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...