Monday, January 31, 2011

Bill Gates Gets A Real Job

Here's another variation on the Nigerian Money Scams received recently...
Supposedly this has come from Microsoft HQ – y'know, as owned by Bill Gates? Except SIR Bill (when was he given a knighthood?) has now been demoted to a humble 'online supervisor'. Oh, how the mighty have fallen!
Further, I've just been told that I've won a BILLION pounds – that's a healthy slice of Microsoft! Thanks, Bill!

We are pleased to inform you that you have won £1,000,000,000 GBP from the THE MICROSOFT AWARD TEAM 2010 edition, with Ref Number: MSN-UK/9420X/05, Batch Number:074/05/ZY369 and Winning Number: WZ554/30.
For claims process kindly Contact Mr Scott Williams. (Contact Event Manager). Email: with your full names, address, country, age, sex, occupation, telephone).
Best regards,
Sir Bill Gates, Online Supervisor.

*sigh* Creativity (as well as honestly-earned money) seems to be in short supply in Nigeria...

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Remembering Fred Wylie

Many NZ public parks feature old statues - often to British royalty, now virtually forgotten.
In Rotorua's Government Gardens are two statues, one to King George V and the other to Fred Wylie.
The latter is interesting - it does not beatify some distant officer whose proximity to action may have been no closer than a map. This memorial was erected to a young local man who lost his life fighting the Boers.
The Second Boer War (Oct.1899-May 1902) was between the British and the dutch-speaking Boers of the two independent Boer republics: the South African Republic (Transvaal Republic) and the Orange Free State. It ended with the annexation of the region under the British Empire, ultimately forming South Africa as part of the Commonwealth.
Born in 1876, Frederick William Wylie was a carrier and storekeeper in Galatea, a small town about 75km SE of Rotorua. He volunteered for service and shipped out of Lyttleton, with stores and horses, aboard Knight Templar on 17 Feb.1900.
Serving with the 4th.NZ Mounted Rifles, 8 Company (Regt.No.1478), Private Wylie's moment of glory followed the over-running of a British 15-pdr. field gun by Boers. Fred singlehandedly retook the gun as well as two prisoners - for this gallantry, he was promoted to sergeant. Two months later with his new unit, the 7th.NZ Mounted Rifles (Regt.No.4705), he was leading an advance on an enemy-held building when he was cut down by rifle fire. Fred was 25 years old.
His statue's plaque reads:
"To commemorate the valour of King's Sergt. FRED W.WYLIE of Galatea, Rotorua, Fourth NZ Contingent.
He recaptured unaided a 15-pdr.gun, taking two prisoners in the action at Hartebeestefontein 25th.March 1901. Promoted King's Segt. by command, subsequently joining the Seventh Contingent he was killed while leading the attack in action at Klipfontein 26th May 1901."
Brigade orders noted that "the death of King's Sergt. F.Wylie is deeply regretted. A brave man and a good soldier." His superior officer Captain Walker added "He was brave as a lion."
Fred was buried where he fell, at Klipfontein in the Transvaal.
The Bay Of Plenty Times of 14 Aug.1901 reported a memorial fund while a brief anecdotal account of his death appeared on 14 Feb.1902.
Like all wars, the Boer War chewed up people like Fred without much more than a note in the Brigade war diary. So he must have been held in extremely high regard, for his town and Rifle Volunteers of Rotorua to erect such a proud statue.
The memorial, which was unveiled at the annual Maori Carnival in 1904, reads: Fama semper vivat ("May his fame last forever").
Here's a link to his Cenotaph Record at the Auckland War Memorial Museum...

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Gone But Not Forgotten...

Yesterday was a crap day for protesters in the Auckland seaside suburb of St.Heliers.
The three 1930s Art Deco Spanish Mission-style houses they'd been fighting to save were torn down.
On Thursday in the Environment Court, the 'Save Our St.Heliers' protest group lost its bid to stop the destruction of the houses on Turua St. To the very end, the war of words - and blame - raged... but in the end, big business won.
However the demolition may not have been in vain. Local councillor Cameron Brewer says the protestors' efforts will have a lasting impact across the city: "They’ve given the new council a huge wake-up call. This issue so early on in the council’s existence has demonstrated that a much greater priority must now be put on heritage. The public has had an absolute gutsful." Meanwhile the protestors have a warning for council - though the cottages are no more, the society is working on a publication about recent events. It wants to get to the bottom of the secretive arrangements leading to the wanton destruction. "We're going to publish the whole sorry story of the council's failure to protect our heritage. This is just another in a long line. Almost weekly we are losing a building in Auckland and we're given a disgusting edifice instead." Pay attention, Mayor Brown (he who stood for the mayoralty on a pro-heritage ticket): you are on notice.
PS: 29 Jan.2011 - Mayor Len Brown says "This must not happen again." Ok, Lennie, what are you gonna do about it??

Friday, January 28, 2011

No Piss-Up In Dunedin

At last, some common sense prevails!
Dunedin City Council has said "no" to a Party Central venue for Rugby World Cup fans, after crunching the numbers and finding it was already facing a $400,000 loss on running the matches in its new stadium.
Building a white elephant?
The city's gone into huge debt - against the will of many ratepayers - to build a stadium in time for the *yawn* 2011 Rugby World Cup [The total cost of the stadium including land purchases is NZ$198.3 million - Wikipedia]. Now it's discovered that running the Cup will cost the stadium operator (owned by the ratepayers) another $400,000. The city won't make a red cent out of it - so why incur a further $300,000 on a central city piss-up point for fans?
Well done! It's high time the brakes were put on expenditure to fuel this RWC hysteria. I'm sure the ratepayers of Dunedin will very much appreciate their council drawing the line. And from my memories of Dunedin, there're plenty of watering holes in that fair city to keep fans lubricated anyway.
But I suspect many places around the country are not fully aware of all the costs, all the social impact coming their way. Neither, may I suggest, are a lot of citizens - eg: think about how difficult it'll suddenly be, to book a flight to visit Auntie Mable. And consider the massively-inflated motel and rental car prices you'll have to pay (even if you're not remotely interested in the bloody RWC)!
There's been lotsa talk about how this *yawn* prestigious event will make everyone heaps of dosh. But just where will these vast returns come from?
To illustrate, just look at Africa's 2010 FIFA World Cup. The govt spent $4.81 billion on it, the event attracted 310,000 tourists and $532.94 million in foreign spending. But that was a third short of the 450,000 visitors forecast. And their average spend was only 10% of what the govt spent on the tournament. Consulting firm KPMG surveyed 100 of its top clients and found just 22% felt they had gained benefit from the World Cup.
Now, these stats come directly from the Rugby New Zealand 2011 Fact Sheet:
Hosting RWC 2011 will generate more than $1.15 billion in total economic activity, and pump more than half a billion dollars into NZ economy.
RWC 2011 will add $507 million to NZ’s gross domestic product (GDP), 23% more than original forecasts prepared at the time of the bid to host the Cup.
RWC 2011 will also provide NZ Govt an additional $112 million in tax revenue.
Auckland, as host of RWC 2011 Final, stands to gain around $240 million in additional GDP and $262 million of total direct additional expenditure.
But of course, against these extremely upbeat numbers, we can't forget that our govt's on record as saying the RWC will blow-out to the tune of $40 million!
Hmmm, I'll be very interested to see the final bank statement...

Thursday, January 27, 2011


After a 26-day pursuit over 4,000 miles, Steve Irwin has caught the Japanese factory ship Nisshin Maru!
From now on, Sea Shepherd will - as Capt.Paul Watson so eloquently put it - “ride their ass" until the end of the whaling season.
Having cut off oil supplies to NM by herding away the supply ship Sun Laurel, all SS has to do now to block the whalers from reaching their mother ship. For 23 days of tailing, two of those vessels have not taken a single whale. The Yushin Maru 1 accompanying the factory ship did manage some kills: there was a whale being butchered on-deck when SS caught them.
Nisshin Maru trying to outrun Steve Irwin by going through heavy ice
In terms of vessel disposition, the interceptor Gojira is heading to Tasmania for some quick repairs on a fuel pump, but it'll be back before Steve Irwin needs to leave to refuel. Bob Barker has enough fuel to stay with the nasty Nippons well into March, by which time SI will return with fuel reserves to extend SS’s intervention until the end of the whaling season. The Korean-owned SL is heading east and is now closer to Chile than New Zealand. SI is hard on NM's tail, with BB about to join it: the fleet is cornered in a Ross Sea ice bay and is fleeing eastward into thick ice.
The proof of Operation No Compromise's success will be when the fleet announces its final kill count in April. Those figures will definitely be much lower than previous seasons - you'll recall how the fleet returned to port in 2010 in total humiliation. "Losing face" is very degrading to Japanese but, while the whalers worry about their own pride, their actions cause their homeland to be humiliated globally.
They'd better get used to it: this 2010/2011 whaling season will be a financial disaster!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Is it a bird? Is it a plane?
No, it's a 737-400 balloon:
The mechanical problems continue for Qantas.
Yesterday one of the Aussie airline's Boeing 737-400s lost air pressure mid-flight, prompting a rapid descent and panicking the 99 passengers. The Adelaide-Melbourne flight was 30min from touchdown when it happened: oxygen masks were deployed as the plane dropped from 11,000m/ 36,000 ft to 3,000m/ 10,00 ft. The culprit was a faulty air-conditioning system. Psssssssssssss...
Last November, Qantas had quite a run of bad luck: five “air turn backs” in two weeks! You'll recall it temporarily grounded its Airbus A380 superjumbos after an engine exploded after takeoff from Singapore, damaging the plane. And just last week, a Qantas flight NY-bound made an unscheduled stop in Fiji, after the Boeing 747 developed a problem with an engine fuel valve.
I've got a theory about all these faults, short'n'sweet and it goes like this. Y'know how the Noo Zuld Navy has bought those two Aussie-built "dogs" that've been plagued with technical issues...? And y'know how Qantas also has endless mechanical problems...? Well, the commonality is Australian workmanship.
Now, this overly-simplistic suggestion might cause uproar among the Ocker rank-and-file, but (all joking aside) is it worthy of further investigation? Surely you don't get such a string of "coincidences" without some standards somewhere being compromised, some test not being carried out, some corner being cut.
Something to think about perhaps...?
Oh, and... Happy "Australia Day"!
PS: 27 Jan.2011 - Not such a Happy Oz Day for 352 passengers, stranded in Bangkok by another Qantas jumbo's engine problems!!! Seeing a pattern here...?
PS: 24 March 2011 - Cockpit fire in a Manila-Sydney Qantas A330-200!
PS: 13 April 2011Fuel leak on a NZ-Oz Qantas flight.
PS: 20 May 2011 - Two more "turn backs" for Qantas...
PS: 02 June 2011 - NOW what! Rats found aboard a Qantas flight!!
PS: 16 July 2011 - Qantas flight carrying the Springboks loses an engine...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

American Idol Comedy Show Returns

With Friday night tv usually devoid of anything worthwhile, the new season of American Idol was a minor respite...but only for the comedy aspect.
The show is anathema to me, so I only tuned in to chortle at the more pathetic auditions, that surely are deliberately included by the producers each year (William Hung's She Bangs being a classic example from the past).
So, two new judges: Randy ("Yo Dawg") Jackson is joined by Jennifer Lopez (trying to jumpstart a failing music career that's overshadowed by bit-parts in her failing movie career) and Steven Tyler (Aerosmith lead singer/dad of actress Liv Tyler - please explain how one so ugly can father one so pretty!).
Tyler is the wildcard - literally. His comments so far have been bizarre to say the least, and bordering on creepy: I mean, commenting on wannabes' legs and buns??!! Puh-leez! This ain't the groupies' couch at a rock concert!
"Can I have some rum in my Coke?"
The new panel seems to be having fun, but its big test will be when the serious culling starts: that'll show whether this apparent chuminess is real or just clever editing. Singer/songwriter Kara DioGuardi's skills may well be sorely missed at that point, but probably not Paula Abdul's seemingly "under the influence" actions, comedian (and I use the term advisedly) Ellen DeGeneres couldn't deliver criticism if Portia had burnt the toast... and as for the eye-rolling bluntness of Simon Cowell: oh, how quickly we forget.
So unless I can't find a decent DVD to watch on a Friday evening, I don't think I'll be seeing too much of Season 10.
Pass the remote, please.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Remove Petrol Tax Double-Dip

There are calls for the removal of the goods and services tax (GST) on fuel.
Late last week, unleaded petrol hit near-record levels of $2 a litre, and the Automobile Assn (AA) doesn't believe the government should be charging GST on top of the petrol excise tax as well. Hear! Hear! In many other circles, it's called 'double dipping' and - unless you're the government (that sets its own standards) - that activity would normally drop you deep into boiling water. 
The AA says by removing GST, motorists would save nearly eight cents a litre, offering some relief in the face of steadily-rising living costs and recessional effects.
Petrol prices hit a two-year high at the end of last year, with blame shared by the weakening NZ dollar, Europe's cold snap and an increase in demand as worldwide economies come out of recession. That jump means drivers are now paying an extra 14.2% for petrol!

Going up? 4th floor, poverty..
Compare that to some other changes post-GST-rise:
+Alcohol: up 5.4%.
+Electricity: up 5.8%.
+Milk, cheese and eggs: up 12.6%.
+Vegetables: up 15.4%.
+Cigarettes: up 17%.
+Butter and lettuce: up 50%.

NZ consumer prices rose 2.3% as expected in the three months ended Dec.30, the biggest quarterly gain since a 3.5% rise in Sept.'89, the last time GST was lifted. And bad weather around the world means already high prices have higher to go. Weather conditions have affected food production, and there's talk of the Aussie flood crisis upping food prices here in NZ. Brace yourself!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Just When You Thought It Was Safe...

Anyone seen a 4.5m Great White shark around the Coromandel Peninsula this week?
The shark was spotted cruising leisurely near Cook's Beach last Monday, with two tag-like objects attached. Those tags initially had scientists thinking the shark was Miranda - a notorious large Great White tagged in Stewart Island in 2008. Miranda was the only shark around these parts with two tags, and was re-tagged by some brave soul in Stewart Island in 2009.
However, after inspecting the boaties' photos, it's confirmed the shark is a different bloody big beastie, with two fluoro yellow bait flies stuck near its gills.
Anyone seeing this monster - or any Great Whites - should report them to 0800 DOC HOT...after first running like hell!
At 4.5m this is the biggest Great White reported in NZ waters this summer. If it's a female, it would weigh up to 1.5 tonnes and would be nearing maturity. If it was a male, it would weigh around 800kgs and would already be mature. Female Great Whites grow up to 7m long...which reminds me of that classic line from the 1975 film Jaws: Chief Brody (Roy Scheider)- "You're gonna need a bigger boat!"

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Sometimes, The Job SUCKS

Department of Conservation (DOC) staff yesterday had to put down ten pilot whales which survived a mass stranding of 24 in NZ's isolated Far North Parengarenga Harbour (this is just south of the site of the Spirits Bay stranding, Sept.2010).
This pod was spread over 150m of mud, rocks and mangroves. It's likely they stranded on Thursday, meaning they had been in distress for some time.
The surviving ten were in poor shape. High tide wasn't until 11 that evening and, with deteriorating weather conditions, the chances of successfully refloating the whales was virtually nil, so the difficult decision was made to euthanase them.
Pilot whales travel in family pods and, when one of them gets into trouble, others try to help and become stranded themselves. In the past we've had some large strandings on our shores: in 1998, 328 pilot whales stranded at Doughboy Bay on Stewart Island while in 1918, NZ’s (and the world’s) worst recorded stranding occurred when around 1,000 pilot whales came ashore at Long Beach, Chatham Islands.
Pilot whales are the most common whale species seen in NZ waters and, although they strand all around our coastline, 48% happen in the Northland, Nelson and Chatham Islands regions - these regions all have long gently-sloping beaches which are deceptive and often deadly to whales.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Sex Toys Not For Play

An Aussie sheila's bizarre plan to play floaties with a blow-up doll deflated last weekend.
Queensland police were alerted when two 19yr.olds struck trouble mid-afternoon Sunday. Floating down the flood-swollen Yarra River on two inflatable sex dolls, the woman lost her latex playmate when the play got rough. They clung to a floating tree, calling for help. Fortunately, a passer-by called rescuers while a kayaker took life jackets to them.
But, with Queensland in the grip of a deadly flooding emergency and numerous genuine rescues in the past week, police were not amused. The incident prompted a warning from cops that blow-up sex toys are "not recognised flotation devices": yeup, they breed their cops bright in Oz!!
Meanwhile the fate of said inflatable dolls is unknown - they're no doubt lost somewhere in the wet patch, and so won't be around to respect 'em in the morning!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Chillin' On Egmont

A group of crazy climbers who carried a barbecue and couch up to the summit of Mt Egmont...opps, no, I mean Mt Taranaki...for an epic barbecue, has earnt the ire of local maori.
An "outraged" (???) Taranaki DOC boss Phil Mohi says "The act of cooking over an ancestor is tapu (sacred) – it's something that you just don't do." He said it was disappointing the young people hadn't learnt that the mountain and especially the summit is very sacred for Taranaki iwi. "The very highest part is the most sacred of all – and (we) ask climbers to avoid standing there. There's a difference too between eating prepared food for sustenance and actually cooking on the summit."
He also swiped at people who'd left graffiti on the summit. He's not suggesting these climbers were responsible: some is years old, mostly people's carved initials, but "the graffiti offenders went out of their way to cause offence." (out of their way???) Meanwhile these guys actually went "out of their way" to collect and bring back other people's rubbish that they saw on the climb!
So, spot the problem?
What some call a "sacred ancestor"...most others know is just a dormant volcano. A bloody big rock that would be cool to climb! And a fun challenge would be to lug a couch and barbie right to the top!!
Seems it's "something that you just don't do" if you're maori...but most people are not maori.
Ancient graffiti?
Everyone who climbs something tall wants to reach the very top - thankfully Hillary wasn't maori or he'd never have conquered Everest!
And most like to proclaim they've achieved something - look at the centuries-old graffiti atop the pyramids! Or cave art around the world. Or maori rock carvings - is that graffiti too?
Just as these climbers had some fun chillin' on top after their efforts, Taranaki maori also need to chill, and remember it's a question of perception. We're not all the same - our magic is in our diversity.
PS: 20 Jan.2011 - Meanwhile a mountain guide who's been climbing Egmont for 40yrs is surprised by news of the summit tapu!!
PS: 23 Jan.2011 - Michael Laws says of Taranaki iwi: "It's the Madonna in the condom all over again!" A good read...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Is Hollywood Too Precious?

Ya like him, or ya hate him.
Since I first saw him in TV's The Office, I've thought British actor/comedian Ricky Gervais is not funny. After Monday's 68th Golden Globe Awards, many in Hollywood agree! MCing for the second straight year, Gervais pulled no punches with his sarcasm. Here're some of the high (low) lights:
+About The Tourist: “I’d like to quash this ridiculous rumour...that the only reason The Tourist was nominated was so the Hollywood Foreign Press could hang out with Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp. That is rubbish....they also accepted bribes.”
+About Bruce Willis: he referred to him as Ashton Kutcher’s dad.
+About Charlie Sheen: “It’s gonna be a night of partying and heavy drinking. Or as Charlie calls it: breakfast.”
+About Scientology: “Also not nominated, I Love You Phillip Morris. Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor - two heterosexual actors pretending to be gay. So the complete opposite of some famous Scientologists then” (apparently referring to John Travolta and Tom Cruise).
Celebrities laughed, booed and groaned, some voiced disdain on stage. Tom Hanks said he could recall “when Ricky Gervais was a slightly chubby but very kind comedian.” Tim Allen replied, “Neither of which he is now.”

The Golden Globe Awards are more relaxed and party-like than most ceremonies, but some critics say Gervais went too far. But being an industry in the public eye, should actors have broader shoulders? A bigger capacity for self-depracation? Or - being a Brit - is Gervais really an outsider who's not allowed to poke fun with them at their own expense?
After this furore, I can't see Ricky hosting the Golden Globes again...
PS: 19 Jan.2011 - Gervais defends himself.
PS: 21 Jan.2011 - Ricky Gervais: now billed as "the couldn't-care-less comedian"!
PS: 23 Jan.2011 - A democratic solution to the Golden Globes...
PS: 17 Nov.2011 - Gluttons for punishment: Gervais gets the nod for 2012 MC!!!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Southern Ocean Chess

When Sea Shepherd updated me on progress last Saturday, it was Day 17 since finding the Japanese whaling fleet - and the whalers' supply vessel Sun Laurel was leading them into a storm to try and shake them off its tail.
An odd tactic for the fueler to try, as both Bob Barker and Steve Irwin are far superior sea vessels than the tanker and the rolling of the supply ship has to be uncomfortable for her crew.
They were over 300 miles N of the Antarctic Treaty Zone Boundary (60 degrees latitude) and the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, as Sun Laurel wanders northward and eastward hoping to unload her cargo of heavy fuel for the factory ship Nisshin Maru and diesel fuel for the harpoon vessels. Tailing SS are Yushin Maru 1 and Yushin Maru 2 - both more than a day's steaming from the whaling grounds, and thus out of the whalekilling business.
SS's strategy now is to cut Nisshin Maru off from her supplies. BB and SI will be able to pursue SL longer than NM can survive without fuel. NM has four choices:
(1) attempt to refuel with SL - check.
(2) go to a distant port to refuel - check.
(3) find another tanker to refuel them and hope they're not discovered - check.
(4) end the whaling season early and return to Japan - checkmate.
Option (1) puts them into a direct confrontation with SS. Options (2) and (3) will cost them weeks of time. Option (4) is of course the endgame.
Gojira continues to hunt for Nisshin Maru and the whaler Yushin Maru 3. As long as these remain unlocated, the possibility exists that some whales may be killed...but it's clear that this season will be an abject disaster for Japanese "scientific whale research".

Monday, January 17, 2011

"I'm Just a Patsy...In A Rock'n'Roll Band!"

Further to my July 2010 post about media manipulation of photographs, here's a light-hearted look at the shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald (in custody after the assassination of JFK in 1963).
WAS he "just a patsy"...or really a misunderstood rock star?
Was the shooter Ruby King...or BB King?!
And just who did put the bop in the bop shoo bop shoo bop?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Saviour Of His Species

NZ's most spectacular 'on-the-brink-of-extinction' rescue was that of the Chatham Island black robin, after finding the sole surviving female to partner with the four remaining males. It doesn't get any closer than that, but the critically endangered kakapo must run a close second as an 'on the very edge' survivor.
The kakapo known as Richard Henry was the ‘elder statesman’ of the NZ kakapo population and a lynchpin to the species' future. This veteran bird (named after a pioneer NZ conservationist who first tried to save kakapo from predators more than a century ago) died of natural causes this week.
He was discovered in isolated Fiordland in 1975, and is estimated to have lived to 80! He was also the only surviving mainland bird, which means he had a crucial role to play in ensuring genetic diversity in the population.
Interestingly, his sounds were in a different 'dialect' to the Stewart Island birds. He was a beautiful big bird, with slightly different colourings to the Stewart Island kakapo – brighter green with bold yellow markings.
Fossil records indicate that in pre-Polynesian times, the Kakapo was our third most common bird. However, the population plummeted after humans arrived. Maori ate them and used their feathers for ceremonial cloaks, while rodents decimated nesting sites and forest burn-off for farms destroyed their habitat.
The kakapo is one of the most outrageously funny, loving and strangest birds in a land renowned for unusual creatures. Somehow it's hung on: with no known females, it was effectively extinct for ¾ of the 20th century, and dangerously close to extinction during the last ¼ century. For three decades, kakapo have been helped by DOC's most extensive protected breeding programme, which has increased the population from the low point of 51 birds to 121.
Like the story of the Chatham Island black robin and the phenomenal little bird calledOld Blue, the story of the kakapo's salvation will prominently feature the parrot Richard Henry.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Olive Branches...and Flies On Roadkill

This week the Japanese whaling fleet's elusive supply ship was finally located. Sea Shepherd’s interceptor Gojira found the refueling ship, the Panamanian-registered Korean-owned Sun Laurel.
SS advised the tanker that refueling vessels in the Sthn Ocean below 60 degrees latitude is unlawful, especially with heavy fuel, and is a violation of the Antarctic Treaty. The captain agreed to head north towards the 60 degree south line, Steve Irwin and Gojira hovering like flies around a carcass.
The tanker captain confirmed he had made no transfers to any of the whalers. This means that as long as SS continues to prevent this, the whalers won't be able to extend their killing season beyond the first week in February.
The entire Japanese whaling fleet has been fleeing from SS for two weeks, with no evidence that any whales have been killed so far. SS is committed to spending the remainder of the whaling season in the Sthrn Ocean, but the season could be cut very short if the whaling ships are unable to refuel.
All that's needed to shut down the nasty Nippons by 100%, is a third large vessel to keep the third harpooner occupied: SS does not have one, but Greenpeace has a ship in Taiwan. A GP ship in the Sthrn Ocean could shut the door on the killing of whales completely.
SS has formally requested GP's help in achieving the total shutdown of the Japanese whaling. SS would provide GP with the whaling fleet’s coordinates, and a GP ship could be on site in as little as two weeks. GP would not have to support SS’s tactics or even communicate with them at all other than to receive the whalers' positions: they just need to simply show up.
GP raises substantial funds to defend whales in the Sthrn Ocean, but they haven't sent a ship to confront the Japs in those waters since 2006. SS believes GP has a moral obligation to end whaling in the Sthrn Ocean in the most effective and efficient manner possible.
Hopefully GP will see the whales' protection comes before any grievances it has with SS. Here's an opportunity to bring about positive results - perhaps even the end of Japanese whaling.
The lives of hundreds of whales can be spared by the support of one additional ship to distract the whalers from their victims.
How about it, Greenpeace?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Young Whale Successfully Refloated

NZ Department of Conservation (DOC) staff and volunteers yesterday managed to refloat a young Gray's Beaked whale, one of a pod of five that beached at Port Waikato (on the west coast of the North Island, sth.of the Manukau Harbour entrance) yesterday morning. The other four, all adults, died.
There was some concern over whether the juvenile was old enough to survive by itself - staff and volunteers remained in the area to help it if needed: the four dead whales were buried in dunes nearby.
Gray's Beaked whales can grow up to 5.7m/18.7ft. in length and have a distinctive long, slender beak. They regularly strand on NZ beaches (148 reported washed ashore since 1873), including a mass stranding of 28 in the 1800s, according to the Beaked Whale Resource website.
But Port Waikato is not an area known for whale strandings, so there's a question as to whether the animals were separated from a nearby pod...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

It's Not The PINK Arches

Jump for joy: free WiFi!
McDonalds is in the gun, over claims over discrimination against gays.
Y'see, Uncle Ronald generously provided free WiFi internet access at 132 outlets all over NZ. But members of the gay community moaned they can't access various websites including, because McDonald’s has them blocked.
NZ Herald says members of the homosexual community “slammed the firm’s policies, calling them discriminatory” ("slammed"? What, they rammed a truck into the front door???!!! That's a bit OTT, NZHerald.).
Other blocked websites include, and (an organisation for young gays). Gambling, tobacco and porn sites are blocked too, but are there sanctimonious screams of "poor little us" from gamblers, smokers and porn addicts? No.
Surely the core issue here is that when you're providing something for free, you're perfectly entitled to control what you're dishing out – or set filters on what can be freely accessed on the web, and what can't. The filtering of sites by The Golden Arches is its RIGHT! It's a family-friendly business, the free internet it's providing SHOULD only be able to access family-friendly sites.
Not the PINK Arches...
If Dad caught little Johnny peeking at 'Naughty Naked Nina' on-line at McDs (or for that matter 'What Peter And Lionel Did Naked After The Mardi Gras'), you KNOW he'd raise merry hell with the franchisee!
A McDonald’s spokesman (no, not Ronald) said: “We’re a family restaurant chain and as a part of offering this new service, our policy is that viewed content must be of a family-friendly nature – suitable for a child to view.”
Damn right! If someone's that desperate to access these sites, let them do it at home (or in one of those side-street dodgy-looking dimly-lit internet cafes).
When will minority groups grasp that the world does not revolve around them?
PS: 14 Jan.2011 - McD's has asked its internet provider to unblock a few websites following loud whimpers from some groups. But at this stage, remains blocked due to the sex advertising.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Jack Sparrow, Beware!

I had a cynical wee chuckle when I read "The NZ meat and shipping industries are welcoming news that the Government is considering being part of an international task force to tackle piracy off the coast of Africa."
Seems the United Nations has asked us for a frigate, to take part in piracy patrols off Somalia and Yemen.
Run! The NZ Navy is coming!!!
Yippee, say the Meat Industry Assn and the NZ Shippers Council - almost 100% of our meat exports are transported by sea so security is crucial, and deployment of a frigate could protect exports.
But hang about: most NZ cargo to Europe is shipped via the Horn of Africa! Are they really talking about physically protecting exports (that don't go anywhere near the danger zone?), or do they actually mean protecting their buddy-buddy export wheelings and dealings with European countries?
Ahhhhhhhhh, money talks...again! But obviously it doesn't talk too fast, as no decision will be made for about six weeks. That'll give those pesky pirates plenty of time to piss in their seaboots, over the
Te Mana - this one DOES work!
imminent arrival of the mighty Noo Zuld Navy!!!
Ah well, at least we won't be embarrassed by our naval vessels breaking down five minutes out of port: they'll send either HMNZS Te Kaha or HMNZS Te Mana - real tried-and-tested warships, not like those pathetic new arrivals HMNZS Otago and her sister ship(wreck) HMNZS Wellington, that have spent more time in the repair shop than actually doing their jobs.
God help those two if they have to scoot down into the Ross Sea, to sort out fisticuffs between whalers and protestors: they'd end up being towed home by a Japanese harpoon boat!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Ross Sea The Next Battleground

With the Ross Sea ice beginning to open up, Sea Shepherd is keeping a very close watch on the narrow opening, to see if the nasty Nippon whaling factory ship Nisshin Maru attempts to slip through. The whalers definitely want to be in there and the ice this year has delayed them until now.
The Japanese fleet is comprised of only four ships: NM and her three hunter killer boats. Instead of sending a security boat, Japan placed armed coast guard officers on the existing whaling vessels.
Two of the hunter killer boats, Yushin Maru 2 and Yushin Maru 3, have been tailing Sea Shepherd since the end of December, so neither's killed a whale yet. That leaves just Yushin Maru 1, which is presumably with NM. However, NM has been running hard west for eight days now (some 1,400 miles), and would have had little/no time to stop and whale as it tries to stay ahead of SS’s Gojira.
The whalers now face a dilemma. If they take their harpoon boats off the tail of Bob Barker and Steve Irwin, both SS ships will be free to hunt down the factory ship. If they don’t take off their tailing ships, they're without two killing boats for the duration of the season which will cost them a great deal of money.
Evidence of the whalers’ poor financial condition is that they've been forced to use their harpooners as tailing vessels when, in the past, they employed a specific security ship leaving the harpooners free to slaughter whales. The whaling fleet loses either way - by tailing SS they lose, and by removing the tails they also lose. On the other hand, the fast interceptor Gojira has no such tail and is free to seek out the factory ship.
...meanwhile accusations from YM2 that BB crew threw flash-bang grenades at their vessel. SS denies this, saying they don't have/have never had flash-bang grenades. However, SS is happy to say they threw stink bombs and smoke bombs (even the Japanese footage of the incident shows no flash-bang explosions).
Bob Barker running hard after Nisshin Maru
Today is the since SS first encountered the whaling fleet. This is likely to be a financially disastrous year for the whalers, and the hardworking Japanese people back home will surely start asking why their government is spending so much public money propping up a dead and despicable industry.

Monday, January 10, 2011

NZ Marketing Gets Personal

It's not been scrapped - just got a facelift.
After more than a decade of success with the "100% Pure New Zealand" brand, Tourism NZ's decided it's time for a freshen-up. And the key to its new approach is just one word: "you".
Research suggested NZ could increase its appeal as a holiday destination by personalising its marketing message and focusing on more than just our glorious scenery.
The new marketing campaign, which kicked off in Oz yesterday, includes three different TV commercials (have a look - see what you think), all featuring the "100% Pure You" tagline. Get used to that tag: it'll eventually be used for all advertising globally (it'll hit major US, European and Asian markets in February).
Tourism NZ says the campaign will feature authentic and special experiences, with the beautiful scenery and environment a vital part of the story as the backdrop.
"100% Pure New Zealand" has been used to promote NZ as a tourism destination since 1999. Last November, NZ was ranked the third strongest country brand in the world by FutureBrands Country Brand Index.
Aussie sheilas - they're bloody well HERE!

I'm pleased the essence of the original highly successful campaign has been kept, and just tweeked a little bit. It's also good to know that Tourism NZ's been actively researching the tagline for any fall-off in effectiveness (which you'd expect after 11 years' use, but no, it's still as solid a brand as ever)...
...unlike our cobbbers across the ditch, who must still cringe at memories of their appalling 2006 "So Where The Bloody Hell Are Ya?" campaign - which cost $180 million, was banned in several countries, did not lift visitor numbers at all...and was called by the Oz Prime Minister Kevin Rudd "an absolute rolled gold disaster"!
Looks like ours is 100% on the mark!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Getting Laid In Auckland...

The first section of tram track has now been laid in Auckland's Wynyard Quarter waterfront area.
Quite frankly, I didn't think this would get off the ground without another year of procrastination, so - well done, whoever! And yes, this is the only bit that's been put down so far, but at least it's a start.
This marks the return of trams in Auckland after a 50-yr.absence, and when completed, the 1.5km loop (costing $8-million) will run clockwise along Jellicoe Street, down Halsey Street, along Gaunt Street and up Daldy Street in time for the *yawn* Rugby World Cup 2011.
There'll be over-head wires at approx.6m high... and that's one bug-bear I can see (literally). The wires = visual pollution, in an area which is filling with sleek (if sterile) chrome and glass. However, battery power was deemed not viable for the two Melbourne trams to be used on the route, so no choice.
The other bug-bear is: will the council actually run the trams TO anywhere, rather than just round and round the Wynyard block?
If tourists could ride these trams out to the zoo and the Museum of Transport and Technology, or in the other direction to Mission Bay... now we'd be cookin' with gas!
(...many thanx to AKT)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Tora! Tora! Tora! (トラ・トラ・トラ!)

Gojira on the go!
...meanwhile, down in the chilly Antarctic waters of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary: "We rammed one last year - let's try it again!"
On Wednesday, Sea Shepherd’s vessel Gojira came up to the Steve Irwin for a supplies transfer. Seeing the fast interceptor vessel sitting dead in the water, the Japanese whaler Yushin Maru 2 picked up speed and approached rapidly at a very high 19 knots.
Anticipating the whalers might attack the stationary GojiraSI's Delta crew set out to turn the approaching whaler away. The crew headed towards the harpooner at full speed getting ready to deploy a prop fouler: this caused the whaler to abort its run-in. The Delta pursued the fleeing YM2 for 11 miles before returning to the SI.
Meanwhile, SS's helicopter had landed on the Bob Barker some 75 miles south along the ice edge of the Ross Sea. Yushin Maru 3 tried to push through the ice to approach the BB, to damage the helicopter with its water cannon. The chopper lifted off before the harpooner closed in. BB then turned to confront the whaler, which did a runner through the ice.
In the week since the whaling fleet was discovered (on Dec.31st.), two of the harpoon vessels have been under constant observation and have not killed any whales. The factory ship Nisshin Maru and another harpoon vessel, Yushin Maru 1, have fled for over 1,200 miles. It's highly unlikely they've had time to slow down to catch any whales!
Sea Shepherd is confident the nasty Nippons can be kept on the run for the entire whaling season which ends mid-late March. However the Japanese tactics seem more aggressive this year, after last season tasting blood over the Ady Gil sinking, but also returning home in disgrace with another poor catch...they have much to prove to their supporters in The Land Of The Rising Whale Fluke.
Sea Shepherd's Delta team returning to the safety of the Steve Irwin