Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Isis In Name, Not Nature

Isis has been removed from the official list of future Pacific hurricane names.
As the name of an ancient Egyptian goddess, Isis had been on the UN's World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) list of names for hurricanes for 2016. ISIS is of course also synonymous with the Islamic State terror group, gradually spreading its terrorist tentacles around the world.
The Hurricane Committee removed the name Isis from the rotating list and replaced it with Ivette. Names are knocked off the list (which rotates every six years), if they’re considered inappropriate by virtue of causing too much damage or too much death.
This is however not the case with Isis – the connotations are just too great, and the WMO deemed it inappropriate.
Others too are making name changes away from Isis. An Auckland talent and event management company last year undertook a costly rebrand to save itself. Some of the talent listed with Issis Events said they no longer wanted to work with it because of the association with ISIS. And there're dozens of NZ businesses operating under the name Isis or Issis.
Despite the name, houses in the upper-middle class Isis Street in Earlsfield, South London, are still selling for £1million.
Wonder if the town fathers in Oamaru will be considering a name change for THEIR Isis Street?

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Re:Start Mall Is More Than The Sum Of Its Parts

Great news for Re:Start Mall fans.
Christchurch's iconic container mall could run long-term!
Property developer Antony Gough wants to site the Re:Start Mall near his new CBD development The Terrace, for at least 10 years.
The temporary mall was built using colourful shipping containers on the earthquake-damaged City Mall retail space in Oct.2011. Gough: "We should retain the Re:Start in the CBD. It's globally recognised and Christchurch wants it to stay."
Tenants are rapt...not so another CBD developer. Lichfield Holdings' Nick Hunt wants it gone, once his $140m office and retail complex - the BNZ Centre - is completed in Nov.2016: "The whole idea was for the Re:Start to maintain the central city as a retail area on a temporary basis. That was the basis for my decisions."
Gough sees Bigger Picture
Gough points out that " shops will be tailor-made, with air conditioning, double-glazing and insulation. The container mall is different - it suits tenants who can't afford higher rents."
Re:Start The Heart Trust chairman John Suckling has not struck any deal with Gough: "The trust's efforts now are to keep Re:Start going until new permanent retail premises are available for tenants to move into. This was it's whole purpose." Once that's done, he says, "...given the trust is a charity, it would be inappropriate to give the containers to one or any developer."
Gough would consider buying the lot, while Suckling says the trust may put the containers up for auction - but the Re:Start brand would not be part of the package.
I believe the Re:Start is such a symbol of Christchurch's recovery, that it would be a waste to lose it completely. The challenge will be to locate it where its vibrancy can benefit all...and ideally for its iconic name to continue too.
Other cities around the world have markets that benefit neighbouring retailers - London's Chelsea Market; Melbourne's Victoria Market; Istanbul's Grand Bazaar. Let's consider Re:Start from a long-term perspective: it's already much more than the sum of its parts.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Anzac Day 2015

This is not glorification of war.
Not salacious lapping at spilt blood.
Not false-sounding honorifics on monument walls.
This is unmeasurable gratitude, respect and thanks...a nation-wide desire to advance and be all we can be, as some way of making the sacrifices worthwhile.
As we live and breathe, you will never be forgotten...

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Kap'yong Will Never Be Forgotten

+ WHY are NZ school children taught about 'The Anzacs' as if they only fought at Gallipoli...?
+ WHY did the Korean War gradually became "the Forgotten War"...?
+ WHY do so few people know about the Battle of Kap'yong, later described by a newspaper correspondent as "some of the bloodiest and fiercest fighting ever to take place in Anzac history"...?
+ WHY does the NZ Govt STILL not commemorate this battle...?

For the surviving warriors from the Korean War (and especially those who fought at Kap'yong shoulder-to-shoulder alongside my father), I humbly thank you, and hope that wherever you may be right now, someone is affording you the comfort, kindness and gratitude that you deserve.
Bless you.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Christchurch CBD A Dead Heart?

A Christchurch investor group is pulling out of the city, citing a lack of tenants for high-rise office buildings.
Cristo Ltd has abandoned plans for the BNZ site in Cathedral Square,
"A good heart these days is hard to find..."
and wants to sell.
The building's an eyesore, half-demolished for more than 2yrs while developers and businesses head west to the banks of the Avon River.
Cristo director Stephen Bell says tenants are not interested in the site, so development plans have stalled: "The high-end tenants have settled elsewhere and are not interested in coming back into the CBD. The possibility of building offices in the city centre now seems quite remote." Cristo has had similar problems at its other properties, and has sold four other vacant sites: "We've basically shifted the bulk of our investment activities to Auckland."
Cristo's in dispute with CERA (Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority) over BNZ House: CERA dismantled seven storeys of the building during make-safe work in 2012, then handed it back to Cristo, despite the contract being for a complete demolition. The discovery of asbestos in the building did not help matters.
Other developers too are being forced to adapt post-earthquake to survive. The flamboyant Antony Gough is offering businesses pre-EQ rents to lure tenants to his hospitality precinct The Terrace.
Canterbury Property Investments, which bought the old Press building with plans to build a replica hotel, says the days of office towers around Cathedral Square are gone. It thinks the square better suits travellers, accommodation and hospitality.
Developer Richard Peebles feels the hold-up is lack of progress on the new convention centre and the cathedral.
It certainly looks like the CBD pattern has shifted to the west, rather than the traditional clustering around the square. Local and central government pace obviously must pick up, or Christchurch will be left with a cold and mostly dead heart...

Friday, April 17, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens latest promo

He may be grey, but he can still FLY!!!
Han Solo - he da MAN! - appears with longtime furry sidekick Chewbacca in a new trailer for the latest Star Wars film Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Solo (appearing for the first time since the last of the first trilogy of Star Wars films, Return of the Jedi) says "Chewy, we're home", right at the end of the clip.
Other long-time Star Wars characters appearing in the trailer for Episode VII are Luke Skywalker (played by Mark Hamill), as well as R2D2, the mangled mask of Darth Vader...and lotsa lotsa LOTSA storm troopers!
The new film is set 30 years after Return of the Jedi - in which (as you'll recall) the fallen Jedi knight Darth Vader was redeemed, the second Death Star destroyed and the Galactic Empire toppled.

Strap yourself tightly into your X-wing: Star Wars: The Force Awakens hit NZ screens 17 December 2015!!!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

No Go For Nasty Nippons

Japan's plan, to waltz back into the Southern Ocean for more whaling next season, has been knocked back, with independent experts finding no justification for a new hunt.
Death, by any other name...

The nasty Nippon govt submitted a plan for review by experts at International Whaling Commission (IWC), for a revamped "research" programme killing nearly 4000 whales over 12 years. But the IWC panel said Japan failed to provide enough information to determine whether killing more minke whales was necessary to meet the research objectives..."therefore, the current proposal does not demonstrate the need for lethal sampling to achieve those objectives." Nice!!!!
Japan proposed taking 330 minke whales annually in a 12yr.programme - that would mean a total kill of 3996 - on top of the nearly 10,000 already killed under its scientific permits. It's boffins set two broad objectives for the programme called NEWREP-A: obtaining more precise information on minkes should the global moratorium on commercial whaling ever be lifted; and investigating the Antarctic marine ecosystem.
The IWC experts said considerable work had been undertaken to develop NEWREP-A..."however the present proposal contains insufficient information for the panel complete a full review." It's proposed a new work programme by the Japanese (which may take several years), to provide more scientific information before a full review of the programme can be completed under IWC rules.
Quite frankly, NEWREP-A is no different to the previous Japanese hunts rejected by the international court. Japan added several non-lethal elements to make it appear less focused on lethal methods but, in terms of research effort, and expenditure, it was still same-ol'-same-ol' whale killing.
No word from the Japanese govt yet, but you can imagine they're spewing up their sushi right now...

UPDATE: 19 April 2015 - Japan says "F*** YOU! We're going hunting ANYWAY!!"

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

No News Is (NOT) Good News

The news is back in the news, as Mediaworks dumps its TV3 hour-long news format on Sunday nights, hacking it back to just half an hour from next month.
Shortening it will allow current affairs show 3rd Degree to move from Wednesday (with the new name 3D Investigates), and screen at 6:30pm.
It's part of a review that's also cast a well-publicised cloud over the future of Campbell Live.
Embattled broadcaster John Campbell has now engaged lawyer/former journo Linda Clark to fight his corner, as MediaWorks confirms it's looking for a home-grown soap to replace his current affairs show. A soap??!!! To replace News??!! OMG!!!
This daily froth will be produced by Eyeworks, a company built by Julie executive director of MediaWorks! Do I smell a conflict-of-interest here? Well, not quite, given Christie sold out of that side of the biz in 2006, staying on a director until 2013 when she joined MediaWorks. She obviously still has leanings in that regard though…
MediaWorks Chairman Rod McGeoch: "We're going to make our own soap. We've just got to find, through that whole period - 6pm till 8pm - a mix of things that'll improve our performance." Geoch says his commitment to news and current affairs extends only as far as its audience: "We put news on, but only because it rates. And we sell advertising around news. This is what it's all about." The public thinks otherwise, with social media running hot with petitions to save Campbell Live.
Do Christie and McGeoch think we don't WANT news? We surely do NOT want yet more local soaps or reality crap! What have we done to deserve this??
Well, as always, the simple solution is: change the channel. Permanently.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Nikon Over-Exposed

Talk about f-stops!
A whole lotta cleanin' goin' on here...!
A Chinese camera shop recently almost brought its neighbourhood to a halt, after hiring some bikini-clad bunnies to do the cleaning.
Professional photographers as well as passers-by rushed to get a look at the girls who stripped off to clean windows and floors at the Golden Eagle Nikon flagship store in Taiyuan.
The stunt was designed to attract the attention of as many people as possible and generate good business and interest in the process.
Store manager Jin Yeh: "I wanted the store to look clean and fresh, to make a good opening impression." (Riiiiiiiggggghhhhttt! They were only there to CLEAN...) "But of course we are a camera shop, and photographers like to have good things to photograph, so I wanted some models here as well to pose." (Uh-HAAA!!!!) "From that point, it was a simple matter to combine the two. I had the shop cleaned up, and pretty subjects for photographers to snap."
Interesting to note that, as well as a crowd, nearly 100 freelance photographers - all from the Shanxi News Network - all showed up!
An ever-so-slight amount of OVER-exposure?

Saturday, April 11, 2015

F.A.B., Mr.Tracey!

Half a century on, Thunderbirds are still GO!!!
ITV Studios UK, in collaboration with the dynamic NZ duo of Pukeko Pictures and world-famous Weta Workshop (Avatar, King Kong, Lord of the Rings), have produced Thunderbirds are Go!, a 26 x 30min. major new series launching on TV2 this weekend!
TB2: Virgil is Da MAN!!!
This re-invention of Gerry Anderson's iconic series uses a unique mix of CGI animation and live-action models. It'll also affectionately pay tribute to the legacy of the original classic series, often credited with changing the history of animation and action-adventure.
Featuring the world's most famous family of heroes, Thunderbirds are Go! will blast the five brave Tracy brothers from International Rescue (IR) back onto tv screens, piloting incredible vehicles into impossible rescues across the globe.
And as a nice doffing-of-the-cap to the original series, David Graham reprises his role as chauffeur/IR agent Parker.
As one who grew up avidly watching the show, and playing the part of Virgil (pilot of the big green TB2), I look forward to seeing the combination of current film techniques and the much-loved heritage that's endured for the past 50 years.
The puppet strings, mono-brows and flashing eyes may be gone...
but the Tracey brothers, Lady Penelope, Brains and Parker are back - smarter, fitter and with better gadgets than ever!

PS: And just for the record, IR's "F.A.B." code (defined by Collins English Dictionary 2002 as "an expression of agreement to, or acknowledgement of, a command"), was not actually conceived as a code at all.
When asked in 2000 what it stood for, Gerry Anderson said: "Absolutely nothing! The abbreviation "fab", as in "fabulous", was all the rage in the '60s, and I just changed it a bit." He also described it as the futuristic equivalent of "Roger" ie: 'Message received and understood'". So now you know...!

Thunderbirds are Go!, 7pm Sunday 12 April 2015, TV2.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Epic Chase Ends: Thunder Rolls

After a record-breaking 4-month pursuit by Sea Shepherd's ship Bob Barker, of the pirate vessel Thunder, which stretched from the Southern to the Indian to the Atlantic Ocean, the chase has ended in
dramatic circumstances.
On Easter Monday, the captain of Thunder sent out a Mayday call that his ship was taking on water. Bob Barker immediately moved in to assist.
When SS's Chief Engineer boarded Thunder in the hours leading up to the sinking, he saw clear evidence that the vessel was intentionally scuttled. Usually when a vessel is sinking, the captain will close all hatches so as to maintain buoyancy. However, on Thunder, the reverse was done - doors and hatches were tied open and the fishhold was opened.
SS's Bob Barker and Sam Simon rescued all 40 crew, including the captain, officers, and deck crew, who were all able to disembark to liferafts from Thunder before it sank.
Thunder was the most notorious of six vessels (which Sea Shepherd dubbed the "Bandit 6") known to engage in Illegal, Unregulated, Unreported (IUU) fishing of vulnerable toothfish in the Southern Ocean.
On Xmas Day 2014, Sam Simon commenced retrieval operations to remove the illegal fishing gear abandoned by Thunder when it first fled from Bob Barker. More than 72kms of illegal gillnet were recovered over a 3wk period, and over 1,400 fish (a total of 45,000kgs) were returned to the ocean.
In March, two more of the "Bandit 6", Viking and Kunlun, were detained by authorities in South East Asia, and their captains arrested.
The poaching vessels were the target of Operation Icefish, SS's Southern Ocean Defence Campaign targeting IUU fishing operators in the waters of Antarctica.

UPDATE: 12 October 2015 - final victory over Thunder.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Hector's Dolphin Dead In Set Net

A dolphin killed in Banks Peninsula waters last Monday shows current protections are inadequate.
The young male Hector's dolphin was found dead in Akaroa Harbour.
The 123cm-long male was probably 4-5yrs old and in good condition, but it was obvious the animal had died in a set net. There were clear indented lines across the dolphin's snout, multiple sharp cuts in the flippers and tail flukes, and a fresh nick out of its dorsal fin.
Although Banks Peninsula is classed as a Marine Mammal Sanctuary, it's legal to set nets for flatfish in the inner parts of Akaroa Hbr from 01 April-30 Sept.!!! However, even in the depths of winter, dolphins still swim in that area.
This ensnaring shows that these set nets are a very real risk to marine mammals, and simply should not be permitted.
It's bloody ridiculous to have a marine reserve at one end of the harbour, a very active and lucrative tourist industry based on the dolphins, and yet allow fishing methods that kill those same dolphins.
Hector's dolphins live only in New Zealand waters, and stick to shallow areas less than 100m deep. Biologists estimate only 7000 remain in South Island waters.
Make that now only 6,999...

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Falklands War II?

Britain struck oil in the Falklands last week, a discovery likely to escalate already-heightened tensions with Argentina over the ownership of the islands.
After nine months of exploratory drilling, a group of British companies found oil and gas in a remote field north of the islands. The bonanza could be worth billions of pounds…and will likely increase fears of renewed conflict over the islands, just days after UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon warned of a 'very live threat' from Argentina.
Brit boots yomping, 1982
Coincidentally, the oil discovery comes exactly 33 years after Argentina invaded the islands it calls Malvinas…and it's a safe bet it'll be seriously interested in this latest development. Argentina invaded the Falklands in 1982 (at a cost of 260 British and 650 Argentine lives), and still claims territorial rights.
Britain has pledged to invest £180million over the next ten years to defend the islands, with a modernisation of existing defences, upgrading a surface-to-air missile system and deploying two Chinook helicopters. This commitment follows Russia's pledge to help re-arm Argentina: rabid Ruskie Prez Vlad The Putin is reportedly going to lease 12 Sukhoi Su-24 bombers to Argentina.
Experts also predict future Falklands oil finds could be even more significant. The tension over the sovereignty of the islands is set to intensify. Again.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Viking Won't See Valhalla

Another internationally-wanted toothfish-poaching vessel has been detained in Malaysia.
The Nigerian-flagged Viking is the second poaching vessel to be detained recently, dealing a major blow to illegal fishing in the Southern Ocean.
Held for violations of Malaysian maritime law, Malaysian authorities have indicated Viking will also be investigated for alleged illegal, unregulated, unreported (IUU) fishing violations.
Viking is one of the six remaining illegal, unregulated, unreported (IUU) fishing vessels (which Sea Shepherd calls the "Bandit 6"), known to target vulnerable toothfish in Antarctic waters, and is the second of the six to have been detained by authorities in the last month.
Viking, like its five counterparts, has a long history of illegal fishing. In 2013 the vessel, then called Snake, was the first vessel to be issued with an Interpol Purple Notice for fishing-related violations following a petition from Norway. The owners and operators of the vessel are suspected of violating national laws and regulations, as well as international conventions by engaging in fraud and fisheries-related crimes.
In addition to fishing crimes, SS is calling upon Malaysian authorities to investigate possible human rights violations on board Viking.
...meanwhile SS's ship Bob Barker continues its record-breaking pursuit of the most notorious of the "Bandit 6" vessels, the Thunder, which prior to it being stripped of its registration last week, was also flagged to Nigeria.
...and in further news, Thai authorities confirm the captain of the poaching vessel Kunlun, which was chased from its hunting grounds inside Australian waters by the Sam Simon in February, has been charged for falsely reporting its illegal catch of 182 tonnes of Antarctic toothfish as grouper. The handler that received the fish has also been charged for illegally importing the fish into Thailand.
The poaching vessels are the target of Operation Icefish, SS's first Southern Ocean Defence Campaign to target IUU fishing operators in the waters of Antarctica.