“Our army manned the air, it rammed the ramparts, it took over the airports, it did everything it had to do.” US President Donald Trump misspeaking about 1775 and blaming a damp teleprompter. 

The US President paraded his ignorance,  during yesterday’s hi-jacked and militarised 4 July celebrations,  on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, the spot where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I have a dream” speech in 1963.

At least Trump referred to the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War in the 1770s as “our”, not “my” army  as is his wont.

Keen, as usual, to make himself the centre of attention during this annual national birthday celebration, he made sure that fighter jets, bombers, tanks-and even Air Force One- added some real firepower to the customary fireworks.

He was the first President to speak at the Washington Monument on July 4 since the more prescient President Truman spoke in 1951, 175 years after the Continental Congress approved the Declaration of Independence. He wasn’t facing an election a year later.

In his Fourth of July speech,  rather than a dream Trump had a nightmare and promised to strike fear into the hearts of America’s enemies. He didn’t identify these enemies, but obviously North Korea and Russia, for two, don’t number among them these days. Perhaps the enemy referred to was the “enemy” both without and within. For the President there seems to be no bigger enemy than the illegal immigrant.

Departing from the usual 4th of July refrain,  despite his own family migrant background, not to mention that of his wife, Trump was not big on celebrating  legal immigrants either.

On the eve of this year’s Independence Day, perhaps to concentrate the mind, the non-fake media reported dreadful conditions in US border concentration camps .

Check out some interesting background on the American National anthem* and enjoy Bill Bailey’s comedic and musical Youtube take on the USA as musically a minor power.**

Re the parade’s headline speaker: Bill Bailey-won’t you please take him home?  Or anywhere …

*https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Star-Spangled_Banner Interesting background on the US National Anthem
**https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_dVFknALySA  Comedian Bill Bailey has an interesting musical take on the US as a musically minor power.

#Lyall Lukey 6 July 2019
http://www.lukey.co.nz/  http://www.smartnet.co.nz
http://lukeytraining.wordpress.com/  An education etc blog.
https://silververve.com/ Silververve: A new lease of life for mature people-website and blog.




Rake News?


Trump Rakes

“You look at other countries where they do it differently, and it’s a whole different story,” President Donald Trump, raking over new embers in California

Surveying the damage on Saturday from the catastrophic California wildfires* Mr Trump revisited his claim that poor forest management was to blame.

Finns have been baffled by the US President’s comments praising Finland  for managing its vast forests by raking the forest floors. Citing a conversation with his Finnish counterpart, Mr Trump had said the Finns spend “a lot of time on raking and cleaning”.

But President Sauli Niinisto could not remember talking about raking when the two met. A fellow Finn said he perhaps wouldn’t compare Finland and California climate-wise. And besides, 80%  Finland is classified as forest land. “We don’t exactly manicure all of it.”

Other Finns had a field day doctoring photos and producing mock catalogues of  baseball caps inscribed with “Make America Rake Again”.

Now that geography and climatology have been deftly deflected, we will continue to watch the rake’s progress* with interest.

  Paradise Lost: California wildfires-The day Paradise burned down.
Rake’s Progress The 1951 opera: based on the paintings by William Hogarth. Note this overt pre-1952 American election collaboration between composer Igor Stravinsky, a Russian, and Librettists Chester Kallman, an American and W. H. Auden, an English-American. The story concerns the decline and fall of one Tom Rakewell, who ends up in Bedlam, a hospital for the ‘insane’.

#Lyall Lukey 20 November 2018
http://www.lukey.co.nz/  http://www.smartnet.co.nz  Business websites
http://lukeytraining.wordpress.com/  An education+ blog.
https://silververve.com/ Silververve: A new lease of life for mature people.



“New Zealand students say word ‘trivial’ in exam confused them.” 
BBCNews Headline

Year 13 NCEA exam students (usually aged between 17 and 18) were recently asked to write a History essay based on the Julius Caesar quote: “In war, events of importance are the result of trivial causes.”

More than 2,600 people signed an online petition over the “unfamiliar” word, demanding not to be marked down as a result of their lack of comprehension.

Examiners said the language used was expected to be within the range of the year 13 students’ vocabulary. However, in a statement, the New Zealand Qualifications Authority [NZQA] added: “If candidates have addressed the quote and integrated their ideas with it, then they will be given credit for the strength of their argument and analysis and will not be penalised for misinterpreting the word ‘trivial’.”

That’s all right then-and at least the petitioners displayed some digital and collaborative skills as well as their surprising semantic deficit.

But perhaps the old-fashioned exam format, involving writer’s cramp-inducing marathons for those who use pens of any sort infrequently, is the real trivial pursuit.

All concerned will watch the roll out of the NZQA’s digital transformation process with interest.

20/20 Vision

NZQA’s vision is for NCEA examinations to be made available online by 2020.

The approach to online examinations reflects the teaching and learning happening in classrooms and the capabilities of the technology to support a good digital examination user experience in a given subject. This means that it may be some time before all subjects are available for online examination.

While the approach is currently focussed on digitising the paper-based examinations to help schools manage the transition, the opportunity exists to support a transformation in the way in which external assessments when digitally supported teaching and learning is pervasive. See https://www.nzqa.govt.nz/about-us/future-state/digital-assessment-vision/.

At the same time, since 2017 NZQA has been digitising its approach to external moderation of internally assessed work, since learners are increasingly producing and submitting learning evidence digitally. The vision is to see 100% of moderation materials, in subjects where it’s appropriate, being submitted digitally by 2020.

A more effective and accessible digital system for accessing and sharing learning evidence from internal and external assessment will benefit learners, educators  and employers alike.

Lyall Lukey 18/11/18

[Lyall Lukey was a History teacher and external exam marker many moons ago. He still holds the world records for the number of pages he filled in his own School Cert. History Exam and for the smallest fraction of a mark awarded per completed page. Among other things, since 2007 he has been  the convener of  annual NZ-wide Education Leaders Forums ].

“So many people at the higher ends of intelligence loved my press conference performance in Helsinki…”  @realDonaldTrump 9:53 PM – Jul 18, 2018

Well I certainly failed that IQ test, so ask not for whom the Bell-shaped curve tolls. Though I do think that we may have belatedly discovered an exception to John Donne’s accompanying aphorism “No man is an island, apart to himself.”

With President Putin still basking in the success of the Football World Cup and not needing to exercise himself, let alone, as it were, put in the boot, the other President took a leaf out of Croatia’s book and scored several impressive own goals. He ended up beating  himself 5-0  single-handedly and foot-in-mouthily, with no need for extra time and no penalties despite some whistle blowing.

He then double-handedly awarded himself a large silver trophy, much bigger than anyone else’s, while simultaneously shaking hands with himself and saluting.

Turning Point?

 “The contemptible remarks that Trump delivered alongside Vladimir Putin seemed to mark a turning point, even for some of his most ardent defenders.”…The New Yorker 18 July

Not Trump’s favourite publication, the venerable publication then followed up with some interesting but not conclusive Kompromat conjecture.

Both articles make interesting reading.

What Trump really meant

Here’s a shorter local take in a letter to The Press, Christchurch, NZ:
‘Following his meeting with Putin at Helsinki, Trump has done a U-turn sharper than a pin in a Geisha’s headdress.
  Did I say “would”? I meant “wouldn’t”.
  Did I say “yes?”? I  meant “no”.
  Did I say “2+2 equals 5?” I meant “2+2 = 3”.
I think Trump’s brain is in a jar somewhere and the US is being governed by a dippy bird tapping on a screen employing predictive text to randomly generate Twitter sentences that are edited by an idiot.’   Darren Saunders, Waltham 19 July.

#Lyall Lukey 21 July 2018
http://www.lukey.co.nz/  http://www.smartnet.co.nz  Business websites
http://lukeytraining.wordpress.com/  An education+ blog.
https://silververve.com/ Silververve: A new lease of life for mature people.



#1 Self-Medication with Chlorodyne

In 1848, while serving with the Indian Army, Dr J Collis Browne formulated a compound for the treatment of cholera. The principal ingredients were chloroform, morphine, cannabis and laudanum.  He called it Chlorodyne. (A.Thomas, The Oldie Dec. 2017).

This concoction, which had nothing to do with chloride, was commercialised in England and elsewhere, as a ready-made cure for a wide range of ailments from toothache to the aforesaid scourge. Self-medication through patent medicine nostrums spread like the plague in the second half of the 19th century. Chlorodyne became a best seller, though it  was extremely addictive and caused several deaths before new regulations changed the formulation by removing cannabis and reducing the opiate quotient.

Later, the advent of the National Health Service induced a decline in DIY medication.  Public health measures for disease prevention and treatment became the bailiwick of health professionals and bureaucrats.

#2 The Water Battle of Hastings

The August 2016 Havelock North water contamination saw an estimated 5,200 of Havelock North’s 14,000 residents succumb to a ghastly gastro illness after drinking contaminated water from the town’s water supply, the responsibility of Hastings District Council.

It is not known whether J. Collis Browne’s Mixture, which still exists, was pressed into use. (It is now formulated with morphine and peppermint oil to relieve diarrhoea and coughs).

The Hawke’s Bay Regional Council investigated the source of the contamination and the Government announced an inquiry. Hastings District Council released a report from GNS Science, which revealed water – some as young as a month old – had been found in their bores. To secure supplies older water is desired, as contamination in the form of living organisms cannot survive in the ground for long periods.

The findings had a big effect on the way Hastings’ drinking water is treated in future, possibly starting with a $6 million UV treatment plant.

In December 2017 experts investigating the Havelock North outbreak warned that one in five people in 100% Pure New Zealand are at risk of getting sick and universal treatment of drinking water is needed.

This and issues of potential legal liability reinforced the reaction of other councils, including Christchurch City Council, which has recently started adding chlorine to the city’s previously much vaunted water supply.


#3 Christchurch Chlorination

“Christchurch’s water supply is one of the best in the world – with untreated drinking water available straight from the tap.” CCC website

Until recently it could be claimed that Christchurch’s deep underground aquifers mean residents continue to enjoy an untreated water supply of ancient water from our vaunted natural underground reservoirs. Not any more since most of the city moved to Chlorination Street, after the council voted to temporarily chlorinate the city’s supply to protect its citizenry and visitors.

The Council has a network of wells, reservoirs, pipes and pump stations. It does regular testing and maintenance. It decided in January to chlorinate the water for up to 12 months while it repaired 103 well heads, which were found to be unsafe and vulnerable to pollution from dirty surface groundwater. Dodgy post-quake drainage fixes haven’t helped.

The CCC wants to forestall the Government from making chlorination mandatory in the hitherto Garden City. Christchurch’s mayor is adamant the city’s water will be chlorine- free in a year despite a new report stating repairing the wells could take at least three years and cost more than $20 million.

Some think that Christchurch’s drinking water supply is likely to end up being chlorinated permanently and simply cleaning and repairing faulty well heads will not fix the problem.

Sceptics hope there is not another over-reaction like the methamphetamine hysteria. The rest of us await further episodes in this water and soft soap opera.

 #4. Water: Are we being served?

Meanwhile, a recent Christchurch City Council survey highlighted frustration among residents over roads and communication.

I recently encountered some not very watertight excuses regarding what happened-or rather didn’t happen-after our household received a circular advising us of our water would be cut off on 14/5/18 for up to 4 hours, between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., perhaps to check the well-heads for contamination.(See #3).

If we had any questions we were to contact either the council or the contract supervisor (a council officer) on the phone numbers supplied.

We were given some helpful advice about flushing out our pipes when the water came back on via “the outside tap” (presumably an outside tap, not the master in the Toby Box), to avoid banging and rust shaking as the air is pushed out under pressure.

On the appointed day we dutifully replenished our earthquake etc contingency water bottles and finished our domestic uses of water before the earliest appointed hour.

Keen to follow the airodynamic instructions when the water came back on I made regular checks to see if the water had first been turned off. 3pm duly came and went with no sign  of any of any induced drought.

So I rang the contract supervisor, per the pamphlet, to enquire what had happened and to avoid being caught short if the shut-off had been postponed to the next day. I got the answer phone and left a message. An hour later I rang again. I got the answer phone and left another message. The next day and for the following two days I repeated the process. The hotline was still cold, my messages unanswered.

Finally, 4 days after the non-event I struck the jackpot and got a live response when I phoned. The supervisor had been out of the office, no one had been appointed to pick up his messages and when I enquired what happened on D Day he didn’t know, but he found out and reported back.

Our house and those of many of our neighbours had been wrongly targeted for the shut-off pamphlets because it wasn’t our Kennedys Bush Rd water supply that had been turned off but an adjacent source.

Some of us were also turned off by the mis-communication and time wasting.

#5. Irrigation irritation

No connection, as it were, but the water supply had earlier been successfully turned off in quite another part of town: https://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/103688334/its-embarrassing–shame-as-government-plants-die-in-christchurch-the-garden-city

#6.  The Life You Can Save with Water

 “Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.” Edmund Burke

To restore some perspective it’s worth reminding ourselves that hundreds of millions of people worldwide do not have access to clean water right now.  Via the philosopher Peter Singer-inspired umbrella charity organisation The Life You Can Save we can Make A Donation.

#Lyall Lukey 4 June 2018
http://lukeytraining.wordpress.com/  Lukey’s Learnings: My Education etc blog.
Silververve: Re-tyrement rather than Retirement-website/blog.



“Nobody does self-deprecating humour better than I do,”  Donald Trump modestly addresses politicians and journalists in Washington, DC March 2018.

Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist David Cay Johnston’s book “The Making of Donald Trump”*, published just before the 2016 election, is deeply researched and compulsive reading. It’s a shame it wasn’t compulsory reading pre-election .

The author draws on three decades of interviews with Trump, financial records, court documents and public statements.

His book traverses the historic and often dodgy origins of the Trump family fortune and the now President’s then own links with mob bosses and high rollers in the construction and casino phases of his career, his chronic legal and financial troubles and mounting business controversies. His mounting political controversies are possibly a welcome change.

Johnston makes a watertight case in highlighting Trump’s undoubted skill at self-myth making, for example in “The Art of the Deal ”.(I must add that this famous “Trump” tome was written entirely by ghost writer Tony Schwartz, who repented in a July 2016 New Yorker article which is revealing and readable. **).

Repellent indeed though is its subject matter, unfortunately the paperback book itself, or at least the local library copy in my hands, proved not to be as water repellent.

Johnston may have put to bed once and for all facts about Trump that his myth making has obscured. But in the bedclothes is where I left his paperback overnight, after reading the last page, before she who shall remain anonymous scooped up the sheets and contents and conveyed them to the washing machine.

Only the plastic covered cover survived the water boarding and spin cycle. However, there was certainly more than a shred of evidence of the rest of the book stuck to all the more normal contents of the washing machine.

The washing dried on the rotary line and the wind blew confetti-like particles all over  the back lawn like old blossom in late spring.

A harbinger of the unmaking of Donald Trump? A straw in the wind anyway.


* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Making_of_Donald_Trump **https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/07/25/donald-trumps-ghostwriter-tells-all

#Lyall Lukey 11 March 2018 http://www.lukey.co.nz/  http://www.smartnet.co.nz http://lukeytraining.wordpress.com/  Another (slightly) more serious blog. https://silververve.com/  Silververve: A new lease of life for mature people-website and blog


“They’re rioting in Africa, they’re starving in Spain.
There’s hurricanes in Florida, and Texas needs rain.
The whole world is festering with unhappy souls.
The French hate the Germans, the Germans hate the Poles.
Italians hate Yugoslavs, South Africans hate the Dutch.
And I don’t like anybody very much!

But we can be tranquil, and thankful, and proud,
For man’s been endowed with a mushroom-shaped cloud.
And we know for certain that some lovely day
Someone will set the spark off, and we will all be blown away.
They’re rioting in Africa, there’s strife in Iran.
What nature doesn’t do to us, will be done by our fellow man.”*

“They’re Rioting In Africa-aka “The Ode to John Foster Dulles”, from The Merry Minuet by the Kingston Trio 1959*

Strange Love?

59 years later “Rioting…” has re-surfaced as Trump’s Not-so-Merry Minuet-same words, same hotspots, same message, new pics.*

With his call for a Macron-like military parade down Pennsylvania Avenue- and his desire to avoid a micron substitute -is Potus manifesting a strange love dressed up as patriotism or is he just parading his ignorance?

Unclear Nuclear Policy

The latest Pentagon defence thinking has been revealed in a Pentagon policy statement known as the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR).

Both Moscow and Beijing have condemned current US military proposals to develop new, smaller atomic bombs mainly to deter any Russian use of nuclear weapons.** Russia’s foreign minister called the move “confrontational” and expressed “deep disappointment”. The Chinese pointed the finger at the US for reviving a “Cold War mentality” with its nuclear policy review.

America First obviously still means American Fist, sans a velvet glove.

Put in/Get out

With the Doomsday Clock recently advanced to two minutes before midnight, if you need to be reminded of the Cold War stand-off in the middle of last century and how near it became to being  Very Hot, push the button on the YouTube video below*. You will get a lot out of the original song and the newly juxtaposed photos.

Also check out Andrew Gunn’s piece “It’s gonna be yuge but not bigger than Putin’s.” ***

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_PCVX8hJLA Trump’s Minuet-Original song, new pics, same message.

 #Lyall Lukey 11 February 2018
http://www.lukey.co.nz/  http://www.smartnet.co.nz http://lukeytraining.wordpress.com/  -My other (slightly) more serious blog.