1812 Overture


Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was born 160 years ago today.

Ordinary Man


Happy birthday Christy Moore, 65 today.

Just wondering . . .


. . . why when electricians put a two-way switch at a bed head it’s always on the right (when looking from head to foot) which just happens to be the side usually* used by men?

*usually is  based on observation when taking cups of tea/coffee to couples staying overnight and conversations about which side of the bed which half of a couple prefers.

I’ve Been Everywhere


Day seven of New Zealand Music Month – I’ve Been Everywhere by John Grenell (who was better known as John Hore when this song came out).

Desperation and stupidity


The rector looked over his spectacles at the pupil in front of him and sighed.

“You again, Goff. What have you been up to now?”

“Desperation and stupidity, Sir,” the boy replied.

“And in what class?”

“Economics, Sir.”

The rector rolled his eyes. “Economics again, I’m really beginning to wonder if that subject is beyond you. What did you do?”

“Failed the test, Sir, the one on tax.”

“Ah yes, tax,” the rector sighed again. “Always been a tricky subject for you, hasn’t it? Well, spit it out boy, what was it this time?”

“I suggested dropping GST on food, Sir.”

“Dropping GST on food? Haven’t you learned anything, lad? Why on earth would you suggest that?

“I thought it might be popular, Sir.”

“Popular? Popular? Give me strength boy, economics isn’t a popularity contest. What do you think it would achieve?”

“Well, it might help with the polls, Sir.”

“Ah yes, the polls. You’ve been having trouble with them, haven’t you? What else would taking GST off food achieve?”

“Increase complexity and compliance costs, Sir.”

“And would that be a good thing, lad?”

“No, Sir.”

“Quite right, at least you’ve learned something. I suppose I have to give you credit for that so we’ll just make it 100 lines: Good tax is an oxymoron but simple tax is better.”

“Good tax is an oxymoron but simple tax is better. Yes sir.”

UK election might influence NZ referendum


Tony Blair turned 57 yesterday.

If the polls are a reliable indicator of the election result he won’t be getting a strong Labour majority under his successor Gordon Brown, for his birthday.

He might not get a majority Conservative government either.

In spite of the belief that one of the strengths of First Past the Post is that it usually produces a single party majority, polls have been suggesting an indecisive result.

A few months ago David Cameron and the Conservatives were well ahead but that lead had been slipping away, even before the television debate in which Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg shone.

I don’t think First Past the Post has much chance at all in next year’s referendum on our voting system. If the British election result isn’t conclusive it is even less likely to get much support.

May 7 in history


On May 7:

558 In Constantinopl, the dome of the Hagia Sophia collapsesd Justinian I immediately ordered that it be rebuilt.


1272 The Second Council of Lyons opened to regulate the election of the Pope.

Council Trent.jpg

1348  Charles University in Prague (Universitas Carolina/Univerzita Karlova) was established as the first university in Central Europe.

1429  Joan of Arc ended the Siege of Orléans, pulling an arrow from her own shoulder and returning, wounded, to lead the final charge.

Joan of Arc at the Siege of Orleans by Jules Lenepveu

1664  Louis XIV  inaugurated the Palace of Versailles.

1697  Stockholm’s royal castle was destroyed by fire.

1711 David Hume, Scottish philosopher and historian, was born (d. 1776).

1718  The city of New Orleans was founded by Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville.


1748 Olympe de Gouges, playwright and feminist revolutionary, was born (d. 1793).

1763  Indian Wars: Pontiac’s Rebellion began – Chief Pontiac began the “Conspiracy of Pontiac” by attacking British forces at Fort Detroit.

Pontiac conspiracy.jpg

1812 Robert Browning, English poet, was born (d. 1889).

1824  World premiere of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in Vienna, conducted by Michael Umlauf under the deaf composer’s supervision.


1832 The independence of Greece was recognized by the Treaty of London. Otto of Wittelsbach, Prince of Bavaria was chosen King.

1836 The settlement of Mayagüez, Puerto Rico was elevated to the royal status of villa by the government of Spain.


1840  Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Russian composer, was born (d. 1893).

A middle-aged man with grey hair and a beard, wearing a dark suit and staring intently at the viewer. 

1840  The Great Natchez Tornado struck  Natchez, Mississippi killing 317 people.

1846 The Ngati Tuwharetoa village of Te Rapa on the south-western shore of Lake Taupo was obliterated in a landslide.

Devastating landslide at Lake Taupo

1847  The American Medical Association was founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

1847 Archibald Primrose, United Kingdom Prime Minister, was born (d. 1929).

1864  American Civil War: The Army of the Potomac, under General Ulysses S. Grant, broke off from the Battle of the Wilderness and moved southwards.

Potomac Staff.jpg

1881 A meeting in Dunedin presided over by the mayor unanimously called for a ban on further Chinese migrants.

Anti-Chinese hysteria in Dunedin

1892 Josip Broz Tito, President of Yugoslavia, was born (d. 1980).

1895  Russian scientist Alexander Stepanovich Popov demonstrated to the Russian Physical and Chemical Society his invention, the Popov lightning detector — a primitive radio receiver.

1901 – Gary Cooper, American actor, was born (d. 1961).

1909 Edwin H. Land, American inventor ,was born (d. 1991).

1915  World War I: German submarine SM U-20 sank  RMS Lusitania, killing 1,198 people.


1919 Eva Peron, Argentine first lady, was born  (d. 1952).

1920  Kiev Offensive (1920): Polish troops led by Józef Piłsudski and Edward Rydz-Śmigły and assisted by a symbolic Ukrainian force captured Kiev.

Polish bomber in Kiev

1920  Treaty of Moscow: Soviet Russia recognsedthe independence of the Democratic Republic of Georgia.

1927 Angelos Sikelianos organised the first Delphic Festival in Delphi to celebrate the ancient Greek Delphic ideal.

1928 Dixie Dean scored a hat trick for Everton F.C. against Arsenal F.C. to set a new goal scoring record of 60 goals in a season.

Dixie Dean.jpg

1937 Spanish Civil War: The German Condor Legion, equipped with Heinkel He 51 biplanes, arrived in Spain to assist Francisco Franco’s forces.

ES Legion Condor.jpg

1940 Angela Carter, English novelist and journalist (d. 1992), was born.

Nights at the Circus cover.jpg

1942 During the Battle of the Coral Sea, United States Navy aircraft sank the Japanese Imperial Navy light aircraft carrier Shōhō. The battle marked the first time in the naval history that two enemy fleets fight without visual contact between warring ships.

Shoho trials.jpg

1943  Peter Carey, Australian author, was born.

First edition cover

1944 Richard O’Sullivan, British actor, was born.

1945  World War II: General Alfred Jodl signed unconditional surrender terms at Reims ending Germany’s participation in the war.

Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1971-033-01, Alfred Jodl.jpg

1945 Christy Moore, Irish folk artist, was born.

1946 Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering (later renamed Sony) was founded with around 20 employees.

Sony logo.svg

1946 Thelma Houston, American singer, was born.

1948 The Council of Europe was founded during the Hague Congress.


1952 The concept of the integrated circuit, the basis for all modern computers, was first published by Geoffrey W.A. Dummer.


1953  Ian McKay, British soldier (VC recipient) was born (d. 1982), .


1954 Indochina War: The Battle of Dien Bien Phu ends in a French defeat (the battle began on March 13).

Dien bien phu castor or siege deinterlaced.png

1956 Jan Peter Balkenende, Prime Minister of the Netherlands, was born.


1960  Cold War: U-2 Crisis of 1960 – Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev announced that his nation was holding American U-2 pilot Gary Powers.


1964  Pacific Air Lines Flight 773, a Fairchild F-27 airliner, crashed near San Ramon, California, killing all 44 aboard; the FBI later reported that a cockpit recorder tape indicated that the pilot and co-pilot had been shot by a suicidal passenger.

1974 West German Chancellor Willy Brandt resigned.

1986 Canadian Patrick Morrow became the first person to climb each of the Seven Summits.


1992 Michigan ratified a 203-year-old proposed amendment to the United States Constitution making the 27th Amendment, which bars the U.S. Congress from giving itself a mid-term pay raise, law.

1992  Three employees at a McDonald’s Restaurant in Sydney, Nova Scotia, were murdered and a fourth permanently disabled after a botched robbery.

1992 – Latvia conducted its first post-Soviet monetary reform and began issuing Latvian rublis, a temporary currency in use until the introduction of Latvian lats. The move reduced the pressure on Latvian economy caused by shortage of cash and hyperinflation of rouble, and led way to ultimately successful economic reforms.

Latvian rublis issued 1992.

1995 Finland won the World Championship in men’s ice hockey after beating Sweden in the final

1998 Mercedes-Benz bought Chrysler for $US40 billion and formed DaimlerChrysler in the largest industrial merger in history.

Daimler AG.svg

1999  Pope John Paul II travelled to Romania becoming the first pope to visit a predominantly Eastern Orthodox country since the Great Schism in 1054.

Pope John Paul II on 12 August 1993 in Denver (Colorado)

1999  Kosovo War: In Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, three Chinese citizens were killed and 20 wounded when a NATO aircraft bombed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade.

1999 Guinea-Bissau, President João Bernardo Vieira was ousted in a military coup.

2002  A China Northern Airlines MD-82 plunged into the Yellow Sea, killing 112 people.

2007  The tomb of Herod the Great was discovered.


Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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