Saturday, June 30, 2012

We'll Be Right Back, After This Short Break...

Regular readers of this blog (bless you!) have become used to a fresh post every day.
Well, the management wishes to apologise for any inconvenience caused...but I'm sorry to say that I'll be experiencing a brief hiatus.
I'm in the process of relocation, retraining and reintegration to the Queen's ranks, so won't be writing for up to four weeks.
However I assure you that, as my spleen requires regular venting, my fingers will (must!) brush the keyboard again soon. In the meantime, there're well over 900 posts for you to re-visit. Read them carefully, as I'll be asking questions later! And as a cyborg once said:
"I'll be back!"

Friday, June 29, 2012

Are We Not Men?

Three '80s bands make up the first Day On the Green concert of next summer.
Scottish super group Simple Minds, American new wavers Devo and Australian psychedelic pop/rock veterans The Church play a one-off NZ gig at Villa Maria Estate in Auckland, Sat.Dec.15th.
It'll be Devo's first visit in about 30 years. The innovative quirky band were known for classic dance songs like Whip It, Girl U Want and Freedom of Choice with trademark herky-jerky music hooks and megaphone vocals - and let's not forget their jumpsuits and funny hats!
Meanwhile, Jim Kerr's Simple Minds (with 40m album sales globally) were last here in 2010 for a show at Auckland's Civic which was very much a 'greatest hits' set including Waterfront, Promised You A Miracle and Don't You Forget About Me. Take it from me - that was a helluva show! They hadn't lost the edge one bit.
The Church are not your typical Aussie rock band and have remained true to their arty psychedelic rock sound, which started with 1980's album Of Skins and Heart and Unguarded Moment.
Bypass the boring-as-bat's-piss Coldplay in November. THIS gig will be a great Day! Click the links for some retro nostalgia!
Tickets go on sale this Monday July 2nd from Ticketmaster.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Air NZ Animated Safety Video

Air New Zealand is refreshing its in-flite safety video again.
Melanie and Charlie
This time, its animated - with NZ actress Melanie Lynskey (who starred with Charlie Sheen in Two and a Half Men as "Rose" the stalker neighbour) and Married with Children actor Ed O'Neill doing the voiceovers. 'Spot the celebrity' appearances include cartoon US Prez Obama, Oz PM Julia Gillard, All Blacks captain Richie McCaw, rapper Snoop Dogg, Chinese TV personality Kevin Tsai and broadcaster wanker Paul Henry.
Air NZ has a reputation for often quirky safety videos, previously featuring body-painted airline staff and All Blacks players (remember the controversial "gay kiss"???). Oh yes, and Rico...hmmm, ok, let's not go there.
But thank GOD they've changed it. After dragging out the *yawn* Rugby World Cup-related video for too long - with its appearances by tv "dick-shit" Paul Henry (later edited out!) and has-been fitness freak Richard Simmons, as well as departed ABs coach Graham "I can't read a simple tv script!" Henry (no relation to PAUL Henry) - it was well overdue for an update.
The latest safety video will be on all flights from early next month.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Mining Our Heritage Away

The NZ govt is going to allow petrol and mining exploration in our marine mammal sanctuaries! WTF??!!
Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson defends a decision for seismic surveying and mining exploration to proceed in marine sanctuaries, saying it'll be restricted to minimise harm to marine mammals. Prime Minister John Key, a party to this betrayal, has ruled out mining in World Heritage Sites. So...what? Will it then be free rein in all other sanctuaries?
Hector's: in harm's way
Oil companies have been granted ten permits in four of the protected areas - the Greens are worried marine mammals like the Hector's dolphin, the critically endangered Maui's dolphin, whales and fur seals are at risk.
There are six existing sanctuaries meant to be permanent refuges for rare dolphins, whales and seals and other mammals. Ms Wilkinson says another eight are being set that meant to appease us?
Seismic surveying uses airguns to produce powerful underwater sounds. Scientists say air guns can cause deafness in animals if they're too close. Otago University marine scientist, associate professor Steve Dawson's advice on how the surveying would affect wildlife was requested by the govt...then ignored. He says marine mammals have stranded as a result of acoustic surveying and could go deaf from the sound: "The only things louder than air guns in the ocean are big explosions." The govt says it'll regulate seismic testing by putting observers on survey ships and reviewing a 2006 code of practice.
In April, Forest and Bird demanded seismic testing off Taranaki be halted to save Maui's dolphins. It cited a mass stranding in Peru as evidence that deep water sonar can be harmful: the dolphins had damage to their middle-ear bones, a sign of "the bends". It also noted the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management halted seismic surveys after sick and dead calf bottlenose dolphins washed up in New Orleans.
For NZ, a country that criticises Japan for hunting in a marine sanctuary, this seems a case of "do as I say, not as I do"!!!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Save The Planet: Drink More Coffee

Follow your nose through any shopping mall - you'll soon find a coffee shop!
With so much coffee slurped daily, its good to know there's a productive use for all those used grounds. Just add them to your garden!
Coffee grounds can be used as a mulching agent, as well as fertiliser. For best results, don’t use the grounds alone (mix with other forms of organic mulch), otherwise the coffee tends to create a rich sludge that can block air and water flow.
Adding coffee to your compost is a great idea. It creates a nitrogen-rich soil, and gardeners swear that coffee-fed worms flourish (wonder what they taste like?). Researchers have also found that coffee grounds aid in keeping ideal temperatures in compost piles.
As a fertiliser, used coffee grounds are slightly acidic and nitrogen-rich, which helps vegetable and plant growth. The grounds create a natural acidic form of bacteria which boosts the growth of acid-loving plants like tomatoes, roses, blueberries and evergreens.
But wait: there's more! Coffee-ground mulch has the added benefit of deterring veggie and flower-munching slugs and snails. Studies show coffee grounds have a fatal effect on both creatures.
So, how to use it: use fresh stuff, nothing fermented or rotted. If possible, use organic grounds, especially if you eat the vegetables you fertilise...coz about 60% of the world's coffee beans are sprayed with pesticides. Drip and plunger grounds tend to work better than boiled and espresso grounds, as they're higher in nitrogen. Sprinkle some of the used grounds around flowers and vegetables before watering, for a slow nitrogen release, or dilute the grounds in water and spray directly on your plants. You can also sprinkle grounds into houseplant soil or outdoor veggie boxes.
Now if you're thinking "I don't drink that much coffee. Where will I get more used grounds?", check out your office coffee machine, or visit your local coffee shop. Starbucks has given away its used grounds in 2kg bags since the mid-90s...just ask!
So go on! Force yourself to have another cup. You know you're only doing it for the good of the planet. Riiiiiiiigghhtt!!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Snow Harris, The Other Hermit

Two hermits. One island.
I previously wrote about Charlie Hanson, the hermit of Moturekareka Island in the Hauraki Gulf. While researching him, I found reference to another recluse who lived there after Hanson…he was known as "Snow".
Clifford Crago Harris was born in Auckland 14th.Sept.1904, to Kate Isabel (née Noton) from England and Frank Harris of Ponsonby, who'd wed in 1896 (the NZ official records name him as Clifford George Harris).
NZ Electoral Rolls place him in the Auckland district of Mt.Roskill (1 Watling St.) in 1928, and in 1935 at 18 Oaklands Rd., Mt.Eden - still living in the family home with brothers Neville Crago, Ronald Crago and Stanley Crago plus a sister Valerie. I also found him in the NZ Army's WWII Nominal Rolls but, as the Cenotaph Database didn't have anything on him, I applied to the NZ Defence Force Archives for his Service Records. Meanwhile I found out more…
Seems he was the sole survivor of a 1933 shipwreck which claimed the lives of the three others aboard! John Harrell, T. Neville, captain J. Kelleway and Harris had set sail from Auckland on 19th.April, in a small 9m/27ft.keel yacht Mizpah. They had plenty of collective sailing experience. Clifford, acting as sailing master, had previous connections with the Auckland yacht Celox. Kelleway had held a yachtmaster's certificate for some time and owned a launch, the Wainui in Auckland. Both Naylor and Harrell were connected with the yacht Kestrel. The 25 yr.old Mizpah had been recently bought by a T.McCauley: "stoutly constructed", it had a trysail, jib and staysail (as well as a small auxilary engine). This was to be its delivery down to Wellington: a non-paid pleasure trip for the four lads...

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Simpsons' Simon Sea Shepherd Saviour

Matt Groening and James Brooks are the two names most associated with that ghastly cartoon The Simpsons.
But producer Sam Simon also had a hand in the show's success. He
left the show in 1993, but still receives wads of cash each year... which he puts to good use.
The 'Sam Simon Foundation' rescues and rehabilitates stray dogs that would otherwise be euthanised: they then become service dogs for the disabled. His foundation also offers a free mobile spay and neutering programme for low-income pet owners (neutering their animals, not them!). Last year, he launched the 'Sam Simon Foundation Feeding Families' which provides food for people and animals in need. He's also a board member for 'Save The Children' and hosts the largest annual fundraiser for PETA. In other words, Simon's seriously committed to making the world a better place.
Now he's fully funding Sea Shepherd's next anti-whaling vessel: "Paul Watson said they needed something fast, and with a reinforced hull to battle the Japanese. So next whaling season— if there is one, we're not sure—the Sam Simon will be bashing through ice, and hopefully we can end the atrocity of whaling in the southern ocean
Bob Barker
Whatever SS ends up getting, it won't be cheap. The icebreaker Bob Barker cost around $5m. And SS learnt the hard way that space-age vessels like Ady Gil and Brigitte Bardot were no match for monster rogue waves and Japanese skippers, so hopefully Sam will buy something more solid. It'll need to be fast enough to outrun fast harpoon ships, helo-capable with room for a hangar, enough deck space for delta fizzboats, have large fuel capacity or the ability to have the range extended, and have a ice-strengthened steel hull.
Oh. Is that all?
Luckily Mr.Simon has a very healthy bank balance...

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Abuse Of Position?

When a country holds the position of Presidency of the EU, it's expected to conduct itself with integrity.
But according to Chris Butler-Stroud, CEO of Whale and Dolphin Conservation Soc., Denmark has again this year opposed a EU pro-conservation position on whaling and, without consulting other EU members, applied for a whaling quota increase for Greenland!
A recent report 'Breaking Ranks: Denmark goes it alone on whaling policy' says that although the EU has strict laws protecting cetaceans and outlawing commercial whaling/trade, Denmark has flicked it the bird.
Denmark, a member of the International Whaling Commission (IWC), is meant to represent its 5.5m Danish citizens, the majority of whom are opposed to commercial whaling. In addition it represents the 100,000 non-EU citizens of Greenland and the Faroe Islands, some of whom hold a very different perspective.
The European Commission insists all environmental positions be agreed by consensus. However Denmark has consistently tried to avoid this. It's even FUed the IWC's ban on commercial whaling, and supported commercial whaling by Norway, Iceland and Japan.
Historically the IWC has granted Greenland an 'aboriginal subsistence whaling' (ASW) quota based on its hunters' nutritional and cultural subsistence needs: this classification excludes commercial trade. But in recent years, the number of Greenland's subsistence whalers has significantly dropped, while Denmark's demand for more whales from Greenland has risen.
Denmark holds the EU Presidency role until the first days of this year's IWC meeting in will its attitude affect the European Union position and any IWC voting?
Chris Butler-Stroud feels Denmark needs to consider its reputation when supporting commercial whaling. In Europe, where the vast majority oppose whaling, it should be supporting those small communities that really qualify for ASW quotas...and not the bloodlust greed of Iceland, Norway and Japan.

PS: 06 July 2012 - The whole EU puts Denmark in its place, voting against extending indigenous whaling.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Crush! Kill! Destroy!

It's been a while coming but finally - the magic day!
The first car crushed under NZ's 'boy racer' law was yesterday reduced to a state fit only for making razorblades, in just 49sec.flat. Flat! Hehehehe! LMAO
The Vehicle Confiscation and Seizure Bill (dubbed the 'boy racer law') was passed in 2008, aimed at fighting illegal street racing by destroying a vehicle after a
Intelligence PLUS!
third offence.
Police minister Anne Tolley pushed the button to destroy a Nissan Laurel so loved by 19yr.old Paraparaumu ditch digger Daniel Briant. Teenage mutant wanker Briant's intelligence is so highly evolved that, less than 3hrs after receiving his third strike from the court, this scrot was back behind the wheel performing a burnout. He lost control and crashed into a fence: he's awaiting sentencing on that fourth offence. He'd already been found guilty of driving while suspended, sustained loss of traction and dangerous driving leading to a 21mth disqualification. Trying to keep a stiff upper lip, this dickhead posted a memorial to his car on Facebook...
Former police minister Judith Collins, nicknamed 'Crusher Collins' after introducing the policy, says she's very pleased with the first crushing: "The three-strike policy we have for car crushing goes through very slowly but it does get there." Collins says there're 116 people who've had their second strike, "so Mrs Tolley might be very busy."
I really hope these pillicks are made to watch their beloved penis extenders get destroyed! Let them feel some pain. The more these fools and their fast toys are restrained, the safer the roads become.

PS: 22 June 2012 - But one anti-boy racing campaigner thinks crushing might be a red rag to a bull!
PS: 27 June 2012 - Is THIS an option for dealing with boy racers?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Gambling And God Don't Mix

God's not welcome at Auckland's SkyCity Casino.
Tuni Parata was accused of misconduct at work, for carrying a wallet-sized New Testament in her pocket - a breach of SkyCity's uniform code.
A disciplinary hearing was held yesterday while her union (which fed the story to the media) called for the "completely absurd" action to be dropped.
Grainne Troute, SkyCity general manager group services, called the union's response "alarmist": "Staff are in breach if they carry items such as mobile phones, books and other items which might interfere with their full engagement with customers." But she said such a breach of uniform policies was not considered serious misconduct, and would not result in dismissal.
Ms Parata has previously been in trouble for waving a handheld fan, to cool down in summer. The union said she feared instant dismissal for any small mistake like the fanning incident, if the Bible meeting resulted in a "final written warning''. Ms Parata (in a tearful apology on TV One News Tuesday evening) said carrying a Bible's a vital part of her faith and relationship to God. Her pastor even got stuck into the issue, asking if she'd have met the same fate if she'd been caught with a Qu'ran!
Now, I can understand SkyCity taking action if Ms Parata was reading her Bible in work time or in front of customers, or was preaching to the poker players. But the small book in her pocket couldn't be seen, wasn't being used. Was SkyCity just being pedantic?
At the same time, why must she carry a Bible to feel closer to God, when a strong faith should do the trick? She surely can't believe she's in a snake pit of she's worked there for 16 yrs! And having been a union delegate she'd know her employer's uniform code, so was knowingly taking a risk.
SkyCity's now ruled Tuni can carry a Bible as long as it's a smaller size...but this could've been said quietly without any fuss!
So out of this over-inflated drama, SkyCity (already seen as preying on gambling addictions) ends up looking even more like the Big Bad Wolf. The union - screaming about termination - looks hysterical.
And Ms Parata...well, she just looks a wee bit naïve.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Ménage à Murder

In 1886, a murder most foul gripped Victorian New Zealand.
Irishman John Caffrey (36), Henry Penn (24) and Lizzie Graham (19) – a.k.a. Grace Graham, Grace Reid, Grace Palmer, Grace Cleary, Sarah Cleary and Zara White! – had left Auckland in a stolen cutter Sovereign of the Seas. They were crossing the 55 miles to Great Barrier Island in the Hauraki Gulf, to kidnap Elizabeth Anne Taylor. Their plan was for the four of them to sail to a deserted South Pacific tropical island and live in an idyllic love paradise. Sovereign of the Seas had enough supplies for a year.
However they'd somehow overlooked an awkward three-cornered obstacle: namely that John Caffrey and Henry Penn were lovers, and Lizzie and Penn were also lovers…but Lizzie despised John.
To cloud matters more, their kidnapping target – Elizabeth – had been John Caffrey's fiancée, but had broken off the engagement a few years earlier, moved to Great Barrier Island and married Fred Seymour in 1885.
There were "scenes of roistering conviviality in the small cabin on the eve of her departure from Auckland" as the three got drunk. They all fell asleep during the voyage the next day and the vessel ran aground on Rangitoto Island! After taking a day to refloat her, they reached Tryphena Harbour, Great Barrier in the early hours of 20th.June 1886, today in history.
Caffrey and Penn burst into the home of Lancashire settler Robert Taylor at gunpoint, demanding to know where his daughter Elizabeth was. In a struggle, Taylor was shot four times, the fatal bullet hitting him in his head. His two daughters had fled into the night and his wife tried to follow, but was ordered to stop or be killed. She told them Elizabeth was at the Seymour house across the bay...

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Fairfax: Digital Or Die

Aussie multimedia company Fairfax Media announced yesterday it's killing off 1,900 jobs in a three-year restructuring, moving to become a digital media company.
Its Sydney Morning Herald and The Age broadsheet newspapers will become tabloids, and their websites will introduce digital subscriptions from the first quarter of 2013. It will also close two Australian printing facilities (at Chullora and Tullamarine) by June 2014. The changes are part of its 'Fairfax of the Future' strategy, in response to a rapidly deteriorating local media industry, and reflecting a shift in readership toward digital mediums. Around 65% of all SMH and The Age readers now access the publications digitally.
"Readers' behaviours have changed and will not change back," CEO Greg Hywood says. "We're taking decisive actions to fundamentally change the way we do business. The package of strategic initiatives is bold, and several are difficult, particularly as they will impact on some of our people, however, we believe they're in the best interests of Fairfax, our shareholders, and ultimately the majority of our people." Fairfax shares rose nearly 5% on the news.
Meanwhile here in NZ yesterday, the stock market halted trading in shares of online auction site Trade Me (majority-owned by Fairfax) while Fairfax sold off 15% to an investment bank, reducing its stake to 51%. To me, that sale is curious, given that although Fairfax retains a controlling stake, it makes more sense to control more of the revenue it can in a growing business. It indicates just how tough life is for Fairfax right now.
Will this mean, in the long-term, completely digital formats? It's certainly a concept that Rupert Murdoch has been working towards with his papers for several years...

Monday, June 18, 2012

Do The Maths, ICR!

Is it crash-and-burn time for the Institute for Cetacean Research (ICR)?
Whale meat sales in Japan are plummeting, with 75% of a 1,200 tonne 'scientific' catch failing to sell at auction! In comparision, ten years ago only 30% of wholesale whale meat was unsold.
Japanese 'research': "I calculate
17,250 steaks out of this one!"
Researchers followed auctions of the 2011 North Pacific catch, taken by the same fleet that illegally hunts whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. Almost all meat sold was heavily discounted. The ICR admits the auction did not achieve the results it wanted, and the pressure must now be rising to move the other 75% by any means possible: already it's giving away 236 tonnes of whale meat to rural communities and for school lunches. This latest failure follows sharply reduced whale meat availability from the main Antarctic hunt, after pressure from Sea Shepherd.
Japan's whaling is backed by a lobby of nationalist politicians in the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which has spent billions of yen in a diplomatic offensive to reverse the 1986 ban on commercial whaling. The same LDP politicians are behind other rightwing causes in Japan, such as revisionist history textbooks. Without their support, there's no chance that whale hunting would be economically viable: the govt has been providing an annual subsidy for whaling activities, as meat sales alone don't cover the costs of sending Japan's eight whaling ships out of harbour. Last year the ICR was forced to rely on a $28m govt bail-out, using funds from an earthquake/tsunami mini-budget, much to the disgust of many people worldwide who'd donated to the rescue work.
One problem faced by this lobby is falling whale meat consumption. Even before 1986, when the ban on whaling began, whale eating was declining and most surveys say only about 1% of the population still eats it regularly.
With the whale meat stockpile mounting (6,000 tonnes+ @ Aug.2010, and well past that mark now), the ICR's future must be uncertain.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Gold Medal-Losing Excuses

When you've set your most revered and infallible self on the world's highest pedestal, you really do have to be able to cut the mustard.
"Ugg. Gun. Ugg. Good."
So in the lead-up to the London 2012 Olympics, 'He Whose Arse Shall Be Kissed By The Very Gods Themselves' aka Kim Jong-un - new leader of North Korea (DPRK) - has been showing his sportsmen how to win gold.
This Olympic-standard multi-sport skill-set must be in his DNA. His late dad (Dear Leader, Superior Person, Sun of the Communist Future, Guarantee of the Fatherland's Unification) Kim Jong-il's first-ever round of golf featured five holes-in-one and he
"If he yells 'Hi-ho, Silver!'
one more bloody time...!"
finished 38 under par. He da MAN!!
Well, new DPRK god Kim has toured a bullet factory and shooting range, to offer guidance so his country's marksmen will be more successful. He did the same with his equestrian team...and even went so far as to instruct his top generals in warfare.
Such revelations prompted a UK journalist to call North Korea's London embassy, to ask if Kim was giving formal coaching to Team DPRK (after all, the coach of North Korea's 2010 World Cup squad claimed the late Kim Jong-il was directing the side via an "invisible mobile phone" of his own invention). There was a long pause, then: "I couldn't speak about this." "In that case, is Kim as much the athlete his father was?" "We are not sure," was the tactful response, suggesting news of Kim's sporting genius had yet to filter down to his dominion's more farflung outposts.
"The planes go up THERE!
How hard can it BE?!"
Either way, the 2012 Games is a gold-medal-winning opportunity for DPRK to reinforce its world champion status, for the best sporting failure excuses. At 2010 Football World Cup, the national coach blamed their defeat on the fact that most of the players had been struck by lightning a month before during training! And we all know what happened to their team after that loss! Then just a year beforehand, state media announced the entire side had been poisoned before a World Cup qualifier on the personal orders of the South Korean president.
I look forward to seeing how they'll top those excuses!
2012 Olympics: 27 July - 12 August, London, UK

Saturday, June 16, 2012

English Don't Like Sex With Penguins

No sex please, we're Bwitish!
Times change. And so do our tolerances - thank god!
Accounts of penguins' unusual sexual activities (observed a century ago by one of Scott's polar team) are finally seeing the light of day.
Details including "sexual coercion", recorded by Dr George Levick, were considered so shocking that they were removed from official accounts! Now, scientists understand the biological reasons for the acts that Levick considered "depraved", and UK's Natural History Museum has published his papers unedited in the journal Polar Record. Brace yourself, Enid!
Lotsa sex please, we're penguins!
Levick was an avid biologist and the medical officer on Captain Scott's ill-fated South Pole expedition in 1910. A pioneer in the study of penguins, he was the first to stay for an entire breeding season with a colony. He recorded many details of the lives of Adelie penguins, but some of their activities were just too much for his Edwardian sensibilities.
Too much penguin sex is
melting the Antarctic icecap
He was shocked by what he described as the "depraved" sexual acts of "hooligan" males mating with dead females. Back then, they simply did not have the scientific knowledge to explain what he termed "necrophilia". He was so distressed that he wrote about the "perverted" activities in Greek!
Douglas Russell, curator at the Natural History Museum: "It's full of accounts of sexual coercion, sexual and physical abuse of chicks, non-procreative sex, and finishes with an account of what he considers homosexual behaviour. Fascinating!"
Only two of the original 100 copies of Dr Levick's account survive.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Less Prize - More Peace?

The prize money for Nobel laureates is being pruned.
The Nobel Foundation blames a decade of overspending that's stretched its finances, and forced a reduction in prize value for the first time in 63 years.
Martin Luther King, Peace Prize 1964
The Foundation gives prizes each year in six categories spanning medicine to literature to chemistry. The Nobel Peace Prize, the most popular, has become one of the world's most coveted awards. Winners of the 2012 Nobel Prizes will be paid about $1.1million, a 20% decline from the $1.4m last year.
In recent years, overhead expenses and prize money have outrun investment returns. The last time the payout was lowered was in 1949, and the value of the awards has gradually increased since. Many Nobel laureates, including big-name winners like Barak Obama, have given at least a portion of the prize money to charity.
Aung San Suu Kyi: a long wait...
The move comes as Aung San Suu Kyi prepares to finally receive her Nobel Peace Prize in person this week. The Myanmar opposition leader was awarded the prize in her absence in 1991, but was held under house arrest for most of the past two decades.
The prize-money adjustment may draw some attention in the short term, but it'll take more than cost cuts to dent a Nobel brand that's been well-regarded for over a century.
Alfred Nobel, the Swedish chemist/engineer who invented dynamite, established the prize in 1895 by setting a large portion of his estate aside, to be distributed as prizes to those making contributions for the benefit of mankind.
Ah well, I guess I can tolerate receiving only a million for my "services to literature"...or, as Denis Leary once quipped: "I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize!"

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Talk To Taueki First

The 1840 Treaty of Waitangi is getting a new home.
Intl Affairs Minister Chris Tremain says that NZ’s founding (and contentious) document will be moved from its current home in the Archives NZ building on Mulgrave Street to the newly refurbished National Library building in Molesworth Street, Wgtn., in 2013. It's been on permanent display in the Constitution Suite since 1991: "The redevelopment of the Molesworth Street building creates a fantastic opportunity to showcase it in a newly refurbished public area, giving further access and insight for visitors." It's one of many historical documents to be moved - the library will be renamed to reflect its new role as it becomes home to Archives NZ's key govt documents and national treasures.
The decision follows consultation with iwi, the Maori party and a maori steering group at the National Library....however there's an accusation the govt is mistreating maori by not holding widespread consultation on the move!
Brain at half-mast?
Philip Taueki, a direct descendant of a chief who signed the Treaty, says the Crown should have expanded its consultation to all iwi. He says it did not talk to him before the decision was made. Yeup, he actually said that!!! The govt didn't talk to HIM before making its decision!!!! This from a man who was in court last month for making harrassing early-morning phone calls to his local mayor! Philip Taueki is hereby awarded the 'Dickhead Of The Year Award' for expecting the entire country to stop dead in its tracks, while HE is consulted!
With all the aggro the Treaty causes, Taueki is damn lucky the govt didn't consult ME! I'd have said burn the damn thing!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Sun-Maid Raisin Girl

I was in a supermarket this week, when I spotted Sun-Maid raisins. Oh, the schoolboy memories - Mum used to put a small packet of those raisins into my little lunchbox every day!
The image on the packet, of the girl in the sun bonnet, has been around for a long time... she was Lorraine Collett Petersen.
In 1915, San Francisco (recovering from its major 1906 earthquake) celebrated its rebirth by hosting the Panama-Pacific International Exposition. Lorraine attended this with some other girls as representatives of a recently-formed raisin company. They handed out samples while wearing white blouses with blue piping and BLUE sunbonnets. According to Sun-Maid:
"In May 1915, she was discovered drying her black hair curls in the sunny backyard of her parents’ home in California. She was asked to pose for a painting, holding a basket of fresh grapes. This striking image was first applied to packages of Sun-Maid raisins in 1916."
As Lorraine recalled: "It was only after we returned home that I was seen wearing my mother’s RED bonnet in my backyard, and it was the suggestion of the wife of an executive from the San Francisco Exposition that the bonnet colour be changed from blue to red, because red reflected the colour of the sun better."
The Sun-Maid brand and Sun-Maid Girl trademarks became widely recognised in a few short years after their introduction: there was even a calendar made. Sun-Maid raisins were the No.1 brand in America - trusted worldwide for their quality, good taste and freshness.
After modeling for the original trademark, Lorraine was given the watercolour - she kept it and her mother’s original red sunbonnet in her home until 1974, when she presented both to Sun-Maid. Her treasured red sunbonnet (by then faded to pink) was donated to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC in 1988. A replica is on display in the lobby of Sun-Maid's California HQ. The treasured original watercolour painting is today kept safely in a concrete vault at Sun-Maid’s headquarters.
The classic trademark has been modernised several times through the years but has always stayed true to the original image of Lorraine Collett. 2012 is Sun-Maid's 100th year.
Lorraine Petersen went on to run a restaurant and later converted a hospital into a nursing home. She died in 1983, aged 90.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Organ Donating - Ultimate Recycling

Here's an interesting suggestion: donate your 'bits' when you're dead - get a free funeral.
Govt-paid funerals is an idea being floated to encourage more Kiwis to become organ donors. Andy Tookey from GiveLife NZ (a organisation pushing for a more effective organ donor system) says donors need to be rewarded, and he believes organ donors' funerals should be paid for by the Govt: "More people would think about being an organ donor, if it would take the financial burden off their family at that traumatic time."
Health Minister Tony Ryall announced last week a $4m budget for boosting organ donations. Last year 186 people received transplants in NZ, but the minister says "many people are still waiting for organs to be donated in order to have a transplant - over 600 for kidney replacements alone." Andy Tookey says around half of families choose not to donate their loved ones' organs, so the Govt needs to focus on the other half. Around 52% of drivers have 'donor' on their licence, which is how NZers can currently agree to become a posthumous donor.
A frequently-asked question by those considering becoming a donor: can my family over-rule my wishes about organ donation? Upon your death, your family will be asked if they know of your wishes. Families say the decision is much easier when there's been previous talk, and most families do respect their loved one's wishes.
Another common question: if I agree to organ donation, (e.g.: on my driver's licence) what organs/tissues will be removed? Only the organs/tissues that your family consents to will be removed. Your family can consent to all, or be more specific. And furthermore, organs/tissues will not be removed for research purposes, unless the family consents.
If you're thinking of becoming an organ donor, visit the Organ Donation NZ website, and talk with your family so they know your wishes. Let's face it, you won't need those organs when you're gone - but you could give the gift of life to others.
Call it 'the ultimate recycling'.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Tolaga Bay Wharf Played Vital Role

If the thought of a concrete wharf doesn't move the earth for you, it sure did for many others.
The historic Tolaga Bay Wharf, on the North Island's East Coast north of Gisborne, was rededicated last week, during an event to mark the Transit of Venus.
The ferro-concrete landmark had been gradually deteriorating and faced demolition in the late 1990s, before a group of locals set up the Save The Wharf Charitable Trust, attracting donations from all over the world and putting Tolaga Bay on the tourist map.
Built between 1926-1929 when road access from Gisborne was poor, the wharf was needed by farmers who relied on a small wharf on a continuously silting tidal river. Costing a huge £60,331, it was an impressive feat of engineering and considered daring to be built on an open coastline, rather than in a protected harbour. Extending 660m to a depth where small coastal steamers could berth, it's the longest reinforced concrete wharf and jetty in the Sthrn Hemisphere.
The wharf served the rural district for nearly 40 years as the main route in for supplies, machinery, fuel, fertiliser and grain seed, and to export livestock, butter and maize. It played a major role in the development of local agriculture. Ironically it also brought about its own demise, being the arrival point for building materials needed to open up the district's roads.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Richard and Roscommon

A while ago, I wrote about an intriguing plaque on a free-standing belfry, beside the Anglican Church of St Mary the Virgin in Addington, Christchurch. The plaque reads:
This belfry is erected by Friends, Parishioners
and The Lancashire "Besses O' Th' Barn" Band
to the memory of New Zealand's Great Statesman and Humanist
13 years (1893-1906) Prime Minister of this colony
Born June 22nd 1845 at Eccleston Hill Lancashire
Died at sea Lat.33°, 55'S. Long.150°, 08'E
S.S. "Oswestery Grange" Sunday June 10th 1906
Buried at Observatory Hill Wellington June 21st 1906 Aetat 61
My previous post investigated the "Besses O' Th' Barn" Band from Lancashire. But I'm also interested in the reference to S.S.Oswestery Grange...
"King Dick", NZ Premier Richard J.Seddon, died aboard Oswestery Grange, today in history 10th.June 1906, while coming back to NZ from Australia. The belfry plaque is very detailed, even down to the exact latitude/longitude of the position of Seddon's demise.
But what of the ship itself? David Lawson, a Welsh journalist, writes:
"Oswestry Grange was built in Belfast in 1902, more than 6,500 tons...a single-funnelled, four-masted steamer, 450ft long and capable of 13 knots and with accommodation for 39 passengers. Oswestry took her place on the Federal-Houlder-Shire Line service travelling from Britain to Australia and New Zealand. As one of its flagships, Oswestry Grange often transported dignitaries including NZ’s greatest and longest-serving prime minister, Richard John Seddon. It was just before setting foot on Oswestry in 1906 that Seddon, returning from Australia, sent a famous telegram to the Victorian Premier: 'Just leaving for God’s own country'. Seddon would never see NZ again, dying aboard ship the following day, but his description of the country has endured to this day."

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Drones For Google Maps?

Big Brother is watching you even closer now!
Google has small spyplanes taking hi-res pix above some major cities - the latest step in its plan to create a digital map of the world.
Google's using a fleet of planes owned and operated by contractors, flown exclusively for Google. Asked about potential privacy issues, it said it was like all aerial imagery, and that the type of pictures have been used for a long time. Google's used planes for photos in the past, but not systemically like this before.
For years Google's had camera-equipped cars roaming the globe, taking panoramic pictures for its mapping service Street View: this raised privacy concerns here in NZ as well as other countries. You may recall in 2010, Google admitted the cars had accidentally collected emails, passwords and other personal data from people's home wireless networks. The Street View cars have driven more than 8million km/5million miles photographing streets all over the world, for the one billion active users of its maps.
When asked if it had plans to use unmanned aerial drones to gather 3D photos, Google dodged the question, saying drones were still being evaluated by the Federal Aviation Administration: "That's a larger can of worms that we're not going to get into here." Yes or No would have been more reassuring.
So there's already global satellite imagery on-line, Google Earth, Street View with cutesy 3D buildings, coupled with publically-supplied photographs of locations via Panoramio, now what sounds like a highly-detailed flight simulator. With such a deluge of hi-detail imagery available, I have one simple question: WHY?
No-one spends this much money just to share pretty pictures...

Friday, June 8, 2012

Could They Somehow Be Related #5?

Gok Wan, curvy femmes' fashion hero, dashed into NZ recently.
Justin Bieber, pre-pubescent girls' crush, dashes into NZ in July.
Similar hair, similar specs, similar trip:
is Justin just a Wanna-be-Wan...
or does Gok's smirk hide more than he's letting on?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

IWC: Break Out The Beach Towels!

Thar she blows!
At the end of this month, Panama hosts the International Whaling Commission's AGM: a tired irritable perpetually-deadlocked ritual.
It's been two and a half decades since Japan was forced to abandon commercial whaling by a 1986 IWC moratorium, but still it continues. Japan hunts for "research": its scientists have yet to conclude whether whale meat tastes better with soy sauce or ginger. But most of the meat ends up in supermarkets, restaurants and on the nation's growing stockpile of unwanted whale kebabs. Revenue funds more research to raise more revenue to fund more research...
The anti-whaling camp demands an end to the killing on humane and conservationist grounds, but neither side can score a victory KO. Rhetoric, grand-standing, walk-outs and vote-buying have replaced debate and compromise...and the killing continues.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Olympics Puts Icelandic Seafood On Ice

The first gold medal of the Olympics has already been won, before the Games have even begun!
UK group the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Soc.(WDCS) has stopped food, from an Icelandic company with links to whaling, being sold at this year’s Olympics.
WDCS has had HB Grandi (one of Iceland's largest seafood companies with strong links to whaling) banned from supplying seafood to the 2012 London Olympics.
David Stubbs, head of sustainability for the Games, confirms that seafood for athletes, staff and the public has no links with HB Grandi.
Kristjan Loftsson, the president of Iceland’s only fin whaling company Hvalur, also sits on the board of HB Grandi. These two companies could not be cosier: Hvalur uses HB Grandi facilities to process fin whale products, and the two companies share information on the location of fish. More than half of HB Grandi fish exports go directly to the UK and the rest of Europe.
WDCS, concerned about the link between the two firms, has spent the last two years campaigning in the UK for the removal of the company's products from supermarkets and fishmongers. You may recall in 2011, UK seafood supplier Findus marked HB Grandi goods unacceptable across its entire supply chain. Not surprisingly, there is no mention of either ban on HB Grandi's website!
Hvalur has an annual quota of 150-170 fin whales and, in recent years, has exported almost 2,000 tonnes of whale meat to Japan, cynically creating a lucrative export market for this endangered species. Although Loftsson recently announced an end to the killing of fin, his ships continue to commercially hunt minke whales.
Congratulations to both the WDCS and London 2012, for taking action against the company. If petitions and protest action won't stop these bastards, perhaps loss of income may sink more tangible teeth into their wallet!