Word of the day


Malapropos – inappropriate; out of place; inopportune; untimely, unseasonable; at an awkward or improper time or place.

Apple and Adobe


Dear Apple & Adobe,

The first day I got an iPad I clicked on something and got a message saying it didn’t support Adobe Flash Player?

That same message has popped up far too often since.

I don’t know what the history is between your two companies and whether it’s political, inter-personal or technical issues that are causing the problem.

I do know it’s irritating.

For the sake of your customers, could you please sort it out.

Yours in frustration,


Air NZ world’s best


When I first left New Zealand, 30 years ago this week, I had a one way ticket to Britain with several stops en route.

By the time I got there I’d flown Air New Zealand, Qantas, Singapore Airlines, Air Alitalia and British Airways.

Coming home I flew Air New Zealand and Air France.

Since then I’ve used most of them again plus, Air Pacific,  Garuda,  Aerolineas Argentinas, Lan Chile, United, Air Canada, Thai Airways, Lufthansa, Spanair, British Midland and a few smaller ones whose names – perhaps mercifully – I’ve forgotten.

The only one I wouldn’t use again is Garuda, though Air Canada’s service on a flight from Vancouver to Honolulu last year was sub-optimal.

The one I’d choose to use where possible is Air New Zealand. I’ve had only one bad experience – poor communication over a delayed flight to Fiji – and lots of very good ones with them.

Of course parochialism might have something to do with my preference but Air New Zealand has been recognised as airline of the year.

Prime Minister and Tourism Minister John Key has congratulated Air New Zealand on again being named Airline of the Year by ‘Air Transport World’ magazine.

“Air New Zealand was named Airline of the Year in January 2010, and to gain this honour twice in three years is an outstanding achievement,” says Mr Key.

“The award is for Air New Zealand’s industry-leading innovation and motivation of its staff, which has resulted in exceptional performance in many areas, such as customer service, operational safety, and financial performance.

“The award is an acknowledgement of the hard work the airline’s staff and management have put into the company.

“Air New Zealand is a vital part of our tourism infrastructure. Often, the first experience incoming visitors have of New Zealand is with the national carrier, and those first impressions count.

Most foreigners travel very long distances to get here. Even if they don’t use Air New Zealand for international flights many will for internal travel. Having an airline which is top for service and safety is good for them and our reputation as a tourist destination.

Memento Mori


One of the motivations for Muriel Spark’s novel Memento Mori  was that death was  no longer a part of life in 1950s Britain..

The title means remember you must die and people no longer did.

The war years had been forgotten; child mortality had declined, improvements in health care meant people were living longer; the dying, particularly the elderly; were put in hospitals or other institutions and the dead were usually kept out of sight.

It’s not much different here and now and perhaps that explains the way the media handles death.

Accidental death is usually news and the more who die the bigger the story. But some coverage goes well beyond the facts to a ghoulish focus on the dead and those who mourn.

People who would never have made the news in life have their lives picked over and publicised and people who knew them are quoted saying the inevitable generous but meaningless things about them.

Some coverage goes even further to what Keeping Stock calls disaster porn.

Reporting news on accidental death is the media’s role. It is one which ought to be handled with the utmost sensitivity and with regard to what is in the public interest rather than what some of the more morbid might be interested in.

Life is fatal and it’s not unhealthy to be reminded that we will die but some coverage goes too far, making it worse for the grieving and telling the rest of us far more than we need to know.

Water storage makes sense and cents


The real summer weather holiday makers are enjoying isn’t quite as good for farmers trying to grow pasture and crops.

In year’s gone by the prolonged dry spell in North Otago would have cut farm production and income with the consequent impact on people and businesses who serviced and supplied farmers.

Those on dry land farms will be finding it tough but there’s now sufficient critical mass of irrigation to keep up production on many farms.

However, there is potential for more irrigation with water sotrage which makes sense and cents.

Federated Farmers president Bruce Willis says:

This shows why our push for water storage infrastructure has been heeded by Government. It will provide New Zealand’s farm system with a means to store rainfall when it’s plentiful, a bit like the way water is stored by our towns and cities.

If you want an economic argument for why water storage makes sense, go no further than November’s Overseas Merchandise Trade statistics. These trade statistics came out of a fairly benign winter and spring.

In the  year to last November, the agricultural sector accounted for six of the top-ten physical exports. However, in terms of export dollars, the sector accounted for 80 percent of the top-ten; around $25 billion out of $31 billion.

“When we talk agriculture we include all the work done inside and outside the farmgate. That means our farms and factories generated almost 68 percent of New Zealand’s physical export dollars. Out of our top 40 export commodities, agriculture’s share was 71 percent.

This is not just a dairy story as meat and forestry all turned in double digit growth too. Wool is now just below $800 million for the year to November and that’s up 31.5 percent on last year.

“Equally impressive are less glamorous but valuable exports like leather as well as animal and vegetable fats. Both recorded year-on-year increases well over 20 percent highlighting that the agriculture sector as a whole is delivering what New Zealand needs.

“This export performance given the current rain, or lack of it down south, underscores why water storage is an economic no-brainer. Water storage is all about future proofing.

That performance is good. With more water storage it could be even better and play an even bigger role in economic growth.

January 10 in history


49 BC Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon, signaling the start of civil war.

1776 Thomas Paine published Common Sense.

1806  Dutch settlers in Cape Town surrendered to the British.

1810 The marriage of Napoleon and Josephine was annulled.

1815 Sir John Alexander Macdonald, first Prime Minister of Canada, was born  (d. 1891).

1834 Lord Acton, British historian, was born (d. 1902).

1838 French Bishop Jean Baptiste François Pompallier, a priest and brother of the Society of Mary, arrived at Hokianga.

Catholic missionaries arrive at Hokianga

1863 The London Underground, the world’s oldest underground railway, opened between London Paddington station and Farringdon station.

1901  The first great Texas oil gusher was discovered at Spindletop in Beaumont, Texas.

1903 Barbara Hepworth, English sculptor, was born (d. 1975).

1908 Bernard Lee, English actor was born (d. 1981).

1920 The League of Nations held its first meeting and ratified the Treaty of Versailles ending World War I.

1922  Arthur Griffith was elected President of the Irish Free State.

1930  Roy Edward Disney, American film executive, was born (d. 2009).

1936 Burnum Burnum, Australian activist, actor and author, was born (d. 1997).

1945 Rod Stewart, Scottish singer, was born.

1946 The first General Assembly of the United Nations opened in London. Fifty-one nations were represented.

1948 Donald Fagen, American musician (Steely Dan), was born.

1949 George Foreman, American boxer, was born.

1959  Fran Walsh, New Zealand screenwriter, was born.

1960 – Brian Cowen, Taoiseach of Ireland, was born.

1962  NASA announced plans to build the C-5 rocket booster. It became better known as the Saturn V moon rocket, which launched every Apollo moon mission.

1972 – Sheikh Mujibur Rahman returned to the newly independent Banglades  as president after spending over nine months in prison in Pakistan.

1974 Jemaine Clement, New Zealand actor, was born.

1984 – The United States and the Vatican established full diplomatic relations.

1990  Time Warner was formed from the merger of Time Inc. and Warner Communications Inc.

2001 – A large piece of the chalk cliff at Beachy Head collapsed into the sea.

2005 – A mudslide in La Conchita, California, killed10 people, injured many more and closed Highway 101, the main coastal corridor between San Francisco and Los Angeles, for 10 days.

2011 – 2010–2011 Queensland floods: Torrential rain in the Lockyer Valley region of south-east Queensland caused severe flash flooding, killing 9 people.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

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