Thursday, March 26, 2015

Richard III: Re-Writing Royal History?

Last weekend, England farewelled her king – or at least the skeletal remains of Richard III.
Here in NZ, the spectacle only garnered a few moments of tv curiosity time, but it was Billy Big Time there. However not everyone appreciated the pomp and ceremony.
Michael Thornton, writing in Britain's Daily Mail, watched with …mounting stupefaction, the grotesque televised travesty involving the remains of one of the most evil, detestable tyrants ever to walk this earth.
Richard III: R3, to his friends.
I take the liberty of reprinting his piece (abridged) as a strong counter-balance to the Royalist hype...
2½ years after his bones were unearthed under a Leicester car park, and at the outrageous cost of more than £2.5 million, Richard was prepared for reburial with a 21-gun salute, medieval re-enactors in shiny armour and plumed helmets, children in paper crowns, onlookers tossing white Yorkist roses.
An aura of heroism has been conferred on R3 for being the last English king to die in battle. But he was only in battle because his usurpation of the throne - and his abduction/murder of his nephew Edward V - had provoked a popular rising/invasion led by Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond.
R3 need not have died at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. If he'd retreated, the throne he'd stolen would've been lost, and his future would have been as an exiled fugitive. He died attempting to hack his way through to Henry Tudor, knowing that if he killed him, then the throne was his.
Was this heroism? No. Like everything else he did, it reveals the mind of a murderous pragmatist.
In this light, much of what took place last Sunday raised serious doubt about the sanity of some of the key figures involved.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Kunlun Kan't Run Now

Two months after a pirate captain escaped the grasp of the NZ Navy, because of limp-dick bureaucrats, his luck's finally run out!
The Interpol-wanted, internationally-blacklisted poaching vessel Kunlun has been detained in Thailand on fisheries-related violations.
Back in Jan.2015, the vessel was caught illegally fishing in the Southern Ocean, but kiwi politicos wouldn't allow our navy to perform its righteous role and so Kunlun happily ran away. Then in Feb., it was intercepted by Sea Shepherd's Sam Simon in possession of banned fishing equipment in Australian waters.
Kunlun cuts across Sam Simon, Sthrn.Ocean, Feb.2015
Kunlun is one of six vessels known to still engage in Illegal, Unreported, Unregulated (IUU) fishing for Sthrn.Ocean toothfish. It has a long history of suspected fishing violations and is believed to have links to known Spanish crime sydnicate Vidal Armadores. Since 2008, the vessel has changed names at least ten times in order to avoid prosecution.
Kunlun is one of three IUU fishing vessels that've been intercepted by SS since the commencement of Operation Icefish in Dec.2014.
Another pirate ship, Nigerian-flagged Thunder, was also encountered by SS in Antarctica. SS ship Bob Barker has maintained a continuous pursuit of Thunder, which has led it to the coast of Namibia.
Operation Icefish is SS's first Southern Ocean Defence Campaign to target IUU fishing operators in the waters of Antarctica.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Fanfare For The Common Man?

Chaneys Corner is on Christchurch's Northern Motorway, just south of the Waimakariri Bridge.
At that point, a motorway offroad links to Main North Road and takes vehicles down Marshland Road and into the CBD. In morning traffic, it's very congested - so much so, that the council last year installed extra 'merge' precautions, and Transit NZ added more traffic-cams. The Chaney's area will also be the branch point for the new Northern Arterial Route and the Western Belfast Bypass.
So I question the mental state of the Christchurch City Council's Public Art Advisory Group that approved the installation of a huge public art piece RIGHT ON THAT JUNCTION!!!
Fanfare is a large-scale work by Chch artist Neil Dawson (he of Chalice fame). Fanfare is 20m in diameter (!!), 25 tonnes and is covered by 360 separate 1m-round wind-powered 'pinwheels' (all independently attached and lit up for special occasions on the calendar). So, methinx lots of colour, lots of spin, lots of dazzle...and a helluva lot of motorist distraction!!!
Fanfare was originally commissioned by Sydney, Australia, for its 2005 New Year celebrations. It was raised from a barge at midnight and suspended from its Harbour Bridge for three weeks. Then in 2007, Sydney (seemingly in a generous gesture!) gifted it to Christchurch and cleverly cleared its books of it.
What we may see, southbound from the Waimak.Bridge

Now this monster bauble is being installed beside the northern entrance to the city. Total asset cost: $3.3 million. Total installation cost: $350,000 - nearly completely raised now, from donations. Thank God this crippled city's ratepayers didn't have to pay for this!
But the question remains: what about driver distraction? There'll be those who'll want to pull onto the road shoulder to take photos, or drive slower to gawk. There may even be reflections of light, dazzling motorists' eyes.
I'm sure Fanfare will look very pretty...but at a time when poor driving and motorist distraction (resulting in road accidents and deaths) is high in the public's priorities, this all points to an appallingly bad decision about its location.

PS: "Fanfare for the Common Man" is a musical work by US composer Aaron Copland, used in many forms around the globe.