Word of the day


Lunarist – someone who believes the moon affects the weather.

Did you see the one about


Americans call it experience not failure –  Peter Kerr calls for a change in thinking in New Zealand.

Some perspective –  Adolf at No Minister on what kills how many.

There’s glory for you! – Andrew Geddis at Pundit on a legal and literary mixup.

Party manifestos to be displayed in plain packets with government health warnings – Newsbiscuit on new rules for public protection. While there you might also enjoy Pay study shows women now 88% as good as men – a satirical take on pay equity.

Doesn’t work if you’re self employed though –  Something Should Go here Maybe Later on meetings as an alternative to work. While there you should see the footprint of my car will raise a smile.

And congratulations to the Hand Mirror on three years of Hand Mirrorness.

Politics of religion and sport


Sundays used to be different.

If you wanted or needed to shop your only option was a dairy, petrol station or for an hour or two the duty-pharmacy.

All other businesses closed and there was no organised sport.

Most people went to church in the morning and entertained themselves by themselves or with family and friends in the afternoons.

Back then, when I was growing up, if there was a memorial service it would have been Christian and mono-cultural.

Including other religions and cultures as Friday’s service for the Christchurch earthquake victims and survivors did is an improvement.

But not everyone was happy with that. A letter to the editor of the Press (print edition) yesterday complained there wasn’t anything for the non-religious. Perhaps they missed Dave Dobbyn singing Loyal and Malvina Major singing You’ll Never Walk Alone.

I might not have been listening to every word but I don’t recall any reference to religion in the adresses by Prince William, Bob Parker and John Key.

There are complaints too that the deed for the Government’s charity for earthquake recovery could be mixing politics, sport and religion:

Concerns are rising that the government’s flagship charity for victims of the Christchurch earthquake may be blurring the barriers between church and state and slanted toward rebuilding sports stadiums. . .

. . .  The charity’s trust deed, filed with the Charities Commission, includes a specific objective for “the advancement of religion” and unusual clause allowing for spending on “sports grounds.”

Further publicity material from the Appeal, which has raised $17.8 million to date, specifies funds raised would be invested in religious areas including “places of worship, books, clothing, artefacts, musical instruments,” and sports facilities, including stadiums.

It is sensible to keep the Trust deed as wide as possible to draw in funds from individuals and bodies which might give for some purposes but not others and also enable the funds to be used to meet a wide variety of needs.

The Trust won’t be promoting religion but it might help religious groups – which have been very active in helping their congregations and the wider community – rebuild and re-equip. I don’t have a problem with helping people who help people nor do I see anything subversive in allowing them to buy a new organ or guitar.

As for sport, Mark Weldon who is heading the fund raising said:

 Asked whether Appeal funds would be ploughed into rebuilding AMI Stadium, Mr Weldon said:

“That hasn’t been discussed, but what we’re focussing much more on the local hockey and rugby clubs. School sports are being knocked on the head. The latest data I’ve got says of 91 sports fields in Christchurch, 46 are unusable.”

When I was a trustee of the Otago Community Trust we used to analyse the areas donations went to. Sport was always the biggest. We’d debate that and always came to the conclusion that sport wasn’t only about sport it was about health, social well being, education, socialisation, entertainment and even crime prevention. As one trustee said – kids in sport aren’t in court.

If people are concerned about the politics of religion and sport with this charity there are plenty of other charities to donate too. I prefer to give with an open heart and trust the money will be used where it is needed.

Big moon rising


Last night a “super full  moon” rose in the east, as moons super and not so super do.

Or at least I presume it did.

We had a cloudy sky so I wasn’t able to view the “perigee moon” the biggest in almost 20 years:

“The last full Moon so big and close to Earth occurred in March of 1993,” says Geoff Chester of the US Naval Observatory in Washington DC. “I’d say it’s worth a look.”

Full Moons vary in size because of the oval shape of the Moon’s orbit. It is an ellipse with one side (perigee) about 50,000 km closer to Earth than the other (apogee): diagram. Nearby perigee moons are about 14% bigger and 30% brighter than lesser moons that occur on the apogee side of the Moon’s orbit.

“The full Moon of March 19th occurs less than one hour away from perigee–a near-perfect coincidence1 that happens only 18 years or so,” adds Chester.

A perigee full Moon brings with it extra-high “perigean tides,” but this is nothing to worry about, according to NOAA. In most places, lunar gravity at perigee pulls tide waters only a few centimeters (an inch or so) higher than usual. Local geography can amplify the effect to about 15 centimeters (six inches)–not exactly a great flood.

The Moon looks extra-big when it is beaming through foreground objects–a.k.a. “the Moon illusion.”

Indeed, contrary to some reports circulating the Internet, perigee Moons do not trigger natural disasters. The “super moon” of March 1983, for instance, passed without incident. And an almost-super Moon in Dec. 2008 also proved harmless.

This morning the sun rose in the east, as it does, albeit an hour later than I’d like it now that autumn is bringing a chill to the start of each day.

March 20 in history


On March 20:

43 BC Ovid, Roman poet, was born (d. 17 AD).

1600 – The Linköping Bloodbath.

1602 The Dutch East India Company was established.

Logo of the VOC

1616 Sir Walter Raleigh was freed from the Tower of London after 13 years of imprisonment.

1737  Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke, King of Thailand, was born (d. 1809).

1739 Nadir Shah occupied Delhi and sacked the city, stealing the jewels of the Peacock Throne.

Nader Shah Afshar.jpg

1760 The “Great Fire” of Boston, Massachusetts destroyed 349 buildings.

1815 After escaping from Elba, Napoleon entered Paris with a regular army of 140,000 and a volunteer force of around 200,000, beginning his “Hundred Days” rule.


1834 New Zealand’s first flag was chosen.

NZ's first flag chosen

1848 Ludwig I of Bavaria abdicated.

1852 Harriet Beecher Stowe‘s Uncle Tom’s Cabin was published.


1861 An earthquake completely destroyed Mendoza, Argentina.

1883 The Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property was signed.

1888 The premiere of the first Romani language operetta was staged in Moscow.

1913 Sung Chiao-jen, a founder of the Chinese Nationalist Party, was wounded in an assassination attempt and died 2 days later.

1916 Albert Einstein published his general theory of relativity.

 two-dimensional projection of a three-dimensional analogy of space-time curvature described in General Relativity.

1917 Vera Lynn, English actress and singer, was born.

1922 The USS Langley (CV-1) was commissioned as the first United States Navy aircraft carrier.

The USS Langley

1937 Lois Lowry, American children’s author, was born.

1939  Brian Mulroney, former Prime Minister of Canada, was born.

1942 General Douglas MacArthur, at Terowie, South Australia, made his famous speech regarding the fall of the Philippines, in which he says: “I came out of Bataan and I shall return”.

1948 With a Musicians Union ban lifted, the first telecasts of classical music in the United States, under Eugene Ormandy and Arturo Toscanini, were given on CBS and NBC.

1950 Carl Palmer, English drummer (Emerson, Lake & Palmer), was born.

1956 Tunisia gained independence from France.

1957 David Foster, Australian woodchopper, was born.

1958 Holly Hunter, American actress, was born.

1979 Keven Mealamu, New Zealand rugby player, was born.

1980 The Radio Caroline ship, Mi Amigo foundered in a gale off the English coast.


1985 Libby Riddles became the first woman to win the 1,135-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.


1987 The Food and Drug Administration approved the anti-AIDS drug, AZT.

1988 Eritrean War of Independence: The Eritrean People’s Liberation Front entered the town of Afabet, victoriously concluding the Battle of Afabet.

1990 Imelda Marcos, went on trial for bribery, embezzlement, and racketeering.

1993 An IRA bomb killed two children in Warrington, Northwest England.

1995 A sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway killed 12 and wounds 1,300 people.

 A wanted poster.

1999 Legoland California, the only Legoland outside Europe, opened in Carlsbad.


2003  2003 invasion of Iraq: In the early hours of the morning, the United States and three other countries begin military operations in Iraq.

2004 Stephen Harper won the leadership of the newly created Conservative Party of Canada, becoming the party’s first leader.

2005 A magnitude 6.6 earthquake hit Fukuoka, Japan, its first major quake in over 100 years. One person was killed, hundreds are injured and evacuated.

2006 Cyclone Larry made landfall in eastern Australia, destroying most of the country’s banana crop.

2006  More than 150 Chadian soldiers were killed in eastern Chad by members of the rebel UFDC seeking  to overthrow Chad president Idriss Deby.

2006 Chris and Cru Kahui, New Zealand murder victims were born.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

%d bloggers like this: