Silent Woods

January 26, 2010

Jacqueline du Pré would have been 68 today.

She was a gifted musician, in spite of the multiple sclerosis, which led to her early death when she was only 42.

Changes in Cabinet

January 26, 2010

John Key has announced a couple of changes in Cabinet roles.

Steven Joyce becomes Tertiary Education Minister, allowing Anne Tolley to fully focus her efforts on the Education portfolio, and in particular the implementation of the Government’s national standards policy.

Kate Wilkinson becomes Conservation Minister, a portfolio in which she is currently Associate Minister. This change reflects the fact that Tim Groser is frequently out of the country representing New Zealand’s interests in the Trade and Climate Change fields.

The responsibility for Tertiary Education has often been separated from the rest of the Education portfolio and having the Associate Finance Minister in charge of Tertiary Education shows how important it is.

Kate has already been taking a lot of responsibility for Conservation because of Tim’s absence and will have no trouble taking on her new role.

There are some big issues ahead in this portfolio including tenure review and what action, if any is taken after the stock take of mineral reserves under conservation land. These need the attention of a Minister who is in the country most of the time.

The Toastmaster

January 26, 2010

Michael Bentine would have been 78 today.

Oh dear, I think I’ve been at one of those dinners.

Tuesday’s answers

January 26, 2010

Monday’s questions were:

1. What is Boyle’s law.

2. Which yacht won the last America’s Cup and who was the skipper?

3. Who said, “I never worry about diets. The only carrots that interest me are the number you get in a diamond.”?

4.Who wrote, Dust to Gold?

5. Who was the musterer who found the hermit merino Shrek?

Gravedodger gets four points – and a fifth, with a bonus for fooling me by being cryptic, if his answer to #3 means Mae West.

Andrei gets 2 plus a 1/2 for #2 and a bonus for the very full answer to #1.

Paul got 2 right, a 1/2 bonus for creativity for his answer to #4 which was lost for assuming – wrongly – the musterer was a bloke.

Woolcombe got #3 right and gets 1/2 for each of  # 1 & 2.

PDM got 1 for #3 (and a bonus because it was his repeated answering of Mae West which sent me in search of a quote from her); a 1/2 for #1 and a 1/2 bonus for good memory but wrong answer to #5.

David got 2 – and would have got another had he stayed with Mae West.

The answers follow the break:

Read the rest of this entry »

Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day

January 26, 2010

Paul Tremewan’s comment on today being the birthday of bubble wrap sent me is search of information about it – and there’s lots.

It’s been manufactured by Sealed Air Corp for 50 years.

It was invented by Arthur Alfred W. Fielding and Marc Chavannes by happy accident when they were trying to make wallpaper with a plastic backing.

Today is Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day – and there’s a lot to appreciate.

Besides the obvious use of protective packaging for precious bits and pieces, it’s been employed for many other things and has even been used to make a wedding dress.

I’m an advocate for its therapeutic  properties – popping the bubbles is fun.

Bubble wrap is also very good for wrapping clothes when you’re travelling. My farmer wrapped his suit in it before we flew to Argentina for a wedding last year and it arrived without a crease.

Happy Australia Day

January 26, 2010

Waitangi Day is almost two weeks away and already a debate has started.

This time it’s over whether or not the holiday should be Mondayised if, as it does this year, it falls on a weekend.

Meanwhile, over the ditch, the Aussies will just be having fun.


Ethics vs politics

January 26, 2010

If a public hospital has done all the work it’s funded for and has no money to do any more procedures but does have the staff and equipment, should it be able to do so with private money?

More to the point, is it ethical to refuse treatment which could be provided if someone pays just because not everyone else can?

Providing private paying patients aren’t taking precedence over those whose procedures are publicly funded when the funds are available, I don’t see any problem with public hospitals providing privately funded services.

But I do think there’s an ethical issue if the hospitals aren’t able to provide services when the only issue is where the money is coming from.

Oncologist Dr Chris Jackson explains the thinking behind private funding for some procedures in public hospitals in the ODT.

Allowing public hospital cancer patients to have the option of paying for drugs not available through the public system would not mean the beginning of the end of the public health system . . .

. . . The consultation document states it is important for the hospital’s priority to be providing publicly funded services and that provision of extra treatments should not affect the care of patients receiving the publicly funded treatment. . .

Not everyone supports the idea but it sounds to me that those who oppose it don’t understand that paying patients wouldn’t be shoving others aside and they’re letting politics get in the way of ethics.

Macdoctor supports the concept and the panel discussed the issue with Jim Mora  and Dr Jackson (at about 15:30).

P.S. A personal example of when the private-public stand-off gets silly. Our baby son needed an MRI scan in 1989 when New Zealand’s only scanner was in a private hopsital in Auckland. Rather than sending us there, we were flown to Sydney.

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