Santa Lucia


Mario Lanza would have been 89 today.

If You Leave Me Now


Terry Kath would have been 64 today.

It’s about property rights


Waikato farmer Steve Meier isn’t the best advertisement for landowners in the debate with Transpower over pylons on their land.

Auckland lost power for several hours and if reports are correct, his actions may have been at least in part to blame.

But moving from the details of that farm and that farmer, to the general principle, do farmers have a point in the on-going debate with Transpower?

The Herald editorial doesn’t think so:

It is the luck of the draw that the pylons are on their land and that more will come in the planned $830m network upgrade. Like the homeowners who will be uprooted by the Waterview Connection roading project, the farmers are paying the price of living in the middle of the route to the future; unlike the homeowners, they are not entitled to compensation, which is hardly unfair, since their actual loss is minimal.

But it’s not the actual loss that’s in question. It’s property rights.

If any landowner has to put up with other people, or the state, doing or putting things on their property, it compromises their property rights, regardless of whether it’s a quarter acre section in town or several thousand acres in the country.

For everything there is a season . . .


. . . and the season for hot cross buns is not summer.

If you’re in the northern hemisphere it’s spring and if you’re in the south it’s autumn.

This has escaped the supermarkets which started selling hot cross buns last week. Maybe they were selling Easter eggs too, I didn’t bother looking.

Supermarkets have got over Christmas and New Year and are looking for something else to tempt us with. But by rushing into Easter in January they are missing the chance to tempt us with treats for Valentines, St David’s and St Patrick’s days. All of these come well before Good Friday which isn’t until April 2, this year.

Lent also comes before Good Friday. Obviously supermarkets don’t want to go there because that’s about having less, not buying more. 

Hot cross buns and Easter eggs have a lot more to do with pagen celebrationss than religious ones but whatever the reason, now’s not the time to be eating them.And rather than encouraging me, their untimely pushing of Easter food so far out of season puts me off.

Last year I vowed no hot cross bun would cross my lips until Good Friday. None did and I’m making the same one-woman protest  against unseasonal selling this year.

January 31 in history


On January 31:

1606  Guy Fawkes was executed for his plotting against Parliament.

1673 Louis de Montfort, French catholic priest and saint, was born.

1747 The first venereal diseases clinic opened at London Lock Hospital.

1797 Franz Schubert, Austrian composer, was born. 

1814 Gervasio Antonio de Posadas becomes Supreme Director of Argentina.

1849 Corn Laws were abolished in the United Kingdom (following legislation in 1846).

1862 Alvan Graham Clark discovered the white dwarf star Sirius B, a companion of Sirius, through an eighteen inch telescope at Northwestern University.


1865 Confederate General Robert E. Lee became general-in-chief.

Robert E Lee Signature.svg

1865  Henri Desgrange, Founder of the Tour-de-France, was born.

1872 Zane Grey, American Western writer, was born.

1876 The United States ordered all Native Americans to move into reservations.

1881  Anna Pavlova, Russian ballerina was born.


1884 Theodor Heuss, 1st President of Germany (Bundespräsident), was born.

1918 A series of accidental collisions on a misty Scottish night led to the loss of two Royal Navy submarines with over a hundred lives, and damage to another five British warships.

1919 The Battle of George Square took place in Glasgow.

 Mark I tanks and soldiers at the Glasgow Cattle Market in the Gallowgate

 1919  Jackie Robinson, American baseball player, and the first black player in Major League Baseball, was born.

Waist-up portrait of black batter in his mid-thirties, in Brooklyn Dodgers uniform number 42, at end of swing with bat over left shoulder, looking at where a hit ball would be

1921 New Zealand’s first regular air mail service began with a flight by the Canterbury Aviation Company from Christchurch to Ashburton and Timaru.

NZ’s first regular airmail service begins

1921 Carol Channing, American actress and singer, was born.

1921 Mario Lanza, American singer was born.

1923 Norman Mailer, American writer and journalist, was born.

 1929 The Soviet Union exiled Leon Trotsky.

1930 3M begins marketing Scotch Tape.


1938 – Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, was born.

1943 German Field Marshall Friedrich Paulus surrendered to the Soviets at Stalingrad, followed 2 days later by the remainder of his Sixth Army, ending one of World War II’s fiercest battles.

1945 US Army private Eddie Slovik was executed for desertion, the first such execution of a US soldier since the Civil War.

1946 Terry Kath, American musician (Chicago), was born.

1946 Yugoslavia‘s new constitution, modelling the Soviet Union, established six constituent republics (Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia).

1950 President Harry S. Truman announced a programme to develop the hydrogen bomb.


1951 Harry Wayne Casey, American singer and musician (KC and the Sunshine Band), was born.

1953 A North Sea flood causes over 1,800 deaths in the Netherlands.


1956 John Lydon aka Johnny Rotten, English singer (Sex Pistols, Public Image Ltd.), was born.

1958  Explorer 1 – The first successful launch of an American satellite into orbit.


1958  James Van Allen discovered the Van Allen radiation belt.

1961 Mercury-Redstone 2Ham the Chimp travelled into outer space.


1966 The Soviet Union launched the unmanned Luna 9 spacecraft as part of the Luna programme.

Luna 9

1968 – Nauru became independence from Australia.

Flag Coat of arms

1971 Apollo 14 Mission – Astronauts Alan Shepard, Stuart Roosa, and Edgar Mitchell, aboard a Saturn V, lifted off for a mission to the Fra Mauro Highlands on the Moon.

The first Saturn V, AS-501, before the launch of Apollo 4

1971 – The Winter Soldier Investigation, organised by the Vietnam Veterans Against the War to publicise war crimes and atrocities by Americans and allies in Vietnam, began in Detroit.

1990 The first McDonald’s in the Soviet Union opened in Moscow.

McDonald's Golden Arches.svg

1995 President Bill Clinton authorised a $20 billion loan to Mexico to stabilize its economy.

1996 An explosives-filled truck rams into the gates of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka in Colombo killing at least 86 and injuring 1,400.

2000 Alaska Airlines flight 261 MD-83, experiencing horizontal stabilizer problems, crashes in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Point Mugu, California, killing all 88 persons aboard.

2001 In the Netherlands a Scottish court convicts a Libyan and acquits another for their part in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 which crashed into Lockerbie in 1988.

2003 The Waterfall rail accident occured near Waterfall, New South Wales.


2009 At least 113 people are killed and over 200 injured following an oil spillage ignition in Molo, Kenya.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

In The Air Tonight


Happy birthday Phil Collins –  59 today.

Lazy Sunday


Steve Marriott would have been 63 today.

I remember dancing to this at Bible Class dances.


Saturday’s smiles


A farmer was herding some sheep along the road when he came across a foot-sore tourist sitting on the side of the road.

“How long will it take me to get to the nearest town?” the walker asked.

“Sorry, I don’t know,” the farmer replied.

“You obviously farm round here and you can’t tell me how long it will take me to get to town,” the walker said.

“Sorry, I’ve got no idea,” the farmer said.

The walker got to his feet and started limping down the road.

The farmer watched him until he was a few hundred metres away then she yelled, “It’ll be a good hour from here.”

The walker turned round and yelled back, “Two minutes ago you didn’t know how long it would take me and now it’s be a good hour, are you having me on?”

“No,” the farmer said. “It was just I didn’t know how fast you’d be walking.

This is why spud is another name for stupid


Could there be a more persausive argument against monoplies than this:

It is illegal to grow and sell a potato in Manitoba without getting permission. And it’s your potential competition who’d have to give you that permission. And if you complain, there’s no chance of getting permission.

Manitoba potato monopoly –  update   at Offestting Behaviour.

Simple but sensible


Spotted on the Lindis pass – arrows indicating which direction drivers should travel on which side.

That’s a simple but sensible approach to making roads safer when many tourists are used to driving on the other side.

January 30 in history


On January 30:

1648 Eighty Years’ War: The Treaty of Münster and Osnabrück was signed, ending the conflict between the Netherlands and Spain.

1649 King Charles I of England was beheaded.

1661 Oliver Cromwell, was ritually executed two years after his death, on the anniversary of the execution of the monarch he himself deposed.

1790  The first boat specializing as a lifeboat was tested on the River Tyne.

1806 The original Lower Trenton Bridge (also called the Trenton Makes the World Takes Bridge), which spans the Delaware River between Morrisville, Pennsylvania and Trenton, New Jersey, was opened.

1820 Edward Bransfield sighted the Trinity Peninsula and claimed the discovery of Antarctica.

 Bransfield Strait

1826 The Menai Suspension Bridge, considered the world’s first modern suspension bridge, connecting the Isle of Anglesey to the north West coast of Wales, opened.


1835 In the first assassination attempt against a President of the United States, Richard Lawrence attempted to shoot president Andrew Jackson, but failed and was subdued by a crowd, including several congressmen.

 The etching of the assassination attempt.

1841 A fire destroyed two-thirds of Mayagüez, Puerto Rico.

1847 Yerba Buena, California was renamed San Francisco.

1858 The first Hallé concert iwa given in Manchester, England, marking the official founding of the Hallé Orchestra as a full-time, professional orchestra.

1862 The first American ironclad warship, the USS Monitor was launched.

1882  Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd President of the United States, was born.

1889 – Archduke Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria, heir to the Austro-Hungarian crown, is found dead with his mistress Baroness Mary Vetsera in Mayerling.

1911 An amendment to the Gaming Act at the end of 1910 banned bookmakers from racecourses in New Zealand. Bookies were officially farewelled at the now defunct Takapuna racecourse.

Bookies banned from NZ racecourses

1911 The destroyer USS Terry (DD-25) makes the first airplane rescue at sea saving the life of James McCurdy 10 miles from Havana.

1911 – The Canadian Naval Service became the Royal Canadian Navy.

Canadian Blue Ensign 1921.svg

1913 The House of Lords rejected the Irish Home Rule Bill.

1925 The Government of Turkey threw Patriarch Constantine VI out of Istanbul.

1929 Lucille Teasdale-Corti, Canadian surgeon and international aid worker, was born.

1930 Gene Hackman, American actor, was born.

1930 The world’s second radiosonde is launched in Pavlovsk USSR.

1931 Shirley Hazzard, Australian-born author, was born.


1933 Adolf Hitler was sworn in as Chancellor of Germany.

1937 Vanessa Redgrave, English actress, was born.

1941 – Dick Cheney, 46th Vice President of the United States, was born.

1945  World War II: The Wilhelm Gustloff, overfilled with refugees, sunk in the Baltic Sea after being torpedoed by a Soviet submarine, leading to the deadliest known maritime disaster, killing approximately 9,000 people.

Bundesarchiv Bild 183-H27992, Lazarettschiff "Wilhelm Gustloff" in Danzig.jpg

1945  Raid at Cabanatuan: 126 American Rangers and Filipino resistance liberated 500 prisoners from the Cabanatuan POW camp.

POWs celebrate.jpg

1945 Hitler gives his last ever public address, a radio address on the 12th anniversary of his coming to power. (

1947 Steve Marriott, English musician (Humble Pie, The Small Faces), was born.


1948Indian pacifist and leader Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was assassinated by Nathuram Godse, a Hindu extremist.

1951 Phil Collins, English musician, was born.


1954 Queens EliZabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh  left New Zealand, bringing to an end the first tour by a ruling monarch.

Queen farewells New Zealand

1956 American civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.‘s home is bombed in retaliation for the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

 National City Lines  bus, No. 2857, on which Rosa Parks was riding before she was arrested

1960 The African National Party was founded in Chad through the merger of traditionalist parties.

1960  Lily Potter, (fictional character) Mother of Harry J. Potter and Member of The Order of the Phoenix, was born.

 The Potters as illustrated by Mary GrandPré.

1962 King Abdullah II of Jordan, was born.

1964  Ranger 6 was launched.

Ranger 6

1968 Prince Felipe of Spain, was born.

1969 The Beatles‘ last public performance, on the roof of Apple Records in London.

A terrace building. Its ground floor has plaster render inscribed to look like stone, the middle three are red brick, and the top is an attic. Each floor has four sash windows with a dozen or more panes each, except that the bottom floor has a door in place of the second window. Apple Corps building at 3 Savile Row, site of the Let It Be rooftop concert

1971 Carole King’s Tapestry album was released, it would become the longest charting album by a female solo artist and sell 24 million copies worldwide.

1972 Bloody Sunday: British Paratroopers killed 14 unarmed civil rights/anti internment marchers in Northern Ireland.

1972 Pakistan withdrew from the Commonwealth of Nations.

1979 Varig 707-323C freighter,  disappeared over the Pacific Ocean 30 minutes after taking off from Tokyo.

1982 Richard Skrenta wrote the first PC virus code, which was 400 lines long and disguised as an Appleboot program called “Elk Cloner”.

1989 The American embassy in Kabul closed.

1994 Péter Lékó became the youngest chess grand master.

Peter Leko 06 08 2006.jpg

1995 Workers from the National Institutes of Health announced the success of clinical trials testing the first preventive treatment for sickle-cell disease.

1996 Gino Gallagher, the suspected leader of the Irish National Liberation Army, was killed while waiting in line for his unemployment benefit.

1996 – Comet Hyakutake was discovered by Japanese amateur astronomer Yuji Hyakutake.

Comet Hyakutake captured by the Hubble Space Telescope 

2000 Off the coast of Ivory Coast, Kenya Airways Flight 431 crashes into the Atlantic  killing 169.

2003 Belgium becomes the second country in the world to legally recognise same-sex marriage.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

It’s summer!


Three hot days in a row – it must be summer.

Have You Ever Seen The Rain


Happy birthday Tommy Ramone – 61 today.

UP, UP and Away


Ron Townson would have been 77 today.

Things to do at 9am on Sunday


Watching TV at all, let alone a programme on politics, doesn’t usually feature on my list of things to do at 9am on Sundays.

However, programmers at TVNZ have stuck to last year’s scheduling time and that’s when Agenda Q&A will screen again.

It starts this Sunday. Phil Goff and Hone Harawira are the interviewees. Mike Moore and Jeanette Fitzsimons willl join resident polticial analyst  Dr Therese Arseneau and Paul Holmes on the panel.

Prince’s woolly thinking good idea


Prince Charles has been criticised in the past for some woolly thinking, but this time he’s got a good idea and has launched the Wool Project –  a scheme to help sheep farmers around the world boost the price of wool.

Devised by the Prince and the director of the Pastoral Alliance, John Thorley, the scheme was billed as a comeback for wool at the launch on a Cambridgeshire sheep farm on Tuesday (26 January).

The scheme aims to turn around the wool market’s fortunes, which has seen prices slump from 93p/kg in 1997 to 66p/kg last year.

It will promote the green credentials of wool to consumers as well as urging shops to promote it as a fashionable material for clothes, carpets and rugs.

The Prince intends to create a green label to adorn woollen products across the UK and Commonwealth countries such as Australia and New Zealand.

Federated Farmers is supporting the move. Meat & Fibre chair, Bruce Willis, points to wool’s green credentials – it’s a fashionable eco-friendly alternative to synthetics.

It also helps you stay warm when it’s wet and it can be worn for longer in sweaty conditions without getting smelly which makes it ideal for work and tramping clothes.

Icebreaker has shown the way with casual clothing. Christina Perriam, is doing the same for fashion clothing. She features in the current NZ Life & Leisure, in which she says she’s:

. . . focused on relaunching her fashion label, creating key, affordable but beautiful pieces that New Zealand women will treasure and keep in their wardrobes for many years. And then there’s the New Zealand merino sleepwear range which caters for the growing need for organic, healthy, sustainable fibres to be worn next to the skin.

Both Icebreaker and the Christina Perriam range use merino. Finding uses and markets for crossbred wool is more problematic.

Wool carpet is great, but a lot of the world uses tiles rather than carpet.

Wool insulation has been round for a while but it isn’t making much headway against synthetic alternatives, although if my experience is anything to go by that’s not surprising.

Recently I asked about wool insulation at Wanaka’s Mitre 10. Once we’d got past a couple of minutes of crossed wires and established I was talking about wool not wall insulation, the shop assistant rummaged through the brochures on display, all of which were for synthetic materials. She then went in to an office and spoke with someone else who came out with a brochure and a couple of pages printed from a website about wool insulation.

I asked the price and how it compared with the cost of synthetic alternatives. The assistant consulted the woman in the office again and returned to tell me she’d never worked it out but thought wool would be a little bit more expensive, though it wouldn’t cost twice as much.

The producers of wool insulation are being very poorly served if the brochures for their products aren’t with the others and the sales people – or at least the two who were trying to help me – don’t know how the price compares with its synthetic competitors.

The idea of selling wool as an eco-friendly, natural, sustainable fibre pushes a lot of marketing buttons. But the Prince and his project have a lot of work to do if the products already available are marketed this poorly.

Hat Tip: Phil Clarke’s Business Blog.

Fifth rate speech rates fifth


One of the measures of a state of the nation speech is how much prominence the media coverage of it gets.

Was it a deliberate ploy by Jeannette Fitzsimons to exact revenge on Labour by announcing her resignation on the day Phil Goff tried to make himself and his party relevant?

Whether or not it was, two stories related to it and stories featuring Steven Joyce and John Key knocked Goff’s speech in to fifth place on the Stuff politics page:

Meet the Green Party’s new MP

A man once arrested while dressed up as Ronald McDonald is to be the new Green Party MP.

Driver’s licence cost could go up

 The cost of getting a driver’s licence is to go up, with more sweeping changes possible in future as the whole system gets reviewed.

Troubled youth visit hits Key


Prime Minister John Key has told how he and Prince William last week met a 15-year-old girl who had tried to kill herself the day before.

Fitzsimons resigns after 13 years


Green MP Jeanette Fitzsimons has confirmed she will resign from Parliament with her efforts praised by PM John Key.

Cap salaries, Goff says

 Labour leader Phil Goff has called for a cap on public service chief executive wages so they do not get paid more than the prime minister.

Mind you, bottom of the list is about where a speech like this belongs.

His “many not the few” is more than a little rich when it comes from the leader of a party which spent three terms dividing the population into groups whose votes it could buy.

Even the attack on bludgers fails. Labour actively encouraged bludging by making dependent on government handouts so many people who ought to be able to cope with their own resources.

January 29 in history


On January 29:

1842 Auckland’s first Anniversary Day regatta was held.

 1845 “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe  was published in the New York Evening Mirror.

1856 Queen Victoria instituted the Victoria Cross.
A bronze cross pattée bearing the crown of Saint Edward surmounted by a lion with the inscription FOR VALOUR. A crimson ribbon is attached

1860 Anton Chekhov, Russian writer, was born.

head and shoulders engraving of bearded Chekhov in pince-nez and suit

1863 Bear River Massacre.

1874 John D. Rockefeller Jr., American entrepreneur, was born.

1880 W.C. Fields, American actor and writer was born.

1886 Karl Benz patented the first successful gasoline-driven automobile.

1891 Liliuokalani was proclaimed Queen of Hawaii, its last monarch.


1916  Paris was first bombed by German zeppelins.

1933 – Ron Townson, American singer (The 5th Dimension), was born.

1939 Germaine Greer, Australian writer and feminist, was born.

1940 Three trains on the Sakurajima Line, in Osaka collided and exploded while approaching Ajikawaguchi station. 181 people were killed.

1944  USS Missouri (BB-63) the last battleship commissioned by the US Navy was launched.

USS Missouri in her 1980s configuration

1944 Approximately 38 men, women, and children die in the Koniuchy massacre in Poland.

1944 In Bologna the Anatomical Theatre of the Archiginnasio was destroyed in an air-raid.

1945 Tom Selleck, American actor, screenwriter and film producer, was born.

1949 Tommy Ramone, Hungarian-born musician and record producer (The Ramones), was born.

1954  Oprah Winfrey, American talk show host and actress, was born.


1989 Hungary established diplomatic relations with South Korea, making them the first Eastern Bloc nation to do so.

1996 President Jacques Chirac announced a “definitive end” to French nuclear weapons testing.

 Four major types of nuclear testing: 1. atmospheric, 2. underground, 3. exoatmospheric, and 4. underwater.

1996 – La Fenice, Venices opera house, was destroyed by fire.

 The interior of La Fenice in 1837.

1998 In Birmingham, Alabama, a bomb explodes at an abortion clinic, killing one and severely wounding another.

2001 Thousands of student protesters in Indonesia stormed parliament and demanded that President Abdurrahman Wahid resign due to alleged involvement in corruption scandals.

2002 In his State of the Union Address, United Statses President George W. Bush described “regimes that sponsor terror” as an Axis of Evil.

2005 The first direct commercial flights from the mainland China(from Guangzhou) to Taiwan since 1949 arrived in Taipei. Shortly afterwards, a China Airlines carrier landed in Beijing.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.



Harry Corbett (puppeteer not Steptoe actor) would have been 92 today.

I don’t remember seeing Sooty and Sweep on TV but have vague memories of reading a book in which they starred.



Happy birthday Alan Alda, 74 today.

Was there any teenage girl in the 1970s who wasn’t a little bit in love with Hawkeye?

%d bloggers like this: