Sesame Street turns 40


We didn’t have a television set when Sesame Street was launched, 40 years ago yesterday, and my first memory in relation to it wasn’t of the show itself but playing the flax to its theme tune Mahnahmahnah.

Playing the flax?

We were flatting at 359 Leith Street in Dunedin which was diagonally opposite the older university buildings on the corner of St David Street.

Several flax bushes grew in the gardens and coming home one night we discovered that when they were wet we could make wonderful squeaky notes by holding the leaves between your thumb and fingers and sliding them up and down.

And the best song to play on the flax was:

Other YouTube videos of Sesame Street, including some marking its 40th birthday, are here.

UPDATE: – there will be an answer to the question of why I’ve posted a Muppet Show video and discussed it’s theme tune when it’s Sesame Street’s anniversary . . .

Boulder to Birmingham


Rob’s comments took me back more than 30 years to Dundas Street Dunedin where the girlfriend of one my flatmates introduced me to Emmylou Harris.

I still have an LP on which she sings this song. (That’s a long playing record for anyone who doesn’t know there was something before CDs).

Sports Talk


Friday already, where did the week go?

* Why do they do the tour of Southland in November when the weather is almost always awful?

* Only a few thousand tickets sold for tomorrow’s NPC final. Southland has shown what enthusiasm looks like but there’s not much of it elsewhere.

Spot the difference # 2


Hone Harawira went walk about with his wife instead of attending a meeting during a parliamentary trip to Brussels, lied about it, couldn’t see anything wrong in it and has now sent an abusive email about it.

Neither the foul language nor the racist attitude are appropriate for an MP.

Rodney Hide used his parliamentary services’ funding for his partner’s airfares on an overseas trip which included a visit to a theme park and a wedding between business appointments.

There is a big difference between missing an official meeting which is part of the reason for a trip to do something else and fitting in personal visits around the business which is the purpose of the trip.

But I don’t understand why why, when he made his reputation as a perk buster, he bothered to use his perk for his partner. 

A business class airfare is a lot of money for most people. But it shouldn’t be for someone with his political views, high regard for personal responsibility and well above average income.

Too much safety creates victims


A lollipop man in Scotland had his lollipop stick confiscated because it was covered in illegal stickers and was a safety issue.

The 69-year-old who is working his notice after being ordered to stop giving children sweets and ‘high-fives’ as they cross the road was stunned to have his stick removed by a council official yesterday.

The reason given was that it had been covered in “illegal” stickers from pupils – one reading “Give us five” in support of his fight and was therefore a safety issue.

Elsewhere in Britain health and safety requirements prevent bank staff from helping a wheelchair bound customer.

As her local NatWest branch has no wheelchair access, two staff had been helping lift her manual chair up from the street into the bank during her weekly visits.

But last month NatWest’s head office banned workers from helping her up the steps claiming it could breach health and safety rules or cause an accident.

She now has to wait for a member of staff to become available and conduct her private banking in public on the street leaving her feeling ”ashamed and humiliated”.

I can see the potential for problems if the staff injured themselves or the customer while helping her. But life’s fatal and sometimes the benefits of taking a small risk are worth it.

I was at an agribusiness discussion group meeting on leadership yesterday. One of the messages we were given was that ownership, accountability and responsibility makes us victors. Blame, excuses and denial make us victims.

In the not too distant past the banks staff and the customer would have accepted responsibility for their actions. Now the employer has to have rules in case the bank gets blamed for an accident and the customer becomes a victim.

These examples of how too much safety creates victims come from the Adam Smith Institute’s newsletter.

Spot the difference


John Key welcomes no pay rise decision.

Bus drivers snub $500 olive branch and what amounts to a 12% pay rise.

Obviously there is a big difference to the current pay rates of MPs and bus drivers.

But whatever the starting sum is, a 12% pay rise in the current economic situation appears to be generous.

There comes a time when continuing to turn down an offer starts costing more than the eventual pay rise is worth. If the dispute between bus drivers and NZ Bus isn’t settled soon the workers will find they’re costing themselves money.

Update: Adolf has pointed ou in a comment that the 12% as over three years which is less than 4% but the $500 adds 1.3% upfront.

That’s not nearly as generous as I first thought but it is still above the inflation rate and that plus a $500 bird in the hand may be better than the unknown number of birds still in the bush.

Once is a mistake, twice is a blunder


All Black coach Charlie Saxton was giving a team talk and said, “Anyone can make a mistake. I don’t mind mistakes. But if you make the same mistake twice that’s a blunder and I really hate blunders.”

Hone Harawira went walk about when he was on a parliamentary tour to Australia a couple of years ago. That was a mistake and he had to refund some of the public money which had paid for his trip.

He went walk about again while on another parliamentary trip this year, skipping a meeting in Brussels to take his wife to Paris.

That was a blunder and then he lied about it.

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia says that one of the party’s MPs, Hone Harawira, told her he was sick on an official trip to Europe, when in fact he wanted to get away and visit Paris.

Mr Harawira has admitted he skipped an official engagement at the European Parliament in Brussels last month in order to go sightseeing in the French capital with his wife Hilda.

Unrepentant about his action, he says only “boring” people would deny someone an opportunity to see Paris.

Ms Turia says Mr Harawira wasn’t straight with her at the time. The worry now, she says, is that the party will be questioned about whether it can guarantee that this could never happen again – and it can’t.

If an employee in a private company went walk about twice while overseas on business then lied about it s/he’d be sacked.

Harawira is an electorate MP so only the voters can sack him. But he has only himself to blame if the Maori Party decide it can’t trust him not to make another blunder.

November 6 in history


On November 6:

1528  Shipwrecked Spanish conquistador Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca became the first known European to set foot in Texas.

1851  Charles Dow, American journalist and economist, was born.

Charles Henry Dow.jpg 

1856  The first work of fiction by George Eliot was submitted for publication.

1861  James Naismith, Canadian inventor of basketball, was born.

1893  Edsel Ford, president of Ford Motor Company, was born.


1908 Prime Minister Sir Joseph Ward ceremonially opened the North Island main trunk railway line by driving home a final polished silver spike at Manganuioteao, between National Park and Ohakune.

1913  Mohandas Gandhi was arrested while leading a march of Indian miners in South Africa.

1917 Third Battle of Ypres ended: After three months of fierce fighting, Canadian forces took Passchendaele in Belgium.

Australian gunners in Château Wood near Hooge, 29 October 1917.

1918 The Second Polish Republic was proclaimed.

Flag Coat of arms

 1935 First flight of the Hawker Hurricane.

1944  Plutonium was first produced at the Hanford Atomic Facility.

Light-gray standing cylinder. Its top slice has been cut off and slightly shifted aside exposing a darker inside

 1946  Sally Field, American actress, was born.

1947  George Young, Australian musician fromAC/DC, was born.

1949 Nigel Havers, English actor, was born.

1962 The United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution condemning South Africa’s racist apartheid policies and called for all UN member states to cease military and economic relations with the nation.

1970  Ethan Hawke, American actor, was born.

A caucasian male with dark slick hair, wearing a two-piece grey suit, with a white shirt and black tie.

1975  Green March began: 300,000 unarmed Moroccans converged on the southern city of Tarfaya and waited for a signal from King Hassan II of Morocco to cross into Western Sahara.


A 100 dirham note from 1991 commemorating the Green March.
 Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

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