Word of the day


Hopium – a combination of hope and optimism; a political narcotic.

Hat tip: Offsetting Behaviour



After yesterday’s dismal score in the Herald’s travel quiz I tried something a little easier.

12/13 in the test your kiwiness quiz (would have been 13 but the quizmaster has a trick one so no-one gets 100%).

It gives poinst for effort and accent so I reckon I could take a bonsu for the latter.

Focus on friction for clean hands


The latest research on hand washing points to the importance of friction:

“After two years of jolly hard work” they found that holding one’s hands under running water is a waste of time, but rubbing hands together “purposefully” under a running tap is extremely effective. After 10 seconds of rubbing, 95% of the microbes had been removed. After 20 seconds, 99% had gone. Interestingly, soap slowed down the rate of decontamination, at least initially, as soap decreases the friction. “But after about 20 seconds you ended up at the same point because you had got rid of the soap and the friction value was restored.”

Dr Tom Miller who led the study isn’t recommending giving up soap but said it isn’t necessary:

In other words, it’s time to revise our understanding of what makes a good hand wash; use soap if you want, but focus on the friction. Miller recommends rubbing hands and fingers together under running water for 20 seconds. Asked whether anyone is really likely to count to 20 while rubbing their hands together, he suggests a Catholic approach. “Just say a Hail Mary. Slowly.”

That’s fine for Catholics, but what do the rest of us do?

Twenty seconds is a long time at a hand basin, especially if the water’s cold, and without something to give an accurate assessment of the time most of us would fall short of the optimum.

PR disasters mostly forgotten


Auckland PR consultant Billie Jordan has drawn up a list of the top 30 PR disasters of 2011.

What struck me about them was how trivial most of them were.

Often the import wasn’t in what was said or done but in the media furore which followed.

A few years ago most of them wouldn’t have been taken seriously enough to become news.

Even those which resulted in a job loss mattered little to anyone but those directly affected.

What also struck me was that I’d forgotten most of them.

That could be a reflection on my memory but I think it confirms that most were indeed trivial and were soon replaced by something else in the public consciousness.

Enough from Mother Nature


Dear Mother Nature,

Last year you threw just about everything you had at us – droughts, floods, snow; earthquakes and disease.

This year was supposed to be different and it is for those of us living in the south of the South Island.

But further north the endless rain is damaging strawberry crops; forced farmers to dump milk; and adding to the misery for kiwifruit growers.

It’s not doing a lot for holiday makers either and a new spate of biggish earthquakes in Christchurch will be the last straw for many.

Many individuals and the country as a whole have had enough.

Please, sit back, take a deep breath and calm down so we can too.

Yours in hope,



January 3 in history


106 BC Cicero, Roman statesman and philosopher, was born (d. 43 BC).

1431  Joan of Arc was handed over to the Bishop Pierre Cauchon.

1496 Leonardo da Vinci unsuccessfully tested a flying machine.
1521 – Pope Leo X excommunicated Martin Luther in the papal bull Decet Romanum Pontificem.

1793 Lucretia Mott, American women’s rights activist, was born  (d. 1880).

1823 Stephen F. Austin received a grant of land in Texas from the government of Mexico.

1831 Savitribai Phule,  social activist, first female teacher in India, and first female poet in Marathi language, was born  (d. 1897).

1840 Surveyors arrived in Port Nicholson to lay out plans for the proposed New Zealand Company settlement of Britannia at Pito-one (Petone). When this original site proved unsuitable, the decision was made to relocate across the harbour in a settlement they called Wellington.

New Zealand Company surveyors arrive in Port Nicholson

1848 – Joseph Jenkins Roberts was sworn in as the first president of the independent African Republic of Liberia.

1870 Construction of the Brooklyn Bridge began.

1883  Clement Attlee, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, was born (d. 1967).

1887 Helen Parkhurst, American educator, was born (d. 1973).

1888 The refracting telescope at the Lick Observatory, measuring 91 cm in diameter, was used for the first time. It was the largest telescope in the world at the time.

1892  J. R. R. Tolkien, British writer, was born (d. 1973).

1899 – The first known use of the word automobile, was seen in an editorial in The New York Times.

1909  Victor Borge, Danish entertainer, was born (d. 2000).

1916 Maxene Andrews, American singer (The Andrews Sisters), was born (d. 1995).

1922  Bill Travers, British actor and director, was born  (d. 1994).

1923 Charles Tingwell, Australian actor, was born  (d. 2009).

1924 British explorer Howard Carter discovered the sarcophagus of Tutankhamen in the Valley of the Kings, near Luxor, Egypt.

1933 Minnie D. Craig became the first female elected as Speaker of the North Dakota House of Representatives, the first female to hold a Speaker position anywhere in the United States.

1942  John Thaw, British actor, was born  (d. 2002).

1945  Stephen Stills, American musician (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young) was born.

1946 John Paul Jones, British musician (Led Zeppelin), was born.

1950  Victoria Principal, American actress, was born.

1953 Frances Bolton and her son, Oliver from Ohio, became the first mother and son to serve simultaneously in the U.S. Congress.

1956 A fire damaged the top part of the Eiffel Tower.

1956  Mel Gibson, Australian actor and director, was born.

1957 The Hamilton Watch Company introduces the first electric watch.

1958 The West Indies Federation was formed.

1961 The United States severed diplomatic relations with Cuba.

1962 Pope John XXIII excommunicated Fidel Castro.

1977 Apple Computer was incorporated.

1988 Margaret Thatcher became the longest-serving British Prime Minister in the 20th Century.

1990 Former leader of Panama Manuel Noriega surrendered to American forces.

1993 George H. W. Bush and Boris Yeltsin signed the second Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START).

1994 – More than seven million people from the former Apartheid Homelands, received South African citizenship.

1999 The Mars Polar Lander was launched.

2004 – Flight 604, a Boeing 737 owned by Flash Airlines, an Egyptian airliner, plunged into the Red Sea, killing all 148 people on board.

2007 – National Express had its worst coach crash just outside Heathrow Airport.

%d bloggers like this: