Word of the day


Querernt – a complainant, a plaintiff; one who inquires or seeks.

Would a far left party threaten Greens?


iPredict shows gains for National and the Green Party and a loss of support for Labour after their leaders’ state of the nation speeches:

This week’s snapshot from New Zealand’s prediction market, iPredict, suggests the National and Green parties both gained from their leaders’ “state of the nation” speeches last week, while the Labour Party went backwards. 

 National’s forecast share of the party vote has risen to 45.9% (from 45.6% last week), the Greens are up to 8.0% (from 7.5% last week) while Labour is down to 30.5% (from 32.0% last week). 

John Key would be able to continue as Prime Minister with the support of one of the Act, UnitedFuture or the Maori Party.  The probability of a new left-wing party has risen.

A snapshot of a prediction market is not a scientific survey. Where a few people are putting their money today won’t necessarily translate into where many more people put their ticks at the election which is still more than nine months away.

That said, the idea of a new left-wing party has gained more traction.

Talk of a new Left-wing party is gathering steam, with veteran activist Sue Bradford confirming behind-the-scenes discussions and revealing she would consider leading it if asked.

Kiwiblog points out this could pose challenges for National and Labour.

Dim Post makes the interesting observation it could also pose problems for the Green by taking away left wing support.

One of the Greens’ weaknesses has been their environmental foundations have often been buried beneath extreme left social and economic goals.

Had it been moderate on these issues it would have been in a position of great strength, sitting in the middle able to give support to National or Labour. But its radical position has kept it on the left and out of government.

The ipredict snapshot hasn’t recognised the launch of a new left wing party could threaten the Greens  – yet.

Accept something in government or nothing in opposition


Is the latest contretemps between Hone Harawira and the other Maori Party MPs the beginning of the end of the party?

Did the Maori Party’s MPs know just how much they were biting off when they decided to take on Hone Harawira?

Maybe not, because the strife now surrounding the party has the potential to tear it apart.

There wasn’t anything very different in what he said but it was the last straw for his colleagues.

This situation is partly the familiar problem small parties have when they sign coalition or support agreements with Labour or National.

To get some of the things they want, they have to go along with most of the Government’s agenda. . .

Sharples and Turia live in the real world of parliamentary politics.

This is the conundrum which faces all the wee parties. They can go into coalition and get something or stay in opposition and get nothing.

That is the real world of parliamentary politics and it’s a hard one.

A party which doesn’t do enough in its supporters’ view faces internal ructions. One which does too much is seen to be the tail wagging the dog, upsets the wider electorate and pays for it at the next election.

Big parties’ supporters become frustrated by the constraints of coalition politics too. But bigger parties achieve more in government than wee ones and have enough support to survive in opposition.

So far no wee parties which have been in government have survived opposition.

So what do they do – accept something in government in the knowledge it might kill them or stay in opposition where they achieve nothing?

Dye Hard



Dye Hard

  A morality play in an unknown number of acts.

Act 1

A simply but stylishly furnished living room of a country home. The smell of barbeque smoke lingers in the air and a lamb can be heard baaing off stage.

A grey-haired man sits at a paper-strewn desk with his head in his hands. A woman enters with a bowl of fruit and a bottle of chardonnay.

Phil: It’s no good, it doesn’t matter which way I do the numbers I know I’ll have to rely on . . .  rely on . . . [ he gulps]  rely on –

Mary: I’ve told you not to mention his name, dear, you know it’s not good for your blood pressure. [She puts fruit and bottle on the desk and pulls up a chair]

Phil: I know, I know, but look at the polls, the trend is clear. If I’m going to lead the next government it will have to be coalition with the Greens and the Maori Party and Peter and, and, and –

Mary:  No, don’t say it, you don’t really want to go back there, to the double speak, economic sabotage and corrup-

Phil: Not the C -word, dear, we’ve put that behind us, we’ve moved on.

Mary: Exactly and you can’t go back.

Phil: Yes, but I can’t go forward without him either.

Mary: Then don’t.

Phil: Don’t? What do you mean don’t?

Mary: Don’t do it. Don’t go into coalition with him, don’t even get close enough that you’d have to consider it. Stop trying.

Phil: Stop trying?

Mary: Yes. It’s the lesser of two evils – you lose the election and the party spends another term in Opposition or you win and cobble together a coalition of misfits beholden to –

Phil: No!

Mary: Exactly – you can’t do it and you shouldn’t do it.

Phil: But I can’t retire now, that would trigger another by-election. We got a hiding in Mana, we haven’t got a show in Botany, imagine the damage that might be inflicted in Mt Roskill.

Mary: That wasn’t what I meant. You stay on as leader but you stop trying to win the election.

Phil, smiling wryly: A lot of people would say that won’t be difficult.

Mary: Ah but the difficulty lies not just in losing but in how you lose. You don’t want to decimate the party. It wouldn’t hurt to lose a few of the dead wood club, but you want to make sure you retain a good base on which to build the revival to win in 2014.

Phil: But how do I do that?

Mary: Very carefully. We have to think of some policies that will appeal to bed rock labour supporters and throw in enough silly ones to scare away the floaters.

Phil: We’ve already started that with the promise to take GST of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Mary: Hmmm, that certainly fits the silly category. Even some of our supporters can see through that so we need to do something for them.

Phil:  Sock the rich and pat the poor on the head?

Mary: Exactly. How about making the first $5,000 of income tax free and tell everyone you’ll increase tax rates for the wealthy to cover it.

Phil:  But Michael ruled that out last time, he said it would do too little for too high a cost.

Mary: Michael isn’t in parliament any more and if he’d applied that sort of economic rigour to most of his other policies we wouldn’t be here now, having to do this.

Phil: But our opponents and the media will do the numbers and say it won’t work.

Mary: Of course they will, but we’re not talking facts, it’s emotion that wins votes. The deep red will love it but the pinky blues won’t.

Phil: Are you sure it will work?

Mary: It will if we cause a distraction at the same time.

Phil: A distraction?

Mary: Yes, a distraction.  Why don’t you talk to the principals and see if they’ve got an issue they could run with on the day of your state of the nation speech?

Phil: Well, when I was talking to Patrick the other day he mentioned a survey which said there were too many outlets for junk food near schools. I could suggest he call for a restriction on what dairies sell before and after school.

Mary:  Wonderful, I can hear the cries of nanny state already. And if we can find something to take the attention away from what you’re saying but still keeps the focus on you. Nothing major, just something trivial the media won’t be able to resist .  . .  um, [looks pensive then smiles] I know, you could dye your hair.

Phil: Dye my hair! Why on earth would I want to do that.

Mary: I don’t suppose you do want to dye it, dear but it will certainly provide a distraction, especially if you’re standing in front of a photo of your old grey self the first time people see it.

Phil: But reporters will ask me why I did it, what will I say then?

Mary: Well at first you won’t say anything constructive, prevaricate a bit, act petulant even.

Phil: I don’t usually do petulant.

Mary: I know you don’t dear, but it’s for the greater good.

Phil: Oh well, then, if you put it like that  I suppose I could tell them they have to ask Key first.

Mary: Perfect!

Phil: But he doesn’t dye his hair and that’s what he’ll say so what do I do then?

Mary: Blame it on me, say I suggested it, that way you won’t have to lie.

Phil: There’s some would say that would make a pleasant change.

Mary: Now, now dear, it’s not like you to be cynical.

Phil: It’s not like me to deliberately spout silly policy and dye my hair either. What would Michael say?

Mary: I’ve already told you he’s part of the problem.

Phil: Not that Michael, the other one. [His eyes shift to a sepia toned photo above the fire place].

Mary: He didn’t have to deal with MMP in the 1930s. Besides I think he’d understand you’re doing the right thing for the party and the country.

Phil: [smiling wryly]  Or at least the correct thing.

Mary:  Which is better than the wrong thing and that, sadly, is the alternative.

Phil: I suppose so, but it won’t be easy.

Mary: When has it ever been easy?

Phil: You’re right [sighs] Ask not what your country can do for you but what . . . .

Mary: It’s a far, far better thing  . . .

Phil: I don’t think either Kennedy or Dickens was thinking about hair dye.

Mary: No, but needs must. [Reaches for the bottle and pours wine into two glasses.] Here’s to the new you, what colour will you go.

Phil: [Takes the glass, clinks it against Mary’s] – Why not red? If I’m dyeing for the party I might as well get the colour right.


Act 2: New Lynn community centre. An audience of mostly elderly people sit facing the stage. Behind the lectern stands a life-size photo of Phil.

Phil [with newly dyed reddish hair enters stage left, smiles, waves]: Ladies and gentlemen  . . .

Hat Tip: I have a theory  at Dim Post.

January 31 in history


On January 31:

1606  Guy Fawkes was executed for his plotting against Parliament.

1673 Louis de Montfort, French catholic priest and saint, was born (d. 1716).

1747 The first venereal diseases clinic opened at London Lock Hospital.

1797 Franz Schubert, Austrian composer, was born (d. 1828). 

1814 Gervasio Antonio de Posadas becomes Supreme Director of Argentina.

1849 Corn Laws were abolished in the United Kingdom (following legislation in 1846).

1862 Alvan Graham Clark discovered the white dwarf star Sirius B, a companion of Sirius, through an eighteen inch telescope at Northwestern University.


1865 Confederate General Robert E. Lee became general-in-chief.

Robert E Lee Signature.svg

1865  Henri Desgrange, Founder of the Tour-de-France, was born (d. 1940).

1872 Zane Grey, American Western writer, was born.(1939)

1876 The United States ordered all Native Americans to move into reservations.

1881  Anna Pavlova, Russian ballerina was born  (d. 1931).


1884 Theodor Heuss, 1st President of Germany (Bundespräsident), was born (d. 1963).

1918 A series of accidental collisions on a misty Scottish night led to the loss of two Royal Navy submarines with over a hundred lives, and damage to another five British warships.

1919 The Battle of George Square took place in Glasgow.

 Mark I tanks and soldiers at the Glasgow Cattle Market in the Gallowgate

 1919  Jackie Robinson, American baseball player,  first black player in Major League Baseball, was born (d. 1972).

Waist-up portrait of black batter in his mid-thirties, in Brooklyn Dodgers uniform number 42, at end of swing with bat over left shoulder, looking at where a hit ball would be

1921 New Zealand’s first regular air mail service began with a flight by the Canterbury Aviation Company from Christchurch to Ashburton and Timaru.

NZ’s first regular airmail service begins

1921 Carol Channing, American actress and singer, was born.

1921 Mario Lanza, American singer was born (d. 1959).

1923 Norman Mailer, American writer and journalist, was born  (d. 2007).

 1929 The Soviet Union exiled Leon Trotsky.

1930 3M began marketing Scotch Tape.


1938 – Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, was born.

1943 German Field Marshall Friedrich Paulus surrendered to the Soviets at Stalingrad, followed 2 days later by the remainder of his Sixth Army, ending one of World War II’s fiercest battles.

1945 US Army private Eddie Slovik was executed for desertion, the first such execution of a US soldier since the Civil War.

1946 Terry Kath, American musician (Chicago), was born (d. 1978).

1946 Yugoslavia‘s new constitution, modelling the Soviet Union, established six constituent republics (Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia).

1950 President Harry S. Truman announced a programme to develop the hydrogen bomb.


1951 Harry Wayne Casey, American singer and musician (KC and the Sunshine Band), was born.

1953 A North Sea flood causes over 1,800 deaths in the Netherlands.


1956 John Lydon aka Johnny Rotten, English singer (Sex Pistols, Public Image Ltd.), was born.

1958  Explorer 1 – The first successful launch of an American satellite into orbit.


1958  James Van Allen discovered the Van Allen radiation belt.

1961 Mercury-Redstone 2Ham the Chimp travelled into outer space.


1966 The Soviet Union launched the unmanned Luna 9 spacecraft as part of the Luna programme.

Luna 9

1968 – Nauru became independent from Australia.

Flag Coat of arms

1971 Apollo 14 Mission – Astronauts Alan Shepard, Stuart Roosa, and Edgar Mitchell, aboard a Saturn V, lifted off for a mission to the Fra Mauro Highlands on the Moon.

The first Saturn V, AS-501, before the launch of Apollo 4

1971 – The Winter Soldier Investigation, organised by the Vietnam Veterans Against the War to publicise war crimes and atrocities by Americans and allies in Vietnam, began in Detroit.

1990 The first McDonald’s in the Soviet Union opened in Moscow.

McDonald's Golden Arches.svg

1995 President Bill Clinton authorised a $20 billion loan to Mexico to stabilize its economy.

1996 An explosives-filled truck rams into the gates of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka in Colombo killing at least 86 and injuring 1,400.

2000 Alaska Airlines flight 261 MD-83, experiencing horizontal stabilizer problems, crashes in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Point Mugu, California, killing all 88 persons aboard.

2001 In the Netherlands a Scottish court convicted a Libyan and acquitted another for their part in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 which crashed into Lockerbie in 1988.

2003 The Waterfall rail accident near Waterfall, New South Wales.


2009 At least 113 people are killed and over 200 injured following an oil spillage ignition in Molo, Kenya.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

Word of the day


Ideopraxist – one impelled to act by the force of an idea; one who devotes his/her energies to the carrying out of an idea; one who puts ideas into practice.

Would a Wool-X prize inspire winning idea?


I’m not a fan of the Sunday Star Times but one good thing it does do is provide space for a column by Federated Farmers president Don Nicolson.

That allows him to communicate with an audience which probably doesn’t read or listen to rural media and to promote good ideas like this week’s (which isn’t online).

It starts:

Imagine if we had a new green export that could generate more than $600 million a year – $100m more than The Hobbit’s economic contribution. Imagine if that export was 100% pure and derived from natural, renewable sources. That product exists – wool.

If ever there was a time to sell a product with those credentials it is now.

Maybe it’s also time for a “Wool-X prize” modelled on the X-Prize Foundation “making the impossible, possible”.

The word prize is key – Virgin Galactic is now in commercial evolution after Burt Rutan spent $25m to win a $10m prize to create a cheap and reusable space vehicle. Could a Wool-X prize similarly inspire enthusiasts in shed and the world’s biggest universities? If we retained the intellectual property, it could unlock new mass market products and industries.

Even if we didn’t retain the intellectual property it would help wool get to – and pass – the $2.8 billion industry it ought to be when adjusted for inflation.

Falling supply and rising demand are taking wool prices back to peaks last seen more than 20 years ago.

A Wool-X prize could inspire a winning idea, then imagine where prices could go if innovative new uses made high demand the norm.

Did you see the one about . . .


My cricket World Cup squad – Imperator Fish mixes politics and sport.

Just one day – Liberty Scott reminds us what we must remember on Holocaust Memorial Day.

Macdoctor compares state of the nation addresses  –  and shows a picture really is worth 1,000 words. He also does the numbers on asset sales in Sell Down.

Crime scene cooking and bags of milk – Around the World on cultural differences of the culinary kind.

Don’t believe the lies – Kiwiblog figures what’s wrong with what Labour’s saying. He also gives a plug for WordCamp NZ.

Let us not march – Dim Post has word clouds from this week’s state of the nation speeches.

Two year Review – Pablo at Kiwipolitico looks back on two years of blogging.

Phil Goff – the beehive – Whaleoil shows how one silly idea could lead to another.



In the previous post I was referring to people who speak English as a first language.

As a student of Spanish I understand how difficult it can be to get a tongue used to using one language round the sounds of another. 

Therefore I offer this not in criticism of people who aren’t native speakers of English, but as an illustration of what could happen if we continue to mangle our own language:

In order to  continue getting-by we all need to learn the  new English language. Practise by reading the following  conversation until you are able to  understand the term  “tenjooberrymuds“.
      With a little  patience, you’ll be able to fit right  in.
     Now, here  goes…
      Room Service :  “Morrin. Roon  sirbees.”
      Guest : “Sorry, I  thought I dialed  room-service.”
      Room Service: ” Rye  . Roon sirbees…morrin! Joowish to oddor  sunteen???”
      Guest: “Uh…..  Yes, I’d like to order bacon and  eggs..”
      Room Service: “Ow  July  den?”
      Guest:  “…..What??”
      Room Service: “Ow  July den?!?… Pryed, boyud,  poochd?”
      Guest: “Oh, the  eggs! How do I like them? Sorry.. Scrambled,  please.”
      Room Service: “Ow  July dee baykem?  Crease?”
      Guest: “Crisp will  be  fine.”
      Room Service:  “Hokay. An Sahn  toes?”
      Guest:  “What?”
      Room Service: “An  toes. July Sahn  toes?”
      Guest: “I… Don’t  think  so.”
      RoomService: “No?  Judo wan sahn  toes???”
      Guest: “I’m sorry but I don’t know what ‘judo wan  sahn toes’  means.”
      RoomService: “Toes!  Toes!…Why Joo don Juan toes? Ow bow Anglish moppin we  bodder?”
      Guest: “Oh, English  muffin!!! I’ve got it! You were saying  ‘toast’…   Fine…Yes, an English muffin will  be  fine.”
      RoomService: “We  bodder?”
      Guest: “No, just  put the bodder on the  side.”
      RoomService:  “Wad?!?”
      Guest: “I mean  butter… Just put the butter on the  side.”
      RoomService:  “Copy?”
      Guest: “Excuse  me?”
      RoomService:  “Copy…tea..meel?”
      Guest: “Yes.  Coffee, please… And that’s  everything.”
      RoomService: “One  Minnie. Scramah egg, crease baykem, Anglish moppin, we  bodder on sigh and copy …. Rye  ??”
      Guest: “Whatever  you  say..”
      RoomService:  “Tenjooberrymuds.”
      Guest: “You’re  welcome”
      I said by  the time you read through this you would understand “tenjooberrymuds”…….and you do, don’t  you?

Minding Ps & Qs minimising Fs & Cs


“Society is getting more violent. People react more stongly to an incident [than in the past]. ” Why is that? “Manners have gone out the window.”

Judge Josephine Bouchier said this in a Listener interview, Bouchier’s Law. In the same issue Brian O’Flaherty bemoans the degradation of language in reign of error and concludes:

Ah, Terry [Snow, former Listener editor], why do we bother? Because we’re pedantic? Nah. Because someone has to uphold the idea of a common comprehension. You might fry tomayto while I boil tomahto but as long as we both know it’s a red fruit, communication exists; and where communication is lies understanding. Understanding has prevented lots of wars, excluding those sparked by religion and greed.

“I think Terry would agree we don’t care so much about the words, and probably wouldn’t care at all if they didn’t underpin that understanding. But they do. Nothing else does.”

Could there be a link between increasing violence, loss of manners and falling standards of language?

A woman working with violent prisoners noticed how limited their vocabularies were. They were never peeved, tetchy, irritated, annoyed, aggravated or even furious they were always at force 10 which was expressed in almost incomprehensible sentences in which the F and C words starred.

“If you can’t name your feelings, how do you recognise them and if you can’t recognise them how can you control them?” she asked.

The man jailed for swearing at a judge probably still doesn’t understand why.

Incomprehension begets frustration. Just think of people dealing with someone who doesn’t speak their language who try speaking more slowly and loudly in the mistaken impression that will help.

Frustration can easily turn to anger and anger can turn to violence.

Where do manners fit in? At the heart of good manners lie respect for, and consideration of, other people and self-restriant. An excuse me is much less confrontational than a shove, a sorry beats a shrug and a whoops with a smile is more likely to get a smile in return than an expletive.

Too simple? Yes. The causes of increasing violence are more complex than declining standards of language and manners, but they are part of the puzzle.

If we took better care of how we spoke and had a better command of the vocabulary with which we speak we’d find it easier to understand and be understood. 

As part of that, if we minded our Ps and Qs it would help to reduce the Fs and Cs which are part of the violent language which leads to violent acts.

January 30 in history


1648 Eighty Years’ War: The Treaty of Münster and Osnabrück was signed, ending the conflict between the Netherlands and Spain.

1649 King Charles I of England was beheaded.

1661 Oliver Cromwell, was ritually executed two years after his death, on the anniversary of the execution of the monarch he himself deposed.

1790  The first boat specializing as a lifeboat was tested on the River Tyne.

1806 The original Lower Trenton Bridge (also called the Trenton Makes the World Takes Bridge), was opened.

1820 Edward Bransfield sighted the Trinity Peninsula and claimed the discovery of Antarctica.


1826 The Menai Suspension Bridge, considered the world’s first modern suspension bridge, connecting the Isle of Anglesey to the north West coast of Wales, opened.


1835 In the first assassination attempt against a President of the United States, Richard Lawrence attempted to shoot president Andrew Jackson, but failed and was subdued by a crowd, including several congressmen.

 The etching of the assassination attempt.

1841 A fire destroyed two-thirds of Mayagüez, Puerto Rico.

1847 Yerba Buena, California was renamed San Francisco.

1858 The first Hallé concert was given in Manchester marking the official founding of the Hallé Orchestra as a full-time, professional orchestra.

1862 The first American ironclad warship, the USS Monitor was launched.

1882  Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd President of the United States, was born (d. 1945).

1889 – Archduke Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria, heir to the Austro-Hungarian crown, was found dead with his mistress Baroness Mary Vetsera in Mayerling.

1911 An amendment to the Gaming Act at the end of 1910 banned bookmakers from racecourses in New Zealand. Bookies were officially farewelled at the now defunct Takapuna racecourse.

Bookies banned from NZ racecourses

1911 The destroyer USS Terry (DD-25) made the first airplane rescue at sea saving the life of James McCurdy 10 miles from Havana.

1911 – The Canadian Naval Service became the Royal Canadian Navy.

Canadian Blue Ensign 1921.svg

1913 The House of Lords rejected the Irish Home Rule Bill.

1925 The Government of Turkey threw Patriarch Constantine VI out of Istanbul.

1929 Lucille Teasdale-Corti, Canadian surgeon and international aid worker, was born (d. 1945).

1930 Gene Hackman, American actor, was born.

1930 The world’s second radiosonde is launched in Pavlovsk USSR.

1931 Shirley Hazzard, Australian-born author, was born.


1933 Adolf Hitler was sworn in as Chancellor of Germany.

1937 Vanessa Redgrave, English actress, was born.

1941 – Dick Cheney, 46th Vice President of the United States, was born.

1945  World War II: The Wilhelm Gustloff, overfilled with refugees, sunk in the Baltic Sea after being torpedoed by a Soviet submarine, leading to the deadliest known maritime disaster, killing approximately 9,000 people.

Bundesarchiv Bild 183-H27992, Lazarettschiff "Wilhelm Gustloff" in Danzig.jpg

1945  Raid at Cabanatuan: 126 American Rangers and Filipino resistance liberated 500 prisoners from the Cabanatuan POW camp.

POWs celebrate.jpg

1945 Hitler gave his last ever public address, a radio address on the 12th anniversary of his coming to power. (

1947 Steve Marriott, English musician (Humble Pie, The Small Faces), was born  (d. 1991).


1948 – Indian pacifist and leader Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was assassinated by Nathuram Godse, a Hindu extremist.

1951 Phil Collins, English musician, was born.


1954 Queens EliZabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh  left New Zealand, bringing to an end the first tour by a ruling monarch.

Queen farewells New Zealand

1956 American civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.‘s home is bombed in retaliation for the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

 National City Lines  bus, No. 2857, on which Rosa Parks was riding before she was arrested

1960 The African National Party was founded in Chad through the merger of traditionalist parties.

1960  Lily Potter, (fictional character) Mother of Harry J. Potter and Member of The Order of the Phoenix, was born.

 The Potters as illustrated by Mary GrandPré.

1962 King Abdullah II of Jordan, was born.

1964  Ranger 6 was launched.

Ranger 6

1968 Prince Felipe of Spain, was born.

1969 The Beatles‘ last public performance, on the roof of Apple Records in London.

A terrace building. Its ground floor has plaster render inscribed to look like stone, the middle three are red brick, and the top is an attic. Each floor has four sash windows with a dozen or more panes each, except that the bottom floor has a door in place of the second window. Apple Corps building at 3 Savile Row, site of the Let It Be rooftop concert

1971 Carole King’s Tapestry album was released, it became the longest charting album by a female solo artist and sold 24 million copies worldwide.

1972 Bloody Sunday: British Paratroopers killed 14 unarmed civil rights/anti internment marchers in Northern Ireland.

1972 Pakistan withdrew from the Commonwealth of Nations.

1979 Varig 707-323C freighter,  disappeared over the Pacific Ocean 30 minutes after taking off from Tokyo.

1982 Richard Skrenta wrote the first PC virus code, which was 400 lines long and disguised as an Apple boot programme called “Elk Cloner”.

1989 The American embassy in Kabul closed.

1994 Péter Lékó became the youngest chess grand master.

Peter Leko 06 08 2006.jpg

1995 Workers from the National Institutes of Health announced the success of clinical trials testing the first preventive treatment for sickle-cell disease.

1996 Gino Gallagher, the suspected leader of the Irish National Liberation Army, was killed while waiting in line for his unemployment benefit.

1996 – Comet Hyakutake was discovered by Japanese amateur astronomer Yuji Hyakutake.

Comet Hyakutake captured by the Hubble Space Telescope 

2000 Off the coast of Ivory Coast, Kenya Airways Flight 431 crashed into the Atlantic  killing 169.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

Word of the day


Cacoethes –  irresistible desire to do something inadvisable; an uncontrollable urge, especially for something harmful; mania.

Rural round-up


Pied Pipers of Galapogos Sally Rae writes in the ODT:

Herbert couple John and Bruna Oakes have played a major role in helping protect the wildlife and plant life of the Galapagos Islands.

Mr and Mrs Oakes, who own Central South Island Helicopters, were approached to do some work for the Ecuadorian Government, due to their expertise in pest control. . . 

The golden shearer hits 70 – Colin Williscroft writes in the ODT:

When Brian “Snow” Quinn needs to shear his flock of about 400 ewes, he does most of the hard work himself, although he admits getting in some help when it is needed.

At 70, there is nothing wrong with that, he reckons.

In his heyday, of course, Mr Quinn was a champion shearer – a world champion at one stage – and today he is still hugely respected for his legacy, having won the Golden Shears competition in 1965, 1967, 1968, 1970, 1971 and 1972. . .

Only the tough survive the Wairere hills – Jon Morgan writes:

Asked to explain the key to being a successful sheep breeder, Derek Daniell thinks for a second or two, then smiles and says, “Well, to put it simply, it’s about tits and bums.”

He looks down the hill to a small group of two-tooth ewes hugging the shade of an overhanging bank and explains. “It’s tits because the ewes need to be good milkers and rear big lambs.” He points to the two-tooth rams on the hillside above him and adds, “And it’s bums because that’s where most of the meat is.”

 All sheep prices look good: Tony Chaston at Interest.co.nz writes:

With a picture telling “a thousand stories”, we thought it would be good to review where livestock commodity prices are at compared to the last 3 years by way of our charts.

The wool price rises are spectacular, with crossbred prices back to they were in the 80’s. And it may not be over yet with supply  restricted and no stocks in the pipeline.


Wools second auction of the year produced price rises that are unprecedented for decades.

The 6-13% rises for different wool classes lifted the indicator levels dramatically, especially for crossbred (44-49c) and lamb (61c) wools. . .

Rakaia sales show confidence – Tim Fulton writes in NZ Farmers Weekly:

Three years ago it felt like a struggle to get rid of them – now his top pen of store lambs has made $151 and owner Stuart Millar can’t help murmuring “it’s incredible”.

Millar, a champion sheepdog trialist, attributes the price shift to a massive shortage of sheep as dairy expansion and storm losses alter supply and demand for stock.

Flock numbers appeared to be well back on early-season estimates, Millar said following his family’s Suffolk and Perendale sale at Peak Hill.

Their offering of just over 2600 lambs averaged $100 as did another Gorge property Snowdon Station which sold 5400 Suffolk and Perendale lambs. . .

Works buyers breaking ranks – also in NZ Farmers Weekly:

With works struggling to find enough cattle some buyers are starting to break ranks and are competing for cattle by paying premium prices, PGG Wrightson agent Vaughan Vujcich said at the Kaikohe sale.
It was another strong market with 780 head on offer with prices for most of the store market on a par with the previous week which was already high. However, there were still increases for heavier, more forward cattle with schedule changes and a lack of prime cattle for killing.
The cattle market at Pukekohe was very strong with all classes being in very big demand, Chris Humphrey of Livestock Mart Auctions reported.
“This is a trend which looks to only get better as was predicted late last year as cattle numbers are very low in most sales and demand is huge. This will not change for a long time and this shortage of cattle is a real concern,” he said. . .

Confessions of a hunter-gatherer – Steve Wyn-Harris in the Farmer Weekly:

For many years at this time I’ve felt a martyr to the cause on behalf of this country’s export earnings, well at least from Hinerangi Road anyway.

I’d diligently keep slogging away except for Christmas Day and New Year’s Day while all the neighbours, stock trucks and various reps magically disappear. The road becomes a sleepy quiet byway instead of its usual busy vein of commerce and frantic activity.

I wonder how others can be so organised at a busy time of the year or alternatively why I am not. . .

DOC wants to know what we think


The Department of Conservation is inviting public input into its review of its management strategies for conservation in Otago and Southland.

The opportunity to tell DOC what we think and have a say in its strategies happens only once every 10 years.

If you want to have your say the Otago Conservancy values survey is here and the Southland one is here.

They say:

In this survey you will have the opportunity to identify the places you value in this region. By identifying these values, you are providing important information to help the Department of Conservation develop a new conservation management strategy (CMS) for the region.

A CMS provides direction for the management of public conservation land and waters, and species for which the Department of Conservation has responsibility.

It says the survey will take about 20 minutes, I haven’t tried to do it yet.



6/10 in NZ History Online’s weekly quiz.

Bigger warning needed when drowsy is good


Eyes streaming, nose worst, throat sore, coughing frequently . . . but I must be okay because it’s “only”* a cold.

I’ve been self-medicating with the usual preparations which may or may not work; and hot lemon drink made to my mother’s recipe which placebo effect or not, does help.

Could I make a plea to the people who make the things which are supposed to help to make the warning about non-drowsy formula far more prominent.

I’m obviously not pre-disposed to addiction on uppers. All they do  is make me feel agitated and on a cool Saturday when you’re feeling like I do, drowsy would be good.

* And well under par as I feel I know that it is “only” a cold when compared with shingles which really are the pits.

Dirt is good for your health


To counter the people who insist on an unhealthy level of cleanliness comes the news rural living halves asthma and allergy rate.

Professor Jeroen Douwes from Massey University told an international symposium in Auckland on Thursday that growing up on a farm reduces the risk of being allergic or asthmatic by 50% – 60%. . .

Does this mean a little bit of dirt is good for our health?

January 29 in history


On January 29:

904 – Sergius III came out of retirement to take over the papacy from the deposed antipope Christopher.


1676 – Feodor III became Tsar of Russia.

1814 – France defeated Russia and Prussia in the Battle of Brienne.

Battle of Brienne Napoleon vs Cossacks.jpg

1834– US President Andrew Jackson ordered first use of federal soldiers to suppress a labour dispute.

1842 Auckland’s first Anniversary Day regatta was held.

 1845 “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe  was published in the New York Evening Mirror.

1856 Queen Victoria instituted the Victoria Cross.
A bronze cross pattée bearing the crown of Saint Edward surmounted by a lion with the inscription FOR VALOUR. A crimson ribbon is attached

1860 Anton Chekhov, Russian writer, was born (d. 1904).

head and shoulders engraving of bearded Chekhov in pince-nez and suit

1863 Bear River Massacre.

1874 John D. Rockefeller Jr., American entrepreneur, was born (d. 1960).

1880 W.C. Fields, American actor and writer was born  (d. 1946).

1886 Karl Benz patented the first successful gasoline-driven automobile.

1891 Liliuokalani was proclaimed Queen of Hawaii, its last monarch.


1916  Paris was first bombed by German zeppelins.

1939 Germaine Greer, Australian writer and feminist, was born.

1940 Three trains on the Sakurajima Line, in Osaka collided and exploded while approaching Ajikawaguchi station. 181 people were killed.

1944  USS Missouri (BB-63) the last battleship commissioned by the US Navy was launched.

USS Missouri in her 1980s configuration

1944 Approximately 38 men, women, and children die in the Koniuchy massacre in Poland.

1944 In Bologna the Anatomical Theatre of the Archiginnasio was destroyed in an air-raid.

1945 Tom Selleck, American actor, screenwriter and film producer, was born.

1949 Tommy Ramone, Hungarian-born musician and record producer (The Ramones), was born.

1954  Oprah Winfrey, American talk show host and actress, was born.


1989 Hungary established diplomatic relations with South Korea, making them the first Eastern Bloc nation to do so.

1996 President Jacques Chirac announced a “definitive end” to French nuclear weapons testing.

 Four major types of nuclear testing: 1. atmospheric, 2. underground, 3. exoatmospheric, and 4. underwater.

1996 – La Fenice, Venice’s opera house, was destroyed by fire.

 The interior of La Fenice in 1837.

1998 In Birmingham, Alabama, a bomb explodes at an abortion clinic, killing one and severely wounding another.

2001 Thousands of student protesters in Indonesia stormed parliament and demanded that President Abdurrahman Wahid resign due to alleged involvement in corruption scandals.

2002 In his State of the Union Address, United Statses President George W. Bush described “regimes that sponsor terror” as an Axis of Evil.

2005 The first direct commercial flights from the mainland China(from Guangzhou) to Taiwan since 1949 arrived in Taipei. Shortly afterwards, a China Airlines carrier landed in Beijing.

2006 – India’s Irfan Pathan became the first bowler to take a Test cricket hat-trick in the opening over of a match.

Young brown skinned clean shaven man wearing a blue sleeveless T shirt with the word "SAHARA" in black is walking side on in front of a wire fence with a red bag slung over his right shoulder.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

Word of the day


Tendentious – expressing or intending to promote a particular cause or point of view; biased, partial, partisan.

Friday’s answers


Thursday’s questions were:

1. What does a manometer measure?

2. It’s agneau in French, agnello in Italian, reme  in Maori and cordero in Spanish, what is it in English?

3. Who said: “I could not tread these perilous paths in safety, if I did not keep a saving sense of humour.”?

4. Who wrote The Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency?

5. What are warp and weft?

Points for answering:

David got two right and a bonus for deduction.

Bearhunter got a clean sweep with a bonus for wit and wins an electronic bag of cherries.

Scrubone gets five bonuses for humour.

Andrei got four.

Gravedodger got three and a bonus for detail.

Paul got four (allowing him to get away with the general sheep because he’s a city boy when the answer was the specific lamb) with a bonus for humour and introducing me to intertwiniong .

Adam got three and a should I give a bonus for cynicism? for the quote.

PDM gets a couple of bonuses for imagination and education.

The answers follow the break:

Read the rest of this entry »

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