Word of the day

April 30, 2019

Educe – bring out, develop or draw forth something latent or potential; infer from data; elicit.


Maya muses

April 30, 2019


Rural round-up

April 30, 2019

Rural-urban divide highlighted in major new study on rural communities

New research from a major study looking at resilience in New Zealand rural communities has highlighted a disconnect between urban and rural areas.

Heartland Strong is anchored by a ten-year study led by AgResearch senior social scientist Dr Margaret Brown and involving a team from PricewaterhouseCoopers New Zealand.

It looked at levels of resilience in rural communities, and what that meant for their future.

The book’s team of 14 writers found great examples of resilience and ways in which it was built by different communities.

However the research also found that New Zealand has a disconnect between urban and rural. . .

Is reducing cow numbers the answer? – Peter Burke:

he argument over whether New Zealand has too many cows is a regional issue, not a national issue, according to Ministry of Primary Industries’ chief science advisor, John Roche.

Speaking to Dairy News at the recent Agricultural Climate Change conference in Palmerston North, Roche stated that it’s too emotive to talk in general terms of there being too many cows in NZ. He says all regions are different and it’s a case of decisions being made at that level rather than taking the blanket view that NZ has more cows than it can effectively run.

But Roche says that he has concern about the cost of marginal milk. . . 

Does NZ win or lose as world agriculture gets remade for a planet of 10b? – John McCrone:

Scary things are coming down the road for New Zealand’s food industry. Like Glyph “molecular” whiskey.

Raymond McCauley, chair of biotechnology at Silicon Valley’s Singularity University, already has his audience at Grow 2019 – a ministry-backed futurist conference – gripped by what is brewing elsewhere.

World agriculture is about to be remade, he warns. It is the Green Revolution 2.0 – cracking the problem of how to feed a planet that is going to be home to about 10 billion people by 2050 without completely trashing it in the process. . . 

Doing more with our milk – Hugh Stringleman:

In the never-ending debate about Fonterra’s follies and future, adding value is the constant theme.

The co-operative claims it now adds value (over the prices of standard dairy commodities) to 45% of external sales by volume, thus earning more than half of total revenue from such goods.

The added-value split is about one quarter each in consumer-ready products and food service products and half in advanced ingredients, which have added functionalities.

The external sales volume is more than 22 billion litres . . 

Still on the go with harness horses at 87 – Sally Rae:

Myrtle McCarthy describes herself as “a tiny cog” in the harness racing industry.

Yet the 87-year-old North Otago standardbred breeder is nothing short of remarkable as she continues a multi-generational family involvement.

Today, Mrs McCarthy will offer two yearling fillies at the All Aged Sale in Christchurch.

She has been breeding horses for about 40 years, since her father gave her a mare called Gypsys Chance.

The Dalgety name is synonymous with harness racing; her late father James (Jim) Dalgety operated the Belmedia stud near Kakanui and had many good horses. . . 

Graduation a celebration of achievement:

Honorary doctorates for Synlait co-founder John Penno and naturalist Hugh Wilson will be among nearly 600 awards presented at the 2019 Lincoln University Graduation on May 3.

The ceremonies will also feature posthumous awards to two victims of the Christchurch terror attacks, as well as a student who died in an accident last year.

Acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor Bruce McKenzie said the graduation was a celebration of students’ hard work and achievements, and that included the posthumous awards.

“This occasion, while recognising the tragic circumstances surrounding the loss of those graduates is also about acknowledging their efforts and their time here, as well as the students who were their peers.” . . 


Capitalism is good for you

April 30, 2019

Jacinda Ardern had only just become Prime Minister when she declared capitalism a blatant failure.

But as Thomas Gordon says, you may not like it, you may not be good at it, but capitalism is good for you:

. . . Numerous politicians are reminding people that some individuals are doing very well with capitalism and that the vast majority of us haven’t been as successful as them. A system that rewards some people more than others may strike you as inherently unfair. Competitive capitalism, where some people try and fail and businesses go bankrupt and have to lay off their employees, seems stressful and unnecessary to some.

Stressful yes, unnecessary maybe, but what’s the sustainable and viable alternative?

But I’m going to ask you to take a step back from thinking about who has what right now and think longer term about the things in your life that make you better off. Think about the possibility that capitalism puts life-saving, game-changing, incredibly convenient products and services in your life whether you participate directly in working on those innovations or not. Some are arguing that the average person in today’s advanced countries wouldn’t trade places with a billionaire 100 years ago. Napoleon and George Washington would be very jealous of your ability to instantaneously text people thousands of miles away.

In the past, very rich and powerful people had to watch relatives die if they got certain kinds of bacterial infections. Now, you can easily go out and procure antibiotics. The richest person in Rome couldn’t have his or her favorite perishable dish until their servants prepared it, and now you simply take your favorite dish out of the refrigerator and put it in the microwave. Progress has become so profound and pervasive that some are arguing that the average person in today’s advanced countries wouldn’t trade places with a billionaire 100 years ago.

It is important to mention that successful innovation yields very high societal returns. A successful innovation improves the lives of every human being using that innovation for the rest of humanity. Someone invented the wheel, and now billions of people have driven vehicles that use that wheel.

The person who invented malaria pills that would have kept President Teddy Roosevelt from getting the disease benefited all those hundreds of millions of people who live/will live in or travel to tropical zones where malaria is a problem. I would argue that if an innovator lives a little better lifestyle than the rest of us during their lifetime, that’s a small price to pay for all the future advantages their innovation brings to humanity. And by the way, not all innovators are fabulously wealthy people.

If innovators are earning more, it’s rarely, if ever, through luck alone. There might be some luck involved but it’s almost always because they’ve also taken risks, made investments and worked very hard.

Capitalism is very good at rewarding progress, and over time, a great deal of progress has been accomplished by capitalism. Some accomplishments of capitalism are game-changing, such as vaccines and the commercialization of the internet . . .  Some innovations are more humble, such as the successful start-up of a restaurant with a good location or the right cuisine in a medium-sized town.

All around you, people are paying attention and trying to improve our world in ways big and small. Hundreds of years ago, someone invented a flathead screw for joining wood or metal together. In your lifetime, an impact driver was invented that now makes it easy to drive that screw with a handheld tool, and this process has replaced most nails. Disk drives used to be the size of a rugby ball, and you placed those drives into a device the size of a washing machine. Now you can hold the storage of a thousand of those drives in a smartphone in the palm of your hand.

Dentistry started out as a painful process with drilling that used soft metals such as gold to fill cavities. More recently, some fillings require no drilling at all. The bonding material is so good that the filling is just added to the tooth and cured. All this progress makes products and services cheaper for all income groups in society—not just the well-off.

Innovative methods and products might cost more at the start, but one of the benefits of commercialisation is that prices usually drop.

Our first microwave cost $1000. That was 36 years ago, now you can get one for less than $100.

Capitalism is responsible for almost all progress, not socialism or communism. Socialist and communist societies have very poor reputations for innovation in every realm except the military. I can think of only two innovations that came out of socialist/communist societies that were superior to capitalist products: Lasik and the Rubik’s cube. The Lasik procedure was developed because someone cut their eye in a bar fight in the Soviet Union, and a doctor was paying attention. The Rubik’s cube was invented in Eastern Europe but commercialized in the West.

Capitalism has many individuals, small businesses, and corporations working on improvements; the good ideas rise to the top, while the bad ideas fail. Those resources quickly go elsewhere. The probability that a huge government bureaucracy with competing agendas could pick the successful ideas out of thousands of candidates and implement them to the customers that want them is very low.

All this happens naturally and easily in a capitalist system. Ask yourself how long the world would wait for the smartphone if Cuba or North Korea had been relied upon to invent it. It could be that we would never get a smartphone because the chief of internal security wouldn’t want people communicating that way and would cancel the project. The smartphone was developed in Silicon Valley in about 20 years.

Capitalism gives power to people. Governments have the power under alternative systems.

So the choice is yours. There are plenty of politicians out there to vote for who are willing to take nearly all the income a capitalist system generates and reallocate it the way they (you?) think it should be. Most experience shows that this taking kills or severely restrains innovation. Or you can have a sense of humor and stick with the system that, though messy, has made your life much better the last ten, hundred, and thousand years and will make the life of future generations better in ways we can’t even now imagine.

Capitalism isn’t perfect. There is a role for government and its agencies in building and maintaining some infrastructure, providing some services and helping the most vulnerable.

But to do all that, governments needs money and they will get more money from individuals and businesses operating in a capitalist system than if they were operating under socialist or communist regimes.


Quote of the day

April 30, 2019

I think that the romantic impulse is in all of us and that sometimes we live it for a short time, but it’s not part of a sensible way of living. It’s a heroic path and it generally ends dangerously. I treasure it in the sense that I believe it’s a path of great courage. It can also be the path of the foolhardy and the compulsive.  Jane Campion who celebrates her 65th birthday today.


April 30 in history

April 30, 2019

313  Roman emperor Licinius unified the entire Eastern Roman Empire under his rule.

1006  Supernova SN 1006, the brightest supernova in recorded history, appeared in the constellation Lupus.

1315 Enguerrand de Marigny was hanged on the public gallows at Montfaucon.

1492 Spain gave Christopher Columbus his commission of exploration.

1513 Edmund de la Pole, Yorkist pretender to the English throne, was executed on the orders of Henry VIII.

1651 Jean-Baptiste de la Salle, French educational reformer, Catholic saint, was born (d. 1719).

1662 Queen Mary II of England was born (d. 1694).

1671  Petar Zrinski, the Croatian Ban from the Zrinski family, was executed.

1789  George Washington took the oath of office to become the first elected President of the United States.

1794  The Battle of Boulou was fought, in which French forces defeated the Spanish under General Union.

1803  Louisiana Purchase: The United States purchased the Louisiana Territory from France for $15 million, more than doubling the size of the young nation.

1838  Nicaragua declared independence from the Central American Federation.

1864  Pai Marire warriors were defeated at Sentry Hill.

Pai Marire defeated at Sentry Hill Taranaki

1865 ex-Governor Robert Fitzroy committed suicide.

Ex-Governor FitzRoy commits suicide

1871 The Camp Grant Massacre took place in Arizona Territory.

1894 Coxey’s Army reached Washington, D.C. to protest the unemployment caused by the Panic of 1893.

1900 Hawaii became a territory of the United States, with Sanford B. Doleas governor.

1900  – Cecily Lefort, English World War II heroine, spy for the SOE was born (d. 1945).

1900  Casey Jones died in a train wreck in Vaughn, Mississippi, while trying to make up time on the Cannonball Express.

1904 The Louisiana Purchase Exposition World’s Fair opened in St. Louis, Missouri.

1907  Honolulu, Hawaii became an independent city.

1908 – Bjarni Benediktsson, Icelandic journalist and politician, 13th Prime Minister of Iceland was born (d. 1970).

1909  Queen Juliana of the Netherlands,  was born (d. 2004).

1917 – Lieutenant-Commander William Sanders was awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery when the Q-ship he commanded was attacked by a German U-boat.

William Sanders wins New Zealand's only naval VC

1921 – Roger L. Easton, American scientist, co-invented the GPS was born (d. 2014).

1925 Dodge Brothers, Inc was sold to Dillon, Read & Company for $146 million plus $50 million for charity.

1927  The Federal Industrial Institute for Women, opened in Alderson, West Virginia, as the first women’s federal prison in the United States.

1927 – Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford became the first celebrities to leave their footprints in concrete at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood.

1933 Willie Nelson, American musician, was born.

1937  The Philippines held a plebiscite for Filipino women on whether they should be extended the right to suffrage; more than 90% voted in the affirmative.

1938  The animated cartoon short Porky’s Hare Hunt debuted in movie theatres, introducing Happy Rabbit.

1938 The first televised FA Cup Final took place between Huddersfield Town and Preston North End.

1939  The 1939-40 New York World’s Fair opened

1939  NBC inaugurated its regularly scheduled television service in New York City, broadcasting President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s World’s Fair opening day ceremonial address.

1941 – Max Merritt, New Zealand-Australian singer-songwriter was born.

1943  World War II: Operation Mincemeat: The submarine HMS Seraph surfaced in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Spain to deposit a dead man planted with false invasion plans and dressed as a British military intelligence officer.

1945 World War II: Fuehrerbunker: Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun committed suicide after being married for one day. Soviet soldiers raised the Victory Banner over the Reichstag building.

1946 King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, was born.

1947 The Boulder Dam was renamed Hoover Dam a second time.

1948 The Organization of American States was established.

1949 António Guterres, former Prime Minister of Portugal, was born.

1953  In Warner Robins, Georgia, an F4 tornado killed 18 people.

1953 Merrill Osmond, American musician (The Osmonds), was born.

1954 Jane Campion, New Zealand film director, was born.

1956 Former Vice President and Senator Alben Barkley died during a speech in Virginia. He collapsed after proclaiming “I would rather be a servant in the house of the lord than sit in the seats of the mighty.”

1959 Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, was born.

1973  Watergate Scandal: U.S. President Richard Nixon announced that top White House aids H.R. Haldeman, John Ehrlichman and others had resigned.

1975 Fall of Saigon: Communist forces gained control of Saigon. The Vietnam War formally ended with the unconditional surrender of South Vietnamese president Duong Van Minh.

1980 Accession of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands.

1988 Queen Elizabeth II officially opened World Expo ’88 in Brisbane, Australia.

1993  CERN announced World Wide Web protocols would be free.

1993 Virgin Radio broadcast for the first time in the United Kingdom.

1995 U.S. President Bill Clinton became the first President to visit Northern Ireland.

1999 Cambodia joined the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)bringing the number of members to 10.

2004 U.S. media release graphic photos of American soldiers abusing and sexually humiliating Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison.

2008  Two skeletal remains found near Ekaterinburg, Russia were confirmed by Russian scientists to be the remains of Alexei Nikolaevich, Tsarevich of Russia and one of his sisters Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna.

2009 Chrysler  filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

2009 – Seven people were killed and 17 injured at a Queen’s Day parade in Apeldoorn, Netherlands in an attempted assassination on Queen Beatrix.

2010 – Hailed as the largest World’s Fair in history, Expo 2010 opened in Shangai.

2013 – A powerful explosion occurred in an office building in Prague, Czech Republic, believed to have been caused by natural gas, injures 43 people.

2014  – A bomb blast in Ürümqi killed three people and injured 79 others.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


Word of the day

April 29, 2019

Inanition – exhaustion caused by lack of nourishment;  starvation; the quality or state of being empty; the exhausted condition that results from lack of food and water; the absence or loss of social, moral, or intellectual enthusiasm, vitality or vigour.


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