God Only Knows

December 21, 2009

Carl Wilson would have been 63 today.


Monday’s quiz

December 21, 2009

1.  Who wrote “Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house/ Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse . . .?

2. Who said, about Christmas, “Bah! Humbug!”?

3. What is Peraxilla colensoi?

4. What is a Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae?

5. What was the origin of Boxing Day?


If the three wise men had been three wise women . . .

December 21, 2009

. . . they would have arrived in time to help with the birth, cleaned the stable, brought food and useful gifts; and there’d now be peace on earth.

That’s how the joke goes.

Three Wise Women, written by Mary Hoffman and illustrated by Lynne Russell, takes a less tongue in cheek view of that idea.

It’s a lovely story, beautifully illustrated and helps the reader look at the nativity story with fresh eyes.

The book is published by Frances Lincoln.


What’s wrong with choice?

December 21, 2009

National campaigned on giving workers the choice of taking their fourth week of holidays or taking the money instead.

Following recommendations from a ministerial review group, Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson has announced that this will be possible from next year.

Unions aren’t happy, employers are and I suspect most workers will be grateful to have a choice too.

Those for whom more time off is important will keep the fourth week’s holiday, others who would prefer more money will be able to take it.

Four weeks leave plus 11 statutory days off is more than some people want.

It’s also more than some can afford. The fourth weeks holiday resulted in lots of people having staycations – staying at home because they didn’t have money to spare for going away.

Since the fourth week of holiday was introduced more firms have been closing for longer at Christmas so most staff had three weeks off then. They did this because having several individual staff members off for more than a week throughout the year caused too much disruption and put to much strain on those still at work.

Opponents are painting the change as a threat to workers. It’s not, it’s an opportunity for choice.


Green beats brown

December 21, 2009

The ability of Israelis to irrigate and then cultivate the desert is often lauded.

Opinions on irrigation here are not always so positive even though the world’s population is outgrowing feed supplies.

There are environmental benefits from irrigation including less soil erosion and it can enhance the view.

Compare this:

with this which has an irrigated paddock in the background:

and this irrigated paddock of wheat:

The irrigated paddocks are obviously more productive than the dry land and, in my eyes the green is far more attractive than the brown.

The photos were all taken on the outskirts of Omarama. It’s land and landscapes like this which are the subject of resource consent applications for large scale dairying in the Mackenzie Basin.

I am supportive of the applications to irrigate this sort of country. But growing crops like wheat have much less an impact on soils and water than dairying would.


December 21 in history

December 21, 2009

On December 21:

1118  Thomas Becket, Lord Chancellor of England and Archbishop of Canterbury was born.

1598  Battle of Curalaba: The revolting Mapuche, led by cacique Pelentaru, inflicted a major defeat on Spanish troops in southern Chile.

1620 William Bradford and the Mayflower Pilgrims landed on what is now known as Plymouth Rock in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

 The Landing of the Pilgrims., by Henry A. Bacon, 1877

1682 Calico Jack Rackham, English pirate, was born.

Rackham,Jack.JPG

1804  Benjamin Disraeli, 1st Earl of Beaconsfield, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, was born.

 

1815  Thomas Couture French painter and teacher, was born.

1843 Thomas Bracken, Irish-born New Zealand, was born.

1844 – The Rochdale Pioneers commenced business at their cooperative in Rochdale, England, starting the Cooperative movement.

1861  Medal of Honor: Public Resolution 82, containing a provision for a Navy Medal of Valor, was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln.

1872  HMS Challenger, commanded by Captain George Nares, sailed from Portsmouth.

HMS Challenger Painting of Challenger by William Frederick Mitchell

1883 The first Permanent Force cavalry and infantry regiments of the Canadian Army were formed: The Royal Canadian Dragoons and The Royal Canadian Regiment.

RCD cap badge.jpg Royalcanadianregt.jpg

1892  Rebecca West, British writer, was born.

Portrait of Rebecca West

1905  Anthony Powell, British author, was born.

1913 Arthur Wynne‘s “word-cross”, the first crossword puzzle, was published in the New York World.

1917  Heinrich Böll, German writer and Nobel laureate, was born.

1937 – Jane Fonda, American actress, was born.

1937  Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the first full-length animated film, premiered at the Carthay Circle Theater.

1946 Carl Wilson, American musician (The Beach Boys), was born.

1958 Charles de Gaulle was elected President of France when his Union des Démocrates pour la République party gained 78.5% of the vote.

  • 1962Rondane National Park was established as Norway‘s first national park.
  • 1964 More than 170 years of New Zealand whaling history came to a close when J. A. Perano and Company caught its last whale off the coast near Kaikoura.

    NZ whalers harpoon their last victim

    1967  Louis Washkansky, the first man to undergo a heart transplant, died 18 days after the transplant.

    1968 Apollo 8, the first manned mission to the moon, was launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. At 2h:50m:37s Mission elapsed time (MES), the crew performed the first ever manned Trans Lunar Injection and became the first humans to leave Earth’s gravity.

    Apollo-8-patch.png

    1971 New Zealand Railways (NZR) launched a new tourist-oriented steam passenger venture, the Kingston Flyer.

    Full steam ahead for Kingston Flyer

    1979 Lancaster House Agreement: An independence agreement for Rhodesia was signed in London by Lord Carrington, Sir Ian Gilmour, Robert Mugabe, Joshua Nkomo, Bishop Abel Muzorewa and S.C. Mundawarara.

     Bishop Abel Muzorewa signing the Lancaster House Agreement seated next to British Foreign Secretary Lord Carrington.

    1988  A bomb exploded on board Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland, killing 270.

     Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.


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