Word of the day


Gallimaufry – odds and ends, mottley assortment of things, hodge-podge, jumble; stew made from meat scraps.

We could learn from the Aussies


Sometimes I wish we were a bit more like the Aussies.

They could teach us how to celebrate our national day (that’s if we had one we could agree on) and how to promote our lamb at the same time:

You’ll find more in a similar vein from Sam Kekovich here.

Birthday bestsellers


Why anyone would want to know what the bestselling books were in the week they were born is debatable.

But if that’s a burning question for you, you can put out the fire at BibliOz.com which has links to the New York Times bestseller lists of the past.

I’d heard of only four of the books listed for the week of my birth and have  read just one.



5/10 in NZ History Online’s weekly quiz.

Time to say good bye


The families of the men who died in the Pike River mine have held on to hope for nearly two months. Now that hope has been dashed by the news the mine will be sealed it’s understandable that they’re lashing out.

Anger is one of the normal and natural stages of the grieving process and they can’t be blamed for feeling this way.

But those further away from the emotion, like the unions who say the decision has been made because of the cost, are making political capital out of vulnerable people’s misery.

Given the millions of dollars that have already gone into attempting rescue and then recovery, it wouldn’t be unreasonable if cost was a consideration. But it’s the danger in the mine and safety of recovery teams which led to the decision to stop.

Families and others who talk about recovery keep saying they want to bring the bodies back, but bodies aren’t designed to survive explosions and fire. Even if it was safe to go in to the mine, it is very unlikely there would be anything left to bring back.

This isn’t a time for political game playing. It’s a time for local  leadership to help people start looking ahead and Greymouth mayor  Tony Kokshoorn is showing it.

“At the end of the day we have to accept we can’t get these bodies out and our men are lying up there for the foreseeable future,” he says.

 Recovery efforts must now centre on the living not the dead.

It is time to say good bye and to concentrate on helping the bereaved and their community.

January 15 in history


On January 15:

588 BC – Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon laid siege to Jerusalem under Zedekiah’s reign.


69 – Otho seized power in Rome, proclaiming himself Emperor of Rome, but rules for only three months before committing suicide.


1493 – Christopher Columbus set sail for Spain from Hispaniola, ending his first voyage to the New World.


1559  Elizabeth I was crowned queen of England in Westminster Abbey.

1622  Molière (Jean-Baptiste Poquelin) French playwright, was born (d. 1673).

1759 The British Museum opened.

1842 Blessed Mary McKillop, Australian  saint, was born (d. 1909).

1870  A political cartoon for the first time symbolised the United States Democratic Party with a donkey (“A Live Jackass Kicking a Dead Lion” by Thomas Nast for Harper’s Weekly).
1889 The Coca-Cola Company, then known as the Pemberton Medicine Company, was originally incorporated in Atlanta.
1892 James Naismith published the rules of basketball.

1893  Ivor Novello, Welsh composer and actor, was born (d. 1951).

1902  King Saud of Saudi Arabia, was born (d. 1969).

1906 Aristotle Onassis, Greek shipping magnate, was born  (d. 1975).

 Statue of Onassis at Nydri.

1909 Jean Bugatti, German-born automobile designer, was born  (d. 1939).

1913  Lloyd Bridges, American actor, was born (d. 1998).

1914  Hugh Trevor-Roper, English historian, was born (d. 2003).

1919  Maurice Herzog, French mountaineer, first to ascend an 8000m peak, Annapurna in 1950, was born .

1919 – Boston Molasses Disaster: A large molasses tank in Boston burst and a wave of molasses poured through the streets, killing 21 people and injuring 150 others.

 Aftermath of the disaster

1929 Martin Luther King, Jr., American civil rights leader, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, was born (d. 1968).

Martin Luther King Jr NYWTS.jpg

1936 The first building to be completely covered in glass was completed in Toledo, Ohio ( built for the Owens-Illinois Glass Company).

1943 – The world’s largest office building, The Pentagon, was dedicated in Arlington, Virginia.

The Pentagon US Department of Defense building.jpg

1966  The government of Abubakar Tafawa Balewa in Nigeria was overthrown in a military coup d’état.

1969 The Soviet Union launched Soyuz 5.


1970 After a 32-month fight for independence from Nigeria, Biafra surrendered.

1970 United States Vice-President Spiro Agnew’s three-day visit to New Zealand sparked some of the most violent anti-Vietnam War demonstrations seen in this country.

Anti-Vietnam War protestors greet US Vice President
1970 – Muammar al-Qaddafi was proclaimed premier of Libya.

1973 Citing progress in peace negotiations, President Richard Nixon announced the suspension of offensive action in North Vietnam.

1977  The Kälvesta air disaster killed 22 people, the worst air crash in Sweden‘s history.

1986 The Living Seas opened at EPCOT Center in Walt Disney World, Florida.

Epcot - The Seas with Nemo & Friends.png

1991  The United Nations’ deadline for the withdrawal of Iraqi forces from occupied Kuwait expired, preparing the way for the start of Operation Desert Storm.

1992  The international community recognised the independence of Slovenia and Croatia from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

1993  Salvatore Riina, the Mafia boss known as ‘The Beast’, was arrested in Sicily after three decades as a fugitive.

2001 Wikipedia, a free Wiki content encyclopedia, went online.

2005 – ESA’s SMART-1 lunar orbiter discovered elements including calcium, aluminum, silicon, iron, and other surface elements on the moon.

 2009 US Airways Flight 1549 made an emergency landing into the Hudson River shortly after takeoff from LaGuardia Airport in New York City. All passengers and crew members survived.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

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