Word of the day

June 11, 2012

Nimiety – excess, superfluity.


Rural round-up

June 11, 2012

Win-win at last for AFFCO and workers –  Allan Barber:

It was a hell of a long time coming, but the return to work for AFFCO’s workforce, or at least the half who were on strike or locked out, has finally arrived.

95% of the union members ratified the settlement by Monday last week which is a substantial majority, although it makes me wonder why the other 5% still wanted to hold out. Both sides are heralding a good outcome which I suppose is what you would say after a three month dispute has been settled. . .

Happy cows,decreased farm expenses:

Cow behaviour expert, Darold Klindworth, says farmers need to identify the signs of cow stress to improve the milking experience for their animals and staff.

He says by making a few changes to the milking process, farmers can make a real impact on a farm’s bottom line.

“When a cow is stressed, it can lead to lower milk yields, increased milking time and higher animal health costs. Plus, if your cows are stressed and acting out, that often creates stress for staff as well,” says Mr Klindworth. . .

Mystery man reveals big plans – Andrea Fox:
Energy is radiating off Jon Calder like a force field in the foggy Fieldays air.

Around him the huge Mystery Creek site is seething with preparations for the 44th agricultural extravaganza’s opening on Wednesday but, far from looking overwhelmed by the responsibility of presenting his first Fieldays, the man is grinning like a kid at Christmas. . .

Lifestylers aid innovation – Tim Cronshaw:

The perception that lifestyle blocks are eating up productive land is not always true, say tree crop growers.

Growers believe the top land with the best soils should be protected for productive soil-based activities, but point to good incomes being made from lifestyle blocks and small landholdings.

New Zealand Tree Crops Association president Murray Redpath said most of the association’s 1500 members were small-block owners trying to make productive use of their land. . 


Just wondering . . .

June 11, 2012

. . . if  a dog’s breakfast is different from a dogs’ breakfast?

Apropos of this, if we don’t need apostrophes when we speak, do we really need them when we write?


It’s not all bad news

June 11, 2012

Continuing gloom on the global economic front is concerning, but closer to home Trans Tasman points out some better news:

NZers haven’t had much to celebrate in the way of economic news lately, but this week there was some cheer on hand. The deficit in the Crown accounts for the 10 months to April was $1.4bn lower than forecast, largely as a result of higher-than-expected tax, and lower-than-expected core Crown expenses. It suggests the Govt is on track for the $8.5bn deficit signalled in the Budget last month, rather than the $10bn-$12bn deficit which was on the cards as recently as February.

Higher than expected tax indicates businesses doing better which, combined with lower government spending, is an important ingredient in our economic recovery.


Dark sky reserve status for Mackenzie

June 11, 2012

We were amazed by the number of people at the Mount John observatory in the middle of the day a couple of months ago.

The 360 degree views over the Mackenzie Basin justify a visit though the beauty of the night sky requires bookings if you plan to go when it’s dark.

Now the basin has been designated a dark sky reserve it will be even more of a destination.

The newly designated Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve joins a select group of just 17 International Dark Sky Places worldwide, and is only the fourth International Dark Sky Reserve, following on from Mont Megantic in Canada, Exmoor National Park in the United Kingdom, and the NamibRand Nature Reserve, in Namibia.

Steve Owens, chair of the IDA’s Dark Sky Places Development Committee says for many of the other 16 places, tourism was one of the main drivers in their bid for dark sky status and they were already seeing the dividends.

“Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park in Scotland has recently begun to assess the impact of dark sky astronomy tourism in the local economy, and a sample evaluation in the region recently showed that 77% of local guest houses and bed-and-breakfasts had reported an increase in bed-nights due to the dark sky park. The report also stated that the money spent on lighting refits was already paying for itself: for every £1 spent on achieving the dark sky status £1.93 has been generated for the local economy within the first two-and-a-half years.

“Anecdotally too astronomy business is booming, with hotels in Galloway and Exmoor running regular stargazing weekend breaks, meteor watches and astronomy talks. Dark Sky Tourism has become such a big part of the area around Galloway that work is almost complete on a £600,000 public observatory to the north of the park, which will attract school groups, families, and stargazers from far and wide to come and marvel at the beauty of a really dark sky,” Mr Owens says.

The Honourable Margaret Austin, who chairs the Starlight Working Party which has been working since 2006 to get the Mackenzie Basin internationally recognised as a Dark Sky Reserve, says the night sky in the Mackenzie basin is a truly magnificent sight and is particularly fascinating for overseas visitors who come from areas where light pollution masks the stars from view.

“This is a truly exceptional environment, landscape and night sky that we want to protect and promote,” Mrs Austin says.

The designation is the result of six years of hard work and was announced at the third international  starlight conference in Tekapo at the weekend.

Not all locals were supportive of the bid because the reserve status imposes restrictions on outdoor lighting.

However, the economic boost for the area should more than compensate for that inconvenience.

If you google timelapse Tekapo you’ll find several videos which give an idea of just how beautiful the night sky is.


Water too important for dog’s breakfast

June 11, 2012

Canterbury doesn’t need another dysfunctional elected council making decisions on water, former Environment Minister Nick Smith says:

As a cabinet minister, he sacked elected Environment Canterbury councillors and replaced them with commissioners.

When their term expires next year, he hopes they will be replaced by a mixed council of elected and Government-appointed representatives.

In Ashburton on Thursday at a Federated Farmers water forum, he said there were some big water decisions ahead of Canterbury, including bulk storage and tapping into alpine rivers protected by Water Conservation Orders.

He said a fully-elected regional council making those decisions would result in the same “dog’s breakfast” left by the previous council, with views polarised into urban and rural camps.

What is it about Canterbury? From the outside, the Christchurch City Council seems to be similarly troubled by dysfunction and it doesn’t have theexcuse of a rural-urban divide.

Sacking the elected councillors from ECan  was not a decision taken lightly. The Commissioners appointed to replace them were tasked with forming a water plan which ECan had been struggling to do for 20 years.

That plan has been superseded by a national Land and Water plan but it still needs a  local body to oversee it.

Nature has made more than enough of a dogs’ breakfast in Canterbury without aggravating problems with another dysfunctional regional council.

Mr Smith said there was no shortage of water in Canterbury, but too much of the water taken for economic use came from aquifers and lowland streams.
“They only make up 15 per cent of our water resource; 85 per cent is in the big alpine river systems but the moment anyone comes along and tries to use the water everyone says ‘no’.”
He said there was a good chance water rights would be pegged back if there was no progress on storage or alpine river resources could not be tapped. 
That would have consequences for both farmers and the economy.
Mid Canterbury has around 160,000ha of irrigated farmland, returning a gross farm income of $1.36 billion. 
Farmers spent around $800 million. 
By contrast, a 250,000ha Australian cattle station currently had a gross farm income of $50m.

Those with short memories might have forgotten the economic, environmental and social devastation caused by droughts in Canterbury and North Otago before we had irrigation.

Those who farmed and lived through them appreciate the value of water applied carefully when required.

Those of a deep green persuasion believe that water should flow from the mountains to the sea untroubled by human and technological intervention.

Those of more moderate views know  it is possible to irrigate in a way that increases production and protects soils without degrading waterways.


June 11 in history

June 11, 2012

1184 BC – Trojan War: Troy was sacked and burned, according to calculations by Eratosthenes.

631 Emperor Taizong of Tang, the Emperor of China, sent envoys to the Xueyantuo bearing gold and silk in order to seek the release of enslaved Chinese prisoners captured during the transition from Sui to Tang from the northern frontier;  – 80,000 Chinese men and women were returned to China.

758 Abbasid Arabs and Uyghur Turks arrived simultaneously at Chang’an, the Tang Chinese capital, in order to offer tribute to the imperial court. They quarrelled over diplomatic prominence at the gate and a settlement was reached when both are allowed to enter at the same time, but through two different gates to the palace.

1345  The megas doux Alexios Apokaukos, chief minister of the Byzantine Empire, was lynched by political prisoners.

1429  Hundred Years’ War: The start of the Battle of Jargeau.

1509  Henry VIII married Catherine of Aragon.

1594 Philip II recognised the rights and privileges of the local nobles and chieftains in the Philippines, which paved way to the creation of the Principalía (i.e., elite ruling class of native nobility in Spanish Philippines).

1776 The Continental Congress appointed Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston to the Committee of Five to draft a declaration of independence.

1776 John Constable, English painter, was born (d. 1837).

1788  Russian explorer Gerasim Izmailov reached Alaska.

1805  A fire consumed large portions of Detroit.

1815 Julia Margaret Cameron, English photographer was born (d. 1879).

1825 The first cornerstone was laid for Fort Hamilton in New York City.

1837 The Broad Street Riot in Boston, fuelled by ethnic tensions between Yankees and Irish.

1847 Millicent Fawcett, British suffragist and feminist, was born  (d. 1929).

1864 Richard Strauss, German composer and conductor (d. 1949).

1866  The Allahabad High Court (then Agra High Court) iwa established in India.

1877 Renee Vivien, English-born poet, was born  (d. 1909).

1880 Jeannette Rankin, American politician, feminist, and pacifist, was born (d. 1973).

1892  The Limelight Department, one of the world’s first film studios, was officially established in Melbourne.

1898  Spanish-American War: U.S. war ships set sail for Cuba.

1898  The Hundred Days’ Reform was started by Guangxu Emperor in hope of changing social, political and educational institutions in China.

1901  New Zealand annexed the Cook Islands.

1901 Cornwall Park was gifted to Auckland at a civic reception for the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York, when Mayor John Logan Campbell handed over the deed to land below One Tree Hill.

Cornwall Park gifted to Auckland

1907 George Dennett, aided by Gilbert Jessop, dismissed  Northamptonshire for 12 runs, the lowest total in first-class cricket.

1910 Jacques-Yves Cousteau, French explorer and inventor, was born (d. 1997).

1917  King Alexander assumed the throne of Greece after his father Constantine I abdicated under pressure by allied armies occupying Athens.

1919 Sir Barton won the Belmont Stakes, becoming the first horse to win the Triple Crown.

1920  During the U.S. Republican National Convention in Chicago, U.S. party leaders gathered in a room at the Blackstone Hotel to come to a consensus on their candidate for the U.S. presidential election, leading the Associated Press to first coin the political phrase “smoke-filled room“.

1933 Gene Wilder, American actor, was born.

1935 Inventor Edwin Armstrong gave the first public demonstration of FM broadcasting in the United States.

1936  Jud Strunk, American musician and comedian, was born  (d. 1981).

1936 The International Surrealist Exhibition opened in London.

1937  Great Purge: The Soviet Union executed eight army leaders.

1938  Second Sino-Japanese War: The Battle of Wuhan started.

1938 – Second Sino-Japanese War: The Nationalist government created the 1938 Yellow River flood to halt Japanese forces. 500,000 to 900,000 civilians were killed.

1939 Sir Jackie Stewart, Scottish race car driver, three-time F1 world champion and former F1 team principal, was born.

1940 – World War II: First attack of the Italian Air force on the island of Malta.

1942  World War II: The United States agreed to send Lend-Lease aid to the Soviet Union.

1950 Graham Russell, British guitarist and vocalist (Air Supply), was born.

1955  Eighty-three were killed and at least 100 injured after an Austin-Healey and a Mercedes-Benz collided at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

1956  Start of Gal Oya riots, the first reported ethnic riots that targeted minority Sri Lankan Tamils in the Eastern Province.

1959 Hugh Laurie, English actor and comedian, was born.

1962  Frank Morris, John Anglin and Clarence Anglin became the only prisoners to escape from the prison on Alcatraz Island.

1963  American Civil Rights Movement: Alabama Governor George Wallace stood at the door of Foster Auditorium at the University of Alabama in an attempt to block two black students, Vivian Malone and James Hood, from attending that school. Later in the day, accompanied by federalized National Guard troops, they were able to register.

1963  Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc burned himself with gasoline in a busy Saigon intersection to protest the lack of religious freedom in South Vietnam.

1964 Walter Seifert ran amok in an elementary school in Cologne killing at least eight children and two teachers and seriously injuring several more with a home-made flamethrower and a lance.

1968 Prince Alois of Liechtenstein, of Liechtenstein, was born.

1970  Anna Mae Hays and Elizabeth P. Hoisington became the first women to officially receive their ranks as U.S. Army Generals,

1972  Eltham Well Hall rail crash, caused by an intoxicated train driver, killed six people and injured 126.

1978  Altaf Hussain founded the students’ political movement All Pakistan Muhajir Students Organisation (a.k.a APMSO) in Karachi University.

1981 A 6.9 magnitude earthquake at Golbaf, Iran, killed at least 2,000.

1998  Compaq Computer paid $9 billion for Digital Equipment Corporation.

2001  Timothy McVeigh was executed for his role in the Oklahoma City bombing.

2002  Antonio Meucci was acknowledged as the first inventor of the telephone by the United States Congress.

2004  Cassini-Huygens made its closest flyby of Phoebe.

2008  Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper made an official apology to Canada’s First Nations in regard to a residential school abuse in which children are isolated from their homes, families and cultures for a century.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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