Word of the day


Fadaise – a vapid, obvious, silly or meaningless remark; nonsense.

Compulsory voluntarism ?


Labour wants to talk to Act MP Heather Roy about her  bill which will make membership of student unions voluntary.

Chief Whip Rick Barker told Morning Report that Labour is willing to debate the bill, but it has some concerns about its context.

He said the problem is that it makes voluntarism – compulsory.

Compulsory voluntarism?

The logic of this defeats me. If you can explain what sounds like an oxymoron to me, please do.

Thursday’s quiz


1. Corgis were originally bred to do what work?

2. Who said: “I’ve never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure.” ?

3. Which New Zealand singer sang If I Only Had Time? (token gesture to NZ music month).

4. It’s amitié in French, amistad in Spanish and the nearest I could find in Maori was whanaungatanga – what is it in English?

5. What is a gnomon?

Com Com reduces mobile termination rates


Mobile calls and texts from a phone using one network to another using a different one will be cheaper:

The Commerce Commission today released its decision on mobile termination rates – the cost of carrying a text or call on another network. There will be significant reductions in the wholesale termination rates for mobile calls and text messages. As a result of competitive pressure, the Commission anticipates that these reductions in the wholesale rates will flow through to the prices paid by the 4.7 million mobile subscribers in New Zealand in the coming year.

Termination rates for calls will drop to less than 4 cents by 1 April 2012, with further reductions until 2014. Termination rates for text messages will drop to 0.06 cents from 6 May 2011.

“These changes are intended to address significant competition problems in the wholesale mobile market which have resulted in high retail prices – particularly for prepay customers – a low number of mobile calls and high rates of people switching networks, compared to other countries,” said Dr Ross Patterson, Telecommunications Commissioner.

Cheaper but not necessarily cheap enough:

“However, we continue to be concerned about the extent to which the price of calls and text messages between people on different networks are significantly higher than calls and text messages between people on the same network. These price differences create significant barriers for the new entry and growth of small mobile operators in the mobile market,” said Dr Patterson.

While the Commission expects reduction in wholesale termination rates for calls and text messages to resolve this problem, it will be monitoring this situation closely, including publishing monthly reports, and is prepared to move quickly to limit these price differences if required.

The graduated reduction in termination rates for calls will allow mobile providers time to adjust retail rates. In providing this graduated reduction, or glide path, the Commission has sought to balance the benefits for consumers in terms of lower prices, while allowing mobile providers time to adjust retail prices.

New Zealand mobile rates are regarded as high by international standards and that’s the main reason people here text more than those in other countires. 

 The Commerce Commission ruling will bring the costs down although it may not be enough to encourage people to call instead of texting.

I don’t mind texts for short, simple messages which require short, simple responses. But I’m not among those whose first preference for communication is this method.



The DOminion Post still hasn’t taken pity on political tragics by reinstating its weekly political triva quiz but it has got a royal wedding quiz.

Not sure if my score of 8/10 means I know too much or not enough.

Are Maori special?


My father and all my maternal antecedents from my great grand parents back were Scots.

I love the way some aspects of Scottish culture have been intertwined with ours – the pipers on special, and some not so special, occasions; Auld Lang Syne sung at the end of celebrations; use of words like wee . . .

But if we stopped doing those things here they would continue in other places, most notably Scotland.

If we let Maori language and culture die here there is no other country where they would flourish.

Wherever Maori came from and whenever they came, the debate about Moriori notwithstanding, they are the first people of our country. Maori language and culture are important  parts of New Zealand’s.

In that respect Maori are special and because of that Don Brash was wrong to say they weren’t during the debate with Hone Harawira on Close Up last night.

That doesn’t mean everything else he said was wrong.

The Maori seats are an anachronism which give Maori second class representation and should go. We also have to be very careful not to let the grievance industry flourish.

Land claims must be settled, fairly, fully and finally. The over-representation of Maori in bad statistics and under representation in good ones must be addressed.

Brash wants that and recognises that Harawira does too. However, Harawira is too bigoted, stuck in dependence mode and focussed on being a victim to acknowledge Brash shares many of his concerns and recognise there is another way to help “his” people.

Making some people more equal than others will not do that and only encourages more opposition and bigotry.

As for the debate, it was good to have politics on television during peak viewing time. It was entertaining but poor chairing meant it generated a lot more heat than light.

I suspect both politicians merely confirmed existing biases rather than converting the undecided or even encouraging anyone to think differently.

Part 1 of the debate is here, part 2 is here.

Merging commissions first step


Peter Dunne is calling for the Families’ and Children’s Commissions to be merged:

“Rolling the Office of the Children’s Commissioner into the Families Commission just makes sense,” Mr Dunne said.

“Much of what the two agencies do overlaps and is inter-related. The interests of families and children deeply entwined, and I believe a merger would strengthen their combined advocacy role, while maximising their value for money.”

. . .“The well-being of our children is dependent above all else on the strength of our families,” he said.

“A single commission focused on promoting the needs of families will, by definition, have a positive effect on the lives of children in New Zealand.”

What would have made even more sense would have been not to waste money on the Families’ Commission in the first place. 

But if it’s not going to disappear altogether merging it with the Children’s Commission is better than leaving it as a separate agency.

With luck the merger will be a first step towards its eventual disappearance.

May 5 in history


On May 5:

553 The Second Council of Constantinople began.

1215  Rebel barons renounce their allegiance to King John of England.

1260 Kublai Khan became ruler of the Mongol Empire.


1494 Christopher Columbus landed on the island of Jamaica and claimed it for Spain.

1640  King Charles I of England dissolved the Short Parliament.

1762  Russia and Prussia signed the Treaty of St. Petersburg.

1789  In France, the Estates-General convened for the first time since 1614.


1809  Mary Kies becomes the first woman awarded a U.S. patent, for a technique of weaving straw with silk and thread.

1809 – The Swiss canton of Aargau denied citizenship to Jews.

1818 Karl Marx, German political philosopher was born (d. 1883).


1821  Emperor Napoleon I died in exile on the island of Saint Helena.

Gold-framed portrait painting of a gaunt middle-aged man with receding hair and laurel wreath, lying eyes-closed on white pillow with a white blanket covering to his neck and a gold Jesus cross resting on his chest 

1830 John Batterson Stetson, American hat manufacturer was born (d. 1906).


1833 James Busby  became New Zealand’s official British resident.

Busby becomes official British Resident

1835 The first railway in continental Europe opened between Brusselsand Mechelen.

1862  Cinco de Mayo in Mexico: troops led by Ignacio Zaragoza halted a French invasion in the Battle of Puebla.

Cinco de Mayo

1864 American Civil War: The Battle of the Wilderness began in Spotsylvania County, Virginia.

Battle of the Wilderness.png

1864 Nellie Bly, American journalist and writer was born  (d. 1922).

1865  In North Bend, Ohio, the first train robbery in the United States took place.

1866  Memorial Day first celebrated in United States at Waterloo, New York.

Memorial Day

1877  Indian Wars: Sitting Bull led his band of Lakota into Canada to avoid harassment by the United States Army under Colonel Nelson Miles.

Sitting Bull - edit2.jpg

1886  The Bay View Tragedy: A militia fired into a crowd of protesters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, killing seven.


1891 The Music Hall in New York City (later known as Carnegie Hall) had its grand opening and first public performance, with Tchaikovsky as the guest conductor.

1904  Cy Young of the Boston Americans threw the first perfect game in the modern era of baseball.

1914 Tyrone Power, American actor was born (d. 1958).

1916 U.S. marines invaded the Dominican Republic.

1919 Georgios Papadopoulos, Greek dictator was born (d. 1999).

1921 Coco Chanel introduced Chanel No. 5.

No. 5

1925  Scopes Trial: serving of an arrest warrant on John T. Scopes for teaching evolution in violation of the Butler Act.


1925  The government of South Africa declared Afrikaans an official language.

1936  Italian troops occupied Addis Ababa.

1940  World War II: Norwegian refugees formed a government-in-exile in London

1941  Emperor Haile Selassie returned to Addis Ababa; the country commemorates the date as Liberation Day or Patriots’ Victory Day.

1942 Tammy Wynette, American musician was born (d. 1998).


1943 Michael Palin, British writer, actor, and comedian, was born.

1944 John Rhys-Davies, English-born Welsh actor was born.

1945  World War II: Canadian and UK troops liberated the Netherlands and Denmark from Nazi occupation.

1945 – World War II: Prague uprising against German occupying forces in Czechoslovakia.

Prague liberation 1945 tanks barricades.jpg

1945 – World War II: US Army troops liberate the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria


1945 – World War II: Admiral Karl Dönitz, President of Germany after Hitler’s death, ordered all German U-boats to cease offensive operations and return to their bases.

1948  Bill Ward, British drummer (Black Sabbath) was born.

1949 The Treaty of London established the Council of Europe in Strasbourg as the first European institution working for European integration.

1950 Bhumibol Adulyadej crowned himself King Rama IX of Thailand.

1950 Mary Hopkin, Welsh singer, was born.

1955 West Germany gained full sovereignty.

1961 The Mercury programme: Mercury-Redstone 3Alan Shepard became the first American to travel into outer space making a sub-orbital flight of 15 minutes.

Alan Shepard before MR-3.jpg

1964 The Council of Europe declared May 5 as Europe Day.


1980 Operation Nimrod: The British Special Air Service stormed the Iranian embassy in London after a six-day siege.

1981 Bobby Sands died in the Long Kesh prison hospital after 66 days of hunger-striking, aged 27.

Bobby sands mural in belfast320.jpg

1987  Iran-Contra affair: start of Congressional televised hearings in the United States of America

1991 Mt Pleasant riots broke out in the Mt. Pleasant section of Washington, D.C. after police shoot a Salvadoran man.

1994  The signing of the Bishkek Protocol between Armenia and Azerbaijan effectively froze the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

2005  Tony Blair’s Labour Party was elected for a third consecutive term.

2006 The government of Sudan signed an accord with the Sudan Liberation Army.

2007  Kenya Airways Flight KQ 507 crashed in Cameroon.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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