank you for your interest in the Smoking Not Our Future ad.

As part of a standard post-production process we identified the (two-second) bottle-feeding shot as one for possible re-editing two weeks ago. As a result we asked for comment from La Leche League NZ and Plunket NZ. After receiving feedback a decision was made last Wednesday (1 February) to replace the shot with one that continues to show Piri in his role as a loving father, providing a smokefree home and car for his whanau.

The advert will go to air Sunday 12 February as planned.


Update Sept 6th: 2012
The Press Council has upheld a complaint by La Leche League about the NZHerald’s coverage of the story. A few important points are:

  • The League did not mention Piri Weepu or comment on his fathering skills.
  • The Council notes that the newspaper is now willing to make a correction, but the claim as published was a serious one, it did cast a slur on La Leche, and the Council finds no evidence that the League called Weepu’s role as a dad into question.
  • That this was not the image at the centre of the controversy should have been made clear to readers.
  • It did seem to the Council that at times the La Leche League was being pilloried for things they did not say or believe.
  • The Council does not believe that the use of the word censorship is warranted. The League made a suggestion, the HSC considered the suggestion and willingly removed the image from their own advertisement. This is not censorship.

Unfortunately the Herald was not so keen on publishing the correction. Relegating it to page 34 and not putting it front and center like they did with their original inflammatory articles. So, Miss Hawkings, if you’d like to apologize the door is wide open.

Google Street View Trikes in NZ [updated]

Monday, April 19th, 2010

Back in January Google announced that the trikes, which shoot footage for Google Street View where the cars can’t go, were about to start roaming the outback in search of interesting off-road places. They started at Taronga Zoo and held a public vote to choose the rest. Well that’s all fantastic if you’re interested in seeing Australia. And thousands millions of people are. But I happen to think that New Zealand has some pretty awesome things to show off too so I’m starting a list of places that the trikes should visit when they come here.

1: Otago Rail Trail

The most obvious starting point. 150kms of trail graded gently enough for the trains of yesteryear. The trail might be a bit rutted and bumpy so I hope they’ve given those trikes some good suspension to protect the equipment as well as the rider.

2: Wai-o-tapu

It’s an amazing “thermal wonderland” not far south of Rotorua and though it looks really good from the sky you really need to get in amongst it to show off some of New Zealand’s famous geothermal features.

3: The Luge

Whilst they’re down in Rotorua they should definitely pay a visit to The Luge. It’s a set of paved downhill tracks each as wide as a single lane road over looking the city. But don’t spend anytime looking down there because you need to pay attention to the corners and other riders as you hurtle down the hill on your three wheeled carts. This is my favourite man-made tourist attraction in NZ by far, and features in any good road trip. There’s one in Auckland too but you can see most of it from the motorway and it doesn’t look half as exciting as the Rotorua one.

4: Rangitoto Island

The jewel of the Hauraki Gulf is a volcano with a few unsealed roads. Right now they are only used by the D.O.C. workers and the pull-along tourist tractor that takes those that can’t walk to the summit. The last 100m or so is on wooden steps that the trike couldn’t traverse so they’ll need to carry it. Which should get them in good practice for…

5: The Tongariro Crossing

One of the world’s best day hikes, and there in lies the problem. If Google can get the Street View equipment down to a size where two people can carry it I’d gladly be one of the sherpas.

6: Viaduct Harbour

Often touted as ‘party’ central for things like The America’s Cup, the Rugby World Cup and really any event that Auckland hosts. I made a Real Place for it a while ago but I think it could do with the Street View treatment, ideally on a day when some really interesting big yachts are in.

7: Rainbow’s End

New Zealand’s biggest theme park may not stack up against the some of the ones in the recent UK update but that doesn’t stop it being the best one we’ve got. As you can see on the map there’s enough space to be worth exploring and I reckon putting the trikes on the race track would be fun too. If only they could make a splash-proof version for the log flume :-) .

Any other suggestions?

Update has some speculation that StreetView might be heading indoors. If this is true then I’d add Te Papa, New Zealand’s national museum to the list of places to document. I think GEarthBlog’s idea is more of documenting the collections in proper posed photo shoots rather than riding a trike down the halls, but I like the idea of riding around the museum late at night when all the other visitors have gone home.


Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

My video has been up on the site for a little while now but those of us not lucky enough to ever get listed as the most-recent applicants are struggling to get anywhere near the number of views those lucky few are receiving. Two days on the front page can bring in thousands of votes. So, I’m putting out a second post to encourage you to watch my video and give me a vote. I’ve heard that one New Zealander is guaranteed through to the next round and if you’re here to thank me for my software or after follwoing any of my travel blogs, the best thing you can do for me right now is a 5 star rating, and telling your friends about it too.

To try to drum up publicity I’ve created a page here on my site that I’ll keep up to date and voting progresses and a Facebook group that you’re welcome to join.

Here are those links again
Facebook group:

From a Taranaki oil rig worker

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

I don’t generally forward on chain emails, let alone post them on my site, but I really like this one.


I work, they pay me. I pay my taxes and the government distributes my taxes as it sees fit.

In order to earn that pay cheque, I work on a rig for a drilling contractor.
I am required to pass a random urine test, with which I have no problem.

What I do have a problem with is the distribution of my taxes to people who don’t have to pass a urine test. Shouldn’t one have to pass a urine test to get a welfare cheque because I have to pass one to earn it for them?

Please understand that I have no problem with helping people get back on their feet. I do on the other hand have a problem with helping someone sit on their ass drinking beer and smoking dope.



Could you imagine how much money the government would save if people had to pass a urine test to get a welfare cheque?

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

There are a few changes going on in my life, chiefly a new (ish) job, moving in with my girlfriend and soon we’ll be house hunting. The beginning of a new year gives me a good reason to sit back and do a bit of planning and thinking about the way I am heading. What do I want from life and how do I go about getting it. With the financial trouble that providing the newspapers with fresh doomsday headlines almost every day it occurred to me that it’s time for a rebalance. The commercialised and consumer centric society has had it’s day while the retailers were wailing about the public not spending “enough” this Christmas I was glad that the holiday season may return to being that, rather than the buying season it has become. So the retailers may go out of business, millions of jobs get lost. How can we cope? How about doing it ourselves? Tania and I are growing a few vegetables now and when we do buy a house we’re going to dedicate a large chunk of garden to feeding ourselves. It’s green and economical. My parents are doing the same after years of having an unproductive compost heap they now grow a full range of veges and my younger brothers are taking up fishing. This doesn’t quite stack up to Ayumi’s ideal of living in a fully self-sustainable community but it’s a good step along the way.

There are obviously people out there who are further down the track. My good friends The Noodleheads are two of those and have recently pledged to buy nothing new for a year, except essentials for hygiene & safety (think toothpaste and brake fluid). I’d like to get to that stage but with the potential for owning my first house this year and not having a lot of kitchen wear I doubt I’d be able to keep to the pledge. I can still do my part. I cycle to work now and only use my girlfriends’ car vary sparingly, thus reduction the amount of pollution I cause. I have only bought two shirts and a few pairs of socks in the last year, it’s not like I’m growing and my trousers haven’t quite worn out yet. I’m reusing shopping bags and those plastic boxes that (my flatmates’) takeaways come in and our recycling bin is filled quicker than the refuse one.

When we do get our house you can expect a few posts on the measures we’ll be installing to lower our impact on the planet and our wallets. Water troughs for the vegetable garden. If only solar panels were cleaner and cheaper to produce. I’d love to drop of the grid.

New Year updates

Thursday, January 8th, 2009

After releasing Geotagger 2 I’ve taken a break from Mac programming and branched out into making apps for iPhones. I’ve been officially accepted into the programme and I’ve got most of the logic sorted on my first game. What’s missing now is the real spit an polish to make it a seller, something that people will show off to the friends and earn me another sale. Yes I’m now charging for my apps.

There will be more about that in a coming post, about sustainability, about my coding projects and about the cool new geotagging in iPhoto.


Thursday, November 6th, 2008

I’ve spent this morning setting up my new MacBook’s dev environment to match what I had before. I’m now ready to get back into coding and polishing up the donationware items I released in my former life as a developer. The last two years have seen a lot of my personal time devoted to getting my body and mind into shape for months of isolation and hardcore exercise that comes with crossing countries on foot. Now I’m back on solid ground, thinking about arranging millions of 1s and 0s in a row. It’s an entirely different challenge and one I welcome. I haven’t decided if I can announce where I work just yet. Not that it’s a state secret but I’m not sure on their policies of personal blogs. Rest assured that it’s something I’m really looking forward to in a field I can be pretty happy I’m working in. I’ll try not to bang on about it at parties though :-)

I’ve a week of induction and set up. Then once my brain is back in gear it should flow through to my own projects, if I’m not busy moving house, which I will be.

A reader writes

Monday, October 6th, 2008

I got an email last week from “an aspiring traveller” and it’s a question I’ve been asked a few times so I thought I’d share it.

Dear sir,
I am just curios as to how do you continue your travels and have ample budgets for your expeditions. I aspire to do just what you are doing now. I would like to know how do you earn your expenses along your journey.

and my response

Hi James,

If there’s a secret to my travels it’s being careful with my money and being prepared to be very uncomfortable. I take it you’ve seen both my American and Japanese walking sites. For those adventures I had almost no accommodation costs by sleeping in a tent, in temples in the occasional abandoned tunnel. The last 6 weeks of OneManWalking was traveling in a different style. Having a girlfriend along changes things because I wouldn’t want to put her in the position of sleeping in public toilets (a big fancy disabled one with my tent’s ground sheet below). So expenses went up dramatically. When I’m back home I try not to spend too much on things I can do free. I eat in as much as possible and rarely see movies at the cinema. I was really lucky to get cheap rent about 4km from my job so I walked that every day. It was good exercise and it saved me money.

In neither case did I deliberately earn expenses along the way. Once in America I was given a free room for helping spread wood chips at an inn-keeper’s prayer park and in Japan the locals were incredibly generous. Some people stopped and gave me fruit, some bought food from convenience stores and handed it straight to me and some even handed me cash. I never asked for it but they felt like doing a good thing for someone taking the time to see their country in a different way. There’s a similar phenomenon on the PCT called “trail magic”, people leaving chilli-bins (coolers) in the forest full of drinks and snacks, or doing other good deeds just because they like to. You should never get to a point where you rely on these things, be self sufficient, but be open to the idea that things usually work out pretty well.

If you do go traveling and write about it, let me know, I’ll be needing some good travelblogs for next year.


I’m settling back in pretty well. On the job/house hunting circuits. I haven’t yet dug back into my code, I haven’t even gotten the latest version of Google Earth. But I will, and I’ll post updates to both projects when I can.


Tuesday, July 19th, 2005

Chemistry by Semisonic available in the iTunes Music Store

I remember when I found out about chemistry
It was a long, long way from here
I was old enough to want it but younger than I wanted to be
Suddenly my mission was clear

So for awhile I conducted experiments
And I was amazed by the things I learned
From a fine fine girl with nothing but good intentions and a
Bad tendency to get burned
All About Chemistry by Semisonic
All about chemistry

US Supreme Court Vs Smith & Wesson?

Thursday, June 30th, 2005

   Everyone on the net has heard about the recent US Supreme Court Ruling (MGM Studios Inc. et al v Grokster Ltd. et al) that went against the companies that make the file-sharing software, basically holding them accountable for the illegal actions of their users.

Justice David Souter wrote: “We hold that one who distributes a device with the object of promoting its use to infringe copyright… is liable for the resulting acts of infringement by third parties”.

Has anyone considered how this might effect gun manufacturers?