Daily Trivia

Apodemus_sylvaticus_bosmuis

Glucose (sugar) has an opposite “handed” isomer L-glucose, that tastes identical and isn’t metabolized as sugar, also safe for diabetics. Unfortunately, L-glucose costs 50% more than gold. (source)   Read more »

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1956 clip: how they used to make cricket balls

One leg? No problem

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Easter Video of the Day

Whaleoil Backchat

Welcome to the daily Whaleoil Backchat – posted at 6:30 pm every day.

This post is like an end-of-day General Debate post.

Bottom up rebellion

Why isn’t New Zealand richer and more productive?

It is a question worth asking and thinking about

Here is a new study from the New Zealand Productivity Commission, and here is the basic puzzle:

Based on its policy settings, the authors estimate that New Zealand’s GDP per capita should be 20% above the OECD average. But it is actually over 20% below average, making New Zealand a clear outlier. The size of the gap indicates an apparent “productivity paradox” that costs more than 40 cents in every dollar of output.

Here is one problem:

The increasing importance of global value chains – where production activities are spread across countries – may have worsened the impact of New Zealand’s geographic isolation on trade in goods.  Because global value chains typically require intensive interaction and just-in-time delivery, they tend to be regionally based. For New Zealand, international transportation costs for goods are about twice as high as in Europe. This reduces access to large markets and the scope for participation in global value chains , where the transfer of advanced technologies now often occurs.

More generally, the “gravity equation” — also known as distance — makes it harder for New Zealand to trade with the rest of the world.

Read more »

Kevin Rudd vs Helen Clark for the top UN job

How entertaining. Two massive megalomaniacs fighting each other out for the top global government role.

Former foreign minister Bob Carr believes the United Nations could do with a dose of Kevin Rudd’s “legendary forcefulness”.

There has been some speculation the former prime minister covets the UN secretary general gig.

The incumbent Ban Ki-moon finishes his second term in 2016.

While spruiking his memoir at a Sydney bookstore on Saturday, Mr Carr said Mr Rudd had his support.

“He would be a very strong, credible candidate,” Mr Carr said. “It would be the most natural thing in the world for him to stand.”

The race was wide open.

“I think the forcefulness Kevin showed sometimes in selling a case might be considered by some in the UN as an advantage,” Mr Carr said.

A lot of members of the UN general assembly liked Mr Rudd’s agenda and Australia’s international personality.

Hopefully they attack each others campaigns. That will be worth a big bucket of popcorn.   Read more »

Battered bugle and its missing notes

Odd how we end up placing so much significance on an object, but in this case this bugle carries a lot of mana

last-postWhen they blow the bugle at the Auckland Domain this Anzac Day it will sound strained and some of the notes flat.

But it will be all the more solemn for the old soldiers of the Auckland Regiment. That bugle saw combat at Gallipoli 99 years ago and it’s finally returned.

“It sounds like a bugle but some of the notes are a little bit hard to come, and they sound tortured,” regimental archivist Blake Herbert says – “like someone played a bum note.”

In 1915 the standard issue bugle was given to Sergeant Sydney Postlewaight of Ponsonby. In those days the bugle was not just for music.

“They would have been a prime source of communication. The bugle was something with key notes for attack, withdraw. It was a way of getting orders out.”

The Last Post on Anzac morning is chilling.  You can’t help but be affected.   Read more »

“you Nazis, quit that talk”

I don’t think Israel would be a good place for Kim Dotcom.  Not unless he loses more off his accent

An Israeli bus company has been forced to apologise after a Jewish man from Holland who survived three concentration camps and his wife were branded ‘Nazis’ by one of its drivers.

Martin Leeda, 72, and his wife Jeta, 69, were aboard the bus travelling from Ramat HaScharon to Tel Aviv sitting in a forward section reserved for elderly passengers.

As they began to speak to each other in Dutch, the bus driver suddenly yelled out: ‘You non-Jews, you Nazis, quit with that talk.’

He had mistaken their Dutch for German, said Mr Leeda.

Mr Leeda, who works in a Jewish historical museum in Amsterdam, travels regularly to Israel and said he and his wife were ‘deeply hurt’ by the insult.

He said: ‘I, as a survivor of the Nazi Holocaust, should not have had to listen to this.’

The driver sent the couple a letter of apology and faces a disciplinary hearing, according to the Metropoline bus company.

Around 150,000 Jews were living in the Netherlands in 1941, according to a survey by the Nazi occupation force. Read more »