Monday, August 31, 2015

MIB - Kiwi Style

Our national carrier Air New Zealand has a global reputation for its quirky in-flight safety videos.
They've featured surfers, hobbits, numerous celebs, The Simpsons (but let's forget - yeup, forget! - Rico that ridiculous rodent), Bear Grylls, gay kisses, swimsuit models...the sky's the limit!
Air NZ also has a solid track record for supporting our national ball-carriers, the All Blacks. So for its latest vid, it's enlisted some very special Men In Black...
Created in partnership with Sony Pictures, the All Blacks take passengers through the ins and outs of safety with the help of kiwi singer Stan Walker, actor Rip Torn and Frank the Pug (dog) who both starred in the movies MIB I (1997) and MIB II (2002).
All Black Israel Dagg proves he's as good off the field as on. Plus, keep an eye out for some inter-galactic rugby cameos from rugger greats David Campese (OZ), Martin Johnson (UK) and Agustin Pichot (Argentina), alongside A/Bs Richie McCaw, Dan Carter, Kieran Read, Kevin Mealamu, Sam Whitelock and their coach Steve Hansen.

This has GOTTA be one of AirNZ's best vids yet! Mind you, check out the very last scene. After all the safety tips for the flight, Israel Dagg flips out his Memory Neuralyzer, and *Zap!* everyone on board forgets... er... EVERYTHING!!!
Hmmm, does that seem ironic to you...or is it just my black humour?

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Denmark Refuses Entry To Faroes

The Sea Shepherd ship Bob Barker and its crew have been denied entry into the Faroe Islands by Danish authorities.
The vessel arrived at the port of Sund in the FI last Sunday. Upon docking, Danish Customs and Immigration officers conducted a full ship search and passport inspection. Authorities did not indicate there was any entry issue during the inspection. However, afterwards, all 21 crewmembers were issued with a Refusal of Entry notice and ordered to leave the 12nm limit of the Faroe Islands.
Danish authorities said the notices were issued for suspicion of "affecting public order", although the actual document gives no clear legal reasons for denial of entry. Believing the notices to be unlawful, SS has begun appeal processes to fight the order.
Captain Alex Cornelissen, CEO of SS Global: "Denmark seems to think the best way to divert attention away from its support of the grindadráp is to conduct further legally dubious activity."
Despite the fact that the slaughter of cetaceans is banned in the European Union - including Denmark - the killing continues with the support of Danish police and navy, and with the blessing of the Danish government. Cornelissen: "By denying the crew of the Bob Barker entry to the Faroe Islands, Danish authorities have proven that they are more interested in supporting the slaughter of pilot whales than they are in upholding their EU responsibilities and maintaining their relationships with other EU countries. They have also shown how effective Sea Shepherd has been in holding Denmark accountable for the on-going slaughter of cetaceans."
This year 490 pilot whales have been killed in the Faroes with Denmark's backing.
+ ...meanwhile international pressure against the grindadráp builds from countries within the EU. In early August, two major German cruise-liner companies cancelled tours to the Faroes.
In the past month, politicos from Luxembourg, Italy and the UK have publically expressed disdain for the grindadráp.
On 19 August, the Scottish town of Wick announced it had cut its 20yr.long twin-town relationship with the city of Klaksvík, and would not look to re-instate official relationships until the "disgusting" slaughter of whales in FI is banned.
The writing is on the wall...?

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Facial Discrimination?

An artist, refused entry to a Christchurch bar because of his facial tattoos, says he feels "degraded" and is considering whinging to the Human Rights Commission!
Bouncers turned 22yr.old Jesse Wright away from The Rockpool Bar, because of concerns about his facial inking - they thought he might have gang affiliations.
Wanna take THIS out for a drink?
They asked the meaning of some of his tats, including the number 75 on his cheek (it's supposedly a reference to his mum's birthyear).
Wright: "I find it highly offensive. None of my tattoos are gang-affiliated whatsoever – they all have high meaning to me." He wants the bar to change its policy: "I'm not the only one with face tattoos and if we want to go out, why should we be turned down because of what we look like? It's really insulting and it's hurt me deep down." [Oh, precious pup! Just choose a drinking hole with much much much lower standards then!]
Rockpool owner Peter Whittaker says people with visible facial or neck tattoos are not welcome: "Not everyone is automatically excluded but we don't want that profile of person."
Hear! Hear! A straw poll by shows 2/3 of respondents feel it's ok for bars to refuse entry because of facial tattoos. My readers may recall a similar incident involving an inked-up tattoo artist being bar-banned back in 2009. Also last weekend Vinnie Paul, co-founder of US heavy metal band Pantera, was denied entry to The Rockpool because he would not comply with the dress code.
The Tat Pack needs to understand that the majority feel threatened or repulsed by someone sporting facial ink and/or multiple piercings (often rough and home-created). That type of adornment may look great to the wearers but, to mainstream society, they've just made themselves outcasts!
And there is a COST. Anyone has the right to mutilate themselves, but must be aware that the price to be paid is often social ostracism. This is not Facial Discrimination. This is conforming to societal standards. Welcome to reality.

UPDATE: - Human Rights Commission says don't waste our time.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Perfection Projection

We each have our own individual idea of what the 'perfect female body' looks like, based on our personal preferences.

But have you ever considered that where you come from can have a strong bearing on your Perfection Projection? gave 18 designers from around the world an image and asked them to photoshop it, to make the model fit with their own culture's perceptions of beauty and an ideal female form.
The aim was to better understand potentially unrealistic standards of beauty and to see how such pressures varied around the world. As we know, widely-held perceptions of beauty and perfection can have a deep and lasting cultural impact on both women and men.
Of those 18 designers, 14 were women and 4 were men. The organisers of this artistic exercise focused on female designers, because they wanted a woman's view of what her culture found attractive and to understand more about the pressures they faced in their daily lives.
In fact, the men's contributions were only accepted
(a) to get entries from more countries, and
(b) on the proviso that they got female input and worked that into their design changes.
So to see Perfection Projections from around the world, based on geographical and cultural influences, click [here]...

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Stilted Success

The Department of Conservation (DOC) recently released nearly 100 young black stilts into the wild at sites in Canterbury's Mackenzie basin, after a record chick-rearing season.
About half were released at the Cass River near Lake Tekapo and the remainder on the Tasman River delta.
This follows the early release of 43 in January, due to avairies being at capacity.
The birds were successfully raised at DOC's aviary in Twizel and The Isaac Conservation and Wildlife Trust facilities in Christchurch.
Boosting the small wild population of this critically endangered species with birds from the captive breeding programme is essential for its survival. DOC Conservation Services Manager Dean Nelson: "The number we raise has been increasing each year, resulting in a steady increase of adult birds in the wild. Our challenge this coming season is to maintain this momentum, with our capacity to raise birds affected by the damage of two out of three of our aviaries in Twizel this winter." (Last June's heavy snow collapsed one wooden-arch aviary and damaged another.)
The wild black stilt population has increased from a desperately-low 23 birds in the early 1980s to an estimated 77 adult birds last summer.
The threat from predators such as stoats and feral cats over large areas of braided river habitat where black stilts live is a major difficulty in conserving this species.
Black stilts are only found in NZ, on the braided rivers and wetlands of the upper Waitaki and Mackenzie basins. They have been brought back from the brink of extinction by intensive conservation work over the past 30yrs. Black stilts are known to mate for life. The birds' survival is threatened by introduced predators, weeds and disturbance by people and vehicles.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Four Down - Many More Left!

Four Sea Shepherd volunteers were deported from the Faroe Islands under the cover of darkness in the early hours of 14 August.
The four had been found guilty of breaking the new Faroe Islands' Pilot Whaling Act, and of public disturbance for the crime of interfering in the July 23 slaughter of over 250 pilot whales at Bøur and Tórshavn.
So far this year, 12 SS volunteers from UK, Italy, Corsica/France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg and US have been arrested in the Faroes - all accused of interfering in the infamous drive hunt of pilot whales and other small cetaceans known as the
+ ...meanwhile the slaughter at Sandavágur on Vágar Island on 12 August was the fifth this year, bringing the death toll to around 490 pilot whales since June.
On that occasion, a SS boat disrupted the hunt, maneuvering between the flotilla of hunting boats, and managed to briefly re-direct the pod. On the beach, five more volunteers ran into the water to stand between the whales and the awaiting hunters. All five were hauled back to the sand by police and handcuffed.
About 61 pilot whales were eventually slaughtered, in a blood frenzy lasting 2hrs.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Saint Peter And Saint Fran?

Thanks sooo much, you two!
They've done it again!
Sir Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh have saved an historic Seatoun (Wellington) church.
Jackson and his wife have bought St Christopher's Church (c.1932) in Seatoun for $1.06 million, saving the earthquake-risk church and neighbouring hall from demolition.
Now, the Miramar Peninsula Community Trust has been established to run the buildings for the community, and will lease the buildings back from the Oscar-winning couple.
The deconsecrated church has been closed since 2012, but will be available for weddings, recitals and christenings once strengthening work is done.
The couple made their latest purchase to ensure the buildings would not be lost from the peninsula.
It's the second time these angels have saved a Seatoun church: they bought the quake-threatened Our Lady Star of the Sea in 2007, saving it from development.
They also bought the site of Bats Theatre in 2011, securing its future. And together with Weta Workshop founder Richard Taylor and others, Sir Peter helped restore Miramar's now-stunning 1928 Capitol Theatre.

A great save!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Water Conservation Is All BALLS!!

California's record-breaking drought shows no sign of ending, so Los Angeles has come up with something different to protect the city's water...
96-million 'shade balls' floating on its 75-acre LA Reservoir.
These apple-sized plastic balls are designed to help protect the supply against dust, rain, chemicals and wildlife, as well as prevent massive water loss each year.
So how do they work? Well, they float on the surface and block the sun's rays, to prevent evaporation and also to prevent a chemical reaction that creates the carcinogenic compound bromate. As well, the balls form a protective barrier across the surface that helps keep birds, animals and other contaminants out.
They cost 36 cents each, and are coloured black because that's the only colour able to deflect UV rays. Additionally, they reduce evaporation off the reservoir surfaces by 85-90%!
Mayor Eric Garcetti: "In addition to reducing chemical treatment to prevent natural occurrences like algae, these shade balls are a cost-effective way to reduce evaporation annually by nearly 300 million gallons, enough to provide drinking water for 8,100 people for a full year."
The polyethylene balls are expected to save $250 million when compared to other techniques to protect the water.
This is a phenomenal saving in both dollars and water, and an idea deserving of high praise!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Flag 'Em All!

The costly and wasteful process to choose what could be New Zealand's new flag has been trimmed down to 40 options.
The Flag Consideration Panel has released a "long list", chosen from more than 10,000 public submissions.
Chairman John Burrows: "A potential new flag should unmistakably be from NZ and celebrate us as a progressive, inclusive nation that's connected to its environment, and has a sense of its past and vision for its future."
The chosen 40 will now be subject to further scrutiny, including whether any breach intellectual property law. [Oh yes, mustn't forget that some maori think they have rights over a koru, and the NZ Rugby Union reckons it can claim the silver fern!]
Mid-next month, the panel will announce four of them, to be put to a national referendum. The winner will then go head-to-head with the current flag in another referendum in March 2016.
Prime Munster Johnno Key is trying to permanently stamp his legacy on this country by changing the flag, claiming ours is often mistaken for Australia's. But the cost of merely deciding whether to change the flag - up to $26m! - has come under heavy fire.
The Top 40 List is dominated by designs featuring koru, stars and ferns. Spokesman for the 'Silver Fern Flag' group Kyle Lockwood: "Like the maple leaf to Canada, the silver fern screams 'New Zealand', and it's not just a sports symbol. It's on our army and navy logos, our firefighters', police and sportsmen's uniforms, our money, passports,
national airline, and soon it'll be on NZ rockets sending satellites into's our national symbol and it's time we put it on our flag." Hmmm, as you can tell, Kyle is quite OTT about the fern!
As for me, there's not ONE on the "long list" that smokes my tyres. I say: flag 'em all and keep what we've got!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Winter Bay On The Move

The key to stopping Icelandic whaling - the Winter Bay with 1,800 tonnes of endangered fin whale meat - has left the port of Tromso, Norway, heading into the Barents Sea.
Winter Bay has the lowest ice classification recognised by Russia, and her permit to sail this route is only valid for 'low' ice conditions. Conditions remain 'medium' en route, so it's surprising the vessel has sailed.
But given that Icelanders don't eat fin whale meat (and therefore this hunt is entirely for export), if the shipment cannot be delivered to Japan (its only market), then the Icelandic hunting will have to stop. Strong pressure from the whalers' owner, Kristjan Loftsson, to get the vessel through...
Winter Bay plans to sail to Japan over the top of Russia, through the Northern Sea Route – which is increasingly navigable to commercial vessels due to thinning of the sea ice caused by global warming. No shipment from Iceland has gone this way before.
The unusual route is because of the unusual cargo. Loftsson used to send his meat via the international sea freight cargo network using European ports. But in mid-2013, Greenpeace actions in Rotterdam and Hamburg closed these ports to whale meat. Shipping lines began to refuse whale meat, including one of Iceland's own.
Jan.2014: Loftsson sent whale meat to America labelled as 'Frozen Seafood': USA barred it. Canada allowed it and seven containers were railed 4,000 miles across Canada before Greenpeace got them stopped.
March 2014: Loftsson chartered his own ship for the first time. He loaded 2,000 tons of meat onto the Alma, and sent it south around the Cape of Good Hope. But protestors got Alma's planned port stop in Durban, South Africa cancelled. She had to refuel from a tanker off Mauritius, making headlines there, and reached Japan without once going into port.
These efforts bring little/no financial gain to Loftsson. The Japanese whale meat market is collapsing, because young people don't eat it and Japan's whalers are unable to sell all their catch. But he hopes to build the market. He claims a decreasing supply of whale meat in Japan will create a demand for his product...
...meanwhile Russia is considering prohibiting transit of Icelandic foods to Russia through the EU, due to the high risk of shipping documents being forged.
According to findings of Iceland food inspections in Russia in the last 6mths, just one out of 40 certificates was the original one, while the others were forged in EU member-states.
UPDATE: 05 Sept.2015 - Winter Bay reached Osaka, Japan on 30 August. Its Icelandic fin meat cargo equates to roughly 40% of Japan's annual whale consumption.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Radio Marriage Pulls Plug

Husband and wife radio stars Polly Gillespie and Grant Kereama have announced their separation.
The duo, who host The Polly and Grant Show on The Hits, told stunned listeners the news on their show this morning.
Kereama: "For the last two weeks Polly and I have been living apart. We are separated."
Gillespie: "It isn't because we don't love each other, we are best friends, we love working together, we have wonderful children together. It's just life."
They say The Polly and Grant Show
will continue despite their separation.
Gillespie and Kereama spent more than 20 years at the helm of their ZM breakfast show before moving to The Hits last April.
The pair had been together for 30 years and have three children.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Stuck In Its Own Time Warp

North Korea is frequently accused of turning back the clock on human rights, economic development and diplomacy.
But last week, the pariah nation took things to a whole new level. It announced it would adopt a new time zone – called Pyongyang Time – to cast off the legacy of "wicked Japanese imperialists".
The new time zone takes effect from August 15 to mark the 70th anniversary of the country's independence from Japanese rule at the end of WWII.
Since Japan colonised the country in 1910, its clocks have been 9hrs ahead of Greenwich Mean Time, the same as Japan and South Korea. Pyongyong's new time zone (8hrs ahead of GMT) is a wind-back to its pre-colonial past.
[North Koreans already have their own calendar. Instead of counting from the birth of Christ, they count from the birth of founding leader, Kim Il Sung. Kim was born in 1912 - known in North Korea as Juche 1, making this year Juche 104.]
The new time will put Pyongyang half an hour behind Tokyo and Seoul. I'm a little surprised that the idea of trailing their South Koreans by 30mins hasn't annoyed the DPRK leadership a bit...or maybe they he hadn't thought it through that far!
The Clown Prince
The sabre-rattling ego-pumping national news agency states emphatically: "It is the firm faith and will of the DPRK's people to force the Japanese imperialists to pay for the monstrous crimes committed by them for a century, firmly defend the national sovereignty, and demonstrate for eternity the dignity and might of the great ... nation shining with the immortal august names of Kim Il Sung and leader Kim Jong Il."
And speaking of "living in their own little time warp", what do ya think of His Glorious Leadership's latest hair style...?!!
Ooooooooo YEAAAAAA!!!!!
Me wants one just the same!!!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

This Is Nepalling!

Every August, the Deopokhari festival is held in Khokana, one of the oldest villages in the Kathmandu Valley, central Nepal.
This is part of a celebration of the culture of the Newari people, the indigenous people of the area, and features traditional dancing, music and food.
But also at this cultural event, a live goat is ripped apart by villagers...and this has been going on for 900yrs!
A 5-6mth.old goat is hurled into a pond close to a temple at the centre of the village, then nine young men jump into the pond and begin to tear at the goat with their hands and teeth. They bite, pull and strangle the goat until it's torn apart (often for as long as 40 minutes), and the man deemed to have eventually killed it gets to lead the year's procession.
Animal Welfare Network Nepal (AWNN) has been campaigning against the festival for years, and is rallying international support. World-renowned animals rights charity PETA has joined AWNN in highlighting the damage the festival does to Nepal's international reputation: "It demonstrates obliviousness to world opinion, disrespect for life and an almost uniquely savage and disgusting display of cruelty."
Shocked public from across Europe and Nepal have launched several online petitions, calling on the Nepali Congress Central Office to ban the practice. The largest has been signed by more than 53,000+.
No-one in Nepal can explain why this practice is carried out year after year since the C12th., except to say it's 'traditional'.
And this is not the only Nepalese festival to have drawn the attention of animal rights groups. A two-day religious festival held every five years in Nepal, sees the ritual massacre of 250,000 buffalo, birds and goats. Millions attend this ceremony for the Hindu goddess of power, which is held at her temple in Bariyarpur, near the Indian border.
Today, continuing a vicious practice in the face of generally-accepted norms simply for the sake of 'tradition' is ignorant, blind, self-centred and barbaric. Such acts have no place in the civilised world and should be banned immediately!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Cilla: A Bit Of Scouse Rough

British tv personality/singer Cilla Black, whose instantly recognisable Liverpool 'Scouse' accent won over generations of fans, died last weekend in Spain of natural causes.
Black (born Priscilla Maria Veronica White on 27 May 1943) broke through in the 1960s as a buck-toothed pop singer in the Merseybeat boom, and went on to become one of the enduring stars of UK tv light entertainment (her name change was the result of the local Mersey Beat newspaper mistakenly calling her by the wrong colour!).
Championed by The Beatles and their manager Brian Epstein, she began her singing career in 1963, and her first hits Anyone Who Had a Heart (1964) and You're My World (1964) both reached No.1. Black had eleven Top 10 hits on the UK charts between 1964-1971.
By 1965 she'd become the female symbol of British youth. Her version of Anyone Who Had a Heart was the UK's biggest selling single by a female artist in the '60s. By 1968 at 25, she was a millionaire. A quarter of a century later, she was the highest-paid female entertainer on British tv.
Along with a successful recording career running until the early 1970s, Black hosted her own tv variety show Cilla, between 1968-1976. After a brief time as a comedy actress in the mid-1970s, she became a prominent tv presenter in the 1980s and 1990s. In 2013, Black celebrated 50 years in show business.
Cilla Black was named ITV Personality of the Year in 1987 and Variety Club Showbusiness Personality of 1991. She won a Bafta in 1995, and was appointed OBE in 1997.
She made a career out of what one critic described as 'the phenomenon of ordinariness.' Unashamedly working-class, she would laugh: "I was a bit of fun and a bit of Scouse rough and everybody liked me, I was normal. I could have been the kid next door. And then I turned into the auntie next door. And now I'm the granny next door!"
Cilla Black married her long-time boyfriend and manager, Bobby Willis, in 1969. He died in 1999, and she is survived by their three sons. Cilla was 72.
NZ recently enjoyed the TV mini-drama Cilla, which starred Sheridan Smith in the title role - the real Cilla loved it!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

“An Absolute Disaster”

Dear New Zealand Transport Agency, please explain!
NZTA recently trialled a disastrous cycle lane that left motor vehicles on a collision course!
It painted a pair of cycle lanes on Roto-o-rangi Rd near Cambridge, reducing the automobile area to a single lane just three paces wide, and slashing the speed limit to 60kmh to allow cyclists and cars to share the road. Within a DAY, the monitored trial was called off.
Oh, what a surprise!
The area is known for its strong cycling fraternity, but even bike-loving councillors want answers. Mayor Jim Mylchreest: "The trial was an absolute disaster and didn't achieve the results that NZTA was after." Ha, no shit, Sherlock!
Just what the hell are we meant to do with THIS??!!
The 2-1 roading layout removed the three original, white lane markings and replaced them with two lines which formed the cycle lanes and a centre lane only wide enough for a single vehicle.
NZTA road corridor manager Koos Lelieveld admits "…we did drop the ball," but says the council was well aware of the trial and needs to share in the road safety cock-up.
The trialled layout was common in Europe but Roto-o-rangi Rd was quite unsuitable. A similar design (known as Fietsstrook) is used on low-speed Dutch roads, with coloured cycling lanes either side. Motorists can use the cycle lanes when other cars approach from the opposite direction but must allow cyclists the right of way.
Imagine that, in our country of generally piss-poor and aggressive drivers?! Blasting down the centre lane – the ONLY marked lane for cars – and then zigzagging at the usual kiwi over-the-limit speed, in and out of cycling lanes, dodging oncoming cars and slower bikes!!! Yea, riiiiiight!!!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Arahura: Good Riddance

This week saw the end of an era, as the oldest Interislander ferry made her final journey across Cook Strait.
Built in 1983, the Arahura has made more than 50,000 crossings and clocked up 5 million kilometres in her 32 years on the water.
Interislander general manager Mark Thompson says the boat's greatest moment came not long after she launched: "Going to the aid of the Russian cruise ship Mikhail Lermontov (in 1986), helping save over 700 people... she's been a fantastic ship for us."
Former crew and staff, people with fond memories of the Arahura - and perhaps rose-tinted glasses - were aboard the final voyage.
I heard a radio announcer last Wednesday bemoan her departure: "Farewell, old friend, you've served us well." Holy hell, what planet was that muppet on??!! Breakdowns, missed sailings, crashes into wharves etc...just read my blog and be reminded!
The "old friend" is the second inter-island ferry to bear the Arahura name. The earlier one, built in 1905, served until the early 1950s and was sunk by the RNZAF as target practice. We can thank our lucky stars that the current Arahura didn't sink too, the way she performed of late! May the navy to put this one out of its misery, and not inflict it on any other buyer sucker!
The Arahura's replacement is MS Kaiarahi. Wow, have the bosses at Interislander finally splashed out on a new ship? Nah, get real! Kaiarahi is just the MS Stena Alegra, the dog that was leased from the other side of the world to cover for that other ailing ferry, Aratere...and kept breaking down too.
Now we permanently have one dog to replace another!
And so the Interislander joke continues...

UPDATE: 09 Nov.2015 - Arahura ready for wrecking.