Monday, March 30, 2015

Nuclear Energy Is Not Electricity

USS Haddo, unwelcome: Akld, Jan.1979
It was not electricity being protested in the was NUCLEAR energy!
Big Bully America was trying to force lil' ol' Noo Zuld to accept visits by nuclear-armed/nuclear-propelled warships as part of its ANZUS obligations. There were many kiwis who saw these vessels as symbols of possible nuclear annihilation, arguing that New Zealand should make a moral stand and ban such visits. They launched protest flotillas to 'greet' visiting nuclear warships and hinder their passage into port.
Various NZ towns and cities declared themselves 'nuclear-free zones', a token gesture in global terms but locally adding momentum to the government's eventual ban on nukes entering our
ports...which then lead to the US petulantly suspending its ANZUS security guarantee to NZ in 1985.
The photograph is an Auckland protest against the Thresher-class nuclear submarine USS Haddo in January 1979...which, as you can see, has been used by PowerShop as its latest ad.
But once again, PowerShop is off-target.
It has in the past proved itself either blind, stupid or insensitive to public feeling, using images of Saddam Hussein, Colonel Qaddafi and other globally-vilified tyrants in its ads. In the face of public backlash, PowerShop toned its campaigns down.
So this latest ad is curious. It has no shock value whatsoever, but it completely misses the point of the image it's used.
Sure, I understand the company is making a word-play on "people power" - consumers having the power to choose their own power company. But imposing the word 'Electricity' over a NUCLEAR submarine indicates the ad-man creating the storyboard and the media buyer approving it do not understand the difference between two completely different sources of submarine power: nuclear vs diesel-electric!
What level of education/social awareness do these people have?
Once again with PowerShop, it seems the answer is: very little.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Simpson And His Donkey - The REAL One

A classic painting of a famous Gallipoli character went under the hammer this week.
"Simpson and his Donkey" was painted by Horace Millichamp Moore-Jones in 1918. It depicts a medic evacuating a wounded soldier during the ill-fated Gallipoli campaign of WWI.
Moore-Jones had thought the Anzac medic was John Simpson Kirkpatrick, an Englishman who (as John Simpson) enlisted with the Australian Imperial Forces when war broke out. And as time went on, most of Australia thought so too...
However, the medic was actually a New Zealander, Richard (Dick) Henderson, a Waihi-born man who was a teacher in Auckland when he enlisted in 1914.
Moore-Jones' most widely-recognised art work was not painted at the battlefront, but from a photo taken by Dunedin medic, James Jackson, who identified the subject as Richard Henderson.
Moore-Jones' depiction of the soldier and his donkey was done when the artist was touring his watercolours in Dunedin in 1918, three years after the Gallipoli landings. He altered the composition of the photo to make for a more dramatic painting.
This week, the art was bought by a private buyer and will remain in New Zealand. It's value was estimated at $150-200K but sold for $257,950.
The artist Moore-Jones died in a Hamilton fire in 1922, still believing he had painted Simpson.
While not wishing to denigrate John Simpson's work at Gallipoli, it should be recognised that his heroic exploits have been seriously inflated over the years.
The "Simpson" legend stemmed from an account in a 1916 book Glorious Deeds of Australasians in the Great War. This was a wartime propaganda effort, and its stories of Simpson, supposedly rescuing 300 men and making dashes into No Man's Land to carry wounded out on his back, are demonstrably untrue.
In fact, transporting that many men down to the beach in the three weeks that he was at Gallipoli would have been an impossibility, given the time the journey took. However, the stories in the book were widely accepted by many, including the authors of subsequent books on Simpson.
The few contemporary accounts of Simpson at Gallipoli do speak of his bravery in bringing wounded down from the heights above Anzac Cove through Shrapnel and Monash Gullies. However, his donkey service spared him the even more dangerous and arduous work of hauling seriously wounded men back from the front lines on a stretcher.
Simpson landed at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915 and was killed by machinegun fire on 19 May 1915.
There've been movies based on the Simpson legend, statues erected, and even calls for a posthumous Victoria Cross.
But the real man in the picture, NZ stretcher-bearer Richard (Dick) Henderson, served in Gallipoli and later on the Western Front. He was awarded a Military Medal for repeatedly rescuing wounded from the battlefield while under heavy fire at the Battle of the Somme. Seriously gassed at Passchendaele in Oct.1917, he spent several months convalescing in England before repatriation to NZ in Feb.1918.
Henderson did not recover from the effects of the gas. He went back to teaching, but became blind in 1934 and was obliged to stop working. He remained in poor health for the rest of his life, and died in Greenlane Hospital, Auckland, on 14 November 1958.
The real 'medic with donkey' rests in Akld's Waikumete Cemetery, Soldiers' Burial Row 11, Plot 111.
Perhaps the painting should hang as acknowledgement of all medics, stretcher-bearers, nurses and doctors in fields of conflict...

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Richard III: Re-Writing Royal History?

Last weekend, England farewelled her king – or at least the skeletal remains of Richard III.
Here in NZ, the spectacle only garnered a few moments of tv curiosity time, but it was Billy Big Time there. However not everyone appreciated the pomp and ceremony.
Michael Thornton, writing in Britain's Daily Mail, watched with …mounting stupefaction, the grotesque televised travesty involving the remains of one of the most evil, detestable tyrants ever to walk this earth.
Richard III: R3, to his friends.
I take the liberty of reprinting his piece (abridged) as a strong counter-balance to the Royalist hype...
2½ years after his bones were unearthed under a Leicester car park, and at the outrageous cost of more than £2.5 million, Richard was prepared for reburial with a 21-gun salute, medieval re-enactors in shiny armour and plumed helmets, children in paper crowns, onlookers tossing white Yorkist roses.
An aura of heroism has been conferred on R3 for being the last English king to die in battle. But he was only in battle because his usurpation of the throne - and his abduction/murder of his nephew Edward V - had provoked a popular rising/invasion led by Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond.
R3 need not have died at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. If he'd retreated, the throne he'd stolen would've been lost, and his future would have been as an exiled fugitive. He died attempting to hack his way through to Henry Tudor, knowing that if he killed him, then the throne was his.
Was this heroism? No. Like everything else he did, it reveals the mind of a murderous pragmatist.
In this light, much of what took place last Sunday raised serious doubt about the sanity of some of the key figures involved.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Kunlun Kan't Run Now

Two months after a pirate captain escaped the grasp of the NZ Navy, because of limp-dick bureaucrats, his luck's finally run out!
The Interpol-wanted, internationally-blacklisted poaching vessel Kunlun has been detained in Thailand on fisheries-related violations.
Back in Jan.2015, the vessel was caught illegally fishing in the Southern Ocean, but kiwi politicos wouldn't allow our navy to perform its righteous role and so Kunlun happily ran away. Then in Feb., it was intercepted by Sea Shepherd's Sam Simon in possession of banned fishing equipment in Australian waters.
Kunlun cuts across Sam Simon, Sthrn.Ocean, Feb.2015
Kunlun is one of six vessels known to still engage in Illegal, Unreported, Unregulated (IUU) fishing for Sthrn.Ocean toothfish. It has a long history of suspected fishing violations and is believed to have links to known Spanish crime sydnicate Vidal Armadores. Since 2008, the vessel has changed names at least ten times in order to avoid prosecution.
Kunlun is one of three IUU fishing vessels that've been intercepted by SS since the commencement of Operation Icefish in Dec.2014.
Another pirate ship, Nigerian-flagged Thunder, was also encountered by SS in Antarctica. SS ship Bob Barker has maintained a continuous pursuit of Thunder, which has led it to the coast of Namibia.
Operation Icefish is SS's first Southern Ocean Defence Campaign to target IUU fishing operators in the waters of Antarctica.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Fanfare For The Common Man?

Chaneys Corner is on Christchurch's Northern Motorway, just south of the Waimakariri Bridge.
At that point, a motorway offroad links to Main North Road and takes vehicles down Marshland Road and into the CBD. In morning traffic, it's very congested - so much so, that the council last year installed extra 'merge' precautions, and Transit NZ added more traffic-cams. The Chaney's area will also be the branch point for the new Northern Arterial Route and the Western Belfast Bypass.
So I question the mental state of the Christchurch City Council's Public Art Advisory Group that approved the installation of a huge public art piece RIGHT ON THAT JUNCTION!!!
Fanfare is a large-scale work by Chch artist Neil Dawson (he of Chalice fame). Fanfare is 20m in diameter (!!), 25 tonnes and is covered by 360 separate 1m-round wind-powered 'pinwheels' (all independently attached and lit up for special occasions on the calendar). So, methinx lots of colour, lots of spin, lots of dazzle...and a helluva lot of motorist distraction!!!
Fanfare was originally commissioned by Sydney, Australia, for its 2005 New Year celebrations. It was raised from a barge at midnight and suspended from its Harbour Bridge for three weeks. Then in 2007, Sydney (seemingly in a generous gesture!) gifted it to Christchurch and cleverly cleared its books of it.
What we may see, southbound from the Waimak.Bridge

Now this monster bauble is being installed beside the northern entrance to the city. Total asset cost: $3.3 million. Total installation cost: $350,000 - nearly completely raised now, from donations. Thank God this crippled city's ratepayers didn't have to pay for this!
But the question remains: what about driver distraction? There'll be those who'll want to pull onto the road shoulder to take photos, or drive slower to gawk. There may even be reflections of light, dazzling motorists' eyes.
I'm sure Fanfare will look very pretty...but at a time when poor driving and motorist distraction (resulting in road accidents and deaths) is high in the public's priorities, this all points to an appallingly bad decision about its location.

PS: "Fanfare for the Common Man" is a musical work by US composer Aaron Copland, used in many forms around the globe.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Vanuatu Smashed By Pam

The headlines say it all:
'Cyclone Destroys A Nation'...
'Vanuatu Devastated'...
Torrential rain and winds reaching 295kmph (185mph) slammed the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu last Saturday.
The Atlantic reports that although the official death toll from Tropical Cyclone Pam is currently 24, the final figure may be higher: rescuers have been unable to communicate with outlying islands.
Pam destroyed schools, hospitals, downed power lines, flattened buildings throughout the country, and rendered thousands homeless. And even though many of the island's houses were built of lightweight materials and thus susceptible to damage by heavy storms, they were nonetheless family homes and the occupants are now without shelter.
Vanuatu is no stranger to major storms, but locals say they'd never experienced anything like this. The disaster's scale is unprecedented there and the people of Vanuatu are going to need a lot of help to rebuild their homes and lives.
Australia and New Zealand have sent military planes loaded with supplies, and have pledged millions of dollars in aid.
Vanuatu is a low-lying island nation considered extremely vulnerable to climate change. Roughly three quarters of the 267,000 population work in fishing and agriculture, two industries sensitive to rising sea levels and warmer temperatures. Prolonged dry spells have begun to threaten the country's water supply, while intense rainstorms have damaged staple crops.
Scientists warn against attributing single weather events to climate change, even storms the size of Pam. But an Australian govt report predicts regional cyclones will only become more intense.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Wilson Flexes His Wings Again

Lean and keen: Ewan in the 90s
If the name Ewan Wilson sounds familiar, just cast your mind back twenty years...
Wilson was the founder of Kiwi Air a.k.a. Kiwi Travel International Airlines, a NZ-based budget airline that pioneered discount flights between secondary airports in Oz and NZ in the mid-1990s.
Kiwi Air forced Air NZ to establish Freedom Air as a counterfoil, and succeeded in bringing trans-Tasman fare prices to historic lows. But Air NZ eventually forced Kiwi Air to the wall...and then, not too long afterwards, it shut down its own Freedom Air.
Wilson: a little older, a little wiser?
Ewan Wilson was convicted on four counts of fraud in 1996...but that's another story.
Well, Ewan's back in the air again - almost. The Hamilton City councillor is now CEO of his own Kiwi Regional Airlines (KRA), with plans to fly the regional routes that Air NZ's deemed uneconomical.
He's announced a six-day-a-week direct service between Tauranga and Palmerston North (55 mins), connecting to Nelson, plus a daily Dunedin-Queenstown-Nelson service.
The flights are planned to start by early next year, in two SAAB 340s (plus another one to be added later) that Wilson plans to buy himself - as opposed to the lease arrangements of the original KiwiAir.
Wilson says KRA has deliberately avoided head-to-head competition with Air NZ, instead choosing direct routes that had either not been flown for some time or were being exited by Air NZ.
Last month, Defence Minister "I Break Aviation Rules With Impunity" Brownlee rejected KRA's other plan to operate domestic flights from Whenuapai airbase, north of Auckland, to Wellington (capitalising on North Shore residents who drive up to an hour to reach Auckland Airport). While Wilson will lobby the govt to change its position on Whenuapai, KRA's strategy did not rely on it.
The Civil Aviation Authority must authorise an air operating certificate before KRA can launch, and has yet to do so...

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Art Comes Alive!

A friend has sent me links to a graffiti/light show in Melbourne.
He was rather proud of this particular work, given that his son was a vital part of the creative team.
It was at Melbourne's largest cultural festival, White Night Melbourne, held on Sat.21 February 2015. Attended by over half a million people and running 7pm – 7am, the festival took over Melbourne's CBD for a one-night-only artistic extravaganza.
This particular piece was called Sofles – Graffiti Mapped. Many months in the planning, Sofles – Graffiti Mapped linked graffiti, street art and technology through a combination of 3D video mapping, traditional street art and graffiti techniques, and motion design.
Over five stories high, it was artist Sofles' biggest work to date. Add to that Grant Osborne's incredibly-detailed motion design and a musical score by NZ music producer Opiuo, and it was one truly innovative work of art.
If you're impressed, make sure you attend next year's White Night Melbourne festival!
Here's the actual creation of the artwork...
And now, ladies and gentlemen...the entire light show!

Video Shot/Cut - Selina Miles.
Mural - Sofles.
Motion Design - Grant Osborne.
Soundtrack - Opiuo.
Creative Director – Shaun Hossack.