Word of the day

September 22, 2012

Refocillate -to refresh, reanimate, revive; comfort.


5/10

September 22, 2012

5/10 in Stuff’s Biz Quiz.


Saturday smiles

September 22, 2012
A Scotsman walked into the Bank of England in Threadneedle Street, Central London and asked for the manager. He told her that he was going to Australia on business for two weeks and needed to borrow £5,000.
The manager told him that the bank would need some form of security for the loan. Hamish handed her the keys and documents, including the log book and ownership papers, for a new Ferrari parked on the street in front of the bank.
The manager agreed to accept the car as collateral for the loan. When Hamish walked out the manager told the General Manager and other staff about the loan and all enjoyed a good laugh at the rough looking Scotsman for using a £120,000 Ferrari as collateral against a £5000 loan. An employee of the bank then drove the car into the bank’s underground garage and parked it there.
Two weeks later, Hamish returned, repaid the £5,000 and the interest, which comes to £15.41.
The manager said, “Sir, we are very happy to have had your business and this transaction has worked out very nicely, but we are a little puzzled. While you were away, we checked you out and found that you are a multi millionaire. What puzzles us is, why would you bother to borrow £5,000?”
Hamish replied: “Where else in London can I park my car for two weeks for only £15.41 and expect it to be there when I return:”

Rural round-up

September 22, 2012

Otago close to eradicating crop destroying rook:

The Otago Regional Council says it is close to eradicating a pest bird from the region.

Rooks can destroy crops and new grass paddocks in a couple of days and are a problem throughout New Zealand, but are more prevalent in grain-producing regions in the south.

The Otago Regional Council says its eradication programme has reduced numbers from 5000 to less than 100 over the past six years. . .

China to help protect manuka honey exports – Victoria Young:

After more than two years of negotiations a deal has been struck with Chinese officials to protect New Zealand exports of manuka honey . . .

Separating the chaff from the grain in the debate on GM wheat – Prof. Jack Heinemann:

My report on assessing the risks of a form of GM wheat has sparked heated comment here and on other blog sites. The Sciblog-associated Australian Science Media Centre published excerpts from Peter Dearden’s “Genetics Otago” along with comments made by Australian scientists.

For me, these events have raised some fundamental issues – not new ones but recurring ones – that have been confronting the scientific and regulatory communities at the forefront of developing, and critically evaluating, new technologies. I don’t pretend to have all the answers in this difficult area, and my views do and will continue to evolve. In the meantime, let’s pause to reflect on some issues. . .

Change in deer tagging requirements

Deer farmers will soon be able to use a NAIT-approved ear tag instead of an Animal Health Board (AHB) barcoded primary tag.

From 1 October 2012, deer farmers have the option of tagging their animals with a National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) scheme RFID tag, or an AHB barcoded primary tag, until deer join the NAIT scheme in March 2013.

“Deer farmers who have already put NAIT tags into their animals, or plan to do so soon, won’t have to keep using AHB barcoded primary tags,” said AHB Operational Policy Manager Nick Hancox. . .

Farmers help design new online tools to take pain from paperwork:

Ravensdown has worked with farmers to develop new online tools to help take the pain out of farm paperwork.

Farmers helped design the new features of the MyRavensdown secure website, so that documents like statements and invoices are shown the way farmers need them. The 100% farmer-owned co-operative is also the first to launch “live help” for farmers which allows users to get instant help from one of the trained NZ-based Customer Centre team.

“Farming has always been data-rich, but farmers are time-poor, so a great secure online service has to be simple to use,” said Mark McAtamney, Chief Information Officer at Ravensdown.“There’s a real danger of too much information, so the visitor can tailor how much detail they want to drill down and see. Farmers helped us design the straightforward layout and they appreciate the live help feature, so they can ask questions about the page they are on and get an answer about their account there and then.” . . .

Ballance Research Targeting Nutrient Loss Solutions:

As more pressure goes on farmers to manage within nutrient limits, Ballance Agri-Nutrients’ $32 million research programme is working on new and targeted approaches for nitrogen and phosphate applications.

The work is being done through its Clearview Innovation programme which includes projects that will help farmers decide where on-farm to apply nutrients for maximum benefit and minimal loss.

“There is a definite shift towards regional councils requiring farmers to work within nutrient loss limits,” says Ballance Research and Development Manager, Warwick Catto. . .

Lincoln University memes:


Lobbying Disclosure Bill goes too far

September 22, 2012

The intent of Green MP Holly Walker’s Lobbying Disclosure Bill is good but it goes far too far.

Jordan Williams argues it will do the opposite of what is intended, distancing people from MPs and creating a lobbying industry:

 The bill makes lobbying activity a criminal offence for all but those preregistered with the auditor-general.  It requires all communications, even informal conversations, to be publicly disclosed with the client’s identity and interests detailed. 

    The bill is badly drafted.  For example it defines “lobbying activity” so widely that it covers any business writing to an MP. 

    Further, it covers even the most modest or ancillary advocacy.  An accountant emailing an MP about a tax policy on behalf of a client will be committing a criminal offence unless the accountant is a registered lobbyist.  A fine of up to $10,000 for individuals and $20,000 for companies can be imposed.  Even a local farm manager complaining to the local MP at the supermarket about emissions policy would be covered. 

    The bill doesn’t just cover businesses.  The inclusion of voluntary organisations mean a single email sent by a manager on behalf of a local RSA is illegal unless the manager is also registered as a “lobbyist”. The problem the bill tries to resolve doesn’t exist. . .

Instead of improving transparency this Bill will put barriers in the way of ordinary people who wish to communicate with MPs.

Our MPs are accessible in a way that those in most other countries aren’t.

The few who like to keep a distance from the public might like the protection this Bill will give them but most will regard it as an impediment to open and frank communication.

It is being driven by the Green Party paranoia about big business and will get in the way of ordinary people and their elected representatives.

Kiwiblog would like the Bill to be amended but doubts if it is possible to do so without the unintended consequences.

Holly responded to Jordan’s post here.

He offered to help improve the Bill but writes on Facebook:

The Green Party appear to have deleted my comment on their blog site, responding to Holly Walker‘s post regarding my opinion piece in today’s DomPost (posted earlier).  Specifically she implies that unlike others I have not offered suggestions to improve to Bill.  That is not true.  I will post the response here:

“Hi Holly, yes the Bill does have a good intention, I don’t deny that, but its effects will damage our culture of easily accessible MPs. Laws need to be assessed by what they say and what they do, not what they are intended to do.

I take issue with your remark that I have not offered to improve the Bill, indeed I personally emailed you on 17 April offering my firm’s time (free of charge) to suggest improvements to the Bill that would avoid the very criticisms I make of it.

He then gave an update saying his comment was up but she had “removed the offending sentence.”


Laugh then think

September 22, 2012

The Ignobles are awarded each year by the people at Improbable Research for achievements that first make people laugh then make people think.

Winners of the 2012 Ignobles are:

PSYCHOLOGY PRIZE: Anita Eerland and Rolf Zwaan [THE NETHERLANDS] and Tulio Guadalupe [PERU, RUSSIA, and THE NETHERLANDS] for their study “Leaning to the Left Makes the Eiffel Tower Seem Smaller” . . .

PEACE PRIZE: The SKN Company [RUSSIA], for converting old Russian ammunition into new diamonds. . .

ACOUSTICS PRIZE: Kazutaka Kurihara and Koji Tsukada [JAPAN] for creating the SpeechJammer — a machine that disrupts a person’s speech, by making them hear their own spoken words at a very slight delay. . . .

NEUROSCIENCE PRIZE: Craig Bennett, Abigail Baird, Michael Miller, and George Wolford [USA], for demonstrating that brain researchers, by using complicated instruments and simple statistics, can see meaningful brain activity anywhere — even in a dead salmon. . .

CHEMISTRY PRIZE: Johan Pettersson [SWEDEN and RWANDA]. for solving the puzzle of why, in certain houses in the town of Anderslöv, Sweden, people’s hair turned green. . .

LITERATURE PRIZE: The US Government General Accountability Office, for issuing a report about reports about reports that recommends the preparation of a report about the report about reports about reports. . .

PHYSICS PRIZE: Joseph Keller [USA], and Raymond Goldstein [USA and UK], Patrick Warren, and Robin Ball [UK], for calculating the balance of forces that shape and move the hair in a human ponytail. . .

FLUID DYNAMICS PRIZE: Rouslan Krechetnikov [USA, RUSSIA, CANADA] and Hans Mayer [USA] for studying the dynamics of liquid-sloshing, to learn what happens when a person walks while carrying a cup of coffee. . .

ANATOMY PRIZE: Frans de Waal [The Netherlands and USA] and Jennifer Pokorny [USA] for discovering that chimpanzees can identify other chimpanzees individually from seeing photographs of their rear ends. . .

MEDICINE PRIZE: Emmanuel Ben-Soussan and Michel Antonietti [FRANCE] for advising doctors who perform colonoscopies how to minimize the chance that their patients will explode. . .

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: We are now, in 2012, correcting an error we made in the year 1999, when we failed to include one winner’s name. We now correct that, awarding a share of the 1999 physics prize to Joseph Keller. Professor Keller is also a co-winner of the 2012 Ig Nobel physics prize, making him a two-time Ig Nobel winner. . .

The one that stands out is advice to help doctors who perform colonoscopies minimise the chance their patients will explode. The consequences are best not imagined.

The awards ceremony was filmed, you’ll find it by clicking on the first link.

 


September 22 in history

September 22, 2012

66  Emperor Nero created the Legion I Italica.

1236 The Lithuanians and Semigallians defeated the Livonian Brothers of the Sword in the Battle of Saule.

1499 Treaty of Basel: Switzerland became an independent state.

1515 Anne of Cleves, wife of Henry VIII, was born (d. 1557).

1586  Battle of Zutphen: Spanish victory over English and Dutch.

1598 Ben Jonson was indicted for manslaughter.

1692 Last people hanged for witchcraft in the United States.

1761  George III and Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz were crowned King and Queen of the Great Britain.

1784  Russia established a colony at Kodiak, Alaska.

1789 Battle of Rymnik established Alexander Suvorov as a pre-eminent Russian military commander after his allied army defeat superior Ottoman Empire forces.

1862  Slavery in the United States: a preliminary version of the Emancipation Proclamation was released.

1866 Battle of Curupaity in the War of the Triple Alliance.

1869 Richard Wagner’s opera Das Rheingold premiered in Munich.

1880 Dame Christabel Pankhurst, English suffragist, was born (d. 1958).

1885 Ben Chifley, Prime Minister of Australia, was born (d. 1951).

1885  Lord Randolph Churchill made a speech in Ulster in opposition to Home Rule e.g. “Ulster will fight and Ulster will be right”.

1888 The first issue of National Geographic Magazine was published.

1893  The first American-made car, built by the Duryea Brothers, was displayed.

1896  Queen Victoria surpassed her grandfather King George III as the longest reigning monarch in British history.

1906 At a meeting held in Wellington, Marianne Tasker attempted to establish a domestic workers’ union. Central to their demands was the call for a 68-hour working week.

Domestic workers call for 68-hour week

1908 The independence of Bulgaria was proclaimed.

1910  The Duke of York’s Picture House opened in Brighton, now the oldest continually operating cinema in Britain.

1915 Arthur Lowe, British actor, was born (d. 1982).

1919 The steel strike of 1919, led by the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers, began in Pennsylvania.

1924 Rosamunde Pilcher, English novelist, was born.

1927 Jack Dempsey lost the “Long Count” boxing match to Gene Tunney.

1931 – United Party Prime Minister Forbes informed an inter-party conference that a coalition government was needed to ‘share the responsibility’ of dealing with the Depression.

1934  An explosion at Gresford Colliery in Wales, lead to the deaths of 266 miners and rescuers.

1937  Spanish Civil War: Peña Blanca was taken; the end of the Battle of El Mazuco.

1939  Joint victory parade of Wehrmacht and Red Army in Brest-Litovsk at the end of the Invasion of Poland.

1941  World War II: On Jewish New Year Day, the German SS murdered 6,000 Jews in Vinnytsya, Ukraine.

1951  The first live sporting event seen coast-to-coast in the United States, a college football game between Duke and the University of Pittsburgh, was televised on NBC.

1955 The British television channel ITV went live for the first time.

1958 Andrea Bocelli, Italian tenor, was born.

1960 The Sudanese Republic was renamed Mali after the withdrawal of Senegal from the Mali Federation.

1965 The Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 (also known as the Second Kashmir War) ended after the UN called for a cease-fire.

1970  Tunku Abdul Rahman resigned as Prime Minister of Malaysia.

1971 Princess Märtha Louise of Norway, was born.

1975 Sara Jane Moore tried to assassinate U.S. President Gerald Ford, but was foiled by Oliver Sipple.

1979 The Vela Incident (also known as the South Atlantic Flash) was observed near Bouvet Island, thought to be a nuclear weapons test.

1980  Iraq invaded Iran.

1985 The Plaza Accord was signed in New York City.

1991 The Dead Sea Scrolls were made available to the public for the first time by the Huntington Library.

1993 A barge struck a railroad bridge near Mobile, Alabama, causing the deadliest train wreck in Amtrak history. 47 passengers were killed.

1993  A Transair Georgian Airlines Tu-154 was shot down by a missile in Sukhumi, Georgia.

1995 An E-3B AWACS crashed outside Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska after multiple bird strikes to two of the four engines soon after takeoff; all 24 on board were killed.

1995 Nagerkovil school bombing, carried out by Sri Lankan Air Force in which at least 34 died, most of them ethnic Tamil school children.

2003  David Hempleman-Adams became the first person to cross the Atlantic Ocean in an open-air, wicker-basket hot air balloon.

2011 – CERN scientists announced their discovery of neutrinos breaking the speed of light

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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