Word of the day


Gongoozler – an idle spectator; one who stares endlessly at something unusual; someone who watches but does not contribute to the content or interest of an event.

Vulgarity rules


Noelle McCarthy is hosting Critical Mass today and we began with Letters From Wetville where Sandra posts on Acting Like Normal, Hibernation, In Solidarity with Our Town and Waiting, Hoping and Praying.

These are insider’s thoughts on the Pike River mine explosion. She’s writing from inside about her own community and people which gives her posts a poignancy and intimacy which other media, looking from the outside in, can’t replicate.

We moved on to something completely different – Theodore Dalrymple believes that vulgarity is now the ruling characteristic of England.

And we finished by discussing Noelle’s column in the Herald on the problem of having too many Facebook friends.



This Tuesday’s poem is Ressurection by Michael McKimm.

Other Tuesday poets linked in the sdie bar include:

Elizabeth Welsh who went back to her childhood with Travel by Robert Louis Stevenson.

Creaming Before Dawn by Helen Lehndorf – a tribute to Ruth Dalla’s Milking Before Dawn.

Alicia Ponder’s Murdering Poetry.

How She Holds Her Head by Mary McCallum.

And Havery McQueen’s choice – Piwakaka by Jeffrey Paparoa Holman.

School buses need better identification


The sign before the corner recommended a speed of 80 kilometres an hour.

My farmer, who was driving, slowed, rounded the corner and was starting to accelerate again when he noticed a mini van stopped on the side of the road a short distance ahead.

But only when we were a few metres from it did we both realise it was a school bus which meant we should have been passing it at no more than 20 kph.

Rural Women has a campaign to require all school buses to have flashing lights to identify them. It’s a very good idea because with no uniformity of model and colour, it’s too hard to work out what’s a school bus and what’s not when you’re on the open road.

Too poor to save?


New Zealand’s public debt levels aren’t high by international standards but our private debt levels are and that’s the main reason Standards and Poor’s has put our currency on negative outlook.

Standard and Poor’s decision to put New Zealand’s foreign currency rating on negative outlook highlights the need to reduce our heavy reliance on foreign debt, Finance Minister Bill English says.

“This is a long-standing problem for New Zealand and has left us vulnerable as a country,” he says. “The Government is taking steps to reduce this external vulnerability and to move the economy towards savings and exports.

“They include the tax changes in the Budget this year and work currently underway with the Savings Working Group. From here, it’s important that our economic programme continues.

“Standard and Poor’s praised the New Zealand Government’s commitment to get back to budget surplus by 2016, and it noted that New Zealand had outperformed most other advanced economies in the past two years.

“However, it said the negative outlook on New Zealand’s AA+ foreign currency rating reflected risks stemming from its widening external imbalances and relatively low levels of national savings.

“As Standard and Poor’s notes, New Zealand’s household liabilities – at about 156 per cent of disposable income – are 50 per cent higher than 10 years ago.

“Banks and the Government, which are borrowing in volatile international financial markets, face higher interest costs on their increasing debt. In the past 10 years alone, New Zealand’s net foreign liabilities have jumped from about $90 billion to more than $160 billion.”

Mr English noted that, despite the negative outlook on its AA+ rating with Standard and Poor’s, New Zealand still enjoys the highest possible Aaa (stable) rating with Moody’s.

Standards and Poor’s isn’t the first to be concerned by our high level of foreign debt and their announcement wasn’t all bad – it resulted in a fall in the value of the New Zealand dollar which could be of some help to exporters.

But a high, and growing reliance, on foreign borrowings isn’t anything to be proud of and something which must be addressed.

We can blame the tax and spend policies of the 1999-2008 Labour government for some of the problem. It took too much from us and in doing so increased the burden of government. We’re still paying for it and that means too many of us are too poor to save.

National has made a start on reducing that burden and leaving us with more of our own money. But there’s still a long way to go.

The 2005 election bribes played a big role in the increase in the size of government, its spending and middle income welfare.

Given recent utterances, it’s probably too much to hope that Labour has learned from that, accepts we’re only just coming out of recession and tempers its inclination for growth restricting take and redistribution when developing policy for next year.

But that gives National the opportunity to trust us with the truth – we can’t keep spending more than we earn. If we want first world health, education other services and infrastructure we’re going to have to save more of our own money.

It would be much easier to do that if the burden of the state was reduced.  Not PC shows, the public sector consumes, it’s producers who produce.

If we carry on with too much of the former and too little of the latter we’ll carry on being too poor to save.

November 23 in history


On November 23:

534 BC – Thespis of Icaria became the first actor to portray a character onstage.


1227 – Polish Prince Leszek I the White was assassinated at an assembly of Piast dukes at Gąsawa.

1248 – Conquest of Seville by the Christian troops under King Ferdinand III of Castile.


1499 – Pretender to the throne Perkin Warbeck was hanged for reportedly attempting to escape from the Tower of London.

Perkin Warbeck.jpg

1531 – The Second war of Kappel resulted in the dissolution of the Protestant alliance in Switzerland.

Schlacht bei Kappel.jpg

1644 – John Milton published Areopagitica, a pamphlet decrying censorship.

1808 – French and Poles defeated the Spanish at battle of Tudela.

Bitwa pod Tudela.jpg

1844 – Independence of the Duke of Schleswig-Holstein from Denmark.

1859 Billy The Kid, American outlaw, was born (d. 1881).

1863 – American Civil War: Battle of Chattanooga began.


1867 – The Manchester Martyrs were hanged for killing a police officer while freeing two Irish nationalists from custody.


1876 –  Tammany Hall leader William Marcy Tweed (better known as Boss Tweed) was delivered to authorities in New York City after being captured in Spain.

1887  Boris Karloff, British actor, was born (d. 1969).

1888 Harpo Marx, American comedian, was born (d. 1964).

1889 – The first jukebox went into operation at the Palais Royale Saloon in San Francisco.


1890 – King William III of the Netherlands died without a male heir and a special law was passed to allow his daughter Princess Wilhelmina to become his heir.

1903 – Governor of Colorado James Peabody sent the state militia into the town of Cripple Creek to break up a miners’ strike.

1910 – Johan Alfred Ander was the last person in Sweden to be executed.


1914 – Mexican Revolution: The last of U.S. forces withdrew from Veracruz.

1918 – Heber J. Grant succeeded Joseph F. Smith as the seventh president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


1934 – An Anglo-Ethiopian boundary commission in the Ogaden discovered an Italian garrison at Walwal, well within Ethiopian territory which led to the Abyssinia Crisis.

1936 – The first edition of Life was published.


1940 – World War II: Romania became a signatory of the Tripartite Pact, officially joining the Axis Powers.


1943 – World War II: The Deutsche Opernhaus on Bismarckstraße in the Berlin was destroyed.

1946 – French Navy fire in Hai Phong, Viet Nam, killed 6,000 civilians.

1947 A civis funeral was held for the 41 victims of the Ballantynes Fire.

Civic funeral for 41 Ballantynes fire victims

1949  Sandra Stevens, British singer, member of pop group Brotherhood of Man, was born.

1955 – The Cocos Islands were transferred from the control of the United Kingdom to Australia.

1959 – General Charles de Gaulle,  declared in a speech in Strasbourg his vision for a “Europe, “from the Atlantic to the Urals.”

1963 – The BBC broadcast the first episode of Doctor Who (starring William Hartnell) which is the world’s longest running science fiction drama.

First Doctor colour.jpg

1971 – Representatives of  China attended the United Nations, for the first time.

1976 – Apneist Jacques Mayol was the first man to reach a depth of 100 m undersea without breathing equipment.

1979 –  Provisional Irish Republican Army member Thomas McMahon was sentenced to life in prison for the assassination of Lord Mountbatten.

1980 – A series of earthquakes in southern Italy killed approximately 4,800 people.

1981 – Iran-Contra Affair: Ronald Reagan signed the top secret National Security Decision Directive 17 (NSDD-17), giving the Central Intelligence Agency the authority to recruit and support Contra rebels in Nicaragua.

1985 – Gunmen hijacked EgyptAir Flight 648,  when the plane landed in Malta, Egyptian commandos stormed the  jetliner, but 60 people died in the raid.

1990 – The first all woman expedition to the south pole (3 Americans, 1 Japanese and 12 Russians), set off from Antarctica on the 1st leg of a 70 day, 1287 kilometre ski trek.

1992  Miley Cyrus, American actress and singer/songwriter, was born.

1993 – Rachel Whiteread won both the £20,000 Turner Prize award for best British modern artist and the £40,000 K Foundation art award for the worst artist of the year.

1996 – Ethiopian Airlines Flight 961 was hijacked, then crashed into the Indian Ocean after running out of fuel, killing 125.

2001 – Convention on Cybercrime was signed in Budapest.

2003 – Georgian president Eduard Shevardnadze resigned following weeks of mass protests over flawed elections.

2005 – Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was elected president of Liberia and became the first woman to lead an African country.

2007 – MS Explorer, a cruise liner carrying 154 people, sank in the Antarctic Ocean south of Argentina after hitting an iceberg. There were no fatalities.

2009 – The Maguindanao massacre

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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