Ten Guitars


It’s Billy Connolly’s birthday.

It’s not easy to find something by him without a lot of words my mother wouldn’t want to hear, but I think this is free from fs.

And today is?


I just phoned the Koru Club and got a recorded message telling me the office was closed for Queens Birthday.

The Entertainer


Scott Joplin was born 141 years ago today.

I was introduced to this as the theme music for The Sting, but the tune is much older than that film.

Tuesday’s answers


Monday’s questions were:

1. What is a gnomon?

2. Which New Zealand author lost his left leg in 1940?

3. Who wrote Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge?

4.  Which author rode the Queen Mother’s race horses?

5. Who said, If you steal from one author, it’s plagiarism; if you steal from many it’s research”?

No-one got all the answers:

Fairfacts Media gets a point for the speed and wit of his response.

Andrei got 3 plus 1/2 for his answer to 5.

Samo got 2 and I think another 1 for the answer to 4  – although I wasn’t thinking of  Lester Piggot I think he wrote an autobigoraphy which technically makes him a writer.

PDM gets one and a bonus for his answer to 5.

Teletext is the winner with 4.

Paul Tremewan got 1 right and a bonus for teaching me something.

Tuesday’s answers follow the break:

Read the rest of this entry »

Lamb drop up


The national lamb flock increased  6.2% this spring  Meat and Wool NZ’s tailing survey shows.

A total of 28.95 million lambs were tailed this year, 1.7 million more than last spring when numbers reached a 51 year low.

North Island lamb numbers were up 9.1 per cent (1.1 million head) to 13.15 million head. South Island lamb numbers were up 4.0 per cent (0.60 million head) to 15.80 million head

Fewer ewes were put to the ram but good stock condition and generally favourable weather resulted in more multiple births and better lamb survival.

We had a 123 percent lambing nationally. This was 10.5 percentage points better than last season’s 111.1% when drought affected fertility. 

An increase in the conception rate for ewes, plus good weather conditions in early lambing led to excellent lamb survival boosting the number of lambs tailed.

The export lamb slaughter for 2009-10 is estimated to be 23.5 million head. This is an increase of 4.4% on last season and represents one million more lambs available for slaughter. However, some of these lambs will be retained for replacements to make up for the drop in stock numbers last season.

New season lambs have been receiving similar prices as last season. However farmers are expecting the price to fall off rapidly after the Christmas export trade due to the strength of the dollar.

Last season gave a welcome boost in returns for sheep meat but while international demand is strong it is not expected to translate into prices which are high enough to compensate for the relatively high value of our currency.

Nominations open for PM’s science prizes


Nominations have opened for three of the inaugural Prime Minister’s Science Prizes:  the Prize for Science, the Science Teacher Prize and the Science Media Communication Prize.

Prime Minister’s Science Prize

The winner of the Prize for Science will get $100,000 plus $400,000 for their research. The Science Teacher Prize gives $50,000 to the winner and $100,000 to their school and  the Science Media Communication Prize gives the winner $150,000 to cover the costs of a series of secondments for the winner to media organisations.

Nominations close on December 18.

Further information on the prizes is here.

4WD not amphibian


The Southland Times has the story and photo of a four wheel drive vehicle which can’t swim.

NZ a square peg in round ETS hole


New Zealand’s problem is that we’re different.

Primary production and industries based on it are our bigeest export earners; almost all our forestry is from exotic species; we have relatively little heavy industry and the bulk of our power is already from renewable sources.

The Kyoto Protocol wasn’t designed for countries like us.

The heavy reliance on primary production is much more common in developing countries. But around half our emissions come from animals and there is little, short of reducing stock numbers, we can do to reduce them immediately. Research is being undertaken to reduce emissions from livestock but practical, affordable solutions may be years away.

The rules requiring new trees to be replanted where old ones were felled was aimed at protecting rain forests and indigenous species. It seems no-one considered that a clause aimed at protecting indigenous trees shouldn’t apply to exotic timber species in a country where they grow as well as they do here.

Our private vehicle ownership is high by world standards but that reflects our relatively small, widespread population which means that public transport is neither practical nor affordable in many places.

New Zealand is a square peg and we were ill served by the negotiators who tried to fit us into the round ETS hole.

I have a lot of confidence in Tim Groser who will be working on our behalf at the Copenhagen summit.

But I thought the whole thing was a dog’s breakfast from the start and my concerns are even greater now that there are questions over manipulation of climate change data.

Over at Sciblogs Aimee Witcroft raises the possibility the leaked emails have been doctored and points to a Guardian story  on the issue. It quotes Prof Bob Watson, the chief scientific advisor at Britain’s Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs who said,

“Evidence for climate change is irrefutable. The world’s leading scientists overwhelmingly agree what we’re experiencing is not down to natural variation.”

 Also at Sciblogs Gareth Renowden isn’t convinced by the leaked material.

For a contrary view see:  Ian Wishart,  Adolf at No Minister,  Roarprawn, Whaleoil,  Not PC, Poneke,  Mr Tips at NZ Conservative, Thoughts from 40 South, and Something Should Go Here  who says: 

I’ll say it a thousand times, climate change activism is about politics, not science.

November 24 in history


On November 24:

1429  Joan of Arc unsuccessfully besieged La Charité.

1642  Abel Tasman became the first European to discover the island Van Diemen’s Land (later renamed Tasmania).

1663 map of Van Diemen’s Land, showing the parts discovered by Tasman.
1690  Charles Theodore Pachelbel, German composer, was born.
1806 William Webb Ellis, who is credited with the invention of Rugby, was born.
1815 Grace Darling, English heroine, was born.
Grace Horsley Darling - Portrait.jpg

1849  Frances Hodgson Burnett, British-born author, was born.
1864  Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, French painter, was born.
1868 Scott Joplin, Ragtime Composer, was born.
1888  Dale Carnegie, American writer, was born.
1894 Herbert Sutcliffe, English cricketer, was born.
Herbert Sutcliffe.jpg
1897  Lucky Luciano, American gangster, was born.
1942 Billy Connolly, Scottish comedian, was born.
Billy 1.jpg
1944  Bev Bevan, English rock drummer (The Move, Electric Light Orchestra), was born.
1946  Penelope Jones Halsall (aka Caroline Courtney, Lydia Hitchcock, Melinda Wright, Annie Groves, Penny Jordan), English novelist, was born.
1955  Ian Botham, England test cricketer, was born.

1959 All hands were lost when the modern coastal freighter Holmglen foundered off the South Canterbury coast.

1961 Arundhati Roy, Indian writer, was born.

1965  Joseph Désiré Mobutu seized power in the Congo and became President.

1969 The Apollo 12 command module splashes down safely in the Pacific Ocean, ending the second manned mission to the Moon.

1974 Donald Johanson and Tom Gray discovered the 40% complete Australopithecus afarensis skeleton, nicknamed “Lucy” after The Beatles song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds“, in the Awash Valley of Ethiopia‘s Afar Depression.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

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