Friday, August 19, 2016

Wake Me When It's Over

The Olympic pains!
Boring. Boring. Boring.
Did I mention boring?
I didn't buy into the pre-games hype (because I could see the growing pile of problems). Since it started, I've painted the fence simply to watch it dry!
I believe the Olympics lost it's sparkle years ago. This year's games have been buried under the Zika virus controversy; Brazil's political, economic and security problems; the Russian steroids scandal (and I'm sure the Comrades are not the only ones). Rio's poor were segregated behind the city's own 'Berlin Wall' and their shanty homes bulldozed to construct the Olympic facilities - many of which were still not ready just days before opening. Venues have been half-empty; local spectators have loudly booed other nations' winners; an official was caught scalping tickets; there've been shootings and murders near the facilities, competitors have been robbed; and let's not forget the pollution and body parts bobbing in the harbour where races are held.
And did I mention deliberately throwing oneself (opps, I mean accidentally tripping!) over the line to order to grab a medal? No, if you ain't running in a running race when you hit the finish, then you ain't finished!
No doubt as a result of all this, ticket sales for the Paralympics to follow these games are appallingly bad.
New Olympic sport?
But you can guarantee at the closing ceremony, some tosser in a suit will declare Rio 2016 "the best Olympics EVER"... yea, right.
The Olympics needs a complete overhaul. Get rid of sports that the majority of viewers and participants consider non-Olympic, and let's get real on the ridiculous 'demonstration' events. A return to complete amateurism would be great, but won't happen because every country wants to win medals and some countries will go to any lengths to get 'em.
And the media needs to throttle back on the 'hopes and dreams' hype. It's great to support our athletes, but don't set them up to fail and then broadcast disparagingly that they "could only manage" a silver or bronze (!!!)
Now excuse me: I have to paint the fence again.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Attack on the Nino Bixio

Today in history, 17 Aug.1942, 118 NZ prisoners of war died, when the Italian cargo ship MV Nino Bixio was torpedoed by a British submarine in the Mediterranean.
Their deaths, combined with 44 New Zealanders lost earlier aboard Jantzen in Dec.1941, amounted to nearly a third of NZ's POW fatalities during WWII...
Nino Bixio had left Benghazi in Libya for Brindisi, Italy, escorted by two destroyers and two torpedo boats. Crammed aboard were almost 3000 POWs captured in North Africa, including more than 160 Kiwis.
Two days out of Libya, the convoy was attacked by British submarine HMS Turbulent (N98). [This was one of the most successful Royal Navy submarines during its short career 1942-43. It sank a cruiser, a destroyer, a U-boat, 28 supply ships - some 100,000 tons in all - and destroyed three trains by gunfire. It was depth-charged on over 250 occasions by hunting forces.]
Nino Bixio was hit by two torpedoes from Turbulent: one exploded in the tightly-packed forward hold, killing 237 men and wounding another 60. In the ensuing panic and confusion, many men jumped overboard. Some drowned immediately; others reached makeshift rafts and drifted around the Mediterranean for weeks without food or water.
But, despite extensive damage, Nino Bixio did not sink. Survivors were pulled aboard, and the ship was towed by an escorting destroyer to Navarino in southern Greece, where 34 of the dead were buried (203 others are remembered on the memorial at El Alamein).
Nino Bixio was towed to the port of Pylos in Italian-occupied Greece, where it was beached. Later it was towed to Venice and sunk as a 'block ship' to protect the port.
In 1952 Nino Bixio was raised, re-fitted and returned to civilian service. In its peacetime career, it visited a number of NZ ports including Wellington where, on 25 Jan.1955, a wreath-laying ceremony was held aboard the foredeck. It continued in merchant service until 1970, and was scrapped at La Spezia in 1971.
Ironically its attacker did not fare so well. HMS Turbulent was lost with all hands off the coast of Sardinia in March 1943, after probably striking a mine...

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Air New Zealand Crashes

The latest in a long and varied line of Air New Zealand in-flight safety videos is out.
But this one MUST rate as a major crash-landing...which is not something one talks about in earshot of an airline!
Sorry to say, guys, but many in the world do not find NZ comic (I use the term advisedly) Rhys Darby at all funny. He was always the weak link in the Flight Of The Concords tv series, and has not improved since.
The vid itself can't decide what it actually is: a parady of a cop show? Western? Horror movie? Romance? Based around the loose premise of Darby trying to find a Hollywood-style idea for a new safety video, it fails on so many counts...not least of which are the pretty but somewhat robotic AirNZ staffers who obviously skipped Relaxed Speaking 1:01.

Quite apart from the production values, the NZ Civil Aviation Authority isn't impressed either. It's growled at AirNZ for its celebrity-cameo-heavy, pre-flight briefings: "The video diverges materially from the 'safety message' at times and, whilst we appreciate the need to engage the viewers, the extraneous material detracts from the scope and direction of the safety message."
The problem is obviously one of how to 'top' the last all-whistles-and-bells safety video. We all look forward to the latest release, and each one does generate plenty of publicity, but just how far should the airline go?
With the jumbled message and Rhys Darby's weak "acting" ability (again, those words were used cautiously), is it time to pause for breath and step back from the "entertainment" line somewhat?

Into The Black Heart

Late last month (29 July), Sea Shepherd Captain Jessie Treverton from the UK re-entered the Faroe Islands' capital T├│rshavn for the first time since her arrest in 2014.
She returned to demand a court trial and the return of a seized SS vessel.
The procrastinating Faroese prosecutor had yet to set a court date, almost two years after Treverton's Sept.2014 arrest for guiding a large pod of white-sided dolphins away from the killing bays of the Faroe Islands as part of SS's campaign Operation Grindstop. After MV Spitfire steered a large pod of dolphins to safety, the Danish Navy seized the UK-registered vessel and arrested its three crew, charging them with 'failure to report sightings of dolphins to the authorities' under the newly-introduced Grind Law and 'harassing dolphins' in an unprecedented interpretation of Faroese animal welfare legislation.
It seems in the Faroes it's legal to drive and kill an EU-protected cetacean species, but it's illegal to push them back out to sea in order to save them from harm...because that's considered harassment!
Treverton's court case has been postponed numerous times, but she now finally has a court summons for 24 Nov.2016. She believes the lengthy postponement is intentional, because any such trial will have a landmark impact on the traditional drive hunt and slaughter of pilot whales and other dolphins: "I'm looking forward to my court case, to highlight the ridiculous hypocrisy of the grind laws. If I'm found guilty of 'stressing' dolphins, the dolphin hunters can also be charged with that same offence. If I am found innocent, any person will be free to direct dolphins away from the islands to safety. Either way, it's a win for the oceans."
I'll bet when the FI legal beagles twisted the Grind Law around, they hadn't thought of that implication! Opps!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

NZ Herald Horror (and I mean it's standards!)

Yesterday (03 Aug.2016) an Emirates Boeing 777-300 crash-landed at Dubai: amazingly all 300 passengers and crew were saved.
I found out about the story when I opened the NZ Herald website today. Note: NOT a newsworthy headline like "All safe after Emirates crash in Dubai" or "Dubai Airport closed by crash" or even "300 saved by Boeing technology", I was offered a chance to "WATCH terrified passengers inside smoke-filled cabin"!!!
Yeup, in these days when everyone's cellphones make them 'photo-journos', someone FILMED what was nearly their moment of DEATH!
As if that particular action was not 'braindead personified', we were shown confusion, panic, screaming, yelling, every-man-for-himself ...and OMG! In the most crucial 60 seconds of their lives, passengers were opening overhead lockers and getting their cabin bags!
But the 'curdled-cream-on-the-rotting-cake' must surely be NZ Herald's decision to actually run this 'citizen footage' in the first place!
Posting pix of the crash site to support the story is one thing. To stream footage of terrified passengers clawing their way out of a smoke-filled cabin - and call it news - is completely different...and quite frankly piss-poor journalism.
Oh, but then, it's NOT real journalism, is it? It's yet another example of CNN-type sensationalism in the interests of reaping a few more dollars, more of the pathetic NZ Herald non-thoughts such as we've seen over the past few years.
One can only assume the editorial staff were born in the late '90s and bought their journalism qualifications on-line...