Maggie Barry seeking Botany selection


Broadcaster Maggie Barry is seeking selection as National’s candidate in the Botany by-election.

Kiwiblog wrote about the selection this morning before Barry announced she was a candidate.

A pre-selection committee, chaired by the electorate chair with a majority of members from the electorate, will interview all nominees and arrive at a list of up to five who will go forward for selection.

If the electorate meets the membership threshold it will be up to members in the electorate to choose their candidate, if the electorate doesn’t have enough members then it will be a board decision.

I don’t know how many members there are in Botany nor when the cut-off date is for the membership count. But if I was seeking selection I’d be signing up members anyway to show I understood the importance of a strong membership base to the party and democracy.

It’s also very good practice for campaigning.

Word of the day


Notabilia – things worthy of notice or worth noting.

All the ones


Just thought today’s date should be noted: 11.1.11.

The last date which used only one numeral was 9.9.99 but does the double nine at the end stop it being a palimdome?

If so the last palindromic (or is it palindromec?) date with a single numeral would have been 22.2.22.

Did you see the one about . . .


Efficiency over etiquette – Offsetting Behaviour on whether manners matter. He also points out the flaws in reatailers’ campaign to charge GST on mail order purchases under $400  from overseas in transaction costs and tax.

Chart of the day deadwood edition  – Dim Post on which opposition MPs get in the Herald how often.

Rejecting drivel in favour of thoughtful writing – Eye to the Long Run on words and phrases to avoid.

Amusing crime uound up – Anna Sandiford, Forensic Scientist at Sciblogs, whos crime can make you laugh.

Golf Sierra Lima: lessons learned –  Latitude 44 reflects on a gliding accident.

And if you click no other do click this: Apres nous, le deluge – Andrew Geddis on the first cabinet after the election which begins:

 Phil Goff (Prime Minister) (Sitting astride a Harley-Davidson whilst dressed in a leather jacket, motorcycle helmet and red-top gumboots, with a lamb carelessly tossed across his shoulder): If we could come to order, please. I think we might begin proceedings with a motion of thanks to the man who has made this day possible .. .

We don’t need so much education


Pink Floyd sang We Don’t Need No Education. Economics teacher Peter Lyons doesn’t go that far, but he does question if we need so much education:

Countries with a better educated population do appear to be more prosperous. This may be a false causation. Higher education levels may lead to prosperity, but more likely is that national prosperity provides the funding for higher education levels.

There is evidence to suggest that pouring money into tertiary education may not be the silver bullet for achieving higher living standards. Economic growth is the result of increasing the value of output per worker.

The key element is productivity levels. Much of what is learnt in school or university does little to increase the future potential output of the learner.

This is not to deny that education has great value in producing people who can live a good life and participate fully in society. The question is whether levels of tertiary education are the key to economic prosperity.

A friend noted that when his children started secondary school in the 1990s there were about 100 pupils in the third form, almost all of them stayed on to the seventh form and more than half of them went on to tertiary education, most to university. He contrasted that with his own experience in the 1960s when there were around 200 third formers, only 20 seventh formers fewer than half of whom went on to tertiary studies.

One obvious change from the 60s to the 90s was the increase in the number of people who were unemployed and it must be better to have teenagers at school than leaving to go on to a benefit. Another is the increasing use of technology which has replaced some manual jobs which people who left school with no or few qualifications used to do.

Then there are occupations like nursing, training for which used to take place on-the-job in hospitals, that now takes place in polytechnics or university.

The tertiary participation rates in New Zealand have surged over the past two decades but there is little evidence that this has translated into increased labour productivity and economic wellbeing.

The need for highly educated workers to man the knowledge economy is largely a myth. Much of the knowledge of the modern economic environment is embedded in the capital that workers use. That capital may take the form of computers, earthmoving equipment, laboratory gear or robotics.

The knowledge economy has meant that many jobs have become deskilled or redefined. The checkout operator no longer needs to add. Procedures once performed by doctors can now be done by nurses and chemists. The accountant can produce final reports at the push of a button.

What appears to have happened is that as more people have sought to gain higher qualifications this puts pressure on others to do likewise. An implicit function of any education system is to act as a sorting mechanism. As rampant qualification inflation has occurred the entry bar to various occupations has been raised, compelling people to seek higher qualifications.

 We now have more people studying and more qualifications they can study towards, but does more mean better? Karl du Fresne calls it credentials creep:

Credentials creep has been great for the educational establishment. It has enabled polytechnics to turn their backs on budding hairdressers and panel beaters and re-invent themselves as pretend universities. And it has provided careers for countless people who were nondescript practitioners in their chosen occupations but who now teach others: second-rate academics running second-rate courses.

The result is that academic qualifications have been degraded to the point where workplaces teem with technically well-qualified drones and dullards. I’m with the British writer Desmond Bagley, who once said: “If a man is a fool, you don’t train him out being a fool by sending him to a university. You merely turn him into a trained fool, which is 10 times more dangerous.”

Peter Lyons says that technological improvement has driven prosperity since the industrial revolution but doubts this has accelerated in recent years:

The massive technological changes from 1850 to 1950 dwarf more recent developments in their impacts on people’s daily lives. Consider such innovations as cars, planes, electricity, fridges, air-conditioning and the telephone.

These innovations were not the outcome of tertiary-educated workforces. They were developed by a core of thinkers, scientists and innovators then diffused by entrepreneurs through the marketplace for mass consumption.

Prosperity is determined by how well a society uses its resources to produce final goods and services. Pouring huge amounts of public funds into formal tertiary education may be a distraction from this goal.

A friend who was a specialist in three dimensional thinking used to ask students in his university classes why they were there. If, as usually happened, they answered so they’d make more money he used to tell them they were in the wrong place andif that was their goal they’d be better off working than studying.

That doesn’t apply to everyone and every job, but  he was asking them to seriously consider if the income forgone during three or more years study and the student loan incurred while doing it, could be justified by what they’d earn with their degrees.

It can for some but by no means all students.

This doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for tertiary studies.

We need our best and brightest to be very highly educated so they can develop the tools and technologies for the rest of us to use, so we can become more productive.

But not everyone can make the All Blacks. We don’t need people with management degrees driving taxis or diplomas of tourism running bungee jumps.

I have no problem justifying the money and efforts which go in to basic education. It is difficult, if not impossible, to cope day to day let alone prosper without a reasonable level of literacy and numeracy.

But more tertiary education isn’t necessarily better for the students or the economy.

January 11 in history


On January 11:

630 – Prophet of Islam Muhammad led an army of 10,000 Muslims to conquer Mecca.

1055 – Theodora was crowned Empress of the Byzantine Empire.

1158 – Vladislav II became King of Bohemia.

1569 First recorded lottery in England.

1571 Austrian nobility were granted freedom of religion.

1693 Mt. Etna  erupted in Sicily. A powerful earthquake destroyed parts of Sicily and Malta.


1786 Joseph Jackson Lister, English opticist and physicist, was born (d. 1869).

 1787  William Herschel discovered Titania and Oberon, two moons of Uranus.

1807  Ezra Cornell, American businessman and university founder, was born (d. 1874).

1846 Ruapekapeka pa was occupied by British troops. Debate raged as to whether the pa was simply abandoned by its defenders or captured by the British.

Ruapekapeka pa occupied by British forces
1857 Fred Archer, English jockey, was born  (d. 1886).
1878 Milk was first delivered in bottles.

1879  The Anglo-Zulu War began.

Défense de Rorke's Drift.jpg

1885 Jack Hoxie, American actor, rodeo performer, was born  (d. 1965).


1885 – Alice Paul, American women’s rights activist, was born (d. 1977).

1915 –Robert Blair Mayne,  British sldier, co-founder Special Air Service, was born  (d. 1955).


1919 Romania annexed Transylvania.

 Transylvania highlighted on a map of Romania, with the counties’ boundaries.

1922 First use of insulin to treat diabetes in a human patient.

1934 Sir Charles Antony Richard Hoare, British computer scientist, was born.

1935 Amelia Earhart was the first woman to fly solo from Hawaii to California.

Amelia earhart.jpeg

1938  Arthur Scargill, British politician, was born.

1946 Tony Kaye, British piano and organ player (Yes), was born.

1946  Enver Hoxha declared the People’s Republic of Albania with himself as dictator.

1949 First recorded case of snowfall in Los Angeles.

1957 The African Convention was founded in Dakar.

1962 An avalanche on Huascaran in Peru caused 4,000 deaths.

Huascaran norte.JPG

1964 – United States Surgeon General Dr. Luther Leonidas Terry, M.D., published a report saying that smoking may be hazardous to health – the first such statement made by the U.S. government.

1972 East Pakistan renamed itself Bangladesh.


1986  The Gateway Bridge, Brisbane in Queensland was officially opened.

1996  STS-72 launched from the Kennedy Space Center marking the start of the 74th Space Shuttle mission and the 10th flight of Endeavour.


1998– Sidi-Hamed massacre  in Algeria  killed more than 100 people.

2007 – China conducted the first successful anti-satellite missile test of any nation since 1985.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

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