Word of the day

June 17, 2012

 

Atrabilious – melancholy; ill-tempered, ill-natured; peevish.


6/10 or 7/10?

June 17, 2012

I think the Herald is giving the wrong answer to its 3rd question in Question Time. If so I  got 7/10, if not 6/10.


New social networking tool

June 17, 2012

If you haven’t got in to Facebook, don’t worry, there’s something even better:

SILICON VALLEY (The Borowitz Report) – A new social network is about to alter the playing field of the social media world, and it’s called PhoneBook.

According to its creators, who invented the network in their dorm room at Berkeley, PhoneBook is the game-changer that will leave Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare in a cloud of dust.

“With PhoneBook, you have a book that has a list of all your friends in the city, plus everyone else who lives there,” says Danny Fruber, one of PhoneBook’s creators.

“When you want to chat with a friend, you look them up in PhoneBook, and find their unique PhoneBook number,” Fruber explains.  “Then you enter that number into your phone and it connects you directly to them.” . . .

Read more, including the strange phenomenon of real life, real time face to face meetings at the Borowitz Report.


Rural round-up

June 17, 2012

Rates gouge farm incomes – Tim Fulton:

Thank goodness export prices are strong because a Beef + Lamb New Zealand report says local authority rates have risen cumulatively by just over 30% over the past five years.

“At an average increase of 6.1% each year it defines the expression ‘inflation busting’,” Federated Farmers local government spokesperson David Rose said when The New Zealand Farmers Weekly showed him B+LNZ’s figures.

The rates insight is part of the Economic Service’s regular survey of on-farm costs, combining data from Statistics New Zealand with its own assessments. . . 

Looking beyond the dollars at Winter Dairy Days:

Helping dairy farmers look ‘beyond the dollars’ at their whole farm system management is the goal of a series of winter dairy workshops being held by the Dairy Women’s Network around New Zealand in June and July.

The five workshops are being held in Winton, Rotorua, Cambridge, Hokitika and Nelson at the end of June and beginning of July and are a great follow on from the Essential Farm Finance days run by the Network earlier in the year.

Ngatea dairy farmer and farm consultant, Julie Pirie, will lead four of the workshops, with Te Anau dairy farmer Anna Kempthorne speaking at the Winton event. . . .

NZ Farming Systems cuts FY guidance as dry weather reduces milk production – Hannah Lynch,

NZ Farming Systems Uruguay, the South American dairy farmer controlled by Singapore’s Olam International, will miss its target to break even on a pretax basis this year after dry weather stunted pasture growth and milk output.

Farming Systems is now forecasting a loss of US$3 million to US$5 million on an earnings before interest and tax basis. The company will break even once it accounts for a fair value adjustment in the value of livestock, it said in a statement.

“Milk production continues to increase significantly year on year, although the very dry summer and autumn weather in Uruguay along with the later-than-expected completion of the new dairies, has resulted in milk production to date being below forecast,” it said. . .

Arable farmers cut back grain in favour of seed crops:

Arable farmers are cutting back on wheat and barley for next season and planting more seed crops in response to falling grain prices.

Growers cut back on seed production last year in response to higher grain prices but increased wheat and barley production and record yields created high stock levels and reduced prices.

Federated Farmers grain and seed chair Ian Mackenzie says the one contract price offered for milling wheat so far has dropped from about $460 to $420 a tonne.

Feed grain contract prices have dropped from about $410 to $360 a tonne.

Water storage scheme ‘vital’ for Hawke’s Bay farmers:

A central Hawke’s Bay farm consultant says farmers regard a proposed $220 million water storage scheme as being a vital step in the economic growth of the region.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council has this week been hearing submissions on the Ruataniwha scheme, which could provide irrigation to 22,500 hectares of farm land.

Consultant Roy Fraser has visited northern Tasmania where he says farmers have been using water storage for more than 70 years. . . 

Dairy breeding a family tradition – Hugh Stringleman:

Stuart Bay retired on May 31 as chairman of the dairy co-operative LIC, the fourth generation of his family to serve on livestock improvement co-operative boards.

After 37 years of dairy herd improvement governance, perhaps Bay has seen and done it all?

No way. Bay would like his 22 years on the LIC board over again, for a ring-side seat for what he believes are the most exciting years to come in dairy genetics.

LIC is beginning to deliver genomics science, which promises dairy farmers routine gene fingerprinting of their calves, to quickly identify the most productive milkers and their predisposition to faults and diseases.

Trees on farms workshop : maximizing marginal land use:

A Trees on Farms workshop particularly designed for Maori landowners and farmers taking an inter-generational view of their land management options is being held in Ohope on Wednesday 20 June.

This workshop will focus on in the opportunities and benefits trees can provide in developing management for the marginal or less productive parts of the farm, and those attending will be able to discuss tree planting options with Maori land owners, experienced farm foresters and regional council staff.

The workshop and field trip will feature the Ohope property of Ngāti Awa Group Holdings, looking at trees as an intergenerational land management tool providing sustainable agribusiness solutions and enhancing long term land use. . . 


Four year term worth risks

June 17, 2012

Politics is often portrayed in black and white terms – if you support this party you oppose that one.

That ignores the common ground most people and parties can find, to a greater or lesser extent.

You do have to look harder to find sensible ideas in some parties than in others but even NZ First has the odd one.

So it is with the suggestion of Asenati Lole-Taylor, an MP I don’t recall hearing about or from before, that we have four-year parliamentary terms.

There are better grounds than this:

She says New Zealand First has only been back in Parliament for eight months, and as a new MP three years is not enough time for her to advocate for the party.

Ms Lole Taylor says a four-year term would give the party, and its MPs time to explore in detail the policies that a Government introduces.

This is more compelling:

A party member, Denis Taylor, told the conference that over a 20 year period, the need for fewer general elections would save the taxpayer more than $100 million.

I don’t know if that sum is right, but elections are expensive for the taxpayer, parties and candidates. Three every 12 years instead of  four would save money for the taxpayer, parties and candidates.
There are other costs from a three-year term.
A chief executive of a charitable trust who deals with several government departments told me the short electoral cycle is frustrating and disruptive.
Everything goes on  hold in election year, there’s a hiatus as  ministers get to grips with their portfolios, then there’s change and action for about 18 months before it’s election year and everything goes on hold again.
A four-year term would give more time for policies to be bedded in and take effect.
There is the risk of more time for bad policies to do greater harm, but we have few one-term governments and more often than not have a six-year term interrupted waste expensive of an election.

Greenwash or hogwash?

June 17, 2012

When I blogged on the release of Pure Advantage’s Green Race Report a couple do days ago I raised the problem of greenwash.

Trans Tasman has given the report a closer reading than I did and has found a little of what might be described as hogwash.

Yet another report from a Green lobby group has berated NZ’s environmental performance.The Pure Advantage group’s “Green Race Report” criticises NZ’s environmental record and argues NZ urgently needs to improve it in order to protect the “clean, green image which benefits the sale of much of what NZ produces and exports.” It follows the recent World WildLife Fund report which was said to be a “wake-up” call to NZ before the Rio+Earth summit on June 20 marking the 20th anniversary of the Rio One summit.

Like the earlier report, the latest contains a fair bit of claptrap. It claims NZ’s per capita carbon emissions are the fifth worst in the OECD, without mentioning most of the emissions come from cows which produce more than a fifth of NZ’s export earnings. It says NZ has a falling share of the energy mix coming from renewable energy, without saying NZ produces 70% of its energy from renewable sources, a much higher level than most other countries.It also says: “Perhaps worst of all, NZ’s native biodiversity is coming under increasing strain as 77% of NZ’s threatened species look set to decline” – a claim debunked by science authority Bob Brockie, who says the NZ Conservation Dept has worked wonders in protecting our plants and animals.

This selected use of facts does the cause no favours especially when among those who echoed the criticism in the report are those who oppose attempts by power companies to develop more generation from renewable sources.

Doing what we can to safeguard and enhance the environment is sensible in its own right.

There are also opportunities for businesses and the country if we do so, but let’s get our facts clear before we start.

Neither greenwash nor hogwash will help.

 


June 17 in history

June 17, 2012

1239 Edward Longshanks, English king, was born (d. 1307).

1462 – Vlad III the Impaler attempted to assassinate Mehmed II (The Night Attack) forcing him to retreat from Wallachia.

1497 – Battle of Deptford Bridge – forces under King Henry VII defeated troops led by Michael An Gof.

1565  Matsunaga Hisahide assassinated the 13th Ashikaga shogun, Ashikaga Yoshiteru.

1579  Sir Francis Drake claimed a land he called Nova Albion (modern California) for England.

1631 Mumtaz Mahal died during childbirth. Her husband, Mughal emperor Shah Jahan I, then spent more than 20 years building her tomb, the Taj Mahal.

1691 Giovanni Paolo Pannini, Italian painter and architect, was born  (d. 1765).

1704 John Kay, English inventor of the flying shuttle, was born  (d. 1780)

1773 Cúcuta, Colombia was founded by Juana Rangel de Cuéllar.

1775 American Revolutionary War: Battle of Bunker Hill.

1789  In France, the Third Estate declared itself the National Assembly.

1839 In the Kingdom of Hawaii, Kamehameha III issued the Edict of toleration which gave Roman Catholics the freedom to worship in the Hawaiian Islands.

1843 The Wiarau Incident: New Zealand Company settlers and Ngati Toa clashed over the ownership of land in the Wairau Valley.

The Wairau incident

1863 Battle of Aldie in the Gettysburg Campaign of the American Civil War.

1867 Henry Lawson, Australian poet, was born  (d. 1922).

1876 Indian Wars: Battle of the Rosebud – 1,500 Sioux and Cheyenne led by Crazy Horse beat back General George Crook‘s forces at Rosebud Creek in Montana Territory.

1877  Indian Wars: Battle of White Bird Canyon – the Nez Perce defeated the US Cavalry at White Bird Canyon in the Idaho Territory.

1885 The Statue of Liberty arrived in New York Harbour.

1898  The United States Navy Hospital Corps iwa established.

1900 Martin Bormann, Nazi official, was born  (d. 1945).

1901  The College Board introduced its first standardized test.

1910 Aurel Vlaicu performed the first flight of A. Vlaicu nr. 1.

1930  U.S. President Herbert Hoover signed the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act into law.

1932  Bonus Army: around a thousand World War I veterans amassed at the United States Capitol as the U.S. Senate considered a bill that would give them certain benefits.

1933 Union Station Massacre: in Kansas City, Missouri, four FBI agents and captured fugitive Frank Nash were gunned down by gangsters attempting to free Nash.

1939  Last public guillotining in France. Eugen Weidmann, a convicted murderer, was guillotined in Versailles.

1940  World War II: Operation Ariel began– Allied troops started to evacuate France, following Germany’s takeover of Paris and most of the nation.

1940 – World War II: sinking of the RMS Lancastria by the Luftwaffe.

1940 – World War II: the British Army’s 11th Hussars assaulted and took Fort Capuzzo in Libya from Italian forces.

1940 – The three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania fell under the occupation of the Soviet Union.

1943 Barry Manilow, American musician, was born.

1944  Iceland declared independence from Denmark and became a republic.

1945 Ken Livingstone, English politician, was born.

1947 Paul Young, English singer and percussionist, was born  (d. 2000).

1948  A Douglas DC-6 carrying United Airlines Flight 624 crashed near Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania, killing all 43 people on board.

1950 Lee Tamahori, New Zealand film director, was born.

1953  Workers Uprising: in East Germany, the Soviet Union ordered a division of troops into East Berlin to quell a rebellion.

1957 Phil Chevron, Irish musician (The Pogues, The Radiators From Space), was born.

1958  The Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows Crossing being built connecting Vancouver and North Vancouver, Canada, collapses into the Burrard Inlet, killing many of the ironworkers and injuring others.

1958  The Wooden Roller Coaster at Playland, in the Pacific National Exhibition, Vancouver, opened.

1960  The Nez Perce tribe was awarded $4 million for 7 million acres of land undervalued (4 cents/acre) in the 1863 treaty.

1961  The New Democratic Party of Canada was founded with the merger of the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) and the Canadian Labour Congress.

1963  The United States Supreme Court ruled 8 to 1 in Abington School District v. Schempp against allowing the reciting of Bible verses and the Lord’s Prayer in public schools.

1963  A day after South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem announced the Joint Communique to end the Buddhist crisis, a riot involving around 2000 people breaks out, killing one.

1972  Watergate scandal: five White House operatives were arrested for burglary of the offices of the Democratic National Committee

1987  With the death of the last individual, the Dusky Seaside Sparrow became extinct.

1991  Apartheid: the South African Parliament repealed the Population Registration Act, which had required racial classification of all South Africans at birth.

1992  A ‘Joint Understanding’ agreement on arms reduction was signed by U.S. President George H. W. Bush and Russian President Boris Yeltsin.

1994 O.J. Simpson was arrested for the murders of his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman.

Sourced from NZ history Online & Wikipedia


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