Word of the day


Ambulant –  continually active; walking or moving about from place to place, itinerant; able to walk, not confined to bed.



14/15 – which is a relief because it was Stuff’s kids’ quiz. I missed the music one.

Writing without reading is . . .


Discussion with Jim Mora on Critical Mass today began with a New Yorker piece by Macy Halford on whether you can write if you don’t read: Writing without reading is like. . .

Among the suggestions in the comments are: wanting to write without wanting to read is like wanting play a musical instrument without listening to music; wanting to sail without the wind; breathing without lungs; speak without listening and speak without thinking.

The second link Draw Happy is an on-going interactive project started by visual artist Catherine Young who realised one of the most universal and clearest way to record what made them happy was to draw. So far the website has 139 submissions from 45 countries.

None of those are from New Zealand which provides an opportunity and a challenge for someone to remedy that.

CPI changes reflect changing tastes and technology


Changes in taste and technology are reflected in the consumer price index which has been updated after Statistics New Zealand’s three yearly review of the goods and services in the CPI basket.

The CPI basket of representative goods and services was reselected to ensure it continues to reflect household spending patterns. As part of the latest review, goods added to the basket include tablet computers, external computer hard drives, e-books, and flatbread. Services added include alarm monitoring and delivery charges. Goods removed from the basket include unflued gas heaters, dictionaries, and envelopes.

The addition of tablets and e-books and removal of dictionaries and envelopes will be related.  An increase in electronic references, reading material and communication will have caused a decrease in the use of real books and snail mail.

Just before the survey ran, the economy emerged from a five-quarter recession. Consequently the 2011 CPI weights were affected by the economic situation at the time. There were decreases in the relative importance of the purchase of new housing, professional services associated with buying and selling houses, furniture, household appliances, and cars. The relative importance of food, rentals for housing, and electricity all increased.

Based on the household survey and other information, Statistics NZ estimates that of every $100 spent by households on goods and services covered by the CPI, $23.55 is spent on housing and household utilities, compared with $22.75 in 2008. This reflects increased spending on rent and higher electricity prices.

Food accounts for $18.79 of every $100 spent, compared with $17.83 in 2008. The increase reflects a 14 percent rise in food prices over the past three years.

Other groups declined in relative importance, including transport (down from $16.18 to $15.12 of every $100 spent), with lower spending on cars contributing to the fall.

The increase in the proportion of expenditure on food reflects a world-wide trend. It is good for the country when we produce so much but difficult for people on lower incomes.

Only political geeks interested in political leaders


The Otago Chamber of Commerce has cancelled its series of leaders debates owing to a lack of interest form from its members.

Chamber chief executive John Christie suggested many reasons why the response to the meetings by members had been low.  But in the end it came down to disinterest.   

“There’s a lot going on. The Rugby World Cup is full on and there seems to be a lot of reluctance by people to have anything to do with political leaders.”   

Some firms in Dunedin had stopped their workers from attending, citing company policy about attending any political meetings during work time, he said.

Even if the business environment wasn’t as difficult as it is, it’s understandable employers would rather have their staff at work than at political meetings – though we might make an exception for National MPs :).

Other members had expressed their satisfaction with the way things were going.   

If you’re happy with the government, why waste time listening to the opposition?

The lack of interest was not a reflection on the leaders; it was more the public not being interested, Mr Christie said.   University of Otago political scientist Bryce Edwards said it was disappointing the series had ended but he could understand that people were not interested in political leaders.   

 “If I was a normal citizen I would not bother going to see Phil Goff. Apart from political geeks like us, people are not interested in political leaders.”   

I started my journalism career in election year and had to cover election meetings. In those days under First Past the Post the leaders of National and Labour would attract hundreds of people, now under MMP we have more parties and leaders but most would be lucky to attract dozens to a meeting.

As an abnormal citizen, one of those political tragics, I sometimes attend a meeting addressed by politicians other than National ones, to find out how they perform in real life rather than through the media.

That more people don’t is a reflection of competing demands on time and a disengagement from politics and the political process.

That’s not good for democracy, especially under MMP which gives so much power to the wee parties.

Walking to victory


Invercargill MP Eric Roy always tries to do something a bit different with his election campaigns.

In 2008 he had a carbon zero campaign and launched it by planting native trees.

This time he’s walking to victory with a 360km trek through his electorate.

He expects to spend about three hours on the road each day and he’ll be multi-tasking. He’s taking his phone to deal with constituent matters while walking, meeting some en route and will complete each leg of the journey with an opportunity for the public to meet him over a cuppa.

A trek of this length isn’t for the faint-hearted or unfit but this is the bloke who walked several hours out of the bush with a broken leg and who celebrated his recovery from cancer by running the Kepler Pass.

Never’s a long time


United Future leader Peter Dunne wants to rule out Kiwibank, Radio New Zealand and the water supply from any future asset sales programmes.

“New Zealanders, I believe, are not definitively pro-asset sales, but under certain conditions, it is no longer the bogeyman issue that Labour would have you believe.” . . .

“New Zealanders, I believe, are not definitively pro-asset sales, but under certain conditions, it is no longer the bogeyman issue that Labour would have you believe.” . . .

“Let no one claim for any price what is ours as of right. There needs to be a blanket and clear undertaking that this will never be on the agenda,” Mr Dunne said. . .

The prospect of asset sales isn’t the bogeyman Labour is trying to scare voters with and there will be some assets that people feel more strongly about keeping in state hands than others.

The sale of Kiwibank, RadioNZ and water aren’t on any party’s agenda and I can’t see them being so.

But never is a very long time and it’s not wise to hobble future governments with policy prompted more by the hope of winning votes than fact-based analysis.


Isaac Act’s #2


Former Act president Catherine Isaac will be number two on the party’s list.

Catherine Isaac, who was Party President between 2001 and 2006, and is currently Managing Director of a communications consultancy, said she felt very strongly that ACT had a critical role to play in the next Parliament. She said she wanted to help ensure the Party remains true to its core principles, which are all about a stronger, more flexible economy and higher standards of living for all.

This is one of the party’s better moves.

I don’t know Ms Isaac personally but having someone who has been actively involved with the party as a volunteer and is committed to its principles is much better than getting someone who wants to be an MP and sees Act as a vehicle for achieving that.

UPDATE: Cactus Kate reckons Act’s lucky to have Isaac.

October 11 in history


1138 A massive earthquake struck Aleppo, Syria.

1531 Huldrych Zwingli was killed in battle with the Roman Catholic cantons of Switzerland.

1614  Adriaen Block and 12 Amsterdam merchants petitioned the States General for exclusive trading rights in the New Netherland colony.

1634  The Burchardi flood — “the second Grote Mandrenke” killed around 15,000 men in North Friesland, Denmark and Germany.

1649  Sack of Wexford: After a ten-day siege, English New Model Army troops (under Oliver Cromwell) stormed the town of Wexford, killing over 2,000 Irish Confederate troops and 1,500 civilians.

1727  George II and Caroline of Ansbach were crowned King and Queen of Great Britain.

1776  American Revolution: Battle of Valcour Island – 15 American gunboats were defeated but give Patriot forces enough time to prepare defenses of New York City.

1809  Explorer Meriwether Lewis died under mysterious circumstances at an inn called Grinder’s Stand.

1811  Inventor John Stevens‘ boat, the Juliana, began operation as the first steam-powered ferry (service between New York, New York, and Hoboken, New Jersey).

1833  A big demonstration at the gates of the legislature of Buenos Aires forced the ousting of governor Juan Ramón Balcarce and his replacement with Juan José Viamonte.

1844 Henry Heinz, American food manufacturer, was born (d. 1916).

1852 – The University of Sydney, Australia’s oldest university was inaugurated.

1861 The first Cobb & Co coach service ran from Dunedin to the Otago goldfields.

First Cobb and Co coach service runs to Otago goldfields

1865  Paul Bogle led hundreds of black men and women in a march in Jamaica, starting the Morant Bay rebellion.

1884 Eleanor Roosevelt, First Lady of the United States and humanitarian, was born (d. 1962)

1890  In Washington, DC, the Daughters of the American Revolution was founded.

1899 Second Boer War began.

1906  San Francisco public school board sparked United States diplomatic crisis with Japan by ordering Japanese students to be taught in racially segregated schools.

1910  Ex-president Theodore Roosevelt became the first U.S. president to fly in an airplane. He flew for four minutes with Arch Hoxsey in a plane built by the Wright Brothers.

Betty Noyes, singer who dubbed Debbie Reynolds’ singing voice in Singin’ in the Rain, was born (d 1987).

1926 Neville Wran, Premier of New South Wales. was born.

1929 JC Penney opened store #1252 in Milford, Delaware, making it a nationwide company with stores in all 48 U.S. states.

1937 Sir Bobby Charlton, English footballer, was born.

1941  Beginning of the National Liberation War of Macedonia.

1942  World War II: Battle of Cape Esperance – On the northwest coast of Guadalcanal, United States Navy ships intercepted and defeat a Japanese fleet on their way to reinforce troops on the island.

1944 Tuvinian People’s Republic was annexed by the U.S.S.R.

1950 Television: CBS’s mechanical colour system was the first to be licensed for broadcast by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.

1954 First Indochina War: The Viet Minh took control of North Vietnam.

1957 Dawn French, Welsh comedian,actress and screenwriter, was born.

1958  NASA launched the lunar probe Pioneer 1.

1962  Second Vatican Council: Pope John XXIII convened the first ecumenical council of the Roman Catholic Church in 92 years.

1968  Apollo program: NASA launched Apollo 7, the first successful manned Apollo mission, with astronauts Wally Schirra, Donn F. Eisele and Walter Cunningham aboard.

1969 Prince Constantijn of the Netherlands, was born.

1972 A race riot on the United States Navy aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk off the coast of Vietnam during Operation Linebacker.

1975 The NBC sketch comedy/variety show Saturday Night Live debuted with George Carlin as the host and Andy Kaufman, Janis Ian and Billy Preston as guests.

1976  George Washington‘s appointment, posthumously, to the grade of General of the Armies of the United States by congressional joint resolution Public Law 94-479 was approved by President Gerald R. Ford.

1982  The Mary Rose, a Tudor carrack which sank on July 19 1545, was salvaged from the sea bed of the Solent.

1984 Astronaut Kathryn D. Sullivan became the first American woman to perform a space walk.

1986 Cold War: U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev met in Reykjavík, Iceland, in an effort to continue discussions about scaling back their intermediate missile arsenals in Europe.

1987  Start of Operation Pawan by Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka that killed few thousand ethnic Tamil civilians, several hundred Tamil Tigers and few hundred Indian Army soldiers.

1996 Pala accident: a wood lorry and school bus collided in Jõgeva county, Estonia, killing eight children.

2001 The Polaroid Corporation filed for federal bankruptcy protection.

2002  A bomb attack in a shopping mall in Vantaa, Finland killed seven.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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