Quiz, what quiz?

June 30, 2011

Whoops – having one of those fortnights this week and the quiz is a casualty of that.

Normal service should resume next week.

In the meantime, you can answer your own questions or enjoy Andrei’s quiz which is technologically superior – and challenging – I scored a lowly 5/10.


New section chairs for Feds

June 30, 2011

When I saw the headline Dairy and Meat and Fibre groups gain new chair people I thought Federated Farmers was being a bit PC, but  people was correct in this case as one of the new chairs is a man and the other’s a woman.

Mt Hutt farmer Jeanette Maxwell was elected as Federated Farmers Meat and Fibre chair,  the first woman to hold this position. She replaces Bruce Wills who also stepped down. Willy Leferink is the new chairy for the dairy section, replacing Lachlan McKenzie who has stepped down.

The Dairy Vice-chairs are Robin Barkla and Andrew Hoggard. Michelle Riley and Kevin Robinson also elected to the executive.

Ciaran Tully continues as Sharemilkers section Chairperson.

Meat and Fibre section’s new vice-chair is Dugald McLean. Tim Mackintosh was re-elected to the executive with new members Will Foley and Lyn Neeson.


Word of the day

June 30, 2011

 Chimerical – wildly fanciful, imaginary unreal; given to or indulging in fantasies; highly improbably, existing only as the product of unchecked imagination; fantastically visionary or improbable; given to fantastic schemes.

Hat Tip: Credo Quia Absurdum Est


MMP not necessarily better for Maori

June 30, 2011

Alternatives to MMP will not necessarily  reduce the ability of Maori to get into parliament:

Since its introduction in 1996 MMP has meant “More Maori in Parliament”. It is the best system, of those on offer, for Maori representation in the New Zealand parliament, says Maori politics lecturer Dr Maria Bargh.

On the contrary, in an excellent post fact-checking the referendum Graeme Edgeler writes:

Under MMP there are currently 7 Maori seats. A change to first past the post, or preferential voting, or single transfer vote systems would see an increase in the number of Maori seats to at least 12, and probably 13 seats. A change to the supplementary member system would see an increase at least 9 and possibly 10 Maori seats.

Any voting system which has more electorates will result in more Maori seats. Regardless of the system Maori will also have as much a chance as anyone else of seeking a general electorate seat.

Maori seats aren’t up for debate by the Electoral Commission should a majority of people vote to change from MMP but that doesn’t guarantee they will remain.

Abolishing them has been National party policy for a couple of elections but dropping that was one of the concessions the party made in coalition negotiations with the Maori Party.

I have no idea what National’s policy on the seats will be for the coming election but it’s a sure bet that Act will campaign on getting rid of them.

If National is able to form the next government and Act has a role as a coalition or support partner and the Maori Party doesn’t, the Maori seats will almost certainly go.


Fairer policy for state housing

June 30, 2011

Changing the way state houses are allocated is both fairer and more sensible.

Housing Minister Phil Heatley said those in greatest need (A and B) will be eligible for a state house, those with lower needs (C and D) will be helped into other types of housing.

“All applicants (A’s, B’s, C’s and D’s) will continue to be recorded on a Housing Needs Register so that we maintain a clear picture of wider housing need” says Mr Heatley.

“But whereas once C and D tenants would languish on the waiting list with no real prospect of getting a state home, they will now be given assistance to find a home outside state housing, and we think this is a positive,” he said.

“Housing those not eligible for state housing means working very closely with third sector providers of niche, social and affordable housing to significantly grow the volume of social housing available.

“We want to ensure that tenants with the greatest need have timely access to a state home for the duration of their need,” says Mr Heatley.

The first priority for state help should be those in greatest need.

Under the current system those with lower needs would be on the waiting list even though there was little if any chance of ever getting into a state house. The new system will stop the pretence that there might be something available one day and give them help now.

Another welcome change is the introduction of reviewable tenancies for all new tenants from 1 July.

“A tenant’s circumstances will be reviewed once every three years to ensure their housing needs are being properly catered for. When their circumstances improve significantly and they are able to afford a home outside state housing they will be assisted to move – freeing up a state house for someone in greater need,” Mr Heatley said.

“Elderly tenants and those with significant disabilities will be subject to a desk top review only as their circumstances are unlikely to have changed, and we don’t want to worry them unnecessarily,” he said.

This means that people occupying a larger house will have to move if, for example, children leave home meaning they no longer need so many bedrooms.

This is much fairer than the current situation which allows a single person or small family to continue occupying “their” state house when larger families are in need is unfair.

A tennnt renting a privately owned home wouldn’t expect to live their for life, nor should someone in a state house.

 Other changes that HNZ are making include:-

• A suspension period to prevent tenants who are issued a ninety day notice, for abusing their state home or for ongoing anti-social behaviour that affects communities, from reapplying for a state house for up to a year; and
• Stronger measures to detect and prevent fraud.

“The Government wants the state housing system to be fairer, more focussed and more efficient,” Mr Heatley said.

“These changes are fairer to people in greatest need, more transparent to C and D applicants and give a clear signal to the other social housing providers that we need them,” says Mr Heatley.

“A state home and the Income Related Rent that goes with it amounts to a considerable taxpayer subsidy for a household. We want to make sure this benefit goes to those in the greatest need, for the duration of that need,” he said.

 This policy will result in a much better match between people and housing.

It also sends an important signal that state house are for those in greatest need while in need. That might be forever for some people but it won’t be for all.


Don’t stop at one

June 30, 2011

Today is hug a cantab day but don’t stop at just one:

We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.

- Virginia Satir -


June 30 in history

June 30, 2011

350 Roman usurper Nepotianus, of the Constantinian dynasty, was defeated and killed by troops of the usurper Magnentius.

Centenionalis-Nepotianus-rome RIC 200.2.jpgDouble Centenionalis Magnentius-XR-s4017.jpg

1422  Battle of Arbedo between the duke of Milan and the Swiss cantons.

Bellinzona Tschachtlan.jpg

1520  The Spaniards were expelled from Tenochtitlan.

 

1559  King Henry II of France was seriously injured in a jousting match against Gabriel de Montgomery.

 

1651 The Deluge: Khmelnytsky Uprising – the Battle of Beresteczko ended with a Polish victory.

Battle of Beresteczko 1651.jpg

1688  The Immortal Seven issued the Invitation to William, continuing the struggle for English independence from Rome.

1758  Seven Years’ War: The Battle of Domstadtl.

Battle of Domstadtl memorial.jpg

1794 Native American forces under Blue Jacket attacked Fort Recovery.

 

1859  French acrobat Charles Blondin crossed Niagara Falls on a tightrope.

 

1860  The 1860 Oxford evolution debate at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History.

 

1864 U.S. President Abraham Lincoln granted Yosemite Valley to California for “public use, resort and recreation”.

1882  Charles J. Guiteau was hanged for the assassination of President James Garfield.

 

1886 The first transcontinental train trip across Canada departs from Montreal.

1905 Albert Einstein published the article “On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies”, in which he introduced special relativity.

1906  The United States Congress passed the Meat Inspection Act and Pure Food and Drug Act.
 
 
1908 Winston Graham, British writer, was born (d. 2003).
 
 
 
Marnie book cover.jpg

1908  The Tunguska explosion in SIberia – commonly believed to have been caused by the air burst of a large meteoroid or comet fragment at an altitude of 5–10 kilometres (3.1–6.2 mi) above the Earth’s surface.

 

1912  The Regina Cyclone hit Regina, Saskatchewan, killing 28.

 

1917  Susan Hayward, American actress, was born (d. 1975).

 

1917 – Lena Horne, American singer and actress (d. 2010)

 

1934  The Night of the Long Knives, Adolf Hitler’s violent purge of his political rivals took place.

 

1935  The Senegalese Socialist Party held its first congress.

1936  Emperor Haile Selassie of Abbysinia appealled for aid to the League of Nations against Mussolini’s invasion of his country.

 

1939 The first edition of the New Zealand Listener was published. 

First issue of NZ Listener published

1941  World War II: Operation Barbarossa – Germany captured Lviv, Ukraine.

Original German plan

1943  Florence Ballard, American singer (The Supremes). was born (d. 1976).

1944 Glenn Shorrock, Australian singer-songwriter (Little River Band) was born.

1944  World War II: The Battle of Cherbourg ended with the fall of the strategically valuable port to American forces.

 
Cherbourg1944-Combat avParis.jpg

1950 Leonard Whiting, British actor, was born.

1953 Hal Lindes, British-American musician (Dire Straits) was born.

1953  The first Chevrolet Corvette rolled off the assembly line in Flint, Michigan.

 

1956  A TWA Super Constellation and a United Airlines DC-7 (Flight 718) collided above the Grand Canyon killing all 128 on board the two planes.

1959  A United States Air Force F-100 Super Sabre from Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, crashed into a nearby elementary school, killing 11 students plus six residents from the local neighborhood.

1960 Murray Cook, Australian singer (The Wiggles) was born.

1960  Congo gained independence from Belgium.

1962 Julianne Regan, British singer and musician (All About Eve), was born.

1963  Ciaculli massacre: A car bomb, intended for Mafia boss Salvatore Greco “Ciaschiteddu”, killed seven police and military officers near Palermo.

1966  Mike Tyson, American boxer, was born.

Mike Tyson festival de Cannes.jpg

1966  Marton Csokas, New Zealand actor, was born.


 

1968  Credo of the People of God by Pope Paul VI.

 
Paulaudenece1977.jpg

1969  Nigeria banned Red Cross aid to Biafra.

 

1971  The crew of the Soviet Soyuz 11 spacecraft were killed when their air supply escaped through a faulty valve.

 

1971 – Ohio ratified the 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, lowering the voting age to 18, thereby putting the amendment into effect.

Great Seal of the United States

1972  The first leap second was added to the UTC time system.

 Deviation of day length from SI based day, 1962–2009

1985 Thirty-nine American hostages from a hijacked TWA jetliner were freed in Beirut after being held for 17 days.

1986  The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states can outlaw homosexual acts between consenting adults.

1987 The Royal Canadian Mint introduced the $1 coin, known as the Loonie.

ObverseReverse

1990 East and West Germany merged their economies.

1991 32 miners were killed when a coal mine fire in the Donbass region of the Ukraine released toxic gas.

1992 Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher joined the House of Lords as Baroness Thatcher.

 
A professional photograph of a lady with ginger-blonde hair, sitting in a traditional style and wearing jewellery.

1997  The United Kingdom transferred sovereignty over Hong Kong to China.

A flag with a white 5-petalled flower design on solid red background A red circular emblem, with a white 5-petalled flower design in the centre, and surrounded by the words "Hong Kong" and "中華人民共和國香港特別行政區"

2007 A car crashed into Glasgow International Airport in an attempted terrorist attack.

2009 Yemenia Flight 626 crashed off the coast of Moroni, Comoros killing 152 people and leaving 1 survivor.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


Just wondering . . .

June 29, 2011

. . . why, when I’ve had two weeks to write a column I’ve left it until two days before deadline even though I’ve known that both those days would be very, very busy?

And why, in spite of knowing that I’m writing this blog post instead of the column?


Word of the day

June 29, 2011

Warison – bugle call ordering attack; reward or gift given by a superior.


Local produce not always cheaper. . .

June 29, 2011

Complaints about the price of milk here are based on the theory that locally produced goods should be cheaper.

A good example of how that isn’t necessarily so can be found across the Tasman.

A reader emailed me to say that bananas in Australia are selling for $A14 to  $A16 a kilo – and there is no GST on “fresh” food.

Summer floods damaged trees and crops in Queensland. The Farming Show’s Australian correspondent Chris Russell said the problem has been exacerbated by very cold temeratures in the state  and as no bananas are imported into Australia there isn’t an alternative to local produce.

My correspondent says even before the shortage bananas were selling for around $A4 a kilo in Melbourne.

The ones in the supermarket I frequent came from the Philippines and cost $2.99 a kilo, inclusive of GST. 

I presume the bio-security risk  is used to ban imports. But if we judge the Australians by the strong fight they put up against New Zealand apple imports then the ban on bananas from other countries could well be protecting domestic farmers from competition rather than protecting the crop from disease.

Either way, the consumer is paying very dearly.


Men can care too

June 29, 2011

The fuss over the stupid comments on women’s “sick problems” has sidelined the real issue.

Why are women still more likely to take time off work to care for other people than men?

Only women get pregnant and only women can breast feed. But once the children are a little older or if it is another relative, for example an elderly parent in need of help, what stops men doing some of the caring?

If mothers and daughters can care for children and parents why not fathers and sons?

Is it because although women are generally accepted in what were once seen as men’s jobs but there is still not the same acceptance of men in areas which used to be regarded as the preserve of women?


Not proven

June 29, 2011

If ever there was a case which needed the ability to make a judgement of not proven, which they have in Scotland, it was the one against Chris Kahui.

He was the father of twins Chris and Cru whose tragic lives and deaths are  currently the subject of an inquest.

Kahui was acquitted of murder but let’s not confuse that with innocence. All it means is the jury found the case against him was not proven beyond reasonable doubt.

That doesn’t mean he killed his babies but nor does it mean he was cleared of the violence which plagued their lives and eventually caused their deaths.

Now Ian Wishart has written a book telling the story of the twins’ mother, Macsyna King. I won’t be buying it but nor will I join the call to boycott it

That isn’t the same as banning it but it’s close.

Free expression requires that the author and his subject must also be free to tell, and sell, the story even if we don’t want to, and won’t, read it.


Does state really need to own rat bait company?

June 29, 2011

This week’s Listener makes a very good point about opposition to National’s plans to sell minority shares in some SOEs  and Labour’s bill to require 75% of parliament to support the sale of any asset:

. . . the premise behind the bill is essentially that the commercial enterprises the Crown owns are a perfect use of public funds. There is, Labour implies, no single better use that can be found for the public’s money invested in the businesses listed in Schedule 1 and 2 of the State-Owned Enterprises Act. The money tied up in 100% ownership of SOE shares could never be better used, for example, to buy other commercial or public assets, or to pay off some of the Crown’s debt to foreign lenders.

Put like that no reasonable person would want to hog-tie a future government, especially when you consider some of the assets still owned by the state:

Apart from the best-known ones, such as Meridian, Genesis, Solid Energy and Television New Zealand, they also include Animal Control Products, which is, according to its website, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of rodent baits. And what’s not to like about that? Rats, unless pets, are not generally life-enhancing.

But is it the best use of government money to own 100% of a rodent-bait company? Might it be better if, say, 24% or 49% or 100% of the company was sold and the proceeds were applied to rebuilding schools in Christchurch, funding more public hospital operating theatres, repaying government debt or buying shares in other New Zealand companies?

I can’t think of any reason to justify state ownership of a rodent bait company now. Even if there was a good reason to hang on to it for a while longer, who could argue that there might not be a time in the future when there’d by better use for the capital than animal control?

It is quite legitimate to argue the Crown’s portfolio of commercial assets is optimal for New Zealand at the current time. People can agree or disagree with this argument and the debate should be had. But it is a hard argument to sustain that the current portfolio will always be the best use of those billions of dollars and that nothing could change that.

Labour senses a public reluctance about asset sales and is campaigning against National’s plan to sell minority shares in a few SOEs. That’s what opposition parties do.

But attempting, even half heartedly, to keep all state assets in state ownership for ever is the triumph of politics over logic.


June 29 in history

June 29, 2011

On June 29:

1149 Raymond of Antioch was defeated and killed at the Battle of Inab by Nur ad-Din Zangi.

BattleOfInab.jpg

1194  Sverre was crowned King of Norway.

1444 Skanderbeg defeated an Ottoman invasion force at Torvioll.

Skanderbeg woodcut.jpg

1534  Jacques Cartier made the European discovery of Prince Edward Island.

1613 The Globe Theatre in London  burned to the ground.

1644 Charles I defeated a Parliamentarian detachment at the Battle of Cropredy Bridge, the last battle won by an English King on English soil.

1659  Battle of Konotop: Ukrainian armies of Ivan Vyhovsky defeatedthe Russians, led by Prince Trubetskoy.

 

1749  New Governor Charles de la Ralière Des Herbiers arrives at Isle Royale (Cape Breton Island).

1786  Alexander Macdonell and more than five hundred Roman Catholic highlanders left Scotland to settle in Glengarry County, Ontario.

 

1850  Coal was discovered on Vancouver Island.

1850   Autocephaly officially granted by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople to the Church of Greece.

1861 William James Mayo, American physician, was born (d. 1939).

1864  Ninety-nine people were killed in Canada’s worst railway disaster near St-Hilaire, Quebec.

1874  Greek politician Charilaos Trikoupis published a manifesto in the Athens daily Kairoi entitled “Who’s to Blame?” in which he laid out his complaints against King George.

 

1880  France annexed Tahiti.

1891  Street railway in Ottawa commenced operation.

1895  Doukhobors burned their weapons as a protest against conscription by the Tsarist Russian government.

1900 Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, French writer, was born (d. 1944).

1901 Nelson Eddy, American singer and actor, was born (d. 1967).

 

1914  Jina Guseva attempted to assassinate Grigori Rasputin.

1916  Sir Roger Casement, Irish Nationalist and British diplomat was sentenced to death for his part in the Easter Rising.

Roger Casement.jpg

1922  France granted 1 km² at Vimy Ridge “freely, and for all time, to the Government of Canada, the free use of the land exempt from all taxes.”

 

1925 Canada House opened in London.

1926  Arthur Meighen returned to office as Prime Minister of Canada.

 

1927  First test of Wallace Turnbull’s Controllable pitch propeller.

 

1928 The Outerbridge Crossing and Goethals Bridge in Staten Island, New York opened.

1937  Joseph-Armand Bombardier of Canada received a patent for sprocket and track traction system used in snow vehicles.

 

1943 Little Eva, American singer, was born  (d. 2003).

1945  Carpathian Ruthenia was annexed by Soviet Union.

 

1972  The U.S. Supreme Court ruled the death penalty could constitute “cruel and unusual punishment”.

1974  Isabel Perón was sworn in as the first female President of Argentina.

1976 Bret McKenzie, New Zealand musician, (Flight of the Conchords) was born.

1976  The Seychelles became independent from the United Kingdom.

   

1990 Dr Penny Jamieson became the first woman in the world to be appointed an Anglican bishop.

World's first female Anglican bishop appointed

1995  Space Shuttle program: STS-71 Mission Atlantis docks with the Russian space station Mir for the first time.

 

1995  The Sampoong Department Store collapsed in Seoul, killing 501 and injuring 937.

2002  Naval clashes between South Korea and North Korea led to the death of six South Korean sailors and sinking of a North Korean vessel.

2006  Hamdan v. Rumsfeld: The U.S. Supreme Court rules that President George W. Bush’s plan to try Guantanamo Bay detainees in military tribunals violated U.S. and international law.

2007  Two car bombs were found in the heart of London at Picadilly Circus.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


Word of the day

June 28, 2011

Vapulate – to beat, flog, whip.


Flourishing romance noise and sex

June 28, 2011

The headline isn’t supposed to make sense as a sentence, it’s the topics covered in my discussion with Jim Mora on Critical Mass today.

Umair Haque urges us to turn our back on oppulance and seek eudaemonia instead. He defines that as flourishing – the pursuit of fulfilment, inspiration, creation and accomplishment.

Romance novelists and readers defend romance fiction against the accusation that “women can become as dangerously unbalanced by these books’ .

On a related topic, the Guardian has taken a paragraph  from 10 books and asks if you can tell the sex of the author. I scored only 6/10 and that came with an accusation of sloppy thinking.

Maybe the sloppy thinking is the result of too much noise – Alan Schwarz writes in the New York Times about pumping up the volume for fans at sports games.


Highlander hero

June 28, 2011

If you saw someone choking would you know what to do?

Highlanders captain, Jamie Mackintosh does:

Wendy Knight may have had a rib cracked courtesy of Jamie Mackintosh – but she credits the Highlanders skipper with saving her life. . .

Speaking from the Invercargill Lone Star last night, Mackintosh downplayed the incident as something anyone else would do. . .

At the time, he was having dinner with fellow Highlanders Tony Brown, Jimmy Cowan, Aaron Smith and Jarrad Hoeata, when he saw Mrs Knight near them.

“We asked if she was OK and seeing she couldn’t talk, I got in behind her and it was like a great big grizzly bear mauling some kind of small animal.”

Mackintosh said he had never had any medical training, but knew what to do in the event of someone choking.

“I obviously buggered it up if I cracked her rib,” he said.

Under the Heimlich manoeuvre hands are clasped around the victim from the back and an abrupt pull backwards forces air in the lungs out the trachea.

Alive with an injury beats dead with all ribs intact.


Only some employees deserve a fair hearing?

June 28, 2011

Just as I was about to say I’d made a mistake with Friday’s post  using the calls for Alasdair Thompson’s resignation as an example of double-standards from the left  I read:

Labour list MP Carol Beaumont said it was clear Mr Thompson could not continue in his role, and the board should not need to deliberate so long about it.

“They are a large organisation representing companies that employ women workers and the attitude that Thompson displayed was unacceptable in 2011. I would have thought their decision was pretty clear-cut.”

The case does seem clear cut.

His initial mistake was not just what he said but how he said it without any evidence to back up his case.

But saying something stupid, being poorly prepared and expressing yourself badly is not a sackable offence.

However, Thompson then compounded the error in two interviews with TV3 which reflected very poorly on him and the Employers and Manufacturers Association (Northern)  he represents. I wrote on Friday that this still wasn’t a sackable offence but I was wrong.

A 21st century organisation cannot afford to have a CEO with antediluvian views who illustrates poor judgement and communication skills. 

But even if the case is clear cut the board still had to give its employee a fair hearing.

Workers rights are one of the left’s raison d’êtres. They risk undermining them if they think they apply to only some employees.


Question of the week

June 28, 2011

Genuine question: with a bit over 5000 votes in total, is Hone the electorate MP with the least number of votes in modern NZ history? Seriously, I cant think of any electorate MP with fewer votes.

From Simon Bridges on Facebook.

Update: Not just the MP with the fewest votes but probably the one with the most expensive votes.

Keeping Stock quotes Newstalk ZB political editor Barry Soper saying it cost about $600 a vote.


Vote for change to what?

June 28, 2011

The campaign against MMP has become more organised with the newly incorporated Vote for Change .

“Vote for Change asks the 40% of New Zealanders who have already realised that MMP doesn’t offer enough accountability, to join our group” says Wellington Lawyer and Vote for Change Spokesperson, Jordan Williams. “We want Kiwis to use their opportunity to have a better voting system. Only by voting ‘change’ in November can we ensure a proper debate on MMP’s merits. Only a vote for change will mean there is another vote, a run-off between MMP and one of the four alternatives at the 2014 election.”

“Vote for Change wants a system that restores more certainty, that allows voters to easily hold governments to account and kick rascals out of Parliament,” says Mr Williams. “The current system lets party bosses sneak MPs who have been dismissed by their local electorates back into Parliament on party lists.

“New Zealanders are tired of Lists that make MPs beholden to political party bosses instead of being accountable to constituents. We want politicians to have to think of the people they serve and not party list rankings when making tough decisions” says Mr Williams.

Although it is clear it does not support MMP, VfC has not yet decided which alternative it will advocate voting to change to.

Vote for Change has not endorsed a particular alternative to MMP. “We want New Zealanders who understand that MMP has not delivered, to go to our website, join us help determine what voting system is best for New Zealand,” says Mr Williams. “With a more substantial membership base we will work out what voting system we think is the fairest”.

The VfC website lists its founding members who include former Labour Party president and mayor Bob Harvey, former Labour cabinet minister Michael Basset, former National party MP Annabel Young and Business Round Table executive director Roger Kerr.

Some of the more strident supporters of MMP try to vilify anyone who isn’t happy with the system but as David Farrar points out all five electoral systems on offer are acceptable electoral systems:

 All of them are in use in various countries that are universally recognised as democratic. The moment someone tells you that only one system is acceptable, is the moment when you should stop listening to them.

There are of course degrees of acceptability, some systems are more so than others, although which is very much a matter of opinion.

I don’t like MMP but am unsure which of the alternatives would be both better and have a chance of winning a referendum when put up against MMP.


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