Word of the day


Gadarene – headlong rush, uncontrolled and rapid movement, precipitate.

Young Nats concerned over legitimacy of OUSA


A very low turnout in recent by-elections for the Otago University Students Association has led Southern Young Nationals to question OUSA’s legitimacy:

The Postgraduate Representative, Thomas Koentges, received a total of 83 votes, and the International Student Officer, Art Kojarunchitt received 64 votes. 166 people voted in the by-election for the post graduate officer, and 102 voted in the by-election for the international student officer.

“This number is not at all representative of either the postgraduate or international communities. We are concerned at the legitimacy these two have in making decisions about such a large amount of capital students pay into each year” Liam Kernaghan, Chairman of the Southern Young Nationals said.

“But this goes further than these two elections. OUSA elections, like every other student association around the country, are notoriously unrepresentative of the student body, and for the power which is vested into the elected officials. We don’t think it’s fair the 20,000 students who pay levies to OUSA should be bound to decisions made by less than 0.005% of the campus population.”

“Democracy only works when everyone turns up. When 100 people turn out to vote, you really have to consider the benefits of a ‘democratically elected’ compulsory union.”

If this is how few people bother to vote when membership is compulsory OUSA will have to work to show it is relevant to students once they can choose to join the association or not.

By-elections almost always attract fewer voters but the turnout at annual elections is low too.

Currently less than 10% of the entire student populace votes at the major elections every year. This says to me either the students don’t care for the OUSA, and in which case the OUSA should recognise the inherent rights to freedom of association, or the students don’t understand what the OUSA provides, and therefore should make a better effort to consolidate student support”.

The Southern Young Nationals are not “against the OUSA. We think they provide some fantastic services which benefit the vast majority of students. We’d just like students to have the choice to be part of it, rather than be made to”

“We strongly encourage OUSA to take proactive steps to building a fantastic organisation that can both better represent the student voice, and that can stand up in a voluntary environment.

OUSA does provide a good range of services for students, it is also has some good investments which reduces its dependence on student fees. But it has a problem if only 10% of its members are sufficiently informed or interested in the association to vote.

Friday’s answers


Thursday’s questions were:

1. Who said:  “Please know that I am aware of the hazards. I want to do it because I want to do it. Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be a challenge to others.”?.

2. What does a bolometer measure?

3. It’s oro in Spanish and Italian and koura  in Maori what is it in English?

4. Name the author and title of the book which opens: “Somewhere in la Mancha, in a place whose name I do not care to remember, a gentleman lived not long ago, one of those who has a lance and ancient shield on a shelf and keeps a skinny nag and a greyhound for racing.”

5. Who is the MP for Waitakere?

Points for answers (awarded in the hope that answers which didn’t say radiant energy or infrared light exactly were enough to still be right, about which anyone who knows more about such things is welcome to correct me):

Bearhunter got four with a bonus for the Spanish (did you know hidalgo came from hijo de algo – son of Someone – with a capital s ?) winning an electronic batch of biscuits.

Gravedodger got three and I think I have to give a half for koura because it it lobster in Maori although oro isn’t lobster in Spanish.

Adam got three.

Rob got two, half for lobster and a smile for his answer to #2.

Andrei got four with a bonus for appreciation of fine things  and acknowledgement for stating the obvious in #5 which also wins him an electronic batch of biscuits.

Paul got two, a bonus for humour and a welcome back.

David got three and a half and a you were right to add( sp?).

Answers follow the break:

Read the rest of this entry »

Voting against parties not wanted won’t necessarily give parliament you do


One of the benefits of MMP is far fewer wasted votes.

Providing the party you support reaches the 5% threshold or wins an electorate it will gain a seat or seats in parliament.

However, that pre-supposes you’re voting for the party you support but Trans Tasman points out that this year:

The risk is swinging voters, and even some of Labour’s core, will see the election as a walkover, and cast their ballots for minor parties, as in 2002, giving them disproportionate power in the next Parliament.

The wee parties did best in 2002 but voters abandoned them in droves in 2005 showing they hadn’t used their votes to support them so much as to vote against the bigger parties.

The votes will make a difference and so make a difference. But voting against a party you don’t want won’t necessarily give you a parliament, or government, you do and could well give you one you don’t.

Bad old days reminder why we need free trade


The good old days weren’t so good when it came to trade as this cautionary tale from Tim Groser shows:

The year is 1986 or ’87. It was a period where NZ was locked into a bitter struggle with Europe over dairy. In Europe, this was the era of wine lakes and butter mountains – products of the vast agriculture surpluses built up by the then Common Agriculture Policy. It was well before Europe got serious about policy reform. Our dairy industry – as was the case with our sheep meat industry – had been set up as part of the UK food security system. Our supply chains had been fashioned to supply Europe and the European consumer. Markets everywhere else around the world were generally closed to NZ.

I was also Chairman in Geneva of a second-rate international organisation, now thankfully defunct, called ‘The International Dairy Agreement’. It was once defined by a famous French negotiator as ‘our (meaning EU) little OPEC with NZ’. It was an agreement designed to enforce internationally agreed minimum prices on key internationally traded dairy products. The Americans, furious at Europe’s manipulation of the Agreement, had walked out some years ago and were just observers. We hung in grimly, because it was literally better than nothing. Or so we had thought.

One day I woke up to be told that the EU, or EC as it was then known, had broken their minimum price agreement and dumped about a quarter of a million tonnes of milk fat, mainly AMF and butter, on the Russian market. So closed were world dairy markets, that in those dark days, Russia represented typically about 70% of the free global market for milk fats. It was a disaster for NZ, given the importance of dairy to our economy and the lack of alternative markets. . .

Free trade agreements by successive governments, and on-going negotiations for more open borders, have saved us from this sort of threat.

They have also provided us and other consumers in various parts of the world with access to more produce and greater choice.

April 8 in history


On April 8:

217  Roman Emperor Caracalla was assassinated (and succeeded) by his Praetorian Guard prefect, Marcus Opellius Macrinus.

Aureus Macrinus-RIC 0079.jpg

1093 The new Winchester Cathedral was dedicated by Walkelin.


1139  Roger II of Sicily was excommunicated.


1149 Pope Eugene III took refuge in the castle of Ptolemy II of Tusculum.

B Eugen III.jpg

1271 Sultan Baybars conquered the Krak of Chevaliers.

Crac des chevaliers syria.jpeg

1513 Explorer Juan Ponce de León declared Florida a territory of Spain.

1730 Shearith Israel, the first synagogue in New York City, was dedicated.


1767  Ayutthaya kingdom fell to Burmese invaders.

1820 The Venus de Milo was discovered on the Aegean island of Melos.


1832 Black Hawk War: Around three-hundred United States 6th Infantry troops left St. Louis, Missouri to fight the Sauk Native Americans.

1864 American Civil War: Battle of Mansfield – Union forces were thwarted by the Confederate army at Mansfield, Louisiana.

1866 Italy and Prussia allied against Austrian Empire

1873 Julius Vogel became Premier of New Zealand.

Julius Vogel becomes Premier 

1886 William Ewart Gladstone introduced the first Irish Home Rule Bill into the British House of Commons.

1892 Mary Pickford, Canadian actress, was born (d. 1979).


1895  The Supreme Court of the United States declared unapportioned income tax to be unconstitutional in Pollock v. Farmers’ Loan & Trust Co.

1904 The French Third Republic and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland signed the Entente cordiale.


1904 British mystic Aleister Crowley transcribed the first chapter of The Book of the Law.

Cover of The Book of the Law by Aleister Crowley (Weiser 2004 Centennial Edition)

1904  John Hicks, British economist, Bank of Sweden Prize winner, was born (d. 1989).

1904 Longacre Square in Midtown Manhattan was renamed Times Square after The New York Times.


1906 Auguste Deter, the first person to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, died.

1908 Harvard University voted to establish the Harvard Business School.

1913 The 17th Amendment to the United States Constitution, requiring direct election of Senators, beccame law.


1918  World War I: Actors Douglas Fairbanks and Charlie Chaplin sold war bonds on the streets of New York City’s financial district.

1919  Ian Smith, Prime Minister of Rhodesia, was born (d. 2007).

1929  Indian Independence Movement: At the Delhi Central Assembly, Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt threw handouts and bombs to court arrest.

1935 The Works Progress Administration was formed when the Emergency Relief Appropriation Act of 1935 became law.


1938 Kofi Annan, Ghanaian United Nations Secretary General, was born.

1942 World War II: Siege of Leningrad – Soviet forces opened a much-needed railway link to Leningrad.

Blokada Leningrad diorama.jpg

1942 – World War II: The Japanese took Bataan in the Philippines.

1943 President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in an attempt to check inflation, froze wages and prices, prohibited workers from changing jobs unless the war effort would be aided thereby, and barred rate increases by common carriers and public utilities.

1946 The last meeting of the League of Nations, was held.

1950 India and Pakistan signed the Liaquat-Nehru Pact.

1952  U.S. President Harry Truman called for the seizure of all domestic steel mills to prevent a nationwide strike.

1953 Mau Mau leader Jomo Kenyatta was convicted by Kenya’s British rulers.

1954  A Royal Canadian Air Force Canadair Harvard collided with a Trans-Canada Airlines Canadair North Star over Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, killing 37 people.

1955 Barbara Kingsolver, American novelist, was born.

Poisonwood Bible.jpg

1962 Izzy Stradlin, American musician (Guns N’ Roses), was born.

1965 Michael Jones, New Zealand rugby player and coach, was born.

1968 BOAC Flight 712 caught fire shortly after take off. As a result of her actions in the accident, Barbara Jane Harrison was awarded a posthumous George Cross, the only GC awarded to a woman in peacetime.

Photo of Barbara Jane Harrison in her BOAC stewardess uniform 

1970  Bahr el-Baqar incident Israeli airforce F4 Phantom II fighter bombers,  struck the single-floor school with five bombs and 2 air-to-ground missiles. 46  children were killed, and more than 50 wounded.

1975 Frank Robinson managed the Cleveland Indians in his first game as major league baseball’s first African American manager.

1985  Bhopal disaster: India filed suit against Union Carbide for the disaster which killed an estimated 2,000 and injured another 200,000.

1989  The Democratic Party was formed in South Africa from the merger of four parties.

1989 The two Greek Communist parties and smaller left-wing parties, merged to form the Coalition of the Left and Progress .


1990  New Democracy won the national election in Greece.


1992  Retired tennis champion Arthur Ashe announced that he had AIDS, acquired from blood transfusions during one of his two heart surgeries.


1999 Haryana Gana Parishad, a political party in the state of Haryana, mergesdwith the Indian National Congress.


2004  Darfur conflict: The Humanitarian Ceasefire Agreement was signed by the Sudanese government and two rebel groups.

2006 Shedden massacre: The bodies of eight men, all shot to death, were found in a field in Ontario, Canada.

2008 The construction of the world’s first building to integrate wind turbines was completed in Bahrain.

Bahrain WTC day.JPG

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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