Thursday, December 31, 2009

Will They Ever Learn?

In 2001 while on a Paris-USA flight, Richard Reid tried his shoe-bomb trick – remember that? It took US President George W. Bush six days to comment.
In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. President Bush took three days to respond. (And during that fiasco, eye-witness reports of major flooding weren't offically "confirmed" for 11 hours... hmmm, just like the NZ Civil Defence response to the Samoan tsunami reports in September 2009.)
September 2009: Typhoon Ondoy caused the worst floods in Manila's history. Again, very slow response - but agencies justified it by saying at least they were faster than the US/Katrina response!
On Christmas Day this year, while flying into America from Amsterdam, Abdul Abdulmutallab attempted to explode a bomb inside his underwear (there's a joke in there somewhere!). It took US President Barak Obama three days to reassure his people.
The commonality through all these instances is information. In terms of reassurance, Joe Public can NOT wait days to know what "the system" is doing to safeguard them. It's true: here's proof!And when disaster is looming or rescue efforts are required, NO waiting time is acceptable – people need information NOW, not days later. That information must be fast, accurate, regularly updated and supported by rapid response. One can only hope that, in 2010, when the next situation occurs, things may be different. But wait: information is coming in (late!)... that pigs WILL fly next year too!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

24 Season 8: Official Photos

24 Season 8: cast shot outside United Nations building, NYWith just three weeks to go now before 24: Season 8 begins its run in USA (17 Jan.2010), some photographs from the first episodes are appearing on the net. Here're a few stills from Episode One and Episode Two.
Over the last six months it's been interesting to read numerous sites, news releases and interviews containing hints at what might be. I've tried to focus on pieces that seemed more 'official'... especially as the cast lists and storylines gradually morphed into what we're soon to see.
In a tense scene, Jack shows Brian Hastings the colour matches: See? You GOTTA paint the ceiling GREEN!My 23 November post drew these together into a vague framework and I've kept updating it over the previous few weeks as more has come to light - so it should provide a reasonably accurate starting point.
But hey - with 24, anything is possible!
How about a "behind-the-scenes" featurette! Enjoy!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Santa Forgot The Whales...?

Whale rescuers, ColvilleA bad weekend for whales in New Zealand, with two mass strandings over Christmas...
On Boxing Day (26 Dec.), 105 long-finned pilot whales beached at Farewell Spit near Nelson at the top of the South Island. Most were already dead when DOC staff reached them and, because they'd been out of the water a long time, the extremely distressed remainder had to be euthanised.
The very next day (27 Dec.) at the other end of the country, 63 cows were trapped by the tide in Colville Bay, Coromandel Peninsula. Luckily a large crowd of 300 holidaymakers was able to refloat 42 of them - one whale gave birth in the shallows soon afterwards.
This is Stranding Season in NZ, and Farewell Spit - with its long shelving coastline - is a notorious beaching site. Meanwhile, that was the Coromandel Peninsula's fourth mass stranding in the past 20 years.
Besides illness and injury, whales strand because of landforms and the tide. Regular stranding points around the world all have the same characteristics – a thin wedge of land/sand, possibly curved around (exactly like Farewell Spit). Couple that with incoming/outgoing tides churning up the sand, and the whales’ sonar can’t read the nearby land.
NZ has the highest number of strandings in the world but also the highest rescue success rate: 95%. As one who's attended a stranding, I can personally vouch that a whale rescue attempt is a very tiring and emotional experience: one those holidaymakers will never forget.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Nobby The Traveller

Remember Nobby, the orca that stranded on Papamoa Beach, near Tauranga in September 2008? A crowd of 2,000 watched that day-long rescue effort.
Well, since then he's been travelling all around New Zealand: orca expert Ingrid Visser has been trying to keep tabs on him. She's recorded him in the Bay of Islands and Whitianga. Then he circumnavigated the North Island before turning up in the Hokianga Harbour. Following that, he was seen in Whangarei Harbour before heading for the Poor Knights Islands. He returned to the Bay of Islands and then was spotted in the Hauraki Gulf. And just a few days ago he was seen in Endeavour Inlet in the Marlborough Sounds!
Nobby is a 25-year-old five metre, five tonne orca who loves to eat stingrays.
Visser is keen to keep track of Nobby and is urging anyone who spots a whale to ring 0800 SEE ORCA.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

To Blog Or Not To Blog: That Is The Question

Whale Oil's logoCameron Slater, writer of the biting political blog Whaleoil, faces court on January 5th., charged with breaching name suppression orders. He posted pictorial clues identifying people in two high-profile sexual offence cases.
It's the first time a NZ blogger's been taken to court, rather than just getting a growling. But Slater says he'll defend his actions because the laws protecting people's identities need changing: NZ's suppression laws were last reviewed six years before the Internet was invented! Also, he says, because websites like his are not owned in or run from New Zealand, it's unclear which countries' laws bloggers should adhere to - a nice try but I suspect the country in which you're actually writing will have the authority.
You're Busted! Cntrl Alt Del!Those in/around journalism a while know the boundaries and, if unsure, common sense makes you pull back a bit. If you're a political blogger like Whaleoil, then you DO know.
Slater claims the Police have made QUOTE: "a small (small?!?) issue of a breach of name suppression into a global debate about the rights and wrongs of criminals being able to hide their details when the victims are often publicly named and their pictures shown for all the world to see."
I see two issues here:
(1) Criminals and accuseds often get seemingly-unfair name suppression (for the sakes of their reputations, families, careers etc) while their victims stand penniless, cower in fear or lie in hospital beds.
(2) Whaleoil knowingly breached legal name suppression orders.
Issue (1) needs serious/urgent overhaul because, yes, it SUCKS!
Issue (2) smells like an experienced blogger being too clever for his own good...and that sucks too!
PS: 06 Jan.2010 - Slater appeared in court yesterday and has been remanded on bail without plea for two weeks. Watch this space (or his...)!
PS: 12 Jan.2010 - Couldn't leave well-enough alone: while on remand Slater's done it again, this time naming a former politician accused of indecent assault, and using computer coding to mask the text! He thinks it's his right to do so, because he feels the law is wrong. Whaleoil is the one who's wrong: until the outdated law is changed, he is breaking it. Simple as that. What a wanker!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Whale Wars: High Seas Clashes

LRAD on a British warshipIn the freezing Antarctic waters, things are heating up between Sea Shepherd and the Japanese whaling fleet.
Since sailing, Steve Irwin has been tailed by Shonan Maru 2 which is relaying their position to the fleet. After several water cannon clashes, the Japanese have now escalated the action by using an LRAD (Long Range Acoustical Device). This military-class weapon emits a high-frequency sound higher than the normal human threshold of pain. At maximum level, it can permanently damage hearing and cause nausea and disorientation. LRADs were designed for/have been used against rioters, pirates and in active war zones such as Iraq.
Shonan Maru IISM2's crew aimed the LRAD at SS's helicopter, both extremely dangerous and grossly irresponsible. Immediately after the helicopter retreated to SI, SM2 used water cannons in an attempt to destroy it on the landing pad. Both boats then dashed through a dangerous ice field with the Japanese ship reportedly taking a big hit. SM2 followed SI into French waters without permission, thus undertaking an illegal pursuit.
Japanese try blasting heli off deck with water cannonsIn 2007 and 2008, SS's activities reduced the Japanese catches to 60-75% of expected figures, but the fleet seems very determined this year. It'll be aware that Japan's new Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has signalled no future for whaling. He promises to stop wastage of taxpayer money, of which the whaling industry is a prime example: this year's Antarctic hunt will be propped up by 795 million yen (US$8.8 million) of taxpayer money. It already operates at a loss due to lack of demand for whale meat - the wholesale price of whale meat has just been lowered for the second time this year in an effort to stimulate the low demand. the wierd and wonderful 'stealth' vessel, the Ady Gil
PS: 24 Dec.2009 - The high-speed "stealth" protest trimaran Ady Gil has now joined the fray, using a laser to distract the whalers...the Japanese are crying foul!
PS: see my update 03 Jan.2010.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Who Said; "Danger, Will Robinson?"

the DVD cover of the complete re-released Lost In Space Season OneOn a few of my blogs, I've used the phrase "Danger, Will Robinson!" to highlight computer virus issues. Someone recently googled: 'Which Star Wars character actually used that phrase?' Well, to set the record straight, this was never said in any Star Wars movie.
It came from a late-'60s US tv series Lost In Space, a space version of the classic Swiss Family Robinson novel (and not to be confused with the 1998 movie, very loosely based on the original tv shows). The warning line was delivered by the robot (every good sci-fi story has a robot, right?), to another character, Will Robinson. Other classic one-liners by the robot were: "That does not compute", and "I cannot accept that course of action".
almost as good as the real thing!the robot and Will RobinsonOver the years, a large fanbase has built up for the robot, so much so that now (if you have a spare US$25,000) you can buy a handcrafted full-sized working replica.
Lost In Space may not have been as intellectual as Star Trek (and it was originally in black and white too!) but it was good, clean, scary fun! Yay, retro!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Great Divide...

This week the NZ Government announced TWO flags would fly above the Auckland Harbour Bridge and official buildings on New Zealand Day: the flag of the people of this country and that of maori... sadly, there IS a clear distinction.
Maori protestors at NZ ParliamentThis issue has been controversial for some time – given that maori have taken about 160 years to decide which of five flags they want as an all-encompassing representation (and Far North maori are still not thrilled with the final choice), and also that the flag selected (the Tino Rangatiratanga flag) is to many people symbolic of radical protestors and Maori Separatism ie: anti-white racism.
Prime Minister John Key says the gesture signifies partnership and unity, and in no way changes the status of the NZ flag. But it's well-known that the flying of Tino Rangatiratanga alongside the NZ flag is part of the multi-level trade-off by National, to secure Maori Party support for the just-as-controversial Emissions Trading Scheme being fast-tracked through the House. And the decision is making waves within the House itself.
This week's press release by the NZ Centre For Political Research ["Two Flags, Two Peoples, A Divided Nation"] picks the scab off the national wound that too many skirt around for the sake of votes – that wound is racism.
QUOTE: "...the Maori rights movement with its assertion of racial privilege has grown strong as a result of the actions of politicians... prepared to sacrifice racial harmony on the alter (sic) of electoral support. Those individual MPs...who have persuaded their colleagues to support Maori rights over the rights of all other New Zealanders to equality before the law, have done the country a grave disservice. As a result of their lack of courage a bloated grievance industry continues to fuel the growing racial divide."
The flag-flying is a toe-in-the-door, and sadly on the other side of that door is apartheid, pure and simple.

WHO's being led by the nose???

Monday, December 14, 2009

Drowning Out Noise With More Noise...?

Well, what CAN you expect when you stuff a mini-speaker deep into your ear???Up to 10-million people in Europe face permanent hearing loss from prolonged listening to loud music. The European Commission wants to limit all MP3 players and iPods, to 85 decibels. Some personal players currently reach 120dB - the equivalent of a jet taking off, right in your ear!
Specialists are seeing more and more young people with tinnitus or hearing loss, due to excessive exposure to loud music: permanent damage that in the past would've come from industrial noise.
Manufacturers feel an 85dB limit would "not be fair" because traffic noise, engines etc would obliterate the music. They forget that, if 85-120dB is being drowned out by other sounds, industrial-quality sound suppression earmuffs are needed... NOT a higher music volume to get on top of the environmental noise!
(However the NZ Medical Journal states that sustained exposure to sound above 85dB degenerates the inner ear's hair cells and nerve fibres, and causes permanent hearing loss.)
Kids have always listened to their music loud (yes, we did TOO!) and this suggested limitation won't stop them. Education will only bring them to a point of personal responsibility and personal choice. Sadly though, by the time they're old enough to recognise THEY have caused their hearing loss, their own children will already be suffering early damage...and so the cycle continues.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

DANGER! DANGER, Will Robinson! #3 - the Chinese Scourge

Beware the Yellow Peril!Recently I picked up a little social disease: an ad that kept popping up on my computer. It was from a Chinese source:
It appeared every 20min., knocking whatever I was working on down to the taskbar: it wouldn't damage or destroy anything, but it became very annoying!
If this appears on your computer, here's one simple solution: a friend suggested logging onto 'TREND Micro', which offers a selection of free remedies for various computer ailments such as adware, spyware, malware, pop-ups, bots...worth a try! Worked for me...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Hitler: 'The Grinch Who Tried To Steal Christmas'

1938 Nazi Xmas stampAs we approach Christmas, will your family be unwittingly singing paganised carols, or hanging Nazi decorations on your tree?
Research has discovered that the Nazis worked hard to delete all references to Christ from Christmas! Hitler's plan was to remove the emotional ties of the Church and merge Christmas into a Julfest, a celebration of winter and light which drew on pagan traditions. Some of their changes are still in use today!
Here's a 1939 Nazi "educational article", spinning the focus towards the winter solstice.Nazi Xmas tree decorations
And there's still a vile connotation associated with the swastika, even though its origins pre-date the Nazis' inverted version by many centuries.
(In fact it's a very religious symbol commonly used by Buddists and Hindus, and has been utilised by China, England, Greece and even North American Indians throughout the past 3,000 years to represent
CocaCola's 1942 version of Santa, far more effective at world domination than the Nazis!life, sun, power, strength, and good luck.)
But one American woman was recently shocked to find what she regarded as a Nazi symbol all over a roll of gift wrapping!
Still, when it comes to marketing, propaganda, spin (call it what you will), most of us buy into the 'red-dressed hearty rotund fella' image wholeheartedly, don't we?
At least Coca-Cola is not as damaging as the Nazis!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Norway Ups The Ante

While attempts are underway to hammer out a peace deal in the IWC (International Whaling Commission), Norway has raised the bar. It's decision to escalate its whale kill defies logic.
Norwegian whaling harpoonistNext year's quota will be 1286 animals (a 45% increase!), despite them killing only 484 of a permitted 885 whales this year. Crunch the numbers: if Norway filled that new quota, that would be a kill jump of 265%!!
As I blogged in October, Iceland hunts endangered fin whales and already exports 1500 tonnes of whale meat to Japan. But the Norwegians haven't caught their full quota in years, as there's no local demand. However - just like Iceland - their real goal is exporting to Japan, where whale meat prices are several times higher than in Norway...even though such trade is prohibited under CITES (The Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species)!
logo for Whale Wars Season One...meanwhile Japan's whaling fleet is en route to the Southern Ocean for the 2009-2010 summer hunt (er...scientific research!), with the target of 850 minke whales and 50 fin whales. Humpbacks will be spared - extending a postponement agreement from 2007. Sea Shepherd's flagship Steve Irwin has sailed from Fremantle to try to shut down the fleet's operations. And check out the stealth boat that Sea Shepherd is also using this season!
PS: 8 Dec.2009 - And here's our country's response...interestingly, not its usual tactic.
PS: 9 Dec.2009 - Watching the watchers...this year, Japan has sent out a spy ship with its whaling fleet, to keep an eye on Sea Shepherd's activities.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Dogs DO Go To Heaven!

Woof! Woof!Following its deliberately-tactless Save the Whales billboard (Aug.2009) which seriously upset obese Americans, PETA (that's 'People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals') has produced a couple of sexy ads featuring Playboy covergirl Joanna Krupa: one entitled Angel and the other Church. The latter, featuring a strategically-placed crucifix, has displeased the US organisation, The Catholic League.

Good little Catholic girls ALWAYS go to church...naked!

The League says: "Cats and dogs are a lot safer in pet stores than in the hands of PETA supporters. Moreover, pet stores don’t rip off Christian iconography and engage in cheap irreligious claims."
The practising Catholic model's response: "I’m doing what the Church should be doing, working to stop senseless suffering of animals, the most defenseless of God’s creations."
I feel the question isn’t so much "Is PETA being irreverant?"...but more "What is PETA actually selling?"
Clever marketing is one thing, but does Joanna Krupa really appeal to those wanting to adopt a puppy...or those likely to buy Playboy?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Paul Henry Does It Again!

Paul HenryA broadcaster's role is to "inform and entertain", so I've cut TVNZ's Breakfast co-host Paul Henry alot of slack in his often-misguided attempts to "entertain". But his most recent outbreak of foot-in-mouth-disease has polarised viewers and drawn global flak by calling Darling Of The Year Susan Boyle "retarded".
It's a well-published fact that singer Susan Boyle did suffer oxygen deprivation at birth and as a result had learning difficulties. However Henry crossed the line (1) by sniggering about it...and (2) using a word that is to many as offensive as nigger.
Ok, Ms.Boyle does NOT have a high-fashion image: some might say she's frumpy, naive, gauche...but she's real. Look at her original performance on Britain's got Talent (April 2009) – there's a natural person with a HUGE talent, just starting to realise her potential. I must have missed the sign that said: 'Laugh At Me – I'm Retarded'.
Susan BoylePaul Henry often shows a puerile sense of humour, sniggering almost uncontrollably at such words as bottom and balls...and retarded. Such schoolboy humour has no place on national television and surely should've been grown past by the age of 12! He is well overdue a visit to the headmaster...yet his attitude is: "This is water off a duck's back for me. These were light-hearted remarks. I can't recall a time that I've regretted saying anything." Your time might just have come, Paul!
PS: 6 Dec.2009 - The groundswell grows, with even his own workmate disassociating himself from Henry's 'retard' remark.
PS: 21 Dec.2009 - After over 200 complaints, TVNZ has acknowledged that Paul Henry DID breach the Television Code of Broadcasting Practice. Interesting that the decision was delayed nearly a month...until TVNZ Breakfast began its Christmas recess (thus saving Paul the ignominy of apologising to the nation on-camera)!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Harawira Apologies...Or Does He?

Yes, I AM a dick! And you whiteys better get used to it!Centre-stage in NZ politics over the last month: MP Hone Harawira's racist remarks, after being busted for a private trip on public money, an abusive email and comments that Opposition Leader Phil Goff should be put up against a wall and shot.
After the Maori Party debated his fate (for three weeks!), he's managed to avoid political death with today's very 'careful' apology:
...I met with my caucus colleagues, and heard first-hand the pain and the suffering they have had to go through because of the senseless comments I made in an email a few weeks back, and for that I apologise.
The Maori Party has built up a good deal of credibility and goodwill... and has a vital role to play in building new pathways for our nation. My comments have derailed much of that credibility and set back our efforts to build bridges for our people into the future, and for that I apologise.
I also recognise the responsibility that I carry as a leader within Maoridom and I apologise most sincerely to all young Maori... for the bad example that I have set by my comments.
I apologise also to those NZers, both Maori and Pakeha, and particularly women, who have been offended by my comments. They were insensitive, hurtful, unnecessary, and I apologise for the grief and anguish they have caused.
Is this an apology? He's withdrawn from language used and pain caused... but has publically said the anti-white sentiments remain.
Opposition Leader Mr Goff thinks Harawira believes a different standard applies to Maori. "He's proud of ripping the taxpayers off and genuinely believes white people are to blame for all his problems."
Ngapuhi leader David Rankin says he's embarrassed by the apology: "Harawira has disgraced our iwi with his gutter language and caused more racial division in NZ society than any other single person in a generation. As an MP, we expect certain standards, and instead Mr Harawira has dragged down all of Ngapuhi to his level."
Time will tell whether those who Hone believes he's making a stand for... will actually stand for it! Meanwhile his mother must be proud...
PS: 24 Dec.2009 - The latest in the ongoing Harawira saga: another expletive-filled email from Hone to Maori Affairs staff, over the Maori flag consultation process. He's seriously blotted his copybook with Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples. Well, as any farmer will tell you, when you have a rabid dog, you're best to have it put down...

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Erebus, 30 Years On...

Erebus crash site, 1979On November 28, 1979, an Air New Zealand DC10 sightseeing jet flew straight into the side of the world's southernmost active volcano, the 3794m-high Mt Erebus in Antarctica, instantly killing all 257 aboard.
It was said at the time that every single person in NZ either knew a victim or knew someone who did: in other words, in such a small country, we were all touched somehow by Erebus and its aftermath. Thirty years later, there's an entire generation to whom Erebus possibly means little...but for others the disaster, the rumoured cover-up, the blaming and the classic line "an orchestrated litany of lies" have left an indelible mark.
tail section at Erebus, 1979So much was written, debated, confused and jumbled about in the years following the crash and the enquiry, that many may still not have a clear understanding of it, but the Dominion Post's 2008 article seems to have put all the ducks in a line quite well. The NZ Air Line Pilots Assn also has a comprehensive site, worth reading.
Air New Zealand recently apologised to victims' families for the manner in which the enquiry was handled, with a sincere hope that today, on the 30th anniversary of the disaster, they and the country can gain closure.
Erebus crash site, 1979

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Harawira Legacy

That's my boy! GO, son! Stick it to dem honkeys!You may/may not be aware, but Hone Harawira (subject of recent NZ political controversy) is the son of veteran maori activist Titewhai Harawira, regarded by some as one of the most vicious women in New Zealand.
Harawira's notoriety stems from 1989 when she assaulted a psychiatric patient while heading Carrington Hospital's Maori Health Unit: she was convicted and jailed. In 1998 she reduced then-Labour Party leader (future Prime Minister) Helen Clark to tears at the Waitangi small feat! In 2000, she urged a traditional maori punishment for sex criminals - tying flax around the penis and pulling until the appendage was torn off. Two years later, she demanded pakeha (ie: all non-maori) pay rent to live in NZ: presumably she wanted the rent to go to maori.
Ex-MP John Tamihere wrote this piece in February 2004 following yet another Waitangi Day fracas...note how the Harawira clan features actively throughout. Google her name - you'll find all this and more out there in the 'public domain'. She's even mentioned somewhat derisively several times in Hansard (the offical record of the NZ Parliament).
For some interesting background on the family militancy, have a read of this Herald article.
One wonders what's in the Harawira heart, that has raised children to be as radical in their views as their mother. Figure this out, and maybe understand why Hone behaves the way he does.
Recently on Radio New Zealand's Morning Report, Titewhai Harawira said it was ironic her son's email scandal occured on November 5th, the anniversary of the destruction of Te Whiti's Parihaka settlement. She claimed that at Parihaka in 1881, colonial troops "raped the women, cut off their breasts and turned them into tobacco pouches, and murdered their children and men". Refuting this on Maori News, historian Dick Scott - author of Ask That Mountain: The Story of Parihaka (1975) that popularised Te Whiti's story - said her wild atrocity stories had no factual basis. He says Titewhai Harawira knows this, but continues to propagate her fictional version of events. (Interesting to note that two of her warrior chief ancestors fought on the side of the British against another chief, Hone Heke! How does she reconcile that..?)
Now, son, the next stage in the plan is this...In this enlightened age, with more opportunities for all, why do the Harawiras continue to wage a '70s-style campaign, using fabricated propaganda, demanding a return of all land to maori, an expulsion of all white people, control of every beach in the country, and seemingly not giving a damn about simple basic mainstream guidelines for living in and being an effective part of a modern society...?
Hone Harawira seems to have been raised by a woman with warped methodologies and beliefs, who leaves no opportunity untaken to push her radical point. This does not excuse his behaviour or outbursts, but it is little wonder he is such an angry man!
PS - See also my 10 Nov.2009 post about Hone's actions.

Monday, November 23, 2009

24: The Final Countdown...?

24 logoCounting down...24: Season 8 begins in USA with a 2-day 4-hour premiere from January 17, 2010! For your pleasure, here's the official promo!
Day Eight begins at 4pm, roughly two years later, in New York City amidst the shadows of the Statue of Liberty and the United Nations.
JACK BAUER's (Kiefer Sutherland) cute granddaughter Teri (named after Jack's late wife) is talking now.  JACK's if that's ever possible! He wants to move back to Los Angeles to be with his daughter KIM BAUER (Elisha Cuthbert).
CTU's been reactivated, relocated to New York, upgraded - lotsa glass and a slick access tunnel.  It's now run by MBA-schooled and razor-sharp BRIAN HASTINGS (Mykelti Williamson: Bubba, Forrest Gump). Running CTU’s Field Operations is COLE ORTIZ (Freddie Prinze Jr.), an ex-Marine who wants to follow in JACK BAUER’s footsteps. Ortiz is engaged to expert data analyst DANA WALSH (Katee Sackhoff: Battlestar Galactica) who collaborates with systems analyst ARLO GLASS (John Boyd: The Notorious Bettie Page) inside CTU. Arlo fancies Dana...but what's lurking in Dana's past?
ROB WEISS (Chris Diamantopoulos, The Starter Wife) is PRESIDENT ALLISON TAYLOR’s (Cherry Jones) new Chief of Staff - replacing last season's Chief of Staff ETHAN KANIN (Bob Gunton) who's now Secretary of State. MEREDITH REED (Jennifer Westfeldt: Grey’s Anatomy) is an ambitious journalist with ties to PRESIDENT HASSAN of the Islamic Republic of Kamistan (Anil Kapoor: Slumdog Millionaire) who has come to USA on a peace mission.
Of course CHLOE O'BRIAN (Mary Lynn Rajskub) returns, also FBI agent RENEE WALKER (Annie Wersching) - Annie Wershing says something from Renee’s past comes back to haunt her and directly involves her in the U.N. crisis - and I'm hoping for a cameo by Mr.Honesty himself, Special Agent AARON PIERCE (Glen Morshower).
It's been confirmed that TONY ALMEIDA (Carlos Bernard) will not be returning for season 8, but OMG! Why's crazed ex-president CHARLES LOGAN (Gregory Itzin) coming back?
24 Season 8 cast collage
Speculation's rife that this 'day' may be the last: indeed, the promo says "All he needs is to survive - one - more - day!" In a recent interview Sutherland said, "There's only so much you can do to Jack before you lose realism. I think a movie would be a good way to end this story."
A 24 MOVIE?? Bring it on! And remember: in 24, anything's possible!
PS: 29 Dec.2009 - some official photos from the first two episodes can now be seen! Plus a featurette!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Jess Crosses The Equator

Jessica WatsonWhen her adventure first began, alot of people decried her supposed lack of seamanship and her age...but Jessica Watson is going strong.
The Aussie schoolgirl has just crossed the equator, a month and a day into her single-handed non-stop journey around the world.Just cruisin'...So far, no problems - although the first leg across the Pacific from Australia was expected to be troublefree. As her circumnavigation continues, conditions will toughen up, and Jess's abilities will be stretched to the limit, especially around the tip of South America.
She is posting daily updates on her blog, and many wellwishers link in regularly. If you'd like to support her, or just keep updated on progress, come back to this blog regularly...or for more, check out her website and blog.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Gotta Get It Right...

I recently received a widely-circulated email entitled "World SHAME", illustrating graphically the annual slaughter of Calderon dolphins in the Feroe (sic) Islands.
Though I'd seen this before, the photos still shocked me. Then I noticed errors in the blood-red text. The impassioned author was struggling with a competent grasp of English, writing:
Denmark is a big shame The sea is stained in red and in the mean while its not because of the climate effects of nature. It's because of the cruelty that the human beings (civilised human) kill hundreds of the famous and intelligent Calderon dolphins. This happens every year in Feroe island in Denmark. In this slaughter the main participants are young teens. WHY? To show that they are adults and mature.... BULLLLsh
In this big celebration, nothing is missing for the fun. Everyone is participating in one way or the other, killing or looking at the cruelty “supporting like a spectator”
Is it necessary to mention that the dolphin calderon, like all the other species of dolphins, it’s near instinction and they get near men to play and interact. In a way of PURE friendship
They don’t die instantly; they are cut 1, 2 or 3 times with thick hocks. And at that time the dolphins produce a grim extremely compatible with the cry of a new born child. But he suffers and there’s no compassion till this sweet being slowly dies in its own blood Its enough!
We will send this mail until this email arrives in any association defending the animals, we won’t only read. That would make us accomplices, viewers.
Take care of the world, it is your home!

Faroe Islands pilot whale masacre collageWhen circulating a petition, fluency and accuracy are vital. Apart from the script making very little sense, the writer has made a number of factual errors:
+ The Faroe Islands (nb: correct spelling), while technically a part of the Kingdom of Denmark, have had virtual autonomy since 1948 and are self-governing in most matters. So this is a Faroese issue, NOT Danish.
+ The butchered creatures are long-finned pilot whales. Some Spanish-speaking countries call them Calderon dolphins, but the Faroese and most of the English-speaking world know them as pilot whales.
+The Faroe Islands are NOT "in Denmark" but actually halfway between Scotland and Iceland.
+The inference that the killing is a rite of passage for young teens is WRONG. The killing is carried out traditionally by men while the children, youths and women watch.
+ Pilot whales are NOT "near instinction"(sic) but are listed in the IUCN's Red List of Threatened Species as "Lower Risk".
+ "All the other species of dolphins" are NOT near extinction either, although freshwater species such as the Sth.American pink dolphin and Cambodia's mekong dolphin are in dire (and heavily polluted!) straits.
+ Pilot whales are NOT known to “get near men to play and interact”, but dolphins often do.
+ Pilot whales are not generally regarded as "famous and intelligent", though bottlenosed dolphins are.

Yes, these traditional hunts (or "grindadrĂ¡p") ARE completely unnecessary, no longer needed to provide food for islanders, do not meet humane slaughter standards at any level, and recent studies show the meat contains PCBs and other toxins. The Faroe Islands’ reputation internationally is tarnished by these hunts. Its government needs to end them permanently, to improve its global image and most importantly to spare hundreds of pilot whales annually from brutal deaths.
Highlighting this email's errors IN NO WAY supports this barbarism (far from it) but the Faroes administration will never take seriously any petition written this way. To be effective, the message has to be correct!

Monday, November 16, 2009

5,000 Crosses For 5,000 Losses

poster of Passchendaele displayOver the past four months a display titled "Passchendaele: The Belgians Have Not Forgotten" has toured New Zealand. It marked the 92nd anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele.
Every Anzac Day, kiwis commemorate Gallipoli as the focus of our country's WW1 involvement, yet the losses on the Western Front far outweighed any battles before or since. NZ lost 5,000 men in Belgium from 1917 – 1918, more than double the number killed at Gallipoli, and the NZ Division won three Victoria Crosses for bravery. Of all the battles fought by New Zealanders overseas, there are more NZ soldiers buried in Belgium than in any other country.
On October 12, 1917 (the day of the greatest casualties), 845 NZ men were killed – more than the combined total from the Mt Tarawera eruption, Hawke's Bay earthquake, Tangiwai rail disaster, sinking of the ferry Wahine and Erebus plane crash!
the 5000 crosses erected for the display - sobering imagePasschendaele had a devastating effect on the social fabric of what was then a very small nation. This exhibition was the Belgian people's way of showing that they have not forgotten the great sacrifice made by New Zealanders 92 years ago.
Thank you, Belgium: your poignant gesture of remembrance was very much appreciated.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Would You Like Ice With That, Sir?

So where the #@%* IS Macquarie Island?Nearly three years ago to the day, NZ watched in awe as two huge icebergs slowly drifted past Christchurch, just 100km off the South Island coast: the first time in living memory. The spectacle was billed as "once in a lifetime" and many took sightseeing flights – some even landing on the 'berg via helicopter!
Life must indeed be another monster iceberg (500m long!) is on its way north, having just passed Macquarie Island (where?!)... 1200km down in the sub-Antarctic nether-regions [video]. Twice the size of the Titanic and dwarfing Auckland's Sky Tower, tourism operators hope this one too will cruise close to our shores.
Shaken or stirred, sir?At it's current speed of 2-3km per hour, it may reach New Zealand in time for Christmas!
PS: 13 Nov.2009 - Whoever writes the headlines for the on-line Daylife news service has mistaken 500m for 500 miles! Opps!
PS: 15 Nov.2009 - But wait, there's more! MUCH more! Now there's a swarm of TWENTY icebergs heading our way, one estimated at 2km in length! Even if only half of them get here, we're in for one helluva sight!
PS: 20 Nov.2009 - Now they say there's a HUNDRED en route!! Unreal!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Fluvia Lacerda and "16"

The plus-size brand IGIGI (pron: ee zhee zhee) has commissioned a short promotional clip entitled "16", starring the stunning Brazilian plus-size supermodel Fluvia Lacerda. In the company’s words:
This film is about beauty – real beauty. Not the artificial, airbrushed, enhanced, starved beauty we are bombarded with everyday. It is about a powerful, sexy woman who loves herself and her body.
It’s certainly beautifully shot and Fluvia looks amazing. Whether or not you appreciate plus-sized women, have a look...and wait for the line at the end: it'll make you think!

PS: 26 March 2010 - Here's the next clip in the IGIGI/Fluvia series...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Face Of Racism in NZ

Every country has 'em: racists. Sometimes they grumble in private: others are in full public view. Hone Harawira is one of the latter.
The Maori Party MP, recently on parliamentary business in Brussels with wife in tow, thought he'd skip a meeting and go sightseeing in Paris. Ahhhh, another Rodney Hide! But wait – there's more!
Bite me, ya white motherf****ers!Back in New Zealand, he boasted in a newspaper column about how much he and his wife enjoyed their trip. Media hounds sniffed a potential misuse of taxpayers' money and bayed for blood. Hone responded that he doesn't care about such criticism, because he answered only to his constituents, and only "boring" people would deny him his fun.
Then the former director of the Waitangi Tribunal, Buddy Mikaere asked him via email who'd paid for his wife to accompany him. Hone let loose with both barrels, claiming Buddy was just parroting "white man bullshit", and that white motherf*****s had been "raping our lands and ripping us off for centuries and all of a sudden you want me to play along with their puritanical bullshit." Here's the full email.
Prime Minister John Key has labelled the email "deeply offensive" and he wants action from coalition partner the Maori Party because, although Harawira cleverly apologised for the language he used, there was no apology for the sentiment (after all, he's held those sentiments throughout his separatist/activist life).
No-one can make such racially-enflaming statements publically without repercussions. Like all of us, he's entitled to his own views but his position as an elected Member of Parliament is not a (figurative) 'bulletproof' platform for public poisoned prose.
PS: 11 Nov.2009 - to date, the NZ Human Rights Commission has received a record 250 complaints about Harawira's comments! (Final total reached was over 800!!)
PS: 13 Nov.2009 - a Black Friday indeed for Hone...his party is saying "Jump or be pushed": read more. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy...
PS: 15 Nov.2009 - Hone digs his heels in, saying he can't understand why he's been asked to resign. He must be the only person in NZ who doesn't get it!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Change One Letter

Here's your challenge for today: take a movie title and change or add or remove just one letter, thereby changing the whole theme of the film. For example: "Shaving Private Ryan", "Pilates of the Caribbean", "It's a Wonderful Lime"...that sort of thing. Yeah, it's silly and a bit of time-waster, but fun too, and who isn't up for a little distraction from the more mundane aspects of our day?
So here're some altered titles I prepared earlier. I'm sure you'll figure out what the original movie titles were...but then allow your imagination to envisage how the "new" title might change the plot!
"Planet of the Ales", "Fatman Begins", "Cinderella Ran", "The Bedding Singer", "Some Like It Not", "The Pound of Music", "Raid In Manhattan", "Gone With The Wine", "The Bookie", "The Lake Mouse", "Never Been Missed", "Fission Impossible", "Riding In Cars With Toys", "Graveheart", "Dunces With Wolves", "The Dummy" (and it's sequel, "The Dummy Returns"), and my favourite: "Lord of the Rings: The Two Mowers"!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Hide - You Hypocrite!

Rodney, lookin like a possum in the headlightsTo say this wasn't the best week in Rodney Hide's political life would be an ever-so-slight understatement.
The MP for Epsom/ACT Party leader, self-proclaimed 'perkbuster' of the NZ Parliament for several loud and vocal years, has been revealed (and reviled) as nothing more than a perk pilferer himself!
Hide took his girlfriend on a global jaunt on the taxpayer (“Politicial life is very trying – I couldn't be away from her support for two weeks.” Yea, right!) and curiously, the trip coincided with her brother's wedding in Britain. ...but did anyone actually READ it?Then he was overheard bagging the Prime Minister as a "do-nothing". John Armstrong's Herald article wraps the whole thing up nicely...well, that is until the next revelation rolls out. And waddya know: here it is! Now we discover Rodders took girlie on a $10,000 mid-winter tropical break in Hawaii, also taxpayer-funded!
Hide is surely approaching the thin ice, perhaps relying on the safety net of his party's links with the National-led coalition govt. I recall Rodney's 2007 book, My Year Of Living Dangerously - all in all, a rather prophetic title!
PS: 08 Nov.2009 - Rodney apologises to the public, to Parliament and to his electorate, promising to repay all taxpayer money. But is this enough? Should MPs caught with snouts in the trough be able to simply walk away this easily?
PS: 10 Dec.2009 - More details have emerged about how much/little time Rodders actually spent on official business while happily spending our money on his overseas trip!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Let's Be Frank About Fiji...

It's hard to know just what more can be done about Fiji.
Since it's independence in 1970, Fiji has had four coups d'etat, became only the to be suspended from the Commonwealth (was reinstated and later suspended again), became the dumped from the Pacific Islands Forum...and borne the military yolk for 13 years.
Despite the travel posters' big "Bula!" smiles, it's not a happy place. Quite apart from its political upheavals, Fiji's had constant simmering dissent between ethnic Fijians and Fiji-Indians (labour imports in the 1870s), this tension "supposedly" the cause of the military actions.Gee, nobody understands me!
Both NZ and Australia - major Pacific geopolitical players seeking a return to peaceful democracy - have increased pressure by reductions in trade, aid, and travel permits for regime-associated persons. But just this week, Fiji's dictator Frank Bainimarama expelled both countries' envoys, supposedly for interfering in judicial appointments. He still maintains both countries totally misunderstand his "mission to bring democracy to the nation" (er, that's the same "mission" that's delayed promised elections numerous times, blown the economy, imposed heavy media censorship and slowed anti-regime websites, right??!!).
So what options remain? Suggestions include a tourism boycott, stopping sporting contacts or total trade suspension...through to ridiculous notions of military blockades or even invasion!
Any pressure must hit the regime, not the population. Perhaps the solution lies in the will of the people themselves – only they know the true effects of the infrastructure deterioration, the mortal risks in any uprising, the downstream impact of a true bi-cultural administrative change. But if the majority of Fijians actually buy into Frank's racist agenda, then maybe they're happier to 'tough it out' with him.
Either way, there's not going to be much "Bula, Bula!" (good life, health and happiness) in the lovely Isles Of Smiles for a long time to come...