Word of the day


 Nescient – lacking knowledge or awareness; ignorant; agnosticism.

Happy words


Isabel Kloumann and other mathematicians from the University of Vermont published a paper on positivity in the English language.

Arika Okrent looked at the list and decided you can have too much of a good thing:

So what are the happiest words in English? They might be nice to hear. But it turns out that positivity heaped on positivity becomes, like sugar or a giant clown smile, sickening after a point. To illustrate this problem, here are the top 20 words: laughter, happiness, love, happy, laughed, laugh, laughing, excellent, laughs, joy, successful, win, rainbow, smile, won, pleasure, smiled, rainbows, winning.

As you go down the list in a binge of positive word reading, so many of the positive words start to sound crass (rich, diamonds, glory), treacly (butterflies, cupcakes, friends), or too obvious (positive, great, wonderful). . .

She looked at the list and came up with her own list of 25 happy words:

The following 25 words, shown alongside their rankings, struck me as anchors of true quiet positivity in a sea of toothy grins:

159 – easier
172 – interesting
205 – honest
211 – forests
234 – Saturday
239 – dinner
290 – comfortable
320 – gently
344 – fresh
371 – pal
375 – warmth
433 – rest
449 – welcome
491 – dearest
504 – useful
548 – cherry
558 – safe
584 – better
665 – piano
721 – silk
741 – relief
878 – rhyme
892 – hi
947 – agree
969 – water

My 25 happiest words are: love, laughter, smile, family, friend, home, happiness, warm, compassion, gentle, book, music, sing, content, celebrate, satisfaction, secure, water, swim, walk, heal, well, fit, helping, sleep, and achieve.
Hat tip: Beattie’s Book Blog.

City waterways most polluted


Farming’s contribution to water pollution gets a lot of publicity but city waterways are the most polluted:

“Stormwater drains end up in creeks, and creeks end up in bays. Dog poo, litter, all end up in streams, and you might be swimming in the bay the next day,” said National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research’s chief freshwater scientist, Clive Howard-Williams.

Agriculture is often blamed for New Zealand’s declining water quality, but the country’s most polluted waterways are found in the inner city. . .

This doesn’t excuse farmers from doing all they can to ensure their practices don’t pollute waterways but it does show improving water quality is an urban issue too.

The biggest issue for cities is chemicals and organic matter being discarded down stormwater drains from individuals and light industry that eventually end up in the sea.

“Paints, poisons and explosives are the things . . . that pollute beaches. At the end of the day a goldfish down the toilet is not going to do any harm,” McIlroy said.

Even dog faeces and discarded ice creams contribute to the degradation of waterways and beaches. So does washing the car.

“A lot of that sort of material causes the loss of oxygen, so fish in streams die. There is just too much organic matter and then you end up with bacteria in places where you swim,” Howard-Williams said.

Many people believe stormwater is treated before it is fed into the sea, he said. It is not.

“Stormwater drains play a fundamental role in removing floodwater. But the problem is that they end up in creeks, bays and lakes and it is untreated,” he said.

City folk needed to appreciate where the stormwater drains end up and be aware of the lengths councils went to keep them clean, he said. “There is a general lack of appreciation of what goes down the stormwater and where it goes. Urban dwellers have a lot to learn.”

Adverse publicity about rural water quality combined with education have prompted most farmers into taking a much more proactive approach to improving water quality.

More publicity and education are needed to ensure urban people take responsibility for keeping water in towns and cities cleaner too.


If you’re planning to make some New Year resolutions . . .


. . . Barking Up the Wrong Tree has a post on the last damn thing you’ll ever need to know about New Year Resolutions:

I’ve never been particularly serious about making New Year Resolutions, or keeping the few I’ve made.

Resolutions I have made and kept to have been triggered by something other than the date.

Smokefree by choice


A Northland cafe is going completely smokefree:

Smoking indoors in not allowed in any cafe in the country, but Tawera Park is the only one to be smokefree outdoors as well. 

It backs on to Tawera Park, which must be smokefree under the new policy of the three Northland councils, for smokefree parks, playgrounds and sports grounds.

Ms Saramet says it was an easy decision to go completely smokefree.

“It’s a nice clean green image to maintain, especially in Whangarei which is a lovely green place and I think we need to embrace that. I think it’s a benefit,” she says. . .

The most compelling argument for not allowing smoking is the comfort of non-smoking customers.

Unless smokers are very considerate smoke from their cigarettes drifts over other people.

I’ve left a cafe before ordering because cigarette smoke from other diners was drifting in the open door.

Smoking is legal but someone’s right to smoke is trumped by others’ right to smoke-free air.

Sunday soapbox


This soapbox is yours.

You’re welcome  to look back or forward, discuss issues of  the moment, to pontificate, ponder or point us to something of interest; to educate, elucidate or entertain, to muse or amuse.

December 30 in history


39  Titus, Roman emperor was born  (d. 81).

1066 Granada massacre: A Muslim mob stormed the royal palace in Granada, crucified Jewish vizier Joseph ibn Naghrela and massacred most of the Jewish population of the city.

1460  Wars of the Roses: Battle of Wakefield.

1835 Charles Darwin left New Zealand after a nine day visit.

Charles Darwin leaves NZ after 9-day visitThis red gurnard was collected by Charles Darwin when the Beagle visited the Bay of Islands.

1865 – Rudyard Kipling, English writer, Nobel laureate, was born (d. 1936).

1916 The last coronation in Hungary was performed for King Charles IV and Queen Zita.

1919 – Lincoln’s Inn in London admitted its first female bar student.

1922  Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was formed.

1924 Edwin Hubble announced the existence of other galaxies.

1927  The Ginza Line, the first subway line in Asia, opened in Tokyo, Japan.

1928 – Bo Diddley, American singer and musician, was born (d. 2008).

1931  Skeeter Davis, American singer, was born  (d. 2004) .

1937 Noel Paul Stookey, American folk singer (Peter, Paul & Mary), was born.

1940 California opened its first freeway the Arroyo Seco Parkway.

1942 – Michael Nesmith, American singer and musician (The Monkees) was born.

1944 King George II of Greece declared a regency, leaving the throne vacant.

1945  Davy Jones, English singer (The Monkees), was born (d. 2012).

1947 King Michael of Romania was forced to abdicate by the Soviet-backed Communist government of Romania.

1947 Jeff Lynne, English musician (ELO), was born.

1948  The Cole Porter Broadway musical, Kiss Me, Kate (1,077 performances), opened at the New Century Theatre and was the first show to win the Best Musical Tony Award.

1950 Bjarne Stroustrup, Danish computer scientist, creator of C++, was born.

1953 The first ever NTSC colour television sets went on sale for about USD at $1,175 each from RCA.

1959 Tracey Ullman, English actress and singer, was born.

1961 – Bill English, New Zealand’s Deputy Prime Minister, was born.

1965  Ferdinand Marcos became President of the Philippines.

1975 Tiger Woods, American golfer, was born.

1993  Israel and the Vatican established diplomatic relations.

2004 A fire in the República Cromagnon nightclub in Buenos Aires, Argentina killed 194.

2005  Tropical Storm Zeta formed in the open Atlantic Ocean.

2006  Madrid’s Barajas International Airport was bombed.

2006 Deposed President of Iraq Saddam Hussein, convicted of the executions of 148 Iraqi Shiites, was executed.

2009 – The last roll of Kodachrome film was developed by Dwayne’s Photo, the only remaining Kodachrome processor at the time, concluding the film’s 74-year run as a photography icon.

2011 – – Owing to a change of time zone the day is skipped in Samoa and Tokelau.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

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