Friday, October 2, 2015


In a few years from now, scientists will try to push an asteroid off its orbital path.
It's not a case of "because they CAN"…it's actually a practice run for
saving the world!
So the joint US-European AIDA (Asteroid Deflection and Assessment) mission will crash a probe into a small asteroid called 65803 Didymos. It's only 160m wide, but the test will show if in principle a much larger asteroid threatening to wipe out human civilisation can be deflected the same.
Two spacecraft, one kamikaze and the other to monitor the effect, will be launched in October 2020. They'll travel about 6million km and reach the target mid-2022.
Dr Patrick Michel, lead investigator for the European Space Agency: "To protect Earth from potentially hazardous impacts, we need to understand asteroids much better - what they are made of, their structure, origins and how they respond to collisions."
Planet Earth has had a couple of near misses in the last few years: an asteroid the size of an aircraft carrier wizzed by - closer than the Moon! - in late 2011.
And let's not forget that on 13 April 2029, an asteroid called 99942 Apophis will miss us by a mere 35,000km, a hair's breadth in astronomical terms. Apophis is the size of a football field, enough mass to cause widespread devastation should it ever collide with Earth. It too will be well within the orbit of the moon. That's damn better to be safe than sorry.
After all, if/when the situation is for REAL, Bruce Willis will be too far into his dotage to save us!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Goodbye, Good Morning

Say goodbye to Good Morning.
Television New Zealand is finally axing its long-running (and these days, painful!) morning show.
The TV One slot, which has gradually shrunk to just an hour on weekdays at 9am, will die an overdue death by the end of December.
The ship-of-fools features a varying cast including Jeanette Thomas, Matai Smith and Matt Gibb, and has been home to other well-known faces over the years such as Mary Lambie, Kerry Smith, bizarre metrosexual Brendon Pongia and Steve Gray. [Aaahhhhhh, how can we forget that OTT presenter who led the nation in embarrassing exercise routines in oversized tracksuits...? And also how can we forget his departure, after the bisexual was told by TVNZ bosses to "tone down" his gayness...? Remember the 15-minute mini-drama? I'm still trying to figure out the "tone down" comment!]
Then of course there was Sarah Bradley, ditched at the end of 2011. In my mind, that was when TVNZ crossed the Rubicon, and should have quietly rolled the show up instead of flogging a dieing horse for another four years. Sarah was the show - without her, it was just more drivel-coated advertising-laden pap. Pleased to see that Sarah's gone on to better things...but that's another story.
Good Morning has been on NZ TV screens since 1996. TVNZ's director of content Jeff Latch says it's "nearing the end of its lifecycle and TVNZ has chosen to focus its local content investment in prime time programming." No word yet on a replacement but "it will likely be some form of international lifestyle content".
Hey, here's something novel: why not buy in more cooking crap, renovation rigmarole or tedious tired travel talk?
The ship-of-fools sails again!

UPDATE: 02 October 2015 - TVNZ swings the cost-cutting axe again. Who will be killed off next - Peter Williams? Or Bernadine Oliver-Kerby?

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Unt Zen Zere Were Five!

The 'Red Peak' flag will be added as a fifth possible choice in the NZ flag referendum.
Prime Munster John Key says "I'm not wanting to stand in the way of people having some choice."
Bless him - how considerate!
This remarkable mid-week turn-around came after growing support for the design seemed to be ignored, following a petty wee stand-off between the govt and Labour opposition on how it could be added to the designs already selected.
Johnno Key repeatedly said he'd only add Red Peak as a 5th option if Labour supported the process rather than criticising it. Then the Green Party came up with a work-around...which featured them not siding with Labour - at least according to the PM.
However, Greens co-leader James Shaw said the whole process had been deeply flawed from the start, and it was "absurd" that they had to come up with a solution.
Labour leader Andrew Little has accused Key of trying to put the blame on Labour for blocking Red Peak.
Currently, the 1st referendum (in November) will ask kiwis to rank the now-five alternatives. The winner will then run-off against the current flag next year.
New Zealand First has opposed Red Peak being added, in line with its strong opposition to any flag change - in fact it says the design resembles markings on WWII Nazi sentry boxes!
The fact remains that if voters don't want our current flag to change, then in November they should vote for the weakest of the options, to then fight off against the existing flag.
Just don't mention ze vor!

UPDATE: 25 Sept.2015 - Gareth Morgan calls the entire issue a "$26-million dollar folly" that's completely lost the public's buy-in.