Word of the day


Otiose –  serving no practical purpose or result; functionless, useless; indolent, idle; being at leisure.

Maeve Binchy 1940 – 2012



Irish author Maeve Binchy has died.

She had the gift of creating believable characters and making interesting stories from ordinary lives.

Her website is here.

40 mls and still showery


We’ve had a very dry winter which makes feeding out and doing off-season maintenance easier.

But we needed soil moisture for spring growth and were beginning to wonder if we’d have to start irrigating early.

Then we got yesterday’s forecast for heavy rain and started worrying we’d get too much at once.

However, nature was in a kind mood and delivered 40mls of rain from yesterday afternoon until this morning and did it gently enough to allow it to soak in.

It’s still showery which isn’t ideal for calving which is now under way – the milk tanker did its first pick up on Friday.

But better some gentle rain now than drought going into spring.

Unions good, commerce bad?


Labour’s attempt to sabotage the Lobbying Disclosure Bill is bad enough, it’s reasons for doing so are even worse:

The Labour Party wants to exempt trade unions from a bill to regulate lobbyists, saying unions are “less sinister” than professional lobbyists and corporates.

That is very much a matter of opinion.

The bill would cover anybody paid to lobby MPs, whether it was for an organisation such as Greenpeace or a trade union, a company such as SkyCity or as a professional lobbyist.

However, Mr Chauvel said it was too broad and the exemption was being sought because Labour believed it should apply only to groups or people who lobbied for a commercial purpose rather than not-for-profit groups. . .

“When trade unions came up, it seemed to me that they fell on the not- quite-so-sinister-and-behind-the-scenes side of things.”

He said corporate lobbying had the power to change policy, and was often done on the quiet.

“There is a big public interest in knowing what corporates are doing because they can afford heft lobbying and hospitality, and research and all the rest,” Mr Chauvel said.

And unions which donate at least tens of thousands of dollars to Labour, to which some of them are affiliated, have no heft and don’t do anything which some might regard as sinister and behind the scenes? They have no influence on policy and do nothing on the quiet?

Is it really that simple on Planet Labour – unions good, commerce bad?

Oh dear, that someone would give Chauvel the gift to see himself – and unions as others see them.






Nearly 1m adults functionally illiterate




Shameful statistic of the day:

Close to 1 million working age adults in New Zealand lack the literacy and numeracy skills needed to function in a modern workplace.

To put it another way, about 4 in 10 (that’s 2 in 5) adults have difficulties with reading, writing, maths and communication.

These results may seem far-fetched but they’re backed up by research (2006 Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey) – and their impact is very real.

Poor adult literacy rates cost New Zealand businesses daily through accidents and injuries, as well as millions of dollars in wastage, mistakes, missed deadlines and low productivity.

Even if some of these people are immigrants who aren’t fluent in English that is a staggering number of people who can’t read instructions, newspapers, warnings, employment contracts, school notices, road rules, menus, or help their children with homework.

Many will also have insufficient grasp of maths to budget or even count change.

That is nearly half the adult population ill-equipped for work and life.

We’ve had some work for us and have offered them help but none have wanted it and they’ve soon moved on.

The reasons for poor literacy and numeracy will be many and complex and it would be most unfair to lay all the blame on teachers or the education system.

But they are the people best equipped to ensure the next generation of workers is far better equipped than the current one.

Private investment will determine CBD success


Quote of the day:


“The private sector will ultimately play the biggest role in the redevelopment of Christchurch’s central city so we want to do all we can to make it easier for them to invest in the city,” Mr Key says.

The government has a role to play in the rebuild but the future of the city relies on private individuals and companies having confidence to invest there for it to succeed.

Take the justice precinct as an example, public funds will build the court but it will require lawyers and support services using private funds to build offices too.

The rebuild plan is here.

July 31 in history


30 BC  Battle of Alexandria: Mark Antony achieved a minor victory over Octavian’s forces, but most of his army subsequently deserted, leading to his suicide.

781 The oldest recorded eruption of Mt. Fuji.

904 Thessalonica fell to the Arabs, who destroyed the city.

1009  Pope Sergius IV became the 142nd pope, succeeding Pope John XVIII.

1200 Attempted usurpation of John Komnenos the Fat.

1423  Hundred Years’ War: Battle of Cravant – the French army was defeated at Cravant.

1451  Jacques Cœur was arrested by order of Charles VII of France.

1492 Jews were expelled from Spain when the Alhambra Decree took effect.

1498 On his third voyage to the Western Hemisphere, Christopher Columbus became the first European to discover the island of Trinidad.

1658 Aurangzeb was proclaimed Moghul emperor of India.

1667   Treaty of Breda ended the second Anglo-Dutch War.

1703  Daniel Defoe was placed in a pillory for the crime of seditious libel after publishing a politically satirical pamphlet, but was pelted with flowers.

1741  Charles Albert of Bavaria invaded Upper Austria and Bohemia.

1777 Pedro Ignacio de Castro Barros, Argentine statesman and priest, was born (d. 1849).

1777 The U.S. Second Continental Congress passed a resolution that the services of Marquis de Lafayette “be accepted, and that, in consideration of his zeal, illustrious family and connexions, he have the rank and commission of major-general of the United States.”

1790  First U.S. patent was issued to inventor Samuel Hopkins for a potash process.

1800 Friedrich Wöhler, German chemist and founder of organic chemistry, was born (d. 1882).

1803 John Ericsson, Swedish inventor and engineer, was born (d. 1889).

1856  Christchurch, New Zealand, was chartered as a city.

1860 Mary Vaux Walcott, American artist and naturalist, was born (d. 1940).

1865 The first narrow gauge mainline railway in the world opened at Grandchester, Australia.

1895  The Basque Nationalist Party (Euzko Alderdi Jeltzalea-Partido Nacionalista Vasco) was founded by Basque nationalist leader Sabino Arana.

1909  Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, Austrian writer and polyglot, was born (d. 1999).

1912  Milton Friedman, American economist, Nobel laureate (d. 2006).

1913 The Balkan States signed an armistice at Bucharest.

1919 German national assembly adopted the Weimar constitution.

1921 Peter Benenson, British founder of Amnesty International, was born (d. 2005).

1930  The radio mystery programme The Shadow  aired for the first time.

1932  The NSDAP won more than 38% of the vote in German elections.

1936  The International Olympic Committee announced that the 1940 Summer Olympics would be held in Tokyo. However, the games were given back to the IOC after the Second Sino-Japanese War broke out, and are eventually cancelled altogether because of World War II.

1938 Bulgaria signed a non-aggression pact with Greece and other states of Balkan Antanti (Turkey, Romania, Yugoslavia).

1938 Archaeologists discovered engraved gold and silver plates from King Darius in Persepolis.

1940 A doodlebug train in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio collided with a multi-car freight train heading in the opposite direction, killing 43 people.

1941  Holocaust: under instructions from Adolf Hitler, Hermann Göring, ordered SS General Reinhard Heydrich to “submit to me as soon as possible a general plan of the administrative material and financial measures necessary for carrying out the desired final solution of the Jewish question.”

1943 Lobo, American singer and songwriter, was born.

1944  Geraldine Chaplin, American actress, was born.

1944 – Jonathan Dimbleby, British journalist and television presenter.

1945  Pierre Laval, the fugitive former leader of Vichy France, surrendered to Allied soldiers in Austria.

1945  John K. Giles attempted to escape from Alcatraz prison.

1948  New York International Airport (later renamed John F. Kennedy International Airport) was dedicated.

1951  Japan Airlines was established.

1954 First ascent of K2, by an Italian expedition led by Ardito Desio.

1959  The Basque separatist organisation ETA was founded.

1964 Jim Corr, Irish singer and musician (The Corrs), was born.

1964  Ranger 7 sent back the first close-up photographs of the moon, with images 1,000 times clearer than anything ever seen from earth-bound telescopes.

1970 Black Tot Day: The last day of the officially sanctioned rum ration in the Royal Navy.

1972 – Operation Motorman: British troops moved into the no-go areas of Belfast and Derry. End of Free Derry.

1972 – Three car bombs detonated in Claudy, Northern Ireland, killing nine.

1973 A Delta Air Lines jetliner crashed while landing in fog at Logan Airport, Boston, Massachusetts killing 89.

1976 John Walker won gold in the 1500 metres at the Montreal Olympics.

John Walker wins gold in Montreal

1976 NASA released the  Face on Mars photo.

1978 Will Champion, English musician (Coldplay), was born.

1980 Mils Muliaina, New Zealand rugby union player, was born.

1980 Mikko Hirvonen, Finnish rally driver, was born.

1981 – General Omar Torrijos of Panama died in a plane crash.

1981 A total solar eclipse occured.

1987  A rare, class F4 tornado ripped through Edmonton, Alberta, killing 27 people and causing $330 million in damage.

1988  32 people died and 1,674 injured when a bridge at the Sultan Abdul Halim ferry terminal collapsed in Butterworth, Malaysia.

1991  The Medininkai Massacre in Lithuania. Soviet OMON attacked Lithuanian customs post in Medininkai, killing 7 officers and severely wounding one other.

1992  A Thai Airways Airbus A300-310 crashed into a mountain north of Kathmandu, Nepal killing 113.

1999  Lunar Prospector – NASA intentionally crashed the spacecraft into the Moon, ending its mission to detect frozen water on the moon’s surface.

2002  Hebrew University of Jerusalem was attacked when a bomb exploded in a cafeteria, killing 9.

2006  Fidel Castro handed over power temporarily to brother Raúl Castro.

2007 Operation Banner, the presence of the British Army in Northern Ireland, and the longest-running British Army operation ever, ended.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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