Word of the day


Draggle – to make wet or dirty by trailing on the ground; bedraggle; to follow slowly, lag behind, straggle.

Saturday smiles


Even if you’re not remotely interested in matters royal and romantic I defy you not to grin at this:

One does what it oughtn’t and t’other doesn’t what it ought’a?


Quote of the week:

“Does Labour do things they shouldn’t so people vote for them and National doesn’t do things they should so people won’t not vote for them?”

Sean Plunket or Duncan Garner* on The Nation this morning in response to a comment by Fran O’Sullivan on the cost of Labour’s 2005 election bribes.

*I was listening not watching and it’s not online yet to check who said this while chairing the panel discussion.

Should we start a support group?


My mother told me it was rude to read at the table.

The reasons for that are obvious when other people are present. We might not all be deipnosophists but we ought to at least try to carry out a conversation with our tablemates.

But I am not convinced by the arguments against reading while eating when dining alone.

There is a risk that the food might not end up where it’s intended and cause a mess on the reading matter, the diner or table but practice makes perfect (even with spaghetti).

There is also the risk that one who has to read while eating might then feel compelled to eat while reading which could lead to unhealthy consumption. But a good book is a wonderful distraction to assist with resisting the temptation to overindulgence of the culinary kind.

There is also the argument that the diner ought to savour the dinner and not be distracted from taste and texture by texts. That is the most compelling, but if I can multi-task I can also multi-taste, feeding mind and body at a single sitting.

The reading eater doth protest too much youthinks?

Maybe, but at least I’m not alone.  Dim Post can’t eat without distraction either.

Should we start a support group or just admit that eating and reading are two of life’s great pleasure and, good manners or not, combining the two enhances both?

The unnoticed part of the job


It’s a sad fact that we are far more likely to complain than complement. We’re also more likely to do both to other people rather than the one with whom we have a problem or for whom we have praise.

But news good and bad has a way of spreading through the grapevine.

Last night at a social gathering someone was talking about a problem the community had been dealing with. They’d gone to their local MP – Jacqui Dean – and “she was brilliant, she couldn’t have done more.”

One of the listeners then contributed another story of a problem friends had been facing. They too went to Jacqui who went to a great deal of trouble to help them.

This is what good local MPs, and their staff, spend a great deal of their time doing.

It’s the unnoticed and often unacknowledged part of the job. It doesn’t make headlines, most people don’t even know that they do it.

It’s one of the reasons we still need local representation and why we must be wary of any electoral system which waters that down so that political ideologues hold greater sway than what Chris Trotter calls a true representative.

UPDATE: Kiwiblog and Whaeoil also post on good local MPs.

Rabobank confirms farmers are happy


It doesn’t happen very often – the rural stars are in alignment and it’s official: farmers are happy.

Rabobank’s rural confidence survey shows:

 Farmer confidence has risen for the first time in more than 12 months and is now at its highest level since August 2008.

• Rising commodity prices and improving global markets are the main factors driving confidence.

• Sentiment has improved in all sectors, but is highest among sheep and beef farmers.

• Farmers’ investment intentions have also surged.

I don’t remember farmers being particularly confident in August 2008 but there is no doubt that decent prices for almost all primary produce is having a positive impact this season.

Of particular note is that sheep and beef confidence is at a 10 year high. They’ve had a really rough ride in the last decade, these improved returns have been a long time coming.

The latest survey, taken late last month, shows 52 per cent of New Zealand farmers expect the agricultural economy to improve over the next 12 months, significantly up from the 29 per cent with that view in the previous quarter. Those expecting conditions to worsen had decreased to seven per cent, from 18 per cent previously.

Rabobank general manager New Zealand Ben Russell said this meant net rural confidence had increased to 45 per cent from just 11 per cent in December 2010 (at the time of the previous survey).

“It is clear that for farmers commodity prices and improving global economies are outweighing the expected impact of the higher New Zealand dollar at the farm gate,” Mr Russell said.

We have to get over worrying about the value of the dollar. It’s floating and the government isn’t going to change that.

Besides a high dollar isn’t all bad. If it was lower fertiliser, machinery and other imports would be much more expensive.

Of those farmers expecting the agricultural economy to improve, 74 per cent cited rising commodities prices as a major reason, while 18 per cent attributed their optimism to the improvement in overseas markets and economies.

The survey showed confidence to be high across all sectors, with sheep and beef farmers particularly optimistic.

“In fact, sheep and beef farmer sentiment levels has soared past that of the dairy sector,” Mr Russell said.

It’s a long time since sheep and beef farmers were more confident than those in dairying. This might slow down the rate of conversions.

. . .farmers’ investment intentions had surged, with more than a third (34 per cent) expecting to increase their total farm investment, up from 21 per cent with that intention in the previous survey. Only four per cent planned to decrease their investment, down from 14 per cent previously.

This was the highest level of investment intention seen since August 2008, Mr Russell noted.

“The survey also indicated that 35 per cent of sheep and beef farms expect to up their farm investment in the coming 12 months. This may be an early sign that the declining national sheep flock is stabilising and some rebuilding of the flock will now occur,” he said.

Farmers have been cautious. Most have been paying back debt rather than spending more which means the impact of better returns hasn’t filtered far from the farm gate yet.

This intention to increase investment means that the benefits from higher farm incomes will start spreading through the wider economy.

April 16 in history


On April 16:

1178 BC; The calculated date of the Greek king Odysseus‘s return home from the Trojan War.


73 Masada, a Jewish fortress, fell to the Romans after several months of siege, ending the Jewish Revolt.

Dovecote at Masada, where ashes were probably stored — the openings have been shown to be too small for pigeons to fit.

1346 The Serbian Empire was proclaimed in Skopje by Dusan Silni, occupying much of the Balkans.

1521 Martin Luther‘s first appearance before the Diet of Worms to be examined by the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and the other estates of the empire.


1582 Spanish conquistador Hernando de Lerma founded the settlement of Salta, Argentina.

1682 John Hadley, British inventor, was born (d. 1744).

1728 Joseph Black, Scottish chemist, was born (d. 1799).

1746 The Battle of Culloden was fought between the French-supported Jacobites and the Hanoverian British Government.

The Battle of Culloden.jpg

1780 The University of Münster was founded.

1799 Napoleonic Wars: The Battle of Mount Tabor – Napoleon drove Ottoman Turks across the River Jordan near Acre.

Bataille du mont-thabor.jpg

1853 The first passenger rail opened in India, from Bori Bunder, Bombay to Thane.

1862 American Civil War: The Battle at Lee’s Mills in Virginia.

1862 American Civil War: A bill ending slavery in the District of Columbia became law.

1863 American Civil War: The Siege of Vicksburg – ships led by Union Admiral David Dixon Porter moved through heavy Confederate artillery fire on approach to Vicksburg, Mississippi.

Battle of Vicksburg, Kurz and Allison.png

1865 Henry George Chauvel, Australian general, was born  (d. 1945).

Painting of Man in khaki uniform wearing Sam Browne belt, two rows of ribbons and red tabs. Holding a slouch hat with emu feathers in one had, and a swagger tucked under the left arm.

1867 Wilbur Wright, American aviation pioneer, was born (d. 1912).

1889 Charlie Chaplin, English actor, writer, songwriter, composer, and film producer, was born (d. 1977).

1892 The New Zealand Rugby Football Union was founded.

Rugby Union founded

1910 The University of Queensland was founded, with the names of the members of the first Senate published in the Queensland Government Gazette.


1912  Harriet Quimby became the first woman to fly an aeroplane across the English Channel.

1917 Lenin returnedto Petrograd from exile in Switzerland.

1918 Spike Milligan, Irish comedian, was born (d. 2002).


1919 – Gandhi organised a day of “prayer and fasting” in response to the killing of Indian protesters in the Amritsar Massacre by the British.

1921 Peter Ustinov, English actor, was born (d. 2004).


1922  Kingsley Amis, English author, was born (d. 1995).

1922 The Treaty of Rapallo, pursuant to which Germany and the Soviet Union re-established diplomatic relations, was signed.


1924 Henry Mancini, American composer, was born  (d. 1994).

1925 The St Nedelya Church assault in Sofia – 150 people were killed and 500 were wounded.


1924 Rudy Pompilli, American musician (Bill Haley & His Comets), was born (d. 1976).


1927 Pope Benedict XVI, born Joseph Alois Ratzinger., was born.

Pope, 13 march 2007.jpg

1939 Dusty Springfield, English singer, was born.

1941 World War II: The Italian convoy Duisburg, was attacked and destroyed by British ships.

1941 – Bob Feller of the Cleveland Indians threw the only Opening Day no-hitter in the history of Major League Baseball, beating the Chicago White Sox 1-0.

1943 Ruth Madoc, British actress, was born.


1943  Dr. Albert Hofmann discovered the psychedelic effects of LSD.

1945 The Red Army began the final assault on German forces around Berlin.

1945 The United States Army liberated Nazi Sonderlager (high security) Prisoner of War camp Oflag IV-C (better known as Colditz).


1945 – More than 7,000 died when the German refugee ship Goya was sunk by a Soviet submarine torpedo.

1946 Syria gained independence.

1947  Texas City Disaster: An explosion on board a freighter in port caused the city of Texas City to catch fire, killing almost 600.

 One of Grandcamp’s anchors Texas City Memorial Park

1947 Bernard Baruch coined the term “Cold War” to describe the relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union.


1953 Queen Elizabeth II launched the Royal Yacht HMY Britannia.

HMY Britannia.jpg

1963 – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. penned his Letter from Birmingham Jail while incarcerated in Birmingham, Alabama for protesting against segregation.

Martin Luther King Jr NYWTS.jpg

1963 Jimmy Osmond, American pop singer (The Osmonds), was born.


1972 Apollo programme: The launch of Apollo 16 from Cape Canaveral, Florida.


1987 British Conservative MP Harvey Proctor appeared at Bow Street Magistrates’ Court charged with gross indecency.

1990 The “Doctor of Death”, Jack Kevorkian, went through with his first assisted suicide.

1992 The Katina P. ran aground off Maputo, Mozambique. 60,000 tons of crude oil spilt into the ocean.

2003 The Treaty of Accession was signed in Athens admitting 10 new member states to the European Union.


2004 – The super liner Queen Mary 2 embarks on her first trans-Atlantic crossing, linking the golden age of ocean travel to the modern age of ocean travel.

2007 Virginia Tech massacreSeung-Hui Cho, killed 32 and injured 23 before committing suicide.

Students gather to mourn after the shooting.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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