Monday, March 31, 2014

Decision Time

The fight to end whaling in the Southern Ocean reaches a head tonight, when the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague issues its ruling on a trans-Tasman challenge to Japan's "scientific" annual hunt.
Australia initiated the action to have Japan's programme banned because it fell outside the scientific allowance set down in the 1946 whaling convention and, after some debate, NZ joined in support.
While the decision has the potential to pressure Japan to curtail its programme, experts warn that getting involved in Aussie's challenge was risky, as losing could effectively sanction Japan's position, making attempts to negotiate an end to whaling more difficult.
At the time of the hearing, NZ Attorney-General Chris Finlayson warned it was "inevitable" that - if it won - Japan would trumpet the decision internationally as vindication.
Last night NZ Foreign Munster Womble McCully said NZ remained opposed to Japan's "scientific whaling"...(Yes, the NZ people are. But judging by Womble's lack-lustre efforts, one wonders if our govt representatives have their hearts in the fight).
Sir Geoffrey Palmer, former chairman of the International Whaling Commission (IWC), said he expected the ICJ ruling to be "dense" and highly-qualified, meaning both sides could walk away claiming victory. (But take what ol' Geoff says with a truckload of salt. After all, he was the NZ turncoat who advocated letting the nasty Nippons kill whales for another 10yrs as a trade-off for a scale-down!!! Riiiiight!)
Japan has shown no inclination to curb its whaling programme and the confrontations with Sea Shepherd in the Southern Ocean were making it more difficult for it to withdraw with dignity, a factor very important to Japan.
A final word (of warning???) ...Japan's top govt whaling spokesman Morishita was once asked by the BBC:
Q: "Under what circumstances, if any, would Japan stop whaling?"
A: "When all species of whales are endangered or depleted."

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Take One for The Team

A Danish travel agency has the solution for Denmark's falling birth rate.
It’s called "Do it for Denmark" and, in a humorous (if somewhat long) video, it asks "Can sex save Denmark's future?".
The travel agency urges couples to go on vacation, and make babies to deal with Denmark's flaccid birth rate - currently at a 27yr record low. Since 2000, the birth rate has declined by 17%, making it the lowest among Nordic countries.
The ad claims 10% of Denmark's babies are conceived on vacation, and that nearly half of the population admit to having more sex while on holiday.
To help the falling Danish birth rate, the travel agency is encouraging Danes to take that romantic getaway. The winning couples who can prove they conceived on the trip get a 3yr supply of nappies and a free child-friendly future vacation as part of their special 'Ovulation Discount'.
The video (with more than 3 million YouTube views) stars a young blonde Danish woman: "Meet Emma. She's Danish. But even though she was born and raised in Denmark, she was made in Paris, up there, in that hotel room…" etc etc. Get the drift?
And even if you don't want/can't have a baby, look at it this way. It's not just about winning: it's how you play the game!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

750 Whales Saved?

Anti-whaling ship Bob Barker docked in Wellington Harbour last Saturday, after what Sea Shepherd says is it's most successful mission ever in thwarting Japanese whalers in the Southern Ocean.
The ship completed 95 days in the area attempting to stop whalers from killing 935 minke whales, 50 endangered fin whales and 50 endangered humpback whales.
Captain Peter Hammarstedt: "They kill these whales within a designated whale sanctuary, despite a global moratorium on commercial whaling, and within the bounds of the Antarctic treaty."
The nasty Nippons have not yet released the number of whales they killed this year, but SS is confident the fleet had not reached even a quarter of their self-allocated quota. SS believes this year it has saved more than 750 whales.
SS NZ coordinator Michael Lawry says the Japanese had been "very, very aggressive during this whaling season...they've also shown themselves to be very desperate and deeply offensive to the people of NZ by coming into our EEZ." (Last month, the security ship Shonan Maru No.2 entered our 200nm exclusive economic zone (EEZ). This earnt a pathetic rebuke from Foreign Munster Murray McCully, who said it was *yawn* "disappointing".)
Bob Barker will be in Wellington until the end of the month, and open for public tours.
Update: 09 April 2014 - Nasty Nippons admit to killing only 251 whales this season.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

How DO They Do It?

Visitors to Christchurch International Airport will often see the latest-model cars on display in the Food Court area.
Auckland Airport can simply drive display cars in through the front door. But folk who haven't been through Chch Airport won't realise that it's foodcourt is actually located up on the first floor!
So how do they get cars up there?
Do they use a big lift 'out the back somewhere'?
Do they (most impressively!) drive them up the stairs?
If you've ever wondered's the answer.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Aussie Getting RoboCop

Australia has announced plans to buy giant high-tech unmanned drones to help patrol the nation's borders.
Oz PM Tony Abbott said the Triton Unmanned Aerial Vehicles would be based in Adelaide.
Seven of the US-made drones could be purchased for AUS$3.0 billion, but Abbott is staying mum on how many, when and how much: "These aircraft will patrol Australia's vast ocean approaches, and work closely with other existing and future Defence Force assets to secure our ocean resources, including energy resources off northern Australia, and help to protect our borders. They will provide the Australian Defence Force with unprecedented maritime surveillance capabilities, operating at altitudes up to 16,800m (55,000 feet) over extremely long ranges while remaining airborne for up to 33 hours."
Australia, a close ally of the US, is expected to use the drones to patrol far over the Indian Ocean, which has become one of the world's most vital energy supply routes. They could also be used to detect illegal fishermen and asylum-seekers, who frequently enter Oz waters to the north on rickety boats, usually setting sail from Indonesia and Sri Lanka.
And y'know, digger, for just US$68,000 each, your "close ally" could throw in some Hellfire missiles - that would sort out those 'boat people'...permanently!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Calling It Quits

Last Thursday, the Japanese whalers' factory ship Nisshin Maru switched on its Automatic Identification System (AIS).
In the decade of Sea Shepherd's Antarctic Whale Defence campaigns, this is the first time the nasty Nippons have activated their AIS while still in their hunting grounds, having always kept their location secret. Its AIS shows NM has left the Southern Ocean on a N course at 10kts en route to Japan, with arrival in about three weeks.
Since NM was last seen on 02 March, Bob Barker and Steve Irwin swept across and occupied the only good weather areas that were available to the whale poachers this late in the season. And during this time, NM was accompanied by only one harpoon ship.
Last Tuesday, Yushin Maru No.2 and Yushin Maru No.3 dropped away from tailing SS, indicating they were low on fuel and unable to follow any further. BB and SI then ran northwards, to push NM out of the whale sanctuary.
This is the latest that SS has stayed in the Sthrn Ocean to intervene against the whalers, and the Japanese were obviously trying to leave their own exit time for as late as possible, hoping that SS would run low on fuel. But with massive Sthrn Ocean swells forecast as large as 10m, and further embarrassment at being located by 'the enemy' again, they had no choice but to abandon the season.
SS's Sam Simon has returned to its homeport of Williamstown, Melbourne. BB is en route to Wellington, while SI will return to Hobart - both are expected to dock around 22 March.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Does NZ REALLY Want This...?

New Zealanders get to vote on whether to change our national flag.
PM John Key has announced a referendum within three years, receiving the backing of the Opposition which says it'd follow through with plans, even if Key is ousted in this year's elections.
The current flag has the Southern Cross star constellation, with Britain's Union Jack in the top left.
Some whingers complain it's too similar to Aussie's flag and doesn't reflect NZ's independence from Britain. But many who've served in the military oppose a change, saying it would be an insult to men who've died under it.
Don McIver, prez of the Returned and Services Assn (RSA), said he's proud of a flag that represents more than 100 years of tradition: "RSA's view is there is no need to change the flag. 32-thousand NZers have given their lives under the flag and many more thousands have served under it in a combat environment."
Key favours a silver fern against a black background, an image that's popular among sports teams. Some say that would align NZ too much with sport and would be too reminiscent of a pirate ensign. Some argue maori should be represented in any new flag. Recent opinion polls show conflicting indications about whether a majority want a change at all!
The silver fern is the symbol of the All Blacks. But not EVERYONE in NZ is sport-mad... and anyway, doesn't the NZ Rugby Union think it owns COPYRIGHT on said fern symbol???!!! If it doesn't, then some MAORI group is bound to grab it!
Why not leave the flag as is? What's wrong with similarity to Oz? After all, both countries love to beat the ANZAC drum when it suits them!
Johnno's quick to add that a flag change won't mean an end to our constitutional ties to the monarchy or participation in the Commonwealth.
Hell no, that's worth too much money!!! And after all, when it all boils down, it's all about da money, honey...

Friday, March 14, 2014

For Whom The Bell Tolls...

The outcome of Australia's legal bid to end Japan's Antarctic whaling
will be announced at the end of this month.
Sydney Morning Herald reports the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has said it will deliver its judgment in The Hague on 31 March.
The case began in 2010: Oz has asked the court to bring the whaling to an end because the large-scale killing of whales is commercial, and outside the provisions of the International Whaling Commission's scientific permit clause. Japan says the whaling has always been within IWC rules which, in Article Eight, gives countries the right to issue scientific permits under their own terms.
Japan's legal beagles says there might be differences among scientists about Japan's whaling, but the court "..can no more impose a line separating science from non-science, than it could decide what is, or is not, art."
Both sides want full victory - the ICJ has reiterated "...that the judgments of the Court have binding force and are without appeal for the parties concerned."

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

She'll Be Roight, Mate!

image courtesy The Australian
Last Tuesday (04 March), as Christchurch was slammed by a once-in-a-century deluge (with metre-high floods, hail and 130kmph winds), a huge storm front also swept into Sydney.
Beachgoers, who'd been enjoying a sunny morning on Bondi Beach, seemed nonplussed by the event - judging by the awesome pix on the net. Swimming and sunbathing continued until the last moment, then the crowds ran helter-skelter for shelter!
Thought I'd share this pic with you, if you haven't seen it already.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Freedom To Panties!

Don't ya just LUV Putin?
He's clamped down on Ruskie gays, jailed greenie activists, invaded Crimea, hidden his own dubious sexuality behind macho photos... and now he's banned women's lace underwear!
Ruskie undies, '70s style
Female protesters in Kazakhstan were recently arrested with lace underwear on their heads...demanding the freedom to choose their own knickers!
Lingerie outlets across Russia and its neighbours must dump up to 90% of their undies! A new trade ban prohibits the import, production or sale of synthetic lace underwear, and will outlaw any knickers containing less than 6% cotton (most sexy lingerie has less than 4% cotton) - meaning ladies' lacy undies are off the shelves in all three countries from 01 July.
Smokin' on the Volga!
Ironically, the legislators claim the best of intentions: women's health. Apparently this will allow "girlie bits" to 'breathe better'. The ban supposedly saves women from a lack of absorbency that lace and other synthetics bring. In other words: you VILL vear cotton! Or it vill be very harmful to your health... just like a little holiday in a gulag vill be!
Naturally, women have their knickers in a knot over this. Street protests (and arrests) in Kazakhstan and Belarus, social media protests, lotsa piss-taking on-line... To think that in 2014 anyone can tell a woman what she is allowed to wear is not only a complete infringement on women's rights, but also ludicrous, insulting and archaic. Too many govts have imposed laws that they believe protect women, but instead hamper basic rights. But then again, we are talking about Russia...
Perhaps the law-makers have only just seen Bridget Jones' Diary ...?
What's next: compulsory burqas in Red Square...?

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Biggest Stripper In Town

Mural fever swept through Christchurch in the last few months.
The drawing board...
Major international artists enlivened blank city walls with gigantic faces, scenes and self-expression. This was combined with the Museum's "Rise" exhibition, a celebration of street art featuring the legendary likes of Banksy (UK) and Roa (Belgium).
The impact on the CBD was stunning, and helped rejuvenate the heart of Earthquake City.
Not to be left out, central city strip club Calendar Girls is getting a
3-storey-high mural on its wall...of a naked woman. But not just a standardised female form. Oh no. In keeping with the activities within, the naked woman is on her back, legs curled in foetal position, exposing her butt!
Hurr-UMPH! Er...cough-cough!
Of COURSE it's ART! Cough!
Judging from the recent newspaper pix of the initial sketch-up, I suspect the purists may have their Bible bookmarks knocked a little out of kilter!
Already, Facebook comments cover the entire (colourful) spectrum:
+ "It's not distasteful at all. No tits and fanny staring you in the face so its not as bad as some people make out."
+ "Grossss! I don't mind nude art but am pretty sure you can't consider anything on the side of a strip club 'art'. This is so disgusting, distasteful and creepy."
+ "It's art, not a live show. The Masters have been painting the human form since the dawn of time. For someone to see it as 'vulgar' is really down to their boundaries and their mind."
+ "The pose is provocative and indicative of the trade they ply. I'm pretty sure it's going to be offensive. They need to remember the whole world is not their customers."
+ "What it's linked to will be the issue, not the mural itself. We don't allow tobacco advertising, so why allow advertising of strip-tease companies where there's always an option for 'extras' of a prostitutional nature. That being said, it'll be a good bit of colour, but what it is is an advertisement for the red light district. Is this the new image of Chch that we want?" The burning question...
Meanwhile, Calendar Girls is likely to be purchased by the Crown for the Chch Central Development Unit and eventually demolished.
The finished product

UPDATE: July 2016 - the demolition is nearly complete.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Rangiora Facelift

Rangiora's unusual and eyecatching Town Hall (opened in 1926) is getting an $11.5m makeover.
As well as seismic-strengthening, it's also being extended. The existing auditorium will get a new orchestra pit and audience seating. There'll be an additional 150-seat smaller theatre alongside, suitable for dance performances, as well as new changing rooms, rehearsal spaces and two 36-seat cinemas. The additions have received the approval of a heritage architect and NZ Historic Places Trust (as this is a Cat.2 Historic Building).
Movies have been missed in Rangiora since the earthquakes...but the council has not yet received a suitable operator's proposal that ticks all its boxes. With such small cinemas, it may not be viable to charge a cinema operator a commercial rental for the spaces and it's likely that, in order to secure an operator, a ratepayer subsidy would be required.
The controversial purple exterior will also be transformed...into a terracotta colour scheme. Architect Stewart Ross wanted a look that said 'slightly faded grande old dame'.
The whole project should be finished by Feb.2015. See the progress of the work [here]...
I just hope this doesn't look...dull.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Bauer's Back!

Jack returns!
Fox Network brings us 12 episodes called 24: Live Another Day.
Wait: TWELVE??? The producers'd planned to do a feature film but, as they got into it, they realised that 24 - compressed into two hours - is not 24. So, unlike what happened in the regular series — where each episode represented an hour in Bauer's action-packed life — the new version will jump around during the day. And the star power will be better than ever: a lot of Hollywood Who's Who wanted to participate... so expect fireworks!
But just where will the mayhem take place? Will it be in Germany, where the producers could link Live Another Day to some of the dark areas of Seasons 1-2 (like hit-woman Mandy, arms dealer Max, intermediary Trepkos, the people pulling the strings of the attempts on Prez David Palmer's life)?
No, it'll be set entirely in London! While little is known, the plot takes place four years after Day 8 (Season Eight), with Jack a fugitive, hunted by the CIA. A brief teaser shows ever-supportive Chloe (Mary Lynn Rajskub) by his side. (SPOILER ALERT: UK actor/comedian Stephen Fry plays the British Prime Minister. I can also confirm that ex-Sec.of State Heller and his daughter Audrey Raines will also appear. Yes, Audrey's out of her coma...and married to the White house Chief of Staff. Oh, but did I mention that Heller is now Prez of the US of A??!!).
24: Live Another Day screens in US and UK this May.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Once Lost, Now Found...Again

Yesterday (Sun.02 March 2014) around 10am., Sea Shepherd re-located the Japanese factory vessel Nisshin Maru inside the Ross Sea Dependency...
with a dead, protected minke whale onboard. Blood was running from the side of the ship, slabs of whale meat lay on the deck, along with the severed head of another recently killed whale.
Blood on the dance floor...
NM was located by Steve Irwin's helicopter, which has found the whaling fleet on four occasions this season. Steve Irwin and Bob Barker are now closing in on the factory vessel.
Captain of BB, Peter Hammarstedt: "Each time we have located NM, SS has been attacked by the whalers in night ambushes. With darkness just a few hours away, we are well aware that we are soon likely to have harpoon ships crossing our bows towing steel cables, and the strong possibility that our ships could become disabled in the treacherous and frigid Antarctic waters. After sustaining two gruelling assaults, we believe a third attack by the whaling fleet is imminent."
This is the second time this whaling season that SS has caught the Japanese in the act of poaching whales within the Sthrn Ocean Whale Sanctuary, and it's the second time in six days that SS has located the whaling fleet. The whalers have remained outside their preferred self-allocated hunting grounds of the Ross Sea due to SS's relentless patrolling.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

True Love Bursts Forth...?

Japanese designers have created a bra that unclasps itself when a woman's heartbeat rises!
The logic is that, when the heart beats faster, it surely means she's 'in love' and ready for sex.
The bra has an electronic front clasp that automatically unhooks only when it detects that its wearer is in 'true love'. How does it do this (when even humans have difficulty figuring it out at times)? Well, an in-built sensor detects a rise in her heart beat and sends it to a Bluetooth app for analysis, which calculates the True Love Rate (TLR) based on changes in the heart rate over time.
When the TLR exceeds a certain value, the bra unhooks automatically and the woman is ready to get physical with her true love. If your heartbeat doesn't rise, it doesn't unlock. Riiiiiight... but a few points the designers've overlooked:
1. What if the woman doesn't want to unleash her breasts on the man who makes her heart rise? Perhaps she'd like to use her brain to decide whether she wants to undress, instead of relying on an app to do it for her.
2. What if the TLR gets it wrong? The poor woman's heart may be racing with nerves during a job interview...pop goes the weasel! Or while running for the bus...or giving a work presentation...or finding a colleague has brought in a surprise birthday cake. Removing one's bra at this point would be less than appropriate!
3. What if the bra-wearer never finds her true love? Is she stuck in the bra for life? How will she take it off at night without a lover by her side? Does she have to watch stud muffins on repeat to lift her heart rate each evening, or will the bra drop off in pity after 24 hours without a high TLR score?
Hmmm...can't see this latest nutty Nippon invention being anything more than a 'party trick'!