Carter on stress leave

August 2, 2010

Was I too quick to condemn labour MPs for questioning Chris Carter’s mental health?

He’s applied for, and been granted, eight weeks’ stress leave from parliament.


Lawrence of Arabia

August 2, 2010

Happy birhtday Peter O’Toole, 78 today.


Word of the day

August 2, 2010

Boondoggling – the act of pretending to be busy.

Just one of the  words for stuff there aren’t words for.

Hat Tip: Quote UnQuote.


Monday’s quiz

August 2, 2010

1. Where is the brisket in cattle?

2. What is  timocracy?

3. Who said: “They meant abnormal. Divisions of the kind were fashionable at that time, and it was so easy to stifle one’s need to help by deciding that help could neither be accepted nor understood.”

4 What are the Roman numberals for  50, 100, 500 and 1000?

5.  Who was the original Dr Who?


Junk diets start at home

August 2, 2010

Is anyone surprised that a lot of children have junk diets at home?

A bit more fat and sugar and the extra kilojoules which go with them now and then isn’t a problem, it’s what you eat most of the time which makes a diet healthy or not.

You only have to look at what’s available on supermarket shelves to work out that a lot of people must be eating more of the food which ought to be reserved for occasional treats more often than they should.

 Food and drink that used to be reserved for celebrations like birthdays or Christmas – crisps, sweets, take aways, fizz – are almost staples for some families.

A generation or two ago homemade food was the norm. Some of us still cook from scratch, or nearly scratch,  when we know exactly what’s going into your meals most of the time but a lot of people don’t.

Poverty is one of the reasons for this. If you have little or nothing for  discretionary spending  price matters more than nutrition and a lot of the highly processed high energy foods are cheaper than healthier alternatives.

Ignorance is another – some people simply don’t know what a healthy diet is and how to cook it.

Even if you do know the sort of food you’re supposed to eat most of, most of the time, unless you study nutritional information on packaged food, which is almost always in tiny print which is difficult to read , it’s easy to be miss high levels of fat and sugar in what you might think is “healthy” food.

Then there’s time, or lack of it. When you’re busy it’s very tempting to resort to ready-to-eat meals which are usually more energy dense than to cook from scratch.

Any or all of these contribute to unhealthy eating and too much energy going in is compounded by too little energy going out.

Children have a lot more choices of indoor activities than they used to. Sections are smaller so it’s harder for kids to get incidental exercise playing at home and fears, often groundless, of dangers outside their properties make parents loathe to let their offspring go too far away.

All of these contribute to valid concerns about more people being overweight and under fit.

Solving that isn’t easy, but schools may take some comfort from the survey because it shows what happens between nine and three is a small part of  a much bigger problem.


What really mattered?

August 2, 2010

What really mattered last week?

Political shenanigans which have dominated headlines, columns and blogs?

Or the death of another child as a result of abuse?

It’s relatively easy to deal with acute stupidity. 

Addressing a  chronic breakdown in families and society is much, much harder.


First they came for the pigs . . .

August 2, 2010

Last year animal welfare activists targeted pig farming and they’ve had another go at it recently.

The grapevine warned us they would also be on the warpath during calving and lambing and they are.  TV1 news last night started with a story on inducing calves in dairy herds.

There are differing views on the practice – some vets say as long as it’s done properly it’s not inhumane, others oppose the practice.

Regardless of whether it is humane or not induction is  being phased out anyway.

The  reporter said cows are induced to get them producing milk earlier. That’s only part of the story – if cows are too late calving one season they’ll be later, sometimes too late, getting in calf for the following season.

The story also didn’t explain that cows are induced here because unlike most other countries we have seasonal milking.

Overseas where most of the milk produced is for the domestic market herds have some cows calving all through the year so it doesn’t really matter if the calves aren’t produced at a particular time. That happens with town supply herds here too but most of our herds produced milk for export.

Some farms milk through winter for export but most calve in spring, get the cows pregnant in early summer and stop milking by the end of May. This cycle follows grass growth – cows are producing milk when there’s more for them to eat. Grass growth slows or stops altogether over winter.

Cows which are too late for artificial insemination  or going to the bull or don’t conceive are usually culled.

When inductions stop altogether there will be more dry cows which will be sent to the works and farmers will be likely to increase the size of their herds to compensate.

No doubt some people will object to that too.


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