Passchendaele perspective

October 12, 2017

The Otago Daily Times has invited family members of those who were killed in World War I to pay tribute to them on the 100th anniversary of their deaths.

Most days there are a few names.

Putting the disaster that was the Battle of Passchendaele into perspective. today 130 men are remembered.


Word of the day

October 12, 2017

Capricious – given to sudden and unaccountable changes of mood or behaviour; changing according to no discernible rules; unpredictable, erratic; subject to, led by, or indicative of a sudden, odd notion or unpredictable change.


Thursday’s quiz

October 12, 2017

You’re invited to pose the questions.

Anyone who stumps everyone will win a virtual bunch of tulips.


Rural round-up

October 12, 2017

Better communication will bridge rural urban divide – Hayden Dillon:

The farming community needs to step up to help lessen the rift between city and country.

I believe the debates during the course of the recent election campaign oversimplified some issues that are core to the agri sector, such as water and soil quality. These have created divisions that are not helping New Zealand move forward.

As with many complex issues, the rush to simplify the discussions and debate has seen farming, in particular dairying, blamed for many of our environmental problems.

That’s simply not correct. . .

Appreciate world’s best office :

Stopping to appreciate the small things in life really helps people handle the big stuff. 

That was one of the messages coming through loud and clear from farmers involved in rural wellbeing initiative Farmstrong, project leader Gerard Vaughan said.

Over the last two years Vaughan and video maker Nigel Beckford have been busy interviewing Kiwi farmers about what they do to keep well and avoid burnout.

They’ve been sharing the best tips and advice in short video clips on the Farmstrong website – http://www.farmstrong.co.nz. . . 

It’s not smart to tough it out on your own:

It’s Mental Health Week and the theme is “Nature is Key – Unlock Your Wellbeing”.

The idea is to escaping stressful or ‘same old rut’ work and home environments to eat your lunch in a park or at the beach, to take the family for a weekend bush walk, etc.  It can lift spirits, put you back in touch with Nature, and get you thinking about your health, your priorities – and whether you may need to reach out for help or advice.

Federated Farmers President Katie Milne welcomes the focus on mental health and talking through issues and feelings with others.  “Our great outdoors can also be a wonderful tonic.”

But for rural folk, Mother Nature can also be a source of considerable stress.  Storms, floods, ailing livestock, droughts, etc., can ratchet up financial woes, relationship strains and the feeling ‘it’s all too much’.. . .

Mental health support needed for farmers – Alexa Cook:

A Waikato farmer is pushing for the government to provide better mental health support for the rural sector.

Research shows that the suicide rate in New Zealand’s rural sector is up to 50 percent higher than in urban areas.

Dairy farmer Richard Cookson has had his own struggle with mental health, and said while there is good crisis support for farmers, such as the Rural Support Trust, there isn’t enough for depression.

This Mental Health Awareness Week, Mr Cookson said a good start would be free counselling to get farmers in the door, but the sector also needs quite specific help. . . 

Media accepts pseudoscience drivel unchallenged – Doug Edmeades:

 Damn it all. Someone is not listening and I am now forced to repeat myself. My last column ended thus:

“Without an independent principled fourth estate we may be drifting away from being a society in which our policies are based on evidence, rational thought and logic analysis and which encourages and embraces criticism. If we are not careful we could drift back to a time when humans believed in alchemy, witches and taniwha”.

In this last week, as if on cue, three media outlets coughed up three items of demonstrable drivel.

Exhibit 1: The NZ Farmers Weekly (October 2) gave their opinion page to Phyllis Tichinin in an article headlined, Urea cascade cause of problems. She attributes many animal health, soil and environmental problems to the overuse of urea. Opinion yes, evidence no. Her whole thesis fails the logical test of cause and effect. How can one thing – in this case urea – have so many unrelated effects? As one qualified reader expressed it to me: “I struggle to find one fact or one statement that isn’t a falsehood.” . . .

Is this synthetic food thing for real? – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Synthetic food is being talked about rather more than it is being eaten.

The balance might change in future as the technologies develop, but at the moment there is more hype and interest than hunger and intake.

The Impossible Burger seems to be the focus at the moment. The burger is made in the laboratory from wheat (grown in a field) and involves a ‘haem’ from legumes. The haem is pink (it is responsible for the colour in healthy, nitrogen-fixing clover root nodules) and so confers the burger with ‘bleeding’ properties. . . 

Farmers Fast Five: Doug Avery – Claire Inkson:

The Farmers Fast Five : Where we ask a farmer five quick questions about farming, and what agriculture means to them. Today we talk to Marlborough Proud Farmer Doug Avery whose Resilient Farmer platform aims to deliver powerful support to New Zealand farmers across the three pillars — financial, environmental and social. Through road shows and ongoing mentoring, he helps farmers to adopt new thinking and practices. Check out his best selling book The Resilient Farmer, and his website http://www.resilientfarmer.co.nz for more information .
How long have I been farming?

46 years but I am only involved in the directorship of the business now and financial control.
What sort of farming are you involved in?
We grow wool, meat, crops , dairy support and people. . .

Fieldays growth underlines primary sector importance:

The importance of the primary sector to the New Zealand economy is emphasised today by Fieldays’ 2017 Economic Impact Report.

A report prepared by the University of Waikato Management School’s Institute of Business Research, reveals that the biggest agricultural expo in the southern hemisphere, generated an estimated $238 million to New Zealand’s GDP, an increase of 24.7 per cent when compared to 2016.

Federated Farmers’ Board member Chris Lewis is particularly familiar with Fieldays and regards the event as a key indicator to how the country is faring. . . 

 


Winners losers, losers winners?

October 12, 2017

Karl du Fresne is right – this is all arse-about-face:

. . . In any half-rational political system, it would be the parties which between them won more than 81 percent of the vote, not Peters with his measly share, that determined the course of negotiations. A minor player such as New Zealand First, if it had genuine respect for democracy, would accept that its negotiating strength should be proportionate with its level of popular support. But again, this is Peters we’re talking about. And sadly he’s encouraged in his delusions by both the media, which can’t resist stroking his ego (for example, by calling him the kingmaker), and by the major parties, whose attempts to appease Peters come perilously close to grovelling.

Pardon the expression, but this is all arse-about-face. It’s demeaning to democracy. We’ve heard a lot over the years about the tail-wagging-the-dog scenario under MMP. Well, here it is writ large, and unfolding before our very eyes.

It’s a situation rich in irony. We voted for the introduction of MMP primarily to punish our politicians and bring them to heal. We were fed up with their broken promises. We wanted to make them more accountable.

Only now are New Zealanders realising that we achieved the exact reverse. Voters have no control whatsoever over whatever’s going on right now behind closed doors at Parliament. In effect, we have placed still more power in the hands of the political elites. This is the antithesis of what the promoters of MMP promised (and perhaps naively believed themselves). . . 

The situation is made even worse because whatever decision Peters and his negotiating team make has to be approved by serious consensus from the party board – the members of which have not been made public.

Frustrating as the protracted negotiations  and the secrecy over the board membership are, my fear is that the government that eventuates might be even worse.

It is possible Winston Peters and New Zealand First have learned from previous failures and will be determined to ensure strong and stable government in the best long term interests of  New Zealand.

But it is at least as likely that they haven’t and that both they and any coalition partners will be damaged by whatever permutation of government is foisted on us.

I dearly want Bill English to continue as Prime Minister but not at any price.

The Employers and Manufacturers Association warns that the country will come to a grinding halt if there are drastic changes to immigration; NZ First’s anti-trade and foreign investment rhetoric contradicts its assertion it wants what’s best for the regions and mining the misery of the Pike River families is simply despicable.

Like David Farrar, I think it will be better for the country to have National leading the government, but it might be better for the party to be a formidable opposition – what Emma Espiner calls the opposition from hell – instead.

I have a lot of confidence in the ability of Bill English and his team. Nine years leading the country through financial and natural disasters has proved they are more than capable. But they will need all their skill and experience, and more than a little luck to govern in coalition with, or the support of, Peters and his party.

Even then, there is a risk that whoever wins in the short  term might become the losers and the losers might turn out to be the winners in the medium to longer term.

P.S. Apropos of foreign investment – Eric Crampton gives some context:

 New Zealand is the most restrictive country in the entire OECD. It is the seventh most restrictive country of the 62 countries they surveyed.


Quote of the day

October 12, 2017

The duty of the words is to say just as much as the music has left unsaid and no more. – Ralph Vaughan Williams who was born on this day in 1872.


October 12 in history

October 12, 2017

539 BC – The army of Cyrus the Great of Persia took Babylon.

1216 King John of England lost his crown jewels in The Wash.

1279  Nichiren, a Japanese Buddhist monk founder of Nichiren Buddhism, inscribed the Dai-Gohonzon.

1398  The Treaty of Salynas was signed between Grand Duke of Lithuania Vytautas the Great and the Teutonic Knights, who received Samogitia.

1492  Christopher Columbus‘s expedition landed on The Bahamas. The explorer believed he has reached South Asia.

1654  The Delft Explosion devastated the city, killing more than 100 people.

1692  The Salem Witch Trials were ended by a letter from Massachusetts Governor William Phips.

1773 America’s first insane asylum opened for ‘Persons of Insane and Disordered Minds’ in Virginia

1792  First celebration of Columbus Day in the USA held in New York

1793  The cornerstone of Old East, the oldest state university building in the United States, was laid on the campus of the University of North Carolina.

1810  First Oktoberfest: Bavarian royalty invited the citizens of Munich to join the celebration of the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen.

1822  Pedro I of Brazil was proclaimed the emperor of the Brazil.

1823  Charles Macintosh, of Scotland, sold the first raincoat.

1866 Ramsay MacDonald, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom,was born (d. 1937).

1871  Criminal Tribes Act (CTA) enacted by British rule in India, which named over 160 local communities ‘Criminal Tribes’, i.e. hereditary criminals.

1872 Ralph Vaughan Williams, English composer, was born (d. 1958).

1891 – Edith Stein, German nun, philosopher, and saint was born (d. 1942).

1892  The Pledge of Allegiance was first recited by students in many US public schools, as part of a celebration marking the 400th anniversary of Columbus’s voyage.

18893 – Velvalee Dickinson, American spy was born (d. 1980).

1901  President Theodore Roosevelt officially renamed the “Executive Mansion” the White House.

1915 World War I: British nurse Edith Cavell was executed by a German firing squad for helping Allied soldiers escape from Belgium.

1917 World War I: The First Battle of Passchendaele resulted in the largest single day loss of life in New Zealand history.

New Zealand's ‘blackest day’ at Passchendaele

1918 The arrival of the Niagra was blamed for introducing a deadly new influenza to New Zealand.

<em>Niagara</em>'s arrival blamed for flu pandemic

1918  A massive forest fire killed 453 people in Minnesota.

1920 – Christopher Soames, Baron Soames, English politician, Governor of Southern Rhodesia was born (d. 1987).

1921 – Logie Bruce Lockhart, Scottish rugby player and journalist was born.

1928 An iron lung respirator was used for the first time at Children’s Hospital, Boston.

1933  The United States Army Disciplinary Barracks on Alcatraz Island, was acquired by the United States Department of Justice.

1935 Luciano Pavarotti, Italian tenor, was born (d. 2007).

1942 Melvin Franklin, American singer (The Temptations), was born (d. 1995).

1942 World War II: Japanese ships retreated after their defeat in the Battle of Cape Esperance with the Japanese commander, Aritomo Gotōdying from wounds suffered in the battle and two Japanese destroyers sunk by Allied air attack.

1945  World War II: Desmond Doss was the first conscientious objector to receive the U.S. Medal of Honor.

1948 Rick Parfitt, British musician (Status Quo), was born.

1949 – Carlos the Jackal, Venezuelan terrorist and murderer, was born.

1953 “The Caine Mutiny Court Martial” opened at Plymouth Theatre, New York.

1960  Cold War: Nikita Khrushchev pounded his shoe on a desk at United Nationa General Assembly meeting to protest a Philippine assertion of Soviet Union colonial policy being conducted in Eastern Europe.

1960  Inejiro Asanuma, Chair of the Japanese Socialist Party, was assassinated by Otoya Yamaguchi, a 17-year-old.

1962 Columbus Day Storm struck the U.S. Pacific Northwest with record wind velocities; 46 dead and at least U.S. $230 million in damages.

1964 The Soviet Union launched the Voskhod 1 into Earth orbit as the first spacecraft with a multi-person crew and the first flight without space suits.

1968 – Hugh Jackman, Australian actor and producer, was born.

1968 Equatorial Guinea became independent from Spain.

1976 China announced that Hua Guofeng was the successor to the late Mao Zedong as chairman of Communist Party of China.

1979 The first in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy comedy science fiction series by Douglas Adams was published.

1979 The lowest recorded non-tornadic atmospheric pressure, 87.0 kPa (870 mbar or 25.69 inHg), occurred in the Western Pacific duringTyphoon Tip.

1983 Japan’s former Prime Minister Tanaka Kakuei was found guilty of taking a $2 million bribe from Lockheed and was sentenced to 4 years in jail.

1984  Brighton hotel bombing: The Provisional Irish Republican Army attempted to assassinate Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her cabinet. Thatcher escaped but the bomb kills five people and wounded 31.

1988 Jaffna University Helidrop: Commandos of Indian Peace Keeping Force raided the Jaffna University campus to capture the LTTE chief and walked into a trap.

1988 Two officers of the Victoria Police were gunned down executional style in the Walsh Street police shootings.

1991  Askar Akayev, previously chosen President of Kyrgyzstan by republic’s Supreme Soviet was confirmed president in an uncontested poll.

1997  Sidi Daoud massacre in Algeria; 43 killed at a fake roadblock.

1999  Pervez Musharraf took power in Pakistan from Nawaz Sharifthrough a bloodless coup.

1999 – The Day of Six Billion: The proclaimed 6 billionth living human in the world is born.

2000 The USS Cole was badly damaged in Aden, Yemen, by two suicide bombers, killing 17 crew members and wounding at least 39.

2002 Terrorists detonated bombs in Paddy’s Pub and the Sari Club in Kuta, Bali, killing 202 and wounding over 300.

2005  The second Chinese human spaceflight Shenzhou 6 launched carrying Fèi Jùnlóng and Niè Hǎishèng for five days in orbit.

2013 – 51 people were killed after a truck veered off a cliff in La Convencion Province in Peru.

2014 – Super- cyclone Hudhud in Visakhapatnam. India, killed at least 124 people.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


%d bloggers like this: