Word of the day

June 4, 2011

BureauPrat – Professional scientist/clinician who has joined the administrative workforce.

Hat Tip: Macdoctor

Did you see the one about . . .

June 4, 2011

Why oh why can’t we have a better press corps? Offsetting Behaviour has suggestions for better Budget coverage. Also there is a thesis waiting to be written – on the opportunity for social science research into volunteer work after the earthquakes.

New Zealanders are loose – Michael Edmonds at Molecular Matters on the results of a “tightness “survey.

Who are the real enemies? – Lindsay Mitchell on the evil of envy-politics.

Opportunity to rationalise – Gravedodger (a welcome addition to No Minsiter’s bloggers) has a plan to improve emergency services.

New Zealand politics daily – Bryce Edwards at Liberation’s daily round up of politics in the media is a must-read for political tragics.

Which part of competitive tender doesn’t he understand?

June 4, 2011

A few days ago Green co-leader Russel Norman was concerned about ministers accepting hospitality from the government’s bank Westpac when the account is being put up for tender.

Now he wants the government to bank with Kiwibank.

Which part of competitive tender doesn’t he understand?

The point of putting the account up for tender is to get the best deal not to advance a political agenda.

Businesses, and other organisations, offer hospitality to MPs on both sides of the house. there’s nothing untoward about that.

There are both financial and political dangers in politicians favouring one bank over as a matter of policy.

Saturday smiles

June 4, 2011

New definitions for old words:

Atom Bomb : An invention to end all inventions.

Boss : Someone who is early when you are late and late when you are early.

Classic : A book which people praise, but do not read.

Committee : Individuals who can do nothing individually and sit to decide that nothing can be done together

Compromise : The art of dividing a cake in such a way that everybody believes s/he got the biggest piece.

Conference : The confusion of several presenters multiplied by the number in the audience.

Dictionary : The only place where success comes before work.

Diplomat : A person who tells you to go to hell in such a way that you look forward to the trip.

Divorce : Future tense of  unhappy marriage.

Etc. : A sign to make others believe that you know more than you actually do.

Experience : The name people give to their mistakes.

Father/Mother : A banker provided by nature.

Lecture : An art of transferring information from  the notes of the lecturer to the notes of the students without passing through the minds of either.

Miser : A person who lives poor so that s/he can die rich.

Office : A place where you can relax after your strenuous home life.

Philosopher : A fool who torments himself during life in order to be spoken of when dead.

Smile : A curve that can set a lot of things straight.

Opportunist : A person who starts taking a bath if s/he accidentally falls into a river.

Optimist : A person who while falling from Eiffel Tower says mid-fall “See, I am not injured yet.”

Politician : One who shakes your hand before elections and your confidence after.

Tears : The hydraulic force by which masculine will-power is defeated by feminine water power.

Yawn : The only time some married men ever get to open their mouth.

Knife to have

June 4, 2011

John Key has a penchant for oysters but sometimes on his trips to Southland the boats haven’t been able to go out and he’s left oyster-less.

In anticipation of success in future oyster seeking forays, Invercargill MP Eric Roy presented him with something almost as good on his visit to the city this week – his very own, personally engraved oyster opening knife:

Captions are welcome – but please make them witty not vindictive.

Photo borrowed from Eric’s website.

How clean is your cucumber?

June 4, 2011

Travellers in third world countries are warned about not eating raw fruit or vegetables unless they’ve peeled them but few are concerned in countries with better standards of hygiene.

I’ve had giardia which has made me a bit paranoid about what I eat when away from home but I’d never have worried about salads in Germany.

However, that was before the news of illness and deaths there as a result of  haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS) and enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC):

The number of patients in Germany presenting with HUS and bloody diarrhoea caused by STEC is 470, which is 97 more than the day before, and 1064 of EHEC, which is an increase of 268. Overall in Europe, 499 cases of HUS and 1115 cases of EHEC have been reported, 1614 in total.

Cases have now also been notified from: Austria (HUS 0, EHEC 2), Denmark (7, 7), France, (0, 6), Netherlands (4, 4), Norway, (0, 1), Spain, (1, 0), Sweden (15, 28) and Switzerland (0, 2) and the United Kingdom. (2, 1) All these cases except two are in people who had recently visited northern Germany or in one case, had contact with a visitor from northern Germany.

The BBC reports 16 people have died of the disease and the cause hasn’t been ascertained.

It was originally blamed on Spanish cucumbers at considerable cost:

Spain’s fruit and vegetable exporters estimate they have been losing more than 200m euros ($290m; £174m) since the outbreak emerged.

Germany has admitted the bacteria did not come from Spain as initially reported, but said the decision to issue the warning had been correct as a different strain of E.coli was present in Spanish cucumbers.

The speed and extent of the impact on Spanish producers is horrifying and reinforces the need for vigilance with food production and processing here for both health and financial reasons.

Siouxsie Wiles gives a scientist’s perspective on the outbreak:

Recently, researchers have shown how plants become contaminated with EHEC, and it makes scary reading. Most people would think that as long as they gave their vegetables a decent rinse before putting them in their salad, then all would be well. If only it were that simple. It turns out that the bacteria aren’t just hanging around on the surface of the plant. Shaw and colleagues (1) showed that EHEC attach to the very cells that open and close the pores plants use for gas exchange. From here, the bacteria can then get inside of the plant cell, where no amount of rinsing can reach them.

It’s not easy to get your five plus servings of fresh fruit and vegetables when you’re travelling at the best of times, but I’d rather risk a little vitamin and fibre deprivation than a stomach bug like this.

Filibustering to preserve foolishness

June 4, 2011

Is the bill allowing students freedom of association really the most important piece of legislation for Labour?

It must be when their serial filibustering is wasting $453,000 for every hour parliament sits.

Meanwhile the Otago University Students Association shows why voluntary membership should be permitted.

Among the issues its memberswere asked to consider in a recent referendum was:

Should OUSA adopt the following as external policy: ‘That OUSA opposes factory farming and the sale of factory farmed products (including eggs, chicken and pig products) and therefore requests that all campus food outlets use free-range products?’

Yes 1616 (74%)
No 573 (26%)
Total votes 2189
Total present 2606 (quorum met)

Otago has about 20,000 students. Only a little more than 10% of them bothered to vote and now they’ve been lumbered with this policy which has nothing to do with education or student welfare which ought to be OUSA’s core business.

It doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with animal welfare either, it’s a policy based more on emotion than reason.

If it was implemented it would add significant costs to the food available on campus which is something the OUSA would be concerned about if it cared more for its members than political crusades.

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