Word of the day

March 31, 2014

Euchre – a card game for two to four players usually played with the 32 highest cards in the pack; gain the advantage over (another player) by preventing them from taking three tricks; to cheat, deceive, trick, or outwit; to be exhausted or ruined.

 


Rural round-up

March 31, 2014

Drought relief some way off – Mike Dinsdale:

Northland’s drought-stricken farmers can’t expect any rain relief over the next two weeks as an urgent call goes out for help with grazing and supplementary feed.

This week most of Northland’s west coast, from Cape Reinga to Pouto Pt, has been classified a localised drought area under government regulations for a small-scale adverse climatic event, covering an estimated 400 dairy farms and 700 sheep and beef units.

It’s the third drought in four years in the area and there’s little chance of any significant rain to end the drought for at least the next two weeks. . . .

 ‘Green’ dairy farming proves profitable – Tina Law:

Mark and Devon Slee are proving dairy farmers can remain profitable while adopting techniques to care for the environment.

The South Canterbury couple, who have 2640 cows on 1014 hectares at Ealing, south of Ashburton, won the supreme award at the Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards, announced last week.

Mark Slee said it was great to win the award, and he and Devon were keen to highlight the good environmental practices they had adopted.

“There is a lot of concern about the expansion of dairying, and we just wanted to be out there saying ‘this is what we are doing with our property’.

“It’s worthy of mention,” Slee said. . .

Farmer’s win more significant after near death - Diane Bishop:

Four months after suffering a near-fatal cardiac arrest, Kaiwera farmer John Chittock is at the top of his game.

The 55-year-old won three of the four events at the Mossburn sheep dog trials this month – the short head and yard, the straight hunt and the zig-zag hunt with Blue, Pod and Angus, respectively.

Chittock said he had won two hunt events at a district competition before, but this was the first time he had won three events in almost 40 years of dog trialling.

“I took it with a grain of salt.

“It wasn’t until people started congratulating me that I thought it was pretty special,” he said. . .

Picking up the pace – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra’s confirmation last week of a record milk payout forecast came with a commitment to stay on course, but pick up the pace.

The forecast cash payout of $8.75 a kilogram of milksolids is 42% more than last season and the first-half revenue of $11.3 billion was up 21%.

Full-year milk production in New Zealand is expected to grow 7% and that means farms will receive nearly $14b this year, at least half of which will be spent in the regions.

However, normalised earnings and net profit in the first half of the financial year were only half those of the previous corresponding period because high commodity prices have slashed margins on value-added products. . . .

Powell wins Shepherd of the Year competition:

The 2014 Shepherd of the Year was awarded to Jason Powell on March 27 after a successful tour of the farm he works on, while answering questions from the two judges Shayne Rankin and George Tatham about his role.

He won $4500 in cash and prizes and the two merit placegetters, Jakeb Herron and Cameron Dallas, both won a Lister handpiece.

The inaugural competition was part of the Wairarapa Farm Business of the Year competition.

The Farm Business of the Year winners were Don McCreary and Anna Johnston and a field day was held on their farm in Hinakura in the Martinborough area.

Of the seven finalists in the Taratahi Shepherd of the Year competition, three were ex-Taratahi students, including Powell.  . .


Be a betterarian – beginning the journey

March 31, 2014

Journey of a Betterarian – part 1 – beginning the journey:

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You can read more on being a betterarian here.

 


Country roads aren’t motorways

March 31, 2014

Rural Canterbury areas are campaigning to get motorists to slow down on country roads:

Selwyn District Council says the “country roads are not motorways” campaign has come about after 187 crashes in the district from 2009 to 2013, in which speed or driving too fast for the conditions were a contributing factor.

No caption

Photo: IS 100k OK CAMPAIGN

Eight people died in those crashes and 33 received serious injuries.

Of all the speed related crashes during that period, 86 percent were on the open road.

The speed limit is a maximum not a target and drivers have a responsibility to drive to the conditions.

Narrower, windier roads which may or may not be sealed require a lot more care than many motorists, accustomed to little more taxing that Sate Highway 1, give them and 100 kph is often not OK on them.

But it’s not only visitors who speed. Locals and frequent users including stock can get a bit complacent and go faster than they should too.

That said, I’ve seen some very careful and considerate behaviour from Fonterra tanker drivers.

One summer evening I was at the top of a hill when I spotted a tanker on a farm track heading for the road a few hundred metres ahead.

I crept down the hill, round the blind corner, up the other side and found the tanker waiting patiently in the gateway for me to pass.


Making a dam difference

March 31, 2014

Our first foray into irrigation was with underground water pumped straight into the irrigator.

It didn’t take long for us to work out we could do more by building a dam to store water over winter and other times when we didn’t need to irrigate so we had more when we did.

We started with a relatively small dam then built a bigger one.

The difference that made is illustrated by this:

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We’ll never see a view like that again.

Thanks to the North Otago Irrigation Scheme, most farms are irrigated so now when, as we often do on the east coast, suffer from drought it’s the few dryland farms which stand out from the green.

Even those who don’t, or can’t, irrigate benefit because when it’s dry they have options of selling stock to or buying grazing or supplementary feed from, those who have irrigation.

There are obvious economic benefits from that, not just for farmers but for those who work for, service and supply them too and that flows on to the wider district and the country.

There are also environmental ones.

Our soils are fertile but they blew over from the Waitaki Valley and if we don’t look after them they’ll blow further away. Independently audited environmental farm plans, which were a condition of the resource consent, ensure that every farm which takes water farms sustainably.

Irrigation has brought social improvements too. For the first time since the ag-sag of the 80s, farmers adult children are returning to North Otago in good numbers. There were four houses on our farm and two neighbouring ones before irrigation, there are now 14 and the 15th is under construction.

We’re the oldest in any of those houses, the next oldest couple is around 40, everyone else is 30 or younger.

The NOIC scheme didn’t need to dam a river. It takes water from the Waitaki, pumps it up a hill into a holding pond from which it’s fed through pipes under pressure to the farm gate.

A bit further north the Opuha scheme did dam a river to provide irrigation and recreational opportunities  like swimming, boating and water skiing.

News of another drought in the North Island where they don’t have this insurance against the weather brings with it stories of the problems which follow.

Not every area has the water to use for irrigation, but those which do know the benefits which come from making a dam difference.


If it’s that good doens’t need govt to do it

March 31, 2014

Rodney Hide thinks the Green Party and its policies don’t get enough rigorous examination and does his bit to counter that:

He thinks they are more a religious sect than a political party and has taken a look at policies espoused by James Shaw who has passed some sitting MPs on the party’s provisional list.

He says he wants to direct his “energies towards climate change, energy and sustainable economics.” I don’t know what that means but it doesn’t sound good. He goes on, “I believe we can be among the first to have every home generate more energy than it uses from the windmill on the roof.”

Wow. Sign me up. Off the grid. Living on fresh air. No more power bills. In fact, power companies paying me. And it’s not just me. Everyone. 

I would vote for that. 

But hang on. Why isn’t Mr Shaw making and selling these windmills? The market would be huge. Who wouldn’t want one?

Perhaps there are problems. Maybe the windmills are too big. Too heavy. Too noisy. Too expensive. Or the consent process too tough. I know my neighbours wouldn’t want one on my roof. Or perhaps his windmills don’t exist. . .

New Zealand already has a high proportion of energy generated by renewable resources.

That doesn’t mean there’s not room for more, but if windmills on every house was such a good idea, why would the government need to be involved?

Why would the government need to be involved in Shaw’s other big idea to have every vehicle on the road emit nothing more noxious than water vapour?

It sounds like a good idea but if it was good in practice why wouldn’t businesses be doing it?

The power of the state is an awesome, fearsome thing. But for all its power it doesn’t override the laws of physics, basic ecology or economics. In the bowels of the state, Mr Shaw would be thrashing about taxing this, banning that and spending vast sums on green scam after green scam. He would be desperately trying to get windmills on roofs, fish back in the sea, cars running clean and everyone rich.

The universe won’t be listening. The planet won’t care. All the man-made laws, all the taxes, all the subsidies won’t make his cars fly, his windmills spin, or his industry prosper. The world doesn’t work the way the Greens think. And the suffering? It would be immense. 

His dream; our nightmare.

These are strong words but they are based a lot more on reality than much of Green policy.

 


March 31 in history

March 31, 2014

1146 Bernard of Clairvauxpreached his sermon in a field at Vézelay, urging the necessity of a Second Crusade.

1492 Queen Isabella of Castille issued the Alhambra decree, ordering her 150,000 Jewish subjects to convert to Christianity or face expulsion.

1596 René Descartes, French mathematician, was born (d. 1650).

1621 Andrew Marvell, English poet, was born  (d. 1678).

1717 A sermon on “The Nature of the Kingdom of Christ” by Benjamin Hoadly, the Bishop of Bangor, provokes the Bangorian Controversy.

1732 Joseph Haydn, Austrian composer, was born (d. 1809).

1774 American Revolutionary War: The Great Britain ordered the port of Boston, Massachusetts closed pursuant to the Boston Port Act.

1822  The massacre of the population of the Greek island of Chios by soldiers of the Ottoman Empire following a rebellion attempt, depicted by the French artist Eugène Delacroix.

1854 Commodore Matthew Perry signed the Treaty of Kanagawa with the Japanese government, opening the ports of Shimoda and Hakodate to American trade.

1864 – Rewi’s last stand. The last battle of the Waikato War began when the spearhead of a 1200-strong British force charged an apparently weak Māori position at Ōrākau, south-east of Te Awamutu.

 

1866 The Spanish Navy bombed the harbour of Valparaíso, Chile.

1885  The United Kingdom established a protectorate over Bechuanaland.

1889 The Eiffel Tower was inaugurated.

1903 Richard Pearse made a powered flight in an early aircraft.

1906 The Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States (later National Collegiate Athletic Association) is established to set rules for amateur sports in the United States.

1909 Serbia accepted Austrian control over Bosnia-Herzegovina.

1909 Construction began on the RMS Titanic.

1910 – the Hocken library opened at the Otago Museum.

 

1912 Construction was completed on the RMS Titanic.

1917 The United States took possession of the Danish West Indies after paying $25 million to Denmark, and renames the territory the United States Virgin Islands.

1921 The Royal Australian Air Force was formed.

1926 John Fowles, English author, was born (d. 2005).

1930 The Motion Pictures Production Code was instituted, imposing strict guidelines on the treatment of sex, crime, religion and violence in film for the next thirty eight years.

1931  An earthquake destroyed Managua, Nicaragua, killing 2,000.

1933 The Civilian Conservation Corps was established with the mission of relieving rampant unemployment.

1935 Herb Alpert, American trumpeter and band leader, was born.

1936 Marge Piercy, American writer, was born.

1940 The funeral of Labour Prime Minister Michael Joseph Savage took place.

Funeral of Labour PM Savage

1942  World War II: Japanese forces invaded Christmas Island, then a British possession.

1942 Holocaust in Ivano-Frankivsk (then called Stanislawow), western Ukraine. German Gestapo organised the first deportation of 5,000 Jews from Stanislawow ghetto to Belzec death camp.

1946 – The first election was held in Greece after World War II.

1947  César Gaviria Trujillo, former President of Colombia, was born.

1948 Al Gore, former Vice President of the United States and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, was born.

1951 Remington Rand delivered the first UNIVAC I computer to the United States Census Bureau.

1955 Angus Young, Scottish-born Australian guitarist (AC/DC), was born.

1955  Robert Vance, New Zealand cricketer, was born.

1959 The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, crossed the border into India and was granted political asylum.

1964 The Dictatorship in Brazil, under the aegis of general Castello Branco, began.

1965 Iberia Airlines Convair 440 crashed into the sea on approach to Tangier, killing 47 of 51 occupants.

1966 The Soviet Union launched Luna 10 which became the first space probe to enter orbit around the Moon.

1970 Explorer 1 re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere (after 12 years in orbit).

1970 Nine terrorists from the Japanese Red Army hijack Japan Airlines Flight 351 at Tokyo International Airport, wielding samurai swords and carrying a bomb.

1972 Alejandro Amenábar, Spanish film director, was born.

1979 The last British soldier left Malta which declared its Freedom Day (Jum il-Helsien).

1986 – A Mexicana Boeing 727 en route to Puerto Vallarta erupted in flames and crashes in the mountains northwest of Mexico City, killing 166.

1986 – Six metropolitan county councils were abolished in England.

1990 200,000 protestors took to the streets of London to protest against the newly introduced Poll Tax.

1991 The Islamic Constitutional Movement, or Hadas, was established in Kuwait.

1991 Georgian independence referendum, 1991: nearly 99 percent of the voters supported the country’s independence from the Soviet Union.

1992 The USS Missouri (BB-63), the last active United States Navy Battleship, was decommissioned.

199 The journal Nature reported the finding in Ethiopia of the first complete Australopithecus afarensis skull.

1995 In Corpus Christi, Texas, Latin superstar Selena Quintanilla Perez was shot and killed by Yolanda Saldivar, the president of her own fan club.

1998 Netscape released the code base of its browser under an open-source license agreement; with code name Mozilla and which was spun off into the non-profit Mozilla Foundation.

2004 In Fallujah, Iraq, 4 American private military contractors working for Blackwater USA, were killed and their bodies mutilated after being ambushed.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


Word of the day

March 30, 2014

Looder - swearer, attestor, oath-taker; to thrash, administer a beating.


Rural round-up

March 30, 2014

Deutsche Bank keeps ‘sell’ rating on Fonterra, seeks more transparency – Pattrick Smellie:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group needs to make it far clearer to farmers and other investors how its business model operates, says Deutsche Bank after the dairy exporter shored up a slump in half-year profits by intervening in the regulated price it pays for milk at the farm gate.

Deutsche Bank retains its ‘sell’ rating on Fonterra Shareholders Fund units, with a 12-month target price of $5.64. The units slipped 0.2 percent by mid-afternoon to $6.08, and have fallen from a closing price of $6.15 on March 26, when the result for the six months to Jan. 31 was declared.

Fonterra posted a 53 percent fall in first-half net profit to $217 million, a result that would have been far worse if the cooperative had not taken the unprecedented action last December of deciding to reduce the regulated Farm Gate Milk Price (FGMP) to farmer-shareholders by 70 cents per kilogram of milk solids. . . .

New Zealand dairy farmers are responding to high prices by cranking the handle on their production to cash in on record payout – Jeff Smith:

Our dairy farmers are “cranking the handle” on production in response to high prices they are receiving for their milk.

As a result nationwide dairy production is expected to be up by 11% this current season.

Strong dairy prices have “handed the baton” to strong dairy volumes, ASB says in its economic update released today.

Volumes would be higher than normal this year as farmers had bought extra feed to increase milk production in anticipation of higher prices, ASB Bank rural economist Nathan Penny told interest.co.nz today. . . .

Farmer lands $30,000 in prizes - Elliot Parker:

Hard work has its merits.

Hinakura farmer Donald McCreary can attest to this after winning the award for the Beef and Lamb Wairarapa Farm Business of the Year and in the process scoring himself $30,000 in prizes.

McCleary has been farming in Hinakura, east of Martinborough, since 2004 on a 1375 ha property which is predominantly steep, hill country.

The property contains 6700 ewes and 225 breeding cattle.

McCreary says his approach to good farming is to be well versed in all areas of farm management. . .

Meat industry on the rise - Carmen Hall:

Higher lambing percentages and export carcass weights are helping offset a dramatic drop in sheep numbers.

Numbers have almost halved since 1991, but the amount of product being exported has remained stable as farmers focus on improving their systems.

Negative publicity has overshadowed the fact farmers have made significant gains in productivity and the industry has the potential to cash in on future growth, industry leaders are saying. Beef and Lamb New Zealand chief executive Scott Champion says the organisation focused on “best practice behind the farm gate”. . .

Finance support adds up for farmers :

Tauranga HR company Teaming Up hopes to connect accountancy firms with farmers in an economic development project that could generate millions of dollars.

The company spearheaded the Beyond Reasonable Drought inaugural road shows in the Bay of Plenty and East Coast last month, which attracted nearly 1000 people.

Marlborough sheep and beef farmer Doug Avery, who was on the brink of disaster 15 years ago after consecutive droughts, presented the seminars. He overcame adversity by adopting a scientific approach to agriculture and introducing deep-rooted, drought-tolerant lucerne. He employs six full-time staff, including son Frazer, and his business is a profitable operation that promotes high-reward, low-impact farming. . .

Honey lovers could get stung:

Honey prices could rise as much as 20 percent due to one of the worst seasons in decades.

Beekeepers say lower than usual temperatures in January meant the insects stayed inside their hives during the peak season and produced less honey. . .


High Places

March 30, 2014

 

Open large picture

High Places ©2014 Brian Andreas – published with permission.
Clicking on the link above will take you to where you can sign up for an email delivery of a daily dose of whimsy like this.

Baa-rnstorming the Lourve

March 30, 2014

Visitors to the Louvre got more than they baa-rgained for yesterday:

It was more je ne sais baa than quoi at the Louvre museum this morning as a flock of sheep and their farmers stormed the Paris landmark.

The protesters were from the Farmers’ Federation, who carried banners reading “PAC’astrophe” in reference to the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy, which is under reform.

They were objecting to the effects of the industrialisation of agriculture, saying they feared for farmers’ jobs. . . .

Change is difficult but necessary.
We can be grateful that difficult as it was at the time, being thrust into the real world in the 1980s has made agriculture in New Zealand stronger.
Without those changes New Zealand would not be leading the developed world in economic growth nor would we be able to afford so much of the imports and social services which depend on export income.

 


Mud sticks

March 30, 2014

Tracey Watkins asks do smear campaigns work?

Short answer – of course.

If they didn’t, they would not be a time-honoured political tool.

But the trick is maintaining the appearance of keeping your hands clean. . .

That’s the difficult party because mud sticks – to the person to whom its thrown and the hands of the one throwing it.

Politics is – relatively – clean in New Zealand and for good reason.

Most people aren’t interested in the dirty games that take the focus off what matters and if the dirty stuff goes on too long it can backfire with people feeling sympathy for the victim and derision for the attacker.

 


Norman helps National again

March 30, 2014

Undecided voters in the centre generally don’t like parties on the extremes of politics.

They don’t wholeheartedly support National or Labour but they prefer them to those at the more radical end of the political spectrum.

They are more likely to favour a stronger major party because of that, knowing that any of the wee parties which are needed to form a government will have a lot less leverage.

That’s one reason labour is struggling.

Some who might support it aren’t at all keen on the thought of the influence a Green Party with a third as many MPs as Labour would have.

Any flexing of muscles by the Greens might appeal to its supporters but it sends those to the right of the left and in the centre further right.

Russel Norman’s announcement he wants to be deputy Prime Minister will excite his party’s grass roots but it will scare a lot of undecided and swinging voters.

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman wants to be deputy prime minister if Labour and Greens become government after this year’s election.

Any cabinet formed after the September election should be proportional, and the deputy prime minister role would certainly be on the table, Dr Norman told The Nation today.

“Obviously it depends on the size of the vote,” he said. . .

Keeping talking like that, Russel, it will hurt Labour and help National.

P.S.

Does this ambition on Norman’s part expose the nonsense of co-leaders. After all, if he and Metiria Turei are truely equal as leaders, why would he be deputy PM ahead of her?


Sunday soapbox

March 30, 2014

Sunday’s soapbox is yours to use as you will – within the bounds of decency and absence of defamation. You’re welcome to look back or forward, discuss issues of the moment, to pontificate, ponder or point us to something of interest, to educate, elucidate or entertain, to amuse, bemuse or simply muse.

@[252006304935213:274:Word Porn]!


March 30 in history

March 30, 2014

240 BC 1st recorded perihelion passage of Halley’s Comet.

1282 The people of Sicily rebelled against the Angevin KingCharles I, in what became known as the Sicilian Vespers.

1296 Edward I sacked Berwick-upon-Tweed, during armed conflict between Scotland and England.

1746 Francisco Goya, Spanish painter, was born  (d. 1828).

1811 Robert Bunsen, German chemist, was born (d. 1899).

1814 Napoleonic Wars: Sixth Coalition forces marched into Paris.

1814 – Joachim Murat issued the Rimini Declaration which later inspired Italian Unification.

1820 Anna Sewell, British author, was born (d. 1878).

1842 Anesthesia was used for the first time in an operation by Dr Crawford Long.

1844 One of the most important battles of the Dominican War of Independence from Haiti took place near the city of Santiago de los Caballeros.

1853 Vincent van Gogh, Dutch painter, was born  (d. 1890).

1855 Origins of the American Civil War: Bleeding Kansas – “Border Ruffians” from Missouri invaded Kansas and forced election of a pro-slavery legislature.

1856 The Treaty of Paris was signed, ending the Crimean War.

1858 Hymen Lipman patented a pencil with an attached rubber.

1863 Danish prince Wilhelm Georg was chosen as King George of Greece.

1864 Franz Oppenheimer, German sociologist, was born (d. 1943).

1867 Alaska was purchased for $7.2 million, about 2 cent/acre ($4.19/km²), by United States Secretary of State William H. Seward. The media called this Seward’s Folly.

1870 Texas was readmitted to the Union following Reconstruction.

1885 The Battle for Kushka triggered the Pandjeh Incident which nearly gave rise to war between the British and Russian Empires.

1909 The Queensboro Bridge opened, linking Manhattan and Queens.

1910  The Mississippi Legislature founded The University of Southern Mississippi.

1912 Sultan Abdelhafid signed the Treaty of Fez, making Morocco a French protectorate.

1913 Frankie Laine, American singer, was born (d. 2007).

1918 Outburst of bloody March Events in Baku and other locations of Baku Governorate.

1928 Tom Sharpe, English satirical author, was born.

1930 Rolf Harris, Australian artist and entertainer, was born.

1937 Warren Beatty, American actor and director, was born.

1939 The Heinkel He 100 fighter sets a world airspeed record of 463 mph.

1939 – First flight of the Australian C.A.C. CA-16 Wirraway.

1940 – Funeral procession for Prime Minister Michael Joseph Savage.

1940 Sino-Japanese War: Japan declared Nanking to be the capital of a new Chinese puppet government, nominally controlled by Wang Ching-wei.

1941 Graeme Edge, British musician (Moody Blues), was born.

1945  Eric Clapton, British guitarist, was born.

1945 World War II: Soviet Union forces invaded Austria and took Vienna; Polish and Soviet forces liberated Gdańsk.

1945 – World War II: a defecting German pilot delivered a Messerschmitt Me 262A-1 to the Americans.

1949  A riot broke out in Austurvöllur square in Reykjavík, when Iceland joined NATO.

1950 Robbie Coltrane, Scottish actor and comedian, was born.

1954  Yonge Street subway line opened in Toronto, the first subway in Canada.

1959 Peter Hugh McGregor Ellis, who was convicted of child abuse at the Christchurch Civic Creche, was born.

1961  The Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs was signed in New York.

1962 MC Hammer, American rap musician, was born.

1964 Tracy Chapman, American singer, was born,

1965 Vietnam War: A car bomb exploded in front of the US Embassy, Saigon, killing 22 and wounding 183 others.

1967 Fred Ladd flew a plane under Auckland Harbour Bridge.

Fred Ladd flies plane under Auckland Harbour Bridge

1968 Celine Dion, Canadian singer, was born.

1972  Vietnam War: The Easter Offensive began after North Vietnamese forces cross into the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) of South Vietnam.

1979 Airey Neave, a British MP, was killed by a car bomb as left the Palace of Westminster. The Irish National Liberation Army claimed responsibility.

1979 Norah Jones, American musician, was born.

1981 President Ronald Reagan was shot in the chest outside a Washington, D.C., hotel by John Hinckley, Jr.

1982 Space Shuttle programme: STS-3 Mission was completed with the landing of Columbia at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.

2004 – Historian Michael King died.

2006  The United Kingdom Terrorism Act 2006 became law.

2009 – Twelve gunmen attacked the Manawan Police Academy in Lahore, Pakistan.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


Let there be light

March 29, 2014

Tonight some people will be celebrating Earth Hour by turning off their lights.

Some won’t because they don’t have lights to start with.

Others could but won’t.

Among the latter group is Ross McKitrick, Professor of Economics at the University of Guelph.

In 2009 I was asked by a journalist for my thoughts on the importance of Earth Hour.

Here is my response.

I abhor Earth Hour. Abundant, cheap electricity has been the greatest source of human liberation in the 20th century. Every material social advance in the 20th century depended on the proliferation of inexpensive and reliable electricity.

Giving women the freedom to work outside the home depended on the availability of electrical appliances that free up time from domestic chores.

Getting children out of menial labour and into schools depended on the same thing, as well as the ability to provide safe indoor lighting for reading.

Development and provision of modern health care without electricity is absolutely
impossible. The expansion of our food supply, and the promotion of hygiene and nutrition, depended on being able to irrigate fields, cook and refrigerate foods, and have a steady indoor supply of hot water. Many of the world’s poor suffer brutal environmental conditions in their own homes because of the necessity of cooking over indoor fires that burn twigs and dung. This causes local deforestation and the proliferation of smoke- and parasite-related lung diseases.

Anyone who wants to see local conditions improve in the third world should realize the importance of access to cheap electricity from fossil-fuel based power generating
stations. After all, that’s how the west developed.

The whole mentality around Earth Hour demonizes electricity. I cannot do that, instead I
celebrate it and all that it has provided for humanity. Earth Hour celebrates ignorance,
poverty and backwardness. By repudiating the greatest engine of liberation it becomes an hour devoted to anti-humanism. It encourages the sanctimonious gesture of turning off trivial appliances for a trivial amount of time, in deference to some ill-defined abstraction called “the Earth,” all the while hypocritically retaining the real benefits of continuous, reliable electricity.

People who see virtue in doing without electricity should shut off their fridge, stove, microwave, computer, water heater, lights, TV and all other appliances for a month, not an hour. And pop down to the cardiac unit at the hospital and shut the power off
there too.

I don’t want to go back to nature. Travel to a zone hit by earthquakes, floods and hurricanes to see what it’s like to go back to nature. For humans, living in “nature” meant a short life span marked by violence, disease and ignorance. People who work for the end of poverty and relief from disease are fighting against nature . I hope they leave their lights on.

Here in Ontario, through the use of pollution control technology and advanced engineering, our air quality has dramatically improved since the 1960s, despite the expansion of industry and the power supply.

If, after all this, we are going to take the view that the remaining air emissions outweigh all the benefits of electricity, and that we ought to be shamed into sitting in darkness for an hour, like naughty children who have been caught doing something bad, then we are setting up unspoiled nature as an absolute, transcendent ideal that obliterates all other ethical and humane obligations.

No thanks. I like visiting nature but I don’t want to live there, and I refuse to accept the idea that civilization with all its tradeoffs is something to be ashamed of.

Let there be light and heat and all the other benefits electricity brings us and let those who wish to make change a reality find a more positive and useful way to do it.

Celebrating Human Achievement Hour could be a good way to start.

Hat tip: Carpe Diem

 

 


Word of the day

March 29, 2014

Hygge (Danish) – complete absence of anything annoying, irritating or emotionally overwhelming, and the presence of and pleasure from comforting, gentle and soothing things; a situation that induces a cheerful mood, peace of mind, with connotation of belonging and social acceptance, coziness and being unhurried.


Rural round-up

March 29, 2014

Land leasing lessons – Rebecca Harper:

Getting started farming in your own right can be a challenge and leasing is a great first option. Rebecca Harper investigates how it works and what you need to know about leasing.

David Skiffington has five lease blocks and has developed his own philosophy and system for leasing, building up to a viable farm business for him and his young family.

He got his first lease block in 2008 and is now leasing land from four Maori trusts and one private landowner in Manawatu, with about 100 hectares all up.

David is dead set against paying market price for a block. “I feel like the market rate is often set by the guy next door who has an advantage. Market price is set at a price where not much is economic.” . . .

Dairy prices may dip as record payouts prompt farmers to boost milk production -

(BusinessDesk) – Dairy prices will probably decline over the last few months of the New Zealand season as farmers ramp up milk production to benefit from record payouts.

Prices generally hold up on lower volumes heading into the end of the season in May, however volumes will be higher than normal this year as farmers had favourable growing conditions in the lead-up to the main producing season and bought extra feed to increase milk production in anticipation of higher prices, said ASB Bank rural economist Nathan Penny.

Auckland-based Fonterra Cooperative Group, the world’s biggest dairy exporter, last month raised its payout to farmer suppliers to a record level on the back of strong global demand. New Zealand dairy farmers will probably produce 11 percent more milk this season than last season, which will equate to around a 9 to 10 percent increase in volume for Fonterra, ahead of the dairy group’s forecast for a 7.5 percent increase in volume, ASB says. . .

Bovine Blackmailers and half a kennel - Mad Bush Farm:

The cows know I have a bag of feed just inside the door right now. It’s not theirs to have of course; it belongs to the old man. Sometimes, though, I do give them some of it, even though right now they don’t really need feeding much more than some hay.  Trouble is they’ve cottoned on that I feed the old man twice a day. They have it all figured out, along with how to muck up my recently cleaned windows (forget that now!) . . .

Apples and applesauce - Cabbage Tree Farm:

It’s apple season here on CTF. I am steadily working my way through mountains of apples. OK ‘mountains’ might be a slight exaggeration, but there are certainly quite a few kilos!
Here is a big box of delicious ‘Reinette du Canada’ apples – a French heirloom apple – that I picked yesterday. This variety is great for cooking, but it can also be eaten as a dessert apple. We usually cook it.


Some of these apples get quite big. The biggest one I picked was 500g (18 oz)! . . . 

Good as green for top crop:

A Bay of Plenty kiwifruit orchard has posted a top orchard gate return based on its production of Hayward green in the 2013 season.

Last season it produced an average of 15,109 trays per hectare with size 33 fruit, with an orchard gate return (OGR) in excess of $90,000 compared to the industry average of $43,000. It was the highest OGR recorded for 2013 by the orchard’s management company, Direct Management Services (DMS).

The orchard is owned by the Owen St George Family Trust and managed by Matt Greenbank of DMS. Owen’s daughter, Jackie, also works on the orchard.. . .

Hastings centre stage for next Regional Final:

The East Coast Regional Final of the ANZ Young Farmer Contest is set to be held in Hastings next weekend Saturday 5th April at the Hawke’s Bay A&P Showgrounds.

Eight finalists are contending for a spot at the Grand Final in Christchurch 3-5 July and their share of a $14,000 prize pack including products, services and scholarships from ANZ, Lincoln University, Silver Fern Farms, AGMARDT, Ravensdown, Honda, Husqvarna and Vodafone.

There is a wide range of competitors for this round of eliminations, with a variety of backgrounds, ages and skill sets. . . .

Value Added Products Get First Taste of Tomato Crop:

Wattie’s value added products are the first to benefit from the company’s 77th annual tomato crop, which is just passed the mid-point of the harvest.

In producing the country largest tomato crop Wattie’s carefully selects tomato varieties to meet and thrive in the Hawke’s Bay climate.

Wattie’s agronomist Jonny La Trobe who is responsible for the tomato crop, says the season is going well, and with half the harvest completed, the fruit quality and yields are good.

“While we may not pip last year’s exceptional volumes, favourable spring weather – which also benefited our peach crop – gave us an excellent start on which to build.” . . .


Saturday’s smiles

March 29, 2014

A frog goes into a bank and approaches the teller. He can see from her nameplate
that her name is Patricia Whack.

“Miss Whack, I’d like to get a $30,000 loan to take a holiday.”

Patty looks at the frog in disbelief and asks his name.
The frog says his name is Kermit Jagger, his dad is  Mick Jagger, and that it’s okay, he knows the bank manager.

Patty explains that he will need to secure the loan with some collateral.

The frog says, “Sure. I have this,” and produces a tiny porcelain elephant, about an inch tall, bright pink and perfectly formed.

Very confused, Patty explains that she’ll have to consult with the bank manager and disappears into a back office.

She finds the manager and  says, “There’s a frog called Kermit Jagger out there who claims to know you and wants to borrow $30,000, and he wants to use this as collateral.”

She holds up the tiny pink elephant. “I mean, what in the world is this?”
The bank manager looks back at her and says.

“It’s a knickknack, Patty Whack. Give the frog a loan, His old man’s a Rolling Stone.”

 


Waiting at the alter

March 29, 2014

Cartoon of the week:

 

waitingW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Liberation has more on the dotbomb issue here.


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