Things to do with 30 spare hours . . .

25/10/2010

. . .  and 600 metres of tinfoil:

The art of procrastination has taken on new meaning with students at an Otago flat spending 30 hours tinfoiling a friend’s entire room, just days out from exams. 

Hamish Chang, a third year accounting student, was the unlucky victim of the time-consuming prank, which used 600m of tinfoil and took several days.


Word of the day

25/10/2010

Farctate – crammed or stuffed (as distinct from hollow or tubular); the state of being stuffed with food/ having overeaten.


Monday’s quiz

25/10/2010

1. What does Labour Day commemorate?

2. Who was the London-born, Petone carpenter credited with what Labour Day commemorates?

3. Who said: “ Work spares us from three evils: boredom, vice and need“?

4. Labour Weekend is traditionally when vegetable gardens are planted – did you do that and if so what did you plant?

5. What was your job, how old were you when you started it and can you remember how much it paid?


Change the culture not the law

25/10/2010

Let’s start with a confession – I drank more than I should have then drove twice.

Both times was when I was a student, once at 19, the second time at 21.

I don’t know how much I’d drunk but it was probably no more than four glasses of wine. Both times the drinking was with a meal over at least three hours so I may not have been over the legal limit. Everyone else had drunk more and they nominated me as driver but all these years later I remember thinking I’d had too much to drive safely.

Luck was our side, other road users, my passengers and I all got home safely.

I have no idea why we didn’t get a taxi, although drinking and driving wasn’t unusual back then, long before the campaigns and culture change which have made our roads safer – although still not safe enough.

Twice was two times too many. I’ve rarely drunk that much at a time again and never if I’ve been driving.

Living in the country requires a lot of driving and I’m happy be the sober driver for several reasons:  I’d rather eat kilojoules than drink them; I’m quite capable of having fun – and being silly – when I’m sober; and I don’t want to deal with a hangover when I’m expected to function effectively next day.

I sometimes choose not to have any alcohol and if I do drink it would never be more than two glasses of wine, with food over several hours if I’ll be driving.

Because of that I wouldn’t have a problem signing up to the NZ Herald’s Two Drinks Max campaign to never drink more than two standard drinks.

But like Macdoctor I think the paper would be better to campaign to change the culture rather than the law.

A massive campaign to get people to pledge to less alcohol would probably do far more good than dropping the limit. New Zealanders are far too apt to wink at excessive drinking and condone it as laddish behaviour. . .  Most of these people are responsible and would never dream of driving home in that state – but they give legitimacy to it, encouraging less responsible people to drink excessively. These few then go on to create our appalling drink-driving stats. “Two Drinks Max” might go some small way towards mitigating that culture of drunkenness.

Both Macdoctor and Kiwiblog question the case for lowering the legal breath alcohol limit.

I don’t know if they’re right, but there are mixed messages in campaigns which say if you drink and drive you’re a bloody idiot. The clear inference in that is that it’s okay to drink too much if you’re not driving.

There is plenty of evidence in not only the road carnage but in statistics on violence and other alcohol related harm to make the case against drinking to excess, whether or not you’re driving.

We need a culture change rather than a law change if we’re to address the attitude towards problem drinking and a two drinks max might help do that.


SFF looking desperate

25/10/2010

Silver Fern Farms had a half-page advertisement in Saturday’s ODT and Southland Times.

It was an open letter to Alliance Group and SFF shareholders promoting a meger of the two companies:

Dear Shareholder

Notwithstanding the impact the recent weather has had on livestock numbers and the potential further exodus from the sheep and beef sector, Silver Fern Farms remains convinced a strategic direction and supporting structure needs to be advanced for our industry.

Our recent $67m commitment to Farm IQ Systems Limited is evidence of our commitment to make a difference by achieving superior market place returns that are transparently linked back inside the farm gate. We believe that a different ownership structure, and consolidation within the industry, is important to capitalise on a strategy that is market focussed.

It is our view that putting our two co-operatives together as a first stage will create scale and financial strength to under-pin such a strategy. If shareholders of the co-operatives have commitment to support that merged business, then further consolidation can follow.

However, a lead needs to be taken. It should not be a lead about self preservation but a lead about creating a “NZ Inc” strategic approach to the marketing of New Zealand red meat and associated products.

We have exhausted direct attempts to achieve such an objective and now look to the shareholders of our two NZ farmer controlled co-operatives to have a direct say and to give direction as to how they would like their industry and co-operative to advance.

This is not a vote, nor a mandate, but an opportunity for you as shareholders to give your view. It is then over to the respective boards to accept or ignore your view.

It was signed by SFF’s directors.

Shareholders are then asked to tick yes or no to the following proposition:

I support the Alliance Group Limited and Silver Fern Farms Limited to:
  • Appoint an independent facilitator to Chair a joint evaluation committee to:
  • Create a strategic plan for the future of NZ meat products and by products.
  • Agree on the appropriate governance structure to support that strategic plan.
  • Oversee the independent analysis of the financial outcomes of an amalgamation of the two companies
  • Publish a report on these matters to be distributed to shareholders, excluding confidential and commercially sensitive details.

It is only two years since Alliance shareholders turned down an attempt by the Meat Industry Action Group to merge the two co-operatives.

In those two years SFF”s market share has declined and Alliance’s has increased making it even less likely Alliance shareholders would entertain a merger now.

Any chances of shareholders showing any interest in the proposition aren’t helped by the unusual method SFF has chosen to get its message across.

Why use an open letter in newspapers rather than writing directly to shareholders?

Why advertise in newspapers on the Saturday of a long weekend when there’s no mail delivery? Most farmers won’t get the papers until Tuesday and will pay mroe attention to Monday’s and Tuesday’s than the three-day-old one from the weekend.

Why not speak to Alliance directors before writing the open letter?

Why didn’t SFF accompany the advertisements with media releases?

Why wait until after Alliance has finished its road shows for shareholders at which no-one raised the question of a merger?

Why require the form to be returned by November 8 when the company’s annual report isn’t expected out until the middle of the month?

What has SFF to offer Alliance shareholders when SFF hasn’t paid a dividend or pool payout in the last five years and Alliance has paid both every year?

The outlook for the 2010/11 season was for increasing demand and falling supply before the disastrous losses after last month’s snow in Southland and South Otago which means competition for stock will be even greater.

This letter isn’t going to give farmers any reason to choose SFF over other companies with better balance sheets and more confidence in their own future.

It’s designed to show SFF taking the high ground over a strategy for the whole industry but it looks more like a last ditch attempt to ensure its own survival.

This may be only the opening salvo in SFF’s campaign but it looks more like the prelude to surrender than a winning battle plan.


October 25 in history

25/10/2010

On October 25:

1147  The Portuguese, under Afonso I, and Crusaders from England and Flanders conquered Lisbon after a four-month siege.

Siege of Lisbon - Muslim surrender.jpg

1147  Seljuk Turks annihilated German crusaders under Conrad III at the Battle of Dorylaeum.

1415 The army of Henry V of England defeated the French at the Battle of Agincourt.

Schlacht von Azincourt.jpg

1616  Dutch sea-captain Dirk Hartog made second recorded landfall by a European on Australian soil, at Dirk Hartog Island off the Western Australian coast.

 

1747  British fleet under Admiral Sir Edward Hawke defeats the French at the second battle of Cape Finisterre.

Bay of Biscay map.png

1760 George III became King of Great Britain.

Full-length portrait in oils of a clean-shaven young man in eighteenth century dress: gold jacket and breeches, ermine cloak, powdered wig, white stockings, and buckled shoes.

1813  War of 1812: Canadians and Mohawks defeated the Americans in the Battle of Chateauguay.

Battle of Chateauguay.jpg

1825  Johann Strauss II, Austrian composer, was born (d. 1899).

1828 The St Katharine Docks opened in London.

 

1838 Georges Bizet, French composer, was born (d. 1875).

1854  The Battle of Balaklava during the Crimean War (Charge of the Light Brigade).

Charge of the Light Brigade.jpg

1861  The Toronto Stock Exchange was created.

TSX New.svg

1881 Pablo Picasso, Spanish painter and sculptor, was born (d. 1973).

1888 Richard E. Byrd, American explorer, was born (d. 1957).

Lt com r e byrd.jpg

1900  The United Kingdom annexed the Transvaal.

1917 Traditionally understood date of the October Revolution, involving the capture of the Winter Palace, Petrograd.

1920  After 74 days on Hunger Strike in Brixton Prison, England, the Sinn Féin Lord Mayor of Cork, Terence MacSwiney died.

1924  The forged Zinoviev Letter was published in the Daily Mail, wrecking the British Labour Party’s hopes of re-election.

1938 The Archbishop of Dubuque, Francis J. L. Beckman, denounced swing music as “a degenerated musical system… turned loose to gnaw away at the moral fibre of young people”, warning that it leads down a “primrose path to hell”.

Francis J L Beckman.jpg
 

1941 Helen Reddy, Australian singer was born.

1941 Anne Tyler, American novelist, was born.

IfMorningEverComesNovel.jpg

1944 Heinrich Himmler ordered a crackdown on the Edelweiss Pirates, a loosely organized youth culture in Nazi Germany that had assisted army deserters and others to hide from the Third Reich.

1944  The USS Tang under Richard O’Kane was sunk by the ship’s own malfunctioning torpedo.

USS Tang (SS-306), off Mare Island Navy Yard, December 1943

1944  Battle of Leyte Gulf, the largest naval battle in history,  between the Imperial Japanese Navy and the U.S. Third and U.S. Seventh Fleets.

 
USS Princeton (CVL-23) 1944 10 24 1.jpg

1945 China took over administration of Taiwan following Japan’s surrender to the Allies.

1949 IHC was founded.

Foundation of IHC

1962  Cuban missile crisis: Adlai Stevenson showed photos at the UN proving Soviet missiles were installed in Cuba.

 

1962   Nelson Mandela  was sentenced to five years in prison.

 
Nelson Mandela on his 90th birthday in 2008.

1971  The Christchurch-Dunedin overnight express, headed by a JA-class locomotive, ran the last scheduled steam-hauled service on New Zealand Railways (NZR), bringing to an end 108 years of regular steam rail operations in this country.

End of the line for steam railways

1977  Digital Equipment Corporation released OpenVMS V1.0.

OpenVMS logo Swoosh 30 lg.jpg 

1980  Proceedings on the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction concluded.

1983  Operation Urgent Fury: The United States and its Caribbean allies invaded Grenada, six days after Prime Minister Maurice Bishop and several of his supporters were executed in a coup d’état.

CH-53D HMM-261 Grenada Okt1983.jpeg

1991 Three months after the end of the Ten-Day War, the last soldier of the Yugoslav People’s Army left the Republic of Slovenia.

1995 A commuter train slammed into a school bus in Fox River Grove, Illinois, killing seven students.

Fox river grove 1995 bus accident scene.jpg

1997 Denis Sassou-Nguesso proclaimed himself the President of the Republic of the Congo.

 

2009 The 25 October 2009 Baghdad bombings killed 155 and wounded at least 721.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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