Word of the day


Refudiate – reject. ( Oxford American Dictionary ‘s word of the year).

Aitch or Haitch?


Today’s Critical Mass discussion with Jim Mora of on-line discoveries started where last weeks finished : Haitch or aitch how do you pronounce h?

From there we moved to Latitude 44 where Alex posted on a gliding mishap in Mayday Mayday for Sierra Lima.

Then, a couple of weeks too late for Movember, – An Ode to the Beard at Will Type for Food.

Robust politics or personal persecution? UPDATE: Pansy resigns


A media advisory gives notice that Botany MP Pansy Wong will be holding a press conference this morning.

Could it possibly have anything to do with the Pansy Facts website launched by Labour?

Labour has said the investigation into the use of travel subsidies by Pansy and her husband Sammy wasn’t thorough enough and that it should be investigated by the Auditor General.

Auditor General Lyn Provost is expected to announce this week whether or not she will do anything.

Had the call for an investigation been ignored or turned down there might be a case for Labour’s continued attacks on the MP.

But when an investigation is still under consideration the efforts they’re going to look more like personal persecution than robust politics.

Hat Tip: NBR

UPDATE: The media release form the conference says:

Pansy Wong, MP for Botany, has today announced her intention to resign from Parliament following 14 years of public service.

 “This was my decision. I have not taken it lightly but I feel now is the right time for me to step down,” Mrs Wong says.

 “Over the past month, I have felt that the allegations directed at me have been a distraction to the Government and have put undue pressure on my family and friends. I strongly refute these allegations and do not want to tie-up the Government’s and my time continuing to do so.

 “I want to ensure the National-led Government can progress its agenda without unnecessary distractions.”

 Mrs Wong said it was a privilege to be the MP for Botany and she thanked her constituents for their support and patience.

 “I believe Botany is the best electorate in the country. They deserve an MP who is able to fully focus on their needs.

 “The past 14 years have passed without me having time to stop and reflect. But the past three weeks have given me the opportunity to do so, and it will forever weigh on my conscience that my continuing political pursuit has placed huge demands and constraints on my husband. I have decided this will no longer be the case.

 “It is also time for me to turn a new page in my life’s journey to focus on personal and family priorities.”

 Mrs Wong’s resignation is effective from 17 January 2011, but she has made the decision not to receive any salary or personal entitlements from 20 December to the effective day.

 “I have timed my resignation to ensure that the by-election will not impact on the holiday break of my Botany constituents, and I have also taken into account the work agenda of the National-led Government,” Mrs Wong says.

 “I am looking forward to spending more time with my husband Sammy, and my extended family, who have been a great support to me during my career in Parliament.”

 Mrs Wong wishes to deliver her valedictory speech this afternoon, subject to the leave of the House.

I am very sorry about this and admire the way she has put her constituents and the government first.

For the sake of the children


“If you really want to do something “for the sake of the children” then get their parents employed.”

This comes from Macdoctor who does his usual thorough analysis of stats showing more children were admitted to hospital during the recession.

Lindsay Mitchell comes to a similar conclusion:

Children in families with work do better than children with families on benefits despite both being on low incomes.

Children in families that work suffer the least abuse or neglect.

Children in families that work grow up with similar expectations for themselves.

The first aim of welfare reform must be to get people who can work into work. It is best for them, their children, society and the economy.

A caring society has a responsibility to look after those who can’t look after themselves. But a caring society must also help those who can help themselves to do so.

This could well be more expensive than just giving people benefits in the short term but it is the only way to halt  benefit dependence and the vicious circle of deprivation it leads to.

Stop means stop but why stop here?


The intersection of the road we take to town and State Highway 1 used to be controlled by a Give Way sign.

A few weeks ago that changed and it’s now controlled by a Stop sign.

If there was any consultation or advertising about this I missed it and so did a lot of other people, including several who have been ticketed for not coming to a complete stop.

It’s a driver’s responsibility to notice signs. But when you’ve been driving the same route hundreds of times, have a clear view of on-coming traffic for at least a couple of hundred metres and turn to look right for that traffic rather than left where the sign is, it’s easy enough to miss it.

That’s made it easy picking for the cop, or cops, who’ve been issuing tickets.

Not surprisingly those ticketed aren’t very happy. Stop means stop but no-one understands why this one has to be a stop and not a give way. It hasn’t been an accident trouble spot and there’s a merging lane which allows turning traffic to enter the main road without interfering with on-coming traffic.

Given that, it would be much better PR if the police tried education and warnings to ensure people knew the sign had been changed and understood why before they issued tickets. In the absence of this, it is this looks much more like revenue gathering than road safety.

December 14 in history


On December 14:

1287 St. Lucia’s flood: The Zuider Zee sea wall in the Netherlands collapsed, killing more than 50,000 people.

1503 Nostradamus, French astrologer, was born (d. 1566).


1542 Princess Mary Stuart beccame Queen Mary I of Scotland.

 1751 The Theresian Military Academy was founded as the first Military Academy in the world.


1782  The Montgolfier brothers’ first balloon lifts on its first test flight.

 A 1786 depiction of the Montgolfier brothers’ historic balloon with engineering data.

1843 The first Auckland A&P Show was held.

First Auckland A and P Show

1895  King George VI  was born (d. 1952).

1896 The Glasgow Underground Railway was opened by the Glasgow District Subway Company.

A map of the Glasgow Subway

1900  Max Planck presented a theoretical derivation of his black-body radiation law.


1902 The Commercial Pacific Cable Company laid the first Pacific telegraph cable, from Ocean Beach, San Francisco to Honolulu, Hawaii.

1903 The Wright Brothers made their first attempt to fly with the Wright Flyer at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.


1911  Roald Amundsen‘s team, Olav Bjaaland, Helmer Hanssen, Sverre Hassel, and Oscar Wisting and Amundsen, became the first to reach the South Pole.

1918 Friedrich Karl von Hessen, a German prince elected by the Parliament of Finland to become King Väinö I, renounces the Finnish throne.

1922 Don Hewitt, American creator of 60 Minutes, was born (d. 2009).

 1932  Charlie Rich, American musician, was born (d. 1995).

1946 Patty Duke, American actress, was born.

1948  Kim Beazley, Australian politician, was born.

1949 Cliff Williams, English bassist (AC/DC), was born.

1958  The 3rd Soviet Antarctic Expedition became the first expedition to reach The Pole of Relative Inaccessibility in the Antarctic.

1958  Mike Scott, Scottish singer-songwriter (The Waterboys), was born.

1958 Spider Stacy, English musician (The Pogues), was born.

1960 – Ian Meckiff of Australia was run out by the West Indies, causing the first Tied Test in the history of cricket.

1962  NASA‘s Mariner 2 became the first spacecraft to fly by Venus.

Mariner 2 in space.jpg

1963 – Baldwin Hills Reservoir wall burst, killing five people and damaging hundreds of homes in Los Angeles.

1964  Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States – The United States Supreme Court rules that the U.S. Congress can use its Commerce Clause power to fight discrimination.

 1972 Apollo programme: Eugene Cernan was the last person to walk on the moon, after he and Harrison Schmitt completed the third and final Extra-vehicular activity (EVA) of Apollo 17. This was the last manned mission to the moon of the 20th century.


1981  Israel‘s Knesset passes The Golan Heights Law, extending Israeli law to the area of the Golan Heights.

1994 Construction began on the Three Gorges Dam in the Yangtze River.

Three Gorges Dam

2004  The Millau viaduct, the highest bridge in the world, near Millau, France was officially opened.


2008 President George W. Bush made his fourth and final (planned) trip to Iraq as president and almost got struck by two shoes thrown at him by Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi during a farewell conference in Baghdad.


 Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

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