Word of the day

21/09/2011

Germinal – relating to the nature of a germ cell or embryo; the earliest stage of development.


Minto for Mana in Manukau East

21/09/2011

John Minto has announced he’s standing as theMana candidate in Manukau East.

He’s good at protesting and getting attention but translating that into votes for him and his party won’t be easy.


Scottish govt, Shadbolt advocating for piper

21/09/2011

Scottish piper and rugby fan Matthew Strachan who’s trying to get the ban on bagpipes at Rugby World Cup games overturned has got some high level support – his own sports minister and Invercargill mayor Tim Shadbolt.

Scottish sports Minister Shona Robison has written to Rugby World Cup organisers asking them to overturn the ban on bagpipes at matches.

The move follows a complaint from Scotland fan and piper Matthew Strachan, 32, who has also written to John Key, the prime minister of New Zealand.

Mr Strachan, a GP from Aboyne, Aberdeenshire, said: “After spending considerable money getting to New Zealand to support my country, I was shocked to hear bagpipes were not allowed in the stadiums.

“I’ve played the pipes in most of the UK stadiums and also in France during the last World Cup and they have always been gratefully received. Why then after many sporting years have the World Cup organisers decided against having them in stadiums?”

He added: “At least pipers should be allowed to play up to the start of the game and afterwards. What is a touring piper supposed to do with his pipes when refused entry to a stadium? I would not have bought as many tickets to other games had I known, because as a piper, rugby games to me have always included my pipes.”

Tim Shadbolt is also supporting the piper:

Invercargill is the official host city for the Scotland Rugby Team.

Shadbolt attended both games involving Scotland at Rugby Park Stadium and says pipe bands playing outside the gates added to the atmosphere.

He says he also heard bagpipes playing during the game and people spontaneously started singing Scotland’s national anthem. . .

Rugby World Cup spokesman Mike Jaspers said earlier in the week that there was no specific ban on bagpipes, but a range of musical items, such as drums and vuvuzelas, are not allowed in because they can interfere with others’ enjoyment of the game.

He was not aware of anyone bearing bagpipes being refused entry to any grounds, nor of the Scottish minister’s request.

RWC organisers are no doubt concerned that everyone is able to enjoy the games without disruption and that letting one man and his pipes in to a stadium sets a precedent for other people and their instruments.

Blame the bias from my tartan genes if  you will, but I think there is a special case for the piper. Bagpipes  are at least as significant to the Scots as the haka is to New Zealand.

Providing the piper undertakes to restrict his piping to before and after the game and in appropriate breaks it would enhance the match experience not detract from it.

I[‘m not alone in that view – the  Facebook site supporting the campaign has 1002 members .

In other RWC news: Italy scored a bonus point with a  53-17 win against Russia last night.

This evening Tonga meets Japan in Whangarei.


Bring on ultra fast broadband

21/09/2011

We’ve recently upgraded our internet and it’s supposed to be 10 times faster than the old system.

It is fractionally faster for watching video clips but we’re not noticing any appreciable difference in accessing websites even though the Telecom broadband speed test tells us we’re downloading 324 3.24 mps which ought to be a considerable improvement on what we used to get.

Slow internet connections aren’t confined to home.

I had to buy a Tstick for mobile boradband today. It took nearly 45 minutes because the store computer was taking so long to download.

 How many other people are wasting how much time hanging round because the internet is slow?

What’s the cost of that in lost productivity and time?

Bring on ultra fast broadband.


Where’s Happy Feet?

21/09/2011

Let’s not let the fact that penguins and polar bears usually live at opposite ends of the globe get in the way of a grin.


Seventh successive slide in gDT milk auction price

21/09/2011

Prices paid for milk in Fonterra’s globalDairyTrade auction slid list night for the seventh successive time.

GDT Trade Weighted Index Changes

 

The trade weighted index dropped 2.1% though it is still above the long term average.

Whole milk powder was up 1.1% to US$3,345/MT; skim milk powder was down 6.2% to US$3,230/MT; anhydrous milk fat was down 11.2% to US$3,846/MT; butter milk powder was up .2% to US$2,985/MT; rennet casein was down 7.6% to  US$8,828/MT; milk protein concentrate was up 6.7% to US$6,692/MT and cheese was up .6% to US$4,049/MT.


Laugh for peace

21/09/2011

Three years ago I did a bungy jump from the bridge across the Kawarau River.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say I enjoyed the experience but it has had a positive impact on my life.

Now when I am faced with something challenging I think, if I can throw myself off a bridge then  I can do this.

What’s more as a result of that jump I now deliberately do something outside my comfort zone at least once a year because I know I can and feel better for it.

I tackled this year’s challenge last weekend. It was a Laughter Yoga workshop which though challenging in anticipation was not at all challenging in the doing.

The premise behind Laughter Yoga is that anyone can laugh for no reason without relying on or resorting to comedy, humour or jokes.

In a LY session laughter is initiated through laughter exercises then with eye contact and childlike (but not childish) playfulness it soon turns into real and contagious laughter.

Its called LY because laughter exercises are combined with yoga breathing, bringing more oxygen into the body and brain which boosts energy, health and well being.

LY is backed up by science, including the fact that the body can’t differentiate between fake and real laughter if it’s done willingly. Whether you’re faking it or laughing for real you get the same physiological and psychological benefits.

LY was started by a medical doctor, Dr Madan Kataria, with just five people in a Mumbai park. There are now thousands of laughter clubs in more than 65 countries.

Last weekend a dozen learners and two facilitators of us gathered in the Otago Pioneer Women’s hall (a gem of a building in Moray Place which I must have passed by hundreds of times without ever noticing).

We learned about the four stages of LY through doing – starting with clapping, then deep breathing and stretching followed by laughter exercises and relaxation/meditation.

I did a short session by myself on Monday which wasn’t as much fun as the groups ones had been, but still gave similar benefits afterwards and I went down to Dunedin for a Laughter Yoga session  last night.

It didn’t feel physically demanding at the time but I’m noticing stomach muscles I obviously hadn’t used for a long time.

I’m also feeling more relaxed, energised and in control than I have for longer than I can remember.

Laughter Yoga isn’t magic but it’s cast a spell over me and I’m loving it.

One of the exercises you can do is laughter arguing. You sit in pairs back to back, tell each other exactly what you think – at the same time, in gibberish with an Italian accent.

I defy you to stay angry after that which shows that LY isn’t only good for individuals but for relationships.

A smile is the shortest bridge between two people, if smiling and laughing work between individuals why not groups, communities and even countries?

Why not laugh for peace?

Today is the International Day of Peace (Facebook page here) and this post is a contribution to Save the Children’s blog for peace. There is more on their Facebook page.

Blog for Peace website badge

You can read more about LY at Laughteryoga.org on Facebook and YouTube.

Other blog posts for peace:

(I’ll update this as I come across them, please feel free to leave links in the comments).

My blog for Peace: From Battle Parent to Peace Parent in the Autism World at Autism and Oughtisms.


Fay led local team ups offer for Crafar farms

21/09/2011

A group of North Island farmers, led by Sir Michael Fay has increased its offer for the Crafar farms.

The original offer was for only nine of the 16 farms, the new offer is to pay $171.5 million for all 16 farms.

The Overseas Investment Commission is appraising an offer for the farms from a Chinese based group.

“Our group of farmers is the only other buyer for all the farms in this sales process and following satisfactory due diligence we are ready to go,” said Sir Michael. “As soon as we have a signed deal with the receivers they can hand over the keys and we’re ready to walk onto the land. Obviously that’s subject to the Overseas Investment Office rejecting the current Chinese contract.”

Sir Michael said the group was a mix of Iwi and local farmers who already own dairy farms in the Central North Island and who don’t have the complication of needing OIO approval.

“We’d like to be on the farms before Christmas to get them up to full production for the new season starting in mid 2012.”

Sir Michael said the average per hectare price was an accurate reflection of current land, asset and herd values and the opportunity to closely inspect production figures would need to confirm the value of the $171.5 million farmer group offer.

Steve Bignell, of Stretton’s Chartered Accountants in Taupo is the lead negotiator for the group of farmers and says the average $28,500 per hectare offer placed the contract price in the leading bracket for dairy farm sales in the area and across New Zealand.

Federated farmers says the bid is the best option for keeping the farms in New Zealand hands but the Overseas Investment Office should complete its investigation of the Chinese offer without bias.

“As a Kiwi would I like these farms to remain in Kiwi ownership? You bet I would,” says Robin Barkla, Federated Farmers Dairy Vice-President who farms in the Bay of Plenty. . .

“While my heart says one thing my head says that because there’s a live OIO application, we need to let it go through all the necessary hoops.

“The OIO process must be clean for if there’s any hint of favouritism or bias, then we risk becoming a South Seas Venezuela. Anything like that would spook international investors and dangerously drive up interest rates.

“That said, Sir Michael Fay is doing exactly what Federated Farmers has called for. Assembling a group of Kiwi investors to make a sizeable but credible bid for these farms.

“It certainly provides the receiver with a great option should the Pengxin Group bid fall over,” Mr Barkla concluded.

That’s a reasoned response.

The Chinese offer was first on the table is, I think, for a higher price and is part way through the OIO process.

The receivers have a responsibility to get the best price  accept the best offer for the creditors on whose behalf they are working. If the OIO accepts the Pengxin Group bid then it would be difficult for the Fay-led bid to succeed if it is offering a substantially lower price.

If however, the locals increase their offered price so it is close to that of Pengxin then the receivers might have a more difficult choice to make.

UPDATE:

RadioNZ reports the receivers say the Pengxin offer is still the best.


September 21 in history

21/09/2011

1217 Livonian Crusade: The Estonian tribal leader Lembitu and Livonian leader Kaupo were killed in Battle of St. Matthew’s Day.

1411 Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, claimant to the English throne, was born (d. 1460).

 

1745 Battle of Prestonpans: A Hanoverian army under the command of Sir John Cope was defeated, in ten minutes, by the Jacobite forces of Prince Charles Edward Stuart.

1756 John MacAdam, Scottish engineer and road-builder, was born (d. 1836).

 

1792 The National Convention declared France a republic and abolished the monarchy.

1827  Joseph Smith, Jr. was reportedly visited by the angel Moroni, who gave him a record of gold plates, one-third of which Smith has translated into The Book of Mormon.

1834 Betty Guard and her children were rescued from Ngati Ruanui (who had held them captive in Taranaki since April) by troops from HMS Alligator and Isabella.

Rescue of Harriet survivors begins

1860   In the Second Opium War, an Anglo-French force defeated Chinese troops at the Battle of Baliqiao.

 

1866 – H. G. Wells, English writer, was born (d. 1946).

1874 Gustav Holst, English composer, was born (d. 1934). 

1897  The “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” editorial was published in the New York Sun. 

1898  Empress Dowager Cixi seized power and ended the Hundred Days’ Reform in China.

 

1902 Sir Allen Lane, British founder of Penguin Books, was born (d. 1970).

 

1921  A storage silo in Oppau, Germany, exploded, killing 500-600 people.

1934  A large typhoon hit western Honshū killing 3,036 people.

1937 J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit was published.

1938  The Great Hurricane of 1938 made landfall on Long Island, killing an estimated at 500-700 people.

 

1939  Romanian Prime Minister Armand Calinescu was assassinated by ultranationalist members of the Iron Guard.

1942  On the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, Nazis sent more than 1,000 Jews of Pidhaytsi to Belzec extermination camp.

1942  In Poland, at the end of Yom Kippur, Germans ordered Jews to permanently evacuate Konstantynów and move to the Ghetto in Biała Podlaska, established to assemble Jews from seven nearby towns.

1942 In Dunaivtsi, Ukraine, Nazis murdered 2,588 Jews.

1942  The B-29 Superfortress made its maiden flight.

 

1947 Stephen King, American author, was born.

1947 Don Felder, American guitarist (Eagles), was born.

 

1950 Bill Murray, American comedian and actor, was born.

1957 Kevin Rudd, 26th Prime Minister of Australia, was born.

1961  Maiden flight of the CH-47 Chinook transportation helicopter.

1964  Malta became independent from the United Kingdom.

1964  The XB-70 Valkyrie, the world’s first Mach 3 bomber, made its maiden flight from Palmdale, California.

1965 David Wenham, Australian actor, was born.

1972  Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos signed Proclamation No. 1081 placing the entire country under martial law.

1976  Orlando Letelier, a member of the Chilean socialist government which was overthrown in 1973 by Augusto Pinochet,  was assassinated in Washington, D.C.

 

1978 Doug Howlett, New Zealand rugby union footballer, was born.

1981 Belize was granted full independence from the United Kingdom.

1981  Sandra Day O’Connor was unanimously approved by the U.S. Senate as the first female Supreme Court justice.

1989  Hurricane Hugo made landfall in South Carolina.

 

1991  Armenia was granted independence from Soviet Union.

1993 Russian President Boris Yeltsin suspended parliament and scrapped the then-functioning constitution, thus triggering the Russian constitutional crisis of 1993.

 

1999  Chi-Chi earthquake in central Taiwan, left about 2,400 people dead. 

2001 – AZF chemical plant exploded in Toulouse killing 31 people

2004  The Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) People’s War and the Maoist Communist Centre of India merged to form the Communist Party of India (Maoist).

2008  Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, the two last remaining independent investment banks on Wall Street, become bank holding companies as a result of the subprime mortgage crisis.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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