Hogan’s Heroes


Bob Crane would have been 82 today.

Evidence to support the contention that tele basura (rubbish TV) isn’t new, though at least they didn’t swear.

Blogging as therapy


Toll calls were very expensive and we didn’t have mobile phones or the internet when our son was diagnosed with a degenerative brain disorder.

We made a few calls to immediate family but telling most of our friends throughout New Zealand and overseas was done by writing letters and posting them.

There had been little technological improvement in the following two years when we got the diagnosis for our second son. Mobile phones were becoming more common when he died five years later but we still hadn’t heard of the internet.

Now, when people want to spread personal news, good or bad it’s relatively cheap and very easy to do it by text, email, Facebook or blogging.

Writing can be therapeutic for both the writer and those who read it and that’s what prompted me to choose blogging as therapy for my chat with Jim Mora on Critical Mass today.

Blogs I mentioned were: Annie Fox –  written by Anna Wolfe who among posts on politics and life, wrote about cancer. The last post was written by a friend and includes tributes given at her funeral.

Kismet Farm wrote a variety of usually light hearted posts but mentioned a diagnosis of cancer earlier this year. The last post a few days ago was written by her husband, telling us she’d died.

We Remember is written by Lee Ann from Maryland whose son was killed in Iraq. The name was chosen because

 . . it seems more positive than simply not forgetting. Remember those we’ve lost, remember those left behind, remember why we are here. . .

Stoatspring is a mixture of reflections on life, retirement, reading and disability in poetry and prose by Harvey McQueen. He explains why he started blogging:

 . . . I’ve been diagnosed with inclusion body myositis, a rare muscular degenerative disease. . . . I cannot travel. I can’t garden and I can’t cook for I cannot plant seedlings or lift a casserole out of the oven. . . .  I’ve had to give up driving which means I’m dependent upon other people. It’s very rugged on my wife Anne for it means I can’t help around the house  . . . Thank heavens, I still can read, use the computer, watch television and DVDs, talk to friends. From being a participant in life I’ve become an observer. Hospital waiting rooms loom large as other events narrow down. So I begin this blog to widen my contacts

The last post was a recommendation from Deborah at In A Strange Land. Had Jim and I not run out of time today, I’d have mentioned that she is helping herself in her determination to stay off the demon drink for a month in aid of Dry July with a virtual star chart. A page with links to each day’s post is here.

Tuesday’s answers


Monday’s questions were:

1. Which country won the first football world cup in 1930 and who were they playing?

2. What are the three most common magnetic metals.

3. Who said: “Patience serves as a protection against wrongs as clothes do against cold. For if you put on more clothes as the cold increases, it will have no power to hurt you. So in like manner you must grow in patience when you meet with great wrongs, and they will then be powerless to vex your mind.”?

4. Gephyrophobia is a fear of what?

5.What does vox. pop. stand for and what does it mean?

Andrei got three and a half  and a bonus for knowing that gephyr means bridge.

I2 got two, and a bonus for memory – School C.  Latin wasn’t yesterday 🙂

David got three.

Paul got three right. Not sure if heavy metals are all magnetic but his answer gets a bonus for wit  and musical taste and another for satire for his answer to #3.

GD – do I give the same as Paul for admitting you’re cheating? I’m not sure if alloys count but I’ll allow that answer.

PDM got 1/2 for #1, 1/3 for #2, a bonus for having a Scottish father (so did I) and for humour for #4 and fair comment for #5.

 You can all have a an electronic boquet of flowers bright enough to warm a wold winter day.

Tuesday’s answers follow the break:

Read the rest of this entry »

Are we paying to help people or politics?


Parliament’s financial watchdog, the Appropriations Review Committee has raised concerns over  around $14.9 million spent annually on Party and Member Support.

The committee said the individual members’ support funding, which makes up the bulk of that, served an important function in providing the public with access to MPs through the operation of out-of-Parliament offices. While the funding – $40,932 a year for list MPs – was set a level that assumed they set up such offices, there was no requirement to do so.

MPs are able to transfer their individual funding to another MP and even their party which can then pool and reallocate the money. The committee noted seven list MPs had not opened offices and “we would be concerned if the number of MPs not opening offices was to increase significantly”.

 Sharing offices as some MPs do may be fine providing they are reasonably accessible to the people who need their services. But what then happens with the money? If it’s used to serve people, as it should be, there’s not a problem. Using it in a way which makes it de facto funding of political parties isn’t.

The committee has other concerns around individual members support which increased sharply as MP numbers rose with the introduction of MMP in 1996. It said there were no checks and balances in how the level of funding is set creating a risk it may be “ratcheted up” following each election and raising the prospect “of a party buying its way into power”.

The committee has recommended the funding come under the control of an independent regulator.

Constituents who don’t think their electorate MPs are accessible enough are able to vote them out. It is much harder for people to affect the fate of list MPs.

Separating the people who make decisions about the funding from those who receive it will improve transparency and accountability.

Smaller deficit not opportunity for loosening reins


A combination of lower spending and higher revenue in the 11 months to May resulted in a better-than-expected $4.74 billion operating deficit before gains and losses in the 11 months to May 31.

Finance Minister Bill English is sensibly saying this doesn’t change the government’s commitment to sound management of its finances and ongoing fiscal discipline.

Treasury expects revenue to come in close to forecasts for the full financial year ending June 30 and at least part of the lower spending track to be reversed in June.

“The Government has made good progress in keeping spending under control and delivering a faster-growing economy that will help grow our revenue.

“However, in many ways, restraint in the public sector is only just starting. We still have a significant medium-term challenge to get back to surplus as soon as possible. Budget forecasts show that will not happen until 2015/16 – but I would like us to be back into surplus sooner,” Mr English says.

“In our first two Budgets, the Government took early steps to bring deficits and government debt under control. We will build on that over the next few years by living within our $1.1 billion annual allowance for extra operating spending and weeding out lower priority spending.”

Some on the left, like the Council of Trade Unions, see this as an excuse to increase spending which doesn’t say much about their financial understanding.

The deficit may not be as bad as it was expected to be but it’s still worse than it ought to be and the need for fiscal rectitude hasn’t diminished.

Continued restraint now will speed the return to surpluses which are what we need for long term financial stability.

July 13 in history


On July 13:

100 BC  Julius Caesar, Dictator of the Roman Republic, was born  (d. 44 BC).


1174   William I of Scotland, a key rebel in the Revolt of 1173–1174, was captured by forces loyal to Henry II.

1558 Battle of Gravelines: Spanish forces led by Count Lamoral of Egmont defeated the French forces of Marshal Paul des Thermes.

Pieter Snayers Siege of Gravelines.jpg

1573  Eighty Years’ War: The Siege of Haarlem ends after seven months.


1643  English Civil War: Battle of Roundway Down –  Henry Wilmot, 1st Earl of Rochester, commanding the Royalist forces, won a crushing victory over the Parliamentarian Sir William Waller.

057827 5aeb2795-by-Doug-Lee.jpg

1787  The Continental Congress enacted the Northwest Ordinance establishing governing rules for the Northwest Territory establishing  procedures for the admission of new states and limiting the expansion of slavery.


1794  Battle of the Vosges between French forces and those of Prussia and Austria.

1821 Nathan Bedford Forrest, American Confederate cavalry officer, and founder of the original Ku Klux Klan, was born  (d. 1877).


1830 The General Assembly’s Institution, now the Scottish Church College, was founded by Alexander Duff and Raja Ram Mohan Roy, in Calcutta.


1854  In the Battle of Guaymas, Mexico, General Jose Maria Yanez stopped the French invasion led by Count Gaston de Raousset Boulbon.

1863 New York Draft Riots: Opponents of conscription began three days of rioting.

New York Draft Riots - fighting.jpg

1878  Treaty of Berlin: The European powers redraw the map of the Balkans. Serbia, Montenegro and Romania became completely independent of the Ottoman empire.


1916 Vivian Walsh became the first New Zealander to obtain an aviator’s certificate, following the establishment in October 1915 of the New Zealand Flying School at Orakei.

Walsh becomes first NZer to obtain pilot's certificate

1919 The British airship R34 lands in Norfolk, completing the first airship return journey across the Atlantic in 182 hours of flight.

1923  The Hollywood Sign was officially dedicated in the hills above Hollywood. It originally read “Hollywoodland ” but the four last letters were dropped after renovation in 1949.

1928 Bob Crane, American actor, was born  (d. 1978).

1941  World War II: Montenegrins started popular uprising against the Axis Powers (Trinaestojulski ustanak).

 1942Harrison Ford, American Actor, was born.


1942 – Roger McGuinn, American musician (The Byrds), was born.


1950 Ma Ying-jeou, President  of China, former mayor of Taipei, former chairman of the Kuomintang (KMT), was born.

1960  Ian Hislop, British writer, editor of Private Eye, was born.

1973  Alexander Butterfield revealed the existence of the Nixon tapes to the special Senate committee investigating the Watergate break in.

1985  The Live Aid benefit concerts  in several places including London, Philadelphia, Sydney and Moscow.

Live Aid logo

1985 – United States Vice President George H.W. Bush became the Acting President for the day when President Ronald Reagan underwent surgery.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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