M*A*S*H When the War is Over


Happy birthday Loretta Swit, 73 today.

Providing an excuse for a little M*A*S*H:

Word of the day


Ucalegon –  a neighbour whose house is on fire.

Who’d have thought there’d be a word for that?



Oh dear – only 4/10 in this week’s NZ History Online quiz.

Stating the obvious


From the ODT:

Dunedin’s Botanic Garden should be a place to savour the wafting scent of rhododendrons – not the aroma of urine and vomit, Dunedin City Council staff say.


Considered consistent reform better than opposition


The second 2025 Taskforce report recommends a much smaller role for government if we are to close the gap between New Zealand and Australia.

It’s broad recommendations are:

Cutting both government spending and tax rates
• Government withdrawal from most commercial activity to allow the private sector to drive value for money and innovation in those areas – including health and education services
• Proper cost-benefit analyses of government infrastructure projects
• More focused research and development in the public and private sector, including better governance of research and development in tertiary institutions and full contestability for government research and development funding
• Better quality regulation – more “fundamental review” of the Resource Management Act, restoration of the youth minimum wage, and a less restrictive hazardous substances and new organisms regime.
• More openness to foreign investment
• Better processes for scrutiny of regulations along the lines of the Regulatory Responsibility Bill.

Taskforce chair Don Brash commends the government for making some progress but also criticises some policies:

There has been some progress since the Task Force’s first report, Dr Brash said. He cited the tax cuts in this year’s budget, the first stage of the government’s Resource Management Act changes, extension of the 90-day probation period for employment law, and the lifting of the last government’s effective moratorium on new aquaculture farms.

Negative though include an even larger government deficit and a number of large government infrastructure projects undertaken without any sufficient cost-benefit analysis.

He also noted the budget’s changes to company tax law meant that even with the drop in the overall company rate the depreciation changes and new thin capitalisation regime means that overall the business sector is actually paying more tax than it was previously.

Finance Minister Bill English made a diplomatic response to the report, accepting the challenges it identifies but differing on the speed at which reforms can be made:

The second 2025 Taskforce report shows the Government has taken steps to lift New Zealand’s sustainable economic growth, but catching up with Australia will be a long-term challenge, Finance Minister Bill English says.

“Budget 2010 took several steps in that direction – including across the board personal tax cuts on 1 October that narrow the gap in after-tax incomes with Australia,” Mr English says.

“However the report shows just how challenging it will be to catch up to Australia by 2025, especially as we continue to recover from a recession – started under Labour – that Australia never had.

“Our first step has been to get the economy out of recession and growing again. We’ve now had five consecutive quarters of growth and we’ve put in place a broad programme of action, which will provide a platform for future growth.

“The Taskforce’s report – part of ACT’s confidence and supply agreement with National – raises some interesting ideas, which will hopefully generate constructive debate. The Government will consider some of those ideas, alongside the range of other advice we receive, and make practical decisions.

“However we disagree with the Taskforce report’s authors about the ideal speed of reform.

“History shows that reforms done at breakneck speed tend to be fairly counterproductive. If you don’t take the time to convince people of the benefits of change there’s a good chance the next government will simply reverse them.

“We are already moving in some of the directions suggested in the report. As well as cutting personal and corporate taxes, we have put a cap on new Government spending, have put better incentives into the welfare system and are reviewing major regulation.

“But any changes must meet the tests of fairness and equity, be consistent with our election promises and occur at a sustainable pace.

“The only way we can permanently lift New Zealand’s economic growth is through considered and consistent reform and change, year after year,” Mr English says.

I agree with the broad thrust of the 2025 report but also accept the political reality. 

Unpopular governments don’t get re-elected and it’s better to make slow progress in government than no progress in opposition.

However, I think governments sometimes underestimate the public’s acceptance of the need for stronger medicine if we’re to cure the economic malaise which has been widening the gap with Australia for 40 years.

November 4 in history


On November 4:

1333  The River Arno flooding caused massive damage in Florence.

1429   Joan of Arc liberated Saint-Pierre-le-Moûtier.

1576   Eighty Years’ War:  Spain captured Antwerp.

1677  The future Mary II of England married William, Prince of Orange.

1737   The Teatro di San Carlo was inaugurated.


1783   W.A. Mozart’s Symphony No. 36 was performed for the first time.

1791  The Western Confederacy of American Indians won a major victory over the United States in the Battle of the Wabash.

1825  The Erie Canal was completed with Governor DeWitt Clinton performing the Wedding of The Waters ceremony in New York Harbour.


1839   The Newport Rising: the last large-scale armed rebellion against authority in mainland Britain.

1852  Count Camillo Benso di Cavour became the prime minister of Piedmont-Sardinia.

1861  The University of Washington opened in Seattle, Washington as the Territorial University.

1864  American Civil War: Battle of Johnsonville – Confederate troops bombarded a Union supply base and destroyed millions of dollars in material.

1889  Menelek of Shoa obtained the allegiance of a large majority of the Ethiopian nobility, paving the way for him to be crowned emperor.

1890   London’s first deep-level tube railway opened between King William Street and Stockwell.


1916  Ruth Handler, American businesswoman and inventor of the Barbie doll, was born (d. 2002).


1918  World War I: Austria-Hungary surrendered to Italy.

1918  The German Revolution began when 40,000 sailors took over the port in Kiel.

1921 The Sturmabteilung or SA was formed by Adolf Hitler.

1921   Japanese Prime Minister Hara Takashi was assassinated in Tokyo.

1921  The Italian unknown soldier was buried in the Altare della Patria (Fatherland Altar) in Rome.


1922 In Egypt, British archaeologist Howard Carter and his men found the entrance to Pharaoh Tutankhamun‘s tomb in the Valley of the Kings.

Mask of Tutankhamun's mummy, the popular icon for ancient Egypt at The Egyptian Museum.

1924 Nellie Tayloe Ross of Wyoming was elected the first female governor in the United States.

1930 Phar Lap won the Melbourne Cup.

Phar Lap wins the Melbourne Cup

1937  Loretta Swit, American actress, was born.

1939   World War II: U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered the United States Customs Service to implement the Neutrality Act of 1939, allowing cash-and-carry purchases of weapons by belligerents.

1942   Second Battle of El Alamein – Disobeying a direct order by Adolf Hitler, General Field Marshal Erwin Rommel led his forces on a five-month retreat.

Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1973-012-43, Erwin Rommel.jpg

1944  World War II: Bitola Liberation Day.

1950 Charles Frazier, American author, was born.

Cold mountain novel cover.jpg

1952   The United States government established the National Security Agency.

National Security Agency.svg

1955   After being totally destroyed in World War II, the rebuilt Vienna State Opera reopened with a performance of Beethoven’s Fidelio.

1956 James Honeyman-Scott, English guitarist (The Pretenders), was born (d. 1982)

1956   Soviet troops entered Hungary to end the Hungarian revolution against the Soviet Union.


1957 Tony Abbott, Australia politician, Liberal leader, was born.

1962   In a test of the Nike-Hercules air defense missile, Shot Dominic-Tightrope was successfully detonated 69,000 feet above Johnston Island – the last atmospheric nuclear test conducted by the United States.

Nike Missle Being Raised On Launcher (1961883).jpg

1966  Two-thirds of Florence was submerged as the River Arno flooded with the contemporaneous flood of the Po River which led to 113 deaths, 30,000 made homeless, and the destruction of numerous Renaissance artworks and books.

1970  Genie, a 13-year-old feral child was found in Los Angeles, California having been locked in her bedroom for most of her life.


1973   The Netherlands experienced the first Car Free Sunday caused by the 1973 oil crisis.  

1979   Iran hostage crisis began: a group of Iranians, mostly students, invaded the US embassy in Tehran and took 90 hostages.

1993  A China Airlines  Boeing 747 overran Runway 13 at Hong Kong’s Kai Tak International Airport while landing during a typhoon, injuring 22 people.

1994   First conference that focused exclusively on the subject of the commercial potential of the World Wide Web.

1995  Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by an extremist Orthodox Israeli.

2002  Chinese authorities arrested cyber-dissident He Depu for signing a pro-democracy letter to the 16th Communist Party Congress.

2008   Barack Obama became the first African-American to be elected President of the United States.

Portrait of Barack Obama

2008  Proposition 8 passed in California, representing the first elimination of an existing right to marry for LGBT couples.


Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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