Word of the day

June 23, 2013

Swoopstake – in an indiscriminate manner; altogether.


Rural round-up

June 23, 2013

Agri-tech firm big winner at Auckland Export Awards

Farm technology company Tru-Test Group took out the top honours at last night’s Auckland Export NZ awards.

The company which manufactures livestock weigh scale indicators and milk meters also won the Westpac Exporter of the Year – total sales over $25 million. . . .

Zespri’s gold dream back – Richard Rennie:

The rebuilding of gold kiwifruit orchards has met with unprecedented demand from growers this season, with allocations 34% ahead of Zespri’s expectations.

Zespri has allocated 1130ha of licences for the gold fruit in the Psa-tolerant variety Gold3.

This is 288ha more than intended and includes 688ha of new orchard plantings.

The remainder is replacing the more Psa-vulnerable Hort16A variety with Gold3. . .

Yeah right – everyone loves a farmer – Stephen Bell:

I’m continually and increasingly seeing headlines and stories about farmers wanting to improve the opinion urban Kiwis have of them.

But I see little evidence of them doing much to improve their image, apart from moaning about the fact townies don’t understand them and implying this is somehow the townies’ fault.

Fonterra has made a bloody good start with its school milk programme, backed up by a clever and engaging advertising campaign, where the kids are grateful for the milk but relieved the farmers aren’t taking over the running of schools.

However, contrast that with the Silver Fern Farms ads, which portray negative stereotypes of farmers and urban dwellers. If I ever meet the farmer from those ads I might be tempted to whack him in the mush – if someone gives me something to stand on – such is the way he annoys me. He really is a drongo. . . .

Silver Fern Farms Appoints New Independent Director:

Silver Fern Farms has appointed Jane Taylor of Queenstown to the role of Independent Director, following the retirement of Richard Somerville, who was appointed to the Board in 2004.

Jane Taylor, who will be one of the three independent appointees to the Board, is a barrister, a chartered accountant and member of the Institute of Directors and Global Women.

Jane is a Director of Radio New Zealand and the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Science (GNS Science). She has a strong interest in both the primary sector and the food industry, and was previously a Director of Scion as well as the former Forestry Corporation of New Zealand Ltd. . .

Shining the light on cotton – Art4Agriculture:

Last week 10 of our Young Farming Champions went to Cotton HQ at Mascot where they got the inside story on the Australian Cotton Industry and what an exciting story it is.

Cotton is grown on the east coast of Australia from Emerald to Hay. Just love the denim map

Cotton is seen as an opportunity crop by Australian farmers in the regions where it is grown. It is only grown when water is plentiful and when it provides the best return on investment at that point in time

Now 20 years ago the cotton industry was shall we say not feeling the love from the community and getting a bit of a bad rap about its environmental footprint. Well kudos to them wow have they got their act together to address this by using Cotton BMP to guide their farmers to grow cotton in harmony with our natural environment. Cotton BMP is your guarantee of Australian cotton farmers environmental and ethical stewardship with audited processes and traceable supply chains – from the farm to you. . .

Entries are now open for the 2013 New Zealand International Wine Show:

Established in 2005 this competition has been the largest wine judging event in New Zealand every year and it is also one of the largest international wine shows in the Southern Hemisphere.

There were 2122 entries in 2012 resulting in a total of 22 Trophies and 224 gold medals.

Bob Campbell MW is New Zealand’s leading wine judge and once again he will lead a team of 26 wine senior wine judges. Assistant Chief Judges this year will be Larry McKenna, Peter Cowley and from Australia, Ralph Kyte-Powell. . .


3/9

June 23, 2013

Worst score yet in NBR’s Biz Quiz, only 3/9.


Illusion of control

June 23, 2013

The lovely folk at Story People drop an email into my in-box late at night which gives me a dose of whimsy from Brian Andreas when I open it in the morning.

Both of these resonated particularly, this week:

Falling into place:

Open large picture

Illusion of control:

Open large picture

You can sign up for the emails here.


Right to cheat?

June 23, 2013

Attempts to stop students in China cheating in their exams led to a riot:

. . .When students at the No. 3 high school in Zhongxiang arrived to sit their exams earlier this month, they were dismayed to find they would be supervised not by their own teachers, but by 54 external invigilators randomly drafted in from different schools across the county.

The invigilators wasted no time in using metal detectors to relieve students of their mobile phones and secret transmitters, some of them designed to look like pencil erasers.

A special team of female invigilators was on hand to intimately search female examinees, according to the Southern Weekend newspaper.

Outside the school, meanwhile, a squad of officials patrolled the area to catch people transmitting answers to the examinees. At least two groups were caught trying to communicate with students from a hotel opposite the school gates.

For the students, and for their assembled parents waiting outside the school gates to pick them up afterwards, the new rules were an infringement too far.

As soon as the exams finished, a mob swarmed into the school in protest.

“I picked up my son at midday [from his exam]. He started crying. I asked him what was up and he said a teacher had frisked his body and taken his mobile phone from his underwear. I was furious and I asked him if he could identify the teacher. I said we should go back and find him,” one of the protesting fathers, named as Mr Yin, said to the police later. . .

. . . According to the protesters, cheating is endemic in China, so being forced to sit the exams without help put their children at a disadvantage. . .

I don’t think we’re in danger of riots over measures to prevent cheating here.

I’d be very surprised if it was this rife but I couldn’t be confident that there is none.

If people think they have the right to cheat they must think it’s right to cheat.

If they cheat at one thing, how can you trust them not to cheat in another?

Hat tip: Kiwi In Canberra


Time to get multi-lingual

June 23, 2013

A few years ago I was farewelling a young Argentinean visitor at Christchurch airport and waiting while he paid his departure tax.

Two young Asian women at the next window obviously didn’t understand English.

The teller was trying to explain they needed to show her their passports but they didn’t have a clue what she was asking of them.

I showed them my friend’s passport and the light went on.

I wondered then, why there weren’t signs in several languages to help travellers who didn’t speak English.

At last there will be.

Christchurch Airport has issued a media release saying it’s getting multi-lingual:

Christchurch Airport is ensuring Asian visitors feel welcome through installing signage in English, Chinese, Japanese and Korean – a first for any international airport in the country.

Christchurch Airport chief executive Jim Boult says the new signs are part of on-going work to make the airport environment even friendlier for international visitors.

“As a leader in the tourism industry, we’ve taken a proactive approach to rolling out multi-lingual signage through our terminal,” says Mr Boult.

“Providing Chinese, Japanese and Korean language versions of our signage throughout the airport reflects the changing nature of tourism to Christchurch and the South Island,” he says.

Mr Boult says the multi-lingual static and electronic displays are part of a broader strategy to encourage greater engagement with key visitor markets. Alongside business development initiatives for the Asia Pacific region, airport staff will soon learn a few basic phrases in other languages to help them communicate with a wider range of visitors.

“This work reflects where future growth in visitor volumes to this region will come from,” he says. “We’re seeing steadily returning numbers from both Japan and South Korea, while the Chinese market is growing significantly.” . . .

It’s a good initiative but why only Asian languages, why has it taken so long to realise the importance of communicating with people who don’t understand English and when will other airports get multi-lingual too?

If we’re serious about welcoming visitors from other countries we have to be prepared to communicate in other languages.


Unequally rich or equally poor?

June 23, 2013

The problem of inequality might have some traction if you go for emotion rather than facts, but people tend to be better off when inequality is greater and less well off when incomes are more equal:

Earlier this year, the Work Foundation published a study of inequality in Britain that threw up some uncomfortable findings for those who believe that income differentials are the root of all evil. The hypothesis put forward in The Spirit Level is that greater income equality fosters health and happiness while inequality is a direct cause of misery and unrest. ‘If you want to live the American dream,’ says Spirit Level co-author Richard Wilkinson, ‘you should move to Finland or Denmark’. But why travel so far? Inequality varies greatly within countries and so, since wealth disparities are most visible at the local level, moving to a more equal city should yield benefits.

The Work Foundation shows us exactly where these pockets of egalitarianism are. The most equal city in Britain turns out to be Sunderland, followed by such places as Bradford, Peterborough and Burnley. The least equal city is London, followed by the likes of Reading, Guildford and Milton Keynes. For the most part, inequality is concentrated in the wealthy south east of England and, as the study notes, ‘cities with high median wages almost always tend to have high inequality.’ The more equal cities, on the other hand, ‘tend not to be very affluent’. This trade-off between wealth and equality will come as no surprise to economists, but it is reassuring to know that the wealth in the less equal places trickles down. As the study notes, ‘more affluent cities are more unequal, but affluence – on average – leads to wage gains for those with low skill levels’. Furthermore, whilst unemployment is higher in more equal cities, people with low skills find it easier to find work in less equal cities. In short, inequality is associated with people across the income spectrum being better off, while equality is associated with people being equally poor.

Being unequally wealthy is better than being equally poor and better is not just about income:

. . . In the mid-1990s, the US government gave thousands of people living on welfare the opportunity to move from poor neighbourhoods to more affluent areas. Their names were picked by lottery, thereby creating a randomised experiment. The Science study measured the subjective well-being of those who moved and those who stayed after a period of 10 to 15 years. Those who moved were significantly happier. Other studies of the same people have found that those who moved were also significantly healthier, had better mental health and were less likely to be obese.

It is important to note that those who moved did not become wealthier than those who stayed. Still living in social housing, they went from having an income that was average by the standards of their community to having an income that was low in absolute and relative terms. They found themselves at the sharp end of inequality and yet they were healthier and happier than those they left behind. 

Only a certain sort of social scientist could find it remotely surprising that people prefer living in a nice neighbourhood. It is true that people compare their living standards with those of their friends and neighbours, but there is little evidence that such comparisons dictate their well-being. People who leave the ‘more equal’ towns and cities of Britain to seek a better life are unlikely to regret it.

The focus on inequality tends to lead to redistributive policies which are generally counter-productive to economic growth and low growth hits the poorest hardest.
Rather than worrying about how much people have in relation to others, policy makers should focus on providing the environment and opportunities which help people help themselves.

Hat tip: Lindsay Mitchell

 


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