Did you see the one about . . .

November 16, 2009

Oh the things I learn . . . BK Drinkwater disproves the wisdom of crowds.

Florence Nightingale was a statistician Alison Campbell at Sciblogs posts on how the pioneering nurse won her case with numbers.

Also at Sciblogs: Visual illusions, change blindness and autism – Grant Jacobs asks how much of what we see is really there?

Philanthrocapitalism: How giving can save the world Take Part reviews a book that shows money does good.

Kitten demand exceeds supply – The Visible Hand applies economic theory to the pet market.

Incentives Matter: football helmet file – Anti Dismal finds trying to make sport safer may make it more dangerous.

Pies, cutting etc – Progressive Turmoil compares the market performance of comapnies in Australia & New Zealand.

APN chicken out – Cactus Kate reveals media impotency by financial decree.

Gotcha! TRM funding cut – Whaleoil claims another scalp.

And a new (to me) blog: Southern Squall – a gale of views from the south.


10/10

November 13, 2009

A couple of lucky guesses resulted in 10/10 in the Dominion Post’s political quiz.

But it took me just over a minute – very slow compared with BK Drinkwater who got the same score in only 29 seconds.


Increased payout will help farm sales – updated

November 9, 2009

A rural real estate agent in South Canterbury said when Fonterra’s forecast payout went up 55 cents in September his phone started ringing.

People who had been holding back for the bottom of the market started showing an interest in buying.

Today’s announcement of a further 95 cent increase in the forecast payout will confirm the belief that the market has bottomed out and attract more buyers.

It may also result in more farms listed for sale as potential vendors who have been holding back see an opportunity for a better price.

Farm sales and conversions slowed markedly with last season’s lower payout. The latest increase will widen the gap between dairy returns and those for sheep, beef and cropping which might result in more farmers considering a change to dairying.

However, the sharp drop in last season’s payout and the volitility in the market have made farmers more cautious.

The big payout in the 07/08 season encouraged a lot of spending. This included more intensive systems to boost production which were found to be unsustainable when the milk price dropped.

The most efficient way to convert grass and water to milk is to let cows graze pastures. Our climate and soils allow us to do that very well and relatively inexpensively in terms of both money and the impact on the environment compared with other countries where the feed is taken to the cows.

The decrease in payout gave a reality check and reminded us that our natural advantage is pasture based production.

The increased payout will boost farm sales and it may boost conversions. But those who’ve learned from the volatility of the last couple of season won’t be rushing to boost production with expensive inputs.

UPDATE:

Adolf at No Minister puts some figures on the impact the increase will have on the wider economy.

BK Drinkwater does a payout for dummies translation of the figures.


Playing politics

October 3, 2009

Political junkies who don’t need another excuse for work avoidance should read no further.

A politcal simulation game is being launched today at politicsnz.com.

You can choose to be a list or electroate MP then play politics:

It’s up to you and your fellow colleagues to decide the fate of the country. And the decisions you make will have an affect on the citizens of this model world.

Maybe there’s an opportunity for real politicians here. They could test their policies in this simulated world and see the results before inflicting them on us.

Hat Tip: BK Drinkwater


Backbenches

October 1, 2009

To get to an 8.30 meeting in Wellington this morning I could have got up at 4.45 (which thanks to daylight saving would have felt like 3.45), to drive for a couple of hours to fly from Timaru, fly back this evening and get home after 9pm.

Instead I flew up yesterday and as a bonus was able to go to the Backbencher pub for the filming of Back Benches.

Walking into a strange pub alone is a challenge for an introvert, but Matthew, a Young Nat, started chatting to me while I waited at the bar to order a drink, I then spotted David Farrar of Kiwiblog who was sitting with Will from goNZofreakpower. While I’m dropping names, we were joined by B.K. Drinkwater and a journo turned ministerial press secretary, whose name I won’t drop in case he prefers to remain anonymous.

Federated Farmers President Don Nicolson was there with Dairy section chair Lachlan McKenzie and High Country chair Donald Aubrey.

It’s parliamentary recess and the only MPs I spotted were those on the panel – Wairarapa MP John Hayes from National, United Future’s Peter Dunne and Labour’s Chris Chauvel.

They discussed whether or not New Zealand should become a republic – all three said yes and Will also gave a a considered view in support of that.

A discussion on cycling safety followed then Don got a soap box spot. He spoke on the ETS to which the people at the red tables showed their opposition.

Labour MP Sue Moroney spoke on her plan to increase paid parental leave. That was supported by Peter Dunne & Chris Chauvel but John Hayes pointed out that when we’re already borrowing so much to keep the country going, increasing paid parental leave is unaffordable.

A quiz question seeking the name of an MP went through several clues before a team effort at our table got it – David Farrar called out the answer and was presented with a photo of the Queen signed by the panelists. When asked what he’d do with it, he said he’d use it as a beer mat.

There weren’t many opposing voices but mine was one of them. I oppose it on principle – it’s the only benefit which gives more to people who have most. Women on the maximum wage gets the maximum payment, those on the minimum gets the minimum and women who don’t work enough hours a week, if at all,  get nothing regardless of how low the family income is. It’s a benefit which isn’t based on need.

Filming finished with the panelists speaking straight to camera. Peter Dunne patted himself on the back for extending daylight saving – I resisted the temptation to tackle him on that.

I’ve watched the programme a couple of times, being there was much more fun.


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