Word of the day


Vetitive –  having the power to forbid or veto; expressing the wish that something will not happen.

Greens support free expression only when it suits


It’s difficult to decide which is more offensive, the decision to prevent Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard speaking in Parliament or Green Party co-leader Russel Norman’s explanation for doing so:

“The government of the day could invite all sorts of unpleasant people, like (former United States president) George Bush for example they had in Australia, that I think a lot of Members of Parliament would be uncomfortable with and so we thought the best thing was to keep a simple precedent.”

Heaven forbid the delicate ears of our Members of Parliament should be assailed with something which discomforts them!

But let’s not overlook this means the Green Party which purports to uphold democracy and campaigns for freedom of speech in far flung corners of the world won’t allow it in our House of Representatives.

There’s nothing special about supporting freedom of expression for those whose ideas coincide with yours. Real supporters of freedom of expression must allow those with whom they disagree to speak freely too.

As Noam Chomsky said: If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all

Similar sentiments have been expressed by many others:

We can never be sure that the opinion we are endeavouring to stifle is a false opinion; and if we were sure, stifling it would be an evil still.  ~John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, 1859

The fact is that censorship always defeats its own purpose, for it creates, in the end, the kind of society that is incapable of exercising real discretion.  ~Henry Steele Commager

The only valid censorship of ideas is the right of people not to listen.  ~Tommy Smothers

Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too.  ~Voltaire

Censorship reflects society’s lack of confidence in itself.  It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime.  ~Potter Stewart

The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it.  If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth:  if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.  ~John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, 1859

If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.  ~John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, 1859

We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values.  For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.  ~John F. Kennedy

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.  ~Voltaire

Hat Tip: Petty and small minded at Whaleoil and  The Petty Greens at Keeping Stock.


Alf Grumble reckons the grumpy Greens need garroting for gazzumping the Gillard prescedent.

Elton John makes stadium popular


Like any big project the Forsyth Barr stadium which is under construction in Dunedin has been controversial.

The refurbishment of the Opera House in Oamaru attracted similar opposition but I supported it from the start. I didn’t want to be part of a generation which let a beautiful historic building crumble. Nor did I see the sense in merely doing enough to preserve it which would have made it a very expensive monument.

It was better to do the job properly and give the community something which would be used and appreciated.

Since it opened last year it has become an asset to the community as a venue for performing artists, conferences, weddings, meetings and other gatherings.

Building a new stadium isn’t the same as preserving and restoring a historic building and I understand ratepayers’ concerns over construction and operating costs. But I agree with the supporters who regard it as an asset for the city and province.

Stadium trust chair, Malcolm Farry, keeps saying the stadium would bring more events, and people, to Dunedin.

The difficulty getting tickets to the first show indicates he is right.

Tickets for the first big event – an Elton John concert – went on sale for stadium seat-holders, Otago ratepayers and Ticketdirect members at nine o’clock this morning.

I logged on as the 9am pips sounded on the radio and I’m still getting a message saying servers are busy.

One popular concert doesn’t make the stadium a success but it’s a very good start.

Love every day


Enjoy the flowers, chocolates, teddy bears, jewellery, perfume, intimate dinner, picnic or whatever other display of  affection someone special wants to shower on you.

I’m not going to rain on anyone else’s romantic parade but nor am I going to buy into the commercial hype that now surrounds Valentine’s Day.

As my farmer keeps reminding me, it’s better to know you’re loved every day than to receive tokens  once a year.

It matters not that he does this with more than a little self-interest because Valentine’s Day is also my birthday so he gets out of a double expense.

Love every day is worth celebrating and to be treasured.

Heading dog better model for leaders than huntaway


In the depths of the ag-sag of the mid to late 1980s rural New Zealand was depressed and depressing.

We needed a good advocate and leader and couldn’t have asked for a better one than then Federated Farmers President Peter Elworthy.

He acknowledged the emotion of farmers and farming communities but didn’t feed it. He reacted calmly and responded reasonably to the difficulties facing the country. But rather than fighting the government, as many of his members wanted him to, he worked with it to mitigate the worst effects of its policies and to help farmers help themselves.

Like a good heading dog he was a strong, quiet leader who showed people where to go and  took them with him.

Contrast that with Hone Harawira who is more like a huntaway – yapping madly, feeding on and fuelling the emotion of his supporters. He gets them moving but they’re just as likely to go round in circles or make mad dashes back where they’ve come from as they are to go forwards.

He does what his supporters want without questioning whether that is what they need. He gets attention but only rarely gets anywhere.

Leaders who act like huntaways make a noise, those who act like heading dogs make progress.

February 14 in history


On February 14:

 270  St. Valentine  was killed. 

1349 Approximately 2,000 Jews were burned to death by mobs or forcibly removed from the city of Strasbourg.

1483 Babur, Moghul emperor of India, was born d. 1530).


1556 Thomas Cranmer was declared a heretic.

1743  Henry Pelham became British Prime Minister.

1778 The United States Flag was formally recognised by a foreign naval vessel for the first time, when French Admiral Toussaint-Guillaume Picquet de la Motte rendered a nine gun salute to USS Ranger, commanded by John Paul Jones.

1779 James Cook was killed by Hawaiians near Kealakekua on the Island of Hawaii.

 The Death of Cook painted by John Cleveley in 1784

1797 Battle of Cape St. Vincent – John Jervis, 1st Earl of St Vincent and Horatio Nelson (later 1st Viscount Nelson) led the British Royal Navy to victory over a Spanish fleet in action near Gibraltar.

Cleveley, Cape St Vincent.jpg

1803 Chief Justice John Marshall declared that any act of U.S. Congress that conflicts with the Constitution was void.

1804 Karadjordje led the First Serbian Uprising against the Ottoman Empire.


1819  Christopher Sholes, American inventor, was born (d. 1890).


1831 Ras Marye of Yejju marched into Tigray and defeated and killed Dejazmach Sabagadis in the Battle of Debre Abbay.

1835 The original Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, iws formed in Kirtland, Ohio.

1838  Margaret E. Knight, American inventor, was born  (d. 1914).

1847 Anna Howard Shaw, American suffragette, was born  (d. 1919).


1849 James Knox Polk became the first serving President of the United States to have his photograph taken.


1859 George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr., American engineer and inventor (Ferris Wheel) , was born (d. 1896).


1872 Government forces led by Captain Preece tackled Te Kooti for the last time along the Mangaone stream, near Lake Waikaremoana.

Te Kooti's last clash with government forces

 1876 Alexander Graham Bell applied for a patent for the telephone, as did Elisha Gray.



1879 The War of the Pacific broke out when Chilean armed forces occupied the Bolivian port city of Antofagasta.

 Battalion No. 3 of the Chilean Army, formed in columns in the Plaza Colon, Antofagasta.

1899 Voting machines were approved by the U.S. Congress for use in federal elections.

1900 Second Boer War: 20,000 British troops invaded the Orange Free State.

Afrikaner Commandos2.JPG

1912 – The first diesel-powered submarine was commissioned.

1915 Maori soldiers set sail for World War I.

Maori soldiers sail to war

  1919 The Polish-Soviet War began.

Polish-soviet war 1920 Polish defences near Milosna, August.jpg

1920 The League of Women Voters was founded in Chicago.

League of Women Voters Logo

1924 The International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) was founded.

IBM logo

1929  St. Valentine’s Day Massacre: Seven people, six of them gangster rivals of Al Capone‘s gang, are murdered in Chicago.

1942 Battle of Pasir Panjang contributed to the fall of Singapore.

1942 Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York City, was born.

1943  Tunisia Campaign – General Hans-Jurgen von Arnim’s Fifth Panzer Army launches a concerted attack against Allied positions in Tunisia.


1944 Carl Bernstein, American journalist, was born.

1944 Anti-Japanese revolt on Java.

1945  Prague was bombed probably due to a mistake in the orientation of the pilots bombing Dresden.

1945 President Franklin D. Roosevelt met with King Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia aboard the USS Quincy, officially starting the U.S.-Saudi diplomatic relationship.


1945  Mostar was liberated by Yugoslav partisans.

1946 The Bank of England was nationalised.

Logo of the Bank of England

1946  ENIAC, the first general-purpose electronic computer, was unveiled.


1949 The Knesset (Israeli parliament) convened for the first time.

Coat of arms or logo.

1949 – The Asbestos Strike began in Canada, marking the beginning of the Quiet Revolution in Quebec.

1961 Discovery of the chemical elements: Element 103, Lawrencium, was first synthesized at the University of California.

1962 First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy took television viewers on a tour of the White House.

1966 Australian currency was decimalised.

1979 Muslims kidnapped the American ambassador to Afghanistan, Adolph Dubs.

1981 Stardust Disaster: A fire in a Dublin nightclub killed 48 people

1983  United American Bank of Knoxville, Tennessee collapsed.

1989  Union Carbide agreed to pay $470 million to the Indian government for damages it caused in the 1984 Bhopal Disaster.

1989 Iranian leader Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa encouraging Muslims to kill the author of The Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie.

1989 – The first of 24 satellites of the Global Positioning System were placed into orbit.


1990 92 people were killed aboard Indian Airlines Flight 605 at Bangalore.

1996 China launched a Long March 3 rocket, carrying the Intelsat 708 satellite which flew off course 3 seconds after liftoff and crashed into a rural village.

2000 The spacecraft NEAR Shoemaker entered orbit around asteroid 433 Eros, the first spacecraft to orbit an asteroid.

Near Shoemaker.jpg

2002 – Tullaghmurray Lass sank off the coast of Kilkeel, County Down killing three members of the same family on board.

2004 – In a suburb of Moscow, Russia, the roof of the Transvaal water park collapses, killing more than 25 people, and wounding more than 100 others.

2005 – Seven people were killed and 151 wounded in a series of bombings by suspected Al-Qaeda-linked militants that hit the Philippines’ Makati financial district in Metro Manila, Davao City, and General Santos City.

2008 – Northern Illinois University shooting: a gunman opened fire in a lecture hall of the DeKalb County, Illinois university resulting in 6 fatalities (including gunman) and 18 injuries.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

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