Word of the day


Vermin – wild mammals and birds that are destructive, annoying and/or injurious to health and/or that carry disease; noxious, objectionable, or disgusting animals collectively, especially those of small size that appear commonly and are difficult to control;  parasitic worms or insects; irritating or obnoxious people.

$3.5 million to make new law


University of Otago, Wellington researchers have published a study that estimates for the first time the average cost of producing a new law in New Zealand.

The research shows a new act costs on average $3.5 million, while a regulation is estimated to cost around $530,000.

The researchers developed a method that analysed the number of acts and regulations passed in Parliament from 1999 to 2010. They then considered the costs of running Parliament, particularly ‘sitting days’, when MPs debate new laws. Also taken into account were the costs of policy advice from government agencies related to law-making.

That’s an interesting finding.

The cost-benefit ratio showing how well, or not, the law worked would be even more so.

Lead researcher, Associate Professor Nick Wilson, says that “whilst the findings are of interest in themselves, since law making is funded by our taxes, the key reason we performed this study was to work out the cost-effectiveness of health interventions that use laws, versus those using other approaches such as media and education campaigns or GP visits.”  . . .

Co-author, Professor Tony Blakely explains that there’s now a strong scientific basis for the use of the law as a public health instrument.

“One recent analysis identified 65 systematic reviews of studies on the effectiveness of 52 public health laws. Most of these laws were found to have achieved their health objectives covering such areas as: injury prevention, housing improvements, tobacco control, promoting vaccination, reducing violence, and improving food safety,” he says.

The University of Otago researchers are planning to use these results in future research on the cost-effectiveness of new laws in this country. Such new laws could include those on tobacco, alcohol and dietary hazards such as salt and saturated fat.

“We suspect that public health laws in particular are very good value for money – just like the law that made restaurants and pubs smokefree. But we need to study the cost-effectiveness of laws so political decision makers can make informed policy,” says Associate Professor Wilson. . .

A scientific basis for legislation showing cost-effectiveness is a very good idea.

Where would you put the sink?


Our kitchen is showing its age and we’re contemplating major surgery to rejuvenate it.

The architect and builder keep telling me I should put the sink on the island facing the living or dining area but I’m not convinced.

In spite of my best intentions to have everything ready and be waiting, impeccably turned out and relaxed, when guests arrive for meals I am almost always still preparing food.

The men argue if the sink is on the island it will be easier to chat as I work.

But that also means the mess from preparation will be right in front of everybody and then there’s the issue of used plates and left over food from one course coming back to beside the sink possibly getting mixed up with the next course going out.

I’d appreciate advice – where’s your sink and does it work well there?

War on mice – updated


The Listener says the late Sir Paul Callaghan’s plan to eradicate all introduced pests won’t work , at least not yet:

Callaghan’s inspiring, visionary and audacious idea of ridding the entire country of pests, allowing natural plants and wildlife to flourish, is worthy of his name and one that New Zealanders should embrace wholeheartedly but for a single, crucial flaw: it will not work. Perhaps one day it might, but not yet. The resources, technology, commitment and public buy-in are not available at present to make the plan achievable.

I can assure you that I have bought in to the idea, am fully committed to it and am doing all I can by stepping up my annual war on mice.

We almost always get signs of invasions in autumn and early winter and this year it’s particularly bad. I’ve spent three hours this morning cleaning out the pantry after spotting mouse dirt there and am about to attack a cupboard in the hall where we’ve never seen evidence of them before.

I took Mark’s advice and bought a rat zapper – although the jury is out on its effectiveness.

I set it in the garage where something took the bait and escaped unscathed. I then brought it inside and caught a mouse the next night. The following morning the bait was still there, the light wasn’t flashing but there was a dead mouse a metre away from the trap.

I moved it to the hall, caught another mouse and put fresh bait in it. This morning the light was flashing and the bait was gone with no sight of whatever it was that took it. *

Conventional traps have caught three mice and I’ve got them set in strategic places. All were still set this morning, but I’m not convinced that means I’ve caught all the intruders.

I’ve also laid poison in places pets and children can’t get to it.

Some battles have been won but the war continues. Sir Paul’s goal is a big one but if we all do what we can, it won’t be an impossible one.

UPDATE:  * My farmer’s just told me he got rid of a dead mouse from the rat zapper while I was away at the weekend but hadn’t re-baited it or turned off the light. My faith in it is restored.

I ventured into the hall cupboard to clean it this afternoon and found the mice had been dining on foam disposable cups and candles.

I also discovered a hole in the wall where a plug had been removed which is probably where at least some of the mice were getting in. I nailed a bit of wood across it and also stuffed tin foil round all the gaps round pipes in the kitchen.



Quote of the day (for yesterday):

I didn’t listen to her because she was my mother & wouldn’t know anything until I was much older.  StoryPeople

Happy birthday Plunket


Plunket was formed 105 years ago today.

The Society for the Promotion of the Health of Women and Children was founded at a meeting in the Dunedin Town Hall. It came to be known as the Plunket Society after its first patron, Lady Victoria Plunket, the wife of the governor.

The impetus for a society that would ‘help the mothers and save the babies’ came from Dr Frederic Truby King. In March 1907, while on the staff of the Mental Hospital at Seacliff, north of Dunedin, he contributed an article on child welfare to the Otago Daily Times. He believed that scientifically formulated doctrines on nutrition and infant care were the key to the future health of the nation. More immediately, they would help reduce the death rate among babies and children, which seemed to be escalating. . .

It worked and is still working, although I don’t think all new parents today get the same level of support through home visits that we got when our children were babies.

I will forever be grateful to the Plunket nurse who continued what she called her “love” visits long after the official quota had been used up to keep a kindly and professional eye on our profoundly disabled son – and the rest of the family.


May 14 in history


1264  Battle of Lewes: Henry III was captured and forced to sign the Mise of Lewes, making Simon de Montfort the de facto ruler of England.

1483  Coronation of Charles VIII of France (Charles l’Affable).

1509 Battle of Agnadello: French forces defeated the Venetians.

1608  The Protestant Union was founded in Auhausen.

1610 Henry IV of France was assassinated bringing Louis XIII to the throne.

1643  Four-year-old Louis XIV became King of France upon the death of his father, Louis XIII.

1727 Thomas Gainsborough, English artist ,was born (d. 1788).

1747  A British fleet under Admiral George Anson defeated the French at first battle of Cape Finisterre.

1796  Edward Jenner administered the first smallpox vaccination.

1804 The Lewis and Clark Expedition departed from Camp Dubois and began its journey by traveling up the Missouri River.

1811 Paraguay gained independence from Spain.

1836 The Treaties of Velasco were signed.

1861 The Canellas meteorite, an 859-gram chondrite type meteorite, struck  the earth near Barcelona.

1863 American Civil War: The Battle of Jackson.

1866 – The General Grant, sailing from Melbourne to London, hit cliffs on the west coast of the main island in the subantarctic Auckland  Islands.

1868 Japanese Boshin War: end of the Battle of Utsunomiya Castle.

1870 The first game of rugby in New Zealand was played in Nelson between Nelson College and the Nelson Rugby Football Club.

1879  The first group of 463 Indian indentured labourers arrives in Fiji aboard the  Leonidas.

1889  The children’s charity the NSPCC was launched in London.

1907 The Plunket Society was formed.

Plunket Society formed

1913   New York Governor William Sulzer approved the charter for the Rockefeller Foundation, which began operations with a $100 million donation from John D. Rockefeller.

1925  Virginia Woolf‘s novel Mrs Dalloway was published.

1926 Eric Morecambe, British comedian, was born  (d. 1984).

1927 Cap Arcona was launched at the Blohm & Voss shipyard in Hamburg.

1929 Barbara Branden, Canadian writer and lecturer, was born.

1929 – Wilfred Rhodes took his 4000th first-class wicket during a performance of 9 for 39 at Leyton.

1931  Ådalen shootings: five people were killed in Ådalen, Sweden, as soldiers open fired on an unarmed trade union demonstration.

1935 The Philippines ratified an independence agreement.

1939 Lina Medina became  the world’s youngest confirmed mother in medical history at the age of five.

1940 ‘H’.  (Herbert) Jones, British Soldier (VC recipient), was born (d. 1982).

1940  World War II: Rotterdam was bombed by the German Luftwaffe.

1940  World War II: The Netherlands surrendered to Germany.

1940  The Yermolayev Yer-2, a long-range Soviet medium bomber, has its first flight.

1941 – The minesweeper HMS Puriri was the second victim of mines laid off the Northland coast by the German raider Orion.

1943  A Japanese submarine sank  AHS Centaur off the coast of Queensland.

1948  Israel was declared to be an independent state and a provisional government established.

1955 Cold War: Eight communist bloc countries signed a mutual defense treaty -the Warsaw Pact.

1961  American civil rights movement: The Freedom Riders bus was fire-bombed near Anniston, Alabama, and the civil rights protesters were beaten by an angry mob.

1966 Fabrice Morvan, French music artist (Milli Vanilli), was born.

1970  The Red Army Faction was established in Germany.

1973 Human Space Flight: Skylab, the United States’ first space station was launched.

1975 Carlos Spencer, New Zealand rugby player, was born.

Carlos Spencer.jpg

1986 Pride of Baltimore was lost at sea.

1988 Carrollton bus collision: a drunk driver travelling the wrong way hit a converted school bus carrying a church youth group killing  27.

2004 The Constitutional Court of South Korea overturned the impeachment of President Roh Moo-hyun.

2005  The former USS America, a decommissioned supercarrier was deliberately sunk in the Atlantic Ocean after four weeks of live-fire exercises.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

%d bloggers like this: