Saturday’s smiles

April 30, 2016

A major research institute has just announced the discovery of the heaviest element yet known to science. It has been tentatively named governmentium.

Governmentium has at least one neutron, 12 deputy neutrons, 75 assistant neutrons, and 224 deputy assistant neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of at least 312.

These 312 or more atomic particles are surrounded by subatomic particles called morons, which are in turn surrounded by a vast number of
other subatomic particles called peons.

Governmentium has a half-life of three years.

It does not normally decay, but instead grows by undergoing reorganization, in which the neutron and/or some of the deputy neutrons, assistant neutrons and deputy assistant neutrons exchange places, and some morons become neutrons, deputies, assistants and/or assistant deputies, thus forming many isodopes.

Since governmentium has no electrons, it is inert.

It is primarily observable in that it functions to impede every reaction with which it comes into contact.

In one observed instance a minute amount of governmentium caused a reaction to take over four days to complete, when it would normally
have taken less than a second.

Governmentium is difficult to distinguish from the element previously believed to be the heaviest, administratium.

Administratium is very similar but has slightly less mass, each atom having twice as many morons but only half as many peons.

Some scientists speculate that governmentium is formed whenever  morons reach a certain concentration. They refer to this hypocritical concentration as the critical morass.

They further speculate that governmentium, when catalysed with a sufficient quantity of revenue, radiates peons while accumulating more morons, and thus decays to form administratium


Project Manuka sweeetens life

April 27, 2016

This is a honey of a story:

A group of young Kaikohe men who have never had full-time work have begun planting manuka as part of a pilot project aimed at improving their future and that of their small Northland town.

Project Manuka is a joint venture between Northland College and the government to reboot the moribund local economy.

The school owns 450ha of land, gifted decades ago for educational purposes, and has run it as a dairy farm and forestry block giving students opportunities to learn agricultural skills.

In its latest venture, it has begun replanting some of the land in manuka for honey production.

There is currently fierce competition for manuka as beekeeping takes off as an industry in the north.

Under a scheme backed by several government ministries, 11 long-term unemployed people have been training in forestry skills over eight weeks and preparing scrubby hillsides for planting in the valuable crop.

None of them have held a full-time job before, and none have formal qualifications.

Their tutor, forestry training contractor Jack Johnson, has had them training at the gym, on the hills cutting tracks and in the classroom swotting for Level 2 NCEA forestry papers. And all eleven have passed.

“A Level 2 certificate in anything – that’s a huge achievement for these boys,” said Mr Johnson.

“Passing a drug test was a huge achievement. The challenge I’ve given them now is refraining altogether from drugs. That’s a life change that they need to make – not only for themselves, but for their families.”

It’s a challenge the workers themselves seem happy to meet. . . .

Drug free, legitimately employed, gaining new skills and qualifications – life will be sweeter for these men and their families.

The official leading Project Manuka is Ben Dalton, from the Ministry of Primary Industries, who says the pilot scheme is intended to lead to much bigger things.

The three priorities for the government in its Northland Economic Action Plan were to increase productivity in existing industries, attract new industry and investment to the north and to build a workforce capable of meeting the needs of that industry.

Mr Dalton said there were 86,000 hectares of undeveloped Māori land around Kaikohe and a huge pool of unemployed people who would relish the chance to escape poverty and improve their families’ lives, given the training.

“These are good people,” he said. “They just haven’t had the chances. All of these guys cost the New Zealand taxpayer a lot of money. So if you spend a fraction of that helping them to become employable and also to see a brighter future, then I think it’s a worthwhile investment. ” . . .

It’s far better to invest money in helping people help themselves than keep on investing in misery.

The chairman of Northland College’s board of trustees, Ken Rintoul, dismissed any suggestion that a new generation of young Māori were being trained just to be labourers.

A percentage of all these students will go into management.

“They’ll be earmarked at the end of this course to be crew leaders, or business owners “

Mr Rintoul also chairs the Youth Enterprise Scheme in Northland which aims to get young people into governance.

“Three years in a row now local Māori have won the National Awards, so we must be on the right track,” he said.

Mr Rintoul said the eventual proceeds from the Northland College manuka plantation would go back to the school.

This is an opportunity for people to escape poverty which brings social and economic benefits for them and the country, and the project will eventually provide an income stream for the school.


On-line voting answer to wrong question

April 21, 2016

Associate Local Government Minister Louise Upston says the online voting trial proposed for this year’s local body elections won’t proceed as more work is required to ensure a trial meets public and government expectations.

“Public confidence in local elections is fundamentally important. Given real concerns about security and vote integrity, it is too early for a trial,” says Ms Upston.

“Due to timing restrictions, preparations for the proposed trial have not yet met the legislative requirements and cannot guarantee public confidence in the election results.

“Security testing has been planned but has not yet occurred. Without seeing the results of testing we cannot be confident the systems are secure enough, and the trial could not be authorised.” . . 

This is a good move.

Postal voting was instituted for local body elections in te hope it would increase turnout but it is open to misuse and abuse.

I know of a parent who cast votes in a local body election for an adult child who was overseas; a man who voted for a parent who was in a rest home and a family who voted for a dead parent.

The traveller and the elderly parent didn’t mind and the family were as sure as they could be they knew who their deceased parent would have ticked but that’s not the point.

One person, one vote free of fear, favour or influence from anyone else is a basic tenet of democracy.

Postal voting is inherently insecure and online voting would be even worse.

Besides, the question shouldn’t be, how to make voting easier. It’s not very difficult in the first place.

The question should be how to get more people engaged in the electoral process so they want to vote.

People are literally dying to vote in other countries.

The problem here isn’t that people can’t vote easily, it’s that they don’t care enough to do so.

 

 

 


Taking drops from the ocean

April 19, 2016

A new report by the Royal Society of New Zealand (RSNZ) says oceans could rise by a metre this century if we don’t stop emitting huge amounts of carbon and methane.

Around 95% of New Zealand’s rivers flow into the sea.

If we had a considerable increase in water storage and irrigation would that make a difference or would that be so insignificant that it would just be taking drops from the ocean?

While we’re on the topic of climate change, (via Kiwiblog),  fracking is good for the environment:

. . . As a nation, the United States reduced its carbon emissions by 2 percent from last year. Over the past 14 years, our carbon emissions are down more than 10 percent. On a per-unit-of-GDP basis, U.S. carbon emissions are down by closer to 20 percent.

Even more stunning: We’ve reduced our carbon emissions more than virtually any other nation in the world, including most of Europe.

How can this be? We never ratified the Kyoto Treaty. We never adopted a national cap-and-trade system, or a carbon tax, as so many of the sanctimonious Europeans have done.

The answer isn’t that the EPA has regulated CO2 out of the economy. With strict emission standards, the EPA surely has started to strangle our domestic industries, such as coal, and our electric utilities. But that’s not the big story here.

The primary reason carbon emissions are falling is because of hydraulic fracturing — or fracking. . .

Yet those of a dark green persuasion are strongly opposed to fracking.

Fracking technology for shale oil and gas drilling is supposed to be evil. Some states have outlawed it. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have come out against it in recent weeks. Schoolchildren have been bombarded with green propaganda about all the catastrophic consequences of fracking.

They are mostly lies. Fracking is simply a new way to get at America’s vast storehouse of tens of trillions of dollars worth of shale oil and gas that lies beneath us, coast to coast — from California to upstate New York. Fracking produces massive amounts of natural gas, and, as a consequence, natural gas prices have fallen in the past decade from above $8 per million BTUs to closer to $2 this year — a 75 percent reduction — due to the spike in domestic supplies.

This free fall in prices means that America is using far more natural gas for heating and electricity and much less coal.

Here is how the International Energy Agency put it: “In the United States, (carbon) emissions declined by 2 percent, as a large switch from coal to natural gas use in electricity generation took place.” . . .

Science and technology have achieved far more than politics and emotion.


Inflation is theft

April 18, 2016

Low inflation is boosting household spending power:

Low inflation is helping New Zealand households get ahead, with wages on average continuing to rise faster than the cost of living, Finance Minister Bill English says.

Inflation was only 0.4 per cent for the year to March 2016, according to figures released by Statistics New Zealand today. Inflation for the March quarter was 0.2 per cent. 

Much of quarterly increase was driven by cigarettes and tobacco, which rose 9.4 per cent following increase in excise duty in January. Food prices were up 1.2 per cent in the quarter, but were down 0.4 per cent over the whole year.

Lower oil prices contributed to the low cost of living increase. Petrol prices fell 7.7 per cent in the first three months of 2016, following a 5.7 per cent fall the previous quarter.

“We are in the unusual situation of having solid economic growth, more jobs and rising wages at the same time as very low interest rates and inflation,” Mr English says. “This is helping New Zealand families get ahead.

“Households with mortgages have the double benefit of low cost of living rises and lower mortgage servicing costs, which will be particularly welcome in regions with increasing house prices.

“Since the start of 2012 the average annual wage has increased by more than 10 per cent to $57,800, considerably faster than inflation which has been only 3.1 per cent.”

An additional 175,000 jobs have been created over the last three years, with a further 173,000 expected by 2020.

“Overall, New Zealand is doing well and New Zealanders are reaping the benefit of a growing economy.”

When Don Brash was governor of the Reserve Bank he called inflation theft and it is, eroding the real value of money and investments.

Now, wage-rises outpacing inflation combined with low interest rates are giving households more spending power.

When people seek government help it usually requires more spending.

The government’s concentration on keeping a tight rein on its finances doesn’t usually get much credit but it is one way it can influence inflation and in doing so it protects and enhances the value of what people earn, invest and save.


Quote of the day

April 18, 2016

There is a good deal of talk just now about what they are going to do after the war with the women: Must they be made to return to the home? Are they going to take them out of the factory, the office, off the land? 

To me, this sort of discussion is very disquieting. It makes me think we’ve already forgotten the reasons why we’re fighting this war. Aren’t we fighting for liberty, for democracy and to eradicate fascism and Nazism in every form? Surely we don’t mean liberty and democracy for men only? Indeed, I hope women will enjoy the liberty which they have helped to win and be permitted to choose what they want to do.

Do you remember that one of the first things the Nazis did when they came to power was to put women out of the professions, out of the factories? They barred the doors of the universities to all but a few women and they severely limited women’s opportunities for 
any kind of higher education; by these methods the Nazis forced women back to the home – back to the kitchen. I can’t help thinking that if any attempt is made here after the war to force women back to the home, it will be proof that facism still has strong roots in Australia. 

Women should not be forced to return to the home, but they should be free to return there if they wish to. I don’t like what’s implied in the suggestion that women will have to he forced back into the home – that’s a slight not only on home life, but also on the work of bearing and rearing children, don’t you agree? The greatest happiness for many women is to care for a home and to raise a family. The trouble in the past has been that society has failed to make it possible for all the women who wanted to have homes and raise families to do so. 

And while we’re on the subject of women in the home, I think that this life could be made attractive to many more women by developing amenities and customs that render home less of a prison than it is to many women with young families. Just think of the prospects of family life, as lived under present conditions, to a clever, energetic, bright young girl. Soon after marriage there will be a baby, and from then on she cannot move unencumbered. The more babies, the harder she has to work and the greater her restrictions.

If we want more women to choose home life, we must make home life less hard. But how can we do this? Well, we can have crèches and kindergartens and supervised playgrounds where children can be left in safe surroundings. Then we must change many of our conventions. Why should a woman do all the work in the home? Why can’t we, for example, have community kitchens and laundries? If a woman wants 
to work outside the home, why shouldn’t she? Let her be free to choose. There’s just as much and more reason to believe that the best interests of her family and of society will be served by giving a woman a free choice than by expecting her to adhere to a lot of 
worn-out conventions. 

Anyway, the contribution that women can make to public life through the professions or in industry is important. Women in the past have been very much hampered by their inexperience in these spheres. They haven’t had the opportunity to qualify for 
representative positions or positions of control and direction. In other words, because of the lack of opportunity to gain experience they’re denied the opportunity of exerting any influence in framing policies or directing public affairs. 

I am pretty sure that many women will remain in industry after the war, for we shall be in need of more skilled hands rather than less. Remember, we couldn’t exert a full war effort until women were absorbed into industry; therefore, how can we exert a full peace programme without making use of their services?

Everyone knows how short we are of houses and hospitals and offices, of furniture, of bathroom and kitchen fittings, of curtains, wallpaper, clothing, foodstuffs, in fact, hundreds of commodities. Can you imagine the tremendous amount of work that will be required? Not only have we to make up the deficiency of the war years, but we must provide all these amenities on a much larger scale after the war.

There were large numbers of people before the war who had no homes, not even enough to eat; hospital accommodation was inadequate, and so on. Although all these could have been provided for a few million pounds, we believed we could not afford to better these conditions. It took a total war to show us what we could do with our own resources. If we can raise money for war we can raise it for peace, surely. It would be inexcusable in the future to condemn people to live under the conditions so many endured before the war. 

Why is there so much opposition to women remaining in industry? The secret isn’t far to seek. It’s simply that they got paid less – they are cheap labour, certainly not, as so many have alleged, because they’re weaker or less efficient. Unfortunately, because their labour is cheaper, women not only threaten the wage standards of men workers, but they also threaten the standard of living of all workers. The obvious and just way to avoid this is to give equal pay to men and women. 

To put this in a nutshell, I believe that in a democratic, free society women should be at liberty to choose whether they will take up home life or work outside the home; that men and women should receive equal pay and equal opportunity; that home life should be made less of a tie and the burden of raising a family be lightened. If we can face these peacetime problems with the spirit of determination and conciliation with which we’re facing our war problems, we may hope to solve them.  – Jessie Street who was born on this day in 1889.

 


Saturday’s smiles

April 16, 2016

Why did the chicken cross the road?

A: Quite frankly, I have no idea. Shall we discuss the issue over a succulent, lean steak dinner?

That came from Beef + Lamb NZ’s Facebook page.

It reminded me of an email a friend sent me which gave several other answers:

Marilyn Waring: That’s a really sexist question. If it was a man crossing the road no one would ask why he was doing it.

Rachel Hunter: It’s sad when you feel like you have to cross the road because the rooster is always after younger chicks.

Sean Fitzpatrick: Full credit to the chicken. It was a road of two halves and the chicken was the winner on the day.

Sam Hunt: So the chicken/crossed the road/ and also rode/ the cross. / Our nation’s boss/ the Southern Cross/ Now bears his/ PALTRY load.

John Campbell: And so, this chicken, it could be any chicken. Indeed a chicken of the people. And it crossed the road. Or so we all thought. It now seems that the whole story may have been a publicity stunt to boost interest in a new book that was published by the very same chook. Tonight on Checkpoint we investigate the crook chook cook book..

David Farrar: Let’s look at what the polls say about this chicken. . . .

Whaleoil: Let me show you how to shoot, pluck, gut and cook a chicken.

Cactus Kate: Don’t waste your time on a chicken that walks. If it had any ability it would fly. First Class.

Winston Peters: The people of New Zealand know I will not continue to sit idly by and let the media make unsubstantiated accusations about the chicken. Let me tell you that this matter will be fully tested in court and the people will have their say.

Metiria Turei: If there were more cycle lanes it would be much safer for chickens to cross the road and they wouldn’t waste fossil fuels doing it.

Tariana Turia: The chicken’s mana entitles it to cross the road whenever and wherever it wants.  Our chickens are not required to provide a reason for their actions. It’s time the rednecks stopped chicken-bashing.

Hone Harawira: – What gave the chicken the right to walk on a road that is built on our land?

Andrew Little: It’s with a sorry heart I say it, but if someone needs to be stiff-armed to allow more chickens to cross the road, then so be it.

Peter Dunne: It was the sensible thing to do.

David Seymour: Act will give all chickens vouchers for the education to enable them to choose what road they want to cross, and we’ll sort out the RMA so it’s easier to build roads for them to choose.

John Key: The chicken was ambitious. It wanted a brighter future and had to cross the road to get to it.


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