Word of the day

August 28, 2012

Degage – free of constraint; relaxed in manner; nonchalant; without strain or anxiety;  uncommitted, uninvolved, detached; extended with toe pointed in preparation for a ballet step.


Listening and napping

August 28, 2012

Discussion with Jim Mora on Critical Mass today was sparked off by:

Ten simple steps to a remarkable relationship – which gives tips on listening.

And

Napping visually.

 

 


Meringues made easy

August 28, 2012

One of my special occasion specialities is meringues using Jo Seager’s recipe.

I couldn’t find it on line but  it’s similar to this one.

Just double the quantities and replace the espresso with two teaspoons of vanilla.

That makes about 100 small meringues and I’ve sometimes made several batches at once when catering for large numbers.

That’s a lot of eggs to separate and try as I might I usually get the yolk mixed up with the white at least once. That’s why I always separate them one at a time, dripping the white into a glass then tip it into the mixing bowl so I don’t contaminate the whites I’ve already separated.

This looks like a better way.

I’ve never tried it but if it works it would make meringue making much easier.


Rural round-up

August 28, 2012

More milk. less impact achievable – Hugh Stringleman:

The technology exists to lift milk production and manage the environmental impacts of dairy industry development, according to soil scientist Ross Monaghan and environmental consultant Ciaran Keogh, both frontline speakers to the annual Environmental Defence Society conference session called Greening Farming.

Farmers need clear signals from industry leaders and strong extension networks to adopt best practice for environmental sustainability, according to AgResearch senior scientist Ross Monaghan.

“As a technocrat, I believe we have good management options and systems to manage our resources, grow our industries and yet reduce our environmental footprints, he said. . .

Ministry Formally Warns Growers Following Misuse Of Chemical Spray

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has completed an investigation into the misuse of the antibiotic streptomycin on kiwifruit, and 26 growers who admitted using the chemical outside the strict use conditions have been sent a formal warning letter.

The misuse of the compound constitutes a technical breach of the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines (ACVM) Act 1997.

MPI Director Compliance Dean Baigent says MPI approved the use of streptomycin on kiwifruit under strict use conditions to avoid any possibility of chemical residues occurring in fruit. The conditions included a maximum of three spray treatments onto leaves prior to vine flowering. . .

Hunterville Farmer Is The 2012 B+LNZ Young Rancher

Hunterville farmer Peter Fitz-Herbert has been awarded a Beef + Lamb New Zealand agricultural scholarship that will take him to the Five Nations Beef Alliance and Young Ranchers Programme being held in British Columbia, Canada next month.

Peter, who is the stock manager on the Fitz-Herbert family farm, will accompany Beef + Lamb New Zealand Northern North Island Director, James Parsons to the Five Nations Beef Alliance. It is made up of producer organisations from Australia, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand and the United States and meets annually to discuss global issues and opportunities for the beef sector. . .

Risk expert: banks left farmers in dark –  Rob Stock:

Risk and derivative experts say banks, including ANZ National Bank and Westpac, should not have sold complex interest rate swaps to farmers.

Claims are also emerging that though swaps were sold as “interest rate risk management” tools, unsophisticated farmers lacked the expertise and tools to monitor their position, and were provided with little or no ongoing support or advice to manage their interest rate risks.

One of New Zealand’s best-known risk advisers, Roger Kerr from Asia-Pacific Risk Management, said he believed at least a proportion of the swaps were sold to farmers who did not know what they were buying. . .

Farmers’ bid to revisit divorce deal rejected – Matt Nippert:

A New Plymouth farmer has lost a Court of Appeal bid to recalculate his divorce settlement after judges ruled his sudden recovery from a brain injury and a rapid rise in farm property values could not have been anticipated.

Neil Johnston had been appealing a decision ruling against his claim against a law firm and his court-appointed property manager claiming a five-year delay in settling his divorce left him $780,000 out of pocket. . .

Kiwifruit executive has his hands full – Jamie Ball:

Not even six months in the job but it’s been a week of reckoning for Barry O’Neill, Kiwifruit Vine Health (KVH) chief executive.

But, cometh the hour cometh the man. The discovery ofPsa-V in two Waikato orchards last week might have taken the wind out of many a sail, but not Mr. O’Neill. It is, after all, what the independent pan-industry organisation was established to minimize in 2010.

With a lengthy career in the biosecurity sector within New Zealand and overseas behind him, Mr. O’Neill, is taking the Psa challenge head-on. . .

Data to be shared in sheep measles’ fight

Confidential information about sheep and deer farmers collected for stopping the spread of sheep measles is about to be shared to strengthen biosecurity in New Zealand.

Ovis Management project manager Dan Lynch said 20,000 sheep and deer farmers’ contact details were obtained from meatworks and held in a confidential database to help control the spread of sheep measles.

The Primary Industries Ministry managed FarmsOnLine and wanted the database details so there could be a swift response in the event of an exotic disease outbreak, such as foot and mouth, he said. “The benefits far outweigh the issues.” . . .

Poppy crop trials continuing – Gerald Piddock:

Australian company Tasmanian Alkaloids is still two to three years away from deciding whether to push for growing pharmaceutical poppies on a commercial basis.

The company has conducted trials of several varieties of the poppies in Canterbury at an undisclosed location, beginning in 2009.

The trials are moving slowly and that decision was still being evaluated, Tasmanian Alkaloids operations manager Rick Rockliff said. . .

Many queries still over plan – Gerald Piddock:

A group of South Canterbury farmers have been left with plenty to ponder as they come to terms with the implications of Environment Canterbury’s Land and Water Plan.

The plan would see new limits brought in on water quality established at a regional and sub-regional level through the zone committees of the Canterbury Water Management Strategy.  . .

Rain enough for all but Southland – Annette Scott:

Paddling a kayak out to check on cows has been just one of the challenges faced by southern farmers coping with the rain deluge over the past couple of weeks.

While many regions of the South Island, including Southland, were facing drought conditions following the extreme dry of June and July, that has been rectified at least in Canterbury and Otago.

With up to 300mm of rain recorded in North Otago over the past three weeks, 250mm in South Canterbury and 200mm in Mid Canterbury, most farmers are ready for the sun to dry up sodden farmlands. Southland has capacity for more rain with just 3mm recorded in Gore and 7mm in Invercargill. . .


Can’t deliver two objectives with one instrument

August 28, 2012

 Quote of the day from Don Brash:

. . . The Reserve Bank has got only one instrument, and that’s monetary policy. You can’t deliver two objectives with one instrument, and David Parker at least should have the brains to know that. Apparently not.

He was responding to comments from Winston Peters and Parker who are both trying to get the Reserve Bank to control both inflation and the exchange rate.

The high exchange rate against the US dollar, pound and euro is making business harder for exporters but that is far more a reflection on their weaknesses than our strength.

But the exchange rate with Australia isn’t too bad and that’s our major trading partner.

Exports would be earning more if our dollar was lower but imports would cost more too.

That wouldn’t just mean luxuries but also necessities like fuel, machinery and medicines.

And a high dollar is far better than high inflation or any of the other consequences of tinkering by politicians.


How bad is fracking?

August 28, 2012

Kiwiblog might be guilty of hyperbole in saying fracking saves the planet but it is reducing carbon emissions:

In a surprising turnaround, the amount of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere in the US has fallen dramatically to its lowest level in 20 years, and government officials say the biggest reason is that cheap and plentiful natural gas has led many power plant operators to switch from dirtier-burning coal.

Many of the world’s leading climate scientists didn’t see the drop coming, in large part because it happened as a result of market forces rather than direct government action against carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that traps heat in the atmosphere.

Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Centre at Penn State University, said the shift away from coal is reason for “cautious optimism” about potential ways to deal with climate change. He said it demonstrates that “ultimately people follow their wallets” on global warming.

“There’s a very clear lesson here. What it shows is that if you make a cleaner energy source cheaper, you will displace dirtier sources,” said Roger Pielke Jr, a climate expert at the University of Colorado.

In a little-noticed technical report, the US Energy Information Agency, a part of the Energy Department, said this month that total US CO2 emissions for the first four months of this year fell to about 1992 levels. The Associated Press contacted environmental experts, scientists and utility companies and learned that virtually everyone believes the shift could have major long-term implications for US energy policy.

While conservation efforts, the lagging economy and greater use of renewable energy are factors in the CO2 decline, the drop-off is due mainly to low-priced natural gas, the agency said.

A frenzy of shale gas drilling in the Northeast’s Marcellus Shale and in Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana has caused the wholesale price of natural gas to plummet from US$7 or $8 per unit to about $3 over the past four years, making it cheaper to burn than coal for a given amount of energy produced. As a result, utilities are relying more than ever on gas-fired generating plants. . . 

. . . The boom in gas production has come about largely because of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Large volumes of water, plus sand and chemicals, are injected to break shale rock apart and free the gas. . .

. . . Despite unanswered questions about the environmental effects of drilling, the gas boom “is actually one of a number of reasons for cautious optimism,” Mann said. “There’s a lot of doom and gloom out there. It is important to point out that there is still time” to address global warning.

This might not be a long-term change but market forces and fracking are reducing carbon emissions.

There are questions about the safety of fracking. Drew Hutton, president of the Lock The Gate Alliance in Australia; and Rosalind Archer, Associate Professor at the Department of Engineering Science at Auckland University debated the issue on Nine to Noon last Thursday.

Professor Archer (at about 15:50) said there is evidence of a small number of problems caused by very bad practices, shoddy well construction and very poor monitoring. But:

 . . . there are other jurisdictions where, or instance, the US State of Ohio has records of 80,000 fractured wells with no evidence of ground water contamination.

In my opinion this is something that can be done right . .  the head of the US Environmental Protection Agency said she thinks it can be done right. Recently the Royal Society for Science and Engineering in the UK also came out saying that fundamentally this is a process that can be done right so I think New Zealand just needs to learn from international best practice. . .

That practice is improving all the time and it is possible the debate could be overtaken by technical advances:

Chimera Energy Corporation of Houston, Texas, has announced that they are licensing a new method for extracting oil and gas from shale fields that doesn’t contaminate ground water resources because it uses exothermic reactions instead of water to fracture shale. . .

. . . Despite the fact that fracking is used mainly in deep, sealed geological deposits, there is the fear that it may pose a danger to groundwater. Depending on the method involved and the type of oil field, various other materials are added to the water used in fracking, such as sand, foaming agents, gels and friction reducers. The concern is that the water, which is pumped out after the process, may either leak these substances plus radioactive radon from the well directly into aquifer layers, or contaminate water supplies after pumping out.

For this reason, some fracking engineers prefer non-hydraulic methods. One of these, used recently in New York State, swaps the water for gelled propane. The idea being that the propane reverts to a gas at the end of the process and can be pumped out, leaving any additives behind in the well, much like boiling seawater and leaving behind the salt.

The Chimera process takes this a step further by eliminating any working liquid. Details of the process have not been made public yet due to patent concerns, but Chimera Energy uses what is called “dry fracturing” or “exothermic extraction.” First developed in China, this involves using hot gases rather than liquid to fracture the shale. This was originally intended for wells in arctic regions where water used in fracking freezes, but Chimera Energy has developed it for general use. . . 

 If this proves to be practical and safe it still might not be good enough for everyone who opposes fracking.

But then some opposition isn’t to fracking in particular it’s just the means of demonstrating opposition to mineral extraction in general.


August 28 in history

August 28, 2012

489  Theodoric, king of the Ostrogoths defeats Odoacer at the Battle of Isonzo, forcing his way into Italy.

1189  Third Crusade: the Crusaders began the Siege of Acre under Guy of Lusignan.

1349 6,000 Jews were killed in Mainz, accused of being the cause of the plague.

1511  The Portuguese conquered Malacca.

1542 Turkish-Portuguese War (1538-1557) – Battle of Wofla: the Portuguese were scattered, their leader Christovão da Gama captured and later executed.

1609  Henry Hudson discovered Delaware Bay.

1619  Ferdinand II was elected emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.

1640 Second Bishop’s War: King Charles I’s English army lost to a Scottish Covenanter force at the Battle of Newburn.

1749 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German writer and scientist (d. 1832).

1774 Elizabeth Ann Seton, American-born Catholic saint, was born (d. 1821).

1789  William Herschel discovered a new moon of Saturn.

1810  Battle of Grand Port – the French accepted the surrender of a British Navy fleet.

1828 Leo Tolstoy, Russian author, was born (d. 1910).

1830  The Tom Thumb presaged the first railway service in the United States.

1845 The first issue of Scientific American magazine was published.

1859  A geomagnetic storm caused the Aurora Borealis to shine so brightly it was seen clearly over parts of USA, Europe, and as far away as Japan.

1862 American Civil War: Second Battle of Bull Run.

1879  Cetshwayo, last king of the Zulus, was captured by the British.

1884 Peter Fraser, former Prime Minister of New Zealand, was born (d. 1950).

1898  Caleb Bradham renamed his carbonated soft drink “Pepsi-Cola”.

1901  Silliman University was founded in the Philippines,  the first American private school in the country.

1906 John Betjeman, English poet, was born (d. 1984).

1913 Queen Wilhelmina opened the Peace Palace in The Hague.

1914  World War I: the Royal Navy defeated the German fleet in the Battle of Heligoland Bight.

1916  World War I: Germany declared war on Romania.

1916 – World War I: Italy declared war on Germany.

1917  Ten Suffragettes wre arrested while picketing the White House.

1924 Janet Frame, New Zealand author, was born (d. 2004).

1924 The Georgian opposition stages the August Uprising against the Soviet Union.

1930 Windsor Davies, British actor, was born.

1931  France and Soviet Union signed a treaty of non-aggression.

1937  Toyota Motors became an independent company.

1943  World War II: in Denmark, a general strike against the Nazi occupation started.

1944  World War II: Marseille and Toulon were liberated.

1948 Danny Seraphine, American musician (Chicago), was born.

1951 Wayne Osmond, American singer (The Osmonds), was born.

1953  Nippon Television broadcast Japan’s first television show, including its first TV advertisement.

1954 Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme were convicted of murdering Parker’s mother Honora.

'Heavenly Creatures' found guilty of murder

1955  Black teenager Emmett Till was murdered in Mississippi, galvanizing the nascent American Civil Rights Movement.

1961 Motown released what would be its first #1 hit, “Please Mr. Postman” by The Marvelettes.

1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom: Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his I Have a Dream speech.

1963 Emily Hoffert and Janice Wylie were murdered in their Manhattan flat, prompting the events that led to the passing of the Miranda Rights.

1964  The Philadelphia race riot began.

1965 Shania Twain, Canadian singer, was born.

1979  An IRA bomb exploded on the Grand Place in Brussels.

1986  United States Navy officer Jerry A. Whitworth was sentenced to 365 years imprisonment for espionage for the Soviet Union.

1988 Ramstein airshow disaster: three aircraft of the Frecce Tricolori demonstration team collided. The wreckage fell into the crowd killing  75 and seriously injuring 346.

1990  Iraq declared Kuwait to be its newest province.

1990 The Plainfield Tornado: an F5 tornado hit Plainfield and Joliet, Illinois, killing 28 people.

1991  Ukraine declared its independence from the Soviet Union.

1991 Collapse of the Soviet Union – Mikhail Gorbachev resigned as Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party.

1992 Canterbury’s “Big Snow“.

Canterbury's 'Big Snow'

1996  Charles, Prince of Wales and Diana, Princess of Wales divorced.

2003  An electricity blackout cut off power to around 500,000 people living in south east England and brought 60% of London’s underground rail network to a halt.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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