Blue cheese blues

March 29, 2009

Fonterra’s has made a blue  and from all acounts it – Kapiti Kikorangi – is a very nice blue. But it’s not as the company claims the blue which has won the most cheese awards.

Fonterra has based its claim on based on results from the Cuisine Champions of Cheese Awards, started in 2004 by the NZ Specialist Cheesemakers Association but Whitestone Cheese isn’t swallowing that because:

Bob Berry, Whitestone Cheese founder, says Fonterra has a short memory. While the awards are only a few years old, a national competition has been in place since 1994.

“I think it’s quite simple. What they’re saying is let’s forget the first half and start again. But good things take time and good cheeses have long memories.”

My votes with Whitestone and not just for its Windsor Blue  but also for Moeraki Bay Blue  and Highland Blue.

They are delicious on their own, with oat crackers or bread and promote the humble asapragus roll to a gourment delight.

While it’s best with fresh asparagus , when that’s not available you can use tinned:

Cut the crusts of thin sliced wholemeal bread, top with one or two asparagus spears and a generous amount of grated blue cheese.

Roll, place on oven tray and cook until bread is toasted; or cook them in a toasted-sandwich maker and call them asparagus flats 🙂


Dirty water

March 29, 2009

Agriculture Minister David Carter was right when he said, in reference to dairying & clean streams:

The small number of dairy farmers who ignore effluent disposal requirements are damaging the reputation of the dairy industry as a whole.

It is simply unacceptable to pollute. Not only does it antagonise environmental organisations but also wider New Zealand. More importantly, it risks the hard-gained reputation that New Zealand Inc. has established in our international markets.

There is no excuse for wanton pollution of waterways but this isn’t just a country issue.

Earlier this month sewage was visible off the coast of Dunedin and Dave Haywood at Public Address discovered the people of Christchurch might be flushing their loos into the Avon and Heathcote rivers.

Well, frankly, this sucks. And it sucks that I even have to point out how much it sucks. Surely it’s absolutely obvious that you shouldn’t dump raw sewage into a river — any river — let alone a river that runs through a major city. Even if it’s only when the wastewater network becomes ‘overloaded’ (which, incidentally, the council expects will be around twice a year).

While dairy farmers are – quite rightly – being fined if they allow  cattle or effluent , near water ways, whole cities are discharging untreated sewage into rivers and the sea.

That’s what I call a very inconvenient truth.

Hat Tip: Alf Grumble


It pays to be clean

March 29, 2009

The Sunday Times Story of the family who got repeated stomach bugs because their cleaner wiped the loo with their towels is revolting.

But what shocked me most was that the cleaning company charged $50 a hour.

I have nothing against a business making money and realise the hourly rate will cover not just wages but overheads.

But either they do things differently in the city or I’m very out of touch because $50 an hour for cleaning sounds exorbitant to me.

I wonder how much the cleaner got?

If it was half the amount the home owner paid, it would be a little more than twice the sum offered to a graduate journalist in an advertisement spotted by David Cohen:

Starting salary is $25,000.

Interesting. According to the Department of Labour, the minimum wage is $12 an hour, or $24,960 a year, which puts the offered amount here only microscopically higher (not quite 2c an hour before tax) than what an entry-level burger-flipper might expect to command at McDonald’s.

Even if the cleaner got a quarter of the charge-out rate, s/he would be nearly 50 cents an hour better paid than the reporter.


Did you see the light/dark?

March 29, 2009

Did you see the light dark last night?

TV3 showed us the lights on the Sky Tower going out (and also lots of candles burning).

The Herald declared Earth Hour a success but Keeping Stock reckoned that was a Tui truth.

Around other blogs this morning:

Zen Tiger at NZ Conservative has a much better idea for dirt day once a week

Psycho Milt at No Minister had some family learning opportunities

And some I missed last night:

A seven year old speaks sense at M&M

Dave Gee switched on for sanity hour

Roarprawn declared it a crock

Oswald Bastable switched on everything

Mr Dennis lit up too.


If the cap fits public opinion will wear it

March 29, 2009

The Herald asked if public sector jobs should be capped when unemployment is rising?

The response, albeit unscientific, was conclusive: A total of 2867 people voted and 2234, 78% of them said yes with just 633 (22%) saying no.


Edison Hour vs Earth Hour

March 28, 2009

While some people are returning to the dark ages and increasing their carbon emissions by celebrating Earth Hour they’re facing supposedly enlightened competition from Edison Hour.

And me? I’m not deliberately using more or less electricity than usual, but we went out for dinner (Speights Ale House in Wanaka, Morrocan lamb salad, delicious; took the waitress’s advice that the Sheep Shagger pinot noir was for tourists and enjoyed a Mt Difficulty  Roaring Meg instead) and as we were paying the bill at 8.28 the lights dimmed.

We had walked there and walked home, as we usually do, noting that it was pretty dark, but then Wanaka always has the bare minimum of street lights. That’s because most residents prefer it that way because less light pollution lets them appreciate more stars in the sky.

I think that means we observed earth hour by accident and by doing so we burned neither candles nor bonfires, used no batteries and no petrol, so we probably did more for the planet than a lot of people who deliberately turned their lights off but created more carbon with alternative sources of heat and light.

P.S. Thanks to Madeleine who left a comment on the previous post which pointed me to Keith Ng at Public Address who sees the flaws in both earth hour and Edison hour:

I was inspired to write the first part of this after hearing of people who turned off all the lights during Earth Hour, then lit up their fireplaces and burned candles instead. From sixth form chemistry: Burning organic material (like wax and wood) produces CO2. Tell your friends. . .

. . . Going out of your way to waste energy is the antithesis of technological progress and human enterprise, so don’t you dare claim to be on the side of rationality and science.

Lucyna Maria at NZ Conservative  is also neither sacrificing anything to the green god nor joining Edison hour.

And Frenemy has a photo of the dark.


Irony by candle light

March 28, 2009

Just as I suspected when I suggested earth hour is greenwash,   the attempts to reduce carbon emissions may in fact increase them.

Several comments left on that post are worth highlighting:

From Pointer 2:

From The Courier Timaru edition 26 March p5 “Woodbury event to mark Earth Hour” (not online)

“At 8.30 we will switch off the lights and gather around a bonfire. There will be time for discussion and reflection and maybe a bit of singing,” Mr Polman said.

“we’re asking people to bring a torch, storm lantern or a tealight in a glass jar, and to switch off the lights and appliances before they leave home.”

Totally bizarre isn’t it! Carbon emissions from bonfire? Industrial pollutants from batteries? I’m not even going to comment on the noise pollution from many verses of Kumbayah. None of this seems to count as much as the futile gesture of switching off relatively clean electrical incandescent bulbs and bathing in the glow of self-righteousness instead. No wonder the Green party keeps exceeding 5%.

From Stephen Stratford:

Where I live people throughout the region are being encouraged to support Earth Hour by attending Nightglow, an event at Waikato University. The promotional material says that the main carpark has 5000 spaces, and there are two other carparks for when it is full. What a great way to reduce emissions.

He carried the story from The Age  on Quote Unquote about businesses which supported earth hour last year increasing their carbon emissions since then.

From Mr Dennis:

Modern candles are made from parrafin wax – ie oil. It is quite laughable all these greenies giving up their clean hydro-electricity to burn oil to save the planet.

And they’re mainly made in China. What’s the bet the same people who would be right behind protectionist “Buy NZ Made” campaigns are the ones pushing for people to give up their NZ made electricity to burn Chinese candles tonight?

He has more on his blog.

Irony by candle light, assisted by battery powered torches and transported by cars.

If only the people promoting the greenwash could see the humour in this they’d smile enough to brighten their Saturday in an appropriately carbon neutral manner.


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