Home' Greymouth Star : July 18th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Friday, July 18, 2014
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uLetters to the editor
64 - Great fire of Rome begins.
1536 - Pope’s authority declared void in
1872 - Britain introduces voting by secret
1923 - British Matrimonial
Causes Act gives women equality in
1969 - Car driven by US Senator
Edward M. Kennedy plunges
off bridge in Chappaquiddick,
Massachusetts, and passenger Mary
Jo Kopechne drowns.
1994 - Terrorists bomb a Jewish community
center in Buenos Aires, Argentina, killing 95.
1998 - South African President Nelson
Mandela celebrates his 80th birthday by
marrying Graca Machel, widow of Samora
Machel, the first president of Mozambique.
2012 - Rebels penetrate the heart of Syria’s
power elite, detonating a bomb inside a high-
level crisis meeting in Damascus that kills
three leaders of the regime, including President
Bashar Assad’s brother-in-law and the defence
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
William Makepeace Thackeray, English
novelist (1811-1863); Vidkun Q uisling,
Nor wegian politician and Nazi
collaborator (1887-1945); Hume
Cronyn, Canadian actor (1911-
2003); Nelson Mandela, South
African president (1918- 2013);
John Glenn, US astronaut (1921—);
Yevgeny Yevtushenko, Russian poet
(1933—); Ricky Skaggs, US country
singer (1954—); Vin Diesel, actor (1967—);
Kristen Bell, US. actress (1980—).
“Miracles are propitious accidents, the natural
causes of which are too complicated to be
readily understood.” — George Santayana,
American philosopher (1863-1952).
“The Heavens declare the glory of God; and
the firmament shows His handywork.”
— (Psalms 19:1).
Local sportsmen will
be out of luck now if
they seek room on the
RNZR’s special rail
ser vice from here to Christchurch on Saturday
morning, August 22. The demand for seats on
it has absorbed all space on the triple-unit car
— 264 seats in all.
And at present there is no definite indication
that an extra Vulcan may run from here to take
the overflow of travellers wanting to see the
rugby test between the Springboks and All
Blacks in the city and the Addington night
trots the same day.
The official opening of the Haast Road link
next year would not be marked by the issue
of a commemorative stamp, the Postmaster-
General Mr Scott told Parliament yesterday.
He was replying to a question from the
Member for Westland Mr P Blanchfield.
The Postmaster-General said that though he
appreciated that the opening of the link was
an important occasion in the area, this was
not the type of event customarily depicted on
Mobile draglines, known as walking
draglines, are gouging into the Blaketown
lagoon. Each time the operator trips the in-
haul rope four and a half tons of ‘pay dirt ’ spew
from the mighty scoops. Once committed
to the deep, it is now dumped by barge in
the lagoon. In about eight years the harbour
board hopes to have some new reclaimed land
available for sale.
The bed of the Grey is providing another
source of revenue. About a third of the once-
dumped metal is being sold.
Boddy. - On July 16, 1964, at McBrearty
Annexe, Greymouth to Vern and George
— a son; both well.
uFood for thought
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ith some no
bigger than a
the hottest things
at this week’s
International Airshow are tiny compared
with the titans of the sky, such as the
Airbus 380 or the Boeing Dreamliner.
What has got aviation geeks
salivating at Farnborough, this year’s
biggest aviation jamboree that features
participants from 40 countries, are the
commercial possibilities of unmanned
aerial vehicles — drones to most of us.
Drones are more commonly known
for their use in conflict areas. This week
Hamas launched for the first time an
unmanned drone into Israeli airspace that
was shot down.
But drones, which can weigh less than
an ounce, have potential commercial
applications that are vast. The industry,
military and non-military, is growing and
could according to some see investments
of nearly $90 billion over the next 10
Experts say they can be adapted to
fly over fields to determine when crops
need watering, fly into clouds in hopes
of offering more precise predictions on
twisters, track endangered rhinos, spot
wildfires and search out vast stretches of
land for missing children.
And like the dawn of the era of aviation
a little over a century ago, innovations
are often being conducted by individuals
with an idea and endless enthusiasm.
They will not find it easy though as the
big players in the markets, such as Boeing
and Airbus, are also getting involved.
A lot of the research has been taking
place in big flat places such as the Plains
States, where a broad expanse of land
combines with universities near military
bases with air space exclusions to make
Where California had Silicon Valley to
drive its high-tech industries, America’s
central belt from North Dakota to
Texas could become a new research
and commercial centre for the aviation
industry — the Silicon Plains.
“This is open country for entrepreneurs,”
said Stephen McKeever, Oklahoma’s
secretary of science and technology.
“There will be a Steve Jobs.”
But things are a bit on hold at the
moment for the American makers of
unmanned air vehicles, or UAVs, as they
await rules from the Federal Aviation
Administration. Under current rules, you
can legally fly drones for “recreational
purposes,” as long as you comply with
certain basic guidelines — such as
keeping well clear of airports.
Commercial operations are only allowed
with special authorisation, a cumbersome
process that the government intends to
streamline. Once they are able to do this,
McKeever suggests the situation will be
akin to the land rush that sent land-
hungry settlers scurrying to his state in
The FAA is developing regulations
to permit the widespread commercial
use of drones while protecting privacy
and preventing interference with larger
aircraft. As part of this process, the
FAA in December selected six test sites
around the country where research on
drones will be conducted in a variety of
North Dakota is one of them, and
Brian Opp, manager of aerospace
business development for the North
Dakota Department of Commerce, is at
Farnborough, promoting the virtues of
the weather. In other words, if your drone
can work in the midst of a freezing North
Dakota winter or its scorching summer, it
will work anywhere.
“That ’s good news for us,” Opp said
The Teal Group, which offers analysis
of the aviation industry, estimates that
$89.1b will be spent on drones in the
next decade, the bulk of which will still
Philip Finnegan, director of corporate
analysis for the group, said commercial
UAVs need to test to see what is
“It’s pretty clear it will work, but it’s
going to depend on application, and at
this point the companies can’t even test
that,” said Finnegan.
Areas such as the Great Plains will
face tough competition, not least from
Australia, where regulators have been
more forgiving of research than their
United States counterparts. Japan, also,
is a big user of drones, particularly in
When, and if, the US regulations relax,
companies, such as Aero Vironment of
Monrovia, California, which have been
making military drones, have said they
are ready to pounce.
In the meantime, researchers are
experimenting with ideas such as a drone
that looks like a hummingbird, hovers
like one and weighs about as much as a
Triple A battery.
“It ’s just fun,” said Roy Minson, the
company ’s senior vice-president. “It’s the
sort of thing we used to dream about as
Those interested in commercial aspects
of such vehicles or systems have hesitated
to even call their products drones for fear
of association with those used for military
But they seem to be coming around to
the fact that drone slips off the tongue a
bit easier than unmanned vehicle system.
“I think we need to redefine the word
drone,” McKeever said. “ The public will
— New Zealand Herald
PICTURE: New Zealand Herald
An Aero Vironment Wasp AE small unmanned aircraft system displayed at the Farnborough International Air Show,
Tiny stealth aviation
Prices in New Zealand have shot up
by 7500% during the past century —
but milk, cheese and eggs are relatively
cheaper than in 1914.
From dried prunes, tinned herrings and
starch, to flat bread, frozen berries and
e-books — the focus of the consumers
price index (CPI) has changed markedly
over its 100 years.
And while some items have leaped
in price, milk, butter and cheese have
become much cheaper after adjusting for
The index measures the rate of price
change of goods and ser vices bought by
New Zealand households.
It started in the June 1914 quarter and,
with yesterday ’s release, has now been
going for 100 years.
To mark the 100 years, Statistics NZ
has released an interactive visualisation
on its website showing when goods and
services were added, or removed, from the
Statistics NZ prices manager Chris Pike
said prices had changed somewhat over
the past century.
Annual inflation had averaged 4.4% but
peaked at 18.9% in the June 1987 quarter,
soon after the introduction of GST.
“A basket of goods and services that
cost £1 in 1914 would cost about $151
now if the prices of those goods and
services had increased in line with the
CPI,” Mr Pike said.
The 1914 index provides an insight into
what was in most pantries at the time,
including golden syrup, mutton and tripe.
After a review in 1948, the index was
widened to include goods and ser vices
not considered essentials, and today
around 700 are monitored.
About 3000 households are surveyed
to decide what to include, and retail
transaction data is also used.
The removal process can seemingly lag
behind trends. Compact discs are still
included, for example, despite many now
downloading albums over the internet.
Digital music downloads were included
in the CPI, and there was often an
overlap as one technology or item
stopped being used by a proportion of the
population, Mr Pike said.
Dictionaries, envelopes and recordable
CDs were all removed in the last review
in 2011, when e-books and external hard-
drives were added.
Some items are included for only a
few years, reflecting fashions that were
“In 1988 we added wine-coolers and
waterbeds. And both of those two were
gone five years later.”
While the measured items have
changed over time, so have the quantities.
A century ago, 25-pound bags of flour
and 56-pound bags of sugar were
included — both are measured as 1.5kg
The CPI is used by the Reser ve
Bank to guide monetary policy, by the
Government to adjust welfare benefit
rates, and by employers and employees in
It rose 0.3% in the June 2014 quarter,
below most expectations.
However, Council of Trade Unions
economist Bill Rosenberg said the rises
were occurring in food, housing and
electricity, all areas that would be keenly
felt by families.
— New Zealand Herald
PICTURE: New Zealand Herald
A basket of goods and ser vices that cost £1 in 1914 would cost about $151 now. In this 1942 photo, a grocer cuts a coupon from a
customer’s ration book.
From tripe to e-books — 100 years of measuring prices
Consumers price index provides a vivid snapshot of social change in New Zealand.
ou can choose your friends,
but you can not choose your
family, or so says the adage.
But scientists have found
that by choosing friends
we may also be unwittingly
choosing the company of distant relatives.
A study into the genetic nature of
friendship has found that, on average,
close friends are likely to be as genetically
related to one another as fourth cousins
who share the same great, great, great
The findings suggest there is an
unexplained mechanism that helps us to
choose our friends based on how similar
they are to us in terms of their DNA,
said James Fowler, professor of medical
genetics at the University of California,
“Looking across the whole genome we
find that, on average, we are genetically
similar to our friends. We have more
DNA in common with the people we pick
as friends than we do with strangers in the
same population,” Prof Fowler said.
The phenomenon may have arisen
as part of an evolutionary process, he
said. “ The first mutant to speak needed
someone else to speak to. The ability is
useless if there’s no one who shares it,” he
“These types of traits in people are a
kind of social network effect.”
The research involved genome-wide
studies of nearly 2000 people who were
part of a larger, long-term investigation
into the factors that influence heart
disease and who, as a result, had already
had their DNA analysed for the smallest
Professor Fowler and his colleague
Nicholas Christakis of Yale University
took pairs of individuals based simply
on whether they were friends or total
strangers and analysed their DNA to see
how different or similar each member of a
pair was to one another.
They found that the strangers were
quite dissimilar in terms of their DNA
mutations, but that the pairs of friends
were on average about as related to one
another as fourth cousins, a genetic
similarity of about 1% of their DNA.
Although relatively small, the difference
was still statistically significant, Prof
Christakis said. “One per cent may not
sound like much to the lay person, but to
geneticists it is a significant number,” he
“And how remarkable: most people don’t
even know who their fourth cousins are.
Yet we are somehow, among the myriad of
possibilities, managing to select as friends
the people who resemble our kin,” he said.
The findings could not be explained
by people tending to make friends with
members of the same ethnic group as
the heart study over whelmingly involved
Americans of European ancestry, the
In their study published in the journal
proceedings of the National Academy of
Sciences, Christakis and Fowler suggest
that the phenomenon may have evolved
as a version of a well-documented feature
in Darwinism known as “kin selection”,
when closely related animals co-operate to
the mutual benefit of the genes they share.
The two scientists argued that friends are
behaving as a sort of ‘functional kin’ and
that the genetic similarities of modern
day friends to one another may have deep
evolutionary roots that have in the past
“Cues of kinship may foster altruistic
impulses and co-operative exchanges with
individuals displaying those cues, and it
is not hard to imagine that such a system
might possibly be extended to preferential
(active) friendship formation,” they write
in their scientific paper.
The olfactory sense of smell may be one
possible way for people to subconsciously
judge the genetic similarity of strangers to
themselves, they said.
Previous studies, for instance, have
shown that women can judge male
attractiveness based on smell and this may
result in choosing spouses whose immune
systems are genetically unrelated, which
could ser ve as a mechanism for avoiding
in-breeding, the scientists said.
Prof Christakis and Fowler found
evidence to support this idea by showing
that friends are most similar in the genes
affecting the sense of smell, but they are
more dissimilar for the genes that control
“It is possible that individuals who smell
things in the same way are drawn to
similar environments where they interact
with and befriend one another,” the
Perhaps the most intriguing result of
the study, they said, is that the genes that
are most similar between friends are also
the ones that appear to have evolved the
fastest over the past 30,000 years.
“It seems that our fitness depends not
only on our own genetic constitutions, but
also on the genetic constitutions of our
friends,” Prof Christakis said.
— New Zealand Herald
Choosing your friends (and relatives)
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