Carter on stress leave


Was I too quick to condemn labour MPs for questioning Chris Carter’s mental health?

He’s applied for, and been granted, eight weeks’ stress leave from parliament.

Lawrence of Arabia


Happy birhtday Peter O’Toole, 78 today.

Word of the day


Boondoggling – the act of pretending to be busy.

Just one of the  words for stuff there aren’t words for.

Hat Tip: Quote UnQuote.

Monday’s quiz


1. Where is the brisket in cattle?

2. What is  timocracy?

3. Who said: “They meant abnormal. Divisions of the kind were fashionable at that time, and it was so easy to stifle one’s need to help by deciding that help could neither be accepted nor understood.”

4 What are the Roman numberals for  50, 100, 500 and 1000?

5.  Who was the original Dr Who?

Junk diets start at home


Is anyone surprised that a lot of children have junk diets at home?

A bit more fat and sugar and the extra kilojoules which go with them now and then isn’t a problem, it’s what you eat most of the time which makes a diet healthy or not.

You only have to look at what’s available on supermarket shelves to work out that a lot of people must be eating more of the food which ought to be reserved for occasional treats more often than they should.

 Food and drink that used to be reserved for celebrations like birthdays or Christmas – crisps, sweets, take aways, fizz – are almost staples for some families.

A generation or two ago homemade food was the norm. Some of us still cook from scratch, or nearly scratch,  when we know exactly what’s going into your meals most of the time but a lot of people don’t.

Poverty is one of the reasons for this. If you have little or nothing for  discretionary spending  price matters more than nutrition and a lot of the highly processed high energy foods are cheaper than healthier alternatives.

Ignorance is another – some people simply don’t know what a healthy diet is and how to cook it.

Even if you do know the sort of food you’re supposed to eat most of, most of the time, unless you study nutritional information on packaged food, which is almost always in tiny print which is difficult to read , it’s easy to be miss high levels of fat and sugar in what you might think is “healthy” food.

Then there’s time, or lack of it. When you’re busy it’s very tempting to resort to ready-to-eat meals which are usually more energy dense than to cook from scratch.

Any or all of these contribute to unhealthy eating and too much energy going in is compounded by too little energy going out.

Children have a lot more choices of indoor activities than they used to. Sections are smaller so it’s harder for kids to get incidental exercise playing at home and fears, often groundless, of dangers outside their properties make parents loathe to let their offspring go too far away.

All of these contribute to valid concerns about more people being overweight and under fit.

Solving that isn’t easy, but schools may take some comfort from the survey because it shows what happens between nine and three is a small part of  a much bigger problem.

What really mattered?


What really mattered last week?

Political shenanigans which have dominated headlines, columns and blogs?

Or the death of another child as a result of abuse?

It’s relatively easy to deal with acute stupidity. 

Addressing a  chronic breakdown in families and society is much, much harder.

First they came for the pigs . . .


Last year animal welfare activists targeted pig farming and they’ve had another go at it recently.

The grapevine warned us they would also be on the warpath during calving and lambing and they are.  TV1 news last night started with a story on inducing calves in dairy herds.

There are differing views on the practice – some vets say as long as it’s done properly it’s not inhumane, others oppose the practice.

Regardless of whether it is humane or not induction is  being phased out anyway.

The  reporter said cows are induced to get them producing milk earlier. That’s only part of the story – if cows are too late calving one season they’ll be later, sometimes too late, getting in calf for the following season.

The story also didn’t explain that cows are induced here because unlike most other countries we have seasonal milking.

Overseas where most of the milk produced is for the domestic market herds have some cows calving all through the year so it doesn’t really matter if the calves aren’t produced at a particular time. That happens with town supply herds here too but most of our herds produced milk for export.

Some farms milk through winter for export but most calve in spring, get the cows pregnant in early summer and stop milking by the end of May. This cycle follows grass growth – cows are producing milk when there’s more for them to eat. Grass growth slows or stops altogether over winter.

Cows which are too late for artificial insemination  or going to the bull or don’t conceive are usually culled.

When inductions stop altogether there will be more dry cows which will be sent to the works and farmers will be likely to increase the size of their herds to compensate.

No doubt some people will object to that too.

August 2 in history


On August 2:

338 BC  A Macedonian army led by Philip II defeated the combined forces of Athens and Thebes in the Battle of Chaeronea, securing Macedonian hegemony in Greece and the Aegean.


216 BC Second Punic War: Battle of Cannae – The Carthaginian army lead by Hannibal defeated a numerically superior Roman army under command of consuls Lucius Aemilius Paullus and Gaius Terentius Varro.


1377  the Russian troops were defeated in the Battle on Pyana River, while drunk.

1610  Henry Hudson sailed into what it is now known as Hudson Bay, thinking he had made it through the Northwest Passage and reached the Pacific Ocean.


1798 French Revolutionary Wars: Battle of the Nile (Battle of Aboukir Bay) concluded with a British victory.

On a choppy sea, a large warship burns out of control. The central ship is flanked by two other largely undamaged ships. In the foreground two small boats full of men row between floating wreckage to which men are clinging.

1835 Elisha Gray, American inventor and entrepreneur, was born (d. 1901).


1869 Japan’s samurai, farmer, artisan, merchant class system (Shinōkōshō) was abolished as part of the Meiji Restoration reforms.

1870  Tower Subway, the world’s first underground tube railway, opened in London.


1903  Fall of the Ottoman Empire: Unsuccessful uprising led by the Internal Macedonian-Adrianople Revolutionary Organization against Ottoman,TUrkey, also known as the Ilinden-Preobrazhenie Uprising.


1916  World War I: Austrian sabotage caused the sinking of the Italian battleship Leonardo da Vinci in Taranto.


 1923  Shimon Peres, Israeli politician, Prime Minister of Israel and the ninth President of Israel, was born. 


1924  James Baldwin, American author, was born (d. 1987).


1924  Carroll O’Connor, American actor, was born (d. 2001).


1925  Alan Whicker, British journalist and broadcaster, was born.

1932 Peter O’Toole, Irish-born actor, was born.


1932 The positron (antiparticle of the electron) was discovered by Carl D. Anderson.


1934 Gleichschaltung: Adolf Hitler became Führer of Germany.


1937 The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 was passed in America, essentially rendering marijuana and all its by-products illegal.

Marijuana icon.jpg

1939 Albert Einstein and Leó Szilárd wrote a letter to Franklin D. Roosevelt, urging him to begin the Manhattan project to develop a nuclear weapon.

1942 Isabel Allende, Chilean author, was born.


1943  Rebellion in the Nazi death camp of Treblinka.


1943  World War II: PT-109 was rammed by the Japanese destroyer Amagiri and sank. Lt. John F. Kennedy, future U.S. President, saved all but two of his crew.

PT-109 crew.jpg

1944  Birth of the Socialist Republic of Macedonia.

Flag of the SR Macedonia.svg Coat of arms of Macedonia.svg

1945 World War II: Potsdam Conference, where the Allied Powers discussed the future of defeated Germany, concluded.


1964  Vietnam War: Gulf of Tonkin Incident – North Vietnamese gunboats allegedly fired on U.S. destroyers, USS Maddox and the USS Turner Joy.

Gulf of Tonkin Kn11060.jpg

1967  The second Blackwall Tunnel opened in Greenwich, London.

1968  The 1968 Casiguran Earthquake hit Casiguran, Aurora, Philippines killing more than 270 people and wounding 261.


1973 A flash fire killed 51 at the Summerland amusement centre at Douglas, Isle of Man.

1980  A bomb exploded at the railway station in Bologna, killing 85 people and wounding more than 200.


1983 USS Texas was met by anti-nucelar protesters while visiting  Auckland.

Protest as USS Texas visits Auckland

1985 Delta Air Lines Flight 191, a Lockheed L-1011 TriStar crashed at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport killing 137.

1989  Pakistan was re-admitted back into the Commonwealth of Nations, for restoring democracy.

The Commonwealth (blue = present members, orange = former members, green = suspended members)

1989  1989 Valvettiturai massacre by Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka killing 64 Tamil civilians.


1990 Iraq invaded Kuwait.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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