Word of the day

April 27, 2011

Widdershins – anti-clockwise, backwards, in the reverse order or direction to normal, to take a course opposite the apparent motion of the sun.


Royal wedding questionaire

April 27, 2011

 On Friday evening (NZ time) you’ll be:

a)  In Westminster Abbey.

b) Outside Westminster Abbey.

c) Glued to the television watching the wedding.

d) I wasn’t going to watch it but we’ve been invited to a royal wedding theme party so I’ll give it the odd glance.

e) Glued to your television watching basketball and rugby.

f) Who knows?

g) Wedding, what wedding?


Vulgarity has its place . . .

April 27, 2011

The BSA decision to censure TVNZ for allowing the F word to be heard during a documentary on the Aromoana massacre has led to strong arguments both in support and opposition.

I find myself conflicted on this. If ever there’s an appropriate place for that word it’s in a description of such a tragedy but whether the time for airing it in full rather than disguised with a bleep is in the early evening is debatable.

I was, however, surprised at the decision. Given what it’s possible to see and hear on television at times it wouldn’t be unreasonable for children to be watching or listening I’d  thought the F word might no longer be regarded as something from which little ears should be spared.

That it is gives me some hope that there are still some standards of language and behaviour to which society pays a little more than lip service.

A well placed oath can be very effective but it loses its power when it peppers sentences indiscriminately so as to become little more than coarser versions of ums and ahs.

There is a place for vulgarity but as Theodore Dalrymple points out it isn’t anywhere and everywhere:

. . . we have completely lost sight of the proper place of vulgarity in the moral and cultural economy. We have made it king when it should be court jester. It is funny and valuable only when it mocks pretensions to gentility and recalls cultivated people to the limitations of their earthbound condition. Without a contrast with something else, something that is not itself vulgar, it becomes merely unpleasant, crude and stupid. In these circumstances it exerts a corrosive effect on minds and manners because, while it takes no effort at all to be vulgar and unrefined where vulgarity and lack of refinement are almost universal, it takes effort to be urbane and refined.

TVNZ is appealing the decision. I suspect it won’t be hard for them to find plenty more examples where the word was used with a lot less provocation than mass murder to back up their case.


Voters veer but not too far

April 27, 2011

Quote of the week:

If you’re going in for politics, one of the key attributes to cultivate is patience. Sure voters veer from centre-right to centre-left over sequential electoral cycles. But parties don’t, because they are founded – the enduring ones, anyway – on firm principles.

                                 – Jane Clifton in The Listener (preview here, full column online May 16).

One of the reasons Act is floundering is because the public isn’t sure what it’s principles are or worse suspects the party itself isn’t sure.

There is no doubt about Don Brash’s principles – he’s been quite clear about what he wants and why. He’s genuinely concerned about the state of the nation.

He wants to do something about it and has said if Act won’t have him he’ll start his own party.

It might not be hard for him to find 500 members, a name, constitution and meet the other requirements for registering a political party. But there’s a long way from forming a new party to getting into parliament, especially when a party’s principles are far further to the right than most voters are comfortable veering.

Of course under MMP you don’t need many voters – just enough to win an electorate or 5% of the vote. But it takes more than 500 members and a lot of money to do that, especially for a new party.


April 27 in history

April 27, 2011

On April 27:

1124 David I became King of Scots.

DavidIofScotland.jpg

1296 – Battle of Dunbar: The Scots were defeated by Edward I of England.

A man in half figure with short, curly hair and a hint of beard is facing left. He wears a coronet and holds a sceptre in his right hand. He has a blue robe over a red tunic, and his hands are covered by white, embroidered gloves. His left hand seems to be pointing left, to something outside the picture.

1495 Suleiman the Magnificent, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire was born (d. 1566).

1509 Pope Julius II placed the Italian state of Venice under interdict.

09julius.jpg

1521 Battle of Mactan: Explorer Ferdinand Magellan was killed in the Philippines by people led by chief Lapu-Lapu.

MactanShrinePainting2.jpg

1539  Re-founding of the city of Bogotá, New Granada (now Colombia), by Nikolaus Federmann and Sebastián de Belalcázar.

 

1565  Cebu was established as the first Spanish settlement in the Philippines.

1578  Duel of the Mignons claimed the lives of two favourites of Henry III of France and two favorites of Henry I, Duke of Guise.

1650 The Battle of Carbisdale: A Royalist army invaded mainland Scotland from Orkney Island but was defeated by a Covenanter army.

Carbisdale castle.jpg

1667 The blind and impoverished John Milton sold the copyright of Paradise Lost for £10.

Milton paradise.jpg

1749 First performance of Handel’s Fireworks Music in Green Park, London.

 

1759  Mary Wollstonecraft, English philosopher and early feminist, author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, was born (d. 1797).

Left-looking half-length portrait of a slightly pregnant woman in a white dress 

1773 The British parliament the Tea Act, designed to save the British East India Company by granting it a monopoly on the North American tea trade.

1777 American Revolutionary War: The Battle of Ridgefield: A British invasion force engaged and defeated Continental Army regulars and militia irregulars.

1791 Samuel F. B. Morse, American inventor, was born (d. 1872).

1805 First Barbary War: United States Marines and Berbers attacked the Tripolitan city of Derna (The “shores of Tripoli” part of the Marines’ hymn).

 

1810 Beethoven composed his famous piano piece, Für Elise.

 

1813  War of 1812: United States troops captured the capital of Upper Canada, York (present day Toronto).

1822 Ulysses S. Grant, Civil War general and 18th President of the United States, was born. (d. 1885).

Ulysses S. Grant in a formal black and white photo. Grant is seated with arms folded. Grant looks weary and his beard is greying. This is the photo used for the $50.00 bill.

1840 Foundation stone for new Palace of Westminster was laid by Lady Sarah Barry,  wife of architect Sir Charles Barry.

   

1861 President of the United States Abraham Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus.

1865 The New York State Senate created Cornell University as the state’s land grant institution.

The Cornell University Seal

1865 – The steamboat Sultana, carrying 2,400 passengers, exploded and sank in the Mississippi River, killing 1,700, most of whom were Union survivors of the Andersonville and Cahaba Prisons.

 

1893 New Zealand’s Premier John Ballance died.

Death of Premier John Ballance

1904 The Australian Labor Party becomes the first such party to gain national government, under Chris Watson.

 
Australian Labor Party Logo

1904 Cecil Day-Lewis, Irish poet and writer, was born (d. 1972).

 

1909 Sultan of Ottoman Empire Abdul Hamid II was overthrown, and succeeded by his brother, Mehmed V.

1911 Following the resignation and death of William P. Frye, a compromise was reached to rotate the office of President pro tempore of the United States Senate.

1927  Carabineros de Chile (Chilean national police force and gendarmery) was created.

Roundel of Carabineros de Chile.svg

1927 Coretta Scott King, American civil rights activist and wife of Martin Luther King, Jr, was born (d. 2006).

1927 Sheila Scott, English aviatrix, was born (d. 1988).

1932 Pik Botha, South African politician, was born.

 

1941 – World War II: The Communist Party of Slovenia, the Slovene Christian Socialists, the left-wing Slovene Sokols (also known as “National Democrats”) and a group of progressive intellectuals established the Liberation Front of the Slovenian People.

1945 World War II: German troops were finally expelled from Finnish Lapland.

1945 World War II: The Völkischer Beobachter, the newspaper of the Nazi Party, ceased publication.

 

1945 World War II: Benito Mussolini was arrested by Italian partisans in Dongo, while attempting escape disguised as a German soldier.

 

1947 Peter Ham, Welsh singer and songwriter (Badfinger) was born  (d. 1975),.

1948  Kate Pierson, American singer (The B-52′s), was born.

1950  Apartheid: In South Africa, the Group Areas Act was passed formally segregating races.

1951 – Ace Frehley, American musician (Kiss), was born.

1959  The last Canadian missionary left China.

1959 Sheena Easton, Scottish singer, was born.

1960  Togo gained independence from French-administered UN trusteeship.

1961 Sierra Leone was granted its independence from the United Kingdom, with Milton Margai as the first Prime Minister.

 

1967 Expo 67 officially opened in Montreal with a large opening ceremony broadcast around the world.

 

1967 Willem-Alexander, Prince of Orange, Dutch heir apparent, was born.

Close-up of Willem-Alexander wearing a military peaked cap

1967 Erik Thomson, Australian actor, was born.

Pttrtitle.png

1972  Constructive Vote of No Confidence against German Chancellor Willy Brandt failed under obscure circumstances.

1974 10,000 march in Washington, D.C. calling for the impeachment of US President Richard Nixon.

1977 28 people were killed in the Guatemala City air disaster.

1981 Xerox PARC introduced the computer mouse.

1987 The U.S. Department of Justice barred the Austrian President Kurt Waldheim from entering the United States, saying he had aided in the deportation and execution of thousands of Jews and others as a German Army officer during World War II.

1992 The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, comprising Serbia and Montenegro, was proclaimed.

1992 Betty Boothroyd becamethe first woman to be elected Speaker of the British House of Commons in its 700-year history.

1992 Russia and 12 other former Soviet republics became members of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

1993 All members of the Zambia national football team lost their lives in a plane crash off Libreville, Gabon in route to Dakar to play a 1994 FIFA World Cup qualifying match against Senegal.

Shirt badge/Association crest

1994  South African general election, 1994: The first democratic general election in South Africa, in which black citizens could vote.

Nelson Mandela.jpg

1996 The 1996 Lebanon war ended.

2002 The last successful telemetry from the NASA space probe Pioneer 10.

 

2005 The superjumbo jet aircraft Airbus A380 made its first flight from Toulouse.

 

2006 Construction began on the Freedom Tower for the new World Trade Centre.

Freedom Tower New.jpg

2007 Estonian authorities removed the Bronze Soldier, a Soviet Red Army war memorial in Tallinn, amid political controversy with Russia.

 

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

 

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