How to get an asteroid named after you

When I was trying to find people to comment about my asteroid story on The Wireless, I put out a call on Twitter to see if there were any amateur astronomers out there. Shaun put me in touch with this chap called Warwick Kissling who is one of a few kiwis who have asteroids named after him. Warwick’s comments didn’t quite make it into my article, but — once again — I thought it was a cool little story about NZ’s space history. Continue reading →

Space rocks and love

Space rocks! Except when space rocks rock earth. Bad things happen, like dinosaurs going extinct. Luckily, unlike the dinosaurs, we humans have a sophisticated space programme. And Bruce Willis. Here’s a cool little story I wrote for The Wireless about asteroids, impacts, and Aotearoa.

The interviews with Alan, Philip, and Jess were really interesting. As I’ve been finding with a lot of my stories for The Wireless, you could almost write a book with all the information that doesn’t make it into the final cut.

Alan Gilmore — Resident Superintendent of University of Canterbury’s Mt John Observatory, based at Lake Tekapo — shared this informative and heart warming piece of personal and NZ space history when I asked him about what got him interested in tracking Near Earth Objects (NEO).

“I got interested in this work in the 1970s when at the Carter Observatory in Wellington.  The Carter Observatory had an excellent new telescope with a 16-inch (40 cm) mirror.  It was not doing much science.  Almost no one in the southern hemisphere was measuring the positions of comets and asteroids to help calculate their orbits.  So I built a device that allowed us to move the photographic plate in the telescope to follow the moving object while the telescope was guided on a background star.  At first we measured the plates on a machine at the Physics & Engineering Laboratory (PEL) of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, in Gracefield, Lower Hutt.  (PEL became Industrial Research Limited and is now called Callaghan Innovation New Zealand.) We were much encouraged in this work by international specialists in comet and asteroids.  Soon were able to borrow from the US a machine to measure the plates on.  (The ‘we’ is Pam Kilmartin and me. Pam was an amateur astronomer — as was I originally — and qualified librarian who joined the Carter Observatory as Librarian and Information Officer.  We quickly made an observing team and married in 1974.)”

Lovers bought together by DIY skills and a fascination for NEOs. That is super cute.

Alan rounded out the interview saying he and Pam hope to build or buy some smaller but useful telescopes to allow them to do some follow-up work on NEOs at any time.

“I’d say how lucky I feel that we have been able to pursue our NEO programme for so long and through such remarkable changes of technology. That it has been a joint effort with a life’s partner has made all the more a delight.”

Once again my heart melts like a comet screaming toward the sun.

Been writing

HOLLA. I’ve been writing for The Wireless. It has been fun times.

Check out my stories on Risk, risky sex, and huffing.

Also had a lot of fun making images for the risky sex story.

ALWAYS WEAR A CONDOM

Another story will be up next week about what happens if asteroids crash into earth!

Letter to Quinovic

Quinovic said I stole a hose. It was the last straw in a two month ordeal to end lease agreement.

Continue reading →

Internet Policy in New Zealand, or, Why Kim Dotcom Needs A Figurative Slap To The Face

I unashamedly admit to being a nerd – in fact, of the names I get called on a daily basis, that one is by far the nicest. I’m also a student of politics who has no particular loyalty to any party. It’s because of these two things, Kim, that I feel an overwhelming need to grab you by those mountainous figurative shoulders and figuratively slap some literal sense in to you.

Regardless of any other motives you may have around your extradition, I have absolutely no doubt that you believe what you are doing is best for New Zealand’s internet policy. After all, a lot of the things you believe in would be wonderful for this country — for example, a competitor for the Southern Cross cable. Continue reading →

Three hundred and sixty five

Hi, my name is Jackson.

Today I’ve been sober for one year — 365 days. Continue reading →

ADF article

Here is an article Catherine McCullough and I wrote for the Australian Drug Foundation’s magazine. Continue reading →

Are Twitter DMs official information?

A few weeks ago @h_yd_n asked an interesting question on Twitter:

 

The conversation that followed led Di, Hadyn, and I to actually make a request under the Official Information Act.

We asked a pretty straight forward request to see if DMs that were run by Ministers fell under the act in the same way that email does. Our thinking was that Twitter is another communication tool that politicians are increasingly using to communicate and wanted to test (in a non-malicious and not too silly way) whether that was the case.

So here is the response we got today from the Prime Minister’s office. Note that other Ministers are yet to respond.

Twitter DM Official Information Act Request by Jackson James Wood

So what does this tell us?

Di and I think that it confirms DM’s sent by Ministers are OIAable.

In this case because

“Rt Hon John Key does not respond via this account personally, the account is managed on his behalf by staff in this office. The only DMs sent from the account are occasional responses to correspondents suggesting who they should get in touch with regarding their query.”

it does seem fair that there is no public interest in releasing the information and we’re happy to take the PM at his (and his staffs) word.

However, with Ministers like Judith Collins (@JudithCollinsMP) who do personally use their twitter account we might see something interesting.

After all, Twitter is just another way to communicate. It does make sense that “official correspondence” might take place via Twitter, it is pretty cool way to talk to people.

So, in theory, anything that isn’t covered by S9 of the OIA should be released with other ministers when they get back to us.

It will be interesting to see if any official correspondence has taken place via Twitter, this might be a world first if it has!

Our OIA also raises questions about whether Facebook messages and other ‘private’ functions on social media are covered by the act.

We know that there is a grey area between “personal” and “official” correspondence, and we wonder whether the Cabinet Manual should be updated to include rules around social media use and whether the act itself needs to be updated.

We thank the PM and Mr Eagleson for their response and we look forward to the other Ministers replying in kind with the spirit the request was intended.

Update

Will put in all the Ministers responses here.

drawmea.net

My friend Josh, AKA cakeburger, has a brother who has just started a cool website drawmea.net.

Leon does pretty much what the name on the website says. You ask him to “draw me a…” and then he does it.

I asked Leon to draw me a caricature of me. Here is the bloody awesome result.

jackson_halo Continue reading →

Buckets of Love

Here is the 48 Hour Film Festival entry and Daniel J Miles, Jasmine Koh and I put together.