Thursday, 11 September 2014

View from the Auckland Sky Tower

Built in 1997, it is the tallest man made structure in the Southern Hemisphere standing at 328 metres. It has observation levels, restaurants and is also used as a communications such as broadcasting and radio. It has 150 metres of concrete shaft with reinforced foundations. Levels 44 to 46 contains refuge that can fit up to over 800 people in an event of a fire/emergency.

At 182 metres, is Sky Lounge Cafe and Bar on Level 50. A place to have coffee, cocktails and cafe food while enjoying the view.

Main Observation Level is at Level 51 at 186 metres. It is a public viewing deck which includes glass floors.

At Level 52, there is Orbit Revolving Restaurant at 190 metres. It is New Zealand's only revolving restaurant that provides great view while having a la carte lunch/dinner.

Level 53 was the outdoor viewing deck when the Sky Tower first opened. It was later changed to Observatory Seafood Buffet Restaurant which went on until 2013. It was renovated and changed to The Sugar Club led by Kiwi celebrity chef Peter Gordon. Unlike Orbit, The Sugar Club is a fine dining restaurant offering degustation dishes. At the height of 192 metres, it is also the floor used for SkyJump and SkyWalk. SkyJump is a controlled fall from 192 metres to the ground at rapid speed. Skywalk is a walk around the outer rim of the tower wearing a harness.

At 220 metres is the Skydeck located on Level 60. It gives a great 360 view of Auckland with frameless windows.

The Sky Tower also includes a 108 metre antenna which is used for broadcasting and communications. It is only the tallest structure in the Southern Hemisphere because of the long antenna as Sydney Tower's observation deck is at 250 to 270 metres. The highest observation deck in the Southern Hemisphere is the Eureka Skydeck at 285 metres. As the Sky Tower's observation decks are low, it stands no chance is Australian cities (except Adelaide and Darwin) as they all have skyscrapers as tall as 250 to 300 metres.

Able to withstand intense earthquakes and high winds, it also has coloured lights to showcase celebration at night. During Lantern Festivals and New Years, thousands gather for the tower to unleash fireworks.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Ending dictators mean a happy future?

When ruthless dictators rule with oppression and bloodshed, many would think that getting rid of them would make the nation a better place. Is it really?

Libya was once ruled by Muammar Gaddafi, a ruthless oppressive dictator. He had plenty of blood on his hands and was responsible for the Lockerbie Bombing that killed 270 people. During his rule, he survived the sanctions by selling and exporting oil. Cities like Tripoli and Benghazi were thriving cities. When Gaddafi was overthrown and killed, the country was in a messy civil war with rival factions battling the weak central government. The fighting left Libya in ruins with thousands flocking to the Libya-Tunisia border with the fear that the conflict will spill over onto Tunisia.

Iraq was once ruled by Saddam Hussein, another ruthless oppressive dictator. He had conflicts with Iran, Kuwait and the Kurdish people. He was responsible for using chemical weapons that killed over 5000 people. Before the Gulf War, Iraq was a thriving nation and was renowned for it's culture, literature, music and history. After Hussein was overthrown and captured, the nation was left with a weak central government that suffered humiliating defeats from ISIS rebels, ISIS was a terrorist organisation that came out from the middle of nowhere and gained so much ground almost reaching Baghdad. The nation is still in ruins with vicious fighting still ongoing.

One thing that the Communist Chinese Government can learn is that if the single party government collapsed, there would be a power vacuum with the country divided and factions emerging. Having territorial disputes with Japan, Philippines and Vietnam, the Chinese Government is playing it very carefully because if they suffer defeat, the people will turn against them and it will take almost two centuries for Chinese Civilization to ever recover from such downfall.

If democratic nations like Japan or Philippines suffer defeats in war, there would not be such big problems as the Government will be replaced by the Opposition Party.

This is not to say democracy is bad and dictatorship is good. Democracy is great as it gives the people a voice in deciding their next leader. When the United States is trying to forcibly promote democracy to countries ruled by dictators, are these nations ready to have a democracy? Do they have a foundation set up and is there a long term stable plan for the future?

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Beauty of alcohol

From Sunday to Thursday, Auckland city is peaceful and civilized. On Friday and Saturday nights, the city opened it's nightclubs and the streets are filled with drunken people. Over drinking and vomiting are seen on the city streets especially when people bring their own alcoholic drinks. Dropped and smash bottles unleash the unholy smell of alcohol.

The alcohol problem doesn't end there. The problem also landed on public transport. The Northern Express (NEX) is a bus service from Albany to Britomart running a frequent service. It has been a Friday/Saturday night trend where people drink on the bus while heading to the city. Treating it as a predrink before hitting the clubs, it is clear that people get intoxicated before the bus arrives at Britomart. When the bus arrives at Britomart, the bus is filled with smashed and dropped alcoholic bottles/cans rolling around the bus. They are mainly RTD (Ready to drink). The bus sometimes is also filled with vomit from an intoxicated person. People taking the NEX back to North Shore end up waiting for the bus driver to quickly clean up the mess. They also walk into a disaster zone which required specialist clean up due to spilled alcohol and vomit.

Friday, 13 June 2014

The Flagellation by Piero Della Francesca

"The Flagellation" shows perspective using orthogonal lines on the tile lines. The lines are also shown on the rail and roof on the red building and the ceiling structures that Christ is standing under. Francesca had clearly used Alberti's Theory of Perspective. The artwork shows Jesus getting flogged with Pontius Pilate deciding on Jesus' fate. The artwork involved mathematical ratios (7:10) and the geometrical construction. It mathematically calculated to give accurate grid space. This help make it naturalistic and accurate. The vanishing point was not plotted on Jesus, the important/sacred figure but placed on a pillar left of Jesus. This was to achieve visual harmony and unity.The low viewpoint also emphasizes the two scenes. The golden section draws attention to the two different scenes. The vanishing point also creates a low viewpoint since it was placed below the hips and the pillars can be seen overlapping each other. The low viewpoint also accentuate the two scenes. There is also naturalistic light seen from the sky and this achieved space and depth. The light also highlights the figures in a cylindrical form. The vanishing point and pillar (golden section) separates the two groups. The vanishing point also draws the viewer to the back of the picture plan. Foreshortening is the minimal except for the arms and feet. The 3D manner was contributed by the fall of the drapery. The golden section 1/3 - 2/3 drew attention to the two different scenes. Francesca used Alberti's floor tiling design but in a more complex way. Christ is also seen gazing at the vanishing point as his head is linked with the orthogonals. 

Thursday, 15 May 2014

The Tories are falling

All around the world, Conservative parties have gained great ground but has the time of downfall about to come again?

In Canada, the Conservatives had a majority which was lost in 1993 Federal Election losing 154 seats. It never recovered until the 2006 Federal Election led by Stephen Harper with a minority government. It later had a majority in the 2011 Election. The 2015 Federal Election looked tight as polls showed that it was either Conservative or Liberal despite the New Democratic Party enjoying the Official Opposition. The Conservatives successfully launched a devastating campaign which threw the Liberals out of Official Opposition but it's latest campaign to keep the Liberals at bay did not work according to polls. 

In the United States, the Conservative Republicans were successful during the 80s with Ronald Reagan and again in 2000 with George W Bush. There were chances that the Republicans could throw make Obama a one term president. This made Mitt Romney overconfident to the point where he never wrote a concession speech. The Republicans lost the 2012 Presidential Election but they still believed that they have a good chance in 2016 after Barack Obama finishes his second term as President. 

New Zealand  swung to the right with John Key's National Party sweeping to power ending Helen Clark's nine years in office. Key did face challenges like pulling the country out of the recession, dealing with the Christchurch earthquake and asset sales. He won the 2011 General Election with Labour's result going down. Heading to the 2014 General Election, the polls were tight with the possibility of a Labour - Green Government after the election. This was due to National's partners in crisis giving Opposition parties an advantage. The 2014 budget showed a surplus giving National a boost for the 2014 election. 

Australia was completely controlled by Labor towards 2007 but was later retaken by the conservative Liberal/National Coalition. Since taking over eastern states, the State Coalition parties were in a tough fight with polls favouring Labor. In Western Australia, The Liberals managed to hold on to power along with extra seats. The Liberals were about to control every state but failed in South Australia despite having a higher share of votes. Labor retained power in South Australia with the support of the independents who had the balance of power. This happened in the 2010 Federal Election when the Julia Gillard's Labor returned to government with support of the crossbenchers. After the 2013 Federal Election, the polls were tipping towards Labor indicating that if an election were to be held tomorrow, Labor might win. 

The United Kingdom was controlled by New Labour during Tony Blair's time in office. The Conservatives lost their majority in a massive defeat in the 1997 General Election. After three General Elections, David Cameron was very close to winning the 2010 General Election but was short of a majority. It was possible to govern as a minority government but due to the crisis in Europe, the tough measures would not have been able to pass in order to protect the UK from a financial catastrophe. Both Labour and Conservatives knew of this and wanted to form a coalition with the Liberal Democrats. The Conservatives successfully formed a stable coalition with the Liberal Democrats in order to be in government and avoid an anti Tory majority in parliament. Over the years of the Coalition Government, Cameron went through tough times with polls showing that if an election were to be held tomorrow, Ed Miliband will win an outright majority. Cameron aimed to win a majority for the next election and was keen to avoid putting the Tories back to the old days of Opposition. The Conservatives in Scotland had little popularity with only one Westminister seat and the Scots choosing left wing parties like Labour and the Scottish National Party. There were speculation that the Scottish Conservatives might rise if Scotland voted for independence. 

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

The Last Supper

The Last Supper painted by Leonardo Da Vinci is a famous painting which has been in the spotlight as American author Dan Brown showed different views of the painting instead of the traditional views. It was explained in his book "The Da Vinci Code".

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Melbourne Memories #2

Eureka Skydeck

Standing at 297 metres, the Eureka Tower is not only an apartment building but also Melbourne's tallest building. The Skydeck is located on the 88th floor at 285 metres which is the highest observation deck in the Southern Hemisphere. It provides a 360 degree view of Melbourne and has a caged outdoor viewing deck called "The Terrace". It also provides "The Edge" experience for an extra cost which is an extending box to allow guests to look down. "The Edge" has special windows that can blind and unblind windows to give the surprise feeling for visitors. It is also fitted with Key Landmark Viewfinders to easily locate and identify Melbourne landmarks. To prevent conflict with the apartment tenants, a special lift takes guests up to the Skydeck at the speed of 9 Metres Per Second. A helicopter experience is also available for guests wanting a helicopter tour around Melbourne. 

Eureka 89 is a restaurant located on the 89th floor giving guests a great view while enjoying a meal. 

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Is welfare a trap?

If you're unemployed, you get benefits from Inland Revenue/Centrelink. If you need money to study, you're given student loan and allowances. If you injured yourself, you get ACC compensation. If you're old or a veteran, you get pension.

Living in the west is a golden privilege and honor while in other nations; it's every citizen for him/herself. Of course it's good that the government helps it people but what are the costs?

As the population rises, the bills go up and the government is forced to pay more. It comes to the point where the government is broke and needs to borrow money to keep the flow going. Borrowing money meant increasing debt like the US with almost $17 trillion of debt. The government borrows to the point where lenders will eventually stop and the government is forced to pay back. When a government tries to pay back it's debt, they have to cut spending and this will result in riots, protests and lose the next election. This is because people are stuck in a routine of getting government help and are happy if the help suddenly stopped. This is why welfare is a trap. As a result, politicians (so called educated people who are meant to look after the interests of the people) realize that the only way they could win the election is to make promises they cannot keep.

One good example would be Greece which had over half a trillion dollars of debt. It made austerity measures to repay the debt at the cost of riots and snap elections. In New Zealand, Prime Minister John Key pushed for a budget surplus in order to start repaying the debt at the cost of cutting jobs like hospital kitchen staff and selling state assets. This resulted in unhappy responses accusing Key of selling the nation to foreigners as a result of state assets sale. He worriedly faces a prospect of losing the 2014 General Election with the opposition ahead in the polls. In the UK, Prime Minister David Cameron created an austerity budget but the spending kept going up. Opinion polls stated that he might lose the 2015 General Election.

So would you make painful austerity measures to make the nation debt free and leave the next generation a better future OR keep borrowing money and helping people leaving a huge debt and make the next generation pay the ultimate price? Of course, no matter what political party is in power; the same problems and issues will continue as this world will remain divided and will never be perfect.