Word of the day


Tergiversation – evasion of straight forward action or clear cut statement;  equivocation; desertion of a cause, position, party or faith; betrayal.

Fuel tax increase canned


Some good news for tough times:

The planned fuel tax increase of 1.5 cents per litre which was due to come into effect on 1 July has been deferred while economic conditions remain tight, says Transport Minister Steven Joyce.

The increase was part of a package of changes agreed to by the government in March 2009, designed to make the funding of New Zealand’s land transport system simpler and more efficient.  The package included the cancellation of the economically inefficient regional fuel taxes and their replacement with smaller national increases.

Mr Joyce says given the ongoing economic impact of the global recession and the Christchurch earthquakes, it makes sense to hold off on the increase for another year so as not to add further costs to the economy.

This is a temporary reprieve but we can be grateful for small mercies when we get them.

From love poems to loo paper


Discussion with Jim Mora on Critical Mass began with a collection of poems for a wedding, royal or otherwise, chosen by British poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy (Hat Tip: Beatiies’ Book Blog)..

I especially liked: Anne Gray’s Love Listen which begins:

Let’s love, listen, take time
when time is all we have.
Let’s be unafraid to be kind,
learn to disregard the bad
if the good outweighs it daily. . .


Roger McGough’s Vow:

I vow to honour the commitment made this day
Which, unlike the flowers and the cake,
Will not wither or decay. A promise, not to obey
But to respond joyfully, to forgive and to console,
For once incomplete, we now are whole. . .

We moved from love to loo paper, the  really serious topic: under or over – how should the loo paper hang at Brainz?

If you follow the link above there’s a graphic with the pros and cons of each which says that when the paper is over the roll it’s easier to tear off desired number of sheets and grab the end and there’s less chance of scraping knuckles on wall/gathering germs.

 This is favoured by 70% of people, usually over achievers who like to take charge and be organised.

When the loose end is under the roll there’s  less chance of accidental unravelling eg in motor home or earthquake or if grabbed by cat or small child. It’s supposedly tidier that way.

 Under is preferred by 30% of people and they’re more laid back, artistic and dependable.

Wikipedia discussion on loo paper is twice as long as that on Iraq War.

Apropos of which, in public loos which have stacks of paper in clear containers I reckon the roll turns more easily if the loose end is over rather than under the roll.

Primary produce prices sustainable


Farmers are enjoying the welcome lift in prices of primary produce, but are they sustainable?

Rob Davis, executive director of Meat and Wool Economic Service* thinks so.

That is good news not just for farmers but the wider economy.

Farmers are being cautious. Previous booms have been followed fairly quickly by busts so paying down debt is the first priority.

That means we’ve got a tale of two economies – there’s optimism in the rural sector but it hasn’t yet flowed through to the cities.

If Davis is right and good prices continue, confidence will grow, farmers will start spending again and that will flow beyond the farm gate into the wider economy.

* Beef + Lamb NZ has replaced Meat and Wool but the report I’ve linked to refers to Meat and Wool Economic Service.

Looking inward not way to electoral success


The dismal state of the Labour Party has commentators from left, right and centre diagnosing its problem.

Rob Hosking joins them in this week’s NBR (not online):

Labour’s problem is it is too obsessed with its own internal politics to pay enough attention to the needs of the rest of the country.


Although John Key deservedly gets a lot of credit for National’s high polling, his popularity isn’t the only factor behind the public approval.

He’s leading a caucus which is unified, disciplined and focussed on governing.

Labour by contrast appears to be unified only by the lack of will to challenge its leader – yet.

It is difficult for voters to have much confidence that this party could sort out the nation’s problems when  it is demonstrably incapable of sorting out its own.

Given events of the weekend and Don Brash’s public challenge to Rodney Hide, the same thing could be said of Act.

No use being right in wrong environment


Had Don Brash led the National party to victory in 2005, as he very nearly did,  New Zealand would be a different place.

But how different?

Some of the expensive bribes with which Labour bought votes would not have been implemented. But unless National had won by a large majority many of the policies which then-leader Brash promoted would have been vetoed by his coalition partners – probably New Zealand First and the Maori Party.

It might have been able to pass some of the harder line policies but it would almost certainly have been a one-term government.

That is something that John Key and his caucus have been very mindful of, to the frustration of those further right.

Brash and others on the darker blue end of the political spectrum, including some National members and supporters, lament that the government hasn’t done enough this term.

In doing so they overlook the fact that the party swallowed several dead rats before the last election. Mindful of the damage broken promises did to the electorate’s trust of National in the past, it was determined to keep the rats down.

Critics also appear to forget that popular as the party and its leader is, they do not have a majority, they have to negotiate with coalition partners. They could pass legislation without one of those parties but would need Labour or the Green Party on side to enact anything without both of them and that is unlikely.

This is the reality of MMP and coalition governments which Brash appears to overlook in criticism of National and desire to lead Act

Whether or not he’s right in what he advocates in theory, it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to implement many of the policies he holds dear in practice. There would not be sufficient electoral support for them.

National spent nine long years in opposition watching the country go backwards. In spite of an unprecedented combination of financial and natural disasters, it has managed to tweak the tiller and get the supertanker of the economy going in the right direction again.

In doing so it has got the message through to a significant number of voters that borrow and spend policies can’t continue. The only way to deliver the economic, environmental and social policies most people want is through savings, investment and export-led growth.

It is possible that it could have done more – Act would almost certainly have supported a tougher stance on some policies. But that would have been a recipe for a one-term government.

We didn’t get in this mess overnight and we won’t get out of it in a single term.

National has its eye on long term change and knows that if it loses electoral support the hard-won gains will be lost.

A mini might have right of way when the traffic light turns green but it would be stupid to take it if a juggernaut was running a red light at the same intersection. That’s what’s called being right in the wrong environment and it’s not a safe place to be.

A party which takes the right of way and collides with public opinion in doing so will get crushed. 

Giving way on some things and taking people with them might frustrate people who see an urgent need for radical change.

But going a bit slower is more likely to be successful than lurching one way and losing electoral support which enables a new government to come in at the next election, lurch back and reverse any progress made.

April 26 in history


On April 26:

570 Muhammed, founder of Islam, was born according to the Shi’a sect. Other sources suggest April 20; (d. 632) .


1336 Francesco Petrarca (Petrarch) ascended  Mont Ventoux.

1478 The Pazzi attacked Lorenzo de’ Medici and killed his brother Giuliano during High Mass in the Duomo of Florence.

Portrait by Agnolo Bronzino

1564 Birthday of William Shakespeare, English poet and playwright (based on date of his baptism) (d. 1616).

1607  English colonists of the Jamestown settlement made landfall at Cape Henry, Virginia.


1802 Napoleon Bonaparte signed a general amnesty to allow all but about 1,000 of the most notorious émigrés of the French Revolution to return to France, as part of a reconciliary gesture with the factions of the Ancien Regime and to eventually consolidate his own rule.

Three-quarter length depiction of Bonaparte, with black tunic and leather gloves, holding a standard and sword, turning backwards to look at his troops 

1805 United States Marines captured Derne, Tripoli, under the command of First Lieutenant Presley O’Bannon.


1856 Sir Joseph Ward, 17th Prime Minister of New Zealand (d. 1930), was born  (d. 1930), .

1865  American Civil War: Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston surrendered his army to General William Tecumseh Sherman at the Bennett Place near Durham, North Carolina.

Joseph Johnston.jpgWilliam-Tecumseh-Sherman.jpg

1865 Union cavalry troopers cornered and shot dead John Wilkes Booth, assassin of President Lincoln.

1879 Owen Willans Richardson, British physicist, Nobel laureate, was born (d. 1959).

1888 Anita Loos, American writer was born, (d. 1981).

1889 Ludwig Wittgenstein, Austrian-born philosopher, was born (d. 1951).

1894 Rudolf Hess, Nazi official was born (d. 1987).

1900 Charles Richter, American geophysicist was born (d. 1985).

1916 Morris West, Australian writer was born  (d. 1999).

1925  Paul von Hindenburg defeated Wilhelm Marx in the second round of the German presidential election to become the first directly elected head of state of the Weimar Republic.

1933 Carol Burnett, American comedian, was born.

1933 The Gestapo, the official secret police force of Nazi Germany, was established.

1937  Spanish Civil War: Guernica, was bombed by German Luftwaffe.


1943 The Union Steam Ship Company freighter Limerick was topedoed in the Tasman.

  NZ ship torpedoed in Tasman

1945 World War II: Battle of Bautzen – last successful German tank-offensive of the war and last noteworthy victory of the Wehrmacht.


1946 Father Divine, a controversial religious leader who claimed to be God, married the much-younger Edna Rose Ritchings, a celebrated anniversary in the International Peace Mission movement.

1954 The Geneva Conference, an effort to restore peace in Indochina and Korea, began.


1956 First container ship left Port Newark,  for Houston.


1956 Koo Stark, American actress, was born.

1960 Roger Taylor, English musician (Duran Duran), was born.

1962 NASA’s Ranger 4 spacecraft crashed into the Moon.

Ranger 4

1963 Amendments to the constitution transformed Libya into one national unity and allowed for female participation in elections.

1964 Tanganyika and Zanzibar merged to form Tanzania.

1965 A Rolling Stones concert in London, Ontario was shut down by police after 15 minutes due to rioting.

1966  An earthquake of magnitude 7.5 destroyed Tashkent.

1966  A new government was formed in the Republic of Congo, led by Ambroise Noumazalaye.

1970 The Convention Establishing the World Intellectual Property Organization entered into force

1982 57 people were killed by former police officer Woo Bum-kon in a shooting spree in Gyeongsangnam-do, South Korea.

1982 Jon Lee, British singer (S Club), was born.

1986 A nuclear reactor accident occured at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.


1991 Seventy tornadoes broke out in the central United States.

1994 – A China Airlines Airbus A300-600R crashed at Nagoya Airport, Japan killing all but seven passengers, with a death toll amounting to 264. See also China Airlines flight 140.

1994  Physicists announced first evidence of the top quark subatomic particle.

Top antitop quark event.svg

2002 Robert Steinhäuser infiltrated and kills 17 at Gutenberg-Gymnasium in Erfurt, Germany before dying of a self-inflicted gunshot.


2005 – Under international pressure, Syria withdrew the last of its 14,000 troop military garrison in Lebanon, ending its 29-year military domination of that country.

2005 Civil unions came into effect in New Zealand.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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