“…What mighty contests rise from trivial things…?”  Alexander Pope

An Auckland café popular with the PM is hardly Hampton Court and it’s Amanda  not Arabella, but perhaps not since the mock heroic couplets of The Rape of the Lock  satirized the silliness of the dispute which arose between the Petre and Fermor families, after Lord Petre cut off a lock of hair dangling tantalizingly from the head of the beautiful Arabella Fermor, has there been such a field day for hair-splitting hyperbole.

John Key’s penchant for pony-tail pulling has made international headlines and caused journalists to search high and low in the video files for earlier examples of the PM’s hirsute handiness.

In the eyes of more than a few it’s much hair-do about nothing not a Popish plot. But when you’re a politician in the public eye there’s just a hair’s breadth between being a man of the people and putting your foot in it with both hands.

A belated hair-shirt apology and two bottles of JK 2012 PM’s Pinot Noir may not cut it in the apology stakes nor calm the apoplectic. A porcine epithet might be on the cards now for the still popular PM, though “Pigtaily Key” does not have quite the ring of “Piggy Muldoon”.

Bond to the rescue?

Perhaps New Zealand First will swing into action again, this time from the deep South not the far North. Invercargill list candidate Ria Bond has just become the newest member of Parliament after party leader Winston Peters won by more than 4000 votes in March the electorate seat of Northland left vacant by the unexplained resignation of National’s Mike Sabin.

Bond is a hairdresser who has served as president of the New Zealand Association of Registered Hairdressers for six years and she also had a business background and experience as a mediator and spokesperson. In the interest of politically positioning New Zealand First, attending to the tempting coiffure in question would surely be a snip for her though the unkindest cut of all for the feisty Amanda.

Meantime let the poet have the last word:

…Hear and believe! thy own importance know,
Nor bound thy narrow views to things below.
Some secret truths, from learned pride conceal’d,
To Maids alone and Children are reveal’d


http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/67975327/ponytailpulling-prime-Ponytail-pull world news
http://www.nbr.co.nz/opinion/nz-politics-daily-ongoing-ponytailgate-scandal 24/4/15 http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/67960823/nz-first-announces-ria-bond-as-new-list-mp

#Lyall Lukey 28 April 2015
http://www.lukey.co.nz/  http://www.smartnet.co.nz
http://lukeytraining.wordpress.com/  My other (slightly) more serious blog


“While, unlike the proposed Leaning Tower of Rongotai. the default setting of the new 64m Megatower of Molesworth will be set to exactly vertical, the new seat of government may not remain upright for very long. Base isolation technology will allow it to automatically lean to the left or the right in accordance with which way the psephological cyclone is blowing.” 

Today’s online Dominion item on the Leaning Tower of Rongotai appears timed to be in the printed version of the Dom tomorrow, 1 April. Have the exigencies of working to a 24 hour digital news cycle, punctuated daily by the daily print run, resulted in premature exhortation in the story’s Comments section on Stuff?

Will more locals be hissing into the wind tomorrow as they turn over their calendars to the strains of A Fool Such as I?*.

Key extracts

“…Airways New Zealand has lodged a resource consent application with Wellington City Council for a 32-metre-high airport control tower, designed to lean into the prevailing northerly wind at an angle of 12.5 degrees.

That would be considerably more than Italy’s Leaning Tower of Pisa, which leans by about 4 degrees…The nine-storey Rongotai tower … would give Wellington Airport’s 20 air traffic controllers 360-degree views from the lookout area on the top floor.

Airways chief operating officer Pauline Lamb described the tower, which would cost $18 million, as being in keeping with the local environment. “…We wanted something which is a little bit quirky, which reflects Wellington’s progressive image…”

Architect Evzen Novak, of Studio Pacific Architecture, said plans involved solid base isolation foundation features, which would ensure the building was secure in an earthquake and a southerly.

If the resource consent process went smoothly, Lamb expected construction to begin in November, and it could be operational by December next year…”*

The untold story

The untold story, still under GCSB clear plastic wraps, is that Novak and colleagues are also designing a variably inclined building to replace the present Beehive in time for the next general election. (This may be some time away, given the groundswell of public opinion behind Minister Nick Smith’s efforts to apply at a national level the same democratic principles that apply to regional government in Canterbury.)

In the wake of the recent Northland by-bye election SPA has been asked to step up work on a Beehive replacement incorporating the kind of lateral thinking used in the Rongotai rendition, as well as state of the art MMP Lurchometer technology which senses seismic shifts in the political landscape and displays them architecturally in real time.

While, unlike the proposed Leaning Tower of Rongotai. the default setting of the new 64m Megatower of Molesworth will be set to exactly vertical, the new seat of government may not remain upright for very long. Base isolation technology will allow it to automatically lean to the left or the right in accordance with which way the psephological cyclone is blowing.

Corporate sponsorship provided in kind by Pisa Hut and the TAB will ease the fiscal burden, though MPs will lose the right to purchase fish and chips during sitting hours or all bets are off.

Key Comments

State Services officials would not be drawn on whether the same seismically attuned technology will be used in the construction of new buildings for public sector workers in Christchurch’s new central city.

According to Prime Minister John Key “It’s all a matter of degrees. We’ve certainly got both the inclination and the time, but Bill’s not sure about the money. I’m not ducking the issue, but we have to first get our quakes in a row in Wellington.”

New NZ First electorate MP Winston Peters commented that he never made comments on poll results prior to elections. He referred all further enquiries to his answering service. Rather than the usual voice message, this plays a recording of him having the last laugh last Saturday.

#Lyall Lukey 31 March 2015
http://www.lukey.co.nz/  http://www.smartnet.co.nz http://lukeytraining.wordpress.com/  My other (slightly more) serious blog

http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/67556860/proposed-wellington-air-control-tower-to-lean-into-wind Dominion 31 March 2015
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sg6XXAzg36w Elvis Presley – A Fool Such As I (1961)

In this North Korea career limiting move,  as Jong-Un’s PR machine cranks up creekily in a strangely childfree orphanage, someone stuffed up- or was very brave- and either way would have been in the serious Winnie the Pooh.
Photograph 3* is the naughty denouement-but look at the assiduous note taking in Photo 1. Not the Press Gallery as we know it. As you make your bed, so you must lie on it…

*Blink  http://www.stuff.co.nz/oddstuff/62941355/Kim-Jong-Un-was-photobombed-and-nobody-noticed

#Lyall Lukey  18 Jan. 2015
http://www.lukey.co.nz/  http://www.smartnet.co.nz
http://lukeytraining.wordpress.com/ My other (bit more serious) blog 


“It’s been such a great talking point with colleagues eager to investigate the mechanics of the break, and the viscosity of the pitch.” Shane Bergin Dublin physicist

Mechanics of the break?  Viscosity of the pitch?  Shane?  No, not the Ashes series.  This was Ireland, not England and a really long game, not a mere 5 day cricket match.

Watching tar fall makes watching paint dry instant gratification. It took a biblical life-span to witness the visual aspect of an experimental countdown started in 1944 at Trinity College in Dublin to show the high viscosity of pitch aka bitumen or tar. In the meantime tar babies had become geriatrics-and we’re not talking of the wearers of the green baggy.

Stuff reports* that the pitch-drop experiment, one of the longest-running laboratory investigations in the world, finally captured a drop of tar falling on camera for the first time about 5am Dublin time on July 11 after physicists set up a webcam in April so all comers could try to be the first person ever to witness the drop fall.

A slomo replay was not needed for the scientific finger to be raised after the distillation: it was definitely out. Not quite black velvet* but a moment worth celebrating.

Perfect Pitch?

‘…he’s the reason for the tear drops on my guitar”. Taylor Swift

Tear drops may keep falling on Taylor’s guitar but tar drops are not as swift!*

Bitumen, also known as asphalt and in common parlance, “tar”,  is a sticky, black and highly viscous liquid or semi-solid form of petroleum classed as a pitch. It may be found in natural deposits or it may be a refined product. Bitumen appears solid at room temperature, but it is actually flowing extremely slowly.

What the Stuff story didn’t make entirely clear on first reading was that Irish drops of tar had apparently fallen a long time prior, but just not recorded in real time by a real person. Trees in the quad and all that.

Going against the flow

It turns out that a Downunder version of the experiment was started even earlier in 1927, though with an obvious Irish connection, by Professor Thomas Parnell of the University of Queensland in Brisbane to demonstrate to students that some substances, which appear to be Pinetree solid as, are in fact very high if not hyper viscosity fluids-those that have a property that resists the force tending to cause a fluid to flow. The Irish have long had a fascination with Guiness which also seems to go against the flow.

Parnell poured a heated sample of pitch into a sealed funnel and allowed it to settle for three years. In 1930, the seal at the neck of the funnel was cut, allowing the pitch to start flowing. A glass dome covered the funnel and it was placed on display outside a lecture theatre*. Large droplets formed and fell over a decade.


The eighth drop (it sounds like new Aussie test cricketer Ashton Agar who briefly prised the First Ashes Test door ajar) fell on 28 November 2000, allowing experimenters to calculate that the pitch has a viscosity approximately 230 billion (2.3×1011) times that of water.

Appropriately this is recorded in the in the Guinness World Records as the world’s longest continuously running laboratory experiment. The Queensland experiment was monitored by a webcam but technical problems prevented the November 2000 drop from being recorded.* The Irish experiment won this particular race in a photo finish after hundreds of thousands of internet users had been going with the flow on the Queensland live stream.

It is a wonder the tar experiment hasn’t been interrupted earlier; usually when fresh asphalt is late it is an invitation for another set of contractors to immediately dig it up again.

In October 2005, John Mainstone and the now late Thomas Parnell were awarded the Ig Nobel Prize in Physics for the pitch drop experiment, after it had been controlled for atmospheric conditions.

The rival experiments into viscousness don’t appear to have triggered any academic viciousness; just a bit of donnish sledging.

Raindrops Keep Falling…

In a longer but somewhat less non-scientific experiment, a bet on two raindrops on a window pane which was made 123 years ago has now returned the family of the winner almost £65,000.* The wager was made between an English aristocrat and his friend during a rainy day at a Dorset stately home in 1890. The two men bet £5 on which one of two drops would reach the bottom of the window first.

The disgruntled loser discharged his bet with 4,800 farthings. Still packaged and thus in mint condition 2,794 farthings  dated 1890 recently sold at auction for £63,440, each coin worth almost £23, around 22,000 times its original value, compared with the usual going rate of single farthings  of between commonly command between £2 and £10 at auction. The heirs of the winner were clearly gruntled.

Lucky the two gamblers didn’t bet on two tar drops. Or the glass itself.  Barry Crump’s taxonomy of bastardry Bastards I have Met  has the story of Clive Pepper, a Kiwi old salt and  representative of Bastardus Quaintus, who after 40 years  took all his windows out and turned them around end for end because glass was liquid and the glass at the bottom of the windows was thicker than the glass at the top. He thought inversion would make them last longer.

Queensland Tar Drop Timeline*

The QTD scorecard was somewhat healthier than the Australian card in both innings of the first two Ashes Tests. Though raindrops put the kibosh on an Australian win and a wide open series in terms of where the Ashes end up the third test this week, the Baggies are gathering momentum for number four tomorrow. If you want a bet on a drawn series now is the time to dig out your small change.

Date Event      Duration (years)
1927 Experiment   set up
1930 The stem   was cut
December   1938 1st drop   fell 8.0–8.9
February   1947 2nd drop   fell 8.3
April   1954 3rd drop   fell 7.2
May 1962 4th drop   fell 8.1
August   1970 5th drop   fell 8.3
April   1979 6th drop   fell 8.7
July 1988 7th drop   fell 9.3
28   November 2000 8th drop   fell 12.3

 Postscript: Barry Crump-Going with the flow

I met Barry Crump in 1961, not long after he had Hang on a Minute Mate   published as a follow up to his 1960 bestseller A Good Keen Man.  A friend and I were hitchhiking back from a ski week at Broken River on the way to Arthurs Pass in the Southern Alps. The only vehicle which appeared heading to Christchurch  in well over an hour was a converted bren gun carrier driven by the unmistakeable Barry. He was accompanied by a what appeared to be an underage female Appalachian teenager with flaming red hair. She could have been the etymological source of the disparaging term “crumpet”.

Crump_0_0 A Good Keen Man

In a prequel to his later famous 1980s she’ll be right Toyota ute TV ads* with city slicker Lloyd Scott, Crumpy insisted on driving cross-country every so often before swinging back onto the rough shingle  road.

He also made a point at stopping at every pub the way back to Christchurch. Barry, as expected, quaffed beer and his girlfriend rum and raspberry. One of his just as colourful phrases, with more ice, was “My old man’s so mean he wouldn’t give you the sweat off his balls to make ice-blocks.” We got the picture.

We finally made it to The Square in the Garden City. As it hove into view Russell, who was sitting under the canvas canopy with me in the back, and who only had one kidney, felt a bit sick and stuck his head through the canvas aperture to demonstrate his queasiness in living technicolour.

Unfortunately he didn’t realise that his starting head position was outside the vehicle, where he’d early stuck it to get some fresh air.

For some reason he didn’t make Crump’s 1971 book Bastards I Have Met.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8J1umP4nBs  Vid  Tar drop 70 years in the making
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xKCek6_dB0M  Vid Taylor Swift – Teardrops On My Guitar
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cnzstOtW2k  Vid The DublinersBlack Velvet Band
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pitch_drop_experiment http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2373474/Bet-raindrops-stately-home-paid-5-000-farthings-123-years-ago-bears-fruit-descendants-coins-sold-65-000.html 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VILWkqlQLWk  Vid Rain drops keep falling on my head
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pyHBKX29_Q8   Vid 
Crumpy and Scotty 1st Toyota Hilux Commercial

#Lyall Lukey  7 August 2013
http://www.lukey.co.nz/  http://www.smartnet.co.nz
http://lukeytraining.wordpress.com/  My other (slightly more) serious blog

Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do
I’m half crazy all for the love of you
It won’t be a stylish marriage
I can’t afford a carriage
But you’ll look sweet upon the seat
Of a bicycle built for two.
    Daisy Bell (Bicycle Built for Two)*

We keen cyclists all love our bicycles built for one but we are not keen to share them with anyone, let alone total strangers.
In the first week of the 100th Tour de France, Swedish police were on the hunt for a Dʒæk the Ripper who either dislikes bicycles a lot or likes them a little too much.

The Stuff story under the heading “Man caught having sex with bike”* didn’t say if the velocipede in question was the town bike, a recreational bone-shaker, a knobbly mountain bike, a stripped down racing model, a penny farthing or a plain unicycle.

It  transpires that while he may have been “caught” it was only unphotogenically on camera; so far he has eluded the clutches of the long leg of the Swedish law. British bobbies on bicycles two by two are much more efficient.*

Let down once too often
“This man is probably completely harmless, bicycles are just his thing. I am not scared of him, but mostly irritated over all the punctures I have had to fix.”
Per Edstrom

Annoyance at being let down so often had caused cyclist Per Edstrom to set up a camera outside his home which captured video footage of the bike molester red-handed, if not red faced, because he was hooded.

Apparently the pedalophile is seen (on YouTube?) surgically cutting open a tyre and then disporting himself as the tyre expires. Even without a helmet cycle solitaire may be safe sex but it’s still probably rather deflating psychologically.

Osterlund police think that Edstrom’s bike-slasher could be linked to a series of similar crimes in the area five years ago, resulting in mutilated tyres on 20 bikes. However it’s possible that over the quinquennium this original offender may have retired, but not as often, perforce, as Per Edstrom.  A new Scandinavian  crime cycle may have begun.

Do you think my bum looks big on this?

Do you think my bum looks big on this?

Safety in Numbers?
“It appears that the driver has simply not seen all of the cyclists when overtaking them and pulled back into the group,” Senior Sergeant Dave Litton

An anti-cyclonic atmosphere has been brewing in this part of the world for some time and there is a fair bit of mutual loathing between cyclists, especially the road recreational variety, and motorists, despite the fact that many, of course, are both.

It’s not just solitary bikes that are an endangered species. The Sunday before last I went for a pedal into Christchurch’s Cathedral Square, fully opening on 28 June to the public for the first time since the February 2011 quake as the armed forces finally withdrew the military cordon set up around the Red Zone on 3 March 2011.

Heading around Cashmere Road, a popular cycle route at the foot of Cashmere Hills, I was passed by two pairs of cyclists who insisted on maintaining their two abreast formation as they passed me near some tricky bends.  At the next compulsory stop I caught up and suggested that they ride single file on this route, especially when passing other cyclists, even slow coaches like me. One argued that if they rode single file motorists would force them further over to the shoulder. I maintained that it was still safer all round.

Four days later a  pellaton of about a dozen cyclists on the open road on the outskirts of Hamilton was struck by a car. Four were taken to Waikato Hospital and one later died after the driver swerved into the cycle bunch to avoid an on-coming car.  According to police it seems that lack of visibility, along with the driver not allowing sufficient space to perform the overtaking, contributed to this collision. Overtaking vehicles are supposed to have 100 metres of clear space ahead throughout the passing manoeuvre.

It is not so aerodynamically efficient nor so sociable, but if they were in single file they may have been much safer-not that the driver should have attempted to overtake any configuration until sure that the way ahead was clear.

Talking of passing manoeuvres, Lance McKechie was recently walking on the left hand side of a Brisbane thoroughfare shared by pedestrians and cyclists. All the cyclists called out “cyclist on right” when approaching from the rear. I have recently bought an old fashioned cycle bell for the same purpose. It is a rarely seen safety appendage for cycles and, like the absence of turning signals and my small rear vision mirror,  a reflection of a lack of common sense and courtesy among a large number of recreational and commuter cyclists.

If you want  urban cycling safety in numbers go to Vienna. The most convenient way to discover Vienna* is by bike, with 1,200 km of cycle paths used intensively and the availability of Citybikes, which can be rented at 100 stations.* As Chrischurch re-builds post-quakes, cycle friendly infrastructure is getting a lot more attention and Vienna is a poster city.

Beijing Bikes

Beijing Bikes

If you really want a bevy of  bikes  (without the benefit of separate cycleways) try Beijing.  9 million bicycles: something else, as Katie Melua’s dreamy music video shows.*


Postscript: Give Us Your Answer Do!

A month later, UK Driver Daisy Abela has been at the centre of a Twitter storm over after she claimed to have “purposely run over” a cyclist*. Now we know who is really half crazy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cLlF-fkC2Os  Daisy Bell (Bicycle Built for Two) sung by Londoner Pat Phillips
Man caught having sex with bike   Look Ma-both hands!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UWB1Sqsx1jo Roger Miller England Swings
http://www.wien.info/en/vienna-for/sports/cycling  http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/3574204/Road-risks-unsettling-cycle-tourists  Visiting Viennese cycling tourists get on their bikes 
https://bluggerme.wordpress.com/2013/04/06/life-cycle/  Christchurch psychopaths and cycle paths.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTy3WA0Pq8M  Vid Katie Melua – Nine Million Bicycles    Watch this!https://www.google.co.nz/#bav=on.2,or.r_cp.r_qf.&fp=ee3ce3276c1c2fc4&q=daisy+abela%2C+driver+sorry Daisy Abela!

#Lyall Lukey 
11 July 2013
http://www.lukey.co.nz/  http://www.smartnet.co.nz
http://lukeytraining.wordpress.com/  My other (slightly more) serious blog

“Canterbury Cricket were ’getting our ducks in a row’ so they could do what was needed quickly should the Environment Court decision go their way.”  Lee Germon, CEO, Canterbury Cricket, Press 21 June 2013.

As the Environment Court heard submissions about a proposed professional cricket ground being developed in a venerable club venue in Hagley Park, this planned Germon blitzkrieg seemed a little superfluous. Lee can confidently leave getting ducks in a row to the Black Caps.

His focus should have been on really addressing the issues of traffic and parking for one day and 20/20 games. Hagley Oval may be a lovely, albeit still controversial venue for daytime test matches, with no need for light towers and less need for plastic or grassy seating because of a much smaller crowd spread over several days, which would also reduce traffic flow and parking issues near the Public Hospital.

But concentrated day/night shorter format games are quite different and pose far bigger issues regarding lighting, traffic, parking and noise, including the inevitable deejay accompaniment.

After the earthquakes of 2010-11 and the resulting demolition derby Christchurch has a number of other options for professional cricket, including its old home Lancaster Park.

As a cricket fan (and occasional geriatric player for the New Zealand Rotary team*) I’m sorry to say that, in terms of suitability, commercial short format games at Hagley Oval are just not cricket.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/sport/cricket/7133552/Covers-off-crickets-vision-for-Hagley-Oval  20 June 2012
http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/8755667/Vision-to-make-Hagley-Oval-for-all-generations  5 June 2013
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZKVBP-5gKg  Caught! One of my few cricketing highlights. No autographs please.

 #Lyall Lukey  6 July 2013
http://www.lukey.co.nz/  http://www.smartnet.co.nz
http://lukeytraining.wordpress.com/  My other (slightly more serious) blog

“The reality is even Wellington is dying and we don’t know how to turn it around. All you have there is government, Victoria University and Weta Workshop.”
PM John Key

While never the twain shall meet the Prime Minister has made it clear  that he  fully agrees with the sentiments of the late Samuel Clemens that the reports of Wellington’s death have been greatly exaggerated*.

At a Beehive Press Conference today Mr Key said that, when addressing Takapuna business leaders last week, he obviously meant to say that “even Wellington is drying” after the cessation of recent heavy rain.

Rain Fade?

Acknowledging that this could be termed another case of rain fade the PM said that he’d certainly had drying out on his mind recently pending today’s Aaron Gilmore Wine Press Conference* and, like the List MP, he had simply made an understandable slip of the tongue.

But he denied uttering the words après moi le déluge during his Takapuna speech and said he’d never use those words in Auckland.  He’d merely pointed out that the weather forecast for the upcoming weekend for much of the country was wet and windy. He had, he said, however, made an unfortunate and possibly misunderstood pun by saying “wetter workshop” rather than Weta Workshop. He promised not to make a hobbit of it.

Capital Economic Forecast

Mr Key reiterated that, rather than dying, Wellington is actually booming. Employment rates in the city look set to jump following last week’s Government twin initiatives to both ramp up and legalise the internal surveillance of New Zealand citizens. “If this boost to the Intelligence  Services is not an intelligent use of Government resources then I don’t know what is. Mr Dot Com can like it or lump it. Full Stop.”

He said that Courtenay Place is also a real economic goer, especially at nighttime during the Wellington Sevens*.“The Sevens themselves have the potential to grow to a Wellington Fifteens tournament by the 2017  budget and help balance the budget.”

List MP 100% Purée?

The Prime Minister refused to comment on whether Mr Gilmore would still be playing for the parliamentary rugby team in 4 years and denied that the List MP was on a National Party List blacklist. “Mr Gilmore is a party stalwart who has been put through the media blender over the last week and is under a lot of strain. Some say he should get out of the kitchen and wait on tables but we say even Master Chefs have a bad day occasionally, especially in places like Auckland.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4Q6y7ZzT2g  Vid  Courtenay Place, Alan Galbraith aka Silverfox.
(See this great music video here, buy the whole CD at www.alangalbraith.co.nz )

#Lyall Lukey  7 May 2013
http://www.lukey.co.nz/  http://www.smartnet.co.nz
http://lukeytraining.wordpress.com/ My other (bit more serious) blog