Word of the day


Povertous – impoverished, poor, poverty-stricken.

Hat tip: Today is My Birthday

Best last lines, English good and bad and the best paper plane


The American Book Reviews 100 best last lines from novels opened the discussion with Jim Mora on Critical Mass today.

Some lines and phrases were familiar although I hadn’t read the books, for example:

Number 8:

  ‘It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.’ –Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities (1859)

Number 77:

“Vaya con Dios, my darklin’, and remember: vote early and vote often, don’t take any wooden nickels, and”—by now I was rolling about helplessly on the spare-room floor, scrunched up around my throbbing pain and bawling like a baby—“always leave ’em laughin’ as you say good-bye!” –Robert Coover, The Public Burning (1977).

And at 77:

 “Tomorrow, I’ll think of some way to get him back. After all, tomorrow is another day.” –Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind (1936)

 Was she the first to use the phrase tomorrow is another day?

The next website (for which I offer a hat tip to Political Dumpground) we discussed was Dear Blank, please blank:

It was designed and built by Jared Wunsch, and Hans Johnson and, if you believe what they write on the about page, it’s moderated by Jared’s cat Louie.

It allows people to pithy one-line letters such as:

Dear spellcheck,

If you have no spelling suggestions for a particular word, please don’t say that it is misspelled.

Sincerely, I have no time for your nonsense, this paper is due in an hour.

 Dear art teacher,

No, my canvas is not empty, I was painting with all the colours of the wind.

Sincerely, Pocahontas fan.

Dear Internet connection,

This whole “playing hard to get” strategy isn’t doing it for me.

Sincerely, frustrated.

Dear iPhone,

Thank you for giving meaning to my life.

Sincerely, fingerless gloves.

Dear purple grape,


Sincerely, green grape.

 Dear Green grape

You’re just jealous.

Sincerely, purple grape.

Dear Americans,

If you like our accents so much, why didn’t you keep them?

Sincerely British people.

Apropos of matters British, Jan Freeman responded to the outrage over the inclusion of initialisms in the OED. (Jan has a website throw grammar from the train – notes from a recovering nit picker)

And Stephen Fry pays lyrical homage to P.G. Wodehouse in  What Ho My Hero in the Independent.

Then for something different in creative work avidiance (with a hat tip to Larvatus Prodeo): how to build the best paper airplane in the world.

Phone shouldn’t think for itself unless it thinks like me


One of the most frustrating things about the technology which has become a necessary part of modern life is that sometimes it thinks for itself.

It is altogether possible that a computer knows more about what it’s doing than I do but that doesn’t mean I want it to do it without my permission.

The same applies to a mobile phone.

Mine has started thinking it’s a good idea to take an incoming call when I’m already on another.

A message appears on the screen asking me if I want to swap calls but I can’t see the message when the phone is clasped to my ear. I just get a beep and the first call goes on hold. One second I’m listening or talking to someone, the next there’s silence and if I don’t push the right option I find I’ve started another conversation with the second caller while the original one is left in limbo.

I didn’t ask my phone to start doing this and I haven’t worked out how to stop.

I don’t want a phone that thinks for itself unless it thinks like me  and I think abandoning one call to check another is rude.

It might be excused if the second was a matter of life and death but that hasn’t happened yet and I wouldn’t know whether it was until I took it anyway.

I’d rather go with the almost certainty that the second caller could leave a message to which I could respond in a few minutes when I’ve finished the first call than drop someone I’m talking to while I check whether someone else is more important.

When buying the phone I didn’t think to ask about its manners. A smart phone should be smart enough to be polite – or at least ask its owner for permission to be rude and comply when it doesn’t get it.

Working for welfare for the wealthy


The advertisements encouraging people to apply for Working for Families made it quite clear it was aimed at middle and upper income earners and this is the result:

 . . . 3 News has obtained the details for 2009 – the latest data available.

It shows: 

  • Those with a household income of between $60,000 to $80,000 claimed $240 million on Working For Families tax credits
  • While those on $80,000 to $100,000 claimed $55 million
  • Families on more than $100,000 claimed $10 million that year in tax credits.

“Working For Families does some important and good things – it relieves child poverty and gets solo parents into work – but at the same time it’s not very well targeted, so a lot of money goes to the wrong type of people,” says Jean-Pierre de Raad of the NZ Institute of Economic Research.

Few would begrudge welfare for people in genuine need but giving to people in want means we’re all working to provide welfare to the wealthy.

It wouldn’t be a good idea if there was a budget surplus, it’s a really bad idea when we’re in deficit.

No sensible individuals would borrow to buy luxuries when they didn’t have enough for necessities and it makes even less sense for a country to do it.



What happened to autumn?

Last week we were enjoying the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, this week it’s winter.

It was only three degrees at 7.30 last night and the clear sky promised frost.

Cloud and a breeze early this morning saved us from that but it’s still very chilly.

April 19 in history


On April 19:

1012 – Martyrdom of Alphege in Greenwich, London.

Painted statues of three men. The man in the centre is wearing a mitre and carrying a crozier and is staring straight forward. One of the two men flanking the central figure is carrying an axe.

1529 At the Second Diet of Speyer, a group of rulers and independent cities protested the reinstatement of the Edict of Worrms, beginning the Protestant Reformation.

1587 Francis Drake sank the Spanish fleet in Cádiz harbour.


1713 With no living male heirs, Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor, issued the Pragmatic Sanction of 1713 to ensure that Habsburg lands and the Austrian throne would be inherited by his daughter, Maria Theresa of Austria (not actually born until 1717).


1770 Captain James Cook sighted Australia.


1770 Marie Antoinette married Louis XVI by Proxy marriage.


1775  American Revolutionary War began at the Battle of Lexington and Concord.

Battle of Lexington, 1775.png

1782 John Adams secured the Dutch Republic’s recognition of the United States as an independent government. The house which he had purchased in The Hague, became the first American embassy.

1809 An Austrian corps was defeated by the forces of the Duchy of Warsaw in the Battle of Raszyn, part of the struggles of the Fifth Coalition.

Raszyn 1809.JPG

1809 The Austrian main army was defeated by a First French Empire Corps led by Louis-Nicolas Davout at the Battle of Teugen-Hausen in Bavaria; part of a four day campaign which ended in a French victory.

1810 Venezuela achieved home rule: Vicente Emparan, Governor of the Captaincy General was removed by the people of Caracas and a Junta was installed.

1839 The Treaty of London established Belgium as a kingdom.

1847  New portico at British Museum opened

1855 Visit of Napoleon III to Guildhall, London.

1861 American Civil War: Baltimore riot of 1861, a pro-Secession mob in Baltimore, Maryland, attacked United States Army troops marching through the city.

1892 Charles Duryea claimed to have driven the first automobile in the United States.

1893 The Liberals subdivided the Cheviot Estate.

Liberals 'burst up' Cheviot Estate

 1919 Leslie Irvin of the United States made the first successful voluntary free-fall parachute jump using a new kind of self-contained parachute.

1927 Mae West was sentenced to 10 days in jail for obscenity for her play Sex.

1928  The 125th and final fascicle of the Oxford English Dictionary was published.

1935  Dudley Moore, English actor, comedian and composer, was born  (d. 2002) .

1936 First day of the Great Uprising in Palestine.


1937 – Joseph Estrada, actor and 13th President of the Philippines, was born.

1941 Alan Price, English musician (The Animals, The Alan Price Set), was born.

1942 World War II: In Poland, the Majdan-Tatarski ghetto was established, situated between the Lublin Ghetto and a Majdanek subcamp.

1943 World War II: German troops enter the Warsaw ghetto to round up the remaining Jews, beginning the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

1943 Eve Graham, Scottish singer (The New Seekers), was born.

1943 – Bicycle Day – Swiss chemist Dr. Albert Hofmann deliberately took LSD for the first time.


1946 Tim Curry, British actor, was born.

1951 – General Douglas MacArthur retired from the military.

MacArthur Manila.jpg

1954 – Constituent Assembly of Pakistan decided Urdu and Bengali to be national languages of Pakistan.

1955 The German automaker Volkswagen,  founded Volkswagen of America in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.


1956 Actress Grace Kelly married Rainier III of Monaco.

1960 Students in South Korea held a nationwide pro-democracy protest against their president Syngman Rhee, eventually forcing him to resign.

1961 The Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba ended in success for the defenders.


1971  Siaka Stevens became first president of Sierra Leone Republic.

1971 – Vietnam War: Vietnam Veterans Against the War begia a five-day demonstration in Washington, DC.

1971 – Launch of Salyut 1, the first space station.

1975 India’s first satellite Aryabhata was launched.

Aryabhata Satellite.jpg

1984 Advance Australia Fair was proclaimed as Australia’s national anthem, and green and gold as the national colours.

1987 The Simpsons premiered as a short cartoon on The Tracey Ullman Show.

Simpsons FamilyPicture.png

1989  A gun turret explodesd on the USS Iowa, killing 47 sailors.

1993 The 51-day siege of the Branch Davidian building outside Waco, Texas, ended when a fire broke out. Eighty-one people died.


1993 – South Dakota governor George Mickelson and seven others were killed when a state-owned aircraft crashed in Iowa.

1995 Oklahoma City bombing: The Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, was bombed, killing 168.

Several fire-damaged cars located in front of a partially destroyed multi-story building.

1997 – The Red River Flood of 1997 overwhelms the city of Grand Forks, ND. Fire breaks out and spreads in downtown Grand Forks, but high water levels hamper efforts to reach the fire, leading to the destruction of 11 buildings.

The Sorlie Bridge connecting Grand Forks and East Grand Forks became submerged on April 17

1999 The German Bundestag returned to Berlin.

2005 Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger elected Pope Benedict XVI on the second day of the Papal conclave.

Pope, 13 march 2007.jpg

Sourced from NZ History Online and Wikipedia

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