Lerner & Loewe Medley

August 31, 2010

Alan Jay Lerner would have been 92 today.


Real world vs virtual world

August 31, 2010

The way communication in the virtual world can affect behaviour in real life was the starting point for my discussion about on-line matters with Jim Mora on Critical Mass today.

It was prompted by I Tweet Therefore I am  in which Peggy Orenstein asked:

 How much, I began to wonder, was I shaping my Twitter feed, and how much was Twitter shaping me?

She writes on “Alone Together,”  a soon-to-be-published book by Sherry Turkle, a professor at M.I.T., who interviewed more than 400 children and parents about their use of social media and cellphones.

 Among young people especially she found that the self was increasingly becoming externally manufactured rather than internally developed: a series of profiles to be sculptured and refined in response to public opinion. “On Twitter or Facebook you’re trying to express something real about who you are,” she explained. “But because you’re also creating something for others’ consumption, you find yourself imagining and playing to your audience more and more. So those moments in which you’re supposed to be showing your true self become a performance. Your psychology becomes a performance.”

Writers have always been observers, tucking away incidents and anecdotes in mental notebooks knowing they might be the seed from which future writing grows.

When I was writing regularly for the ODT I did this all the time, letting ideas simmer away at the back of my mind before I retrieved them and turned them into a column. In doing so the I in the column was almost always a wittier, more clever woman than the me in the here and now because I had the time to polish the words through which she was shown.

Now electronic media has turned more people into writers, bloggers, tweeters, facebookers  . . . These media enable them not just to chronicle what’s happening to them but to do so almost instantly. There is a danger that in doing that people could let the real world becomes less important than the virtual one for which it provides inspiration and let the virtual one shape the real one.

Like many other phenomena, social networking can be a force for good if you use it wisely and well or a force for ill if you don’t.

To demonstrate that social media can be fun and even helpful, we also discussed the Dry July Star Chart Deborah created which concluded with a post on the efficacy of start charts at In A Strange land.


Word of the day

August 31, 2010

Evanescence – gradual fading, vanishing from sight.


Tuesday’s answers

August 31, 2010

Monday’s questions were:

1. What breed of cattle is this?

2. Who said: “The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts.”?

3. Whose third Law of Motion states: “That for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”?

4. In Spanish it’s estrealla ; in French it’s étoile, in Italian it’s in Maori it’s whetu – what is it in English?

5. Which poet won the poetry section of this year’s NZ Post Book Awards (announced on Friday) for the book Just This?

Eleven people answered:

KG got one right.

Mr Gronk got two (and my general knowledge isn’t as good as the quiz suggests. As any teacher or reporter will tell you, you can get away with not knowing an answer if you knew where to look for it – and Google helps.

G got three.

Chris Bird and Gravedodger earned electronic bouquets for getting five right.

David got three (allowing that Brahman is a breed of Zebu) and a bonus for extra information.

Andrei got three.

Zen Tiger gets a bonus electronic posy for wit and doggerel.

Richard gets a point for honesty -though I’d be very surprised if you saw a Brahman in North Otago, but my farmer said you might have seen a Santa Gertrudis which began as a Shorthorn-Brahman cross.

PDM got three.

Adam got two and a bonus for humour.

Tuesday’s answers follow the break:

Read the rest of this entry »


SCF requests receivership

August 31, 2010

South Canterbury Finance has requested the company be put into receivership:

SCF announced this morning that it has been unable to complete a recapitalisation and restructure.

As a result, the Company would have been unable to certify to its trustee, Trustees Executors, in accordance with the terms of its debenture trust deed that it was compliant with various financial covenants under the debenture trust deed for the financial year ended 30 June 2010.

The trustee acts on behalf of more than 35,000 debenture holders with $1.2 billion of debentures invested in the big lender.

Accordingly, South Canterbury Finance Limited has requested Trustees Executors to appoint a
receiver in respect of the whole of its undertaking and assets, and Trustees Executors Limited has done
so.

This is a sad end for what has been a flagship company which has been a sizeable lender in South Canterbury and beyond.

But there is no need to panic. Investors’ money is covered by the deposit guarantee scheme and the receivers will undertake an orderly sale of assets.

Much of the company’s money is tied up in mortgages on farmland. Forced sales of these would not only put SCF’s equity at risk it would have a very negative impact on farm values.

UPDATE:

Finance English Bill English said the government moved swiftly to repay investors, reduce the cost to taxpayers and ensure minimal disruption to the wider economy:

“Ensuring all depositors in South Canterbury Finance get their deposits back as quickly as possible will ensure a minimum of disruption to the economy.

“While this will incur an upfront cost, it will ultimately reduce the cost to taxpayers by about $100 million by ensuring the Crown is not liable for interest payments after the date of settlement.

“Furthermore, being in control of the receivership process takes the pressure off the receiver to quickly sell any assets.

“This ensures the Crown can get the best deal for taxpayers. Businesses that owe money, or are owned by South Canterbury, can continue to operate and there will be a minimum of disruption to both the local and national economy.

“The up front cost to the Crown of repaying South Canterbury’s depositors is about $1.6 billion, but we would expect to recover the bulk of that as the receiver sells the assets over time.

“The final expected net cost to the Crown is already provided for in the Crown Accounts within the overall provision of about $900 million for all companies covered by the scheme,” Mr English says.

The $1.6 billion upfront is a huge amount but the ultimate cost to taxpayers will be considerably less than this.

Paying out now allows the repayment of deposits to be mdae quickly, minimises disruption to the wider economy and gives government control of the receivership process. The taxpayer should recoup most of the money after an orderly sale of assets.


Asset sales on campaign agenda

August 31, 2010

National made it quite clear it would not sell any state assets in its first term in government.

It didn’t rule out the possibility of asset sales if it was re-elected but said that any plans would be announced prior to the next election.

No policy has been announced yet but Prime Minister John Key has indicated that assets sales, possibly partial rather than full, will be on the campaign agenda:

“I have made it quite clear it’s my expectation that we will kick the tyres of that policy,” Mr Key told reporters.

. . . Mr Key said the country had about $212 billion of assets; “and it’s not necessarily always fully allocated in the right place so there may be some merit in having some flexibility in that balance sheet.”

The pledge to not sell anything in this term was made for political reasons but there are good economic reasons for the sale of some state assets.


Risk and return

August 31, 2010

When the Finance Minister postpones an overseas trip to deal with a finance company investors it will not be to deliver good news.

High returns in investments are almost always matched by high risks.

People investing in South Canterbury Finance, Hubbard Management Funds and Aorangi Securities have had very good returns, now they’re being faced with the realisation that their investments were also high risk.

Apropos of this, Scott at Imperator Fish writes:

… I predict that many of Alan Hubbard’s supporters will turn on him, like sharks who’ve scented the blood of one of their own. He may be a well-meaning old gentleman, but nothing is quite as educational as the pain of losing one’s life-savings.

… we must remember to blame the Government. They acted too slowly. Or did they act too fast in putting Hubbard into statutory management? Does it matter? All this market stuff is confusificating me. . .

It will be more than confusificating for the the people who are concerned about losing money.

 Depositers are covered by the deposit guarantee scheme but they are not the only ones with something to lose if SCF falls over.

The uncertainty over SCF, HMF and AS has shown just how the threads of the various Hubbard entities are woven through rural and provincial South Island. There are valid concerns that if one thread is pulled a lot more will unravel.


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