Sunday, December 27, 2015

Ozzies: Send In Some Muscle!

Australians are overwhelmingly in favour of their govt monitoring Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean.
A Morgan poll finds 76.9% of 1,002 people want a Customs ship to monitor Japanese whaling.
The Coalition had previously been accused of backing off a pre-election commitment to tackle whaling in the Southern Ocean, after refusing to send the specialist Customs patrol vessel Ocean Protector, and instead sending aircraft to monitor the hunt.
Greens senator Nick McKim said the Coalition was backing away from the monitoring commitment made in opposition, and PM Malcolm Turnbull had refused to express anything stronger than "disappointment" about whaling on his recent visit to Japan.
The poll comes at the end of a fraught year on the whaling issue, in which Japanese whaling company Kyodo Senpaku was fined $1m for wilful contempt of the Australian federal court, after breaching an order to stop killing whales.
The decision to resume whaling also flies in the face of a 2014 international court of justice (ICJ) ruling saying the programme had no basis in science and should be halted.
A spokesman for environment minister, Greg Hunt, said: "The govt has made representations at the highest level to urge Japan not to resume whaling and we will continue to do so. We will also continue our efforts in the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to strongly oppose commercial whaling, and to promote whale conservation."
However in 2013 when in opposition, Hunt strongly supported having a Customs vessel in the Southern Ocean...

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Chch Heritage Building To Be Restored

Isaac House, which has stood on the Colombo/Armagh corner in Christchurch since 1926, and withstood the big earthquakes, will be saved from the wreckers.
The site opposite Forsyth Barr Tower was originally earmarked for the city's new Convention Centre, but the Crown lifted the designation on the property this year.
Owner, the Isaac Conservation and Wildlife Trust, had planned to repair the four-storey brick building, but instead put the property on the market.
The new owners are Auckland-based Patrick Fontein and Paul Naylor, who previously restored the old Twisted Hop building on Lichfield St (which reopened as Dux Central).
Isaac House survived the EQs pretty well because of some previous strengthening, but it still needs a lot of work.
Paddy and Paul still have to decide between turning it into high-end apartments, a boutique hotel, or offices upstairs with hospitality outlets below, but promise it'll be returned to its "former glory". Work should start work in Feb.2016.
Isaac House has a Heritage NZ Cat.II listing (No.7383), and is one of Christchurch's best examples of the Georgian Revival style.

(In the background of the pic is the now-demolished Victoria Apartments tower.)

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Penguins Staring Down The Gun

Otago's yellow-eyed penguin population has reached rock bottom, after a year of sweltering temperatures, disease, and barracuda
Fewer than 190 breeding pairs were counted on the Otago coast this season...down from 500 in 2012!
Many chicks were hit by avian diphtheria, an infection that forms ulcers in chicks' mouths, making it difficult to eat and breathe. Some chicks had died due to overheating, as they remained under the protection of their parent's body.
Coastal Otago Biodiversity Ranger Mel Young: "There's no obvious pattern to the infection outbreak, but most infected chicks have also been underweight. The heat has played a large part too."
Ailing penguins have been fed salmon smoothies every few days, and had the lesions in their mouths removed, allowing them to eat and breathe easier. Despite this, about 45% of chicks at monitored sites had died.
Tourists visiting those sites have also caused problems. The Department of Conservation (DoC) urges them to take established tours, rather than explore on their own, so as not to disturb breeding.
It's a sentiment echoed by the Yellow-Eyed Penguin Trust GM Sue Murray: "The penguins have had a tough four breeding seasons, so we're trying to minimise every possible risk, to give them their best chance of survival."
Penguins face many dangers - disease, interference from humans and livestock at breeding areas, heat stress, predation by stoats and ferrets, and dog attacks.
In 2013, a mass mortality event believed to be a toxic bloom, killed around 70 adults and juveniles on the Otago Peninsula. Also that year, low food supplies left penguins emaciated and unable to moult without help.
Early in 2015, 50+ penguins were maimed in barracuda attacks.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

TV3 News Now One-Dimensional

This week, tears flowed on-screen as Mediaworks axed yet another
investigative tv programme.
The demise of TV3's 3D was announced earlier this month with parent company Mediaworks saying long-form current affairs "is challenging to make commercially viable...and given the way media consumption habits are changing, unfortunately continuing 3D may not be possible".
During the final show, reporter Sarah Hall remarked: "This type of storytelling is so important to us as a country. I truly hope that somehow, some way, programmes like ours will still find a place, because without them, these stories are going to be lost." The end of 3D follows the widely-bagged axing of Campbell Live earlier this year.
In a statement, the broadcaster said it was now working with staff on "redeployment opportunities" but wouldn't give a number of how many staff are affected.
Media comentator Brian Edwards says Mediaworks' conscious shift into tabloid-style reality tv is something it's been consistently open about: "In my opinion, they don't seem to be dedicated to public service broadcasting or current affairs... at the end of the day, it comes down to generating revenue and profit."
Media blogger Martyn Bradbury writes that TV3 should 'come out', admit it's right-wing, and "end this facade of fourth estate accountability."
A Mediaworks spokesman says news and current affairs remain a priority for TV3 and points out it's invested heavily in Story, Paul Henry and Newsworthy to reflect that. A pity then, that these programmes seem decidedly NOT newsworthy...

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Flag Referendum: Symbolic Loss For John Key

The official result for the first NZ Flag referendum has been declared.
The majority of voters chose Kyle Lockwood's 'Silver fern (black, white and blue)' design over four other contenders.
Results show 1,527,042 voted - that's only 48% of all enrolled voters. By contrast, 77% had their say in the 2014 general election.
University of Otago politics lecturer Dr Bryce Edwards describes the 48% turnout as "...a symbolic loss for the Prime Minister" (John Key being the main driver behind the flag change).
There's no threshold that makes a referendum legitimate, but the arbitrary figure of 50% was often seen as a rough guideline.
Many voters were unhappy about either the change itself, or the $26-million cost of the referendum. This dissatisfaction was reflected in the 2476 invalid votes and 148,022 informal votes (making up 10% of the total). "Informals" are those not satisfying the clear intention of the referendum, and likely includes people who used their vote to protest the flag change.
Edwards: "So the result is likely to be seen as lacking the moral mandate, and that'll be a problem advancing to the second stage."
The 2nd.referendum in March 2016 will pit Kyle Lockwood's design against the current NZ flag.
The low voter turnout in the first referendum, coupled with the fact that no single design secured an overwhelming majority, means the current NZ flag wil go into the deciding referendum in a strong position. It's expected public interest will increase now there're just two options...

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Whaling: Agree To Disagree - Japan

We've done nothing wrong by going whaling again, says Japan's top whaling official. quotes Joji Morishita, Japan's IWC Commissioner, as quipping "the world must agree to disagree on the issue."
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) said last year that Japan's Southern Ocean whaling must stop (though not necessarily forever) and the International Whaling Committee (IWC) ruled that Japan had yet to demonstrate a need for killing whales.
"A-whaling we will go!"
So Tokyo took a year off from Antarctic whaling.
But Morishita says reworking of its hunt plan for the 2015/16 season - which cuts the minke whale target by two-thirds to 333 - has made every effort to meet the objections of both the court and the IWC. "We decided to implement our research plan, because we are confident we completed the scientific homework, as well as meeting the ICJ requirement."
Morishita added that whaling may just be another one of many irreconcilable differences international society has to live with: "However, this does not mean we'll take all whales - exactly because we'd like to have sustainable whaling, we'd like to have a healthy whale population."
If Japan steps back from the emotive public debate and impassioned environmental protests for a moment, it can surely see it is still in breach of rulings from both the IWC and ICJ.
It is not up to Japan to decide it's met the requirements of a court judgement. It has to present it's fresh plans for further evaluation. Only then, if the IWC rules in favour, can it carry on sushi-gathering in the name of 'research'.
As for ignoring the full-stop laid down by the ICJ, there must be more fall-out from this, than just a "tut-tut". Does the ICJ have the teeth to impose upon Japan punitive sanctions for contempt of court, or does it have as little strength as the UN?

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Post-EQ Sky's The Limit!

Christchurch's tallest post-quake apartment complex is about to take shape.
The $40-million-plus West Kilmore Precinct - 11 storeys tall - will rise from a site on the corner of Kilmore St and Cranmer Square, where Ernst and Young House stood before the earthquakes.
Christchurch property developer Grant MacKinnon is behind the project, along with an unnamed local investor living offshore.
Now, here's the thing: building height restrictions in the area were lowered to 11m in the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan, but McKinnon will use existing use rights to build more than twice as high!
I would have thought that in these enlightened post-EQ times, the height restrictions would have been "one limit fits all - no exceptions". I'd also have expected those same height restrictions to have been applied from date-of-EQ, annulling all pre-EQ deals or permits!
What's also curious is that MacKinnon himself has described the high-end apartment market in the central city as "difficult". Yet he's quite happily building 15 apartments priced at $450K-$950K; 35 apartments from $500K-$1.2 million...and, as if they aren't expensive enough, there'll also be some "higher end" apartments at whatever price someone-with-money-to-burn is prepared to pay!
Obviously, money talks...and right now it's probably yelling at me to shut the f*** UP!

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Killing Never Stops

"Ahhh vell, it helps to pass ze time on zez cold vinter days, jah!"
On the last day of November, 11 more pilot whales were slaughtered at the killing beach of Fuglafirði in the Faroe Islands.
Though it's assumed by outsiders that these killings happen only in the Northern summers, a grindadráp can be called at any time of the year - whenever a whale pod is sighted.
Environmental group Sea Shepherd has left the Faroe Islands for this year, ending its 6th campaign there (entitled Operation Sleppid Grindini), but strongly disputes the local media's claims that the slaughter was "smooth and quick".
Rosie Kunneke, SS's Land Team Leader: "For an hour and a half these pilot whales were harassed by small boats, driven onto the killing beach, hooked by their blowholes, dragged onto the rocks and sand and then slaughtered...the truth of the grindadráp is a slow and torturous death. To claim otherwise is a totally outrageous sham."
This was the 7th grindadráp of 2015, bringing the total number of pilot whales slaughtered to 501. Since the beginning of 2010, the Faroese have killed nearly 4,000 whales and dolphins... 

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Star Wars vs The China Syndrome

A black British actor in the new Star Wars film Episode VII: The Force Awakens has been shrunk in a promo poster in China!
Lead actor John Boyega - who plays lightsaber-wielding Finn - has appeared much smaller on the Chinese ad than the UK version. His image has moved beneath those of Han Solo and Princess Leia, with TIE fighters firing upon the Millennium Falcon filling up the right side of the poster. Other characters are missing, and the droid BB-8 is much larger in the Chinese version.
As expected, the changes are stirring up accusations of racism on socal social media. A message on Star Wars forum reads: "Every Asian poster for the film that I've seen has done this. That this way of doing business went over Westerners' heads is surprising. Everyone was acting as if Disney made those cuts. No, it's the Chinese way." Disney's made no comment at time of writing.
In China, cosmetic surgery is one of the most popular ways to spend discretionary income. China ranks 3rd globally for cosmetic operations performed each year. But unlike Western women wanting boob jobs and liposuction, many Chinese girls want to look more "Western". Perhaps in the Chinese mind, a black man can't possibly be an admired Westerner...? Or is this more than skin-deep?
There is virtually no racial problem in China because the Chinese are essentially one race (the Han race: about 92%). The minorities live mostly in the outlying regions. And Chinese generally like lighter skin. A popular Chinese saying reads: "One white covers up a hundred defects." If a girl has lighter skin, Chinese say she's rather white, even if she has many imperfections. Conversely, if she has darker complexion, Chinese point out that she has the darker skin, even if she is rather pretty. So the lighter-skinned girl often has the edge when looking for a mate.
Another important factor is that Chinese have little contact with black-skinned people. What they know about them is mostly from media and, as people generally only hear/remember bad things, Chinese already have a subconscious prejudice. The poster change may simply be a result of this.
But, as John Boyega said when he was cast in the role: "If you have an issue with a black Stormtrooper, get over it!"
The Star Wars continuation opens in NZ cinemas on 17 December.
Note: And to avoid any confusion, The China Syndrome (1979) was about a cover-up at a nuclear power plant - starring Jane Fonda, Jack Lemmon and Michael Douglas.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Japan Says FU To The World

Older Japanese are licking their lips in anticipation: their country will resume whaling in the Antarctic in late December...oh, only for 'science', of course!
This is despite an International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling that Japan cease all whaling.
The Jap.govt says it's "taken into account" the court ruling and its whaling programme this time will be much smaller. But the announcement has been condemned by environmental groups and the Oz and UK govts.
Minke whale breaching
The whaling fleet sailed for the Southern Ocean doubt hoping to catch environmentalists on the back foot. Under it's revised plan, it will reduce the number of minke whales caught each year by two thirds to 333. Japan believes it's plan is scientifically reasonable, but that's unlikely to placate opponents.
In 2014, Australia and NZ won a case against Japan in the ICJ in the Netherlands. The court ruled that Japan's 'scientific' whaling programme was not scientific at all - and ordered Tokyo to recall its fleet. Crucially, the ruling stated that it did not believe it was necessary for Japan to kill whales, in order to study them.
...meanwhile, in a landmark ruling, the Oz Federal Court has found Japanese whalers to be in contempt of court and fined them AUS $1 million for killing minkes in the Sthrn.Ocean's Australian Whale Sanctuary, in violation of a 2008 injunction.
The Australian court ruling finds the whalers in "willful contempt" of a 2008 injunction, banning them from killing, injuring, taking or interfering with any Antarctic minke, fin or humpback whale in the Australian Whale Sanctuary. The sanctuary was established in 1999 to protect whales within 200nm of the Australian continent and of portions of Antarctica over which Australia asserts sovereignty.
Sadly, there's a snowball's chance in hell of seeing that fine paid!
...the nasty Nippons are also facing claims filed by environmentalists Sea Shepherd, asking a US court to find that Japan's Sthrn.Ocean whaling programme violates international law, and to impose an injunction to prevent it from continuing.

Monday, November 30, 2015

NZ Passports Grow Wings

From today (Mon.30 Nov.2015), you can now purchase a ten-year New Zealand passport again!
Since 2005, kiwis were issued 5yr passports: that was in response to security concerns after the New York Twin Tower attacks on Sept.11 2001. But last May, the NZ Govt announced passports would return to a 10yr validity, as modern biometrics technology was considered strong enough to address passport fraud security issues.
So from today, NZers aged 16yrs+ can apply for the new passport at a cost of $180 - $40 more than a 5yr version. And although the new 10yr passports are more expensive per unit than the 5yr ones, they work out cheaper per year of validity. Children's passports remain at 5yrs (as is international convention), due to the rate at which their appearance change. But the 5yr adult passport is now a gone-burger.
A surge of applications is expected from today on, as lotsa folk wanting to renew their 5yr passports have been holding off until now. However the Department of Internal Affairs is confident that new passport turn-around time will be within 10 working days.
The new passport validity period brings NZ passports in line with US, UK, French, Dutch, German and Ozzie passports.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Puppet Power!

Who's the dummy?!
If you're tired of the same ol' ventriloquist and puppetry acts - y'know, wooden dummy sits on human dummy's knee, taking the piss out of human dummy in tired slapstick routines, dubiously half-funny back in the '50s - well, be prepared for a massive sea-change!
Puppetry just got supa-COOL! In the video clip below, puppet master Alexander Jorgenson does a phenomenal performance with his marionette Barti, controlling more than 40 strings to make this puppet come alive. Barti plays the piano and sings Lucille (a big hit for Little Richard in 1956) for a cabaret crowd, and afterward Barti even steals a few kisses from some of the ladies in the audience!
This must surely be the most stunning marionette work you'll ever see!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Old Friends DO Die...

Don't it always seem to go, that we don't know what we've got...
'til it's gone. Ahhh, how true.
Many people have reconnected with friends, acquaintances and schoolmates over the years, on the kiwi website But soon they'll have to find a new platform.
Old Friends, a subsidiary of Trade Me, is going to be shut down in Jan.2016 and all its data deleted (as required under the Privacy Act).
Spokesman for Trade Me, Logan Mudge, says it's not a decision made lightly: "We have to focus on what we can and cannot do. We haven't been able to give it the attention it needed so it was time to close." He said it wasn't a financial decision as the site was making a modest income, but rather so that Trade Me could focus on bigger business opportunities in its core areas.
Over the last few months, 600-1,200 users accessed the website daily. In comparison, Trade Me had 848,000 daily users. But saying that, Old Friends had other impressive numbers. These included 1,621,577 members - nearly half the NZ population - plus 2300 schools, 36,000 workplaces, 7100 clubs, 164 marae etc etc. But even those numbers weren't able to be converted into any sort of income. So it's goodbye, Old Friends, coz dollars talk.
Many Old Friends users have tales of reuniting with friends they haven't seen in decades - some have even caught up with childhood sweethearts.
Nothing will be launched to replace Old Friends. Users have been emailed to tell them the website is closing down in mid-late January. They've been urged to download and save any information, photos and data they want kept.
It seems to me such a shame that the service could not have been outsourced to save it. Surely, with the existing infrastructure in place, a couple of part-timers could have maintained Old Friends from a home base...?

Note: Sam Morgan, who founded TradeMe, NZ's largest online auction site, sold it in 2006 to Australian media company Fairfax for over NZ$750 million.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Does This Count As A No-Ball?

A game of backyard cricket, in a property bordering the Avondale Racecourse in Auckland, could have ended badly for one of the participants last Saturday.
A wayward shot resulted in the ball soaring skywards and on to the Auckland racetrack near the 1000m mark...just as the field jumped from the barriers for the start of Race 2.
Soon after, a young man, who didn't appear to be in a great rush, wandered onto the track to retrieve the ball as the field thundered towards him...
After realising a race was in progress - and he was right in the middle of it! - he ducked under the inside running rail when the thundering hooves were within 75m of him.
The course manager spoke to the cricketers at the property, and a racecourse staffer was posted on the back straight for the rest of the day.
Club president Alan Boyle: "Safety requirements obviously demand an investigation. Firstly I need to talk with the track manager and club committee member responsible for track safety, so it's a bit premature to comment until that is done."
I'd suggest in the meantime, NZ Cricket officials might like to measure the length of that hit, and see whether the batter is worthy of recruiting for the Black Caps!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Who's Really So Vain?

One of the biggest questions in music history: who was Carly Simon really referring to in her hit You're So Vain?
You remember: "I bet you think this song is about you, don't you?"
Actor Warren Beatty has long been a prime suspect, and now Carly has confirmed it. But Beatty's wrong if he thinks the whole song is about him.
Carly's revealed he was only the subject of the second verse:
"You had me several years ago when I was still quite naive
Well you said that we made such a pretty pair
And that you would never leave
But you gave away the things you loved and one of them was me
I had some dreams, they were clouds in my coffee
Clouds in my coffee, and..."

Speaking about her new memoir Boys in the Trees, Simon says: "I've confirmed that the second verse is Warren." Asked if he knew this, she said that, in keeping with the song's theme, "Warren thinks the whole thing is about him!"
You're so Vain sold more than a million copies when it went to No.1 in USA in 1972-73 and, for more than 40 years, Simon has never publicly revealed the name of the subject, hinting that it could be a combination of people rolled into one.
Speculation has ranged from Beatty - once Simon's boyfriend - to her former husband James Taylor, to Mick Jagger (who sang back-up on the track) to showbiz tycoon David Geffen - though Simon squashed that rumour when it surfaced in 2010 (saying she didn't even know Geffen in '71 when she wrote the song).
Two other egotists are yet to be named. Asked if she will ever name the other two men, Simon says: "I don't think so, at least until they know it's about them."

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Timeball To Rise Again

As it was...
The Lyttelton Timeball will be restored in an epic $3.4 million effort.
The Timeball Station (c.1876) was "mechanical Victoriana in action", the high tech of its day. Overlooking Lyttelton Harbour, it told mariners the exact moment it was 1pm each day, and was one of only five working timeballs in the world.
It was also home to the Timeball Keepers who, like lighthouse keepers, lived in their station.
When radio technology made the timeball obsolete in the 1930s, the building carried on as a residence, eventually owned by Heritage New Zealand. It got the timeball working again, turfed out the tenants, installed a museum...and then the earthquakes struck. After the Feb.2011 quake, there was no way the Cat.1 heritage building could be repaired.
So here's what's happening now? The octagonal 15metre tower and the timeball on top will be reconstructed - forget the residence. This'll start in July 2016 and will take 12 months. The new tower must comply with the Building Code, so there will be plenty of concrete, steel and block, hidden behind the salvaged heritage stones. The timeball and associated mechanisms will be restored, which will almost certainly involve casting new iron parts, rather than buying new gearing.
The timeball will work, but probably won't fall every day: that'll be reserved for special occasions or perhaps some schedule yet to be decided.
Ferrymead Heritage Park is currently the storage site for the salvaged materials: tower stone, the timeball, its mechanism, plenty of timber, whatever survived of the's estimated that about 2000 salvaged stones will be used to skin the new tower.
Total cost: approx.$3.4 million, of which HeritageNZ already has $2.6m. Stand by for some public fundraising next year...

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Friends: The One Where Nobody Noticed

American tv series Friends had a fantastic run over its 1994-2004
People around the globe could relate to the many misadventures and oddball utterings of Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Joey, Chandler and Ross.
It became one of the most popular sitcoms of all time, nominated for 62 Primetime Emmy Awards, winning Outstanding Comedy Series in 2002. The series finale in 2004 was watched by 52.5 million US viewers, making it the 5th.most-watched series finale in tv history, and the most-watched tv episode of the 2000s decade.
Pretty amazing, huh?
What's even more amazing is that, until now, NOBODY noticed the cast substitutes!
Yeup, an eagle-eyed US fan has spotted stand-ins in several episodes!
Jordan D'Amico noticed one during Ep.209, The One With The Mugging (2003). As you can see (above), Rachel is there beside Joey. But then, quicker than you can say "How you doin'?!" - different blouse, different woman!
D'Amico then spotted a sub for Monica, in Ep.175, The One With Rachel's Date (2001) (to the right)!
How this has gone unseen for so many years is a mystery... just what the hell was happenin'???!!!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

New Excelsior But Facade Goes

the old facade
Christchurch's old Excelsior Hotel is going to be rebuilt.
Unfortunately it'll be a modern building with a replica facade - not the old facade that's been propped up by shipping containers in the CBD for the past three years.
The 1880s hotel was wrecked in the earthquakes and only the western facade currently remains.
Property development company Canterbury Property Investments (CPI) is buying the site - it's going to smash down the original facade and rebuild the hotel.
Christchurch Heritage Trust, which bought the building to save it in 2011, says it's happy with both the buyers and the rebuild plan (originally it had hoped to dismantle the facade and reuse it in a new building, describing
Artist's impression of the new Excelsior Hotel
demolition as "unthinkable" when it purchased the property).
Trust vice chairman Stephen Collins says things had changed, and lightweight replicas were now a viable rebuild option: "Purists may say it's not heritage but the reality is, what we'll finish up with will look identical."
CPI has already built a St Asaph St restaurant in the style of the demolished Occidental Hotel, and a barbecue restaurant in the style of a historic San Francisco fire station. As well, it's planning two new hotels on the old Press site in Cathedral Square, one behind a replica of the old Press building.
This project will cost about $10 million.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Hello, Adele!

Adele's comeback single Hello is an absolute cracker (just like her, really!). And it's smashing records worldwide.
But let's not get snowed under by stats: here's the song itself. You'll LUV it!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

New Job For Christmas

Want a new job pre-Xmas?
If you enjoy working with your hands, are persistent and patient, and have a passion for Christmas, then here's just the job for you.
Tesco in Wrexham, North Wales, is hiring a Christmas light detangler! The successful candidate will manage the "Christmas Lights Untangling stand", untangling long lengths of LED lights that've wound themselves into a mess.
An ad for the position appeared in the town's local rag recently and also on Tesco's website. The store is looking for an "enthusiastic individual to join the in-store team to run a new and innovative light-untangling service."
This is not a joke. It's serious stuff - the candidates need to be able to untangle 3 metres of lights, brought in by customers, in "under three minutes."
The job is billed as a UK first, and be available in the Wrexham branch, to help customers by untangling their knotted Christmas lights while they shop.
Not only will the candidate be expected to untangle the electric mess, but also check them for broken bulbs.
Ho-ho-bloody ho! Feeling that festive love? Bah-humbug!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Porn or Pop? Adele Decides

Adele and Oscar
Keep your ears open for Adele's hot new comeback single, Hello
and your eyes open for the new Rolling Stone mag, featuring the singer on the front cover.
But what a change! Gone is the big trademark hairstyle. She's stripped back to tousled wet hair and minimal make-up as she sits in a white dressing gown for the cover shot.
Adele says she's constantly asked whether she would pose for Playboy: "I've been asked so many times, it's ridiculous, but do they ask me because I'm a woman…or because I'm fat?" With the huge wave of public support for plus-size women, Adele says "...sometimes I'm curious to know if I would have been as successful if I wasn't plus-size. I think I remind everyone of themselves. Not saying everyone is my size, but it's relatable because I'm not perfect, and I think a lot of people are portrayed as perfect, unreachable and untouchable."
27yr.old Adele has enjoyed a phenomenal comeback, with the release of her first single since the James Bond Skyfall theme song in 2012.
An accompanying video for Hello has been released and it clocked a mammoth 100 million views in just five days. It's had the most US downloads sold in a week: 1.11m. It's the first song ever to sell 1m+ downloads in a week.
The catchy song was streamed 47.5m times globally on Spotify, making it the most-streamed song over a week in the online streaming platform's history.
The music video also broke records at entertainment platform, delivering more than 27m views in the first 24 hours after its release.
Can't wait for the new album, called 25, due out before the end of this month!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Stewart Island Stranding

Dozens of pilot whales have died after stranding at Doughboy Bay on Stewart Island this week.
The pod of 29 was discovered on Tuesday evening by two trampers, who were unable to alert the Department of Conservation (DoC) for two days because the bay was so remote.
DoC says eight of the whales were still alive when they arrived on Thursday, but they had to be euthanised. Refloating was not an option given the length of time the whales had been stranded in hot, dry conditions.
Because the stranding site is so isolated, the whales will be left to decompose naturally on the beach. Visitors should stay well clear of the carcases.
And thus the 2015 whale-stranding season in NZ begins...

The largest mass stranding on record happened in 1918, when 1000 whales were stranded on the Chatham Islands.
The most recent stranding on Stewart Island was in June 2013 when one pilot whale got stuck on Maori Beach.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Winners And Losers

Ahhhh, the pitfalls of posting selfies!
An Ozzie woman who posted a pic of her winning Melbourne Cup ticket has had her A$825 winnings stolen.
...and OMG! She's BLONDE!!!
The Perth woman, known only as Chantelle, backed the 100-to-1 shot Prince of Penzance in last Tuesday's Melbourne Cup.
When she found out she'd won, she posted a selfie - including its clearly-readable barcode (duuuuuhhhh!!!) - to brag to her friends.
Well, one of those "friends" wasn't quite so friendly! Just 15 minutes later, she tried to cash her winning ticket...only to find it had already been claimed.
Shock-horror-probe! Someone had downloaded the selfie pic, cut out the winning ticket's barcode and put it into an automated machine.
The theft was made all the worse after Chantelle realised the culprit must have been one of her Facebook "friends".
This should serve as a warning to social media users posting seemingly innocuous images that may contain sensitive information...but you know it won't. This stupid practice of self-publicity will continue, and rip-offs like this will happen again!
So, at whom should our scorn be directed: the ratbag Facebook "friend" who made an opportunistic cash-killing? Or the bimbo idiot who showed the world her winning barcode?

Monday, November 2, 2015

Bloody Tourists!

Everyone wants to head home with the perfect collection of holiday pix but, more often than not these days, that's impossible.
There are just sooooo many others, trying to snap the very same things as you! Dammit! How dare they?!
Places such as the Taj Mahal and the Eiffel Tour get millions of visitors every year, making them some of the busiest spots on this planet.
So, unless you wanna wake up at 3am, the likelihood is that any photo taken at a famous spot will also have a large number of tourists milling around in it.
But happy-joy, this pain-in-the-pixels could soon be a thing of the past. Adobe has invented a new piece of software that removes moving items from a picture. True!
'Monument Mode' is new software that uses an algorithm to distinguish moving objects from fixed ones.
To make it work, a camera in 'Monument Mode' is pointed at a landmark, even in a busy street, for a short period of time to record several seconds of footage from a fixed point.
The technology then analyses the live camera feed and removes the moving objects, giving a clean shot of just the subject and the monument. This enables the average person to remove pesky cars and tourists from their images in a similar way to professional photographers, who've been able to do this using Photoshop for years.
This wonderful toy is not for sale yet, but is not too far away.
At last: proof that there IS a God...and he's a photographer!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Eleganza Soul

Those who grew up in the '70s have certain movies and tv shows burnt into their memories. Bruce Lee, Starsky and Hutch...and all that great music!
Smooth mutha-****!
With so much black funk running through the grooves, it was a sound we weren't familiar with here in NZ...but man, was it cool!
At the start of that decade came the Isaac Hayes' chart-topper Shaft, with shock-horror lyrics like "He's a bad mutha...shut your mouth!" Young white teens, adding new phrases to their lexicons, never had it so good.
Shaft of course was really The Theme from Shaft - one of the first blaxploitation films. It starred Richard Roundtree as the ultimate in suave black detectives. John Shaft was like the James Bond Of Da 'Hood.
The US blaxploitation scene saw numerous clothing outlets selling what today looks so naff but, back then, was top-funk clothing for the debonair black man...opps, African-American.
We saw the groovy gear in movies and wondered if it was all just prop-clothing. No, bro...if y'all wanted to strut the streets, the turned-out turkeys would check out ads like these...!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

US Nuke Spanish Clean-up

The good ol' US of A has finally agreed to clean up its own mess... namely a nuclear spill!
The southern Spanish coastal resort of Palomares was the scene of the worst nuclear accident in US military history nearly 50 years ago.
Death from above
On 17 Jan.1966, a B52 bomber with four nuclear bombs collided with a refuelling aircraft in mid-air. Three bombs fell near Palomares, failing to explode but contaminating the soil with radioactive material, and the 4th fell into the sea, lieing undiscovered for more than 2mths.
USA and Spain said last week they 'intended to...clean up the Palomares site and organise the storage of the contaminated soil at an appropriate site in the United States.' The contaminated soil is expected to be buried in a secure area in the Las Vegas desert in an 2yr.operation. A Spanish Govt spokesman said the agreement was a "...symbol of friendship between the two countries, who are allies and partners who trust one another and have lots of things to do together." What - even it takes 50 years???
The mayor of the nuked area claims he's not been told a damn thing about the deal: "I'm annoyed we haven't been officially informed. We're the victims, the ones who've suffered this for the last half-century and the ones who now have to suffer the clean-up." He said he'd continue to fight for proper compensation, and funding for a tourism campaign to protect its image while lorries carrying radioactive material warnings roll through the area.
The area where the bombs fell, in the province of Almeria, SE Spain, has been dubbed the Costa del Armageddon. In the aftermath of the crash, the US and Spanish tried to convince the world there was no danger. US Ambassador Biddie Duke even joined a Spanish minister for a swim off Palomares in front of cameras, saying: "If this is radioactivity, I love it!"
Environmentalists have accused the two govts of secrecy about residents' health checks. The Spanish govt claims only small levels of radiation have been detected, though in several cases plutonium has reportedly attached itself to bones.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Flossing: Little Benefit?

The importance of flossing is sold as an essential step in getting rid of harmful plaque, the bacteria that can lead to tooth decay and gum disease.
But what if flossing wasn't so important after all - what if it made no real difference to dental health?
That's the suggestion emerging from a new body of research.
Flossing is aimed at helping rid our mouths of bacteria. Just 1ml of saliva is thought to contain about 100 million microbes. The mouth is a warm, acidic environment that's perfect for them to flourish. While some of these bacteria are bad, turning food sugars into tooth-eroding acid, others actually prevent tooth decay by releasing chemicals that counteract harmful acid.
But the latest evidence suggests flossing has little impact on reducing tooth decay or preventing gum disease. British Dental Association researchers looked at the long-term effect in people who brush and floss and others who only brush, and found no difference in terms of reducing plaque, bleeding or subsequent gum disease.
A recent review in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology concluded that 'despite being widely advocated...the majority of available studies fail to demonstrate that flossing is generally effective in plaque removal and in reducing gingival (gum) inflammation'.
So although flossing may be good for removing food from between teeth, it's not successful in removing the biofilms causing problems. Researchers believe the best way to overcome biofilms and prevent tooth decay is to master your brushing technique.
They are confident that most people with normal teeth and normal gaps do not need to floss at all!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Force Is Too Strong For Internet

The Force has awoken...and crashed the internet.
Tickets went on sale for Star Wars: The Force Awakens at 10am yesterday. Within minutes, Reading Cinema's website crashed due to heavy demand, and other NZ cinemas were nearly sold out for midnight sessions.
As has been a tradition dating back to 1997, Star Wars will debut at a special midnight screening. Sales for all sessions were going well prior the crash, but the midnight shows were proving the most popular.
Reading Cinema's spokesman says the last time he remembered demand for a film peaking this high was in the run-up to Avatar.
Twitter was glowing like a lightsabre, post-ticket release, with some twits gloating about seeing the movie in New Zealand before the rest of the world (due to the timezone difference).
But one indigenous twit seemed dissatisfied: "Given all Star Wars clones are maori actors, why can't we have lightsabre taiahas?" (a maori weapon) "And just imagine a clone army haka!"
Oh puh-leez, talk about being trapped in a space vortex. Next there'll be a maori claim for intellectual property rights!
The 7th installment in George Lucas' much beloved and obsessed-over franchise will premiere in NZ at 12.01am on Thursday, 17 December.
Maori stormtroopers - yea, right!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Free Pub - A Dream?

An historic pub deep in the boonies of East Otago could be yours... for nix!
Stanley's Hotel, in the town of Macraes Flat, is available for free lease to the right person, after failing to attract a lessee over the past
People have until this coming Monday (19 Oct.) to register an expression of interest in leasing the property.
The property is owned by the Macraes Community Trust, and has been attracting interest from all over NZ and as far afield as Oz.
Stanley's Hotel was built in 1882. Tom Stanley, Kentish-born son of a sea captain, took over a ramshackle hotel at Macraes Flat, and decided to rebuild. He quarried stone from the hill behind the Catholic church, and engaged a Hyde stone-mason called Budge, to "build me an inn that will last." Budge, noted for his craftsmanship... and his huge capacity for beer, erected an inn fit for a king. It took him five years - on some days he did not face a stone, succumbing to an invitation to "come and have one" before he put foot on the ladder. His payment was wholly in beer and, when the building was finished, it was estimated he'd consumed 72 hogsheads' worth (a hogshead being 54 gallons/250L)!!!
The single-storey schist hotel remained in the Stanley family until 1960. Nearby Oceana gold mine bought it in 1997, and gave it to the community. It's been an institution for many years and locals are very keen for that to continue, beyond the looming closure of the goldmine in 5-10yrs.
The hotel is one of the few illustrations of the type of C19th hotel that used to be common in goldfields Otago. It is the only surviving hotel from that period in Macraes, and is the most substantial building in Macraes Flat. It now has a Heritage NZ Cat.1 listing.
Mind you, although it's a mainstay of the local community and travellers, some backpackers found the previous host less than endearing, so whoever takes over the lease should consider the quality of service for what could be a valuable tourist opportunity.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Whale On Food Festival Menu

When tourists think of Japan, images of dramatic landscapes, futuristic cities and world-class sushi may spring to mind.
But one Tokyo district is hoping to reel in outsiders with one of the country’s more controversial traditions: slaughtering whales.
Ebisu, a Tokyo gastronomic hub, is hosting an annual food festival aimed at introducing foreigners to the culinary delights of whale meat.
But few tourists visiting the district seem willing to tuck into the dark meat, with some saying the concept put them off visiting the festival entirely.
Japan's culinary relationship with cetaceans is both controversial and complex. The nation has hunted whales for hundreds of years but the commercial industry only took off after WWII, to help feed a hungry country.
In recent decades it has used a legal loophole in the international ban on whale hunting that allows it to continue catching the animals in order to gather scientific data. But it's no secret that the whale meat from these hunts ends up on dining tables, even though consumption has fallen sharply in recent years.
The country’s influential Japan Whaling Association has given the festival its blessing. Chairman Kazuo Yamamura: "If foreign visitors actually see the food being served at restaurants, I hope they say it may be all right to use it as resources as long as the animals are not endangered."
Around 30 Ebisu restaurants are serving whale dishes throughout the festival, which closes on 18 October.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Eyes Peeled For New NZ Banknotes

Our long-awaited new $5 and $10 banknotes will be in circulation from next week...but we may not see them for a few weeks.
That's because the Reserve Bank distributes banknotes only when it receives orders from banks. Orders for replacement $5 and $10 notes come in less frequently than other denominations, as they tend to circulate much more between retailers and consumers.
"Where can I get a few billion more?"
So meanwhile the old notes are still totally legal.
Currently about 345,000 of the new notes have been sent out to banks - that compares to about 45-million existing $5 and $10 notes currently in circulation, so they may take a while to filter down to our wallets!
The new notes still feature legendary adventurer Edmund Hillary and suffragette Kate Sheppard but also include more Maori designs. The rest of the new notes ($20, $50 and $100), will be released in April 2016.
Personally, I think they look bright and interesting (although the image of the Queen does show her advancing years perhaps a bit too realistically).
But not everyone is happy...and, par for the course these days, those who are moaning are our indigenous brethren!
A certain tribal group is complaining that a design (on the new $10) from a Maori meeting house has been used without their permission. And the bros have even rolled out their lawyers to battle for their intellectual property rights.
The fact that the meeting house was confiscated in 1867 after the Maori Wars, and has been on public display in a national museum for many decades since, seems to have escaped them.
It appears they're just focused on a fast compensation opportunity. Now there's a thought: just wait until the current notes are no longer legal tender, and then give the brothers the entire NZ supply. They can wallpaper every whare in the land with 'em if they like! A great recycling initiative...

UPDATE: 10 Nov.2015 - Ha, the joke's on bro! Turns out that the decorative maori panel on the $10 note - subject of legal action to stop its use - was never actually part of said maori meeting house at all! Oh dear, how sad, no compensation!!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

No Doomsday Downunder - How Is It At Your Place?

Er…um…well, this IS embarrassing!!! We're all supposed to be DEAD now. Aren't we?
According to a Christian group, you shouldn't be able to read this blog because the world is due to be engulfed and destroyed by a great fire on 07 October!!
Chris McCann, leader of the eBible fellowship and all-round God expert, recently predicted Doomsday was upon us.
McCann delivered his warnings via podcast. He reckons that 07 October will be the day God has spoken of. It's The Big One. The day the Earth passes away. The day we should be gone forever. Annihiliated.
McCann: "God destroyed the Earth with water, by a flood, in the days of Noah. And he says he'll not do that again, not by water. But he does say in 2nd Peter 3 that he'll destroy it by fire." However, just to cover his self-righteous arse, McCann adds a disclaimer that "there's an unlikely possibility that it will not end." He had previously claimed the world would end 21 May 2011 but had to revise that date.
So while New Zealand may have lived to see another day, perhaps
we should keep our fingers crossed for our Northern Hemisphere friends who are still waiting to live through 07 October…or not!