Sunday, August 30, 2009

Longlining - Indiscriminate Killer

In the paper recently, an article about a tangled humpbackfemale humpback entangled in fishing lines off the coast of Tonga...
These "long lines", up to 60 miles/96km long (!!) with baited hooks on them every few metres, are left floating in deep waters. The fishing method is constantly criticised by conservation groups for its indiscriminate hooking of unwanted catches (it's claimed 100-thousand albatrosses, 20-thousand turtles, 3-million sharks and tens of thousands of sea mammals are killed by longlines annually).
...this particular whale was exhausted by her struggles to free herself, her body was cut by the lines, and her pectoral fins pinned collage of Tony Wu's beautiful whale photographsto her sides effectively reduced her survival chances to zero. Even as photographer Tony Wu captured the sad image, he saw sharks moving in for the kill.
These deaths happen far too often and, unless the practise of "long-lining" is restricted or banned, will continue.
Da Man himself, Tony WuA positive side to this story is discovering Tony Wu's website, featuring gorgeous photos of humpbacks at play. When you see these majestic creatures frolicking, it's easy to smile. Thanks, Tony!

Friday, August 28, 2009

E-waste: Western Shame

Further to my August 3rd.posting, about pollution created by Gap and Levi's factories in Africa, comes a PBS FRONTLINE/World expose of massive e-waste pollution: hundreds of millions of tonnes of Western civilisation's unwanted electronic waste, dumped annually!
As is par for the course, it all seems to end up in the laps of Third World countries. Places such as Ghana, China and India...where impoverished people scavenge for scraps of semi-precious metals to sell. In order to obtain these scraps, they melt circuit boards - unwittingly inhaling toxic fumes during the process. The poor are live.
Another extremely worrying aspect is the obtaining of sensitive data from the hard-drives of dumped computers. In these days of credit theft, e-scams and identity fraud, organised criminals buy these hard-drives for the equivalent of $35...who knows what they'll find?
Although the video is 20 minutes long, I recommend it: you'll have your eyes opened, and may never nonchalantly dump a dead computer again!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Definitions of Yardie/Yardy/Yada...

People often search this blog for the meaning of "yardie". So here're some definitions for your reading pleasure and education:
scene from poor Trenchtown(1a) Yardie/Yardy (Jamaican slang): a name for occupants of government yards in Trenchtown, a poor neighbourhood in West Kingston, Jamaica.
(1b) an expression for someone (Jamaican or foreign) who knows their way around the island, and especially the ghetto.
(1c) derogatory, refers to low-income workers in the yards of wealthy West Indies landowners.
(2) Yardie: member of a (nonexistent) international crime ring of Jamaicans dispensing drugs and violence.
(3) Yardie (British slang): wannabee criminals of Jamaican origins, characterised by excessive jewelry, puffer-jackets, A wannabe somebody nobody!baseball caps and extremely strong accents. Many operate in London, dealing in drugs and protection rackets. Frequently seen driving BMWs with darkened windows, they like to visibly display their status: expensive gold jewellery, designer suits, sunglasses, weapons. Often violent to those who show 'disrespect'.
...intelligence test!(4) Yardie (Australian slang): someone employed to do the running-around in a car sales yard: a yard gopher.
(5) Yardie (Aust./NZ slang): a "yard glass", a 1m/3ft.long 2L glass with a bulbous shape at each end. Filled with beer and drunk fast at 21st. parties, often followed quickly by vomiting. If you can't scull your yardie ie: drink it without stopping (and keep it down), you fail.
It's a local intelligence test. Jerry Seinfeld
Spelling variations include YARDIE, YARDY, YARDI.
Closely related in sound but not definition is the phrase, "yada yada yada". Used extensively in the '90s tv series Seinfeld, it's a modern equivalent of "blah, blah, blah" (which is early 20th.century). The "yada" phrase originated in USA in WWII: it's an indication that something is predictable, repetitive or tedious. Variations of this phrase include: YADA YADA YADA, YARDA YARDA YARDA, YARDI YARDI YARDI and YARDY YARDY YARDY (hence the title of this blogsite!)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

DB Soldiers On!

DB Draught product labelFor many New Zealanders, the flavour of a particular beer is woven into the very fabric of their lives.
For me, it's DB Draught: the taste takes me back to my childhood, when dad would mix me a shandy (½ DB, ½ lemonade) as a Christmas treat.
As an adult, though I don't drink much beer, when I do it's always DB Draught. That unmistakable DB core flavour has appeared over the years in a myriad of variations e.g.: DB Bitter, DB Export Gold. So imagine my concern upon hearing DB Draught was no longer being made!!! This DEMANDED clarification so I contacted DB direct, and got this reply:
Relax, there is no substance to any of the rumours you have heard about DB Draught ceasing production. DB Draught is a great beer, has many fans like yourself and brewing production continues to keep trucking on. Great to hear your passion for the brand. Enjoy!
Jarrod Bear, DB Brand Manager.

So if you're a DB fan who'd heard this rumour...relax, and crack open a Draught for me!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Anyone For a Big Mac?

It's official: Fleetwood Mac returns to New Zealand for the first time in nearly 30 years! New Plymouth's revamped Bowl of Brooklands... Saturday December 19th. The controversial 1000-seat lake platform will be ready in time and, having scooped the big city venues, New Plymouth is pretty pumped to secure what's bound to be 'the concert of the year'.
1977 Album of The Year, RumoursThe band features Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks, manic drummer Mick Fleetwood and on bass, John McVie - no Christine McVie, who's retired from public performances. With no new album to promote, the playlist will stick closely to the classic library that fans really want: gems like Dreams, Sara, Go Your Own Way, The Chain, Gypsy, Tusk, Little Lies, Landslide, Rhiannon and of course Don't Stop.
Rumours- the 1977 Grammy winner for Album of the Year - stands as one of THE greatest albums ever made. Exceeding 40 million sales worldwide, it has unquestionably stood the test of time and still sounds amazing.
PS: 11 Sept.2009 - with the first concert sold out in minutes (no surprise!), a 2nd.concert will be held Sunday December 20th.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Referendum Wrap-Up

...and who IS The Orange Man?Well, it's all over bar the shouting, as they say.
But actually, it's NOT all over...and you can guarantee, if not shouting, there'll be mumbling for months to come (about the question's clarity, the response/lack of, the will of the people, the cost...)!
The Citizen's-Initiated anti-smacking Referendum has closed, with 87.6% of those who voted ticking 'no' to the question: "Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?"
As previously mentioned, this referendum is not binding on the government, but as expected there're calls for a law amendment anyway.
Also as expected, the champion of the anti-smacking law, MP Sue Bradford, lost...but the question was flawed, so it's hard to draw any conclusions from the results.
Sorry, Sue, but the voters are not as stupid as you possibly think: the question was clear. The result was clear. Now the government's actions are required to be just as clear.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Dog Eat Dog...

One nasty pitbull it really a great loss?Many NZers were stunned by the recent story of a South Auckland man eating his pet dog!
The man, originally from Tonga, acted within New Zealand law when he barbequed his pitbull. To him, this was no big deal: apparently dog is "good food" in Tonga, as in places like Asia and Africa. The SPCA sees it differently, but can't prosecute because the animal was killed humanely with minimal pain and suffering.
Under our Animal Welfare Act, it's legal to kill a dog if it is slaughtered swiftly and painlessly. This allows owners to put down an animal which is suffering, without incurring vet expenses. But because of the consumption angle, many find the man's actions unacceptable.
Different cultures have varying tolerances. For example, many tourists are horrified to find Australian restaurants serving kangaroo. I've eaten elephant in Africa. In season, hunters here are allowed to kill swans...but, to clarify, those examples all stem from sanctioned culling.
I don't presume there'll be a plethora of pet pooch pot-roasts following this incident. But is a law change needed in anticipation? Or an education programme for our Pacific Island community?
New Zealanders don't walk their dogs down the street as a cleverly-disguised method of keeping the fat off their soon-to-be Sunday roast. These're PETS, to whom their owners have emotional bonds and therefore eating them is not acceptable in NZ – whether legal or not. When you live here, adherance to our society's behaviour is expected.
That doesn't stop anyone back in Tonga having a spaniel-snack or dining on dobermann. But when in Rome...

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Truth Is Out There, Scully!

This new crop circle appeared last month in a barley field in Oxfordshire, England. One of the largest crop patterns ever, at 200m (that's 600ft.) from top to tail, it's the first time a jellyfish pattern has ever been seen in this kind of field "drawing". There've been butterfly and bird patterns in the past, but this is the first jellyfish crop circle/pattern in the world. At three times the size of most patterns, it has crop circle experts extremely excited.
So...what exactly ARE these patterns? There're at least two theories: theory #1 says crop circle patterns are totally and unmistakably man-made, to attract more tourists to the region during the harvest season (and their appearance certainly does draw viewers). Theory #2 claims the jellyfish is too huge to have been made overnight even by a large group of people, it’s definitely of extraterrestrial nature and a signal from "out there".
If that IS the case, then what kind of signal is it? Can't they just spell "H-E-L-L-O"?
PS: 20 Oct.2009 - Maybe I shouldn't have joked about alien artists!
Check out this story from a cop in Crop Circle Country...

Monday, August 10, 2009

$40m "Small Beer" Blowout?

Colin 'Pinetree' Meads
This is the first and possibly only time rugby will feature in this blog...
NZers have grown up with rugby legends like Colin "Pinetree" Meads, Jonah Lomu, Sean Fitzpatrick, John Kirwin, Buck Shelford and latterly Richie McCaw: these and others have inspired thousands of kiwi kids.
Rugby's called "New Zealand's Game", but it's actually not our most popular sport. Sorry - it ranks 21st. on SPARC's 2007/2008 'Sport Participation Levels' survey, embarrassingly far below netball, fishing, swimming and even gardening. Public interest in rugby's at a 16-year low too, according to recent polls. Ok, enough background...
Personally I've never understood the game, the rules, the whole mentality – slamming bodily into opponents, fisticuffs on the 22, scrums, hookers, first 5s...and let's not even start on the escalating parental verbal abuse on school match sidelines!
What I do understand/abhor is wholesale wastage of public money.
Last weekend I read the *yawn* 2011 Rugby World Cup is blowing out to the tune of $40 million! "The cup – underwritten by the taxpayer and NZ Rugby Union – was originally forecast to lose only $30m." ONLY $30m???
Minister for the Rugby World Cup Muddling McCully says, "The upside for NZ in terms of its brand value and exposure to the world is enormous, so the projected losses are small beer by comparison.”
Hang on, aren't these things supposed to make money? If this thing goes belly-up, the NZ taxpayers (the very ones who're losing interest in rugby!) underwrite two-thirds of it: that's nearly $27m!!!
Small beer, my arse!

Friday, August 7, 2009

What Are The Odds?

In New Zealand when writing our dates in numerals, we put the day first, then the month, then the year (dd/mm/yy). Bearing that in mind, a rare occurrence happened in the wee small hours of this morning...just after 4am.
The digital clock showed it was five minutes and six seconds after the fourth hour of the day, which is the 7th.of August 2009.
When written, that snapshot in time looks like this:
04:05:06 07/08/09!!!!!
Numerals in ascending order, all preceded by a zero.
Next year we'll see the ascending sequence again, but the numbers won't all have zeros ahead of them (05:06:07 08/09/10), so the next time it'll happen exactly like this morning will be 2109.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

More Human Than Human...?

On TV this week, the director's cut of the 1982 classic Blade Runner, which was voted by enthusiasts as the top sci-fi film of all time. Of course I just had to watch, if only to see Sean Young looking gorgeously aloof! Now, if you don't know the film... Sean Young never looked so good!'s set in a rather unsavoury version of our future (2019), where man has created 'replicants' - human clones - to serve in the colonies outside Earth but with fixed lifespans to stop them developing emotions and the desire to live.
In a very grotty-looking Los Angeles, Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) is a Blade Runner, a cop who specialises in 'terminating' replicants. He's brought back into operation when four replicants escape from a colony and return to Earth, seeking an extension to their limited lives.
This film questions what it is to be human, why life is so precious, and what happens when man's creation becomes superior to mankind. Times are tough when Harrison Ford is forced to eat noodles in a roadside cafe...Rutger Hauer and Darryl Hannah play replicants, while Sean Young is the exquisite Rachael, a special new-version replicant with no expiry date. She is so realistic that even the Blade Runner is unsure of her reality.
And indeed, what is Deckard's reality? For over 25 years, people have debated whether he's human or not...until finally director Ridley Scott has put the matter to rest...

Monday, August 3, 2009

Denim? DAMN 'em!

Two of the world's biggest clothing retailers are feeling the heat, with their manufacturing operations discovered causing serious environmental damage in Lesotho, Africa.
Gap and Levi Strauss are supplied by a factory that's been polluting waterways, dumping hazardous waste and potentially dangerous chemicals.
At the unguarded landfill, swarms of people sift through the rubbish for something of value to sell. Bags of caustic soda lie among the tonnes of denim off-cuts and hundreds of Gap and Levi's garment labels, zips and studs.
Many of those people claim to be suffering respiratory problems after inhaling smoke from the burning rubbish. Some also say they have skin sores from touching some of the chemicals (view the YouTube news clip here).
Whatever happened to corporate responsibility? Both Gap and Levi's have promised urgent investigations into practices at the factory...but is that enough? Will they pay for the environmental restoration...medical bills...future-proofing...?
Lesotho environmentalists say: "These companies claim they are helping Africa. But this is polluting our land, our air and our water. How is this helping Africa?"
How indeed! Maybe a Western boycott of Gap and Levi's products would 'encourage' more help...

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Right To Dry: Let It All Hang Out!

Net-surfing recently, I discovered moves in America to BAN the hanging outside of washing!
In an age when the answer to many of our problems is to "go green", some American communities have made it illegal to dry laundry outside! Not sure why some people think seeing laundry on the line is unsightly enough to make it criminal...hang-ups perhaps?
In the Boston Globe: "Imagine driving into a community where the yards have clothes hanging all over the place. I think the aesthetics, the curb appeal, and probably the home values would be affected by that," says (up-tight wowser) Frank Rathbun, spokesman for the Community Associations Institute, a national group representing thousands of homeowner and condominium associations, many of which restrict clotheslines.
Sure, there's a time and place for using the dryer, but more often drying outdoors is the perfect solution. Clothing lasts longer... and sunlight disinfects too. There're electricity savings and zero environmental impact: letting the sun and wind dry your clothes doesn't cost a thing.
Any idea of the savings by drying outdoors? Most US households would save over $100 a year on electricity. It's been estimated that if just 20,000 US homes reduced tumble-drying by half, spending for oil would shrink by $1.7 million a year.
And who in their right minds would want to deprive themselves of the awesome smell of air-fresh crisp linen sheets? Or the ionisation fragrance when they've been left out during an electrical storm? Those who think it's unsightly and decreases property values need to get a better night's sleep and could probably do so on sheets that were dried on the line.
Legislate against outdoors drying? They'd have to tear the sheets from my cold dead hand!!
(many thanx for the heads-up from Salacious at barepause...)