Word of the day


Ventose – windy, flatulent, puffed up with conceit.

Baking chemistry


The recipe requires 185 grams of unsalted butter and later asks the baker to add 1/4 teaspoon of salt.

I use salted butter and omit the later addition of salt.

But I wonder how much salt is in 185 grams of butter and whether there’s something in the chemistry of baking which would make the biscuits even better if I followed the recipe exactly?



8/10 in the Dominion Post’s Biz Quiz.

Privatisation works


Professor William Megginson in the print edition of the NBR:

“. . .  privatisation ‘works’ in the sense that divested firms almost always become more efficient, more profitable, financially healthier and increase their capital spending.” . . .

. . . “You certainly have variation – in that it doesn’t always happen – but on average, across countries, across time, the financial and operation performance of privatised firms is significantly improved.”

Opponents of privatisation highlight past failures and use them to argue against any more asset sales.

Prof Megginson shows they are wrong.

That not every asset sale in the past went well is not a valid argument against any in the future.

We should learn from past failures to avoid repeating mistakes but we shouldn’t let them be used to justify opposition to any and all privatisation.

Principals’ principles political not educational


The vote of no-confidence in national standards by the Principals’ Federation says more about their principles than the standards.

Principals Federation president Peter Simpson called on his colleagues to reject them.

He told their conference in Wellington on Saturday morning that the standards are purely political and principals should not waste any more time on them.

Almost everything a government does is political, that’s the nature of the beast. Unfortunately the public faces of education, rather than being a professional body – as for example they are in health, is also political.

The federation would like us to believe their stance represents the unanimous view of teachers and schools. It doesn’t. Many schools are working with the standards and doing their upmost to make them work for the sake of the children they teach and their parents who want to know how they progressing.

In her speech to the federation conference Education Minister Anne Tolley read an email from a school board chair:

“Our principal has led the implementation seamlessly and I would say we have found it to be a worthwhile experience. I have been impressed with his professionalism and integrity. The staff have all responded well to the challenge.”

If the principals who voted no-confidence concentrated more on education than politics they too might find they can implement the standards seamlessly and is such a way that the school finds them worthwhile.

The introduction of national standards was part of National’s election policy, it became the government and as public service employees the principals and their staff are bound to implement them to the best of their ability.

Regardless of their political views the principals ought to agree with the Minister’s reasoning:

The evidence tells us that when our underachieving students fall behind they tend to stay behind, and in many cases begin disengaging. Early intervention can address this issue, giving every single young New Zealander the opportunity to reach their potential.

Standards by themselves won’t help the children learn but the extra help those identified as not learning as well as they ought to be will.

April 10 in history


On April 10:

879  Louis III became King of the Western Franks.

1407 The lama Deshin Shekpa visitsedthe Ming Dynasty capital at Nanjing where he was awarded with the title Great Treasure Prince of Dharma.


1500 Ludovico Sforza was captured by the Swiss troops at Novara and handed over to the French.


1606 The Charter of the Virginia Company of London was established by royal charter by James I with the purpose of establishing colonial settlements in North America.


1710 The first law regulating copyright was issued in Great Britain.

1741 War of the Austrian Succession: Prussia defeated Austria in the Battle of Mollwitz.

Prussian Army during battle of Mollwitz 1741.PNG

1794 Matthew C. Perry, American commodore, was born  (d. 1858).


1815 The Mount Tambora volcano begins its peak eruption period that lasted until July 15.


1816 The United States Government approved the creation of the Second Bank of the United States.

1821 Patriarch Gregory V of Constantinople was hanged by the Turks from the main gate of the Patriarchate and his body was thrown into the Bosphorus.

1826 The 10,500 inhabitants of the Greek town Messolonghi start leaving the town after a year’s siege by Turkish forces. Very few of them survive.

1829 William Booth, English founder of the Salvation Army, was born (d. 1912).

1847 Joseph Pulitzer, American journalist and publisher, was born  (d. 1911).

1858  The original Big Ben, a 14.5 tonne bell for the Palace of Westminster was cast in Stockton-on-Tees by Warner’s of Cripplegate. It cracked during testing and was recast into the 13.76 tonne bell by Whitechapel Bell Foundry and is still in use to date.

1864 Archduke Maximilian of Habsburg was elected emperor of Mexico.

1865 American Civil War: A day after his surrender to Union forces, Confederate General Robert E. Lee addressed his troops for the last time.


1866 The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) wass founded in New York City by Henry Bergh.

1868 At Arogee in Abyssinia, British and Indian forces defeated an army of Emperor Theodore. While 700 Ethiopians were killed and many more injured, only two of the British/Indian troops died.

1874 The first Arbor Day was celebrated in Nebraska.

1887 On Easter Sunday, Pope Leo XIII authorised the establishment of The Catholic University of America.

1912 The RMS Titanic left port in Southampton for her first and only voyage.

RMS Titanic 3.jpg

1916 The Professional Golfers Association of America (PGA) was created in New York City.

1919  Mexican Revolution leader Emiliano Zapata was ambushed and shot dead by government forces in Morelos.

General Emiliano Zapata.jpg

1925  The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald was first published in New York City, by Charles Scribner’s Sons.

The cover of the first edition of The Great Gatsby, 1925.

1932 Omar Sharif, Egyptian actor, was born.

1933  New Deal: The Civilian Conservation Corps was created.


1941 Paul Theroux, American author, was born.

1941 World War II: The Axis Powers in Europe established the Independent State of Croatia from occupied Yugoslavia with Ante Pavelić‘s Ustaše fascist insurgents in power.

1944  Rudolf Vrba and Alfred Wetzler escaped from the Birkenau death camp.


1947 Bunny Wailer, Jamaican musician, was born.

1953 Warner Brothers premiered the first 3-D film, entitled House of Wax.

1959 Akihito, future Emperor of Japan, married Michiko.


1963 129 people died when the submarine USS Thresher sank at sea.

USS Thresher (SSN-593) underway, 30 April 1961.

1968 The ferry Wahine sank with the loss of 52 lives (plus a 53rd victim who died in 1990 from injuries sustained in the wreck), this was New Zealand’s worst modern maritime disaster..

Sinking of the <em>Wahine</em>

1971 Ping Pong Diplomacy: In an attempt to thaw relations with the United States, the People’s Republic of China hosted the U.S. table tennis team for a weeklong visit.

1972  Oberdan Sallustro was executed by communist guerrillas 20 days after he was kidnapped in Buenos Aires.

1973 A British Vanguard turboprop crashed during a snowstorm at Basel, Switzerland killing 104.

1979 Red River Valley Tornado Outbreak: A tornado landed in Wichita Falls, Texas killing 42 people.

1987 Hayley Westenra, New Zealand soprano, was born.

1991 Italian ferry Moby Prince collided with an oil tanker in dense fog off Livorno, Italy killing 140.

1991 – A rare tropical storm developed in the Southern Hemisphere near Angola; the first to be documented by satellites.

1998 The Belfast Agreement was signed.

2007 Abortion was legalised in Portugal.

2010 – Polish Air Force Tu-154M crashed near Smolensk, Russia, killing all 96 people on board including President Lech Kaczyński.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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