Word of the day

August 21, 2011

Tetrapyloctomy – the act of splitting a hair four ways; super pedantry.


Last place wins hearts

August 21, 2011

Every now and then a heartwarming story circulates by email telling how a young boy with disabilities lost a race but won hearts.

I’ve no idea if it’s true, but the last placing winner is:

Yesterday I went to watch my five year-old son run the cross-country at school. On the way home in the car I was shuddering and wiping tears from my eyes. I’m going to tell you what happened.

My son attends a mainstream school, as far as the school grounds and school uniform go. But his class is a “satellite class;” all the students in that single classroom have special needs, and the classroom resources and teachers are from a special needs school based at a different location. The whole mainstream school – including the classroom my son attends – took part in the cross-country during the school day. Parents were invited to attend.

The children run by age group, so my son’s grouping was early on in the day. He was in the second “heat” (basically, the second rather large grouping of children for that age group). The group included only a few children from the special needs class, the rest of the many children were all mainstream.

As the starting gun fired he set off, me on the side-lines watching on proudly. Proud because he understood what was required of him on this occasion, and proud because he was able and willing to do it . .

.

You can read the rest at Autism and Oughtisms.


Rural round up

August 21, 2011

NZ farmer wins prestigious 2011 Australasian award:

New Zealand farmer Lance Gillespie has been awarded the 2011 Rabobank Business Development Prize for a management project undertaken to enhance human resources management at his dairy operation, Table Flat Holdings, in the central North Island.

The prize – which is awarded annually as part of the Rabobank Executive Development Program – was presented to Mr Gillespie at the graduation of a group of leading primary producers from around New Zealand and Australia who recently completed the program, a business development course for Australasia‟s leading agricultural producers.

Mr Gillespie‟s winning project focused on improving human resource management tools in his farm business, through the creation of a comprehensive Farm Operations Manual . . .

Trickle of apples to Australia at first:

New Zealand won’t be swamping Australia with apples just yet following the relaxing of a 90-year ban.   

Australian officials yesterday gave the green light to importing our NZ apples, despite local fears they could carry diseases such as fire blight, European canker and apple leaf curling midge . . . 

Project to gauge demand for local food – Sally Rae:

An innovative project is under way to quantify demand for ways of buying local meat in Dunedin and Wanaka.   

It is being driven by Wanaka farmer John McRae, from Glendhu      Station, and consultant Rhys Millar from Forest Environments Ltd.   

Mr McRae, who farms organically, has been seeking a transparent food system to supply his local community.   

Scientist pursues passionf or deer – Sally Rae:

Dr Colin Mackintosh finds deer fascinating. The AgResearch veterinary scientist has spent 30 years working at Invermay, where his primary focus has been deer.   

When he started, it was “more or less” the beginning of the deer industry in New Zealand and very little was known about deer diseases.   

He likened it to being presented with a blank piece of paper and then spending the last three decades trying to fill in that piece of paper . . .   

Consultant forging a career on land – Sally Rae:

Nicola Kelland enjoys helping farmers achieve their financial  and business goals.   

Miss Kelland (24) is based in Alexandra, where she works as      an agricultural business consultant for AgFirst Consultants  Otago Ltd.   

Brought up on Glenbrook Station, a high country property between Omarama and Twizel, she completed a bachelor of agricultural science degree, with honours, at Lincoln University . . . 

Suppliers put their products on the line – Jon Morgan:

My favourite spot in a supermarket is where the food and wine tastings are. They
are not hard to find – just follow your nose. Usually, someone has a griller
going and tasty morsels are being handed out.

Imagine my joy last week when I encountered three stadiums full of such
delights.

It was the annual trade show for Foodstuffs’ food suppliers, held in Arena
Manawatu, Palmerston North . . .

Psyllid wreaks havoc in vege industry – Jon Morgan:

Zebra-striped spuds in your frypan are a sign you have a devastating new pest
in the garden. It is the psyllid, a tiny flying insect that also attacks
tomatoes, capsicums, eggplants and tamarillos.

In America it is known as the jumping plant louse and has laid waste to
tomatoes and potatoes outdoors and in greenhouses in Mexico, Texas and
California.

New Zealand is the only other country to be attacked so far and the rest of
the world is anxiously watching our efforts to deal with it . . .

Foreign buyers see value in New Zealand farms:

In the hunt for farmland investments, New Zealand has not been
overlooked.

As well as well-heeled foreigners pursuing Southern Hemisphere trophy
properties, serious investors are chasing more tangible returns.

For example, since late last year one German group has received Overseas
Investment Office (OIO) approvals to buy a total of 3300ha of dairy land, mostly
in Southland, for a total of $91.5 million.

According to the OIO, the Germans – the Aquila Group – are looking for farms
that are below peak market prices, not being well farmed, or able to be
expanded. . . .

Back to the land: putting faith in farms:

Perry Vieth baled hay on a neighbour’s farm in Wisconsin for two summers
during high school in 1972 and 1973.

The gruelling labour left him in no doubt about getting a degree so he’d
never again have to work so hard for a pay cheque. Thirty-eight years later, and
after a career as a securities lawyer and fixed-income trader, Vieth is back on
the farm.

Except, he now owns it. As co-founder of Ceres Partners, an Indiana-based
investment firm, Vieth oversees 61 farms valued at US$63.3 million ($76 million)
in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Tennessee. He’s so enthusiastic about the
investments that he quit a job in 2008 overseeing US$7 billion in fixed-income
assets to focus full time on farming.

“When I told people I was leaving to start an investment fund in farmland,
they said, ‘You’re doing what?”‘ says Vieth. “It will always be difficult for
Wall Street firms to understand. It’s not like buying stocks on a computer.” . . .

Field of dreams for embattled flyers – Tim Fulton:

Build it and they will come, John Maber reckons, knowing he’s about to test
every bit of that conviction.

After stepping down from the lead role in the NZ Agricultural Aviation
Association, Maber is putting himself on the line again in setting up a training
centre at Rangiora airfield.

Apart from a business case for the project he has experience and belief.
“Most of it comes from my gut, not my head”, he says, eyeing up his partly built
shed . . .

HB weather bomb rebuild

THE APRIL storm blew farm manager Nigel Bicknell’s carefully laid out system to pieces and he had to adopt a new approach to steer Landcorp’s Te Apiti Station, literally, out of the mud.  

As one of the worst hit farms along the coastal strip between Ocean Beach and Blackhead Beach in Hawkes Bay, the 2000ha property took a hammering and is likely to take years to fully recover. . .


Parkinsons prompts rector’s early retirement

August 21, 2011

Waitaki Boys’ High was regarded as one of the country’s best schools under the leadership of legendary rector Frank Milner.

Its fortunes have varied in the decades since then, but under the current rector, Dr Paul Baker, Waitaki has regained its reputation as a leading educator of young men.

It is sad for the school and him that the onset of Parkinson’s disease has forced his early retirement.

I haven’t had a close association with Waitaki recently but have noticed the improvement in the performance of its pupils during Dr Baker’s tenure.

The school always had a good reputation for sport,  thanks to his leadership academic and cultural pursuits now have equal prominence.

Change is nothing new for Dr Baker, who has overseen a period of rapid transformation at Waitaki Boys’, and in the education sector, since he took over the helm in 1999.   

 “I’ve always been a big believer in starting things off to see how they will develop. Planting seeds and seeing how they grow, adapting, amending as time goes on,” he said.   

“I’ve never been a big believer in five-year plans, or three-year plans and knowing exactly where and how something is going to develop. You can’t predict that because you’re      working with human nature.”   

He said boys’ schools had essentially reinvented themselves,  with spectacular success, as places “where a whole variety of  different models of masculinity are promoted”.   

The model student is now academic, cultural and a sportsman, “but the hope always is that they are one and the same person”.   

Dr Baker is passionate about education and an advocate for boys’ schools.

He was a member of the Ministerial Reference Group on boys’ education. The NZ Herald published his views part 1, part 2 and part 3 .


Real job creation preserve of private sector

August 21, 2011

Quote of the week from John Scandrett, Otago Southland Employers Association CEO:

“If a job gets created by the public sector, or by a charity,  then it’s funded either by tax dollars or donations that were both initially created by the private sector.”   

This doesn’t mean there aren’t necessary and meaningful jobs in the public service and charities. It does mean that funding for them comes directly or indirectly from the private sector.

To ensure the private sector created the maximum number of jobs, everyone had to do their part to ensure barriers were not inadvertently put in the way.   

Barriers could include things like unnecessarily high taxes, too much regulation and difficulties getting consents.   

Those were all things the Government could do something about in a job creating supporting capacity, he said.   

“The Government should concentrate on removing the barriers that get in the way of the private sector creating jobs.”  

More flexible employment law, lower tax rates and a start on reducing the burden of the state under National have removed some of the barriers to job creation in the private sector and there is still work to be done.

But the effort shold be on improving the enviroment which helps the private sector create jobs rather than the government creating jobs itself.


Whale’s a winner regardless of who comes first

August 21, 2011

Who knows what possessed Trevor Mallard when he challenged Whaleoil, aka Cameron Slater, to a cycle race which takes place this afternoon.

But challenge him he did and to Whaleoil’s credit he not only accepted, he took the challenge seriously and trained hard.

In the process he gave up anti-depressants and lost 15kg.

Regardless of who finishes the 60 kilometre race first, Whale is already a winner for that – and for distracting Labour’s campaign director.


Tragedy not an excuse

August 21, 2011

The death of a New Zealand SAS soldier in Afghanistan is a tragedy but it should not be used as an excuse for withdrawing our troops from that troubled country.

Mr Key said he was “deeply saddened” by the death. But he stood firm on his
decision to have a New Zealand presence in Afghanistan.

“I believe passionately in the work that they are doing. They are ensuring
that the innocent lives of thousands in Afghanistan are preserved, and giving
Afghanistan hope for their country.

“They are working to make the world a safer place from global terrorism. It
is not my view that due to the death of our soldier, we should reconsider our
position in Afghanistan. We stay absolutely committed to continuing our work in
Afghanistan.

“It would be the completely wrong thing for us to consider cutting and
running. I don’t think it would honour the death of this soldier and I don’t
think it would actually be what New Zealanders would expect us to do in this
situation.”

There are strong arguments for and against New Zealand’s service in Afghanistan, but this soldier’s death should not be used to justify either position.

The death of this young man is against the natural order of things and it would be dishonouring him, the reasons he served and what he fought for if it was exploited for political ends.

His family, friends and colleagues should be left to grieve without his service, and ultimate sacrifice, being belittled by debate on New Zealand’s role in the on-going war.


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