Observations from Brazil, the pitfalls of having more money than sense, living frugally, the Chinese-sounding name debacle, creating ethical robots and more

Observations from Brazil, the pitfalls of having more money than sense, living frugally, the Chinese-sounding name debacle, creating ethical robots and more

Today's Top 10 is a guest post from Laura McQuillan. Laura is a freelance journalist, who's gone from working as a Newstalk ZB political reporter, to freelancing in Brazil since the beginning of the year. She's currently covering the lead-up to the Rio 2016 Olympics, between Caipirinhas at Copacabana Beach.

We welcome your additions in the comment stream below or via email to david.chaston@interest.co.nz.

If you're interested in contributing the occasional Top 10 yourself, contact gareth.vaughan@interest.co.nz.

See all previous Top 10s here.

1. The Olympics are on Rio’s doorstep, but the place is a mess. I, for one, am fascinated to see how they manage to clean it up in time. Parallels have been drawn with Greece’s shambolic hosting effort in 2004 - and the Games are, at least in part, to blame for the ancient country’s current woes. Politico reports:

“There is no better place to contemplate ephemeral human ambition and a crumbling national economy than a ruined building … Athenians have plenty of choice. They can, of course, climb up to the Parthenon, but perhaps a better choice would be the overgrown Olympic tae kwon do, beach volleyball or softball stadia or the waterless Olympic swimming pools and canoe and kayak facilities.”

From The Guardian’s photo series on the abandoned venues.

After the 2012 World Cup, many of Brazil’s dozen new stadiums were left to ruin, but Rio 2016 officials promise there’ll be no repeat of that after next year’s Olympics.

2. Meanwhile, Brazil’s economy is in a tailspin, with the country’s rich and powerful implicated in the widening Petrobras corruption scandal. Among those recently arrested is billionaire businessman Marcelo Odebrecht, whose company is building the biggest Rio 2016 projects here: the athletes’ village, Olympic Park, sports venues, a new metro line, a new airport runway. The spiralling scandal couldn’t come at a worse time for Brazil’s embattled government, amid mounting speculation President Dilma Rousseff could be impeached, and after her predecessor was formally placed under investigation in the Petrobras saga. On Friday, the Real hit a 12-year low against the US Dollar, and there’s chat of a downgrade in the near future. 

3. My new city may be the home of Carnival, but when it comes to cerveja, the options are pretty terrible. But craft beer is slowly starting to take off and New Zealand’s own Moa is looking to capitalise on that growth. Despite many Brazilians thinking Nova Zelândia is in Europe, they’re huge fans of the All Blacks, Maori tattoos and, it seems, our beer! 

4. If, like me, you’re a terrible, nervous driver, this will make you want to retire from the road: Fiat Chrysler launched a mass recall of Jeep Cherokee vehicles after hackers figured out how to “wirelessly carjack” drivers. Wired’s Andy Greenberg was driven into a ditch in the name of journalism.

5. On a related note, it’s only a matter of time until sentient machines kill us all. The Wall Street Journal asks if we can create an ethical robot

Should your car swerve to save the life of the child who just chased his ball into the street at the risk of killing the elderly couple driving the other way?

“Thinking robots” are pretty high up on my “most terrifying things” list. My favourite podcast station, Radiolab (which has taught me almost everything I know), has a fascinating episode on just this, where a reporter sat down for an interview with the world’s most sentient robot

6. Giving up my day job has really taught me a thing or two about living frugally: here in Rio, a month’s rent costs almost exactly the same as a month’s wages for many people. Like many people, I’ve never bothered to keep track of my spending, and I’ve frittered away plenty of my income.

I found this article - about a young woman who lived on just 51% of her income – an interesting experiment. You won’t find me making my own cleaning products, though.

7. Look up “hot mess” in the dictionary, and you’ll find a recent photo of Donald Trump. The mogul illustrates the pitfalls of having more money than sense. Fingers crossed he’ll ditch the Republicans and make a third-party run for the presidency, as TIME suggests. Our future depends on it. 

8. I can totally relate to China’s recent economic issues: I get paid, go completely nuts clothes shopping, panic, then cut up my credit card. Luckily, I’m not an emerging economy.

Experts everywhere are weighing in on what on earth the Chinese government is up to, and what it means to folks at home – both in China, and around the world.

Meanwhile, politicians and corporations inside China are offering somewhat nutty explanations:

Lin Zuoming, chairman of the Aviation Industry Corporation of China, said recently that the market crash was the result of a scheme by hostile foreign investors to undermine the country's reforms and overthrow the party.

9. Why are we Kiwis so afraid of Chinese-sounding names? It seems nothing in New Zealand is safe:

10. While most Kiwi government agencies and ministers seem to think social media exists only to share links to their latest boring press releases, Nasa has set a new standard for good government social media engagement. The space agency has more than four million followers watching every mind-blowingly-beautiful post, and did an exclusive deal with Instagram for the first photo from New Horizons’ Pluto fly-by:

Nasa also has a mobile app, a service that sends you alerts when the International Space Station is flying over your house, and soon it’ll invite us all to move to a new planet!

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

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#9. It's arrogant to assert New Zealanders are afraid of Chinese sounding names. Actually what we are unhappy with is the disruption to our economic welfore and security from factors caused offshore. Hugely different.


@ #9, sigh.... we are not really, but we are told we are by every barrow pushing grandstander with a microphone up their nose or blog/rant platform. In the words of Homer Simpson, "...you make a very loud argument...".

We need to come up with a term for those who respond to valid conversation topics with irrelevant, misleading, deliberately mis-representative and contextually inaccurate input to grab shock value headlines for their own material or egotistical gain but offer no worthwhile info or solution.

We all see them all the time, but would be nice to say," just another ????? " , disregard them as one of the things you encounter in life that just don't matter and move on.
Like we have for Aucklanders.....

I agree. Though I am an Aucklander - I hope that's ok with you... ;-)

It's become second nature in New Zealand to just "shoot the messenger" instead of arguing any points made.

Perhaps they could be called "snipers"...?

It's more attitude and behaviour of an identifiable group from a region mistaken for ethnicity. We could say people originating from China as a geographical region are the recent problem and this would include all those who were from there but not ethnically Chinese. But the instance of exceptions being from China but not Chinese would be quite low.
With the Aucklander example I refer to the somewhat parochial and insular view that some in that area have. They are not unique in that respect as Cantabrians and "mainlanders" also spring to mind.

However, due to the diversity of cultures within the greater Auckland area, use of the term would not give rise to accusations of xenophobia as does any reference to those of any persons from China, India, Pacific islands or elsewhere, regardless of their ancestry, but can often be distinguished by any number of traits which are not delineated by race specifically but can have a high correlation.

Keep going - you will need a collective noun acronym to describe a born-n-bred long-time Jafa who's jumped ship and migrated up to Awanui - What can Awanui's call them

I always liked the term 'Hooplehead' (from the TV series Deadwood). There is something onomatopoetic about it. Perhaps we can resurrect its usage.

A few days ago we had a brilliant 10 @ 10 about China.

Today we get this random collection.

Vietnam now having a crack in Russian Dairy - "TH True Milk picked will co-invest in a $2.5 billion cow breeding and dairy product processing project in Moscow, Russia."


scary, really scary, trump might achieve the GOP nomination...


I hear Hilary is donating to his support fund.


political correctness is scary also. We have the highest house prices ever and highest immigration and the construction industry is booming this is exactly as Dr Greg Clydesdale warned:

While immigration played a key role in house inflation in the three years after 2001 (Reserve Bank 2007), it is unknown to what extent on-going immigration continued to drive price rises.
The housing boom has meant good profits for many New Zealand companies supplying materials and building services, but it implies investors would rather invest in their country’s homes rather than its businesses (Bollard 2005). The high returns for property has attracted finance and reduced the capital available for productive investment (Moody, 2006). The consequence is investment is going in to industries with limited capacity to increase per capita incomes. For example, real estate and building are domestically bound and do not have the market potential of export industries. They also have less opportunity to increase productivity through new processes and products. The irony is, as these sectors grow, they have incurred skills shortages which in turn has increased demand for skilled immigrants. The Department of Statistics ‘Long Term Skill Shortage List’ of 28/3/2006 includes carpenter/joiner, plumber, electricians, fitter and turners, fitter welders; all indicative of a nation building its construction/property sector.
There is a danger that a sector of the economy is being augmented that is totally reliant on a small domestic economy. Not only do these industries have limited potential for per-capita growth but ‘deriving growth via factor inputs such as labour places pressure on infrastructure such as transport and land supply, and ultimately have a further negative impact on growth (ARC 2005). Finally, as the sector gets larger, it gains in lobbying/political strength and can lobby for immigration regardless if it is the best interests of the economy as a whole. This could be seen in Canada where the development industry has lobbied hard for high sustained immigration levels (Ley and Tutchener 2001).


Dr Clydesdale was attacked over his statements about the value of Pacific island immigration by the HRC, Race Relations Office and the mob. Instead of action to protect the well being of all the members of the nation we now have an Emperor’s New Clothes type situation (as in) see the diversity. That's why I find Trump refreshing.

Someone was discussing a fish and chip shop and (I think he said ) he left because a Chinese family started one and "you can't compete with Chinese". If that is true it is cultural relating to family and lifestyle choices and being born into a different set of circumstance, Either way it should be the Kiwi's choice on who we let in to the nation. The pie shop thing may also indicate immigration policy, where a migrant has a greater incentive (under business category)?