Word of the day


BureauPrat – Professional scientist/clinician who has joined the administrative workforce.

Hat Tip: Macdoctor

Did you see the one about . . .


Why oh why can’t we have a better press corps? Offsetting Behaviour has suggestions for better Budget coverage. Also there is a thesis waiting to be written – on the opportunity for social science research into volunteer work after the earthquakes.

New Zealanders are loose – Michael Edmonds at Molecular Matters on the results of a “tightness “survey.

Who are the real enemies? – Lindsay Mitchell on the evil of envy-politics.

Opportunity to rationalise – Gravedodger (a welcome addition to No Minsiter’s bloggers) has a plan to improve emergency services.

New Zealand politics daily – Bryce Edwards at Liberation’s daily round up of politics in the media is a must-read for political tragics.

Which part of competitive tender doesn’t he understand?


A few days ago Green co-leader Russel Norman was concerned about ministers accepting hospitality from the government’s bank Westpac when the account is being put up for tender.

Now he wants the government to bank with Kiwibank.

Which part of competitive tender doesn’t he understand?

The point of putting the account up for tender is to get the best deal not to advance a political agenda.

Businesses, and other organisations, offer hospitality to MPs on both sides of the house. there’s nothing untoward about that.

There are both financial and political dangers in politicians favouring one bank over as a matter of policy.

Saturday smiles


New definitions for old words:

Atom Bomb : An invention to end all inventions.

Boss : Someone who is early when you are late and late when you are early.

Classic : A book which people praise, but do not read.

Committee : Individuals who can do nothing individually and sit to decide that nothing can be done together

Compromise : The art of dividing a cake in such a way that everybody believes s/he got the biggest piece.

Conference : The confusion of several presenters multiplied by the number in the audience.

Dictionary : The only place where success comes before work.

Diplomat : A person who tells you to go to hell in such a way that you look forward to the trip.

Divorce : Future tense of  unhappy marriage.

Etc. : A sign to make others believe that you know more than you actually do.

Experience : The name people give to their mistakes.

Father/Mother : A banker provided by nature.

Lecture : An art of transferring information from  the notes of the lecturer to the notes of the students without passing through the minds of either.

Miser : A person who lives poor so that s/he can die rich.

Office : A place where you can relax after your strenuous home life.

Philosopher : A fool who torments himself during life in order to be spoken of when dead.

Smile : A curve that can set a lot of things straight.

Opportunist : A person who starts taking a bath if s/he accidentally falls into a river.

Optimist : A person who while falling from Eiffel Tower says mid-fall “See, I am not injured yet.”

Politician : One who shakes your hand before elections and your confidence after.

Tears : The hydraulic force by which masculine will-power is defeated by feminine water power.

Yawn : The only time some married men ever get to open their mouth.

Knife to have


John Key has a penchant for oysters but sometimes on his trips to Southland the boats haven’t been able to go out and he’s left oyster-less.

In anticipation of success in future oyster seeking forays, Invercargill MP Eric Roy presented him with something almost as good on his visit to the city this week – his very own, personally engraved oyster opening knife:

Captions are welcome – but please make them witty not vindictive.

Photo borrowed from Eric’s website.

How clean is your cucumber?


Travellers in third world countries are warned about not eating raw fruit or vegetables unless they’ve peeled them but few are concerned in countries with better standards of hygiene.

I’ve had giardia which has made me a bit paranoid about what I eat when away from home but I’d never have worried about salads in Germany.

However, that was before the news of illness and deaths there as a result of  haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS) and enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC):

The number of patients in Germany presenting with HUS and bloody diarrhoea caused by STEC is 470, which is 97 more than the day before, and 1064 of EHEC, which is an increase of 268. Overall in Europe, 499 cases of HUS and 1115 cases of EHEC have been reported, 1614 in total.

Cases have now also been notified from: Austria (HUS 0, EHEC 2), Denmark (7, 7), France, (0, 6), Netherlands (4, 4), Norway, (0, 1), Spain, (1, 0), Sweden (15, 28) and Switzerland (0, 2) and the United Kingdom. (2, 1) All these cases except two are in people who had recently visited northern Germany or in one case, had contact with a visitor from northern Germany.

The BBC reports 16 people have died of the disease and the cause hasn’t been ascertained.

It was originally blamed on Spanish cucumbers at considerable cost:

Spain’s fruit and vegetable exporters estimate they have been losing more than 200m euros ($290m; £174m) since the outbreak emerged.

Germany has admitted the bacteria did not come from Spain as initially reported, but said the decision to issue the warning had been correct as a different strain of E.coli was present in Spanish cucumbers.

The speed and extent of the impact on Spanish producers is horrifying and reinforces the need for vigilance with food production and processing here for both health and financial reasons.

Siouxsie Wiles gives a scientist’s perspective on the outbreak:

Recently, researchers have shown how plants become contaminated with EHEC, and it makes scary reading. Most people would think that as long as they gave their vegetables a decent rinse before putting them in their salad, then all would be well. If only it were that simple. It turns out that the bacteria aren’t just hanging around on the surface of the plant. Shaw and colleagues (1) showed that EHEC attach to the very cells that open and close the pores plants use for gas exchange. From here, the bacteria can then get inside of the plant cell, where no amount of rinsing can reach them.

It’s not easy to get your five plus servings of fresh fruit and vegetables when you’re travelling at the best of times, but I’d rather risk a little vitamin and fibre deprivation than a stomach bug like this.

Filibustering to preserve foolishness


Is the bill allowing students freedom of association really the most important piece of legislation for Labour?

It must be when their serial filibustering is wasting $453,000 for every hour parliament sits.

Meanwhile the Otago University Students Association shows why voluntary membership should be permitted.

Among the issues its memberswere asked to consider in a recent referendum was:

Should OUSA adopt the following as external policy: ‘That OUSA opposes factory farming and the sale of factory farmed products (including eggs, chicken and pig products) and therefore requests that all campus food outlets use free-range products?’

Yes 1616 (74%)
No 573 (26%)
Total votes 2189
Total present 2606 (quorum met)

Otago has about 20,000 students. Only a little more than 10% of them bothered to vote and now they’ve been lumbered with this policy which has nothing to do with education or student welfare which ought to be OUSA’s core business.

It doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with animal welfare either, it’s a policy based more on emotion than reason.

If it was implemented it would add significant costs to the food available on campus which is something the OUSA would be concerned about if it cared more for its members than political crusades.

June 4 in history


781 BC – The first historic solar eclipse was recorded in China.

1039  Henry III became Holy Roman Emperor.


1584  Sir Walter Raleigh established the first English colony on Roanoke Island, old Virginia (now North Carolina).

1615  Siege of Osaka: Forces under the shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu took Osaka Castle.

The Siege of Osaka Castle.jpg 

1738  King George III was born  (d. 1820).

Full-length portrait in oils of a clean-shaven young man in eighteenth century dress: gold jacket and breeches, ermine cloak, powdered wig, white stockings, and buckled shoes.

1760  Great Upheaval: New England planters arrived to claim land in Nova Scotia taken from the Acadians.


1769  A transit of Venus was followed five hours later by a total solar eclipse, the shortest such interval in history.

1783  The Montgolfier brothers publicly demonstrated their montgolfière (hot air balloon).


1792  Captain George Vancouver claimed Puget Sound for  Great Britain.

1794  British troops captured  Port-au-Prince in Haiti.

1802 Grieving over the death of his wife, Marie Clotilde of France, King Charles Emmanuel IV of Sardinia abdicated in favor of his brother, Victor Emmanuel.


1825  French-American Revolutionary War: General Lafayette spoke at what would become Lafayette Square, Buffalo  during his United States visit.


1859  Italian Independence wars: In the Battle of Magenta, the French army, under Louis-Napoleon, defeated the Austrian army.

The Italian camp at the Battle of Magenta

1862  American Civil War:  Confederate troops evacuated Fort Pillow on the Mississippi River, leaving the way clear for Union troops to take Memphis, Tennessee.

1876  The Transcontinental Express arrived in San Francisco,  via the First Transcontinental Railroad only 83 hours and 39 minutes after leaving New York City.

1878  Cyprus Convention: The Ottoman Empire ceded Cyprus to the United Kingdom but retained nominal title.

1879 Mabel Lucie Attwell, English children’s author and illustrator, was born (d. 1964).


1907 Patience Strong, English poet and journalist was born (d. 1990).

1912  Massachusetts became the first state of the United States to set a minimum wage.

1913 Emily Davison, a suffragette, ran out in front of King George V’s horse, Anmer, at the Epsom Derby.


1917  The first Pulitzer Prizes were awarded: Laura E. Richards, Maude H. Elliott, and Florence Hall received the first Pulitzer for biography (for Julia Ward Howe). Jean Jules Jusserand receivesd the first Pulitzer for history for his work With Americans of Past and Present Days. Herbert B. Swope received the first Pulitzer for journalism for his work for the New York World.

1919  The U.S. Congress approved the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which guaranteed suffrage to women, and sent it to the U.S. states for ratification.


1920  Hungary loset  71% of its territory and 63% of its population when the Treaty of Trianon was signed in Paris.

Treaty of trianon negotiations.jpg

1923  Elizabeth Jolley, Australian writer, was born (d. 2007).

1924 Tofilau Eti Alesana, Prime Minister of Samoa, was born (d. 1999).

1927 Geoffrey Palmer, English actor, was born.

1928  Ruth Westheimer, German-born American sex therapist and author, was born.

1928 Chinese president  Zhang Zuolin was assassinated by Japanese agents.


1932  Maurice Shadbolt, New Zealand writer, was born( d 2004).

1937 Freddy Fender, American musician, was born (d. 2006).

1937  Robert Fulghum, American author, was born.

1939 Holocaust: The MS St. Louis, a ship carrying 963 Jewish refugees, was denied permission to land in Florida,  after already being turned away from Cuba. Forced to return to Europe, many of its passengers later died in Nazi concentration camps.


1940 World War II: The Dunkirk evacuation ended– British forces completed evacuation of 300,000 troops.


1940 – World War II: Nazi forces entered  Paris, they finished taking control of the city 10 days later. (June 14, 1940)

1941 Kenneth G. Ross, Australian playwright and screenwriter, was born.


1942  World War II: The Battle of Midway began – Japanese Admiral Chuichi Nagumo ordered a strike on Midway Island by much of the Imperial Japanese navy.

SBDs approach the burning Mikuma (Center).

1943 the Cromwell-Dunedin express, travelling at speed, was derailed while rounding a curve near Hyde in Central Otago. Twenty-one passengers were killed and 47 injured in what was at the time New Zealand’s worst-ever rail accident.

Rail tragedy at Hyde

1943  A military coup in Argentina ousted Ramón Castillo.

1944 Michelle Phillips, American singer (The Mamas & the Papas) and actress, was born.

1944 World War II: A hunter-killer group of the United States Navy captured the German submarine U-505 – the first time a U.S. Navy vessel had captured an enemy vessel at sea since the 19th century.


1944 – World War II: Rome fell to the Allies, the first Axis capital to fall.

1945 Gordon Waller, Scottish musician (Peter and Gordon), was born.

1961  Ferenc Gyurcsány, 6th Prime Minister of Hungary, was born.


1967 Stockport Air Disaster: British Midland flight G-ALHG crashed in Hopes Carr, Stockport, killing 72 passengers and crew.


1970  Tonga gained independence from the United Kingdom.

1973 A patent for the ATM was granted to Donald Wetzel, Tom Barnes and George Chastain.

1979 Daniel Vickerman, Australian rugby union player, was born.

1979  Flight Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings took power in Ghana after a military coup in which General Fred Akuffo was overthrown.


1986  Jonathan Pollard pleaded guilty to espionage for selling top secret United States military intelligence to Israel.

1989  Ali Khamenei was elected the new Supreme Leader  of Iran by the Assembly of Experts after the death of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

1989 – The Tiananmen Square protests were violently ended by the People’s Liberation Army.


1989  Solidarity‘s victory in the first (somewhat) free parliamentary elections in post-war Poland sparked off a succession of peaceful anti-communist revolutions in Eastern Europe, led to the creation of the  Contract Sejm and began the Autumn of Nations.

1989  Ufa train disaster: A natural gas explosion near Ufa, Russia, killed 575 as two trains passing each other threw sparks near a leaky pipeline.

1991 The United Kingdom’s Conservative government announced that some British regiments would disappear or be merged into others — the largest armed forces cuts in almost twenty years.

1996  The first flight of Ariane 5 exploded after roughly 20 seconds.

Ariane 5 mock-up (Photo taken at Cité de l'espace)

2001 Gyanendra, the last King of Nepal, ascended to the throne after the massacre in the Royal Palace.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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