Saturday, May 31, 2014

Not Quite On Target

Nothing like a good quality shampoo, to bring out the natural highlights in your hair.
Your luscious locks shine in the sun, they bounce when you walk, they're admired by passersby, you're proud of your hair and want to show it I'm pickin' THIS ad in the Middle East kinda missed the point, huh?

Friday, May 30, 2014

Was It THAT Difficult, Bro?

Dateline: last Wednesday.
In the NZ Parliament, the Labour Party tried to extend paid parental leave to 26 weeks. A majority vote would have got its bill a second
All it needed was the allied Maori Party MPs to fill out proxy voting forms in the affirmative. Was this too difficult?
Evidently - YES!!!
I could be charitable and say that an administrative error caused the "native representatives" to vote the wrong way.
Or I could simply ponder how hard it must have been to put a tick in the 'yes' box.
The error meant the bill was shot down unexpectedly, after National cast the Maori Party's three votes along with its own and that of ACT, which meant the bill was voted down 63-58.
The Maori Party now has permission of Parliament to have its three votes recounted in favour.
But the fact remains: tick 'yes' if in favour, tick 'no' if not in favour. How hard can it be?
Perhaps - and I muse aloud in a 'devil's advocate' manner - instead of spending $220million each year on promoting the maori language, we send those Maori Party MPs to a NZ kindergarten for a quick refresher in what 'yes' and 'no' mean in english...
It ain't hard!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

What's In A Name?

What's in a name?
Plenty...when the translation of your town's name means "Camp Kill Jews"!!!
Voters in the tiny Spanish village of Castrillo Matajudios (about 260km N of Madrid) have overwhelmingly decided it's well past time to change the name their town's had for nearly four centuries.
Thank you, Google Earth!
The vote was 29-19 in heavy turnout for the village, which has only 56 registered voters.
The town's original name was Castrillo Motajudios, meaning "Jews' Hill Camp". The "Kill Jews" part of the name dates from 1627, more than a century after a 1492 Spanish royal edict ordering Jews to become Catholics or flee the country. Those who remained faced the Spanish Inquisition, with many burned at the stake.
Although Jews were killed in the area, researchers believe the town got its current name from Jewish residents, who converted to Catholicism and wanted to to convince Spanish authorities of their loyalty. Others suspect the change may have come from a simple slip of the pen. Either way, it's definitely time for a change.
No Jews live there today, but many residents have ancient Jewish roots and the town's official shield includes the Star of David.
The final decision on a new name will be at a town hall meeting in June.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Disney Has No Taste For Blood

Disney Cruise Line has announced a last-minute itinerary change to one of its cruise routes.
It's now avoiding the Faroe Islands, where hundreds of whales are killed in grindadraps (or drive hunts) each summer. The move has been applauded by whale activists, who say Disney is leading the way in making responsible decisions, like avoiding areas where whaling is practiced.
Disney originally said its cruise would include the Faroes, but has modified its 11-night Copenhagen-to-England journey to include a stop at Kirkwall, Scotland rather than at Torshavn, Faroe Islands. The cruise embarks on 29 June 2015 on the liner Disney Magic.
Disney sent a letter to all passengers announcing the change. No information was released about the reason behind the modification, but it's likely that passengers - many of whom are travelling with children - would be worried about witnessing a whale slaughter, which dramatically colours the harbours red.
...meanwhile the 2014 grindadrap season (usually June-October) has started early. On Sunday 18 May, 19 pilot whales were slaughtered along the foreshore of Fuglafjørður, a picturesque fishing town on Eysturoy’s east coast in the Faroe Islands. About 20 boats participated.

UPDATE: 31 Aug.2014 - Danish media reports that the Faroe Islands' tourism industry is being hurt by whaling. Hapag Lloyd Cruises is threatening to cancel its routes to the Faroes while German cruise company AIDA has already done so.

UPDATE: 09 Aug.2015 - The Faroe Islands' tourism industry has been hit again. German company cruise ship company AIDA has announced that it will cancel three trips to Klaksvík this summer.
AIDA cited the new Pilot Whale Act (2015) for its decision: the Act says tourists must report all sightings of whales and dolphins, so the cetaceans can be slaughtered in the infamous grindadráp. Visitors who do not comply can face penalties of up to 3,000 euros, and imprisonment of two years. While obviously aimed directly at protestors, it has also backfired on the tourism industry.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Courtus Interruptus

A murder trial in Italy was suspended this week...after the judge spotted two court staff having sex!
Judge Anna Ivaldi asked the prosecutor to stop talking, after she
heard strange noises and looked up to see the pair in a passionate embrace in the adjoining room.
The prosecutor had just begun summing up when Judge Ivaldi silenced her and had the love-making session brought to an abrupt end.
The couple obviously thought that, because the dividing glass wall was dark, they would not be seen. Neither staff member, both court administration staff, has been named, as one of them is married.
A spokesman for the Genoa court says the matter has been "dealt with"...

Friday, May 23, 2014

Shaking Hands With A Giant

The divers were 16m down, off the coast of Hawaii, close to a group of humpback whales.
They were just metres away from one - weighing 40 tonnes – when it extended its giant flipper towards them. The 18m whale, longer than a doubledecker bus, seemed to be shaking hands!
Photographer Masa Ushioda took the pictures: "This particular female humpback was extremely friendly and very curious. She extended her pectoral fins to us repeatedly and sought for physical contact."
The female blew bubbles to keep amorous males back, while she communed with the divers.
Ushioda: "It was like the explosion of an underwater bomb. Seawater is over 800 times denser than air, so the impact of the sound wave was amazingly loud."

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

First Ad On The Moon?

It's set to be the first advert on the Moon.
It'll also be the first time a soft drink can has been abandoned on the lunar surface!
The Japanese makers of the Pocari Sweat drink are planning to send a specially-designed titanium can engraved with messages to the Big
Cheese next year.
The handwritten messages, from Japanese children and internet users, will be stored as data in 120 titanium plates packaged in the 1kg 'dream capsule'. The capsule's being specially developed to withstand temperatures from -170 to +110.
It will launch on a Falcon 9 (designed by Elon Musk's SpaceX to be a reusable means of space travel). The Falcon 9 has already made three successful supply runs to the International Space Station. However, this planned mission in October 2015 would be the first time one of its rockets has provided propulsion to the moon.
After the rocket has completed it's 4½ day journey, the branded canister will be deposited on the surface by private company Astrobotic Technology's Griffin lander.
Astrobotic is developing the lander to try and win Google's Lunar-X $20million prize, for the first company to land a device on the moon that can both travel 500m on the surface and transmit high-definition pictures back to Earth.
Oh, great! $20million...for leaving rubbish on the Moon!!!
Mind you, NASA has set a precedent...
What could be next: Pink Floyd on The Dark Side???

Monday, May 19, 2014

Maserati, ok?

I've got a Maserati, and I'm ok.
I'm so wonderful that I don't give a damn about other motorists.
WHAT other motorists? If they're NOT driving a Maserati, then they're merely insignificant snails wasting space on MY road.
Yeup, I've got a 4.6L Maserati, and I'm ok.
I blasted along Johns Road last week at drivetime, with that ooooo-so-orgasmic whine that only real high-powered cars make. God, I love red-lining it at 7,500rpm, just to see the adoring stares!
Pahhh! To hell with congested roads - it was like the Biblical parting of the Red Sea! Cretins in toy cars fell behind me as I effortlessly cut between them. Surely they appreciated my God-like power: I can hit 227kmph in just 24.8 seconds!
Indicators? WHY would I need to use those? After all, my Maserati was so fast on the wet road that, by the time the snails SAW my blinkers, I was already ten car-lengths ahead.
Yea, baby, I'm drivin' a Maserati, ok?
Oh, and did I mention it cost three times your annual salary?
Sooooo nice of the Christchurch City Council to lay down such silky-smooth asphalt to complement my ultra-quiet Maserati interior, plush Maserati comfort and kickin' Maserati 434hp.
Yes, I DO have a Maserati, and I'm bloody ok.
So, to all the pedantic peasants in their family Familias, tank-like Toyotas, sullen Subarus, and other examples of automotive alliteration: suck my exhaust fumes!
I own probably the only black late-model Maserati penis extension in Christchurch. I'm a total wanker, and I drive like one: inconsiderate, irresponsible and FAST. I don't give a bloody damn about road rules, road conditions or road users.
Y'see, I've got a Maserati, and I'm f***in' A!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Japanese Solution

It's the whaling you do when you're not doing whaling...
Japan's whalers will send four ships into the Southern Ocean next summer.
Brisbane Times says they plan to use biopsy guns instead of harpoons, after their Antarctic hunting was outlawed by the
Whale biopsy: REAL scientists have done this for YEARS!
International Court of Justice.
Three whale chaser ships and a fourth security vessel will undertake a non-lethal research programme in Japan's usual whaling grounds south of Australia and New Zealand. Only the factory ship Nisshin Maru will be absent.
Under their new survey proposal put before the scientific committee of the International Whaling Commission, the ships will be confined to sightings, surveys and biopsy sampling in 2014-15. But the Japanese Govt plans to resume a lethal hunt the following summer, as it tries to revive legal commercial whaling.
The Institute of Cetacean Research says the priority will be to gather abundance estimates for Antarctic minke whales and other baleen whale species. Crossbows and darting guns would be used to gain biopsy samples on large whales. With minke whales, work will focus on biopsy sampling and faeces observation and collection.
At least one experienced Japanese researcher will be aboard each ship, and international researchers have been invited to join the voyage...but at their own expense.
Anti-whaling activists Sea Shepherd Australia confirmed they will also return to the Antarctic to track the Japanese vessels.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

24: Live Another Day - That SUCKS!!!

Jack is back! Except in New Zealand! DAMMIT!!!
With 24: Live Another Day now screening in US, UK and Australia, it's logical that NZ will soon get it too.
But with no hint of it in the upcoming schedules, TVNZ, Mediaworks, Soho and Sky were asked to confirm which of them had the rights to the new series.
After Mediaworks lost the Fox output deal last year, the new series would have been up for grabs for whoever wanted it... so... we wait... with baited breath... which network will be screening one of the most eagerly-anticipated series of 2014.
TVNZ says it's not them. Sky? Same response. Mediaworks, not playing it either. Soho? Nupe. This is DESPITE the season receiving rave reviews internationally! WTF???!!! How damn sucky is THAT!!!
Jack Bauer fans across New Zealand will not be able to view the new season of 24 here, and - unless you're into a US download site - you may have to wait for it to come out on DVD.
My life is at an end...

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Back In The Public Eye

Holiday snap: Kabul, 2010
Willie Apiata has stepped back from helping at-risk youth, and will soon be in the public spotlight again.
You'll recall New Zealand's only living Victoria Cross recipient left the Green Machine in July 2012, for a role at Papakura's 'High Wire' Charitable Trust (the trust has links with the armed forces, running an academy to help youth towards military careers).
Now Willie is being managed by experienced rugby player agent Warren Alcock of 'Essentially Group'. The international sport and entertainment marketing company's clients include All Blacks Richie McCaw and Dan Carter, and cricketer Dan Vettori.
Willie, honoured
An "Essential Speakers" section on it's website is launching this month... no info about Apiata yet.
Willie, as an SAS corporal, received the VC in 2007 for bravery under fire in Afghanistan. When he left the army, there were questions over why the military had not retained him as their recruitment "poster boy", given his high visibility.
He's made several public appearances recently, one being at Anzac Day commemorations at Auckland's War Memorial Museum. The same day, he addressed the Melbourne Storm before their clash with the Warriors (the NRL club is owned by a syndicate headed by a director of 'Essentially Group').
Let's hope Willie's looked after better than how the army did...

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

"The America's Cup Is Now New Zealand's Cup!"

Who could forget that moment...
Today in history, on 13 May 1995, "Black Magic" crossed the San Diego finish line surrounded by a swarm of spectator craft.
NZ tv commentator Pete Montgomery excitedly coined his legendary line: "The America's Cup is now New Zealand's cup!" The phrase was repeated over and over as NZ enjoyed one of the most significant moments in its sporting history.
The run-up to the 1995 Cup was notable for the televised sinking of oneAustralia during the fourth round robin of the Louis Vuitton challenger selection series, with all hands escaping uninjured. The 1995 defender selection series also had the first mostly female (with one man) crew sailing the yacht USA-43, nicknamed "Mighty Mary". And NZL32 had been dubbed "Black Magic" because of her black hull and uncanny speed.
For the 1995 event, Team New Zealand syndicate head Peter Blake assembled a 'dream team' of kiwi sailors. Our extremely fast boat was superbly sailed by 1984 Olympic gold-medallist Russell Coutts, who was ably backed up by the astute tactician Brad Butterworth and navigator Tom Schnackenberg.
The emphatic 5-0 sweep achieved by Black Magic over Stars and Stripes was all the more impressive given that its opponent, the controversial American helmsman Dennis Conner, was a four-time winner and widely regarded as 'Mr America's Cup'.
And make the win even sweeter, five years later in Auckland, Team New Zealand became the first team from a country outside the US to successfully defend the America's Cup. And Pete Montgomery re-worked his legendary line to be: "The America's Cup is STILL New Zealand's cup!"

Monday, May 12, 2014

Art Deco Demo

Demolition work on Christchurch's distinctive art deco former civic building is well underway.
The gutting of the building's interior began some time ago, and the main task of actually ripping down the skeleton is expected to be completed by the end of the month.
The Cat.II heritage building opened in 1939 as the Miller's department store. It featured the South Island's first escalator, which was the biggest in NZ at the time. The 5-storey building was refurbished and reopened as the Christchurch City Council chambers in 1980.
After the council moved out in 2010, the building stood empty, with no plans for its future. But the Feb.2011 earthquake damaged staircases and cracked some floor plates.
Now the site is earmarked for a $53m bus interchange, as part of the rebuild blueprint - that's due to open mid-2015.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

These Ferries are F*#%ed!!!!

The replacement ferry for the crippled Aratere, which had lost a propeller in Cook Strait last November, has suffered a major problem itself.
One metre of a propeller blade has broken off Stena Alegra!!!
It's not clear just how serious the issue is - investigations are continuing.
This replacement dog has been plagued with problems since it replaced Aratere. In January, it was a cooling problem that shut down the engines. Last month it scored a 6m gash when it hit a Wellington wharf. At the start of May, an illness ripped through the crew.
So, temporary solutions:
(a) Bolt a new blade on to the propeller, or
(b) Trim the opposite blade to balance the prop (a common, faster and simpler temporary repair when prop tips are damaged).
Ok, so that'll fix the propeller problem. But wait: there's more!
Stena Alegra is burning oil like there's no tomorrow! It'll take on another 10,000 litres of lubricating oil this weekend. That's a huge amount, considering it already received 10,000L on 03 Feb., 23 Feb., 16 March and 07 April. Experienced waterfront staff are astounded by the amount of lubricant fuel used, and they say it points to serious problems.
As I’ve said before, both Stena Alegra AND Aratere are BLOODY DOGS!!!

UPDATE: 13 May 2014 - Ah-haaa! Now it transpires that the Stena's prop damage was caused when hitting a wharf in Picton! The skipper has been stood down - was he the same skipper who collided with the wharf in Wellington???

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Powerade Not So Hot

Coca-Cola is removing a chemical linked with fire retardants from all its drinks. From its DRINKS???!!! WTF!!!
Yeup, brominated vegetable oil (or BVO) contains bromine. Bromine is used as a flame retardant in plastics, upholstered furniture, and some kids' clothing, and is not approved for use in foods in Japan and the EU. Coca-Cola uses it in Fanta and Powerade, among others. It's been linked to memory loss and skin and nerve problems when consumed in large amounts.
The move to remove BVO from drinks began with an on-line petition by US teenager Sarah Kavanagh in 2012. Coca-Cola relented after the petition gained 200,000 signatures.
BVO is used by several drinks makers to help stabilise ingredients in flavoured drinks and stop them from separating. Coca-Cola said it will move to other ingredients, that're found in other beverages and also chewing gum. BVO should be out of its production chain by the end of the year.
Coke however reiterates that its drinks are safe. Well, you obviously can't burst into flames if you drink Powerade!!!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Naked Before The Law

A Bosnian High Court judge has been allowed to have her job back - despite images going viral, of her stripped naked and sunbathing in her office!
Eagle-eyed workers in the building opposite the court took the pix, showing 35yr.old Enisa Bilajac basking starkers in the morning sun. Once the images were leaked to the local press, an inquiry began...
The judge claimed the not-for-public-viewing display was part of her morning ritual, and that she'd locked the door to prevent anyone else entering (but of course that didn't stop voyeurs across the road getting an eyeful - after all, she WAS lieing right beside the window in the sun at 8am!).
Initially the Supreme Court dismissed the risqué judge for damaging the court's image - but has since allowed her to return, deeming the display as unintentional, and "stripping" the judge of all blame.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Chch: A Problem Of Priorities

An interesting juxtaposition of stories in the Christchurch Press last week. Humour me, if you will...
(1) Work on the Sumner Road (Sumner-Lyttelton over the top of the peninsula) could begin this year. Rock blasting, major earthworks etc., with a price-tag of $40m to merely reinstate it to its pre-quake condition (even though much more than that's required).
(2) Chch City Council needs about $3 million to fix closed wharves and jetties. These aren't of major importance to shipping, but the type that folk fish off or dive off on hot summer days.
Still with me? Ok...
In March, the city suffered a supposed "one-in-100-year" flood... then last week went through even more flooding! This was the third flooding in ten weeks after heavy rain. Having experienced 'heavy rain' in many parts of the world, I believe last week's rain was NOT the sort of prolonged downpour that should have caused this. Hell, it was only 50mm. Moan about that to West Coasters, and they'd laugh in your face!
The problem is NOT the rain, but that the infrastructure, still damaged post-earthquakes, simply cannot cope. And council seems in a state of 'headless chickens' about finding a solution. Mayor Lianne Dalziel says "the increase in flooding frequency is mostly due to the high number of storm events rather than the condition of the rivers". Riiiiiigghhtt!
A taskforce is due to report to Council on 12 May - great consolation to those whose homes stand wet and rotting. These areas rarely if ever suffered flooding before the EQs, so it's obvious the problem is related. But Council still awaits a report.
And still continues to spend money on items that should be WAY down the priorities list, like wharf pile replacements, and reopening a scenic route.
Christchurch City Council's priority MUST be its people.
And if, as reported by The Press, Mayor Dalziel is "showing the strain" of leadership, I say: suck it up. You wanted the job. So DO it!
House the families, dredge the rivers, replace the pipes, clear the gutters, look after the people... FAST!!!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Returning To A Galaxy Far Far Away

Disney has announced the official cast for the upcoming Star Wars sequel!
It includes Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Kenny Baker, Anthony Daniels, and Peter Mayhew, who'll reprise their roles as Han Solo, Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker, R2-D2, C-3PO, and Chewbacca. And of course John Williams will once again create the trademark musical score.
We've known this was likely for some time (see my blog Nov.2012), and I even wrote that George Lucas let the cat out of the bag and said the original cast was coming back.
Of course, some of the originals nowadays require galatically-designed zimmer frames (!), so there'll also be a new line of young Jedi facing new threats to the galaxy (which is still far, far away...).
The sequel is due in 2015 and will be the first of a new trilogy for the Star Wars franchise. In addition, Disney also announced plans for spinoffs, including Han in a (cue bad pun) solo adventure, as well as a stand-alone anti-hero bounty hunter Boba Fett movie.
The 'big three' - Han, Leia, and Luke - will have supporting roles while the main events focus on the newer cast members, and at least one of those younger actors portrays a child of Han and Leia. So, no more scenes of Luke snogging his sister then...
Oh, and May the 4th be with you!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Bob Hoskins Dies

UK actor Bob Hoskins died this week after a bout of pneumonia, at the age of 71.
He'd retired from acting in 2012, due to the onset of Parkinson's disease, an incurable muscular disorder.
Hoskins was born in 1942 in Suffolk, where his mother was living after being evacuated due to the heavy bombings in London. He received only limited education and left school at 15, but with a passion for language and literature. A regular theatre-goer, Hoskins dreamed of being on stage, but worked many odd jobs for a long time to make ends meet - steeplejack, trainee accountant, circus fire-eater and hotel porter were just a few.
His big break came by accident, when he accompanied a friend to some auditions, only to be confused for one of the auditioners, having a script pushed into his hands and being told: "You're next"...
His career began on British tv shows. Moving into big film roles, his turn as a mobster in The Long Good Friday (1980) defined his tough guy persona.
He was nominated for a best actor Oscar in 1987 for Mona Lisa, in which he starred opposite Sir Michael Caine and Robbie Coltrane, and won a Golden Globe award. Caine says: "He was one of the nicest and best actors I have ever worked with."
His big Hollywood break came in 1988 when he played Eddie Valiant in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, for which he received a Golden Globe nomination. He then went on to 1990's Mermaids and Hook (1991).
His portrayal of J.Edgar Hoover in Nixon (1995) earnt him a Screen Actors Guild nomination, while in 2001's Enemy At The Gates, he played the cold-blooded future Russian premier Nikita Krushchev.
In later years he took on parts in smaller films, including Made in Dagenham, about women seeking equal pay with male workers at a car plant near London. He also played the voice of the character Winston in Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties (2006). The British Film Institute's Sight & Sound magazine says Hoskins was one of the most recognisable UK actors of the 1970s and 1980s.
My favourite Hoskins movie was with Judi Dench in Mrs Henderson Presents (2005). Keep your eyes peeled for him in many films of the past three decades - yes, even 1982's Pink Floyd The Wall (!!!).
Bob Hoskins: often understated, never under-rated.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Extreme Uzbek Broadcasting!

All Uzbekistan's tv and radio stations have been ordered to rig their facilities to be blown up!
Broadcasters in the landlocked Central Asian country must place "self-destruct devices" on transmitter gear by 14 May so, if the station falls into hostile hands, all broadcasts
can be cut instantly.
You'll recall the recent captures of broadcasting stations in Ukraine by pro-Russian forces: this is perhaps the Uzbek way of pre-empting similar events.
Uzbekistan's National Security Service (SNB) is overseeing this last resort in censorship. It's also checking ventilation ducts in broadcast buildings: ducts and shafts leading toward studios must not be big enough for anyone to crawl through.
No more live programming either, not even news. At least two men from the Interior Ministry must be part of every station's staff. And only a handful of people would have access to a station's detonation device... hopefully no-one who's pissed off with the boss!
Journalists must submit in advance all questions they intend to ask at a press conference, for approval, and they can't travel abroad without SNB approval.
It's standard Uzbek practice that everyone entering a station is checked and their documents scrutinised, sometimes more than once. There's also a list of topics, some going back years, that are not to be mentioned, and guests are reminded of these taboo subjects continually from the time they enter the station until their programme starts.
All this to safeguard the Uzbek version of "freedom of the press"!