Word of the day

January 23, 2012

Sedulous – persevering and constant or diligent in effort or application or pursuit; assiduous; nvolving or accomplished with careful perseverance.


Did you see the one about . . .

January 23, 2012

Go back at RivettingKate Taylor – bad word, clever cartoon.

Building a cheese press at The Road to Raelands – latest post on a new (to me) blog – other posts have recipes including yoghurt and quark and buttermilk pot cheese and  biscuits.

Red flags of quackery – Sci-ence.og’s guide to spotting quacks. Hat tip: Sciblogs

Mere desire vs burning ambition – Not PC has a clip explaining the difference.

Every presentation ever – Whaleoil has a clip of where we’ve all been.

Calligrams – Visual Poetry and The Power of Visual Poetry – Destiny –  Look Up at the Sky makes wonderful word pictures.


Happy Chinese New Year

January 23, 2012

Chinese New Year begins today and ushers in the Year of the Dragon.

The dragon is anything but a formidable foe in Chinese culture. Unlike the demon that gets slayed in Western literature, the Dragon is a symbol of good fortune and intense power in Eastern culture. In Chinese tradition, the Dragon is regarded as a divine beast. . . 

The Year of the Dragon is one of the most revered years of the Chinese New Year calendar, and those born under the sign are regarded as innovative, passionate people who are colorful, confident and fearless.

The Manila Bulletin cites that the Dragon is sometimes called a “karmic sign.” The Dragon is larger than life and its appearance means that big things are to come. The Year of the Dragon is a flowing river, not a stagnant lake, so things happen quickly earlier in the year. The Dragon marks progression, perseverance and auspiciousness. It may also bring about unpredictable events.

Given last year’s natural disasters and financial instability, is it too much to hope there will be more progression, perseverance and auspiciousness and that the unpredictable events are positive rather than negative?


Barry Humphries Australian of Year

January 23, 2012

Happy news, possums, comedian Barry Humphries has been awarded the title Australian of the Year.

His alter egos Dame Edna Everadge and Sir Les Patterson have yet to comment.


Xenophobia robs opportunities

January 23, 2012

The Australian government has warned that a “xenophobic campaign” would rob farmers of opportunities presented by the increasing demand from Asian countries for secure food supplies.

Just 1 per cent of agricultural businesses by number, 11.3 per cent of farmland and 9 per cent of water entitlements have some foreign ownership, a report released yesterday says, according to The Australian Financial Review.

Assistant Treasurer Mark Arbib said foreign investment had significant benefits and that there were already rigorous controls.

However, the Coalition said the report relied on faulty data and the National Farmers’ Federation called for the threshold at which the Foreign Investment Review Board must examine foreign investment in agriculture to be slashed to about $23 million from $231 million.

The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences’ report acknowledges growing public concerns but cautions against bowing to them.

“Concessions to concerns about sovereignty, distrust or fear of foreigners are likely to come at an economic cost to countries that restrict the inflow of foreign capital,” it said.

Trade Minister Craig Emerson echoed this, warning Australia could pay a high price for “Hansonite” opposition to foreign investment in agriculture.

“Pessimists and political opportunists see the desire for food security of major emerging countries as a threat. In truth, it is an unsurpassed opportunity for Australian farmers,” Dr Emerson said.

The growing demand for safe, high quality food is also an opportunity for New Zealand farmers and the wider economy.

Some see that threatened by foreign ownership of land and that is partly what is behind the opposition to the proposed acquisition of the Crafar farms by the Chinese company Penqxin.

But as Fran O’Sullivan says:

I don’t believe it is in New Zealand’s long-term economic interest to allow xenophobia, whipped up by a rival (late-comer) bid, to damage a relationship cemented by years of diplomacy by officials in this country and China.

There will be more to the OIO decision than mere political cosmetics. Penqxin will have made sure that its business plan includes processing milk powder from the Crafar farms within New Zealand and to export branded high-value products back to China. Thus it ought to pass the OIO’s muster.

That is also where the value proposition for New Zealand-sourced dairy production lies. Not simply in exporting vast quantities of milk powder to Fonterra’s customers and competitors offshore (including within China) for them to refine. This will lead to more jobs in New Zealand – not fewer.

Appealing to xenophobia in their increasingly vehement opposition to the Penqxin bid does the consortium led by Sir Michael Fay no credit.

The receivers are duty-bound to get the best return for the farms and it appears the New Zealand bid is well short of the Chinese one.

If it wasn’t for the relatively new markets for our primary produce in Asia, particularly in China, New Zealand’s economic position would be in a very dire position.

It is in our mutual interest to further trade and other relationships.

Providing safe-guards are in place to ensure farms aren’t mined and produce meets the high standards on which our reputation is based we have more to gain than lose from foreign investment.


Quote of the day

January 23, 2012

The solution to the poverty gap is for the state to raise enough taxes to fund schools, hospitals and housing. Then have economic policies and industrial laws that aim to create high-waged jobs. Matt McCarten

This from the man who heads a union which didn’t pay its PAYE and whose industrial relations wish-list would handicap businesses so they’d be less able to pay high wages.


January 23 in history

January 23, 2012

971 In China, the war elephant corps of the Southern Han were soundly defeated at Shao by crossbow fire from Song Dynasty troops. The Southern Han state was forced to submit to the Song Dynasty, ending not only Southern Han rule, but also the first regular war elephant corps employed in a Chinese army that had gained the Southern Han victories throughout the 10th century.

1368  Zhu Yuanzhang ascended to the throne of China as the Hongwu Emperor, initiating Ming Dynasty rule over China that lasted for three centuries.

1510  Henry VIII, then 18 years old, appeared incognito in the lists at Richmond, and was applauded for his jousting before he reveals his identity.

1556 The deadliest earthquake in history, the Shaanxi earthquake, hit Shaanxi province, China. The death toll may have been as high as 830,000.

1570  The assassination of regent James Stewart, 1st Earl of Moray threw Scotland into civil war.

1571 The Royal Exchange opened in London.

1579 The Union of Utrecht formed a Protestant republic in the Netherlands.

1656 Blaise Pascal published the first of his Lettres provinciales.

1719 The Principality of Liechtenstein was created within the Holy Roman Empire.

1789  Georgetown College, the first Roman Catholic college in the United States, was founded.

1793 Second Partition of Poland: Russia and Prussia partitioned Poland for the second time.

1813 Camilla Collett, Norwegian writer and feminist, was born  (d. 1895).

1832  Edouard Manet, French artist, was born (d. 1883).

1849  Elizabeth Blackwell the USA’s first female doctor, was awarded her M.D. by the Medical Institute of Geneva, New York.

1855 John Moses Browning, American inventor, was born (d. 1926).

1855 A magnitude 8.2 earthquake hit the Welington region.

Massive earthquake hits Wellington region

1855  The first bridge over the Mississippi River opened.

1870 U.S. cavalrymen killed 173 Native Americans, mostly women and children, in the Marias Massacre.

1897  Sir William Samuel Stephenson, Canadian soldier, W.W.II codename, Intrepid. Inspiration for James Bond., was born (d. 1989).

1897 Elva Zona Heaster was found dead.The resulting murder trial of her husband is perhaps the only case in United States history where the alleged testimony of a ghost helped secure a conviction.

1899 Emilio Aguinaldo was sworn in as President of the First Philippine Republic.

1904 Ålesund Fire: the Norwegian coastal town Ålesund was devastated by fire, leaving 10,000 people homeless and one person dead.

1907 Charles Curtis of Kansas became the first Native American U.S. Senator.

1912 The International Opium Convention was signed at The Hague.

1920  The Netherlands refused to surrender ex-Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany to the Allies.

1943 Troops of Montgomery‘s 8th Army captured Tripoli from the German-Italian Panzer Army.

1943  World War II: Australian and American forces defeated the Japanese army in Papua. This turning point in the Pacific War marked the beginning of the end of Japanese aggression.

1943 Duke Ellington played at Carnegie Hall  for the first time.

1948  Anita Pointer, American singer (Pointer Sisters), was born.

1950 – The Knesset passed a resolution that stated Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.

1951 Yachts left Wellington bound for Lyttelton in an ocean yacht race to celebrate Canterbury’s centenary.  Only one, Tawhiri, officially finished the race. Two other yachts, Husky and Argo, were lost along with their 10 crew members.

Disastrous centennial yacht race begins
1951  Chesley Sullenberger, Captain of US Airways Flight 1549, a flight that successfully ditched into the Hudson River, was born.
1957  Princess Caroline of Monaco, was born.
1958 Overthrow in Venezuela of Marcos Pérez Jiménez

1960 The bathyscaphe USS Trieste broke a depth record by descending to 10,911 m (35,798 feet) in the Pacific Ocean.

1964 The 24th Amendment to the United States Constitution, prohibiting the use of poll taxes in national elections, was ratified.

1973 President Richard Nixon announced that a peace accord has been reached in Vietnam.

1973 A volcanic eruption devastated Heimaey in the Vestmannaeyjar chain of islands off the south coast of Iceland.

1985 O.J. Simpson became the first Heisman Trophy winner elected to the Football Hall of Fame.

1986  The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted its first members: Chuck Berry, James Brown, Ray Charles, Fats Domino, the Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley.

1997 Madeleine Albright became the first woman to serve as United States Secretary of State.

2003 Final communication between Earth and Pioneer 10

2009 Dendermonde nursery attack in Dendermonde, Belgium.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.


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