Friday, September 30, 2011

And Again I Say - Waka Waste!

Days after the debacle of the *yawn* RWC Opening Ceremony, I took a stroll around Queens Wharf, to see what all the fuss was about...and to see what NZ got for its taxpayer bucks.
I was surprised to find the place largely deserted. I'd expected on a Sunday lunchtime to find buskers, food concessions, entertainment, musicians, a real bustling hub of excitement - but no! There was a blow-up rugby ball: wow. There was The, The Cloud: wow. Apart from a small stage and a large bar, it was pretty much empty. Beside that, Shed 10 - lotsa bar space to sell lotsa booze. Lotsa concrete floor, easy to hose vomit off. But otherwise empty. Wow. The only activity was the sight of two harbour tugs "dancing" to music on the harbour. Riiiiiiiiight. So that
Artist's impression: this may
be the best view you'll get...
was "Party Central".
Hang about: where was the waka?
I looked at the hand-out didn't feature at all. I searched but couldn't find it. Turns out that's because it wasn't even there! After all the fuss, all the screams of cronyism, all the racial slurs, the Tupperwaka wasn't even ready for the tourist influx!
NZ Herald reported (02 Sept.) that
"construction of the waka-shaped pavilion is complete...ready to be assembled on-site at Te Wero Island in the week of Sept.26. The three marquees that are also part of Waka Maori and will showcase carving, ta moko, weaving and fashion will be built after the waka is in place. Event planners say Waka Maori will be ready to open on Oct.13. It runs until Oct.23." But TVNZ News (28 Sept.) showed it's a long way from final assembly!
$2m worth of plastic fantastic, designed to put maori arts, culture and sport on the world stage - yet after five months of planning, its bare bones are only just in place. Talk about running on "maori time". And IF it opens on Oct.13, it'll only STAY open for a week!
So what was the point of all this, hmmm? Waka waste!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Kilroy Was Here

You don't have to be a graffiti tagger to leave your mark on the Newmarket Viaduct.
This Saturday 1st.October, you can sign your name inside a huge 80-tonne segment of concrete at Mahuru Street in Newmarket. Later it'll be lifted up into place to form a section of the new northbound viaduct.
The Newmarket Viaduct, considered one of NZ's most distinctive engineering features, carries the Southern Motorway over the suburb of Newmarket. It was finished in 1966 for NZ$2.26m. Due to concerns about earthquakes and its increasing inability to handle peak traffic, it's being replaced with a stronger wider structure. The original cost of $150m is currently standing at $195m.
The NZTA has already installed 97 of 234 concrete bridge sections for the new northbound viaduct. 21 more segments are due to be in place by the end of this week. Construction on the new northbound section began in July, and it's due to open to traffic next year (the southbound viaduct opened last year).
Built right over the heads of buildings with very little disruption at all, Auckland will have a completely new Newmarket Viaduct, standing alongside where the original structure has stood for the last 50 years. So perhaps in another 50 years (though hopefully much longer!), when this new viaduct is deconstructed, your name will be revealed for future generations...
Event: Sat.01 October, 12-2pm, Mahuru Street (it runs parallel to Broadway and between Nuffield Street and St Marks Road), Newmarket, Auckland.
[...with thanx to AKT]

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Just An Unlucky Black Man?

Nice smile - shame about the slur!A South African journalist is calling NZ police racist, after he was searched on suspicion of selling drugs.
Vata Ngobeni’s covering the *yawn* Rugby World Cup for Pretoria News, and was in a Taupo bar after a match last Saturday.
An officer said he fitted the description of a man who’d been offering drugs. Ngobeni denied it, told the cops he was here to cover the rugger and showed them his SA driver's licence.
"I agreed and even offered to be searched across the road next to the vehicle, but they said they'd do so at the police station. And like a criminal, I was asked to sit at the back of an unmarked police vehicle with one of the officers and driven off to the police station." He was searched and his clothing checked before an officer apologised for the mistaken identity.
Ngobeni is screaming 'racial profiling', says he was targeted because of his colour. Police reject the racism claim, saying the situation was dealt with appropriately and professionally.
We know that police are not all angels. But by his own account Vata was not harassed, roughed up, beaten with a rubber hose, left to rot in an overcrowded cell, tortured…as often happened in his own country! And I doubt that any 'person of interest' anywhere in the world is allowed to sit in the front seat of a cop car!
So what this all boils down to…is playing the good ol’ race card. Obviously not exclusive to maori, it seems an option to be used by anyone with any degree of skin colour other than caucasian, when they feel hard done by. Ask ex-MP John Tamihere: he’s publically said it’s an ace he keeps up his sleeve for dire straits.
Look, if police have a suspicion, they act on it in the public good: that is their job. I was questioned recently when photographing old farmhouses: there’d been thefts in that area, and the cop wanted to know what I was doing. Fair, reasonable, no upset.
So why did Mr.Ngobeni feel "extremely violated”? Even though we’re smothered by Political Correctness, a person can not expect to be bypassed by police just because their skin is dark. Much as some fringe-dwellers may have you believe, brother, NZ is not an apartheid state! Vata: “Taupo's the adventure capital of NZ and I got more than my share of adventure. Thanks to the heavy and thoughtless hand of the Taupo Police, I am that unlucky black man in Taupo.”
Awwwwwwwwww...shame. My heart bleeds.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Selling The Family Silver

The US space agency NASA is clearing out the pantry...
selling off space suppers and heat tiles from its now-retired shuttles. The astronaut food's ready to rocket, just add water and warm up. And the tiles (which protected shuttles from re-entry heat) could make good fireside hearths... US$23.40 for a pack of tiles, US$28 for a three-pack of Space Foods. So
Don't forget milk on the way home!
Don't forget milk on the way home!
how much for a complete launch system then?
The shuttle programme wrapped up last July after three decades. Russia’s now the only nation that can fly folk to the International Space Station (ISS), until US private industry (or Richard Branson) can whip up another option in the coming years. And a Russian ISS cargo delivery costs US$50-60 million! But in August a Russky rocket failed to reach orbit and crashed, grounding the problem-plagued programme for checks.
“Moscow, ve haf a problem.”
So NASA’s garage sale could prove useful. After all, each shuttle had about 21,000 heat tiles, so do the maths: 21,000 x US$23.40 x the number of shuttles they'll dismantle = just enough for some duct tape to hold the Soyuz rockets together!
…or perhaps the coffee bill for the endless gripe sessions of the US Senate Committee on Science, Space, and Technology!
Armstrong today
Just last week, Neil Armstrong (first man on the moon, Apollo 11, 1969) told the committee that the end of the space shuttles leaves the US human spaceflight programme in a "lamentably embarrassing" state, with no US access to and from the ISS for an unpredictable time: “For a country that invested so much for so long to achieve a leadership position in space...this is unacceptable."
Thoughts echoed by Eugene Cernan (commander of Apollo 17, last man to walk the Big Cheese in 1972): "Get the shuttle out of the garage and put it back in service. It's in the prime of its life, how could we just put it away?"
President Obama canceled the moon programme and told NASA to focus on getting men to an asteroid by 2025 and Mars by 2030. Cernan thinks that’s a "mission to nowhere" (tell that to Bruce Willis! ) and urged NASA to return to the Moon.
Armstrong: "A lead, however expensively won, once lost is nearly impossible to regain."
It would raise a cynical snort if, should the Yanks ever return to the moon, they're invited to yum cha at the Chinese base - yum cha with NASA food!
PS: 29 Sept.2011 - China has successfully launched its first space lab...

Monday, September 26, 2011

Three Lil' Girls Are Back!

"Good Morning, Charlie!"
No, they ain't a Charlie Sheen wet dream...these three lovelies are the latest reincarnation of that 70s "T+A" TV show Charlie's Angels.
Same basic plot, different setting (now in Miami), obviously new actors (as even exec.producer Drew Barrymore, who was an Angel in the two spin-off movies, wouldn't be able to pull this off any more)...and furthermore, NZ gets it just a week after USA!
One reviewer said: "If Jack Bauer from 24 and Carrie Bradshaw from Sex And The City had a lovechild, this would be it!" Ok, so maybe it was his wet dream!
Personally I think Jack Bauer would've just double-tapped Carrie Bradshaw and rid the world of a boil on its bum, but that's another story...! Still, it may hook a new generation of viewers (even if only for the first episode), wanting to see what the heck their mothers have been reminiscing about, all these years...
So, more brains and less bounce than Baywatch - catch the Angels this Wed.28th.9:30pm on TV2 (figured out what "T+A" TV is yet...?)

PS: 17 Oct.2011 - Well, that didn't last long...the Angels are getting the chop!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

F***in' Good Schnapps!

After days of bad news and bitchy blogging,
I needed a f***in’ good laugh...
...and I got one from Germany, where a drinks company has won a court battle to register the
F-word as a trademark!
Now, I thought chef Gordon Ramsay had market exclusivity on this, but apparently not! Liquor manufacturer EFAG has won legal protection for the brand name of its 'Ficken' peach schnapps. Drinkers may feel a bit awkward when asking for the drink - it's named after the German word for "f***."
The schnapps maker took the case to court after officials refused to register the name as a trademark, arguing it was socially offensive. Following its legal victory, EFAG now owns the 'Ficken' trademark for clothing, mineral water and fruit drinks, as well as alcoholic drinks (but perhaps not for tv cooking programmes).
The court ruled that, although the name was in poor taste, it was not "sexually discriminatory" and did not violate public morals.

Try this: type "ficken" into Google Translate and, sure enough, it certainly does mean "F***". However, key in the phrase at the back of the photo – "Hinter Dichtem Fichtendickicht Picken Dicke Finken Tüchtig!" – and Google tells me it means "Dense pine thicket behind thick finches pecking hard!" W-T-Ficken??!!
Obviously something's been lost in translation...
[...unt for more on zis particular word, click here...]

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Mutu and The Yellow Peril

Margaret Mutu’s recent racist remarks –though totally distasteful – are nothing new in New Zealand.
We think of ourselves as multi-cultural, laid-back, understanding and accepting of others, but history says otherwise. Just mention ‘Yellow Peril’ to any kiwi Chinese and watch the reaction…
‘Yellow Peril’ (or ‘Yellow Terror’) is a racial metaphor that started in the late C19th, with immigration of Chinese workers to Western countries (it was later used in WWII anti-Japanese propaganda). It referred to the belief that mass Asian immigration threatened white standards of living and wages...perhaps *gasp!*
At least The Colonist 16 May 1871 was positive...
 even the very fabric of Western civilisation!
That button was actively pushed by NZ Prime Minister Richard Seddon in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Measures to curb Chinese immigration included a heavy poll tax, which stayed in place until 1944.
Chinese were the first non-europeans to migrate in big numbers to NZ, and did so because of the 1865 Otago goldrushes. Invited to come here, they nonetheless suffered discrimination - they worked hard, their crime rate was low, but they were seen by many as “different” and competition to the European population.
Amidst this officially-sanctioned intolerance, the murder of Joe Kum Yung in 1905 highlighted the depth of hatred some people had.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Whale Warning

A warning this week of a possible local extinction of Bryde's whales in the Hauraki Gulf, if measures are not implemented to keep them safe in Auckland’s busy shipping lanes.
An endangered Bryde's whale (pronounced BREW-da) was killed recently in the gulf, after being struck by a ship. It's been just one month since experts warned of this very danger.
Mark Orams, professor of marine tourism at Auckland University of Technology, says while ship strikes in the gulf are sporadic, they still pose a major threat. He’s seen the consequences of ship strikes first-hand: in this most recent collision, the whale experienced severe trauma causing death, including 15 fractured vertebrae and broken ribs as well as extensive bruising.
In 85% of ship strikes, the whale is either killed or badly injured: "If it continues to happen, we can potentially see local extinction of the species...they are not migratory so the loss of even one Bryde's whale is significant, because it means the breeding rates will slow and a decline in breeding will lead to extinction." There are 6-10 Bryde's whales currently in the gulf and, over time, 80 individuals have been recorded. The whales are NZ's most endangered species and feed close to the surface, making them easy targets to be struck by a ship's hull.
Whale-watching tours would also stop if the number of mammals decrease, resulting in the loss of tourism.
Prof.Orams says an easy short-term solution to keep the mammals safer would be to restrict speed for large ships passing through the Hauraki Gulf to Ports of Auckland. A longer-term solution would be research, to determine whale 'hot spots', then directing ships around those areas.

PS: 03 Nov.2011 - The US Coast Guard proposes shifting shipping lanes to save whales.
PS: 04 Feb.2012 - Another Bryde's whale killed in the Hauraki Gulf by a ship. 
PS: 08 Mch.2012 - Slower ship speeds are the key to saving Bryde's whales in the Gulf.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

How Long’s A Piece Of String?

Last night I tried to access my email, but encountered a phishing attempt (my provider resolved it quickly).
There’re growing incidents of hacking – some personal, some international (such as hacking of multi-nationals, banks, military and government sites).
Alan Dupont, director of the Centre for International Security Studies at Sydney University and former intelligence analyst: "Cyber security is at the top of the (Australian) national security agenda. It's become the fifth domain of warfare - land, sea, air, space and now cyber."
Last week, Oz and USA formally gave cyber attacks the same gravity as military attack for the purposes of the ANZUS defence treaty. They announced that "in the event of a cyber attack that threatens the territorial integrity, political independence or security of either of our nations, Australia and the United States would consult together and determine appropriate options to address the threat".
It's the first time any country’s written cyber attacks into a defence treaty, and it's a strong message that hackers could potentially start conflict in ways they hadn't expected. But what constitutes such an attack? That hasn't been defined yet.
Well, if a hacker steals military secrets, is that grounds for invoking the treaty? Because that's already happened many times...
What if a country suddenly diverts 15% of all global internet routes through its servers, including those for the US Senate and military, for 18 minutes? Because China Telecom did that (April 2010)...
What if a cyber attack shuts down a country's electricity grid, or its financial system? Hello, Tom that provocative enough?
An official said: "The issue will be one where 'you’ll know it when you see it'." How long is a piece of string...?
Hackers don’t care about repercussions – it’s all about the game or the gain - so the onus is on their host countries to tighten their own cyber security. But what if that country benefits from any information received...? 
PS: 27 Sept.2011 - NZ's new National Cyber Security Centre opens.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Hardly Humour

The Prime Minister has blasted a trio for what he calls an "irresponsible stunt from a bunch of clowns who should know better".
On Saturday police launched a manhunt after DJ Bryce Casey posed as a pilot and tried to access a restricted area at Auckland Airport. He, the TV3 show's star Ben Boyce, and producer Andrew Robinson have been charged with breaching the Civil Aviation Act.
Boyce says the prank was meant to be harmless: “He didn’t look like a pilot, unshaven, tattoos, no ID, he just went up and said ‘I’m flying the next plane out of here,’ and they'd pick holes through the story because he had no idea what flight he's on.” Oh. Ha-ha...I laughed til I stopped.
Ben Boyce in a show promo -
get a haircut an' get a real job!
Boyce apologised on social media, but if he thinks that gets him off the hook, he’s mistaken. If found guilty, the penalty's up to 12mths' prison or a possible $10K fine. The three were in court on Monday and will be back next month, but are not allowed near the airport.
Yesterday, police also arrested a cameraman, a sound recordist, and a production coordinator: TV3 claims it knew nothing about the skit beforehand.
The Airline Pilots' Association wants 'em jailed: "Incarceration for a short time of reflection would be appropriate," says aviation security co-ordinator Paul Lyons. "If they think security matters are to be treated in a frivolous and humorous fashion, we don't see that in a humorous way at all."
Ben Boyce : “We're sorry we caused alarm and we hope people don’t get full-cavity searched when they travel, thanks to us.” Hardly sincere, attempting to joke in mid-apology.
Can anyone tell me what was meant to be funny about this whole thing? The proximity to the anniversary of September 11 is piss poor timing! To me, it's just another example (a la Iain Stables, Paul Henry, Tony Veitch etc) where media people think they know better...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Why Does NZ Screw Our Veterans?

Sam and Bev in 2008
He was yet another post-Vietnam War casualty.
His widow’s been fighting the Veterans’ Affairs Dept.for two years for compensation.
Now it’s said “no”.
Bev Christie (awarded a Queen's Service Medal for her voluntary work with veterans) has been denied a $25,000 ex gratia government payment, after her husband Sam (MBE) died from a combination of diseases contracted during Vietnam. Some of those were recognised by Vet.Affairs as attributable to his war service, but it doubts Sam was suffering from chloracne (for which a payment is made).
Last year, dermatologist Matthew Strack said Sam's skin condition quite possibly was caused by exposure to Agent Orange: "I feel (veterans) should be given the benefit of the doubt if there is uncertainty and I think the same should apply here."
But typical of bureaucracy, when faced with responsibility and/or payments, we hear a response like this – Vet.Affairs GM Rick Ottaway says veterans are NOT offered the benefit of the doubt. There is no LEGAL application of ‘benefit of the doubt’, and in order to accept chloracne, it needed to be positively diagnosed. Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight. So...we’re not LEGALLY obliged (by our OWN rules), therefore we’ll do nothing.
What about MORAL obligations? The growing Anzac Day attendances shows NZers care about the vets and their sacrifices. Dammit! We EXPECT the government to feel the same! [In 2008, the govt publicly apologised to Vietnam vets and their families, saying they were unfairly treated fairly upon their return. It also established an ex-gratia payment of $40,000 for those with prescribed medical conditions and a $25,000 payment to the spouses of veterans who have died.]
I’ve blogged in the past about the plight of our Crete veterans…how NZ didn’t officially acknowledge the legendary WWII resistance fighter, NZer Nancy Wake…and who's really paying for damage caused by the herbicide Agent Orange.
If there is one group of people who this country SHOULD…MUST crawl over broken glass for, it is our war veterans!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Jumping Without Parachute…Again

Nancy will serve Big Mac
at the wedding reception...
Once the news broke, ya just knew the tabloids would have a field-day with song titles!
Can’t Buy Me Love…
Love Love Me I Do…
Macca’s Next Marital Mystery Tour…
Yeup, Beatles legend Paul McCartney is about to marry for the third time. He asked his American fiancee Nancy Shevell to Drive My Car and she said: sure thing, Eight Days A Week!
Furthermore, he ain’t signin’ no pre-nup! Uh-oh, so the old adage is true: you can’t teach an old dog new tricks! *Psst!* Do You Want To Know A Secret? Macca’s divorce from second wife Heather (Money, That’s What I Want) Mills cost him £24.3m, plus annuals of £35,000 (for their daughter)! I Should Have Known Better with a girl like you…
Hmmm, Live And Let Die, eh?
Even though Nancy’s happily offered to sign a pre-nup (to be hands-off his £495m fortune, should things dive like The Yellow Submarine) Macca’s Glad All Over. After all, he says, We Can Work It Out…All You Need Is Love.
He and his Long Tall Sally will be going Helter Skelter to the same London venue where he wed late wife Linda more than 40 years ago: London's Marylebone Town Hall.
Lotsa couples marry there because of its reputation as a rock'n'roll celebrity place to tie the knot. That’s where Beatles drummer Ringo Starr and Oasis singer Liam Gallagher did the deed. Er, but…well…they didn’t actually marry each other, y’understand!
No date yet, but it could be as early as next month…
Ob-la-di, ob-la-da, Life goes on yeah, La la la la life goes on…
Ah well, Macca, No More Lonely Nights, eh!
With A Little Luck…
P.S. I Love You.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

All For One And One For All?

An interesting few weeks in Noo Zuld race relations!
Margaret "mad dog" Mutu's suggestion of restricting whitey arrivals has this week been followed by a racist email over maori flags!
separatism in situ
[photo: Stephen Jaquiery]
Geoff Portman emailed NE Valley Normal School in Dunedin, angry it was flying "so-called Maori flags"
(tino rangatiratanga): "Talk about mixed messages. What this country needs is some national pride and a sense of belonging." Portman sent the email because the principal was against National Standards but was "teaching all this maori culture, basically culture that's been made up as it goes along. We're all one people here and this division's not good for the country." Geoff has every right to his opinion and to question the school's attitude. Where he erred was to attach a racially-based 'joke' email, claiming maori get special rights but are responsible for most social problems. He's maori himself – hence no frenzied backlash. The responses?
Local tribal rep Tahu Potiki: "I understand people can have attitudes worked up over time about the place of maori in NZ society, but as a community we’ve moved well beyond this sort of rubbish." He says schools should be allowed to fly the tino rangatiratanga, as it’s "an accurate reflection of where our community has evolved to…"
Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres: "What he doesn't want is maori. He's trying to couch this in national pride and a sense of belonging but what he's basically objecting to is the school having symbols of maori visible."
Maori Party MP Rahui Katene says she gets "extreme reactions" when she drives a vehicle flying the separatist flag: she's had some broken off. "NZers need to get beyond the ignorance and slogans like 'one nation, one NZ, one flag, one people' and realise we're a nation of two peoples, with many other ethnicities living here. We will only mature as a nation when we learn to celebrate our differences rather than denigrate them."
Spot their rather obvious errors…?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Hanson The Hermit?

Just who was Charlie Hanson? A hermit? A soldier? A dreamer? An old sea dog?
That question has gnawed at me, ever since I wrote about an aged vessel he bought in 1930, to use as a breakwater. The hulk was Rewa (once the Alice A.Leigh, last barque on the British shipping register). She had a colourful past, which you can read about here...
Charles P. Hanson was born in Scotland on 21st.October, 1873 (the International Genealogical Index says his name was actually Peter Charles Hansen, the surname being spelt with an "E"). He was the fourth son of Mary Edgar and Captain Peter Hanson, Anglicans from Tighnabruaich, Scotland.
Hawera Mounted Rifles in training
He immigrated to NZ in the 1890s, possibly on an 'assisted immigration' package (at least one of his brothers later followed and settled near Wellington). Charles worked at the Patea Butter Company in southern Taranaki, and gained weapons experience in the Hawera Mounted Rifles before volunteering for the 1899-1902 South African (Boer) War. His military records say he was 6ft.1½", weighed 12st.8lbs, was 25 and a labourer.
Trooper Hanson C. (Regt.No.90) departed with the 1st.Contingent, No.1 Company from Wellington on 21st.October 1899, aboard the SS Waiwera (as you can see in the photograph, the men took their own horses with them, stalled on the top deck). It was his 26th birthday...

Friday, September 16, 2011

A Frenzy Of Friendly Flags

To me, the most obvious sign that something big is afoot in Auckland City (yeup, you guessed it: the *yawn* Rugby World Cup) is the vast amount of flags everywhere!
Kiwis are not generally jingoistic folk: our laid-back nature is part of our charm. In comparison to - say - God Bless America (which has flag-waving nationalistic fervour fine-tuned to a frenzied religion), NZ probably seems half asleep!
But right now, most public buildings and avenues, shop windows, homes, fences, and many cars are adorned with flags of their owners' particular favourite nations - sometimes with several (in case their top favourite team gets beaten early in the competition!). The flags do create excitement and immediacy, wafting in the breezes or flickering frantically as bedecked cars wizz past.
I'm hoping this flag-flying frenzy continues to some degree post-RWC. Imagine if the nation was encouraged to show pride in itself - not only a sports team - and fly just as many New Zealand flags! We'd really get the impression that we just might maybe not-beyond-the-realms-of-possibility start to believe we can actually all work together as one! *sigh* Too optimistic..?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Funeral For A Forgotten Man

Forgotten in life, Michael Clarke - a fiercely private man who'll be remembered only for his lonely death in a decrepit Wellington council flat.
The 86yr.old's body was found at his council flat in Newtown last month, dead for more than a year. Tuesday afternoon saw a small subdued service, paid for by the late pensioner himself, with just a small huddle of mourners and officials from the Public Trust, Wellington City Council and the mayor Celia Wade-Brown. Only one mourner had known Clarke in life.
A quiet and private Irishman from County Mayo, Michael Clarke had worked for a dairy company before his retirement in the early 1980s. Celebrant Alister Hendery said though Mr Clarke had lived a life shrouded in anonymity, his death had impacted on many: "We pay tribute to a fellow mortal who lived in our midst yet we hardly knew him; who was one of us, yet chose to live apart. It is not possible to recount even the barest detail of his life, except that he was born on the 26th December 1923 and that he died in his home around July 2010."
"As far as we know there are none who were close to him. And yet, while there is no community, no individuals who we can name as the bereaved, we are all bereaved. In life, he was, whether he knew it or not, precious and irreplaceable. As we acknowledge Michael let us remember all those who are alone, who are lonely, who have no-one close to care for them."
[...thanx to Dominion Post]
Food for thought.
The Wellington City Council has been criticised for not checking on the elderly living alone in council housing.
Mayor Wade-Brown: “We have to be more than just a landlord. We have to build that sense of community.” The block of flats where Mr Clarke lived for 30 years is scheduled to be demolished within five months, and the council is working on a plan so all council tenants are visited twice a year.
PS: 23 Feb.2012 - It's now been revealed that a second Wellington pensioner died in similar lonely circumstances in 2009, and wasn't discovered for 8mths!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Politics and "Party Central"

Not quite the 1951 Waterfront Dispute (when troops were sent in to work the docks after prolonged worker strikes)…but you’d be forgiven for seeing a parallel here.
The NZ Government is using special powers to take control of the Auckland waterfront area set aside for the celebrations during the *yawn* Rugby World Cup, after Friday night’s debacle.
RWC Minister Muddling McCully is using reserve powers available to him under the Rugby World Cup Empowerment Bill. He’s ordered government officials to write a new plan to manage the waterfront beyond its own Fan Zone at Queen's Wharf. Oooooo, such strength, such manliness! But will the plan be finished before Christmas?
The plan turns responsibility from the Auckland City Council over to the govt., expands management measures and will create more party space. In co-operation with the port companies, more of the wharf area will be commandeered, including Bledisloe Wharf. But don’t forget to consult with the maoris too, or there’ll be hell to pay…!
McCully: "Some of my critics have suggested that I should take responsibility, well I am.” Hmmmm, he must have read my blog! Bless him! “I’m stepping into a space that the Government has not previously occupied.” He says he feels the preparations for outside of the Queen's Wharf area were "thoroughly inadequate in respect of the crowd control and amenities".
But Murray, you seem to have missed a fundamental part of this equation: YOU are the Minister responsible for this whole mess!
If YOU thought the preparations were inadequate, why didn't YOU do something about it much earlier? It’s no use now crying over spilt milk.
You may be stepping up to the mark NOW to take control…but you supposedly WERE in control ALREADY!!!
Get it?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Is Happy Feet Now A Happy Meal?

Just as his arrival (and release) made global headlines, now fears are growing worldwide for Happy Feet, the emperor penguin.
The transmitter attached to the penguin, on his release back into the wild from the NZ research ship Tangaroa on 4 September, stopped relaying information last Friday.
There're many theories about the sudden loss of contact: Happy Feet's transmitter has simply fallen off. Solar flares interrupted play. He's run out of free-calling minutes. But it's also possible the penguin has been gobbled up - although unlikely, given the area he was in (well, that's the story you can tell your kids anyway).
Wildlife expert Colin Miskelly, who advised on Happy Feet's treatment, says efforts to find the penguin will continue: "It's unlikely we'll ever know what caused the transmissions to cease, but it's time to harden up to the reality that the penguin has returned to the anonymity from which he emerged." Absolutely right: reality check. So why then are "efforts continuing" to find one solitary penguin bobbin' around in the Southern Ocean? Y'know there're around 450,000 Emperor Penguins out there?
Look, we all got emotionally attached to the bird, and that's fine. We nursed him back to health, then took him back to sea. We let him go...and now we really do need to "let him go".
I'm not being a cynic, coz I rather liked the little scrapper too. It was a nice story while it lasted. But the world continues to turn, and there're bigger things to worry about...

Monday, September 12, 2011

Blood On The Dance Floor

Oh dear! Last week’s quote (about Friday’s *yawn* RWC 2011 opening) from well-meaning Auckland mayor Len Brown well and truly bit him on the bum: “Think about where you’re going to be, your transport options, whether you head to the waterfront, and make a plan. Then sit back and really enjoy the best party this city has ever seen.”
Well, many thousands did think, did plan, did use public transport... and did get screwed! And tomorrow, the Auckland Council will be demanding blood.
Not all blame lies with Veolia (responsible for the train service) for the transport SNAFUs. Yes, there were dorks pushing emergency buttons. But Veolia (which describes itself as "the world's leading private public transport operator"…hello!) will receive many strokes of the cane, for trains running late or not at all, or sitting fully-laden for so long that frustrated passengers got out and started walked down the tracks.
Queued up for a spanking must be the pillicks who didn’t allow enough space, for passengers to disembark from the Devonport ferries – and thus they were cancelled for the evening!
Another spanking must be delivered to whoever thought it was a grand idea to erect that giant rugby ball in a prime viewing spot, thus denying breathing space to hundreds more!
And speaking of space, totally inadequate thought went into anticipating how much space would be needed to safely hold the 200K-strong multitude that turned up! Just what did they think they were arranging: a Sunday picnic? Needed was experienced event management personnel who’d successfully handled monster open-air action, not some "party planners"!
I’ve spoken to several people who were the filling in the Party Central sandwich on Friday night. They mentioned crowd control that was a contradiction in terms, drunken fights, big viewing screens without a view, not enough portable toilets, volunteers who could barely speak English, crowds so large that some fell off the wharf into the water, children and elderly people jostled and fearful of being crushed, police unable to cope…

Sunday, September 11, 2011


There's not much in Riverside, Iowa, USA.
About a thousand residents...and one very famous man, not yet born! WTF??
One resident decided to put their town on the map - not by marking an event of the past but one of the future: the birth of Captain James T. Kirk, of Star Trek fame! This even gained the approval of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry!
Riverside has its own Star Trek museum and hosts the annual Riverside Trek Fest.
The film Star Trek shows that Kirk was born in space and raised in Iowa. Nearby are the (fictional) Riverside Quarry, where young Jim Kirk destroys a 20th Century Chevy Corvette in an act of vandalism, and the Riverside Shipyards, identified as the construction site of the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701), and an embarkation point for Starfleet Academy recruits, including an older Jim Kirk.
With all due respect to Riverside, when you see photos of the place on-line, it becomes clear why Kirk goes on to spend the rest of his life wandering the nether regions of the universe...

Saturday, September 10, 2011

RWC: Not Liking It

Well, at least someone in the corporate world is being honest!
The *yawn* Rugby World Cup is now underway...and quite frankly, the sooner it's over and done with, the better!
Everytime I flick the tv on, I'm bombarded by adverts featuring rugby players, products used by rugby players, nebulous links to rugby players, promos about the coverage of rugby players etc etc... not to mention the last-ditch desperate ticket-selling and the incessant countdown to kick-off!
All except for Sky FOUR (on Channel 12).
Oh, for sure all the Sky sports channels are solid wall-to-wall RWC. However, Sky FOUR is not carrying RWC, and has engaged marketing brain and used the absence of rugby to its advantage...
Here's one of the posters in its campaign...and check out its logo:
"FOUR - the home of NOT rugby".
Damn, I like that!!