Word of the day


Galimatias – meaningless talk, gibberish, nonsense, confused mix of unrelated things.

Tuesday’s poem invites


This Tuesday’s poem  invites entries for the Caselberg Trust’s inaugural competition.

Among the poems linked in the sidebar which caught my attention are:

Innocent’s Song by Charles Causley.

Bouquet of Dead Flowers by David Eggleton.

Near Morning by Melissa Green.

For Thomas on His First Birthday by Andrew Ball.

 House by Renee Liang.

Denis Dutton has died


Philosophy professor, internet entrepreneur and media commentator Denis Dutton died yesterday.

The announcement of his death in Arts and Letters Daily which he founded has resulted in  tributes  from readers.

Blake Eskin wrote in the New Yorker:

Through Arts & Letters Daily, Denis helped prove that the Web could be a platform not only for fast-paced celebrity gossip and pictures of cute animals but for long and serious writing and the exchange of complex ideas. Denis died today, but his site and his vision will endure.

Although best known for ALD, Dutton also founded New Zealand Skeptics – the NZ committee for the scientific investigation of claims of the paranormal.

I knew him only through his voice on the radio and writing in papers and on the internet. In all of those media he came across as  an intelligent, articulate man who was passionate about his beliefs, including public radio.

Money is democratic


Quote of the week from Chris Trotter:

Strangely, we don’t seem to mind if our leaders are richer than we are. Money, after all, is a wonderfully democratic thing. With sufficient hard work (and just a little bit of luck) just about anybody can become rich.

He was writing about John Key in such a way that I am going to resist the temptation to quote more and suggest you follow the link above to read it all yourself.

Update: The column is now at Bowalley Road too.

Far too much weather this year


With droughts, floods, hail and snow there’s been altogether too much weather this year.

North Otago wasn’t as hard hit as many other areas, but it was bad enough.

We had only about half our normal rainfall in the year to the end of March, a few showers in autumn then more than half the annual average fell in three days in May.

It kept raining off and on through winter but then it stopped and didn’t start again. By last week we had only one wish for Christmas – a decent rain.

We got it on Monday – more than 30 mls which was enough without being too much.

Holiday makers wouldn’t have found it as welcome as farmers did and further north there was far too much for everyone:

Farmer Paul Storer said the flooding on the farm, which he estimated to be between one and six metres deep at different points, was “within six inches” of the farmhouse.

The house had also lost part of its roof, and water was flowing in.

“We’re absolutely stranded. We can’t go anywhere. We just have to sit tight.

“I’m just watching half a ton of baleage floating past the house – that’s how much water we’ve got.”

The worst of the rain came overnight, and he had not slept, he said. He moved all his cows to the cowshed at 5am.

“They’re all sitting in the cowshed together in about a metre of water.”

Mr Storer said five other neighbours on his side of the river faced similar conditions.

“It’s ruined our season. The whole farm will be silted up. All the food I’ve got stacked up will be ruined. And it’ll take out all the fences as it goes through.”

Some have lost stock too:

Federated Farmers’ Golden Bay president, Graham Ball, said several farms lost much of their herds. One farmer lost 100 heifers and another lost 70 cows.

Mr Ball said power has been lost to the valley for up to two days, creating animal welfare problems for cows that cannot be milked.

Looking back on the good, bad and ugly of the year the weather has definitely been in the latter category. Dare we hope that next year will be better?

December 29 in history


On December 29:

1170  Thomas Becket: Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, was assassinated inside Canterbury Cathedral by followers of King Henry II; he subsequently becomes a saint and martyr in the Anglican Church and the Roman Catholic Church.

13th-century manuscript illumination, an early depiction of Becket’s assassination.

1721  Madame de Pompadour, mistress of King Louis XV of France, was born (d. 1764).

Madame de Pompadour, portrait by François Boucher.

1800 Charles Goodyear, American inventor, was born (d. 1860).


1809 William Ewart Gladstone, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, was born  (d. 1898).

1835  The Treaty of New Echota was signed, ceding all the lands of the Cherokee east of the Mississippi River to the United States.

1876 The Ashtabula River Railroad bridge disaster left 64 injured and 92 dead at Ashtabula, Ohio.

Ashtabula Bridge disaster.jpg
Wood engraving published in Harper’s Weekly, 20 January 1877

1880 Tuhiata, or Tuhi, was hanged in Wellington for the murder of the artist Mary Dobie at Te Namu Bay, Opunake. Tuhi wrote to the Governor days before his execution asking that ‘my bad companions, your children, beer, rum and other spirits die with me’.

1890 United States soldiers kill more than 200 Oglala Lakota men, women, and children with 4 Hotchkiss guns in the Wounded Knee Massacre.

1911  Sun Yat-sen became the provisional President of the Republic of China.

1911  Mongolia gained independence from the Qing dynasty.

1930  Sir Muhammad Iqbal‘s presidential address in Allahabad introduced the Two-Nation Theory and outlines a vision for the creation of Pakistan.

1936  Mary Tyler Moore, American actress was born.

1937  The Irish Free State was replaced by a new state called Ireland with the adoption of a new constitution.

1939 First flight of the Consolidated B-24.

1940  In The Second Great Fire of London, the Luftwaffe firebombed the city, killing almost 200 civilians.
Herbert Mason’s iconic photograph taken 29 December 1940, published front page of Daily Mail 31 December 1940
1941 Birth of Ray Thomas, British musician (The Moody Blues).
1946 Marianne Faithfull, British singer, was born.
1949 KC2XAK of Bridgeport, Connecticut became the first Ultra high frequency (UHF) television station to operate a daily schedule.
1953 Alan Rusbridger, editor of The Guardian, was born.

1972 An Eastern Air Lines Flight 401 (a Lockheed Tristar) crashed on approach to Miami International Airport killing 101.

1975 A bomb exploded at La Guardia Airport in New York City, killing 11 people and injuring 74.

1889 1989 Václav Havel was elected president of Czechoslovakia – the first non-Communist to attain the post in more than four decades.


1996  Guatemala and leaders of Guatemalan National Revolutionary Union signed a peace accord ending a 36-year civil war.

1997 – Hong Kong began to kill all the nation’s 1.25 million chickens to stop the spread of a potentially deadly influenza strain.

1998 Leaders of the Khmer Rouge apologised for the 1970s genocide in Cambodia that claimed over 1 million.

2003 The last known speaker of Akkala Sami – died, rendering the language that was spoken in the Sami villages of A´kkel and Ču´kksuâl, in the inland parts of the Kola Peninsula in Russia extinct.

Sourced from NZ HIstory Online & Wikipedia.

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