Word of the day


Sipid – having a pleasing taste or flavour; of agreeably distinctive character.

Simple pleasures


Watching 17 month-old great niece master the art of descending stairs on her feet.

Friday’s answers


Thursday’s questions were:

1. How’s the weather been where you are?

2. What’s your favourite form of relaxation?

3. It’s relaxer in French, rilassare in Italian, relajar in Spanish and whakatā in Maori, what is it in English?

4. What new/different/interesting thing did you do last year?

5. Have you made any resolutions for this year?

James, PDM and Grant, who answered earned an electronic bag of apricots for 100%.

Answers follow the break:

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Google trumps Bing


When I updated my PC a couple of months ago the bloke who did it installed Bing as the default search engine.

Nine times out of ten it didn’t give me what I was looking for and I ended up doing a Google search which almost always had a much higher success rate.

Another shortcoming with Bing for someone who types faster than she spells was that unlike Google it wouldn’t offer alternative spellings if a word I typed didn’t make sense.

I eventually gave up on Bing and made Google the default setting.

Report on SOEs tells only part of the story


The Ernst and Young report on the performance of SOEs shows they make healthy “economic profits”.

But that is only part of the story.

Dene Mackenzie showed that returns from the SOEs which are likely to be sold are lacklustre:

While some of the state-owned enterprises provide a large dividend payment to the Government in dollar value, the dividend yield is well below the industry average. 

Macdoctor has come to a similar conclusion:

. . .  I tend to look only at the cash figures involved. . . . The first is the amount of actual cash paid to the government in the fiscal year – not the capital gains or retained earnings – just the cash. That figure is $95 million. 49% of that is $46.5 million. That is how much money the government loses each year by selling MRP.

The second figure is how much it would cost to keep. The independent valuation for MRP is $3,631 million. 49% of that is $1,779 million. Assuming the government could borrow at a mere 5% . . . the interest on borrowing this amount is $89 million. This figure is bigger than 46.5 million, so it is worth selling Mighty River Power.

But it’s not just the money:

National want to sell down these assets because they (correctly in my opinion) see no reason why a government should be dabbling in electricity generation. Labour hate the sales because they think government should be the be-all-and-end-all of everything. They like to call these assets “strategic”. This is code for “we don’t trust the market”.

I’d rather trust the market than politicians and I’d rather sell a minority share in a few SOEs than borrow more which is the alternative if we are to ocntinue to invest in necessary infrastructure.



Disengagement major cause of low voter turn out


Hamilton West MP Tim Macindoe, newly elected chairman of Parliament’s justice and electoral select committee, is leading an inquiry into last year’s election which will include the low turn out.

While people in some countries are still dying to gain universal suffrage and others are going to great lengths in order to exercise their right to vote, turnout in countries like ours where democracy is taken for granted has been falling for years.

November’s low turn out was due to many factors.

Among them was reporting of polls which took a first-past-the post focus on National vs Labour rather than a total right vs total left and didn’t take into account the 15% undecided. This led to people thinking their votes wouldn’t matter.

But the major cause is growing disengagement from politics and the political process.

People who are interested in politics want to be part of the process and understand the importance of being informed and involved.

MMP has led to more parties with a chance of getting into parliament but I doubt if the total of their combined membership would be anywhere near the 100,000 plus that National used to have on its own.

You don’t have to be a member of a party to be engaged in or by politics and the political process but falling membership is a symptom of disengagement.

January 6 in history


1412  Joan of Arc, Roman Catholic Saint and national heroine of France, was born -legendary date, some scholars think it was January 7-  (d. 1431).

1494  The first Mass in the New World was celebrated at La Isabela, Hispaniola.

1540 King Henry VIII of England married Anne of Cleves.

1714 Percivall Pott, English physician, was born. He was one of the founders of orthopedy, and the first scientist to demonstrate that a cancer may be caused by an environmental carcinogen (d. 1788).

1721 The Committee of Inquiry on the South Sea Bubble published its findings.

1781 In the Battle of Jersey, the British defeated the last attempt by France to invade Jersey.

1838 Samuel Morse first successfully tested the electrical telegraph.

1878 Carl Sandburg, American poet and historian, was born  (d. 1967).

1883 Khalil Gibran, Lebanese writer, was born (d. 1931).

1893 The Washington National Cathedral was chartered by Congress.

1907 Maria Montessori opened her first school and daycare center for working class children in Rome.

1923 Norman Kirk, New Zealander Prime Minister, was born  (d. 1974).

1929 – Mother Teresa arrived in Calcutta to begin a her work amongst India’s poorest people.

1930The first diesel-engined automobile trip was completed (from Indianapolis, Indiana, to New York City).

1931 Thomas Edison submitted his last patent application.

1934 Harry M. Miller, New Zealand-born Australian entrepreneur, was born.

1936 The Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the 1933 Agricultural Adjustment Act was unconstitutional in the case United States v. Butler et al.

1941 President Franklin Delano Roosevelt delivered his Four Freedoms Speech in the State of the Union Address.

1942 Pan American Airlines became the first commercial airline to schedule a flight around the world.

1946  Syd Barrett, English guitarist, singer and songwriter Pink Floyd, was born  (d. 2006).

1953 Godfrey Bowen set a world record by shearing  456 full-wool ewes in nine hours.

Godfrey Bowen sets world sheep-shearing record

1953 Malcolm Young, Scottish-born Australian guitarist (AC/DC), was born.

1955 Rowan Atkinson, English comedian and actor, was born.

1959 Kapil Dev, Indian cricketer, was born.

1960   Nigella Lawson, English chef and writer, was born.

1964 Mark O’Toole, English bass guitarist (Frankie Goes to Hollywood), was born.

1965 Bjorn Lomborg, Danish mathematician, environmentalist and author, was born.

1974  In response to the 1973 energy crisis, daylight saving time commenced nearly four months early in the United States.

1978 The Crown of St. Stephen (also known as the Holy Crown of Hungary) ws returned to Hungary from the United States, where it was held after World War II.

1995 A chemical fire in an apartment complex in Manila, Philippines, led to the discovery of plans for Project Bojinka, a mass-terrorist attack.

2010 – The Ady Gil, a ship owned by Sea Shepherd, was sunk during a skirmish with the Japanese Whaling Fleet’s Shōnan Maru.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

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