Word of the day


Schlemiel – a stupid, awkward or unlucky person; a habitual bungler, a dolt.



9/10 in Stuff’s Argentina RWC quarter final  quiz . Five trips to and great affection for that country helped.

In case no-one’s noticed . . .


The Silver Ferns won the first of two netball tests against England last night.

The score was 62 – 40.

Reports here and here.

Last game most lopsided


One of the factors which made the first three Rugby World Cup matches in Dunedin so enjoyable was the way the spectators got behind one or other of the teams.

However, support on Sunday night was decidedly lopsided. The stadium was a sea of Irish green and while people cheered for Italy too the Irish definitely had the numbers and the volume.

Coach Brian O’Driscoll said it was better than some home games and the team rewarded fans with a 36-6 win and a place in the quarter finals.

It was the last world cup game in Dunedin and the sell-out crowd made it a wonderful one to be at.

If there was a world cup for enthusiastic support, it would be hard to beat the Irish and if there was an award for the best stadium it would be hard to beat Dunedin’s.

We had different seats at all four games and had good views from all of them. The weather was relatively mild for all but last week’s game but even when it was fine, the roof added to the comfort for spectators and players.

Quarter final games will be:

Saturday, 8 October:

18:00 – Ireland (Winners Pool C) v  Wales (Runners-up Pool D) at Wellington Regional Stadium

20:30 – England (Winners Pool B) v France (Runners-up Pool A) at Eden Park, Auckland

Sunday, 9 October:

18:00 – South Africa (Winners Pool D) v Australia (Runners-up Pool C) at Wellington Regional Stadium

20:30 – New Zealand (Winners Pool A) v Argentina (Runners-up Pool B) at Eden Park, Auckland

AA’s 10 point election plan for road safety


The AA has set out a 10 point action plan for improving road safety:

Safe drivers
•        Introduce saliva-based roadside drugged driving testing.
•       Increase rehabilitation treatment for recidivist drunk drivers.
•        Extend the minimum learner licence period to 12 months rather than six months.

Yes to the first two, but I am less enthusiastic about the third.

Now the licence age has been raised extending the learner period would make it difficult for young people in the country to get their full licence before they leave school which often means leaving home too.

Safe vehicles
•        Raise the safety standards of imported vehicles requiring new cars to have electronic stability control and a minimum NCAP crash rating of 4 stars and used cars to have at least a 3 star NCAP rating or meet suitable safety standards.

Safe roads and roadsides
•        Reprioritise transport spending so an extra $150 million a year is spent on low-cost road safety engineering improvements.
•        Dedicate any new traffic fine revenue to road safety initiatives.

A lot more median barriers would be helpful too.

I’d also like more attention paid to the placement of passing lanes.  It’s very dangerous when they run out on corners or the brow of a hill and it would be safer to have them in only one direction on any stretch of road without a median barrier.

Safe speeds
•        Make fixed speed cameras more visible to drivers and signpost fixed speed camera areas.
•        Introduce red light cameras in all major cities.

The suggestion to improve the visibility of fixed speed cameras was made recently and predictably got the response that all that does is slow people down until they’ve passed them.

The same argument might be made for mobile ones. The sight of a police car does tend to slow traffic down but it usually speeds up again when drivers think they’re out of range.

Trials suggest cameras do help prevent red light-jumping.

Deaths and injuries as a result of road accidents have human and financial costs. Safer drivers and safer roads should reduce both.

It’s Not Fair


The Labour Party has unveiled its new campaign slogan: It’s Not Fair.

“We think this will resonate with voters because we all know that life is inherently unfair,” the campaign’s creative director, Trevor Muddled said.

“It starts at the very beginning – only one sperm gets the egg, all the rest fail. It’s sink or swim from there, survival of the fittest and we want to show we’re there not just for the swimmers and the fit but the sinkers and the unfit too.

“We share their pain. We know what it’s like to be ignored and rejected, to be passed over and passed by. When we say it’s not fair we mean it because we’ve been there and done that and are still there and doing it.”

Mr Muddled said a lot of people feel inferior to a lot of other people and Labour was the party best-placed to relate to them.

“We know what it’s like when everyone else is better than you; when your opponents show you up as unprepared and undeserving; when they get opportunities denied to the rest of us, enjoy all the limelight and seize the initiative, leaving you feeling unwanted and unappreciated and we know it’s simply not fair.”

Mr Muddled said an important part of the campaign strategy would be to complain about their opponents .

“RadioLIVE gave John Key a whole hour of politics-free air time and he did it well. When he’s as popular as he is he didn’t need that opportunity to sound good and it’s not fair that he got it.”

“It’s irrelevant that the Electoral Commission said it had to be a politics-free zone. The Commission should have said he couldn’t do it at all unless our Phil could not just do it too, but do it as well as Key did. Since he couldn’t, it’s not fair to show him up by not letting him show up at all.”

Mr Muddled said the playing field was tilted against Labour and tilting further by the minute.

“They’ve got more members than us, and not just more but better members. They’ve got real, live individual people who choose to join. Most of our members are unions funded by people who don’t even realise they’ve joined.

“They’ve also got more money and more supporters than us. It’s simply not fair and there’s a lot of Kiwi voters who know what that’s like; people who feel like losers and we’re going to show them we know what it’s like to be losers too.

“Forget all that positive thinking and those aspirational messages. They’re for winners, people who want to go up. Once they’re up they turn they’re backs on us and that’s not fair.

That helping yourself and standing on your own two feet isn’t for the likes of us and the people we want to like us. We want them to sit at our feet and be grateful to us, say nice things about us and vote for us and it’s simply not fair that enough of them don’t.”

Too late for turn around?


 Chris Trotter thinks it’s too late for Labour to turn voters around:

What John Key’s managed to do over these last three years in make National in a way New Zealand or at least New Zealand as it is seen by nearly two thirds it would now appear of the voters. And those who are in the other parties in a strange way are almost now out of that definition and that it is an absolutely fatal place for a political party to find itself in and it makes it extremely difficult both for the party and the party’s leader to get back in the race.

I think you’ve got to go back to that 2005 to 2008 period, the last term of Helen Clark’s government,  when New Zealand really fell out of love with Labour. More and more people, even traditional Labour voters began to see Labour as not really representing them, whereas John Key’s performance really made him one of us, he’s our sort of guy, he really talks our language.

And that has just consolidated over the last three years to the point where it’s a flat line you know of National’s support and it’s you know about 20 percentage points above the flat line of Labour’s. . .  it’s quite an achievement on National’s part . . . it’s almost as if he’s made Don Brash’s statement of 2005,mainstream New Zealand is National, which was wrong then but is right now. . .

You really do get the impression that New Zealanders have looked at Labour, decided a) they don’t really sound very much like us, like me; and b) they’re just not ready, look at them, they’re all over the place. . .

John Key’s personal popularity, an acceptance that National has had an unprecedented series of serious events outside its control to deal with and the Kiwi sense of giving a first-term government a fair go are all conspiring against Labour.

But its failure to learn from the lesson the electorate gave it in 2008, disunity and ill-discipline have turned off all but its hard core supporters.

They have less than eight weeks to persuade voters to trust them. But how can a couple of months of words turn around opinions based on several years of  misguided and increasingly unpopular actions?

October 4 in history


610 Heraclius arrived by ship from Africa at Constantinople, overthrew Byzantine Emperor Phocas and became Emperor.

663  The battle of Baekgang began.

1209  Otto IV was crowned emperor of the Holy Roman Empire by Pope Innocent III.

1227  Assassination of Caliph al-Adil.

1363  End of the Battle of Lake Poyang; the Chinese rebel forces of Zhu Yuanzhang defeated that of his rival, Chen Youliang, in one of the largest naval battles in history.

1511  Formation of the Holy League of Ferdinand II of Aragon, the Papal States and the Republic of Venice against France.

1537 The first complete English-language Bible (the Matthew Bible) was printed, with translations by William Tyndale and Miles Coverdale.

1582 Pope Gregory XIII implemented the Gregorian Calendar. In Italy, Poland, Portugal, and Spain, October 4 of this year was followed directly by October 15.

Richard Cromwell, Lord Protector of England, Scotland, and Irelan, was born (d. 1712).

1636 The Swedish Army defeated the armies of Saxony and the Holy Roman Empire at the Battle of Wittstock.

1693  Battle of Marsaglia: Piedmontese troops were defeated by the French.

1777  Battle of Germantown: Troops under George Washington were repelled by British troops under Sir William Howe.

1779 The Fort Wilson Riot.

1824  Mexico adopted a new constitution and becomes a federal republic.

1830 Creation of the state of Belgium after separation from The Netherlands.

1853  Crimean War: The Ottoman Empire declared war on Russia.

1876  Texas A&M University opened as the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas, becoming the first public institution of higher education in Texas.

1883  First run of the Orient Express.

1883 – First meeting of the Boys’ Brigade in Glasgow.

1895 Buster Keaton, American comedian, was born (d. 1966).

1895 The first U.S. Open Men’s Golf Championship administered by the United States Golf Association was played at the Newport Country Club.

1910  Declaration of the Portuguese Republic. King Manuel II fled to the United Kingdom.

1910 – Adoption of the Flag of Bermuda.

1918  An explosion killed more than 100 and destroyed the T.A. Gillespie Company Shell Loading Plant in Sayreville, New Jersey.

1921 Riccardo Zanella became the first elected president of Free State of Fiume.

1923 US actor Charlton Heston was born(d 2008).

1927  Gutzon Borglum began sculpting Mount Rushmore.

1928  Alvin Toffler, American novelist, was born.

1931 Sir Terence Conran, English designer, restaurateur, retailer and writer, was born.

1937 English writer Jackie Collins was born.

1941 Anne Rice, American writer, was born.

1941 Norman Rockwell’s Willie Gillis character debuted on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post.

1942 Johanna Sigurdardottir, Prime Minister of Iceland, was born.

1943  U.S. captured Solomon Islands.

1947 Jim Fielder, American bassist (Blood, Sweat & Tears), was born.

1957 Auckland businessman Morris Yock trademarked the jandel.

Morris Yock trademarks the jandal

1957  Launch of Sputnik I, the first artificial satellite to orbit the Earth.

1957  Avro Arrow roll-out ceremony at Avro Canada plant in Malton, Ontario.

1958  Fifth Republic of France was established.

1959 Chris Lowe, British musician (Pet Shop Boys), was born.

1960  Eastern Air Lines Flight 375, a Lockheed L-188 Electra, crashed after a bird strike on takeoff from Boston’s Logan International Airport, killing 62 of 72 on board.

1962 Carlos Carsolio, Mexican alpinist. Fourth person to summit all 14 of the eight-thousanders.

1966  Basutoland becomes independent from the United Kingdom and was renamed Lesotho.

1967  Omar Ali Saifuddin III of Brunei abdicated in favour of his son, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah.

1976  Official launch of theIntercity 125 High Speed Train (HST).

1983   Richard Noble set a new land speed record of 633.468 mph (1,019 km/h), driving Thrust 2 at the Black Rock Desert, Nevada.

1985   Free Software Foundation was founded in Massachusetts.

1991  The Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty was opened for signature.

1992  The Rome General Peace Accords ended a 16 year civil war in Mozambique.

1992   El Al Flight 1862: an El Al Boeing 747-258F crashed into two apartment buildings in Amsterdam, killing 43 including 39 on the ground.

1993  Russian Constitutional Crisis: In Moscow, tanks bombard the White House, a government building that housed the Russian parliament, while demonstrators against President Boris Yeltsin rallied outside.

1997 The second largest cash robbery in U.S. history took place at the Charlotte, North Carolina office of Loomis, Fargo and Company.

2001  NATO confirmed invocation of Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty.

2001  Siberia Airlines Flight 1812: a Sibir Airlines Tupolev TU-154 crashed into the Black Sea after being struck by an errant Ukrainian S-200 missile. 78 people were killed.

2003  Maxim restaurant suicide bombing in Haifa: 21  people were killed, and 51 others wounded.

2004  SpaceShipOne won the Ansari X Prize for private spaceflight, by being the first private craft to fly into space.

Sourced from NZ history Online & Wikipedia

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