A New Prince, God’s Grace, and Blasphemy Laws (plus Tweets)

As I’m sure you’ve all heard by now we have a new royal baby, and it’s a boy. Katherine, Duchess of Cambridge gave birth to a son just after 11 am 23 April London time. I can’t let that pass without a mention, if only to piss off the USians! I won’t go into raptures about how cute he is or anything. He’s not a kitten after all! 😺 Most of the details are available via tweets, so I’ve included several below.

23 April is St George’s Day and Shakespeare’s birthday, so has historical significance for those of English ancestry too.

For some reason, this all compelled me to look up what the Queen’s full title is. In the process, I made the discovery that in New Zealand, Queen Elizabeth II’s official title is:

Her Majesty Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God Queen of New Zealand and Her Other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith

Elizabeth II's cypher

Elizabeth II’s cypher. (Source: Wikipedia.)

I didn’t know about the “by the Grace of God” bit until I went looking for that official title. As you can imagine, I find the idea ghastly.

Since ascending the throne in 1952, New Zealand has made a couple of changes to what we call her. The above title came into being in 1973, and is the first time “New Zealand” got pride of place. However, “by the Grace of God” has always been there.

Despite being one of the world’s most secular countries, New Zealand does pretty badly when it comes to religious symbolism. I don’t think the Queen’s official title is even one of the things that gives is such a bad rating.

The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), who does the ratings, is holding their annual General Assembly in New Zealand this year. I won’t be attending as it’s beyond my means. However, I’m hoping that it will bring attention to the fact that New Zealand still has a blasphemy law. More and more countries are abolishing their blasphemy laws, and it’s about time too. Great Britain and Australia got rid of theirs some time ago.

There will be a group of representatives attending a parliamentary reception as part of the General Assembly. This would be an ideal time to announce that the government will be looking at abolishing our embarrassing blasphemy law.

I can hope.

Royalty Tweets: Kensington Palace

The Kensington Palace Twitter feed is where Prince William, Kate, and Prince Harry post official announcements and pics relating to themselves and their mental health foundation.

(The dates and times are NZ times. We’re currently eleven hours ahead of London – it changes with daylight saving.)





Royalty Tweets: Buckingham Palace

The official announcement.




Here’s how the new baby fits into the royal succession. He’s fifth in line after Prince Charles, Prince William, Prince George, and Princess Charlotte.

Royal succession.

Royal succession. (Source BBC. Click graphic to go to source.)


Political Tweets

I think this is the happiest I’ve ever seen Melania Trump – relaxed and away from her husband at Barbara Bush’s funeral.
(Via Ann German.)


Trump’s economic leadership isn’t quite what is was supposed to be.


I was going to write another post on North Korea following the latest developments, and still might. In the meantime, this is important info to remember when making your calculations about what Kim Jong-un is up to.
(Via Ann German.)


It looks like the Utah Republican party are too scared to stand up to Trump. They’re going to make Romney get the nomination via a primary!
(Via Ann German.)


This is my favourite, but some I’m not even going to post were far more popular.


On Paul Ryan …


(Via Ann German.)


Sean Hannity Tweets

More ha!
(Via Ann German.)


And more ha still!


Still going …


You thought that was enough? Too bad …


Environment Tweets

Scott Pruitt was surprised by Trump’s reaction to Syria given his approval of Pruitt’s own work …


More on Pruitt …


Well said!
(Via Ann German.)

Pruitt Tweet.

Election Tweets

I found this really interesting. If you have the time (about fifteen minutes), I recommend watching it.


Interesting Stuff Tweets

Most of you probably know about the Dunning-Kruger effect. Here’s a good short video summarizing it.


This is SO COOL!!! Seriously, watch this! I love these things.
(Via Ann German.)


Human Rights Tweets

More brave young Iranian women joining in the #NoForcedHijab movement. The Iranian government made a big mistake when they arrested the young woman on the plinth who took off her hijab and waved it in the air. They’ve created a martyr.


We need more men to speak out like this.


Religion Tweets

My last post was about evangelical Christian and Australian rugby star Israel Folau Tweeting that gays were going to hell. One person that didn’t get a mention in that post was New Zealand’s self-proclaimed bishop, the revolting Brian Tamaki. He’s built quite a business on his ability to hear God’s voice. He came out in support of Folau.


Here he is with Israel and Maria Folau.


Proof God is Real? 😜

This is Brian Tamaki’s Twitter page header:

Tamaki's Twitter Header


Following Tamaki’s announcement that “cry baby gays” would “burn in hell,” he thought it would be a good idea to break council by-laws and burn a pile of rubbish. He fell in and received severe burns.


Of course, I don’t wish ill on anyone. However, the irony of Tamaki being seriously burnt hasn’t escaped New Zealanders.



(The Silver Ferns = Maria Folau. Warratahs = Israel Folau.)


Most of the tweets are like this one. They see the irony, but don’t stoop to Tamaki’s level.


You can find out more about Brian Tamaki and the Destiny Church, such as his 2003 prophecy that by 2008 he’d be ruling New Zealand, here.


History Tweets

How cool is this! How rubber toys were made in 1957. (With all those women doing the work, you can imagine how another rubber item was dreamed up!)


How things change.
(Via Ann German.)


Fun Tweets

Good advice.
(Via Ann German.)


The article in the link is a well done piece of satire. Very funny.
(Via Ann German.)


Space Tweets

The last series from these guys was the story of Rosetta and Philae. Now we have a great new series about ESO’s trip to Mercury. Here’s episode one, introducing the craft.


Very cool.
(Via Ann German.)


Science Tweets

Okay! Best tweet of the day! I want one! This is one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen!!! I could get to all the places I can’t get to because I can’t walk very far, like the top of the nearby mountains and other places in New Zealand’s great outdoors! All the places I used to go to but can’t anymore!
(Via Ann German.)


Reptile Tweets

Still scary looking …


Marine Tweets

Beautiful New Zealand.


But it looks so cute!
(Via Ann German.)


Creepy-Crawlies Tweets

There’s nothing creepy about monarchs. I love them!


Other Animals Tweets

How cute is this! A hedgehog taking a bath!
(Via Ann German.)


He’s a long way from home!


Bird Tweets



Another great story from Wildlife Aid.


Owls are cool, and this is cool too.
(Via Ann German.)


Dog Tweets

Well, dog and horse tweet!


That would be lovely. (Except I might not be able to get back up again!)


Cat Tweets

Gotta get those stretches in before cuddles …


Okay …?


Most of you have probably seen this one because I sent it to Jerry Coyne and Grania for WEIT.


Mark Twain and his cats.


A new kitten is born to a rare breed.


A new pic from Ainoshima Island in Japan.
(Via Ann German.)


Wow! Absolutely gorgeous!!! Lovely one to finish on!
(Via Ann German.)


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34 Responses to “A New Prince, God’s Grace, and Blasphemy Laws (plus Tweets)”

  1. Robert Nola says:

    There is a Bill before Parliament now to abolish the crime of Blasphemy. There is time to make a public submission before 10 April.
    If you want more details I can send you some – if I have tour email address. Otherwise it is all on the web if you search.

  2. Mike says:

    If there is one thing that is guaranteed to get right up my nose as a Republican, is the unbelievable sycophancy that surrounds our most expensive Welfare Recipients. It’s way past time that this Country became a Republic.

    • I read somewhere yesterday that George III gave a large amount of land to the government in return for the royal annual allowances. The land has always returned far more than the allowances. The first part is true. I don’t know whether the financial part has always been true, but I’d be willing to bet it is currently.

      That doesn’t take anything away from the other arguments for a Republic of course.

    • nicky says:

      I first thought you were referring to Mr Hannity, a welfare Queen -as it turns out- and a lot of sycophancy 🙂 .
      Of course, as I later realised, you were referring to Royals. I have nothing against Royals as long as they are just figureheads with virtually no power, as in constitutional monarchies.
      Several of the most democratic countries in the world are constitutional monarchies: Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Spain, Canada (?) and, it appears, indeed New Zealand.

      • Yes, Canada too, and Australia.

        There are big advantages to having a strictly constitutional monarchy. In Britain itself it’s more of a problem because the class system still asserts itself. But we’re as egalitarian as they come and aren’t affected by that part, and escape the dangers of ending up with a president like Trump. It doesn’t matter if we get a bad monarch because they have no power. They can’t send us to war or anything. In fact, they can be completely ignored.

        • nicky says:

          I was careful not to mention Britain, for that reason I wasn’t and am not really sure. The Royals there may not have real power, but their influence (except for Prince Charles, he’s considered mostly as a buffoon, I guess) is not negligible.
          Note that I would not mind Prince Charles changing roles with Mr Trump, the former is a benign buffoon, while the latter definitely is a malignant one.

          • Yeah. The difference is that Charlie means well.

            I also don’t think he’s as bad as the image many have of him. He got the image because he was into environmentalism before it became cool, and because he wasn’t excessively masculine when that was still expected. Also, most people thought Diana was perfect and therefore he was bad. Their judgment was warped by her beauty, and still is. Personally, I didn’t think much of her from the start, and there were decades when even mentioning that was an invitation for people to attack me personally. (Yes, that happened!)

            Also, I’ve got quite a good opinion of Stephen Fry, and he has lots of good things to say about Charles. He likes him, and they’re friends.

          • nicky says:

            What I dislike about Prince Charles is his smooching with Islam. All his other new-age -like perambulations I do not really mind, sometimes he’s even correct. He hasn’t got a clue about Islam, and if he has, it would even be worse.

  3. Randall Schenck says:

    I noticed your remarks about the new baby and the Royals seems to upset the U.S. folks. Maybe true but I’m not sure exactly why that is? I mean, is there really someone in the states who has flash backs to King George or the revolution. Hell most Americans don’t know enough about their own revolution to even have an opinion. Sorry to have to say that.

    It appears that Cohen is taking the 5th on the Stormy case, just as Avenatti said he would. So what’s next. Avenatti will be back on MSNBC tomorrow night to explain how the court hearings go tomorrow. This is really big stuff he claims and it could lead to Trump having to do the same. We shall see. Also tomorrow for your viewing enjoyment we will see Pruitt in front of two different committees in congress. That should be fun. The Trump doctor who was nominated to run the VA is about to pull the pin, bale out or whatever you call it. Just stick a fork in that one. It is now 10:34 my time and must go to bed.

    • The thing my closest friend in the US and I argue about the most is my defence of the system of constitutional monarchy. I’m not saying it’s ideal. But there’s no danger of us being dragged into a war by a bad head of state! The head of state doesn’t have the power. That resides with parliament. The prime minister is the leader of our government, but she’s just the first among equals. Her vote doesn’t count for any more than anyone else’s.

      And the military is separate from government too in our form of government. There’s a Minister of Defence, but his job is to advocate for funds, set funding and policy priorities, and make sure the military runs smoothly. LGBT people are actively encouraged to join, for example. .

      • nicky says:

        Talking about prime ministers, Ms May is under quite some pressure. A good thing IMMO. How can a non-binding referendum force the UK out of the EU? Such a colossal thing, complete madness. When the ‘package’ of Brexit (either ‘hard’ or ‘soft’) is made, why not have a referendum on it? I’m sure it would be rejected. Britain does not want out of the EU, I think most of the Brexit vote was about dissatisfaction with the status quo, particularly about Islamic immigration, but now it turns out it has little impact on that.

        • I agree. The result of the referendum was about, as you said, dissatisfaction with the status quo. That dissatisfaction was fed disinformation that Brexit would solve the problems. It won’t of course. If anything, it will make them worse.

          • nicky says:

            Fully agree. And, moreover, should a referendum about such an enormous step not at least carry a 2/3rds or 3/4ths majority? A bit like a Constitutional change in other countries? It would have been a different matter if there had been such an overwhelming majority, but there wasn’t.
            A very small margin in a non-binding referendum*, I can’t fathom it. But maybe it is not too late? Confronted with reality, I think many Brexit voters have second thoughts (it is anecdotal, but I know a few of them). There are good enough arguments to repeat that referendum (I won’t enumerate them now, but I can think of at least three, four offhand), or at least to put the ‘final package’ to a referendum. I feel that the Brits are being ushered, nay, forced into something a great majority of them does not really want(s). Ms May’s defeat in that snap election but being an illustration.

            *[At most it should have led to some minor changes in things like immigration law and contributions, and a call for more power to the (directly elected) European Parliament as opposed to the European Commission, IMMO.]

          • I agree. We discussed this at length at the time. It looks like the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland is causing major problems in the talks. It’s currently open of course, but will have to close following Brexit. Northern Ireland has opposed that from the start. I’m hoping it can be used as an excuse to stop Brexit. Also, Scotland don’t want to leave the EU. England’s population dominates the numbers.

    • Given the load of info from Cohen’s office, much of which won’t be covered by attorney-client privilege, I don’t think pleading the Fifth will help. As we’ve already discussed, Trump threw Cohen and HIMSELF under the bus when he said Cohen wasn’t his lawyer in the Stormy Daniels case. That surely means the NDA can’t be binding, and Daniels/Clifford just has to pay that money back to be free of it.

      Trump doesn’t seem to have grasped the principles of Attorney-Client privilege. Chief among them, that illegal actions cannot be subject to privilege. It’s going to get worse for Trump, and he seems to suffer from the delusion that he shouldn’t have to follow the law.

      Trump should never have nominated his doctor, and the doctor should never have said he was interested. He was never up to the job.

  4. nicky says:

    Re Mr Cohen taking the 5th, we should remind what Mr Trump had to say about taking the 5th previously, but quite recently, in September 2017: “The mob takes the Fifth, if you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?”
    Mr Trump knows Mr Cohen has quite a bit of skeletons to hide.
    Frumpty Trumpty (sat on a wall….etc)

    • They played when Trump said that about Hillary’s aides during a debate in 2016 on CNN last night or the night before.

      I always say with Trump, “There’s always a tweet for the occasion.” Now I’ll have to amend that to add the words, “or quote”.

      • Randall Schenck says:

        Anyone that talks as much as Trump will eventually be eating words. His rant this morning by phone to Fox news even has more Senators going for protection at the Justice department. His actions today should get him removed by the cabinet but it won’t. Pence would not know insane if he fell over it. Trump shows obvious inability to function as head of state and the 25th amendment should be used. In effect we have no republican party. It is now nothing but the Trump party and that means they could care less about the country or rule of law. They only live for Trump. So congratulations Trump, you have finally reached equal status with rocket man.

        • nicky says:

          Yes, I’d think one would not exaggerate calling that morning rant ‘unhinged’. Even his sycophants on Fox tried to reign him in on several occasions.

          • nicky says:

            He even managed to get Ms Hillary and the EC v popular vote in. WTF? She is a spent force. The only reason I can think of he brings her up time and again is that deep inside, hidden in his unappetising guts, he knows his election was stolen, that he is an usurper, and that Ms Clinton is the rightful president. Why else would he always bring up the subject when uncalled for?
            I think the Mueller investigation is kinda misguided, it should not be investigating ‘Russian collusion’, but electoral fraud and voter disenfranchisement. The probpable conclusin would be Mr Trump would have to step down, and gracefully hand over to the rightful POTUS.

          • The Supreme Court is finally addressing gerrymandering, and it may take a while, but the time that Republicans can continue to get away with it is limited. That should, I think, lead to the other issues being dealt with.

            Once they can’t get elected by cheating, the GOP is going to have to try appealing to voters if they ever want to get elected again. They actually should get the Black and Hispanic vote. If you look at policy, they views of those demographics are, on average, closer to the Republicans. But no one is ever going to vote for a party they feel hates them. I know one of the reasons I would never vote for the GOP is their attitude towards women.

  5. Pliny the in Between says:

    I don’t think most people from the USA really give much thought to the royals or the constitutional monarchy one way or another beyond the occasional binge watching of Victoria or the Crown on PBS. If it works for the British Commonwealth, that’s great.

    The only exception may be in imagining the crushing burden of a lifetime of being expected to behave in a certain way and place duty above personal regard.

    Right now, we wouldn’t mind some leadership that felt the crushing burden of a lifetime of being expected to behave in a certain way and place duty above personal regard 😉

  6. nicky says:

    It took me a while, but I finally the coin dropped:
    “I did not have legal relationships with that lawyer,…” 😂😂😂

  7. nicky says:

    ‘legal relations’. Was that spellchecker or my early Alzheimer’s?

  8. nicky says:

    I’m not sure if the Dr & rear-admiral would not have been up to the job. Mr Trump has a (weak) point that ‘nobody has experience for that job’. Although I guess that a rear-admiral must have some managerial skills, there must certainly be people with greater managerial experience, and hence a greater probability of doing a good job.
    I think it is a typical example of Mr Trump taking his gut for his cortex again.

    • Randall Schenck says:

      Agree with that. I suspect the admiral has about as much experience for that job as Trump had for his. The Thing is, Trump had perfectly good leaders for the VA before he fired them. The struggle is the same old thing – republicans want to privatize and no one with any sense in the VA thinks that is a good idea. Kind of like privatizing your military like the Russians do now and we use to do during the Bush administration. Privatization experiences so far in all aspects of government have shown to cost more and improve nothing. It only proves that old republican reality and motto – elect me and I will prove just how bad govt. can be.

    • I don’t know for sure, but as a doctor I suspect management ability has little to do with how he got his rank. They enter the ranks quite high up – I doubt being a captain doesn’t mean they can run a ship.

      What I think the US should do re the VA, but I’m quite sure they won’t for reasons I won’t elaborate on, is recruit a senior health manager from outside the country. There are managers in Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, and Canada (5 eyes allies thus safe re security) who know all about managing a public health system similar to the VA. I often think there is a conspiracy within US government for the VA system not to work because then it could be used as an example for public health working. All the solutions that are offered in the US to improve things are around privatising parts of the system. In some cases, those ideas are good, but they don’t change the overall management problem. The US lacks a culture of public health management, so it would be virtually impossible to find the right person there imo. The rest of us offer post-grad degrees in the subject.

      • Randall Schenck says:

        In most cased historically they never select a military person to run the VA. That actually makes no sense. You are correct that a CEO from a very large health care organization would be a much better fit. I think the guy they had when Trump was elected use to be the CEO of GE. So at least he ran a very large organization. There is no job in the military that would come close to making a person ready for such a job as running the VA. For Trump to choose this guy is a joke.

        If he came into the Navy as a doctor he would have been at the rank Lieutenant in the Navy. Same as Captain in the army or air force. The rank of Captain in the Navy is 06 or same as Colonel in the army or air force. That is what rank he had made after many years in the Navy. Then they gave him another rank just for being in the white house I think.

        • Thanks for that explanation about the ranks! I never learned them properly as a kid because my brother memorized them all at the age of about three, so if I wanted to know I just asked him. I always assumed that a captain in the army was the same as one in the navy, even though the responsibilities seemed higher in the navy. Captain vs lieutenant and colonel vs captain makes much more sense. (Well, sort of.)

        • nicky says:

          I think a Rear Admiral in the US Navy is equivalent to a Major General in the US Army, and to a Vice Marshall in the US Air Force.
          It is a pretty high rank, there still is Vice Admiral, Admiral , Admiral of the Fleet, so there are only three levels above it.
          I love the Dutch term “Schout-Bij-Nacht”: “guard/observer during the night’.
          [Rear Admiral (Schout-bij-nacht) Karel Doorman was the highest ranking Dutch officer during the battle of the Java Sea, in February 1942, where the Imperial Japanese Navy inflicted a crushing defeat on the outgunned and out-torpedoed, hastily organised Allied Fleet. He was in fact commander of the whole Allied fleet, composed of US, Dutch, British and Australian Navy. He chose to go down with his ship, as a gallant commander (well, ‘Schout-bij Nacht’) is supposed to do.]

      • nicky says:

        That is mean suspicion of yours, but it could very well be true. I second your proposal, a good one.
        They would not have to limit themselves to the ‘five eyes’ though, most NATO allies could get security clearance , I guess. (Wasn’t it the Dutch Security Service that first alerted their US colleagues about Russian hacking? A sixth eye?).
        Moreover, how strict should a security clearance be for a head of the VA? After all, it is big, but not as sensitive as far as security goes compared to, say, the CIA, seals or military high command.

        • I agree about security, but it’s something that opponents would make a big deal of.

          There are other places that have good health systems too. But another reason I suggested those four is they’re English-speaking countries. Opposition would come from conservatives and that would give them one less thing to be suspicious of.

          The US right also has a deep suspicion of “socialist Europe,” which is a very inaccurate description of many parts of it, but plays to their fears. The truth is that the more socialist countries in Europe are more politically, economically, and socially successful. NZ and Australia are similar. NZ, for example, is always in the top 5 in the world for ease of doing business – ahead of the US. Countries they eschew like us, Norway, Denmark, Germany, and Sweden, come out ahead of the US on pretty much every metric, including many of the business and economic ones. We’re not socialist, but that’s a trope they’re fed by places like Fox News.

  9. Diane G. says:

    Thanks for the Holder segment!

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