Word of the day


Glossalgos – talking until one’s tongue hurts.

Favourite feathered friend


Forest and Bird is doing its annual poll to find the bird of the year.

Candidates for the title of our favourite feathered friend include the Barn Owl, which is New Zealand’s newest native bird, and more well known candidates like the piwakwaka (fantail)  and korimako (bellbird).

The karearea’s (NZ falcon) chances ought to be boosted by featuring in an interview with its campaign manager but so far the Pukeko is a clear leader with 5228  votes.

Nature always has last word


Around the World, the blog of an Australian family on a one year round the world tour is a must read for anyone keen on vicarious travel.

They’ve reached Iceland and I was amused to read  about their walk through geothermal springs in a town centre:

 The town’s greenhouses, heating, three swimming pools and much more are heated by the springs. Walking about through clouds of sulphurous steam and seeing some amazing growths in the streams was great. We were heartily amused to read of one of the holes we saw having been used as a dump. Then an earthquake caused a massive geyser-like eruption which deposited the rubbish over the entire town. There was a nostalgic display of broken pottery and toy parts collected from the distributed refuse.

Yet another reminder that we shouldn’t mess with nature – she always has the last word.

Mother’s death is personal matter


Last week I blogged on a newspaper report that said Helen Clark was visiting New Zealand for personal reasons and didn’t want to comment.

I found that strange when she was coming to Oamaru for a public meeting to support the charity Hands and Hearts for Haiti.

However, the news that her mother, Margaret McMurray, has died  helps explain her reticence.

If  she was visiting her terminally ill mother she wouldn’t have been wanting to talk to media and a no comment, this is a personal visit would have been the best way to end the conversation.

In light of that I am very sorry I wrote the post.

Although she is no longer Prime Minister she still has a high profile public role but this is a personal matter.

The death of a loved parent is one of life’s toughest milestones and one which even public figures ought to be left to deal with in private.

My sympathy goes to Ms Clark and  her family.

Farmers not a significant minority


A column in Federated farmers’ Farm review (not online) asks if former Feds’ president Don Nicloson will get a high place on Act’s list:

Act would be dumb to pass up the opportunity because who’d get the farmer vote in a choice between ‘Cactus Kate’ or Don Nicolson?

I’m not sure of the answer to that question but it doesn’t really matter because a party which thinks appealing to farmers will give it a significant boost can’t count.

Farmers are very much a minority, sadly, not a very significant one in terms of numbers of votes and within that small group of voters are many different views.

Don Nicolson might get a few votes from the rural sector but a younger, fiesty candidate who also happens to be female could well attract a lot more votes in total.

If I was ranking the Act list I’d also consider commitment and loyalty.

When Nicolson first mentioned he was thinking of getting political he didn’t seem sure which party he might favour with his candidacy:

He’s slightly cagey about the next step, saying people keep suggesting he moves into politics, but he’s waiting for an invitation first.

“I am hoping somewhere it’s either politics or business that I get into. I’m quite happy to get into politics but no-one is really asking. I’m being told I should be in politics by many people and under MMP the question is can I cut it and tolerate that?

“I’m prepared to give it a go – but I’ve got to be asked,” he says.

The link to the quote no longer works, but I blogged on it here, saying that politics is no place for shrinking violets.

Someone who is quite sure of which party they want to stand for and who has demonstrated loyalty and commitment is more deserving of a list place than someone who appeared equivocal about joining. 

I’d also want someone who would attract far more votes than farmers would provide.

Milk price drop just .9%


The result of this morning’s GlobablDairyTrade auction will be greeted with relief.

With the turmoil on world markets in the last week a large drop in prices was expected but the trade weighted index was down only .9%.

It’s the fifth auction in a row to record a fall in prices, but it’s a small drop.

GDT Trade Weighted Index Changes

The trend of the TWI  is down but the price is still above the long term average.

The price paid for anhydrous milk fat was down .3%; butter milk powder was up 3%; cheddar was up 1.6%; milk protein concentrate was up 1.6%; rennet casein was down .3%; skim milk powder was down .8% and whole milk powder was down 2.2%

Real jobs come from private sector


The Herald  is generally approving of John Key’s announcements on improvements to youth benefits:

There is nothing objectionable in the Government’s proposed new way of handling young beneficiaries and school dropouts. A commendable carrot-and-stick approach is identifiable in the plan to support every at-risk high school dropout into training and restrict the spending habits of teenage beneficiaries.

 However, it also criticises the announcement for not including anything that will create jobs:

By the time the Government, if re-elected, introduces legislation to implement this proposal early next year, it should also have devised a strategy for real job creation.

But as Dene Mackenzie says:

Make-work schemes are not the answer. Having a sound platform for companies to grow and take on extra staff is the way to create jobs.

It’s not the government’s job to create jobs, it’s the private sector’s.

The government’s role is in ensuring the economic and legislative environment is conducive to them doing that.

Policies like National’s determination to reduce debt which will take the pressure of interest rates; the 90-day trial period for new employees which reduces the risk for employers and more flexible employment laws are the best strategy for real job creation.

August 17 in history


986  A Byzantine army was destryed in the Battle of Gates of Trajan by the Bulgarians under the Comitopuli Samuel and Aron.


1786 – Davy Crockett, American frontiersman and soldier, was born (d. 1836).


1807  Robert Fulton‘s first American steamboat left New York City for Albany, New York on the Hudson River, inaugurating the first commercial steamboat service in the world.

1839 The NZ Company’s sailing ship Tory dropped anchor in Queen Charlotte Sound to pick up fresh water, food and wood before proceeding to Port Nicholson (Wellington Harbour).

NZ Company ship Tory arrives

1862  Indian Wars: The Lakota (Sioux) Dakota War of 1862 began as Lakota warriors attacked white settlements along the Minnesota River.

1864  American Civil War: Battle of Gainesville – Confederate forces defeated Union troops.

1883  The first public performance of the Dominican Republic’s national anthem, Himno Nacional.

1893  Mae West, American actress, was born (d. 1980).

1904 Mary Cain, American newspaper editor and politician, was born  (d. 1984).

1907  Pike Place Market, the longest continuously-running public farmers market in the US, opened in Seattle.

1908  Fantasmagorie, the first animated cartoon, realized by Émile Cohl, was shown in Paris.

1914  Battle of Stalluponen – The German army of General Hermann von François defeated the Russian force commanded by Pavel Rennenkampf near modern-day Nesterov, Russia. 

1915  Jewish American Leo Frank was lynched for the alleged murder of a 13-year-old girl in Marietta, Georgia. 

1918  Bolshevik revolutionary leader Moisei Uritsky was assassinated.

1920  Maureen O’Hara, Irish actress, was born.


1943 Robert De Niro, American actor, was born.


1943  The U.S. Eighth Air Force suffered the loss of 60 bombers on the Schweinfurt-Regensburg mission.

1943 : The U.S. Seventh Army under General George S. Patton arrived in Messina, Italy, followed several hours later by the British 8th Army under Field Marshal Bernard L. Montgomery, completing the Allied conquest of Sicily.

1943 First Québec Conference of Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and William Lyon Mackenzie King began. 

1944 Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle Corporation, billionaire, was born.


1945  Indonesian Declaration of Independence

1946 Martha Coolidge, American film director, was born.

1947 The Radcliffe Line, the border between Union of India and Dominion of Pakistan was revealed. 

1953   First meeting of Narcotics Anonymous in Southern California.

1959  Quake Lake was formed by the magnitude 7.5 1959 Yellowstone earthquake near Hebgen Lake in Montana.


1959  Kind of Blue by Miles Davis the much acclaimed and highly influential best selling jazz recording of all time, was released.

1960  Gabon gained independence from France.

1960 Sean Penn, American actor and director, was born.


1962  Gilby Clarke, American musician (Guns N’ Roses), was born.


1962  East German border guards killed 18-year-old Peter Fechter as he attempted to cross the Berlin Wall into West Berlin becoming one of the first victims of the wall. 

1969  Category 5 Hurricane Camille hit the Mississippi coast, killing 248 people and causing $1.5 billion in damage.


1970  Venera 7 launched.

1978  Double Eagle II became first balloon to cross the Atlantic Ocean when it landed in Miserey near Paris, 137 hours after leaving Presque Isle, Maine. 

1979 Two Soviet Aeroflot jetliners collide in mid-air over Ukraine, killing 156

1980  Azaria Chamberlain disappearsed, probably taken by a dingo.


1982  The first Compact Discs (CDs) were released to the public in Germany.

1988  Pakistani President Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq and U.S. Ambassador Arnold Raphel are killed in a plane crash.

1998  Monica Lewinsky scandal: US President Bill Clinton admitted in taped testimony that he had an “improper physical relationship” with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. On the same day he admitted before the nation that he “misled people” about his relationship.

1999 A 7.4-magnitude earthquake struck İzmit, Turkey, killing more than 17,000 and injuring 44,000.

2004  The National Assembly of Serbia unanimously adopted new state symbols: Boze Pravde becomes the new anthem and the coat of arms was adopted for the whole country.

2005 The first forced evacuation of settlers, as part of the Israel unilateral disengagement plan, starts. 

2005  Over 500 bombs were set off by terrorists at 300 locations in 63 out of the 64 districts of Bangladesh.

2008  By winning the Men’s 4x100m medley relay, Michael Phelps became the first Olympian to win eight gold medals in the same Olympics. 

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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