Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bikini Protests The New Chinese Way

'Asian beauty'? Or 'student with too much time on her hands'?There's a growing trend in China: often when some young Chinese want to raise awareness of a cause, they tend to take off their clothes. No - seriously!
First I read about a no-panties protest on a subway to save the environment, then naked push-ups along the Great Wall...now bikini-clad girls sweeping the streets to protest power plants.
So what ARE they trying to say?Four Chengdu uni students (whose beauty was compared by local reporters to the famed hot spicy flavours of the regional cuisine) gave a 15-minute "performance" near a local power station. In just bikinis and gas masks, they swept the streets with straw brooms, protesting three serious levels of air pollution emitted by the plant. The gas masks represented the poor air quality; the flesh-revealing bikinis, the vulnerability of the human body; and the brooms signified sweeping the power plant out of town. Not surprisingly in this repressed country, the protest gained alot of attention, even if most passersby didn't understand what the silent protest was all about!
Hmmm...I always assumed scantily-clad girls were most effectively used to sell beer and drape themselves over new-model cars! The Chinese might be on to something here: sex + important social causes = lots of thought-provoking attention, right? Well, lots of attention anyway...
And does the silliness of the approach also cunningly insulate it from potential consequences via the powers-that-be? It's probably easier to break up a controversial protest based on screams and slogans, rather than one based on belles in bikinis. I mean, would you really want to roll a tank over a bunch of babes? Really?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Social Networking Could Land You In Jail

Social networking websites are filled with videos of people in humorous situations or making prize fools of themselves: the 2007 clip of Miss South Carolina earning the title of 'Blonde Bimbo Of The Millennium' is a classic case in point!
These sites are also filled with people exercising poor judgment in the real world, and then making things worse by posting videos of their actions online. They're obviously unaware that now the police are using these sites to help fight crime. US cops policing state forests often surf YouTube, to find video evidence of 4WD-drivers damaging forest parks or driving down fish-bearing creek beds.
To make a case with YouTube, police need to see a licence plate and identify a landmark to confirm the illegal off-roading is happening on their turf... and they're having some success. Those who post such self-praising videos don't think beyond illustrating how much fun they may be having at others' expense. A positive spin-off is that now many off-road clubs, who use the internet to increase their membership, have instigated self-policing on their websites, to show their sport in the best possible light.
brainless Norwegian environmental vandalsEarlier this year, a YouTube video showing Norwegian backpackers shooting a protected New Zealand native wood pigeon (kereru) caused public outrage. In NZ the maximum penalty for killing such wildlife is a $100,000 fine and up to a year in jail. The five were lucky to have returned to Norway by the time the video was posted.
While tracking offenders via YouTube videos is not a failsafe method for police, it's another option in their crimefighting arsenal.
PS: 16 October 2010 - In NZ, three men who viciously attacked a protected leopard seal by throwing rocks at it and dragging it down a beach have been busted by placing their photos on Facebook. Beware!!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Wanna Own A Whole Village?

Want to escape the rat race? Here’s your chance to be the village laird. An entire West Coast hamlet, complete with hotel, school and fire station, is up for sale here in NZ.
Christine and Bill Hennah outside the Otira HotelBill and Christine Hennah bought Otira (18 houses, a school, hotel and fire station) in 1998 after passing through and "feeling sorry for it". Now the couple, in their 60s, no longer have the energy to run the hotel as well as the village. So, the hotel's for sale at NZ$350,000... or if you're interested in the entire village, a package deal is just NZ$1-million. Christine feels the town has a lot of potential and opportunity, but Bill says the Department Of Conservation is not keen on too much town growth, as Otira is right in the middle of Arthur's Pass National Park.
Otira (pop.44), perches high in the Southern Alps of the South Island at 3,445ft., surrounded by spectacular snowcapped peaks and a pristine national park filled with native birds and rata forests. The TranzAlpine train, hauling large numbers of international tourists from Christchurch to Greymouth, passes through twice a day.
Otira in snowWinters there are very cold and windy, and sometimes Otira is cut off by snow for days. As for the fire station, it has no fire brigade: it's rented out as a mechanic's workshop. The Otira Hotel, which started life as a coaching stop on the alpine pass in the 1860s, is the only place for miles around to find a bed, beer or meal, and also doubles as the post office. Almost all the buildings are wooden, most pre-framed and assembled on site when the town was established during rail and road construction in the 1920s. During its heyday Otira was home to about 600 workers and their families.
The sale offer is attracting so much international media interest, that the Hennahs have been too busy fielding media calls to reply to prospective buyers. But if you're interested, do keep ringing!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Werewolf Weekend

jet flies across a partial lunar eclipse
Kiwis have a chance to see a partial lunar eclipse at the end of this week.
A lunar eclipse happens when the moon passes behind the earth and the earth gets in the way, blocking the sun’s rays from striking the moon. This occurs only when the sun, earth and moon are aligned with the Earth in the middle. Hence, there's always a full moon on the night of a lunar eclipse.
There are many myths, superstitions and rituals associated with eclipses: check out a few here...
This Saturday night, 26th.June between 10.30pm and 12.30am, up to 50% of the Moon may be covered by the Earth’s shadow. Mid-eclipse is officially timed for 11.38pm – that’s the point when the effect will be the most obvious. Weather permitting, it’ll be visible throughout NZ - unlike the last (total) lunar eclipse on December 31 which was not visible here, and the next (total) one on December 21, when only the northern part of New Zealand will see it. This weekend's one will also be visible from Australia and eastern Asia, and before sunrise setting over western North and South America.
But NZ's view all hinges on the winter weather which of late has not been exactly conducive to lunar observations... or much else, for that matter!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

No More Montana Wine

Cigarettes come in bottles...yeah, right!Say goodbye to one of New Zealand's major wine brands, Montana Wines: from this September it'll be known as Brancott Estate.
The name change is partly because of strong exports to USA - where Montana Wines has been known as Brancott Estate for more than a decade - to avoid market confusion (many Americans associated Montana Wines with the state of Montana, rather than Marlborough, NZ, even though Montana State's wine industry is only fledgling). The name Marlborough further caused poor wee Americans some confusion with Marlboro cigarettes (W-T-F?!).
The new name's not only the home of Montana's flagship Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, it's also their original Marlborough vineyard and where the variety was first planted in Marlborough in 1973.
We'll still see the name on the Montana Classics range here in Godzone, with Brancott Estate appearing as linkage on the label... but all other premium wines in the range including Montana Reserve wines, Montana Letter Series and Montana Living Land (launched this year) will change to the Brancott Estate name from the 2010 vintage.
So basically another piece of local identity becomes subjugated to The Almighty American Dollar.
Owners Pernod Ricard New Zealand has also announced it's the first NZ-based official sponsor of the *yawn* Rugby World Cup 2011...as if the beer-swilling rugby fans would really care!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Plus Size Is A Joke

Julien MacDonald suffers from foot in mouth diseaseUK designer Julien MacDonald (maker of skimpy upmarket glam) is in hot water when, talking about the tv show Britain's Next Top Model, he said: "This is a serious show. You can't have a plus-size girl winning - it makes it a joke". Ouch! Crystal Renn says Bite Me!MacDonald will chair the jury of the show, and it seems he's already made up his mind over what qualities the winner must have...
Tell that to plus-size supermodel Crystal Renn, who hit back in the Independent, saying beauty is not about size and it is terribly wrong to create a strong division between straight-size and plus-size models. The catwalk should be like the road, with different sizes, and she'd like to see a move away from titles like "plus size". She says the winner should be beautiful and talented, able to pose, with passion and charisma, whatever her size...
New York's Full Figured Fashion Week
To accentuate that curvy girls are not a joke, New York has just concluded its 2nd.annual Full Figured Fashion Week, completely dedicated to plus size fashion, models and business. The marketplace is thirsty for innovative stylish creations that flatter curvy figures, and FFFWeek is an exciting promise of fuller fashion evolution.
Meanwhile the June 2010 issue of French Marie Claire has gone curvy with editorials featuring plus-size models in lingerie and swimsuits à la française - some with only bottoms, no tops!
PS: 14 July 2010 - Macdonald is rapidly backpedalling: "I was misquoted! I meant to say I think there's room for everyone in fashion, but if you're a plus-sized model the opportunities are less - there's just less work for plus-sized models." The designer then added with a bit of pride, "I don't try to cover up plus-size women, I want them to accentuate their bodies." Yea...right, Julien! Too little, too late!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Agent Orange Clean-Up: Who Really Pays?

Agent Orange spraying over Mekong Delta, 196935 years after the Vietnam War, a $300 million price tag has been placed on the most contentious legacy still tainting US-Vietnam relations: Agent Orange. The US military sprayed this chemical in vast quantities over South Vietnam, to destroy crops and jungle cover shielding communist guerrilla fighters.
A US/Vietnamese joint panel of policymakers, citizens and scientists last week urged the US government and other donors to provide $30 million annually over 10 years to clean up sites still contaminated by dioxin (a toxic chemical used in the defoliant), and also treat Vietnamese suffering from disabilities, including those believed linked to Agent Orange. Vietnamese woman with horrendous dioxin deformities
Wonderful!! Highly commendable! Better late than never. About damn time...
The Aspen Institute, a nonprofit group keeping this ball rolling, says: "We'll get private money and a little bit of government money and we'll clean it up." Er...hold on a minute...if the US government can DEMAND $20-billion from BP as its responsibility price-tag for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, why can't a 'price-tag of responsibility' also be delivered retrospectively to the Dow Chemical Company? It was Dow that made Agent Orange for the US Government (some of its components were produced here in NZ at New Plymouth – scene of past fruitless public compensation claims... but that's another story).
Dow will no doubt use the same line that Union Carbide did over the 1984 Bhopal disaster - "We're not responsible coz we weren't there!" And once again, the public (via the government) and private philanthropic organisations are left to clean up global messes... while Big Business relaxes in the boardroom with another cigar.

PS: see also the outcome of a study on dioxin birth defects in New Plymouth, NZ, where this product was made.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Nuke Smuggling Gets Easier?

...beep...beep...I think I've detected a roadrunner...Stopping nuclear smuggling is already hard - but it's getting a lot harder. A crucial ingredient in neutron-particle-detection technology is in very short supply... and ironically, the reason is the reduction in nuclear weapons!
Ok, some quick science-speak: the Helium-3 isotope represents less than 0.0002% of all helium. About 80% of Helium-3 is used for security purposes, because it is extremely sensitive to detecting neutrons (such as emitted by plutonium, a nuclear ingredient). H-3 is a decay product of tritium, a heavy isotope of hydrogen used to 'up-the-bang' of nukes. Problem: tritium production ended in 1988, and the half-life decay of tritium is only about 12 years. These days the USA's H-3 supply comes from dismantled nuclear weapons.
In normal-speak: the supply of nuke-detecting H-3 can't keep up with the global demand to detect plutonium that may be smuggled by terrorists!
...opps! So the US Energy Department (sole US supplier of Helium-3) and Department of Homeland Security (responsible for stopping illicit nuclear material) are in a real bind. If it can't be resolved by de-commissioning more US nukes (of which there are over 5,000) to source the tritium before it decays, does that mean more nukes will have to be built to get more tritium to get more H-3 to detect more smuggled nukes that may have been stolen because more were built to get more tritium to get more H-3...etc etc...???

Meanwhile, NZ hosts many of the world's biggest players in the nuclear reactor industry this coming week - could be an interesting meeting, given the local populace's wholehearted aversion to nukes!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sikh - and You Shall Find...

Should a turban be called "headwear"? slighted Sikh Singh
Late last year, the Manurewa Cosmopolitan Club barred a turban-wearing community leader - Karnail Singh - under a policy which bans entry to anyone wearing headwear, even for religious reasons.
The matter went to the Human Rights Commission in January and it was agreed that, depending on the outcome of a meeting last weekend, the issue may return to the commission. Well, that meeting decided no relaxing of the rules for anybody.
As you might imagine, the Sikh community is determined to fight this through the Human Rights Review Tribunal. It's the second time in two years the club's had to defend itself: previously it had banned a Muslim international student in a headscarf.
In the NZ Herald, Brian Rudman has taken up the cudgel, writing "Intolerant social club stuck in racist past". He cites the on-going global battle over the burqa as relevant to this situation, and also uses various incidents of racism from the 1920s-50s: these seem a rather crude attempt to muddy the waters and slur the Club's intentions.
But this is not racism. The club did not say: you can't enter... because you are a Sikh. It said: you can't enter... wearing headwear. The no-hats rule came from a past era, when good manners decreed one did not wear one's fedora inside (and yes, from the same era as quoted above).
If the members vote for the rule to remain, who are we to complain? It is after all a PRIVATE club, and I have a sneaky suspicion that the law has an exemption for private clubs. This may yet become an interesting test case though...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The News...According To America

Americans have a reputation for viewing their own efforts through very rose-tinted glasses. After the draw against England in the FIFA World Cup, the NY Post's front page screamed:

Seriously?! I wonder if these headlines would be just as palatable:

But possibly the most self-inflating headline would have to be:

Enough said, methinx...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Bulletpoints On Tuesday 15 June 2010

Anyone want a multi-million dollar paperweight?A third of submissions to the recent Defence Review want NZ to get fighter jets again. The Skyhawks of the air combat wing (disbanded in 2001) were unable to be sold, because of a US veto over who could access restricted bits aboard. The Skyhawks’re too expensive to restore now, so buying F-18s from Australia may be an option. No indication yet that the government’ll actually listen to the voters...
[PS: 15 Nov.2011 - OMG! FINALLY someone actually wants to buy the remaining mothballed Skyhawks! Mind you, at the price, we're basically PAYING them to take 'em away!]
A controversial claim that the town of Feilding is the actual birthplace of the All Blacks jersey! Feilding Rugby Club says the NZRU adopted its club's black jersey with silver fern in 1893, for the national team. The NZ Rugby Museum maintains this local folklore is a myth until proven otherwise, so while the club searches for proof, it may also ask Tui Brewery to erect one of its famous billboards in town!
Though it's always denied it, here's proof that Japan regularly bribes small member countries of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) with cash and prostitutes. Bribed officials from six countries have been uncovered as willing to sell their votes at this month's vital IWC meeting...
One of the week's most ridiculous stories is a pilot scheme at Auckland's Howick College to let students use cellphones in class! The rationale is to allow 21st.century technology that the kids know. Yes, but pen-and-paper don't send time-wasting puerile texts in school time to students...
And speaking of technology, things must be confusing in Korea, with the unveiling of Apple’s new iPhone 4: its LCD display, CPU, battery and other major components are all made by Samsung. Meanwhile Samsung's Galaxy-S smartphones are competing with the iPhone 4 around the world. So Samsung's main rival is also its top client! Ahhhhhhh, don’t ya LUV capitalism!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Football and Some Damn Good Ads!

It's the Federation Internationale de Football Association's 106th birthday this year, marked by South Africa currently hosting the African continent's first-ever FIFA World Cup.
Huge sporting events bring out the best in tv commercials, from global companies with massive production budgets. I love these sorts of ads: not only are audiences treated to some outstanding cinematography (even if it is advertising!), but generally damn good soundtracks too.
Thumbs up to Nike for its classy 3min.ad showing the excitement of the World Cup both on and off the field. It uses the amazing 1971 hit Hocus Pocus - a wonderfully weird mix of rock, flute, yodelling and falsetto by Focus (with Thijs van Leer and Jan Akkerman), a Dutch group now lost in the mists of time...

Meanwhile Pepsi's Cup ad uses Akon's song Oh Africa, a charity single released to benefit underprivileged youth in Haiti. The Soweto Gospel Choir provides backing, while the commercial features some of today's greatest footie stars: Messi, Henry, Kaka, Lampard, Ashavin, and Drogba.

Puma's commercial captures the love of the game that transcends borders...'bringing football back to its roots. Because love = football.' Shot on location in Angola, Ghana and The Ivory Coast, it's soundtrack is Going On by Gnarls Barkley, and features players Samuel Eto'o, Gervinho, Emmanuel Eboue and Mohammed Zidan.

...but the most bizarre must be this ad for Freeview HD, featuring the 1982 hit by Canadian New Wave band, Men Without Hats, Safety Dance...and the Tiny Streaker!!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

No Lights For Mother Teresa

New York's iconic Empire State Building is alight with controversy, after refusing to illuminate the skyscraper in blue and white, to honour Mother Teresa (on what would've been her 100th birthday this August). The owner says the tower celebrates many cultures with lighting (Easter, the end of Ramadan, Hanukkah, Christmas), but has a specific policy against religious figures or requests by religious groups.
However religious individuals have been posthumously honoured in the past: NY's Cardinal John O'Connor (2000) in red and white; Pope John Paul II (2005) with all lights extinguished; Martin Luther King Jr. with red, black and green. It was all blue for "Old Blue Eyes" Frank Sinatra's death (1998), green for the annual Saint Patrick's Day... even red for the 70th anniversary of the film The Wizard of Oz (in which Dorothy wore ruby slippers). In 2008 a request to mark the US Marine Corps' anniversary was declined (!!!), yet last year it lit up for the 60th anniversary of communist China – a decision as controversial as the current one!
Here in NZ, Auckland City Council learnt this lesson the hard way, when flying flags on the Harbour Bridge. It marked every country's national day, regardless of whether it had any bearing on us. When maori demanded their separatism flag be flown, council chose to fly only the New Zealand one (a decision later overruled for NZ Day by the government, in a 'party loyalty' buy). And the Australian flag appropriately flew alongside ours for Anzac Day.
So 'policy' is ok, but why not a little flexibility? Problem is when that flexibility gets out of hand: like a racially-divisive flag flying in Godzone. Or communism marked in the heart of capitalism... but not the Marines in 'The Land Of The Free And The Home Of The Brave'!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Bluefin Fishing Banned. If Only...

The 2010 fishing season for bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean closed a week early. Headlines trumpeted the 'good news': "bluefin fishing banned" in the Mediterranean! But let's take a quick look at whether it is indeed 'good news'...
As you probably know (from the news and my previous post), the mighty bluefin tuna have been fished sustainably for centuries. But some years ago, a new technique of purse-seining led to a huge increase in targeted fishing with massive nets. It made economic sense to target these fish when they were most accessible... unfortunately that was exactly when they migrated annually into the Mediterranean to spawn.
In just a few decades, the bluefin population has been almost wiped out. Best estimates suggest stock levels are less than 15% of those before purse-seining started. Things are at crisis point, and the fault lies squarely with the purse-seining industry and the Japanese sushi market.
Today's EU bluefin quotas are the lowest ever and the season the shortest ever – a mere calendar month. But with so much focus on this issue, and so much bad press over the overfishing and illegal fishing that's decimated this species, fishing countries want to show they're doing things properly: hence the early shutdown.
No, it's not a permanent ban: it's only for the rest of this year. And it's a mere formality anyway: the allocated quotas had been reached, so the EU called the boats home. What should shock us is the speed with which those quotas were filled: done with a week to spare, even though bad weather stopped fishing for a week, and despite there being far less boats chasing the tuna!
This shows just how ruthlessly efficient the bluefin catching machine is when it gets rolling. Little wonder it's brought the species to the verge of commercial extinction.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Callie's Underwear Dance

Last year I posted about the delicious Sara Ramirez, Hispanic-and-Hot actress playing Dr.Callie Torres on TV's Grey’s Anatomy. I still get a few emails about that post – not only from guys who’re appreciative of the curvy female form, but also from generously-shaped gals who find Sara (pronounced Sa-da), to be inspirational...

One of the best moments in Grey’s Anatomy:Season 3 was Callie’s near-legendary "underwear dance". It certainly rocked TV Land at the time! Imagine: a non-stick-figure woman diggin’ the groove in her knickers and looking damn hot! OMG!
If you missed that solo scene down in the Seattle Grace Hospital basement (or would like to see it again - and again - and again)…
here it is: enjoy!

Remember: "Life may not be the party we hoped for...but while we're here, we might as well DANCE!"

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Bulletpoints On Tuesday 8 June 2010

26 years after the Bhopal gas tragedy, eight Indian managers – including Union Carbide India's former chairman – have been found guilty...then given very lenient sentences! Poisonous gas leaking from the Bhopal plant on 2-3rd.December 1984 killed over 35,000 people in its aftermath. The US mother company always maintained it was not to blame, as it was not involved in the plant's daily operation: yeah, right! No sense of moral responsibility? kiwi songster Tim FinnNZ remembers Bhopal in Tim Finn's classic 1985 song: No Thunder No Fire No Rain.
The Police's well-publicised 'zero tolerance' speed blitz this long Queens Birthday holiday weekend saw the lowest road toll since records began in 1956: just one death as opposed to ten last year! Mind you, the violent storm hitting the whole country may also have helped...Why does Sir Geoff always look so grumpy?
Despite NZ's Sir Geoffrey Palmer being suggested to head a UN enquiry into the fatal Gaza blockade, the Israelis will do their own investigation, thanks very much. Perhaps they don't want to be probed by a man who completely shafted his own country over whaling...
Good on ya, Mad Butcher!And in the Queens Birthday Honours List, the "Mad Butcher" became Sir Peter Leith for services to philanthropy and sport. Richard Taylor, who won five Oscars and four Baftas for his effects work on the films The Lord of the Rings and King Kong, was also knighted, as was Fred Allen, who captained the All Blacks from 1946-1949, and coached them during a 14-test unbeaten run 1966-1968.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Thick Ankles and Thinly Veiled Cynicism

While I criticise newspapers sometimes, it's true to say they still provide an overwhelming majority of in-depth and important news.
For example: according to the esteemed Wall Street Journal, did you know some people have thick ankles? *gasp* And that thick ankles are sometimes derisively referred to as "cankles"? And that some people are embarrassed by them? Of course you did. And did you know no-one will notice your dish-pan hands if you have slim ankles? True!
That's why, across America, ankle circumference reduction (by any method possible) is becoming big business! Enough Americans are concerned about thick ankles that gyms are coming up with new ways to tone 'em, plastic surgeons are pushing US$4-6,000 liposuction procedures to slim 'em, and shoe companies are offering special models designed to minimize 'em.
If I was a cynic, I’d say there's an entire industry profiting from women’s insecurities... and that they actively increase the size of women’s insecurities by promoting "cures" for problems women didn’t even know they had. But I’m not cynical. Not me. No, no, NO, no!!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

No Riff-Raff Allowed

Sometimes "the system" can be so pedantic, it really pisses me off!
Currently, a Kiwi icon is being denied New Zealand citizenship: Richard O'Brien, NZ-raised creator of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, has been told he can't retire here.
The British-born writer / actor is now appealing directly to the Immigration Minister for help. O'Brien lives in London, visits Noo Zuld regularly and wants to retire here...but doesn't tick all the boxes for citizenship or permanent residency. According to the rules "which must be obeyed to the letter", O'Brien (68) has to be 55 or under, and have a job offer – criteria that he doesn't fit.
Tim Curry as Frank-N-FurterMost people will know The Rocky Horror Picture Show, the 1975 movie filmed in B-grade style that's become a cult classic. Rocky is a dark funny musical about sex: the story of Brad and Janet, an innocent young couple on a road trip to visit Dr. Everett Scott, who match-made them in college. They're embroiled in a heinous celebration of transvestites, bisexuality, and human cloning. At its epicentre is a transvestite from the planet Transylvania, 'Dr. Frank-N-Furter' (Tim Curry: who'd have thought a man could look so good in corset and fishnets?). Meatloaf, Susan Sarandon and Richard O'Brien all star.
Richard O'Brien as Riff RaffIn light of his contribution to NZ, surely there can be case-by-case flexibility? He has two siblings living here, his son is applying for permanent residency... hell, we even erected a statue of him (as his Rocky character Riff Raff) in hometown Hamilton. You'd think giving him permanent residency would be a formality! So what's the problem?
PS: 02 August 2010 - The Immigration Dept may just have seen the light (over at da Frankenstein place)! Riff Raff, come on home!!
PS: 01 Dec.2011 - Finally!!!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Trams Return To Auckland!

After more than half a century, trams are returning to Auckland: the regional council (ARC) has given formal support to a heritage tram project on the waterfront.
Phase One brings heritage trams (from Auckland's Museum of Transport and Technology - MOTAT) to ride a circuit around the Wynyard Quarter, along Jellicoe, Halsey, Gaunt and Beaumont Streets, and should be ready in time for the *yawn* 2011 Rugby World Cup.

But let's face it: there's not much IN that area to interest tourists – marine storage, ships' chandlers, offices, warehouses... and due to the high-masted vessels often moved via those streets, there'll be no overhead lines - the trams'll run on battery power. Also, there're so few original Auckland heritage trams remaining, that some may be imported from Melbourne!
Still, it's a (long overdue) start...and if you look at the interactive Sea+City website, you'll see future dreams for the Wynyard Quarter which promise the sort of waterfront that the city deserves.
Phase two connects the trams to the CBD and existing public transport.
The project's planned as a tourist attraction but, sadly, after all the penny-pinching and development delays over Party Central and The Viaduct in time for the Rugby World Cup, this feels like "too little, too late". I hope I'm wrong.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Japan Admits Mistake - With Provisos...

We are velly velly solly! Really! Honestly! But let's talk about the REAL issue...!Japan made an interesting admission this week: its fishing expert Masayuki Komatsu says it made a mistake on bluefin tuna, and it should have been listed as endangered by CITES back in March:
"I wish to stress importance of making decisions based on scientific data. In that sense, the decision concerning the bluefin tuna was regrettable. We rejected a proposal to ban international trade of the Atlantic bluefin tuna. Japan should have co-operated to strengthen the regulation. Banning the bluefin tuna trade may appear disadvantageous to Japan in the short term but, if we develop policy based on scientific grounds, we can win trust of the international community. The principle of sustainable use also applies to abundant whales."
Ahhh-ha, there's the twist: this admission is really a defence of whaling... but wait: there's more! He says whale meat quality is poor because it's a by-product of 'scientific research' whaling:
"The meat does not sell because it is expensive and poor quality, because cell membranes are broken when the meat is frozen... the temperature can only be lowered on whaling ships to 30 degrees below zero. Since tuna is quick-frozen to minus 70 degrees, cell membranes remain intact. New whaling ships should be built so the meat can be quick-frozen for better quality. I am sure it would drastically change the awareness of consumers. Whale meat could be used as a sushi ingredient in place of tuna." Would YOU wanna eat minke whale sushi?
Komatsu is suggesting replacing bluefin tuna with minke whale meat in sushi bars!
Forget the 'scientific' smokescreen - he wants full-on commercial whaling, a new factory ship, the whole fleet modernised, and an increase in whale kills to over 2,000 in the Southern Ocean: "When the catch is increased, costs can be lowered and tasty whale meat can be supplied at lower prices." Yippee, fun for all!
So, somehow, Japan's admission of bluefin tuna strip-mining justifies the expansion / modernisation / commercialisation of its whaling fleet!!
The question to Mr.Komatsu is: now you've admitted Japan's culpability in the tuna destruction, will you use your influence to ban the sale of bluefin tuna in Japan? Or is this just a prelude to the escalation of Southern Ocean whaling?