Richard Briers 1934 – 2013

February 19, 2013

English actor Richard Briers has died.

 


Word of the day

February 19, 2013

Exculpate – to clear from a charge of guilt or fault; free from blame; vindicate.


Critical Mass

February 19, 2013

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

* A sign that civilisation as we know it is crumbling – Anne of Green Gables has been changed from a skinny red-head to a buxom blonde with come hither eyes. Hat tip: Beattie’s Book Blog.,

* Plain English explanations of 18 scientific occupations.

* 40 things to say before you die (hat tip: Amanda Morrall).


AG clears SkyCity deal

February 19, 2013

The Auditor General has cleared the Government in its dealings with SkyCity in neegotiations over the building of  a convention centre in Auckland.

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce today welcomed the release of the report by the Office of the Auditor-General (OAG) into the expressions of interest process for an international convention centre in Auckland.

“The report dismisses the Greens’ claim that SkyCity was given an unfair advantage in the bidding process. The OAG makes it clear it has seen nothing to suggest the final decision to negotiate with SkyCity was influenced by any inappropriate considerations,” Mr Joyce says.

“Labour’s accusation the Government misled the public on the costs of the negotiations is also without substance as the report states it is inevitable that there will be costs involved in properly negotiating a complex commercial arrangement of this kind.”

The report examines all three stages of the process to date and concludes that the initial stage (feasibility and exploratory) and the third stage (current negotiations) are appropriate. It raises procedural issues with the second stage, particularly in relation to officials seeking a clear understanding from SkyCity in regards to the parameters of a possible arrangement before making a recommendation to Ministers.

“However the report accepts that a great deal of careful work was carried out by officials to understand the market, and that officials were acting in good faith. The report stresses that the issues were procedural rather than about the substance of what was being considered,” Mr Joyce says.

While the report concludes the EOI process run by Government officials did not meet all Government procurement practices; it notes the unique proposition in which SkyCity would fund the entire capital costs of building a convention centre.

“It makes the point that submitters understood in 2010 that Government finances were constrained and that no other submitter appeared to have been likely to be able to adapt their proposal to enable them to fund the full construction costs,” Mr Joyce says.

“Furthermore the OAG states it has not heard any comment to suggest submitters couldn’t understand the reasons why the Government might prefer SkyCity’s proposal.

“In reality, SkyCity’s bid provided the best location – close to CBD, accommodation and transport – they had experience running a convention centre, and had the most developed plan with the greatest benefit for taxpayers over the four other bidders.

“An international convention centre in Auckland will be a major asset for New Zealand and will generate significant spin-off benefits including a $90 million annual injection into the economy; an estimated 1000 jobs during construction; and 800 jobs once it is up and running.

“Government officials are working hard to conclude negotiations with SkyCity and will ensure any deal done is in the best interests of New Zealanders.

“Officials will carefully evaluate the report and incorporate its conclusions both in future procurement processes, and as part of the procurement policy work now being developed across Government.”

Another Green conspiracy theory bites the dust.


Rural round-up

February 19, 2013

Better Lake Rotorua = Farmers + Community + Councils:

A “third way” to better water quality is the promise of the Lake Rotorua Primary Producers Collective signed between Federated Farmers, Te Arawa and councils.
“The positive reaction has been pretty amazing,” says Neil Heather, Federated Farmers Rotorua/Taupo provincial president.

“This is the application of a Land and Water Partnership type approach at a local level.

“Despite one academic taking a pot shot, most Kiwis will see farmers and landowners working hard with regulators to improve what is our lake too. . .

A telling quote about co-ops – Milking on the Moove:

“There seemed little room for entrepreneurial creativity; virtually every decision was politicized.  The most politically active members controlled the co-op with the own personal agendas, and much more energy was focused on deciding which companies to boycott than on how to improve the quality of products and services for customers.  I thought I could create a better store than any of the co-ops I belonged to, and decided to become an entrepreneur to prove it.”

This  quote is from Whole Foods CEO John Mckey. The quote is from his recent book Conscious Capitalism and Forbes has run an article about John and his book, which I found interesting.

John was a hippy in the 60s and 70s and was involved in a commune and various food co-ops.

It appears he became disillusioned with the co-ops and started his own natural food store which grew to be the now famous Whole Foods Market. . .

Failure a huge spur as record-breaking shearer faces biggest challenge -

Tackling the biggest job of your life might not be the best time to talk about failures.

But that’s not the way for Te Kuiti shearer Stacey Te Huia who on Tuesday tackles possibly the greatest shearing record of them all, hoping to shear more than 721 strongwool ewes in nine hours in a remote a King Country woolshed.

The record has not been tried by any other shearer in the six years since it was set by Southern Hawke’s Bay shearing ironman Rodney Sutton.

Tuesday’s bid will be a at Te Hape B, east of Benneydale on SH30 between Te Kuiti and Taupo, and will start at 5am and end at 5pm, including meal and smoko breaks). . .

Gang of four rips through record – Terri Russell:

A lively crowd of about 800 people cheered as four shearers, two from Southland, set a world shearing record near Mossburn yesterday.

Invercargill shearer Leon Samuels, Ohai’s Eru Weeds – who battled on despite being injured – and North Island shearers John Kirkpatrick and James Mack, shore 2556 sheep in eight hours.

The gang set the record in the previously unattempted Heiniger four-stand crossbred lamb eight-hour event. They shore the sheep in four two-hour runs.

The final countdown was heated, as the crowd screamed and shearers sweated it out. Some members of the crowd also performed a surprise haka to the shearers when they finished shearing. . . .

‘Wiggy’ working to better his skills – Sally Rae:

Meet Wiggy from Wales.

Paul ”Wiggy” Davies has been in North Otago working for shearing contractor Owen Rowland, having met Mr Rowland when he was over shearing in Wales.

Mr Davies (27), who had been shearing with former Oamaru man Grant Rowland, now living in Wales, wanted to improve his shearing. . .

Downright ‘grumpy’ over schedule - Rob Tipa:

NEW Zealand meat companies really should listen to their suppliers, because there are some very frustrated, disillusioned and downright grumpy sheep farmers out there.

And with good reason. Those who have withstood the financial pressures experienced by the meat industry in recent years are survivors who deserve a medal for their enduring loyalty to their respective meat processors.

They have listened patiently to promises of greater co-operation between meat companies in one meat industry review after another going back decades.

When the tide turned on low sheepmeat prices in the last couple of seasons, farmers were rewarded for their loyalty with record returns of an average $117 a head for lambs in 2010/11 and $113 a head in 2011/12. . .

Rabobank strengthens NZ research division – new animal proteins analyst appointed:

Rabobank’s Food and Agribusiness Research & Advisory division has announced the appointment of its new animal proteins analyst for New Zealand, Matt Costello.

Rabobank’s head of Food and Agribusiness Research & Advisory Luke Chandler said Mr Costello – who has strong experience as a researcher in the meat industry – was an excellent addition to the bank’s New Zealand food and agribusiness research team, joining senior analyst Hayley Moynihan, who specialises in the dairy sector.

“We’re pleased to welcome Matt into our team here at Rabobank and I am confident his strong background in the animal proteins sector will be a great asset to help further support our clients in this industry in New Zealand,” Mr Chandler said. . .


Business prefers four year term

February 19, 2013

An NBR poll of subscribers shows strong support for a four year parliamentary term.

A decisive majority – 88% were in favour of an extra year between elections and only 12% were against the proposal.

That’s not surprising.

NBR subscribers are likely to be involved in business and business doesn’t like uncertainty that comes in election year.

But it’s not only businesses who get frustrated.

A friend who manages a trust which gets public funding to provide social services says the election year hiatus is very frustrating, disrupts services and stalls progress.


Free Trade made simple

February 19, 2013

Immeasurable amounts of time, effort and money go into free trade negotiations but Tim Worstall shows it doesn’t have to be difficult:

Exports are simply the dreary drudge work we do in order to be able to afford those lovely imports. So, for the EU to “negotiate” a free trade area with the US is very simple. Just stop taxing EU citizens who purchase American goods by imposing tariffs upon them. Similarly, for the US to have free trade with the EU just means lifting those portions of the US Customs code that tax imports from Europe. There, all done. Extraordinarily simple, easy to achieve and yes, it would make us all richer to boot.

Sadly, the economically deluded, the protectionists and others who make money from trade barriers won’t take the simple solution.


What’s in the children’s interests?

February 19, 2013

Watching and listening to reports on the announcements of school closures and mergers in Christchurch I have been concerned about the way teachers and parents have reacted.

The news a school is to close would be difficult to take but the adults appear to be putting their own emotions ahead of the best interests of the children.

The prospect of job losses would be devastating for the staff but major changes whether it is a school closure or merger, doesn’t have to be a tragedy for the pupils.

Children take their lead from adults.

Teachers and parents could make the process much less upsetting for the pupils by putting their interests first.

A couple of schools in Oamaru were told they had to merge by the then-Labour government. Neither was particularly happy about it but they accepted that falling rolls couldn’t justify two schools, got on with the necessary work and took the children with them.

They included pupils in the plans and treated the changes an adventure rather than a disaster.

Education Minister Hekia Parata made it clear why change is necessary:

“The face and make-up of greater Christchurch has, and will continue to change dramatically due to the earthquakes, and the education sector must respond to those changes.

“There were already around 5,000 places available in schools in greater Christchurch before the earthquakes, and 4,300 students have not re-enrolled, meaning there are now 9,300 places available – that’s roughly equivalent to the entire student population of Gisborne.

“The aftermath of the earthquakes has required us to have a look at all the schools across greater Christchurch and see what we could do better.

“We have looked at not only earthquake damage, but also roll size, population movement and projected growth, building issues, and what opportunities existed to create better, more modern schools,” Ms Parata says.

These modern schools are designed to reflect the latest education research and the advice of education experts, to ensure children are being taught using the latest techniques and technology.

“We have a chance to build brighter, more modern schools in better locations, with great new facilities, and to ensure all children are getting access to good, quality education within a close distance of where they live.”

The new schools will be better than the old ones.

The government is making a $1 billion investment building or rebuilding 15 schools over the next 10 years.

The initial announcement of possible closures and mergers wasn’t done well but yesterday’s was handled much better.

It also had far fewer changes than originally mooted but more than 9000 extra places in schools means there does have to be change.

Given that, it is better to accept the proposals and look to the future, for the children’s sake if not their own.


Eyes right

February 19, 2013

“We’re not late, my watch is always 10 minutes fast,” she said. “I do that so that to help me keep on time.”

“But how does it work if you know what the real time is?” he asked.

“When I look at my watch I see before I think so my first instinct is that my eyes are right,” she said.


February 19 in history

February 19, 2013

197 Roman Emperor Septimius Severus defeated usurper Clodius Albinus in the Battle of Lugdunum, the bloodiest battle between Roman armies.

1473 Nicolaus Copernicus, mathematician and astronomer, was born (d. 1543).

1594-  Having already inherited the throne of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth through his mother Catherine Jagellonica of Poland, Sigismund III of the House of Vasa was crowned King of Sweden, succeeding his father John III of Sweden.

1600 – The Peruvian stratovolcano Huaynaputina exploded in the most violent eruption in the recorded history of South America.

1674 – England and the Netherlands signed the Peace of Westminster, ending the Third Anglo-Dutch War. A provision of the agreement transfered the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam to England, and it was renamed New York.

1743 Luigi Boccherini, Italian composer, was born  (d. 1805).

1807 Former Vice President of the United States Aaron Burr was arrested for treason and confined to Fort Stoddert.

1819 British explorer William Smith discovered the South Shetland Islands, and claimed them in the name of King George III.

1847 – The first group of rescuers reached the Donner Party who had been snowbound. Some of the party resorted to cannabilism to survive.

1861 Serfdom was abolished in Russia.

1878 The phonograph was patented by Thomas Edison.

1883 Parihaka leaders Te Whiti and Tohu were released.

Release of Parihaka leaders Te Whiti and Tohu

1884 The Enigma tornado outbreak.

1895 Diego Mazquiarán, Spanish matador, was born  ( d. 1940 ).

1924 Lee Marvin, American actor, was born (d. 1987).

1936 Sam Myers, American musician and songwriter, was born (d. 2006).

1938 Twenty men and one woman were drowned when a sudden cloudburst sent a wall of water surging through a public works camp at Kopuawhara, near Mahia. This was New Zealand’s deadliest 20th-century flood.

21 drown in Kopuawhara flash flood

1940 Smokey Robinson, American singer, was born.

1942 Nearly 250 Japanese warplanes attacked Darwin killing 243 people.

1942 –President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the executive order 9066′, allowing the United States military to relocate Japanese-Americans to Japanese internment camps.

1943 Battle of the Kasserine Pass in Tunisia began.

1945 Battle of Iwo Jima – about 30,000 United States Marines landed on Iwo Jima.

1947 Tim Shadbolt, mayor of Invercargill, New Zealand, was born.

1949 – Ezra Pound was awarded the first Bollingen Prize in poetry by the Bollingen Foundation and Yale University.

1952 Amy Tan, American novelist, was born.

1953 Georgia approved the first literature censorship board in the United States.

1958 Helen Fielding, English writer, was born.

1959 – The United Kingdom granted Cyprus its independence.

1960  Prince Andrew, Duke of York, was born.

1963 – The publication of Betty Friedan‘s The Feminine Mystique launched the reawakening of the Feminist Movement in the United States as women’s organisations and consciousness-raising groups spread.

1972 The Asama-Sansō hostage standoff began in Japan.

1976 Executive Order 9066 was rescinded by President Gerald R. Ford’s Proclamation 4417

1978 Egyptian forces raid Larnaca International Airport, in an attempt to intervene in a hijacking situation, without authorisation from the Republic of Cyprus authorities. The Cypriot National Guard and Police forces kill 15 Egyptian commandos and destroy the Egyptian C-130 transport plane in open combat.

1985 William J. Schroeder became the first Artificial heart recipient to leave hospital.

1985 – Iberia Airlines Boeing 727 crashed into Mount Oiz in Spain, killing 148.

1986 Akkaraipattu massacre, massacre of 80 Tamil farm workers by the Sri Lankan Army in the eastern province of Sri Lanka.

1986 – The Soviet Union launched its Mir spacecraft.

1999 – President Bill Clinton issued a posthumous pardon for U.S. Army Lt. Henry Ossian Flipper.

2001 An Oklahoma City bombing museum was dedicated at the Oklahoma City National Memorial.

2001 Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal was awarded an honorary knighthood in recognition of a “lifetime of service to humanity”.

2002 – NASA’s Mars Odyssey space probe started to map the surface of Mars using its thermal emission imaging system.

2006 – A methane explosion in coal mine near Nueva Rosita, Mexico, killed 65 miners.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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