Today’ I”m better at politics than history – 10/10 in the Domion Post’s politics quiz.

Perhaps the only time I can claim to be Kiwiblog’s equal 🙂

Return to Paradise


Ron Goodwin would have been 85 today.

Keeping Up Appearances


Happy birthday Patricia Routledge, 81 today.

Did you see the one about . . .


Lessons in healthcare from Edinburgh Zoo – Theodore Dalrymple at Pyjamas Media (hat tip: Skeptical Doctor).

Looking at Ohariu {5} Vote Splitting – one of a series of posts at BK Drinkwater which show why Peter Dunne should retire gracefully before the next election. Links to the previous posts in the series are at the bottom of the post.

Getting people off benefits – Big News asks: “”how many people come off benefits because they go to prison?”.

Youth rates and Youth Rates Revisited Offsetting Behaviour shows why youth rates cost young people jobs. Kiwiblog has related posts A 10 year high in unemployment  and  Youth rates and youth unemployment.

On Travelling With A Toddler – Bernard Darnton at Not PC serves as a warning to others.

Another Labour Party Bureaucracy and Be happy – that’s an order and Staff Morale – a selection from the series of visual humour at Something Should Go Here.

The Wage Gap – Gooner shows the sorry stas at No Minister.

The Courts must be hellish busy – Lindsay Mitchell has the sorry stats on recidivism.

An interesting course – Kiwblog on law studies at Auckland.

How Not To Run A country – Anti-Dismal on the internet in Iran.

Reflections on media, name suppression etc – Inquiring Mind asks why we should take it any more.

Lactose Intolerant – Macdoctor on homeopathy.

Technology dystopia or utopia – The Visible Hand on technology and labour.



Last week I missed just one question, this week I slipped and got two wrong in the NZ History Online quiz.

Changes to sheep industry up to farmers


Late last year an email circulated seeking signatures for a letter to the Minister of Agriculture, David Carter,  asking for his assistance in arranging a merger of the meat companies Alliance and Silver Fern Farms.

The email was confidential so I’m not going to copy or quote from it. But its contents have been discussed in the media as has the response of the Minister.

He correctly said any changes in the meat industry are up to farmers and a merger is up to the co-operative’s shareholders.

Now there are suggestions Landcorp should use its muscle as a catalyst for change in the industry.

A State Owned Enterprise should not interfere in this way and fortunately Landcorp’s influence on the meat companies is limited because shareholdings in both companies are capped. 

Recent attempts by the Meat Industry Taskforce and then Alliance to sort out the meat industry failed at least in part because Silver Fern Farms wasn’t interested. The reason for the company’s reluctance to co-operate became clear when the merger between PGG Wrightson and SFF was announced. Now that’s fallen through SFF may be more willing to look at other options but it’s too late.

A merger between Alliance and SFF by themselves wouldn’t solve the problems of low returns to farmers because the new entity wouldn’t be big enough to exert enough influence on international markets.

Besides, returns from meat are only part of the problem, low prices for wool and other by-products are also responsible for the gloomy outlook for the sheep industry.

The Wool Taskforce has completed its report  The taskforce was established by the Minister and he says:

“The report asks the right questions and identifies strategies to restore profitability to a sector that has been in decline for decades,” says Mr Carter.

“Everyone knows that the only way to raise price is to raise demand. Rather than generically marketing New Zealand wool, the report says the industry needs to work across the supply chain to boost demand for clothing, carpets and other wool products.

“The Taskforce makes it clear that this will only come about through unity and leadership, essentially having one voice for the sector.  I’m encouraged to hear this challenge from a group formed from within the industry.”

As a result of their recommendations he is to appoint an independent expert to work on forming a single body for the wool industry.

Improving returns for wool will play an important part in restoring confidence and profitability to the sheep industry. Whether anything happens in the meat industry as well is in farmers’ hands.

They choose who they supply their stock to and they hold the shares in the co-operatives. If there is to be any change in the industry it can only come from them.

Money doesn’t buy elections


The ink was hardly dry on the media release about electoral funding when the usual suspects started raving about rich people buying elections.

Some thoughts which have escaped them:

* The only buying of an election in recent times was Labour’s with the pledge card paid for by public money.

* Spending more doesn’t necessarily win elections. Kiwiblog analysed the four elections from 1996 to 2005 and found

The impact of money on elections is relatively insignificant compared to policies, party reputation, leadership and media treatment.

Complaints aren’t just about election spending but spending on referenda with lots of derogatory references to Peter Shirtcliff and the money he spent campaigning against MMP.

A thought which has escaped them:

* He lost the campaign.

Money doesn’t buy elections or referenda.

February 17 in history


On February 17:

1500 The Battle of Hemmingstedt.

1600 The philosopher Giordano Bruno was burned alive at Campo de’ Fiori in Rome for heresy.

1801 An electoral tie between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr was resolved when Jefferson was elected President of the United States and Burr Vice President by the United States House of Representatives.

Jefferson portrait by Charles Willson Peale 

1809 Miami University was chartered by the State of Ohio.

Seal of Miami University

1814 The Battle of Mormans.

 1819 The United States House of Representatives passed the Missouri Compromise.

 The Missouri Compromise prohibited slavery in the Unorganized territory of the Great Plains (dark green) and permitted it in Missouri (yellow) and the Arkansas Territory (lower blue area).

1848 Louisa Lawson, Australian suffragist and writer, was born.


1854 The United Kingdom recognised the independence of the Orange Free State.

1864  Banjo Paterson, Australian poet, was born.

1864 The H. L. Hunley became the first submarine to engage and sink a warship, the USS Housatonic.

Css hunley on pier.jpg

1867 The first ship passed through the Suez Canal.


1873 The editor of the Daily Southern Cross, David Luckie, published a hoax report of a Russian invasion of Auckland by the cruiser Kaskowiski (cask of whisky).

'The Russians are coming!'

1877  Isabelle Eberhardt, Swiss explorer and writer, was born.


1904 Madama Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini received its premiere at La Scala in Milan.

1913 The Armory Show opened in New York City, displaying works of artists who are to become some of the most influential painters of the early 20th century.


1917 Guillermo González Camarena, Mexican inventor (colour television), was born.


1924  Johnny Weissmuller set a new world record in the 100-yard freestyle swimming competition with a time of 52-2/5 seconds.

1924 Margaret Truman, American novelist (, was born.

1925 Harold Ross and Jane Grant founded The New Yorker magazine.

 2004 cover with dandy Eustace Tilley, created by Rea Irvin. Eustace Tilley debuted on the first cover and reappears on anniversary issues

1925 Ron Goodwin, English composer and conductor, was born.

image of Ron Goodwin 

1929 Patricia Routledge, English actress, was born.

1930 Ruth Rendell, English writer, was born.

1933 Newsweek magazine was published for the first time.


1933 – The Blaine Act ended Prohibition in the United States.

1934 Barry Humphries, Australian actor and comedian, was born.

Barry Humphries July 2001.jpg

1940  Gene Pitney, American singer, was born.

1945 Brenda Fricker, Irish actress, was born.

1947 The Voice of America began to transmit radio broadcasts to the Soviet Union.

Voice of America Logo.svg

1958 Pope Pius XII declared Saint Clare of Assisi (1193~1253) the patron saint of television.


1959 Vanguard 2 – The first weather satellite was launched to measure cloud-cover distribution.

Vanguard 2

1962 A storm killed more than 300 people in Hamburg.

1963 Michael Jordan, American basketball player, was born.

A smiling bald African American man wearing a silver earring and herringbone jacket

1964 Gabonese president Leon M’ba was toppled by a coup and his archrival, Jean-Hilaire Aubame, was installed in his place.


1965  The Ranger 8 probe launched on its mission to photograph the Mare Tranquillitatis region of the Moon in preparation for the manned Apollo missions.


1972 Sales of the Volkswagen Beetle model exceeded those of Ford Model-T.

Volkswagen Beetle .jpg

1978 A Provisional IRA incendiary bomb was detonated at the La Mon restaurant, near Belfast, killing 12 and seriously injuring 30.

1979 The Sino-Vietnamese War started.

1995 – The Cenepa War between Peru and Ecuador ends on a cease-fire brokered by the UN.

1996 World champion Garry Kasparov beat the Deep Blue supercomputer in a chess match.

Garri kasparow 20070318.jpg

1996 – NASA’s Discovery Programme started as the NEAR Shoemaker spacecraft lifted off on the first mission ever to orbit and land upon an asteroid, 433 Eros.

Near Shoemaker.jpg

2003 The London Congestion Charge scheme began.


2006 A massive mudslide occurred in Southern Leyte, Philippines; the official death toll was 1,126.


2008 Kosovo declared independence.

Sourced from NZ History Online and Wikipedia

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