Word of the day

January 31, 2012

Chauvinist – one with a militant devotion to the glorification of one’s own country, fanatical patriotism; person with a prejudiced belief in the superiority of her/his own gender, group or kind;


Silly little boys

January 31, 2012

 

“Because our society, New Zealand society, Western society in general, has been hijacked by a conspiracy of Silly Little Boys. They’re everywhere; in the schools, in the media, in the public service, in the judiciary, even in Cabinet.

Everywhere we turn, the foundations of feminity, the pillars of female-ness which have underpinned the construction and development of our very civilisation, are being undermined, by Silly Little Boys. And we are putting up with it.”

Those two paragraphs are no sillier than the latest outpouring of stupidity by New Zealand First MP Richard Prosser uncovered by The Hand Mirror.


Last words, robots and predictions

January 31, 2012

Discussion on Critical Mass with Jim Mora today was sparked by:

The ultimate Facebook app, if I die.

Children’s ideas on  a robot-influenced future – more details at Latitude

Predictions for 2112

Hat tip for links – Idealog’s email newsletter  Daily Bacon


No Missionaries

January 31, 2012

GoNZo Freakpower wonders if a sign saying No Missionaries will keep unwanted people from his place the way a No Junk Mail sign keeps unwanted rubbish from his mailbox.

If it doesn’t he could follow the example of a friend who keeps a Bible reading by the door and quotes it at anyone who calls on a mission to convert her to their brand of religion.

Or he could try tears – it worked for me.

Our baby son and I had been home for only a couple of days after his eventful first couple of weeks of life during which he’d stopped breathing several times and had multiple seizures when we had to return to hospital.

My farmer and I decided it would be better if I drove down to Dunedin myself so I could keep the car down there. It seemed like a good idea until he went to the stock sale with our daughter leaving me at home alone.

A few minutes later some religious peddlers knocked on the door.

When I opened it they asked how I was. I said, “My baby’s dying,” and burst into tears.

They took one horrified look at me and fled.

I admire missionaries who do practical good but have never understood those who only preach. This experience reinforced my prejudice – if they’d taken their faith seriously they would have offered to help.


Aussie in NZ Racing Hall of Fame

January 31, 2012

Australian trainer Bart Cummings has been made an honorary member of  the New Zealand Racing Hall of Fame:

Bart Cummings’ induction as the first foreigner to the New Zealand Racing Hall of Fame was the early highlight of the Karaka Premier Yearling Sale on Monday.

Cummings was inducted by Prime Minister John Key in a ceremony before the sale started at Karaka, on the southern outskirts of Auckland.

He was admitted on the strength of his success with New Zealand-bred horses. Eight of his 12 Melbourne Cup winners were New Zealand bred, as was his most recent champion So You Think.

“No overseas trainer has done more to promote the New Zealand thoroughbred,” Hall of Fame chairman Gerald Fell said.

Cummings bought So You Think at Karaka a few years ago and said he was hoping to find another top horse.

“I’m always looking for a bargain in New Zealand because I can’t get one in Australia,” he said.

The induction wasn’t the main motivation for his visit, though:

However, the real reason for his visit is to pick another winner of the race  he’s almost made his own, the Melbourne Cup.

Cummings has won a few – 12 Melbourne Cups, with seven Kiwi-bred winners – and says the prize money is the attraction.  He had back-to-back wins with  Think Big in the 1970s.

The master trainer is now hoping he can get the right mix of sales business  and pleasure at Karaka.

Race horses are definitely not must-haves and prices paid at the sales this week will be an indicator of buyer confidence in the racing industry and wider economy.

 


5/10

January 31, 2012

5/10 in the Herald’s changing world quiz.


National Standards are working

January 31, 2012

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets/hub.1326407570.htmlWairarapa principal Kevin Jephson says National Standards are failing because most of his school’s pupils failed its benchmark last year.

Only 11 per cent of Dalefield’s students met the reading standard, 2 per cent the writing standard and 7 per cent the mathematics standard, he said.  

That’s not the standards failing, the results show they’re working.

The school, its staff and parents now know pupils aren’t learning as they should be and they should be focussed on getting them the help they need.

But Gail Marshall, principal of Solway Primary School in Masterton, said she had utmost faith in National Standards as a workable system.

The standards were trialled at Solway ahead of being rolled out nationwide.

The 2011 assessment at Solway found 91 per cent of Years 4 to 6 pupils met the reading standard, 87 per cent the writing standard and 82 per cent the mathematics standard.

 “What I like about the standards is that it shows very clearly what the kids need, and we can target that. This year we’ll be concentrating on writing and maths and we can target toward that end.”

Kiwiblog points out there is not a big difference in the decile rating of the schools:

Dalefield is decile 5 and Solway decile 6. Not a huge difference. Certainly not enough to explain why Solway is a magnitude higher in terms of the national standard.

Even if the decile rating was vastly different that wouldn’t mean the standards were wrong.

The assessment shows that Dalefield needs more help to ensure its pupils are learning as they should be which doesn’t mean the standards have failed.

The only failure identified so far is in Jephson who doesn’t understand that the true test of the standards won’t be in any problems they identify but in what happens next and the difference that makes.

Hat tip: Whaleoil


NZers won’t gain from DIRA changes

January 31, 2012

Fonterra doesn’t usually pick public fights with the government but it is making no secret of its strong opposition to proposed changes to the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act.

I’m not sure what further scrutiny of the way the company sets the price of milk is supposed to achieve in theory. In practice it will add compliance costs to the company while looking at only one part of the production chain from paddock to the consumer.

That is however, a relatively minor inconvenience compared with the proposed changes to Raw Milk regulations which Fonterra chair  Sir Henry van der Heyden said won’t work and will have New Zealanders subsidising increasingly foreign-owned dairy processors that don’t sell milk in New Zealand and who send their products and profits offshore.

Fonterra’s Shareholders’ Council chair Simon Couper (not online) says:

“Competition is good as it ensures our Co-operative stays lean, efficient and competitive however, there is no successful example in economics where a business is forced to subsidise its competitors, says Couper.

“The Government’s legislation proposes that New Zealand subsidise increasingly foreign-owned competitors while doing little or nothing to ensure milk is available to those processors who need it most or who assist the domestic market . . .

Based on 2011/12 projections less than half of the 570m litres supplied to other processors  this season will make it to the New Zealand domestic market with approximately 300m litres (53%) forecast to go to Independent Processors who primarily export product overseas.

Of that 300m litres two-thirds is claimed by processors with some level of foreign ownership.

“When one sector of an industry has to subsidise another it creates inefficiencies and false economies.

“This proposed legislation would further fragment the New Zealand dairy industry and weaken New Zealand’s export returns, strengthening our overseas competitors at the expense of the New Zealand economy and the average New Zealander.

 Federated Farmers also says none of the proposed changes will reduce the price of milk for domestic consumers:

“Not one of the changes proposed to the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act, or its regulations, will make milk any cheaper in the supermarkets,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson.

” . . . One of our Wellington staff members tells me Karori New World has been selling two litres for $3, as long as you spend $25 in-store.

“At that price, it is identical to what Cole’s has been selling milk for in Australia, once you take out our GST and exchange rate differences.

“What concerns me is that people seem to think farmers get all of the value from retail milk sales. I can tell you our share in a one litre carton of retail milk is around 360 millilitres.

“If someone’s skimming the cream I’d suggest looking harder at the wholesale and retail ends. How come Karori New World can sell two litres of milk for $3 but another New World sells an identical bottle for $3.72?

“That’s where the margins are, instead of the farmer who produce the milk in the first place.

“So what people need to really ask of the Government and of proposed changes to the DIRA is this; where is the domestic competition? Not just at the supermarket but for farmer’s milk itself.

“Precious few of the processors who take this milk, bottle it and then put it onto the shelves of supermarkets or dairies. Too few of these processors get milk from the farmgate and compete locally as they do internationally. We really need to know why,” Mr Leferink concluded.

Among those who do supply the local market are boutique cheese and ice cream producers. If the proposed changes are enacted these small locally owned businesses could be squeezed out by bigger foreign-owned companies which then export the milk.

The ODT editorial also raises doubts over the milk shake-up:

In an attempt to placate public concern about soaring domestic milk prices, the Government appears to have alienated our biggest company and largest export earner and also unwittingly assisted its partly owned foreign-owned dairy processing competitors . . .

 . . . Increasing New Zealanders’ access to dairy products is a laudable motive, but there are real doubts that these proposals will do little more than hamstring our largest export earner.   

Farmers at a Fonterra shareholders’ meeting in Oamaru yesterday were united in their opposition to the proposals.

As one asked, where’s the benefit for New Zealand and New Zealanders if the changes won’t reduce the price on the domestic market and will both add to compliance costs for the company and help foreign-owned businesses export at Fonterra’s expense?

People are upset about the sale of farmland to foreigners which will have little if any impact on them. They would be much better turning their attention to these proposals which will help foreign-owned companies at the expense of our biggest exporter and do nothing to reduce the price of milk on the domestic market.


January 31 in history

January 31, 2012

1606  Guy Fawkes was executed for his plotting against Parliament.

1673 Louis de Montfort, French catholic priest and saint, was born (d. 1716).

1747 The first venereal diseases clinic opened at London Lock Hospital.

1797 Franz Schubert, Austrian composer, was born (d. 1828).

1814 Gervasio Antonio de Posadas became Supreme Director of Argentina.

1849 Corn Laws were abolished in the United Kingdom (following legislation in 1846).

1862 Alvan Graham Clark discovered the white dwarf star Sirius B, a companion of Sirius, through an eighteen inch telescope at Northwestern University.

1865 Confederate General Robert E. Lee became general-in-chief.

1865  Henri Desgrange, Founder of the Tour-de-France, was born (d. 1940).

1872 Zane Grey, American Western writer, was born.(1939)

1876 The United States ordered all Native Americans to move into reservations.

1881  Anna Pavlova, Russian ballerina was born  (d. 1931).

1884 Theodor Heuss, 1st President of Germany (Bundespräsident), was born (d. 1963).

1918 A series of accidental collisions on a misty Scottish night led to the loss of two Royal Navy submarines with over a hundred lives, and damage to another five British warships.

1919 The Battle of George Square took place in Glasgow.

1919  Jackie Robinson, American baseball player,  first black player in Major League Baseball, was born (d. 1972).

1921 New Zealand’s first regular air mail service began with a flight by the Canterbury Aviation Company from Christchurch to Ashburton and Timaru.

NZ’s first regular airmail service begins

1921 Carol Channing, American actress and singer, was born.

1921 Mario Lanza, American singer was born (d. 1959).

1923 Norman Mailer, American writer and journalist, was born  (d. 2007).

1929 The Soviet Union exiled Leon Trotsky.

1930 3M began marketing Scotch Tape.

1938 – Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, was born.

1943 German Field Marshall Friedrich Paulus surrendered to the Soviets at Stalingrad, followed 2 days later by the remainder of his Sixth Army, ending one of World War II’s fiercest battles.

1945 US Army private Eddie Slovik was executed for desertion, the first such execution of a US soldier since the Civil War.

1946 Terry Kath, American musician (Chicago), was born (d. 1978).

1946 Yugoslavia‘s new constitution, modelling the Soviet Union, established six constituent republics (Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia).

1950 President Harry S. Truman announced a programme to develop the hydrogen bomb.

1951 Harry Wayne Casey, American singer and musician (KC and the Sunshine Band), was born.

1953 A North Sea flood caused over 1,800 deaths in the Netherlands.

1956 John Lydon aka Johnny Rotten, English singer (Sex Pistols, Public Image Ltd.), was born.

1958  Explorer 1 – The first successful launch of an American satellite into orbit.

1958  James Van Allen discovered the Van Allen radiation belt.

1961 Mercury-Redstone 2Ham the Chimp travelled into outer space.

1966 The Soviet Union launched the unmanned Luna 9 spacecraft as part of the Luna programme.

1968 – Nauru became independent from Australia.

1971 Apollo 14 Mission – Astronauts Alan Shepard, Stuart Roosa, and Edgar Mitchell, aboard a Saturn V, lifted off for a mission to the Fra Mauro Highlands on the Moon.

1971 – The Winter Soldier Investigation, organised by the Vietnam Veterans Against the War to publicise war crimes and atrocities by Americans and allies in Vietnam, began in Detroit.

1990 The first McDonald’s in the Soviet Union opened in Moscow.

1995 President Bill Clinton authorised a $20 billion loan to Mexico to stabilize its economy.

1996 An explosives-filled truck rams into the gates of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka in Colombo killing at least 86 and injuring 1,400.

2000 Alaska Airlines flight 261 MD-83, experiencing horizontal stabilizer problems, crashes in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Point Mugu, California, killing all 88 persons aboard.

2001 In the Netherlands a Scottish court convicted a Libyan and acquitted another for their part in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 which crashed into Lockerbie in 1988.

2003 The Waterfall rail accident near Waterfall, New South Wales.

2009 – At least 113 people were killed and over 200 injured following an oil spillage ignition in Molo, Kenya.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.


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