Home' Greymouth Star : December 6th 2014 Contents A
small grey box of electronic
tricks made its debut
in Japan 20 years ago,
heralding the birth of the
changed the entertainment landscape,
launching titles that now outstrip sales
from Hollywood’s biggest franchises.
The original Play Station, which hit
stores in early December 1994, brought
revolutionary graphics, engrossing
gameplay and the kind of complex virtual
worlds that had only previously been
available in an arcade.
“ When we arrived, the video game
was seen as a niche hobby. One of our
achievements is to have succeeded in
making a legitimate cultural object,
like music or cinema,” Jim Ryan,
chief executive of Sony Computer
Entertainment Europe, said.
The launch was Sony’s first foray into
computer games and pitted the company
against the established giant of the sector,
Nintendo, whose character-driven two-
dimensional offerings like Super Mario
had wowed children.
Unlike the 16-bit cartridges
that powered the Super Nintendo
Entertainment System (SNES), Sony ’s
PlayStation opted for cheap-to-produce
CD-ROMs, a technology that allowed
vast tracts of data to be stored.
The discs’ convenience and powerful
graphics in the original 32-bit machines
lured game developers and players into a
world where, suddenly, 3D was in reach.
It was not just the insides of the
machines that Sony had re-imagined; they
shunned the plain rectangle controllers
of the SNES in favour of an ergonomic
device that sat neatly in a player’s hands.
Titles such as Tomb Raider, Gran
Turismo and Final Fantasy spurred
console sales and launched what became
multi-billion dollar franchises with legions
of loyal fans.
Global blockbusters like Grand Theft
Auto joined the Play Station world, as well
as other platforms. The latest instalment
took a billion dollars in its first three days
of sales, putting even huge cinematic hits
in the shade.
In March 2000, Play Station 2 burst
onto the market, leveraging the mega-
capacity of DVDs before the format was
The trademark controller remained, but
with additional features like vibrations and
a sleek new design featuring a black tower
with clean lines that had the grace of a
The company shifted around 150 million
units worldwide, and the PS2 remains the
best-selling console of all time.
Although addicts got a handheld PSP in
2004, it would be another six years until
the main console got an update with the
PS3, a blu-ray equipped and internet-
ready device that allowed gamers in
different continents to play against each
Where gaming had once been largely
a solitary activity or done among friends
close to home, there was now a global
community of like-minded players.
Acolytes had to wait until 2013 for the
PS4, an ultra-powerful machine with 4000
times the memory of the original and
processing capacity orders of an ever larger
The 13.5 million units Sony has sold
in the last year allow users to play games
straight from the cloud in a universe that
now includes compatible smartphones,
televisions and tablets.
Sony is now introducing a cable-style
television ser vice in the United States
delivered through Play Station3 and 4
consoles, called “Play Station Vue”.
The PS4 symbolises Sony ’s strategic
move for future growth, as the product
positions itself for a cloud-based future
where consoles might even disappear,
Yu Okazaki said, analyst at Nomura
“ Play Station4 is selling well. The
product shows Sony is looking at five,
10 years down the road. The number of
consoles sold and their network capacity
make it extremely promising,” Okazaki
To mark the 20th anniversary, Sony
Computer Entertainment is releasing a
special, limited edition PS4 in the original
grey, which will be offered to 12,300 fans
worldwide. — AFP
There is going to be an election in
Nigeria in mid-February, and the weird
thing is that it is not going to be all about
The Islamist terrorists are now killing
people at the rate of at least 500 a month
— two 9-11s a year, in a country with half
the population of the United States —
but most Nigerians seem to regard Boko
Haram as just one more problem, and a
fairly local one at that.
Up in the three north-eastern provinces
of the country, where Boko Haram has
now declared that it is setting up an
Islamic “caliphate” on the model of IS’s
“Islamic State” in Iraq and Syria, they do
care about terrorism. They are also now
starting to worry about it more in the rest
of the north, where Boko Haram attacked
the central mosque in Kano, the biggest
northern city, last Friday, and killed at
least 100 people.
But in the rest of the country, the
terrorist threat has not really risen to
the top of the political agenda. The
forthcoming election will not focus on
the stunning incompetence and sheer
inertia of President Goodluck Jonathan’s
government in the face of this threat.
Boko Haram’s rise to prominence
has taken place entirely on Jonathan’s
watch, and at no time has he shown
much interest in fighting it. He spoke
out strongly when Boko Haram attacked
targets in the capital, Abuja, but did
nothing. For the rest, he left the problem
to the army and to his northern allies, the
feudal emirs who still dominate politics
These traditional rulers have managed to
hang onto their power because the north’s
population is more illiterate and far
poorer than that of the southern states. In
order to justify their wealth and political
privilege, the emirs have always stressed
their traditional religious roles. So when
reformers began to criticise them from a
radical Islamic standpoint in the 1990s,
they tried to steal the radicals’ thunder by
bringing in Sharia law right across the
That did not placate the growing
Islamist opposition to the rule of the
emirs. The opposition turned violent in
2009, with Boko Haram’s first attacks, and
despite its extreme cruelty it enjoys some
support across the north among both
pious Muslims and the downtrodden.
And the army, as usual, did nothing useful.
Last Friday’s attack on the Kano central
mosque showed all these cross-currents
vividly. The building is on the main
square right next door to the palace of
the emir of Kano, Mohammed Sanusi II,
who frequently preaches in the mosque.
Naturally, he always exhorts the populace
to resist Boko Haram.
But the emir also urges people not
to depend on the army, because it is
useless. They should organise to defend
themselves, for the soldiers cannot be
trusted to protect them. “If people flee the
villages (because the army hasn’t come),”
he said, “the terrorists slaughter our male
children and abduct our girls to force
them into slavery.”
The Nigerian army is widely accused of
corruption, brutality, and even cowardice.
It rarely takes the fight to Boko Haram
directly, but it often fires on the crowds
who gather after terrorist attacks to
protest at the government ’s failure to
protect them. Nigerian army troops
did that again outside the Kano central
mosque last week, and nobody even
bothered to express their outrage. Nobody
This is how almost all of Borno state
except the capital, Maiduguri, has slipped
out of government control. So have large
parts of neighbouring Yobe and Adamawa
states, and Maiduguri itself, a city of two
million, may fall before the election.
In these circumstances, you would expect
the federal government, and especially
President Goodluck Jonathan, to be
under constant attack for having failed to
act decisively against Boko Haram, but
nothing of the sort.
When the four biggest opposition
parties united two years ago to form
the All Progressives Congress (APC),
they gave Jonathan’s ruling People’s
Democratic Party (PDP) its first
serious opposition since democracy
was established in 1999. But the APC’s
charms have faded as the election nears.
It attracted lots of prominent defectors
from the PDP at first, but those new
recruits brought their old reputation for
corruption with them.
It is this new struggle for power at
the centre, not the ugly and alarming
developments in the far north-east, that
monopolises the attention of the political
class, for the outcome of the February
election matters greatly for them. It will
decide who gets their snouts in the trough
for the next four years.
Voters’ expectation are so low that
they are not even shocked by the quite
plausible accusation that Jonathan has
failed to fight hard against Boko Haram
because the three north-eastern states
would probably vote against the PDP
in the next election. Whereas if there
is enough chaos in the north-east, the
election will be cancelled in those states.
And so the band plays on, as Nigeria
drifts towards civil war and disintegration.
Gwynne Dyer is an independent
journalist whose articles are published in
4 - Saturday, December 6, 2014
We appreciate the value of the Letters to the Editor
column as a public forum for West Coasters and
welcome your opinion and suggestions.
Letters may be submitted by post, fax or e-mail and
must include your name, address, phone number
and — except for e-mails — your signature. Noms
de plume are not accepted.
Please keep your letters honest, respectful and
within 300 words. Letter writers will generally not
be published more often than weekly. The Editor
reserves the right to edit or not publish letters,
especially those that are offensive or too long.
Post to PO Box 3, Greymouth, fax to 768 6205 or
e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
uLetters to the editor
1492 - Christopher Columbus discovers
island of Hispaniola, now divided between
Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
1534 - Spanish conquistadors establish
presence in Quito, an Inca city in the Andes.
1877 - Thomas Edison demonstrates the first
sound recording, reciting Mary
had a Little Lamb at West Orange,
1929 - Women’s suffrage begins
1938 - France and Germany
sign pact on inviolability of their
1941 - US President Franklin D Roosevelt
appeals for peace to Japan’s Emperor Hirohito
— o n e day before the Japanese attack on Pearl
Harbor. He also authorises the Manhattan
Project, which results in the creation of the
1957 - America’s first attempt at putting a
satellite into orbit blows up on the launch pad
at Cape Canaveral, Florida.
1988 - Death of Roy Orbison, one of the
greatest stars in American rock and country
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Henry VI, last Lancastrian king of England
(1421-1471); J L Gay-Lussac, French chemist
(1778-1850); Anthony Trollope, English
novelist (1815-1882); Gunnar
Myrdal, Swedish economist and
sociologist, Nobel laureate (1898-
1987); Agnes Moorehead, US
actress (1900-1974); Dave Brubeck,
US jazz pianist-composer (1920-
2012); Steven Wright, US comedian
(1955-); Peter Buck, American musician,
R.E.M (1956-); Judd Apatow, American film
director, and screenwriter (1967-); Andrew
Flintoff, English cricketer (1977-); Tim Cahill,
Australian soccer player (1979-).
“ In dreams begins responsibility.” — William
Butler Yeats, Irish Nobel Prize-winning poet
“A fool finds no pleasure in understanding
but delights in airing his own opinions.”
— Proverbs 18:2.
on when to take the
and even in the centres where it is observed,
some play and some work, there is little wonder
that the pupils of Runanga School are asking
what the holiday is all about. Pupils, in several
leters to the Greymouth Evening Star, have said
they have been asked to compile a project on
Westland ’s Anniversary Day and what it is all
The reason for the observance in some places
in Westland and the non-observance in others,
is buried in history. While Westland is the
official name for the province, the popular
name is of course, the “Coast ” or West Coast.
The name Westland was coined in 1859 and
its coining is attributed to John Rochfort — a
shortened form of “Westmoreland ” which the
early days engineer and sur veyor had used on a
By the Province of Westland Act, which
became law on December 1, 1873, Westland had
its official birth as a province of New Zealand. It
was this date upon which it was decided to settle
as the anniversary day of the province — the
holiday to be observed on the nearest Monday.
Horseless carriages (motorcars) were a novelty
in Greymouth, reported the Greymouth
Evening Star 60 years ago on Saturday,
November 3, 1904. However, “Residents would
soon get accustomed to them,” it was stated.
Greymouth’s motor vehicle numbers were
increased by three, as Mr Hamilton, returning
from England, had brought three with him. The
horseless carriages could then be seen moving
about Greymouth’s streets “quite easily.”
uFood for thought
Printed and published by the
Greymouth Evening Star Co Limited
3 Werita Street, PO Box 3, Greymouth
03 769 7900 (office)
769 7913 (editorial)
768 6205 (fax)
03 769 7913
03 755 8422
There is a very old saying: “ The rain,
it raineth every day, upon the just and
unjust fella. Mostly on the just because,
the unjust hath the just ’s umbrella.”
I’m not sure the last statement is really
true, but over the past two and a half
months it has seemed like it has rained at
some stage almost every day. Of course,
being Coasters, we try not to moan at the
rain. We find positive statements to make.
“ Without the rain we wouldn’t have
these magnificent rainforests.”
“The rain is better than the sweltering
nor-westers in Canterbury.”
“The rain gives us a good excuse to go
However, as six weeks passed I noticed
that there were fewer smiles on people’s
faces. There were less cheerful comments
at the checkout counter. The unrelenting
rain had begun to take its toll.
There seem to be two types of people
here in Greymouth. There are those who
are unaffected by the rain. They still make
cheerful comments. They laugh and smile
as often in the wet as in the fine.
Then there are those who struggle with
I think those who are more easily
affected by the rain are like the Kate
Sheppard camellia tree at Holy Trinity.
When it rains the beautiful white flowers
are easily bruised by the droplets. They
become brown spotted and disfigured.
They lose their beauty.
On the other hand the spectacular
rhododendron trees on the Coast remain
almost perfect in every deluge, wind or
storm. They are truly hardy.
How I long that my faith in God may
be like that of the rhododendron. When
adversities strike, as they do, I want to
remain strong, full of hope and able to
pray to the Lord for help.
I do not want to be a “fair weather”
Christian who cannot handle ill health,
disappointment, broken relationships,
grief or death.
As I approach Christmas I am touched
afresh by the sacrificial love of Jesus. How
I long that my life will demonstrate a
small inkling of the same.
Archdeacon Robin Kingston
Greymouth, Kumara Anglican Parish
Coping with rain
WORLD IN FOCUS
with Gwynne Dyer
shadow of terrorism
Casualties of a Boko Haram bombing at a Nigerian mosque lie in hopital.
Electric eels, those perilous predators
of South America, can unleash a potent
electrical jolt to wallop their hapless prey.
But this zap is not used merely to stun
A new study shows that the eels use it
to exert a form of remote control over
their victims, causing fish that may be
hiding to twitch, thus exposing their
location, or inducing involuntary muscle
contraction to incapacitate their prey.
“Apparently, eels invented the Taser
long before humans,” biologist Kenneth
Catania of Vanderbilt University in
Nashville, Tennessee said, who conducted
the research published yesterday in the
The study reveals precisely what an
eel’s zap does to its victim. In laboratory
experiments, Catania showed how the
electrical discharges remotely activate the
prey ’s neurons, or nerve cells, that control
While hunting, the eels periodically give
off two high-voltage pulses separated by
a 2 millisecond pause, causing a massive
involuntary twitch in nearby hidden prey,
the study found. The eels, highly sensitive
to water movements, can detect motion
caused by the twitch, learning the other
The eel then delivers a full blast of a
longer, high-voltage shock to immobilise
the prey through involuntary muscle
contraction — much like a Taser —
enabling easy capture.
“I have spent much of my career
examining extreme animal adaptations
and abilities. I have seen a lot of
interesting stuff, but the eel’s abilities
are astounding, perhaps the most
amazing thing I have ever observed,”
“After all, they can generate hundreds
of volts — that by itself is incredible. But
to use that ability to essentially reach
into another animal’s ner vous system and
activate their muscles is a pretty good
trick,” Catania added.
Electric eels, with serpentine bodies
and flattened heads, can reach lengths of
1.8 to 2.5m, prowling the Amazon and
Orinoco river basins.
They possess electric organs with
specialised cells called electrocytes that
ser ve as biological batteries and can
generate an electric discharge of up
to 600 volts to subdue prey or defend
“Although they are not known to kill
people, they are capable of incapacitating
humans, horses and obviously fish during
their electric discharge,” Catania said.
Catania said the eels also use electricity
in a third way, periodically giving off a
low-voltage pulse that seems to work as
sort of a radar system for navigating dark
and murky water. — Reuters
Electric eels — nature’s Tasers
An electric eel.
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