Word of the day

November 4, 2013

Niaiserie – simplicity, silliness or an instance of this.

Very little of this in #gigatownoamaru.


Rural round-up

November 4, 2013

Few farms in foreign hands says English – Alan Wood:

Foreign investment in New Zealand farmland, including dairy farms, remains relatively low and has significant safeguards, Finance Minister Bill English says.

Some investment, including that in the Crafar farms in the North Island by the Chinese, has raised the hackles of some Kiwis.

For example, Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa spokesman Murray Horton says he is firmly against ownership of New Zealand land by foreigners, whether they be Chinese, American, Australian or British.

Last month the China-based Shanghai Pengxin Group announced a takeover bid for Synlait Farms, in association with two of Synlait’s founders, John Penno and Juliet Maclean. . .

The Industrialisation of American Dairying and the Implications for New Zealand: Keith Woodford:

The ‘handout notes’ that follow were written  for a Lincoln University Dairy Farm Focus Day on 10 October 2013. These focus days are held every two months. This one was attended by about 200 farmers and rural professionals. I gave the presentation as Lincoln’s Professor of Farm Management and Agribusiness, standing on a trailer out in the paddock – so basically it was all ad libbed without visual aids. Actually,  sometimes it is fun to talk without the distraction of powerpoints!

Background

  • The American dairy industry is rapidly transforming to an industrial model based on large scale (>2000 cow) mega farms.
  • As of 2013, approximately 40% of American production comes from 800 mega farms.
  • Another 30% comes from a further 2500 farms, each with between 500 and 2,000 cows.
  • The final 30% comes from more than 50,000 farms with less than 500 cows
  • The mega farms have costs of production that are much lower than the smaller farms. . .

 

Farming robot could bring the cows in – Jill Galloway:

“Like a four-wheel-drive wheelchair on steroids” is how Andrew Manderson describes his Agri-Rover.

He designed the prototype farm robot which was built by a team from AgResearch and Lincoln University, using industrial parts and costing $4000.

It was a robust machine and had a powerful engine, said Dr Manderson.

It would comfortably trundle around a paddock, so long as it didn’t encounter a gradient of more than 20 degrees.

He said it had a top speed of 5kmh, but with a few adjustments it could really motor.

(Click on the link above to see a video of the robot in action)

Winning the battle against boxthorn pest – Ruth Grundy:

Graeme Loh is the first to admit he is more ”exterminator” than ”nurturer”.

He is the Department of Conservation (Doc) ranger who oversees one of the country’s newest reserves, a prominent and ancient limestone outcrop at Gards Rd, between Duntroon and Kurow.

He said his main focus was to eradicate an aggressive exotic invader – boxthorn – which threatened to appropriate this national treasure.

”People don’t realise how bad a weed it is and how difficult it is to remove.” . . .

Farmsafe says quad bike research backs roll bars – Anna Vidot:

Farm safety advocates say the science is in, and now is the time to start encouraging people to use quad bikes with roll bars.

Manufacturers of the vehicles have long argued that crush protection bars cause more injuries than they prevent, and take the focus away from other safety measures like helmets and proper training.

But Farmsafe Australia says there’s mounting evidence that crush protection bars are more likely to save a life than not, if a quad bike rolls. . . .

Dogs queue up for aversion training

Kiwi advocate Lesley Baigent  was  gratified by the response  to Saturday’s kiwi aversion  training session for dogs at the
Raetea reserve, at the northern foot of the Mangamuka  Gorge.

Dogs were literally queuing  up to undergo the training,  which involves a special collar  delivering an electric shock at  the appropriate moment to  persuade the dogs that kiwi  are best left alone. Success rates varied, Lesley said, and there were certainly  no expectations of 100 per  cent. . . .


Judging welfare

November 4, 2013

Good point:

Hat tip: Capitalism.

#gigatownoamaru becoming the Southern Hemisphere’s fastest town will provide opportunities for employment.


Making unpredicatble more predicatable

November 4, 2013

Federated Farmers president Bruce Wills puts the case for irrigation:

The challenge with agriculture is that our industry is heavily reliant on factors that are out of our control. The weather, exchange rates and commodity prices are all very important parts of our business, but they are things we have little or no control over. The erratic nature of farming means an unpredictable economy for all New Zealanders. What the industry needs is the ability to harness the things we can control, to make the unpredictable more predictable.

I am talking about harnessing water. When the droughts come, it is tough on our industry; farmer’s battle dust and moisture deficits and the financial scars of serious droughts can be slow to heal. Even in town it is tough.  Weather patterns are changing we are told so we need to look at ways we can minimise the impacts of what may become increasingly regular dry spells.

After returning from World Water Week in Stockholm, where 2700 attendees came from across the globe, I quickly realised how lucky we are in New Zealand. As much rain falls here in a year as on the whole of Australia and we receive 2.5 times the rainfall of the United Kingdom, yet we let 95 percent  of this flow out to sea unused by man or animal. This astounded conference attendees who were envious of the quantity and overall quality of our water.

So why is it that harnessing and storing one of the very things that can save our bacon, when times are dry, is seen as a threat by some New Zealanders? Having a reliable source of water just makes sense and equally so, storing water in times of plenty and using in times of shortage is surely good business practice. In fact councils all over New Zealand do this to ensure reliable water for their urban residents. We have seen how it has turned provinces around, where water has created jobs and grown communities. Certainty and reliability makes for good business.  It concerns me to watch rural communities struggle during droughts as well as the lost opportunity of all this water running out to sea.

This year’s drought saw a trade deficit for the August quarter, a near one and a half-billion dollar fall in exports compared to the previous year. With farming earning well over half of New Zealand’s total export receipts all New Zealanders suffer when farming suffers. There is a trade off in everything we do and if trade declines we are all the poorer for it. As a trading nation we are dependent upon a hungry world to buy our food.

What keeps me awake at night is the uncertainty around whether we are able to keep up our food production with a world population expected to hit 9.3 billion in the year 2050. Water is a key part of New Zealand meeting this growing demand for food.

It is critical that we maintain our reputation as reliable food producers and having reliable water sources is a key part of New Zealand harnessing a sustainable future.

North Otago used to suffer from the boom and bust cycle dependent on the weather.

Now we’ve got a critical mass of irrigation it’s not just farmers who are benefiting. It’s created more jobs on farm and in businesses which supply and service them and in the wider district and of course in Oamaru*.

Soils which used to blow away in nor westers are more stable too.

The wider economy has gained from increased export earnings.

It’s also enabling us to provide more food for a hungry world.

*That’s –  #gigatownoamaru which is seeking to be the fastest town in the Southern Hemisphere.

 


Zero-sum fallacy

November 4, 2013

Damien Grant says inequality isn’t the fault of the rich:

A recent book edited by Max Rashbrooke, Inequality; a New Zealand Crisis, portrays an alarmist view of an unfolding dystopian disaster. However, Rashbrooke and many of those concerned at rising inequality fall for the zero-sum fallacy; the idea that there is a set amount of cash in the economy.

The fallacy goes that if Bob has made an extra dollar then he must have taken it off someone else; the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

The easiest way to dismantle this illusion is to imagine two farmers. The first is content with his lot but the second works extra hours to build himself a new cow shed, making his farm more valuable. He has become richer but not at the expense of his neighbour. . . .

Not only has the farmer not become richer at the expense of his (or her) neighbour, s/he may well have helped increase someone else’s income by using more goods and services and/or employing more people.

Economic growth is driven by innovative entrepreneurs adding to the total economy. They sometimes become rich by retaining some of the extra wealth they created. Equally, a surgeon who works long hours will derive a large income, but only as a result of repairing the lives of his patients; both benefit from the transaction. We can reduce inequality by restricting the amount of operations he performs, and rising income tax has that effect.

However, that will not reduce poverty, it will exacerbate it. The rich will buy the reduced number of operations and the poor will miss out. . .

The focus on inequality is driven by the belief that life isn’t fair; that those with more have taken advantage of those with less and that there’s little or nothing those with less can do about it without state intervention – higher and more taxes and more redistribution.

Life isn’t fair but the easiest way to reduce inequality is to make the rich poorer which doesn’t help anyone.

The problem isn’t that some people have more than others, it’s that some people don’t have enough.

The causes for that are many. The state has a role in helping address some of those including poor education and health either directly through its own programmes or indirectly in funding other groups to help.

It also has an obligation to do so in a way that tackles the real problem of poverty, not one that merely addresses the symptom of inequality.

#gigatownoamaru is seeking to provide opportunities for entrepreneurs by becoming the fastest town in the Southern Hemisphere.


The best (wo)man for the job?

November 4, 2013

Before he lost the Labour leadership, David Shearer announced he’d quashed the party’s man-ban:

Mr Shearer yesterday announced Labour’s council had agreed to his request to withdraw a proposal to allow some electorates to open candidate selections to women only, saying it was distracting from issues people wanted Labour to talk about.

The party’s got a new leader and policy is back in effect if not exactly as it was earlier proposed:

The Labour Party has voted to introduce a gender quota system to ensure half its MPs are women.

The new party rule means Labour’s men may have to give up spots in parliament, earned on merit, to female MPs.

Labour’s caucus is currently 42 percent female, but the quota means that number will have to rise to 45 percent by 2014, and 50 percent by 2017.

It means Labour’s party list will be stacked if required, with women put ahead of men to meet the quota.

The party grassroots lost a battle to introduce a so-called “man-ban” on men in electorate seats earlier this year when former leader David Shearer had it struck out.

This time party president Moira Coatsworth won, with a man-ban in drag.

“Women have missed out. This is about getting women equality,” she says.

Are you really equal if you’re more equal than people who might be better able to do the job than you; if you’re there for the cause of equality rather than your merit?

David Farrar analysed previous elections to show which male MPs would have been sacrificed for women had the quota been in place:

1996 Lose

Joe Hawke
Jonathan Hunt
Mark Gosche
Dover Samuels

1996 Gain

Helen Duncan
Verna Smith
Suzanne Sinclair
Sue Moroney

1999 Loss

Joe Hawke
Jonathan Hunt
Michael Cullen

1999 Gain

Lynne Pillay
Lili Tuioti
Brenda Lowe-Johnson

2002 Loss

Ashraf Choudary
Dave Hereora
Graham Kelly
Jonathan Hunt
Michael Cullen

2002 Gain

Moana Mackey
Lesley Soper
Carol Beaumont
Gill Boddy-Greer
Louisa Wall

2005 Loss

Dave Hereora
Russell Fairbrother
David Parker
Shane Jones
Ashraf Choudary
Rick Barker
Mita Ririnui

2005 Gain

Lesley Soper
Louisa Wall
Denise MacKenzie
Leila Boyle
Jennifer McCutcheon
Linda Hudson
Marilyn Brown

2008 Loss

Stuart Nash
Rick Barker
Ashraf Choudary
Kelvin Davis
Charles Chauvel

2008 Gain

Judith Tizard
Louisa Wall
Lesley Soper
Erin Ebborn-Gillespie
Josephine Bartley

2011 Loss

Raymond Huo
Rajen Prasad
Shane Jones
Andrew Little
Charles Chauvel

2011 Gain

Carol Beaumont
Carmel Sepuloni
Deborah Mahuta-Coyle
Steve Chadwick
Kate Sutton.

. . . In 1996, 1999 and 2002 Labour would not have been able to give any male MPs a winnable list place. . . .That means they would have lost Michael Cullen. Ironically, one of the MPs who would have been elected in his place is Lesley Soper. Soper is the only pro-life woman in the Labour Party, and quite hated by most Labour women.  . .

There’s equality of opportunity and equality of outcome.

The former ensures everyone has the same chance and the best candidate wins.

The latter puts gender ahead of merit.

A quota will leave women MPs open to the criticism that they’re there in parliament because of who they are rather than their skills.

If not having enough women in parliament is a problem, serious consideration needs to be given to what’s stopping them getting there rather than manipulating the list.

That is using a second-best band-aid to cover the symptom without addressing the cause.

#gigatownoamaru is getting there on merit.


November 4 in history

November 4, 2013

1333  The River Arno flooding caused massive damage in Florence.

1429   Joan of Arc liberated Saint-Pierre-le-Moûtier.

1576   Eighty Years’ War:  Spain captured Antwerp.

1677  The future Mary II of England married William, Prince of Orange.

1737   The Teatro di San Carlo was inaugurated.

1783   W.A. Mozart’s Symphony No. 36 was performed for the first time.

1791  The Western Confederacy of American Indians won a major victory over the United States in the Battle of the Wabash.

1825  The Erie Canal was completed with Governor DeWitt Clinton performing the Wedding of The Waters ceremony in New York Harbour.

1839   The Newport Rising: the last large-scale armed rebellion against authority in mainland Britain.

1852  Count Camillo Benso di Cavour became the prime minister of Piedmont-Sardinia.

1861  The University of Washington opened in Seattle, Washington as the Territorial University.

1864  American Civil War: Battle of Johnsonville – Confederate troops bombarded a Union supply base and destroyed millions of dollars in material.

1889  Menelek of Shoa obtained the allegiance of a large majority of the Ethiopian nobility, paving the way for him to be crowned emperor.

1890   London’s first deep-level tube railway opened between King William Street and Stockwell.

1916  Ruth Handler, American businesswoman and inventor of the Barbie doll, was born (d. 2002).

1918  World War I: Austria-Hungary surrendered to Italy.

1918  The German Revolution began when 40,000 sailors took over the port in Kiel.

1921 The Sturmabteilung or SA was formed by Adolf Hitler.

1921   Japanese Prime Minister Hara Takashi was assassinated in Tokyo.

1921  The Italian unknown soldier was buried in the Altare della Patria (Fatherland Altar) in Rome.

1922 In Egypt, British archaeologist Howard Carter and his men found the entrance to Pharaoh Tutankhamun‘s tomb in the Valley of the Kings.

1924 Nellie Tayloe Ross of Wyoming was elected the first female governor in the United States.

1930 Phar Lap won the Melbourne Cup.

Phar Lap wins the Melbourne Cup

1937  Loretta Swit, American actress, was born.

1939   World War II: U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered the United States Customs Service to implement the Neutrality Act of 1939, allowing cash-and-carry purchases of weapons by belligerents.

1942   Second Battle of El Alamein – Disobeying a direct order by Adolf Hitler, General Field Marshal Erwin Rommel led his forces on a five-month retreat.

1944  World War II: Bitola Liberation Day.

1950 Charles Frazier, American author, was born.

1952   The United States government established the National Security Agency.

1955   After being totally destroyed in World War II, the rebuilt Vienna State Opera reopened with a performance of Beethoven’s Fidelio.

1956 James Honeyman-Scott, English guitarist (The Pretenders), was born (d. 1982)

1956   Soviet troops entered Hungary to end the Hungarian revolution against the Soviet Union.

1957 Tony Abbott, Australia politician, Liberal leader, was born.

1962   In a test of the Nike-Hercules air defense missile, Shot Dominic-Tightrope was successfully detonated 69,000 feet above Johnston Island – the last atmospheric nuclear test conducted by the United States.

1966  Two-thirds of Florence was submerged as the River Arno flooded with the contemporaneous flood of the Po River which led to 113 deaths, 30,000 made homeless, and the destruction of numerous Renaissance artworks and books.

1970  Genie, a 13-year-old feral child was found in Los Angeles, California having been locked in her bedroom for most of her life.

1973   The Netherlands experienced the first Car Free Sunday caused by the 1973 oil crisis.

1979   Iran hostage crisis began: a group of Iranians, mostly students, invaded the US embassy in Tehran and took 90 hostages.

1993  A China Airlines  Boeing 747 overran Runway 13 at Hong Kong’s Kai Tak International Airport while landing during a typhoon, injuring 22 people.

1994   First conference that focused exclusively on the subject of the commercial potential of the World Wide Web.

1995  Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by an extremist Orthodox Israeli.

2002  Chinese authorities arrested cyber-dissident He Depu for signing a pro-democracy letter to the 16th Communist Party Congress.

2008   Barack Obama became the first African-American to be elected President of the United States.

2008  Proposition 8 passed in California, representing the first elimination of an existing right to marry for LGBT couples.

2011 – The Hellenic Parliament rejected a no-confidence motion against the Prime Minister of Greece George Papandreou following a failed attempt to hold a referendum on a Eurozone bailout.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

#gigatownoamaru hoping to make history as Southern Hemisphere’s fastest town.


%d bloggers like this: