Saturday, August 30, 2014

Feet To Overrun Lyttelton Tunnel

Lyttelton Road Tunnel will be taken over by People Power on Sunday 31st for its 50th anniversary.
The nearly 2km route will be closed to cars and trucks tomorrow morning, to celebrate 50 years since the tunnel opened.
The Lyttelton Tunnel (part of S/H 74) runs beneath the Port Hills to Christchurch. It carries just over 10,000 vehicles per day and, at 1,970m, is the longest road tunnel in NZ.
Lyttelton and Chch have been linked by a rail tunnel since 1867 (when completed, that was the first tunnel in the world to go through the side of an extinct volcano!). But at that stage, road transport had to cross over the Port Hills.
Construction of the Lyttelton Road Tunnel cost £2.7 million. The tunnel officially opened in Feb.1964, but tomorrow's 50th annvsy.celebration had been delayed until a new tunnel control building (to replace the previous EQ-damaged one) was completed.
Lyttelton Tunnel will be closed to all vehicular traffic 9.30-12.30pm., so people can get 'up close and personal'. The event begins at 9.30am with the official opening of the new Lyttelton Tunnel Control Building. The tunnel will open at about 10am in both directions for cyclists to go through, followed by skateboarders and lastly walkers – for a gold coin donation. All funds raised will go to Cholmondeley Children's Centre, to provide emergency and respite care for children in Canterbury.
Motorists travelling to/from Lyttelton will need to detour along Dyers Pass and Governors Bay roads until 12.30pm...

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Record Kill But No-one's Buying

Fishermen in Norway have caught 729 whales this year, the highest number since it said "F.U.!" to the rest of the world.
Svein Ove Haugland, deputy director of the Norwegian Fishermen's Sales Organisation: "This season is more or less finished and it's been very good."
The eventual figure may increase slightly before the season's end but is already the highest since 1993, when Norway resumed whaling
"Yah, just a little tickle - zey don't really feel a thing!"
despite a worldwide moratorium.
In 2013, Norway caught 590 rorqual whales, far higher than the previous year. The yield for 2014 remains far below the country's annual quota of 1,286 whales, and the govt claims the 4mth.hunt is for the "protection and sustainable harvesting of marine resources."
However, the whalers have a problem: a bottleneck in the market. Very few locals want to eat minke meat! Åge Eriksen, director of fishing firm Hopen Fisk: "We possess more meat than we can sell and that is not a favourable position." No shit, Sherlock!
Some is exported to Japan, which was ordered to end its own so-called "scientific" hunts in the Antarctic by the UN earlier this year. But the Japanese stockpile of frozen unwanted whale meat is now monstrous too.
Norway's fishing ministry claims there are 71,000 minke whales in the central Atlantic off Iceland and the Faroe Islands. Around two dozen vessels participated in its whaling season this year.
Greenpeace believes whaling in Norway is bound to die out due to lack of demand.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Art? Or Fart?

My eye was caught by an opinion piece in last Thursday's Press, by Jenny Harper, director of Christchurch Art Gallery.
Art - and the collecting of it - matters to Christchurch as the city rebuilds, she writes. Sounds interesting, methinx, as I settle in to what I expected would be an article covering the Gallery's behind-the-scenes work since it's earthquake closure.
Well, it was...and it wasn't.
More than anything, it was a justification for some grandiose purchases in the name of 'good art'.
Harper: "I'm utterly clear that good art really matters. I'm convinced that collections of art matter more than a single work or that of a single individual."
So while the city has rumbled, tumbled and started to claw its way back to its New Reality, the Gallery's been spending money, quietly gathering goodies for our cultural advancement.
You'll recall the curiosity called Chapman's Homer - a well-hung bronze bull astride a grand piano, first seen in mid-demolition site, and later the subject of a public fundraising campaign, to buy it...for our own artistic good.
It's "a brilliant reminder" says Harper "of a community-wide effort to represent the time the earthquake changed our lives forever." How a bull on a piano represents EQ devastation is beyond me! Perhaps a bull in a china shop...?
Now the Gallery's steamrolling a $5m endowement fund to buy itself lots more, for our own good. Harper spins it thus:
"We've decided to ban the words donate and give. This is a partnership; it's mutual; it's about loyalty; it's about building our legacy; it's about art." Of course...!
And brace yourself, Christchurch, for five mega-costly art purchases
Bebop? Or be ripped off?!!
coming your way:
No.1 was the slab o' steak on the keyboards.
No.2 is described as "a marvellous and playful work" by NZ contemporary artist Bill Culbert called Bebop.
Take a good hard look at the pic: spin this any way you's just some neon tube lights dangling among old kitchen chairs! Remove the rose-tinted artyfarty specs, Jen - this is op-shop junk tarted up as culture! Yet you raised over $80K just for this???
Harper assures us that Bebop will "become part of our legend: valued, loved, responded to and enjoyed for many years." Riiigghhtt...
Well, please don't buy his piece called Strait. His own publicity describes it as just a line of Anchor milk bottles with a bolt of fluorescent light through them. I'll make it for you myself this weekend! And even DONATE it!! Opps, sorry... PARTNERSHIP it!!
She says "'s important to maintain the cultural heartbeat of the city and to represent this time. This too is part of our rebuild." Granted. No argument.
Harper: "We're here because good art matters." Terrific.
Then please will you purchase some actual GOOD ART???!!!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Where Will Casey Kasem Rest In Peace?

Where will Casey Kasem's final resting place be?
The wife of the late legendary US radio personality wants to bury him in Norway, citing her Norwegian heritage. Jean Kasem, his wife of nearly 34 years, earlier this month claimed she would be moving to Norway soon. She also claimed KC "always said that Norway symbolizes peace and looks like heaven and I would like to respectfully fulfill his wishes."
But his children have asked Norway to deny their stepmother's request. Kasem's relatives and friends, incl.former Lt-Governor of California Mike Curb, say the late DJ always wanted to be buried in California, where he lived for 53 years.
KC's children from his first marriage say Jean kept them from visiting or speaking to their father for nearly a year before his death.
A spokesman for the Norwegian funeral home embroiled in this action says: "We are looking at it again to see if we made the right decision. The relatives are saying she has no ancestry in Norway — she does from Europe but not from Norway — and they say that she’s not going to move to Norway at all. We don't know if it's true. Our lawyers need to to do more research."
Kasem, host of American Top 40, died in June of dementia. Jean Kasem moved his remains to Canada last month, where she intended to bury his body has arrived in Oslo.
The issue will set a legal precedent in Norway. "We haven’t had any cases of foreigners wanting to be buried here, who are not Norwegian themselves or living in Norway. So this is a very special case. There is no law against this. It's up to us to accept it or not."
Jean Kasem has not let officials know when she intends to bury her husband.
A quick ancestry search shows no Norwegian heritage in Jean Kasem's family for at least three generations.
Casey Kasem's publicist, Danny Deraney, has said Kasem had told both friends and family that he wanted to be buried in Los Angeles.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Get A Life!

Distraught fans of NZ's longest-running soap Shortland Street have been pouring out their grief...yes, GRIEF!...on-line!
Doctor Sarah Potts (Amanda Billings) was killed off in an episode this week.
On a tribute page created for the character, hundreds of fans voiced their shock and sadness at her death, such as:
"Sarah, you didn't deserve to go that way. RIP. Many thoughts to the rest of your family. From Larissa."
Reshma was obviously traumatised:
"I was shocked when I learnt that Sarah died. Feel for TK (Potts' husband). Now both of his wives have died. RIP Sarah Potts".
Ngaire got even more swept away, quoting Elton John:
"Her candle burned out long before her legend ever will, aye."
Sarah Potts died of a deadly virus which had swept through the hospital. After contracting the disease from a contaminated syringe, Sarah isolated herself in a lab and desperately tried to find a cure. When she finally found one, it was too late to save herself but she managed to spare all those infected.
*gulp* She died... *sob* ...a HERO!
And...OMG! So...this is just like...y'know...Ebola!
*sob* Doctors dieing the world!
The real tragedy is: these fans seem to believe that Sarah Potts was REAL! And how perverse for TV2 to establish an on-line tribute page, to milk this group grief!
Actor Amanda Billing won numerous awards for her character, who first appeared in September 2004. But distraught viewers should be reminded that in the 2006 Shortland Street Fan Awards, Sarah Potts was also voted the 'character you'd most like to kill off'.
Well, fans, ya got what ya asked for.
You're not in Guatamala now, Doctor Potts!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Close Call In Faroes

They came from everywhere!
Last Tues.12, a pod of pilot whales was sighted off the southern Faroese island of Suderoy at Tvoroyri. As Faroese headed towards Tvoroyri, the whales moved towards Hvalba, the most northerly of the beaches on the island.
Sea Shepherd's land-based volunteers saw locals with their killing tools heading to Hvalba, as the Faroese police dispatched a helicopter from Torshaven.
A police roadblock prevented SS land crew from following the whalers to the beach (even though whaling beaches are not closed during a grindadráp). Some of the SS team managed to reach the beach prior to the roadblock, but were aggressively removed by the police.
Hvalba: not normally shut down...
By then, the Suderoy grindmaster had left with three boats to intercept the whales and begin to push them towards the beach.
Meanwhile SS's vessel Brigitte Bardot arrived, and saw three inflatables and a Naval vessel standing guard.
Shortly after, a Danish frigate entered the bay. The land volunteers saw people swarming in from other locations on the islands, carrying hooks and knives.
Just as BB arrived, the grindadráp was called off by the grindmaster, citing bad currents: some disgruntled locals accused him of calling it off because of SS. Whatever the reason, the most important thing was that the potential slaughter was averted.
A year ago to the day, 450 pilot whales were slaughtered at Hvalba. In 2014, 87 volunteers and six boats stood guard for the whales.
No conflict. No killings.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Date Of The End Of The World!

We're all gonna DIE!
Planet Earth may be obliterated by an asteroid!!
And the boffins can even give us the YEAR this'll happen!!!
But don't worry: you and I will be long gone.
The coneheads reckon the Big One will happen on 16 March 2880. Riiiiiggghhhttt...
Of course, this is assuming we haven't poisoned, blown up or right royally fucked the planet over first!
However, good news is: scientists are also closer to working out how to stop this asteroid. Researchers at the University of Tennessee have found that blowing up the space rock, like in the movie Armageddon, could cause several collisions with the Earth...and that's not a good thing! So they feel the way to avoid calamity is to make changes to the surface of the asteroid in order to break it up in outer space.
The chances of Asteroid 1950 DA hitting Earth is 1-in-300, which the eggs reckon is small risk. But check out the stats:
This big rock has a diameter of 1km (3,280 feet) and is travelling at a speed of 14km (8.7 miles) per second. It'll hit Earth at around 61,000kmph (37,900 miles per hour).
The force of the collision would be like 44,800 megatons of TNT exploding and result in tsunamis and a huge change to Earth's climate.
OK, I'm rather glad I won't be here that day...

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Kaikoura's Cash Cow Protected

The NZ government has just launched the Kaikoura Whale Sanctuary on the east coast of the South Island.
The area is biologically rich and includes 500m deep ocean canyons which are home to giant squid which is the preferred prey of sperm
The sanctuary is nearly 5000 square km in area and provides protection for the sperm, humpback, Southern right, blue, killer and other whales that frequent the area. It is particularly relevant for the local and well-established sperm whale tourism industry which is now worth $134 million dollars a year.
Kaikoura is undoubtedly an excellent location for watching whales. The deep canyons are close to shore and the frequently sighted sperm whales make a spectacular sight seen against the area’s snow capped mountains.
can we expect/hope that the desperately-needed New Zealand Dolphin (comprising the Hector's and Maui's dolphins) sanctuary will follow shortly? Our government has recognised the economic
importance of the Kaikoura whale watching industry but it also needs to recognise that our own unique dolphin is a very important tourism drawcard as well.
We must not be the generation under whose watch these unique creatures become extinct.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Robin Williams Suspected Suicide

Actor Robin Williams has been found dead in his home, in a suspected suicide.
63-year-old Williams recently checked into a renewal centre in an effort to maintain his sobriety. He has been battling severe depression of late.
The local coroner suspects the death to be a suicide due to asphyxia, but a comprehensive investigation must be completed before a final determination is made.
His wife Susan Schneider: "It is our hope the focus will not be on Robin's death, but on the countless moments of joy and laughter he gave to millions."
Williams won a supporting actor Oscar for Good Will Hunting. He had been a prominent fixture on screens since the 1970s where he has portrayed a wide variety of characters.
He earned Oscar nominations for Best Actor for his varied roles in Good Morning, Vietnam, The Fisher King and Dead Poets Society, and will always be remembered for his title role in Mrs.Doubtfire from 1993.
He won four Grammy Awards and two Emmys.

Friday, August 8, 2014

So What?

My eye was caught by this headline, screaming from the online edition of Huffington Post last Monday...

I for one am happy in my own space, I may or may not follow any particular religious path, and I enjoy sex.
But do you need to know any of that? NO.
Do readers of any news source need to know if a particular gay Christian chooses not to get laid? NO.
The media needs to keeps its collective eye 'on the ball' and report the facts of real issues effecting the global community.
Was this story one of those? NO.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Swedish Mannequins Get Real

A Swedish department store has renewed the body image debate, after pix of its 'normal-sized' mannequins appeared online.
Åhléns introduced new-look mannequins to all its 76 stores back in 2010 - to widespread customer acclaim. But a recently-blogged photo stirred up fresh interest: so much so that the pic has gained over a million Facebook likes!
"We use different-sized mannequins because our customers are all different," says Åhlens' spokesman Monica Hultgren. "We're proud of them because of the great reaction from customers and it's good to encourage a positive body image."
The fashion industry's come under fire in recent years, due to it's skinny shop dummies that don't necessarily reflect the average woman. EG: most UK mannequins are size 8-10, around 5ft 10" and, in heels, create an
Something for everyone...
unrealistically long lean image. This is generally unachievable and helps create low self-esteem, as the average UK woman is size 16 and 5ft 4".
In Sweden, the average female is size 12 and 5ft 7". US dummies are usually 4-6, way below the average size 14 female.
So, well done to Åhléns! There's far too much focus on one fashion image. We all come in different sizes, shapes, colours and heights, and thank goodness for that!
The big question now is whether other chains will follow this positive example...

Monday, August 4, 2014

Japan Continues Whaling

The Japanese whaling fleet returned home last week after a successful Pacific whaling season.
Research fellows...
Yes, it's STILL killing whales: indeed, this was it's second campaign since it was ordered to halt a separate slaughter in the Southern Ocean, by the ICJ (International Court of Justice) last March. The ICJ ruled that Japan's annual Antarctic expedition was a commercial activity masquerading as research.
115 whales (90 Sei and 25 Bryde's) were killed during the 2½ month campaign. This is on top of the 30 Minke whales killed in June, as part of a coastal whaling hunt - taking this year's tally to 145.
The nasty Nippons called off the 2014-15 season for it's Antarctic hunt, and said it would redesign the controversial whaling mission in a bid to make it "more scientific", while filing for a permanent injunction against Sea Shepherd, it's long-time nemesis.
Just WHAT will constitute "more scientific" is anyone's guess, given the virtually ZERO level of peer-reviewed research produced by the Japanese in the preceding decades of slaughter. Perhaps triple-counting the number of cartons of whale meat per kill may convince Japanese scientists that they're conducting real research. That's about the level of "science" in this whole self-deluding farce!