Word of the day

December 28, 2011

Nap – to sleep for a brief period, often during the day; doze; snooze; to be unaware of imminent danger or trouble; be off guard; a brief sleep, siesta.


11/20

December 28, 2011

11/20 in the Impossible Quiz.

That makes me smarter than 82.36% of people but given several of my answers were guesses I’m not going to let that go to my head.

At least two questions required knowledge which people outside the USA are unlikely to have so we could mark ourselves out of 18.


Why pick on farmers?

December 28, 2011

The Herald editorial praises Fonterra for its milk-in-schools scheme but is still thinks the price of milk is too high.

What appears to be the nub of the problem – how Fonterra sets the price it pays farmers for their milk – is also being examined by an interdepartmental group. Its report is due by the end of this month. But if its work on the mechanics and methodology of the confidential formula used by the company since 2009 informs that of the parliamentary committee, it should not supplant it. The public would be best served by its representatives determining whether the price paid to farmers is set higher than it should be to stifle competition, and if this should be fixed by having it set by an independent commissioner.

Why pick on farmers? The price paid to the producers is only one factor in retail cost of milk.

Between the farm gate and consumer are the costs of picking up, processing, distributing and retailing all of which add margins.

As for price fixing by anyone, independent or not, that would be a very draconian step which could well have perverse results.

When the Argentinean government tried to bring down the price of meat for domestic consumers by imposing high taxes on the exports farmers simply converted to more profitable produce.

Domestic milk production is a tiny proportion of Fonterra’s market. If the farmers who supply it don’t get the same as those who supply for the export market they will stop supplying it.

That aside, the nub of the problem isn’t the price of milk nor how it’s set. The nub of the problem is not the high cost of milk or nay other food, it’s low incomes and that won’t be addressed by price fixing.


Tax not the answer

December 28, 2011

Quote of the day:

Now, when you can explain to me how a packet of Pringles in a child’s lunchbox is somehow better than a packet of nuts and raisins, I will agree that a tax on sugar is a good thing.

Macdoctor in sugar sickness.

He was responding to a column from Tony Falkenstein who suggested a sugar tax was the best way to fight obesity.


Lacklustre dividends from energy companies

December 28, 2011

One of the criticisms levelled at National’s policy to sell minority shares in a few energy companies was that the state would then lose the dividend payments.

But Dene Mackenzie points out that the returns from the four companies which might be sold were lacklustre:

Politicians continue to misinterpret the returns by focusing on the return on capital employed (ROCE) instead of looking at the amount of cash generated from the dividends.

While some of the state-owned enterprises provide a large dividend payment to the Government in dollar value, the dividend yield is well below the industry average.

One of the arguments for partial sales is that it will improve company performance. The figures Mackenzie uses show there is room for that.


December 28 in history

December 28, 2011

On December 28:

1065  Westminster Abbey was consecrated.

1612 Galileo Galilei becomes the first astronomer to observe the planet Neptune, although he mistakenly catalogued it as a fixed star.

1635  Princess Elizabeth of England was born (d. 1650).

1768 King Taksin‘s coronation achieved through conquest as a king of Thailand and established Thonburi as a capital.

1795 Construction of Yonge Street, the longest street in the world, began in York, Upper Canada (present-day Toronto.

1836 South Australia and Adelaide were founded.

1836 – Spain recognised the independence of Mexico.

1856  Woodrow Wilson, 28th President of the United States, Nobel laureate, was born (d. 1924).

1867  United States claimed Midway Atoll, the first territory annexed outside Continental limits.

1879 The Tay Bridge Disaster: The central part of the Tay Rail Bridge in Dundee, Scotland collapsed as a train passed over it, killing 75.

1879 Billy Mitchell, American military aviation pioneer was born  (d. 1936).

1895 The Lumière brothers performed for their first paying audience at the Grand Cafe in Boulevard des Capucines marking the debut of the cinema.

1908 An earthquake rocked Messina, Sicily killing over 75,000.

1912 The first municipally owned streetcars took to the streets in San Francisco, California.

1929 ‘Black Saturday’ in Samoa – the day that New Zealand military police fired on a Mau demonstration in Apia, killing 11 Samoans, including the independence leader Tupua Tamasese Lealofi III. This led the Mau movement to demand independence for Samoa.

'Black Saturday' - NZ police open fire in Apia

1934 Dame Maggie Smith, British actress, was born.

1935 Pravda published a letter by Pavel Postyshev, who revived the New Year tree tradition in the Soviet Union.

1945 The United States Congress officially recognised the Pledge of Allegiance.

1950 The Peak District became the United Kingdom’s first National Park.

1953 Richard Clayderman, French pianist, was born.

1954  Denzel Washington, American actor, was born.

1956 Nigel Kennedy, British violinist, was born.

1981 The first American test-tube baby, Elizabeth Jordan Carr, was born in Norfolk, Virginia.

1989 A magnitude 5.6 earthquake hit Newcastle, New South Wales, killing 13 people.

1999  Saparmurat Niyazov was proclaimed President for Life in Turkmenistan.

2009 43 people died in a suicide bombing in Karachi, Pakistan, where Shia Muslims were observing the Day of Ashura.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.


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