Word of the day


Macaronic – text using a mixture of languages, particularly bilingual puns or situations in which the languages are otherwise used in the same context; of or containing a mixture of vernacular words with Latin words or with vernacular words given Latinate endings; of or involving a mixture of two or more languages; mixed, jumbled.

Rural round-up


Company proves it’s in the business of growth – Sally Rae:

At Mosgiel-based Superior Minerals, manager David Hoseason-Smith says it is ”not just about selling fertiliser”.

The company was recently named Otago and lower South Island regional winner in the fastest-growing manufacturer category in the Deloitte Fast 50.

Superior Minerals was established in 2001 to ”provide a point of difference” in the marketplace for solid fertiliser, director Lawrence Alloo said. . .

Donation helps get Noslam restarted:

A donation from the North Otago Irrigation Company (NOIC) will allow the newly re-established North Otago Sustainable Land Management Group (Noslam) to begin its vision for the district.

That vision is to create an integrated team approach to sustainable land and water quality management for the greater good of both farmers and the community.

In March last year, NOIC received an Irrigation New Zealand innovation award including cash prize of $2500 which, in turn, it has given to Noslam to be used as a seeding grant.

Noslam’s goals to promote a healthy environment with all North Otago farmers by identifying measures that secured and improved the environment and considered the economic and social issues and constraints, resonated strongly with the company, NOIC chief executive Robyn Wells said. . .

Farmer places clean-up faith in watercress – Matthew Littlewood:

A South Canterbury farmer hopes watercress could be used to help clean the area’s degraded catchment.

Rory Foley is working with Environment Canterbury on a project that  involves not only fencing and replanting alongside the streams on his Wainono property near Waimate, but also planting watercress in the stream itself.

”I’m really conscious of the environment, because I work on the land. I want to help improve the habitat for future generations, we have a responsibility to do so,” he said.

”We’ve lost a lot of the native wetlands, we need to restore them.” . . .

Wool NZ eyes market’s top end – Sue O’Dowd:

New Zealand’s new farmer-owned wool sales and marketing company is focusing on the luxury market.

“Our focus has to be on the top end of the market, on luxury,” Wools of New Zealand (WNZ) chief Ross Townshend told about 40 farmer shareholders at Stratford, the fifth stop on the company’s 17-venue roadshow.

Townshend, a foundation shareholder supplying the company with 20,000kg of wool a year from 2500 ewes on his north Waikato property, said as a commercial company, WNZ had to have a global focus so it could get value from its products.

He was responding to questions from Tarata sheep and beef farmer Bryan Hocken, who said he was running out of time to become a wool baron and was concerned at how difficult it was to buy a wool carpet in New Zealand. . .

Wool growers called on to be patient – Sally Rae:

Strong-wool growers have been urged to be patient as Wools of New Zealand continues its mission to improve the profitability of its grower shareholders.

A series of roadshows have been held throughout the country to give an update on the company’s progress since capitalisation was completed in March.

More than 700 applications for shares, totalling about $6 million, were received, allowing it to proceed with a grower-owned sales and marketing company. . .

Rural achiever to pit skills against Aussies – Jill Galloway:

It’s a good thing Cameron Lewis is in a talking competition, rather than a practical contest, he says.

But it pays to be multi-skilled all the same.

“It is like the Young Farmers contest, you have to be an all-rounder. Learn to shear sheep, fence and put machinery together. You have to put aside a few years to compete.”

Lewis won the National Royal Agricultural Society’s Young Rural Achiever Award at the RAS Conference in Christchurch. He was representing the Western District.

Now he’ll be up against winners from five Australian states. It is the Australasian final being held at the Royal Show hosted by the Manawatu Consortium at Manfeild Park in Feilding from December 6 to 8. . .

Aussie claims honours at merino champs – Lynda van Kempen:

An Australian shearer has claimed the New Zealand Merino Shearing Championship open title for the third year in a row.

Defending champion Damien Boyle, of Broomehill, Western Australia, won his third successive title by seven points ahead of Chris Vickers, of Palmerston, in the final staged in Alexandra last night

New Zealanders Tony Coster, Mana Te Whata, Charlie O’Neill and Nathan Stratford also made the final. . .


Can you read emotions?


The New York Times has an exercise to test how good you are at reading people’s emotions.

The average score for this test is in the range of 22 to 30 correct responses. If you scored above 30, you may be quite good at understanding someone’s mental state based on facial cues. If you scored below 22, you may find it difficult to understand a person’s mental state based on their appearance.

I scored 22/36 the first time I tried it and 25/36 when I did it again a couple of days later.

That’s at the lower end of average  and a spur to read more literary fiction.

A study found that after reading literary fiction, as opposed to popular fiction or serious nonfiction, people performed better on tests measuring empathy, social perception and emotional intelligence — skills that come in especially handy when you are trying to read someone’s body language or gauge what they might be thinking.

. . . The researchers — Emanuele Castano, a psychology professor, and David Comer Kidd, a doctoral candidate — found that people who read literary fiction scored better than those who read popular fiction. This was true even though, when asked, subjects said they did not enjoy literary fiction as much. Literary fiction readers also scored better than nonfiction readers — and popular fiction readers made as many mistakes as people who read nothing.   . .

Blogs don’t count as literary fiction.

Many factors affect affordability


Housing affordability has become the cause de jour.

Most comments on it refer to price but there are many factors which affect affordability and one of those is interest rates.

The Reserve Bank has said the official cash rate could increase by 2% from 2014 to the beginning of 2016, which could mean interest rates on first mortgages of 7 – 8%.

Speaking on TV3’s The Nation programme on Saturday, Dr Smith said interest rates had been at historic lows for some time, and at some point they would increase again.

He said it was inevitable as the economy improved that the 50-year low mortgage interest rates would rise. . .

This is stating the obvious.

It is very unlikely that interest rates will go down and much more likely they will rise than stay where they are.

This is one of the reasons it’s important that people aren’t encouraged to over-stretch themselves when borrowing.

Very little equity in a property could turn into none, or less, with a small fall in property prices and even a slight increase in interest rates would impose a big extra cost on a large mortgage.

Those of us who farmed our way through the ag-sag of the 80s know this only too well.

“What we want to do as a Government is to make sure that our fiscal policy and the way in which we are managing the economy keeps access for New Zealanders to low interest rates for as long as possible.”

If interest rates go up the dollar will almost certainly follow making exports less competitive and that will hurt all of us.

We need continued discipline in government spending and polices which promote saving, investment and export-led growth not those pedalled by the opposition which are even worse than the ones which put New Zealand into recession before the global financial crisis hit.

Seeds of failure planted early


“What do you expect children to know and be able to do when they get to school?” I asked a new-entrants’ teacher.

“It’s good if they know how to hold a book, turn the pages and that the pictures relate to the words,” she said.

“Is that all?” I asked.

“If they know the colours and count to 10, that’s a bonus,” she replied.

“Surely every five year-old can do that?” I said.

“Sadly, no, some might not even have seen a book,” she said.

That was more than 20 years ago at a small country school in a community where we knew almost every family.

It was bad enough then and it has got a lot worse:

New entrant pupils are arriving at school with the social and academic skills of 2-year-olds, Christchurch principals say.

Language, behavioural, and general social skills are so lacking in some children that learning in a mainstream class is impossible.

Bamford School principal Colin Hammond saw a lot of new pupils, particularly boys, not ready to learn.

“We’re also finding something really quite astounding in terms of academic language.”

After the earthquake, things like reading to children “went out the window” as parents focused on finance and house repairs. They were also seeing children lacking in playing skills. . .

Hammond is one of five Christchurch principals so worried about the low developmental level of some pupils they are backing a new charitable trust – Te Pito Mata Nurture Groups – that wants to introduce a United Kingdom transitional concept to New Zealand.

Their schools are eager to take part in a proposed pilot in which each will designate 10 vulnerable pupils to a specialised classroom with a teacher and teacher aid alleviating any missed “nurturing” experiences.

They would rejoin their mainstream class as they began to achieve again. . .

No-one who hasn’t been living in Christchurch should underestimate how difficult life has been for many families since the first big earthquake in September 2010.

The quakes might have exacerbated the problem but this level of dysfunctional parenting can’t be blamed on them because it’s not confined to Christchurch.

These children are in urgent need of help and the Trust might make a difference.

But what is being done to address the causes.

The seeds of this failure are planted early, long before the children get to school and if the causes aren’t addressed the damage done will continue after school.

Do we blame postal voting?


With less than a week to go voter returns for the local body elections are still underwhelming.

. . . Local Government New Zealand says it looks like voter turnout this year could be the worst on record.

People living in smaller regions are putting some of our main centres to shame. A week out, the centres with the highest voter numbers are central Hawke’s Bay, with 32 percent, Horowhenua, with 31 percent, Clutha, with 32 percent, and Timaru, with 32 percent.

Compare that to the lowest voter numbers. In Auckland only 14 percent of people have voted. Hamilton’s the same, and even the capital’s not much better, with 17 percent.

Dunedin has had the biggest drop in the country, down from 26 percent to just 17 percent.

Marc left a comment on Friday’s post  suggesting voters are deliberately waiting:
I would point out that voting doesn’t close until 12 October, and in the meantime candidates are politicing, withdrawing, being “exposed”, changing their stance, pork barreling, and destroying their credibility. Why would you vote early when the candidate you may vote for can fit into all or any of the above categories? . .
That could have something to do with it.
I had a 50/50 toss up between two candidates in a previous election, voted early then later, but before polling closed, learned something that would have persuaded me to vote for the candidate I didn’t.
That’s one of the reasons I haven’t yet voted but I will, at least for councillors and mayor.
However I think LGNZ is right to blame the system too:
Local Government New Zealand says figures are down almost everywhere and the problem lies in the voting system itself. It says the mail system lacks urgency and excitement, and they’ve made it so easy that nobody’s really bothering to participate. . .

Postal voting makes it easy for people to ignore or lose their papers, forget to post them and to use other people’s votes.
That’s if people get the voting papers in the first place.
Some haven’t yet.
. . .In parts of Auckland, voters are yet to receive voting packs and candidates are concerned delays could alter the election outcome.In other parts, voters have received two sets of voting papers.

Tauranga and Gisborne police are also investigating two incidents.

In Tauranga, 290 voting packs were in two mail sacks that disappeared. In Gisborne, a man purporting to be a council volunteer went house-to-house offering to post completed ballot papers. . .

There is none of the sense of community participation you get by turning up at a polling booth either and this is something those advocating for electronic voting should keep in mind if they mean people can vote by computer from home.
However, it’s not only the voting system to blame.
People are even less engaged with local body politics than national ones and because of that are far less inclined to vote.

October 7 in history


3761 BC – The epoch of the modern Hebrew calendar (Proleptic Julian calendar).

336  Pope Mark died, leaving the papacy vacant.

1513  Battle of La Motta: Spanish troops under Ramón de Cardona defeated the Venetians.

1542  Explorer Cabrillo discovered Santa Catalina Island off the California coast.

1571  The Battle of Lepanto – the Holy League (Spain and Italy) destroyed the Turkish fleet.

1763 George III  issued British Royal Proclamation of 1763, closing aboriginal lands in North America north and west of Alleghenies to white settlements.

1776 Crown Prince Paul of Russia married Sophie Marie Dorothea of Württemberg.

1777 American Revolutionary War: The Americans defeated the British in the Second Battle of Saratoga, also known as the Battle of Bemis Heights.

1780  American Revolutionary War: Battle of Kings Mountain American Patriot militia defeat Loyalist irregulars led by British colonel Patrick Ferguson in South Carolina.

1800  French corsair Robert Surcouf, commander of the 18-gun ship La Confiance, captured the British 38-gun Kent inspiring the traditional French song Le Trente-et-un du mois d’août.

1826  The Granite Railway began operations as the first chartered railway in the U.S.

1828  The city of Patras, Greece, was liberated by the French expeditionary force in Peloponnese under General Maison.

1840  Willem II became King of the Netherlands.

1864  American Civil War: Battle of Darbytown Road: the Confederate forces’ attempt to regain ground that had been lost around Richmond is thwarted.

1864 American Civil War: U.S.S. Wachusett captured the CSS Florida Confederate raider ship while in port in Bahia, Brazil.

1868  Cornell University held opening day ceremonies; initial student enrollment was 412, the highest at any American university to that date.

1870  Franco-Prussian War – Siege of Paris: Leon Gambetta fled Paris in a balloon.

1879  Germany and Austria-Hungary signed the “Twofold Covenant” and created the Dual Alliance.

1900 Heinrich Himmler, German Nazi official, was born (d. 1945).

1912  The Helsinki Stock Exchange‘s first transaction.

1914 Sarah Churchill, British actress, was born (d. 1982).

1916 Georgia Tech defeated Cumberland University 222-0 in the most lopsided college football game in American history.

1917 Count Felix Graf von Luckner, the German “Sea-Devil” was imprisoned in New Zealand.

German 'Sea Devil' imprisoned in NZ

1919  KLM, the flag carrier of the Netherlands, was founded. It is the oldest airline still operating under its original name.

1920  The Suwalki Agreement between Poland and Lithuania was signed.

1931  Desmond Tutu, South African archbishop and Nobel Laureate, was born.

1933  Air France was inaugurated, after being formed from a merger of 5 French airlines.

1934  Aeromexico was inaugareted 75 years after it becomes the # 1 airline in Mexico.

1939 – John Hopcroft, American computer scientist was born.

1940  World War II: the McCollum memo proposed bringing the United States into the war in Europe by provoking the Japanese to attack the United States.

1942  World War II: The October Matanikau action on Guadalcanal began as United States Marine Corps forces attacked Japanese Army units along the Matanikau River.

1944 World War II: Uprising at Birkenau concentration camp, Jews burned down the crematoria.

1949  German Democratic Republic (East Germany) formed.

1952 Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister and former President of the Russian Federation, was born.

1955  Beat poet Allen Ginsberg read his poem “Howl” for the first time at a poetry reading in San Francisco.

1958  President of Pakistan Iskander Mirza, with the support of General Ayub Khan and the army, suspended the 1956 constitution, imposed martial law, and cancelled the elections scheduled for January 1959.

1959 U.S.S.R. probe Luna 3 transmitted its first ever photographs of the far side of the moon.

1962  U.S.S.R. performed nuclear test at Novaya Zemlya.

1963  John F. Kennedy signed ratification for Partial Test Ban Treaty.

1977  The adoption of the Fourth Soviet Constitution.

1982  Cats opened on Broadway.

1985  The Achille Lauro was hijacked by Palestine Liberation Organization.

1993  The Great Flood of 1993 ended at St. Louis, Missouri, 103 days after it began.

2001  The U.S. invasion of Afghanistan started with an air assault and covert operations on the ground.

2004 King Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia abdicated.

2003 – An historic recall election took place in California in which the sitting Governor Gray Davis a Democrat was overwhelmingly voted out of office. Actor/bodybuilder and Republican candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger was elected to be the 38th Governor of California over fellow Republican Tom McClintock and Democrat Cruz Bustamante who at the time was the sitting Lt. Governor of California.

2006 – Russian journalist and human rights activist Anna Politkovskaya was shot and killed outside her home in Moscow.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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