Word of the day


Mubble-fubbles/ mubblefubbles – depression for no apparent reason, melancholy.

Unreliable memories and thinking


Unreliable memory opened discussion with Finlay MacDonald  on Critical Mass this afternoon.

Eric Barker asked Should You Trust Your Memory? and found the answer was no.

This blog, Barking Up The Wrong Tree, is a recent find which has brief posts on research that make fascinating reading.

Be warned before venturing there that it will provide all sorts of opportunities for work avoidance.

Recent posts include: do letters of recommendation actually hurt women when it comes to getting hired or promoted? and does the internet make people happier?

We moved from memory to critical thinking with Louis Menand who writes in the New Yorker on the value of a university education.


$4b EQC liability increase doesn’t change surplus target


It’s easy for anyone outside Christchurch to forget just how difficult life is there.

Even those whose homes and workplaces haven’t been badly affected find day to day life more demanding because of damage to roads, infrastructure and properties; business disruption and the ongoing strain of continued aftershocks.

Today’s announcement by Finance Minister Bill English that EQC’s earthquake liability has been revised upwards by about $4 billion is financial reminder of just how bad it is.

However, the government isn’t using that as an excuse for moving its target to return to surplus:

“Despite the increased liability, which will have a one-off impact on the Government’s operating balance for the 2010/11 year, the Government remains on track to meet Budget forecasts of a return to surplus in 2014/15 and to keep net debt below 30 per cent of GDP,” Mr English says.

There is no hope that this target would remain realistic if there’s a change of government.

We need continued commitment to policies which reduce the burden of state and increase savings, investment and export-led growth.

Labour and Green policies to tax and spend will do the reverse.

Responsible use and increased royalties


Responsible use of resources is one of the guiding principles behind the Energy Strategy and Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy which were released today by the Acting Minister of Energy and Resources, Hekia Parata.

Anotther very important part is the potential for $12.7  billion in royalties from oil and gas.

“New Zealand is blessed with an abundance of energy resources,” says Ms Parata.

“Our Government’s goal is to make the most of all the assets we have – hydro, wind, geothermal, oil, gas and minerals.

“We want to use those resources responsibly to secure our energy future and to lift our standard of living.  That is why the Government is taking a balanced approach to building a sustainable energy and resources future.”

On the renewables side of the energy and resources portfolio, New Zealand’s renewable energy levels are the second highest in the OECD, behind Iceland.

“Renewables and energy efficiency are a big part of our energy picture,’’ says Ms Parata.

”Renewables made up 79 per cent of our total electricity generation in the March 2011 quarter. New Zealand has a target of 90 per cent of electricity generation to be from renewable sources by 2025, and we are well on our way to achieving that.’’

Maximising the use of renewable resources gives us a natural advantage which we need to make the most of, although that doesn’t mean damming every river and putting windmills on every hill.

Fossil fuels will continue to play an important role in the global economy. Around half of the energy we currently consume is from petroleum,’’ says Ms Parata.

“We can’t just turn off the tap in our journey to a lower carbon economy. We also can’t ignore the major economic opportunity that continuing global oil demand could provide New Zealand. Petroleum was our fourth biggest export earner in 2010.’’

In addition to the energy strategies, the Minister today released an independent report assessing New Zealand’s oil and gas potential.

The Woodward report shows that New Zealand is set to earn more than $3 billion in royalties from oil and gas fields already in production.

That could increase to $12.7 billion with future discoveries, which would help pay for schools, hospitals, broadband and roads.

“People want to be sure that the environment is protected and they also want jobs and growth,’’ says Ms Parata.

“We have seen the difference the oil and gas industry has made in Taranaki, employing over 5,000 people (in 2009) and contributing $2 billion to our country’s GDP.’’

Sales of crude oil were one of the factors which led to last month’s trade surplus.

The full energy strategies are here. the Woodward Report on future royalty income is here.

Three times a world champ


Valarie Adams has won her third World Championship shot put title.

Her 21.24 metre throw equalled the world  record  World Championship record, breaking both the New Zealand record and her personal best.

Keeping Stock, the NZ blogosphere’s sports king, says:

At just 26 years old, Adams has the world at her feet. Her third World Championship sits alongside two Comonwealth Games gold medals and the Olympic gold medal from Beijing in 2008. She is well on her way to becoming New Zealand’s best-ever track and field athlete; shot-putters traditionally mature late, and it’s conceivable that she could have another ten years of competing at the top level and at the pinnacle of her powers.

I am in awe of the physical and mental strength it takes to be a top athlete and this win makes her one of our very best.

Who wants to be an MP?


Cactus Kate wrote a post before the announcement of the Act list which was a model of party loyalty and personal restraint.

It included this paragraph:

I am particularly aware what a sacrifice those candidates have made, who have actually given up jobs or scaled back businesses or put their careers on hold to campaign through to November. It was not one that I was personally willing to commit to and have always been open about that with the Board.

On Newstalk ZB yesterday evening Fran O’Sullivan said that Cathy had been offered a position which would almost certainly meant she wouldn’t have got into parliament. I can’t find a link but I think she said it was the 9th spot.

I can’t fathom the board’s reasoning on this. I’ve never met her but from what I know about her I’d have thought that she would have been an asset to the Act caucus.

Young, intelligent, accomplished females willing to forgo successful careers and take a significant cut in salary to serve as an MP aren’t numerous.   

Standing for parliament is a big sacrifice and it is one that fewer people seem willing to make.

In the recent past competition for selection was strong and people keen to be MPs were willing to stand in unwinnable seats as an initiation or apprenticeship. They were there to fly the party flag and demonstrate their commitment in the hope that next time round they might be selected in a seat where their chances of winning were greater.

It appears that people are less willing to do this now, and given the personal and financial cost of campaigning, who can blame them?

This might explain why Labour still hasn’t selected a candidate for every seat.

Being a candidate with no hope of winning an electorate could come with the compensation of a list seat. But since Labour did its list ranking in April it has nothing to offer would-be candidates for whom taking one for the team in tiger country obviously isn’t attractive.

August 30 in history


1363 Beginning date of the Battle of Lake Poyang; the forces of two Chinese rebel leaders— Chen Youliang and Zhu Yuanzhang—were pitted against each other in what is one of the largest naval battles in history, during the last decade of the ailing, Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. 

1574  Guru Ram Das became the Fourth Sikh Guru/Master. 

1590  Tokugawa Ieyasu entered Edo Castle.

1720 Samuel Whitbread, English brewer, was born (d. 1796). 

1791 HMS Pandora sank after running aground on a reef the previous day. 

1797 Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, English writer, was born (d. 1851). 

1799 Capture of the entire Dutch fleet by British forces under the command of Sir Ralph Abercromby and Admiral Sir Charles Mitchell during the Second Coalition of the French Revolutionary Wars.

1800 Gabriel Prosser led a slave rebellion in Richmond, Virginia.

1813  Battle of Kulm: French forces defeated by Austrian-Prussian-Russian alliance.

1813  Creek War: Creek Red Sticks carried out the Fort Mims Massacre.

1835 Melbourne was founded. 

1836 The city of Houston was founded by Augustus Chapman Allen and John Kirby Allen.

1862  American Civil War: Battle of Richmond: Confederates under Edmund Kirby Smith routed a Union army under General Horatio Wright.

1862 – American Civil War: Union forces were defeated in Second Battle of Bull Run.

1871 Ernest Rutherford, New Zealand-born Nobel Prize in Chemistry laureate, was born(d. 1937).

1873 – Austrian explorers Julius von Payer and Karl Weyprecht discover the archipelago of Franz Joseph Land in the Arctic Sea.

1903 Guide Joseph Warbrick and three tourists were killed instantly when Roturua’s Waimangu geyser erupted unexpectedly.

Four killed by Rotorua geyser

1908 Fred MacMurray, American actor, was born (d. 1991).

1909  Burgess Shale fossils discovered by Charles Doolittle Walcott.

1912 Nancy Wake AC GM, New Zealand-born World War II secret agent, was born (d. 2011).

1914  Battle of Tannenberg.

1918  Fanny Kaplan shot and seriously injured Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin.

1922 Battle of Dumlupinar, final battle in Greco-Turkish War (1919-1922).

1930 Warren Buffett, American entrepreneur, was born.

1935 John Phillips, American singer/songwriter (The Mamas & the Papas), was born (d. 2001).

1942  World War II: Battle of Alam Halfa began. 

1943 Jean-Claude Killy, French skier, was born.

1945 Hong Kong was liberated from Japan by British Armed Forces.

1945 – Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces, General Douglas MacArthur landed at Atsugi Air Force Base.

1946 Peggy Lipton, American actress, was born.

1951 Dana, Irish singer and politician, was born.

1956 Lake Pontchartrain Causeway opened.

1962  Japan conducted a test of the NAMC YS-11, its first aircraft since the war and its only successful commercial aircraft.

1963 Hotline between the leaders of the U.S.A. and the Soviet Union went into operation.

1967  Thurgood Marshall was confirmed as the first African American Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

1972  Cameron Diaz, American actress, was born.

1974  A BelgradeDortmund express train derailed at the main train station in Zagreb killing 153 passengers.

1974 – A powerful bomb exploded at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries headquarters in Marunouchi, Tokyo – 8 killed, 378 injured.

1984   The Space Shuttle Discovery took off on its maiden voyage.

1995 – NATO launches Operation Deliberate Force against Bosnian Serb forces.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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