Daring or desperate?

28/05/2011

Why would a left wing MP challenge a right wing blogger to a cycle race?

Trevor Mallard did that to Cameron Slater.

Was it an act of daring or is he really desperate for publicity?

Cameron has accepted and issued a counter challenge – a boxing match.

Will the answer to that be daring or desperate?


Word of the day

28/05/2011

Contumely– rudeness or contempt arising from arrogance; insolence; an insolent or arrogant remark or act.


Saturday smiles

28/05/2011

An atheist was enjoying a quiet day’s fishing on Lake Taupo when suddenly his boat was attacked by a giant  taniwha. In one easy flip, the beast tossed him and his boat high into the air. It then opened it’s mouth waiting below to swallow them both.

As the man sailed head over heels and started to fall towards the open jaws of the fearsome creature, he cried out, “Oh, God! Help me!”

Suddenly, the scene froze in place and as the atheist hung in mid-air a booming voice came out of the clouds and said, “I thought you didn’t believe in Me!”

“God, come on, give me a break!” the man pleaded, “Just seconds ago I didn’t believe in taniwha either!”

“Well,” said God, “now that you are a believer, you must understand that I won’t work miracles to snatch you from certain death in the jaws of the monster, but I can change hearts. What would you have me do?”

The atheist thinks for a minute then says, “God, please have the tanwha believe in You also.”

God replies, “So be it.”

The scene starts in motion again with the atheist falling towards the ravenous jaws of the monster. The taniwha  folds his claws together and says, “Lord, bless this food You have so graciously provided…”


Political version of Four Weddings and Funeral

28/05/2011

Quote of the week in Federated Farmers’ Farm Review (not online):

Two Political Parties and Some Self Serving Unions could be a political version of Four Weddings and a Funeral, but without the comedic touch.

To whom would that be referring?


Desperate sign of desperation

28/05/2011

It’s not my land and it’s not my city so the outcry over the plan to erect a Wellywood sign on a hill overlooking our capital passed me by until I realised I would be paying for it, albeit a tiny amount.

I fly in and out of Wellingtona several times a year, using the airport which is going to put up the sign and therefore some portion of the airfare I pay must be paying for this wanton wannabeness.

If you apply the adage  if you can’t be first you must be better to the sign then the airport board which wants to erect it appears to have got it wrong.

Imitation may be the most sincere form of flattery but it doesn’t necessarily make the imitator right.

Wellywood was a clever enough word play linking Wellington with Hollywood, but turning it into a sign which imitates the one which overlooks the USA’s film capital isn’t so smart. As  Lonely Planet  says:

Lonely Planet New Zealand commissioning editor Errol Hunt said he was “torn” on the idea of a Wellywood sign, seeing it as partly bold, and partly cringe-worthy.

“On one hand, it’s a bit cheeky, a bit quirky, which does feel right. On the other hand, the tryhard-o-meter is beeping furiously.”

Jim Hopkins says it even better:

It is, after all, simply evidence, writ large, of how provincial, insecure and derivative we can be.

If you have to try that hard to impress people, you really shouldn’t bother. Better to pull your bottom lip over your top lip and pretend you don’t exist.

The Wellywood sign is just the biggest, dumbest version of all those gormless billboards we see bestrewn along the roadside all over the country, halfway between nowhere and somewhere else. . .

Well, of course it’s tacky, y’ daft ha’porths!

But it’s not tacky enough. It’s limp tacky, wimp tacky.

It should be wacky tacky. If it’s going to be tacky, it’s got to be Oh! tacky. Nothing less will do. . .

Since all such signs and symbols invite derision, get in first. Create one that will transcend silliness and scale the highest heights of kitsch. Then, when people say, “Strewth, that’s awful!” you can reply, with a satisfied grin on your gob, “Thank you.”

That sums it up – the sign is bad, but not bad enough,  a desperate sign of desperation, not that I’m likely to see it.

In spite of many flights to and from Wellington I have  no idea which hill the sign is destined to despoil. I am usually reading, sleeping or,  in the case of Wellington sometimes more than exciting landings, praying, and don’t recall seeing a hillside on any descent or take-off. 

On my most recent trip a couple of days ago all I saw was cloud until just before we touched down and more cloud when we took off again yesterday.

Therefore, in the spirit of the tackiness of the sign and with apologies to Ogden Nash I leave you with:

Deck your grassy hill in signs, the hill is yours my sweeting,

 I’ll not see it flying in, nor when I’m retreating.


Trans Tasman traffic changing direction

28/05/2011

Bill English was criticised a few weeks ago for suggesting that lower wages here was a competitive advantage.

What do the critics say now that Heinz Watties is moving some of its production from Australia to New Zealand?

After an extensive review of the trans Tasman manufacturing footprint and capabilities, the decision has been made to consolidate production of sauces, beetroot, and some canned meal products from facilities Girgarre (Victoria), Brisbane and Wagga Wagga (NSW), to facilities in Hastings.

Heinz Wattie’s Chief Operating Officer Michael Gibson says Heinz operates a number of factories across Australia and New Zealand and share production between the two countries depending on how customers and consumers can be best served in both markets. The decision to consolidate manufacturing is a critical step in the plan to become more competitive in a challenging environment and to accelerate future growth.

It all comes down to costs of production:

Australia’s supply chain director, Mike Robinson, says the change is the result of a global productivity review, and is not a result of the strong Australian dollar.

“There is pressure on suppliers from customers and consumers. But there are a number of factors,” he said.

“The cost of raw materials, labour, energy. All of these have pressure on suppliers which mean that we have to maintain competitiveness.”

People are going west across the Tasman but if production moves east to New Zealand then people will follow.

Australia is rich in natural resources but it doesn’t have the plentiful supply of water which helps us produce electricity at a cheaper cost.

Having lower wages isn’t good in the long term but can be a factor which helps economic growth in the short term. As the economy grows, wages will increase .

Hat tip: Adolf at No Minister


Protest for privileged

28/05/2011

People are planning to march up Queen Street today in support of wealthy beneficiaries and foreign banks.

They’re not saying that. They think they’re opposing Budget announcements:

Groups opposed to the Government’s planned changes to KiwiSaver, family tax credits and public services and state asset sales, announced in last week’s Budget, will march along Auckland’s Queen Street . . .

If the changes to family tax credits can be criticised for anything it’s not going far enough. Giving public money to high income earners, regardless of how big their families are, is not what the welfare state was designed to do.

People in Kiwisaver will still get $1,000when they join and any further subsidy from the government is generous, even if it isn’t quite as generous as it’s been.

Changes to public services are designed to shift costs from the backroom to the front line. How can anyone protest about that?

The alternative  to the partial sale of state assets is to cut spending  severely or add to already heavy borrowing from overseas banks which would add to our already precarious financial situation.

Given the parlous state of the nation’s books the government could have been forgiven for a slash and burn Budget. Instead it went for what Rob Hosking described as a trim and singe.

Today’s protest is for the privileged and will say a lot more about the politics of the participants than the Budget which delivered moderate measures to solve some very serious problems.


May 28 in history

28/05/2011

585 BC – A solar eclipse occured, as predicted by Greek philosopher and scientist Thales, while Alyattes was battling Cyaxares in the Battle of the Eclipse, leading to a truce. This is one of the cardinal dates from which other dates can be calculated.

1503 James IV of Scotland and Margaret Tudor were married. A Treaty of Everlasting Peace between Scotland and England signed on that occasion resulted in a peace that lasts ten years.

 

1533 The Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer declared the marriage of King Henry VIII  to Anne Boleyn valid.

1588 The Spanish Armada, with 130 ships and 30,000 men, sets sail from Lisbon heading for the English Channel. 

 

1644  Bolton Massacre by Royalist troops under the command of the Earl of Derby.

1660 King George I of Great Britain, was born (d. 1727).

1754  French and Indian War: in the first engagement of the war, Virginia militia under 22-year-old Lieutenant Colonel George Washington defeated a French reconnaissance party in the Battle of Jumonville Glen.

Washington Pennsylvania Mapb.jpg

1759 William Pitt the Younger, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, was born (d. 1806).

 

1774  American Revolutionary War: the first Continental Congress convened.

Congress voting independence.jpg

1830 President Andrew Jackson signed The Indian Removal Act which relocates Native Americans.

 

1853 Carl Larsson, Swedish painter, was born (d. 1919).

1858 Carl Rickard Nyberg, Swedish inventor, was born (d. 1939).

 

Carl Richard Nyberg, painting from around 1920.

1859  Big Ben was drawn on a carriage pulled by 16 horses from Whitechapel Bell Foundry to the Palace of Westminster.

1860 One of the worst storms ever to hit the east coast of England, sank more than 100 ships and killing at least 40 people.

1863 American Civil War: The 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, the first African American regiment, leaves Boston, Massachusetts, to fight for the Union.

 

1892  John Muir organised the Sierra Club.

Logo of Sierra Club

1905  Russo-Japanese War: The Battle of Tsushima ended with the destruction of the Russian Baltic Fleet by Admiral Togo Heihachiro and the Imperial Japanese Navy.

Admiral Tōgō on the bridge of Mikasa

1908 Ian Fleming, English author, was born (d. 1964).

 

1912 Patrick White, Australian writer, Nobel Prize laureate, was born (d. 1990).

1918  The Democratic Republic of Armenia and the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic declared their independence.

 

 

1920 Dennis Gunn was convicted of the murder of a postmaster and sentenced to death. In what was possibly a world-first involving a capital crime, Gunn’s conviction was based almost entirely on fingerprint evidence.

Fingerprints help convict murderer

1926  28th May 1926 coup d’état: Ditadura Nacional was established in Portugal to suppressthe unrest of the First Republic.

1930 The Chrysler Building in New York City officially opened.

Chrysler Building by David Shankbone Retouched.jpg

1931 Carroll Baker, American actress, was born.

1934  Quintuplets, Yvonne, Annette, Cécile, Émilie, and Marie, were born to Ovila and Elzire Dionne, and later become the first quintuplets to survive infancy.

 

1934 – The Glyndebourne festival in England was inaugurated.

1936 Betty Shabazz, American civil rights activist was born (d. 1997).

 

1936 Alan Turing submitted On Computable Numbers for publication.

1937 The Golden Gate Bridge was officially opened by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

1937  Neville Chamberlain became British Prime Minister.

 
A well-dressed, aging man is seated in a chair and looks sideways towards the camera.

1940  World War II: Belgium surrendered to Germany.

1940  World War II: Norwegian, French, Polish and British forces recaptured Narvik in the first allied infantry victory of the War.

1942  World War II: in retaliation for the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, Nazis in Czechoslovakia killed more than 1800 people.

 

1944 Rudy Giuliani, 107th Mayor of New York City, was born.

1944 Gladys Knight, American singer and actress, was born.

1944 Patricia Quinn, Northern Irish actress, was born.

1945 John Fogerty, American musician (Creedence Clearwater Revival) was born.

1952  Memphis Kiddie Park opened in Brooklyn, Ohio.

Little Dipper corner.jpg

1952 – The women of Greece gained the right to vote.

1961 Peter Benenson‘s article “The Forgotten Prisoners” was published in several internationally read newspapers was later thought of as the founding of Amnesty International.

1964 The Palestine Liberation Organization was formed.

Plo emblem.png

1970 The formerly united Free University of Brussels officially split into two separate entities, the French-speaking Université Libre de Bruxelles and the Dutch-speaking Vrije Universiteit Brussel.

Ulblogo.jpgSeal of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel

1974 Northern Ireland’s power-sharing Sunningdale Agreement collapsed following a general strike by loyalists.

1975 Fifteen West African countries sign the Treaty of Lagos, creating the Economic Community of West African States.

1977 In Southgate, Kentucky, the Beverly Hills Supper Club fire killed 165 people.

1978 Second round of the presidential elections in Upper Volta which was won by incumbent Sangoulé Lamizana.

1979 Constantine Karamanlis signed the full treaty of the accession of Greece with the European Economic Community.

 

1982 Falklands War: British forces defeated the Argentines at the Battle of Goose Green.

Gada82-GooseGreen.jpg

1984 Beth Allen, New Zealand actress, was born.

Brooke-cocktail-e4.jpg

1987 19-year-old West German pilot Mathias Rust evaded Soviet Union air defenses and lands a private plane in Red Square.

1987  A robot probe found the wreckage of the USS Monitor.

 

1991 The capital city of Addis Ababa, fell to the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, ending both the Derg regime and the Ethiopian Civil War.

T-55s civil war.JPG

1995  Neftegorsk was hit by a 7.6 magnitude earthquake that killed at least 2,000 people, 1/2 of the total population.

1996  U.S. President Bill Clinton’s former business partners in the Whitewater land deal, James McDougal and Susan McDougal, and Arkansas Governor Jim Guy Tucker, were convicted of fraud.

1998 Nuclear testing: Pakistan responded to a series of nuclear tests by India with five of its own, prompting other nations to impose economic sanctions.

1999 After 22 years of restoration work, Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece “The Last Supper” was put back on display.

1999 – Two Swedish police officers were murdered with their own fire arms by the bank robbers Jackie Arklöv and Tony Olsson after a car chase.

2002 NATO declared Russia a limited partner in the Western alliance.

2002  The Mars Odyssey found signs of large ice deposits on Mars.

2001 mars odyssey wizja.jpg

2003 Peter Hollingworth became the first Governor-General of Australia to resign his office as a result of criticism of his conduct.

2004  The Iraqi Governing Council chose Ayad Allawi, a longtime anti-Saddam Hussein exile, as prime minister of Iraq’s interim government.

 

2008 The first meeting of the Constituent Assembly of Nepal formally declared Nepal a republic, ending the 240-year reign of the Shah dynasty.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.


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