Sunday, January 31, 2010

How Bizarre...

Lead singer of the Otara Millionaires Club (OMC), Pauly Fuemana, died today at 40 from a neurological condition. He'll be remembered for the infectious 1995 hip-hop hit, How Bizarre...

Its blend of South Pacific strumming and rap went to No.1 in New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Ireland, South Africa and Austria. How Bizarre topped the US airplay charts, was No.2 on the Billboard Top 100, featured in at least one movie soundtrack, and peaked at No.5 in Britain. OMC's album sold 3-4 million copies, making it NZ's biggest-selling record.
OMC's albumFuemana grew up in the tough Auckland suburb of Otara. Often in trouble, he found a refuge in music, forming OMC in 1993. How Bizarre made him a millionaire, however a natural generosity and a rock'n'roll lifestyle saw the cash slip through his fingers. He bankrupted four years ago.
He said he had no regrets: "I'm from Otara but I got to see Italy, Spain and play at the Supper Club in New York and the Whisky-a-Go-Go in was like a dream come true."
Rags-to-riches-to-bankruptcy: how bizarre...

Friday, January 29, 2010

OMG! New Uniforms Just Not PC!

OMG! The latest suggestion for Air NZ uniforms!Since the beginning of this month, when Air New Zealand revealed its new "concept" uniform, the controversy has not stopped.
Created by Kiwi fashion designer Trelise Cooper, it's been described as "drag queen Barbie": a pink base overlaid with black koru curls. One flight attendant said it resembled the look sported on the airline's annual themed flight to Sydney's gay Mardi Gras festival.
But now the grumbles have (as usual) entered the Arena Of Political Correctness, with a Maori academic complaining the designs are disrespectful to traditional Maori symbols! Canterbury University Maori and Indigenous School head Rawiri Taonui says the Maori symbols on the uniforms each had different meanings and should not be randomly mixed together. He said businesses should consult more with Maori when they used symbols with special significance.
Air NZ tailfinsFor crying out loud! Maoridom needs to face the reality that not EVERYthing in NZ pivots around their culture. The fern frond shape was used in the clothing design because it's the stylised Air New Zealand logo, NOT as a forelock-tug to a particular ethnic group!
Let's just stick with the real issue and sidestep the PC swamp: the suggested uniform design is crap and needs to be reworked if it's to represent our country to the world.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Another Nigerian Money Scam!

Ever heard of Burkina Faso?Geography 101: Burkina Faso is a little landlocked country in the "hump" of West Africa...I'd never heard of it - until today! Literally, "Burkina" translates as "men of integrity," so I had a good chuckle when one of its 'Men Of Integrity' spammed me, suggesting I might be interested in 40% of US$18.5million!
Dear friend,
I am Mr Moha Das a staff of Banque Internationale du Burkina (B.I.B) here in Burkina Faso / Ouagadougou. In my department I discover an abandoned sum of (US$18.5 Million US Dollars) in an account that belong to one of our foreign customer who died along with his family in plane crash.
It is therefore upon this discovery that i now decided to make this business proposal to you and release the money to you as the next of kin or relation to the deceased for the safety and subsequent disbursement since nobody is coming for it.
I agree that 40% of this money will be for you, and 10% will be set aside for expenses incurred during the business and 50% would be for me. Then after the money is been transferred into your account, i will visit your country for an investment under your kind control.
You have to contact my Bank directly as the real next of kin of this deceased account with next of kin application form which i will send to you immeidately i hear from you.
I am waiting for your urgent respond to enable us proceed further for the transfer.
Yours faithful
Moha Das
Ever wondered what would happen if you replied to one of these scams? Have a read...and a laugh!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Stranding No.3...

Even little kids tried to help...People-power came to the rescue again yesterday, when residents of a tiny Banks Peninsula settlement saved the majority of a pod of pilot whales beached in a mass stranding.
Port Levy residents and holidaymakers worked in cold water and mud for four hours, to refloat 60 whales aground on the foreshore. Fifteen females and calves died, but the rescuers managed to refloat and save about 50 whales.
The ones they couldn't save...There were two or three people per whale, bathing them in water until high tide, when they were able to refloat them.
Department of Conservation says it's difficult to know exactly what attracted the whales into the bay, but they were probably chasing squid. The bay's shallow sandy bottom meant the whales' sonar did not work well. Sadly, pilot whale strandings are a regular occurrence in New Zealand and the one in Port Levy is our third this year. But it's uncommon for Banks Peninsula...

Saturday, January 23, 2010

'Text-And-Drive'...No-Brainer Of The Century

Duuuh, why can't I concent..conc...concentrate on driving?Last year in the UK, a graphic public service film showing the dangers of using cell phones in cars spread rapidly on the Internet. I first posted this myself Oct.'09, just before NZ introduced a long-overdue "no texting while driving" law...but strangely YouTube removed the clip (and has done several times since).
The video was directed by Peter Watkins-Hughes, an award-winning former BBC TV producer who's also a lecturer for the Documentary Film and Television Department at the Newport School of Art Media and Design in Wales. His own students worked on this drama, which was made for - and with - the local police.
This very realistic clip does a excellent if graphic job of hammering its message home. In my view, it should be seen by every parent and their teenage kids, and be compulsory viewing at all high schools too. Watch it now...before YouTube removes it AGAIN!

PS: 26 Jan.2011 - Five deaths and 182 crashes during 2010 in NZ have been linked to drivers using cellphones.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

NZ Herald: What War?

NZ SAS on the streets of KabulFollowing Monday's Al Qaeda attacks in Kabul and news that NZ SAS troops were the only Western forces on the scene, comes a photograph of two of those soldiers. The NZ Herald published it today, with both faces clearly visible [I've taken the liberty of hiding them – not difficult]: one of those was even named! What the...?!
Prime Minister John Key is very disappointed the pic was published without blurring the faces because it puts the men at risk: he calls it a poor editorial decision.
The NZ government typically adopts a policy of secrecy about SAS deployments, and I was of the impression that all media were under a "D.Notice" restricting SAS identification. Though I'm obviously mistaken, it makes common sense from an operational perceptive for newspaper editors to exercise discretion in this regard.
Just because one HAS a picture does not mean it MUST be used...or used in that form. Editors must remember that although Auckland – safe in the bosum of peaceful green Godzone – is 13,000km from the dusty dangerous streets of Kabul, information still flows. Remember the WWII adage: "Walls Have Ears"? Well, today, the bad guys have the internet. If this SAS team was ambushed and killed tomorrow because of NZ Herald indiscretion, I wonder if the editors would be crowing because they'd published "the last ever photo" of them?
PS: 23 January 2010 - The NZ Herald tries to dig itself out of a hole, sanctimoniously telling us it published SAS photos 'in the clear' because the public "has a right to know".
PS: 02 March 2010 - OMG! Today's front page NZ Herald headline: "17 Killed - Kiwis In Deadly Firefight"... complete with photo. But wait!! This time the editor decides to blur the NZ soldiers' faces!! So just what IS the NZ Herald policy? "We'll only publish an SAS pic 'in the clear' if a certain well-known soldier is in it"? Can the NZ Herald please be consistent?!
PS: 30 June 2011 - Following the injuring of two NZ SAS in a Taliban attack in Kabul, NZ Herald once again published an unmasked photo of our special forces troops...even though international media respected their need for secrey and did mask their pix!! WTF is wrong with NZ Herald???!!!
NZ SAS, as masked by UK's The Guardian...but printed in the clear
by NZ Herald! You can see the troops ain't happy about this!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

TVNZ's Right Royal Faux Pas

The Princess DianaLast Sunday 17th., the very night Prince William (2nd in line for the British throne) arrived in our country, TVNZ screened The Queen, a film looking at the immediate aftermath of the death of his mother, Princess Diana!!
TVNZ says the screening was pure coincidence and makes no apologies for what some describe as grossly insensitive: "The decision was made weeks ago. Nobody cross-checks our schedule with royal travel itineraries and there's no reason why they should."
WRONG! Given that the Prince has not visited in nearly five years and all media (including TVNZ) have reported it extensively, TVNZ would have known of the upcoming tour and SHOULD have cross-checked. [Prime Minister John Key announced on October 12th that the prince "may" come to NZ in 2010, then on November 2nd said he "would" come, and an itinerary was released in December.] Brad Pitt, but the teen girlies LUV him!Now it's unlikely the busy prince had time to watch tv, but anything is possible. And with the majority of NZers still supporting the monarchy, the discomfort felt by many viewers is apparent and could/should have been avoided.
TVNZ: "To have pulled the programme at the last minute would have drawn unnecessary attention to it."
WRONG AGAIN! To have knowingly RUN the programme on that very day was tactless, amateurish, gauche and quite frankly unacceptable. TVNZ had over two months to 'join the dots' and find an alternative. This faux pas should never have happened.
Take this one on the chin, TVNZ: you dropped the ball.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Toroa: Unique and Worth Saving

Driving along Auckland's Northwestern Motorway recently, I spotted the hulk of the old ferry, the Toroa...sad-looking now but an icon in her day.
Toroa in better daysSS Toroa was launched in 1925, the last of a fleet of eight double-ended steam-powered ferries carrying commuters across Auckland's Waitemata Harbour to the North Shore. In her heyday (before the Auckland Harbour Bridge opened in 1959) she carried thousands of passengers daily between Devonport and Auckland City until her retirement in 1980. Being double-ended of course, she never had to reverse in or out of a dock, which sped up her trip times. And, with her original machinery intact, she is regarded as the last double-ended wooden steamer of her type in the world.
Toroa port sideYou may not know that one-time NZ Prime Minister, the late Norman Kirk, worked briefly on the Toroa in 1943!
When taken over by the Toroa Preservation Society 20 years ago, she had deteriorated badly. Then she sank alongside a wharf during a storm and lost much of her top deck. It would've been wonderful had a generous council supported the society's work, but records show how often that work was set back, hindered, jeopardised...until now, the Toroa languishes in Henderson beside the motorway.
The society dreams of full restoration, to have her steaming again on the harbour one day. This depends so much on public generosity and, with so many other charities vying for public dollars, the society is not exactly inundated with donations. Although there're national maritime history considerations, the Toroa's support base probably consists primarily of mature nostalgic Aucklanders who like boats, and have spare money they haven't yet donated to the Maritime Museum: a rather small target.
SS Toroa as she sits todayAnd yet it would be woeful for this young country if we lost another piece of what little history we have, simply for lack of finances.
The Toroa Preservation Society has been pouring the love into the hulk for over two decades: is there a generous large company or corporate to get the ball really rollin'? Meanwhile enjoy this nostalgic '70s NZ National Film Unit clip, showing the Toroa and its sistership, the Kestrel...
PS: 20 Dec.2010 - Kestrel is now back in more.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Jess Rounds Cape Horn - Half Way!

Jessica rounding Cape HornAussie schoolgirl/sailor Jessica Watson has just conquered the Mount Everest of the maritime world by rounding Cape Horn at the southern tip of South America, doing so in 40 knot winds, mist, drizzle and a bumpy 4m.sea. The conditions have not dampened the spirits of this intrepid 16-yr.old who seems to be having the time of her life out there!
I have childhood memories of sea stories that featured ferocious hurricanes decimating entire armadas of galleons around Cape Horn! But Jessica seems to be taking everything in her stride (and has obviously picked the best time of year weatherwise for her trip too).
Had a rough trip home, dear..She's clocked up 9800nm by this, Day 88, of her solo circumnavigation as she approaches the half-way mark of her journey: I'm sure this day is one she'll never forget.
(for more, check out her website and blog)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Whale Wars: Video In The Teeth Of The Tiger

Anyone who maintains Sea Shepherd's Ady Gil deliberately put itself under the bows of the Japanese whalers' security vessel Shonan Maru 2 in its Southern Oceans collision needs to see this video clip taken from the Ady Gil itself. SMII, split-seconds before collision...
It shows its last 2 minutes 24sec. - the AG crew relaxing aboard after winding down their mission, waving goodbye to colleagues on the nearby Bob Barker and preparing to head home for refueling. It is clear the vessel is idling, basically stopped, and it's just as clear that (at approx.1'20") SM2 deliberately swings towards them and bears directly onto them at speed.
Now try to convince me that the Japanese skipper was not to blame...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

V Gets Up-Sized!

When it comes to fashion we all know that, sadly, thin is still in. Having the body dimensions and appearance of a stick insect is strangely appealing to the fashion community, and modeling while under the influence of anorexia has long been the industry standard. Of late, there's been a growing awareness about the dangers of the industry’s excessive obsession with being skinny, but the world of editorial glam is still dominated by the very thin: even the deaths of anorexic models seems to have had only marginal impact.
Tara, Candice, Michelle, Marquita - models.comHowever, in it's January 2010 issue, high-end US fashion bible V Magazine decided to show images to the contrary. It's pictures are very sexy, focusing on looks normally reserved for the skinniest of fashion specimens. The fuller curves lend a grace and flow to the images, illustrating that sometimes bigger is better...
Now, I'll concede that these plus size models are all in great shape so you'll not see wrinkles and rolls that many "real" bigger women may feel self-concious about daily, but hey - it's a step in the right direction, isn't it?
Tara - no holds barred!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Whale Wars: Video Analysis

Now that the shock is subsiding, let's pause to examine the collision between Sea Shepherd's Ady Gil and the Japanese whalers' Shonan Maru 2. Both sides were filming the action, both released videos to the world to support their own positions and here're both in synchronicity...

1. In the lower video taken from Shonan Maru 2, you see Bob Barker in the background (Steve Irwin being then 500 miles away, returning from refueling in Tasmania). BB's wake is visible, and it’s seems to be moving on the same heading as SM2.
2. Judging by the changing perspective on the background clouds, it also appears SM2 makes a starboard turn at the start of the SM2 video, which means that the video from BB starts after the turn is initiated. On the BB video, at .08" and.12", SM2 makes two more changes to starboard...that's a total of THREE intentional changes in order to get very close to Ady Gil.
3. The SM2 [max.speed=12kts] is travelling much faster than the AG [max speed=45kts]: this is obvious from the amount of spray and movement of SM2. If both vessels had remained on their respective courses (as initially seen), SM2 would have passed well to port and moved ahead of AG.
4. AG's wake is virtually non-existant and her bobbing action supports the claim that she was almost at a stand-still.
5. Given the effect the wave action is having on SM2, I doubt there is precise control over the ship's heading throughout: while the higher speed gaves the rudder more bite, the impact of hitting waves at speed pushes the bow from side-to-side as well as up-and-down. So it is conceivable the Japanese skipper was intending a close pass to just scare AG rather than ram her, but that’s no excuse: his actions, his responsibility.
6. The commentary from BB (the woman's nervous laugh, the man's expletives) is what I’d expect: they sound awed and a bit excited at what is happening, like witnessing a car crash.
7. The continued water cannon blasts from SM2 as the crippled AG drifts away seems callous at least.
8. The International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea 1972 (COLREGS) details several rules which both sides have disregarded here.

Considering these points, I place the blame for the collision on SM2. However, if events outside the immediate collision lead-up are factored in, Sea Shepherd must face the consequences of its own actions. It went hunting the hunters with the stated intent of harrassment and disruption: this is the outcome of that intent. You can't sink a rainbow!
This incident will not stop either side, but possibly has gained SS some legitimacy (just as was gained by Greenpeace, after the French sank the Rainbow Warrior with limpet mines in Auckland Harbour, 1985).
I am neither a marine expert nor a video analyst, so my assessment of these clips is "layman". I maintain that whaling must cease, but worry how much further these Whale Wars will escalate before that end comes.
PS: 12 Jan.2010 - More video footage, this time from aboard Ady Gil itself, as she is rammed...!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Whale Wars: The Cavalry Arrives

surprise arrival, the Bob BarkerPerhaps it looked as if another whaling nation had sent reinforcements to the Japanese whalers in the Southern Ocean. The 1,200-ton Norwegian-built Antarctic harpoon vessel Bob Barker has met the Japanese whaling fleet at Commonwealth Bay off the Adelie Coast of Antarctica. But the whalers would've been disappointed as the Norwegian flag was replaced by that of Sea Shepherd - announcing the arrival of the latest addition to the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary defence fleet.
Thanks to a $5-million contribution from American tv personality Bob Barker, Sea Shepherd quietly bought and refitted the former Norwegian whaler in Africa. The ice-strengthened fast chaser boat is a surprise reinforcement for the Sea Shepherd ships Steve Irwin and Ady Gil.
For the first time ever, Sea Shepherd now has three ships on the Japanese fleet, each with unique abilities. The long-range fast ice class Bob Barker will be lead pit-bull, able to stay on station for three solid months without refueling. Steve Irwin will carry the campaign helicopter, coordinate all flight activities, and block loading operations on Nisshin Maru, the factory ship. Ady Gil, with twice the speed of the Japanese harpoon vessels, will intercept the fast chaser vessels to block their hunting activities.
A dramatic frame taken from BBC news story: Ady Gil is rammed and severely damagedPS: 07 Jan.2010 - In a stunning escalation, the Japanese security vessel Shonan Maru 2 has rammed Ady Gil, slicing the bow off, making the trimaran unseaworthy and injuring a crew member! In the film footage, the ramming looks deliberate! Paul Watson, captain of Steve Irwin, says: "This is a war to save the whales and it just got a lot uglier."

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

House Of Horrors: Don't Glorify The Criminals!

Christchurch's House of Horrors: good riddance...but should we celebrate?Christchurch's “House of Horrors” (where Jason Somerville killed and interred two victims) has finally gone up in smoke after four arson attempts.
 Mayor Bob Parker says the murders traumatised the community and the building's demise will be a huge relief to all.
In journalese, "traumatised" is an over-used synonym for "upset": after all, how many locals actually suffered 'emotional or psychological injury from an extremely stressful or life-threatening situation'? And "community" usually means nosey locals with a vested interest.
The house was destroyed in a criminal act. Rather than an occasion for general relief and social closure, it's breaking the law – plain and simple. When lawbreakers rape, we don't praise their public spirit. Why the feeling that the arsonist has done everyone a favour?
Murderer and house owner Jason Somerville should not profit from his crime, but nor should the mortgage company suffer because it unknowingly entered into a loan agreement with a killer. And let's not forget the neighbours, whose adjoining house was destroyed too.
As for Mayor Parker's suggestion of a memorial park on-site, how many parks would appear in NZ if every murder was immortalised this way? Well, 58 in 2008 alone (and awaiting 2009's figures)! A park may be a nice suggestion for Parker's voters - it may even be seen as a catharsis for his "traumatised community". But surely if they need catharsis, they should seek some counselling. The only truly traumatised ones are the members of the families involved.
I suggest the "community" gets real, moves on, finds something new to gossip about...and doesn't praise the arsonist: after all, whose place will be next?
(...with thanks to Tim Wilson, TV One)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Whale Wars: Returning To The Fray

the Steve IrwinSea Shepherd's Steve Irwin has quickly resupplied in Hobart, Tasmania and headed out to sea again. The return to Australian waters meant its "shadow", the Japanese spy ship Shonan Maru 2, had to end its pursuit when Steve Irwin re-entered the 200-mile economic zone (Japanese whaling ships are banned from Australian territorial waters and denied use of Australian ports).
When SI left Fremantle to begin this season's campaign, the Japanese hired an aircraft to relay its position to SM2. That they went to such expense to guard their fleet this season indicates Sea Shepherd's actions have had the whalers sobbing into their sushi. This time when leaving Hobart, bad weather helped them slip past the waiting Japanese unseen. SI will be deep into the Southern Ocean within the week, while Sea Shepherd's Ady Gil searches the Antarctica coast for the main body of the whaling fleet.
Capt.Paul Watson aboard the Steve IrwinIt's a shame that animosity exists between Greenpeace and one of its founding members, Capt.Paul Watson of Sea Shepherd. How much more successful this mission could've been, if the two organisations had joined forces. GP feels SS's actions are too confrontational, but perhaps GP could have taken more of a support role and left SS to go "head-on". This counter-productive rift between two organisations seemingly dedicated to the same end must be serious indeed if a compromise could not have been reached for the sake of the Antarctic whales.
PS: also see my post of 23 Dec.2009.

Friday, January 1, 2010

24: More Plot Details!

Achtung! Zes ees MY U-boat, Bauer!Meet 24’s new bad guy: German actor J├╝rgen Prochnow will terrorise New York City as JACK BAUER’s latest nemesis, BAZHAEV. He played the German U-boat commander of 1981’s excellent Das Boot. Bazhaev heads up an Eastern European organised crime syndicate that's part of the action - he’s essentially a Russian Godfather. Sound like Jack'll have his hands full!
Another day, another crisis, another husband...Someone whose hand is not full is President ALLISON TAYLOR: now divorced from husband Henry at the start of the new season. Apparently, The First Gentleman couldn’t forgive President Taylor for locking up their corrupt daughter in last season’s finale.
Shall I shoot first, and ask questions later?FBI agent RENEE WALKER had her conscience shredded in Season 7: things're no smoother for her in Season 8. She comes back pretty damaged, definitely darker and with "baggage". (UPDATE: Jack reunites with Renee in Day 8: 6:00-8:00pm.)
I love you, Jack, but you only have 24 hours to save the world!Meanwhile it's definite: Jack's former love interest AUDREY RAINES will not return. She is – as far as we know – still lieing in a catatonic state where we left her at the end of Day 6!
Will I be back, ma'am? Well, I can't honestly say.I want ex-Secret Service agent AARON PIERCE back! Besides Jack, he's the only character to appear in all seven seasons of the show, and I like his integrity. No idea when this photo was taken, but hopefully Glenn Morshower was on-set to act, not a visitor! (UPDATE: this is ominous! I've just seen a video interview with Morshower in his hometown Oct.2009. At 1'45" in, when talking about making a movie, he says "Well, I'm done with 24 now, so..." Uh-oh!)
So? I've got ATTITUDE! What's YOUR problem?CHLOE faces a lot of trouble back in new-look CTU. She's been at home being a mother so has to play catch-up on new software...which is frustrating for her because she’s always the best at everything. The team doesn’t really trust her, but we'll see her pull it out and discover something that no one else knows...and in typical Chloe style, will shrug it off as if to say: “Well, if you were as intelligent as me, you'd have figured it out too!”That goatie's gotta go!
If you're hangin' out for TONY ALMEIDA, sorry but he's a no-go too!
In each season of 24, Episode 18 has always been THE major hour, with either a huge moment or a shocking twist leading into the final storyline. Ep.18/Season 3 had RYAN CHAPELLE being executed, Ep.18/Season 5 was PRESIDENT LOGAN being evil, Ep.18/Season 7 ended with TONY ALMEIDA smothering LARRY MOSS. And this season is no different: scouring lead actors' tweeters and blogs, there's a lot of talk (but naturally no details) about this season's Episode 18. They're all basically saying: "OMG!!!" Those previous moments will be hard to top – I can't wait!
See also my posts of 29 December 2009 (more photos/promos) and 23 November 2009 (more plot info). And remember: in 24, anything's possible!