Word of the day


Outrance –  to the limit; the utmost extremity; unsparingly.

Matinee Idle National (Radio) treasure


It took me a while to get Matinee Idle which occupies National Radio’s summer afternoon spot.

That was partly because at this time of year I’m outside more so I was introduced to it through random snatches when I popped inside or happened to be driving.

Those snatches always seemed to be more than a little different and it took me a while to work out that different is the default setting for the programme.

The mix of music which might otherwise, and some might say thankfully, not grace the airwaves combined with the badinage between hosts Simon Morris and Phil O’Brien, guest appearances from the show’s technical assistant Kelle Howson and witty feedback from listeners is not the usual National Radio fare. But it’s fun.

The programme is full of surprises, the hosts sound like they’re having a ball and their joie de vivre is infectious.

They amuse me and it’s rare that I listen to them without smiling or even laughing out loud.

This is their last week this summer and maybe it wouldn’t work if it was broadcast all year but Morris and O’Brien have created a National Radio treasure and I’ll miss them when it’s over.


The Listener has profiled the presenters and the programme here and here  and you can join I (heart) Matinee Idle on Facebook.





7/10 in the Herald’s changing world quiz.

What did they do for him when he was alive?


The death of the homeless man, Ben Hana, who lived on Wellington’s waterfront, has brought out the hand-wringers, including some who are blaming society.

It’s easy to feel sorry when someone has died but what did they do to help him when he was alive and what are they actually going to do to make a difference now he has died?

Where does personal responsibility end and society’s start?

It’s not easy to help someone who makes bad choices and is addicted to alcohol and other drugs.

It seems to me that many are trying to make this man something more in death than he was in life which will change nothing.

The best way to help would be to donate to one of the many charities that actually do something positive rather than just wringing hands and glorifying a sorry individual.

Schools key to shifting summer holidays


The Listener has joined the call for the summer holidays to be shifted to February when the weather is more likely to be better.

The slow start to warmer weather isn’t new.

My father was a carpenter at the freezing works. When they shut down over the Christmas-New Year period he was required to stay at work to do maintenance which wasn’t possible when the chains were operating.

We didn’t mind. He took a couple of weeks off at the end of January when the weather was almost always better than it had been in the preceding weeks.

It was almost always better still when we returned to school in February and while there are no guarantees with the weather that is still more likely to be the case.

This is what’s driving the growing chorus to have Christmas and Boxing Day as days off on their own and move the summer holidays at least a month later.

Any business could do that now  and some individuals do choose to take only the statutory days off for Christmas and New Year and have holidays later.

The northern hemisphere does that because it’s the middle of winter and their summer holidays are usually taken in August, the same stage of the season as February would be here.

What keeps most people and businesses here sticking to the late December-early January shut-down is school holidays. Workers with children want at least some of their holidays to coincide with their children’s.

The key to shifting summer holidays then lies with schools. If the education year can be adjusted to start in March, and finish in January the main summer holiday period would shift to February too.

It wouldn’t make much difference on farms because all summer is busy but it would increase the chances the rest of the country would get holiday weather when they’re on holiday rather than in the following weeks when they’re back at work.

Weak membership endangers parties


Quote of the day:

If you are unkind, you will say, “How did you fail to predict that Don Brash would make a hostile takeover of the Act Party, replacing Hide with non-Act member John Banks and advocating legalising cannabis, that all five Act MPs would retire and that the conversation between Banks and John Key over a cup of tea would dominate the election campaign?”

In my defence if I had predicted that, I think the editor would have thought I had taken leave of my senses. Richard Prebble looks back at his 2011 predictions in The Listener (not yet on-line).

Anyone who’d predicted that would not have been taken seriously but the party’s low membership did put it at risk of a hostile takeover.

This is something of which all parties need to beware.

The requirement to have only 500 members to become, or remain, a registered party is a pitifully low hurdle.

It is especially dangerous under MMP when these wee parties with few members can not only get into parliament but into government.



January 17 in history


1287– King Alfonso III of Aragon invaded Minorca

1377 Pope Gregory XI moved the Papacy back to Rome from Avignon.

1524 Beginning of Giovanni da Verrazzano‘s voyage to find a passage to China.

1608 Emperor Susenyos of Ethiopia surprised an Oromo army at Ebenat; his army reportedly killed 12,000 Oromo at the cost of 400 men.

1648 England’s Long Parliament passed the Vote of No Addresses, breaking off negotiations with King Charles I and thereby setting the scene for the second phase of the English Civil War.

1773 Captain James Cook and his crew became the first Europeans to sail below the Antarctic Circle.

1820  Anne Brontë, British author, was born  (d. 1849).

1852 The United Kingdom recognised the independence of the Boer colonies of the Transvaal.

1853 The New Zealand Constitution Act (UK) of 1852, which established a system of representative government for New Zealand, was declared operative by Governor Sir George Grey.

1863  David Lloyd George, British Prime Minister, was born  (d. 1945).

1865 Charles Fergusson, Governor-General of New Zealand, was born (d. 1951).

1877  May Gibbs, Australian children’s author, was born.

1899 Al Capone, American gangster, was born  (d. 1947) .

1899 Nevil Shute, English author, was born (d. 1960).

1904 Anton Chekhov‘s The Cherry Orchard received its premiere performance at the Moscow Art Theatre.

1905  Peggy Gilbert, American jazz saxophonist and bandleader, was born (d. 2007).

1912 Sir Robert Falcon Scott (Scott of the Antarctic) reached the South Pole, one month after Roald Amundsen.

1917 The United States paid Denmark $25 million for the Virgin Islands.

1927 – Norman Kaye, Australian actor and musician, was born (d. 2007)

1928 Vidal Sassoon, English cosmetologist, was born. 

1929 Popeye the Sailor Man, a cartoon character created by Elzie Crisler Segar, first appeared in the Thimble Theatre comic strip.

1933  Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, French-born Pakistani diplomat (UN High Commissioner for Refugees), was born (d. 2003)

1933  Shari Lewis, American ventriloquist, was born(d. 1998).

1941 Dame Gillian Weir, New Zealand organist, was born.

1942 Muhammad Ali, American boxer, was born.

1942 Ita Buttrose, Australian journalist and businesswoman, was born.

1945  Soviet forces capture the almost completely destroyed Polish city of Warsaw.

1945 – The Nazis began the evacuation of the Auschwitz concentration camp as Soviet forces closed in.

1946 The UN Security Council held its first session.

1949 Mick Taylor, British musician (The Rolling Stones), was born.

1949 The Goldbergs, the first sitcom on American television, first aired.

1950 The Great Brinks Robbery – 11 thieves stolel more than $2 million from an armored car Company’s offices in Boston, Massachusetts.

1956 Paul Young, English musician, was born.

1961 President Dwight D. Eisenhower delivered a televised farewell address to the nation three days before leaving office, in which he warned against the accumulation of power by the “military-industrial complex“.

1962 Jim Carrey, Canadian actor and comedian, was born.

1964  Michelle Obama, First Lady of the United States, was born.

1966 A B-52 bomber collided with a KC-135 Stratotanker over Spain, dropping three 70-kiloton nuclear bombs near the town of Palomares and another one into the sea in the Palomares incident.

1973 Ferdinand Marcos became “President for Life” of the Philippines.

1982 “Cold Sunday” in the United States  -temperatures fell to their lowest levels in over 100 years in numerous cities.

1983 The tallest department store in the world, Hudson’s, flagship store in downtown Detroit closed due to high cost of operating.

1989 Stockton massacre: Patrick Purdy opened fire with an assault rifle at the Cleveland Elementary School playground, killing five children and wounding 29 others and one teacher before taking his own life.

1991  Gulf War: Operation Desert Storm began early in the morning.

1991 – Harald V became King of Norway on the death of his father, Olav V.

1995 The Great Hanshin earthquake: A magnitude 7.3 earthquake near Kobe, Japan, caused extensive property damage and killed 6,434 people.

2002 Mount Nyiragongo erupted in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, displacing an estimated 400,000 people.

2007 The Doomsday Clock was set to five minutes to midnight in response to North Korea nuclear testing.

2008 – British Airways Flight 38 crash landed just short of London Heathrow Airport with no fatalities.

2010 – Rioting began between Muslim and Christian groups in Jos, Nigeria, resulting in at least 200 deaths.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

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