Thursday, June 30, 2011

Your Sister Is A Slut

Sluts are virgins. Sluts are mothers. Sluts are teenage daughters. Sluts are sex workers. Sluts wear beanies, fishnet stockings, polar fleece and jeans, G-strings, business attire.
If the aim of the SlutWalk mobilisation is to utterly confuse the idea of what a ''slut'' is, it's succeeded.
SlutWalk marches began in April in Canada and are now a global movement of rallies: Auckland and Wellington had theirs last weekend. They’re protesting the belief that a woman's appearance might explain or excuse rape. The rallies were in response to a Toronto policeman saying that, in order not to be victimised, women should avoid dressing like sluts. The protestors are mainly younger women, some dressed in normal clothing, others provocatively.
As SlutWalks spread into less liberated countries, it'll be interesting to see the response – in India, for example, will women replace saris with shorts? Will Saudi women dare to show their arms?
And do those on SlutWalks actually understand the full meaning of the word (not just today’s "she's dressed like that so she must be gagging for it" misinterpretation?) Do they even care?
There’s a time and place for everything...dressing appropriately for any situation is the same as leaving keys in an unlocked car: it’s ‘risk management’. While a woman should be able to wear what she likes wherever and whenever she likes, it is a sad fact that a small percentage of males may see risqué clothing as a draw-card…just as it’s a sad fact that in certain areas of the city, the unlocked car with the keys in it will disappear. She – and that car – should be safe at any time, anywhere. But the reality is – they aren’t.
Women can call themselves any NAME they want.
Women can dress any WAY they want.
Women can go anyWHERE they want.
But just as I value my car, so they too should use 'the better part of valour'.
And all men must understand the meaning of "NO".
[...photo courtesy of Hairy & Chaps Photography]

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Brick By Pink Brick

The long wait is over!
Continuing the sell-out smash of his 2010/2011 tour of America and Europe, former Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters brings his musical masterpiece The Wall to Auckland's Vector Arena, Sun.19th February next year.
The Wall, written/produced by Waters, was first performed live by Pink Floyd in 1980. It was America's top-selling album of 1980 and is still in the US Top 5 best-selling albums of all time. A defining work in rock music history, it includes the anthemic Another Brick In The Wall, rock classic Comfortably Numb, Mother, Hey You and In the Flesh.
The Wall Live features all the classic Roger Waters special effects, including the original imagery, crashing aeroplane, quadraphonic sound, pyrotechnics, gigantic inflatable puppets, flying pig, and adds the latest projection technology, video mapping and many elaborate effects.
The visuals are a show in themselves, projected onto the infamous brick wall that's built during the show. In all, 424 large bricks will construct an imposing 230 x 35ft wall, dominating the arena.
I saw Pink Floyd in 1988, and rate that as an experience completely separate to and surpassing any concert I've ever seen - even Queen! Add state-of-the-art technology to that quality of music and musicianship, and it's a truly mind-blowing evening in store!
NZ tickets go on sale 9am Monday 11th July and WILL completely sell out fast. But there's no way they'd bring a colossus like that this far for just one gig, so you can also guarantee there'll be another show waiting in the wings for the night before...!
PS: 01 July 2011 - Concert date changed: now Mon.20th Feb.
PS: 07 July 2011 - 2nd concert date: Wed.22nd Feb.
PS: 14 July 2011 - Following the 3rd concert's sell-out (23rd Feb.), No.4 (18th Feb.) is on sale from July 25!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Kids Do Say The Darndest Things

Kids usually tell it like they see it…
…and whether New Zealand wants to hear it or not, thousands of children believe the All Blacks will blow the *yawn* Rugby World Cup final!
NZHerald reports a nationwide online survey CensusAtSchool (May-June, 24,000 students 8-17yrs) predicting the ABs will be waiting another four years for the Webb Ellis Cup. 83% expect them to make the final, but only 41% think they’ll actually win.
Compare this to their more optimistic parents - a Herald/DigiPoll survey (Jan.) found 70% thought the ABs would triumph. In April, a UMR poll found 77% of adults sure of it. I guess they'd have to be: if they've shelled out $1278 for a finals seat at  Eden Park, they would not wanna be sitting there watching Namibia vs Georgia!
So does this indicate:
+ a drop of support for rugby at the school grassroots level?
+ burn-out, after over a year of incessant RWC promotion and advertising?
+ or are the kids just more realistic?
Of the 83% of kids who thought the ABs would make the final, 35% picked South Africa to be there too, ahead of 30% who chose Australia. Of those kids predicting an ABs final win, 25% picked a margin of less than five points.
Veteran rugby commentator Keith Quinn says the results show children's awareness that the ABs have a World Cup reputation of falling at the final hurdle. He thinks South Africa should be favoured if they reach the final.
Former ABs great Stu Wilson isn’t happy: "I don't care what the league and netball or cricket people say, rugby is still our No.1 sport. The survey surprises me and disappoints me, to be honest."
Oh dear, sorry to correct you, Stu, but rugby is NOT our No.1 sport – has not been for years! It ranks 21st. on SPARC's 2007/2008 'Sport Participation Levels' survey, embarrassingly far below netball, fishing, swimming and even gardening! And I suspect in terms of tv viewing, it'll be surpassed by cooking shows and American Idol!
So if the kids are right and the All Blacks do choke in the final, will NZ finally accept there’s more to life than an oval ball?

Monday, June 27, 2011

IWC: Here We Go Again...

+ It’ll be a whale of a time next month!
The International Whaling Commission Roadshow hits UK’s Channel Islands 11-14 July 2011. This year, the agenda includes a pre-emptive measure from Japan preserving its commercial whaling option; a proposal for a Sth.Atlantic whale sanctuary (a longstanding objective of the Latin Americans); possible US trade sanctions against Iceland for undermining the IWC commercial whaling moratorium (Iceland kills minke and endangered fin whales and sells the meat to Japan, the Faroe Islands and other nations); and Australia’s legal challenge to Japan’s whaling in the Sthrn.Ocean Sanctuary.
Looming large over the meeting is Japan’s tsunami disaster: its whaling infrastructure suffered considerable damage, and long-term implications of this are unclear. What is clear is that radiation from it’s damaged reactors is being found in whales and the marine environment. Right now, Japanese “research” vessels led by Nisshan Maru, are in the Nth.Pacific on their 18th commercial whale hunt, planning to kill 260 whales, up to 100 of which may be minkes. And once again at IWC, they'll be offering all sorts of concessions in exchange for support. But never bribes - oh no!
+ ...meanwhile more blood is spilt in Faroe Island bays. On May 28th., approx.200 pilot whales were slaughtered and, only two days later, 70 more were killed. Statistically, the highest number of kills occur in July/August so sadly there’ll be more unnecessary deaths to come. Sea Shepherd's flagship Steve Irwin and the Brigitte Bardot are en route to the North Atlantic to defend the Faroe pilot whales.
What’s interesting this year is that current information on the grindadráp and the headcount seems harder to find. There were 14 hunts in 2010 which killed 1107 pilot whales, but I suspect some Faroese may be limiting immediate details on-line, to reduce the negative global publicity. Unfortunately for them, those in their own communities who do not support the grind’s brutality keep the world informed. I thank those brave people...and hope their commitment will not incur the wrath of their countrymen.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Gunfight at the Te Tai Tokerau Corral

Saturday was High Noon.
The main shooters: Mana's Hone Harawira, Labour's Kelvin Davis and, to a lesser degree, Maori's Solomon Tipene.
Foo, eh, bro?!
Pre-gunfight, National PM John Key publically put his money on Labour's Davis while the Maori Party shot its own candidate Tipene! That left The Bro to rake in all the free publicity generated by his acrimonious split from the Maori Party, his formation of the Mana Party, the question of will-it/won't-it be offically registered in time for the by-election (somehow, miraculously, against all odds, it WAS! Curious, that...) etc etc.
There were 32,738 registered voters, but only about 12,000 could be bothered to actually vote. A handful were turned away, because they were on the general roll and thus were ineligible. One polling station manager said: "There wasn't enough communication about the difference between the general vote and Te Tai Tokerau. There's been a communication breakdown so...that needs to be addressed." *sigh* How often (and at what expense) does this apartheid-like electoral system need explaining? If you're bro, you can choose to be on the general or the maori roll. If you're not, you're on the general roll. Only maori voters could play this time round. But if you weren't registered, you couldn't vote at all. Maori are not stupid - these ridiculous statements about needing more publicity are very patronising.
Well, as you now know, Hone won - but with no sweeping mandate. His 6,000 majority was gunned down to around 860: the maori seat with the largest majority is now the most marginal.
So it'll be interesting to see whether his pontificating to the maori masses about "us-vs-them" (meaning the "white mother f***ers") was patronisation as well, or whether he can actually set aside his foul-mouthed aggression for the sake of those who've put their faith in him. But with less than two dozen sitting days before the House adjourns for the General Election run-up...all the voters really did was secure HH a healthy salary for the next few months!
Ironically he's now suggesting a possible amalgamation of Mana and the Maori Party: go figure! Looks like Hone will provide plenty of cannon fodder for a while yet...
PS: 19 July 2011 - Hone cocks up again...this time it could cost him $40k!!!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Pole Dancing, Scott-Style

Exactly a century ago this week, polar explorer Captain Robert Falcon Scott and his team lifted their spirits in the dark Antarctic wastes with the traditional treat of a "midwinter dinner".
They broke from routine to enjoy seal soup, roast beef and plum pud, washed down by champagne. For five of them, it was to be their last great feast.
Within nine months, in one of the most tragic episodes in British exploration history, Scott and four of his companions would die on the ice. The team successfully reached the South Pole in Jan.1912, only to find the Norwegian flag already planted there by rival Roald Amundsen. On the return leg, bad weather stopped them reaching a vital supply store, at which point death was inevitable.
This week in UK, descendents of those five attended a special commemorative dinner: two of Scott's grandchildren, a great nephew of Dr Wilson, a great nephew of Captain Oates (famous for his last words, "I'm just going outside and may be some time"), a cousin of Lt.Bowers and a grandson of Petty Officer Evans. This was one of several events marking the centenary of Scott's journey - including two planned Antarctic expeditions next year.
Though Scott will always be remembered for his death, his scientific and technical accomplishments should not be forgotten. He was the first to use motorised vehicles in Antarctica, and to ditch furs in favour of layered clothing (used ever since by explorers). His team's collection of weather records, geographical information and fossils are seen as pivotal examples of modern scientific fieldwork.
But nothing can erase the mistakes he made while planning his heroic failure - mistakes that cost him and his men their lives.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Thompson's Tampon Talk Realistic

The vampires are circling, but is their blood-lust justified?
NZ Employers and Manufacturers Assn (EMA) boss Alasdair Thompson faces public calls to step down, following his claims that women's productivity is affected by taking sick days when having their periods: “…once a month they have sick problems. Not all women, but some do, they have children they have to take time off to go home...”
There were immediate howls to resign and he’s received hate mail. Thompson's apologised for causing offence but stands by his overall argument and has no intention of resigning.
I cannot see what the bloody fuss is about! Alasdair stated a fact – that some women take time off for bad periods, or for looking after sick children. He NEVER said:
+ that he SUPPORTED lower pay for women because of this.
+ or that pay rates should be DIFFERENT between men and women.
+ or that he felt women had a lower work OUTPUT simply because of their biology.
But some employers DO pay women less because of their biology, or their child-nuturing, or don’t promote/train them too highly (in case they fall pregnant and thus be off-work and a loss to the company)…or just ‘because they’re women and that’s the way the pay scale’s always been’ (I briefly studied this issue last year at uni).
Yes, it’s sexist. Yes, it’s a sour part of the current employment reality. Yes, it should be changed. And no, I don’t have the solution. However, sacking Thompson is not the answer. The debate should be about how to remove sexism in the workplace.

Shock The Monkey!

Notorious NZ radio shock jock Iain Stables is probably still getting over his own shock!
This week he lost an assault case, arising from a public scrap with Jetstar check-in worker Patrick Ulberg at Auckland Airport last October, after he was told his flight’s check-in was closed. Stables was charged with disorderly behaviour likely to incite violence - Ulberg was found not guilty of assault.
The judge said Stables' behaviour was beyond that of a merely disgruntled passenger, branding him abusive and aggressive, and making specific reference to a racial obscenity directed at Ulberg, a Samoan. He found Ulberg was legitimately threatened and acted to protect himself.
Stables admitted he became disgruntled but justified his position by saying there’s no excuse "for punching someone eight times in the head". Ulberg is a lot larger than Stables – those punches would definitely have hurt (although eight IS excessive!). Here’s the TV One Close-Up article of the incident (with video footage of the fisticuffs)...you decide. Following the ruling, police are reviewing their case against Stables.
Stables had been due to start a job with Radio Hauraki but that was terminated after the incident. He’s under no illusion his radio career is over: "It's cost me everything." Perhaps he should've considered that before losing his cool! (I wonder if his over-reaction was somehow linked to his bipolar condition.) Ulberg said he didn't regret anything about the incident: "No, it's a big lesson for all, you have to calm down yourself."
So true! We’ve had too many instances in recent years of people in media and high-profile positions, thinking they can get their own way. Their egos forget that they’re only doing a job - and in a privileged position, at that! Being in the public eye makes them no more important than anyone else…but it adds another level of responsibility to their public behaviour.
PS: 28 July 2011 - Another shock: police drop charges against Stables!!!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Making Music For The Ears

The gossip mags have reported that British singing sensation Adele cancelled the last leg of her US tour not because of illness, but because music execs said she had to lose weight!
According to a “source close to the situation”, a music guru told her if she wanted to be accepted in America, she needed to drop a few pounds. Adding to that pressure is the fact that Adele suffers from panic attacks, which were exacerbated once she got to US. When she gets nervous her throat closes up, hence the laryngitis (the supposed reason for cancelling). But how f***in' ridiculous and arrogant of the US music men!!!
Her weight is not an issue for to her fans though…she’s sitting pretty at the top of the charts with her outstanding second album 21.
Adele recently graced the cover of America's Rolling Stone magazine in their 'Best of Rock 2011' issue. Inside she says: “My life is full of drama and I don't have time to worry about something as petty as what I look like. Even if I had a really good figure, I don't think I'd get my tits and arse out for anyone. That’s not what my music is about. I don’t make music for eyes, I make music for ears.” Well said!
...if you liked that, you might also wanna check out this 2008 remake of Billy Joel's To Make You Feel My Love...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Little Darlings

Two teenage girls have an intense fantasy life.
Their parents, concerned the fantasy is too intense, separate them.
The girls take revenge, killing Pauline’s mother armed with a brick in a stocking.
You may have seen the movie starring Kate Winslet.
That murder took place in lil’ ol’ New Zealand today in history, June 22nd., 1954.
There’s plenty of material written about the case: in the end the girls – Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme – each served around five years. Pauline was sent to Paparua prison near Christchurch. Juliet initially went to Mt Eden prison and then to Arohata prison in Tawa near Wellington. They were ordered to never see each other again and, on release, the Justice Department gave them new identities.
Parker, under another name, became a devout Catholic and worked in an Auckland bookshop, before moving to England. Hulme’s life, under the name Anne Perry, revolves around her Mormon religion and making a living ironically as a murder mystery writer in Scotland.
She has sold more than three million of her 20+ titles. She says she’s not drawn on her own experience, much of which has been blocked out of her memory, in any of her stories. Perry also says the two have not had any contact since their prison sentences.
This murder remains one of NZ’s most infamous and has inspired a play, Daughters Of Heaven and Peter Jackson’s Academy Award-nominated film Heavenly Creatures.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Spot The Difference

Watching you watching me
watching you watching me...
With cross-border tension between Nth and Sth.Korea high, an interesting story caught my eye last weekend...
Two Sth.Korean soldiers just south of the border shot their K2 rifles at an Asiana Airbus 321 passenger plane descending into their capitol Seoul from China, thinking it was a Nth.Korean jet! According to an official, the lads let rip 99 rounds: "The firing continued for 10 minutes but the plane was too far off the rifle's range and received no damage."
Lucky the fools didn't launch a missile: that WOULD have hit the plane! But no, the plane didn't sustain any damage, because:
(1) with the K2's effective range of 500-600m, they KNEW they wouldn't hit it.
(2) the K2's 20- or 30-round magazine means each man changed mags at least twice. TWICE?!
(3) they fired 99 rounds in 10 minutes?! A plane's approach doesn't take that long. And between two men, that's only a round every 12sec! I reckon these idiots were blasting off some rounds for the hell of it, the plane flew into their view, and they panicked that they might have hit it. Well, it's off to the salt mines holiday camp
I'm 44.5m long...
for them!
Since May, Nth.Korea's rhetoric has got tougher. Sth.Korea has told troops that if Nth.Korea attacks, they should strike back immediately without waiting for orders. The North has also threatened an
...and I'm 15.7m long.
 attack, to protest Sth.Korea's use of photos of the North's ruler as rifle-range targets. Last week, the South deployed surface-to-surface missiles near the border, capable of hitting the Nth.Korean capital Pyongyang.
In that environment, it's understandable that trigger fingers may get tense, but hello! In one of these photos is a Airbus 321...in the other is a Mig-21 (similar to Nth.Korean jets). See the similarities? No, I don't either! Thankfully the South is now teaching soldiers to play "spot the difference".
PS: 22 June 2011 - Now they're blaming FOG...yet they still fired for 10 minutes!!!!

Monday, June 20, 2011

David vs Goliath: Leviathan vs Sprat(ly)

While most eyes are on the current Middle East disruptions, tension boils closer to home in the resource-rich Spratly Islands.
Several countries claim parts of this area – Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Brunei, Taiwan, Philippines – while China greedily wants the lot!
Known as the South China Sea, each country calls it something else, reflecting their own claims.
Whatever its named, there’s not much there: 3.5m.sq.km with 250+ largely uninhabitable tiny islets where fishermen shelter. It’s what’s beneath that everyone covets: huge oil, mineral and gas reserves. The sea is also a major shipping route.
Decades of sabre-rattling escalated lately as China and Malaysia sent their biggest patrol ships on “routine” trips into the area, while Vietnam staged a live-fire exercise. Minor constructions and beacons have been erected and subsequently torn down by various navies – just to show they can.
Vietnam calls its sovereignty claim incontestable, and announced a new military draft (the first since the 1979 Vietnam/China border war, which China lost). There’s growing concern that tensions may soon lead to gunfire. Last year, USA said maintaining stability was in its national interests, something Beijing yawned at but Hanoi may welcome now. Just this weekend, USA and Vietnam jointly called for freedom of navigation and rejected any use of force in the South China Sea. The irony of Vietnam – a past foe – seeking American support in this dispute has not been lost...
A solution perhaps is ASEAN (Assn.of SE Asian Nations)establishing an EU-type arrangement, whereby all claimants work together in a collective. Even then, the argument would be fair wealth distribution.
But currently no country shows any sign of backing down from their claims, and the roll-out of China’s first aircraft carrier (albeit a refurbished second-hand Russian one) must surely ‘up the ante’.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Ratana Parish Calls Hone ‘prophet’!

Oh, Heaven forbid…exactly!!
Just call me 'God'...
As if his ego needs any more stroking, members of a Ratana Church parish believe Hone Harawira is the fulfilment of a prophecy!
They organised a hikoi from South Auckland to Kaitaia last Friday: this massive show of support for The Bro in the upcoming Te Tai Tokerau by-election consisted of…12 people on a bus. By the time the bus got through Waitakere in west Auckland, that number had dropped to six.
Kereama Pene, a senior Ratana minister, says Hone Harawira closely embodies a prophecy by church founder T.W.Ratana (1873-1939).
T.W.Ratana
“What (Ratana) basically said was, if all the people lose hope, 'turn your eyes to the north, a young man will rise up carrying the Treaty'.”
Mr Harawira says he’s humbled by talk that he may be the Prophesied One, but he is not actively pursuing it.
That would be rather wise, methinx! Y’see, Akuhata Kiwa (1917) prophesied the coming of Ratana himself (as did a number of other maori seers), saying: “This young man will come before I have passed through death’s veil. There will be no prophets or knowledgeable teachers after him, never.” In their zealous support of Hone-bro, the good folk of Ratana seem to have forgotten that particular prophecy: there - will - be - no - moreprophetsafterRatana.
Hipa Te Maiharoa (1868) said: “The one who will save (the maori people) will come forth in the Taranaki area…”. But being born in Whangarei and raised in west Auckland, Hone again doesn’t fit the bill.
Enough said.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Ain't Love Grand!

Passion ran high this week in Canada...
After the Vancouver Canucks lost 4-0 to the Boston Bruins in the big ice hockey final, all hell broke loose on the streets!
Riots. Looters. Cars burnt. 150 people needed hospital treatment. Nearly 100 arrests.
And in the midst of all this chaos, more passion...a couple lying in the street locked in a kiss, oblivious to the charging crowds and baton-wielding riot police.
Photographer Richard Lam initially thought one of the pair was hurt: he took a few shots and then moved on. It wasn’t until he examined his photos later that he realised he’d captured a classic and surreal moment in time...
...and no-one knows who they are.

PS: 19 June 2011 - Now all can be revealed (check the "Comments" below...)!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Sticky Art

Even now and again, a video will do the rounds via email, showing an artist creating something with very odd materials or in a rather strange manner.
You may recall the clip a few years ago, of the Middle Eastern woman making stunning imagery in a back-lit sandbox!
Well, here's the latest: Michael Raivard comes from the well-known French art school called Corvisard. He's tried drama, photography and is currently back to drawing. He contantly searches for new techniques and that's how he came up with "Live Gluing".
This consists of creating a portrait in just a few minutes with only glue. The effect is stunning when, at the last moment, Michael throws handfuls of sparkles on the canvas, to reveal the final product! Have a look...

Thursday, June 16, 2011

All Hail Emperor Harawira

relaxed on top:
duck-paddling
beneath?
Is Harawira in panic mode?
Following the Maori TV poll [summary below], which shattered his delusion of total dominance in the Te Tai Tokerau byelection lead-up, Hone’s trying a new tack. He’s saying all maori MPs should be pulling together, maori-focused, no party politics…and please vote for the wonderful guy who suggested this! He feels the maori voice is diluted because maori MPs must stick to party lines (so that's why he set up yet another party, right?).
Expanding on last week’s intimations at Destiny Church in Auckland, the Bro wants to set up a race-based ‘maori parliament’ of maori MPs from all parties – to encourage them to act in the interests of their people rather than their parties. This parliament would visit different electorates together on a regular basis, such as every three months. That way, he reckons they’ll all hear the same message and become more independent thinkers. (But of course that’s why we elect MPs – even if ours is not from our chosen party, he/she is still our parliamentary ear.
NZ Day disgrace!
A travelling circus is unnecessary time-wasting.)
Harawira says this won’t amount to a completely separate maori parliament: "not yet, anyway". And that was exactly my worry when the govt first allowed that symbol of rabid Harawira-ism to fly alongside the NZ flag on our national day. The door was unlocked for this sort of separatist racist crap to gain a foothold. It’s precisely what the Harawira clan's been advocating for years!
The Poll:

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Facing Up To Facebook

Facial Recognition software used to be the stuff of spy thrillers.
Now it’s in common use, everywhere from border security to building access... even to identifying a deceased high-value resident of a certain Pakistani mansion. But did you know Facebook uses it too?
Facebook scans faces in the photogaphs you upload, and tries to recognise other users. True!
Facebook looks at all the shining smiles and searches for matches in its slightly creepy database of faces. If it sees someone it thinks is one of your friends, it asks you if you want to "tag" them in the photo.
As if that isn’t dodgy enough, Facebook has started including users in this service without actually telling them and - just as importantly - without giving them the choice of deciding whether they’re interested. So just by uploading pix to Facebook, everyone's part of the programme!
As you know, your images are kept in a centralised storage that can be accessed and matched at a second's notice. Is that a real hazard? Probably not but, in principle, it's a bit disturbing. Remember, that information stays available…forever.
To be fair, Facebook did announce the partial launch of its facial recognition programme late last year (remember how that launch came with its own set of privacy problems?). What's new now is that Facebook has rolled out the feature to more users in more countries - without first giving them a heads-up…and everyone was included by default.
Once again, it’s said “Opps, sorry”, but this is becoming a bad habit! How many times can it act first and clean up the mess later?
Facebook is a massive global service that people trust with their personal data. I suggest if it can’t/won’t give priority to users’ privacy, that trust may be misplaced. Caveat emptor.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Naughty Little Boys Get Spanked

Ooooooooooo, aren't they being naughty little boys at Hawke's Bay Regional Prison!
Last week, five inmates staged a roof-top protest, after one was told his security rating was to be increased. They spent a rather cold night up on the roof before giving in to reality...now all those involved will have their security classifications reviewed, and face charges.
This week, a 'copycat' protest at the same prison - a fire was lit in a cell, some prisoners refused to return to their boudoirs after the event, and stayed out in a secure recreation yard until midnight. What a shame someone didn't think to squirt a firehose over them at the same time!
Quite frankly, leaving those clowns up on the roof through a cold night, or in an exposed recreation yard, is a perfect solution... and let's hope it's raining or frosty when they do it! Their lil' hissy-fits will soon cool off when their core temperature drops!
To any PC-oriented readers, that may sound harsh...but hey, that's what jail should be all about. Learning lessons. Serving dues. Come to think of it, a bit of rock-pounding or road maintenance in leg-irons wouldn't go amiss either.
Despite Sue Bradford's feelings to the contrary, naughty little boys who repeatedly offend earn themselves a spanked butt. Naughty little inmates who wanna climb up onto wet windswept rooftops earn themselves a frozen butt. They should also be made to clean up all the fire damage themselves...or live in a smoky cell until they do. Plus of course the cost of any damage done during their hissy-fits could be added to their 'debt to society', in either dollar terms or extra time to serve.
Either way, they're not in prison to be treated with kid gloves!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Ozzie Vintners Lift The Drawbridge

New Zealand's top drops have been excluded from three of Australia's most prestigious award shows: the Royal Hobart Intl.Wine Show in Tasmania, the Canberra Wine Show and the Perth Royal Wine Show! Just one major competition, the Sydney Intl.Wine Competition, has not banned NZ wines…so far.
The rationale is that Australia no longer needs to “help” NZ wines gain a foothold in the Oz market! I’m sorry???!!! Forgive me, cobbers – I was under the impression that kiwi wines cracked your market dominance because of their quality, not because you gave them “a leg-up”! For example, in the last two years in Hobart, NZ wines have scored 23 gold awards, 17 silver and 47 bronze.
Thanks for the help...yea, right.
Imported wines hold 15% of the Oz domestic market, the majority from Nu Zild. This is making Oz winemakers edgy, given how our sauvignon blancs, pinot noirs and more recently syrahs consistently score their top awards. And let’s not forget a Martinborough pinot noir was voted in April best in the world!
But the Oz wine industry is feeling under siege with its wines less in favour internationally, the high Australian dollar making it harder to sell and the country being hammered by natural disasters. So it's turning xenophobic. Tasmania has hinted NZ wines may be allowed back…if its wines can enter NZ wine shows.
But NZ Intl.Wine Show organiser Kingsley Wood says:
+ he’s not received any correspondence from the Royal Hobart Wine Show, or in fact any other Australian Wine Show.
+ on several occasions Oz winemakers have been invited but could not attend.
+ Tassie wines are regularly entered into the NZ Intl.Wine Show.
Well, whatever the real reasons for this exclusion, I guess it’s a sort of back-handed compliment, though most certainly unintended!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

How Old IS The Pakiri Church?

When driving through nthn.Rodney District a few months back, I saw a tired little church near the main junction of Pakiri hamlet.
It looked to me as if it had been built about the 1870s or so. But there was no nameboard outside, so somewhat intrigued I started enquiries. Dozens of emails and phonecalls later, it seems that the church is known simply as Pakiri Church...and by all accounts it's always been called that.
But I found no details about Pakiri Church on-line - not in museum lists, church records, libraries... yet there it sits, staring out across an uninspiring farm landscape, seemingly neglected. Well, this was like a red rag to a bull - I really wanted to know something about this old gal...!
Eventually I was given a link to the Daily Southern Cross newspaper (ancestor of NZ Herald) of 26 June 1862, reporting construction of a church in the area, due to open about September. That must be it: 1862 seemed to fit with my lay estimation of its age. Ahhh no, that one was further north towards Te Hana. Then soon after, I was told the land where the church sits was gifted to the Methodist Wesleyans in 1925, with a church built and opened in 1926! There was an earlier congregation in the district (also Methodist), but they had no building.
The Methodists eventually handed it over to a local non-denominational church committee, who hold an Easter service and a Christmas carol service annually, and the occasional wedding and funeral.
The church was locally built of rimu from nearby hills. A resident told me his ancestors had milled the wood, and speculated that the timber was probably not treated. That, combined with the salty coastal air, may have contributed to its current state of deterioration. Inside however it's in better shape, with some solid kauri panelling.
Pakiri Church interior by feijoacrumble/flickr
I said before it was seemingly neglected, but a dedicated band of locals - the Pakiri Church Trust - is working to restore it. Renovations proceed very slowly: the all-important piles have been done, weather boards and windows are next.
It's a labour of love, and not cheap. But if they can return the little Pakiri Church to the state of some of our other beautifully restored country churches, it will have all been worth it - whatever its age really is!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Trams Are Here

Auckland's new heritage trams arrived this week.
Well, not exactly "new", but ya knows what I means. Both trams were restored at the Bendigo Tramway Museum in Victoria, Australia, painted in the original 1950s 'carnation red', and will soon be signed as "Waterfront Auckland Trams".
Waterfront Auckland has leased the two 1920s trams to run on the new tracks installed in the Wynyard Quarter. In total, they can seat 84 gawking tourists, riveted by the views of the new development... hmmmmm. Expect to see 'em running the circuit from early August. OMG! Just in time for the *yawn* yeup, RWC.
One thing I’m interested in checking out is their noise: Waterfront Auckland used a unique installation technique when installing the tracks, involving a special type of polyurethane poured into the trench where the tracks sit. This acts as a shock absorber and reduces the sound and vibration, and is the first time it’s been used in the Sthrn Hemisphere.
Another part of the development nears completion: Wynyard Crossing, the opening bridge taking pedestrian and cycle traffic from the Auckland Viaduct to Wynyard Quarter, is almost ready. An operator will open the bridge for vessels entering or leaving the Viaduct Basin.
And installation of the RWC piss-up venue, The Cloud, on Queens Wharf is well underway too…note the old lady Kestrel tied up to the wharf in the pic.
The Waterfront Auckland website is worth checking out regularly, to stay updated on the revitalization process…
PS: 24 June 2011 - for more FAQ on the trams, check out AKT.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Did Prince Philip Fart?

Well, did he? I reckon he did...and he probably does all the time.
What the hell - he turns 90 today...and at that age, you don't hold anything back even if you wanted to!
Harry looks like he copped a good wiff! 
As for The Queen...well, as always, she is not amused.
But the really important question of the day: Did Philip fart? 

[The Prince also has a reputation for "putting his foot in it" regularly. Check out NZHerald's list of his 90 gaffs in 90 years!]

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Taniwha Torpedoes Train?

Is Auckland's $2.6-billion train project becoming “the little train that might not”?
Mayor Len Brown has staked his political future on a tunnel under the CBD, linking Britomart station to Mt Eden. But the govt has crunched the numbers and reckons it’s a dog. As if that ain’t enough, now there’s another hiccup: Horotiu the taniwha.
Is THIS a taniwha?
[For overseas readers: a taniwha's a mythical maori monster supposedly lurking in deep pools, caves and the sea. They can be dangerous predators and supposedly also guardians - but they can bite you if they don't like what you're doing.]
The interesting thing about this taniwha is that it’s never been mentioned in any talk or planning about this rail tunnel – not once. All of a sudden, Maori Statutory Board member Glenn Wilcox raises the issue…saying no-one's asked the local Ngati Whatua tribe about the plan, and now *surprise-surprise* there's a taniwha sitting right in the path of the planned tunnel!
No, THIS is
a taniwha!!!
Wilcox agrees the taniwha issue is a shot across the bows of the Auckland Super City, to remind them that the Maori Statutory Board exists and has issues. Riiiiiggghhtt!!! (Interestingly, the tribe's heritage advisor Malcolm Paterson has never heard the story of the taniwha!)
For ancient creatures, the ol’ taniwhas have adapted to the modern world with incredible ease. Back in 2002, plans for State Highway 1 through Meremere in the Waikato were disrupted by a taniwha…which curiously disappeared immediately after the Transit NZ chequebook was opened.
Cryptically, Glenn Wilcox says, "There are always ways to placate taniwha." Hmmm, I’ll bet there are, Glenn! Wonder how much it’ll cost for Ngati Whatua to make Horotiu, the mysteriously-appearing mythical taniwha, vanish again…
Furthermore, when will local and central govt stop allowing projects to be disrupted by myths that're merely greed in disguise...?

PS: 11 June 2011 - An NZHerald editorial claims the taniwha issue damages maori credibility...

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Sheep May Safely Graze

New Zealand often bears the brunt of “sheep jokes” from its neighbour across the Tasman… even though Oz has more sheep than koiwoiland does.
The weekend passing of Shrek may generate a few more jokes. But before the Ockers wet themselves over some puerile punchline, let them look at the value of this one particular sheep...
Shrek - a merino wether (that’s a male sheep with his bits snipped!) - shot to international fame when found in 2004, in a cave on the Bendigo Station in Otago. He'd avoided capture – and therefore shearing - for most of his eight years, so he looked a very wild sight indeed. At the time, he carried 27kg of fleece (enough to make 20 large men’s suits!) compared with the average of 4.5kg for a merino. Proceeds from his fleece were donated to Cure Kids.
Shrek became quite a celebrity, flying in planes, visiting sick children in hospital, meeting the prime minister, and was shorn on live tv on an iceberg floating off the coast of Dunedin. He was the subject of bestselling books, and made numerous tv and public appearances. He was even credited with saving a rural school from closure.  Shrek was put down last weekend on a vet's advice, at the venerable age of 17 – almost twice his life expectancy.
I agree it may seem odd to outsiders that one sheep can make such headlines… but it’s been estimated the worldwide publicity he gained was worth $100 million for NZ’s export industry!
Shrek's ashes may be spread on Mt Cook, NZ’s highest mountain… a fitting resting place for NZ’s most famous woolly wonder.
PS: 08 June 2011 - Shrek's death generates as much interest as his discovery!
PS: 10 June 2011 - Shrek may yet end up in a museum!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Back To The Future

Who needs a Tardis?
Samoa's going to move itself forward in time by a whole day - switching timezones by leaping from one side of the International Date Line to the other.
Instead of being last to see the sunset each day, Samoa will become one of the first to see the sunrise. Samoans will go to bed on Dec.29th this year, and wake up on Dec.31st. Anyone with a birthday on Dec.30th will just miss out!
Samoa changed once before in 1892 (along with neighbouring American Samoa) after pressure from US business interests. But Samoa's most frequent trading partners now are NZ and Oz: in fact, more Samoans live here in Nu Zild than in Samoa itself. Until now, the two countries have been a day apart, making business more difficult, so this will be a good fix-it.
I guess the only remaining problem is for those flying to Samoa on Dec.30th. Relative to the direction you're coming from, you'll either lose a day, gain a day, repeat a day, or just vanish into the time vortex in a puff of smoke! So, depending on when you read this: you have been / may be / have not been warned!
Meantime, enjoy this Roxy Music classic: This Is Tomorrow Calling.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Getting Ahead Of Themselves

A pair of presumptious political pontifications poked my eye this weekend: probably premature.
Hobbit in da hedge?
 The first came from the Green Party which says supporting a National-led government is “highly unlikely” but isn't ruling it out altogether. And why would it, if it means riding the gravy train for the next three years?
At their annual pow-wow yesterday, delegates also said they’d support a Labour-led govt in the right circumstances. Again, another chance to board the ol’ gravy train…bets both ways!
Here’s the line that made me smile, from Greens co-leader Russel Norman – he said a Greens-led govt would keep it local by transferring all govt banking to Kiwibank. Sorry? A Greens-led govt? Greens-LED?!!
Mummy's boy...
The second smirk-raising comment came from The Bro himself. Hone Harawira was doing the hongi-thing with 3,000 noses at the Destiny Church in Auckland on Saturday night. He said if he’s elected to Parliament as an MP for the Mana Party, he won’t be returning as someone else's lapdog. (Ha! Wonder if his mother knows this??!!) He said he’ll create a maori Parliament if elected in Te Tai Tokerau. A maori Parliament? Keep dreaming, sunshine – every democratic country on this planet has but one governing body, one set of rules for all.
Where do these muppets get off thinking they have any chance of holding NZ’s political process to ransom? Let’s face it: they have to be re-elected first, and then with enough seats to be even considered as anything more than a flea on a dog's arse.
Sounds to me like their carts are very much ahead of their horses!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Fired For Planking

The current idiotic ‘planking’ craze seems nowhere near abating yet, despite injuries and deaths.
But now in Oz, an engineer's been sacked… for making a spoof planking safety poster!
He’s one of seven dismissed in on-site planking-related incidents this week: two were fired for planking atop 60m smokestacks at a Sth.Australia refinery!! The rest, incl.a supervisor, were sacked for watching and photographing the event.
The spoof poster itself (sporting a BHP Billiton letterhead) promotes ‘safe planking’ on site.


It reads like a standard safety announcement, explaining ‘Safe Planking Procedures’ or SPPs, which include “a maximum planking height of 60cm; site compliant PPE (personal protective equipment); mandatory presence of a competent spotter; and supervisor approval for every planking activity.”
I have no problem with the sacking of workers over safety violations or taking part in same – they do after all work in highly dangerous environments where safety must be paramount. Planking on top of 60m smokestacks is just plain suicidal!
But losing your job for making a spoof safety poster, which clearly shows you’re no more than two feet off the ground, seems just a tad over-reactionary!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Still Dead – Thankfully So

Thankfully hackers can’t raise the dead.
This week, PBS NewsHour’s website was hacked, and a false story emplanted about dead rapper Tupac Shakur (1971-1996). Supposedly he’s still alive and well, here in New Zealand!
Even after the story was withdrawn, Shakur’s resurrection spread like wildfire. And some dicks believed it!
Can't afford a belt, so F.U.!
Tupac’s short arrogant life reads like something you’d scrape off your shoe:
Named after executed Peruvian revolutionary.
Parents active in Black Panthers.
Godfather, high ranking Black Panther - murderer.
Sister - copkiller.
Stepfather 4yrs on FBI's Ten Most Wanted - jailed for armoured car robbery, two cops and guard killed.
1991: 2pac tries to sue cops for $10m., alleging brutality.
1992: cop killed by teen inspired by 2pac’s songs about killing police.
1993: 2pac forms Thug Life - anti-establishment, aggressive, gangsta.
1993: 2pac shoots/injures two cops, claiming they were assaulting someone.
1993: sentenced 4½ years for sexual assault; served part; released pending appeal.
1994: shot five times and robbed.
1995: a man, 2pac suspected for his shooting, murdered.
1996: forms Outlawz, names members after dictators, military leaders, enemies of USA (names himself after Niccolo Machiavelli, who preached a leader should eliminate his enemies by all means necessary).
1996: sentenced to 4mths jail for violating bail.
1996: mortally wounded in drive-by shooting. Body cremated; ashes later mixed with dope and smoked by members of Outlawz.
One of his mottos: ‘Live by the gun, die by the gun’...
Charming gentleman, pillar of society, take him home to meet your mum…not! The sort of violent low-life scum that society is better off without…
Why anyone would believe for even a nano-second that NZ would be happy to accommodate such garbage (assuming he had risen from those doobie ashes!)…completely escapes me!
Spleen now vented. End of tirade. Pass the cocoa and digestives.