Word of the day


Mammock -a fragment or scrap; to shred or tear.



Just 4/10 in Stuff’s Biz Quiz.



8/10 in the Herald’s changing world quiz.

There’s hogget and there’s hogget


My farmer noticed the price on the lamb rack I’d bought to serve friends for dinner and wasn’t impressed.

I didn’t think to point out that someone who makes a living selling stock shouldn’t complain about the price.

But next time I was at the supermarket I bypassed the lamb in favour of hogget chops which I grilled and served for dinner.

They were so tough I gave up after half a chop. My farmer persevered with one before giving the rest to the dog.

He then looked at the label on the package the meat had come in snorted.

Hoggets are supposed to be one-year old sheep but my farmer spends a lot of time at stock sales and reckons that butchers buy anything from one to three year-olds.

The chops I’d bought were definitely from a sheep at the older end of that range. They would probably have been okay if I’d casseroled them but they were definitely well past grilling.

Still, we both learned from the experience. I won’t grill hogget chops again and he won’t complain about the price of meat I buy.



State sector still in need of a cull


Roger Kerr asks a very good question:

Two things in my view are much more important than rearranging the bureaucratic furniture.

The first question that should be asked is whether we need parts of the furniture at all.
On coming to office John Key as minister of tourism abolished the Ministry of Tourism.  Has anybody noticed or cared?

I am sure there are still many parts of the furniture we don’t need and I neither noticed nor cared that the Tourism Ministry had gone.

Second, instead of focusing on restructuring the bureaucracy (often by establishing advisory groups of bureaucrats), the government would do better to focus on leadership by top quality CEOs . . .  The government would find that top CEOs would solve many of the problems of bureaucratic sprawl and inflated headcounts by themselves.

I am not among those who criticise high pay for state servants in general. The good ones earn their salaries and the best would more than justify their pay if they reversed the bureaucratic sprawl.

National has made a good start to reducing the burden of the state but there is still more to be done and good CEOs would play an important role in doing it.

Tourists good, cement bad?


Holcim began investigating building a cement plant in North Otago’s Waiareka Valley nearly 30 years ago but pulled back after the 1987 share market crash.

The company returned for further investigations and plans a few years ago. This time it got consent and the New Zealand  division put a proposal to the international board in Switzerland, but still we wait for a decision:

Oamaru leaders have been expecting a final decision this week at Holcim’s international board meeting in Switzerland.

Holcim New Zealand says the meeting did review the project, but did not make any final decisions.

The $400 million plant would employ about 120 people. That would make a significant economic and social contribution to North Otago and strict conditions on the building and operation would safeguard the environment.

In spite of that the plans have engendered vigorous opposition and among the arguments against the development were that it would threaten tourism.

We passed a cement plant while driving through a national park near Banff in the Rocky Mountains last month . We didn’t know it was there until we were almost upon it and it didn’t appear to be having a negative impact on tourism.

Those opposing the plant also argued that tourism would be better for the economy and environment than a cement plant.

I wonder how many tourists it would take to generate 120 fulltime jobs and what impact transporting, accommodating and feeding them would have on the environment?

August 20 in history


636  Battle of Yarmouk: Arab forces led by Khalid ibn al-Walid took control of Syria and Palestine , marking the first great wave of Muslim conquests and the rapid advance of Islam outside Arabia.

917  Battle of Acheloos: Tsar Simeon I of Bulgaria decisively defeated a Byzantine army. 

1000  The foundation of the Hungarian state by Saint Stephen.

1083  Canonization of the first King of Hungary, Saint Stephen and his son Saint Emeric.

1391 Konrad von Wallenrode became the 24th Hochmeister of the Teutonic Order. 

1672  Former Grand Pensionary Johan de Witt and his brother Cornelis were murdered by an angry mob in The Hague. 

1778 Bernardo O’Higgins, South American revolutionary, was born  (d. 1842).

1794  Battle of Fallen Timbers – American troops forced a confederacy of Shawnee, Mingo, Delaware, Wyandot, Miami, Ottawa, Chippewa, and Potawatomi warriors into a disorganised retreat.

1804  Lewis and Clark Expedition: the “Corps of Discovery”, exploring the Louisiana Purchase, suffered its only death when sergeant Charles Floyd died, apparently from acute appendicitis. 

1858 Charles Darwin first published his theory of evolution in The Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society of London, alongside Alfred Russel Wallace’s same theory.

1866 President Andrew Johnson formally declared the American Civil War over.

1882 Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture debuted in Moscow. 

1888  Mutineers imprisoned Emin Pasha at Dufile. 

1900 Japan’s primary school law was amended to provide for four years of mandatory schooling.

1923  Jim Reeves, US country music singer, was born  (d.1964).

1926 Japan’s public broadcasting company, Nippon Hōsō Kyōkai (NHK) was established.

1927 Yootha Joyce, English actress, was born  (d. 1980).

1940 The New Zealand Shipping Company freighter Turakina was sunk by the Orion 260 nautical miles west of Taranaki, following a brief gun battle – the first ever fought in the Tasman Sea. Thirty-six members (some sources say 35) of its largely British crew were killed. Twenty survivors, many of them wounded, were rescued from the sea and taken prisoner. 

Turakina sunk by German raider in Tasman

1940 In Mexico City exiled Leon Trotsky was fatally wounded with an ice axe by Ramon Mercader.

1941 Dave Brock, British musician and founder of Hawkwind, was born.

1941 Slobodan Milošević, President of Serbia and of Yugoslavia (d. 2006).

1944 Rajiv Gandhi, Prime Minister of India, was born (d. 1991).

1944  – 168 captured allied airmen, accused of being “terror fliers”, arrive at Buchenwald concentration camp. The senior officer was Phil Lamason of the RNZAF.

1944 The Battle of Romania began with a major Soviet offensive.

1948 Robert Plant, British Musician (Led Zeppelin), was born.

1955 In Morocco, a force of Berbers  raided two rural settlements and killed 77 French nationals.

1960 Senegal broke from the Mali federation, declaring its independence. 

1974 Amy Adams, American actress, was born.

1975  NASA launched the Viking 1 planetary probe toward Mars.

1977 NASA launched Voyager 2.

1979  The East Coast Main Line rail route between England and Scotland was restored when the Penmanshiel Diversion opens.

1982 Lebanese Civil War: a multinational force landed in Beirut to oversee the PLO’s withdrawal from Lebanon.

1988  ”Black Saturday” of the Yellowstone fire in Yellowstone National Park. 

1988 – Iran–Iraq War: a cease-fire was agreed after almost eight years of war.

1989 The pleasure boat Marchioness sank on the River Thames following a collision, 51 people were killed.

1989 The O-Bahn in Adelaide, the world’s longest guided busway, opened. 

1991  August Coup: more than 100,000 people rallied outside the Soviet Union’ss parliament building protesting the coup aiming to depose President Mikhail Gorbachev.

1991 Estonia seceded from the Soviet Union.

1993 The Oslo Peace Accords were signed.

1997  Souhane massacre in Algeria; more than 60 people were killed and 15 kidnapped.

1998 The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Quebec couldn’t legally secede from Canada without the federal government’s approval.

1998 The United States military launched cruise missile attacks against alleged al-Qaida camps in Afghanistan and a suspected chemical plant in Sudan in retaliation for the August 7 bombings of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

2008 – Spanair Flight 5022, from Madrid to Gran Canaria, skids off the runway and crashes at Barajas Airport. 146 people are killed in the crash, 8 more died afterwards. Only 18 people survived. 

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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