Word of the day

September 16, 2011

Blossom – a flower or mass of flowers on a tree or bush, the flower of a plant, especially of one producing an edible fruit.; to produce a flower or mass of flowers, the state of flowering.

C’mon Black

September 16, 2011

Russia scored first in their first Rugby World Cup game last night but my pick the USA finished ahead.

Tonight of course I’m backing black though if Japan was playing anyone else but New Zealand I’d be tempted to opt for them.

Blokes who are men enough to call themselves the Blossoms deserve support.

Black and white questions miss opportunity for multi-coloured answers

September 16, 2011

The University of Otago marketing department has been contracted to research on Highlanders’ fans, in particular the vexed issue of the colour the southern men should play in.

As is often the case, the questions in the on-line survey are pretty black and white which misses the opportunity to learn from multi-coloured answers.

They ask if you attended or watched games this season, but don’t ask why you did or didn’t and if you went more of less often this season than in the past.

They also didn’t ask why the colours a team play in is important.

We used to go to most home games when the Super however-many-it-was started, made several trips to Christchurch to watch them play there and watched most other away games on television.

But we’ve been going to fewer and fewer games. We went to none this season and while my farmer watched most on television I didn’t sit through any.

There are several reasons – we’re busier and have more competing options for entertainment.

There’s also been a reduction in emotional attachment. I used to know the names of most players and would often read about them doing things other than rugby – visiting children in hospital, helping in the community but in recent years I’ve seen far less of those stories .

Now I can name the captain only because Jamie Mackintosh is interviewed regularly on the Farming Show and I’m not sure I know any other players’ names.

The furore over team colours is a symptom of this – the team has lost connection with the provinces it’s supposed to represent.

Sure, a lot of players come from other areas but that didn’t used to matter. They became southerners, the south embraced them as their own because they were part of the southern team and they wore the colours of the south.

Players come and go but the team and its colours endured.

The Playing strip might vary from year to year as a marketing ploy to get fans to buy new jerseys each year, but the colours remained the same, the blue and gold with a touch of maroon of the provinces which are proud to be on the right side of the Waitaki.

The survey asked if the colour of the jersey would influence whether you went to a game.

My answer is that the colours by themselves wouldn’t stir me to go to a game but if they were colours I couldn’t relate to it would further loosen the already tenuous emotional attachment I have with the team.

Hat Tip: Credo Quia Absurdum Est

Friday’s answers

September 16, 2011

Thursday’s questions were:

1. Who said: “Rugby football is a game I can’t claim absolutely to understand in all its niceties, if you know what I mean. I can follow the broad, general principles, of course. I mean to say, I know that the main scheme is to work the ball down the field somehow and deposit it over the line at the other end and that, in order to squalch this programme, each side is allowed to put in a certain amount of assault and battery and do things to its fellow man which, if done elsewhere, would result in 14 days without the option, coupled with some strong remarks from the Bench.” ?

2. Who holds the Women’s Rugby World Cup and how many times have they won it?

3. The anthem of which country begins:   Oíd, mortales, el grito sagrado: Libertad! Libertad! Libertad!

4. It’s jouer in Frnech, giocare in Italian, jugar in Spanish and purei in Maori, what is it in English?

5.  Who hosts the Farming Show and on which radio station did he begin it?

Points for answers:

James wins an electronic bunch of freesias with four right.

Andrei got three and a bonus for the question.

Richard got three and a bonus for generating a smile.

PDM got 2 1/2 and a bonus for being the only one to name Jamie Mackay – Hugh is still on National Radio, I think.

Swinestein got half with a bonus for being the only one to know Hokonui Gold.

Answers follow the break:

Read the rest of this entry »

Did Great grandma/pa sign the suffrage petition?

September 16, 2011

If you’ve ever wondered whether your relatives signed the petition seeking women’s suffrage, you can now check on the NZ History website.

This database is a digitised version of the main suffrage petition submitted to Parliament in 1893. . .

The ‘more’ link goes to a page where extra information can be added. Members of the public are encouraged to submit further information via community contributions or you can email us at info@nzhistory.net.nz . . .

Note that some places are under-represented on this database as women may have signed smaller regional petitions which have not survived. Read more about the petitions here. . .

We are grateful to Archives New Zealand and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs for making the original petition transcripts available to us.

The  site  has the names and addresses of about 24,000 people age 21 or older who signed the petition.

I couldn’t find any of my ancestors there but I’m not sure exactly when they arrived in New Zealand and those I know of lived in smaller centres not cities.

Hat Tip: TV3

High tuition fees cost of interest free loans

September 16, 2011

New Zealand tertiary tuition fees are the seventh highest in a list of 42 countries in an OECD report.

It doesn’t say anything about study assistance but I would be surprised if interest-free student loans aren’t among the most generous in the world too.

When there’s a limited amount of money spending more directly on assistance to individual students leaves less to spend on institutions which impacts on fees.

The more that is spent on encouraging students to study, helping them financially while studying with little incentive to repay loans quickly, the less there is to spend on staff salaries.

That means there’s a tension between the quantity of students and the quality of tuition.

Is it just coincidence that five of New Zealand’s six universities dropped in QS global rankings?

 Auckland, the only one in the top 100 dropped 14 places to 82. Otago went up five palces to 130.

QS vice president John Molony said the New Zealand universities had performed well since the ranking list began in 2004 but appeared to be losing ground this year.

“Even if New Zealand universities are maintaining their investment and performance or improving slightly this does not appear to be enough to keep up with the global pack in the current environment.”

The rankings are based on four quantitative areas; research, teaching, employability and internationalisation.

The research ranking, measured in terms of citations per faculty, dropped across all six universities, and the universities are not doing well in the teacher-student ratio or the international student ratio said Mr Molony.

Tertiary education union national president Sandra Grey said one of the reasons behind the slide was the trend of more students to every teacher after a tightening of university budgets.

“In New Zealand over the last few years, as the squeeze has gone on in terms of financing and the money that’s going to these institutions, we’re seeing staff more and more pressured and unable to give a good balance to the work that they’re doing.”

Would that have anything to do with the balance between money going to the institutions and financial assistance for students shifting in the students’ favour?

When money is limited more for students means less for institutions which have to charge higher fees or make cuts which impacts on the students-staff ratio and quality of teaching.

Ag safe from ETS under National

September 16, 2011

The Emissions Trading Scheme Review Panel’s report – Doing New Zealand’s Fair Share – recommends the implementation of the scheme be slowed down.

In releasing the report, Environment Minister Nick Smith points out the tension between the amount and speed of emissions reductions and the amount households and businesses are willing to pay.

“The current ETS legislation has the energy, transport and industrial sectors stepping up to a full obligation in 2013. The Report’s recommendation to slow this by phasing it in three steps in 2013, 2014 and 2015 would ease the price impact on households and businesses. The Report notes this slower timetable would not detract from investment in low-carbon technologies like renewable energy generation as they have quite long lead times.

“The recommendation to slow down the entry of agriculture by a more gradual introduction is also well considered. The Government does not support the introduction of agricultural emissions into the ETS before 2015. The Government also needs to consider the advice of the Agricultural ETS Advisory Committee on the practical implementation challenges. Agricultural emissions will only be included if practical technologies are available to enable farmers to reduce their emissions and more progress is made by our trading partners on measures to reduce emissions.

Forcing agriculture to adopt the ETS before our trading partners do and unless there are practical ways to reduce emissions would be economic sabotage for no environmental gain.

Federated Farmers points out that agriculture is working to reduce emissions:

It is good to get positive recognition that over the past 20 years, agriculture has reduced emissions per unit of product by 1.3 percent per annum,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers Vice-President and its climate change spokesperson.

“What’s more farmers, through our industry levies, contribute around $18 million towards pastoral greenhouse research. We’re not sitting on our hands.

“The key challenge for any government planning to enrol biological emissions into the ETS is to address the economic and practical ramifications.

“Right now, the entire primary sector contributes some 70 percent of all the physical exports we sell in order to pay our way in the world.

 “Farmers will be extremely pleased that Minister Smith has reaffirmed a pledge Government has given to Federated Farmers, that biological emissions will not be included in the ETS, if our trading partners do not follow suit.

“The Government is to be congratulated for this. It is also to be congratulated for recognising that farmers, despite the research investment, lack the practical means to reduce emissions.

“Any tools available are too variable or immature to meet the needs of farmers. Long term solutions, such as vaccines and genetics, are several decades away from commercial deployment.

“This is not thumbing our nose at an international commitment. It is a realistic and pragmatic assessment of the real world, where food security is emerging as a pressing global concern.

“Federated Farmers would like to see this policy commitment put into amending legislation after the General Election.

“Today’s review and the Government’s response to it, should provide farmers with a huge degree of confidence,” Dr Rolleston concluded.

That confidence requires the re-election of a National-led government.

If Labour and the Green party are in power agriculture will be forced into the ETS at huge cost for no benefit.

None of our trading partners show the slightest intention of including agriculture in their schemes and science has yet to come up with practical ways of reducing emissions from animals.

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