Word of the day

December 31, 2012

Resolution – a firm decision to do or not to do something; a formal expression of opinion or intention made, usually after voting, by a formal organization, a legislature, a club, or other group; the act of analysing a complex notion into simpler ones; the act of answering or determining.


The most important thing

December 31, 2012

Something on which to ponder if you’re making resolutions for next year:

important

The most important thing you leave behind is the stuff that turns into treasures when children find them.

 

And on the bag: stuff that’ll be worth something someday when people’s priorities change.

 

Treasures by Brian Andreas at Story People

 


Rural round up

December 31, 2012

What farmers face in 2013  - Caleb Allison:

Farmers face their most volatile year in recent memory as New Zealand’s agriculture sector remains at the mercy of world markets, according to industry commentators.

While every year comes with a certain level of uncertainty for the farming community, Waikato University’s head of agribusiness, Professor Jacqueline Rowarth told NBR ONLINE it is of particular concern this year.

“Many farmers are already running at a very slim margin. . .

Happy helping Kiwi kids – Hugh Stringleman:

Delivering milk to 56 Northland schools is very rewarding, say Luke and Corrine McDonald, Fonterra Brands franchisees based in Whangarei.

Twice a week they have two of their four trucks on the roads around their large delivery area, delivering the 250ml UHT cartons and picking up the empties for recycling.

Northland was the provincial pilot for the Fonterra Milk for Schools programme, launched at Manaia View School, Whangarei, last March. . .

Paying it forward at Little Acres – Tim Fulton:

Animal care centre run “in the spirit of koha” is getting a make-over, propelled by the kind of generosity that got it started.

Jacqui Emmett and her husband Barry operate the non-profit Little Acres in western Waikato, helping prepare surplus livestock for new homes.

The Te Akau couple charge nothing for taking in animals, despite feed costing them up to $350 a week.

In fact, if money gets tight the humans are the last to be fed. . .

Debt mediation law would rein-in banks: Walker – Jamie Ball:

A farm debt mediation law would reduce the tendency for banks to engage in “reckless” lending practices similar to the mass marketing of complex interest rate swaps to farmers, according to campaigner Janette Walker.

“It will also introduce a level of fairness that will rebalance the power structure, which is presently poorly balanced in the bank’s favour.

“It’s about setting up a more transparent process. The banks have responsibilities and so do the farmers. It also stops the banks doing their snatch and grab,” the farmer’s advocate said. . .

Porina biocontrol promise :

IMAGINE LOOKING across the farm and being pleased to see hundreds of creatures vomiting and dying of dehydration.Sounds surreal, but it’s becoming reality thanks to smart scientists working on porina caterpillar control.

Mark Hurst, AgResearch Lincoln, and his Invermay colleague Colin Ferguson, have, for several years, been working with bacteria Yersina entomophaga MH96, a bug Hurst discovered in native grass grubs in 1996. It’s since been found to be deadly to porina and other insect pests such as bronze beetle and diamond back moth. . .

Bayer and Motutapu Restoration Trust announce forest planting partnership

The Motutapu Restoration Trust has today announced a partnership with Bayer, which is contributing $25,000 for forest restoration to celebrate the company’s 150th birthday in 2013.

In addition to donating to the Trust to support the planting of a block of forest, Bayer will offer its staff an annual opportunity to volunteer on the island to help with planting and weeding.

“In 2013, Bayer celebrates its 150th birthday and we will be marking that in various ways around the world,” Bayer New Zealand Ltd Managing Director Patricia Castle said today. “Helping create a home for kiwi and takahe is something our team in New Zealand would love to support so we’ve chosen to take responsibility for funding the planting and maintenance of two hectares of forest on Motutapu as our birthday gift to New Zealand. . .

TV3 has a video of: Mustering sheep with a remote control quadcopeter.

And NZ Farmers Weekly has a selection of photos of 2012.


Up vs out

December 31, 2012

New Zealand cities should go up rather than out, Federated Farmers’ chief executive Conor English says:

Manhattan-type cities that accommodate more people and stop urban sprawl is New Zealand’s farming leader’s latest vision for a prosperous economy.

Federated Farmers chief executive Conor English says New Zealand needs to lose its small-country mindset and get smart about growth.

That included “taking the lid off our cities”.

“Human capability is critical to all parts of our community and economy. In most parts of New Zealand, except Auckland, the population is flat or in decline. There are not enough people to produce the exports, provide the services, pay the taxes and build a future at first-world income levels. We simply need more people.”

Auckland needed to stop building out and start building up. . .

I was in Auckland three times this month.

Each trip required the long, slow journey from the airport to the central city and back.

It’s such a waste of time and fuel.

Could going up rather than out help solve the city’s transport problems and would Aucklanders want to live in high-rise apartments rather than houses with sections?

 

 


Old Year Honours

December 31, 2012

The Homepaddock panel has awarded the 2012 Old Year Honours:

Dotbomb Award - The media for far exceeding the bounds of public interest with positive stories on Kim Dotcom. The man himself gets an honourable mention in this category for believing the stories.

Icarus Award -Russel Norman. Buoyed by hopes of being named Opposition MP of the Year and a future Finance Minister he flew too close to the sun with his plan to print money.

Political Amnesia Award – The Labour Party for forgetting it’s supposed to be opposing the government not itself.

Toastmasters Recruitment Award – David Shearer for failure of fluency when it was most needed.

Humpty Dumpty Numbers Award – David Parker for thinking numbers could mean whatever he wanted them to when costing his party’s housing policy.

Mirror Mirror Award – David Cunliffe for failing to convince enough of his colleagues he’d be the fairest leader of all and sabotaging his party’s conference in the process.

Once Was Warrior Award – Winston Peters for doing very little.

 

 

 

 


December 31 in history

December 31, 2012

400  Vandals, Alans and Suebians crossed the Rhine, beginning an invasion of Gaul.

1229  James I of Aragon the Conqueror entered Medina Mayurqa (now known as Palma) consummating the Christian conquest of the island of Majorca.

1491 – Jacques Cartier, French explorer, was born (d. 1557)

1599  The British East India Company was chartered.

1687– The first Huguenots set sail from France to the Cape of Good Hope.

1695 A window tax was imposed in England, causing many shopkeepers to brick up their windows to avoid the tax.

1720 Charles Edward Stuart, pretender to the British throne, was born  (d. 1788).

1759 Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000 year lease at £45 per annum and started brewing Guinness.

1853 Sir George Grey left New Zealand after finishing his first  term as Governor.

Grey leaves NZ after first term as Governor
1857 Queen Victoria chose Ottawa, as the capital of Canada.
1869 Henri Matisse, French painter, was born (d. 1954).
1878  Elizabeth Arden, Canadian businesswoman, was born (d. 1966).

1879 Thomas Edison demonstrated incandescent lighting to the public for the first time.

1904 The first New Year’s Eve celebration was held in Times Square (then known as Longacre Square) in New York.

1908  Simon Wiesenthal, Austrian Holocaust survivor, was born (d. 2005).

1909  Manhattan Bridge opened.

1923 The chimes of Big Ben were broadcast on radio for the first time by the BBC.

1937 Sir Anthony Hopkins, Welsh actor, was born.

1941 – Sir Alex Ferguson, Scottish football manager, was born.

1943 John Denver, American singer and songwriter, was born (d. 1997).

1943 Sir Ben Kingsley, English actor was born.

1943  Pete Quaife, English bassist (The Kinks) was born.

1946 President Harry Truman officially proclaimed the end of hostilities in World War II.

1951 The Marshall Plan expired after distributing more than $13.3 billion USD in foreign aid to rebuild Europe.

1955  The General Motors Corporation became the first U.S. corporation to make over $1 billion USD in a year.

1960 The farthing coin ceased to be legal tender in the United Kingdom.

1963  The Central African Federation officially collapsed and split into Zambia, Malawi and Rhodesia.

1965  Nicholas Sparks, American author, was born.

1980 – Richie McCaw, All Black captain, was born.

Richie McCaw 2011.jpg

1983 – The AT&T Bell System was broken up by the United States Government.

1991  All official Soviet Union institutions ceased operations by this date and the Soviet Union was officially dissolved.

1992 Czechoslovakia was dissolved, resulting in the creation of the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

1998  The European Exchange Rate Mechanism froze the values of the legacy currencies in the Eurozone, and established the value of the euro currency.

1999  Boris Yeltsin resigned as President of Russia, leaving Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as the acting President.

1999 – The United States Government handed control of the Panama Canal (as well all the adjacent land to the canal known as the Panama Canal Zone) to Panama. This act complied with the signing of the 1977 Torrijos-Carter Treaties.

2004  The official opening of Taipei 101, the tallest skyscraper at that time in the world, standing at a height of 509 metres (1,670 ft).

2007 -  Bocaue Fire: Seven people were injured when a fire resulted in the explosion of several fireworks stores in Bocaue, Bulacan, Philippines.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.


Word of the day

December 30, 2012

 Nescient – lacking knowledge or awareness; ignorant; agnosticism.


Happy words

December 30, 2012

Isabel Kloumann and other mathematicians from the University of Vermont published a paper on positivity in the English language.

Arika Okrent looked at the list and decided you can have too much of a good thing:

So what are the happiest words in English? They might be nice to hear. But it turns out that positivity heaped on positivity becomes, like sugar or a giant clown smile, sickening after a point. To illustrate this problem, here are the top 20 words: laughter, happiness, love, happy, laughed, laugh, laughing, excellent, laughs, joy, successful, win, rainbow, smile, won, pleasure, smiled, rainbows, winning.

As you go down the list in a binge of positive word reading, so many of the positive words start to sound crass (rich, diamonds, glory), treacly (butterflies, cupcakes, friends), or too obvious (positive, great, wonderful). . .

She looked at the list and came up with her own list of 25 happy words:

The following 25 words, shown alongside their rankings, struck me as anchors of true quiet positivity in a sea of toothy grins:

159 – easier
*
172 – interesting
*
205 – honest
*
211 – forests
*
234 – Saturday
*
239 – dinner
*
290 – comfortable
*
320 – gently
*
344 – fresh
*
371 – pal
*
375 – warmth
*
433 – rest
*
449 – welcome
*
491 – dearest
*
504 – useful
*
548 – cherry
*
558 – safe
*
584 – better
*
665 – piano
*
721 – silk
*
741 – relief
*
878 – rhyme
*
892 – hi
*
947 – agree
*
969 – water

My 25 happiest words are: love, laughter, smile, family, friend, home, happiness, warm, compassion, gentle, book, music, sing, content, celebrate, satisfaction, secure, water, swim, walk, heal, well, fit, helping, sleep, and achieve.
Hat tip: Beattie’s Book Blog.

City waterways most polluted

December 30, 2012

Farming’s contribution to water pollution gets a lot of publicity but city waterways are the most polluted:

“Stormwater drains end up in creeks, and creeks end up in bays. Dog poo, litter, all end up in streams, and you might be swimming in the bay the next day,” said National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research’s chief freshwater scientist, Clive Howard-Williams.

Agriculture is often blamed for New Zealand’s declining water quality, but the country’s most polluted waterways are found in the inner city. . .

This doesn’t excuse farmers from doing all they can to ensure their practices don’t pollute waterways but it does show improving water quality is an urban issue too.

The biggest issue for cities is chemicals and organic matter being discarded down stormwater drains from individuals and light industry that eventually end up in the sea.

“Paints, poisons and explosives are the things . . . that pollute beaches. At the end of the day a goldfish down the toilet is not going to do any harm,” McIlroy said.

Even dog faeces and discarded ice creams contribute to the degradation of waterways and beaches. So does washing the car.

“A lot of that sort of material causes the loss of oxygen, so fish in streams die. There is just too much organic matter and then you end up with bacteria in places where you swim,” Howard-Williams said.

Many people believe stormwater is treated before it is fed into the sea, he said. It is not.

“Stormwater drains play a fundamental role in removing floodwater. But the problem is that they end up in creeks, bays and lakes and it is untreated,” he said.

City folk needed to appreciate where the stormwater drains end up and be aware of the lengths councils went to keep them clean, he said. “There is a general lack of appreciation of what goes down the stormwater and where it goes. Urban dwellers have a lot to learn.”

Adverse publicity about rural water quality combined with education have prompted most farmers into taking a much more proactive approach to improving water quality.

More publicity and education are needed to ensure urban people take responsibility for keeping water in towns and cities cleaner too.

 


If you’re planning to make some New Year resolutions . . .

December 30, 2012

. . . Barking Up the Wrong Tree has a post on the last damn thing you’ll ever need to know about New Year Resolutions:

I’ve never been particularly serious about making New Year Resolutions, or keeping the few I’ve made.

Resolutions I have made and kept to have been triggered by something other than the date.


Smokefree by choice

December 30, 2012

A Northland cafe is going completely smokefree:

Smoking indoors in not allowed in any cafe in the country, but Tawera Park is the only one to be smokefree outdoors as well. 

It backs on to Tawera Park, which must be smokefree under the new policy of the three Northland councils, for smokefree parks, playgrounds and sports grounds.

Ms Saramet says it was an easy decision to go completely smokefree.

“It’s a nice clean green image to maintain, especially in Whangarei which is a lovely green place and I think we need to embrace that. I think it’s a benefit,” she says. . .

The most compelling argument for not allowing smoking is the comfort of non-smoking customers.

Unless smokers are very considerate smoke from their cigarettes drifts over other people.

I’ve left a cafe before ordering because cigarette smoke from other diners was drifting in the open door.

Smoking is legal but someone’s right to smoke is trumped by others’ right to smoke-free air.


Sunday soapbox

December 30, 2012

This soapbox is yours.

You’re welcome  to look back or forward, discuss issues of  the moment, to pontificate, ponder or point us to something of interest; to educate, elucidate or entertain, to muse or amuse.


December 30 in history

December 30, 2012

39  Titus, Roman emperor was born  (d. 81).

1066 Granada massacre: A Muslim mob stormed the royal palace in Granada, crucified Jewish vizier Joseph ibn Naghrela and massacred most of the Jewish population of the city.

1460  Wars of the Roses: Battle of Wakefield.

1835 Charles Darwin left New Zealand after a nine day visit.

Charles Darwin leaves NZ after 9-day visitThis red gurnard was collected by Charles Darwin when the Beagle visited the Bay of Islands.

1865 – Rudyard Kipling, English writer, Nobel laureate, was born (d. 1936).

1916 The last coronation in Hungary was performed for King Charles IV and Queen Zita.

1919 – Lincoln’s Inn in London admitted its first female bar student.

1922  Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was formed.

1924 Edwin Hubble announced the existence of other galaxies.

1927  The Ginza Line, the first subway line in Asia, opened in Tokyo, Japan.

1928 – Bo Diddley, American singer and musician, was born (d. 2008).

1931  Skeeter Davis, American singer, was born  (d. 2004) .

1937 Noel Paul Stookey, American folk singer (Peter, Paul & Mary), was born.

1940 California opened its first freeway the Arroyo Seco Parkway.

1942 – Michael Nesmith, American singer and musician (The Monkees) was born.

1944 King George II of Greece declared a regency, leaving the throne vacant.

1945  Davy Jones, English singer (The Monkees), was born (d. 2012).

1947 King Michael of Romania was forced to abdicate by the Soviet-backed Communist government of Romania.

1947 Jeff Lynne, English musician (ELO), was born.

1948  The Cole Porter Broadway musical, Kiss Me, Kate (1,077 performances), opened at the New Century Theatre and was the first show to win the Best Musical Tony Award.

1950 Bjarne Stroustrup, Danish computer scientist, creator of C++, was born.

1953 The first ever NTSC colour television sets went on sale for about USD at $1,175 each from RCA.

1959 Tracey Ullman, English actress and singer, was born.

1961 – Bill English, New Zealand’s Deputy Prime Minister, was born.

1965  Ferdinand Marcos became President of the Philippines.

1975 Tiger Woods, American golfer, was born.

1993  Israel and the Vatican established diplomatic relations.

2004 A fire in the República Cromagnon nightclub in Buenos Aires, Argentina killed 194.

2005  Tropical Storm Zeta formed in the open Atlantic Ocean.

2006  Madrid’s Barajas International Airport was bombed.

2006 Deposed President of Iraq Saddam Hussein, convicted of the executions of 148 Iraqi Shiites, was executed.

2009 – The last roll of Kodachrome film was developed by Dwayne’s Photo, the only remaining Kodachrome processor at the time, concluding the film’s 74-year run as a photography icon.

2011 – – Owing to a change of time zone the day is skipped in Samoa and Tokelau.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.


Word of the day

December 29, 2012

Concinnity – harmony in the arrangement or interarrangement of parts with respect to a whole or each other; studied elegance and facility in style of expression; skillfully put together.


Saturday’s smiles

December 29, 2012

Finished and Complete:  No English dictionary has been able to adequately explain the difference between these two words.

In a recent linguistic competition held in London, attended by the best in the world, this explanation was the clear winner.

When you marry the right woman, you are COMPLETE. And when you marry the wrong woman, you are FINISHED.

And when the right one catches you with the wrong one, you are COMPLETELY FINISHED!


Friday’s answers

December 29, 2012

Thursday’s questions (asked on Friday) were:

1. What happened to Thursday?

2. Who said ““Hope
Smiles from the threshold of the year to come,
Whispering ‘it will be happier’…”

3. Was s/he right?

4. It’s temps in French, tempo in Italian, tiempo in Spanish and tāima in Maori, what is it in English?

5. If you could have your time over, would you?

Points for answers

There were no right or wrong answers to three of the five questions.

Andrei got a clean sweep with a bonus for the video, winning a virtual Christmas cake.

Grant got four.

Answers follow the break:

Read the rest of this entry »


Wealth creation vs wealth distribution

December 29, 2012

Quote of the day:

. . . In general, the creation of wealth is edifying. When only voluntary transactions are permitted, the creation of wealth requires cooperation, and this brings out the best in us.

Piles of wealth, however, tend to be corrupting. The fixed nature of a pile is all about apportionment, not cooperation, and this zero-sum game tends to bring out the worst in us.

It follows directly that no matter how noble the ends, government redistribution (which is hardly voluntary) tends to bring out the worst in us. Rising government redistribution over the past 75 years has produced ample evidence of this point.

We are in this mess because we have allowed our culture to be dominated by those who are bent on spreading the false and self-serving narrative that our economy is a giant zero-sum game…

David C. Rose, Department of Economics
University of Missouri-St. Louis

Hat tip: Eye to the Long Run


Low inflation, lower interest rates, big savings

December 29, 2012

Parties on the left are no longer concerned about inflation.

They must have forgotten the costs of high inflation which include high interest rates and a loss of the real value of savings.

They also overlook the benefits of low inflation.

One of those is lower interest rates which translate to big savings for anyone with a mortgage.

It does also mean lower interest rates for investors.

They are still better off than they’d be with high interest rates and high inflation which erodes the real value of savings.

However, lower interest rates could be one reason the share market has done so well this year.

shares


Saturday soapbox

December 29, 2012

This soapbox is yours.

You’re welcome  to look back or forward, discuss issues of  the moment, to pontificate, ponder or point us to something of interest, to educate, elucidate or entertain, to muse or amuse.


December 29 in history

December 29, 2012

1170  Thomas Becket: Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, was assassinated inside Canterbury Cathedral by followers of King Henry II; he subsequently becomes a saint and martyr in the Anglican Church and the Roman Catholic Church.

1721  Madame de Pompadour, mistress of King Louis XV of France, was born (d. 1764).

1800 Charles Goodyear, American inventor, was born (d. 1860).

1809 William Ewart Gladstone, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, was born  (d. 1898).

1835  The Treaty of New Echota was signed, ceding all the lands of the Cherokee east of the Mississippi River to the United States.

1876 The Ashtabula River Railroad bridge disaster left 64 injured and 92 dead at Ashtabula, Ohio.

1880 Tuhiata, or Tuhi, was hanged in Wellington for the murder of the artist Mary Dobie at Te Namu Bay, Opunake. Tuhi wrote to the Governor days before his execution asking that ‘my bad companions, your children, beer, rum and other spirits die with me’.

 Tuhiata hanged for murder of Mary Dobie

1890 United States soldiers kill more than 200 Oglala Lakota men, women, and children with 4 Hotchkiss guns in the Wounded Knee Massacre.

1911  Sun Yat-sen became the provisional President of the Republic of China.

1911  Mongolia gained independence from the Qing dynasty.

1930  Sir Muhammad Iqbal‘s presidential address in Allahabad introduced the Two-Nation Theory and outlines a vision for the creation of Pakistan.

1936  Mary Tyler Moore, American actress was born.

1937  The Irish Free State was replaced by a new state called Ireland with the adoption of a new constitution.

1939 First flight of the Consolidated B-24.

1940  In The Second Great Fire of London, the Luftwaffe firebombed the city, killing almost 200 civilians.
1941  – Birth of Ray Thomas, British musician (The Moody Blues).
1946 -  Marianne Faithfull, British singer, was born.
1949 KC2XAK of Bridgeport, Connecticut became the first Ultra high frequency (UHF) television station to operate a daily schedule.
1953 Alan Rusbridger, editor of The Guardian, was born.

1972 An Eastern Air Lines Flight 401 (a Lockheed Tristar) crashed on approach to Miami International Airport killing 101.

1975 A bomb exploded at La Guardia Airport in New York City, killing 11 people and injuring 74.

1889 1989 Václav Havel was elected president of Czechoslovakia – the first non-Communist to attain the post in more than four decades.

1996  Guatemala and leaders of Guatemalan National Revolutionary Union signed a peace accord ending a 36-year civil war.

1997 – Hong Kong began to kill all the nation’s 1.25 million chickens to stop the spread of a potentially deadly influenza strain.

1998 Leaders of the Khmer Rouge apologised for the 1970s genocide in Cambodia that claimed over 1 million.

2003 The last known speaker of Akkala Sami – died, rendering the language that was spoken in the Sami villages of A´kkel and Ču´kksuâl, in the inland parts of the Kola Peninsula in Russia extinct.

Sourced from NZ HIstory Online & Wikipedia.


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