Everything’s Broken

Be honest.  Admit that you were surprised when you heard that the NASA Mars lander didn’t crash land as many were predicting. 

Not to appear cynical, but it seems as if we are becoming used to things not working.  Like last month when the NatWest Bank computer suddenly stopped working and people couldn’t access their money.  Or last week when NYSE stock market pricing was affected by some mysterious computer problem.  Not to mention the Facebook IPO being affected to the tune of billions because the NASDAQ computers barfed when they were overwhelmed by the volume of transactions.

The questions are always the same—How could that happen?  Didn’t anyone anticipate a problem? Wasn’t anyone checking?

I’m not sure what’s going on.  One very plausible theory is that things have gotten so complicated that it’s impossible for anyone to see the big picture and that’s why things fall through the cracks. 

But I’m thinking that perhaps it is because many people have come to believe that rules don’t apply to them, whether we’re talking about the laws of gravity, computer programming or securities markets.

This has been nicely demonstrated down here recently with the Miss New Zealand contest.  The winner becomes Miss New Zealand and gets to represent us in the Miss Universe competition. 

Back in June, Miss New Zealand was crowned.  The very next day the articles started to appear:  “Miss New Zealand May Be Stripped of Her Tiara.”

Like, who cares? Was my first reaction, although that thought may have occurred at exactly the same time as They still have Miss Universe?

I figured that it was going to be another one of those stories about how she had posted a naughty picture on Facebook or had unpaid parking tickets or something. So I didn’t even bother to read the story.

But later in the day, I heard people talking about it and that led me to do some more research. It turns out that Miss New Zealand might lose her tiara because she isn’t a New Zealander.

As I mentioned, some people just don’t think the rules apply to them.  But after all, it is the age of globalization.  And you don’t seem to need very firm roots in the country you might be representing in the Olympics nowadays.  So do we really need to quibble about whether Miss NZ is in fact a New Zealand citizen?

The young woman who won is a 22 year old from South Africa.  She’s been here since she was sixteen and is a permanent resident but has never taken up citizenship.  Under the rules, that’s not good enough.  You need to be a citizen.

So how could a South African have been crowned Miss NZ?

Did she withhold that fact?  No.  Were the contest officials unaware of it?  No.  In fact, they even told her that she had no chance of winning.  But she’d paid her $3,000 “sponsorship fee.”  And apparently no one is going to tell someone with a check for $3,000 to go away because they aren’t eligible.

No, the organiser tells them that they can enter but they can’t win.  But that they will gain valuable experience from going through the process of entering and not winning.

According to the article I read, this happens all the time and in this case, because of a something less than Zuckerberg-esque glitch, the judges declared her the winner.

And that’s when it really got interesting.

Day 1—Miss New Zealand says not to worry, her citizenship will be fast tracked and everything will be fine because it’s just a question of the “paperwork” being sorted out and she can’t wait to meet Donald Trump.

Day 2—It turns out that the third runner up was also not a citizen.  She is an Australian who has lived in NZ since she was 12.  Her response?  “I thought citizenship was automatic.”

Day 3—Disclosure is made that since 2006 only two Miss New Zealands have not been blonde and this is because one of the sponsors “prefers blondes” and therefore judges are pressured to pick them as winners. (Yes, the winner is blonde).

Day 4—The headlines read:  “Miss Universe NZ Refuses to Step Aside.”  The article reveals that she has “hired lawyers” to fast track her citizenship application and support her claim to the throne.

A week or so later, at the end of June, she appeared on television saying that she was being “bullied” into stepping down.  Pageant organizers backed off saying if she gets citizenship by August 1st all would be forgiven.

During July, the wannabe queen showed her commitment to New Zealand citizenship by flying off to South Africa from where she lobbed observations about NZ that were somewhat inconsistent with a desire for fast-tracked citizenship.  For example, she said in an interview that while in NZ she mostly hung around with other South Africans because she preferred their company, that she was going to find a South African husband and, worst of all, that one of the most popular local rugby teams “suck.”

I’ve heard of burning your bridges behind you, but this sounds like burning your bridges in front of you.

The pageant organizer texted her to say, “You have a lot to answer for when you see me on your return.”

Well, guess what?  August first came and went and the queen didn’t get NZ citizenship.  So she was formally “stripped” of her tiara.  The next day, the organizer of the event here retired for health reasons.  And the defrocked queen has announced that she will not be stepping down, behaviour reminiscent of Colonel Gaddafi and Bashar al-Assad, two other people who think that rules don’t apply to them.

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11 responses to “Everything’s Broken

  1. Scary premise on our acceptance of how nothing seems to work very well anymore. Also scary that we don’t generally fix anything, we just toss it and get a new one.

    As for the Miss New Zealand, I vote for that hurdler, based entirely on her pre-race dancing. Holy Crap!!

  2. I remember after 9/11 when we learned airport security didn’t actually do anything and I started to question how many of these technologies and systems actually do what they’re supposed to do, and how many only work because we all assume they work.

  3. I’m with you. There’s still a Miss Universe? What?

  4. YIKES….we may even now get an entrant from MARS into the contest ????

  5. goodness me!!! what a palaver! Miss Universe? I also thought those events had pretty much gone the way of many other such of the past. weird to think that in this day & age they still do that. Well, good for her that she tried anyway, but a disgrace on the organisers that they take the money without a backward glance. Seems that is the same story in many industries/businesses today. I constantly fight with my network provider…I pay for a service that I don’t get (I cant make any calls from inside my house and have to go into the garden if I want to phone anyone) and when I suggest that I may go elsewhere, they call my bluff simply because all the network providers have the same issues and their service is no better then the one I am with, so we have the best of the worst. What is extraordinary is that evidently people don’t read or don’t care about the rules. Honesty & integrity have gone out with the dinosaurs…in the past you could do business on a handshake. how sad.

  6. One third of USA believes we have a president that is a Muslim and not a citizen. The issue brews as experts have noted 23 discrepancies on Obama’s birth certificate. Why would such a thing be released by the White House? Wouldn’t they be sure that even a fraudulent document would appear unquestionably perfect?

    I understand there was a crippling power grid shutdown in India just recently. Here is US there has been a brain power shutdown in the government in Washington for a number of decades.

  7. I would have paid attention if Miss New Zealand just stripped, instead of them just taking her crown off :)

  8. Yep, I was surprised there’s still a Miss Anything contest. Why? Is it a moneymaker? I guess it looks good on a resume.

  9. I didn’t know there were still “Miss” contests either. Guess they’re kind of the original reality shows. Sympathies for this one go out the window when she trashed NZ. Well you know what they say about publicity…

  10. This was amazing. Starting from “they can enter but they can’t win” it was a case of a- people think rules don’t apply to them but also b- doesn’t anyone care any more?

  11. Wow… at least it’s not some crazy scheme of a mom who adopts a daughter, has one genetically engineered or kidnaps someone to enter the contest to fulfill her lifelong dream of being Miss New Zealand.

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