Word of the day


Larmoyant – tearful, weeping.

A good goodbye


A funeral should be about the person who has died and for the people who mourn her/him.

I’ve been to funerals so bad, so irrelevant to the dead and lacking in comfort for the living, that I’ve wondered who’s in the coffin.

I’ve also been to funerals so good that had I not known the one who had died before the service I’d have known them well by the end of it.

Today’s service for Sir Paul Reeves was a very good one, helping those who knew only  the public figure learn about the husband, father, grandfather and friend.

He was a good man and was given a good goodbye.

Thanks to RadioNZ National and Maori Television people who couldn’t be there in person were able to hear and see it.

Telecom abstaining from abstinence campaign


Telecom has canned its abstain for the All Blacks campaign.

Sex sells but abstinence would have been a big ask, even if it was tongue in cheek.

A campaign asking people to abstain from something they chose to forgo might have worked.

The one exhorting New Zealanders to touch, crouch and not engage for six weeks ought to have been chucked in the bad-idea bin long before it reached the public.

Thursday’s quiz


1. Who said. “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”

2. In which year did National first win an election and who was its first Prime Minister?

3. It’s compleanno  in Italian; cumpleaños  in Spanish; and huritau in Maori, what is it in English? (In case you’re wondering why no French, it would have made it too easy).

4. Who were Cain & Abel’s parents?

5. Which is Africa’s highest mountain and in which country is it?

Thank goodness for the 5% threshold


One of the changes being mooted for MMP is a lowering of the 5% threshold parties are required to reach if they don’t hold any seats.

One very good argument against that is Graham Capill.

The convicted sex offender has been granted parole. He was leader of the Christian Heritage party which, as part of the Christian Coalition, gained 4.3% of the party vote in the 1996 election.

The threshold by itself doesn’t stop unsuitable people entering parliament, but in this case it did and for that we can be grateful.


Constituional safety in power denied


Sir Anand Satyanand was farewelled with a bang yesterday but the most publicity he got during his tenure as Governor General was that generated by Paul Henry’s faux pas.

Apart from that Sir Anand quietly got on doing what Governors General do – fulfilling the ceremonial role required of the Queen’s representative and attending to a few other constitutional matters the law entrusts the office holder with.

I am a republican in my head but a monarchist in my heart. One of the reasons I like our current constitutional arrangements is the lack of politics and publicity which surround the Governor General.

I also like the security that comes with a role which gives little real power  to the office holder but by its existence denies power to usurpers.

No fires without smokes


Opposition MPs and unions predicted dire consequences when the ban on smoking in prisons was instituted.

What’s actually happened?  Corrections Minister Judith Collins reported there’s been almost no fires since the smokes were banned:

The ban has been in place since 1 July. It followed 12 months of careful planning and preparation by Corrections staff, supported by the Ministry of Health and Quitline.

“I would like to congratulate the Corrections Department for the successful implementation of this policy,” Ms Collins said.

“There has been a noticeable improvement in air quality within our prisons since the ban came into effect.

“Since 1 July there has also been a significant reduction in the number of fire and arson-related incidents. There were only four such incidents in July and one so far in August compared to 18 incidents in the month prior to the ban.

“The result is that our prisons are much safer and healthier places for Corrections staff.”

Labour copped a lot of flack for banning smoking in bars because of the way they did it. Instead of promoting it as an OSH issue for staff – with which it would have been very difficult to argue – they took the nanny-state we-know-what’s-good-for-you approach.

By contrast, the smoking ban in prisons was instituted as a workplace health and safety measure, a by-product of that will be better health for prisoners.

August 18 in history


On August 18:

293 BC  The oldest known Roman temple to Venus was founded, starting the institution of Vinalia Rustica

1572 Marriage in Paris of the future Huguenot King Henry IV of Navarre to Marguerite de Valois, in a supposed attempt to reconcile Protestants and Catholics. 

1587 Virginia Dare, granddaughter of governor John White of the Colony of Roanoke, became the first English child born in the Americas. 

1634  Urbain Grandier, accused and convicted of sorcery, was burned alive in Loudun France. 

1848  Camila O’Gorman and Ladislao Gutierrez were executed on the orders of Argentine dictator Juan Manuel de Rosas. 

1864 American Civil War: Battle of Globe Tavern – Union forces tried to cut a vital Confederate supply-line into Petersburg, Virginia, by attacking the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad.

1868 – French astronomer Pierre Jules César Janssen discovered helium.

1870  Franco-Prussian War: Battle of Gravelotte .

1877  Asaph Hall discovered Martian moon Phobos.


1885 Nettie Palmer, Australian poet and essayist, was born  (d. 1964).

1891 Major hurricane struck Martinique, leaving 700 dead. 

1903 German engineer Karl Jatho allegedly flew his self-made, motored gliding aeroplane four months before the first flight of the Wright Brothers.

1904 – Max Factor, Polish-born cosmetics entrepreneur, was born  (d. 1996).

1909 Mayor of Tokyo Yukio Ozaki presented Washington, D.C. with 2,000 cherry trees. 

1917  A Great Fire in Thessaloniki, Greece destroyed 32% of the city leaving 70,000 individuals homeless.

1920 Shelley Winters, American actress, was born  (d. 2006).

1920 The Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified, guaranteeing women’s suffrage. 

1935 Sir Howard Morrison, New Zealand entertainer, was born (d 2009).

1935 Robert Redford, American actor, was born.


1938  The Thousand Islands Bridge, connecting New York State, United States with Ontario, Canada over the St. Lawrence River, was dedicated by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt.


1941 Adolf Hitler ordered a temporary halt to Nazi Germany’s systematic euthanasia of the mentally ill and the handicapped due to protests.

1950  Julien Lahaut, the chairman of the Communist Party of Belgium was assassinated by far-right elements.

1952 Patrick Swayze, American actor, was born  (d. 2009).


1958  Vladimir Nabokov’s controversial novel Lolita was published in the United States.

1963 American civil rights movement: James Meredith became the first black person to graduate from the University of Mississippi.

1965 Vietnam War: Operation Starlite began – United States Marines destroyed a Viet Cong stronghold on the Van Tuong peninsula in the first major American ground battle of the war.

1966 Vietnam War: the Battle of Long Tan – a patrol of 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment encountered the Viet Cong. 

1969  Jimi Hendrix played the unofficial last day of the Woodstock festival

1971 Prime Minister Keith Holyoake announced to Parliament the decision to withdraw New Zealand’s combat force from Vietnam before the end of the year.

Deadline for Vietnam pull-out announced

1976 In the Korean Demilitarized Zone at Panmunjeom, the Axe Murder Incident resulted in the death of two US soldiers.

1977  Steve Biko was arrested at a police roadblock under the Terrorism Act No 83 of 1967 in King William’s Town, South Africa. He later died of the injuries sustained during this arrest.

1982  Japanese election law was amended to allow for proportional representation.

1983  Hurricane Alicia hit the Texas coast, killing 22 people and causing over USD $1 billion in damage (1983 dollars). 

1989  Leading presidential hopeful Luis Carlos Galán was assassinated near Bogotá in Colombia.

2000 A Federal jury finds the US EPA  guilty of discrimination against Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, later inspiring passage of the No FEAR Act.

2005 Massive power blackout in  Java, affecting almost 100 million people.

2008 President Of Pakistan Pervez Musharaf resigned due to pressure from opposition.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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