A Town Like Alice


Peter Finch would have been 94 today.

Word of the day


Nomophobia – fear of being out of mobile phone contact.

Tuesday’s answers


Monday’s questions were:

1. Name five of the 12 members of OPEC.

2. In which of the arts would you find a cambré, an entrechat and a relevé?

3. Who said: If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties.” ?

4. It’s primavera in Spanish and Italian, printemps in French and aroaromahana  or   kōanga  in Maori, what is it in English?

5. What’s Bill English’s middle name?

Points for answers:

Robert got one for laughter for his first answer.

Gravedodger got four.

Bearhunter got four – with a bonus for extra information and so wins the electronic bouquet.

David got three right, a bonus for extra information – and I agree about the name (my farmer is also called by his middle name not his first one).

Tuesday’s answers follow the break:

Read the rest of this entry »

Making a blue


When you learn a foreign language it pays to learn and take great care in using false friends. They’re the words which are the same or similar as words in your own language but have very different meanings.

In Spanish for example, embarazada looks and sounds a bit like embarrassed but it means pregnant.

Apropos of embarrassed, that’s how French MP Rachida Dati must have felt after making this blue:

Asked about overseas investment funds profiteering during a period of economic uncertainty, she said:  ‘I see some of them looking for returns of 20 or 25 per cent, at a time when fellatio is almost non-existent.’

In French, fellatio – a sex act performed on a man – is ‘fellation’, which sounds a bit like inflation, which is the same word in French and English. 

Hat Tip: Visible Hand who reckons this is why an education is economics is important.

I’m not disputing the importance of economics, but I think the problem in this instance was language.

This is how grown ups act?


Teachers at the NZEI conference yesterday responded to Education Minister Anne Tolley’s speech by holding up placards in silence.

Is this how grown ups act? Is this what they teach their pupils about good manners?

This wasn’t about education, it was about politics.

The reaction was pre-arranged. The teachers weren’t there to listen and learn, to ask questions or discuss, they were there with closed minds to protest.

It looked like it was unanimous too, but then given the bullying someone who dared question the union line got, it’s probable everyone who is working with National Standards as they’re supposed to be would have stayed away.

Nappy subsidy smells a bit iffy


The Waitaki District Council is going to subsidise cloth napkins in an effort to cut down the amount of disposable nappies going into council landfills.

Solid waste officer Gerry O’Neill last week said that over a 12-month period, starting on October 22, new parents in the district would be offered cloth-nappy starter packs at a heavily discounted price.

“We have managed to secure a really good deal with four different suppliers, and when combined with a subsidy from the council, parents will be able to buy a cloth-nappy starter pack valued at more than $100 for just $10,” he said.

The council had more than 12 tonnes of nappies and sanitary waste going to the Oamaru landfill every week.

Any measure that reduced that was worthwhile in helping extend the life of the landfill and reducing its operation costs.

Let’s start by giving them points for talking about parents and not just mothers who usually get saddled with anything to do with napkins.

Let’s also acknowledge that waste reduction is a worthy aim.

But that isn’t enough to stop me thinking something about this nappy subsidy smells a bit iffy.

It sounds good in theory but will it work in practice?

Just $10 isn’t a big investment in cloth nappies. That should ensure a reasonable uptake, but who’s going to make sure they get used even some of the time?

What’s to stop someone buying a starter pack and selling the nappies. Anything more than $10 would be a profit for the seller and a bargain for the buyer.

Twelve tonnes of nappies and sanitary waste sounds like a lot. But what sort of reduction will this subsidy result in and at what cost to the ratepayer?

I wonder if the council looked at the option of composting instead which Envirocomp appears to do successfully?

September 28 in history


On September 28:

48 BC  Pompey the Great was assassinated on the orders of King Ptolemy of Egypt after landing in Egypt.

351 Battle of Mursa Major: the Roman Emperor Constantius II defeated the usurper Magnentius.

365  Roman usurper Procopius bribed two legions passing by Constantinople, and proclaims himself Roman emperor.

Procopius siliqua - RIC 013e.jpg

551: Confucious, the Chinese philosopher was born.

935  Saint Wenceslas was murdered by his brother, Boleslaus I of Bohemia.

995  Members of Slavník’s dynasty – Spytimír, Pobraslav, Pořej and Čáslav – were murdered by Boleslaus’s son, Boleslaus II the Pious.


1066  William the Conqueror invaded England: the Norman Conquest began.

1106 The Battle of Tinchebrai – Henry I of England defeated his brother, Robert Curthose.


1238 Muslim Valencia surrendered to the besieging King James I of Aragon the Conqueror.


1322  Louis IV, Holy Roman Emperor defeated Frederick I of Austria in the Battle of Mühldorf.

Schlacht bei Mühldorf3.jpg

1448  Christian I was crowned king of Denmark.

1542  Navigator João Rodrigues Cabrilho of Portugal arrived at what is now San Diego, California.


1571:Italian artist  Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio was born.

1708  Peter the Great defeated the Swedes at the Battle of Lesnaya.

Battle of Lesnaya by Jean-Marc Nattier, 1717

1779  American Revolution: Samuel Huntington was elected President of the Continental Congress, succeeding John Jay.

1781  American forces backed by a French fleet began the siege of Yorktown, Virginia, during the American Revolutionary War.

Surrender of Lord Cornwallis.jpg

1787  The newly completed United States Constitution was voted on by the U.S. Congress to be sent to the state legislatures for approval.

Page one of the original copy of the Constitution

1791  France became the first European country to emancipate its Jewish population.

1836 Thomas Crapper, English inventor, was born (d. 1910).

1844 Robert Stout, Premier of New Zealand and Chief Justice, was born.

Birth of Robert Stout, Premier and Chief Justice

1844  Oscar I of Sweden-Norway was crowned king of Sweden.

1864  The International Workingmen’s Association was founded in London.


1868  Battle of Alcolea caused Queen Isabella II of Spain to flee to France.

1889  The first General Conference on Weights and Measures (CGPM) defined the length of a meter as the distance between two lines on a standard bar of an alloy of platinum with ten percent iridium, measured at the melting point of ice.

1891  Club Atletico Peñarol was founded under the name of Central Uruguay Railway Cricket Club.

Home colours
Away colours

1899 Premier R.J. (‘King Dick’) Seddon asked Parliament to approve an offer to the British government of a contingent of mounted rifles to fight in Transvaal.

NZ answers Empire's call to arms in South Africa

1901 US television host Ed Sullivan was born (d1974).


1916  Peter Finch, English-born Australian actor,was born (d1977).

1928  The U.K. Parliament passed the Dangerous Drugs Act outlawing cannabis.

1928  Sir Alexander Fleming noticed a bacteria-killing mould growing in his laboratory, discovering what later became known as penicillin.

1934 French model and actress Brigtte Bardot was born.

1939 – Warsaw surrendered to Nazi Germany.

1944  Soviet Army troops liberated Klooga concentration camp in Estonia.


1946 English singer Helen Shapiro was born

1958  France ratified a new Constitution of France

1961 A military coup in Damascus effectively ended the United Arab Republic, the union between Egypt and Syria.

1962  The Paddington tram depot fire destroyed 65 trams in Brisbane.


1971  The British government passed the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 banning the medicinal use of cannabis.

1973  The ITT Building in New York City was bombed in protest at ITT’s alleged involvement in the September 11 coup d’état in Chile.

ITT Corporation.svg

1975  The Spaghetti House siege, in which nine people were taken hostage, took place in London.

1987  The beginning of the Palestinian civil disobedience uprising, “The First Intifada” against the Israeli occupation.

First intifada.jpg

1994  The car ferry MS Estonia sank in the Baltic Sea, killing 852 people.


1995  Bob Denard and a group of mercenaries took the islands of Comoros in a coup.

2000  Al-Aqsa Intifada: Ariel Sharon visited the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

אריאל שרון

2008  SpaceX launched the first ever private spacecraft, the Falcon 1 into orbit.

Falcon 1 rocket.

2009 The military junta leading Guinea, headed by Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, sexually assaulted, killed and wounded protesters during a protest rally in the Stade du 28 Septembre.


Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

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