Word of the day

January 31, 2012

Chauvinist - one with a militant devotion to the glorification of one’s own country, fanatical patriotism; person with a prejudiced belief in the superiority of her/his own gender, group or kind;


Silly little boys

January 31, 2012

 

“Because our society, New Zealand society, Western society in general, has been hijacked by a conspiracy of Silly Little Boys. They’re everywhere; in the schools, in the media, in the public service, in the judiciary, even in Cabinet.

Everywhere we turn, the foundations of feminity, the pillars of female-ness which have underpinned the construction and development of our very civilisation, are being undermined, by Silly Little Boys. And we are putting up with it.”

Those two paragraphs are no sillier than the latest outpouring of stupidity by New Zealand First MP Richard Prosser uncovered by The Hand Mirror.


Last words, robots and predictions

January 31, 2012

Discussion on Critical Mass with Jim Mora today was sparked by:

The ultimate Facebook app, if I die.

Children’s ideas on  a robot-influenced future - more details at Latitude

Predictions for 2112

Hat tip for links – Idealog’s email newsletter  Daily Bacon


No Missionaries

January 31, 2012

GoNZo Freakpower wonders if a sign saying No Missionaries will keep unwanted people from his place the way a No Junk Mail sign keeps unwanted rubbish from his mailbox.

If it doesn’t he could follow the example of a friend who keeps a Bible reading by the door and quotes it at anyone who calls on a mission to convert her to their brand of religion.

Or he could try tears – it worked for me.

Our baby son and I had been home for only a couple of days after his eventful first couple of weeks of life during which he’d stopped breathing several times and had multiple seizures when we had to return to hospital.

My farmer and I decided it would be better if I drove down to Dunedin myself so I could keep the car down there. It seemed like a good idea until he went to the stock sale with our daughter leaving me at home alone.

A few minutes later some religious peddlers knocked on the door.

When I opened it they asked how I was. I said, “My baby’s dying,” and burst into tears.

They took one horrified look at me and fled.

I admire missionaries who do practical good but have never understood those who only preach. This experience reinforced my prejudice - if they’d taken their faith seriously they would have offered to help.


Aussie in NZ Racing Hall of Fame

January 31, 2012

Australian trainer Bart Cummings has been made an honorary member of  the New Zealand Racing Hall of Fame:

Bart Cummings’ induction as the first foreigner to the New Zealand Racing Hall of Fame was the early highlight of the Karaka Premier Yearling Sale on Monday.

Cummings was inducted by Prime Minister John Key in a ceremony before the sale started at Karaka, on the southern outskirts of Auckland.

He was admitted on the strength of his success with New Zealand-bred horses. Eight of his 12 Melbourne Cup winners were New Zealand bred, as was his most recent champion So You Think.

“No overseas trainer has done more to promote the New Zealand thoroughbred,” Hall of Fame chairman Gerald Fell said.

Cummings bought So You Think at Karaka a few years ago and said he was hoping to find another top horse.

“I’m always looking for a bargain in New Zealand because I can’t get one in Australia,” he said.

The induction wasn’t the main motivation for his visit, though:

However, the real reason for his visit is to pick another winner of the race  he’s almost made his own, the Melbourne Cup.

Cummings has won a few – 12 Melbourne Cups, with seven Kiwi-bred winners – and says the prize money is the attraction.  He had back-to-back wins with  Think Big in the 1970s.

The master trainer is now hoping he can get the right mix of sales business  and pleasure at Karaka.

Race horses are definitely not must-haves and prices paid at the sales this week will be an indicator of buyer confidence in the racing industry and wider economy.

 


5/10

January 31, 2012

5/10 in the Herald’s changing world quiz.


National Standards are working

January 31, 2012

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets/hub.1326407570.htmlWairarapa principal Kevin Jephson says National Standards are failing because most of his school’s pupils failed its benchmark last year.

Only 11 per cent of Dalefield’s students met the reading standard, 2 per cent the writing standard and 7 per cent the mathematics standard, he said.  

That’s not the standards failing, the results show they’re working.

The school, its staff and parents now know pupils aren’t learning as they should be and they should be focussed on getting them the help they need.

But Gail Marshall, principal of Solway Primary School in Masterton, said she had utmost faith in National Standards as a workable system.

The standards were trialled at Solway ahead of being rolled out nationwide.

The 2011 assessment at Solway found 91 per cent of Years 4 to 6 pupils met the reading standard, 87 per cent the writing standard and 82 per cent the mathematics standard.

 “What I like about the standards is that it shows very clearly what the kids need, and we can target that. This year we’ll be concentrating on writing and maths and we can target toward that end.”

Kiwiblog points out there is not a big difference in the decile rating of the schools:

Dalefield is decile 5 and Solway decile 6. Not a huge difference. Certainly not enough to explain why Solway is a magnitude higher in terms of the national standard.

Even if the decile rating was vastly different that wouldn’t mean the standards were wrong.

The assessment shows that Dalefield needs more help to ensure its pupils are learning as they should be which doesn’t mean the standards have failed.

The only failure identified so far is in Jephson who doesn’t understand that the true test of the standards won’t be in any problems they identify but in what happens next and the difference that makes.

Hat tip: Whaleoil


NZers won’t gain from DIRA changes

January 31, 2012

Fonterra doesn’t usually pick public fights with the government but it is making no secret of its strong opposition to proposed changes to the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act.

I’m not sure what further scrutiny of the way the company sets the price of milk is supposed to achieve in theory. In practice it will add compliance costs to the company while looking at only one part of the production chain from paddock to the consumer.

That is however, a relatively minor inconvenience compared with the proposed changes to Raw Milk regulations which Fonterra chair  Sir Henry van der Heyden said won’t work and will have New Zealanders subsidising increasingly foreign-owned dairy processors that don’t sell milk in New Zealand and who send their products and profits offshore.

Fonterra’s Shareholders’ Council chair Simon Couper (not online) says:

“Competition is good as it ensures our Co-operative stays lean, efficient and competitive however, there is no successful example in economics where a business is forced to subsidise its competitors, says Couper.

“The Government’s legislation proposes that New Zealand subsidise increasingly foreign-owned competitors while doing little or nothing to ensure milk is available to those processors who need it most or who assist the domestic market . . .

Based on 2011/12 projections less than half of the 570m litres supplied to other processors  this season will make it to the New Zealand domestic market with approximately 300m litres (53%) forecast to go to Independent Processors who primarily export product overseas.

Of that 300m litres two-thirds is claimed by processors with some level of foreign ownership.

“When one sector of an industry has to subsidise another it creates inefficiencies and false economies.

“This proposed legislation would further fragment the New Zealand dairy industry and weaken New Zealand’s export returns, strengthening our overseas competitors at the expense of the New Zealand economy and the average New Zealander.

 Federated Farmers also says none of the proposed changes will reduce the price of milk for domestic consumers:

“Not one of the changes proposed to the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act, or its regulations, will make milk any cheaper in the supermarkets,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson.

” . . . One of our Wellington staff members tells me Karori New World has been selling two litres for $3, as long as you spend $25 in-store.

“At that price, it is identical to what Cole’s has been selling milk for in Australia, once you take out our GST and exchange rate differences.

“What concerns me is that people seem to think farmers get all of the value from retail milk sales. I can tell you our share in a one litre carton of retail milk is around 360 millilitres.

“If someone’s skimming the cream I’d suggest looking harder at the wholesale and retail ends. How come Karori New World can sell two litres of milk for $3 but another New World sells an identical bottle for $3.72?

“That’s where the margins are, instead of the farmer who produce the milk in the first place.

“So what people need to really ask of the Government and of proposed changes to the DIRA is this; where is the domestic competition? Not just at the supermarket but for farmer’s milk itself.

“Precious few of the processors who take this milk, bottle it and then put it onto the shelves of supermarkets or dairies. Too few of these processors get milk from the farmgate and compete locally as they do internationally. We really need to know why,” Mr Leferink concluded.

Among those who do supply the local market are boutique cheese and ice cream producers. If the proposed changes are enacted these small locally owned businesses could be squeezed out by bigger foreign-owned companies which then export the milk.

The ODT editorial also raises doubts over the milk shake-up:

In an attempt to placate public concern about soaring domestic milk prices, the Government appears to have alienated our biggest company and largest export earner and also unwittingly assisted its partly owned foreign-owned dairy processing competitors . . .

 . . . Increasing New Zealanders’ access to dairy products is a laudable motive, but there are real doubts that these proposals will do little more than hamstring our largest export earner.   

Farmers at a Fonterra shareholders’ meeting in Oamaru yesterday were united in their opposition to the proposals.

As one asked, where’s the benefit for New Zealand and New Zealanders if the changes won’t reduce the price on the domestic market and will both add to compliance costs for the company and help foreign-owned businesses export at Fonterra’s expense?

People are upset about the sale of farmland to foreigners which will have little if any impact on them. They would be much better turning their attention to these proposals which will help foreign-owned companies at the expense of our biggest exporter and do nothing to reduce the price of milk on the domestic market.


January 31 in history

January 31, 2012

1606  Guy Fawkes was executed for his plotting against Parliament.

1673 Louis de Montfort, French catholic priest and saint, was born (d. 1716).

1747 The first venereal diseases clinic opened at London Lock Hospital.

1797 Franz Schubert, Austrian composer, was born (d. 1828).

1814 Gervasio Antonio de Posadas became Supreme Director of Argentina.

1849 Corn Laws were abolished in the United Kingdom (following legislation in 1846).

1862 Alvan Graham Clark discovered the white dwarf star Sirius B, a companion of Sirius, through an eighteen inch telescope at Northwestern University.

1865 Confederate General Robert E. Lee became general-in-chief.

1865  Henri Desgrange, Founder of the Tour-de-France, was born (d. 1940).

1872 Zane Grey, American Western writer, was born.(1939)

1876 The United States ordered all Native Americans to move into reservations.

1881  Anna Pavlova, Russian ballerina was born  (d. 1931).

1884 Theodor Heuss, 1st President of Germany (Bundespräsident), was born (d. 1963).

1918 A series of accidental collisions on a misty Scottish night led to the loss of two Royal Navy submarines with over a hundred lives, and damage to another five British warships.

1919 The Battle of George Square took place in Glasgow.

1919  Jackie Robinson, American baseball player,  first black player in Major League Baseball, was born (d. 1972).

1921 New Zealand’s first regular air mail service began with a flight by the Canterbury Aviation Company from Christchurch to Ashburton and Timaru.

NZ’s first regular airmail service begins

1921 Carol Channing, American actress and singer, was born.

1921 Mario Lanza, American singer was born (d. 1959).

1923 Norman Mailer, American writer and journalist, was born  (d. 2007).

1929 The Soviet Union exiled Leon Trotsky.

1930 3M began marketing Scotch Tape.

1938 – Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, was born.

1943 German Field Marshall Friedrich Paulus surrendered to the Soviets at Stalingrad, followed 2 days later by the remainder of his Sixth Army, ending one of World War II’s fiercest battles.

1945 US Army private Eddie Slovik was executed for desertion, the first such execution of a US soldier since the Civil War.

1946 Terry Kath, American musician (Chicago), was born (d. 1978).

1946 Yugoslavia‘s new constitution, modelling the Soviet Union, established six constituent republics (Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia).

1950 President Harry S. Truman announced a programme to develop the hydrogen bomb.

1951 Harry Wayne Casey, American singer and musician (KC and the Sunshine Band), was born.

1953 A North Sea flood caused over 1,800 deaths in the Netherlands.

1956 John Lydon aka Johnny Rotten, English singer (Sex Pistols, Public Image Ltd.), was born.

1958  Explorer 1 – The first successful launch of an American satellite into orbit.

1958  James Van Allen discovered the Van Allen radiation belt.

1961 Mercury-Redstone 2Ham the Chimp travelled into outer space.

1966 The Soviet Union launched the unmanned Luna 9 spacecraft as part of the Luna programme.

1968 – Nauru became independent from Australia.

1971 Apollo 14 Mission – Astronauts Alan Shepard, Stuart Roosa, and Edgar Mitchell, aboard a Saturn V, lifted off for a mission to the Fra Mauro Highlands on the Moon.

1971 – The Winter Soldier Investigation, organised by the Vietnam Veterans Against the War to publicise war crimes and atrocities by Americans and allies in Vietnam, began in Detroit.

1990 The first McDonald’s in the Soviet Union opened in Moscow.

1995 President Bill Clinton authorised a $20 billion loan to Mexico to stabilize its economy.

1996 An explosives-filled truck rams into the gates of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka in Colombo killing at least 86 and injuring 1,400.

2000 Alaska Airlines flight 261 MD-83, experiencing horizontal stabilizer problems, crashes in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Point Mugu, California, killing all 88 persons aboard.

2001 In the Netherlands a Scottish court convicted a Libyan and acquitted another for their part in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 which crashed into Lockerbie in 1988.

2003 The Waterfall rail accident near Waterfall, New South Wales.

2009 - At least 113 people were killed and over 200 injured following an oil spillage ignition in Molo, Kenya.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.


They shouldn’t have to ask

January 30, 2012

The family of the NZ Army soldier in hospital, Lieutenant Teira Cowan, have asked media to respect their privacy.

They shouldn’t have to ask.

His collapse during a training run was legitimate news.

Updates on his condition and the army’s investigation into his collapse are too.

His family’s thoughts and feelings are not.


Word of the day

January 30, 2012

Celebreation -  celebrating while eating. Hat tip: Craft is the New Black


4/10

January 30, 2012

Only 4/10 in the Herald’s travel quiz.


Quote of the day

January 30, 2012

“I have to be seen to be believed.” Queen Elizabeth II


Bollard retiring

January 30, 2012

Reserve Bank governor Alan Bollard won’t be seeking to renew his term when it ends in September.

The Chair of the Reserve Bank Board, Dr Arthur Grimes, said the Board will search in New Zealand and abroad to identify a successor to Dr Bollard.  The Governor is appointed by the Minister of Finance on the recommendation of the Board. 

The importation of people for key positions doesn’t usually generate the same angst as the importation of money to buy land.


8/10

January 30, 2012

8/10 ion Stuff’s Biz Quiz.


Saying it doesn’t make it “green”

January 30, 2012

Quelle surprise – a label saying something’s  green doesn’t necessarily make it so:

Eco-friendly labels are becoming more ubiquitous, but they may be misleading.

Six cases of alleged “greenwashing” – the use of environmental claims that are unsubstantiated, misleading or irrelevant – are being investigated by the Commerce Commission .

“Green” is the new black but it’s very difficult to know what’s greenwash and what’s not.

[Commerce Commission competitions manager Greg]Allan said there had been cases when “biodegradable” and “recyclable” had allegedly been used for products, when there were not facilities in New Zealand able to do the biodegrading or recycling.

Even if the facilities were here how would we know what the environmental impact of the biodegrading and recycling was and if the cost of doing it was justified by the benefit?

The cost might not matter to the well-off but it would make the difference between affordability or not for many others.

That is not a justification for environmental degradation but a reminder that sustainability is the balance between economic, environmental and social concerns.


Dairy Holdings’ farms staying in NZ ownership

January 30, 2012

If the sale of the 16 Crafar farms to foreigners exercised the xenophobic, they’d be even more upset by the  prospect of Dairy Holdings’ 58 dairy units on 14,243 effective hectares, milking 43,992 cows to produce approximately 15.18 million kilograms of milk solids.

However, if TVNZ is right the farms will be staying in New Zealand hands.

“I can’t tell you who the buyer will be but I can tell you the Overseas Investment Office won’t be involved,” said Dairy Holdings Chairman Bill Bayliss.

The New Zealand Super Fund is known to have expressed interest in Dairy Holdings and some say that would be a good outcome. . .

Clearly such an investment has been on the radar for the Super Fund. Chief executive Adrian Orr said in 2010 the fund had up to $500 million to invest in rural land over the next five years.

One of the arguments against the sale of the Crafar farms to the Chinese company Pengxin was that it would make farm ownership more difficult for young New Zealanders.

Will there will be a similar level of opposition to Dairy Holdings sale to the super fund for the same reasons?

Whether or not there is, I’m with Federated Farmers chief executive Conor English who says ownership isn’t the issue:

Federated Farmers says while there may be debate around foreign ownership of Kiwi farms – the most important outcome is good farm management.

“They’re managed well in terms of the environmental impact, in terms of economic impact, in terms of how they fit into the community,” said English.

The first two points matter to the whole country and the last one is very important for the neighbourhood.


January 30 in history

January 30, 2012

1648 Eighty Years’ War: The Treaty of Münster and Osnabrück was signed, ending the conflict between the Netherlands and Spain.

1649 King Charles I of England was beheaded.

1661 Oliver Cromwell, was ritually executed two years after his death, on the anniversary of the execution of the monarch he himself deposed.

1790  The first boat specializing as a lifeboat was tested on the River Tyne.

1806 The original Lower Trenton Bridge (also called the Trenton Makes the World Takes Bridge), was opened.

1820 Edward Bransfield sighted the Trinity Peninsula and claimed the discovery of Antarctica.

1826 The Menai Suspension Bridge, considered the world’s first modern suspension bridge, connecting the Isle of Anglesey to the north West coast of Wales, opened.

1835 In the first assassination attempt against a President of the United States, Richard Lawrence attempted to shoot president Andrew Jackson, but failed and was subdued by a crowd, including several congressmen.

1841 A fire destroyed two-thirds of Mayagüez, Puerto Rico.

1847 Yerba Buena, California was renamed San Francisco.

1858 The first Hallé concert was given in Manchester marking the official founding of the Hallé Orchestra as a full-time, professional orchestra.

1862 The first American ironclad warship, the USS Monitor was launched.

1882  Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd President of the United States, was born (d. 1945).

1889 – Archduke Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria, heir to the Austro-Hungarian crown, was found dead with his mistress Baroness Mary Vetsera in Mayerling.

1911 An amendment to the Gaming Act at the end of 1910 banned bookmakers from racecourses in New Zealand. Bookies were officially farewelled at the now defunct Takapuna racecourse.

Bookies banned from NZ racecourses

1911 The destroyer USS Terry (DD-25) made the first airplane rescue at sea saving the life of James McCurdy 10 miles from Havana.

1911 – The Canadian Naval Service became the Royal Canadian Navy.

1913 The House of Lords rejected the Irish Home Rule Bill.

1925 The Government of Turkey threw Patriarch Constantine VI out of Istanbul.

1929 Lucille Teasdale-Corti, Canadian surgeon and international aid worker, was born (d. 1945).

1930 Gene Hackman, American actor, was born.

1930 The world’s second radiosonde is launched in Pavlovsk USSR.

1931 Shirley Hazzard, Australian-born author, was born.

1933 Adolf Hitler was sworn in as Chancellor of Germany.

1937 Vanessa Redgrave, English actress, was born.

1941 – Dick Cheney, 46th Vice President of the United States, was born.

1945  World War II: The Wilhelm Gustloff, overfilled with refugees, sunk in the Baltic Sea after being torpedoed by a Soviet submarine, leading to the deadliest known maritime disaster, killing approximately 9,000 people.

1945  Raid at Cabanatuan: 126 American Rangers and Filipino resistance liberated 500 prisoners from the Cabanatuan POW camp.

1945 Hitler gave his last ever public address, a radio address on the 12th anniversary of his coming to power. (

1947 Steve Marriott, English musician (Humble Pie, The Small Faces), was born  (d. 1991).

1948 – Indian pacifist and leader Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was assassinated by Nathuram Godse, a Hindu extremist.

1951 Phil Collins, English musician, was born.

1954 Queens EliZabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh left New Zealand, bringing to an end the first tour by a ruling monarch.

Queen farewells New Zealand

1956 American civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.‘s home is bombed in retaliation for the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

1960 The African National Party was founded in Chad through the merger of traditionalist parties.

1960 Lily Potter, (fictional character) Mother of Harry J. Potter and Member of The Order of the Phoenix, was born.

1962 King Abdullah II of Jordan, was born.

1964  Ranger 6 was launched.

1968 Prince Felipe of Spain, was born.

1969 The Beatles‘ last public performance, on the roof of Apple Records in London.

1971 Carole King’s Tapestry album was released, it became the longest charting album by a female solo artist and sold 24 million copies worldwide.

1972 Bloody Sunday: British Paratroopers killed 14 unarmed civil rights/anti internment marchers in Northern Ireland.

1972 Pakistan withdrew from the Commonwealth of Nations.

1979 Varig 707-323C freighter,  disappeared over the Pacific Ocean 30 minutes after taking off from Tokyo.

1982 Richard Skrenta wrote the first PC virus code, which was 400 lines long and disguised as an Apple boot programme called “Elk Cloner”.

1989 The American embassy in Kabul closed.

1994 Péter Lékó became the youngest chess grand master.

1995 Workers from the National Institutes of Health announced the success of clinical trials testing the first preventive treatment for sickle-cell disease.

1996 Gino Gallagher, the suspected leader of the Irish National Liberation Army, was killed while waiting in line for his unemployment benefit.

1996 – Comet Hyakutake was discovered by Japanese amateur astronomer Yuji Hyakutake.

2000 Off the coast of Ivory Coast, Kenya Airways Flight 431 crashed into the Atlantic  killing 169.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.


Word of the day

January 29, 2012

Consanguineous: of the same blood,  lineage or origin; descended from the same ancestor.


20,000 comments

January 29, 2012

A few days ago I noticed that the blog was approaching its 20,000th comment and I made a mental note to look out for it.

However, I was distracted by family fun this weekend and missed it.

The blog has now had:

20,011 Comments

The 20,000th was left yesterday by Blue Leopard.

That’s real comments. The blog has also attracted 428,751 spam comments on the 9,214 posts (not counting this one) I’ve written since launching on April 22nd, 2008.

Thank you to all who’ve contributed to that.

Sometimes I agree with you, sometimes I don’t, sometimes you change my mind, sometimes you don’t, sometimes you raise a smile, sometimes you generate a frown but I do appreciate that you’ve taken the time to join the discussion.

I also appreciate that you almost always respect other people in doing so – I think I’ve only ever deleted one comment in full and edited a couple.

Why do we get excited over zeros and why is 20,000th comment of greater moment than the 19,999th or 20,001st?

I’ll leave the answer to someone who understands more about numbers than I do.


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