Word of the day

March 31, 2011

Zelotypia – morbid jealousy;  abnormal or excessive zeal.


Thursday’s quiz

March 31, 2011

1. Who said “Without frugality none can be rich, and with it very few would be poor.”

2. It’s  débauché in French,  libertino in Spanish, and disoluto dissoluto in Italian (I couldn’t find it in Maori), what is it in English?

3. When was daylight saving  introduced permanently to New Zealand?

4. On which station was the merino wether Shrek found and who owns it?

5. what does the culinary term au gratin  mean?


What does your tax buy?

March 31, 2011

Ever wondered exactly where the tax taken from your hard earned income goes?

You can find out here.

The biggest proportion goes to the Ministry of Social Development (about 27% if my calculations are correct). Health,  Education, Inland Revenue,  Treasury, Transport, Defence Force, Labour, Police and Corrections get the next biggest cuts. After that its spent on Economic Development, Justice, Building & Housing, Foreign Affairs and Trade,  then Research, Science and Development.

Then the money goes to Environment, Agriculture and Forestry, Conservation, Internal Affairs, Defence (not sure why the Ministry of Defence is different from the Defence Force), Culture and Heritage, States Services Commission, Justice, Te Puni Kokiri, Land Information NZ, Customs, Parliamentary Services, Statistics, Fisheries, Food Safety Authority, National Library, Crown Law and Government Security Communications Bureau.

After that the money goes to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Education Review Office, Archives New Zealand, Parliamentary Counsel Office, Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives, Ombudsmen, Serious Fraud Office, Pacific Island Affairs, Women’s Affairs and the last few cents go to the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.

Calculations are based on the 2010 Budget and there have already been changes, for instance Archives and the Parliamentary Library have been combined and a Primary Industry Ministry is being formed from Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

If you earn $20,000 it calculates you pay $2,520 in total of which $681.13 goes on welfare and 10 cents contributes to the environment commissioner.

If you earn $50,000 you contribute $8,020 to the public coffers, $2,167.73 to the social development ministry and 32 cents to the commissioner.

Those on $100,000 pay $23,920. MSD takes $6,65.34 and the commissioner gets 96.

If you’re earning $500,000 you pay $155, 120 in tax contributing $42,143.62 to the MSD and $6.24 to the Environment Commissioner.

Hat Tip: Credo Quia Absurdum Est.


Commerce Commission looking at investigating dairy prices

March 31, 2011

The Commerce Commission is doing preliminary work to determine if a price control enquiry into the retail price of milk is warranted.

A number of parties have laid specific complaints with the Commission about the retail price of milk and are calling for the Commission to hold a price control inquiry. . .

“A price control inquiry is undertaken in order to ascertain whether to recommend price regulation of a good or service. Goods or services may only be regulated under the Commerce Act if there is little or no competition, and if the benefits of regulation materially outweigh the costs of regulation. We do not undertake such inquiries lightly,” said Dr Mark Berry, Chair of the Commerce Commission.

There are potentially three market levels involved in the production of milk: the supply of raw milk to milk product processors, the manufacture and supply of milk products, and the retailing of milk products.

“The Commission intends to review the operation of each of these levels and consider whether it should hold a price control inquiry,” said Dr Berry.

The Dairy Industry Restructuring Act aims to ensure that independent processors are able to obtain raw milk from Fonterra at the price which Fonterra pays to its own farmer suppliers. This legislation plays an important role in ensuring contestability in dairy markets. The existence of that legislation would be an important consideration in any decision to commence a price control inquiry. Also important would be whether the increased prices reflect increases in the international price of milk products rather than a lack of competition in New Zealand.

In deciding whether a price control inquiry is warranted the Commission would also need to consider the level of competition between the two major town milk processors and the two major supermarket chains. The Commerce Act requires that there be little or no competition between these parties before regulation can be imposed. Such an inquiry would also need to address the likelihood of potential new competition.

It’s only a week since the Commission said it wouldn’t be looking into the price of milk but the change of mind isn’t a bad thing.

It isn’t launching an investigation, merely doing preliminary work to see if there should be an inquiry.

Dairy products, or alternatives, are important in balanced diets, especially for children, and the Commission’s findings will determine if there should be an inquiry.

Dairy prices are largely influenced by the international market. Higher prices mean we’re getting more for exports which is good for the economy though not so good for people shopping on tight budgets.

Federated Farmers research shows farmers get between 15 and 35% of the retail price of milk which doesn’t look like creaming it to me.

Meanwhile on the other side of the Tasman Coles and Woolworths are facing a Senate inquiry into the milk wars which started in January when Coles dropped its own-brand milk price to $1 a litre.

Hat Tip: Interest.co.nz


March 31, 2011

free counters


March 31 in history

March 31, 2011

 1146 Bernard of Clairvaux preached his sermon in a field at Vézelay, urging the necessity of a Second Crusade.

1492 Queen Isabella of Castille issued the Alhambra decree, ordering her 150,000 Jewish subjects to convert to Christianity or face expulsion.

 

1596 René Descartes, French mathematician, was born (d. 1650).

1621 Andrew Marvell, English poet, was born  (d. 1678).

1717 A sermon on “The Nature of the Kingdom of Christ” by Benjamin Hoadly, the Bishop of Bangor, provokes the Bangorian Controversy.

 

1732 Joseph Haydn, Austrian composer, was born (d. 1809).

 

1774 American Revolutionary War: The Great Britain ordered the port of Boston, Massachusetts closed pursuant to the Boston Port Act.

1822  The massacre of the population of the Greek island of Chios by soldiers of the Ottoman Empire following a rebellion attempt, depicted by the French artist Eugène Delacroix.

1854 Commodore Matthew Perry signed the Treaty of Kanagawa with the Japanese government, opening the ports of Shimoda and Hakodate to American trade.

 

1866 The Spanish Navy bombed the harbor of Valparaíso, Chile.

1885  The United Kingdom established a protectorate over Bechuanaland.

1889 The Eiffel Tower was inaugurated.

Tour Eiffel Wikimedia Commons.jpg

1903 Richard Pearse made a powered flight in an early aircraft.

 

1906 The Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States (later National Collegiate Athletic Association) is established to set rules for amateur sports in the United States.

1909 Serbia accepted Austrian control over Bosnia-Herzegovina.

1909 Construction began on the RMS Titanic.

RMS Titanic 3.jpg

1912 Construction was completed on the RMS Titanic.

1917 The United States took possession of the Danish West Indies after paying $25 million to Denmark, and renames the territory the United States Virgin Islands.

1921 The Royal Australian Air Force was formed.

Ensign of the Royal Australian Air Force.svg

1926 John Fowles, English author, was born (d. 2005).

FrenchLieutenantsWoman.JPG

1930 The Motion Pictures Production Code was instituted, imposing strict guidelines on the treatment of sex, crime, religion and violence in film for the next thirty eight years.

 

1931  An earthquake destroyed Managua, Nicaragua, killing 2,000.

1933 The Civilian Conservation Corps was established with the mission of relieving rampant unemployment.

 

1935 Herb Alpert, American trumpeter and band leader, was born.

 

1936 Marge Piercy, American writer, was born.

Woman on the Edge of Time (book cover).jpg

1940 The funeral of Labour Prime Minister Michael Josepgh Savage took place.

  Funeral of Labour PM Savage

1942  World War II: Japanese forces invaded Christmas Island, then a British possession.

1942 Holocaust in Ivano-Frankivsk (then called Stanislawow), western Ukraine. German Gestapo organised the first deportation of 5,000 Jews from Stanislawow ghetto to Belzec death camp.

1946 – The first election was held in Greece after World War II.

1947  César Gaviria Trujillo, former President of Colombia, was born.

1948 Al Gore, former Vice President of the United States and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, was born.

1951 Remington Rand delivered the first UNIVAC I computer to the United States Census Bureau.

 

1955 Angus Young, Scottish-born Australian guitarist (AC/DC), was born.

1955  Robert Vance, New Zealand cricketer, was born.

1959 The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, crossed the border into India and was granted political asylum.

Characteristic hands-raised anjali greeting

1964 The Dictatorship in Brazil, under the aegis of general Castello Branco, began.

1965 Iberia Airlines Convair 440 crashed into the sea on approach to Tangier, killing 47 of 51 occupants.

1966 The Soviet Union launched Luna 10 which became the first space probe to enter orbit around the Moon.

Luna 10

1970 Explorer 1 re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere (after 12 years in orbit).

Explorer1.jpg

1970 Nine terrorists from the Japanese Red Army hijack Japan Airlines Flight 351 at Tokyo International Airport, wielding samurai swords and carrying a bomb.

1972 Alejandro Amenábar, Spanish film director, was born.

1979 The last British soldier left Malta which declared its Freedom Day (Jum il-Helsien).

1986 – A Mexicana Boeing 727 en route to Puerto Vallarta erupted in flames and crashes in the mountains northwest of Mexico City, killing 166.

1986 – Six metropolitan county councils were abolished in England.

1990 200,000 protestors took to the streets of London to protest against the newly introduced Poll Tax.

1991 The Islamic Constitutional Movement, or Hadas, was established in Kuwait.

 

1991 Georgian independence referendum, 1991: nearly 99 percent of the voters supported the country’s independence from the Soviet Union.

1992 The USS Missouri (BB-63), the last active United States Navy Battleship, was decommissioned.

USS Missouri in her 1980s configuration

199 The journal Nature reported the finding in Ethiopia of the first complete Australopithecus afarensis skull.

 

1995 In Corpus Christi, Texas, Latin superstar Selena Quintanilla Perez was shot and killed by Yolanda Saldivar, the president of her own fan club.

1998 Netscape released the code base of its browser under an open-source license agreement; with code name Mozilla and which was spun off into the non-profit Mozilla Foundation.

Mozilla Foundation logo.svg

2004 In Fallujah, Iraq, 4 American private military contractors working for Blackwater USA, were killed and their bodies mutilated after being ambushed.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


Word of the day

March 30, 2011

Frugal – economical; avoiding waste or unnecessary expenditure; thrifty; prudent.


New poison will kill pests not birds

March 30, 2011

A new poison which will kill stoats and feral cats but not birds has been developed by the Department of Conservation and a commercial partner, Connovation Ltd.

It is thought to be the first new toxin for the control of mammalian pests, to be registered in the world for at least 20 years, according to Department of Conservation scientist Elaine Murphy, who has been working on its development.

Dr Murphy said the new poison, which was known as Papp (para-aminopropriophenone), had been approved by the Environmental Risk Management Authority.

Stoats posed a huge threat to threatened native bird species like kiwi, and DOC was continually looking at improving the range of weapons it had to control them, she said.

Stoats also carry TB which is a threat to cattle and deer.

They pose a greater danger to stock than possums because they range over greater areas and travel longer distances.

“The department has played a leading role, co-ordinating research on this new toxin in New Zealand and has invested significantly in its product development, working alongside its commercial partner Connovation Ltd, to reach registration. 

“Work on the new poison has been going on since 2000 and a total of around US$1 million has been invested by DOC and Connovation.

Dr Murphy said one significant reason DOC had gone for Papp was because of its humaneness.

“It works very quickly, as stoats become unconscious within about 15 minutes, and die shortly afterwards There is also an antidote available which significantly reduces the risks to non-target species.”

Papp worked as a red blood cell toxin, by preventing the haemoglobin from carrying oxygen. Its mode of action was similar to carbon monoxide poisoning.

It is not however, an alternative to 1080 because it doesn’t work on possums or rats.

Dr Murphy said that DOC had stoat traps over 250,000 hectares and they would continue to be the preferred method of stoat control in many situations. But Papp would offer an alternative in remote areas, or when a quick result was needed for stoat control.

Friends with a high country station have an extensive trapping operation and catch hundreds of stoats a year.  Having a new poison which can be used where traps can’t easily be set will provide another weapon in the war against these pests.


Leaders don’t win or lose alone

March 30, 2011

Election campaigns have become more and more presidential with most attention on party leaders.

That focus on the leaders continues between elections too but a leader doesn’t win or lose alone.

The seeds of National’s defeat in 1999 were sown before the 1990 election when Jim Bolger made stupid promises which were then not kept. Those seeds were fertilised before the 1996 election when too many MPs whose seats disappeared with the reduction in the number of electorates stayed on as list MPs.

Having failed to jump before the 1999 election many of those MPs were pushed in the 2002 one. Not only were many of them the tired face of National which the electorate had rejected three years before, many weren’t united behind the leader. The involuntary clean-out in the election provided the foundation for rebuilding which enabled the party to win in 2008.

Labour is following a similar path. It has had some refreshment but not enough.  Parties need a balance between experience and freshness and it hasn’t got it.

It’s led by one of the longest-serving MPs in parliament and too many of his caucus are associated with the people and policies which lost voters’ support over successive terms. Further more they have done too little to persuade the public they have new and better ideas for running the country again.

MPs will have many reasons for clinging to their seats, the good of the party isn’t usually one of them.

The influx of new MPs in 2005 and 2008 refreshed the National caucus. Involuntary resignations by Richard Worth and Pansy Wong and decisions not to stand again by John Carter, Wayne Mapp, Simon Power and Sandra Goudie has provided the opportunity for several new faces in the next term.

All the blame for Labour’s dysfunction is being laid at Phil Goff’s door. He’s made mistakes but his caucus members need to look at themselves too. Sticking with him because there is no viable alternative isn’t a resounding vote of confidence in him which the electorate shares. But a lack of unity and refusal to stand aside by some of the longer-serving or more ineffectual MPs is also part of the problem.

Ranking the list is never an easy job and the number of tired old faces among the sitting MPs will make it even harder for Labour this time. However, if its MPs and the party don’t make some hard choices about who stays and who goes themselves, voters will do it for them as they did for National in 2002.


Leaner public service longterm necessity

March 30, 2011

Finance Minister Bill English has diagnosed the problem:

The 2000s were characterised by the idea that big increases in government spending, dispensed across a whole range of areas and in a relatively untargeted way, could transform society.

According to this view the sheer weight of spending would eventually prevail.

However, that particular experiment ran out of money in 2008 and has nothing genuinely transformational to show for it.

He’s also worked out the treatment which is needed to solve it:

Public management in the foreseeable future will have more prosaic goals – sorting out which public services and income support measures are the most effective and working out how to provide those within a tightly-constrained budget.

Together we will be under constant pressure to deliver better services for little or no extra money.

This won’t be popular in the public service but continuing emphasis on backroom efficiency and accountability without reducing necessary front-line services is an essential if we’re to return to surpluses.

Getting on top of our fiscal position, and rebalancing the economy, necessarily means the Government being a smaller part of the economy than it is now.

The previous Government’s decision to massively ramp up spending in the 2000s left behind a large, structural budget deficit, and a bloated public sector that by 2008 was crowding out the competitive sectors of the economy.

Despite the best efforts of the Government and the public service since then, the deficit may reach 8 per cent of GDP this year, which is uncomfortably high. But we believe if we make careful decisions about government spending we can still get back to a meaningful surplus in 2015/16.

After that, the Government is committed to resuming payments to the New Zealand Superannuation fund and generating large enough surpluses to pay back most of the debt we are currently accumulating.

That means public spending restraint is no temporary aberration. It is effectively permanent.

The process of rebalancing started under Labour in the 1980s and continued with National through the 90s. But the hard work was reversed by Labour from 1999 when the public service grew unsustainably again.

If you read the speech carefully though, this is not an attack on the public service. The good work that is being done is acknowledged and the need for public servants to be part of the solution is clear.

It is apparent to us after two years in Government that there is more scope than we expected for improvement in the focus and efficiency of public services.

We are confident that over time we can continue to get better value for money in the public sector. Indeed we are obliged to.

We will continue to be guided by three principles, and I want to talk about each of these in turn.

Our first principle is having clear priorities.

We will focus our efforts, and government funding, on the things that matter most to New Zealanders.

New Zealanders as a whole have an obligation of care to vulnerable people who depend on public services – children, for example, the aged, and struggling families.

And we have an obligation to maintain and strengthen the core functions of government, such as law and order, public infrastructure, and the ability to respond effectively to disasters like the two Canterbury earthquakes and the Pike River Mine disaster.

At the same time, as I said earlier, the Government has to reduce its overall size as a proportion of New Zealand’s economy.

Something has to give, and that has to be lower-value activities the government is currently funding.

This is not a time we can afford to indulge in a whole lot of “nice-to-haves”, even though, for sections of the population, they feel the loss of those services or funding streams.

The alternative is that “nice to haves” come at the expense of necessities and at the expense of fairness to people with more need.

Individuals, households and businesses reassess what’s necessary and what’s nice to have when their budgets get tight, the government has to do the same thing. The challenge of course will be deciding and getting acceptance of what’s necessary and what’s not.

Our second principle is achieving high-quality services.

We will ensure that public services are modern, responsive and provide good value for money. . .

Our third principle is reducing waste.

We will ensure that government administration is as efficient and well-organised as it can be.

The longer we are in office the more it is clear that the costs of running government are too high, there is too much duplication and the organisation is too cluttered.

For a country of just 4.4 million people, we have 38 government departments, over 150 crown entities and more than 200 other organisations for which the government has some responsibility.

Too many agencies in the wrong place risks diseconomies of scale, transaction costs, duplication of roles and back-office functions, and in some cases reduces the cohesion and quality of frontline services. . .

The deadweight of all that bureaucracy isn’t sustainable. But it’s not just too many agencies, it’s also too little productivity within some of them.

We’ve come a long way since the public service which Roger Hall parodied so well in Glide Time but there is still a lot of room for improvement.

I’d like to see a New Zealand where the Government is consistently running surpluses, delivering the public services New Zealanders really want and need, and where the public sector operates as an efficient and world-class organisation.

In that future, government agencies will be increasingly organised around meeting the needs of households and businesses rather than expecting New Zealanders to navigate through a maze of specialised agencies to get the services they require. . .

. . .While many services will continue to be delivered through government agencies, they will increasingly also be provided by non-government organisations, iwi and private sector providers.

Social housing is an example where greater steps are being taken in this direction.

In addition, all agencies will need to change the way they operate so they can cope with a period of ongoing financial constraint, while also strengthening frontline services.

This direction is likely to lead to fewer government agencies over time, to stronger governance across agencies where it is needed and for agencies to be more frequently based around common services and processes.

The Public Service Association and some of its members will see this prescription as a threat.

But it is also an pportunity to contribute to changes which will make a positive difference to the economy and services.


March 30 in history

March 30, 2011

On March 30:

240 BC 1st recorded perihelion passage of Halley’s Comet.

A color image of Comet Halley, shown flying to the left aligned flat against the sky

1282 The people of Sicily rebelled against the Angevin KingCharles I, in what became known as the Sicilian Vespers.

Sicilian Vespers (1846), by Francesco Hayez

1296 Edward I sacksed Berwick-upon-Tweed, during armed conflict between Scotland and England.

A man in half figure with short, curly hair and a hint of beard is facing left. He wears a coronet and holds a sceptre in his right hand. He has a blue robe over a red tunic, and his hands are covered by white, embroidered gloves. His left hand seems to be pointing left, to something outside the picture.

1746 Francisco Goya, Spanish painter, was born  (d. 1828).

1811 Robert Bunsen, German chemist, was born (d. 1899).

1814 Napoleonic Wars: Sixth Coalition forces marched into Paris.

1814 – Joachim Murat issued the Rimini Declaration which later inspired Italian Unification.

1820 Anna Sewell, British author, was born (d. 1878).

1842 Anesthesia was used for the first time in an operation by Dr Crawford Long.

1844 One of the most important battles of the Dominican War of Independence from Haiti took place near the city of Santiago de los Caballeros.

1853 Vincent van Gogh, Dutch painter, was born  (d. 1890).

Impressionist portrait painting of a man with a reddish beard wearing a dark coat and white shirt while looking forward with his body facing left

1855 Origins of the American Civil War: Bleeding Kansas – “Border Ruffians” from Missouri invaded Kansas and forced election of a pro-slavery legislature.

1856 The Treaty of Paris was signed, ending the Crimean War.

 

1858 Hymen Lipman patented a pencil with an attached rubber.

 

1863 Danish prince Wilhelm Georg was chosen as King George of Greece.

1864 Franz Oppenheimer, German sociologist, was born (d. 1943).

 

1867 Alaska was purchased for $7.2 million, about 2 cent/acre ($4.19/km²), by United States Secretary of State William H. Seward. The media called this Seward’s Folly.

 

1870 Texas was readmitted to the Union following Reconstruction.

1885 The Battle for Kushka triggered the Pandjeh Incident which nearly gave rise to war between the British and Russian Empires.

1909 The Queensboro Bridge opened, linking Manhattan and Queens.

 

1910  The Mississippi Legislature founded The University of Southern Mississippi.

The University of Southern Mississippi Seal

1912 Sultan Abdelhafid signed the Treaty of Fez, making Morocco a French protectorate.

 

1913 Frankie Laine, American singer, was born (d. 2007).

1918 Outburst of bloody March Events in Baku and other locations of Baku Governorate.

1928 Tom Sharpe, English satirical author, was born.

 

1930 Rolf Harris, Australian artist and entertainer, was born.

1937 Warren Beatty, American actor and director, was born.

1939 The Heinkel He 100 fighter sets a world airspeed record of 463 mph.

1939 – First flight of the Australian C.A.C. CA-16 Wirraway.

 

1940 Sino-Japanese War: Japan declared Nanking to be the capital of a new Chinese puppet government, nominally controlled by Wang Ching-wei.

1941 Graeme Edge, British musician (Moody Blues), was born.

1945  Eric Clapton, British guitarist, was born.

1945 World War II: Soviet Union forces invaded Austria and took Vienna; Polish and Soviet forces liberated Gdańsk.

1945 – World War II: a defecting German pilot delivered a Messerschmitt Me 262A-1 to the Americans.

 

1949  A riot broke out in Austurvöllur square in Reykjavík, when Iceland joined NATO.

1950 Robbie Coltrane, Scottish actor and comedian, was born.

1954  Yonge Street subway line opened in Toronto, the first subway in Canada.

1959 Peter Hugh McGregor Ellis, who was convicted of child abuse at the Christchurch Civic Creche, was born.

1961  The Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs was signed in New York.

 

1962 MC Hammer, American rap musician, was born.

1964 Tracy Chapman, American singer, was born,

1965 Vietnam War: A car bomb exploded in front of the US Embassy, Saigon, killing 22 and wounding 183 others.

1967 Fred Ladd flew a plane under Auckland Harbour Bridge.

Fred Ladd flies plane under Auckland Harbour Bridge

1968 Celine Dion, Canadian singer, was born.

1972  Vietnam War: The Easter Offensive began after North Vietnamese forces cross into the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) of South Vietnam.

T-59 VC.jpg

1979 Airey Neave, a British MP, was killed by a car bomb as left the Palace of Westminster. The Irish National Liberation Army claimed responsibility.

 

1979 Norah Jones, American musician, was born.

1979 First Gay Rights Parade held in Michigan.

1981 President Ronald Reagan was shot in the chest outside a Washington, D.C., hotel by John Hinckley, Jr.

 

1982 Space Shuttle programme: STS-3 Mission was completed with the landing of Columbia at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.

Sts3-patch.png

2006  The United Kingdom Terrorism Act 2006 became law.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


Word of the day

March 29, 2011

Vafrous – crafty, cunning, sly.


Of remembering and mothering

March 29, 2011

Jim Mora and I started our Critical Mass discussion with a look at the lost art of total recall in which The Guardian’s science editor Robin McKie discusses techniques for improving your memory from Joshua Foer’s book Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything.

We also looked at Just had a baby? Welcome to the 1950s. Rebecca Asher discusses modern motherhood, the equality illusion.

She makes the point that being the primary caregiver is hard and most of the work still falls on mothers.

She is right.

But after reading Private Secret Diary in which Alex Marsh,* writes about being the at-home parent for his children, I concluded that the primary parenting role is no easier when it’s the father who does it.

* Alex has published a book Sex, Bowls & Rock & Roll on giving up paid work to look after his children and swapping music for bowls.

I bought it on the recommendation of Quote Unquote, have just started reading it and am thoroughly enjoying it.


7/10

March 29, 2011

7/10 in this week’s NZ History Online quiz.


Rembrandt’s Late Self Portraits

March 29, 2011

Rembrandt’s Late Self Portraits by Elizabeth Jennings was featured as last week’s Tuesday poem.

(Yes, I do mean last week, life got in the way of my good intention to post this earlier).

Among others linked in the sidebar were:

Yellow by Mary McCallum.

Clouds Caught on Fence Posts by Clarie Gaskin.

A Series of Titles for Books I Might Write by Saradha Koirala.


Unions campaign against job opportunities

March 29, 2011

Unions have launched a campaign against job opportunities:

A union campaign has been launched opposing the extension of the 90-day trial period for new workers to all employers.

The trial period previously applied to businesses with fewer than 20 employees and the extension is among changes to the Employment Relations Act which takes effect on 1 April.

The amended act also requires unions to get permission from employers before entering workplaces and allow employers to ask workers to provide a medical certificate for a single day off sick.

In addition, employees will have the right to cash in their fourth week of holiday entitlement.

The 90-day trial period which has been available for smaller businesses hasn’t resulted in  mass sackings and it won’t when it is extended to all employers.

Recruitment and training are time consuming and expensive processes, no employer wants to go through it unless it’s absolutely necessary.

A trial period means it is possible to terminate employment without penalty if an employee isn’t up to the job or doesn’t fit in with the existing workforce.

This is not only better for employers, it’s better for existing employees whose jobs could be made more difficult or unpleasant by a workmate who doesn’t have the ability or attitude to do the job properly.

Three weeks holiday plus 11 statutory days off is more than enough for some people who might prefer the extra week’s pay instead. But the important point is that it is the workers’ choice.

The campaign slogan is  things just got tougher. They’ve got easier for employers and most employees. The only ones who will find it tougher are difficult employees and possibly unions which won’t find it quite so easy to wander in and out of workplaces.


Reports of demise premature

March 29, 2011

When even supporters are criticising a leader it ought to be a safe bet that he’s about to be toppled.

But it appears reports of Phil Goff’s political demise were premature.

A well informed source tells me one of those tipped to replace him, David Parker, spent the weekend in the south. It is possible to plot by phone and email and it could be he was standing back to let others do the work.

But it is more likely that the lack of an obvious successor who could unite caucus and the danger of a leadership change this close to the election, are holding the knife-wielders back.

It’s all very well saying the enemy of my enemy is my friend when you’re fighting, but once the common enemy is dispatched the friendship will fail without something, or someone, strong to keep them together.

When Labour’s leader and president don’t appear to be communicating well and caucus is divided into factions it would take a strong and widely popular person to make a positive difference to the party’s electoral appeal.

There doesn’t appear to be anyone who could do that for Labour, yet.

No viable alternative isn’t a vote of confidence in Goff but it will give him a stay of execution for now.


March 29 in history

March 29, 2011

On March 29:

1461 Battle of Towton – Edward of York defeated Queen Margaret to become King Edward IV of England.

 
Roses-York victory.svg

1549 Salvador da Bahia, the first capital of Brazil, was founded.

1632 Treaty of Saint-Germain was signed, returning Quebec to French control after the English had seized it in 1629.

1638 Swedish colonists established the first settlement in Delaware, naming it New Sweden.

1790 John Tyler, 10th President of the United States, was born  (d. 1862).

1792 King Gustav III of Sweden died after being shot in the back at a midnight masquerade ball 13 days earlier.

1799 New York passed a law aimed at gradually abolishing slavery in the state.

1799 Edward Smith-Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, was born (d. 1869).

1806 Construction was authorised of the Great National Pike, better known as the Cumberland Road, the first United States federal highway.

 

1809 King Gustav IV Adolf of Sweden abdicated after a coup d’état. 

 

1809 At the Diet of Porvoo, Finland’s four Estates pledged allegiance to Alexander I of Russia, commencing the secession of the Grand Duchy of Finland from Sweden.

 

1831 Great Bosnian uprising: Bosniak rebel against Turkey.

1847 Mexican-American War: United States forces led by General Winfield Scott took Veracruz after a siege.

Battle of Veracruz.jpg

1849 The United Kingdom annexed the Punjab.

1857 Sepoy Mangal Pandey of the 34th Regiment, Bengal Native Infantry revolted against the British rule in India and inspired a long-drawn War of Independence of 1857 also known as the Sepoy Mutiny.

Mangal pandey gimp.jpg

1865 American Civil War: The Battle of Appomattox Court House began.

 

1867 Queen Victoria gave Royal Assent to the British North America Act which established the Dominion of Canada on July 1.

1870 Pavlos Melas, Greek officer who organized and participated in the Greek Struggle for Macedonia, was born  (d. 1904).

Pavlos Melas.jpg

1871 The Royal Albert Hall was opened by Queen Victoria.

 

1879 Anglo-Zulu War: Battle of Kambula: British forces defeated 20,000 Zulus.

Défense de Rorke's Drift.jpg

1882 The Knights of Columbus were established.

1886 Dr John Pemberton brewed the first batch of Coca-Cola in a backyard in Atlanta, Georgia.

1900 John McEwen, eighteenth Prime Minister of Australia, was born  (d. 1980).

1902 William Walton, English composer, was born  (d. 1983).

1911 The M1911 .45 ACP pistol became the official U.S. Army side arm.

Mid-1945 produced M1911A1 U.S. Army semi-automatic pistol by Remington Rand. This one was re-built by Anniston Army Depot, October 1972, and carries the ANAD 1072 stamp. The cartridges shown are the .45 ACP (left) and 7.65 mm Browning/.32 ACP (right).

1916 Eugene McCarthy, American politician, was born (d. 2005).

1930 Heinrich Brüning was appointed German Reichskanzler.

1936 In Germany, Adolf Hitler received 99% of the votes in a referendum to ratify Germany’s illegal reoccupation of the Rhineland, receiving 44.5 million votes out of 45.5 million registered voters.

1941 World War II: British Royal Navy and Royal Australian Navy forces defeated those of the Italian Regia Marina off the Peloponnesus coast of Greece in the Battle of Cape Matapan.

1942 Nazi sabotage hoax – career criminal Sydney Ross met the minister of national service, Robert Semple, in Wellington and claimed he had been approached by a German agent to join a sabotage cell and that Nazi agents had landed by submarine and were living at Ngongotaha, Rotorua. Ross was taken to see Prime Minister Peter Fraser, who referred the matter to Major Kenneth Folkes, a British intelligence officer brought to New Zealand to set up the Security Intelligence Bureau.

1942 The Bombing of Lübeck  was the first major success for the RAF Bomber Command against Germany and a German city.

 

1943 Eric Idle, English actor, writer, and composer, was born.

1943 Sir John Major, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, was born.

Head and shoulders of man in suit with grey hair in side parting, wearing large glasses with brown frame.

1943 Vangelis, Greek musician and composer, was born .

1945  Last day of V-1 flying bomb attacks on England.

 

1957 The New York, Ontario and Western Railway made its final run.

"NYOW diesel locomotive 104" 

1961 The Twenty-third Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified, allowing residents of Washington, D.C. to vote in presidential elections.

 

1963 Elle Macpherson, Australian model, was born.

1968 Lucy Lawless, New Zealand actress and singer, was born.

 

1971 – A Los Angeles, California jury recommended the death penalty for Charles Manson and three female followers.

1973 Vietnam War: The last United States combat soldiers left South Vietnam.

1974 NASA’s Mariner 10 became the first spaceprobe to fly by Mercury.

 

1982 The Telegu Desam Party (India’s regional political party) was established by N. T. Rama Rao.

 
TDPFlag.PNG

1982 – The Canada Act 1982 (U.K.) received the Royal Assent from Queen Elizabeth II, setting the stage for the Queen of Canada to proclaim the Constitution Act, 1982.

1987 WrestleMania III set a world indoor attendance record at the Pontiac Silverdome with 93,173 fans.

1993 Catherine Callbeck became premier of Prince Edward Island and Canada’s first female to be elected in a general election as a premier.

1999 The Dow Jones Industrial Average closesdabove the 10,000 mark (10,006.78) for the first time ever, during the height of the internet boom.

A historical graph. From a starting point of under 50 in the late 1890s to a high reached above 14,000 in the late 2000s, the Dow rises periodically through the decades with corrections along the way eventually settling in the mid-10,000 range within the last 10 years. 

2004 Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia joined NATO as full members.

2004 The Republic of Ireland becomes the first country in the world to ban smoking in all work places, including bars and restaurants.

 

2008 35 Countries & more 370 cities joined Earth Hour for the first time.

 

2010 – Two female suicide bombers hit the Moscow Metro system at the peak of the morning rush hour, killing 40.

 

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


In memory of the grandfather I never knew

March 28, 2011

My paternal grandfather died when Dad was just six.

He was an engineer sent from his home in Dundee, Scotland, to work in India where he contracted cholera and died.

Dad didn’t talk much about his childhood or his father and to my regret I never asked him many questions.

It never occurred to me to ask any details of his father’s illness and death, but when one of our nieces was planning a trip to India she did some research and found the cemetery where he was buried.

She made a point of visiting when she got there last month and searched for his grave. When almost on the point of giving up she found a grave stone with his name in faded letters, his age  (37) and the date he died – (March 28 1919) – 92 years ago today.


Word of the day

March 28, 2011

Unasinous - being asinine; characterised by equal stupidity.


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