Word of the day

May 2, 2012

Inficete – not witty, heavy footed.


Did you see the one about . . .

May 2, 2012

Herd thinking meet herd immunity– Aimee Whitcroft at Misc-ience has a great cartoon which illustrates the benefits of herd immunity and dangers of herd thinking.

A daughter’s wedding – Look Up At The Sky shares the joy and love.

Eighties reforms recalled – Lindsay Mitchell shows that many of the “failed” polices of the 80s not only succeeded but are still serving us well.

Random numbers – Keeping Stock counting what counts.

Ode to property law – Skeptic Lawyer proves property is power.


No more Clutha dams

May 2, 2012

The grapevine has been saying for several months that Contact Energy no longer wanted land along the Clutha River.

The logical conclusion from that was that the company was giving up its plans to build more dams on the river and that has been confirmed:

The energy company has spent the past three years investigating the options at four sites, Luggate, Beaumont, Queensberry and Tuapeka Mouth.

It says the costs were much higher than the expected $300 million to $1.5 billion per dam, meaning none of the options are viable in the foreseeable future. . .

Other factors contributing to the decision include the unease within communities living along the Clutha and the cost of transmission, including future upgrades of the Cook Strait cable.

The company has bought land along the river. This decision could mean there will be several farms for sale.


There is an alternative

May 2, 2012

Quote of the day:

Paul Goldsmith: What reports has he seen on alternative approaches to managing the economy?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: I have seen reports of alternative approaches that involve, almost without exception, borrowing more money, spending more on programmes that do not work, increasing taxes, and imposing significant extra costs on businesses. They came from the same party where one of its economic spokesmen said yesterday that the last 30 years of economic policy in New Zealand had been a mistake; for about half of that, his party was in Government.

TINA – There is No Alternative is the excuse or reason used to justify actions.

There is almost always an alternative to any plan. But Labour’s alternative to the government’s is not one anyone with any concern for the future wellbeing of the country would contemplate.


NZ student support most generous in OECD

May 2, 2012

The government is committed to spending in priority areas. Doing that without an overall increase in spending means a reprioritising of some funds.

One of these is support for students:

The Government remains committed to keeping  student loans interest free but we are also determined to reduce the  cost of the overall loan scheme to taxpayers.

The scheme is very large, and not so long ago the Government was effectively writing off 49 cents of every dollar that was lent.

With previous changes we’ve made, we’ve so far managed to bring that down to 45 cents.

And we intend to get it closer to 40 cents in the future by continuing to  chase overseas borrowers and through the faster repayment of loans once  people have finished their study.

As in previous Budgets, some of  the savings we make will be reinvested in improving teaching and  research within our universities and other tertiary institutions for the next generation of students.

A write off of nearly 50% on loans is unsustainable. It is also unfair to graduates who do repay their loans, to taxpayers who pay the cost and to others whose need of public support is greater.

Chasing overseas defaulters and expecting faster repayments is sensible and moderate, though the New Zealand University Students Association doesn’t think so:

“Increasing the repayment rate is a tax increase for the 500,000 New Zealanders who have student loans. Student loan repayments are a tax, since they are collected by IRD, straight out of your pay, just the same as PAYE. It’s outrageous that graduates should have to pay higher taxes to pay for a budget short-fall which has been caused by the tax-cuts that the National government gave to high income earners,” said Pete Hodkinson, president of the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations.

Good grief – if that’s the standard of logic and economic understanding of students, the very generous taxpayer support for students is being wasted.

And generous it is – the PM gave the numbers at the Mainland Conference on Sunday and if memory serves me correctly, about 40% of tertiary funding goes in student support, more than twice that in Australia.

What NZUSA doesn’t appear to understand is the money students borrow without interest is money the government has borrowed – with interest. The more that is borrowed, the more that will have to be repaid – with interest, from tax.

NZUSA would be the first to complain if the government didn’t invest enough in teaching and research.

If there is no increase in overall spending, any increase in one area must come from savings in another and expecting graduates to repay their loans a little faster is fair and reasonable.


May 2 in history

May 2, 2012

1194 – King Richard I gave Portsmouth its first Royal Charter.

1230 William de Braose, 10th Baron Abergavenny was hanged by Prince Llywelyn the Great.

1335 Otto the Merry, Duke of Austria, became Duke of Carinthia.

1536 Anne Boleyn was arrested and imprisoned on charges of adultery, incest, treason and witchcraft.

1559 John Knox returned from exile to Scotland to become the leader of the beginning Scottish Reformation.

1568 Mary, Queen of Scots, escaped from Loch Leven Castle.

1670 King Charles II granted a permanent charter to the Hudson’s Bay Company to open up the fur trade in North America.

1729 Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia, was born (d. 1796).

1737  William Petty, 2nd Earl of Shelburne, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom was born (d. 1805).

1806  Catherine Labouré, French visionary and saint was born (d. 1876).

1808  Outbreak of the Peninsular War: The people of Madrid rose up in rebellion against French occupation. Francisco de Goya later memorializes this event in his painting The Second of May 1808.

1808 Emma Wedgwood, English naturalist, wife of Charles Darwin, was born (d. 1896).

1816 Marriage of Léopold of Saxe-Coburg and Charlotte Augusta.

1829  Captain Charles Fremantle of the HMS Challenger, declared the Swan River Colony in Australia.

1863 American Civil War: Stonewall Jackson was wounded by friendly fire while returning to camp after reconnoitering during the Battle of Chancellorsville.

1866  Peruvian defenders fought off Spanish fleet at the Battle of Callao.

1879  The Spanish Socialist Worker’s Party was founded in Casa Labra Pub (city of Madrid) by the Spanish workers’ leader Pablo Iglesias.

1885 Good Housekeeping magazine went on sale for the first time.

1885  Cree and Assiniboine warriors won the Battle of Cut Knife, their largest victory over Canadian forces during the North-West Rebellion.

1885 – The Congo Free State was established by King Léopold II of Belgium.

1889 Menelik II, Emperor of Ethiopia, signs a treaty of amity with Italy, which gave Italy control over Eritrea.

1892 Manfred von Richthofen, German World War I pilot – the Red Baron – was born (d. 1918).

1895 Lorenz Hart, American lyricist ws born (d. 1943).

1903 Benjamin Spock, American pediatrician and author was born (d. 1998).

1918 General Motors acquired the Chevrolet Motor Company of Delaware.

1932 Comedian Jack Benny‘s radio show aired for the first time.

1933Gleichschaltung: Adolf Hitler banned trade unions.

1935 King Faisal II of Iraq was born (d. 1958).

1936 Engelbert Humperdinck, Indian-born singer, was born.

1945 World War II: Fall of Berlin: The Soviet Union announced the capture of Berlin and Soviet soldiers hoisted their red flag over the Reichstag building.

1945 World War II: Italian Campaign – General Heinrich von Vietinghoff signed the official instrument of surrender of all Wehrmacht forces in Italy.

1945 World War II: The US 82nd Airborne Division liberated Wöbbelin concentration camp finding 1000 dead inmates, most starved to death.

1946  The “Battle of Alcatraz“ in which two guards and three inmates died.

1950 Bianca Jagger, Nicaraguan socialite, was born.

1952  The world’s first ever jet airliner, the De Havilland Comet made its maiden flight, from London to Johannesburg.

1955  Tennessee Williams won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

1963  Berthold Seliger launched a rocket with three stages and a maximum flight altitude of more than 100 kilometres near Cuxhaven.

1964  Vietnam War: An explosion sank the USS Card while docked at Saigon.

1964 Tram #252,  displaying the message ‘end of the line’ and with Mayor Frank Kitts in the driver’s seat, travelled from Thorndon to the Zoo in Newtown – the last electric tram journey in New Zealand.

NZ's last electric tram trip

1964 – First ascent of Shishapangma the fourteenth highest mountain in the world and the lowest of the Eight-thousanders.

1969   Queen Elizabeth 2 departed on her maiden voyage to New York City.

1969 Brian Lara, Trinidadian West Indies cricketer, was born.

1982 Falklands War: The British nuclear submarine HMS Conqueror sank the Argentine cruiser ARA General Belgrano.

1994– Bus disaster in Poland, 32 people died.

1995 During the Croatian War of Independence, Serb forces fired cluster bombs at Zagreb, killing 7 and wounding over 175 civilians.

1998  The European Central Bank was founded in Brussels in order to define and execute the European Union’s monetary policy.

1999  Panamanian election: Mireya Moscoso became the first woman to be elected President of Panama.

2000 President Bill Clinton announced that accurate GPS access would no longer be restricted to the United States military.

2000 Princess Margriet of the Netherlands unveiled the Man With Two Hats monument in Apeldoorn and the other in Ottawa on May 11, 2000, symbolically linking the Netherlands and Canada for their assistance throughout World War II.

2002 Marad massacre of eight Hindus near Palakkad in Kerala.

2004   Yelwa massacre of more than 630 nomad Muslims by Christians in Nigeria.

2008 Cyclone Nargis made landfall in Myanmar killing over 130,000 people and leaving millions of people homeless.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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