Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Playboy Plus!

Curvaceous Brazilian model Fluvia Lacerda recently made history as the first 'plus' model to appear in Playboy Brazil.
At a very shapely size 16 (that's a US 16 = Euro 48 = NZ 18; 5’8”/172 cm; 43-35-48”/109-89-122cm) she's definitely one of the curviest models to appear in any Playboy.
Hugh Hefner created the Brazilian
edition of Playboy back in 1975. Originally titled A Revista do Homem, the glossy publication was an immediate hit with locals and is still going strong 34 years later.
Many see Fluvia's feature as breaking down another barrier for plus models. She feels more Latina women should be represented in the plus industry.
In addition to the Playboy appearance, she was also named winner of Full Figured Fashion Week’s Plus Commercial Print Model of the Year Award.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Beast Into Beauty

Gojira is gone.
Sea Shepherd’s fast interceptor vessel Gojira (Godzilla) helped rout the nasty Nippon whalers from the Sthrn.Ocean Whale Sanctuary earlier this year. It was funny to have Japanese media report the whaling fleet was fleeing from Godzilla (the giant lizard star of several C-grade Japanese movies)! But the filmmakers’ lawyers weren’t amused and served SS with a notice to remove the name.
No worries - Gojira had served its purpose well...
So Captain Paul Watson proposed to the Brigitte Bardot Foundation (BBF) its renaming as the Brigitte Bardot after the dedicated animal rights activist. The relationship between Brigitte and Paul goes way back to 1977 when Watson took Bardot to the
Brigitte and Paul?
ice off the coast of Labrador to pose with a baby seal. With that one iconic photo, Bardot brought the harp seals issue to the world’s attention, a turning point in the fight to stop this annual Canadian slaughter.
SS and BBF have worked together in partnership for many years, last year in the Faroe Islands.
Watson examines Bardot's assets
And thus, with a few licks of paint, Brigitte Bardot joins the SS fleet of Steve Irwin and Bob Barker. Its first role will be in Libyan waters, tracking down bluefin tuna poachers taking advantage of the war zone to illegally exploit these endangered fish.
My only concern about a hi-tech vessel like this is: if it's taken down into the Southern Ocean, is it capable of mastering the stormy seas down there? Time will tell.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Battle Of Crete Remembered

The 70th anniversary of the Battle Of Crete was marked around the world over this past week.
It’s remembered as a ferocious defence against the biggest airborne invasion in history. The battle raged from 20-31 May 1941 – often hand-to-hand and with fixed bayonets – between Allied forces withdrawing from the Greek mainland and tough German paratroopers. The locals fought heroically too, and suffered terribly in later German reprisals. Many acts of bravery occurred in this battle, some rewarded with very high honours. Here, a NZer (then a 2nd Lieutenant) Charles Upham earned the first of his amazing two Victoria Crosses.
My dad, in No.7 Commando (part of an ad hoc commando formation called Layforce), was part of that fight. Layforce had been sent in with only its usual light weaponry for a quick raid, but the situation was far worse than realised, and the men were very under-equipped. Eventually as other units streamed to the coast for evacuation, Layforce was ordered to hold a defensive position astride the main road inland from Sphakia, alongside OZ and NZ forces. They expected to be heavily dive bombed and shelled, and were not disappointed. Their orders were to ‘hold to the last’ and then surrender...so very few escaped.
Dad managed to board the cruiser HMS Orion, on its final run back to Alexandria on 29 May. This nearly proved to be a fatal decision, when the ship was attacked by German stuka dive-bombers. One bomb hit the Orion, wounding 280 and killing 260 (some sources say as many as 360 died).
Of the 800 commandos sent to Crete, about 600 were listed as killed, missing or wounded - three quarters of their strength. Only 23 officers and 156 other ranks managed to escape to Egypt.
So that’s where my father was 70 years ago today, 29 May 1941, just a week before his 22nd birthday.

[see also my July 2011 post about NZ Crete veterans...]

Saturday, May 28, 2011

First Fingering Of A Killer

Ponsonby Post Office
It was claimed to be a world first for a capital crime (certainly a first in the British Dominion and thus here in NZ): Dennis Gunn's 1920 murder conviction, based almost entirely on the relatively new science of fingerprinting.
On Sat.13th March 1920 Augustus Edward Braithwaite, postmaster at Ponsonby, Auckland, was shot dead in his own house. His keys were taken and the Post Office strongroom ransacked. Fingerprints found on three cash boxes were sent to the Criminal Registration Branch (CRB) at Police HQ in Wellington for analysis.
A former prison warder called Hughes reported he'd seen Dennis Gunn loitering around the Post Office. Hughes recognised Gunn from an encounter two years earlier, when the latter had been imprisoned for two weeks (after shirking enrolment for military service) and his fingerprints had been taken.
The names of Gunn and another suspect were sent by telegram to the CRB. By Tues.16th the fingerprints on the cash boxes had been matched with Gunn’s fingerprint form. He was arrested the next day and charged with murder and burglary. Property stolen during the robbery, including Braithwaite's keys and a recently fired pistol, were found in a gully near the house where Gunn lived with his mother. Grooves on the weapon matched marks on the two bullets found in Braithwaite’s body. A fingerprint on the gun also matched Gunn’s.
Gunn’s lawyer argued the fingerprint evidence was inconclusive. The jury was not convinced. After a five-day trial, widely covered in the papers of the time, Gunn was convicted and sentenced to death, today in history, 28th.May 1920.
In an attempt to avoid the noose, Gunn then admitted his part in the robbery, but claimed Braithwaite had been killed by Gunn's brother-in-law: "If only my brother-in-law will speak up, I will be saved". This was to no avail - Gunn met his fate on the Mount Eden Prison gallows on 22nd.June. Hangman Tom Long was paid £25 for his work.
Gunn's relatives made their feelings known after burying Dennis at Waikumete Cemetery. His now-broken tombstone reads: "In Loving Memory of Dennis Gunn – Sadly Wronged."

[Far more detail can be found in Epitaph II (2001), pp. 138-148 - the book of the tv series by Paul Gittins. Click here to view the actual tv episode...]

Friday, May 27, 2011

Let Battle Commence

Maturity vs firebrand.
That’s how the Maori Party/Mana Party battlelines have been drawn in Te Tai Tokerau.
The Maori Party’s named Solomon Tipene as its surprise candidate against Hone Harawira in next month's upcoming byelection.
The 64yr.old great-grandfather’s had a long public service career with Corrections, Child Youth and Family, the army and the old Maori Affairs Department: "I hope to bring a stabilising factor to Maori politics in Tai Tokerau. For too long now we've had a situation where (Harawira) made it difficult for our people to support Maori politics." He says if he wins he’ll be representing a constituency which was once a "breadbasket" but is now a "basket case" with huge social and economic problems.
I’ve not heard of him before – but then again, I’m just (as HH would say) a “white motherf***er” – but I believe he has a very high profile in Maoridom. Tipene’s supporters say he’s an endearing man who’ll appeal to voters (and no doubt have a cleaner mouth than HH!). Certainly he’s more likely to secure the older more sensible voters while HH will run with his rabid ratpack.
Voters go to the polls on June 25 and the short campaign time puts Mr Tipene at a disadvantage to Hone-bro, who's had endless free publicity over his breakaway from the Maori Party. And let's not forget Labour's Kelvin Davis either - a stronger prospect than Mr.Tipene, I'd suggest.
But let’s face it: whoever wins in Te Tai Tokerau is academic really. November’s general election means they’ll just be doing it all over again anyway...and the latest poll results indicate their efforts may be all for naught.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Apocalypse Now...er...In October

We waited...and waited... and waited.
No global obliteration last Saturday.
Gee, WHAT a surprise!
Why it didn’t happen? Oh. Um. Er.
Evangelist Harold Camping now claims it’s because his forecast is already playing out... spiritually.
Furthermore he’s even set a new date for our impending doom, saying May 21st was a...er...miscalculation.
This pillick issued his correction on his Open Forum radio show from California yesterday. In a sometimes rambling, 90-minute discourse, 89-yr.old Camping said he felt bad that Saturday did not deliver the Rapture. Reflecting on scripture afterward, he said it dawned on him that a merciful and compassionate God would spare humanity from hell on Earth for five months, by compressing the physical apocalypse into a shorter time frame. Strange...I'm sure Harold originally claimed it was all gonna happen in one day anyway!
"The Harold...the Harold..."
He now says the actual apocalypse will occur five months later, on October 21st!!!
He insists that October 21st has always been part of his ‘end times’ chronology, marking the final day when the world will come to an end. He's adamant the apocalypse WILL begin on THAT day. Riiiiiiiiiggghhhttt!!!!
Watch this space...
In the meantime, you gotta feel sorry for Harold's followers, who spent their entire savings in anticipation of being swept into heaven. Don’t ya? Really??
Hell, NO!!! Bloody idiots.

[click here for the full movie trailer: see it before October 21st!]

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Not Good Time To Be A Terrorist

Want to buy a cheap retro watch? Think twice... wearing such a timepiece could make you a terror suspect!
More than 700 top secret US military documents, released by WikiLeaks, have revealed intelligence assessments of nearly all those detained in Guantanamo jail. Hmmm, isn't "military intelligence" a contradiction in terms? Must be because, in some cases, owning a certain model of Casio watch was enough to get a one-way ticket there!
These common-as-muck watches were known to have been given to al-Qaeda bomb-making students, after being instructed in how to use them as bomb timing devices.
And Muslims have another reason to love the watch. According to one of the detainees at Guantanamo, this watch has a compass that shows the direction of Mecca.
But hang about: on the other hand, the accused Casio is globally popular. Millions of innocent people around the world are believed to wearing one right now. Its low price and durability are why its so popular. It's cheap enough to be disposable but, unless you hit it with a hammer, it will never stop! I know, as a teenager I used to own one...
How absurd to be slammed into Guantanamo because of a watch!
Mind you, wearing such a watch is now a fashion crime...and must be dealt with as such!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Next Top Model Gets A Bit More Real

New Zealand's Next Top Model is going “plus size” this year.
By that, the producers mean almost the size of a normal healthy koiwoi sheila. Almost.
Whitney: hardly plus size...
America's Next Top Model 2008 was won by plus-sized Whitney Thompson. She was the first model above a US dress size 4 to win the competition: she says she fluctuates between US 8-10. Converting US into koiwoi sizes, a US 4 = NZ 6; 8 = 10; 10 = 12: hardly what you’d call “plus size”... or even “REAL size”.
"Real" models:
Barbara Brickner,
Danielle Line,
Crystal Renn
In the NZ show, no model bigger than a 10 has ever made it into the finals.
But this year that may change, with the door opened to models sized NZ 12 or more.
The only problem is, of the thousands applying for the show, only five met that criterion. But I understand some of those do make the top 33: they’ll appear in the first episode.
Stats show our average NZ gal wears size 14-16, with the next most-popular dress size 18-20. At size 8-10, these tv wannabees are getting a tad closer but still not a true representation of a majority of NZ women. I think these models should be NZ 12-14, showing how outstanding curvy women actually look.
But we all know designers want clothes horses, not true “real” representations of their customers. They seem slow to grasp that, if they actually catered to the market, there’d be more financial support for their creations.
Women of all shapes and sizes have a right to dress the way they want – not the way the retail industry lets them.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Indecent Exposure in Wellington

A case of “small man syndrome”?
The suggested eyesore...
Wellington International Airport is serious about erecting a giant Wellywood sign on the Miramar hills, to "celebrate and promote" the city's film industry. Further, the city council’s already given it the 'go'!
Airport CEO Steve Fitzgerald: "A Wellywood sign is a clear message that Wellington’s a must-see destination with a really important film industry. Being niche and understated is cool positioning for a local audience, but to be relevant on the world tourism trail, we need to shout about why we are great." Much like those little yappy terriers – smallest on the street, yet they snarl the most viciously!
...and the original eyesore.
Fitzgerald should re-read the history of the Hollywood sign... built in 1923 as advertising for a new housing development called Hollywoodland, it was only meant to stand for 18mths.
After the idea was first mooted last year, the Hollywood Chamber Of Commerce immediately asserted trademark rights over the name or variations, and the matter went to the lawyers. Well, you can guarantee this'll happen again: in fact Wellington businessman Jack Yan (co-author of Beyond Branding and a director of the Medinge Group branding think-tank) is making sure of it. He’s so opposed to the sign that he’s alerted the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.
The public also fervently disagrees with the sign: thousands have been swamping the social networking sites.
Sure, so King Kong, Avatar and Lord Of The Rings were all made in Wellington, but is that a reason to parady a real estate hoarding? And how long would it last in Wellington's legendary winds?
In fact, is there ANY need for a giant public erection at all?! If this actually happens, Wellington would look like a prize DICK…

+ + + If you're annoyed enough to want to stop this sign through LEGAL channels, why not email the the Trustees Of The Sign: betsy@rbicom.com. I have! + + +

PS: 23 May 2011 - Locals are so angry about "Wellywood" they plan to blockade the airport tonight!
PS: 26 May 2011 - Council votes "thumbs down" to the sign, and one of NZ's wealthiest businessmen considers legal action to stop the damn thing!
PS: 27 May 2011 - Award-winning director urges airport rethink.
PS: 30 May 2011 - Another airport blockade planned...
PS: 01 June 2011 - Common sense prevails: NO 'WELLYWOOD'!!!
PS: 16 June 2011 - There WILL be a sign. It WON'T say 'Wellywood'. There WILL be a public vote on what it'll say. If you want to vote, YOU MAY HAVE TO PAY FOR THE PRIVILEGE!!! WTF??!!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Beware False Prophets...


Hands up those who actually bought into Harold Camping's "end of the world" scenario for 21 May.
I hate to disappoint those fervent but misguided souls (no, to be honest, I LOVE winding up wallies like them!), but I'm writing this from New Zealand which
(1) was supposed to experience the start of the world-obliterating earthquake yesterday, and
(2) is now into tomorrow - the NEXT day (22 May).
Ol' Harold calculated the globe-splitting EQ would wipe NZ out first, then roll steadily around the planet throughout 21 May, so that Americans could conveniently watch Armageddon approaching on daytime tv. They'd have time for one last beer as gaping chasms split open their neighbourhood. Riiiiiight.
To Harold and his followers, I remind them that the Bible quotes Jesus as saying that “no one knows the day or the hour” (Matthew 24:36). I think I'll just leave it there...

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Feeling Blue...

Nothing pleases me more than discovering a useless piece of trivia I've never come across before...
I'll nonchalantly drop it into a dinner party conversation sometime in the future. Mind you, I've dribbled out so much trivial rubbish at previous dinner parties that the invitations are drying up! So instead, I'll post that trivia in my blog when I have nothing better to write about - like now!
So here's this pearl of wisdom – New Zealand is the only country that predominantly writes in blue ink. I know! Who'd have thought! While the rest of civilisation is scribblin' away in black and various other colours, we koiwois reach for the blue ballpoint. This piece of trivia is courtesy of BiC (the pen makers), which ran a nationwide campaign planned to mark a certain *yawn* global rugby tournament upcoming in September.
Eeeeee, by gooom, I remember when I were a laarrd and started work in an office. We were not allowed to write in red ink - that was for auditors - nor in green ink - that was for the accountant!
Go figure!
But even earlier in primary school, when we were progressing from pencils to fountain pens (that's ink, for those too young to know), the lefthanded among us - dragging our hands as we did across the page - kept smearing the ink before it had dried. After regularly cracking our knuckles with rulers to fix our satanic behaviour, the nuns belatedly clicked to our problem...and we lefties were elevated (long before our righthanded peers) to the lofty heights of biro pen usage!
There was a classic old TV ad (methinx filmed on the Pukekohe raceway): a sidecar team racing by with a BiC pen scrapping along the tarmac at high speed - and still writing perfectly afterwards! Couldn't locate that one, but do you remember this vintage ad with a BiC strapped to the heel of a Spanish dancer?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Earthquake Hits Iceland

Iceland is feeling aftershocks from the Japanese earthquake.
It’s 2011 whale hunt's been postponed indefinitely, with workers at the Hvalur whaling company laid off. Two of the Nippon processing companies with which Hvalur works sustained major EQ damage. The market's also collapsed, and Hvalur admits it’s not feasible to hunt in the foreseeable future. Whether to go ahead in Aug/Sept will be decided later this northern summer (last year the fin season started on June 26th).
Iceland’s whale sales to Japan've struggled since exports began in 2008, and have fallen short of target profits. Quality problems with Icelandic whale meat, and falling appetite among Japanese consumers have meant Icelandic fin meat prices were set at low rates, to try and build demand. Curiously Japan kept importing whale meat, despite its own growing stockpile.
In 2007, Iceland declared an end to commercial whaling, only to come back with a vengeance in 2009. Over the past two years, Hvalur has killed 273 endangered fin (despite govt.denials). The 2011 quota was 154 fin and 200 minke: so far this year just four minke have been caught.
The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) began a huge consumer campaign against Iceland in 2010. A significant number of retailers and supermarkets have joined the campaign, which has spread from the UK to the US and Europe. Among the supporters is lead UK seafood supplier Findus, which agreed to mark the Hvalur-linked Icelandic seafood company HB Grandi as unacceptable across its supply chain. WDCS is also urging the US Administration to impose sanctions on Iceland for its whaling and trade in whale products in defiance of IWC and CITES bans.
Economic pain is one of the few ways to drive home the message that commercial whaling is unacceptable to the world at large, and must cease.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Flicking Back The Fringe

When your gene pool is as large as USA, there's a lot more of The Fringe Element to select for politics.
Occasionally one of them actually gains public office: Reagan, Schwarzenegger, Martin Sheen...oh no, that was TV!
"It's MY fringe...I'll
flick it any way I want!"
But the line between politics, tv and reality really blurred when Donald Trump threw his hat into the political ring. God Bless America that he's now left the building, without ever once considering he'd lose: "If I were to run, I would be able to win the primary and ultimately, the general election...however, business is my greatest passion and I am not ready to leave the private sector."
Cynics constantly said this was all about promoting the property billionaire's tv show Celebrity Apprentice. Well, he certainly had the familiarity factor...but what about that hair? Could Americans really vote in someone of the lunatic fringe like that? Answer - yes. Look at Bush. BOTH of 'em!
Ah well, Trump made 'good copy' for five minutes...and hey, there's still Sarah Palin, the gal y'all love to parady...

Hockey mum and ex-Alaskan governor is keeping quiet about a 2012 pitch. Is she regrouping for another "campaign to nowhere"? Or staying out of the race - probably a good thing.
She'll be back on tv soon anyway, portrayed by Julianne Moore in an upcoming film. Game Change is a behind-the-scenes look at the US 2008 general election: “I’ll just grit my teeth and bear whatever comes with that movie.” Palin also joked she's all for job creation, so is glad to have provided the actress with work.
PS: 30 June 2011 - Palin has announced she will run in 2012. Stand by for more laughs!
PS: 06 Oct.2011 - ...and now she says she WON'T!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Tah-Tah To Titewhai From Te Tii?

Common sense prevails on Waitangi's Te Tii Marae.
Bite me!
Rabid maori activist Titewhai Harawira could be banned from the marae, following her disruption of a recent hui there - when she called Maori Party delegates snakes and liars as they discussed whether to contest a by-election in the Te Tai Tokerau seat held by mummy's boy, Hone Harawira.
Seven board members, including the chair, emailed that her behaviour was a blatant breach of Maori protocol: "The hate tactics being used to create dissension...and division...and the taint of her foul language in our house of ancestors, on a marae which is significant to both Maori and Pakeha, is not acceptable...the marae would not be a dumping ground for personal agendas any longer...the political poncing and resultant rancidification of Maori protocols by bullies who want everything their own way by whatever foul means, are not traits that this particular board would wish to have our children and young adults perceive as being the Ngapuhi way forward."
They said if deemed necessary, trespass notices would be issued. Well done, Te Tii Marae board, for staring down such crap!
See these fingers...?
Hone-bro's mum says she's not fazed: "One of the protocols people need to learn about the marae is that those challenges happen...you leave them there with our ancestors and that's it." In other words, that ain't gonna shut her up!
It's moments like
these, you need
Minties!
And HH won't be telling mum to bite her tongue either. In fact he reckons the Maori Party should just toughen up: "(My mum and sister) are not even talking to the media any more – as far as they are concerned it just needed to be said...now we move on." Riiiiiiight - by adding more radical elements to the Mana Party melting pot, like left-wing activist John Minto?
'How To Further Polarise Your Political Party: 101'.

PS: 18 May 2011 - ...meanwhile Peter Dunne (United Future leader) says Titewhai is "not a fit and proper person" to escort the Prime Minister onto the Treaty Grounds during NZ Day celebrations. Hear-hear!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Will Shania Twain Sing Again?

Country music is filled with songs of love, loss, and pain. Oh, also mangy ol' mutts, pick-up trucks, and watermelon wine, y'all...
The latest news about Shania Twain may add to that back-catalogue of tears. She's revealed she could be losing her singing voice, and if that's not bad enough, she could also lose her ability to speak!
Shania has dysphonia, a medical condition that hinders the body from producing audible vocal sounds. The condition started and worsened when she discovered ex-hubby, producer Robert "Mutt" Lange (an appropriate nickname!), was having an affair with ex-best friend Marie-Anne Thiebaud. In an odd twist reminiscent of Hollywood, Twain married Thiebaud's former husband, Frederic in January this year.
In her new tell-all book, From this Moment On, she writes how she put her "heart, soul and dreams" into her home on a 24,700ha alpine sheep station near Wanaka. Shania and Mutt paid NZ$21.4m for the property seven years ago. It's not known how it was split after the divorce, but Shania no longer has a share in it.
Shania's "heart, soul and dreams" home, Wanaka:
y'all can't "Come On Over" no more...

Mutt seems to like the South Island high country though - he's eyeing up nearby 22,400ha Coronet Peak Station, worth NZ$5.2m.
Meanwhile Shania has a new reality show on Oprah Winfrey's OWN network: Why Not? With Shania Twain. And she also has an estimated value of about US$450-500m. You GO, girl!

Monday, May 16, 2011

What Does Demi Think?

The new lead for TV show Two and a Half Men is...
nice boy Ashton Kutcher! Like that fits.
Charlie Sheen says he thinks Ashton is a funny actor, but predicts Two and a Half Men will flop with him in the lead role. Even in defeat, his ego continues to prattle unabated:
"Kutcher is a sweetheart and a brilliant comedic performer... oh wait, so am I!"
Kutcher: “I can't replace Charlie Sheen but I'll work my ass off to entertain the hell out of people!" Thanks for that reassurance, Ashton.
After Hugh Grant passed on the opportunity to join the show, the Kutcher deal came together quickly and an introductory storyline seems to have everyone happy.
The Sheen Circus has had many vultures eagerly awaiting the next disastrous step in his demise. He was fired from Two and a Half Men in March, after attacking everything from the producer and cast to Alcoholics Anonymous. Then he started an on-line show Sheen's Korner in which he continued his rants, and went on a US tour My Violent Torpedo of Truth/Defeat Is Not an Option, which crashed and burned. Curiously, during some of those performances, he said he wanted to return to the show, even saying he’d apologise to get his old job back. Yea...right.
But Charlie’s ‘slime factor’ will certainly be missed on the show – after all, it’s the central focus of all the scripts and the endless parade of bed buddies. Ashton’s image is just too “neighbourhood nice guy” to adopt the (autobiographical) Sheen Sleaze.
One thing’s certain: if the producers do expect Kutcher’s character to stain the same sheets, it’s safe money that his wife Demi Moore (18yrs his senior) will be watching closely from the wings!

PS: 04 Aug.2011 - So THIS is how Kutcher's character will be written in...

Sunday, May 15, 2011

*Pssst?* Want Some Cheap RWC Tickets?

The NZ government still refuses to accept it might have an ever-so-slight problem with the *yawn* Rugby World Cup...
Only half the tickets have been sold so far. That's nearly 790,000 - another half a million need to sell, just so that we can STILL lose financially! Tournament sales have to hit $99 million (1.3 million tickets)...to reach the target operating deficit of $39 mill!
"Er...um...PLEEEEEEZ
buy some tickets..."
But now, the excuses start rollin' out: RWC Minister Muddling McCully is blaming the Christchurch earthquake for causing nervousness overseas. He said it's taking a while for the word to get out that NZ is fine: it's just poor ol' Chch that's f***ed! He obviously hasn't heard of the internet...
Muzz reckons sales will improve, once tickets for the relocated Christchurch matches go back on sale next week. Well, they'll have to move fast: the tourny starts Sept.9th! But some travel agents think there'll be many spare seats at some of the minor games.
In neighbouring Australia, ticket sales are sluggish. Sales slowed late last year, with the cost of tickets and accommodation (yes, NZ's gobsmacking ├╝ber-greedy accomodation price-scalping!) combining with the earthquake, a spate of Oz disasters, and the recession.
Total Sports Travel, an offical tournament travel agent: "What we've sold in 18 months, we've got to do another half in six months." Hmmm, too big an ask? Don't worry: NZ still has plenty of couches to sleep on...!
...speaking of bedding down, a bigger RWC issue seems to be the on-your-back action.
Immigration NZ is stepping up border security and brothel checks to clamp down on overseas hookers...er...cumming here to work illegally.
Although prostitution in NZ is not a crime, it's illegal for anyone on a temporary visa (like tourists or international students), to work in the sex industry. With the expected influx of fans, brothels are expecting a boom-boom, baby!
Immigration GM of intelligence, risk and integrity, Steve Stuart says: "Major international sporting events are likely to increase demand for sex workers, and we're ready for that." Yeup, free condoms for all staff...you can never be too careful when carrying out those inspections!
PS: 17 May 2011 - Doubts raised over NZ's ability to host RWC.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Smarter Than The Average Bear?

Hone Harawira may just have boo-booed in his timing.
The Bro this week resigned from Parliament (effective May 20th), forcing a by-election in his Te Tai Tokerau electorate. He wants to secure the seat under the banner of his new Mana Party, before November's general election.
But Mana might not be registered in time: the Electoral Commission says it could take 6-8 weeks to process the application...and the by-election is on June 25th! Before registering a party, the Electoral Commission's gotta be happy it has at least 500 current paid-up members, among other things.
So the writ for the by-election will be issued on May 25th. Candidate nominations close May 31st and the date the writ must be returned showing successful candidates is July 14th. Opps. (This will of course add fuel to his "white motherf###ers" conspiracy theory!).
This stumble follows Hone's realisation that as soon as he resigns from Parliament, his MP salary stops...unless he walks back in there as Man Of Mana. Opps again.
"How do ya like my
'serious political threat' look?"
Of course, if he doesn't win, then it'll be opps times three!
But according to media reports, things are gettin' ugly back in da 'hood, with intimidating activity aimed at ensuring HH's return. Two Maori Party members received threatening emails after last Sunday's meeting at Te Tii Marae in Waitangi (yeup, the same hui where Hone's mum Titewhai ranted and raved for four solid hours). No-one's actually saying who dunnit, but you don't need a brain surgeon's degree to draw up a short-list.
Still, let 'em agitate - it won't make much difference. Because, unless the paperwork comes together in remarkable speed...sorry, Bro, but you're outta time!

Friday, May 13, 2011

A Python-esque View

From the UK comes a different viewpoint on the never-ending terror threats, thanks to the famous British writer, actor and tall person John Cleese:

ALERTS TO TERROR THREATS IN 2011 EUROPE
"The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent terrorist threats and have therefore raised their security level from 'Miffed' to 'Peeved' or even 'A Bit Cross'. The English have not been 'A Bit Cross' since the Blitz in 1940 when tea supplies nearly ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorised from 'Tiresome' to 'A Bloody Nuisance'. The last time the British issued a 'Bloody Nuisance' warning level was in 1588 when threatened by the Spanish Armada.
The Scots have raised their threat level from 'Pissed Off' to 'Let's get the Bastards' . They don't have other threat levels. This is the reason they have been used on the front line of the British army for the last 300 years.
The French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from 'Run' to 'Hide'. The only two higher levels in France are 'Collaborate' and 'Surrender'. The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France's white flag factory, effectively paralysing the country's military capability.
Italy has increased the alert level from 'Shout Loudly and Excitedly' to 'Elaborate Military Posturing'. Two more levels remain 'Ineffective Combat Operations' and 'Change Sides'.
The Germans have increased their alert state from 'Disdainful Arrogance' to 'Dress in Uniforms and Sing Marching Songs'. They also have two higher levels: 'Invade a Neighbour' and 'Lose'.
Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual. The only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels.
The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy. These beautifully designed subs have glass bottoms so the Spanish navy can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy.
Australia meanwhile has raised its security level from 'No worries' to 'She'll be alright, Mate'. Two more escalation levels remain: 'Crikey! I think we'll need to cancel the barbie this weekend' and 'The barbie is cancelled'. So far no situation has ever warranted use of the final escalation level."           - John Cleese.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Clinton Cut From History

Alongside the many conspiracy theories and endless dissections of Osama's 'removal', comes the 'erasure' of Hillary Clinton.
A NY newspaper catering to ultra-Orthodox Jews has published a photo of the White House Situation Room during the bin Laden raid, that was digitally altered to remove Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and another female official!
The original image released by the White House last week had a warning explicitly banning any digital manipulation.
Opps, sorry, didn’t see that.The Hasidic newspaper Der Tzitung’s “editorial policies are guided by a Rabbinical Board” which, “because of laws of modesty, does not allow publishing photos of women.” It believes women should be appreciated for who they are and what they do, not for what they look like, and the Jewish laws of modesty are an expression of respect for women, not the opposite...
Although it’s a debate rarely heard outside the Jewish community, the practice of scrubbing women from news pix is common in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish press worldwide. One such Israeli paper was busted erasing women in Prime Minister Netanyahu’s cabinet from an official portrait.
Der Tzitung must have one helluva problem with crowd scenes. And I don't suppose it covered the Royal Wedding either...!

[For more on media manipulation, try this...]

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Second Time Lucky, Harold?

Circle May 21st: that's what Harold Camping
reckons is Judgement Day.
Harold, an 89-yr-old Californian preacher, is certain on that day the world will be hit by a violent quake (*yawn* not another one?), graves opened with sinners' bodies strewn about (messy messy!), and believers scoring a ride on the Heavenly Escalator.
Camping reached his conclusion after more than 50 years of Bible study, applying mathematical calculations to the prophecies. He calls the recent spate of disasters - as well as social movements like gay pride - "grim reminders" that the end is nigh.
Mind you, he first predicted Doomsday for September 6th 1994: the Almighty must have been on vacation that day...
Harold runs Family Radio, a global religious broadcasting organisation. He expects to watch things unfold on tv as the massive earthquake hits us in NZ first - about 6pm on May 21st - then gradually rolls around the world (Awww! That's soooooooo unfair! We kiwis only get to see the opening credits before we star in the first scenes of total obliteration!).
"Pending Apocalypse" themes pop up whenever times are troubled. GNS Science seismologists say there's been no increase in quakes in NZ, apart from in Canterbury. And the US Geological Survey says earthquakes of 7+ have remained fairly constant this century. It puts the perceived increase down to more monitoring, improved communications and an increase in populations.
Still...at least with May 21st being a Saturday: most of us will have the day off to watch it! And if it happens, we'll be spared the boredom of the General Election in November!!
And if Harold's got it wrong again...there's always Plan B: the ancient Mayan "end of the great cycle" on December 21st 2012. Can't wait!

PS: 20 May 2011 - How "Armageddon" theories gave birth to cornflakes! Quick, read this before Doomsday tomorrow!!!
PS: 22 May 2011Beware false prophets!
"We can't go to Heaven just yet: little Timmy needs to go to the toilet!"

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Rods For Their Own Backs

Two articles in the news yesterday caught my eye:
"DOC orders driveway shift after maori grave found", and
"Maori Party: 'We're not going into byelection to come second' ".
+ In the first, a Taranaki farmer has to move his driveway after the Department of Conservation (DOC) found that it ran across six 160-year-old Maori graves. He says its location means, if it's moved, it'll cause traffic problems. A Puketapu spokesman says the family should act immediately, now the graves have been correctly identified.
DOC says "We order". Maori say "immediately". NZ Herald does not report any problems concerning the graves, ever since the driveway was made a century ago.
So rather than forcing a farmer into the great effort and cost of relocating a driveway (with the resultant involvement of NZTA over road safety issues), moving a fenceline and phone cable, would it not be simpler to just exhume the remains?
Surely this is not a PC-blow-it-out-of-all-proportion maori issue...it is an issue of respect for the dead, coupled with a reality check on the age of the driveway and lack of previous drama. That's all.
"Well, it was Mothers
Day: I had nothing
else to do..."
+ The second story is a double-header: the Maori Party preparing to stand against Hone Harawira in his Te Tai Tokerau electorate...and the sustained outbursts by Hone's mum and his sister throughout the entire 4hr. meeting at Waitangi's Te Tii Marae.
Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia calls it psychological abuse by the pair, and claims they also intimidated people by saying they'd written down the names of those present.
Aside from the politics (Mana vs Maori Party), surely anyone disrupting a meeting should have been removed. With my limited understanding of marae protocol, I thought women were not allowed to speak there without being invited. Why put up with a heckler (OMG, a female heckler!) for four hours...and then complain about it afterwards?
The issue here is not the right to hold an opinion, not freedom-of-speech, but the right to remove an interjector, and why this wasn't done. The hui organisers only have themselves to blame.
There's generally a simple solution to most problems...unless you really want to make a rod for your own back.
PS: 10 May 2011 - ...and here're the consequences of tolerating such behaviour...
PS: 17 May 2011 - Te Tii marae threatens to ban Hone's mum!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Give Them A Chance!

Ahhhh, here we go. *sigh* It didn't take long, did it?
As soon as she ties the knot with Prince Will, Kate Middleton's every breath is tabloid front page news.
And now get this: 'Kate heads down the aisle again'.
*shock-horror-probe* "Swapping chic McQueen and a regal carriage for a green shawl and a shopping trolley, the new Duchess of Cambridge is getting back to her commoner roots. as she went supermarket shopping on the island of Anglesey, North Wales."
By all accounts, she loaded the shopping into her car all on her own (wow!!), then skipped as she ran the trolley back to the park. She looked very happy and was smiling at people...!

Riveting news...made even more exciting by the speculation that, although she was stocking up on basic grocery lines, she also bought a few special items - maybe she was preparing their first romantic meal as a married couple! Gosh!
And will the Daily Mirror follow this up with a sequel describing the actual meal? Then a story on their post-meal ablutions and which brand of toiletpaper was used?
Short memories: this is exactly how they hounded Will's mum...
PS: 11 May 2011 - And then there's the Pippa Middleton Ass Appreciation Society...hmmm, I've seen better.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Flag Burning Now OK - God Defend NZ!

Offensive behaviour is that which causes injury or insult.
It seems burning our country's flag is NOT offensive behaviour. Even when it happens in front of a shocked public crowd including elderly war veterans, at an Anzac Day dawn parade!
Activist Valerie Morse burnt a NZ flag near the Wellington Cenotaph in 2007. She was convicted in the Wellington District Court - the judge found her behaviour was an expression protected under the Bill of Rights, but offensive in the context of an Anzac Day dawn service. The conviction (upheld by both the High Court and the Court of Appeal) was last week quashed by the Supreme Court, even though it's illegal under the Flags Emblems and Names Protection Act 1981 to destroy the flag with the intent of dishonouring it! [The Supreme Court ruled it’s necessary to prove that offensive behaviour must give rise to a “disturbance of public order”.]
Auckland University law professor Bill Hodge: "You can now burn the NZ flag any time, anywhere...I can't think of a time more sensitive with the right people in the right place than Anzac morning..."
It's ironic that Morse, arrested in the 2007 Urewera 'terror camp' raids, should play the freedom-of-expression card, but conveniently forget that her freedom came via sacrifices of those she dishonoured on Anzac Day.
Various RSA members have called the court's decision ridiculous, deplorable, disgusting. Valerie Morse claimed the protest was not aimed at returned servicemen, but against the Afghanistan war, so it was appropriate and reasonable. Witnesses however called the burning disturbing and offensive.
So until an act of Parliament changes things, this is what the Pathetic Permeation Of Political Correctness has produced.
Does this also mean that next NZ Day, it'll be perfectly legal to burn a maori separatist flag at Waitangi? After all, that'll be as inoffensive as the burning of NZ flags that's bound to occur there, following this ruling! Then perhaps I can fry a Qur'an...

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Dalziel Should Look Closer To Home

Labour MP Lianne Dalziel has her puritanical knickers in a knot, over increasingly raunchy content...in Coronation Street!
Well, to be fair, she's concerned about everything that's steaming up TV's "family viewing" time. She's requested the Broadcasting Standards Authority move the 8.30pm watershed time earlier to 7.30pm (the watershed time being the point after which TV progs have adult content).
Eeeeeee, by goom! Could they be sisters...?
But by using venerable Coro Street as an example, she's undermined her case. She says the show's changed markedly since the days of its battleaxe character "Ena Sharples". Duuhh, hello - so has the entire world, Lianne! "Ena" appeared on Coro from 1960-1980: remember how naive the world was then? Well, TV merely reflects society. To get precious over TV themes of adultery, nudity, theft, murder and other skullduggery is to wear blinkers against what's sadly happening in reality.
Dalziel: "All of the challenges that parents have today in terms of the values they try to raise their children by, I just wonder if they realise what their children are watching." Hell, if parents don't want their kids to watch Coro, they can simply change the channel!
But locally-produced Shortland Street is far more raunchy than Coro has ever been! Medical misadventure, fraud, hit-men, lesbians, gangs, drugs... Shorty's got it all AND screens even earlier than Coro! And if you think cartoons are a safer option, think again: check out the innuendo and sexual references throughout The Simpsons and Family Guy to name just two...!
No, instead of moving the watershed time earlier to 7.30pm, which would then bring more AO-rated (Adults Only) programmes within reach of children, it would surely make more sense for TV to add more family-oriented programming prior 8.30pm...
But with a general election only seven months away, there're bigger fish for an opposition MP to fry. Perhaps Lianne Dalziel just needs to put down the TV Guide and get a life!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Hone's Words Say So Much More...

Hone Harawira has a well-earned reputation for 'opening mouth before engaging brain'. This week, he surpassed himself!
"Shoulda kept my mouth shut, eh bro!"
His "white motherf***ers" comment pales in comparison to his eulogising of the dearly departed Osama bin Laden.
Hone-bro stated the al Qaeda leader should be honoured, not damned!! On Maori TV's Native Affairs, HH said bin Laden had pursued independence for his people, his family and his tribe. He twice paid tribute to bin Laden in his maori tongue, saying it was maori custom to acknowledge the dead. Asked if he was concerned about how that comment may be construed, he said he was maori and "tributes to the dead are always appropriate".
Harawira also said on TV One's Te Karere: "I acknowledge him and bid him farewell. Return to your ancestors who wait for you beyond the veil of death. His family, his tribe, his people are in mourning...for the man who fought for the rights, the land and the freedom of his people. We should not damn them in death, but acknowledge the positive aspects of life."
Utter bullshit! Maori have always had the custom of revenge (utu). Any romantic notion that ancient maori spent hours saluting the enemy is crap. Traditionally, enemies were enslaved, incinerated or eaten...and people rejoiced, because their suffering had been avenged.
God only knows what HH's been reading, to form the opinion that bin Laden was fighting for the freedom of his people... perhaps Urewera Terror Camps 101? He was a straight-out terrorist, who subverted his own culture/religion to spur others into murderous acts. He was no freedom fighter, but held a warped view that would only accept global domination by extremist Islamic jihadists. There was neither glory in his deeds, nor any glorious final gesture either. There is nothing about bin Laden to glorify.
And it matters not that Hone is now back-pedalling on his comments: we know the true value of a Harawira apology! His hero worship of bin Laden speaks volumes about his own character...
PS: 07 May 2011 - Hone's sideshow ignores the brutal truth (NZ Herald)...a good read.