Word of the day


Obtenebrate – to darken, cast a shadow over.

Friday’s answers


Thursday’s questions were:

1. Who said That which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger?

2. What does a penetrometer measure?

3. It’s fuerza in Spanish and pākahukahu in Maori, what is it in English?

4. When was the Hawkes Bay earthquake?

5. Bob Parker was mayor of which local authority before he was mayor of Christchurch?

Points for answers:

Gravedoger got four right with a bonus for extra information which earns an electronic box of chocolate (comfort food for another tough week in Canterbury).

 Xchequer and Andrei also got four right.

Fred got one right, a couple of nearlys and a bonus for imagination witht he bottle opener.

Adam got three right.

Answers follow the break:

Read the rest of this entry »

Census on hold


Statistics Minister Maurice Williamson and  and Government Statistician Geoff Bascand have announced that the census which was due to be held on March 8 has been called off.

The decision has been made after extensive consultation.

“This is not the time to go door to door asking New Zealanders for information when they’re dealing with the aftermath of the earthquake,” Mr Williamson said.

“It’s unthinkable that we would ask this of people. It would be an unfair burden and distraction at a time when they are grieving.”

There has been extensive damage to Statistics New Zealand buildings with significant impacts on census staff.

Mr Bascand said he acknowledges the decision will have consequences for people who use the census data in their work.

“We will now investigate the feasibility of alternative options,” Mr Bascand said.

This is a sensible decision but not one without consequences.

Among those will be the re-drawing of electorate boundaries which is carried out after each 6- 5 yearly census.

Top marks Air NZ in spite of in-flight tantrum


Christchurch airport was crowded but calm at 6am yesterday.

People, many of whom looked like they’d been camped there overnight, queued patiently and staff circulated, checking if anyone needed help and giving information.

The boarding call for my flight to Auckland came at 6.30 but we waited more than half an hour while stand-by passengers boarded before we took off. The flight attendant apologised for the delay and kept us informed of progress.

An elderly woman was brought on in a wheelchair and was demanding from the start. Flight attendants dealt with her demands – and they were demands, not requests – calmly and politely.

A woman with a baby and two other pre-schoolers was sitting behind her. As the plane started descending the two-year-old stated crying. The elderly woman grabbed the arm of the flight attendant as she passed and told her to shut the boy up.

The attendant explained, politely, that she couldn’t. The elderly woman said in that case she would, undid her seat belt and started to stand. The attendant, politely, calmly and very firmly, told her to sit back down and stay put.

She did but then threw a tantrum, muttering, beating her feet on the floor and her arms on her knees in a pretty good imitation of the toddler behind her.

As soon as the seatbelt sign was turned off the elderly woman stood up and started berating the attendant again. She responded calmly and politely, asked her to sit down because her wheelchair wouldn’t be at the door yet and other people would have to get off first.

She did as she was asked with ill-grace.

It might have been a reaction to stress or maybe she’s ill-tempered and inconsiderate at the best of times. Whichever it was the attendant gets top marks for the way she handled her.

About 20 people in high-viz vests greeted us as we came out of the security gate – Red Cross, Victim Support, the Salvation Army. An announcement told anyone coming in from Christchurch who needed help should go to them.

By lunchtime it was obvious the meeting I was at was going to finish early and I requested an earlier flight home. The change would normally have cost an extra $160 but because I was going to Christchurch Air New Zealand waived the charge.

Among the passengers on that flight were fire fighters from Britain who’d come to help with the earthquake recovery. When the pilot welcomed them, they got a round of applause from the rest of us.

Any other time I’ve come in to Christchurch from the north we’ve flown over the city. Yesterday we skirted round to the west and approached the airport from the south. I don’t know if this was a deliberate detour to avoid the worst of the destruction but we could see no signs of damage to the buildings we flew over.

But the faces on the crowds, queuing, sitting, lying against walls and the extra police and security reminded us of the horror the city was enduring.

In the face of that everyone is doing what they can to help people feel better – even the airport car park management. There were signs all over the parking machines saying please don’t pay, there’s no charge to exit.

February 25 in history


138 The Emperor Hadrian adopted Antoninus Pius, effectively making him his successor.

Bust Hadrian Musei Capitolini MC817.jpg

1570 Pope Pius V excommunicated Queen Elizabeth I.

El Greco 050.jpg

1778 José de San Martín, Argentine general and liberator of South America, was born  (d. 1850).




1793 George Washington held the first Cabint meeting as President of the United States.



1797 Colonel William Tate and his force of 1000-1500 soldiers surrendered after the Last Invasion of Britain.

Carregwastad Head, the landing site for Tate’s forces

1836 Samuel Colt received an American patent for the Colt revolver.

1841  Pierre-Auguste Renoir, French painter, graphic artist and sculptor, was born  (d. 1919).

1845 George Reid, fourth Prime Minister of Australia, was born (d. 1918).

1861 Rudolf Steiner, Austrian philosopher and educator, was born (d. 1925).

1870 Hiram Rhodes Revels becamethe first African American to sit in the U.S. Congress.

1873  Enrico Caruso, Italian tenor, was born  (d. 1921).

1890 Dame Myra Hess, English pianist, was born (d. 1965).

1890  Vyacheslav Molotov, Soviet politician, was born (d. 1986).

1901 Zeppo Marx, American actor, was born  (d. 1979).

1901 J.P. Morgan incorporated the United States Steel Corporation.


1908 Frank G. Slaughter, American novelist, was born (d. 2001).


1912 Marie-Adélaïde, the eldest of six daughters of Guillaume IV, becomes the first reigning Grand Duchess of Luxembourg.

1917 Anthony Burgess, English author, was born (d. 1993).

Clockwork orange.jpg

1919 Oregon placed a 1 cent per U.S. gallon tax on gasoline, becoming the first U.S. state to levy a fuel tax.

1921 Tbilisi, capital of the Democratic Republic of Georgia, was occupied by Bolshevist Russia.

1925 Glacier Bay National Monument (now Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve) was established in Alaska.

1928 Charles Jenkins Laboratories of Washington, D.C. became the first holder of a television license.

1932 Adolf Hitler obtained German citizenship by naturalisation, which allowed him to run in the 1932 election for Reichspräsident.

1933 The USS Ranger (CV-4) was launched, the first US Navy ship to be built solely as an aircraft carrier.

USS Ranger CV-4.jpg

1935 Sally Jessy Raphaël, American talk show host, was born.

1941 February Strike: In occupied Amsterdam, a general strike was declared in response to increasing anti-Jewish measures instituted by the Nazis.

 De Dokwerker in Amsterdam remembering the February strike

1943 48 Japanese prinsoners and one guard were killed in the Featherston Prinsoner of War riot.

49 killed in Featherston POW riot
1943 George Harrison, English musician (The Beatles), was born.
Black-and-white shot of a mustachioed man in his early thirties  with long, dark hair. 1945 Elkie Brooks, English singer, was born.

1945  Turkey declared war on Germany.

1946 Jean Todt, French executive director of Scuderia Ferrari, was born.

1947 State of Prussia ceased to exist.


1948 The Communist Party took control of government in Czechoslovakia.


1950 Néstor Kirchner, President of Argentina, was born  (d. 2010).

1951 The first Pan American Games were held in Buenos Aires.

Flag of PASO.svg

1953 José María Aznar, former Prime Minister of Spain, was born.

1954 Gamal Abdul Nasser was made premier of Egypt.

Head and shoulders of a man in his  forties smiling. He has dark hair that is pulled back, a long forehead,  thick eyebrows and a mustache.  He is wearing a gray jacket and a white  shirt with a tie.

1956 In his speech On the Personality Cult and its Consequences Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev denounced the cult of personality of Joseph Stalin.

An aging, balding man  with glasses reads from papers.

1971 The first unit of the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station, first commercial nuclear power station in Canada, went online.

A unit at  the Pickering plant

1973 Julio Iglesias, Jr., Spanish singer, was born.

1980 The Suriname government was overthrown by a military coup initiated with the bombing of the police station from an army ship of the coast of the nation’s capital; Paramaribo.

1985 Benji Marshall, New Zealand rugby player, was born.

Benji Marshall (26 April 2009).jpg

1986 People Power Revolution: President Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines fled after 20 years of rule; Corazon Aquino became the first Filipino woman president.

President Aquino, 2003

1991 Gulf War: An Iraqi Scud missile hit an American military barracks in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia killing 28 U.S. Army Reservists from Pennsylvania.

1992 Khojaly massacre: about 613 civilians were killed by Armenian armed forces during the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan.

Memorial to the victims of Khojaly Massacre

1994 Mosque of Abraham massacre: In the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron Dr. Baruch Kappel Goldstein opened fire with an automatic rifle, killing 29 Palestinian worshippers and injuring 125 more before being subdued and beaten to death by survivors. Subsequent rioting kills 26 more Palestinians and 9 Israelis.

2009  BDR massacre in Pilkhana, Dhaka, Bangladesh. 74 People were killed, including more than 50 Army officials, by Bangladeshi Border Guards.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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