Word of the day

November 30, 2010

Agley – askew, awry.


Do you roll or fold?

November 30, 2010

That potentially personal question came up in today’s discussion about on-line matters with Jim Mora on Critical Mass.

The rolling and folding question was brought up by Aptenodyte on Around the World - the record of an Australian family of four’s year of travel. 

Posts so far have been on preparation and the rolling or folding applies to how you pack your clothes.

The travelling starts on Saturday.

We also discussed Simon Heffer’s style notes.

As one afflicted with wobbly spelling and a propensity for typos I found myself admiring his erudition and being relieved I wasn’t one of the writers who provide the many examples of what not to do.

Heffer is an editor and style guru at the Daily Telegraph and has written Strictly English about which you can read on Beattie’s Book Blog.


Fisherman

November 30, 2010

Fisherman by Brian Turner is this Tuesday’s poem.

It was chosen by Emma McCleary who writes:

I  love the utter quiet despair in this poem. I find that if you really listen and pay attention to the world then it’s often the small, the quiet and the unassuming people and things that have the most impact.  . .

. . .  This poem has a hollowing feel, a poignant sense of loss, and something that I too felt couldn’t completely be explained by words when people asked, “How are you?”

 Among links to other Tuesday poems int he side bar are:

Helen Lowe’s choice  Blue by Catherine Fitchett.

Catherine has just joined the Tuesday poets and her choice this week is Jim Brock’s Aubade: Good Daylight.

Helen Heath’s choice is The First Drummer Boy of Xmas by Jennifer Compton which starts:

 

Yesterday I was at the Mall and I heard

my first rendition of Little Drummer Boy.

 

Dear Lawd above – I said to myself – Xmas is hard upon us. For our sins.

It is time to head down the back paddock . . .

 

And at Stoatspring Harvey Malloy features Poem for a Geography Teacher by Anna Livesay.


Calling enterprising rural women

November 30, 2010

Rural Women NZ has opened entries for its third annual Enterprising Rural Women award.

“The Award celebrates women who take on the extra challenge of running a business in a rural area and it’s a great opportunity to boost your business profile,” says RWNZ National President Liz Evans.

Past entrants have received extensive media coverage and seen the positive effects on their businesses.

Last year’s Supreme winner, Tineke Verkade, of Homeopathic Farm Support Limited, says winning the 2010 RWNZ Enterprising Rural Women Award has led to three appearances on television, as well as radio shows and numerous newspaper articles throughout the country.

“Winning the Award was really a boost for the staff and for me.” 

She says it has made her more enthusiastic and given her the confidence to come up with strategies to cope with the recession, including new products that are currently being tested by Massey, and writing a book on homeopathy for horses.

Last year’s South Island winner, Tracey Robinson, who runs children’s merino sock company Cosy Toes Ltd from the tiny town of Rotherham in North Canterbury, says her win has had a very positive spin off. 

“I’m definitely busier because of it.”

The RWNZ Enterprising Rural Women Award 2011 is being sponsored by Telecom and Access Homehealth Ltd, who will both be involved in the judging.

Entries close Friday 18 March 2011 and the award ceremony will take place in Auckland in May.,

Further information and entry forms can be found here or by calling (04) 473 5524.


St Andrew’s Day

November 30, 2010

In honour of St Andrew’s Day and in memory of my father who was a Scottish soldier (20th Batallion NZEF) and would have been 98 a couple of weeks ago:

Andrei  noted  last year that Andrew is also patron saint of Russia & the Ukraine and that today is his (Andrei’s) name day.

Saint Andrew's Day


Apples away!

November 30, 2010

The World Trade Organisation’s Appellate Body, has upheld New Zealand’s case  in the dispute over exporting apples to Australia.

This is great news for orchardists which has been welcomed by Trade Minister Tim Groser.

 “The appeal report upholds the thorough analysis undertaken by the WTO dispute Panel around risk assessment and the science at issue. These findings – reached by independent external arbiters – settle any debate.  This is good news for New Zealand apple exporters,” said Mr Groser.

 New Zealand has been seeking access into Australia for its apples since 1986 but has been barred from the market as a result of restrictive quarantine measures.  Australia has maintained that the alleged risk of introducing fire blight, European canker and apple leaf-curling midge justified the measures.

 After exhaustive efforts to resolve the matter with Australia, New Zealand took the issue to the WTO.  The WTO Panel report on the case was released in August.  Australia appealed. The Panel had found that all 16 of Australia’s quarantine measures, along with their Import Risk Analysis, were inconsistent with Australia’s legal obligations under the WTO Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement. The Appellate Body has now upheld the Panel’s core findings. 

 On a subsidiary issue – whether there were less trade restrictive measures available to Australia – the Appellate Body overturned the Panel’s decision on technical grounds.  But this does not weaken the central findings around risk assessment and the science.    

 “The Appellate Body has confirmed that Australia’s objections to New Zealand apple imports are simply not backed by the science.”

 This ruling opens the door to apple exports to Australia worth millions of dollars.

That’s not only good for our producers it will offer more choice, and potentially lower prices through more competition, to Australian consumers.


November 30 in history

November 30, 2010

On November 30:

1554 Philip Sidney, English courtier, soldier, and writer, was born (d. 1586).

1667 Jonathan Swift, Irish writer and satirist, was born (d. 1745).

 

1700 – Battle of Narva — A Swedish army of 8,500 men under Charles XII defeated a much larger Russian army at Narva.

1718 – Swedish king Charles XII died during a siege of the fortress Fredriksten in Norway.

1782 – American Revolutionary War: Treaty of Paris — Representatives from the United States and Great Britain signed preliminary peace articles (later formalised as the 1783 Treaty of Paris).

1786 – Peter Leopold Joseph of Habsburg-Lorraine, Grand Duke of Tuscany, promulgated a penal reform making his country the first state to abolish the death penalty. Consequently, November 30 is commemorated by 300 cities around the world as Cities for Life Day.

1803 – In New Orleans, Louisiana, Spanish representatives officially transferred the Louisiana Territory to a French representative.

1804 – The Democratic-Republican-controlled United States Senate began an impeachment trial against Federalist-partisan Supreme Court Justice Samuel Chase.

1810  Oliver Winchester, American gunsmith, was born (d. 1880).

1824 – First ground was broken at Allenburg for the building of the original Welland Canal.

 

1829 – First Welland Canal opened for a trial run.

 

1835 Mark Twain, American writer, was born  (d. 1910).

1853 – Crimean War: Battle of Sinop — The Imperial Russian Navy under Pavel Nakhimov destroyed the Ottoman fleet under Osman Pasha at Sinop, a sea port in northern Turkey.

Battle-of-sinope.jpg

1864 – American Civil War: Battle of Franklin — The Army of Tennessee led by General John Bell Hood mounted a dramatically unsuccessful frontal assault on Union positions commanded by John McAllister Schofield around Franklin, Tennessee, Hood lost six generals and almost a third of  his troops.

Battle of Franklin II 1864.jpg

1868 – The inauguration of a statue of King Charles XII of Sweden.

1872 – The first-ever international football match took place at Hamilton Crescent, Glasgow, between Scotland and England.

 

1874 Sir Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Nobel laureate,was born (d. 1965).

1886 – The Folies Bergère staged its first revue.

1902 – American Old West: Second-in-command of Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch gang, Kid Curry Logan, was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment with hard labour.

 

1908 – A mine explosion in the mining town of Marianna, Pennsylvania killed 154.

1934 – The steam locomotive Flying Scotsman became the first to officially exceed 100mph.

 

1936 – The Crystal Palace was destroyed by fire.

 

1939 – Winter War: Soviet forces crossed the Finnish border in several places and bombed Helsinki and several other Finnish cities, starting the war.

1940 – Lucille Ball married Desi Arnaz in Greenwich, Connecticut.

 

1942 – Guadalcanal Campaign: Battle of Tassafaronga — A smaller squadron of Japanese destroyers led by Raizō Tanaka defeated a US cruiser force under Carleton H. Wright.

1949 the first National government was elected in New Zealand, led by Sidney Holland.

Election of first National government

1953 – Edward Mutesa II, the kabaka (king) of Buganda was deposed and exiled to London by Sir Andrew Cohen, Governor of Uganda.

1953 June Pointer, American singer (Pointer Sisters), was born (d. 2006).

1954 – In Sylacauga, the Hodges Meteorite crashed through a roof and hit a woman taking an afternoon nap in the only documented case of a human being hit by a rock from space.

1955  Billy Idol (born William Michael Albert Broad), British musician, was born.

1965 Ben Stiller, American actor, was born.

In the black and white image, Stiller is facing the camera. He has his right arm crossed in front of him and left hand raised to his chin, with the pointer finer right below his lips. He is wearing a black suit.

1966 – Barbados gained independence.

1967 – The People’s Republic of South Yemen gained independence.

Flag Coat of arms

1967 – The Pakistan Peoples Party was founded by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.

1971 – Iran seized the Greater and Lesser Tunbs from the United Arab Emirates.

1981 – Cold War: Representatives from the United States and the Soviet Union began to negotiate intermediate-range nuclear weapon reductions in Europe.

1989 – Deutsche Bank board member Alfred Herrhausen was killed by a Red Army Faction terrorist bomb.

1993 – U.S. President Bill Clinton signed the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act (the Brady Bill) into law.

1994 – MS Achille Lauro fire off Somalia coast.

Achille39.jpg

1995 – Official end of Operation Desert Storm.

1998 – Exxon and Mobil signed a $73.7 billion agreement to merge, creating Exxon-Mobil, the world’s largest company.

Exxon Mobil Logo.svg

1999 – In Seattle, protestests against the WTO meeting by anti-globalization protesters caught police unprepared and forced the cancellation of opening ceremonies.

1999 – British Aerospace and Marconi Electronic Systems merged to form BAE Systems, Europe’s largest defense contractor and the fourth largest aerospace firm in the world.

BAE SYSTEMS.svg

2004 – Longtime Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings of Salt Lake City, Utah finally lost, leaving him with US$2,520,700, television’s biggest game show winnings.

2004 – Lion Air Flight 538 crash landed in Surakarta, Central Java, killing 26.

2005 – John Sentamu became the first black archbishop in the Church of England with his enthronement as the 97th Archbishop of York.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


Word of the day

November 29, 2010

Mabsoot - a happy person.


Power Trans Tasman’s politician of year

November 29, 2010

Simon Power tops Trans Tasman’s 2010 roll call of politicians and is named their politician of the year.

Power gets the top ranking thanks to his towering performance in Parliament and the sheer volume of the legislative work he has done. He has taken more Bills through Parliament than any other Minister, accounting for one third of the Government’s legislation in 2010. He is the lock to Key’s flashier winger’s performance. Trans Tasman says of Power “An outstanding Minister. Huge workload includes reforming the Justice system and market regulation as well as law reform. He is looking more and more like a leader in waiting.”

He gets 9 out of 10 in the roll call as does John Key who also scored 9 last year.

Bill English, who has just celebrated the 20th anniversary of entering parliament, went up from 8 to 8.5 and was commended for the work he has done on tax reform and steering the country through the worst recession since the 1930s.

Honourable mention must also be made of Gerry Brownlee who has had another strong year in trying circumstances. “Brownlee gives the impression he is growing into the job, his media management has improved and so has his running of Parliament as leader of the House.” He stays on a rating of 8 out 10.

Other Ministers to go up in the ratings are Tony Ryall, to 8.5, Nick Smith, to 8, Judith Collins to 7.5, Chris Finlayson to 7.5, David Carter to 7, Murray McCully to 8, Tim Groser to 7.5 (no love lost between that pair), Wayne Mapp to 6 and Kate Wilkinson to 5.

Among MPs whose score improved this year was Eric Roy who was described as: 

An Associate Speaker who handles the House with patience and good grace, and this often isn’t easy. His experience is respected, his demeanour is appreciated.

On the whole National scored better than Labour.

For the Record, 30 National MPs managed to boost their scores this year, 13 stayed on the same score and 15 went down.

For Labour a much better performance – last year not one MP improved on their 2008 score. This year 26 of the 42 boosted their scores, 10 stayed the same and 5 went down.

National managed to get 32 of its 58 MPs over the 5 mark this year, improving on the 20 who made it last year – 26 of them were under the 5 mark. For Labour another relatively low scoring year, with just 15 MPs over 5 out of the Party’s complement of 42 – 26 rated below 5.

Some MPs will feel undervalued by their ranking and assessment. The judgement is made by Trans Tasman’s Editors on the basis of MPs’ performance in Caucus, Cabinet, Committee, The House and Electorate and the influence they bring to bear in their various forums. Roll Call is compiled by Trans Tasman’s team of writers and Parliamentary insiders, with a final decision on each ranking arrived at after much discussion.

I don’t know these people but I have no doubt about their knowledge and impartiality. However, as my previous post pointed out good electorate MPs do a lot of hard work which may be appreciated by those they help but largely goes unnoticed by anyone else.

Some of those not particularly well ranked have very good majorities which shows their constituents value them more highly than the pundits do.


All in a day’s work

November 29, 2010

Friends were having problems with a government department.

They approached their MP, Jacqui Dean, who listened to what they said, asked a few questions to clarify some points and said she’d do her best to sort it out.

An email arrived a few days later showing she’d been successful.

There’s nothing unusual in this. It’s what good MPs and their staff do for their constituents every day.

It won’t show up in Trans Tasman’s annual roll call which is due out today.

It’s not the sort of thing which usually makes headlines or gets any acknowledgement.

It has nothing to do with politics, it’s all about public service.


Science success should be celebrated like sporting success

November 29, 2010

If someone had won hundreds of thousands of dollars for sporting achievement a few days ago they’d now be household names. But how many know who Professor Sir Paul Callaghan, Dr Robin Dykstra,  Dr Mark Hunter, Dr Andrew Coy and Dr Craig Eccles are?

The first three are from Victoria University, the other two are from Magritek and together they won the Prime Minister’s Science prize worth $500,000.

Scientists who have turned world-leading research into a multi-million dollar technology company have won the top award at the Prime Minister’s Science Prizes, New Zealand’s most prestigious and valuable science awards.

Prime Minister John Key today announced the prizes, which have total prize money of $1 million, at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron Clubrooms in Auckland.

The top award, the Prime Minister’s Science Prize, went to the Magnetic Resonance Innovation team of Victoria University of Wellington and spin-off company Magritek.

Magnetic resonance uses radio waves and magnetic fields to find out information about molecules.  Discoveries by the team are widely used in medicine and science, and have applications in agriculture and industry.

Magritek are selling products based on magnetic resonance around the world, with the company rapidly growing and generating millions in export revenues.

Others recognised with an award were:

  • Bailey Lovett, 17, of James Hargest College in Invercargill who won the Prime Minister’s 2010 Future Scientist Prize and received $50,000 towards her university studies.
  •  Steve Martin, Howick College, won the Prime Minister’s 2010 Science Teacher Prize. He received $50,000 and his school received  $100,000.
  • Dr Donna Rose Addis, University of Auckland won the Prime Minister’s 2010 MacDiarmid Emerging Scientist and received $200,000, with $150,000 to be used for research.
  •  Dr Cornel de Ronde, GNS Science won the Prime Minister’s 2010Science Media Communications Prize. He received $100,000, half of which of which will be used to develop his science communication skills.

In announcing the awards the PM said the prizes recognise the winners and highlight the importance of science to this country.

They do, but these and other top scientists and their achievements still don’t get the publicity and public appreciation they deserve. Nor do they achieve the hero status accorded to their sporting equivalents.

They should.


November 29 in history

November 29, 2010

On November 29:

800 – Charlemagne arrived at Rome to investigate the alleged crimes of Pope Leo III.

939 – Edmund was crowned King of England as his half-brother Aethelstan died.

1394 – The Korean king Yi Song-gye, founder of the Joseon-Dynasty, moved the capital from Kaesŏng to Hanyang, today known as Seoul.

1777 – San Jose, California, was founded as el Pueblo de San José de Guadalupe.

1781 – The crew of the British slave ship Zong murdered 133 Africans by dumping them into the sea in order to claim insurance.

 

1807 – The Portuguese Royal Family left Lisbon to escape from Napoleonic troops.

1830 – November Uprising: An armed rebellion against Russia’s rule in Poland began.

 

1832  Louisa May Alcott, American novelist, was born (d. 1888).

1845 – The Sonderbund was defeated by the joint forces of other Swiss cantons under General Guillaume-Henri Dufour.

 

1847 – Whitman Massacre: Missionaries Dr. Marcus Whitman, his wife Narcissa, and 15 others were killed by Cayuse and Umatilla Indians, causing the Cayuse War.

 

1849  Sir John Ambrose Fleming, British physicist, was born (d. 1945).

1850 – The treaty, Punctation of Olmütz, signed in Olomouc meant diplomatic capitulation of Prussia to Austrian Empire, which took over the leadership of German Confederation.

1864 – Indian Wars: Sand Creek Massacre – Colorado volunteers led by Colonel John Chivington massacred at least 150 Cheyenne and Arapaho noncombatants.

1864 – American Civil War: Battle of Spring Hill – Confederate advance into Tennessee missed the opportunity to crush the Union army.

1872 – Indian Wars: The Modoc War began with the Battle of Lost River.

1877 – Thomas Edison demonstrated his phonograph for the first time.

1890 – The Meiji Constitution went into effect in Japan and the first Diet convened.

 

1893 Elizabeth Yates became the first woman in the British Empire to win a mayoral election when she became Mayor of Onehunga.

First woman mayor in British Empire elected

1893 – Ziqiang Institute, today known as Wuhan University, was founded by Zhang Zhidong.

1898  C. S. Lewis, Irish writer, was born(d. 1963).

Monochrome head-and-left-shoulder photo portrait of 50-year-old Lewis

1899 – Spanish football club FC Barcelona was founded by Joan Gamper.

1910 – The first US  patent for inventing the traffic lights system was issued to Ernest E. Sirrine.

1913 – Fédération Internationale d’Escrime, the international organizing body of competitive fencing was founded in Paris.

Fielogo.gif

1915 – Fire destroyed most of the buildings on Santa Catalina Island, California.

1917  Merle Travis, American singer/guitarist, was born (d. 1983).

1922 – Howard Carter opened the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun to the public.

1929 – U.S. Admiral Richard Byrd becamed the first person to fly over the South Pole.

Lt com r e byrd.jpg

1932 Jacques Chirac, French President, was born.

1933 John Mayall, British blues musician, was born.

 

1943 – The second session of AVNOJ, the Anti-fascist council of national liberation of Yugoslavia, was held determining the post-war ordering of the country.

1944 – The first surgery (on a human) to correct blue baby syndrome was performed by Alfred Blalock and Vivien Thomas.

1944 – Albania was liberated by the Albanian partisans.

1945 – The Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia was declared.

Flag Coat of arms

1947 – The United Nations General Assembly voted to partition Palestine (The Partition Plan).

1950 – Korean War: North Korean and Chinese troops force United Nations forces to retreat from North Korea.

1952 – Korean War: U.S. President-elect Dwight D. Eisenhower fulfilled a campaign promise by traveling to Korea to find out what can be done to end the conflict.

1961 – : Mercury-Atlas 5 Mission – Enos, a chimpanzee, was launched into space.

 

1963 – U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson established the Warren Commission to investigate the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

1963 – Trans-Canada Airlines Flight 831: A Douglas DC-8 carrying 118, crashed after taking-off.

1965 – Canadian Space Agency launched the satellite Alouette 2.

1972 – Nolan Bushnell (co-founder of Atari) released Pong (the first commercially successful video game) in Andy Capp’s Tavern in Sunnyvale, California.

PongVideoGameCabinet.jpg

1987 – Korean Air Flight 858 exploded over the Thai-Burmese border, killing 155.

1990 – The United Nations Security Council passed United Nations Security Council Resolution 678, authorizing “use all necessary means to uphold and implement” United Nations Security Council Resolution 660″ to restore international peace and security” if Iraq did not withdraw its forces from Kuwait and free all foreign hostages by January 15, 1991.

2007 – The Armed Forces of the Philippines laid siege to The Peninsula Manila after soldiers led by Senator Antonio Trillanes staged a mutiny.

2007 – A 7.4 magnitude earthquake off the northern coast of Martinique.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


Just wondering . . .

November 28, 2010

. . .  if anyone actually reads and understands the licence agreement on software upgrades before clicking yes I have read and understood the licence agreement.


Brash mis-reported again

November 28, 2010

An email arrived yesterday saying: I gave a speech this evening to the Orewa branch of the National Party.  Because the electorate chair had made it clear that it was open to the media, several journalists now have copies of it, so I am sending it to a wider group of friends so that you know what I actually said, not just what the media say I said!

It came from Don Brash and when I read the Herald on Sunday this morning I can see why he did that.

The headline says: Brash attacks Maori again.

The intro says:

Former National leader Don Brash attacked Maori in a provocative speech to party faithful at Orewa last night – returning to the issues that propelled him to the leadership six years ago.

Titled Return to Orewa, Brash said Maori have no special rights and there was no grounds for a separate Maori political party.

Further down he is quoted directly:

“The whole concept of a racially based political party would be seen as grossly inappropriate if wanted by any other race than Maori,” he said. “What would be the reaction if a group of New Zealanders of European background decided to set up a ‘European New Zealanders’ Party’?

“There would be outcry, and rightly so.”

Brash said general legislation, such as the Resource Management Act, which requires local councils to consult their communities and Maori separately, should be “insulting” and “patronising” to Maori people.

“The Maori electorates were established for a five-year period in 1867. There is no logic for them at all 143 years later.”

The headline and intro are opinion which in my view misconstrue what he said and the story does not give context to his remarks with this:

National campaigned in at least the last three elections on the principle that all New Zealanders are equal before the law. That principle was enshrined in Article III of the Treaty of Waitangi, which guaranteed that all New Zealanders would have the rights and privileges of British subjects.

Let me say to avoid the slightest ambiguity that I have always supported the Treaty settlement process. I still do. There were clearly gross injustices committed historically, and where those can be established beyond reasonable doubt, compensation should be paid to the descendants of those affected. One can debate how big those settlements should be, but I don’t think any fair person can object to the principle of compensation, provided of course that it is both fair and final.

But there is absolutely no case that I can see for treating Maori people differently in general legislation, as is done for example in the Resource Management Act, which enjoins local councils to consult with their communities and with Maori. If I were Maori, I would find that grossly insulting language, patronizing, and implying as it does that Maori are not part of the community.

Nor are there any grounds for separate Maori political representation, in Parliament or anywhere else. The Maori electorates were established for a five year period in 1867. There is no logic for them at all 143 years later. Maori are absolutely capable of being elected to Parliament on their own merits, and when I was in Parliament there were 21 Members of Parliament with Maori ancestry, only seven of them elected in the separate Maori electorates.

 And of course, the same principle applies to local government. Here in Auckland at the recent election, and without any special legislation, Maori achieved the proportion of elected representatives on the new Council that their numbers warrant.

You can agree of not with what he said but those views are not an attack on Maori.

He is not suggesting they have fewer rights than any other New Zealanders, he is criticising legislation which gives them more.

A European, or any other racially based party would be seen as grossly inappropriate.

It could be seen as insulting and patronising that Maori have to be consulted separately because it suggests they don’t have the same rights and abilities as anyone else.

The Maori seats were established for a five-year period more than 100 years ago, there is no longer any logic for them and the Commission which designed MMP recommended that they went when MMP was introduced.

Like Don I support the settlement of past grievances. Some appalling things were done in the past and while individually no-one today is responsible for that, as a country we do have a responsibility to make amends and pay compensation.

The Maori culture must be respected and protected – if we don’t do it here it won’t be done anywhere else.

The the over representation of Maori in negative statistics and under representation in positive ones must be addressed.

It would be racist to say Maori are not New Zealanders or treat them as anything but New Zealanders. It is racist to treat any group of New Zealanders as anything other than New Zealanders.

Regardless of what happened in the past and any problems there are now, we have to be very, very careful about treating any group as special or different. Special  or different for supposedly positive reasons can very easily become special and different for negative ones.


Performance beats appearance

November 28, 2010

The contrast between Silver Fern Farms and Alliance Group at the Waimumu Field Days earlier this year was marked.

SFF looked smart with its new black and green branded tent. Alliance looked a bit tired under old, white canvas.

When I mentioned that to my farmer he said, “Don’t be fooled by appearances, look at their performance.”

He has been proved right.

In spite of very good PR and distinctive branding, the contents of SFF’s annual report aren’t very flash:

Silver Fern Farms has reported a net operating loss before tax for the 12 months ended 30 September 2010 of $800,000 (2009 profit $5.4m) from total revenue of $1,810m (2009 $2,014m).

In addition, one-off extraordinary restructuring costs of $7.2m were incurred. . .

The company moved its financial end of year to 30 September to be in line with industry convention. This year’s statutory accounts for the 13-month period shows $14.0m net loss (including non-recurring items) after tax, having accounted for two Septembers. September is a loss-making month in the industry’s business cycle, because of the low activity and high fixed cost nature of the business.

Total debt was reduced over the period by $67m to $117m as the company refinanced its banking arrangements, as well as repaying the $75m SFF030 Bond on 15 November 2010. This will save approximately $3m in ongoing interest annually.

Contrast that with Alliance’s annual report which showed an operating profit of of $29.6 million from a turnover of $1.4 billion for the year ending September 30. It will be distributing a pool of $12.6 million to shareholders and a 5% fully imputed dividend.

SFF has done well to reduce debt but still has only a 61.3 percent equity ratio while Alliance had an equity ratio of 81.5%.

Demand for lamb on overseas markets is high but bad weather throughout most of the country and a slow start to spring growth has led to a large drop in the supply of stock.

Farmers are already benefitting from what is a sellers’ market but it will be a tough year for meat companies.

If we judge them by their perofrmance rather than appearances, Alliance will be better able to cope with a tough season than SFF.


November 28 in history

November 28, 2010

On November 28:

1095 – On the last day of the Council of Clermont, Pope Urban II appointed Bishop Adhemar of Le Puy and Count Raymond IV of Toulouse to lead the First Crusade to the Holy Land.

1443 – Skanderbeg and his forces liberated Kruja in Middle Albania.

1520 – After navigating through the South American strait, three ships under the command of Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan reached the Pacific Ocean, becoming the first Europeans to sail from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific.

1582 – William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway paid a £40 bond for their marriage licence.

1628  John Bunyan, English cleric and author. was born (d. 1688).

1632 Jean-Baptiste Lully, French composer, was born  (d. 1687).

1660 – At Gresham College, 12 men, including Christopher Wren, Robert Boyle, John Wilkins, and Sir Robert Moray decided to found what became the Royal Society.

 

1729 – Natchez Indians massacred 138 Frenchmen, 35 French women, and 56 children at Fort Rosalie.

1757 – William Blake, British poet, was born  (d. 1827).

1785 – The Treaty of Hopewell was signed.

1811 – Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat major, Op. 73, was premiered at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig.

1814 – The Times in London was for the first time printed by automatic, steam powered presses built by German inventors Friedrich Koenig and Andreas Friedrich Bauer, signaling the beginning of the availability of newspapers to a mass audience.

1820  Friedrich Engels, German philosopher, was born (d. 1895).

1821 – Panama Independence Day: Panama separated from Spain and joined Gran Colombia.

Flag Coat of arms

1829  Anton Rubinstein, Russian composer, was born (d. 1894).

1843 – Ka Lā Hui: Hawaiian Independence Day – The Kingdom of Hawaii was officially recognised by the United Kingdom and France as an independent nation.

Flag Coat of arms

1862 – American Civil War: In the Battle of Cane Hill, Union troops under General John Blunt defeated General John Marmaduke’s Confederates.

1893 – Women voted in a national election for the first time in the New Zealand general election.

Women vote in first general election

1895 – The first American automobile race took place over the 54 miles from Chicago’s Jackson Park to Evanston, Illinois. Frank Duryea won in approximately 10 hours.

1904  Nancy Mitford, British essayist, was born.

1905 – Irish nationalist Arthur Griffith founded Sinn Féin as a political party with the main aim of establishing a dual monarchy in Ireland.

1907 – In Haverhill, Massachusetts, scrap-metal dealer Louis B. Mayer opened his first movie theatre.

1910 – Eleftherios Venizelos, leader of the Liberal Party, won the Greek election again.

1912 – Albania declared its independence from the Ottoman Empire.

1914 – World War I: Following a war-induced closure in July, the New York Stock Exchange re-opened for bond trading.

1918 – Bucovina voted for the union with the Kingdom of Romania.

1919 – Lady Astor was elected as a Member of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, the first woman to sit in the House of Commons. (Countess Markiewicz, the first to be elected, refused to sit.)

1920 – Irish War of Independence: Kilmichael Ambush – The Irish Republican Army ambush a convoy of British Auxiliaries and kill seventeen.

1929 – Ernie Nevers of the then Chicago Cardinals scores all of the Cardinals’ points in this game as the Cardinals defeat the Chicago Bears 40-6.

1933  Hope Lange, American actress, was born (d. 2003).

1942 Manolo Blahnik, Spanish shoe designer, was born.

1942 – In Boston a fire in the Cocoanut Grove nightclub killed 491 people.

1943 – World War II: Tehran ConferenceU.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin met in Tehran, Iran to discuss war strategy.

1948  Beeb Birtles, Dutch-Australian musician/singer-songwriter; co-founding member of Little River Band, was born.

1958 – Chad, the Republic of the Congo, and Gabon became autonomous republics within the French Community.

1960 – Mauritania became independent of France.

 

1961 Martin Clunes, British actor, was born.

1962  Matt Cameron, American drummer (Soundgarden, Pearl Jam), was born.

1964 – NASA launched the Mariner 4 probe toward Mars.

Mariner 3 and 4.jpg

1972 – Last executions in Paris, of the Clairvaux Mutineers, Roger Bontems and Claude Buffet, guillotined at La Sante Prison.

1975 – East Timor declared its independence from Portugal.

1975 – As the World Turns and The Edge of Night, the final two American soap operas that had resisted going to pre-taped broadcasts, aired their last live episodes.

1979 – Flight TE901, an Air New Zealand sightseeing flight over Antarctica, crashed into the lower slopes of Mt Erebus, near Scott Base, killing all 257 passengers and crew on board.

257 killed in Mt Erebus disaster

1984 – Over 250 years after their deaths, William Penn and his wife Hannah Callowhill Penn were made Honorary Citizens of the United States.

1987 – South African Airways flight 295 crashed into the Indian Ocean, killing all 159 people on-board.

1989 –  Velvet Revolution – In the face of protests, the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia announced it would give up its monopoly on political power.

1991 – South Ossetia declared independence from Georgia.

2008 An Air NZ Airbus A320 crashed off the coast of France.

Air NZ A320 crashes in France

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


Rural round up

November 27, 2010

Family’s living proof of sheep farming viability - Neal Wallace in the ODT writes:

Given the sheep industry’s well documented problems, labelling yourself specialist sheep farmers might not be considered the most inspiring of titles, but it is one the Alderton family wears with pride.

They are living proof sheep farmers can make money and be profitable by balancing business, animal and environmental factors.

The key, according to Ron Alderton, was attitude and determination.

Blunt chat puts station on new path - Jackie Harrigan in Country-Wide writes:

You would think it a brave man who told a new farmer-supplier with 30,000 lambs that his lambs weren’t really up to scratch.
That farmer might be tempted to tell the meat company to take a running jump – but to Ren Apatu, managing director of Ngamatea Station, 28,000ha of wild tussock and improved high-performance pastures on the Napier-Taihape road, the comment was a seminal moment.
“We thought we were pretty clever, with that number of lambs, but the meat company said, ‘If you give us lambs like last season we really don’t want them’ – and we really hadn’t heard that before,” Ren says.
Even more of a revelation was being taken into the chiller and shown his lambs on the hooks, next to those of other farmers.
“There were our lambs, about 16kg with a big fatty pack of meat on their rumps, hanging next to lambs at about 25kg with no fat on them.”
Being told “this is what we want and this is what you guys are giving us and if you want to be a part of it you need to supply what we want” was a wake-up call to Ren.
“We were told – ‘Our markets don’t want fat, they want meat; we want high yield as well – its good for us and for you’.” . .

Cleaning up afte Norgate may be expensive - Chalkie writes in The Press:

 Craig Norgate is well gone from PGG Wrightson, but tidying up some of the messes created during his tenure seems to be taking time – and may involve a reasonable bill.

Here’s what the progress card to date looks like:

1. New Zealand Farming Systems Uruguay exited – a good outcome, sold above book but below cost, with a bonus $4 million for the management contract and a $19.2m receivable debt owed to PGGW due to be settled.

2. Tim Miles, the former managing director put in place by Mr Norgate has been ejected – but at what cost?

3. Fixing up the half-cocked exit from the wool business and associated creative accounting – work in progress.

New chairman Sir John Anderson comes with one of the finest reputations in New Zealand business, and certainly there seems to be decisiveness around the board table in terms of the sudden and immediate resignation of Mr Miles, who was rightly or wrongly seen as Mr Norgate’s right-hand man.. .

 

Sustainability’s like ‘beauty’ – go on try and define it. Peter Kerr at Sciblogs writes:

Sustainability’s a term that’s a bit like ‘beauty’ – everyone knows what it is, but pinning down exactly what it is, is often in the eye of the beholder.

However, NZ agribusiness better start getting a better grip on the actuality of sustainability, or risk being marginalised by overseas customers and consumers according to KPMG.

In a recent agribusiness green paper KPMG lays out the current and emerging environment in our markets on the vexed issue of sustainability, with a second paper to focus on the practicalities of implementing such a supply chain approach.

The report contends that while the term has broad meaning, in essence it is about meeting the needs of today, without adversely impacting on the needs of tomorrow, and in balancing environmental, social and economic concerns in doing so. . .


Word of the day

November 27, 2010

Inaniloquent – given to talking inanely; loquacious, garrulous; speaking foolishly, saying silly things.


If an MP doesn’t understand MMP . . .

November 27, 2010

. . . how many voters do?

Jim Anderton reckons if Labour can just win a few marginal seats it will win the next election.

All it will take is for them to pick up nine marginal seats from National.

Just a wee flaw in that plan – it’s the party vote which determines who gets the most seats overall, electorate seats are irrelevant unless, as the Maori Party does, you get more seats than the list vote entitles you too and then get an overhang.

This is wonderful ammunition for people wanting to campaign against MMP because if an long serving MP hasn’t got his head round how it works there must be a lot of other people who don’t understand how it works either.

On another tack, don’t sub-editors save columnists from making fools of themselves anymore or did the sub not understand MMP either?

UPDATE:

Offsetting Behaviour says Anderton  missed the point and Kiwiblog gives him an F for MMP 101 .


How can armchair experts know more than people at the coalface?

November 27, 2010

The mother of one of the miners trapped in the Pike River mine said she accepted he was dead as soon as she heard of the explosion.

Other miners knew this too.

West Coast miners knew their 29 mates at Pike River were a lost cause before the official announcement on Wednesday, a union convener in Solid Energy’s nearby Spring Creek pit says.

Pessimism was based on gas readings showing alarming levels of toxicity and the likelihood of further explosions, as the mine remained on fire, said Trevor Balderson, a night-shift development worker who heads a crew of six at Spring Creek, 40km from Pike River.

“The initial explosion wiped out all the infrastructure,” said Mr Balderson, who moved to the West Coast in 2008, after a Yorkshire colliery closed in 2002.

“If you talk to any coal mine workers anywhere in the world, the reality is that you do not survive an explosion if you are in the firing line,” he told the Yorkshire Evening Post newspaper.

This doesn’t stop armchair experts criticising the people in charge of rescue attempts and asking why a resuce wasn’t attempted sooner.

As I said in my first post on this tragedy, the first rule after an accident is to make sure the situation doesn’t get worse.

I posted on Wednesday morning about carrying hope in your heart even when your head knows that’s impossible.

The rescuers didn’t have the luxury of emotion, they couldn’t act from their hearts. They had to act from their heads in the knowledge they couldn’t endnager more lives when it was almost certain there was no-one left to save.

Some of the armchair experts are still calling for speed now it’s a recovery mission rather than a resuce.  But there is no case for risking more lives in the mine when, after three explosions and a fire, there are no longer any there to be saved.

Kathryn Ryan interviewed some real experts on this topic  yesterday morning.

And (hat tip: Keeping Stock)  Guy Body shows the destructive gas starting to disperse.


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