Septic tanks greater risk than cows

September 26, 2011

A proposal to introduce intensive dairying to Hawea Flat is concerning some residents. However one of the reassurances the Otago Regional Council gave may not be very reassuring:

Your septic tanks are a bigger risk,” the Otago Regional Council’s John
Threlfall told Hawea Flat residents yesterday at a public meeting to discuss the
effects of intensive dairy farming on their water quality.

Held in the Hawea Community Hall, the meeting was addressed by council
chairman Stephen Woodhead and the council’s environmental information and
science director Dr Threlfall. . .

Dr Threlfall said the council wanted to allow good farming to progress, and
at the same time maintain and protect water quality.

“We cannot offer any guarantees,” he said. “But your septic tanks are a
bigger risk, and local monitoring will indicate water quality changes long
before deterioration becomes dangerous.”

Dairying gets the blame for water quality issues but domestic and industrial waste can be at least as much a problem.

However, that septic tanks are a greater risk doesn’t mean there is any serious risk.

Dr Threlfall said: “It’s our responsibility to enforce ORC’s water plan. Our
permitted rules are quite stringent and aim to maintain present water quality
levels.”

Mr Woodhead added that the 400 dairy farms in Otago are inspected annually,
and that it would take “one helluva an event” for dairy effluent to pollute
local rivers.

Bad publicity about dairying is some places doesn’t mean it’s causing problems everywhere.

The ORC told a meeting in Oamaru last week that all but one of the waterways in the district had no quality issues. The one issue was in a small part of the Waiareka Creek which was much healthier than it had been before the North Otago Irrigation scheme was launched.

The creek had been little more than a series of stagnant ponds for most of the year, now it flows continuously which has improved the water quality and the habitat for fish and insects.


Can’t risk living to bring back dead

September 26, 2011

Tom was only 20 weeks old when he died.

We were in hospital at the time and among the formalities which had to be completed was signing a form giving permission for a post mortem.

I had no objection to that. I was at least as anxious as the medical staff to find a cause of the brain disorder which killed him and I waited with increasing desperation for the results.

It was a very long wait. We passed the 20 week mark after his death so he’d been dead longer than he’d been alive and still the post mortem report didn’t come.

The longer we waited the more I focussed on the results but when the letter finally came it was an anti-climax and a disappointment. The investigations undertaken after his death told us no more than the results of the numerous tests Tom had endured during his life.

In hindsight I realise that it wasn’t just the absence of any answers to our questions of what had caused Tom’s illness, which upset me. It was that focussing on the post mortem results had led me down a by way off the grieving highway. The letter brought me to a dead end and forced me to accept there wasn’t going to be a happy-ever-after there. The son we had loved was dead and with him died the hopes and dreams we’d had for his future which we hadn’t even been aware of until we lost him and them.

The report on which I’d put so much importance was nothing more than a reminder I had to return to the main road, come to terms with Tom’s death and get on with living.

All that a long time ago now, more than 20 years, but reports on the desperation of the families of the men who died in the Pike River mine remind me of how I felt.

Anguish and anger are natural and normal reactions to the tragic deaths of their men and wanting to get them back is understandable. But even if, after two explosions and subsequent fire, there is something to bring back, it won’t by itself make anything better. The families are stuck down a side road, waiting as I was. Whatever they might have when the waiting is over it won’t be what they want which is the living men they remember and for whom they grieve.

Nobody could have told me I was waiting in vain and I don’t expect the Pike River families to give up on the hope a recovery operation could, and belief it should, be undertaken.

However, those responsible for the mine can’t be swayed be the strong and understandable emotions of those who grieve. No matter what the bereaved families think and feel, the living can’t be put at risk to bring back the dead.


September 26 in history

September 26, 2011

46 BC  Julius Caesar dedicated a temple to his mythical ancestor Venus Genetrix in accordance with a vow he made at the battle of Pharsalus.

715  Ragenfrid defeated Theudoald at the Battle of Compiègne.

1212  Golden Bull of Sicily was certified as an hereditary royal title in Bohemia for the Přemyslid dynasty.

1580  Sir Francis Drake completed his circumnavigation of the world.

1687  The Parthenon in Athens was partially destroyed by an explosion caused by the bombing from Venetian forces led by Morosini.

168  7 The city council of Amsterdam voted to support William of Orange‘s invasion of England.

1783  The first battle of Shays’ Rebellion began.

1810  A new Act of Succession was adopted by the Riksdag of the Estates and Jean Baptiste Bernadotte becomes heir to the Swedish throne.

1820  Colonel Robert Gibbon Johnson proved tomatoes weren’t poisonous by eating several on the steps of the courthouse in Salem, New Jersey.

1865 The Natives Rights Act declared Maori British citizens.

1872  The first Shriners Temple (called Mecca) was established in New York City.

1888  US poet & playwright T.S. (Thomas Stearns) Eliot was born (d. 1965).

1898 Composer George Gershwin was born (d. 1937).

1907 Prime Minister Sir Joseph Ward proclaimed New Zealand a dominion. Parliament Bildings were lit up in celebration.

Joseph Ward proclaims dominion status

1907  Newfoundland  became a dominion within the British Empire.

1907 English art historian & Soviet spy Anthony Blunt was born (d. 1983).

1918  World War I: The Meuse-Argonne Offensive, the bloodiest single battle in American history, began.

1932 Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was born.

1934  Steamship RMS Queen Mary was launched.

1936 South African activist Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was born.

1943 – Ian Chappell, Australian cricketer and broadcaster, was born.

1945 English singer Bryan Ferry was born.

1947 US country singer Lynn Anderson was born.

1948 English-born Australian singer Olivia Newton John was born.

1949 US novelist Jane Smiley was born.

1949 English crime writer Minette Walters was born.

1950  United Nations troops recaptured Seoul from the North Koreans.

1954  Japanese rail ferry Toya Maru sank during a typhoon in the Tsugaru Strait, killing 1,172.

1960 The first televised debate took place between presidential candidates Richard M. Nixon and John F. Kennedy.

1962  The Yemen Arab Republic was proclaimed.

1964 English singer Nicki French was born.

1970  The Laguna Fire started in San Diego County, burning 175,425 acres (710 km²).

1973  Concorde made its first non-stop crossing of the Atlantic in record-breaking time.

1981 US tennis player Serena Williams was born.

1983  Soviet military officer Stanislav Petrov averted a likely worldwide nuclear war by correctly identifying a report of an incoming nuclear missile as a computer error and not an American first strike.

1997  A Garuda Indonesia Airbus A-300 crashed near Medan, Indonesia, airport, killing 234.

1997  An earthquake struck  Umbria and the Marche, causing part of the Basilica of St. Francis at Assisi to collapse.

2000  Anti-globalization protests in Prague (some 20,000 protesters) turned violent during the IMF and World Bank summits.

2000  The MS Express Samina sank off Paros in the Agean sea killing 80 passengers.

2002  The overcrowded Senegalese ferry MV Joola capsised off the coast of Gambia killing more than 1,000.

2008  Swiss pilot and inventor Yves Rossy became the  first person to fly a jet engine-powered wing across the English Channel.

2009 Typhoon Ketsana (2009) hit the Philippines, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand, causing 700 fatalities.

Sourced from NZ History Online and Wikipedia


Word of the day

September 25, 2011

Perdegana – an agreement in certain games whereby the loser wins.


9/10

September 25, 2011

9/10 in the Herald’s QuestionTime – I knew Minto was standing in Maukau but not which point of the compass went with it.


Backing blue but which blue?

September 25, 2011

I have conflicted loyalties over today’s Rugby World Cup match between Argentina and Scotland.

My father was a Scot and as far as we know all my mother’s antecedents who weren’t born in New Zealand were Scottish too.

All those tartan genes mean I’d be supporting Scotland against anyone other than New Zealand.

But, and it’s a very big but, we hosted an AFS student from Argentina 16 years ago and his family is now our family. Then our nephew married an Argentinean, adding to our affection for that country and its people.

The Celtic connection means I’ll be favouring Ireland against Russia and several wonderful holidays in Fiji make it easy to back them in the match against Samoa.

Choosing which team to support in the third game is much harder.

I’m definitely backing blue today – but should it be dark blue or light blue?


Rural round-up

September 25, 2011

Rural contractors say review needed – Sally Rae:

Rural Contractors New Zealand has welcomed a review of    transport rules affecting agricultural contractors, describing    it as “great news”.   

Associate Transport Minister Nathan Guy said the Government      was about to begin a review. It wanted to make sure the rules      ensured public safety without imposing unnecessary red tape . . .

Arable farming career excites graduate – Sally Rae:

Hannah Priergaard-Petersen reckons she has the perfect    first job. Ms Priergaard-Petersen has been employed as a trials    officer at the Foundation for Arable Research (Far), following    her stint as a Far summer scholar in 2010-11.   

Brought up in a farm in northern Southland, she recently      completed a bachelor of science degree at the University of      Canterbury, majoring in biological sciences . . .

Young stock judge tackles Australia – Sally Rae:

A great learning experience” is how young Otago stock judge Will Gibson describes representing New Zealand at the Royal      Adelaide Show in Australia.   

 Will (18), a pupil at John McGlashan College, competed in the junior merino judging competition earlier this month, against      the six Australian state finalists.   

 He was among a small group of young New Zealanders who participated in stock judging and handling competitions at      the show.   

 New Zealand Young Rural Achiever Cath Lyall, from Raes Junction, also represented New Zealand at the event.  

New focus sought for Waituna – Kimberly Crayton-Brown:

Farmers in the Waituna catchment fear they may lose their farms, meaning talk must focus on solutions and not problems, a senior Environment Southland staff member says.

Council chief executive Ciaran Keogh said people needed to be thinking about a response, not a threat. “We have got a problem and we need to get people talking about answers which we are not doing at the moment. People are starting to feel threatened so let’s lift the discussion out of the confrontational things.”

Mr Keogh said at the moment farmers had this great fear they were going to lose their farms . . .

Sheep milking operation continues to expand – Collette Devlin:

Losing his seat at the general election this year could be enough for Deputy Prime Minister Bill English to return to a farming life, with sheep milking one option.

Southland’s leading sheep milking operation Blue River Dairy hosted Mr English last week, including a visit to the milking shed run by Keith Neylon in Antler Downs.

Blue River Diary has another milking operation in Brydone, Invercargill. Both farms milk non-stop for 12 months . . .

Demographics alter consumer demand patterns – Allan Barber:

Demographic changes will present challenges for the red meat sector in spite of apparently unstoppable world population growth. Several speakers at the Red Meat Sector Conference made reference to the possible effects of these changes over the next 40 years, some of which will be positive, like the growth of the Indian and Chinese middle class, and others negative.

The most obvious challenge will be the ageing of the population in first world countries, because older people eat less and require more single portion meat cuts . . .

RMSS conference reveals templates to learn from:

THE RED Meat Sector Strategy report, issued in May, said what needed to be done. Now Beef + Lamb NZ and the Meat Industry Association have run up another clutch of signal flags.  

Others in agriculture are seen to be doing some of the things the RMSS report suggested, so they were invited to tell their stories at a recent conference. Their successes stemmed from growers and consumers being in harmony . . .

Merino meat next on the menu – Owen Hembry:

A new sheep industry initiative aiming to replicate the branding success of high country merino wool with premium priced meat products is heading to high-end restaurant plates.

The New Zealand Merino Company and processor co-operative Silver Fern Farms have formed a joint venture and launched a premium brand called Silere Alpine Merino, which will sell for about 10 to 15 per cent more than normal meat . . .

Choose good tucker and chew slowly – Alan Emmerson:

I was really intrigued with the statistics as to how many of the world’s people were starving and how many were obese. Out of a world population approaching seven billion people, one billion are hungry.

Similarly one billion are overweight with 300 million classed as obese. In the United States with a population of 311 million, 10 million are starving and 105 million are obese. Obesity is a massive problem, not much is heard of it and, worse, New Zealand is the third most obese nation in the world. It is, indeed, a crisis . . .

Seeking farmer contorl of wool – Tony Leggett:

A new company formed to raise capital to invest in the wool sector is already shrouded in controversy.

The New Zealand Wool Investment Company (to be known as WoolCo) is a 50:50 joint venture between the farmer-owned and listed wool innovation firm Wool Equities Limited (WEL) and Christchurch merchant bankers Ocean Partners.

It announced plans last Friday to attempt to raise $40 million capital to buy the 65% stake in Wool Services International (WSI), formerly held by two companies associated with Allan Hubbard but now controlled by a receiver . . .

Crafar not guilty in dirty farming trial

Reporoa dairy farmer Glen Walter Crafar has been found not guilty by a Rotorua District Court  jury of one charge of dirty dairying . . .

Farmers fearful over rustler raids – Greg Stack:

Stolen livestock and gunshots on the wild west coast have Waikato farmers fearing for their safety, with one stopping vehicle access to a popular fishing spot in response.

Livestock rustling, a problem more common in a Western film, has hit Waikato’s west coast as the tail of the recession squeezes the isolated farming community . . .

Divisions over apple marketing – Gerald Piddock:

Waipopo Orchards is taking a wait and see approach following a split in the apple industry over the best way to exploit the newly opened Australian market.

The split came following the results of a recent postal ballot that showed while 73 per cent of growers with 72 per cent of the export crop voted to support adopting a Horticultural Export Authority (HEA) model for the Australian market, just 37 per cent of exporters with 43 per cent of the fruit backed the proposal . . .

Farm sales on the rise – Gerald Piddock:

Farm sales nationally for the year to August topped 1000 for the first time in almost two years, according the Real Estate Institute.

“The underlying trend is rising. We are seeing enquiry emerging for quality properties,” rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said.

The improvement was based on expectations for commodity prices to hold or in some cases firm slightly as the season progressed, he said . . .

Herbal pasture clovers challenge our concept of what a dairy pasture looks like – Pasture to Profit:

The dawning of a new age OR a Storm of Innovation? A group of very innovative pasture based dairyfarmers in the UK are challenging our concept of what a pasture looks like. Farmers are experimenting with Herbal Clover pastures. Lots of different mixes of herbs with white clover to provide the nitrogen. Over the past two weeks I’ve been very lucky to work with 2 French groups (one farmer group from Brittany & an Organic Dairy Advisers group from Normandy) visiting SW England. We were on both conventional & organic pasture based dairy
farms . . .


Loving that roof

September 25, 2011

It was raining steadily when we got to Dunedin late yesterday afternoon and we were more than a little damp by the time we got to the stadium.

Bu once inside, out of the rain and the wind, we were able to enjoy the pre-match entertainment from the Army Band and the fun of being part of a near-capacity crowd at an international fixture without being distracted by the wet and cold.

The Forsyth Barr stadium was a controversial project and some are still concerned about its cost. But it is a wonderful facility and there is no doubt that putting a roof on it has made it much more comfortable for spectators and players.

Whoever is in charge of building whatever will replace the Christchurch stadium should be consulting the people behind Dunedin’s and going for a roof too.

And the rugby? To my admittedly inexpert eyes, England never even approached top gear and the 67-3 score said more about Romania being mis-matched than the English team performing well.

They struggled against Argentina in their first match, last week the score in the game against Georgia flattered them and last night they showed little if any flair.

The question is, is that it or will they be able to go up several notches when they’re really tested in the quarter finals?

A couple of young Scots were sitting behind us. We asked why they weren’t in Wellington to support their own team. They said they’d had tickets for Christchurch, built their itinerary round that and it was too expensive to fly from Queenstown to Wellington so they were making the most of the Rugby World Cup experience.

We didn’t tell them our nephew and his Argentinean wife got cheap seats to fly up from Dunedin and will be at the Cake Tin today cheering on Los Pumas.

We’d booked a table at Filadelfio’s to enable us to combine dinner with watching the All Blacks vs France.

It’s too soon to relax, there are a lot of important games to go  yet. But last night’s 37-17 win  was a wonderful way for Richie McCaw to celebrate his 100th match for the All Blacks.

Like Inventory 2, I was moved to watch an obviously ill Jock Hobbs present Richie with the silver test cap.

P.S. – We noticed a photographer with a big lens on the catwalk high above the ground. It wasn’t us he was looking for though, it was Zara Philliips and he found her.

P.P.S. – The curtain raiser was a few hours before the main game. The Nude Blacks met the Romanian Vampires (with fangs and cloaks but sans clothes) in a match at Larnach Castle earlier in the day. (Don’t click the link if you’re offended by nudity).

Full credit to whoever saw the marketing opportunity – the Nude Blacks were sponsored by grabaseat and Bottom Bus.


Act 2, different Act or new Act?

September 25, 2011

A few months ago Don Brash mused over whether he was better to join Act or start a whole new party.

A party is more than its MPs and candidates but they are its public face and with the announcement that John Bowscawen isn’t going to seek re-election for Act, it looks like Brash has effectively done both.

He joined Act but after the election, however well it does, it will have a completely new caucus , albeit that two of its members – John Banks, if he wins Epsom, and Brash himself, if there are enough party votes for a second MP, have been in parliament before as National MPs.

The question is: will this be Act 2, a different Act or a completely new Act  altogether?


Daylight Savings Blues again

September 25, 2011

We were late home from Dunedin last night and to add insult to injury we lost an hour of much needed sleep when the clocks went forward.

Once more I’ve got the:

Daylight Savings Blues

Spring is here the grass has grown

It’s time to have my annual moan.

Why do the clocks move on so soon

And force us to rise by light of moon?

Spring equinox gives 12 hours of light

So we have to rise while it’s still night.

And what use is the extra evening sun

If it’s not there once dinner’s done?

The clocks moved on an hour last night

But the weather forecast’s not looking bright.

They say we’ll get rain, hail, sleet and snow

Blue sky and sun alas won’t show.

What’s the point of clocks gone for’ard

When every day the weather’s horrid?

Couldn’t they wait til winter’s past

And we no longer face its icy blast?

In summer’s heat I agree it’s fine

To change the clocks and gain play time.

But early spring’s still cold and dark

For those at work before the lark.

Delay the change by three weeks or four

Til there’s 14 daylight hours or more.

We could then rise after the sun

And have more light for night time fun.

Take heed of all the morning workers

And not those lazy evening shirkers.

Daylight saving makes sense in summer

But in spring it just makes us glummer.


September 25 in history

September 25, 2011

275  The Roman Senate proclaimed Marcus Claudius Tacitus Emperor.

303 On a voyage preaching the gospel, Saint Fermin of Pamplona was beheaded in Amiens.

1066  The Battle of Stamford Bridge marked the end of the Viking invasions of England.

1396  Ottoman Emperor Bayezid I defeated a Christian army at the Battle of Nicopolis

1513  Spanish explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa reached the Pacific Ocean.

1555 The Peace of Augsburg was signed in Augsburg by Charles V and the princes of the Schmalkaldic League.

1690  Publick Occurrences Both Foreign and Domestick, the first newspaper to appear in the Americas, was published for the first and only time.

1694 Henry Pelham, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, was born (d. 1754).

1725 Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot, French steam vehicle pioneer, was born (d. 1804).

1764 Fletcher Christian, English Bounty mutineer, was born (d. 1793).

1775  Ethan Allen surrendered to British forces after attempting to capture Montreal during the Battle of Longue-Pointe. At the same time, Benedict Arnold and his expeditionary company set off from Fort Western, bound for Quebec City (Invasion of Canada (1775)).

1789   The U.S. Congress passed twelve amendments to the United States Constitution: the Congressional Apportionment Amendment (which was never ratified), the Congressional Compensation Amendment, and the ten known as the Bill of Rights.

1804   The Teton Sioux (a subdivision of the Lakota) demanded one of the boats from the Lewis and Clark Expedition as a toll for moving further upriver.

1819 1819 Samuel Marsden planted what is believed to have been the first grape vines in New Zealand.

NZ's first grape vines planted?

1846  U.S. forces led by Zachary Taylor captureed the Mexican city of Monterrey.

1862 Billy Hughes, seventh Prime Minister of Australia, was born (d. 1952).

1868  The Imperial Russian steam frigate Alexander Neuski was shipwrecked off Jutlandwhile carrying Grand Duke Alexei of Russia.

1889 C. K. Scott-Moncrieff, Scottish writer and translator, was born (d. 1930).

1897 William Faulkner, American writer, Nobel laureate, was born (d. 1962).

1906  Leonardo Torres Quevedo successfully demonstrated the invention of the Telekino in the port of Bilbao, guiding a boat from the shore, in what is considered the birth of the remote control.

1911 Eric Williams, first Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, was born (d. 1981).

1912  Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism was founded in New York.

1915   World War I: The Second Battle of Champagne began.

1916 Jessica Anderson,  Australian author, was born (d 2010).

1921 Sir Robert Muldoon,  New Zealand Prime Minsiter was born (d 1992).

1922 Hammer DeRoburt, first President of Nauru was born (d. 1992).

1929   Jimmy Doolittle performed the first blind flight from Mitchel Field proving that full instrument flying from take off to landing was possible.

1929 English comedian Ronnie Barker was born.

1929 US broadcaster Barbara Walters was born.

1938 Jonathan Motzfeldt, first Prime Minister of Greenland, was born.

1942  World War II: Swiss Police Instruction of September 25, 1942 denied entry into Switzerland to Jewish refugees.

1944 Michael Douglas, US actor was born.

1944  World War II: Surviving elements of the British 1st Airborne Division withdraw from Arnhem in the Netherlands, ending the Battle of Arnhem and Operation Market Garden.

1946 English actress Felicity Kendal was born.

1952 US actor Christopher Reeve was born(d 2004).

1955  The Royal Jordanian Air Force was founded.

1956   TAT-1, the first submarine transatlantic telephone cable system, was inaugurated.

1957  Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, was integrated by the use of United States Army troops.

1959 Solomon Bandaranaike, Prime Minister of Sri Lanka was mortally wounded by a Buddhist monk, Talduwe Somarama.

1962  The People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria was formally proclaimed. Ferhat Abbas was elected President of the provisional government.

1969 English actress Catherine Zeta-Jones was born.

1970 Cease-fire between Jordan and the Fedayeen ended fighting triggered by four hijackings on September 6 and 9.

1972  In a referendum, the people of Norway rejected membership of the European Community.

1977 About 4,200 people took part in the first Chicago Marathon.

1978 PSA Flight 182, a Boeing 727-214, collided in mid-air with a Cessna 172  in San Diego, resulting in the deaths of 144 people.

1981  Sandra Day O’Connor became the 102nd person sworn in as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States and the first woman to hold the office.

1983  Maze Prison escape: 38 republican prisoners, armed with 6 handguns, hijacked a prison meals lorry and smashed their way out of the Maze prison.

1996 The last of the Magdalene Asylums closed in Ireland.

2002 The Vitim event, a possible bolide impact in Siberia.

2003 A magnitude-8.0 earthquake struck just offshore Hokkaidō.

2008  China launched the spacecraft Shenzhou 7.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


Word of the day

September 24, 2011

Whizzer -extraordinary or  wonderful person or thing;  someone/something that whizzes; a centrifugal machine for drying grain, sugar, clothes etc; an arm lock trapping one’s arms against the opponent’s body from behind.


1/10

September 24, 2011

Even random clicking couldn’t save me in the Herald’s quiz on Nirvana – a red-faced 1/10.


6/10

September 24, 2011

6/10 in the Herald’s travel quiz.


Another good bloke

September 24, 2011

Richie McCaw is playing his 100th test this evening, the first All Black to reach this milestone.

He was brought up in the Hakatarmea valley which is on the other side of the Waitaki River but learned to play rugby in Kurow, where he went to primary school before heading south to Otago Boys’ for his secondary education.

Whether it’s his genes, his rural upbringing or just him, friends who know him well say  he’s a really good bloke who hasn’t let his role as All Black captain go to his head.

Tonight’s game against France would be a big one even if it wasn’t the one in which he’ll earn his 100th test cap. All fingers and toes are crossed for him and the team.

Inventory 2 who knows more about rugby than I ever will pays tribute to Richie here.

TV3 has a video tribute here.

Last night the Wallabies beat the Eagles 67 – 5.

This evening England play Romania in Dunedin then attention will focus on Eden Park when the All Blacks play Les Bleus.


3/10

September 24, 2011

Why do I bother when I know I know nothing about rugby history? Just 3/10 in the Herald’s All Black-France rugby quiz. All were guesses.


A good bloke

September 24, 2011

I first met John Key in 2005 when he’d been an MP for a couple of years and I was National’s Otago electorate chair.

He was relaxed, personable and genuinely interested in the people he was meeting.

I was at a dinner with him in Christchurch on Thursday evening – just him, a couple of hundred others and me – and he was just the way he’d been six years ago.

As he went round each table, chatting to everyone, it was like watching a movie star except with him it’s not for show. He is a really good bloke, genuinely interested in people, relaxed with them and likes them and they respond to that.

One of the friends at my table commented how rare it would be in most countries for a political leader to be interacting with people like that and it must make life difficult for his security people especially in a less formal setting than a dinner.

To their credit the security staff cope really well, although yesterday one got a little more than he bargained for.

Canterbury engineering students hung a sign out a window saying “John, mate, come up for a yarn with your country’s future engineers” and he did.

It’s about 4 minutes into the clip before John sees the sign.

There was a bit of banter between John and the students and one asked if one of the security men would challenge the students’ arm wrestling champion.

The story and video have gone round the world giving publicity money can’t buy and reinforcing again just how difficult it will be for the opposition to counter him.

When was the last time a group of students cheered any Prime Minister, let alone a National one?

Offsetting Behaviour loves the informality of New Zealand politics  and reckons a National win is underpriced at  95% likely to win the next election on iPredict.

Keeping Stock says: If John Key’s personal popularity translates into electoral support, National may yet be able to do the MMP unthinkable after November.

I can dream, but  know that getting more than 50% was very rare under First Past the Post and hasn’t been done at all since we’ve had MMP.


Desperate Act

September 24, 2011

If I was a member of Act I’d be looking hard for a saboteur inside the upper echelons of the party.

There is no other rational explanation for the board’s decision to have Don Brash contest the North Shore electorate.

What on earth can he, or the party he’s leading, have to gain in the way of party votes by putting him head to head against Maggie Barry?

She is number 58 on National’s list which means she will have to win the seat to become an MP.

Like every other National candidate she’s campaigning for the party votes which are needed to ensure National stays in government. But she will be running a two-tick campaign to ensure she gets in to parliament too.

Where will that leave Brash?

Saying, “don’t vote for me but vote for my party and get me anyway”?

He’d make far more impact saying that without complicating the issue by being a Clayton’s candidate in an electorate.

It looks like a desperate act and a desperate Act.

Brash gained the party’s leadership by unorthodox means, losing another constituency contest – which is what he’s aiming to do by seeking only, or mainly, party votes, will do nothing for his credibility or that of his party.


Yawn, mutter, mumble

September 24, 2011

Oh no – this time tomorrow it will feel like an hour earlier than the clocks say it is.

Yawn, mutter, mumble.

Whose silly idea was it to introduce daylight saving this soon?

The spring equinox was only yesterday. We’re getting just 12 horus of daylight and in the south it still feel more like winter than summer.

We’re having sunny days but we’re also still getting frosts and cool temperatures.

Down here the sun won’t be rising until after 7.15 tomorrow. the extra light we get in the evening when sunset is delayed until about 7. 30 won’t compensate for losing that precious hour of daylight in the morning.

Yawn, mutter, mumble.

Why can’t daylight saving wait a few weeks until it’s lighter for longer and warmer?

Yawn, mutter, mumble.


September 24 in history

September 24, 2011

622 Prophet Muhammad completed his hijra from Mecca to Medina. 

1180 Manuel I Komnenos, last Emperor of the Komnenian restoration died after which the Byzantine Empire slipped into terminal decline.

 

1625 Johan de Witt, Dutch politician, was born (d. 1672).

1645  Battle of Rowton Heath, Parliamentarian victory over a Royalist army commanded in person by King Charles. 

1664 The Dutch Republic surrendered New Amsterdam to England. 

1674  Second Tantrik Coronation of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.

1717 Horace Walpole, British novelist and politician, was born (d. 1797).

1725 Sir Arthur Guinness, Irish brewer, was born (d. 1803).

1841  The Sultan of Brunei ceded Sarawak to Britain.

1852  The first airship powered by (a steam) engine, created by Henri Giffard, travelled 17 miles (27 km) from Paris to Trappes. 

1869 “Black Friday“: Gold prices plummetted after Ulysses S. Grant ordered the Treasury to sell large quantities of gold after Jay Gould and James Fisk plotted to control the market.

1871 Lottie Dod, English athlete, was born (d. 1960)

1877  Battle of Shiroyama, decisive victory of the Imperial Japanese Army over the Satsuma Rebellion.

1890 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints officially renounced polygamy.

1896 F. Scott Fitzgerald, American novelist, was born (d. 1940).

1905 Lionel Terry killed Joe Kum Yung to draw attention to his crusade to rid New Zealand of Chinese people.

Race killing in Haining St, Wellington

1906  U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed Devils Tower in Wyoming as the nation’s first National Monument.

1914 Sir John Kerr, 18th Governor-General of Australia, was born (d. 1991).

1935  Earl Bascom and Weldon Bascom produced the first rodeo ever held outdoors under electric lights at Columbia, Mississippi.

1936 Jim Henson, American puppeteer, was born (d. 1990).

 

1941 Linda McCartney, American singer, fashion designer and photographer, was born (d. 1998).

1942 Gerry Marsden, English singer (Gerry & The Pacemakers), was born.

 

1946  Cathay Pacific Airways was founded in Hong Kong.

 

1947 The Majestic 12 committee was allegedly established by secret executive order of President Harry Truman. 

1948  The Honda Motor Company was founded.

 

1950  Forest fires blacked out the sun over portions of Canada and New England. A Blue moon (in the astronomical sense) was seen as far away as Europe.

1957  Camp Nou, the largest stadium in Europe, was opened in Barcelona.

1957 President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent 101st Airborne Division troops to Little Rock, Arkansas, to enforce desegregation.

1962  United States court of appeals ordered the University of Mississippi to admit James Meredith.

 

1968  60 Minutes debuted on CBS.

 

1973  Guinea-Bissau declared its independence from Portugal.

1979  Compu-Serve launched the first consumer internet service, which features the first public electronic mail service.

 

1990  Periodic Great White Spot observed on Saturn. 

1994  National League for Democracy was formed by Aung San Suu Kyi and various others to help fight against dictatorship in Myanmar. 

1996  U.S. President Bill Clinton signed the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty at the United Nations.

 

2005  Hurricane Rita made landfall in the United States, devastating Beaumont, Texas and portions of southwestern Louisiana. 

2008  The Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago was topped off at 1,389 feet (423 m), at the time becoming the world’s highest residence above ground-level.

 

Sourced fron NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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