Norman Schwarzkopf 22.8.35 – 27.12.12


US Gulf War commander, General Norman Schwarzkopf has died.

I heard him speak more than 10 years ago and can still recall two of his stories.

The first was about his family dogs.

One was small, the other big. Schwarzkopf said the small one was the boss because he’d never looked in a mirror and thought he was the same size as his kennel mate.

The second story was about coming home to school with the news he’d got 95% in a test.

His father asked, “What about the five percent you didn’t know?”

Schwarzkopf said that was a valuable lesson in the army and he made sure those he commanded concentrated on learning what they didn’t know rather than just practising what they had already mastered.

It’s a mark of his power as a speaker that I cans till recall these stories after more than a decade.

Word of the day


Peccable – liable or prone to sin or error; susceptible to temptation.

Thursday’s quiz


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?

Civics education inadequate – Electoral Commission


The Electoral Commissions say civics education is inadequate.

As it begins to prepare for the 2014 general election, the commission is talking to the Ministry of Education about providing increased, and better, lessons on citizenship, the law and the government. . .

Chief Electoral Officer Robert Peden says Canterbury’s Student Volunteer Army shows that young people care, they just don’t see the parliamentary process as relevant.

An improved “civics” education will teach young people how to use the system to have their voices heard, he says.

An understanding of citizenship, law and government are fundamental to feeling part of and participating in society.

The school curriculum is already very full, some would say too full. But the addition of civics education should be encouraged, even if it means something else has to go.

Reduce recycling to save resources


Those doing their best to tread lightly on the earth are supposed to reduce, reuse and only then recycle.

However, recycling gets the most publicity and generally makes people feel they’re doing something for the environment.

But how good is that something?

Not as good as many think.

I thought this was a fun little finding. And it leads to the conclusion that we’ll have to stop people recycling things. In order to save those precious natural resources. Via Mike Munger comes this:

Abstract: In this study, we propose that the ability to recycle may lead to increased resource usage compared to when a recycling option is not available. Supporting this hypothesis, our first experiment shows that consumers used more paper while evaluating a pair of scissors when the option to recycle was provided (vs. not provided). In a follow-up field experiment, we find that the per person restroom paper hand towel usage increased after the introduction of a recycling bin compared to when a recycling option was not available.

Essentially, the finding is that Jevon’s Paradox works in reverse as well. Jevon’s is the idea that making more efficient use of a resource doesn’t necessarily mean using less of that resource. . . 

. . . When people think that paper towels will not be recycled they use x amount of them. When they think they will be they use x + y amount of them. Recycling thus increases the usage of paper towels. Now, we might argue that as the paper towels are indeed recycled then of course resource usage declines. But this isn’t actually so: recycling paper quite famously causes more resource use than cutting down (and of course planting) a few more trees.  . .

.So, an interesting thought for the lead up to the new year. Save the planet’s precious resources by recycling less. For Jevon’s Paradox does indeed reverse.

This suggests we’d better get back to the old fashioned practices of my parents’ generation for whom reducing and reusing was second nature because recycling might be doing more harm than good.




Yili to buy Oceania Dairy


Chinese company Yili Industrial Group plans to spend $214 million building an infant formula plant in South Canterbury in a deal that will see it take over Oceania Dairy Group.

Yili will acquire Oceania to access its land resource consents to build a plant over 38 hectares in South Canterbury, according to a notice on the Shanghai Stock Exchange on Dec. 18. The Chinese firm said it’s attracted by New Zealand’s relatively cheap raw milk and the prospect of the free-trade agreement with China completely removing Chinese import tariffs by 2020.

The plant is scheduled to be completed by June 2014 operating at 60 percent capacity, with annual full capacity of 47,000 tonnes expected in the 2016/17 year.

The deal is subject to Overseas Investment Office and Chinese government approval.

This will increase competition in the milk market which ought to help with OIO approval.

It will also attract the xenophobes who will complain about profits going overseas.

But the company plans to spend $214 building the plant which is a significant investment that will provide jobs.

It will be buying milk from local farmers and employing locals to process it. It will also be buying other local goods and services, paying rates and tax.

All of that will be good for the local and national economy.

December 28 in history


1065  Westminster Abbey was consecrated.

1612 Galileo Galilei becomes the first astronomer to observe the planet Neptune, although he mistakenly catalogued it as a fixed star.

1635  Princess Elizabeth of England was born (d. 1650).

1768 King Taksin‘s coronation achieved through conquest as a king of Thailand and established Thonburi as a capital.

1795 Construction of Yonge Street, the longest street in the world, began in York, Upper Canada (present-day Toronto.

1836 South Australia and Adelaide were founded.

1836 – Spain recognised the independence of Mexico.

1856  Woodrow Wilson, 28th President of the United States, Nobel laureate, was born (d. 1924).

1867  United States claimed Midway Atoll, the first territory annexed outside Continental limits.

1879 The Tay Bridge Disaster: The central part of the Tay Rail Bridge in Dundee, Scotland collapsed as a train passed over it, killing 75.

1879 Billy Mitchell, American military aviation pioneer was born  (d. 1936).

1895 The Lumière brothers performed for their first paying audience at the Grand Cafe in Boulevard des Capucines marking the debut of the cinema.

1908 An earthquake rocked Messina, Sicily killing over 75,000.

1912 The first municipally owned streetcars took to the streets in San Francisco, California.

1929 ‘Black Saturday’ in Samoa – the day that New Zealand military police fired on a Mau demonstration in Apia, killing 11 Samoans, including the independence leader Tupua Tamasese Lealofi III. This led the Mau movement to demand independence for Samoa.

'Black Saturday' - NZ police open fire in Apia

1934 Dame Maggie Smith, British actress, was born.

1935 Pravda published a letter by Pavel Postyshev, who revived the New Year tree tradition in the Soviet Union.

1945 The United States Congress officially recognised the Pledge of Allegiance.

1950 The Peak District became the United Kingdom’s first National Park.

1953 Richard Clayderman, French pianist, was born.

1954  Denzel Washington, American actor, was born.

1956 Nigel Kennedy, British violinist, was born.

1981 The first American test-tube baby, Elizabeth Jordan Carr, was born in Norfolk, Virginia.

1989 A magnitude 5.6 earthquake hit Newcastle, New South Wales, killing 13 people.

1999  Saparmurat Niyazov was proclaimed President for Life in Turkmenistan.

2009 43 people died in a suicide bombing in Karachi, Pakistan, where Shia Muslims were observing the Day of Ashura.

2010 – – Arab Spring: Popular protests began in Algeria against the government.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

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