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?