Word of the day


Lapactic – cathartic, purgative.

iPredict on which leaders will fall before election


iPredict is launching new stocks on which party leaders will make it through to the election.

It would take a disaster, natural or otherwise, to remove John Key from the leadership of the National Party in the next 12 months.

The chances of Peter Dunne giving up his place are also tiny because when he goes so does the party. The leadership of the Greens is unlikely to change before the election and only if Tariana Turia decides to retire is it likely that the Maori Party would have a change at the top.

Rodney Hide isn’t quite as secure but probably wouldn’t face a challenge unless it looks probable he’d lose the seat of Epsom which is what gives Act its seats in parliament.

That leaves Labour. Phil Goff and his party aren’t making any traction. The question isn’t will he go, but when?

Will any challengers have the appetite for the poisoned chalice which is what leadership of a party in its first term in opposition after three terms in power almost inevitably is? Or will they leave him to lose the election and take over when he falls on his sword afterwards?

Weather influences food prices more than GST


The price of fruit and vegetables dropped 9.9% in November althought they were higher than a year ago.

Food prices fell 0.6 percent in the November 2010 month reflecting lower vegetable prices, Statistics New Zealand said today. This follows a 2.2 percent increase in October when food prices were affected by the rise in GST, and a 0.7 percent increase in September.
Vegetable prices fell 9.9 percent in November. “Lettuce, tomato, and broccoli prices fell in November, as they usually do. However, prices are much higher than this time last year, reflecting poor weather in September and October,” Statistics New Zealand prices manager Chris Pike said.
Grocery food prices were flat (up 0.1 percent) in November 2010. This follows a 1.7 percent rise in October, when about half the prices collected that were not affected by discounting rose 2.0 to 2.5 percent (reflecting the GST rise).
Restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food prices rose 0.6 percent in November 2010, following a 1.9 percent rise in October.

The important point is that poor weather in September and October was the biggest influence on the price rise of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Yet more proof of the futility of Labour’s policy to take GST off a small part of most people’s grocery purchases.

A scientist’s lot is not an easy one


A graduand was considering post-graduate study but a summer with scientists put her off.

It wasn’t the work but the scientists’ stories of the frustration of time wasted applying for funds which took them away from their research.

The government has increased funding for science and innovation and private individuals and organisations also fund research. Even so a scientist’s lot is not an easy one with the challenges of work complicated by insecurity of tenure.

It doesn’t help that a lot of the work scientists do goes unrecognised, even in farming where the uptake of research findings is pretty good.

But perhaps this will help:

 It’s the work of singing scientist Dr Matthew Barnett who was interviewed on Nine to Noon this morning.

Treating symptoms won’t cure problem


The machete attack on an policeman has led to the inevitable calls for police to carry guns.

That might or might not treat the symptoms of increasing mindless violence but it won’t cure the malaise which is infecting society.

Drug and alcohol abuse are among the causes. So too is a lack of respect for authority, other people, their property and lives.

Arming police will fuel a vicious circle of escalating violence. Addressing the causes is the only way to make New Zealand safer.

Letter from another planet


. . . It’s refreshing news that this honest, sincere politician might once again take his rightful place in the Beehive.

Malicious innuendo, fellow politicians and the media all assisted in bringing about his downfall in 2008 . . .

Letter to the Editor of the Sunday Star Times from Horace Cassidy of Papakura.

Mr Cassidy must have been on another planet when the man he praises was using $158,000 or taxpayers’ money promoting himself before the 2005 election.

He must be there still if he doesn’t understand the misdeeds which led to the Minister of Baubles’ third sacking from Cabinet.

December 13 in history


On December 13:

1294 – Saint Celestine V resigned the papacy after only five months; Celestine hoped to return to his previous life as an ascetic hermit.

B Colestin V.jpg

1545 – Council of Trent began.


1577 Sir Francis Drake set out from Plymouth, on his round-the-world voyage.

1590 or later Marcus Gheeraerts, Sir Francis Drake Buckland Abbey, Devon.jpg

1642  Towards noon the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman sighted ‘a large land, uplifted high’. This was the first recorded sighting of New Zealand by a European.

First recorded European sighting of NZ

1643 – English Civil War: The Battle of Alton.

1769 Dartmouth College was founded by the Rev. Eleazar Wheelock, with a Royal Charter from King George III.

1816 Ernst Werner von Siemens, German engineer, inventor, and industrialist, was born (d. 1892).

1903 Carlos Montoya, Spanish guitarist, was born (d. 1993).

1906 Sir Laurens van der Post, South African author, was born  (d. 1996).

1925 Dick Van Dyke, American actor and comedian was born.

1929 Christopher Plummer, Canadian actor, was born.

1936 Prince Karim Aga Khan (Aga Khan IV), Imam (leader) of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims, was born.

1939 Eric Flynn, British actor and singer, was born (d. 2002).

1939 Battle of the River Plate : At 6.21 a.m. on 13 December 1939, the cruiser HMS Achilles opened fire on the German ‘pocket battleship’ Admiral Graf Spee in the South Atlantic. It became the first New Zealand unit to strike a blow at the enemy in the Second World War.

Battle of the River Plate

1948 Jeff Baxter, American guitarist (Steely Dan, The Doobie Brothers) was born.

1949 Paula Wilcox, English actress, was born.

Man about the House (television series).jpg

1954 Tamora Pierce, American author, was born.

1959 Archbishop Makarios became the first President of Cyprus.

1960 – While Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia visited Brazil, his Imperial Bodyguard seized the capital and proclaimed him deposed and his son, Crown Prince Asfa Wossen, Emperor.

1961 Irene Saez, Miss Universe 1981 and Venezuelan politician, was born.


1967 – Constantine II of Greece attempted an unsuccessful counter-coup against the Regime of the Colonels.

1974 Malta became a republic.

1979 – The Canadian Government of Prime Minister Joe Clark was defeated in the House of Commons, prompting the 1980 Canadian election.

1981 General Wojciech Jaruzelski declared martial law in Poland to prevent dismantling of the communist system by Solidarity.

1989 – Attack on Derryard checkpoint: The Provisional Irish Republican Army launched an attack on a British Army permanent vehicle checkpoint near Rosslea. Two British soldiers were killed and one badly wounded.


1996 Kofi Annan was elected as Secretary-General of the United Nations.

2002 –  The European Union announced that Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia would become members from May 1, 2004.

2003  Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was captured near his home town of Tikrit.

2004 Former Chilean dictator, General Augusto Pinochet was put under house arrest, after being sued under accusations over 9 kidnapping actions and manslaughter. The house arrest was lifted the same day on appeal.

2006 – The Baiji, or Chinese River Dolphin, was pronounced extinct.


Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

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