OU Arts Fellows named

September 11, 2012

Otago University has named its 2013 Arts Fellows:

The Robert Burns Fellowship goes to Dunedin writer and poet David Howard; the Frances Hodgkins Fellowship to Christchurch painter and sculptor Zina Swanson; the Mozart Fellowship to Auckland-based composer Samuel Holloway; the Caroline Plummer Fellowship in Community Dance to Dunedin performer and choreographer Hahna Briggs; and the University of Otago College of Education Creative NZ Children’s Writer in Residence to Auckland-based writer Leonie Agnew.

You’ll find more on their work by clicking on the link above.


Word of the day

September 11, 2012

Excresance – a  distinct outgrowth on a human or animal body or on a plant, esp. one that is the result of disease or abnormality; an unattractive or superfluous addition or feature; a usually unwanted or unnecessary accretion.

Breaking bad habits & replacing them with good ones

September 11, 2012

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

How to break habits – advice from Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit.

And related to that:

5 tips for changing bad habits into good ones at Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

Bird of the year

September 11, 2012

The tui was Forest and Bird’s inaugural bird of the year, in 2005.

The fantail (piwakawaka) won the following year then it was the grey warbler(riroriro). The kakapo triumphed in 2008 and the kiwi in 2009.

It was the kakariki’s turn in 2010 and the pukeko claimed the title last year.

Which bird will win this year?

You can vote here and not only see the birds which are vying for the title but hear their calls as well.

High exchange rate not all bad

September 11, 2012

The New Zealand Manufacturers and Exporters Association is calling for action on the exchange rate, saying it has cost exporters $10.4 billion over the past three and a half years.

In February 2009 the NZ Dollar bottomed out at 52.3 on the Trade Weighted Index (TWI), but since then currency manipulation overseas and inaction in New Zealand have seen the NZ Dollar TWI rise to 72.9 in August. For every one percent the currency rises it costs New Zealand exporters approximately $200 million on an annual basis. Between February 2009 and August this year the NZ Dollar rose by 20.6 percent, and it has averaged 14.8 percent above the February level over the last three and a half years.

NZMEA Chief Executive John Walley says, “It is no wonder that we are seeing job losses in coal and aluminium with a statistic like this.  To put this in perspective New Zealand’s total annual merchandise exports are around $45 billion, so this is a hugely significant number compared to the margin on those sales.”

“Claims that nothing can be done to manage the exchange rate impact are only true in the context of our chosen macroeconomic framework – there are alternatives.  Witness the international evidence from countries such as Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States, that efforts to control exchange rates can and do work.” . . .

There is no doubt that a high exchange makes it difficult for exporters because it makes their goods and services more expensive.

But does the NZMEA’s calculations take into account the high exchange rate also makes imports cheaper and some of those – like fuel and machinery – have helped reduce costs of production.

That might not have offset the lower returns as a result of the higher dollar but does the $10.4 billion taken any account of it at all?

Various factors impact on the exchange rate. One of these is debt which is why the government is committed to returning to surplus as soon as possible.

But the main reason our exchange rate is so high is because the United States’ dollar is so low we are far to small to have an impact on that.

Labour thinks we could start playing with currency again. Someone should tell ’em they’re dreamin’.

Where Britain goes . . .

September 11, 2012

Hundreds of thousands of businesses in Britain will benefit from a blitz on red tape which will exempt them from regular health and safety inspections.

More than 3,000 regulations will be scrapped or overhauled, so that shops, offices, pubs and clubs will no longer face “burdensome” health and safety inspections.

Legislation will be introduced which ministers say will protect business from “compensation culture” claims. . .

Firms will only face health and safety inspections if they are operating in higher-risk areas such as construction or if they have an incident or track record of poor performance.

The Government also said it will introduce legislation next month to ensure that businesses will only be held liable for civil damages in health and safety cases if they can be shown to have acted negligently.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “In these tough times, businesses need to focus all their energies on creating jobs and growth, not being tied up in unnecessary red tape.

“I’ve listened to those concerns and we’re determined to put common sense back into areas like health and safety, which will reduce costs and fear of burdensome inspections.”

I don’t think all businesses here are subject to regular health and safety inspections but there is still plenty of scope for cutting red tape and letting common sense rule.

A small business near us used to hold a catering licence. Although they catered infrequently they were held to the same standard as restaurants which operate full-time and subject to spot inspections without notice.

Even if they weren’t going to be preparing food for sale in the near future they’d have lost their licence if everything wasn’t up to restaurant-standard.

Food poisoning is serious and the need for high standards in preparation of food for public consumption is unquestioned. But requiring a business to maintain the cleaning regime needed in a restaurant operating every day whether or not they were catering is taking the regulations too far.

The business was permitted to provide dinner, bed and breakfast for paying guests without the catering licence so let it drop.

This is just one small example of imposing one-size-fits-all regulation on businesses when public health and safety could be safeguarded with a more flexible approach.

Dare we hope that where Britain goes with red tape, we will go too?

In the beginning

September 11, 2012

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth . . .

That’s what Genesis says and when John Banks said recently he believed the Biblical account of creation he was  ridiculed for it.

This week we’re reminded that David Shearer believes that taniwha must be respected.

Who will dare laugh at him for that?

It is a puzzling sign of the times that Christian beliefs are ripe for ridicule but indigenous gods and pantheism are treated as gospel or at least respect.

Hat tip:Keeping Stock

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