The Civilian’s 2016 – A Year in Rear-view

2016yearinrearviewfeatureWow. What a year it’s been.

It’s the kind of year that, after it all, just makes you want to put your feet up, crack open a beer, and shoot yourself in the face.

Whether it was earthquakes galore, political outcomes not even that octopus that predicted the world cup could’ve seen coming, or just that weird feeling gnawing at your subconscious that you aren’t really awake anymore and instead in some kind of never-ending layered dream, it’s been a truly remarkable twelve months.

David Bowie died, which is of course impossible. Leicester City won the Premier League. Donald Trump won the Republican nomination. Britain left the European Union. The Cubs won the World Series. Ireland beat the All Blacks. Donald Trump won the presidency. John Key resigned. And Malcolm Turnbull stayed Prime Minister for a whole year. At least so far.

Indeed, with more than two weeks still remaining, all bets are off.

But instead of prognosticating, we thought we’d close out 2016 in the only way that seems fit: by taking one last, horrible look back at a year we’ll never forget, through the headlines that shaped it.

trumpheroinfeatureTrump victory in New Hampshire a painful reminder of state’s heroin epidemic

When Donald Trump won the New Hampshire Republican primary back in February – his first ever political victory – it was a truly painful reminder of the narcotic nightmare the state’s residents are living with on a day-to-day basis.

Trump’s victory came on the back of a loss in the first-in-the-nation caucus state of Iowa, where Senator Ted Cruz took a victory in large part due to the state’s heavy concentration of evangelical voters.

But the landscape proved to be less favourable to him in New Hampshire, where a staggering 11.4% of 18-25-year-olds are heroin users, a demographic that helped deliver the primary to Trump.

“Well I must say, you know, I do very well amongst heroin addicts,” Trump acknowledged on MSNBC’s Morning Joe programme. “Heroin addicts love me. I think I’m going to be great for the heroin addicts.”

Election analyst and statistician Nate Silver said it was “no surprise” Trump performed so well in a state with such a rampant illicit drug problem.

“In some ways, this kind of demographic is his wheelhouse, really,” he said. “You know, we went to New Hampshire, spent about a week there, got a sense of what it was like on the ground. You wouldn’t go to a Trump rally without seeing at least a few people loading up at the door.

“And Trump’s just being Trump, he’s throwing needles to the crowd, everybody’s loving it. So while his margin was a little surprising, maybe better than expected, these people were always going to deliver for him.”

Read the full article here.

blackleofeatureAcademy appeases everyone by awarding Oscar to Black Leonardo DiCaprio

The Oscars had a very tricky line to walk this year, after a controversy over the lack of black nominees collided head-on with the anger of Leonardo DiCaprio fans who desperately wanted their favourite actor to get just one Oscar.

But the academy handled it perfectly, awarding its Oscar for Best Actor to Black Leonardo DiCaprio.

Black DiCaprio won the Academy Award for his stellar performance in the critically acclaimed survival blockbuster The Black Revenant, the African-American version of The Revenant, which itself contained no black people.

No other African American actors were honoured with an award, but the Academy repeatedly insisted throughout the nomination season that there is “no racism at play,” and it’s simply that “black people are quite bad at making movies, and perhaps things generally.”

They also pointed to the fact that they selected Black Chris Rock, the African-American version of Chris Rock, to host this year’s ceremony.

Read the full article here.

gotbudgetstoryFans of Bill English’s Budget series worried he won’t be able to tie all plot threads together by the end

Following the widely unanticipated release of the 8th instalment in Finance Minister Bill English’s Budget series back in May, fans began to fear that the plot had become so convoluted that he wouldn’t be able to tie it all together by the series’ end, which was expected in either the 9th or 12th instalment.

“I struggle to believe he’s going to end it all in the 9th Budget,” said long-time fan of English’s numbers, Jarrod Bakker. “There’s just so much going on and it’s not even really close to making sense at this point.”

That sentiment was echoed by other fans, who felt the latest chapter in the hugely influential saga did not go nearly far enough to resolving the many conflicts and character arcs in New Zealand, the possibly fictional world in which the Budget series is based.

Despite these criticisms, Bill English’s publisher, Prime Minister John Key, said that the latest instalment was the “biggest and best yet,” in part due to some exciting new developments, like inflation.

“I think most New Zealanders would agree that there are certainly more numbers in this budget than in previous budgets,” he told media ahead of the book’s release. “Lots of columns, possibly more columns. If you like columns, and if you liked the last few Budgets, well, this is much the same.”

Following Key’s shock decision to resign later in the year, Bill English will not do any further work on the Budget series, which is expected to be finished by Steven Joyce, who has spoken to English “at length” about how he wants it to end.

Read the full article here.

brexitfeatureLeave voters disenchanted as the begin to realise UK is still in same geographical location

One week on from the Brexit referendum, voters who opted to leave the European Union were beginning to feel a sense of disenchantment with their choice, as they started to realise that Great Britain was geographically no further away from Europe than it was prior to the vote.

“I just wanted to get away from France,” said one leave voter. “The other day I took a drive down to Cliffs of Dover, and it’s still fucking there.”

French residents spoken to were equally disappointed.

While many in mainland Britain reported a lack of increased distance from the EU, those living in Northern Ireland said otherwise.

Northern Irish residents living close to the dividing line between the UK and the Republic reported that their countrymen on the other side did indeed feel “further away than ever.”

Read the full article here.

boxhousefeatureSmall cardboard box sells for $150,000 in Auckland

The Auckland and wider New Zealand housing crisis kicked into high gear this year after a small cardboard box in Grey Lynn sold for $150,000.

The box, which features one bedroom, one kitchen, a bathroom, and a modest living area – all of which are the same room – was won at auction by a foreign bidder, who planned to add the home to his investment portfolio, which already included multiple Auckland homes, including an even smaller box he purchased in Manukau for $57,000 earlier in the year.

Political reaction to the sale was swift, with Green Party co-leader James Shaw questioning why a box like that would sell for such a high price, when politicians like the Prime Minister and others “probably have plenty of boxes at home that people could live in.”

But Prime Minister John Key dismissed Shaw’s rhetoric as “opportunistic,” saying that the sale had “nothing to do” with housing, and was not indicative of a housing crisis, because “it’s not a house, it’s a box.”

“I think most New Zealanders would agree that houses aren’t boxes,” he told National Radio, “and this is a box, not a house, I think, you know, I mean, that’s fairly obvious, I would have thought.”

Key acknowledged the sale did indicate a “certain kind of spike” amongst “box prices.”

“Certainly I think that’s quite a high price for a box,” he said. “And look, if you want to say it’s a house, if it is a house, then that’s quite a cheap house, actually, so that’s another way to look at it.”

Read the full article here.

chchsnowmanfeatureChristchurch man can’t wait to build snowman out of mostly dirt tomorrow

When snow was forecast for Christchurch back in early August, one local man simply couldn’t wait to get out there and build a snowman from what would have been largely dirt.

“I can’t fucking wait, holy shit,” said a beaming Josh Ramsay, a fully grown 38-year-old man. “Fuck yeah, snow. Woah.”

The last time it snowed in Christchurch was 2012, when Ramsay said he took his kids outside to scoop up very thin layers of what barely passed as snow to build “a great big brown thing, not sure what it was, but wow!”

“Wow!” added his wife, Francesca, who also likes snow.

Other Cantabrians spoken to were equally excited for the potential to argue with their friends about whose house got the most snow, before making snow angels so shallow that the mud would totally wreck their clothes permanently.

Those feeling the wintry cheer included Canterbury sheep farmer Hugh McInnes.

“It’s going to kill all my sheep,” he said.

Read the full article here.

chiefsfeatureChiefs saga highlights need for children to be better role models for impressionable rugby players

When the Chiefs rugby team found itself embroiled in a scandal over its gross mistreatment of a female stripper, it served as an important reminder for our children to be better role models for our nation’s impressionable rugby players.

“Obviously, in the last 24 hours, some really serious allegations have surfaced about some conduct in respect to our players, and we are taking those allegations extremely seriously,” the team’s CEO, Andrew Flexman, told media.

“I just think this goes to show, and highlights that, when you’re dealing with players like ours, who are very impressionable, not experienced in real life, really not at all capable of thinking for themselves most of the time, they can sometimes be very adversely affected by the role models they look up to, such as high school children, and fuckwits generally.”

All Blacks coach and sufferer of chronic depression Steve Hansen weighed in on the situation, saying that what high school kids and fuckwits are seen to be doing can have “flow-on effects.”

“I’ve spent a lot of time with boys like these over the years, as you know,” he said, “and while I don’t have the facts on hand, what I can say is this: the boys really look up to people like high school kids from all-boys schools, and they look up to fuckwits, and so when fuckwits and schoolboys behave in a certain way, rugby players can get the idea that it’s acceptable behaviour, and I think we have to be very conscious of that.”

He called on fuckwits everywhere to be “more conscious” of their actions, and perhaps participate in advertising campaigns to let rugby players know it’s not okay.

“It’s something we do need to look at as a kind of social outreach.”

Read the full article here.

RawdonchristiefeatureTVNZ acknowledges experiment to cryogenically freeze man from 1920s and put him on TV today has failed

When TVNZ let Rawdon Christie go from their breakfast show in August, it amounted to an admission that its nearly century-long experiment to cryogenically freeze him in the 1920s, subsequently thawing him for use on their network in the current decade, had categorically failed.

Christie, a British aristocrat who struggled to adapt to life in the modern world and cope with the emotional struggles that come with being decades younger than his own grandchildren, left the network altogether when Jack Tame and Hilary Barry took his place.

TVNZ Head of News John Gillespie said it was time to acknowledge that it “hasn’t worked out.”

“It was a novel idea,” he said, “and while I can’t speak to my forebears’ intentions, I’m sure they had very good reasons for thinking it was a good idea. But the truth is, Christie just hasn’t gelled, and if I have to explain to him what a computer is one more time I think I’ll just totally lose it, and nobody wants to see that.”

Read the full article here.

colinopinionfeatureOpinion: I think it’s fairly obvious I meant to send those sexy sexts to myself

When Colin Craig was – in a sweet twist of irony – taken to court for defamation in September, many of his sexts to former press secretary Rachel MacGregor came under public scrutiny.

In an opinion piece, Craig wrote the following about the sexts:

My golly, it’s been a strange couple of weeks, hasn’t it?

Firstly, my wife asked me to make dinner. That was surprising, and not really how things are supposed to work.

“You’re unemployed, Colin,” she says. That’s funny. I’m not unemployed. I’m the leader of the Conservative Party.

“You’re not the leader, Colin,” said the board, in a letter to me asking me to stop saying that I’m the leader. That’s funny, too. Only the leader has the authority to remove the leader, and if I’m not the leader, then who is the leader? It’s not Christine.

Secondly, passers by have started abusing me on my morning waddle; more than usual.

“Fuck you, Colin, you dirty creep!” yelled one woman. That wasn’t very nice. She yelled it quite loudly, too, which is why I’ve been forced to issue her with a notice of legal action on the grounds of defamation.

“Magic Hands Colin!” another man taunted. Thank you. I do have magic hands.

Thirdly, I ended up on trial in court and all my sexy sexts have been released for the world to read.

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t mind. I’m quite proud of my steamy sexy sexts, which demonstrate a wide use of erotic vocabulary, including all the essential words, like “naked” and “slept.”

I might have even included the winking emoticon here and there, though I do remember at least one occasion on which I couldn’t find it, and had to use the angry emoticon instead.

What I do mind is that they’re saying I sent these erotic steamy sexy sexts to my press secretary. I did, but it was entirely by accident, and anyone who actually reads them (please do so in a private place) will see that they were clearly directed at me.

To read Colin’s full opinion piece and explanation click here.

nceafeatureNCEA debacle perfect opportunity for smug adults to demonstrate superiority to children

Back in September, An NCEA exam that subjected Year 11 students to questions allegedly above their curriculum level provided a welcome opportunity for smug adults to use the internet to demonstrate how much better they can perform tasks than a 15-year-old child.

Grown men and women across the country were thrilled to read the news that a large number of stupid and incompetent children had failed basic maths problems that weren’t half as hard as baby boomers had done when they were just toddlers.

53-year-old part-time nurse and Justice of the Peace Carol Baldwin said she couldn’t wait to get home and tell her husband about how she’d got every question on the test correct.

“I can do maths better than kids who are in some cases 14,” she boasted.

Prolific and well-respected Stuff commenter Robo2828 also seized on the opportunity to tell the country he had recently sat and passed a maths paper from Cambridge, which is a place for smart people in England.

Read the full article here.

aaronsmithfeatureSteven Hansen assures public that All Blacks would ‘not normally’ have sex

When All Black Aaron Smith was caught having sex with a mystery woman in an airport disabled toilet, coach Steven Hansen reassured a panicked public that All Blacks do “not normally” have sex.

While news media only referred to the disturbance in the disabled toilet as a “rendezvous,” “tryst” or “incident,” some reports began to emerge that Smith may have been “having sex” or otherwise “fucking raw.”

Hansen moved quickly to respond to those reports.

“Certainly it does appear that Aaron might have – and I do say might have at this juncture – had sex in the – or one of the – disabled toilets at Christchurch International Airport last month, with a woman who was ostensibly not his girlfriend,” he read from a sheet of paper that appeared only to have a drawing of a sad face on it.

“This is news to me, and I suspect shocking news to most of the country, but I just want to reassure anyone who might be worried that this kind of thing happens on a regular basis.”

Hansen said that as far as he was aware, the All Blacks do “not normally” have sex, and there would be strict disciplinary meetings with anyone who was found to.

“As has been widely reported in New Zealand media, the All Blacks are not like you or me. They are morally pure beings, without carnal urges, many do not even have penises, which is why it’s particularly shocking to me that Aaron would have done this.”

Read the full article here.

deadlabourpartyfeatureNation prepares to commemorate Labour Day by gathering at grave of the Labour Party

New Zealanders of all backgrounds gathered on Labour Day this year to remember the enduring legacy of the now-deceased Labour Party.

A dawn service took place early on Monday morning, which was attended by the Prime Minister, as well victims of the party’s demise, including Phil Goff, David Shearer, David Cunliffe and Andrew Little.

Thousands of ordinary New Zealanders attended the service, as well as a candlelight vigil held at the grave of the party the night before.

“I think it’s really important that I teach my 5-year-old son about the Labour Party,” said former party member John Adams. “He’s going to grow up in a world without a Labour Party, and if I don’t teach him about it, he may never know it existed, or what it did.”

Numbers at the weekend’s services were even higher than last year, which Prime Minister John Key said was “encouraging.”

“Oh, look, I think, at the end of the day, everybody just wants a day off, put your feet up, have a beer, that kind of thing,” he said. “But really, we have to remember this is a sombre occasion. A party has died, and it’s good to see a lot of kiwis coming out to remember that.”

Read the full article here.

policeroundaboutfeatureSuspect leads police on harrowing 13-hour chase round Panmure roundabout

Police in Auckland really had their hands full on the 20th of October, when a driver led them on a 13-hour chase round the iconic Panmure roundabout.

Police began chasing the suspect, who several motorists had flagged as driving erratically, at around 8:50pm the night before. The chase concluded at just past 10am in the morning, just several metres from where it began.

In two vehicles, police pursued the man as he drove in a mostly legal clockwise fashion around the roundabout an estimated four and a half thousand times.

Constable Darryl McArthur, who was one of the drivers pursuing the man, said it was exhausting, but he was just glad the chase was over.

“Oh, yeah, it was a long night,” he told media. “I’m just glad nobody was hurt, and we managed to bring this guy into custody.”

McArthur expressed a feeling of “helplessness” with the chase, saying, at one point, they had no idea how they were going to catch or intercept the suspect’s vehicle.

“He just kept going round and round and round, we were waiting for him to indicate, or something, but he just kept on going, so we had to keep on going.”

The man was finally forced from his car and arrested when it ran out of petrol just next to the Lagoon Drive exit.

Read the full article here.

allblackslosefeatureyayAfter Ireland victory, fears that rugby could become dynamic game where multiple teams can win

After Ireland’s historic victory against New Zealand at Soldier Field in Chicago, fears began to mount among All Blacks leadership and fans alike, that rugby could become a dynamic game where multiple outcomes are possible.

“There is that fear among the fans I talk to, in any case,” said prolific sport commentator Scotty Stevenson. “New Zealanders love their rugby, because we always win and there’s not really even any point watching. It’s a total waste of a Saturday night, really. It’d be sad if we lost that.”

“I know a lot of people who were pretty downtrodden about what happened,” he added. “It was a really interesting game, quite close at times, spirited, great rugby from Ireland, and in the end, the underdog won, which was an incredible thing to witness, history in the making. We’re really hoping that doesn’t happen again.

“The northern tour was supposed to be, you know, these four easy wins, and now there’s real worry there might be exciting games on the horizon that are actually worth watching.”

All Blacks assistant coach Wayne Smith said any talk of this was “premature,” and there’s “no immediate risk” of rugby becoming “dynamic” or “even interesting.”

“This is a one off event,” he said. “We have to look at this as a one-off event, and say ‘How do we prevent this happening again? How do we make the next three games extremely boring, 54-3 romps that will make other nations not even want to play this game?’ That’s the mindset we’re taking to Italy, and anything beyond that is unwarranted panic.”

Fortunately he was right. The All Blacks rebounded, and the game today is as painfully predictable as it was before.

Read the full article here.

holyshitfeatureHoly shit

On the 9th of November this year, holy shit.

As the United States presidential election drew to a close. holy fuck. After a year and a half of campaigning, primary elections, presidential debates and rallies, the closing hours of the campaign proved to be the most what the actual fuck is happening? In an unlikely turn of events, oh my fucking god.

Voters around the country turned out in record numbers to fucking hell.

While many states, including Florida, Pennsylvania, and Michigan proved to be close contests, good fucking god.

As the end result became clearer, Hillary Clinton phoned Donald Trump personally to concede the race, and tell him “Holy shit.”

Just half an hour later, Vice-President-elect Mike Pence took the stage at a New York victory party to introduce Donald Trump, telling the audience “Fucking hell. Holy fuck.”

The crowd at the Trump event was jubilant, repeatedly chanting “USA!” and “What the fuck?”

President-elect Donald Trump followed with a historic victory speech, seeking to unify the country by telling America that he would be “a President.”

“Holy fuck,” he began. “Jesus fucking Christ. What is even happening?”

Read the full article here.

nzevacuatedfeatureCivil Defence evacuates whole of New Zealand after engineers discover structural issues with the country

Following a series of earthquakes just one month ago, Civil Defence ordered the evacuation of “the entire North, South, Stewart and Chatham islands,” after inspections by engineers and geologists who discovered “significant structural issues” with the country as a whole.

“To be very clear, we are calling for the immediate evacuation of areas in this zone,” said Civil Defence director Sarah Stuart-Black, pointing to a map of the zone, which encompassed the whole country. “If you are in this zone, we ask you to leave as soon as possible, and remain out of this area until further inspections can take place.”

Airports overflowed with residents of the affected area, who were attempting to fly overseas, but were being met with fully booked flights.

“I really don’t know what the fuck is going on,” said Air New Zealand check-in operator Janice Gray. “We can’t put all these people on planes.”

Asked if she could just kind of stack them, Gray replied “No.”

Read the full article here.

endthisfuckingyearfeatureGovernment pushes urgent legislation to end 2016, have New Year’s right now

Following the events of this year, Parliament sat under urgency on the 14th of November, as the National Government attempted to pass legislation to end 2016 effective immediately, and have New Year’s Eve in just a few hours at midnight that night.

The “That’s Enough Bill 2016” would have shortened the calendar in use by New Zealand by 47 days, with a year spanning from January 1st to November 14th.

Prime Minister John Key, joined by Minister Responsible for the Earthquake Commission Gerry Brownlee, announced his government would be pushing the bill after visiting Kaikoura, following a 7.8 magnitude earthquake in the North Canterbury region.

“Look, I think most New Zealanders would agree that, uh, that’s quite enough,” he said. “That’s why tonight, we’ll be moving to pass a bill that should resolve any forthcoming issues.”

Key said the bill was a “preventative measure” and would “unfortunately not reverse” anything that has happened since January 1st. But with well over a month still remaining in the year, National had finally felt compelled to act.

Providing the bill became law, Key encouraged New Zealanders to “enjoy ringing in the New Year” and “perhaps get shitfaced.”

Unfortunately the bill did not make it through Parliament, and as a result, the year continued, and Key, too, was claimed by it.