Shorter blustering peterus facing extinction?

July 26, 2008

The zoological community is finding increasing evidence that the shorter blustering peterus may be facing extinction.  

        

Characterised by its immaculate pinstriped plumage and animal cunning, the peterus has defied previous predictions of its imminent demise because of its chameleon-like propensity for taking on the characteristics of former enemies when coalescing with other species.

 

Experts put this ability down to a lust for power which blinds the peterus to the contradictions in its easy assimilation into communities on which it has previously poured scorn.

 

The peterus has a parasitic relationship with the taxpayer which is aggravatged by a predisposition to pork barrel politics. It has several natural enemies including the media and anyone who thinks. It likes to give the appearance of integrity but has a weakness for baubles and while it would strongly deny this, it also has a history of hypocrisy.

 

Experts have not been able to explain the contradiction in the peterus’s predilection for gazing at its own image and its total lack of personal insight but many put it down to an unfortunate belief in its own superiority.

 

The species is semi nocturnal. Its natural habitat is late night bars but the peterus can also be found braying in the chamber. While it has a tendency towards ranging alone, the peterus can be charming and appears to be comfortable in crowds of sycophants like those found at Grey Power meetings.

 

It preys on the fears and prejudices of the insecure and the bewildered and has a symbiotic relationship with the blue-rinsed sub species of voter.

 

Scientists admit to several gaps in their knowledge of the species because of the difficulty in pinning it down and its inability to give a straight answer. They also display some wariness in approaching it because of its predisposition to rabid attacks when cornered.

 

The peterus has often displayed irrational behaviour and has been noticed recently digging furiously in a hole of its own making. Long time observers of the species admit to a grudging admiration for its ability to get out of tight spots in the past but believe that it may be too difficult for the peterus to extricate itself from this hole when it is so deep and becoming increasingly muddy.


Research centre funded but research misses out

July 15, 2008

The mullit-million dollar animal reproduction facility at Invermay isn’t even open yet and already there are questions over it’s long-term future because its application for $18m of public science funding failed.

AgResearch chief executive Dr Andy West said the Government was sending mixed messages. On the one hand, it had approved $17 million for the new animal reproduction and genetics building at the North Taieri Invermay campus, but the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology (FRST) yesterday declined to fund the science.

The centre would open in December and its future was secure for the next three years.

But unless AgResearch was able to find more than $3.5 million a year after that, Dr West said he would have to look overseas for animal reproduction contracts”Overall, it’s not particularly good news for Invermay,” he said.

It does seem more than a little wasteful to build a research centre then not fund the research.

The FRST manager of investment strategy, Richard Templer, said in a statement AgResearch’s position was affected by “wider issues in the meat and wool sector”.

Of the 96 contested contracts awarded, AgResearch secured 14, worth a total of $67 million, including $7.5 million over three years for animal reproduction.

“While this might not have been all the funding AgResearch sought for it, it is the nature of a contestable process that not all proposals will get all the funding sought.”

When funds are limited there has to be an application process and not all applicactions will succeed. But Scientists often complain they spend more time and energy applying for funding than actually doing research.

Invermay’s new $17 million complex will house 49 people in a joint AgResearch-University of Otago genetics and animal reproduction team.

Nine of those relocated south from the Wallaceville campus, near Wellington.

Dr West said AgResearch had 45% of its contracts up for renewal in FRST’s latest round, but had funding cut by $18 million, a decision he accepted as “part of life”.

But, he said, there were mixed messages from the Government, which strengthened his view science funding was flawed.

“There is something seriously wrong with science funding when you can get sign-off from the Government for $17 million in funding to construct a new building, then the Government questions whether reproduction research is a priority.”

AgResearch has also had a cut to its textiles research, affecting a $21 million investment in a Lincoln textiles company, Canesis.

The loss of $1 million a year meant AgResearch would now look overseas for wool research contracts in a bid to retain staff, effectively helping competing wool producers.

“There is only one future for textiles and that is we have to look for work from overseas industry or overseas governments. Either that or we make everyone redundant and close it down.”

Canesis was about to launch eight new woollen fabrics at New Zealand Fashion Week, including a lightweight, stab-resistant material, another that was heat resistant, and an environmentally friendly outdoor jacket fabric.

They sound like exactly the sort of thing we should be getting in to.

Dr West said the loss of funding raised serious concerns for the sheep industry, which relied on viable lamb and wool industries to compete with dairying.

“Without wool, we can’t make the numbers work for sheep to compete with dairying on our flat land.”

Farmers have been blaming low returns on the price they’re paid for meat, but prices for wool and pelts have also been depressed which makes dairying more attractive by comparison.

Dr West hoped to secure transitional funding so scientists could switch research projects. But he warned it could be hard to retain scientists, especially with AgResearch’s Irish equivalent actively recruiting 60 pastoral scientists.

Science, Research and Technology Minister Pete Hodgson said FRST was independent of the Government and he had no influence on its funding decisions.

FRST had 17% more money to allocate this year, including a large increase in the primary sector, and it was still to announce contested and transitional funding.

Has everyone forgotten the knowledge economy or isn’t agriculture part of it?


Would You Trust This Survey?

June 23, 2008

I was wondering how some of the people even made it to the list of most trusted New Zealanders when I read the fine print – respondents were asked to rate 85 well know people on a scale of 1 to 10 as to how much they trusted them.

The ranking which put VC winner Corporal Willie Apiata at number one (replacing the late Sir Ed Hillary) is here. Peter Snell, Colin Meads, Margaret Mahy and Caroline and Georgina Evers-Swindell follow him.

 The list of most trusted professions is here.

Farmers are the 13th most trusted occupation, between dentists and police officers in 11th equal place and scientists and chidlcare providers in 14th and 15th.

Journalists, sigh, are at 34; between taxi drivers and psychics/astrologers.  I’m not sure there is any comfort in ranking just above real estate agents, sex workers, car salesmen, politicians and telemarketers who take the 36th to 40th slots.


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