Word of the day


Labile – easily altered; emotionally unstable; constantly undergoing, or likely to undergo, change.

Which bit of loyal doesn’t he understand?


Remember how Christ Carter kept saying he was loyal to Labour, his problem was with the leader not the party?

He’s changed his mind: Greens party of choice for Chris Carter

Trade makes both parties better off


Prime Minister John Key spelled out the benefits of trade in his opening address to the US-NZ Partnership Forum:

The US is New Zealand’s third-largest trading partner.

Two-way trade between our countries was worth more than NZ$7.5 billion last year.

The US is a major market for our export products, both agricultural and industrial, and a major source of imported commodities and inputs to production in NZ.

It’s also our second-largest source of foreign investment and third-largest tourism market.

And, at the same time, it’s our second-largest destination for overseas investment, and our third-most favoured destination for New Zealanders on short trips overseas.

Our economies are closely linked.

As we recover from the economic downturn, it’s vital that both of our countries support international trade, including through negotiation of free trade agreements.

With a population smaller than that of many cities in the USA we have a lot to gain from free trade but, contrary to the views of protectionists, trade benefits both partners.

Anti Dismal says:

 Economists never tier of telling people that trade makes both parties better-off, but to no avail people still see countries as competing.

But we don’t compete with other countries, this is a false analogy that comes from thinking that countries are like firms, they’re not. As, even, Paul Krugman has said, A Country Is Not a Company. The point is that Coke and Pepsi, for example, do compete, one gains at the others expense, but New Zealand and Australia, for example, don’t, their loss is not our gain. International trade is not a zero-sum game. To see this, note that while Coke may wish to put Pepsi out of business, so that Coke can increase their sales and prices and therefore profits, New Zealand would not gain if we put Australia “out of business”.

Why? Well in the Coke/Pepsi case, Coke gain a lot, in terms of sales and profits, from not having Pepsi to complete with and lose little since Pepsi doesn’t buy much , if anything, from Coke. Or Coke from Pepsi. This is not true of the New Zealand/Australia example. We may gain some sells if Australia stopped producing, but we would lose much more. Australia is our biggest export market and if they “went out of business”, they would stop importing, and that would hurt us a lot. Also they are suppliers of much of our useful imports and that would stop too, which would hurt us even more.

If all the energy which went into protecting economies was put into freeing them instead we’d all be better off. The Partnership forum is another small step on the way to that goal.

Free trade brings more than economic gains.

Muray McCully said in his address to the forum:

Free trade deals, either now in operation or under negotiation, provide the framework for an even greater level of engagement in trade and economic relations.

With those trading relationships, closer ties of almost every type have been created.

New Zealand now has a huge stake in the stability and security of Asia and we have tried to reflect this in our participation in the evolving architecture of the region.

The decision of the United States to join the EAS brings with it a potential for those regional bodies to play an even greater and more effective role in delivering a stable prosperous region, providing a platform for improved economic prospects for all of its partners.

Economic prosperity and political stability, what’s not to like?

Restaurants should take note of 70g message


The good news is that red meat is good for you  and not linked to heart disease.

A report demolishes the ‘myths and misconceptions’ about the meat, saying that most people eat healthy amounts which are not linked to greater risk of disease.

Modern farming methods have cut fat levels, which can be even lower than chicken, while red meat provides high levels of vital nutrients, including iron.

A vegetarian having a Cheddar cheese salad will eat seven times more fat, pound for pound, than lean red meat contains, says a review by the British Nutrition Foundation.

But findings the World Cancer Foundation isn’t so positive and the report reinforces the message that red meat should be eaten in moderation to reduce the risk of bowel cancer: 

The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) . . .  said, ‘Although the evidence is not conclusive, as a precaution, it may be advisable for intakes of red and processed meat not to increase above the current average (70g/day) and for high consumers of red and processed meat (100g/day or more) to reduce their intakes.’

A daily total of 70g is equivalent to about three rashers of bacon

Three rashers of bacon doesn’t sound much but most restaurant servings of meat would be far greater than that and some offer steaks of three, four or more times that weight.

I enjoy lamb, steak and venison but I’m satisfied with smaller servings and often choose fish when I’m dining out because the meat servings are far too big.

It’s what you do most of the time that matters. The odd big serving of meat won’t do any harm and would help with the intake of iron, B vitamins and other nutrients but it would be good if restaurants took note of the recommendation and gave customers the choice of smaller servings.

As a producer of lamb and beef I don’t want to reduce demand. But restaurants might sell a similar total amount by selling more smaller servings to people like me who don’t order big ones.

Sleep working or wakeover?


Evaluating residential services for intellectually disabled people gave me an insight into the best, worst and in-between.

Some homes were so good I’d have been happy to move in myself, a couple were so bad I wouldn’t have left a stuffed toy in their care. Most were somewhere in between but tending towards the better end.

The residents varied as people without disabilities do. Some were happy, healthy and had a high level of independence. Some were unhappy, had physical and/or mental health problems, some were totally dependent. Others had varying levels of challenging behaviour which required extra skill and patience in those caring for them.

The key to what made the homes good or bad was the staff. Some were skilled, dedicated to and respectful of the people for whom they were caring.

One was so bad that had he not been wearing a uniform we’d have thought he was one of the residents with a personality disorder.

In some houses the staff who did night duty were there only for emergencies like fire, earthquakes or severe illness. They could rely on being able to go to bed and sleeping until morning almost every night and many had never been woken. In some the night staff had more onerous duties because residents had higher needs and a few had to get up at least once every night.

Given the different requirements and duties it’s difficult to apply a single rule over pay and conditions, yet that is what the court ruling saying sleepover staff must be paid a minimum wage does.

Sleepover staff usually begin their duties in the late afternoon or early evening and are paid an hourly rate until they go to be at about 10pm. They’re paid an allowance (about $35) for that and an hour’s pay for every part of an hour they have to get up during the night. They’re then on active duty from about 7am for a couple of hours until the residents go out for the day or day staff come on duty.

The court ruling means that they’d have to be paid at least $13 an hour for the time they’re in bed. This has expensive implications not just for providers of residential services for intellectually disabled people but others who employ sleepover staff like boarding schools, student halls of residence and rest homes.

I have no problem with paying people an hour’s work for any part hour they have to get up through the night.

I understand the need to be paid something for having to be somewhere for a specific time with responsibility for other people and for having sleep disturbed, or the potential for it.

But I don’t think people can be earning $13 an hour in their sleep.

 If employers have to pay an hourly rate they would be justified in expecting their staff to do more than sleep in return for it. Would staff then be prepared to make it a wakeover – to be  awake and actively doing something through the night?

Not all would:

Hawksbury Trust chairman Richard Thomson . . .  who is also a Southern DHB member, had mixed feelings about the Court of Appeal decision, saying it could prove to a “pyrrhic victory” for workers.

For many people, sleepover shifts allowed them to do other things during the day, such as studying at university or working another job. Many people had benefited from the set-up, and it did not seem right they may be in for back-pay. However, he could also see an element of unfairness in not paying an hourly rate.

“There will be winners and losers [among the workers].”

If staff aren’t prepared to be up and active,  they’re sleepworking. That requires some pay  butI don’t think the normal hourly pay expected for actively working  is justified. 

Kathryn Ryan did a prolonged interview on the court ruling and its implications on Thursday.

Kiwiblog also has reservations but Rob’s Blockhead and The Hand Mirror support the ruling.

February 21 in history


On February 21:

  1245 Thomas, the first known Bishop of Finland, resigned after confessing to torture and forgery.

Bishop thomas.jpg

1440 The Prussian Confederation was formed.

1543 Battle of Wayna Daga – A combined army of Ethiopian and Portuguese troops defeats a Muslim army led by Ahmed Gragn.

King Ahmed Gurey Mog.jpg

1613 Mikhail I was elected unanimously as Tsar, beginning the Romanov dynasty of Imperial Russia.

1743 The premiere of George Frideric Handel‘s oratorio “Samson” took place in London.

1804  The first self-propelling steam locomotive made its outing at the Pen-y-Darren Ironworks in Wales.


1842 John Greenough was granted the first U.S.A. patent for the sewing machine.

1848 Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels published the Communist Manifesto.

1875 Jeanne Calment, French supercentenarian and longest-lived human on record, was born (d. 1997).


1879 An explosion in a Kaitangata coal mine killed 34 men.

Kaitangata mining disaster

1885 The newly completed Washington Monument was dedicated.

1903 Anaïs Nin, French writer, was born (d. 1977).


1907  W. H. Auden, English poet, was born  (d. 1973).

1910 Douglas Bader, British pilot, was born  (d. 1982).

Douglas Bader.jpg

1913  Ioannina was incorporated into the Greek state after the Balkan Wars.

Ioannina and Lake Pamvotida seen from Mitsikeli mountain

1916 Battle of Verdun started.

Verdun and Vincinity - Map.jpg

1918 The last Carolina parakeet died in captivity at the Cincinnati Zoo.

1919 Kurt Eisner, German socialist, was assassinated.

1921 Constituent Assembly of the Democratic Republic of Georgia adopts the country’s first constitution.

1924 Robert Mugabe, president of Zimbambwe, was born.

1925 The New Yorker published its first issue.

1927 Erma Bombeck, American humorist, was born  (d. 1996).

1927 Hubert de Givenchy, French fashion designer, was born.

1933  – Nina Simone, American singer, was born (d. 2003).

1935  Mark McManus, Scottish actor, was born  (d. 1994).

Taggart title.jpg

1937  Initial flight of the first successful flying car, Waldo Waterman’s Arrowbile.


1937 – The League of Nations banned foreign national “volunteers” in the Spanish Civil War.

1945 Kamikaze planes sank the escort carrier Bismarck Sea and damaged the Saratoga.

USS Bismarck Sea (CVE-95)

1947 Edwin Land demonstrated the first “instant camera,” the Polaroid Land Camera, to a meeting of the Optical Society of America.

1952 The British government, under Winston Churchill, abolished identity cards in the UK to “set the people free”.

1952 In Dhaka, East Pakistan (present Bangladesh) police opened fire on a procession of students that was demanding the establishment of Bengali as the official language, killing four people and starting a country-wide protest which led to the recognition of Bengali as one of the national languages of Pakistan. The day was later declared as “International Mother Language Day” by UNESCO.

1953  Francis Crick and James D. Watson discover the structure of the DNA molecule.


1958 The Peace symbol was designed and completed by Gerald Holtom, commissioned by Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, in protest against the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment.


1960 Cuban leader Fidel Castro nationalised all businesses in Cuba.

1965 Malcolm X was assassinated at the Audubon Ballroom in New York City by members of the Nation of Islam.

Malcolm X NYWTS 2a.jpg

1970 A mid-air bomb explosion in  Swissair Flight 330 and subsequent crash killed 38 passengers and nine crew members near Zürich.

1971 The Convention on Psychotropic Substances was signed at Vienna.

Ecstacy monogram.jpg

1972 President Richard Nixon visited the People’s Republic of China to normalise Sino-American relations.

People's Republic of China   United States

1972 The Soviet unmanned spaceship Luna 20 landed on the Moon.

Luna 20

1973  Israeli fighter aircraft shot down Libyan Arab Airlines Flight 114 jet killing 108.

1974 The last Israeli soldiers left the west bank of the Suez Canal pursuant to a truce with Egypt.

1975 Watergate scandal: Former United States Attorney General John N. Mitchell and former White House aides H. R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman were sentenced to prison.

1986 Charlotte Church, Welsh singer, was born.

1995 Steve Fossett landed in Leader, Saskatchewan, Canada becoming the first person to make a solo flight across the Pacific Ocean in a balloon.

2004 – The first European political party organisation, the European Greens, was established in Rome.

European Greens logo.svg

2007 Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi resigned from office. His resignation was rejected by the President Giorgio Napolitano.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

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