Word of the day

December 21, 2013

Gökotta   (Swedish) – dawn picnic to hear the first birdsong;  to wake up early in the morning with the purpose of going outside to hear the first birds sing.


8/10

December 21, 2013

8/10 in the Herald’s politics quiz.


Rural round-up

December 21, 2013

Mixed feelings ond airy announcements – James Houghton:

There were several announcements last week in the dairy industry that kept everyone on their toes. There was Fonterra’s announcement that they are keeping the farmgate milkprice at $8.30, the Government’s release from the first round of their inquiry into the botulism scare and more recently Fonterra’s announcement that they are cancelling their colostrum collections.

Farmers will be happy to see the milk price confirmed but since 85 percent of the dividend payout goes to farmer-shareholders, they will have mixed feelings since its 22 cents per share haircut. Management needs to note the concerns we shareholders will have on the value-add, which seems to be struggling right now.  While key markets continue to struggle for growth that is set against a backdrop of improving economic numbers, we farmers seem to be missing out? Whilst I prefer to see the Board under promising and leaving something in the tank, we are still awaiting management to over deliver on the value add. Farmers will need to budget conservatively going into the New Year. Farmers will once again be accessing the benefits of remaining loyal to Fonterra. . .

Squatters invade Waitiki farm after Ruto reveals ministry will buy land – Mathias Ringa:

Thousands of people have invaded two farms in Mombasa after the government announced plans to buy them and settle squatters.

Residents have flocked to the 930-acre Waitiki farm and Kwa Bhulo since Deputy President William Ruto said the government will buy the two farms to settle over 100,000 squatters.

Some of the invaders are building houses and subdividing the properties to plots.

According to Mombasa county commissioner Nelson Marwa, some land dealers were illegally selling off empty spaces at the farm and the 86-acre Kwa Bhulo plot at Bamburi to unsuspecting buyers. . .

VFF urges quad bike safety:

The Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) urges farmers to take care of their families and themselves during the upcoming holiday season by taking safety precautions with quad bikes.

Adult-size quad bikes are covered in manufacturer warnings stating children under the age of 16 should never operate the vehicle.

“Quad bikes are a major cause of deaths and injuries to Australian farmers and their children,” VFF Farmsafe Alliance manager Tim McKenzie said. “The trauma associated with a lot of these life-changing injuries is overwhelming. . .

Poppy trials in Vic:

SCIENTIFIC trials of poppies being undertaken across Victoria by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Australia are just one small step in what is a significant process before full-scale commercial production proceeds.

The Victorian trials began in July this year, following approval granted by the Victorian Government.

They involve small plots being growing in different areas of the state. . . .

Every School Should Have a Farm to Feed Its Students – Courtney Leeds:

I have always loved working with my hands. It is only now, after five years of farming that I realize I chose to farm as a way to work with my hands every day.
 
It started in San Francisco, where I worked as an apprentice at Little City Gardens and quickly fell in love with the meditative repetition of working the soil, planting, weeding, repeating. I also fell in love with doing work with a purpose, nourishing others and myself. After eight years in San Francisco, I left to work on rural farms in Oregon and abroad. Those experiences inspired me to make my way as a farmer. After a yearlong apprenticeship at Zenger Farm in Portland, Oregon, I jumped at the chance to start an urban farm with another apprentice, Justin Davidson.  . .

Expressive Reserve Pinot Gris 2013 from Gunn Estate :

Gunn Estate Reserve Pinot Gris has harnessed the best of the outstanding 2013 Marlborough vintage in a wine which is both complex and expressive.

The wine, released this week, is built on the strong winemaking tradition of the Gunn Estate brand, to showcase the essence of Pinot Gris as a varietal and the Marlborough origins of its fruit.

The Gunn Estate Reserve range was launched earlier this year with four wines from the 2012 vintage. They have quickly proved popular among Kiwi wine drinkers while attracting plaudits from many of the country’s wine writers for their quality and value for money. The 2012 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc also won a gold medal at the Spiegelau International Wine Show shortly after its release. . .


Friday’s answers . . .

December 21, 2013

. . .  on Saturday.

Thursday’s questions (on Friday) were:

1. From which book by which author does this quote come: “It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that while there is infection in disease and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humour.”?

2.  Which carol begins Not on a starry night/By star of candle light/But on a sunny day . . . ?

3. It’s merveille in French; too easy in Italian,  milagro in Spanish and merekara in Maori, what is it in English?

4. What’s the last line of this chorus? : Lots of toys for girls and boys load the Christmas sleigh
He will take the starlight trail along the Milky Way.
Hear the laughing children as they shout aloud with glee:

5. Do you have a real Christmas tree, a fake one or  . . . ?

Andrei was the only one who provided answers. He scored three and wins an electronic Christmas cake for perseverance as, I think, the one who’s attempted most quizzes.

Read the rest of this entry »


You know you’re a political tragic . . .

December 21, 2013

. . .  when you start wondering if all this red and green at Christmas is an attempt to send subliminal messages so you choose cards, wrapping, ribbon and decorations with lots of blue.


Saturday’s smiles

December 21, 2013

Politically Correct Santa

‘Twas the night before Christmas and Santa’s a wreck…
How to live in a world that’s politically correct?

His workers no longer would answer to “Elves”,
“Vertically Challenged” they were calling themselves.

And labour conditions at the north pole
Were alleged by the union to stifle the soul.

Four reindeer had vanished, without much propriety,
Released to the wilds by the Humane Society.

And equal employment had made it quite clear
That Santa had better not use just reindeer.

So Dancer and Donner, Comet and Cupid,
Were replaced with 4 pigs, and you know that looked stupid!?

The runners had been removed from his sleigh;
The ruts were termed dangerous by the E.P.A. . . .

Read the rest here.


Strong finish for National

December 21, 2013

The latest  Herald-DigiPoll shows a strong finish for National and holds little comfort for Labour:

Labour’s poll support has slipped after an initial surge following David Cunliffe’s election as leader, the latest Herald-DigiPoll survey shows.

The Maori Party would hold the balance of power if the figures were translated to an election result.

With the left and right blocs fairly evenly split, it could be a close election next year.

Neither National nor Labour would be able to form a government without the Maori Party.

Labour has fallen 2.3 points in the survey to 35.4 per cent. In the September poll, it had a surge in support and could have formed a government with just the Greens and Mana.

National has risen 3.1 points and Prime Minister John Key has somewhat recovered in the preferred Prime Minister stakes, after taking a 9.4 point dive in the last poll.

 He has jumped 6.1 points to 61.9 per cent, well ahead of Mr Cunliffe on 16.5 per cent.
This is a remarkable level of support for National, to be so close to the support it got at the last election when it’s at the end of its fifth year in government.
Labour will be very worried.
The party has climbed from its rock-bottom 2011 election result but hasn’t been able to dent National’s support and new leader David Cunliffe has failed to increase support for the party or himself.

 . . . Mr Cunliffe was elected in September after the resignation of David Shearer in August.

Mr Shearer’s personal popularity in a Herald-DigiPoll survey peaked in March this year when he was preferred by 18.5 per cent, which Mr Cunliffe has yet to surpass, and the party vote at the time of 36.4 per cent was close to its current polling. . .

There’s at  most 11 months to the next election.
That’s plenty of time for things to go wrong for a government but it’s not much time for the bigger opposition party to start looking like a government in waiting and convince the voters it’s ready and able to do a better job than the incumbent one.
It’s not helped by the retirements in National which are providing opportunities for renewal.
Labour provides a stark contrast, still stuck with much the same line up of tired, old faces who put New Zealand into recession before the rest of the world and doesn’t appear to have learned from their mistakes.

Ending on a positive note

December 21, 2013

Prime Minister John Key finds the year is ending on a positive note:

 . . . The economy is growing faster and New Zealanders are looking forward to the New Year with well-earned optimism.

GDP growth in the year to September was 3.5 per cent. The New Zealand economy is one of the fastest growing in the developed world, including Australia.

Since National was elected in 2008, we’ve focused on building a solid platform for growth.

Back then, we faced an economy in recession, a decade of projected deficits, and mounting debt. Five years on, despite these challenges, the country is in good shape.

We set a target to get the Government’s books back to surplus by 2014-15 and start paying off debt. We’re on track for that.

Business confidence is at its highest level since February 1999, and manufacturing confidence has hit a 15-year high.

This is great news for families. It means that, over time, they will see higher incomes, more jobs, and better job security.

A growing economy is vital so we can pay for the public services and infrastructure that families need – better healthcare, new schools, better roads and broadband.

So we’re making good progress and our plan is working. But there is still much more we have to do, so we can lock in real benefits for New Zealanders and their families.

Most people accept National has a good head, that it’s a good economic manager.

Too many don’t realise that it also has a strong heart, that the emphasis on the economy is motivated by the goal of better lives for people.

A growing economy provides the wherewithal for improved services and infrastructure, it leads to more and better paid jobs and greater security; it enables choices.


Saturday soapbox

December 21, 2013

Saturday’s soapbox is yours to use as you will – within the bounds of decency and absence of defamation. 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.

“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!” Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!


December 21 in history

December 21, 2013

69 – The Roman Senate declared Vespasian as Roman emperor, the last in the Year of the Four Emperors.

640 – Muslim Arabs captured Babylon Fortress in the Nile Delta  after a seven-month siege.

1140 – Conrad III of Germany besieged Weinsberg.

1361 – The Battle of Linuesa was fought in the context of the Spanish Reconquista between the forces of the Emirate of Granada and the combined army of the Kingdom of Castile and of Jaén resulting in a Castilian victory.

1118  Thomas Becket, Lord Chancellor of England and Archbishop of Canterbury was born  (d. 1170).

1598  Battle of Curalaba: The revolting Mapuche, led by cacique Pelentaru, inflicted a major defeat on Spanish troops in southern Chile.

1620 William Bradford and the Mayflower Pilgrims landed on what is now known as Plymouth Rock in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

1682 Calico Jack Rackham, English pirate, was born (d. 1720).

1804 Benjamin Disraeli, 1st Earl of Beaconsfield, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, was born (d. 1881).

1815  Thomas Couture, French painter and teacher, was born (d. 1879).

1843 Thomas Bracken, Irish-born New Zealand poet, was born (d. 1898).

1844 – The Rochdale Pioneers commenced business at their cooperative in Rochdale, England, starting the Cooperative movement.

1861  Medal of Honor: Public Resolution 82, containing a provision for a Navy Medal of Valor, was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln.

1872  HMS Challenger, commanded by Captain George Nares, sailed from Portsmouth.

1883 The first Permanent Force cavalry and infantry regiments of the Canadian Army were formed: The Royal Canadian Dragoons and The Royal Canadian Regiment.

1892  Rebecca West, British writer, was born  (d. 1983).

1905  Anthony Powell, British author, was born (d. 2000).

1913 Arthur Wynne’s “word-cross”, the first crossword puzzle, was published in the New York World.

1917  Heinrich Böll, German writer and Nobel laureate, was born (d. 1985).

1937 – Jane Fonda, American actress, was born.

1937  Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the first full-length animated film, premiered at the Carthay Circle Theatre.

1946 Carl Wilson, American musician (The Beach Boys), was born (d. 1998).

1958 Charles de Gaulle was elected President of France when his Union des Démocrates pour la République party gained 78.5% of the vote.

1962 – Rondane National Park was established as Norway‘s first national park.

1964 More than 170 years of New Zealand whaling history came to a close when J. A. Perano and Company caught its last whale off the coast near Kaikoura.

NZ whalers harpoon their last victim

1967  Louis Washkansky, the first man to undergo a heart transplant, died 18 days after the transplant.

1968 Apollo 8, the first manned mission to the moon, was launched from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida. At 2h:50m:37s Mission elapsed time (MES), the crew performed the first ever manned Trans Lunar Injection and became the first humans to leave Earth’s gravity.

1971 New Zealand Railways (NZR) launched a new tourist-oriented steam passenger venture, the Kingston Flyer.

Full steam ahead for Kingston Flyer

1979 Lancaster House Agreement: An independence agreement for Rhodesia was signed in London by Lord Carrington, Sir Ian Gilmour, Robert Mugabe, Joshua Nkomo, Bishop Abel Muzorewa and S.C. Mundawarara.

1988  A bomb exploded on board Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland, killing 270.

1992 – A Dutch DC-10, flight Martinair MP 495, crashed at Faro Airport, killing 56 people.

1994 – Mexican volcano Popocatepetl, dormant for 47 years, erupted.

1995 – The city of Bethlehem passed from Israeli to Palestinian control.

1999 – The Spanish Civil Guard intercepted a van loaded with 950 kg of explosives that ETA intended to use to blow up Torre Picasso in Madrid.

2004 – Iraq War: A suicide bomber killed 22 at the forward operating base next to the main U.S. military airfield at Mosul, the single deadliest suicide attack on American soldiers.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.


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