Home' Greymouth Star : January 30th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Friday, January 30, 2015
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uLetters to the editor
1606 - Sir Everard Digby, Thomas Winter,
John Grant and Thomas Bates, conspirators
in the Gunpowder Plot to blow up the British
Houses of Parliament, are executed.
1649 - Britain’s King Charles I is beheaded.
1917 - First jazz record is cut in the US.
1933 - Adolf Hitler is named
1943 - Soviets destroy German
army southwest of Stalingrad in
World War Two.
1948 - Mahatma Gandhi is
assassinated by a Hindu nationalist
in New Delhi.
1972 - Thirteen civil rights marchers are shot
to death by British soldiers in Northern Ireland
on what became known as Bloody Sunday.
1973 - In the US, Gordon Liddy and James
McCord are convicted of burglary, wire-tapping
and attempted bugging of the Democratic
headquarters at the Watergate building.
2013 - Singer Patty Andrews, last sur viving
member of the Andrews Sisters, dies in L os
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Franklin D Roosevelt, US president (1882-
1945); Dorothy Malone, US actress
(1925-); Olof Palme, Swedish
prime minister (1927-1986); Gene
Hackman, US actor (1930-);
Vanessa Redgrave, English actress
(1937-); Dick Cheney, former
US vice-president (1941-); Phil
Collins, English pop singer (1951-);
Christian Bale, British-born actor (1974-).
“It is the tragedy of the world that no one
knows what he doesn’t know — and the less a
man knows, the more sure he is that he knows
— Joyce Cary, English author (1888-1957).
“So God created humankind in His image, in
the image of God He created them; male and
female He created them... God saw everything
that He had made, and indeed, it was very
good.” — (Genesis 1:27 and 31).
Though still in the
“talking stages”, a
group, a Greymouth
doctor and a Greymouth chemist may combine
to erect premises in Albert Street between the
library and the Tip Top depot. The building
would probably be on the site or part of the
site of the old Holy Trinity Anglican Church
which was burned down on Anzac Day, 1956.
For Greymouth, the most important feature
would be, apart from the new building, the
acquisition of another chemist. The dental
organisation which is showing interest in the
project is the London Dental Institute. It has
been for some time interested in setting up a
dentist in Greymouth but has been hampered
in its plans by lack of suitable rooms.
The actual site of the proposed new building
will probably be between the present offices of
Ross and Glendinning and the Tip Top depot,
on land presently owned by the motor firm of
David Crozier Ltd.
A Greymouth-born man, Air Commodore
Alan Deere will lead Battle of Britain fighter
pilots heading the procession to St Paul’s
Cathedral at the State funeral of Sir Winston
Churchill tomorrow, the Royal Air Force
Air Commodore Deere is the officer
commanding the No 12 sector of RAF Fighter
Command. He flew Spitfires at RAF Station,
Hornchurch in 1940.
“It is probably what Churchill would have
liked,” said Air Commodore Deere, who with
12 group captains will be at the head of the
funeral procession on Saturday. “ It was always a
dissapointment to me that I never actually met
Sir Winston,” he continued.
uFood for thought
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attel chief executive
resigned this week
after a five-quarter
sales slump and three
years of flagging
sales of the company’s best-known brand,
It is, however, definitely not the end of
the Barbie phenomenon, or, at any rate, of
what Barbie stands for: An unattainable
ideal of princess-like femininity that is all
about looks, not brains. I would know — I
have a four-year-old daughter.
The Barbie sales slump has already
given rise to gloating headlines: Bye bye
Barbie, Mattel’s Barbie out of fashion
with today ’s girls, Barbie dull?, Barbie
‘frozen’ out (geddit?). Should Barbie retire,
too? Quartz wondered on learning the
Stockton news. And it stands to reason
that the impossibly-proportioned doll first
created in 1959 should finally be losing
favour with girls.
Barbie is directly descended from Lilli,
a post-war German cartoon character
(and doll, marketed to adults) known for
persuading sugar daddies to complement
her meager budget. That parentage is now
all but forgotten, but Lilli’s DNA lives on.
Barbie is a pin-up beauty. Her face and
figure have been periodically updated, but
even the latest, 2009 iteration (with 12
different face styles, ranging in colour from
moon-pale to ebony) still has impossibly
long, slim legs, a wasp-thin waist and puffy
lips. She is no feminist ideal.
And then there are all the accessories you
can buy for Barbie. In 2014, the Barbie
3-storey dream townhouse was the brand’s
best-selling product. Trailing somewhere
behind were Barbie’s various lines of
clothing, furniture, luggage, cars, and all
sorts of professional accessories.
“Perhaps what makes Barbie such a
perfect icon of late capitalist constructions
of femininity is the way in which her
persona pairs endless consumption with
the achievement of femininity and the
appearance of an appropriately gendered
body,” said a 2006 Reader in Promoting
Public Health edited by Jenny Douglas.
Like most parents this century, my wife
and I have encountered plenty of such
criticism. There is a lot of truth to it: We
would not like our younger daughter to
grow up craving clothes, handbags and
three-storey dream townhouses. Nor
would we want her to strive for that
too-perfect figure, and as for that pouty
face, I hope I never see our four-year-old
Nina wearing it. So we never bought her a
Barbie — until she asked for one.
Nina owns an iPad, and she is good at
finding entertainment for herself on
You Tube and in the Apple store. One
day she stumbled upon one of more than
20 made-for-tv animated Barbie films
(something about mermaids), and she was
hooked — she has been watching them
all. Of course she wanted the doll, too.
And rather than explain about “capitalist
constructions of femininity,” we bought
I know from talking to other parents
— a nd from the time my stepdaughter,
now 12, was growing up — that girls go
through the so-called “princess phase. ”
The name explains it all: They like to
pretend they are princesses, wear pink
dresses and glittery things, imagine they
live in a palace, ride in pretty horse-drawn
carriages and meet princes. Barbie fits
in well with the princess stage in a girl’s
development. Despite all of Mattel’s
efforts to make her modern and push her
into challenging careers, the doll inhabits a
fairy-tale world. She is a princess type.
Mattel executives clearly understand this.
On an October earnings call, Stockton
“ We know girls love the princess play
pattern. We have deep experience with it
and we’ve had great success with ourselves
in the past. Barbie, alone, has had a
number of princess-themed executions
with products, licensed merchandise and
DVDs over the last decade. So we have
some time and the number of ideas to
fill this 2016 revenue gap and we’ ll share
these ideas with you as we get closer to
their execution. ”
This year’s Barbie tv movie is called
Barbie in Princess Power. It is far from
enough, though, to close the revenue
gap Stockton mentioned — the one
that Disney will open up by moving the
production of dolls based on its 2014
animation hit, Frozen, and on their entire
princess line, away from Mattel and
to Hasbro. For Mattel, this will likely
mean a loss of about $300 million a year,
according to Stockton. A Frozen set
made by Mattel was the 10th bestselling
traditional toy in 2014.
My daughter has seen Frozen about 100
times, and she still watches it from time
to time. She also has the Frozen dolls. The
princesses, Else and Anna, look almost
exactly like the modern Barbies — in fact,
I can not tell them apart without their
clothes on. Something tells me Hasbro is
not going to change them much.
The thing about Elsa and Anna is that
they do not have the stigma associated
with Barbie and her more than 60-year-
long history. They are fresh personages out
of a fairy tale that pooh-poohs the notion
of romantic love and stresses achievement.
(They are also not as demanding as Barbie
in terms of accessories.) No wonder they
are winning out in competition with
Barbie: Conscientious parents liked them
better, and little girls in the ‘princess phase’
loved them just as much.
Mattel may have mishandled the Disney
licence (having published children’s books
in partnership with Disney, I know the
company can be an extremely demanding
partner), or Hasbro, needing growth in
the girl segment, may have offered better
terms. In any case, those would be business
The need for a princess-type ideal lives
on in three and four-year-old girls, and
Barbie — as well as a growing number
of competitors — can satisfy it. Sure, she
finds it harder and harder to compete,
but bad times can boost creativity, and I
would not write Mattel off yet. Last year,
it started plotting a major movie release
with Sony, which, if it comes to fruition,
may well breathe new life into the original
glamorous role model. And even if Mattel
squanders the Barbie magic, it will live on
in other long-legged dolls with giraffe-like
— New Zealand Herald
Barbie’s not dead!
Bletchley Park (England)
As a tourist site, Bletchley Park has been
something of a well-kept secret. That ’s
because it was a government secret as well.
But the once-classified home of Britain’s
World War Two code breakers is finally
coming out of the shadows. Though
eclipsed by attractions such as the British
Museum and Stonehenge, the museum at
Bletchley Park expects a surge in visitors
as a result of The Imitation Game, a film
about Alan Turing, a computer science
pioneer and architect of the effort to
crack Nazi Germany’s Enigma cipher. The
film starring Benedict Cumberbatch is
nominated for eight Academy Awards.
“It’s absolutely marvellous,” said Charlotte
Webb, 91, who worked at Bletchley during
the war. “Our story has been revived.”
During the war, locals just did not ask
questions about what went on at the one-
time country estate. The code breakers
sworn to secrecy just did not talk.
The site’s importance remained secret
until 1974, when wartime intelligence
officer F W Winterbotham published
The Ultra Secret about the effort to
crack codes once thought unbreakable.
It was only when documents about the
programme were declassified that Turing’s
contributions became widely known.
His personal story ended tragically.
Convicted in 1952 on a charge of “gross
indecency” stemming from his relationship
with another man, Turing was stripped of
his security clearance and forced to take
estrogen to neutralise his sex drive. He
took his own life in 1954 at age 41.
Turing was pardoned by Queen
Elizabeth II in 2013.
The museum opened in 1994 after
historians banded together to prevent it
being bulldozed to build a supermarket.
An multi-million pound renovation
programme completed last year made it
possible to see the site as it was during the
war — sparking a visit by the former Kate
Middleton, the D uchess of Cambridge,
whose grandmother — and grandmother’s
twin sister — worked at Bletchley during
For most tourists, however, Bletchley
Park has remained something of an enigma
itself. About 148,000 people visited the
site in 2013, compared with 6.7 million for
the British Museum and 1.24 million for
Bletchley ’s visitor count jumped almost
30% last year following the broadcast of
The Bletchley Circle, a tv series broadcast
on PBS in the United States about female
code breakers who investigate crime.
Katherine Lynch, Bletchley’s
spokeswoman, expects visitors to increase
with the Oscar-nominated film’s success,
particularly because the museum is less
than an hour from London. The train
station is literally across the road.
To capitalise on this, the museum has
mounted an exhibition celebrating the
film. It includes a sports coat worn by
Cumberbatch, the bar used in a party scene
and the film’s replica of Turing’s prototype
Bombe machine, developed to help decode
Also nearby is the National Museum
of Computing. The museum, which has
a separate entrance fee, picks up where
The Imitation Game ends, linking the
ultra-secret efforts of the 1940s to the
mainframes of the 1960s and the rise of
personal computing in the 1980s.
It includes a functioning model of
Colossus, the world’s first electronic
computer, which helped decipher messages
between Hitler and his generals.
The Imitation Game introduces Bletchley
Park to Cumberbatch fans, computer
geeks and war buffs, said Michael Smith, a
museum trustee and author of The Debs of
Bletchley Park and Other Stories.
Although he has some quibbles about the
details of the film, Smith said he hoped
moviegoers who were entertained would
be inspired to visit and find out about the
“They will do the learning there,” he said.
The museum seeks to transport patrons
back to the years when Turing and his
colleagues worked around the clock to
hasten the end of the war.
Inside the code
the midday sun
Ruffled pads of paper
stamped with the
British crown await
a scribbling pencil.
Sweaters are draped
over chairs as if one of
the workers, many of
them members of the
Women’s Royal Naval
Ser vice or “Wrens”,
had just gone for
Visitors can see
complete with the
coffee cup chained
to a radiator and
poster of Winston
Churchill urging his
country: “Let us go
forward together.” The
furnishings are not
originals — they would be behind glass
cases other wise. But somehow the lack of
ropes or glass to hold visitors back makes
it more intimate and personal — as if the
war ended and things were frozen in
On the lawn, loudspeakers re-create the
roar of a dispatch motorbike and the drone
of a Spitfire overhead. The sounds illustrate
the backdrop of bustle and tension faced by
the 8500 people who worked at Bletchley
Park, and the 2000 others at surrounding
For a moment, it is possible to pretend. It
is 1940. Britain is at war. Churchill is the
prime minister. Much is at stake.
“ You aren’t just at a museum about
something, you are where it happened,”
Lynch said. “ We hope you step back into
the 1940s.” — AP
Movie revives interest in Bletchley Park
A Colossus Mark 2 computer being operated by two women during World War Two at Bletchley Park.
Bletchley Park, home to Britain’s World War Two code breakers.
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