OU Arts Fellows named


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


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


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


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


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 . . .


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


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

September 11 in history


1185 Isaac II Angelus killed Stephanus Hagiochristophorites.

1297 Battle of Stirling Bridge: Scots jointly-led by William Wallace and Andrew Moray defeated the English.

1390  Lithuanian Civil War (1389–1392): the Teutonic Knights began a five-week siege of Vilnius.

1541  Santiago, Chile, was destroyed by indigenous warriors, lead by Michimalonko.

1609  Expulsion order announced against the Moriscos of Valencia; beginning of the expulsion of all Spain‘s Moriscos.

1609  Henry Hudson discovered Manhattan Island.

1649  Siege of Drogheda ended: Oliver Cromwell’s English Parliamentarian troops took the town and executed its garrison.

1697  Battle of Zenta.

1709  Battle of Malplaquet: Great Britain, Netherlands and Austria fight against France.

1758  Battle of Saint Cast: France repelled British invasion during the Souven Year’s War.

1773  The Public Advertiser published a satirical essay titled Rules By Which A Great Empire May Be Reduced To A Small One written by Benjamin Franklin.

1776  British-American peace conference on Staten Island failed to stop nascent American Revolutionary War.

1777  American Revolution: Battle of Brandywine –  British victory in Chester County, Pennsylvania.

1786  The Beginning of the Annapolis Convention.

1792 The Hope Diamond and other French crown jewels were stolen.

1802  France annexed the Kingdom of Piedmont.

1814  War of 1812: The climax of the Battle of Plattsburgh, a major United States victory in the war.

1847 Stephen Foster‘s song, Oh! Susanna, was first performed at a saloon in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

1857  Mormon settlers and Paiutes massacred 120 pioneers at Mountain Meadows, Utah.

1858 First ascent of Dom, the third highest summit in the Pennine Alps.

1862 O. Henry, American writer, was born (d. 1910).

1880 – Four children were killed and 13 adults injured when two rail carriages were blown off the tracks by severe winds on a notoriously exposed part of the Rimutaka Incline railway line.

1885 D. H. Lawrence, English novelist, was born (d. 1930).

1892 Pinto Colvig, voice actor for Goofy, Pluto, and Bozo the Clown, was born (d. 1967).

1893 First conference of the World Parliament of Religions was held.

1897 After months of pursuit, generals of Menelik II of Ethiopia captured Gaki Sherocho, the last king of Kaffa, bringing an end to that ancient kingdom.

1903  The first race at The Milwaukee Mile in West Allis, Wisconsin was held. It is the oldest major speedway in the world.

1906  Mahatma Gandhi coined the term “Satyagraha” to characterize the Non-Violence movement in South Africa.

1914 Australia invaded New Britain, defeating a German contingent at the Battle of Bita Paka.

1916 The Quebec Bridge‘s central span collapsed, killing 11 men.

1917  Ferdinand Marcos, 10th President of the Philippines, was born (d. 1989).

1917  Jessica Mitford, British writer, was born (d. 1996).

1921 Nahalal, the first moshav in Israel, was settled.

1922  The British Mandate of Palestine began.

1922  The Treaty of Kars was ratified in Yerevan, Armenia.

1922   The Sun News-Pictorial was founded in Melbourne.

1928 Charles Kingsford Smith and Charles Ulm made the first successful trans-Tasman flight.

First trans-Tasman flight

1932 Franciszek Żwirko and Stanisław Wigura, Polish Challenge 1932 winners, were killed when their RWD 6 airplane crashes into the ground during a storm.

1941  Ground was broken for the construction of The Pentagon.

1941  Charles Lindbergh’s Des Moines Speech accusing the British, Jews and the Roosevelt administration of pressing for war with Germany.

1943 Mickey Hart, American drummer (Grateful Dead), was born.

1944  World War II: RAF bombing raid on Darmstadt and the following firestorm killed 11,500.

1945  World War II: Liberation of the Japanese-run POW and civilian internment camp at Batu Lintang, Kuching, Sarawak, by Australian 9th Division forces.

1956  People to People International was founded by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

1961  Foundation of the World Wildlife Fund.

1961 Hurricane Carla struck the Texas coast .

1968  Air France Flight 1611 crashed off Nice, France, killing 89 passengers and 6 crew.

1970  88 of the hostages from the Dawson’s Field hijackings were released.

1972  Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) in San Francisco, California began regular service.

1973 A coup in Chile headed by General Augusto Pinochet toppled the democratically elected president Salvador Allende.

1974  Eastern Air Lines Flight 212 crashed in Charlotte, North Carolina, killing 69 passengers and two crew.

1977 Jon Buckland, British guitarist (Coldplay), was born.

1978  U.S. President Jimmy Carter, President Anwar Sadat of Egypt, and Prime Minister Menachem Begin of Israel agreed on the Camp David Accords a framework for peace between Israel and Egypt and a comprehensive peace in the Middle East.

1989  The iron curtain opened between Hungary and Austria.

1992  Hurricane Iniki devastated Hawaii.

1997  NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor reached Mars.

1997  Scotland voted to establish a devolved parliament, within the United Kingdom.

1997 14 Estonian soldiers drowned in the Kurkse tragedy.

1998  Opening ceremony for the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur.

2001  The September 11 attacks in the United States.

2003 – The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety came into effect.

2004  Seventeen people were killed when a helicopter crashes in the Aegean Sea – among them were Patriarch Peter VII of Alexandria and bishops of the Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria.

2005 The Israel completed its unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip.

2007  Russia tested the largest conventional weapon ever, the Father of all bombs.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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