Word of the day


Atrabilious – inclined to melancholy, gloomy; having a peevish disposition; surly, irritable; ill-natured.

Vested interest


Quote of the day:

It’s hard to believe anything I say, she told me, because I was there & I have a vested interest in being right. Story People

A friend received some books by Brian Andreas from another friend. She lent them to me which led me to the Story People website which sends me an email each day with a message like this which helps me see the world in a different way.


Poll shows poll fatigue increasing


The public has poll fatigue, the results of a poll by Cullmore Bunting shows.

The poll asked an unspecified number of people if there were too many polls and 90% answered “yes”.

Eight percent of respondents didn’t know and the remaining two percent said they’ve have to see the poll results before making up their minds.

Cullmore Bunting spokesperson Reelly Counting said it was difficult to read much into results from a single poll.

“It’s the trend that matters and we’ll continue to poll on the issue to see if  this is an aberration or a pointer to an epidemic of poll fatigue,” she said.

Keep it simple


Treasury secretary Gabriel Makhlouf delivered a speech to the International Fiscal Association which makes very interesting reading.

Among the points he made were:

. . . There are undoubtedly many causes of the global financial crisis. Just as academics today still debate the causes of the Great Depression, I anticipate that the academic community will still be debating the so-called“Great Recession” for many years to come.  But, as with any sharp, sudden, and protracted economic crisis, we always learn one thing: the conventional wisdom was in many respects, wrong. At the very least, we have learned that risk and return can be badly mispriced.

Whether it was finance company debentures or mortgage backed securities, too many people took on too much risk without knowing they were doing so, because promised returns did not match the risk. . .

. . . But the cost of government is largely determined by government. And accordingly,  taxpayers who restructure their affairs are really playing part in a prisoners’ dilemma – trying to get other people to bear the burden, with the effect that taxes are higher on all of us. . .

. . . It has been said plenty of times before but it still bears repeating: New Zealand’s GST is the best VAT in the world and our strong consistent advice is that it should be protected from exemptions that undermine it.  GST is a simple tax that raises a large amount of revenue, with minimal distortions. Using the GST system to promote particular policies comes at great cost. 

The compliance cost, uncertainty, and complexity of bringing in exemptions and multiple rates are overwhelming as compared with asserted benefits.  There are far more effective ways to promote social outcomes than by fiddling with the consumption tax on a good or service, and far more effective ways to achieve redistribution than taking GST off whole swathes of goods and services.  GST remains our best designed and most efficient tax. . .

Good tax might be an oxymoron, but simpler taxes are definitely better ones.



Air New Zealand has grounded the 11 ATR aircrafted operated by Mount Cook after hairline cracks were discovered in the windscreen of one plane during routine servicing.

Mount Cook Airline general manager Sarah Williamson said the airline would operate about two-thirds of its normal seat capacity today with three ATR aircraft in service and additional flights from other aircraft in the Air New Zealand fleet.

Williamson said inspections continued on the rest of the fleet in conjunction with aircraft manufacturer ATR.

“We are making good progress. Of our fleet of 11 aircraft, we expect two aircraft to be operating tomorrow; three others require closer examination and five are well advanced in the inspection process. One aircraft was already in the hangar for pre-planned maintenance.”

She expected to introduce more aircraft back into service later today.

It’s a good reflection on maintenance staff and the security consciousness of the airline.

But the flight cancellations will cause a lot of disruption to regional travellers.

Prisons aren’t designed to create jobs


The announcement that some prisons are to be closed ought to be good news.

In an interview on Q&A yesterday Finance Minister Bill English said:

  BILL       Well, look, we’d be better not having to lock more people up, but the fact is there are bad people out there who should be locked up. There are also very old prisons that we can’t continue to use because they’re not effective and they’re, in some cases, inhumane. So it’s an expenditure we have to have. The good news is that where we were told a couple of years ago we’d need two or three new prisons, there’s going to be one, and that’ll be it.

SHANE  We’re told you’re going to close down two prisons to build a new one.

BILL        Well, there’s a number of prisons that should be closed because they’re so old and they don’t work to help with dealing with recidivism and just humane treatment of prisoners.

SHANE  But can you confirm to us this morning that there will be two prisons closed down?

BILL       Uh, no, I can’t confirm that. There’s work going on now. What I can say is there are likely to be the closures of some prisons.

I take it from this transcript that old, inhumane prisons which aren’t effective are to be replaced by something better; and that instead of the three that were forecast now only one is needed.

But what makes the headlines in the news: prison closures could lead to job losses.

Prisons aren’t there to provide jobs. They are there to punish people who’ve committed crimes. protect us from them and rehabilitate them.

The possibility of job losses will be upsetting for those effected but it isn’t an argument for keeping prisons which either aren’t needed or are no longer fit for purpose.


March 19 in history


1279  A Mongolian victory in the Battle of Yamen eneds the Song Dynasty in China.

1687 Explorer Robert Cavelier de La Salle, searching for the mouth of the Mississippi River, was murdered by his own men.

1813 David Livingstone, Scottish missionary and explorer, was born (d. 1873).

1821 Richard Francis Burton, British explorer, diplomat and author, was born (d. 1890) .

1839 Bees were introduced to New Zealand.

Honey bees brought to NZ

1848 Wyatt Earp, American policeman and gunfighter, was born (d. 1929).

1853 The Taiping reform movement occupied and made Nanjing its capital.

1861 The First Taranaki War ended.

1863  The SS Georgiana, said to have been the most powerful Confederate cruiser, was destroyed on her maiden voyage with a cargo of munitions, medicines and merchandise then valued at over $1,000,000.

1865  The Battle of Bentonville started.

1866 A hurricane caused major damages in Buenos Aires.

1906 Adolf Eichmann, Nazi official, was born (d 1962).

1915 Pluto  was photographed for the first time but is not recognised as a planet.

1916 Irving Wallace, American novelist, was born (d. 1990).

1916 Eight American planes took off in pursuit of Pancho Villa, the first United States air-combat mission in history.

1918 The U.S. Congress established time zones and approved daylight saving time.

1921 One of the biggest engagements of theIrish War of Independence took place at Crossbarry, County Cork. About 100 Irish Republican Army (IRA) volunteers escaped an attempt by more than 1,300 British forces to encircle them.

1921 Tommy Cooper, Welsh comedy magician, was born (d. 1984).

1921 Italian Fascists shot from the Parenzana train at a group of children in Strunjan (Slovenia): two children were killed, two mangled and three wounded.

1931  Gambling was legalized in Nevada.

1932 The Sydney Harbour Bridge was opened.

1933 Philip Roth, American author, was born.

1933 – Renée Taylor, American actress, was born.

1936 Ursula Andress, Swiss actress, was born.

1941 The 99th Pursuit Squadron also known as the Tuskegee Airmen, the first all-black unit of the Army Air Corp, was activated.

1944 Said Musa, Prime Minister of Belize, was born.

1944 World War II: Nazi forces occupied Hungary.

1945 A dive bomber hit the aircraft carrier USS Franklin (CV-13), killing 724 of her crew.

1945 – World War II: Adolf Hitler issued his “Nero Decree” ordering all industries, military installations, shops, transportation facilities and communications facilities in Germany to be destroyed.

1946 Jayforce landed in Japan.

1946 French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Réunion become overseas départements of France.

1946  Ruth Pointer, American singer (Pointer Sisters), was born.

1947 Glenn Close, American actress, was born.

1952  Warren Lees, New Zealand Test wicket-keeper, was born.

1953 Ricky Wilson, American musician (The B-52′s), was born (d. 1985).

1954 Willie Mosconi set the world record by running 526 consecutive balls without a miss during a straight pool exhibition at East High Billiard Club in Springfield, Ohio.

1955 Bruce Willis, American actor, was born.

1958 The Monarch Underwear Company fire left 24 dead and 15 injured.

1962 – Algerian War of Independence ceasefire took effect.

1965 The wreck of the SS Georgiana, valued at over $50,000,000 was discovered by then teenage diver and pioneer underwater archaeologist E. Lee Spence exactly 102 years after its destruction.

1969 The 385 metres (1,263 ft) tall TV-mast at Emley Moor, collapsed due to ice build- up.

1972 India and Bangladesh signed a friendship treaty.

1982 Falklands War: Argentinian forces landed on South Georgia Island, precipitating war with the United Kingdom.

1989 The Egyptian Flag was raised on Taba, Egypt announcing the end of the Israeli occupation after the Yom Kippur War in 1973 and the Peace negotiations in 1979.

1990 The ethnic clashes of Târgu Mureş began.

2002 Operation Anaconda ended (started on March 2) after killing 500 Taliban and al Qaeda fighters with 11 allied troop fatalities.

2002 – Zimbabwe was suspended from the Commonwealth on charges of human rights abuses and of election tampering, following a turbulent presidential election.

2004 Konginkangas bus disaster: A semi-trailer truck and a bus crash head-on in Äänekoski, Finland. 24 people were killed and 13 injured.

2004 A Swedish DC-3 shot down by a Russian MiG-15 in 1952 over the Baltic Sea was recovered after years of work.

2004 Taiwanese president Chen Shui-bian and Vice President Annette Lu were shot just before the country’s presidential election on March 20.

Chen and Lu minutes before the shooting incident

2008  GRB 080319B: A cosmic burst that was the farthest object visible to the naked eye was briefly observed

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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