Word of the day

August 6, 2015

Flâneur – an urban wanderer; a man who saunters around observing society;  an idle man-about-town; stroller, lounger, saunterer, loafer; a person of leisure; deliberately aimless, simply wandering the streets and soaking in the city.
italki's photo.

Hat tip: Italki


Thursday’s quiz

August 6, 2015

Whoops, I forgot it’s Thursday so will leave it up to you to ask the questions.

You don’t have to follow the five question formula I usually use.

Anyone who stumps us all with win an electronic bunch of winter sweet.


Rural round-up

August 6, 2015

Red meat on the brink of greatness:

New ANZ research has underlined the huge performance potential of the red meat industry, but also identified significant barriers that need to be overcome if it is to once again be a driving force in the New Zealand economy.

The annual ANZ Privately Owned Business Barometer survey found the top performing farmers were achieving returns on investment that outshone almost any other producers in New Zealand. However, a larger number of farms were achieving more modest returns and comparatively flat growth. . .

 Fatter, less flatulent cows good for planet and for farmers –   Olivia Wannan:

New feeds that make cows less flatulent are a discovery that could truly save the world.

The methane produced in the stomachs of ruminant animals including cows, sheep and deer is a powerful greenhouse gas. In New Zealand, agriculture comprises nearly half of our rising gas emissions.

A global search is on to find ways to reduce the amount of methane produced by farm stock, and a Kiwi researcher is part of the team behind what may be the first solution.

Research co-authored by Matthew Deighton, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal last week, found a new stock feed additive, NOP, cuts the methane produced by cows by almost a third. . .

Increased reports concerning farm animal welfare:

More people are reporting concerns about the welfare of farm animals, official data shows, particularly on lifestyle blocks.

The Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) received 2947 complaints about farm animal welfare between 2010 and 2014 – with a high of 698 complaints last year.

Commercial farms accounted for 1852 of the complaints, while lifestyle blocks accounted for 785 complaints – who were overrepresented in the figures, according to MPI. . .

Production drop forecast as farmers look to manage costs:

Analysis undertaken by the DairyNZ Economics Group is pointing to at least a two to three percent drop in New Zealand’s milk production this season as farmers tighten the focus on improving the efficiency of their farming systems.

DairyNZ senior economist Matthew Newman says the official Ministry for Primary Industries cull cow figures show that farmers reduced cow numbers earlier than normal last season. “This looks likely to continue this season in response to low milk prices,” he says. . .

Alpaca farm is the stuff of dreams – Emily Norman:

The Alpaca Place is a humble, scenic farm along Rangitumau Road that has not only captured the hearts of its owners, but has also captured hearts around the world, making it the number two attraction on TripAdvisor in Masterton and Wairarapa.

Owners Cheryl Hughson and Liz Barnes are two sisters that left their nine-to-five jobs in office work to fulfil their dreams of owning an alpaca farm.

The sisters, who live by the advice of their late father, have gone from establishing an alpaca farm with two alpacas in 2001, to running what is now a guided tourist attraction of everything alpaca. . .

 Canterbury-born veterinarian Cheryl McMeekan leaves legacy of rescued animals  – Brittany Mann:

Cheryl McMeekan had a gift with animals. She cared for every one she found and her beneficence is living on, despite her death.

McMeekan, a highly-regarded veterinarian, died in a suspected suicide on June 8 in her adopted home of Lantau Island in Hong Kong. She was 43 years old.

The “cattle whisperer”, originally from Canterbury, moved to the island 11 years ago. She was the only vet in the rural village of Mui Wo, where she managed an SPCA clinic.

The South China Morning Post reported flowers had been left for McMeekan outside the clinic, in tribute. . .

Air passengers to face new biosecurity controls:

New biosecurity measures will be introduced by the Ministry for Primary Industries to make it tougher for air passengers to bring goods into New Zealand that could carry pests or diseases.

The measures are the result of new biosecurity funding from the government’s 2015 budget.

Expected to be in place by December for the busy summer season, the measures include the introduction of 20 more biosecurity detector dog teams, more x-raying of baggage and more targeting of passengers likely to be carrying risk goods.

One of the plans is to use detector dogs to screen passengers much earlier than before in the arrival process for international passengers, says Steve Gilbert, MPI Border Clearance Services Director. . .

 Tougher biosecurity measures at airports welcomed:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed a new package of biosecurity measures to be implemented at international airports, including more detector dogs and new x-ray machines, as a result of $27 million in new funding in Budget 2015.

The Ministry for Primary Industries has announced today that by December there will be:

  • 20 new biosecurity detector dog teams
  • Five new x-ray machines
  • Trialling a mobile x-ray machine that can shifted to different sites
  • Introducing new communications to target passengers more likely to carry Queensland fruit fly host materials. . .

 


Home should be safe

August 6, 2015

Justice Minister Amy Adams has launched a review into New Zealand’s family violence legislation:

“Combating family violence is my top priority. The rate of family violence in New Zealand is horrific. While the Government has a comprehensive work programme underway, I think the law can do more to reduce the incidence and impact of family violence,” says Ms Adams.

“This review won’t shy away from taking a hard look at our laws and raising some challenging questions. The reality is if we want different outcomes we have to be prepared to do things differently.

The law underpins our response to family violence, so we need to make sure the broad set of laws that apply to family violence are effective and work well together.

The discussion document raises a number of starters for discussion, including:

  • establishing a set of standalone family violence offences
  • creating an additional pathway for victims, perpetrators and whānau who want help to stop violence, but don’t want to have to go to court
  • ideas about improving the accessibility and effectiveness of protection orders
  • doing a better job of sharing information where family violence concerns arise between agencies and within the courts
  • considering compelling police action in certain circumstances such as requiring mandatory arrest for all breaches of protection orders
  • more prominence to victim safety in related legislation like the Care of Children Act and bail and sentencing law.

“When it was passed in 1995, the Domestic Violence Act was world-leading. It set out a clear response to family violence and distinguished it from other forms of crimes. While successive Governments have modified it over the years, it’s time for a rethink,” says Ms Adams.

“Laws are not the whole picture. We can’t legislate our way out of this. But our laws are a cornerstone element in how we respond to family violence.

“This Government is committed to better addressing the high rate of family violence. The home should be a safe place for all women, children, and men and we want to do our best to protect victims from re-victimisation. 

“This review is just one part of government work toward a coordinated, integrated and efficient response to family violence and sexual violence and is a central part of the cross-government package announced last year by Prime Minister John Key.”

The public consultation opens today at https://consultations.justice.govt.nz/policy/family-violence-law and runs until 18 September.

We have moved on from the time when family violence was regarded as “only a domestic” but it is still a serious problem.

Violence is not acceptable anywhere. It is worse at home which ought to be a safe place.
New Zealand National Party's photo.


Quote of the day

August 6, 2015

Change the NZ Flag's photo.

A stranger who saw the Australian flag and the New Zealand flag outside adjacent buildings would assume that some British hotel chain was advertising deluxe and standard rooms. – David Lange

Hat tip: changetheNZflag


One opportunity this century

August 6, 2015

Prime Minister John Key has accepted a challenge from MoreFM breakfast host Simon Barnett to make his case for a change of the New Zealand flag in six minutes this morning at 7:40 a.m.

If he needs inspiration, Mahe Drysdale has provided it:

I have raced under the current flag, I have led the New Zealand Olympic team into the Opening ceremony in 2008 and closing ceremony in 2012 carrying the current flag and I have had the flag raised with the national anthem played at 5 World Championship and the Olympic games and been photographed numerous times holding the flag.

From that you might think the current flag is pretty special to me! Well it has been a big part of my celebrations over the years but I don’t race for the flag, I race for New Zealand and the people of New Zealand. The flag represents us as a nation it identifies our nation and if it’s the current flag or a new one I will continue to proudly represent New Zealand under either.

My issue with the current flag is, I don’t think it truly represents who we are and how we have evolved as a nation since the current flag was adopted over 100 years ago in 1902. We are now in the minority of countries of former British dominions that still has a flag with the union flag (jack) in its flag.

Whether you agree with the referendum about changing the flag or not, doesn’t really matter. It is going to happen and so I encourage everyone in New Zealand to have a good think about it and make your opinion count. If you truly like the current flag, vote for it. Personally I think we can do better and this is an opportunity that may never happen again in our lifetime to choose a flag that is distinctly New Zealand, represents us and we can all be proud of. Lets not be scared of change.

It’s more than a century since the current flag was adopted, we won’t get another chance to vote on whether or not to change it for a similar length of time.

Personally I like the Southern Cross, I like the Silver Fern, I like the Koru, I like the Kiwi to me these are symbols New Zealanders can identify with and represent New Zealand as a country. I do get annoyed overseas when people can’t distinguish us from the Aussies, as they don’t know that we have red stars and they have white ones. I believe we have moved on from being governed by the UK so it would be a good time to show our independence by dropping the union Jack from our flag.

As for colours red, white and blue, they are UK colours, again I like black and white they are our national colours, blue at a stretch due to the large amount of sky and sea we have. People say black and white is too much like Isis, I say rubbish I think people can tell the difference between a flag with Arabic writing and a kiwi symbol, plus we can’t let a terror group control what colours we use. Those are my personal views but again its up to all the people of the nation to decide what they like best.

The best example I can think of is the Canadian flag, again when this changed to the current flag back in the 1960’s it was highly controversial, but I think it is now a striking flag with the red and white (national colours) and maple leaf (national symbol) it is very easy to identify it’s the Canadian flag and I certainly don’t hear anyone complaining about it any more.

I have heard various views from our veterans and the RSA regarding why we can’t change the flag, as its disrespectful to those that fought under the flag. I hugely value what all veterans have done for our country and what they have sacrificed for people like myself. I certainly don’t wish to disrespect them or their views but I have two points here.  One by fighting for us they insured we didn’t end up having the German or Japanese flag and they have given us the ability to live in a democracy where the people of the country get to make decisions like what flag we want to represent us as a nation. Secondly and again I don’t wish to belittle what they have done in any way, as they certainly made the ultimate sacrifice for us all.  But I don’t buy the argument that they fought for the flag, I believe they fought for the nation, the great people that live in New Zealand and because they believed in our nation, not because they liked the flag. We aren’t after all dishonoring the current flag, just discussing if its time for a make over, the current flag will always be a big part of our history.

New Zealanders didn’t fight under our flag in WWI, they fought under the British one.  New Zealand soldiers did, and still do, wear a fern and those who died in service have a fern on their graves.

So this leads me back to the referendum, at around $26 million this seems like an expensive exercise. The thing is though, whether you agree or not, it is happening. So lets make it worthwhile. It will be a waste of money if everyone says I don’t care and doesn’t think about it.

It is a lot of money over a couple of years, but not nearly as much spread across more than a century since the current flag was adopted and a similar time before there is likely to be another chance for us to vote on the matter.

The decision to spend the money has been made, the waste will be if people close their minds and refuse to engage in the process.

Lets all put our heads together, really think about it and decide if you truly think our current flag represents us as a nation in 2015 and going forward for generations. Or is it time to change and use this once in a lifetime opportunity to come up with something we can all be proud of. A flag that stands out and uniquely identifies us. Personally I believe kids under the official voting age should have a say in this referendum, they are after all the ones who will have to live with it for the longest!

Personally I hope there is a change option that I can identify with and I like more than the current flag, either way the people of New Zealand get to make the decision and I will proudly represent our nation under whatever flag the nation decides, I just hope it will be one like the Canadian flag that has our national colours and some unique Kiwi symbol(s).

Mike Hosking agrees:

. . . My gut is the new design must contain the fern. The same way the Canadians respond to the maple leaf, if there is one thing that is instantly recognisable all over the world that is ours, it’s the fern.

But let’s at least start to take this thing seriously, those of us who have laughed or joked or questioned the very existence of this whole process (like me). Let’s at least accept it’s here, it’s real and once they get to the pointy end of the choice, let’s put a bit of weight around our place in the world and the role a flag plays in that.

What we want to say about ourselves, what sort of course we want to chart, what sort of message we want to send.

Mahe is right – this is a once in a lifetime chance. We squander it at our peril.

The Flag Consideration panel had more than 10,292 designs submitted from which they will choose the four we will vote on.

Several have a silver fern and four stars, among them is this one which I like:

flag (640x320)

Designed by: Kyle Lockwood from Nelson

Suggested by: Andrew Whelan from Nelson

I believe the Silver fern is central to our nation’s identity and deserves pride of place on our flag. In war, in sport and in commerce it is the symbol of our country that has outlived all others, and under which we all unite regardless of cultural or ethnic differences. I think black has also become an important part of our identity, and this version of Kyle’s flag allows the black to celebrate the southern cross flying in our clear night sky while still allowing for a touch of colour, and retaining a little of the red, white and blue of its predecessor.

 Lockwood has another variation on this flag with the black and blue reversed.

. . . Black has been a gazetted official New Zealand colour since at least 1975, along with red and white, and the colour blue features on our official coat of arms and, of course, our present flag which was made official in 1902.

The colours black, red, white and blue were also on New Zealand’s first home grown flag design of 1834.

Black also featured strongly on New Zealand war service medals, given to our brave soldiers after World War Two, it is a significant colour to Maori, and features on the Maori National Flag of New Zealand made official in 2011. . .

Contrary to popular belief the silver fern did not start out as a rugby football symbol, it actually was first worn by New Zealand troops in 1853, and in the 1880s was adopted by our rugby team, firstly as a gold fern on a navy blue Jersey. It wasn’t until the early 1900s that the silver fern on an all‐black jersey became well known.

Like the maple leaf to Canada, the silver fern ‘screams New Zealand’, and it’s not just a mere sports symbol. In far off fields lie our soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice, forever memorialised under the silver fern.

The fern is on our army and navy logos, our firefighter and police uniforms, it’s on our money, it’s on our passports, it’s on our national airliners, it’s our symbol and it’s time we put it on our flag.

In examining our history and growing sense of national identity, it appears that many would like to include our famous national colour black, and of course many others would not like to see a fully black flag with all the piracy connotations that it invokes.

Perhaps this flag, with a nod to our past, incorporating all of New Zealand’s national colours and the fern, is the design that best represents New Zealand ‐ without the colonial overtones of the Union flag that takes up the dominant position on our present flag.

And, like the flags of Belgium and South Africa, it also doesn’t suffer from an overuse of black.

Black is our obvious national colour. It represents the pride and strength of New Zealand. To Māori, black represents potential, and signifies the beginning of time, which is apt, given our position as one of the first nations to see the new day.

The colour blue, representing the pacific, and our clear skies, along with the traditional New Zealand Southern Cross in red, gives this proposed national flag the required vibrancy that a silver fern on an entirely black background cannot achieve. By incorporating the Southern Cross and colours from our present flag, I believe the design also honours our history.

The fern says New Zealand in a way the current flag doesn’t:

Why change the flag? New Zealand needs a flag which is instantly recognisable – so our troops don’t have to add a black-and-white Kiwi beneath a camouflaged flag so that they’re not confused for Australian or British soldiers.

Change the NZ Flag's photo.


August 6 in history

August 6, 2015

1284 Pisa was defeated in Battle of Meloria by Genoa, ruining its naval power.

1538  Bogotá, was founded by Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada.

1661 The Treaty of The Hague was signed by Portugal and the Dutch Republic.

1787 Sixty proof sheets of the Constitution of the United States were delivered to the Constitutional Convention.

1806 Francis II, the last Holy Roman Emperor, abdicated ending the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation.

1809 Alfred Lord Tennyson, English poet, was born (d. 1892).

1819  Norwich University was founded in Vermont as the first private military school in the United States.

1825  Bolivia gained independence from Spain.

1845 The Russian Geographical Society was founded in Saint Petersburg.

1861 Edith Roosevelt, First Lady of the United States, was born (d. 1948).

1861 The United Kingdom annexed  Lagos, Nigeria.

1862  American Civil War: the Confederate ironclad CSS Arkansas was scuttled on the Mississippi River after suffering damage in a battle with USS Essex.

1870  Franco-Prussian War: Battle of Wörth is fought, resulting in a decisive Prussian victory.

1881 Alexander Fleming, Scottish scientist, Nobel laureate, was born  (d. 1955).

1890 At Auburn Prison in New York murderer William Kemmler became the first person to be executed by electric chair.

1901  Kiowa land in Oklahoma was opened for white settlement, effectively dissolving the contiguous reservation.

1909  Alice Ramsey and three friends became the first women to complete a transcontinental auto trip.

1911 Lucille Ball, American actress, was born (d. 1989).

1912  The Bull Moose Party met at the Chicago Coliseum.

1914 First Battle of the Atlantic – ten German  U-boats left their base in Helgoland to attack Royal Navy warships in the North Sea.

1914 – World War I: Serbia declared war on Germany; Austria declared war on Russia.

1915  Battle of Sari Bair – the Allies mounted a diversionary attack timed to coincide with a major Allied landing of reinforcements at Suvla Bay.

1917  Battle of Mărăşeşti between the Romanian and German armies began.

1917 Robert Mitchum, American actor, was born  (d. 1997).

1922 Sir Freddie Laker, English entrepreneur, was born  (d. 2006).

1926  Gertrude Ederle became first woman to swim across the English Channel.

1926  Warner Brothers’ Vitaphone system premiered with the movie Don Juan starring John Barrymore.

1926   Harry Houdini performed his greatest feat, spending 91 minutes underwater in a sealed tank before escaping.

1928 Robert Mitchum, American artist, was born  (d. 1987).

1934 Chris Bonington, British mountaineer, was born.

1936 Jack Lovelock won New Zealand’s first Olympic athletics gold medal when he ran the 1500-metres in a world record time of 3:47.8.at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Lovelock wins 1500-m gold at Berlin

1937 Barbara Windsor, English actress, was born.

1942 Queen Wilhelmina became the first reigning queen to address a joint session of the United States Congress.

1945 The atomic bomb “Little Boy” was dropped on Hiroshima by the United States B-29 Enola Gay. Around 70,000 people were killed instantly, and tens of thousands died in subsequent years from burns and radiation poisoning.

1952 Vinnie Vincent, American musician (Kiss), was born.

1960  Cuban Revolution: in response to a United States embargo, Cuba nationalised American and foreign-owned property in the nation.

1962 Jamaica became independent.

1964 Prometheus, a bristlecone pine and the world’s oldest tree, was cut down.

1965 US President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 into law.

1966 Braniff Airlines Flight 250 crashed in Falls City, NE killing all 42 on board.

1969 Simon Doull, New Zealand cricketer, was born.

1972 Geri Halliwell, British singer (Spice Girls), was born.

1976 Zulfikar Ali Bhutto laid the foundation stone of Port Qasim, Karachi.

1986  A low-pressure system that redeveloped off the New South Wales coast dumped a record 328 millimeters (13 inches) of rain in a day on Sydney.

1990  The United Nations Security Council ordered a global trade embargo against Iraq in response to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.

1991  Tim Berners-Lee released files describing his idea for the World Wide Web. WWW debuted  as a publicly available service on the Internet.

1991  Doi Takako, chair of the Social Democratic Party became Japan’s first female speaker of the House of Representatives.

1993 Heavy rains and debris killed  72 in the Kagoshima and Aira areas, of Kyūshū, Japan.

1996  NASA announced that the ALH 84001 meteorite, thought to originate from Mars, contained evidence of primitive life-forms.

1997 Korean Air Flight 801, a Boeing 747-300, crashed into the jungle on Guam on approach to airport, killing 228.

2008 A military junta led by Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz staged a coup d’état in Mauritania, overthrowing president Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi.

2011 – A helicopter containing members of Navy SEAL 6 was shot down in Afghanistan killing 38.

2012 – NASA’s Curiosity rover landed on the surface of Mars.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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