Word of the day


Kinklea slight kink.

Thursday’s quiz


1. What is ombrology?

2. Who said: “Statistics are the triumph of the quantitative method, and the quantitative method is the victory of sterility and death”?

3. Who wrote the poem The Magpies?

4. Name three of the seven instruments usually found in the woodwind section of an orchestra.

5. Name the ship which landed at Port Chalmers with the first settlers for Otago on March 23rd 1848.

What do we want from a public broadcaster?


RadioNZ National’s website features photos of its listeners listening in many varied locations.

The people are as diverse as the places from which they listen.

Quite how diverse has been brought home to me because since I’ve been contributing to Critical Mass on Afternoons all sorts of people in all sorts of places have told me they’ve heard me on the radio.

In theory my blue political leanings should lead me to question whether there should be a public broadcaster but given how often I listen to it I’d be on very shaky ground in doing so.

I am in good company here because many people on the right listen to what most of us still refer to as National Radio and support the concept of public broadcasting even though it tends to have a leftward lean.

Karl du Fresne discussed this in a recent post and concluded:

. . . what could be more boring than listening to people expressing the same views as your own? This is known as the echo chamber effect, where the same opinions are heard and repeated over and over again.

It’s not only tedious, it’s bad for democracy, because democracy depends on a degree of tolerance and understanding of other people’s positions. That’s why I continue to listen to Radio New Zealand, much to my friend’s puzzlement, even though I sometimes fume and splutter at the views being expressed.

I don’t want to be bombarded with ideas that I’m comfortable with. All I insist is that the state broadcaster presents us with information and opinion that fully reflects the diversity of the population it ostensibly serves.

I agree it is good to be challenged but a public broadcaster shouldn’t just be challenging the views of those on the right.

Feedback to programmes like Morning Report, Checkpoint, Nine to Noon and Afternoons  seems to get a reasonable spread of support and opposition from across the political spectrum which suggests that they generally balanced in their approaches.

If there is any bias it seems to be strongest in Maori and Pacific programmes on both radio and television. It could be that I haven’t listened to or watched a representative selection or programmes, but those I have paid attention to do seem to have a distinctly leftward lean.

The importance of science


“The key to reducing the risks is not in the scaremongering from the likes of Ken Ring but investing in the next generation of young scientists and engineers to improve our knowledge and understanding of earthquakes and the design of buildings and infrastructure to better withstand them.”

Quote of the week from Environment Minister Nick Smith after attending the non-event lunch with the Skeptics Society on the Port Hills.

This reinforcement to the importance of science doesn’t apply just to making buildings and infrastructure safer. It also applies to sustainable development and the application of agricultural research will be an important part of that.

Population growth and economic development are increasing demand for food and without improvements in production, supply will not keep pace.

However, increasing production must not be the only goal.  The challenge is to produce more and do it in a way which protects and enhances the environment so that future generations will be able to enjoy the benefits of healthy soils, clean water and fresh air.

March 24 in history


On March 24:

1401 Turko-Mongol emperor Timur sacked Damascus.

Timur reconstruction03.jpg

1603 James VI of Scotland also became James I King of England.

1731 Naturalization of Hieronimus de Salis Parliamentary Act was passed.


1765 The Britain passed the Quartering Act that required the Thirteen Colonies to house British troops.

1770 Kidnap victim, Ngati Kahu leader Ranginui, died on board the French ship Saint Jean Baptiste.

Ngati Kahu kidnap victim dies at sea on French ship

1820 Fanny Crosby, American hymnist, was born (d. 1915).


 1832 In Hiram, Ohio a group of men beat, tarred and feathered Mormon leader Joseph Smith, Jr..

Joseph Smith, Jr. portrait owned by Joseph Smith III.jpg

1834 William Morris, English writer and designer, was born (d. 1896).

1837 Canada gave African men the right to vote.

1878  HMS Eurydice sank, killing more than 300.

Victory at Trafalgar

1882 Robert Koch announced the discovery of the bacterium responsible for tuberculosis (mycobacterium tuberculosis).

1886 Athenagoras I, Greek Patriarch of Constantinople, was born.


1900 New York City Mayor Robert Anderson Van Wyck broke ground for a new underground “Rapid Transit Railroad” that would link Manhattan and Brooklyn.

1907 The first issue of the Georgian Bolshevik newspaper Dro was published.

1923 Greece became a republic.

1930 Steve McQueen, American actor, was born (d. 1980).


1934 U.S. Congress passed the Tydings-McDuffie Act allowing the Philippines to become a self-governing commonwealth.

1944 Ardeatine Massacre: German troops killed 335 Italian civilians in Rome.


1944  In an event later dramatized in the movie The Great Escape, 76 prisoners begin breaking out of Stalag Luft III.


1947  Christine Gregoire, 22nd governor of Washington, was born.

1949 Nick Lowe, British musician, was born.

1951 Tommy Hilfiger, American fashion designer, was born.

1959 The Party of the African Federation (PFA) was launched by Léopold Sédar Senghor and Modibo Keita.

1965 NASA spacecraft Ranger 9, equipped to convert its signals into a form suitable for showing on domestic television, brought images of the Moon into ordinary homes before crash landing.

Ranger 9

1970 Sharon Corr, Irish musician (The Corrs), was born.

1972 The United Kingdom imposed “Direct Rule” over Northern Ireland.

1973 Kenyan track runner Kip Keino defeated Jim Ryun at the first-ever professional track meet in Los Angeles, California.

1976 Argentina’s military forces deposed president Isabel Perón and start the National Reorganization Process.

1976 A general strike took place in the People’s Republic of Congo

1980 Archbishop Óscar Romero was killed while celebrating Mass in San Salvador.

1986 The Loscoe gas explosion ledto new UK laws on landfill gas migration and gas protection on landfill sites.

1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill: In Prince William Sound in Alaska, the Exxon Valdez spilt 240,000 barrels (42,000 m³) of petroleum after running aground.


1990 Keisha Castle-Hughes, Australian/New Zealand actress, was born.

1998 Jonesboro massacre: two students, ages 11 and 13, fired upon teachers and students at Westside Middle School in Jonesboro, Arkansas; five people were killed and ten were wounded.

1998 A tornado swept through Dantan in India killing 250 people and injuring 3000 others.

1999 Kosovo War: NATO commenced air bombardment against Yugoslavia, marking the first time NATO has attacked a sovereign country.

1999 – Mont Blanc Tunnel Fire: 39 people died when a Belgian transport truck carrying flour and margarine caught fire in the Mont Blanc Tunnel.


2003 The Arab League voted 21-1 in favor of a resolution demanding the immediate and unconditional removal of US and British soldiers from Iraq.

2008 Bhutan officially became a democracy, with its first ever general election.

Jigme Thinley.jpg Sangay Ngedup 2005.jpg  
  Jigme Thinley Sangay Ngedup

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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