Feliz día de independencia Argentina

09/07/2012

Happy Independence Day, Argentina.

The 9th of July is permanently commemorated in Buenos Aires by Avenida 9 de julio, which is about a kilometre long and up to 14 lanes wide.


Word of the day

09/07/2012

Possum – an opossum; tree-dwelling Australasian marsupial (Petauridae and other families); drinking game in which participants sit in a tree, drinking beer until they fall out; term of endearment.


Farewell possums

09/07/2012

Dame Edna Everage and Sir Les Patterson are retiring:

Prepare to catch the ‘gladdies’ one last time. Age has finally caught up with Dame Edna Everage – and she is retiring.

Barry Humphries, the man behind the glittery glasses, has announced that his character is setting out on her final tour.

And the Australian housewife won’t be alone in her retirement as Humphries’s other alter ego, the obnoxious Sir Les Patterson will be joining her. . .


Will these last our lifetimes?

09/07/2012

An email from a friend included this list of nine things that will disappear in our lifetimes:

Whether these changes are good or bad depends in part on how we adapt to them. But, ready or not, here they come:

1. The Post Office: Get ready to imagine a world without the post office. They are so deeply in financial trouble that there is probably no way to sustain it long term. Email, Couriers, Fed Ex, and UPS have just about wiped out the minimum revenue needed to keep the post office alive. Most of your mail every day is junk mail and bills.

2. The cheque :Britain is already laying the groundwork to do away with cheque by 2018. It costs the financial system billions of dollars a year to process cheques. Plastic cards and online transactions will lead to the eventual demise of the cheque. This plays right into the death of the post office. If you never paid your bills by mail and never received them by mail, the post office would absolutely go out of business.

3. The Newspaper: The younger generation simply doesn’t read the newspaper. They certainly don’t subscribe to a daily delivered print edition. That may go the way of the milkman, butcher, baker and fruit and vege man. As for reading the paper online, get ready to pay for it. The rise in mobile Internet devices and e-readers has caused all the newspaper and magazine publishers to form an alliance. They have met with Apple, Amazon, and the major cell phone companies to develop a model for paid subscription services.

4. The Book: You say you will never give up the physical book that you hold in your hand and turn the literal pages. Many said the same thing about downloading music from iTunes because they wanted hard copy CD.  When they discovered they get albums for half the price without ever leaving home to get the latest music they changed their minds. The same thing will happen with books. You can browse a bookstore online and even read a preview chapter before you buy. And the price is less than half that of a real book. Just think of the convenience! Once you start flicking your fingers on the screen instead of the book, you find that you are lost in the story, can’t wait to see what happens next, and you forget that you’re holding a gadget instead of a book.

I’ve read only one book on an iPad. It was light, portable, easy to read and could be read without a light but I still prefer real books.

 
5. The Land Line Telephone: Unless you have a large family and make a lot of local calls, you don’t need it anymore. Most people keep it simply because they’ve always had it. But you are paying double charges for that extra service. All the cell phone companies will let you call customers using the same cell provider for no charge against your minutes

6. Music: This is one of the saddest parts of the change story. The music industry is dying a slow death. Not just because of illegal downloading. It’s the lack of innovative new music being given a chance to get to the people who would like to hear it. Greed and corruption is the problem.  The record labels and the radio conglomerates are simply self-destructing. Over 40% of the music purchased today is “catalogue items,” meaning traditional music that the public is familiar with. Older established artists. This is also true on the live concert circuit. To explore this fascinating and disturbing topic further, check out the book, “Appetite for Self-Destruction” by Steve Knopper, and the video documentary, “Before the Music Dies.”

I hope this is unnecessarily pessimistic, the music industry will change but surely music will prevail.

7. Television: Revenues to the networks are down dramatically. Not just because of the economy. Many people are watching TV and movies streamed from their computers. And they’re playing games and doing lots of other things that take up the time that used to be spent watching TV. Prime time shows have degenerated down to lower than the lowest common denominator. Cable rates are skyrocketing and commercials run about every 4 minutes and 30 seconds. It’s time for the cable companies to be put out of our misery. People will choose what they want to watch online and through Netflix.

8.  The “Things” That You Own: Many of the very possessions that we used to own are still in our lives, but we may not actually own them in the future. They may simply reside in “the cloud.” Today your computer has a hard drive and you store your pictures, music, movies, and documents. Your software is on a CD or DVD, and you can always re-install it if need be.. But all of that is changing. Apple, Microsoft, and Google are all finishing up their latest “cloud services.” That means that when you turn on a computer, the Internet will be built into the operating system. So, Windows, Google, and the Mac OS will be tied straight into the Internet. If you click an icon, it will open something in the Internet cloud. If you save something, it will be saved to the cloud. And you may pay a monthly subscription fee to the cloud provider. In this virtual world, you can access your music or your books, or your whatever from any laptop or handheld device. That’s the good news. But, will you actually own any of this “stuff” or will it all be able to disappear at any moment in a big “Poof?” Will most of the things in our lives be disposable and whimsical?  It makes you want to run to the cupboard and pull out that photo album, grab a book from the shelf, or open up a CD case and pull out the insert.

9. Privacy:  If there ever was a concept that we can look back on nostalgically, it would be privacy. That’s gone. It’s been gone for a long time anyway. There are cameras on the street, in most of the buildings, and even built into your computer and cell phone. But you can be sure that 24/7, “They” know who you are and where you are, right down to the GPS coordinates, and the Google Street View. If you buy something, your habit is put into a zillion profiles, and your ads will change to reflect those habits. “They” will try to get you to buy something else. Again and again.

Only time will tell if the list is right – but it made me think about things that have already gone in my lifetime:

* Records and record players – my parents had some old 78s,;my first musical purchase was a Simon and Garfunkel LP; and my brothers and I gave my father a 45 for a birthday. I still own a few LPs but nothing on which to play them.

* Telegrams – though there’s a modern replacement: Telegramstop.com.

* Dial telephones.

* Typewriters.

* Steam engines (except those in museums or others kept for historical purposes).

And some which are almost gone:

* Cameras which require films.

* Videos.

* Toasters that don’t pop-up.

* Canvas tents.


Too poor to ignore potential riches underground

09/07/2012

Quote of the day:

. . . Conservationist groups who argue against prospecting do their cause no good.

Even they should accept we need to find out what’s there first.

Then we can do the maths and have the discussion.

Our economy is in no shape to allow us the luxury of ignoring the potential riches beneath our feet.

It might not be possible, or desirable, to get them all out, but surely we can benefit from some of the bounty bestowed on us. – Herald On Sunday.

One of the reasons Australia is wealthier than us, with higher wage rates and other benefits from a faster growing economy, is its mineral wealth.

We do need to find out what riches might be waiting underground, and undersea and then find out the costs and benefits of extracting them.

Modern mining techniques can limit damage to the environment and eventually leave the land in as good or better state than it was.


More urban land than rural foreign owned

09/07/2012

The idea that New Zealand was passing into foreign hands is a myth according to Terralink managing director Mike Donald.

The Sunday Star Times (not online) reports that 280,000 hectares of rural land has been consented for sale over the last seven years.

That’s less than 1.5% of the country’s total rural land and most of it has been bought by people or organisations based in the USA, Britain and Israel.

Furthermore the amount of productive land bought by foreigners each year has dropped sharply over the last decade.

Overseas Investment Office figures show 15,242 hectares of farming and forestry land was consented for sale to foreign buyers in 2011, significantly down from the 48,828ha in 2001 and the least since 2007. The total combined area of the Crafar Farms was 7900ha. Rather than the nation’s dairying being put up for grab, it was commercial and industrial land that outstripped other categories.

Nearly 5 per cent of all industrial land in New Zealand has been consented for sale to overseas person or entities.

It isn’t clear if that includes land already owned by foreigners or whether it was all sales of land owned by New Zealanders.

Whichever it is, that’s not a big area of rural land which highlights the stupidity of Green co-leader Russel Norman’s Bill to prohibit the sale of “sensitive” land to foreigners.

He defines “sensitive” as anything more than .05 square kilometres (about 12 acres) but the figures show that if there’s a problem with too much land in foreign hands, it’s with urban land, which is sold in smaller parcels, rather than rural which is usually sold in larger blocks.

Why would it be alright to sell a horticultural property or lifestyle block to foreigners but not a livestock or cropping farm? Why is farmland more sensitive than land for factories, housing or shops?

That said, Donald does point out there could be grounds for concern if consents for sales of farmland to foreigners continue at the same rate as they have been over the last seven years.

The discussion then shouldn’t be on how much land an individual foreigner can buy but how much land in total should be owned by foreigners.

I don’t have any concern about less than 1.5% of farmland being in overseas ownership and I would be opposed to a blanket prohibition of farm sales to foreigners. However, I can see cause for concern if too much land was in foreign hands.

Quite how much is too much is a matter of debate and it would be far better if the effort was put into determining that rather than banning foreign ownership of farms outright.

 

 


We need brainy and brawny jobs

09/07/2012

Fran O’Sullivan has identified a new strain of “New Zealand envy” from the other side of the Tasman Sea:

. . . Like Bill English, Groser had been buoyed after hearing a bunch of Australian business leaders talk openly about their clear case of “New Zealand envy” in Sydney the previous week.

The frank admiration for New Zealand’s economic policies – which was on show at the annual Australia New Zealand Leadership Forum meeting – had not really been displayed by Australian power-brokers since this country was in the grip of Rogernomics and Bill Birch’s labour market reforms.

 The Cabinet has since made a strategic decision to capitalise on the improved Australian business sentiment towards New Zealand by “going hard” for more investment. Companies like Heinz Wattie have already scrapped hundreds of Australian jobs in favour of opening new plants in New Zealand to take advantage of lower wages and restrictive labour laws.

This is good news. But typically, Labour still sees it through a “glass half empty” prism as positioning New Zealand like Mexico; a low wage neighbour where Australians can outsource manufacturing jobs in the way United States corporates have outsourced similar jobs to Mexicans.

I wish Labour would also focus on the fact that it is going to take considerable time and investment to build more high-tech growth companies which will spawn high-paid brainy jobs as well as the brawny ones.

Three or four decades ago made in Japan meant low price and probably low quality. Now  Japanese products, especially electronics and cars, are generally high quality.

That took time and it will take time for our economy to turn round and support more high paid, high tech jobs.  While we’re waiting we should welcome companies keen to do business here, even if one of the attractions is lower costs, including that of labour.

It’s stupid to sneer at lower paid jobs and those that require more brawn than brain. They too can contribute to much-needed economic growth.


July 9 in history

09/07/2012

455 Roman military commander Avitus was proclaimed emperor of the Western Roman Empire.

1357  Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor assisted in laying the foundation stone of Charles Bridge in Prague.

1540 Henry VIII  annulled his marriage to his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves.

1541 Estevão da Gama left Massawa, leaving behind 400 matchlock men and 150 slaves under his brother Christovão da Gama, with orders to help the Emperor of Ethiopia defeat Ahmad ibn Ibrihim al-Ghazi who had invaded his Empire.

1755  French and Indian War: Braddock Expedition – British troops and colonial militiamen were ambushed and defeated by French and Native American forces.

1764 Ann Radcliffe, English writer, was born (d. 1823).

1789  In Versailles, the National Assembly reconstituted itself as the National Constituent Assembly and began preparations for a French constitution.

1790 Russo-Swedish War: Second Battle of Svensksund – the Swedish Navy captured one third of the Russian fleet.

1793 The Act Against Slavery was passed in Upper Canada and the importation of slaves into Lower Canada prohibited.

1807 The Treaties of Tilsit were signed by Napoleon I and Alexander I.

1810 Napoleon annexed the Kingdom of Holland as part of the First French Empire.

1815 Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, Prince de Benevente became Prime Minister of France.

1816 Argentina declared independence from Spain.

1836 Henry Campbell-Bannerman, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, was born (d. 1908).

1850 President Zachary Taylor died and Millard Fillmore became the 13th President of the United States.

1863  American Civil War: the Siege of Port Hudson ended.

1867 An unsuccessful expedition led by E.D Young sets out to search for Dr David Livingstone.

1868  The 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified guaranteeing African Americans full citizenship and all persons in the United States due process of law.

1896 William Jennings Bryan delivered his Cross of Gold speech advocating bimetalism at the 1896 Democratic National Convention.

1900 Queen Victoria gave royal assent to an Act creating the Commonwealth of Australia thus uniting separate colonies on the continent under one federal government.

1901 Dame Barbara Cartland, English novelist, was born (d. 2000).

1916 Sir Dean Goffin, New Zealand composer, was born (d. 1984).

1916  Sir Edward Heath, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, was born (d. 2005).

1918 Great train wreck of 1918: in Nashville, Tennessee, an inbound local train collided with an outbound express killing 101 and injuring 171 people, making it the deadliest rail accident in United States history.

1922  Johnny Weissmuller swam the 100 meters freestyle in 58.6 seconds breaking the world swimming record and the ‘minute barrier’.

1925 Charles E. Wicks, Professor, co-author of Fundamentals of Momentum, Heat, and Mass Transfer, was born.

1927   Ed Ames, American singer and actor, was born.

1927  Susan Cabot, American actress (d. 1986).

1929 Lee Hazlewood, American country singer, songwriter and producer, was born (d. 2007).

1932 Donald Rumsfeld, 13th & 21st United States Secretary of Defense, was born.

1932  The state of São Paulo revolted against the Brazilian Federal Government, starting the Constitutionalist Revolution.

1933 Oliver Sacks, British neurologist and author, was born.

1943 World War II: Operation Husky – Allied forces perform an amphibious invasion of Sicily.

1944 World War II: Battle of Normandy – British and Canadian forces captured Caen, France.

1944  World War II: Battle of Saipan – Americans took Saipan.

1944 – World War II: Finland won the Battle of Tali-Ihantala, Red Army withdrewsits troops from Ihantala and dug into defensive position, which ended the Vyborg–Petrozavodsk Offensive.

1945 Dean R. Koontz, American author, was born.

1946 Bon Scott, Australian singer (AC/DC), was born.

1947 O.J. Simpson, American football player, actor, was born.

1948 Pakistan issued its first set of Postage stamps, bearing images of the Constituent Assembly, the Jinnah International Airport (Quaid-e-Azam International Airport), and the Shahi Fort.

1955 The Russell-Einstein Manifesto was released by Bertrand Russell in London.

1956 Tom Hanks, American actor, was born.

1958 Lituya Bay was hit by a mega-tsunami – a wave recorded at 524 meters high, making it the largest wave in history.

1959 Jim Kerr, Scottish singer (Simple Minds), was born.

1962  Starfish Prime high-altitude nuclear test conducted by the United States of America.

1962 Andy Warhol’s  Campbell’s Soup Cans exhibition opened at the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles.

1975  The National Assembly of Senegal passed a law that paved the way for a (highly restricted) multi-party system.

1979  A car bomb destroyed a Renault motor car owned by famed “Nazi hunters” Serge and Beate Klarsfeld at their home in France. A note purportedly from ODESSA claimed responsibility.

1982 Pan Am Flight 759 crashed in Kenner, Louisiana killing all 145 people on board and eight others on the ground.

1984 York Minster was struck by a lightning bolt and the resulting fire ravaged most of the building.

1986 The New Zealand Parliament passed the Homosexual Law Reform Act legalising homosexuality.

Homosexual Law Reform Bill passed

1989 Two bombs exploded in Mecca, killing one pilgrim and wounding 16 others.

1991  South Africa was readmitted into the Olympic movement after 30 years of exclusion.

1995  The Navaly church bombing was carried out by the Sri Lankan Air Force killing 125 Tamil civilian refugees.

1999  Days of student protests began after Iranian police and hardliners attack eda student dormitory at the University of Tehran.

2002 The African Union was established in Addis Ababa, with the first chairman is Thabo Mbeki, President of South Africa.

2006  At least 122 people were killed after a Sibir Airlines Airbus A310 passenger jet, carrying 200 passengers veered off the runway while landing in wet conditions at Irkutsk Airport in Siberia.

2011 – South Sudan gained independence and secedes from Sudan.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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