Nature always has last word


Around the World, the blog of an Australian family on a one year round the world tour is a must read for anyone keen on vicarious travel.

They’ve reached Iceland and I was amused to read  about their walk through geothermal springs in a town centre:

 The town’s greenhouses, heating, three swimming pools and much more are heated by the springs. Walking about through clouds of sulphurous steam and seeing some amazing growths in the streams was great. We were heartily amused to read of one of the holes we saw having been used as a dump. Then an earthquake caused a massive geyser-like eruption which deposited the rubbish over the entire town. There was a nostalgic display of broken pottery and toy parts collected from the distributed refuse.

Yet another reminder that we shouldn’t mess with nature – she always has the last word.

Relatively better isn’t the same as good


New Zealand tops Transparency International’s 2009 corruption perception index.

The others in the top 10 are: Denmark, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, Finland, Netherlands and Australia, Canada and Iceland which are 8th equal.

The countries at the bottom are: Chad, Iraq, Sudan, Myanmar, Afghanistan and Somalia.

Corruption is a form of oppression and this map shows how widespread it is:

While it’s good to be relatively good, what really matters is not how good we are perceived to be relative to anyone else but how good we are fullstop.

A score of 9.4 does mean we’re perceived to be pretty good.

That makes it more likely that other countries and other people will trust us and our institutions.

But we need to be vigilant to ensure that reality matches the perception.

Hat tip: Poneke.

June 30 in history


On June 30:

1859 French acrobat Charles Blondin crossed Niagra Falls on a tightrope.

  Blondin carrying his manager, Harry Colcord, on a tightrope

1934  Adolf Hitler’s violent purge, the Night of the Long Knives, took place.

1939 The first edition of the New Zealand Listener was published.

1980 Vigdís Finnbogadóttir was elected the first woman president of Iceland.

Vigdís Finnbogadóttir 1

June 17 in history


On June 17:

1631 Mumtaz Mahal dies in childbirth and her husband spends 20 years building her tomb, the Taj Mahal.

1944 Iceland declares its Independence from Denmark and becoems a republic.
Flag of Iceland Coat of arms of Iceland
Flag Coat of arms

1867 Australian poet Henry Lawson  was born.

NZ tops Global Peace Index


 New Zealand has topped the  Institute for Economics and Peace’s Global Peace Index .

dairy 1

The Institute is an Australian think tank dedicated to developing the inter-relationships between business, peace and economic development.
The results of the 2009 survey  suggest:
that the world has become slightly less peaceful in the past year, which appears to reflect the intensification of violent conflict in some countries and the effects of both the rapidly rising food and fuel prices early in 2008 and the dramatic global economic downturn in the final quarter of the year. Rapidly rising unemployment, pay freezes and falls in the value of house prices, savings and pensions is causing popular resentment in many countries, with political repercussions that have been registered by the GPI through various indicators measuring safety and security in society.
The GPI uses 23 indicators  of the existence or absence of peace, divided into three broad categories:  measures of ongoing domestic and international conflict, measures of safety and security in society and measures of militarization.
The Top 10 countries were: New Zealand, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Austria, Sweden, Japan, Canada, Finland and Slovenia.
At the bottom were: Georgia, Zimbabwe, Russia, Pakistan, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, Israel, Somalia, Afghaanistan and Iraq.
The full list is here.

NZ 5th in gender equality


New Zealand is ranked fifth in an international list of countries which have closed the gender gap.

Norway heads the list, and three other Scandanavian countries dominate the ‘Gender Gap Index’, which monitors progress in political, education and economic spheres.

New Zealand came fifth and was the first non-Scandanavian country after Finland, Sweden and Iceland.

130 countries were monitored. The UK rated 13th and Australia 21st.

Ranking tells only part of the story, being not as good as perfect isn’t bad and being better than appalling isn’t good.

I take it the ranking looks at women’s participation, but I wonder how we’d all rate if it also looked at men’s involvement in what have been, and maybe still are, predomiantly female roles and activities?

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