Monday, March 30, 2015

Nuclear Energy Is Not Electricity

USS Haddo, unwelcome: Akld, Jan.1979
It was not electricity being protested in the 1970s...it 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.