Job hutting and the earthquake

September 10, 2010 – 9:36 pm

Well it’s a long break from here. I have been up to a lot of things recently, but with completion of all prescribed texts just few weeks, the pressure of finding a job is becoming immense.

I tried quite hard in the last few months, taking time off from my usual activities like here just to write up countless number of cover letters. The result is that I have already lost count on rejection letters. Maybe I should publish each one of them here so I can keep my count.

The trouble is, town planning is a relatively small field and the opportunities, especially graduate opportunities are not always easy to come by.  I have even looked beyond my field and willing to settle something relevant such as policy making or fields in human geography, but only to face even stronger competitions. It’s almost certain that I will finish all courses without a job in the field, so I’m now seriously considering advancing on a master degree, but I’m really not the bookworm type.

However, in this sense, it’s sorry to say, but the Earthquake in Christchurch might be just how the country would finally get out of the recession. Media is already reporting that recession for some tradesmen are already “over” – it’s a terrible way to end it. With money compensated, people would be eager to replace items damaged from the earthquake, which would certainly fuel both building and retail industry, gaining long term profits from the short term pain.

Anyway, here’s my plan, I’m keeping this blog open for now – however, without a job prospect, I have little interest of reading and doing stuffs that are not very related to having a future career.

New branding, but same old tories

August 2, 2010 – 5:18 pm

Prime Minister John Key just squeezed himself into the New Zealand Rich list. With an entry requirement of NZ$50 million, John Key has just made it with $55 million personal worth. Compared with world standards, this can hardly be called very rich. However, among the world's leaders, he's ranking is quite high above - 18th.

What this reveals is that he must be quite clever to gain that amount of wealth, and succeed in both economic and political arena.  As a banker, you can also safely assume that he is highly financially literate. So lack of knowledge can hardly used to explained Key's comparison of wage gap between Australia and New Zealand:

Loyalty dictated John Key take the support option. To loud guffaws from the Labour benches, Key told Parliament that he had been advised that the gap between gross average weekly earnings in Australia and New Zealand, adjusted for purchasing power parity, was $160.25. "That is certainly a lot less than it was in 2005, when it was $187.60."

Indeed it is. But National did not win the 2005 election. It was elected in 2008 when - according to Key's own figures - the income gap had narrowed to $138.

There are two things that I definitely did not expect - 1. how did he become a millionaire? 2. I am actually very surprised to find out that the wage gap actually decreased - at a quite considerable rate, at the time when Labour was at the helm until the recession. I guess this is just another example of misconception that the right-wing biased media has created.  You thought you know the very essence of politics, but in fact you only know the facts as being digested and manipulated by others.

A shiny example of how ETS should not be done

July 2, 2010 – 3:44 pm

New Zealand has started its emission trading scheme (ETS) from 1 July (yesterday). The country is one of the handful countries that have such scheme in place. Once again, New Zealand has become an experiential ground of a new concept for the world to observe.

New Zealand’s has experienced serious changes even before it is implemented. As the centre-right wing national government gets elected in 2009, the scheme has undergone a hasty review, and several changes were resulted.

One of the major issues that will eventually topple this ETS is the removal of caps on total amount of emissions allowed nationally, and by sector. Government is responsible to supply unlimited amount of emission units at a fixed price of $25 per unit until 2012.

Now this is a very weird thing to do by a government which proclaims itself as “pro-market”. The reason for a cap isn’t just limiting the country’s total emission, but providing a market mechanism that provides financial incentive for cleaner sectors to emerge.   By removing such cap the scheme becomes no more than a new type of tax, since there is no limit on the amount of emissions, businesses can go on as usual, and the cost of this new “tax” is conveniently  transferred to end users – i.e. every day consumers.

And this appears just like what has happened.

The effects of ETS are further reduced by not having agriculture sector included in the scheme until 2015. As the country’s largest polluter, agriculture accounts for nearly half of the total greenhouse gas emissions.  This isn’t a sign that such issue is being treated seriously in New Zealand.

No wonder this ETS receives very little support – consumers absolutely hate it, even  politicians don’t agree. From the very right wing Act Party, which highly doubts the existence of global warming, to the very left environmentalist Green Party, all voted down for such scheme.

But such scheme does provide a good example to rest of the world though – how it should not be done. I highly doubt the ETS will last as its current shape for long - a major overhaul might just be an election away.

A new national sport

June 25, 2010 – 7:29 pm

Who would thought that All Whites could remain unbeaten after all three matches in group stage? I certainly didn't see it coming. Against all odds,  being widely recognised as the weakest team in the world cup, who probably "doesn't deserve" to be there, All Whites have achieved exceptionally well.  While All whites didn't progress, they should still be very very proud of themselves - in fact, if the ref disallow the offside goal against Slovakia, all whites should already in the knock out stage.

However, I have to say that, after watching all three games, it is clear that there is still a huge gap between All Whites and other teams. The team almost defended their way out of every march. It is a tactic but victory is not achieved through just defend. This kind of explains All Whites ability to draw with other international teams, but it is extremely rare to see a victory.

There is still a long way to go, but what All Whites achieved is exceptional - it generated a huge national  interest on soccer and encouraged the widest imagination. This is quite similar to the situation after socceroos' performance in 2006' world cup, and we could also see soccer on its way to become one of the national sport in New Zealand.

Exporting censorship

June 18, 2010 – 9:06 pm

From New Zealand Herald:

Dr Norman is outraged that members of a Chinese delegation were able to push him, hit him with an umbrella and rip a Tibetan flag from his grasp.He was protesting as Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping arrived at Parliament greeted by a few dozen pro-China supporters.

Some of the group, believed to be Chinese security, took exception to Dr Norman waving a Tibetan flag and calling for democracy.The MP brushed away attempts to have an umbrella placed in front of him, then clashed with security guards as they pulled the flag from his grasp and threw it on the ground.

He yelled they could suppress freedom of speech in China, but not in New Zealand.

The treatment Russel Norman has received today on the parliament ground is absolutely appalling.  It is no more than a shameless attempt of silencing a dissentient on the land where it suppose to have a freedom of speech. I acknowledge that entourage members do have a duty of protecting VIPs, however, after seeing the unedited footage of the incident, it is clear that the response from Chinese entourage is disproportionate.  Norman had neither had any physical contact with anyone nor vocally provoked such response - well unless "free Tibet" counts as a provocation.

However, I'm not really surprised on how Chinese entourage responded.  The novel yet extremely childish way of using umbrella to cover things that Chinese officials do not want to see is not new.  The first time that such practice brought to the attention of international media is on the 20th anniversary of Tian'anmen Massacre, where plain cloth officers used umbrella to block foreign journalists from filming on Tian’anmen Square.  Since then plain cloth with umbrella has become somewhat a standard practice in any occasion where there is a potential of protests.

What shocked me is how Chinese government is exporting such censorship practice to a foreign country with little or no hesitation.  I’m not a fan of green party, but I applaud the fact  that they never abused their parliamentary privileges – they protested peacefully on every occasion where a Chinese official is visiting. I also have to say that a lone protestor, sometimes also need to confront with a large pro-Chinese crowd, is stirring but also looked a bit stupid.  But don’t get me wrong, they have the right to be stupid, New Zealand didn’t take their right to be stupid away from them, so why should Chinese have such right?

Seeing that Chinese entourage used same way of covering up people as they did back in their own country, is a solid reminder that we simply cannot ignore the pain of others in a country on another hemisphere, just like we cannot let a criminal run loose til the date that he is actually hurting YOU.

Bear's no blog for a little longer

May 2, 2010 – 7:46 pm

I told many friends I have visited in my trip to China that the trip is a desperate attempt to trying to enjoy the very last bit of my worry-free university time.

It appears to be true now, the work load of my last year's bachelor study is immense and has way exceeded my expectation, forcing me to partially give up on some extracurriculum activities like blogging here.

I have always said, no matter how busy I am, blogging would be the last thing to give up because its significance in helping me achieve a number of personal objectives. So I'm definitely not to give this blog up.

However, because of the work load I'm currently experiencing, there is little free time available for me to use in this blog. I'm currently considering several restructuring options that would reduce the amount of time needed to blog here while do not comprimise the quality. One possibility is to make this blog more work related so I can copy my assignment and other works straight to here :) But if there is no other option, I will then have to adapt a twitter-like style for this blog, short, but stll on the point, or face the possibility of concentrating my time on Chinese blog and close down this English blog.

More coming soon.