In My Hour of Darkness

November 5, 2009

In response to comments from Andrei and Paul on the previous post, Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris:


Turn, Turn, Turn

November 5, 2009

Today was Gram Parsons’s birthday.

 


I Believe

November 5, 2009

Happy birthday Art Garfunkel.

 


Redheads rock for music video

November 5, 2009

Are you allowed to discriminate against people on the grounds of hair colour?

I don’t know, but legal or not, Wellington singer-songwriter Jesse Sheehan who won this year’s Smokefree Rockquest, got a group of gingers to make a video for his winning song Brothers and Sisters.

Those who get the variation in the MC1R gene in the genetic lottery often suffer from disparaging remarks about their hair colour.  But at least on this video, redheads rock and gingas groove.


Carbon indulgences

November 5, 2009

A poster over the seat of the taxi we used in Wellington last week informed us it was carbon zero.

“How can you be carbon zero?” one passenger asked.

“The company plants trees,” the driver said.

We asked a few more questions and ascertained that it didn’t appear to have any impact on the volume of business, but didn’t get a firm answer on whether it had an impact on fares or the environment.

“In other words,” one of our number said, “It’s a bit like me claiming to be fit because I pay someone else to go to the gym, and not knowing if the other bloke is getting fitter either.”


Farming as important in future as was in past

November 5, 2009

Farming will be as important for New Zealand’s future as it was for its past, Trade Minister Tim Grocer Groser said.

He was addressing  Federated Farmers and painted a very positive picture for the future of farming, and New Zealand.

Among the points he made were:

* The importance of water:

Twenty years ago, I used to say, metaphorically, NZ was in effect a ‘grass exporter’. That is not the metaphor I use today. Today I say NZ is a virtual water exporter. I do not see how China, with 24% of the world’s population, 9% of the world’s arable land and massive problems with water can feed its increasingly sophisticated and growing middle class with the high quality foodstuffs, wine and other products they will demand.

 (Daniel Collins posts on this over at Sicblogs.)

* The positive outlook for trade:

 We have far more opportunities than we could ever use. It will take years to realize these opportunities, but I see no justification for settling for mediocrity.

* The importance of quality and productivity:

 NZ’s point of differentiation is quality and food safety. Is it still low cost? Well, that is a moot point. We still have to remain highly competitive but we are no longer the lowest cost producer. . .

. . .We need to be very careful about our cost structures. But we need to be even more careful about maintaining our extraordinary record of productivity growth in agriculture.

* The customer as the new regulator and the importance of being seen to do something about climate change:

The real risk is not about Governments. It is that our customers, or rather the retailers that make the crucial decisions on sourcing, may walk away from NZ over environmental, climate change or other PPMs – the technical term for production processes and methods. That is a real risk. Don’t treat it lightly, would be my advice.


We need to have integrity right throughout the supply chain. It won’t be achieved easily and we will have to live with inconsistencies as we seek to close the gap between the objective of ‘100% pure’ and current practices of some of our producers who just want to shut their eyes to this challenge.

But it is not just a challenge. There is a huge opportunity.

This speech paints the most positive view of farming and trade I’ve come across for years.

A couple of decades ago politicians were talking about agriculture as a sunset industry. It’s great to have a minister who, while realistic about the challenges, is also positive about the opportunities and believes the sunset industry is set to rise again.


Children are dying

November 5, 2009

The headlines says: Climate change could kill 250,000 children.

The story quotes Save the Children saying climate change could kill that many children next year and the death toll could rise to 400,000 by 2030.

In a new report Save the Children claims that climate change is the biggest global health threat to children in the 21st century as droughts and floods force families to leave their homes and children to drop out of school. Starvation and economic collapse caused by natural disasters could even lead to more child trafficking and child labour.

Let’s not get into whether or not the climate is changing and if it is whether or not human activity is responsible for it.

Let’s ask instead is the study which resulted in this conclusion the best use of the charity’s limited funds and resources?

I have a lot of respect for Save the Children and donate to it. I particularly like the way money donated for a purpose goes to that purpose and that the bulk of head office overheads, in New Zealand at least, is paid for by branch fund raising.

In North Otago this is done by a small group of volunteers whose activities include running a shop and contributing to its stock with home made jam and other produce. (It’s worth a stop if you’re passing through Oamaru).

They do so because they want to help the millions of children in need today and that’s where the charity should direct its resources.

Save the Children should stick to saving the children who are dying now as the result of natural and political disasters. There are plenty of others with less pressing immediate needs who can campaign over what could cause children to die in the future.


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