Police mug shots of New Zealanders in the 1880s were posed with the subjects' hands displayed on their chest. New Zealand was still two decades away from being introduced to the technology of fingerprinting. The inclusion of hands in the photographs was an additional point of identification for police: missing fingers, scars, and the general shape and condition of the prisoner's hands could all help in the identification of a suspect.
Cost-cutting the arts
An engineer with a sense of humour submitted this report on how to reduce costs at the Royal Festival Hall in London: "For considerable periods the four oboe players had nothing to do. Their numbers should be reduced, and the work spread more evenly over the whole of the concert, thus eliminating peaks of activity. All the twelve violins were playing identical notes. This seems unnecessary multiplication. The staff of this section should be drastically cut; if a large volume of sound is required, it could be obtained by means of electronic amplifiers.
"There seems to be too much repetition of some musical passages. Scores should be drastically pruned. No useful purpose is served by repeating on the horns a passage which has already been handled by the strings. It is estimated that if all redundant passages were eliminated, the whole concert time of two hours could be reduced to twenty minutes, and there would be no need for an interval. The conductor agrees generally with these recommendations, but expresses the opinion that there might be some falling-off in box-office receipts. In that unlikely event it should be possible to close sections of the auditorium entirely, with a consequential saving of overhead expenses — lighting, attendants. (Futility Closet - NPL News 1969)
They knocked the bastard off
Sixty-seven years ago today a beekeeper from New Zealand and his Nepalese Sherpa became the first human beings to stand on the summit of the world's highest peak — the 8848m summit of Mt Everest. Ed Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reached the top on 29 May
1953. On his return, Hillary remarked to fellow Kiwi George Lowe: " Well George, we knocked the bastard off. "
A reader writes: "Recently my parents' car broke down in Takanini outside the chemist. They're elderly and it was upsetting for them. So many people stopped and asked if they were okay. My parents would specifically like to thank two women who went out of their way to help. One woman took her kids home and came back to check on them and the second lady — a lawyer — stayed with them as well. I cannot thank these two women enough."