Did you see the one about . . .


The science news cycle at Anti-Dismal

Office of devil’s advocacy 2 at Stephen Franks

Risky Behaviour at Frenemy

Weight Watchers and the historical astrocities argument  at M&M

The Office  at No Minister

Careful with the paradox of thrift at The Visible Hand in Economics

Apostrophe errors undermine credibility  at Bill Bennettnz (hat tip rivettingKate Taylor)

And a new (to me) blog: This New Zealand Life

Cordero pequeño


New Zealand lambs are usually killed at three to six months.

In Spain they’re only a few weeks old, so small it takes a leg to make a meal for one.


This one was cooked over a fire at our favourite cafe in Vejer de la Frontera, La Brasa de Sancho,  served simply with rice and baked potato and it was delicious.

Tanning our hides


Among the signs advertising beauty treatments in Singapore was one promising to lighten skins.

That struck me as strange, but perhaps people from there regard our desire to gain a tan as just as peculiar.

In spite of years of warning and repeated exhortations to slip, slop and slap, a tanned skin is stil regarded as more attractive than a pale and pasty one.

My generation spent most of its childhood outdoors. Summer Sundays at the river always finished with the application of Q-tol, that pink, sharp smelling liquid which I don’t think is available any more, which took the sting out of sun burn.

When I was a student I spent two summers as a pool attendant in Taupo, wandering round with as little on as was decent and only after my nose blistered did I start applying sun screen.

I’ve paid for it since with a couple of  skin cancers. They were basal cell carcinomas, which don’t usually spread and were spotted by my GP and removed and in the wake of that I am much more careful about limiting sun exposure.

The need to do this doesn’t just apply to Pakeha, there’s been a 90% increase in the incidence of melanoma in Maori.

Macdoctor has a theory as to why.

Should the taxpayer fund political parties?


David Farrar has given his usual intelligent and considered response to Labour’s submission on electoral finance at Kiwiblog.

The only thing I want to add is a very loud no to Labour’s self-serving and unprincipled suggestion that the taxpayer should fund poltical parties.

We have a very low hurdle for registration as a political party – just 500 members. The idea that any other organisation with as few members as that and as little accountability as most poltical parties have would get taxpayer funding as of right would never be countenanced and there is no reason why political parties should be treated differently.

Democracy is supposed to be of the people, for the people by the people not of a party, by the taxpayer for a few political groupies.

The Orange Man puts it succinctly at No Minister.

A little learning . . .


 . . . isn’t nearly enough when it comes to a foreign language.

My first attempts at learning Spanish were by correspondence. I had no trouble understanding the lessons but instead of doing a little each day I tended to do a fortnight’s work at a single sitting and then forgot everything I’d taken in by the next time I went back to it.

Studying at Otago University was more successful but learning the theory gives you skills in the opposite way from which you acquire them by total immersion. If you learn a language by living it you learn as children do, to understand what you hear first, then to speak and later to read and write. Learning it formally, reading and writing  usually come first then speaking and finally listening comprehension follows.

Three months total immersion at language school in Spain did more for my language skills than three years at university could have, but that was four years ago. Teaching night classes has helped me retain the basics but I’m very rusty with anything more advanced.

 That’s one of the reasons we’re back in Vejer de la Frontera where I’m spending mornings at La Janda language school.

It attracts students from all over the world and while we learn the  language we also learn about the Spanish culture and a little about the countries and cultures of our fellow students.

Es una experiencia muy especial, y día por día, poco por poco,  estoy aprendiendo más.  (It’s a special experience and day by day, little by little I’m learning more).

July 9 in histroy


On July 9:

1816 Argentina declared its independence from Spain.

1937 English artist David Hockney  was born.

We Two Boys Together Clinging (1961)

1964 US singer Courtney Love was born.

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