I hate to sound like one of those Facebook personalities who makes a status whenever anything happens saying “2016 strikes again!”. I will however state that 2016 has been one hell of a year. I thought I’d celebrate it by arbitrarily selecting several things that I subjectively find interesting and then write a sentence about them with the word award tagged onto the end.
Hope you enjoy.
The “Real time Red Wedding” award goes to….
I don’t believe I have ever been more stressed watching something unfold on television before. Nothing can truly encapsulate the sense of impending dread overcoming my social circle as we witnessed Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin slowly slip away from Hillary Clinton. For many of my friends, the notion of right wing populism taking success seemed to be an issue only Europeans dealt with.
I think what personally made this notable is how certain I was that Hillary Clinton would win. In comparison, an issue like a political assassination, a shock poll, or the cancellation of a favorite TV show feels like punch to the face. The US election this year instead felt like a slow shooting pain as I watched everything I love get torn away from me.
Slight caveat on this. I never claimed to be a large fan of Hillary Clinton. I actually wanted to support Gary Johnson but instead his personality got in the way. My opposition to Donald Trump comes from an opposition to statism and belief in open borders. Hillary Clinton was the least damaging of the two candidates.
The “free money” award goes too…
Otago University Students Association (OUSA)
I’ll freely admit that I’m not particularly involved with Otago University or their students association. My disapproval for their behavior emerges from the recent news that two members of their executive claimed OUSA money to pay for a taxi they soiled after the OUSA Christmas Party. Otago’s student magazine Critic reported that a beer bottle exploded causing a leakage within the taxi. To pay for the repairs Admin VP Jarred Griffiths authorised the OUSA credit card to cover the $200 cost. When scrutinised in a later executive meeting for the use of student funding Griffiths highlighted that the incident was “in no way preventable” and subsequently there was “no way [he is] paying for that fine”. By refusing to pay the fine, the involved executive members are forcing the other members of the Exec to lump the cost. Either that or expecting student funding to pay for an ‘accident’ which could have happened to anybody. The issue is, if this did happen to anybody, they’d be expected to pay the bill.
Taking into consideration this occurred in the personal time of OUSA executive members the precedent OUSA is creating here is that any member of the students association should invoice them if they have to pay a bill that is not their fault. Are you hosting a flat party and someone punches a hole in the wall? Invoice OUSA.
The “Craft Beer” award for craftiest political strategy goes to…
The National Government and their flag referendum
After the failure of their much criticised flag referendum, one could expect the National Party to receive a fair amount of negative coverage for perceivably wasting over $20mil.
Except, that didn’t happen. In fact, National barely even took a dent in the polls. This is due to the strategic placement of the Flag Referendum result taking place the Thursday before Easter break. Due to this, public figures and journalists entered an extended long weekend in which many would be off work. Subsequently there was nobody to develop the story as nobody was making statements. By the time Tuesday arrived, the failed flag referendum was already old news.
Hats off to John and his strategists, this was pretty clever.
The “Nostradamus” award for please stop predicting the future goes to…
For those unaware, Charlie Brooker is a popular UK Media personality perhaps best known for his creation the unsettling TV drama Black Mirror. He’s also my idol.
Charlie Brooker made headlines last year for seemingly predicting Piggate with his pilot episode of Black Mirror. In this episode the UK Prime Minister is blackmailed into have intimate relations with a pig. Sound familiar?
This year there have been allegations that an episode from Black Mirror’s second season “The Waldo Effect” accurately predicted the rise of US President Elect Donald Trump. The episode features a comedic animated character named Waldo who runs a reality TV show. In an attempt to boost ratings, Waldo runs for local office in a campaign of profanity, aggression, and politically incorrect behavior. Waldo generates sweeping popularity to a point that eventually leads to Waldo becoming a global dictator similar to that of Orwell’s Big Brother. The idea here is that Donald Trump utilised a very similar tactic in his campaign for presidency which proved exceptionally effective.
I think the reality behind Brooker’s prediction within Black Mirror is more about the effectiveness of anti PC behavior. There is a notion here that Donald Trump has changed the guidelines of political engagement. The rulebook has been rewritten.
The “Kylo Ren” award for joining the Dark Side goes to…
The New Zealand Left
The New Zealand Left sold out their tolerant values for a cheap shot at gaining votes by piggybacking on anti-immigration policies made popular by figures such as Nigel Farage and Donald Trump.
With the Labour Party’s tirade against those who own houses with Chinese sounding last names and then Green Party’s draconian 1% immigration policy we can demonstrably see a trend of left wing New Zealand parties embracing nativism. This all comes from the fact anti-immigration policy is politically “cool” at the moment.
The view that immigrants = bad seems to stem from the Auckland housing crisis that has seen housing prices skyrocket to record levels. Unfortunately for immigrants, it’s easy to believe that the reason for this is too many people. The reality is that the housing crisis is created by a range of issues. For example, the lack of a Capital Gains Tax in New Zealand allows the rich to invest their wealth into property so as maximise their income in an un-taxed manner. This creates a situation where homes are purchased as a commercial venture rather than for the necessity of shelter. Prices go up as the demand is increased with people looking to maximise their profits through untaxed means.
Immigration can also be a very effective tool at decreasing the housing prices of Auckland. With targeted immigration, you can encourage people to move to the regions to the urbanisation of Auckland. By encouraging people to move elsewhere, you reduce the demand for houses within Auckland which subsequently lowers the price.
This is a very big discussion which probably deserves it’s own blog post.
*hint* It’ll probably get one next year.
The “Life is meaningless” award for most depressing TV Show
Words cannot describe how soul-crushing this TV show is.
Bojack Horseman enters the life of a washed up has-been who battles with his own mental health issues. Season 3 allowed us to witness Bojack at his worst, we as the audience could only sit back helplessly as Bojack betrayed his friends, destroyed relationships and ruined his life spiraling further and further into a dark depression.
Sure, Bojack has some of the funniest gags modern TV can feature. It is the cloest replication of humor to Arrested Development which I rate as one of the funniest shows of all time. I get the impression however that these jokes only exist to hide Bojack as being a show purely intended to demonstrate the effects of depression. It’s a terrific form of social commentary and I truly recommend that people at least attempt to watch it. Just make sure that you don’t binge watch it, it’s quite hard to deal with in large quantities.
That’s too much man.
Beer of the year
It’s probably right about here that most of my audience stops reading.
For those that know me well, you’re probably aware that I am an avid craft beer enthusiast. Just check out my Instagram.
It’s only fitting then that I give my final award to a Beer that has made me happy in times that I needed a bit of cheering up (2016 was a rough year).
Sparks Outlander is a beautiful stout that features all the chocolate and malt flavours that make this type of beer work. If I was to describe the flavour as anything, I’d say chocolate fudge. At 6.2% it’s a pretty heavy beer which is probably why I’ve only ever found it in 330mL bottles. Also due to being made by a relatively small Auckland brewery, it isn’t the easiest beer to find here in wellington.
If you’re interested and living in Wellington, you’ll be able to find it at Thorndon New World and/or probably Regional Wines and Spirits in Mt Victoria.
I hope you’ve enjoyed what will be my last post of 2016. It’s been a real pleasure writing for you and I can’t wait to churn out some more blog posts in the new year.
Hope you all have a great Christmas holiday (if you’re entitled to) and a hectic new year.