Word of the day


Habromania –  morbid impulse toward gaiety; insanity featuring cheerful delusions.

Thursday’s quiz


1. What is a forecastle?

2. Who said “The world has grown suspicious of anything that look like a happily married life”?

 3. Who is the MP for Otaki?

4. Who wrote Middle Age Spread?

5. It’s félicité in French, felicità  in Italian,  felicidad in Spanish, and koanga in Maori, what is it in English?

7002nd post


Just noticed that this morning’s history post was the 7,000th which makes this the 7002nd.

The first was written almost three years ago – on April 22nd – and in that time they’ve been 13, 435 comments. 

The WordPress counter which takes in repeated visits not just unique ones has recorded 650,624 views.

I didn’t start using Sitemeter until July – it’s counted 440,876 unique visitors since then: 

Total 440,876

There have also been 108,171 spam comments which indicates many of the visitors weren’t here to read the posts but just dropped by to leave unwanted remarks.

Sigh – I’d better not give up my day job.

Bigger is better for efficiency


Treasury’s report benchmarking administrative and support services shows that more than $236 million a year could be saved by efficiencies and that the quality of service could be improved.

Treasury Deputy Chief Executive Andrew Kibblewhite said: “Spending levels across agencies are quite variable, ranging from between 3 percent to 36 percent of total organisation running costs. Some variation is attributable to agency size as smaller agencies are more affected by fixed costs, and some variation is due to the nature of agency operations.  For example, some agencies are in the midst of some significant ICT investments to transform public services and make them more efficient.  If we are to use this information constructively, we must consider it in light of each agency’s operational context.”

The report concludes that making these services more efficient can save more than $236 million a year and that service quality can also improve. . .  

 Mr. Kibblewhite said “we don’t just want efficiency improvements. We also want to see these functions playing a more strategic role in their organisations.  In times like these, chief executives need CIOs, CFOs, and heads of procurement and HR helping them understand their business and make decisions that lift agency performance and reduce agency costs.”

Smaller agencies will always have a higher proportion of fixed costs than larger ones. The question then is: if bigger is better for efficiency do we need all the small agencies, can some be amalgamated or go altogether?

Finance Minister Bill English said the report shows there is room for more back office savings which could go into front line services.

“The Government is committed to moving resources from the back office to the frontline so we can deliver improved public services to taxpayers with little or no new money over the next few years,” Mr English says.

“The report shows that in many instances the cost of functions like property management, human resources, finance and ICT in New Zealand is higher than international benchmarks.

“For example, the average office space per person in our public service is about 21m2 compared with best practice in some New Zealand agencies of about 15m2. This is one of many areas where we believe there is room for improvement.

It’s difficult to argue with the goal of improving services and reducing costs and the benchmarking will be an annual exercise which should ensure the savings aren’t eroded over time.

For a bit of perspective on the size of the challenge we face in making savings have a look north and east. Obama is proposing $4 trillion of cuts to trim the USA’s deficit.

Would the West Coast want a maverick MP?


If no publicity is bad publicity, Damien O’Conner has had a very good week.

Instead of accepting a list place which was unlikely to lead to a seat in parliament or quietly opting out of the list he chose to make a fuss which would get him noticed.

His remarks about Labour being dominated by  a gaggle of gays and some self-serving unionists have got him extensive coverage in papers, on radio, television and the internet.

But what he said says a lot about him and his relationship with the Labour Party which the West Coast-Tasman voters he was supposedly trying to appeal to would do well to think carefully about.

Good electorate MPs work hard for their constituents, go many extra miles on their behalves and will do all they can to advocate for them. But good MPs also know the importance of collegial support and of picking their fights carefully because no matter what they do, they are able to achieve little if they’re isolated from their caucus colleagues and party.

O’Conner’s reaction to the list place he’d have been offered had he not opted out of it shows that he has a much higher opinion of himself than his party does and their views will be even less favourable now.

That leaves West Coast-Tasman voters with a clear choice. They can vote for Chris Auchinvole who won the seat from O’Conner in 2005, has the respect of his fellow MPs and party and, on current polls, is more likely to be in government.

Or they can opt for the maverick they rejected three years ago who has set fire to the bridge between himself and his party and, given the trend of polls, is more likely to be in opposition.

It’s better for an electorate to have a government MP and while being represented by a maverick might get their MP and issues noticed it is unlikely to get them sorted.

The man who can get things done or the one who can just talk about it? No contest.

April 14 in history


On April 14:

43 BC  Battle of Forum Gallorum: Mark Antony, besieging Julius Caesar’s assassin Decimus Junius Brutus in Mutina, defeated the forces of the consul Pansa, who was killed.

M Antonius.jpg

69 Vitellius, commander of the Rhine armies, defeated Emperor Otho in the Battle of Bedriacum and seizes the throne.

Pseudo-Vitellius Louvre MR684.jpg

1028  Henry III, son of Conrad, was elected king of the Germans.


1205 Battle of Adrianople between Bulgarians and Crusaders.

Battle of Adrianople (1205).png

1294 Temür, grandson of Kublai, is elected Khagan of the Mongols and Emperor of the Yuan Dynasty with the reigning titles Oljeitu and Chengzong.


1341 Sacking of Saluzzo  by Italian-Angevine troops under Manfred V of Saluzzo.

1434 The foundation stone of Cathedral of  St. Peter and St. Paul in Nantes was laid.


1471 The Yorkists under Edward IV defeated the Lancastrians under Warwick at the battle of Barnet; the Earl of Warwick was killed and Edward IV resumed the throne.

Two groups of black armoured knights, mounted and on foot, charge at each other, fighting with swords and lances.

1699  Birth of Khalsa  the brotherhood of the Sikh religion, in Northern India in accordance with the Nanakshahi calendar.


1775 The Society for the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage  – the first abolitionist society in North America – was organized in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania by Benjamin Franklin and Benjamin Rush.

1828  Noah Webster copyrighted the first edition of his dictionary.


1846 The Donner Party of pioneers left Springfield, Illinois, for California, on what became a year-long journey of hardship, cannibalism, and survival.


1849 Hungary declared itself independent of Austria with Lajos Kossuth as its leader.


1860 The first Pony Express rider reached Sacramento, California.


1864 Battle of Dybbøl: A Prussian-Austrian army defeated Denmark and gained control of Schleswig. Denmark surrendered the province in the following peace settlement.

Dybbol Skanse.jpg

1865   Abraham Lincoln was shot in Ford’s Theatre by John Wilkes Booth.


1865 U.S. Secretary of State William H. Seward and his family were attacked in their home by Lewis Powell.


1866 Anne Sullivan, Helen Keller’s teacher, was born (d. 1936).


1881 The Four Dead in Five Seconds Gunfight erupted in El Paso, Texas.

1890 The Pan-American Union was founded by the First International Conference of American States.

1894 Thomas Edison demonstrated the kinetoscope, a device for peep-show viewing using photographs that flip in sequence.


1904 Sir John Gielgud, English actor, was born (d. 2000).

1912  The British passenger liner RMS Titanic hit an iceberg at 11.40pm in the North Atlantic, and sankthe following morning with the loss of 1,517 lives.


1915 The Turks invaded Armenia.

1927 The first Volvo car premiered in Gothenburg.


1927 Alan MacDiarmid, New Zealand chemist, Nobel laureate, was born  (d. 2007).

1931 Spanish Cortes Generales deposed King Alfonso XIII and proclaimed the 2nd Spanish Republic.

Coat of arms or logo.

1932 A crowd of about 1500 rioted in Queen Street.

Unemployed riots rock Queen Street

1935 Black Sunday Storm, the worst dust storm of the U.S. Dust Bowl.


1935 Loretta Lynn, American singer/songwriter, was born.

1941 Julie Christie, British actress, was born.

1941 World War II: The Ustashe, a Croatian far-right organisation was put in charge of the Independent State of Croatia by the Axis Power after the Operation 25 invasion.

Ustashian U.png

1941 Rommel attacked Tobruk.


1944 Bombay Explosion: A massive explosion in Bombay harbour killsed300 caused economic damage valued then at 20 million pounds.


1945 Osijek, Croatia, was liberated from fascist occupation.

1945 – Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi, 8th Prime Minister of Samoa, was born.


1945 Ritchie Blackmore, English guitarist (Deep Purple), was born.

1951 Julian Lloyd Webber, English cellist, was born.

1956 In Chicago videotape was first demonstrated.


1958 The Soviet satellite Sputnik 2 fell from orbit after a mission duration of 162 days.

Sputnik 2

1961 Robert Carlyle, British actor, was born.

1969  Academy Award for Best Actress was a tie between Katharine Hepburn and Barbra Streisand.

1973 David Miller, American tenor (Il Divo), was born.

1978: Thousands of Georgians demonstrated in Tbilisi against Soviet attempts to change the constitutional status of the Georgian language.

1981 The first operational space shuttle, Columbia (OV-102) completed its first test flight.


1986 In retaliation for the April 5 bombing in West Berlin that killed two U.S. servicemen, U.S. president Ronald Reagan ordered major bombing raids against Libya, killing 60 people.

1986 1 kilogram (2.2 lb) hailstones fell on the Gopalganj district of Bangladesh, killing 92 – these were the heaviest hailstones ever recorded.


1988 The USS Samuel B. Roberts struck a mine in the Persian Gulf during Operation Earnest Will.

USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG-58)

1988  The Soviet Union signed an agreement pledging to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan.

1994 In a U.S. friendly fire incident during Operation Provide Comfort in northern Iraq, two United States Air Force aircraft mistakenly shoot-down two United States Army helicopters, killing 26 people.

1999  NATO mistakenly bombed a convoy of ethnic Albanian refugees.

1999 A severe hailstorm struck Sydney causing A$2.3 billion in insured damages, the most costly natural disaster in Australian history.

2002 Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez returned to office two days after being ousted and arrested by the country’s military.

2003 The Human Genome Project was completed with 99% of the human genome sequenced to an accuracy of 99.99%.

2003 U.S. troops in Baghdad captured Abu Abbas, leader of the Palestinian group that killed an American on the hijacked cruise liner the MS Achille Lauro in 1985.

2005 The Oregon Supreme Court nullified marriage licenses issued to gay couples a year earlier by Multnomah County.

2007 At least 200,000 demonstrators in Ankara protested against the possible candidacy of incumbent Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.


Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

%d bloggers like this: