Thursday, 29 November 2012


Photo of Officer Giving Boots to Barefoot Man Warms Hearts Online
Published: November 28, 2012
On a cold November night in Times Square, Officer Lawrence Deprimo was working a counterterrorism post when he encountered an older, barefooted homeless man. The officer disappeared for a moment, then returned with a new pair of boots, and knelt to help the man put them on.
Officer Lawrence Deprimo bought new boots
for a homeless man in Times Square
Photo / Jennifer Foster

The act of kindness would have gone unnoticed and mostly forgotten, had it not been for a tourist from Arizona.
Her snapshot — taken with her cellphone on Nov. 14 and posted to the New York Police Department’s official Facebook page late Tuesday — has made Officer Deprimo an overnight Internet hero.
By Wednesday evening, the post had been viewed 1.6 million times, and had attracted nearly 275,000 “likes” and more than 16,000 comments — a runaway hit for a Police Department that waded warily onto the social media platform this summer with mostly canned photos of gun seizures, award ceremonies and the police commissioner.
Among all of those posts, the blurry image of Officer Deprimo kneeling to help the shoeless man as he sat on 42nd Street stood out. “This is definitely the most viral,” said Barbara Chen, a spokeswoman for the department who helps manage its Facebook page.
Thousands of people commented on Facebook and Reddit, which linked to the post on Wednesday. Most of them praised Officer Deprimo, yet some suspected the photograph had been staged. Many debated whether the officer’s actions were representative of police officers in general, or were just unusually exceptional.
“I still have a grudge against law enforcement everywhere,” wrote one commenter on the police Facebook page. “But my respects to that fine officer.”
Officer Deprimo, 25, who joined the department in 2010 and lives with his parents on Long Island, was shocked at the attention. He was not warned before the photo went online; the department had not learned which officer was in the picture until hours later . . . .
Full story in NYtimes

Peter’s Piece

Wherever they are in the world, police don’t enjoy a good reputation and this blog has often been critical of them. Police reputations, for a variety of reasons, are largely self-inflicted.

Officer Deprimo appears to be an exceptional caring officer and a great ambassador for NYPD and police forces everywhere.

Let’s see more of this.

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The Undie 500 – from the
pages of Highway America

For the next two days the journey continued through beautiful Appalachian country to Elkton, Maryland, and a Petro truckstop a little over an hour from the drop-off. I parked on the end of a long line of trucks, went for dinner and came back to read a book while music filled the air from the truck radio. When it was time for bed I pulled the blinds around the windscreen and side windows and stripped off to my underpants.
Suddenly there was a loud bang and the truck rocked on its suspension. Earthquake, I immediately thought. Then I heard a scraping noise as a semi trailer was dragged around the front of my tractor. I ripped the blinds open in time to see the culprit drive slowly away looking for a parking space. With visions of Carlos having me fired for having yet another accident I leapt down to the pavement in my bare feet and underpants and ran after the errant driver.
My Undie 500 lasted barely a hundred yards by which time the turban-headed young driver was most apologetic. It was his first day on the road and he was still getting accustomed to the size of the rig and the amount of space needed to turn. In Maryland the police are required to attend all accidents involving trucks and we exchanged details while we waited for them. An hour later an officer arrived, looked at both trucks (I had my clothes on again by then), took our details and departed.
My encounter with the police was better than that of a CalArk driver called Mike. When he got lost in Chicago he stopped a cop and asked for directions.
‘Follow me,’ the cop said obligingly.
They twisted and turned through narrow streets and alleyways for what seemed an age until they finally arrived at a police station where Mike was fined $990 for driving on streets where trucks were prohibited.

As the traffic flow pushed Old Bluey (my truck) along the New Jersey Turnpike at sixty-five miles an hour I watched the big signs flash passed overhead; Willingboro, Trenton, East Brunswick, Sayreville. The number of lanes increased along with the traffic volume and the number of interchanges. I was getting close to the turnpike extension and I needed to stay alert. The Perth Amboy sign flashed by and Carteret, Linden and Elizabeth appeared quickly. The exit for Newark Liberty International Airport slipped by and I changed lanes to line up for the turnpike extension at Exit 14. Suddenly just a few yards away parallel to the turnpike a big jet was taking off from Runway 4 Right at Newark while others waited to line up and the sky around buzzed with jets circling to land.
I looked ahead for the Jersey City sign as thousands of cars and trucks sped towards the heart of the great New York metropolis like minnows into the jaws of a whale. I lined up beneath the sign and followed the ramp through a ninety degree right turn. The Manhattan skyline, the Twin Towers and the Statue of Liberty came into view across the Hudson River as I looked ahead for Exit 14A. I shifted right again trying to recall the precise directions. I needed to go to the toll gates and up another ramp to Route 169 South and turn onto New Hook Road at the second light and proceed to Avenue J and the Exxon plant.
After carefully making all the correct turns to connect with Route 169 South I was dismayed to be confronted with a sign indicating that I was on Route 440 instead. Where the hell did that come from? I asked myself as I slowed and looked for somewhere to park while seeking assistance from the locals. There was a gap between the two carriageways but no free space on the sides so I stopped on the median and ran across the opposite carriageway to an office building that seemed to be just inches from the traffic flow.
‘I’m looking for New Hook Road,’ I told one of the workers.
‘Just keep right on down the one-sixty-nine. It’s about a mile on the left.’
‘How do I get to the one-sixty-nine?’
He looked at me as though I really was the dummy that I was beginning to feel like. Then he looked across at my idling truck in the middle of the busy dual carriageway and back at me again.
‘You’re on the one-sixty-nine, buddy. Are you Australian?’
‘No. I’m a Kiwi from New Zealand.’
He looked at me again as his expression changed to one of incredibility.
‘You come all the way from New Zealand in a truck?’
‘Not quite,’ I replied pointing to a jetliner blasting across the heavens from Newark. ‘I came on one of those. I picked up the truck in Little Rock.’
‘Little Rock, Arkansas.’ He still seemed uncertain about whether to believe me. ‘You know Bill Clinton?’
For a moment I was stunned by the thought that Little Rock could be thought of as so little that everyone living there could be a personal friend of everyone else including the former Governor and President.
‘Well, no. I guess I’m one of the few people who have never actually met him. But thanks for your help, mate. I think I’d better move my truck.’

For an e-book copy of Peter Blakeborough's Highway America go to: 

Wednesday, 28 November 2012


The folded napkin – a trucker’s story

From Bruce Anderson

I try not to be biased, but I had my doubts about hiring Stevie. His placement counselor assured me that he would be a good, reliable busboy. But I had never had a mentally handicapped employee and wasn't sure I wanted one. I wasn't sure how my customers would react to Stevie. He was short, a little dumpy with the smooth facial features and thick-tongued speech of Downs Syndrome. 

I wasn't worried about most of my trucker customers because truckers don't generally care who buses tables as long as the meatloaf platter is good and the pies are homemade. The four-wheeler drivers were the ones who concerned me; the mouthy college kids traveling to school; the yuppie snobs who secretly polish their silverware with their napkins for fear of catching some dreaded "truck stop germ" the pairs of white-shirted business men on expense accounts who think every truck stop waitress wants to be flirted with. I knew those people would be uncomfortable around Stevie so I closely watched him for the first few weeks.

I shouldn't have worried. After the first week, Stevie had my staff wrapped around his stubby little finger, and within a month my truck regulars had adopted him as their official truck stop mascot. After that, I really didn't care what the rest of the customers thought of him. He was like a 21-year-old in blue jeans and Nikes, eager to laugh and eager to please, but fierce in his attention to his duties. Every salt and pepper shaker was exactly in its place, not a bread crumb or coffee spill was visible when Stevie got done with the table.

Our only problem was persuading him to wait to clean a table until after the customers were finished. He would hover in the background, shifting his weight from one foot to the other, scanning the dining room until a table was empty. Then he would scurry to the empty table and carefully bus dishes and glasses onto cart and meticulously wipe the table up with a practiced flourish of his rag. If he thought a customer was watching, his brow would pucker with added concentration. He took pride in doing his job exactly right, and you had to love how hard he tried to please each and every person he met.

Over time, we learned that he lived with his mother, a widow who was disabled after repeated surgeries for cancer. They lived on their Social Security benefits in public housing two miles from the truck stop. Their social worker, who stopped to check on him every so often, admitted they had fallen between the cracks. Money was tight, and what I paid him was probably the difference between them being able to live together and Stevie being sent to a group home. That's why the restaurant was a gloomy place that morning last August, the first morning in three years that Stevie missed work.

He was at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester getting a new valve or something put in his heart. His social worker said that people with Downs Syndrome often have heart problems at an early age so this wasn't unexpected, and there was a good chance he would come through the surgery in good shape and be back at work in a few months.

A ripple of excitement ran through the staff later that morning when word came that he was out of surgery, in recovery, and doing fine. Frannie, the head waitress, let out a war hoop and did a little dance in the aisle when she heard the good news. Bell Ringer, one of our regular trucker customers, stared at the sight of this 50-year-old grandmother of four doing a victory shimmy beside his table. Frannie blushed, smoothed her apron and shot Belle Ringer a withering look.

He grinned. "OK, Frannie, what was that all about?" he asked.

"We just got word that Stevie is out of surgery and going to be okay."

"I was wondering where he was. I had a new joke to tell him. What was the surgery about?"

Frannie quickly told Bell Ringer and the other two drivers sitting at his booth about Stevie's surgery, then sighed: "Yeah, I'm glad he is going to be OK," she said. "But I don't know how he and his Mom are going to handle all the bills. From what I hear, they're barely getting by as it is." Belle Ringer nodded thoughtfully, and Frannie hurried off to wait on the rest of her tables.

Since I hadn't had time to round up a busboy to replace Stevie and really didn't want to replace him, the girls were busing their own tables that day until we decided what to do. After the morning rush, Frannie walked into my office. She had a couple of paper napkins in her hand and a funny look on her face.

"What's up?" I asked.

"I didn't get that table where Bell Ringer and his friends were sitting cleared off after they left, and Pony Pete and Tony Tipper were sitting there when I got back to clean it off," she said. "This was folded and tucked under a coffee cup."

She handed the napkin to me, and three $20 bills fell onto my desk when I opened it. On the outside, in big, bold letters, was printed "Something For Stevie.

Pony Pete asked me what that was all about," she said, "so I told him about Stevie and his Mom and everything, and Pete looked at Tony and Tony looked at Pete, and they ended up giving me this." She handed me another paper napkin that had "Something For Stevie" scrawled on its outside. Two $50 bills were tucked within its folds.

Frannie looked at me with wet, shiny eyes, shook her head and said simply: "truckers."

That was three months ago. Today is Thanksgiving, the first day Stevie is supposed to be back to work. His placement worker said he's been counting the days until the doctor said he could work, and it didn't matter at all that it was a holiday. He called 10 times in the past week, making sure we knew he was coming, fearful that we had forgotten him or that his job was in jeopardy.

I arranged to have his mother bring him to work. I then met them in the parking lot and invited them both to celebrate his day back. Stevie was thinner and paler, but couldn't stop grinning as he pushed through the doors and headed for the back room where his apron and busing cart were waiting.

"Hold up there, Stevie, not so fast," I said. I took him and his mother by their arms. "Work can wait for a minute. To celebrate you coming back, breakfast for you and your mother is on me!"

I led them toward a large corner booth at the rear of the room. I could feel and hear the rest of the staff following behind as we marched through the dining room. Glancing over my shoulder, I saw booth after booth of grinning truckers empty and join the procession. We stopped in front of the big table. Its surface was covered with coffee cups, saucers and dinner plates, all sitting slightly crooked on dozens of folded paper napkins.

"First thing you have to do, Stevie, is clean up this mess," I said. I tried to sound stern. Stevie looked at me, and then at his mother, then pulled out one of the napkins. It had "Something for Stevie" printed on the outside. As he picked it up, two $10 bills fell onto the table.

Stevie stared at the money, then at all the napkins peeking from beneath the tableware, each with his name printed or scrawled on it. I turned to his mother.

"There's more than $10,000 in cash and checks on table, all from truckers and trucking companies that heard about your problems. "Happy Thanksgiving,"

Well, it got real noisy about that time, with everybody hollering and shouting, and there were a few tears, as well. But you know what's funny? While everybody else was busy shaking hands and hugging each other, Stevie, with a big, big smile on his face, was busy clearing all the cups and dishes from the table. Best worker I ever hired.

Plant a seed and watch it grow. At this point, you can bury this inspirational message or forward it fulfilling the need! If you shed a tear, hug yourself, because you are a compassionate person.

Well.. Don't just sit there! Share this story!

Keep it going, this is a good one!

Thanks for sharing, Bruce.


On tour with the Raglan Horticultural Society

Just back from two days of rural garden visits in the central North island, New Zealand with some photos. The oldest member of the group was 96 and walked every inch of every garden.

Most gardens had a beautiful view of the nearby countryside

The garden tourists making a visit near Rotorua

Negotiating some of the farm roads was quite an exercise but
the garden always made the journey worthwhile

Leaving another beautiful garden
Beautiful homes were found at most properties


New Zealand’s Castle Pamela

Tirau's Queen Pamela and King Kelvin
at their coronation and castle opening
Traveling with Raglan Horticultural Society for two days of central North Island rural garden visits our first stop was for refreshments at Castle Pamela.

Located in the beautiful town of Tirau, Castle Pamela combines the traditional atmosphere of a castle with the marvel of New Zealand's largest doll, toy and train collection. Visitors can experience the wonder of over a hundred years of childhood delights housed in an awesome building.

Situated two hours south of Auckland and 40 minutes east of Hamilton en-route to the tourist centers at Rotorua and Taupo, the castle provides visitors with a quiet place to stop and enjoy the splendor of the countryside and a world in miniature.

Guests can enjoy a bite to eat from the tea rooms and then spend time exploring the museum. Visitors to the castle will enjoy some of the most creative displays ever, as owners Pam and Kelvin Baker show just what 21 years experience in doll expo's and production's can do.

Twenty years ago the beautiful rural village of Tirau was in its death throws after losing small businesses and services to larger towns and cities.

But, Tirau (once called Oxford) re-invented itself and became a popular stopping place for travelers. The town became famous as having the world’s largest sheep and sheep-dog. The sheep is a large shop selling woolen products and the dog houses the tourist information center.

Tirau also has a fine selection of cafes and shops selling antiques, collectables and the finest of cowboy attire.

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Monday, 26 November 2012


Nov. 26 2012

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — Thousands of Bangladeshi workers demanding justice after a garment-factory fire killed at least 112 people are blocking the streets of a Dhaka suburb in a protest that has turned violent at times.
Angry workers on Monday threw stones at factories, smashed vehicles and blocked a major highway in the area. Some 200 factories were closed for the day after the protest erupted in Savar, the industrial zone where Saturday's deadly fire occurred.
Officials say many workers were trapped in the eight-story building, which lacked emergency exits. Firefighters have pulled out at least 100 bodies, and 12 more people died at hospitals after jumping from the building.
Unions in Bangladesh have long complained about unsafe factories where workers work in dismal sweatshop conditions.
Peter’s Piece

There will be demands from around the world to boycott Bangladeshi manufactured products, but that would be a knee-jerk reaction that could be counterproductive. Such a response would only make the people of Bangladesh poorer than they already are.
The importers and distributors should be obliged to accept responsibility for the wages and conditions associated with the manufacture of foreign products.  
Retail buyers should buy not just on price and quality, but also on fair wages and conditions for the workers on the production line. If shoppers did that retailers, distributors, importers and foreign manufacturers would then soon come into line.

Sunday, 25 November 2012


How to build the world's tallest
skyscraper in 90 days
By Connor Simpson | The Atlantic Wire 

Sky City will stand 2,749ft tall and have a phenomenal 220 floors.
It will house 17,400 people as well as offices, schools and even a hospital.
Builders intend to put it up at an amazing five storeys a day.

A Chinese company thinks it has simplified the construction process so much that it can build the world's tallest skyscraper in 90 days. 
Broad Sustainable Building Corporation will lay the foundation for their "Sky City" project this month. The company, famous for building tall buildings in ridiculously short time spans, plans to construct a 220-story skyscraper in 90 days, with construction starting in January and finishing in March. Sky City, if successful, will be 10 meters higher than the current tallest skyscraper, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. 
How do they plan on doing it? BSB eschews architectural beauty for simplicity. Their building are tall and block-y. They essentially make buildings out of lego blocks, but in real life. The National Posthas a nice graph explaining how they plan on achieving their 90 day goal. "Traditional construction is chaotic," BSB chairman Zhang Yue recently told Wired magazine. "We took construction and moved it into the factory." BSB prepares the pieces offsite and then brings everything together so it slides in easily when construction begins, exactly like Lego blocks. By breaking everything down into simple blocks piled on top of one another, it allows them to build at an amazing pace -- their goal for Sky City is 5 stories a day. 
Don't think they're coming out of the woodwork to try this, either. BSB already constructed a 30 story building in 15 days: 
Once completed, Sky City will contain low-income housing, luxury condos, a hospital, a school,  and retail space. And, BSB claims, it'll be strong enough to resist a 9.0 magnitude earthquake. In theory, if a grocery store moves into one the retail spaces, you could be born in Sky City and never have to leave.
Peter’s Piece
The figures for the Sky City building in China don’t stack up on the side of safety.
In the last sixty years nine earthquakes have occurred worldwide with a magnitude of 9.0 or greater. In China in the last 100 years at least 650,000 people have died in the worst eleven earthquakes.
The proposed Sky City may become a towering ghetto known as Die City.

Saturday, 24 November 2012


Air New Zealand
unveils Hobbit plane

Sat, 24 Nov 2012  By Samantha Hayes and NZN
It took 400 hours to install the graphic which at 830 sq m is the
largest ever applied to an aircraft
/ Photo Dan News

Air New Zealand unveiled its latest flying billboard today - a Boeing 777-300 covered in an enormous decal featuring The Hobbit characters.
Chief executive Rob Fyfe, at a function at the airline's Auckland technical operations base, paid tribute to the special project team that had worked hard "getting the plane looking as spectacular as it does".
It took the team 400 hours to install the graphic, which at 830sq m is the largest ever applied to an aircraft.
The 73m Boeing, the longest in the airline's fleet, is now off to London via Los Angeles, returning in time to play a "starring role" in the global premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in Wellington on Wednesday.
Mr Fyfe said the effort and passion that had gone into the aircraft reflected "a real sense of connection that we have with the magical world of the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit". The airline has dubbed itself the "Airline of Middle Earth".
He said another Hobbit-inspired 777 would be unveiled in November next year ahead of the second Hobbit movie.
“You've got to make sure there are no air bubbles,” says Mr Fyfe. “You've got to make sure when it's applied to the aircraft and it's flying through the air, the wind doesn't get underneath it and peel it. It's incredibly complex.”
Hobbit Holes at the Hobbiton movie set near Matamata, New Zealand
The extra layer weighs only as much as one passenger, so won't require extra fuel, and began as an A3-sized drawing by Weta Workshop, which didn't accommodate windows.
 “We had a window over an eye at one point and someone whose ears were windows, but, no, it looks fantastic,” says Wingnut Films spokesman Matt Drivinski.
It is impressive enough for the big guns, Warner Bros.
“Breathtaking,” says senior vice president of worldwide promotions at Warner Bros Gene Garlock. “Amazing. We're Hollywood and this is what we do for a business, and I did say to Rob, ‘this is as good as Hollywood would do it’.”
The Mr Garlock told 3 News New Zealand was a character in the film.
“I don't think anyone’s going to be able to see the movie without probably wanting to take a trip to New Zealand and see it for themselves. [It is] just beautiful cinematography and great, great, great scenery. I'm excited to be back.”
With that the interview was over, with Warner preferring to forget its threat to take the movie offshore if the Government didn't change labour laws.
Meanwhile in Wellington, hundreds streamed into the Hobbit Artisan Market, taking in some music, merchandise and watching behind-the-scenes footage from Sir Peter.
And capitalising on the fantasy fans in town, there is an exhibition by a Weta Workshop sculptor, which features more than 40 hobbits, trolls, and goblins.
“I'd work for six months at Weta and then use the money I saved from that to fund myself for the next six months to work on this,” says artist Johnny Fraser-Allen. “And then I got so addicted to this that the last two years I’ve just taken off completely to finish the project.”
The sculptures aren't directly related to Tolkien’s books, but are certainly inspired by them.
Fans of The Hobbit will get to see Air New Zealand’s special 777-300 when it does a flyover at just 1000ft above the premiere in Wellington.

Read more at: 3news

Peter’s Piece

Air New Zealand spends over 100 million dollars a year promoting New Zealand tourism and regularly puts special event decals on its aircraft.

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Twenty things you didn't know
about Kazakhstan
From mytraveladventures.comAu

1. There is no institution of ground floor…you are on the 1st floor straight away, especially confusing every single time when I was trying to go down with the lift.

2. It is the most multi national and multi cultural country on earth. Over one hundred different nationalities are living there, and you can see it in every aspect of life…food is the best example, from Russian pelmeni, through Kazakh supra and manty, Ukraine red borsch, Uzbek plov to the Chinese rice dumplings.

3. The national symbol of the country is Holland Tulip, originated in the mountains and around steppes of Kazakhstan. And to be frank hardly anyone is aware of that. I have discovered this fact by pure curiosity….in Shymket in the center of the city there was huge Tulip Fountain and tulips lights everywhere. It was bothering my mind so I have asked lady in my hotel and then many people who I met on my way…nobody knew. As usual google had the answer.

4. Kazakhstan is believed to be the country where man first climbed on a horse, thousands of years ago.

Almaty is a modern city and capital of Kazakhstan
5. The Magic and Mysterious number 2030….where ever I have traveled there were signs with this number and only a number, nothing more, no information neither explanation….even in places where hardly anyone lives….now I know it’s the government’s info campaign about 2030 General Plan.

6. Although Kazakhstan is a very long way from any sea, it does have a navy, which is based on the land-locked Caspian Sea. I understand its keep in case of war with Russia, Azerbaijan, Iran or Turkmenistan.

7. Kazakhstan people celebrate three New Years Eves. Two official ones, which are the 1 January by the Gregorian Calendar and the 22 March, “Nauryz” – the spring equinox or renewal of nature and 14th of  January by the Julian Calendar is the legacy of the Soviet times. This day is called “the Old New Year”. Old or new, they celebrate three times a year. Nothing to complain about lol

8.Out of 110 elements from the Mendeleev’s table of chemical elements 99 were detected on the Kazakhstan territory.

9.  It is the largest landlocked country in the world….stretches from Siberia to desserts of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan and from China to Caspian Sea. It is so large, that distance from one end to another is about the same as London Istanbul route.

E-books available from Smashwords

10. Kazakhstan has three times zones, depending on the season of the year GMT +4, +5 , +6.

11. Archaeological excavations conducted in Kazakhstan suggest that it is the homeland of the Amazons, the brave women warriors.

12. Every car is a taxi here, there are not many official taxis and even those do not have fixed prices. I actually love it, You just wave on the street , cars stop, you discuss the destination and price and hop on. No calling, no waiting, no hustle.

13. There are more horses in Kazakhstan than women. After traveling the country I can only say it means they really have extraordinary amount of  horses! lol

14. The word “Kazakh” means “independent” or “wanderer”. The official translation says “free independent nomad”.

15. The first manned space flight took place in 1961 from the Baykonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, by Yuryi Gagarin, a Russian cosmonaut. Russia is renting out this province …who would think lol

16. Koumiss, the traditional drink made from the fermented horse milk, called the milk champagne by malicious. Myers called it “The Great Russian Remedy for Wasting, Debilitating and Nervous Diseases” in his Treatise on Koumiss from 1877. My adventurous attitude of trying everything once was a mistake lol

17. I named Kazakhstan ‘The Shisha State’. Everyone, everywhere at every time of the day smoke it!

18. South-east Kazakhstan is the place where apples were first cultivated and from where they were spread around the world. They have biggest apples on the world. They even have city named after them – Almaty.

19. Here one can find practically all climatic zones: from the torrid deserts through steppe and forest  to eternal snows of the mountain heights reaching beyond the clouds.

20. Kazakhstan became the first former Soviet republic to repay all of its debt to the IMF in 2000, seven years before it was due. Thanks to booming oil and metals industry.

Let me only say, at the end, it was truly superb experience to visit this extraordinary country.

Peter’s Piece

21. Kazakhstan lies on both sides of the Ural River making it one of only two landlocked countries in the world lying on two continents.

22. Education is mandatory and universal in Kazakhstan and the adult literacy rate is over 99%.

Friday, 23 November 2012


Australian author
Bryce Courtenay dies
Bryce Courtenay

Literary legend Arthur Bryce Courtenay has died in Canberra aged 79.

Courtenay was born in Johannesburg, South Africa on 14 August 1933 and moved to Australia in the 1950s after studying journalism in London.

He had a successful career in advertising spanning 34 years before publishing his first book The Power of One in 1989. He went on to become Australia’s most commercially successful ever living novelist.

Courtenay was known to sometimes meet with local characters and scribes and invite them to contribute to his novels. But in bringing the contributions together, he had a unique ability to create credible and vividly life-like characters and scenes.

Bryce Courtenay’s commercial success came from his ability to market his books and connect with his readers in a way that ensured long-term reader loyalty. During his 23 year writing career he sold more than 20 million books.

Courtenay married twice and had three children. His son Damon died in 1991 after suffering an AIDS-related disease contracted through a blood transfusion. He was 24 and Courtenay’s only non-fiction book April Fool’s Day was Damon’s story.