Thursday, December 25, 2014

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Finally Some KiwiRail Accountability?

Trying to recover from its annus horribilis, KiwiRail has been quietly laying off many of its most senior managers.
A restructure that began last October has hit up to 65 people - including senior engineers, administrative staff and middle and senior management. Among those 'executed' were passenger train boss Deborah Hume, engineering and infrastructure boss Rick van Barneveld and Interislander boss Thomas Davis.
Staff heard about the restructure in October, but no announcement was made publically and KiwiRail only confirmed the redundancies to the media this week.
KiwiRail has had a tough year, on the rails and the water. In August, it reported a loss of $248 million for the year to June, with ongoing maintenance problems with its pathetically-performing Cook Strait ferries (and the fault-ridden temporary replacement) costing the company tens of millions. In the latest in a string of disasters for the Interislander division, the Aratere again missed a departure this month because of an electrical fault, leaving hundreds stranded for hours.
On land, KiwiRail also ran into difficulty, with the discovery of asbestos in 40 of its new freight locomotives in March, forcing it to shed 20% of its fleet while the locomotives were repaired.
So instead of a much-needed governmental enquiry into its running, KiwiRail seems to have simply decided to clear out most of the top shelf – who had overall responsibility for the farcical running of the company – and start afresh in the New Year.
One can only hope this will be evidenced quickly, in the daily running of the otherwise global-joke Cook Strait ferries…

Friday, December 19, 2014

Blonde Bimbo's Burger Ring Blunder

"With this burger
ring, I thee wed."
Was it because she was blonde?
Was it because she was Australian?
Whitney Beseler will no doubt be remembered for all of...ohhhh...15 minutes, for the "most embarrassing moment of her life" on the tv show, Millionaire Hot Seat Australia.
The P.E. teacher/Contiki tour manager from Ballarat didn't write history as the one who took home a million smackeroos. She'll be remembered as the blonde who didn't get the super-simple $100 question right!
She was asked by host Eddie McGuire: "Which of these is not a piece of jewellery commonly worn to symbolise a relationship between two people?"
The choices: anniversary ring, engagement ring, wedding ring and...burger ring.
Tough one, huh? Beseler confidentially locked in 'anniversary ring'.
Bzzzzzzztt! Time's up!
Only then did Whitney realise her mistake: "Oh my God, burger ring! Oh, Eddie - that's the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to me. Can we cut and start again please?" can't.

Mind you, in the 'dumbness' stakes, she's got a looooong way to go, to beat Miss South Carolina in Miss Teen USA 2007!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Christchurch Drivers Can Be Dicks!

Christchurch motorists often get a bad rap...and it seems it's fully justified!
One local is on a crusade to document some of the city's worst driving. Footage of illegal parking and absurd overtaking manoeuvres feature on his Shocking Christchurch Drivers Facebook page that has attracted around 13,000 likes.
The page's administrator - who would only be named Steve - has posted pix of vehicles double-parked, in disabled spaces or parked too close to others. He hopes drivers whose vehicles feature on his page will change their behaviour due to the public shaming, or that police will take action in serious cases.
Christchurch police say they could investigate serious roading incidents on social media, but typically need to receive a complaint and evidence from someone.
Steve's local efforts have been reported on the DailyMail On-Line website, as he joins a growing list of people globally, who're pissed off at dickhead drivers. The number plate and any identifying features are always published to ensure maximum embarrassment.
And here's one I personally spotted last weekend...
14 Dec.2014, Hornby Mall, Christchurch
Not only is the car straddling FOUR spaces,
but one of those spaces is for disabled drivers!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Qantas: The Bad Ol' Days Return?

The Sydney-Dallas Qantas flight QF7 was forced to return on Monday, due to on-board system faults.
This was the third Qantas aircraft diverted in less than 24 hours...and soooo reminiscent of the long run of faults that Qantas never quite laid-to-rest in 2011.
Qantas says this technical fault impacted seat power, in-flight entertainment system and some of the toilets: "While the aircraft could have continued flying safely to Dallas, the decision was made to return to Sydney in the interests of passenger comfort, on what is a long flight." The plane was about four hours into its journey when it turned back. The Sydney-Dallas route is the world's longest non-stop route, taking 14 hours 50 to the US, and 15 hours 30 on the return flight.
In an eventful 24 hours, two other Qantas planes made emergency landings at Perth, in one case with dozens of passengers needing medical treatment. Crew noticed an unusual odour,and all passengers disembarked after the unscheduled landing. While Qantas denies any reports of passengers being affected, St John Ambulance paramedics treated 75 people at the airport for smoke inhalation.
Yea....and nothing happened? Riiiiiiiight!
Earlier, a Dubai-Sydney Qantas A380 was diverted to Perth when the air conditioning crapped out over the Indian Ocean.
So, it a case of "Here we go again?"

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Forsyth Barr Finds Out Its Fate

Finally, an answer to the Christchurch skyline's biggest unanswered question:
what is happening to the Forsyth Barr Tower?
Well, the earthquake-damaged 19-storey office tower at the corner of Armagh and Colombo Sts., Victoria Square, will be converted into a 200-room hotel with restaurants and a bar.
A hotel chain has signed a deal with the building's owners to convert the 1988-designed tower, and it will open in 2016 as the new Crowne Plaza Hotel.
You may recall the old five-star 297-room Crowne Plaza Hotel on the opposite side of Victoria Square (near the Chch Town Hall) was demolished post-EQ in 2012.
This replacement will be the third Crowne Plaza in NZ for the chain, which is part of the global InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG). With five suites, 195 guest rooms, two restaurants, a bar, fitness centre, and function rooms, it will be aimed at business and leisure travellers. It will be the CBD's biggest hotel, pushing the 171-room Rendezvous into
Crowne Plaza demolition, 2012
Forsyth Barr Tower's owners, local investors and developers MC Christchurch Holdings, bought the property earlier this year from an investment group who had offered it for sale as-is-where-is, after taking a large insurance payout.
It certainly makes sense for this building to be bought by a hotel chain, because it would be difficult for anyone to build to the height of Forsyth Barr now. Of course, major remedial work to bring it up to compliance will need to be undertaken (one cannot forget that in the Feb.2011 EQ the tower's stairs collapsed, trapping 15 people on the 6th floor).
There's also the logistical issue of how tour coaches will be able to pick up and drop off guests, given the corner location of the tower. They surely wouldn't park over where the collapsed Copthorne Hotel used to be, and make passengers walk in winter weather to the new Crowne Plaza?
I'm sure, before a multi-million dollar conversion like this is begun, IHG would have considered every angle long and hard. Still, I'll just whisper quietly...*caveat emptor*...
Victoria Square: Copthorne Hotel (now gone) and Forsyth Barr Tower

Friday, December 5, 2014

Maori Veto Vehicles On Volcanoes

NONE shall pass...coz Rangi says so!
Hands up, if you didn't see this coming!
Driving to the top of Auckland's volcanic cones is ending, starting with a ban on all vehicles up Mt Eden. This may be followed by a ban on other volcanoes with road access - Mt Wellington, No Tree Hill, Mt Albert, Mt Roskill and Mt Victoria.
A new authority (heavily weighted to a maori perspective) has approved extending a 2011 ban - on buses driving to the Mt Eden summit - to all vehicles.
But Tourism Export Council CEO Lesley Immink warns the move is not in line with the work of Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development to boost city tourism. She claims many coaches no longer go to Mt Eden, and instead give tourists the harbour view from the Michael Joseph Savage Memorial at Bastion Point: most Asian
groups don't want to walk 200m up to the summit, so their tour companies avoid Mt Eden.
Interesting that 2/3 of those responding to a NZ Herald strawpoll felt vehicular access should be allowed.
A 'how and when' report will be presented to the Tupuna Maunga o Tamaki Makaurau Authority in April for rubber stamping. It's likely vehicles will be only allowed halfway up the volcano to a kiosk area where there'll be parking and turning: people will then walk 200m to the summit. Still figuring out how to get elderly and disabled up there...oh yea, and rules for bikes too.
Hmmm, wonder what the rules will be, regarding maori-operated nicky-nacky-plastic-tiki stalls at that kiosk area!
One council representative said no-one was allowed to drive around Stonehenge in England, and the same should apply to Mt Eden. She forgets however that the walk from parking to Stonehenge is short and flat, not 200m up a 45-degree slope! "Maungawhau is a respectful place and it gives reverence to walk up to look at the view..." but it only has spirituality if you're the minority who actually believe it's some slumbering demi-god!
In fact, given that the hilltop fortress was abandoned about 1700, there was no valid maori ownership claim to be made on this overgrown pile of scoria! But the PC Brigade gave control to the bros a few years no use crying over spilt puha, eh cuz!
Still, what's the bet we'll next be subjected to demands for koha (donation) for our wee stroll up to the top! If so, how much of that will go into summit preservation...and how much into the local iwi's KFC fund? Chuuurrr!!!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Stupid Is As Stupid Does...Part Two

Rise up, brothers in blood-letting!
Come to sunny Hawke's Bay and learn how to behead people!
A Hawke's Bay Muslim is calling on "souljahs of Allah" to make their way to Hastings and join him in forming the "Islamic State of Aotearoa".
Souljah Stupid
Te Amorangi Kireka-Whaanga heads the Aotearoa Maori Muslim Association: you'll recall I blogged about this pillick last month.
Last weekend he re-named his merry band the Islamic State of Aotearoa - and when you consider the Islamic State's violent reputation in the Middle East, this MUST ring warning bells.
Souljah Stupid has pledged support for IS on social media, saying it'll bring down Western civilisation. IS has been taking over cities in Syria and Iraq and conducting high-profile beheadings of hostages...all peace, love and mungbeans! But Souljah Stupid maintains he's "a peace advocate trying to achieve my goal of winning a Nobel peace prize". Riiiiigghhtt!
On Facebook, he urged "Muslim souljahs, warriors and followers of prophet Muhammad to make their way to Hastings and blow everyone away with the beauty and magic of love, truth, wisdom and divine blessings. Out with the old and in with the new, let's radiate the power of truth, the magic of it upon the starving souls of mankind."
A member of Hawke's Bay's sole mosque says Souljah Stupid's views do not reflect those of the wider Muslim community. Known as "Izhaq" to local Muslims, this idiot does not worship there regularly and members think he's gone a bit ga-ga.
No normal, law-abiding NZer accepts there's any time or place for this kind of behaviour. I'm confident SIS has Stupid under close watch. I just hope, if a moment arises when decisive action is needed, they do not hesitate...
The future of sunny Hawke's Bay...?

Monday, December 1, 2014

NZ Herald Does It Again

On-line this morning, NZ Herald reported on new driver licence laws which came into force today.
A factual read about the tightening-up of 'evidence of identity' requirements for actually gaining a licence. However...
the Herald's glaring error was plain for all to see!
Instead of sourcing a photo of a NZ driver, or simply photographing a Herald staffer sitting behind the wheel of a NZ car in a NZ carpark, the editor accessed Thinkstock, and purchased a stock pic of a motorist in a left-hand-drive vehicle...a sight so relatively rare in this country that the photo mistake stood out like the proverbial dog's appendages!
The American site Thinkstock "offers millions of premium photos from Getty Images, iStock and our worldwide image partners....designed to give you the freedom to focus on being creative."
Obviously Thinkstock is a quicker option for story lay-out, than just tasking a photographer to the staff carpark. Perhaps NZ Herald needs a little less focus on creative convenience, and a bit more on overall accuracy?
What does it take for media to get the little things right?

Friday, November 28, 2014

Japanese Women Compared To Whalemeat?

Australia's anti-whaling like restricting the right of Japanese women to wear the kimono!
Joji Morishita, Japan's chief negotiator at the International Whaling Commission (IWC), says Japan will defy "eco-imperialist" anti-whaling countries and resume killing in the Southern Ocean in late 2015.
This contravenes the March 2014 ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ), that Japan could not justify its "research" killing of whales.
Note the similarity...?
No, neither do I!

Morishita says international objections to whaling compare to restrictions on the wearing of kimono (!!!): "The average Japanese woman wears kimono perhaps 2-3 in her lifetime. Those ceremonial kimono cost millions of yen, so some might argue they're a waste of money. But what if another country then said that only a small number of women could wear kimono?"
Say WHAT?? Such a bizarre argument!!
The world court withdrew Japan's whaling licence in the Antarctic, forcing it to devise a new programme it claims has solid scientific foundations. In its revised scheme, Japan will kill 333 minke whales in the Southern Ocean next year, and a total of 3,996 over 12 years. The quota is significantly lower than the 850 minke it targeted each year, until Australia's legal challenge at The Hague put a temporary halt to the hunt.
However environmental groups have condemned the new plans, saying the hunt is still commercial – not science.
Morishita claims Japan is only interested in scientific proof that sustainable use of an "ordinary marine resource" is possible. He says weak demand for whale meat among Japanese consumers is no reason to end the slaughter. (A dramatic drop in demand in recent decades means thousands of tonnes of meat have been left unsold.) He fully expects the whaling fleet will leave for the Antarctic at the end of next year.
But the resumption of Antarctic whaling could be short-lived. From 2016, 'scientific' whale hunts must first be reviewed and approved by the general membership of the IWC, the majority of which is anti-whaling. The next hunt will not be subject to the requirement, because it's due to start a year before the IWC's next meeting.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Attractive Pedestrians Are Bad For Your Health!

The survey proves what we all knew - that good-looking pedestrians are a distraction for kiwi drivers!
A new survey has also found one in five NZers is still texting while driving, despite this being illegal.
The Drivers Index Survey (which asked 1,000 regular NZ drivers 18yrs+ to rate 12 distractions) found nearly half of younger drivers 18-24 break the texting law.
20% of drivers said people outside the car were also a major problem, with 25% of men admitting they're likely to find attractive pedestrians a distraction than women do.
So here's the AA's definitive Top Ten Driver Distractions:
1st equal: Texting, and reading a newspaper or magazine
2. Applying make-up, shaving or other personal grooming
3. Talking on a mobile phone WITHOUT a hands-free kit
4. Changing the radio/iPod/MP3 player
5. Eating while driving
6. Children in the car
7th equal: Talking on a mobile phone WITH a hands-free kit, and using GPS or other navigation system
8. Billboards /outdoor advertising
9. People outside the car
10. Passenger in the car (sheep were not mentioned!)

But NZers are not alone - up to a million UK drivers crash their cars while perving at pedestrians.
Distracted Brit motorists cause 921,840 crashes per year (roughly 2,500 per day!)- with many of these checking out sexy people.
Not surprisingly, men are the worst offenders in the UK as well. 60% admitted to being distracted by attractive women. 12% of women said an attractive man would divert their gaze from the road.
And it's not just the sight of genetically-lucky people: even the sight of a billboard with a pretty lady or bloke can be an issue - 21% admitted it! You may recall about 10yrs back in Auckland, the gridlock-causing billboard of the Elle McPherson Intimates Collection, unveiled by two studs dressed only in boxers?!!!
This behaviour gets worse in summer when there's more flesh on display. Maybe manufacturers need to install cold showers in cars!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Changes To Our Change

Put on your sunnies: New Zealand's new banknotes bring more splash when you flash your cash.
They're so bright they even have their own website to promote 'em.
I can imagine many people may initially consider them as excessively vivid forgeries!
Our main themes remain the same, but the colours are brighter with more security features. Plus there's some PC tokenism, with the maori name for New Zealand and the Reserve Bank appearing for the first time.
It's our first banknote upgrade since 1999 (when we switched from paper notes to polymer ones printed by Australia). The newies will be made in Canada for five years. So...good day, eh!
New notes for old...
With about 148 million banknotes in circulation (= NZ$4.7 billion), the oldies will be phased out as they're returned to the Reserve Bank. Target date for release of the new $5 and $10 is Oct.2015, with the $20, $50 and $100 notes released in April 2016. Both the new and current notes will circulate together, and of course both will be legal tender.
On our current notes are Edmund Hillary, explorer ($5/orange); Kate Sheppard, suffragette ($10/blue); The Queen ($20/green); Apirana Ngata, maori politician ($50, purple); Ernest Rutherford, physicist ($100, red)...with various birds, plants and other pretty pics to link into the themes.
But the new images appear to have been "tweeked". Hillary looks even more manly and rugged - is that possible?! - Ngata and Rutherford look 'smoother' (though I still couldn't identify them if my life depended on it!), Sheppard looks softer and more feminine (probably anathema to her values!), but the Queen...sorry, darls, the artists have done you no favours!
Interesting that these designs have been assessed by a range of folk (obviously security experts, equipment manufacturers etc) but also - get this - design, history and cultural experts, "to ensure they reflect NZ's culture and history"! Perhaps there's a subtle agenda by those experts: ease in some maori words, make a fool of the monarchy, nudge us towards PM John Key's 'Banana Republic' dream...?
Well, at least we haven't gone as far as THIS suggestion (below)...
Oh, my Lorde!!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Frog In A Blender

How does the old joke go?
Q: What's green and wizzes round and round very fast?
A: A frog in a blender!
Peruvians recommend freshly-blended FROGS as a cure for stress and
special of the day
low sex drives!
Villagers in the Andes have a traditional cure-all that they use to treat everything from a slow sex drive and high stress levels, to asthma and bronchitis: blended frog juice. Many locals living in Peru and Bolivia believe it's the ultimate fix for almost any illness.
The most popular recipe calls for the use of whole frogs, which are beaten to death and skinned before being put into the blender. Many local food vendors then add a number of other healthy ingredients, such as carrots, Peruvian maca root and honey, before blending the mixture until it is smooth. The finished product is usually light green in colour and is served to customers right there on the spot.
"Jump, Forrest, JUMP!"
The Medical College of Lima reports there is no scientific evidence that frog juice is a cure for anything, despite its continuing popularity within Andean culture.
And unfortunately, the juice requires the use of one specific type of frog... thetelmatobius culeus, from remote Lake Titicaca, a species that's listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Stand Tall, Christchurch!

Giraffes are roaming through Christchurch and beyond.
This one's in Kaiapoi
"Christchurch Stand Tall" is a mass-appeal public art project organised by UK organisation, Wild in Art.
More than fifty 2.5m fibreglass giraffes have been painted and decorated by local artists and planted in parks, streets and open spaces. Christchurch schools have decorated another 50 baby giraffes, and the detail that has been put into the decorating is quite
Such detail!
Wild in Art has produced several other public displays around the world. Liverpool (UK) had penguins, Sydney had rhinos and Bristol hosted Gromits - from Wallace and Gromit.
The multi-coloured giraffes will be on display over summer and then auctioned off, with proceeds going to charities.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Interislander: Just GIVE UP!

Another nail in the Interislander ferry fleet coffin...
but surely it's hammering these in by itself?!
Sailing in troubled waters
Last Thursday the 31yr.old Arahura lost power in Wellington Harbour, and began drifting towards rocks. (Lucky this didn't happen during the big storm earlier in the week! Another Wahine disaster in-waiting...?)
The ship had completed its crossing and was turning to enter the berth when power was lost. Two tugboats had to help it dock.
This follows delays over Labour Weekend: Arahura was overloaded with passengers while in Wellington Harbour, and had to return to port to offload freight. Surely that instance could've been avoided by staff keeping a closer watch on how many passengers had booked to come aboard?
It's simple maths, something KiwiRail seems unable to calculate.
Look at the numbers: number of incidents + number of days lost + cost of repairs + loss of public confidence, and let's not forget to add in the rising costs of maintaining these tired vessels...and KiwiRail may (eventually) reach the same conclusion as the majority of the travelling public.
The fleet is CRAP and a NATIONAL EMBARRASSMENT! The vessels are no more use than as naval targets! Scrap these before something REALLY bad happens!
What with Aratere's broken propeller, and the temporary substitute Stena Alegra also proving itself to be a rip-off, Interislander's entire operation deserves a government enquiry!

Friday, November 7, 2014

America, The Ignorant?

The Star-Spangled Banner was sung by the Chicago fans...
The haka was pumped out by the opposition...
and the slaughter began!
But wait: WHERE did that opposing team come from?
A Chicago newspaper has apologised after delivering the ultimate insult to the All Blacks and New Zealand - calling them Australians!
Check out the headline that followed last weekend's match!

To its credit, the Chicago Sun-Times added a correction to its online story the next day...but that did not counteract its incompetance.
For the record, the NEW ZEALAND All Blacks completely blew away the United States, 74-6!
Yeup, 74-6...did I mention the mighty US was thrashed 74-6?
Just sayin'...

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Mass Stranding At Whakatane

This morning dawned on more than 20 dead pilot whales in the Bay of Plenty.
Yesterday, two pods of pilot whales were seen in Ohiwa Harbour near Whakatane. Some of the whales beached themselves on the ocean side of the harbour. A badly injured whale was found up the harbour channel early yesterday afternoon. It's companions were probably concerned for its well-being, causing the mass stranding.
By 7am this morning, about 20 whales were dead, half of those euthanased by Dept.of Conservation (DoC) officers. A helicopter prevented more deaths by shepherding others to safety: the noise turned the whales around, and they went back out the harbour mouth.
Experienced volunteers from around the country have arrived to help save the remaining whales. Ohiwa's next high tide is at around 6pm this evening, 1½ hours before sunset.
Mass pilot whale strandings are more common in the Golden Bay area, the Far North, and the Chatham Islands. Most strandings occur in spring and summer.
UPDATE: 06 Nov.2014 - Rescue mission fails - all whales are lost.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Maori Muslim Radical: Stupid Is As Stupid Does

The spectre of maori radicals has raised its ugly head again, with an influential NZ maori Muslim openly supporting the Islamic State
rabid radical
Te Amorangi Kireka-Whaanga heads the Aotearoa Maori Muslim Assn. In 2010, he was named in the world's 500 most influential Muslims by a Jordanian group.
He says NZ fighters should not be stopped from joining IS. His Facebook page - adorned with IS images - has been repeatedly shut down by administrators.
Islamic State has been taking over towns in Syria and Iraq, killing and beheading hostages, as it tries to impose its rabid ultra-radical view of Islam.
Spoiling for a fight
Kireka-Whaanga says Muslims are being killed all over the world, the United Nations "doesn't care" and he understands IS's actions. Ahhhhh, so this is all about defending the Muslim faith, is it? Nothing to do with his own violent tendencies and Mongrel Mob gang connections?? Or that he may have a poor-little-hard-done-by maori-underdog axe to grind against the oppressive colonial white pigdog NZ govt.???
Federation of Islamic Associations (FIANZ) met last week with the govt.over public harassment concerns, while police asked community leaders to keep an eye out for changing behaviour among potential radicals.
Kireka-Whaanga says PM John Key should be worried, because IS was going to "bring down Western civilisation". He says his family wants to move to Syria but he expects his passport would be cancelled.
Key is due to make a speech tomorrow, outlining the govt's plans to combat foreign fighters.
Security Intelligence Service director Rebecca Kitteridge says IS urgings, that "every Muslim should find a crusader and kill him", brings the threat closer to home than NZers think: "There're people we're concerned about here..." She refused to discuss individuals, but these are not empty words. Any civil libertarian wanting to argue the toss need only recall Daryl Jones from Christchurch (aka Muslim bin John), killed by a drone in Yemen in November 2013.
One of the few recognised terrorist experts in this region - Dr Rohan Gunaratna, Head of the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research - said in 2005 that there were up to 10 potential cells here in NZ. That number is sure to have increased in light of current global events.
FIANZ vice-prez Jahved Khan says Kireka-Whaanga is well-known to them but he doesn't believe NZ has anything to fear: "We are concerned about his statements but we're not really concerned that he will do something vicious."
Ironically, on the same day this story broke, the headlines read:
IS Militants kill 322 Iraqis, including women and children, and dump their bodies down a well.
So we have nothing to fear from IS? Riiiiigghhtt!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Norway Whale Meat to Iceland

US-based Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) say Norwegian whaling company Lofothval wants to ship up to 10 tons of whale meat to Iceland!
The export request comes barely a month after the US raised concerns about Norway's escalating whaling and trade in whale products, during the International Whaling Commission meeting.
Norwegian whalers killed 731 minke whales in 2014, the most since the country resumed commercial whaling in 1993, and the hunt yielded a record 871 metric tons of whale meat. However, domestic sales of whale meat are struggling, so the whalers want increased exports, claiming international trade in whale meat is needed to help ensure the survival of the industry.
Susan Millward, AWI executive director: "Norway has systematically increased its cruel slaughter of whales in recent years. The US recently imposed diplomatic measures against Iceland for its whaling
Loftsson: blood money
and trade in whale products, and these same penalties should be imposed on Norway."
And if this whale meat reaches Iceland, we all know where it'll go from there! This latest Lofothval request follows a huge 2,100 ton fin whale meat shipment from Iceland to Japan, executed by Kristján Loftsson, managing director of the Hvalur fin whaling company. Loftsson, who is also chair of the Icelandic seafood giant HB Grandi, is a shareholder in the Lofothval company.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Putting The Sheen On Ocean Research

Award-winning actor Martin Sheen teamed up with conservation group Sea Shepherd this month in California, to launch a new research vessel for the group.
Sheen Snr's support comes hard on the heels of the support given by his son, Charlie Sheen, to SS's confrontational efforts against the Faroe Islands' grindadrap (pilot whale slaughter) this season.
However,as you can see from the photos, this boat is not built for clashing with whaling crews in the Southern Oceans. The 80-foot oceangoing ketch R/V Martin Sheen will focus on battling maritime litter like plastics in the world's oceans.
This vessel carries the prefix of R/V because it'll be a research vessel. Unlike Japan's so-called "research" whaling vessels, this ship will be engaged in legitimate research — including documentation and investigation of ocean-borne pollution.
Golden Globe and Emmy-winning Apocalypse Now and West Wing actor Martin Sheen: "Plastic has become the deadliest predator of the sea. If we fail to clean up the plastic mess that humans have made and stop the pollution ... we face the potential extinction of many species of sea life."
Martin Sheen's been a long-time supporter of Sea Shepherd: he sits on Sea Shepherd USA's Media and Arts Advisory Board and has been friends with SS founder Paul Watson for decades.
For more on ocean plastics, click (here) and (here).

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Finding ANZAC Family Members

A website featuring the service records of every New Zealand and Australian soldier who served in World War I launches today.
In this, the 100th.year since the beginning of World War I, the joint
Kiwis in Gallipoli trenches, WWI
project of Archives New Zealand and the National Archives of Australia will feature digitised service dossiers, photographs and other records.
The Discovering Anzacs website will also feature records from the Boer War, and others behind the scenes including munition workers, internees and merchant sailors.
The website will be launched at a ceremony in Canberra.
You can access this treasure trove of ANZAC military history at:

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Air NZ: One Last Bite

Air New Zealand's latest safety video takes one last bite at the Middle-earth cake.
Dwarves, orcs and elves take flight once more in The Most Epic Safety Video Ever Made - which will be progressively rolled out ahead of the December release of the final film in the trilogy, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.
Cast members from all three Hobbit films - Elijah Wood (Frodo Baggins), Dean O'Gorman (Fili the Dwarf) and Sylvester McCoy (Radagast) - star in the video. It also features cameos from director Sir Peter Jackson and Weta Workshop co-founder Sir Richard Taylor.
The safety video was shot over six days across a number of NZ's Middle-earth locations, including Hobbiton and Central Otago, both of which appear in The Hobbit trilogy.
Sir Peter Jackson: "Air New Zealand has created yet another fantastic video to celebrate The Hobbit films.I had a lot of fun on the set with the team and look forward to seeing the video on board."

Friday, October 24, 2014

Fish And Chips - A Whole New Meaning!

A woman in Colombia used a rather bizarre means of contraception recently - she inserted a potato inside her private parts to avoid getting pregnant!
Who needs Durex?
The 22yr-old was hospitalised with severe pain early this month and the cause...was her potato contraceptive.
The nurse initially thought it was some sort of practical joke when she saw roots emerging from the woman's vagina, but the patient had indeed inserted the potato to prevent pregnancy - on the advice of her mother! Obviously, intullugunce does not run strongly in this family...
About two weeks after insertion, the woman suffered intense abdominal pain because the starchy tuber had germinated and was growing roots. Although plants do not normally grow inside the human body, the spud did so because it's a tuber that thrives in the dark.
Fortunately it was a relatively easy job to remove the plant, and doctors expect no lasting effects on the woman's body.
Unconventional means of preventing pregnancy are not just confined to Third World countries. A survey involving 1,500 UK women aged 25-34 revealed that some use sandwich bags, cling film and latex gloves in place of condoms!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

One Debt To Bind Them All

Movie trilogy The Hobbit has so far cost nearly NZ$1-billion!
Financial documents filed this month show production costs up 'til March hit NZ$934 million. This includes filming and digital effects completed over several years but not this year's production costs.
The docs give an unusually detailed account of a mega Hollywood production's costs. Typically, studios both under- and overestimate costs for publicity purposes. But here in NZ, to handle the trilogy, Warner set up a wholly-owned company that's filed regular publicly-available financials.
They show the production received US$122 million from kiwi taxpayers, through an incentive scheme designed to attract big budget movies to NZ. Such schemes are common in US and countries that compete for movies.
Per film however, these aren't the most expensive ever made... not yet! That record goes to Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End which cost about US$300 million (NZ$377m) to make.
Of course, the trade-off to this monumental cost is that the first two Hobbit movies took in a combined figure of almost DOUBLE that! So a stunning return, which of course can not calculate accurately the über-value to NZ's tourism industry. There can be few who'd deny the incentive scheme has been money well-spent!
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies will be released this December (check out the promo).

Monday, October 20, 2014

Tit-Touching A Toothache Tonic?

Ahhh, THERE's that
pesky toothache!
If it LOOKS like a duck and QUACKS like a duck... it probably IS a duck!
So when a medical practitioner gropes your breast, telling you it's to fix your toothache... there's a HELLUVA lot of "quackery" goin' on!!
A woman's complained to police after a Christchurch osteopath massaged her boob for almost an hour to try to alleviate a toothache. WTF???!!!
The woman saw him earlier this month, after her dentist told her a toothache was caused by muscle tension. After an examination, "...he (the osteopath) subsequently massaged my breast and nipple area for almost an hour. He stated this was a normal and common treatment for toothache." The pain did not subside (surprise!) and she felt very uneasy afterwards "...but he was reassuring and sounded legitimate. I told myself my discomfort was because I was just old-fashioned and that I should stop being silly."
Silly? SILLY??!! STUPID, more like!!!
She seriously wants the Police to believe that she thought this was perfectly normal and legit??!!
And furthermore, before the tit treatment began, the woman told the osteopath that she'd struggled with depression since 15 after a difficult and abusive childhood. Why tell a total stranger that?! It's leaving the door wide open for emotional manipulation and more abuse!
In her complaint, the woman said she was left feeling powerless, violated and confused, believing the osteopath indecently assaulted her. This bint should instead be feeling gullible, thick, foolish, and needs to take a good hard look at her naivity!
Any medical person who cops an hour-long fondle in the name of fixing a toothache is havin' you on BIG time, and needs to be dealt to...! But similarly, anyone who buys into this buckum and allows it, is plain SIMPLE! Quack, quack, quack.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Sense And Sensibility

"Gisborne" is not it's official name!
According to the New Zealand Geographic Board, the city's name has never been gazetted and is regarded (by the board) as a collected or recorded name.
NZ Geo.Board secretary Wendy Shaw: "There is no record for either Gisborne or Turanga (the original maori name)."
During colonial settlement, many place names were classified as 'recorded' and had 'pseudo-official status'. The status of Gisborne as a place name is identical to that of the 'North Island' and 'South Island'. It was revealed last year that those names had never been gazetted... remember what happened after THAT revelation!
87% of public submissions favoured the status quo. However NZGB dismissed those supporting numbers, and was swayed by submitters' reasons. Yeup, if you're a minority holding a good-enough reason (one of the BEST reasons being "I'm an oppressed minority"), you'll win the day!
So...Gisborne was named after William Gisborne, colonial secretary in the William Fox-led NZ Govt from 1869-1872. Good enough reason? The town's Post Office took the name Gisborne in 1870. Howzat! And the next confirmed official usage of the name was in 1877 when Gisborne Borough Council was formed. The clincher, surely!
Ahhhh, but wait: it's believed the name was changed from Turanga (shortened from Turanga-nui-a-Kiwa,"great standing place of Kiwa", to avoid confusion with Tauranga in the Bay of Plenty. Kiwa was supposedly the witch doctor of the Horouta canoe, one of the supposed canoes that brought maori from their supposed homeland of Hawaiiki.) Supposed...supposed...supposed...
Well, in THAT case, we MUST change the city name to that of a maori, mustn't we! It's the way of the PC world! No matter that virtually no-one will want it, as long as the vocal minority is placated! But wait: even THEY are confused, having also credited Mr.Kiwa with being the supposed commander of another supposed migratory canoe! And some even claim Gisborne was first named Tairawhiti - "the coast upon which the sun shines across the water."
Oh, the pressure! I know, let's call for public submissions again!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Riding The Ridge

The Ridge is the brand-new film by 28yr.old mountainbiking maniac, Danny MacAskill.
Released on 02 October 2014, it gained over 10 MILLION You Tube views in its first five days!
In it, Danny returns to his native home of the Isle of Skye in Scotland, to make a death-defying ride along the notorious Cuillin Ridgeline.
No CGI here: this is either insanity or sheer gobsmacking skill - either way, watching this clip will give you stomach well as leaving you with amazing views of Skye.
Enjoy...if you can!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Love Me Tinder, Love Me Do...

The word seemingly on everyone's lips right now is Tinder.
Not because of what it can potentially get you, but because of what it can potentially get you!
It's a dating, let's be honest, it's a fucking app. Tinder finds your location using GPS, then uses your Facebook info to create your profile. It then finds you possible nearby matches (or "dates" if you're so naive as to call them that!).
Yeup, those on Tinder are there because they wanna get laid. NOW. If they see a pic of a potential bedmate they fancy, they swipe right (for 'like') or if they don't wanna shag 'em, they swipe left ('dislike'). Simple as that. Essentially it's "Here I am, baby. I wanna sleep with someone right now. You wanna play?"
And although sex is a basic human desire, Tinder reduces it to a mere animal action. Cut through the social circling, the get-to-know-you stage...just a quick fuck, and back onto Tinder for more not-quite-so-fresh recently-used meat! It's exactly as defines it: the McDonalds of sex.
However, if you reduce sex to nothing more than a Playstation-type activity, then you accept the risks involved. The major one is that by giving intimacy away so flippantly, you invite others to treat you exactly the same. You become a commodity to use, abuse and cast aside...
...or even get cast off a multi-storey tower balcony when finished with, as happened to a woman last month on Ozzie's Gold Coast, just hours after meeting a man on Tinder.
While Tinder is the platform for this 'on-call-casual-free-sex' service, it's the responsibility of the user to gauge whether hooking up with a total stranger is safe or wise.
Users who put themselves in harm's way for a fuck must be prepared to be fucked over. Need I be any more blunt?

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Boeing Boys Don't Want New Toys

The world's largest commercial planemakers disagree about 'black boxes' that eject in the event of a crash.
Airbus is nearly ready to equip airliners with recorders that eject, so that they float to the ocean's
surface instead of being trapped in wreckage. But Boeing reckons such recorders are prone to ejecting accidentally and creating a safety risk.
Black boxes are equipped with an emergency locator transmitter that would be easier to detect if floating on the water's surface.
Questions about deployable black boxes arose after Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared in March 2014 (although I blogged about this very issue back in June 2009, after Air France 447 went down over the Atlantic).
Airbus plans to put deployable recorders in its A350 and A380 airliners, which are designed for long-haul flights over ocean. But Boeing says there'll statistically be only one accident every 10 years where a commercial jet crashes into the ocean and can't be found for more than a year, whereas 5-6 accidental ejections are likely each year.
Surely if the issue is whether or not a black box may self-eject (and that's a highly speculative may, given that these have not yet been introduced), the answer is to have a duplicate box installed in the usual place. If one is lost, the other continues to operate!
...or, as I said 5yrs ago, military-grade nano-burst technology (readily available now) that negates the need for a 'black box'!
For every problem, there's a solution...and the travelling public's peace-of-mind requires a solution.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

OMG! The All Blacks Are Human!

Meads and McCaw:
mighty...but still human!
Rugby legend Sir Colin Meads played a record 133 games for the All Blacks from 1957-1971.
ABs captain Richie McCaw broke that record when playing against South Africa recently. Pretty bloody impressive, wouldn't you think? But hardly a word was actually said.
The All Blacks just ended a 22-test unbeaten run stretching back to 2012. Prior that, their longest unbeaten streak was 23 games without loss: 1987-1990. Again, rather impressive. And again, "mum" was pretty much the word. Why...? Because the All Blacks LOST.
Yeup, all good things must come to an end - as they did on Ellis Park in Jo'burg last week, when the 'boks beat the ABs 27-25.
But AB rugby, wallowing in its over-glorified status, can't POSSIBLY be criticised or spoken ill of. Oh, no!
I've listened all week, but the kiwi press hacks were conspicuous by their relative silence over the mighty All Blacks' defeat. Far be it from them to spread the word that the ABs are after all...*whisper* human!
Jeeeez!!! Get a grip!!!
As I've often written, rugby - is - just - a - game!
If its elevated to unsustainable lofty heights, sooner or later it'll suffer altitude sickness! And then, humble pie doesn't taste too good, eh.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Parking Up With Alice

To paraphrase Pete Seeger: "Where do all the old planes go, long time passin'..."
They either fall out of the sky due to crap maintenance; are cut up for scrap; rot in a far corner of an airport somewhere... or are stored in an aircraft boneyard. These so-called boneyards are mainly in the SW US, where the dry desert conditions inhibit corrosion.
unwanted Top Guns, Tucson
The largest of these is a US Air Force aircraft and missile storage facility in Tucson, Arizona, which takes care of more than 4,400 military aircraft (at 1000 hectares, it's the largest aircraft storage and preservation facility in the world). The nearby Pinal Airpark provides storage for civilian aircraft.
Now, Alice Springs in Australia has been selected to be the first aircraft "boneyard" outside the US. reports it'll take planes being decommissioned from service, which will be stripped of parts like engines, electronics and wiring to be re-cycled.
excesses in the sandpit, Mojave Desert
Dry climates are best for the storage and preservation of aircraft, so Alice Springs in the arid centre of Australia is ideally suited. It's big market will be the Asia-Pacific carriers, because of the proximity. Airlines will also be able to store aircraft as big as the A380 when not in use: the airport has a runway large enough to take big planes and plenty of room to expand.
Initially the site will cover 110 hectares. Work on a taxiway begins later this year with the first planes expected to arrive early next year.
Wonder if there's a similar type of facility for past-best-date air stewardesses...?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Bob, Paul And Steve: Where Are You Now?

"Different ages. Different jobs. Different sizes.
But these three guys have one thing in common. Shape."
Yeup, let's all think about guys like this...
Guys like Bob, Paul and Steve...
Think about them appearing in this '70s ad...and then suffering from embarrassment when, decades later, some sod posts this ad on the Interweb!
Bob, Paul and Steve will be forever haunted! How will they explain this to their grandkids?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

There Shalt Be No Happiness In Iran

Having FUN???!!! How despicable!!!
Six Iranian youths, arrested for video-dancing to Pharrell Williams' song Happy, have been sentenced to up to a year in prison and 91 lashes!
The homemade video (filmed mainly on iPhones) shows three men and three *shock! horror!* unveiled women dancing on the streets and rooftops of Tehran. In six months, it had over a million views on YouTube.
The Happy We Are From Tehran clip was spotted by Iranian "morality" authorities, and the group was nabbed for violating oppressive Islamic laws, which prohibit dancing with members of the opposite sex, and women from appearing without a headscarf. They obviously also broke a secret law about being happy! The Thought Police said their "vulgar clip" had "hurt public chastity". Riiiiiight.
The majority of those in the video were sentenced to 6mths' jail, with one member given a year. However the draconian sentences have been suspended for three years, meaning they will not go to prison if they don't re-offend. But hey - no pressure!
The arrests drew global condemnation and sparked a social media campaign calling for their release. Pharrell Williams also protested at the arrests on Facebook: "It's beyond sad that these kids were arrested for trying to spread happiness." His song has inspired over a thousand tribute remakes since it was released last year on the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack.
Supporters were quick to quote Iranian President Hassan Rouhani from a public speech he made in June 2013: "Happiness is our people's right. We shouldn't be too hard on behaviours caused by joy."
He obviously speaks the same BS as his predeccessor!