Word of the day


Gargalesthesia – the sensation caused by tickling;

A cracker of a night


“Are you in the Christmas mood yet?” the bloke serving me at the supermarket yesterday asked.

“Well, I pulled my first cracker last night,” I said before adding that Prime Minister John Key had been pulling the other end.

“How come?”  the bloke’s son who was helping his father, asked.

I explained that I’d been invited, as the National Party’s Southern Regional chair, to attend the Canterbury Westland Region’s Christmas Party. The crackers had been on the tables, the PM had picked one up and invited me to pull the other end.

I did and an appropriately blue hat fell out.

“Cool,” the son replied.

It was, I agreed, a cracker of a night.

Friends who had come with us went home to a phone call from their son who is working in London. When told they’d just met the P.M.  and shared a table with a Cabinet Minister, he laughed and said, only in New Zealand could that happen so easily.

Money can’t buy me an election


More proof that the amount you spend on electioneering isn’t directly related to the result:

Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull spent more than $13,000 in his campaign to win the mayoral chains – nearly $30,000 less than Peter Chin did in his campaign not to lose them.

Documents Mr Cull filed with Dunedin electoral officer Pam Jordan this week show he spent $13,517 on his successful tilt at the city mayoralty.

It would be difficult to win an election without spending some money but this is one of many cases where the winner spent a lot less than the loser.

Money helps but it can’t buy love from voters. It is only one of many ingredients in successful campaigns and spending more doesn’t guarantee a better result.

What next?


So far this year we’ve had floods, severe snow storms, a 7.1 magnitude earthquake followed by hundreds of aftershocks,  kiwifruit canker and a fatal explosion in a coal mine.

That’s more than enough but now a mystery disease is killing off oysters and forecasts of a  La Niña summer are heralding drought.

What next – a plague of locusts?

December 4 in history


On December 4:

306 – Martyrdom of Saint Barbara.

771 – Austrasian King Carloman died, leaving his brother Charlemagne King of the complete Frankish Kingdom.

1110 – First Crusade: The Crusaders sacked Sidon.

Magnussonnenes saga 3 - G. Munthe.jpg

1259 – Kings Louis IX of France and Henry III of England agreed to the Treaty of Paris, in which Henry renounced his claims to French-controlled territory on continental Europe (including Normandy) in exchange for Louis withdrawing his support for English rebels.

1563 – The final session of the Council of Trent was held (it opened on December 13, 1545).


1619 – 38 colonists from Berkeley Parish in England disembarked in Virginia and gave thanks to God (this is considered by many to be the first Thanksgiving in the Americas).


1676 –  Battle of Lund: A Danish army under the command of King Christian V of Denmark engaged the Swedish army commanded by Field Marshal Simon Grundel-Helmfelt.

Charles XI, Battle of Lund.jpg

1745  Charles Edward Stuart’s army reached Derby, its furthest point during the second Jacobite rising.

1791 The first edition of The Observer, the world’s first Sunday newspaper, was published.

The Observer

1795  Thomas Carlyle, Scottish writer and historian, was born (d. 1881) .

1835  Samuel Butler, English writer, was born (d. 1902).

1867 – Former Minnesota farmer Oliver Hudson Kelley founded the Order of the Patrons of Husbandry (better known today as the Grange).


1872 The crewless American ship Mary Celeste was found by the British brig Dei Gratia (the ship had been abandoned for 9 days but was only slightly damaged).

Mary Celeste as Amazon in 1861.jpg

1881 The first edition of the Los Angeles Times was published.

Front page from October 21, 2008

1892  Francisco Franco, dictator of Spain, was born (d. 1975).

1918  U.S. President Woodrow Wilson sailed for the World War I peace talks in Versailles, becoming the first US president to travel to Europe while in office.

1930 Ronnie Corbett, Scottish actor, was born.

1939 –  HMS Nelson was struck by a mine (laid by U-31) off the Scottish coast.

HMS Nelson off Spithead for the Fleet Review.jpg

1942 – In Warsaw, Zofia Kossak-Szczucka and Wanda Krahelska-Filipowicz set up the Żegota organization.

Parasol Regiment, Warsaw 1944 

1942 – Carlson’s patrol during the Guadalcanal Campaign ended.


1943 – World War II: In Yugoslavia, resistance leader Marshal Tito proclaimed a provisional democratic Yugoslav government in-exile.

1943 – World War II: U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt closed down the Works Progress Administration, because of the high levels of wartime employment in the United States.

1945 – By a vote of 65 to 7, the United States Senate approved United States participation in the United Nations

1949 Pamela Stephenson, New Zealand-born actress, was born.

1952 Great Smog of 1952: A cold fog descended upon London, combining with air pollution and killing at least 12,000 in the following months.

1954 The first Burger King opened in Miami, Florida.

Burger King Logo.svg

1958 – Dahomey (present-day Benin) became a self-governing country within the French Community.

1966 – The state monopoly on commercial radio broadcasting was challenged by the pirate station Radio Hauraki’s first scheduled transmission from the vessel Tiri in the Colville Channel.

Radio Hauraki rules the waves

1971 The Montreux Casino was set ablaze by someone wielding a flare gun during a Frank Zappa concert; the incident would be noted in the Deep Purple song “Smoke on the Water“.

1971 – McGurk’s Bar bombing: An Ulster Volunteer Force bomb kills 15 civilians and wounds 17 in Belfast.

1977 – Malaysia Airlines Flight 653 is hijacked and crashed in Tanjong Kupang, Johor, killing 100.

1978  Dianne Feinstein became San Francisco, California’s first female mayor.

1980   Led Zeppelin officially disbanded following the death of drummer John Bonham on September 25th.

1991 Journalist Terry A. Anderson was released after 7 years in captivity as a hostage in Beirut.

1991 Captain Mark Pyle piloted Clipper Goodwill, a Pan American World Airways Boeing 727-221ADV, to Miami International Airport ending 64 years of Pan Am operations.

Pan Am Logo.svg

1993 – A truce was concluded between the government of Angola and UNITA rebels.

1998 – The Unity Module, the second module of the International Space Station, was launched.


2005 – Tens of thousands of people in Hong Kong protested for democracy and call on the Government to allow universal and equal suffrage.


2006 – An adult giant squid was caught on video for the first time by Tsunemi Kubodera near the Ogasawara Islands.


Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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