Word of the day

February 18, 2013

Protean – tending or able to change frequently or easily; readily assuming different forms, meanings or shapes; able to do many different things; displaying or exhibiting great diversity or variety; very variable; versatile.


Rural round-up

February 18, 2013

Call for tighter rules – Gerald Piddock:

Federated Farmers is demanding the rules for importing palm kernel expeller (PKE) be tightened.

This comes after two members of the group’s grain and seed executive observed massive breaches of the New Zealand import health standards for importing 

Federated Farmers is demanding the rules for importing palm kernel expeller (PKE) be tightened.

This comes after two members of the group’s grain and seed executive observed massive breaches of the New Zealand import health standards for importing PKE into New Zealand during a visit to a Malaysian PKE crushing plant.

Mid Canterbury farmer David Clark along with Whakatane farmer Colin MacKinnon visited the country in September last year.

They detailed the breaches along with several recommendations to improve New Zealand’s biosecurity process in a report they submitted to the Ministry for Primary Industries last year.

into New Zealand during a visit to a Malaysian PKE crushing plant.

Mid Canterbury farmer David Clark along with Whakatane farmer Colin MacKinnon visited the country in September last year.

They detailed the breaches along with several recommendations to improve New Zealand’s biosecurity process in a report they submitted to the Ministry for Primary Industries last year. . .

Irrigation scheme on target -Gerald Piddock:

The first of the giant ponds at the Rangitata South Irrigation scheme could be filled by the end of the month, as construction of the project continues.

Workers were one third of the way through lining the surface of the first of the ponds, Rooney Earth Moving general manager Colin Dixon said.

The plastic lining came in large rolls that were unwrapped and the edges were then joined together.

“It’s like a sewing machine, it runs up the seam really slowly and melts them together,” Mr Dixon said.

He estimated it would take four to six weeks to line each pond. The ponds were lined one after the other, rather than all at the same time. As soon as one pond is lined, it can be filled with water. . .

Time to merge ag unis?- Marie Taylor and Rebecca Harper:

Merging agriculture courses offered at Lincoln and Massey universities is one way to make better use of limited resources, Beef + Lamb chairman Mike Petersen says.

It emerged last week that Lincoln was undertaking a major review of its qualifications.

It is the country’s smallest university, with 3500 full-time equivalent students, and has faced a series of financial losses in the past few years. It had a $5 million loss last year and a $5m loss is budgeted for this year.

Lincoln wants to reduce the number of undergraduate degrees it offers from 13 to three land-based three-year degrees, with a common first year. . .

The carbon-neutral dairy farm, is it possible? – Milking the Moove:

What does a dairy farmer have to do to become carbon neutral?

There has been much wailing and gnashing of teeth at the prospect of agriculture being included into New Zealand’s Emission Trading Scheme (ETS). 

So I thought to my self, what would a dairy farmer need to do to become carbon neutral?

But first, why would a farmer what to be carbon neutral?

Some may say because it’s the right thing to do for the environment.

Others will want to eliminate any tax paid on the carbon they emit. 

Other people will say that, being carbon neutral gives that farmer a wonderful point of difference in which to differentiate their products.

In order to avoid getting into a debate about whether climate change is real or not, I’m going to approach this from the marketing angle. . . .

Sector pins hopes on golden fleece – Tim Cronshaw:

A golden yarn developed by Kiwi scientists and containing pure gold is expected to be sold to wealthy buyers of luxury carpets, rugs and furnishings.

Unlike the golden fleece in Greek mythology the yarn and completed woollen products will not have a golden colour at this stage.

The Aulana-branded wool has been developed by Professor Jim Johnston and Dr Kerstin Lucas of Victoria University after $3 million of research and development.

A tiny amount of pure gold is combined with wool and the chemistry between the two causes it to bond and produce the colours of purple, grey and blue.

The range is expected to be extended and include a golden hue later. . .

Shearers busy as farmers heed market – Tim Cronshaw:

Canterbury shearers have gone into overdrive after an unexpected surge in sheep needing to be shorn.

The December to early February stint is usually quiet for shearing, but an influx of lambs and cull ewes needing their fleece removed put the pressure on shearers during the hot spell, when temperatures soared above 30 degrees in shearing sheds.

Farmers appear to have moved quickly in line with lower lamb prices and this acted as a catalyst for more shearing.

January was expected to be a slow month for shearing, but only in the last week has the pace slowed, said Barry Pullin,  an owner of Pullin Shearing, and chairman for the New Zealand Shearing Contractors Association. . . .


How safe is changed password?

February 18, 2013

Telecom has been urging customers to change passwords for their Xtra email accounts after a security breach.

the company has cancelled thousands of passwords and says they’ve been  assured by Yahoo the problem is now sorted.

But is it?

. . . Institute of IT Professionals NZ CEO told NBR ONLINE over the weekend that his members continue to investigate the possibility that Xtra address books and email were downloaded for later use by the hackers. Telecom and Yahoo acknowledge the nature of the Yahoo mail server security breach meant it was possible this had taken place. But both say there is so far no evidence it happened. Mr Matthews asks if there’s any evidence it didn’t.

The direct mail server security breach meant phishing emails were sent to the contacts of some people who were not actively using their Xtra account, let alone clicking on a dodgy link. . .

Ours was one of the accounts which had its password cancelled and we had no trouble resetting it.

But no evidence that address books and emails were downloaded for later use could just mean they haven’t been used yet.


Schools role to educate

February 18, 2013

Education Minister Hekia Parata will this morning be announcing the interim decisions for 31 Christchurch schools marked for closure or merger.

The NZEI has called off its planned strike, which is encouraging but there will be jobs lost and communities changed which will be difficult for those affected.

However, let’s not forget that there are more than 200 schools educating around 78,000 children in Christchurch and more than 4,000 children have left the city.

The Minister said in a Facebook post that the proposed changes will affect 31 schools and around 5,500 pupils which is 7.6 of the entire school population in the region. More than 80 per cent, or 177 of the 215 schools in greater Christchurch, are not affected.

Those figures won’t make it any easier for staff who will lose jobs and children who will have to go to a different school.

But the status quo isn’t a good option. It’s better to have fewer, newer schools where most children are than keep open old schools with extensive earthquake damage and sharp drops in roll numbers.

There will be sad stories from teachers and support staff who will face redundancy; from children in schools that will close; and from their families.

But let’s remember the role of schools is to educate children.

In doing so it provides jobs and a focus for a community and the loss of those is unfortunate.

But the prime consideration is the best educational outcomes for the children and the best use of the public money required to do that.

Apropos of that – there are good news stories about education in Christchurch, such as this one about Clearview – a new school with a growing roll, enthusiastic principal and happy pupils.


Dirty birds

February 18, 2013

Towards the end of last year a report from the Otago Regional Council raised concerns about deteriorating water quality in the Kakanui River.

One of the contributing factors was an increased level of E.coli.

Dairying was blamed although the council couldn’t find the source.

One of the dairy farmers decided to do his own research and canoed down the river.

He found a couple of dead sheep caught in submerged branches then he came on a large colony of seagulls nesting in a canyon.

He reported this to the council which sent a helicopter up the river and found the source of the problem.

. . .  a large colony of nesting gulls – was found in rugged terrain, about 5 km above the Clifton Falls bridge.

Water quality samples were taken immediately above and below the colony, with widely divergent results Upstream of the colony, the bacteria concentrations were 214 E.coli/100ml, whereas immediately downstream, the concentration was far greater at 1300 E.coli/100ml .

ORC manager of resource science Matt Hickey said that according to Government water quality guidelines for recreational swimming areas, those with less than 260 E.coli/100m should be safe, whereas water with more than 550 E.coli/100ml could pose a health-risk.

Mr Hickey said six colonies of gulls were found in total, on steep rocky faces, where they clearly favoured the habitat for nesting.

While they had gone undetected up until now due to the inaccessible nature of the gorge, it was likely the gulls returned each year to breed in the same places.

“Unfortunately, these nesting gull colonies are likely to continue to cause high E.coli concentrations in the upper Kakanui River, particularly during the breeding season,” Mr Hickey said.

“Bird activity, river flow, or even whether it is a cloudy or sunny day, (as E.coli often died quickly in clear water when exposed to sunlight) will influence actual bacteria numbers at Clifton Falls bridge. With hindsight, it reflects the random nature of the historical bacteria results at this site.”

Mr Hickey said the E.coli concentrations reflected a large number of birds congregating in a small area and we are fortunate this situation was not common in Otago. Historically E.coli concentrations in the lower Kakanui River have been very low, despite the gull colonies being found upstream.

The council is warning people against swimming in the river but we’ve had no warning about drinking the water, presumably because it’s treated.

Locals are very keen to solve the problem but it’s not necessarily a simple matter:

Coastal Otago biodiversity programme manager David Agnew said the Department of Conservation would look into the situation and try to identify which species of gull were nesting in the area.

Mr Agnew said the species involved would determine what could be done to remove them.

”Black-backed gulls are not protected so that’s not a problem as far as if they are causing a problem. They are not rare or threatened, they are not even protected, whereas red-billed gulls and black-billed gulls both have their own conservation concerns.”

There’s no concern about conservation with cows. If they were causing water quality problems farmers could face prosecution and would have to act quickly to address the cause.

Some gulls have a special status and if they’re the ones fouling the water the clean up will take some time.


Clean dirt

February 18, 2013

“How can you have clean dirt?” she asked.

“When it’s the product of hard work,” he said.

“You might get away with that if you kept it outside,” she said. “But the cleanest of dirt becomes dirty dirt when it comes inside and leaves a trail across the floor I just washed.”


February 18 in history

February 18, 2013

3102 BC Epoch of the Kali Yuga.

1229 The Sixth Crusade: Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor signed a ten-year truce with al-Kamil, regaining Jerusalem, Nazareth, and Bethlehem with neither military engagements nor support from the papacy.

1268 The Livonian Brothers of the Sword were defeated by Dovmont of Pskov in the Battle of Rakvere.

1478 George, Duke of Clarence, who was convicted of treason against his older brother Edward IV of England, was executed.

1685 Fort St. Louis was established by a Frenchman at Matagorda Bay thus forming the basis for France’s claim to Texas.

1745 The city of Surakarta, Central Java was founded on the banks of Bengawan Solo river, and became the capital of the Kingdom of Surakarta.

1797 Trinidad was surrendered to a British fleet under the command of Sir Ralph Abercromby.

1814 The Battle of Montereau.

1841 The first ongoing filibuster in the United States Senate began and lasted until March 11.

1846 Beginning of the Galician peasant revolt.

1861 Jefferson Davis was inaugurated as the provisional President of the Confederate States of America.

1861 King Victor Emmanuel II of Piedmont, Savoy and Sardinia assumed the title of King of Italy.

1873 Bulgarian revolutionary leader Vasil Levski was executed in Sofia by the Ottoman authorities.

1878 John Tunstall was murdered by outlaw Jessie Evans, sparking the Lincoln County War.

Jessie Evans.

1884 Mark Twain‘s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was published for the first time.

1901 Winston Churchill made his maiden speech in the House of Commons.

1906 – Hans Asperger, Austrian pediatrician was born (d. 1980).

1911 The first official flight with air mail took place in Allahabad, British India, when Henri Pequet, a 23-year-old pilot, delivers 6,500 letters to Naini, about 10 km away.

1913 Raymond Poincaré becomes President of France.

1922 – Helen Gurley Brown, American editor, was born (d. 2012).

1929 The first Academy Awards were announced.

1930 Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto.

1930 – Elm Farm Ollie becomes the first cow to fly in a fixed-wing aircraft and also the first cow to be milked in an aircraft.

1932 – The Empire of Japan declared Manzhouguo (the obsolete Chinese name for Manchuria) independent from the Republic of China.

1933  Yoko Ono, Japanese-born singer, was born.

1933  Mary Ure, Scottish actress, was born  (d. 1975).

1936 Jean Auel, American writer, was born.

1943 – The Nazis arrested the members of the White Rose movement.

1943 – Joseph Goebbels delivered the Sportpalast speech.

1946 Jean-Claude Dreyfus, French actor, was born.

1948 Eamon de Valera resignsed as Taoiseach of Ireland.

1948 Keith Knudsen, American drummer and songwriter (The Doobie Brothers), was born (d. 2005).

1950 Cybill Shepherd, American actress, was born.

1953 Robbie Bachman, Canadian drummer (Bachman-Turner Overdrive), was born.

1954 John Travolta, American actor, was born.

1954 The first Church of Scientology was established in Los Angeles, California.

1955 Operation Teapot: Teapot test shot “Wasp” was successfully detonated at the Nevada Test Site with a yield of 1.2 kilotons.

1957 Walter Bolton, a Wanganui farmer was the last man to be hanged in New Zealand.

1957  Kenyan rebel leader Dedan Kimathi was executed by the British colonial government.

1960  Greta Scacchi, Australian actress, was born.

1965 The Gambia becomes independent from the United Kingdom.

1969 The Hawthorne Nevada Airlines Flight 708 disaster occurred, killing all on board.

1972 The California Supreme Court in the case of People v. Anderson, 6 Cal.3d 628 invalidates the state’s death penalty and commutes the sentences of all death ro innmates to life in prison.

1977  The Space Shuttle Enterprise test vehicle was carried on its maiden “flight” sitting on top of a Boeing 747.

1979 Snow fell in the Sahara Desert in southern Algeria for the only time in recorded history.

1982 “Queen of Crime” Dame Ngaio Marsh died.

'Queen of Crime' Ngaio Marsh dies

1983 Thirteen people die and one is seriously injured in the Wah Mee Massacre in Seattle, Washington. It is said to be the largest robbery-motivated mass-murder in U.S. history.

1991 The IRA exploded bombs in the early morning at both Paddington station and Victoria station in London.

2001 FBI agent Robert Hanssen was arrested for spying for the Soviet Union.

2003 Nearly 200 people died in the Daegu subway fire in South Korea.

2003 Comet C/2002 V1 (NEAT) made perihelion, seen by SOHO.

2004 Up to 295 people, including nearly 200 rescue workers, died near Neyshabur in Iran when a run-away freight train carrying sulfur, petrol and fertiliser caught fire and exploded.

2007 – Terrorist bombs exploded on the Samjhauta Express in Panipat, Haryana, India, killing 68 people.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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