Word of the day

February 22, 2012

Resilient – able to recoil or spring back into shape after bending, stretching, or being compressed; able to withstand or recover quickly from change, difficult conditions, illness, or misfortune; bouyant.


Red and black

February 22, 2012

For Canterbury:

(Ribbon borrowed from Scrubone at Something Should Go Here Maybe Later)


Broken rules helped

February 22, 2012

When disaster strikes you can’t always go by the rules.

In financing a fund to cover wages for Canterbury businesses in the aftermath of the September 2010 and February 2011 earthquakes in Canterbury, the government wasn’t following the rules:

In an interview on last February’s quake Prime Minister John Key said:

The Government’s response in the following days involved not just the rescue effort, but how to keep the heart of Christchurch beating. “In a way we almost broke every rule in the book.

“You’d never establish a fund where you just say, `Ring up and we’ll give you money’, because governments don’t operate like that and if you do, they’re liable to all sorts of activity which could be fraudulent.

“But we just sort-of knew there was no way to have a system with all the bells and whistles on it … if you look back on it I reckon that actually kept Christchurch afloat. We essentially paid the bill for 50,000 people for six or eight weeks and business did start regrouping, in fact, much quicker than we thought.”

A business leader told a meeting I was at last year that the fund made a huge difference to the city and he credited it with the relatively low number of business failures after the quakes.

The fund kept money flowing through the economy, it gave businesses breathing room while they regrouped, it worked on honour and there was very little abuse of it.


Artificial meat solution to global hunger?

February 22, 2012

British scientists have perfected the art of growing meat in a laboratory, using stem cells from cattle:

The process of culturing the artificial meat in the lab is so laborious that   the finished product, expected to arrive in eight months’ time, will cost   about £220,000 (EUR250,000).

But researchers expect that after producing their first patty they will be   able to scale up the process to create affordable artificial meat products.

Mass-producing beef, pork, chicken and lamb in the lab could satisfy the   growing global demand for meat – forecast to double within the next 40 years   – and dramatically reduce the harm that farming does to the environment.

Leaving aside the debatable claim about the harm farming does to the environment, if artificial meat is sufficiently tasty, tender and cheap it could help solve the problem of protein shortages.

It might also find a market among people who are vegetarian because they don’t like the idea of animals dying to provide their food.

Will it threaten our meat industry? I don’t think so.

The scientists are producing something like burger meat which will still leave plenty of opportunity to sell our real meat to discerning customers who prefer a higher quality product that comes from a  paddock rather than a petri dish.


Teaching wrong subjects

February 22, 2012

A shortage of people with agricultural skills is good for graduates seeking work.

But it’s not good for the country when the shortage of agriculture skills is reaching crisis point:

Incoming Waikato University agribusiness professor Jacqueline Rowarth is calling on the Government to help solve the problem, saying Prime Minister John Key and other political leaders should use public speaking opportunities to promote agriculture and science as a smart career choice.

“The minute John Key starts saying agriculture is our most important industry, we will see a shift back to students training in these vital subjects. All political leaders should be saying it. It should be apolitical,” she says.

A shortage of young people training in agriculture at university level is reaching crisis levels, with not enough graduates available to fill jobs, Rowarth says. With more farmers reaching retirement age, the situation will only get worse if New Zealand does not focus on this important area, given that agriculture is the backbone of our economy.

It’s not only politicians, teachers should be encouraging pupils into the subjects which prepare them for careers in agriculture.

Rowarth says the trend away from agricultural studies started with Prime Minister Helen Clark’s high-profile promotion of the creative and performing arts as a career choice in the 1990s.

“We had scholarships, the Peter Jackson effect and the knowledge wave, so we had a whole lot of young people going into the creative and performing arts.

“The problem is that only 100 tertiary students graduated in agriculture last year, compared with more than 2000 creative and performing arts students.”

How many of those 2000 creative and performing arts students got jobs in the field they were trained for and how many got any job at all?

Not having enough agriculture graduates to fill available jobs has seen the Government add agricultural science to the skilled migrant list, while graduates from other degrees struggle to find employment related to their studies.

Competition for our relatively few graduates won’t just come from employers here, Australia is also facing a skills shortage.

The Australians are going bananas, saying their agriculture skills shortage needs to be treated seriously. They need 4000 people for jobs in agriculture but are producing only 300 graduates, so guess where they’re going to get them from?

“The New Zealand Government needs to drop the fees for agriculture study and introduce scholarships, like Helen Clark did for the performing arts,” Rowarth says.

“If you have 50 to 100 of our best and brightest getting government agriculture scholarships, we will get the cohort effect – if the head boy gets the starry scholarship, his mates will follow him.”

I’m not sure about dropping fees but would support a bonding system similar to that National introduced for health professionals and vets under which a proportion of student loans is written off each year a new graduate works here.

Rowarth said agriculture must be promoted as a career choice to young children.

“The importance of the science of food production should be right throughout the school curriculum, not called `agriculture’ but using agricultural examples so it becomes second nature thinking for our young people.

“In studying history, we could consider the green revolution; in science we could consider grains and the action of chlorophyll; in economics we could discuss the economics of the potato famine.

“We have bred a whole generation of people who want to save the world, but right now it’s easier to teach pollution than production. We could rename the study of agriculture `natural resource management’ or `sustainable food production’.

“We should also be teaching our young people to consider where the jobs are. One of the greatest problems facing the world in the future is feeding the world. If you want to save the world and make a difference to your country, you should be studying agriculture.” That’s the way our politicians should be talking, Rowarth says.

It’s not just agriculture which doesn’t get the promotion it should as a career choice. Most science-based careers and trades are also facing a lack of new entrants while school pupils are diverted to other more popular but less useful subjects.

Andrei makes this point in what are we educating our children to be?

Hat tip: Quote Unquote


Kia Kaha Christchurch

February 22, 2012

At 12:51 a year ago today, a violent earthquake shook Christchurch, Lyttleton and the hinterland.

It lasted just 24 seconds but in that time changed the city forever.

Among the victims on the day were 185 who were killed and many more who were injured.

The physical and financial costs of the quake, and the thousands of big and small ones which have followed, might be quantifiable.

The emotional impact on the people of Christchurch is not.

Today we will remember them all: the people who died; their family and friends who will still be mourning for them;  the people who were injured and those still supporting them; the people who were forced from their homes and businesses and those who have stayed.

Today is also an opportunity to honour the many organisations and individuals who have worked so hard to help the city and its people. Among them are Sam Johnson who was named Young New Zealander of the Year for his leadership of the Student Volunteer Army, and Federated Farmers’ John Hartnell who led the Farmy Army.

Today is an opportunity to look back in sadness but it’s also an opporutnity to look forward in hope.

Kia Kaha Christchurch.

Timetable of commemoration  services:

  • Christchurch

Where: North Hagley Park

When: 12pm-1:30pm

Christchurch residents welcome to attend the reading of names of the  185 who perished and two minute’s silence will be observed.

Where: North Hagley Park

When: 2pm-4pm

Christchurch Earthquake Awards will celebrate those who rose above the call of duty to assist others in the aftermath.

Where: Latimer Square

When: 8am-8.45am

Service focused towards those who lost loved ones as well as first  responders, the public is also welcome to attend.

Where: Avon River

When: 8am-8pm

An event called River of Flowers. The public is invited to  cast flowers into the river at particular sites. More information available here

Where: Christchurch Botanic Gardens

When: 10am-11.45am

Festival of Flowers where Golden Angel/Spirit sculpture will be  unveiled and ringing of Peace Bell by Japanese students who lost friends in the  CTV building.

Where: Wainoni/Avonside Community Services Trust

When: 12:45pm

Lighting of candles and two minutes’ silence along with other memorial  activites.

Where: Branston Intermediate

When: 4.30pm-7.30pm

The Crusaders will be manning the  free BBQ and there will be ice cream and games to entertain the  children.

Where: Sacred Heart Parish Church, Addington

When: 5pm-8pm

Mass by the Filipino community of  Christchurch.

Where: Queenspark Reserve

When: 5pm-7pm

A Memorial Reflection where northeast Christchurch residents can  reflect over the year at stations dotted around the park.

Where: Oxford Terrace Baptist Church

When: 7pm

Reflection of Loss of Lives, Livelihoods and Living in Neighbourhood.  An installation of white chairs will represent earthquake victims.

Where: Holy Trinity Avonside

When: 7pm

Brief service and candle lighting will be followed by Ash Wednesday  service.

Where: Spreydon Baptist Church

When: 7.30pm

Remembrance and Ash Wednesday service.

  • Selwyn

Where: Selwyn District Council chambers, two minutes’ silence

When: 12.51pm

Where: Rolleston Domain

When: 5pm-7pm

Community picnic with music and children’s games

  • Waimakariri

Where: Kaiapoi Baptist Church, the Kaiapoi Club and the Oxford  Workingman’s Club

When: 12pm-1.30pm

North Hagley Park’s Civic Memorial Service will be screened.

Where: District Council Rangiora and Oxford service centres and  Darnley Square, Kaiapoi

When: 12.51pm

Two minute’s silence.

  • Auckland

Where: Parnell’s Holy Trinity Cathedral

When: 12.30-1:00pm

Mayor Len Brown will lead two minute’s silence at 12.51pm.

Where: Aotea Square

When: 12.51pm

The Auckland Town Hall clock bell will ring at the start and finish of  two minutes’ silence.

Where: Auckland War Memorial Museum

When: 12pm-2pm

Reading from The Broken Book by Christchurch author Fiona  Farrell, two minutes’ silence at 12.51pm and a screening of When A City  Falls documentary at 1pm.

  • Wellington

Where: Anglican and Catholic cathedrals

When: 12.30pm

Wellington’s service will be hosted by the Anglican and Catholic  cathedrals, as vigil of solidarity with the two iconic Christchurch cathedrals  that were destroyed.

  • Dunedin

Where: Otago Museum lawn

When: 12.30pm

Otago Student Association president Logan Edgar says a two minute’s  silence, mayoral address from Dave Cull and end karakia will be held.

  • Wanganui

Where: Majestic Square

When: 5pm

Wanganui District Council’s youth committee and Mayor Annette Main will  be hosting a service.


February 22 in history

February 22, 2012

1495 King Charles VIII of France entered Naples to claim the city’s throne.

1632 Galileo‘s Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems was published.

1732 George Washington, First President of the United States, was born  (d. 1799).

1744 War of the Austrian Succession: The Battle of Toulon started.

1797 The Last Invasion of Britain started near Fishguard, Wales.

1819 James Russell Lowell, American poet and essayist, was born  (d. 1891).

1819 By the Adams-Onís Treaty, Spain sold Florida to the United States for $US5m.

1847 Mexican-American War: The Battle of Buena Vista – 5,000 American troops drove off 15,000 Mexicans.

1855 Pennsylvania State University was founded as the Farmers’ High School of Pennsylvania.

1856 The Republican Party opened its first national meeting in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

1857 Robert Baden-Powell, 1st Baron Baden-Powell, English founder of the Scout movement, was born (d. 1941).

1862 Jefferson Davis was officially inaugurated for a six-year term as the President of the Confederate States of America in Richmond, Virginia.

1879 Frank Woolworth opened the first of many of 5 and 10-cent Woolworth stores.

1882 The Serbian kingdom was refounded.

1889 Olave Baden-Powell, English founder of the Girl Guides, was born  (d. 1977).

1902 The Kelburn cable car opened.

Kelburn cable car opens

1904 The United Kingdom sold  a meteorological station on the South Orkney Islands to Argentina.

1908  Sir John Mills, English actor, was born (d. 2005).

1915 Germany instituted unrestricted submarine warfare.

1918 Robert Wadlow, American tallest ever-human, was born  (d. 1940).

1922 Britain unilaterally declared the independence of Egypt.

1924 U.S. President Calvin Coolidge was the first President to deliver a radio broadcast from the White House.

1926 Kenneth Williams, English actor, was born  (d. 1988).

1943  Members of White Rose were executed in Nazi Germany.

1928 Bruce Forsyth, British entertainer, was born.

1944 American aircraft bombard the Dutch towns of Nijmegen, Arnhem, Enschede and Deventer by mistake, resulting in 800 dead in Nijmegen alone.

1948 Communist coup in Czechoslovakia.

1950  Julie Walters, English actress, was born.

1958 Egypt and Syria joined to form the United Arab Republic.

1959 Lee Petty won the first Daytona 500.

1962  Steve Irwin, Australian herpetologist, was born (d. 2006).

197 An Irish Republican Army car bomb was detonated at Aldershot barracks, killing seven and injuring nineteen others.

1974 Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) summit conference started in Lahore.

1979 Independence of Saint Lucia from the United Kingdom.

1980 Miracle on Ice: the United States hockey team defeated the Soviet Union hockey team 4-3, in one of the greatest upsets in sports history.

1983 The Broadway flop Moose Murders opened and closed on the same night at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre.

1986 Start of the People Power Revolution in the Philippines.

1994 Aldrich Ames and his wife Maria del Rosario Casas Dupuy, were charged by the United States Department of Justice with spying for the Soviet Union.

1995 The Corona reconnaissance satellite program, was declassified.

1997 Scottish scientists announced that an adult sheep named Dolly had been successfully cloned.

2002 Angolan political and rebel leader Jonas Savimbi was killed in a military ambush.

2006 At least six men staged Britain’s biggest robbery ever, stealing £53m (about $92.5 million or 78€ million) from a Securitas depot in Tonbridge, Kent.

2011 –  Christchurch was badly damaged by a magnitude 6.3 earthquake at 12:51 pm, which killed 185 people and injured several thousand.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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