Word of the day


Mizzle – to rain in fine, mist-like drops.

Critical Mass on words


Words and phrases occupied my discussion with Jim Mora on Critical Mass today.

Douglas Coupland has written a Dictionary of the Near Future  which names some of the sensations we may not yet be aware we’re feeling.

Among them are:

AIRPORT-INDUCED IDENTITY DYSPHORIA Describes the extent to which modern travel strips the traveller of just enough sense of identity so as to create a need to purchase stickers and gift knick-knacks that bolster their sense of slightly eroded personhood: flags of the world, family crests, school and university merchandise.

DENARRATION The process whereby one’s life stops feeling like a story.


KARAOKEAL AMNESIA Most people don’t know the complete lyrics to almost any song, particularly the ones they hold most dear.

which may be related to:

LYRICAL PUTTY The lyrics one creates in one’s head in the absence of knowing a song’s real lyrics.

 From words of the near future to those which are no longer widely used: At the Phrontistery you’ll find the International House of Logorrhea – a free online dictionary of unusual words to enhance your vocabulary. It’s the work of Forthright who has, since 1996, been compiling word lists in order to spread the joy of the English language.

Forthright’s has criteria for favourite words:

  1. it has to be pretty rare (less than five occurrences per 1 million words of text);
  2. it should be very euphonious (it has to sound good);
  3. it should be of use in a modern context, if not necessarily usable on a daily basis;
  4. it should not have a simple one-word synonym;
  5. it should not be so long and complex to be useless in conversation.

Among those is:

Aegrotat ee’gro-tat, n (Latin aegrotat, he or she is sick, 3rd person singular of aegrotare, from aeger, sick)

A medical certificate of illness excusing student’s sickness. Rarely used today except in Britain, and then only in the context of degrees and courses considered as passed by a student too ill to finish the appropriate material. Aegrotat is the only surviving remnant of the Latin verb aegrotare.

Farrago fe-rah’go, n (Latin farrago, mixed fodder, from far, grain)

       A confused mass of objects or people; any disordered mixture. This is an excellent term to describe the chaos evident in a crowd, jumble sale, or any drawer in my home. It’s not just a mess, but adds the extra context of confusion and clutter.

That is a perfect description for my desk.

Galimatias gal-i-may’shi-us, n (French, gibberish)

 Nonsense; a confused mixture of unrelated things. This very cordial-sounding word is extraordinarily useful in contexts where one wishes to inform someone that their ideas are bafflingly ridiculous and incoherent without seeming overly impolite. It combines the senses of ‘incoherent’ and ‘ridiculous’ into a unique and useful term.

Then Esquire has come up with a euphemism generator.

It instructs you to take an action verb and add an animal, plant or job title.

The example it gives is soaking the seamstress. I have no idea what that means but it did remind me of a favourite phrase of a former flatmate – fondling armadillos – which was used to describe time wasting, presumably because the armadillo’s hard shell would prevent it from feeling the fondling.

Heartbreak in the paddocks


Lambing is one of the most rewarding times in the sheep farmers’ calendar but it can also be one of the most heartbreaking.

Losing thousands of lambs has a high financial cost. It also has an emotional one.

Trying to help lambs and ewes in bad weather is hard physical work and it’s heartbreaking when in spite of your best efforts stock die.

On Nine to Noon this morning Lyn Freeman spoke about the trials  to Southland farmers David Rose, Federated Farmers Adverse Events spokesperson and Don Nicolson, Feds president.

One of the questions she asked was whether it would be better to lamb at another time. David gave a similar answer to one I wrote on yesterday’s post about the snow – you can get bad weather at any time and lambing has to be timed to meet the feed cycle.

Every time there’s a bad storm during lambing people who don’t understand farming ask why farmers don’t do more to protect their stock.

The simple answer is they do all they can but in really bad weather that’s not enough.

It’s not like overseas where they have smaller flocks and lamb inside. Here where we have much larger flocks and  it’s humanly impossible to give the nurturing required to beat nature’s worst.

Tuesday’s answers


Monday’s questions were:

1. What is  Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane commonly known as and what is it used for?

2. What are the first six letters in the Nato (phonetic ) alphabet used for radio, telephone and military communications.

3. Who said “Clever and attractive women do not want to vote; they are willing to let men govern as long as they govern men.”?

4. Who is the patron saint of florists?

5.What is the birthstone for September?

Points awarded for answers:

Mr Gronk got three right.

David got 1 5/6.

Bearhunter got three, a bonus for lateral thinking and a happy birthday.

Chris wins the electronic bouquet for a perfect score and a happy birthday.

Andrei got three right and a sigh for true but cynical for his last answer.

Tuesday’s answers follow the break:

Read the rest of this entry »

My Soul’s Companion


This Tuesday’s Poem is My Soul’s Companion by Doug Poole.

It’s a prose poem and is accompanied by a painting by the poet’s partner, Penny Howard.

Among the other contributions from Tuesday poets linked in the sidebar are Afterword by Clare Beynon and Harvey’ McQueen’s Unexpected Tui.

What’s the point of DHB elections?


When we elected health boards using First Past the Post we had wards which gave us a reasonable chance of knowing at least one of the candidates for whom we could vote.

When STV was introduced we lost the wards and now have to vote for up to four members for the Otago Constituency of the Southern District Health Board.

There are 11 people standing for those four positions. That is an improvement on the 20 plus who stood in previous elections but I’d be very surprised if anyone knew enough to intelligently rank all 11 and most will be struggling to find four they know enough about to support, or not, with confidence.

I don’t know any of the candidates very well but have met four of them and know of one more. I will probably vote for one and may support a second but definitely won’t be voting for the others I know or any of those I don’t know.

This shows up shortcomings with the STV system – it may be good in a small area where people know the candidates or can find out about them easily, but it’s not good for a whole province. Dunedin city voters have the numerical advantage, it’s too expensive for candidates to promote themselves everywhere and most voters will know little if anything about most of those seeking their votes.

But whatever the voting system I wonder what’s the point in elections for DHBs? The chair and half the board members are government appointees and elected or appointed, all board members are answerable to the government.

Allowing elections was an attempt by Labour to convince us we had local control over health boards. We don’t.

They are there to run hospitals and health services for the government and they’re answerable to the Minister of Health.

I don’t have a problem with that but wonder why we have to go through the charade of elections which are really just an expensive exercise designed to make us feel we have some control when in practice we don’t.

September 21 in history


On September 21:

1217 Livonian Crusade: The Estonian tribal leader Lembitu and Livonian leader Kaupo were killed in Battle of St. Matthew’s Day.

1411 Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, claimant to the English throne, was born (d. 1460).

1745 Battle of Prestonpans: A Hanoverian army under the command of Sir John Cope was defeated, in ten minutes, by the Jacobite forces of Prince Charles Edward Stuart.

1756 John MacAdam, Scottish engineer and road-builder, was born (d. 1836).

1792 The National Convention declared France a republic and abolished the monarchy.

1827  Joseph Smith, Jr. was reportedly visited by the angel Moroni, who gave him a record of gold plates, one-third of which Smith has translated into The Book of Mormon.

Joseph Smith, Jr. portrait owned by Joseph Smith III.jpg

1834 Betty Guard and her children were rescued from Ngati Ruanui (who had held them captive in Taranaki since April) by troops from HMS Alligator and Isabella.

Rescue of Harriet survivors begins

1860   In the Second Opium War, an Anglo-French force defeated Chinese troops at the Battle of Baliqiao.

La bataille de Palikiao.jpg

1866 – H. G. Wells, English writer, was born (d. 1946).


1874 Gustav Holst, English composer, was born (d. 1934).


1897  The “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” editorial was published in the New York Sun.


1898  Empress Dowager Cixi seized power and ended the Hundred Days’ Reform in China.

1902 Sir Allen Lane, British founder of Penguin Books, was born (d. 1970).

Penguin logo.png

1921  A storage silo in Oppau, Germany, exploded, killing 500-600 people.

1934  A large typhoon hit western Honshū killing 3,036 people.

1937 J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit was published.

Cover has a drawing of a winged dragon with a long tail at the bottom.

1938  The Great Hurricane of 1938 made landfall on Long Island, killing an estimated at 500-700 people.

1939  Romanian Prime Minister Armand Calinescu was assassinated by ultranationalist members of the Iron Guard.


1942  On the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, Nazis sent more than 1,000 Jews of Pidhaytsi to Belzec extermination camp.

1942  In Poland, at the end of Yom Kippur, Germans ordered Jews to permanently evacuate Konstantynów and move to the Ghetto in Biała Podlaska, established to assemble Jews from seven nearby towns.

1942 In Dunaivtsi, Ukraine, Nazis murdered 2,588 Jews.

1942  The B-29 Superfortress made its maiden flight.

1947 Stephen King, American author, was born.


1947 Don Felder, American guitarist (Eagles), was born.

1950 Bill Murray, American comedian and actor, was born.


1957 Kevin Rudd, 26th Prime Minister of Australia, was born.


1961  Maiden flight of the CH-47 Chinook transportation helicopter.


1964  Malta became independent from the United Kingdom.

1964  The XB-70 Valkyrie, the world’s first Mach 3 bomber, made its maiden flight from Palmdale, California.


1965 David Wenham, Australian actor, was born.


1972  Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos signed Proclamation No. 1081 placing the entire country under martial law.

1976  Orlando Letelier, a member of the Chilean socialist government which was overthrown in 1973 by Augusto Pinochet,  was assassinated in Washington, D.C.

1978 Doug Howlett, New Zealand rugby union footballer, was born.

1981 Belize was granted full independence from the United Kingdom.

1981  Sandra Day O’Connor was unanimously approved by the U.S. Senate as the first female Supreme Court justice.


1989  Hurricane Hugo made landfall in South Carolina.

1991  Armenia was granted independence from Soviet Union.

1993 Russian President Boris Yeltsin suspended parliament and scrapped the then-functioning constitution, thus triggering the Russian constitutional crisis of 1993.

1999  Chi-Chi earthquake in central Taiwan, left about 2,400 people dead.


2001 – AZF chemical plant exploded in Toulouse killing 31 people

2004  The Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) People’s War and the Maoist Communist Centre of India merged to form the Communist Party of India (Maoist).

2008  Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, the two last remaining independent investment banks on Wall Street, become bank holding companies as a result of the subprime mortgage crisis.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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