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.