Word of the day

January 25, 2015

Plenipotentiary – a person, especially a diplomat, invested with the full power of independent action on behalf of their government, typically in a foreign country; having full power to take independent action.


Invitation

January 25, 2015

invitation StoryPeople print by Brian Andreas

It is not what you first think. There is no effort of will, no firm resolve in the face of this thing called living. There is only paying attention to the quiet each morning, while you hold your cup in the cool air & then that moment you choose to spread your love like a cloth upon the table & invite the whole day in again.

 Invitation ©2015 Brian Andreasposted with permission.

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World’s most successful conservative?

January 25, 2015

Times columnist Tim Montgomerie asks if Prime Minister John Key is the world’s most successful conservative and offers 10 thoughts:

  1. Upwardly mobile: Key is now a multimillionaire – having been a very successful financial trader. . .  Voters liked the idea of a self-made man coming home from making a success of himself in the New York and London markets and wanting to help his country succeed too. . . .
  2. No surprises: Key has enacted some tough reforms included a rebalancing of the tax system that saw consumption taxes rise and income taxes on entrepreneurs fall. He’s privatised state assets, deregulated, introduced stricter welfare-to-work rules – enacting more than 120 liberalisation measures in total. He’s acted like a very conventional, small government conservative – trimming most budgets except health, education and science. But one of his key rules is “no surprises”. . . 
  3. No security in standing still: Speaking at the UK’s Institute of Directors last Monday morning Key was optimistic about the world economy – arguing that, because of the fracking revolution, the reduction in the oil price is likely to be a long-term boon. . . . Convincingly, he argued that governments don’t provide comfort for voters by ducking tough challenges but by meeting them.
  4. Controlled immigration is a good thing: Net immigration into New Zealand is running at twice the rate (in terms of per head of population) than it is into the UK but Key has sold it as a good thing – arguing that sick economies lose talented people but strong economies attract them. . .  
  5. Patriotic: During my interview with Mr Key he talked about why he wants to change his country’s flag: “our current flag doesn’t mean anything to us”. He thinks a new flag built around the silver fern as worn on the All Blacks’ kit is likely to be recommended to the New Zealand people in a referendum. “If you go to look at the tombstones of our soldiers interred on the western front you’ll see a silver fern. When our rugby supporters want to demonstrate that they are a Kiwi they display a silver fern. It’s fifty-fifty if New Zealanders will vote for a new flag but Canadians wouldn’t go back to their old flag and with New Zealand determined to sell itself to the world we could benefit from building a clearer national identity.” . . .
  6. A sensible green: Like David Cameron (at least early David Cameron), Key has not questioned either the science behind man-made climate change or the need to do something about it but neither has he embraced the extremism of the NZ Greens (that, like in Germany, Canada and Australia have pulled the mainstream left away from the median voter). . .  The Greens in New Zealand, like in most of the world, are actually largely Red in their politics (something this excellent Bribe-O-Meter from the NX TaxPayers’ Union proves).
  7. Balanced ticket: Key’s deputy as PM and his finance minister is Bill English. Unlike the secular and relatively liberal Key, Mr English is a devout Catholic who opposes abortion, euthanasia and same-sex unions. . . You either build broad churches within your party or you hemorrhage voters to other and possibly new parties.
  8. Polls, not pundits: One of the Crosby-Textor consultancy’s big messages to the political candidates that they work for across the world is to stay focused on the few big issues that matter to voters and that are winning issues: Stay with the big plan – don’t follow the changing mood. . . It takes guts to ignore the mainstream media chorus and follow a strategy – such as David Cameron is now doing on the election debates and raising the profile of the Greens, the SNP and the other left-wing threats to Labour’s vote. Key never talks about polls or focus groups in public but he is immersed in them. They’re much more important to politicians than any OpEd columnist (and I write that as an OpEd columnist!).
  9. Selfie conservatism: . . . Key believes that his ability to communicate directly with voters on YouTube, Twitter and especially through Facebook was important to cutting through the mainstream media and its trivialities (see point 8). Yes, he thinks social media is less trivial than the mainstream media. He might well be right.
  10. Global leadership: John Key is the new Chairman of the International Democratic Union, succeeding John Howard. In that role he’ll advance his vision of “radical incrementalism“, his experience of managing major crises (the Christchurch earthquakes) and caution about Bush-style military action. He may have a significant role in shaping the conservative moment in emerging countries in the years to come.

Hat tip: Kiwiblog


Sunday soapbox

January 25, 2015

Sunday’s soapbox is yours to use as you will – within the bounds of decency and absence of defamation. 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, amuse, bemuse or simply muse, but please not abuse.
Tell us your favorite quotation from an author! You could see your favorite made into a Grammarly Quotes post.


January 25 in history

January 25, 2015

41 Claudius was accepted as Roman Emperor by the Senate.

1327 Edward III became King of England.

1494 Alfonso II became King of Naples.

1533 Henry VIII secretly married his second wife Anne Boleyn.

1554  Founding of São Paulo city, Brazil.

1627  Robert Boyle, Irish chemist, was born (d. 1691).

1755 Moscow University established on Tatiana Day.

1759 Robert Burns, Scottish poet, was born   (d. 1796).

1791 The British Parliament passed the Constitutional Act of 1791 and split the old province of Quebec into Upper and Lower Canada.

1792 The London Corresponding Society was founded.

1796 William MacGillivray, Scottish naturalist and ornithologist, was born  (d. 1852).

1841 Jackie Fisher, British First Sea Lord, was born  (d. 1920).

1858 The Wedding March by Felix Mendelssohn became a popular wedding recessional after it is played on this day at the marriage of Queen Victoria’s daughter, Victoria, and Friedrich of Prussia.

1873 Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana was born (d 1939).

1874  W. Somerset Maugham, English writer, was born (d. 1965).

1879  The Bulgarian National Bank was founded.

1881 – Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell formed the Oriental Telephone Company.

1882 Virginia Woolf, English writer, was born  (d. 1941).

1890  Nellie Bly completed her round-the-world journey in 72 days.

1909 Richard Strauss‘ opera Elektra received its debut performance at the Dresden State Opera.

1915  Alexander Graham Bell inaugurated U.S. transcontinental telephone service, speaking from New York to Thomas Watson in San Francisco.

1918 The Ukrainian people declared independence from Bolshevik Russia.

1919 The League of Nations was founded.

1924 The first Winter Olympics opened in Chamonix.

1942 : Thailand declared war on the United States and United Kingdom.

1945 World War II: Battle of the Bulge ended.

1949  The first Emmy Awards were presented.

1954 Richard Finch, American bass player (KC and the Sunshine Band), was born.

1955 Terry Chimes, English musician (The Clash), was born.

1960 The National Association of Broadcasters reacted to the Payola scandal by threatening fines for any disc jockeys who accepted money for playing particular records.

1961 John F. Kennedy delivered the first live presidential television news conference.

1971 – Idi Amin led a coup deposing Milton Obote and became Uganda’s president.

1974 Dick Taylor won the 10,000 metre race on the first day of competitions at the Christchurch Commonwealth Games.

First day of competition at the Christchurch Commonwealth Games

1981 Jiang Qing, the widow of Mao Zedong, was sentenced to death.

1986 The National Resistance Movement toppled the government of Tito Okello in Uganda.

1990 The Burns’ Day storm hits northwestern Europe.

1994 The Clementine space probe launched.

1995 The Norwegian Rocket Incident: Russia almost launched a nuclear attack after it mistook Black Brant XII, a Norwegian research rocket, for a US Trident missile.

1996 Billy Bailey became the last person to be hanged in the United States of America.

1999 A 6.0 Richter scale earthquake hit western Colombia killing at least 1,000.

2004 Opportunity rover (MER-B) landed on surface of Mars.

2005 A stampede at the Mandher Devi temple in Mandhradevi in India kills at least 258.

2006 Three independent observing campaigns announced the discovery of OGLE-2005-BLG-390Lb through gravitational microlensing, the first cool rocky/icy extrasolar planet around a main-sequence star.

2010 – Ethiopian Airlines Flight 409 crashed into the Mediterranean Sea shortly after take-off from Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport, killing all 90 people on-board.

2011 – The first wave of the Egyptian revolution began in Egypt, with a series of street demonstrations, marches, rallies, acts of civil disobedience, riots, labour strikes, and violent clashes in Cairo, Alexandria, and throughout other cities in Egypt.

2013 – At least 50 people were killed and 120 people injured in a prison riot in Barquisimeto, Venezuela.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.


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