How many monarchs in a lifetime?


My parents lived under four monarchs, all from the House of Windsor – George V, Edward VIII, George VI and Elizabeth II.

I’ve known only one, Queen Elizabeth, who is celebrating 60 years on the throne and is second only to Queen Victoria in the length of her reign.

Wages beat inflation


Good employment news from Statistics New Zealand:

Salary and wage rates, which include overtime, increased 2.0 percent in the year to the December 2011 quarter, Statistics New Zealand said today. This rise follows a 2.0 percent increase in the year to the September 2011 quarter.

After the 2008/09 recession, annual wage rate growth in the labour cost index (LCI) dropped to a low of 1.5 percent in the year to the March 2010 quarter. Since then, the proportion of surveyed pay rates showing annual rises has grown – from 43 percent in the year to the March 2010 quarter to 56 percent in the year to the March 2011 quarter. This remained relatively stable during 2011 – including 57 percent in the year to the December 2011 quarter.

Salary and wage rates for the private sector increased 2.0 percent in the year to the December 2011 quarter. Annual growth remained steady throughout 2011. Public sector rates increased 1.8 percent in the year to the December 2011 quarter. This increase includes a 2.3 percent rise in the local government sector, the highest annual increase since a 2.5 percent rise in the year to the December 2009 quarter.

The Quarterly Employment Survey (QES), also released today, showed a rise in employment and total paid hours. For the December 2011 quarter, the seasonally adjusted number of full-time equivalent employees rose 0.6 percent, while seasonally adjusted filled jobs rose 0.5 percent. Seasonally adjusted total weekly paid hours rose 0.6 percent for the same period.

Average hourly earnings for ordinary time (ie excluding overtime) rose 2.8 percent for the December 2011 year, after rising 3.2 percent for the September 2011 year.

These aren’t big increases but given the uncertain global financial outlook it is encouraging.

Mat Nolan at the Visible Hand in Economics points out that the wage increase was higher than inflation and – who’s surprised? – people who made a fuss about wages growing more slowly than prices aren’t, or at least haven’t yet, celebrated  the positive reversal.

Move over Babe


Babe’s sheep herding success changed the way many regarded sheep, could this do the same for rabbits?

STOCKHOLM — Champis the bunny doesn’t only hop – he also knows how to herd his masters’ flock of sheep, possibly having picked up the skill after watching trained dogs do the job. . . 

Greta Vigren said she first noted his talent last spring when they let out the sheep to graze for the first time after the long Swedish winter.

“He just started to behave like a sheepdog,” she recalled, adding that while he likes to round up the sheep, he is consistent about leaving the farm’s hens alone, treating them more gently.

“He’s like a king for the whole group. He thinks he rules over both the sheep and the hens. He has a very big ego.”

But wiat, there’s more: Champis the rabbit also saved a hen from a ram.

Address causes not symptoms, Joris


Joris de Bres  has leapt on the inequality band wagon:

The Race Relations Commissioner says inequality is still the most pressing race relations issue facing New Zealand.

Joris de Bres says New Zealand must continue efforts to address the “appalling” rate of Maori youth unemployment and recognise the need to keep people in work.

Inequality is a symptom, it’s not the problem.

Unemployment is a problem but it won’t be solved until the causes are addressed, among which are poor education, poor health, and drug and alcohol abuse.

First shot in milk war?


Competition between retailers in Australia have driven down the retail price of milk.

That could be about to happen here:

Grocery retailer Nosh Food Market looks set to trigger a price war on milk by cutting the price of a brand of two litre mitre by more than half to $2.

Nosh says milk prices have risen 41% since 2007 and milk now costs relatively more in New Zealand than in Australia, South Africa, Britain and United States.

Co-founder Clinton Beuvink says he hopes the move will be a catalyst for permanently driving down the price of milk.

Nosh is cutting the price of the Cow & Gate brand milk to $2 per two litres – a 55% reduction from the normal retail price at Nosh stores.

Fonterra and farmers have been criticised for the relatively high price of milk on domestic markets but most of the costs which contribute to the retail price happens between the farm gate and consumers.

If Nosh is able to cut its price by more than 50% then either it has been charging far too much or it is prepared to use it as a loss leader.

Either way, milk will be cheaper in some outlets. Nosh has fired what could be the first shot in a milk war and other retailers will almost certainly retaliate to the benefit of consumers.

In Australia that has put a lot of pressure on farm-gate prices. But domestic supply takes such a small proportion of the New Zealand dairy production farmers here are much less likely to be caught in the crossfire between retailers.

Quote of the day


 He said it was possible to expand exploration and mining activities in a way that was “sensible, environmentally sustainable and appropriate.” He said the Government could not ignore the wealth and jobs that more mining would create.   

He said New Zealand knew how to spend like a first world country, “we need to learn how to earn like a first world country.”   

He was more than happy to talk to those protestors about that  issue “if they want to have a sensible debate about the future of New Zealand, because when people have jobs and higher incomes, they have more choices.”   John Key

February 7 in history


457  Leo I became emperor of the Byzantine Empire.

1074 Pandulf IV of Benevento was killed battling the invading Normans at the Battle of Montesarchio.

1238 The Mongols burned the Russian city of Vladimir.

1301 Edward of Caernarvon (later King Edward II of England) became the first English Prince of Wales.

1478 Sir Thomas More, English statesman, humanist, and author, was born (d 1535).

1497 – The bonfire of the vanities occured in which suppoters of Girolamo Savonarola burned thousands of objects including cosmetics, art, and books in Florence.

1795  The 11th Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified.

1804 John Deere, American manufacturer (Deere & Company), was born (d. 1886).

1807  Battle of Eylau – Napoléon’s French Empire began fighting against Russian and Prussian forces of the Fourth Coalition at Eylau, Poland.

1812 Charles Dickens, English novelist, was born (d. 1870).

1819 Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles left  Singapore after just taking it over, leaving it in the hands of William Farquhar.

1842  Battle of Debre Tabor: Ras Ali Alula, Regent of the Emperor of Ethiopia defeated warlord Wube Haile Maryam of Semien.

1856 The Kingdom of Awadh was annexed by the British East India Company after a peaceful abdication of Wajid Ali Shah, the king of Awadh.

1856 – The colonial Tasmanian Parliament passed the first piece of legislation (the Electoral Act of 1856) anywhere in the world providing for elections by way of a secret ballot.

1863  The Royal Navy’s steam corvette HMS Orpheus, bringing supplies and reinforcements for the land wars, hit the Manukau Harbour bar and sank.  Of the 259 aboard, 189 died, making it New Zealand’s worst maritime disaster.

HMS Orpheus.jpg

1867 Laura Ingalls Wilder, American author, was born  (d. 1957).

1870 Alfred Adler, Austrian psychologist was born  (d. 1937).

1898  Émile Zola was brought to trial for libel for publishing J’Accuse.

1901  Arnold Nordmeyer, New Zealand politician, was born  (d. 1989).

1904 A fire in Baltimore destroyed over 1,500 buildings in 30 hours.

1907 The Mud March, the first large procession organised by the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS).

1922 Hattie Jacques, English actress, was born (d. 1980).

1943  Imperial Japanese naval forces completed the evacuation of Imperial Japanese Army troops from Guadalcanal during Operation Ke, ending Japanese attempts to retake the island from Allied forces in the Guadalcanal Campaign.

1956 Mark St. John, American musician (Kiss), was born  (d. 2007).

1962 Garth Brooks, American singer, was born.

1962 Eddie Izzard, British actor and comedian, was born.

1962 – David Bryan, American musician (Bon Jovi), was born.

1962 The United States banned all Cuban imports and exports.

1967 Bushfires in southern Tasmania claimed 62 lives and destroy 2,642.7 square kilometres (653,025.4 acres) of land.

1974  Grenada gained independence from the United Kingdom.

1979  Pluto moved inside Neptune‘s orbit for the first time since either was discovered.

1984  STS-41-B Mission – Astronauts Bruce McCandless II and Robert L. Stewart made the first untethered space walk using the Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU).

1986  Twenty-eight years of one-family rule ended in Haiti, when President Jean-Claude Duvalier fled.

1990  The Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party agreed to give up its monopoly on power.

1991  Haiti‘s first democratically-elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was sworn in.

1991 –  The IRA launched a mortar attack on 10 Downing Street during a cabinet meeting.

1992 –  The Maastricht Treaty was signed, leading to the creation of the European Union.

1995  Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, was arrested in Islamabad, Pakistan.

1999 – Crown Prince Abdullah became the King of Jordan on the death of his father, King Hussein.

2009  Bushfires in Victoria left 173 dead in the worst natural disaster in Australia’s history.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

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