366 days of gratitude


Socks aren’t items of clothing most of us spend much time thinking about unless they develop holes which become uncomfortable or lose a mate.

They are however, essential for comfort with most boots or shoes . The merino ones which cover my feet in winter, also provide warmth and I’m grateful for them.

Word of the day


Purdonium – a type of coal scuttle having a slanted cover that is raised to open it, and an inner removable metal container for the coal; a container for coal in the form of a box with removable metal lining.

Just a Farmer


Cowsmopolitan Dairy Magazine's photo.

Just a Farmer by Helen G. Coon

“Just a farmer,” you said
And I laughed ’cause I knew
All the things that farmers
Must be able to do.

They must study the land,
Then watch the sky
And figure just what
Is the right time and why

To sow and to plant
To buy and to sell
To go to the market
With cattle, and well.

You know all the books
That farmers must keep
To pay all those taxes
And be able to sleep.

And you know the fixin’
That farmers must do
When machines like mad monsters
Blow a gasket or two.

I guess when God needed
Folks to care for His earth,
He chose “just farmers”
Cause he knew their true worth.


Five pathways to poverty


In the annual Sir John Graham lecture in 2011, Iain Duncan-Smith identified five pathways to poverty: family breakdown; poor education; debt; addiction, and welfare dependency and worklessness.

These pathways to poverty feed on each other in powerful ways, and can push families into damaging, downward spirals from which it is almost impossible to retrieve themselves.

Let’s have a look at a few of these. Take family breakdown—evidence is that those growing up in a broken home are:
– 75 percent more likely to fail at school;
– 70 percent more likely to become addicted to drugs; and
– 50 percent more likely to have an alcohol problem.

When it came to addiction we found that almost one third of young people who have been excluded from school have been involved with substance abuse. And so often these pathways had a knock-on effect on further destructive behaviour, particularly criminal activity. We found that 70 percent of young offenders were from lone parent families, and we estimated that something like half of the UK’s prison population were
problem drug users.

And, even more interesting, we found that as many as half of all young people going through the youth justice system had been in government care or had substantial involvement with social services.

When the government looked after them, the government failed them.
Even more, in some senses, than their own families had failed them. . .

The radical overhaul of child protection and care announced by Social Development Minister Anne Tolley aims to make sure that children whose families fail them will not be failed by those charged to look after them.

But what about the parents who should be looking after them?

Lance O”Sullivan, Northland GP and New Zealander of the Year, says this in his autobiography. He argues that if children are fed and their health problems addressed they will be more likely to do better at school and there’s a greater chance of them being able to break out of the cycle of poverty.

He says we cannot hold children responsible for their parents’ failings, and he’s right.

But that begs the question of what is done for the adults?

If they are on benefits or low wages they will be getting money for their children.

It’s not fair on the children not to help them, but is it fair on the taxpayer to pay twice – first to the parents and then when they fail, whether or not that failure is through circumstances beyond their control, to pay again to ensure they are well fed and healthy?

That is a difficult question to which there are no simple answers and the simplest of all – more money to perpetuate what hasn’t worked in the past and isn’t working now,  – won’t work in the future.

That is merely treating the symptoms, not addressing the causes.

As we looked at these issues more carefully we unearthed the immense costs of this breakdown. We put the costs of educational underachievement at £18 billion per annum;27 the costs of family breakdown at over £20 billion per annum and rising,28 and the cost of crime—so often a product of these pathways to poverty—at some £60 billion per annum.29 Almost £100 billion, every year, spent on simply treating the symptoms of social breakdown because we never got to the causes.

These eye-watering figures were a result, at least in part, of the damaging culture I spoke about before. A culture of short-termism had set in which was more focussed on chasing headlines than on changing lives. So, instead of investing in fundamental changes to the system—changes which may have taken a number of years to bear fruit—governments resorted to reactive but eye-catching tweaks around the edges.

These tweaks were expensive and often ineffective, but because they were funded by debt it was possible to push the burden of the cost of them further down the line, onto the next generation.

Tax credits

A prime example of this is the system of tax credits introduced by the previous Government, ostensibly with the goal of making work pay. More often than not these tax credits made things more confusing for claimants, and they created perverse incentives which encouraged work at just sixteen hours—no more and no less.30 But they played another role as well. Because there was a child element, paid in and out of work, tax credits became a useful tool for tweaking child poverty rates. Add a few more pounds to tax credits at the annual budget and you could triumphantly announce that you had pulled thousands of children out of poverty, as incomes would suddenly jump just above the poverty line. But had this changed anyone’s life? Had it made it any more likely that these children would go on to succeed in school, hold down a job, or form a stable and loving relationship?

In the case of a family troubled by addiction you may only have made things worse, with more money simply fuelling the family’s addiction problems. I know of too many households with addiction that get enough money, but the money only makes the situation worse because it drives them deeper into their problem and the children have to make do with even less. Because you haven’t made a permanent change in those parents’ lives, you’ll find that before long they will have cycled back below the poverty line, and you will be back where you started. Even more subtly, this policy had a longer-term effect, creating what a friend of mine, Frank Field, from the Labour Party, referred to as the “couple penalty.”31 This is where you earn more through benefits if you live apart than if you live together as a family. In essence, government money, far from being ambivalent, has actually ended up incentivising families to break up, with all the attendant consequences for children that I have already mentioned.

Perhaps worse, it has also created an intention to criminal behaviour. Families who— realising they would be better off apart—declare themselves as apart, even if they are together. This is a criminal act and they do that for a while until they realise just how serious that is and they either change their declaration, or they do actually break apart. It can’t be right that a system like ours drives people to that kind of behaviour. . . 

Welfare that was designed with the good intention of helping people, usually but not always women, out of abusive relationships, can have the perverse result of incentivising solo parenting.

This isn’t an argument for no welfare.

But the right to receive help must come with the responsibility for people, if necessary with support and time, to do what they can for themselves and their children.


Quote of the day


Time and trouble will tame an advanced young woman, but an advanced old woman is uncontrollable by any earthly force. – Dorothy L. Sayers who was born on this day in 1893.

June 13 in history


823 Charles the Bald , Holy Roman Emperor and King of the West Franks,was born (d. 877).

1249 – Coronation of Alexander III as King of Scots.

1373 – Anglo-Portuguese Alliance between England (succeeded by the United Kingdom) and Portugal – the oldest alliance in the world which is still in force.

1525 Martin Luther married Katharina von Bora, against the celibacy rule decreed by the Roman Catholic Church for priests and nuns.

1584  Miyamoto Musashi, Legendary Samurai warrior, artist, and author ofThe Book of Five Rings, was born (d. 1645).

1625  King Charles I married French princess Henrietta Maria de Bourbon.

1752 Fanny Burney, English novelist and diarist, was born (d. 1840).

1774  Rhode Island became the first of Britain’s North American colonies to ban the importation of slaves.

1777 American Revolutionary War: Marquis de Lafayette landed near Charleston, South Carolina, in order to help the Continental Congress to train its army.

1798 Mission San Luis Rey de Francia was founded.

1805  Lewis and Clark Expedition: scouting ahead of the expedition,Meriwether Lewis and four companions sighted the Great Falls of the Missouri River.

1863 Lady Lucy Duff Gordon, English fashion designer, was born (d. 1935).

1865 William Butler Yeats, Irish writer, Nobel laureate, was born (d. 1937)

1866 The Burgess Gang murdered five men on the Maungatapu track, south-east of Nelson.
Murder on the Maungatapu track

1881 The USS Jeannette was crushed in an Arctic Ocean ice pack.

1883 Henry George Lamond, Australian farmer and author was born (d. 1969).

1886  A fire devastated much of Vancouver.

1886 – King Ludwig II of Bavaria was found dead in Lake Starnberg south of Munich.

1893 Dorothy L. Sayers, English author, was born (d. 1957).

1893 Grover Cleveland underwent secret, successful surgery to remove a large, cancerous portion of his jaw; the operation wasn’t revealed to the public until 1917, nine years after the president’s death.

1898 Yukon Territory was formed, with Dawson chosen as its capital.

1910 Mary Whitehouse, British campaigner, was born (d. 2001).

1910  The University of the Philippines College of Engineering was established.

1917  World War I: the deadliest German air raid on London during World War I was carried out by Gotha G bombers and resulted in 162 deaths, including 46 children, and 432 injuries.

1927 – Slim Dusty, Australian singer, was born (d. 2003)

1927 Aviator Charles Lindbergh received a ticker-tape parade down 5th Avenue in New York.

1934  Adolf Hitler and Mussolini met in Venice.

1942 The United States opened its Office of War Information.

1942 The United States established the Office of Strategic Services.

1944 Ban Ki-Moon, South Korean United Nations Secretary-General, was born.

1944 World War II: Germany launched a counter attack on Carentan.

1944 – World War II: Germany launched a V1 Flying Bomb attack on England. Only four of the eleven bombs actually hit their targets.

1949 Dennis Locorriere, American singer and guitarist (Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show), was born.

1952  Catalina affair: a Swedish Douglas DC-3 was shot down by a Soviet MiG-15 fighter.

1953 Tim Allen, American comedian and actor, was born.

1955 Mir Mine, the first diamond mine in the USSR, was discovered.

1966 The United States Supreme Court ruled in Miranda v. Arizona that the police must inform suspects of their rights before questioning them.

1967  U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson nominated Solicitor-GeneralThurgood Marshall to become the first black justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.

1970 Chris Cairns, New Zealand cricketer, was born.

Chris Cairns from side.jpg

1970  ”The Long and Winding Road” became the Beatles’ last Number 1 song.

1971  Vietnam War: The New York Times began publication of thePentagon Papers.

1978  Israeli Defense Forces withdrew from Lebanon.

1981 At the Trooping the Colour ceremony a teenager, Marcus Sarjeant, fired six blank shots at Queen Elizabeth II.

1982  Fahd became King of Saudi Arabia on the death of his brother,Khalid.

1983 – Pioneer 10 became the first man-made object to leave the solar system.

1994  A jury in Anchorage blamed recklessness by Exxon and CaptainJoseph Hazelwood for the Exxon Valdez disaster, allowing victims of the oil spill to seek $15 billion in damages.

1995  French president Jacques Chirac announced the resumption of nuclear tests in French Polynesia.

1996 The Montana Freemen surrendered after an 81-day standoff with FBI agents.

1997 Uphaar cinema fire, in New Delhi, killed 59 people, and over 100 people injured.

1997 American fugitive Ira Einhorn was arrested in France for the murder of Holly Maddux after 16 years on the run.

2000  President Kim Dae Jung of South Korea met Kim Jong-il, leader of North Korea, for the beginning of the first ever inter-Korea summit.

2000  Italy pardoned Mehmet Ali Agca, the Turkish gunman who tried to kill Pope John Paul II in 1981.

2002 The United States of America withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

2005  A jury in Santa Maria, California acquitted pop singer Michael Jackson of molesting 13-year-old Gavin Arvizo at his Neverland Ranch.

2007  The Al Askari Mosque was bombed for a third time.

2010 – A capsule of the Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa, containing particles of the asteroid 25143 Itokawa, returned to Earth.

2012 – A series of bombings across Iraq, including Baghdad, Hillah and Kirkuk, killed at least 93 people and wounds over 300 others.

2013 – Czech investigative authorities started a raid against organized crime, affecting the top levels of Czech politics.

2015 – The Wedding of Prince Carl Philip, Duke of Värmland, and Sofia Hellqvist took place in Stockholm, Sweden.

2015 – A man opened fire at policemen outside the police headquarters in the Texas city of Dallas, while a bag containing a pipe bomb was also found. He was later shot dead by police.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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