Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

John Key leads New Zealand conservatives to 48-25 majority victory over leftists

National Party leader John Key

National Party leader John Key

Note: The New Zealand conservative party is called the National Party, but their policies are center-right, at least on fiscal issues.

The Wall Street Journal reports on a stunning victory.

Excerpt:

John Key is set to lead New Zealand for a third consecutive term after official results showed his party garnered 48% of the national vote, and would likely end up with 61 seats in a 121-member Parliament.

[...]David Cunliffe, leader of the main opposition Labour Party, conceded defeat late Saturday. The Labour Party picked up 25% of the overall vote, according to the Electoral Commission, while the Green Party, always thought to be its likeliest coalition partner, won 10%.

The 53-year-old Mr. Key has helped steer New Zealand to a level of prosperity rarely found in developed countries since the global financial crisis, campaigning against a backdrop of the strongest economic growth in a decade.

[...]Mr. Key’s victory was stronger than opinion polls were predicting. Meanwhile, Labour’s weak showing was the worst since the 1920s, prompting speculation of a possible change in leadership, though Mr. Cunliffe said he had no plans to resign. “I don’t believe that rotating the leaders is the key to changing and upgrading our party,” he said Sunday in a television interview. “If I did, I would simply stand down now.”

The University of Otago’s Mr. Edwards said it would be difficult for Mr. Cunliffe to reassert his authority after Labour’s poor result, but added that the party still had no obvious replacement.

The Green party’s support was little changed from 2011, despite opinion polls predicting it could win as much as 14% of the vote. Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei said Sunday the party had consolidated its 2011 result and held on to its 10% support even though the country had swung to the right.

The National Party is not achieving this economic growth by raising taxes on individuals and job creators – New Zealand has the second lowest taxes in the industrialized world.

Look:

Many countries have been working hard to improve their tax codes. New Zealand is a good example of one of those countries. In a 2010 presentation, the chief economist of the New Zealand Treasury stated, “Global trends in corporate and personal taxes are making New Zealand’s system less internationally competitive.” In response to these global trends, New Zealand cut its top marginal income tax rate from 38 percent to 33 percent, shifted to a greater reliance on the goods and services tax, and cut their corporate tax rate to 28 percent from 30 percent. This followed a shift to a territorial tax system in 2009. New Zealand added these changes to a tax system that already had multiple competitive features, including no inheritance tax, no general capital gains tax, and no payroll taxes.

In a world where businesses, people, and money can move with relative ease, having a competitive tax code has become even more important to economic success. The example set by New Zealand and other reformist countries shows the many ways countries can improve their uncompetitive tax codes.

Compare that with the United States which is stuck down at 30 out of 32 countries! We have a lower median income and labor force participation than we did five years ago, despite packing over NINE TRILLION dollars onto the national debt.

John Key isn’t packing trillions onto his country’s national debt  they are set to balance the budget in the coming year. And more than the balance budget, he is also trying to privatize bloated, inefficient state-run companies. Imagine what we could do if we privatized the USPS, the departments of motor vehicles and AMTRAK. Just cut the fat out completely.

So now we have conservative majority governments in Canada (Harper), Australia (Abbott) and New Zealand (Key).

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , ,

Shorebird’s beak inspires researchers to design new water collection strategy

The shorebird's beak is more interesting than you might think

The shorebird’s beak is more interesting than you might think

Dr. Fazale Rana of Reasons to Believe tweeted this cool example of biomimetics from Science Daily.

Excerpt:

A UT Arlington engineering professor and his doctoral student have designed a device based on a shorebird’s beak that can accumulate water collected from fog and dew.

The device could provide water in drought-stricken areas of the world or deserts around the globe.

Xin Heng… a doctoral student in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and Cheng Luo, MAE professor, have made a device that can use fog and dew to collect water.

Cheng Luo, professor in the Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering Department, and Xin Heng, PhD candidate in the same College of Engineering department, published “Bioinspired Plate-Based Fog Collectors” in the Aug. 25 edition of ACS’ (American Chemical Society) Applied Materials & Interfaces journal.

The idea began when Heng saw an article that explained the physical mechanism shorebirds use to collect their food — driving food sources into their throats by opening and closing their beaks. Luo said that inspired the team to try to replicate the natural beak in the lab.

“We wanted to see if we could do that first,” Luo said. “When we made the artificial beaks, we saw that multiple water drops were transported by narrow, beak-like glass plates. That made us think of whether we could harvest the water from fog and dew.”

Their experiments were successful. They found out they could harvest about four tablespoons of water in a couple of hours from glass plates that were about 26 centimeters long by 10 centimeters wide.

Now, if we are lifting designs out of nature, then shouldn’t we give honor to God for putting the designs in there in the first place? I really think it’s important to give God credit where due for his clever designs, even if you’re not a big fan of the shorebird. I also think it’s interesting that it’s engineers who made this application of something in nature, not biologists.  Also, I feel I have to mention that the birdy is also cute, which is not insignificant, if you like birds as much as I do.

Filed under: News, , , , , , ,

Study of elementary school children finds entrenched discrimination against boys

The study is here (PDF), and Susan Walsh writes about the study on her blog. (H/T Stuart Schneiderman)

Excerpt:

A new study of nearly 6,000 elementary school children has found that boys are discriminated against beginning in kindergarten. Christopher Cornwell, an economics professor at the University of Georgia, says that ”gender disparities in teacher grades start early and uniformly favor girls.”

Despite having higher scores on standardized tests, boys get lower grades than girls. Why? Because teachers are basing grades at least partly on classroom behavior, and the standards are very much geared to female norms.

[...]Here’s what the disparity looks like for kindergarten boys:

Std. Deviation Test Scores Grades
Reading -.017 -.27
Math +.02 -.15
Science +.035 -.14

(Note: Values are approx., gauged visually from study graphic.)

Another interesting finding was that boys who adhere to female norms on non-cognitive skills were not penalized. Effectively, the more female behavior was rewarded with a grade “bonus” for males.

The implications of this are obvious. Masculinity, even normal maleness, is being punished in schools from a very young age. Only the most female-acting boys are rewarded with a fair assessment.

I found this story on Stuart Schnederman’s blog, and this is what he had to say about it:

The results demonstrated that schoolteachers are prejudiced against boys. When teachers do not just grade on performance, but include a number of intangible qualities that girls are more likely to possess, they are acting as bigots.

I recommend that everyone pick up a copy of “The War Against Boys” by AEI scholar Christina Hoff Sommers to learn more about this anti-male discrimination problem.

I see a lot of people raving at men to “man up” these days. Many of those people are pastors who remain ignorant about the real, systemic causes of male underachievement. Even very obvious factors – like the dominance of female teachers and administrators in schools – are ignored by the blame-men crowd. Boys generally learn better when they learn from male teachers in all-male classrooms. But unfortunately for boys, there are people who don’t want to do what works for men, especially when it doesn’t fit with feminist ideology.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wikipedia editor deletes all evidence of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s quote fabrication

Wikipedia is garbage, and here’s a story that explains why, from The Federalist.

Excerpt:

Neil Tyson, a prominent popularizer of science (he even has his own television show) was recently found to have repeatedly fabricated multiple quotes over several years. The fabrications were not a one-off thing. They were deliberate and calculated, crafted with one goal in mind: to elevate Tyson, and by extension his audience, at the expense of know-nothing, knuckle-dragging nutjobs who hate science. Tyson targeted journalists, members of Congress, even former President George W. Bush. And what was their crime? They were guilty of rejecting science, according to Tyson.

There’s only one problem. None of the straw man quotes that Tyson uses to tear them down are real. The quote about the numerically illiterate newspaper headline? Fabricated. The quote about a member of Congress who said he had changed his views 360 degrees? It doesn’t exist. That time a U.S. president said “Our God is the God who named the stars” as a way of dividing Judeo-Christian beliefs from Islamic beliefs? It never happened.

[...]After I published my piece about Neil Tyson’s fabrication of the George W. Bush quote, several users edited Neil Tyson’s wiki page to include details of the quote fabrication controversy. The fact-loving, evidence-weighing, ever-objective editors of the online encyclopedia did not appreciate the inclusion of the evidence of Tyson’s fabrication. Not at all.

According to a review of the edit history of Tyson’s page, one long-time Wikipedia editor deleted an entire pending section summarizing the issue of Tyson’s fabricated quotes. Another editor attempted to insert a brief mention of Tyson’s fabrication of the George W. Bush quote. That mention was also deleted. When it was reinserted, it was deleted yet again by an editor who describes himself as a childless progressive and an apostle of Daily Kos (h/t @kerpen). Here are just a few of that user’s political ramblings, in case you were curious about the motivation behind the scrubbing of Tyson’s wiki.

Literally every single mention of Tyson’s history of fabricating quotes has been removed from Tyson’s Wikipedia page.

The Federalist post has been updated now to indicate that:

Early this morning, in a discussion thread about whether references to Neil deGrasse Tyson’s history of quote fabrication should be added to Tyson’s Wikipedia page, an editor stated that “no version of this event will be allowed into the article.”

So I hope this helps everyone to understand that Wikipedia is a joke site, and you should try never to quote from it if you are in a debate situation.

On the other hand, I have to give kudos to well-known atheist Hemant Mehta, who has a full breakdown of Tyson’s other fabrications, and Mehta, who might be expected to cover up for Tyson, instead said this “If a pastor or right-wing conservative did it, we’d be calling them out on it immediately. Tyson doesn’t deserve a free pass just because his intentions are pure. It certainly wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) get by in an academic setting, and just because he often speaks to a lay audience doesn’t mean he should make up quotations or fail to cite them if they’re real.” Now that’s an honest atheist. The reason that quote fabrication is not punished on Wikipedia, though, is because it is a joke site. And this episode proves it.

Filed under: News, ,

Minnesota’s largest and cheapest Obamacare insurer drops out of exchange

The Daily Caller reports.

Excerpt:

The largest insurer with the lowest premium rates on Minnesota’s Obamacare exchange is dropping out because the government health-exchange is unsustainable, the company announced Tuesday.

PreferredOne Health Insurance told MNsure, the state-run exchange, Tuesday morning that it would not continue to offer its popular insurance plans on the marketplace in 2015.

[...]“Our MNsure individual product membership is only a small percentage of the entire PreferredOne enrollment but is taking a significant amount of our resources to support administratively,” the company said in a statement. “We feel continuing on MNsure was not sustainable and believe this is an important step to best serve all PreferredOne members.”

PreferredOne was Minnesota’s largest exchange insurer with 59 percent of individual MNsure sign-ups, according to KSTP. Another four insurance companies — Blue Cross Blue Shield, HealthPartners, Medica and UCare — will continue to offer plans on the exchange next year.

This leaves Minnesota Obamacare customers in a tricky situation. PreferredOne had significantly lower rates than any other insurer on the exchange. When these plans disappear, customers will see a significant rate hike if they choose to continue on the Obamacare exchange, independent of yearly rate hikes.

Minnesota is scheduled to announce premium rates for 2015 Obamacare plans in October and signs point to looming price hikes that will hit Minnesotans doubly hard.

The administration costs are too high.

I noticed that Minnesota has a Senate election this year, and that comedian Al Franken is up for re-election, and he is leading by 9 points. Maybe Minnesota will learn something from their rate hikes and stop voting in a clown who voted for Obamacare. One can hope that money will cause them to learn their lesson.

Filed under: News, , , , , , ,

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