Word of the day

February 17, 2014

Atychiphobia – the abnormal, unwarranted, and persistent fear of failure; fear of not being good enough.


Rural round-up

February 17, 2014

Coach develops forestry safety vest:

A former rugby league coach has adapted a piece of sporting equipment for the forestry sector in an effort to save lives.

Graham Lowe has designed a GPS monitoring vest which can measure workers’ fatigue levels by gathering data on their heart beat and hydration levels, which he said is almost ready to be launched.

Last year set an unwelcome record for forestry incidents, with 10 deaths and more than 150 serious injuries. . .

From riches to dags – Tim Cronshaw:

More than anything, Christine Fernyhough will miss the sky when she closes the farm gate for the last time at Castle Hill Station.

The big, open skyline is the backdrop to craggy ridges descending down steep shingle screes to the station’s broad tussock country, limestone outcrops and productive pastures.

Live long enough at Castle Hill as Fernyhough has and the overhead vista takes centrestage. Its intensity at dusk and dawn is matched by the evening star show and during the day she never tires of its ever changing canvas.

It’s been nearly 10 years since she came to have a look at the South Island and fell in love with the sky. . .

‘Idiots’ back hunting illegally – Lard Harper:

A resident on a far-flung South Taranaki road says police are doing little to protect life and property from illegal hunters.

Tangahoe Valley Rd resident Jill Hardy says “little idiots” were still peppering farmland months after authorities said they would intervene.

But authorities say they are doing everything they can to navigate a difficult issue.

Hardy said her latest complaint, laid against a group shooting from a picnic table on to her land, had gone nowhere. . .

 

NZ milk volumes 4.2% higher for the season – Abby Brown:

New Zealand milk volumes are 4.2% higher for the season to January 31, 2014 the Fonterra Shareholders’ Council says.

The Global Dairy Trade (GDT) prices on February 4 are 40.5% higher than the last event on January 21.

It is up 50% over the same six month period last year.

The council said in its latest Global Dairy Update that milk collection across NZ for the eight months to January 31, 2014 reached 1120 million kg milksolids (MS).

This was 4.2% higher than the same period last year. 

“Rain through December and early January helped maintain milk production above last season’s level with the North Island 3.7% higher and the South Island 5.0% higher for the season to date,” the council said. . .

Wetlands provide many benefits – Julie Ross:

The area of our Kokoamo Farm near Duntroon in North Otago was a boggy, willow-infested corner at the bottom of the farm boundary, fed by a large catchment area and at the head of the spring-fed Kokoamu Stream.

We decided originally to enhance an unattractive part of the farm, while at the same time testing the filtering ability of a created wetland and providing a suitable pond for duck hunting.

Since then, the focus of our work on the wetland has changed and it is now primarily about improving water quality, reducing the environmental impact of intensive farming and providing a habitat for flora and fauna to thrive.

In 2008 we received a $5000 grant from Environment Canterbury but have funded most of the project ourselves. . .

 

Lack of social media training a barrier to farmers – Abby Brown:

Sophie Stanley says the biggest barrier to farmers and agribusinesses from using social media is a lack of training.

One of five New Zealanders awarded a Nuffield scholarship in 2013 Stanley has travelled the world to explore how the agriculture industry harnesses social media.

She said it is an issue the industry should invest in.

“If farmers are interested in networking and sharing industry knowledge Twitter has a wealth of information and a number of farmers domestically and globally that you can interact with,” she said. . .


Protection costs

February 17, 2014

An educational story about the costs of protection:

In 1990, Brach’s Confections Inc. threatened to close a West Side factory that employed 1,100 people. The candy maker said it would move abroad unless the federal government acted to reduce the artificially inflated cost of sugar. Washington ignored the threat, and Brach’s found ways to keep the plant going. But in 2003, it closed the factory and sent much of the work to Mexico.

The reason for the move was a federal undertaking whose entire purpose is to prop up the price of sugar for the benefit of a small number of growers. It does so by restricting imports, limiting how much farmers can plant and guaranteeing them a certain price. These methods work: The price of sugar in this country is usually double or triple the price in the rest of the world.

That enduring accomplishment comes at a cost to companies that buy sugar, like Brach’s. It also burdens a larger group of people: those who eat. In a typical year, the average American consumes nearly 100 pounds of sugar and other high-calorie sweeteners. The total cost to consumers amounts to as much as $3.5 billion a year.

That doesn’t count the jobs shipped to Mexico or Canada. Defenders claim the program saves American jobs in sugar production. But a 2006 study by the U.S. Department of Commerce found that for each job it saves in those sectors, it destroys three jobs in candy making.

It’s not just that protection costs consumers and taxpayers, it costs jobs as well.

But there is an alternative:

For decades, Life Savers were made at a facility in Holland, Mich. But in 2003, Kraft Foods shut it and moved the production to a plant near Montreal.

What does Quebec have to offer that Michigan doesn’t? The Canadian Sugar Institute is happy to explain: “The Canadian sugar industry is internationally unique in that it does not depend on government subsidies. Basing its prices on world raw sugar markets, it sells sugar at prices that are among the lowest in the world.”

Some companies can afford to eat the extra cost of operating in the U.S. But when the composition of your product is 99 percent sugar, it’s not so easy. . .

Given that sugar is now regarded as a harmful substance this might not cause much concern, but it’s not just sugar producers who are protected in the USA and elsewhere.

Growers have been protected by import barriers since 1789, and the current complicated system dates back to the Great Depression.

The country was a very different place then. In 1930, one of every four Americans lived on a farm. Today, it’s one in 50. But the farm bill passed by Congress and signed by the president this month was a missed opportunity to enact changes that would reflect the vast changes over the past 80 years.

The politicians could have started with this system, which bleeds the many to enrich the few. “No industry is as coddled as farming, and no industry as centrally planned from Washington,” writes Cato Institute policy analyst Chris Edwards. “The federal sugar program is perhaps the most Soviet of all.”  . .

New Zealand farming used to be very heavily protected and subsidised.

Producers responded to the dictates of politicians and bureaucrats rather than the market and as a result we produced food no-one wanted to buy.

Farming became very difficult when we were forced into the real world in the mid-1980s but we got through that and now the industry and the country are far better for it.

If the Trans Pacific Partnership succeeds, farmers in the USA and other countries which sign up to it will go through some short-term pain as we did but they and their countries will benefit in the medium to longer term as we did.

Apropos of the TPP – Pattrick Smellie explains 10 things its opponents don’t want you to grasp.


Majority don’t want new taxes

February 17, 2014

The Fairfax Media Ipsos poll showed that more than two thirds of people are opposed to raising taxes to pay for new spending.

Only 25.4% of respondents supported increased taxes, 5.4% didn’t know and 69.4% were opposed.

Opposition parties who are promoting new taxes including one on capital gains should take that as a warning.

New spending should be funded by savings elsewhere, not by increased taxes.


Is “big food” science or politics?

February 17, 2014

Obesity isn’t healthy and it can be costly to the individual and the public because of the costs of treating it and associated problems.

There is evidence it’s a growing problem and it’s getting a lot of attention from researchers.

That would be good if the research resulted in evidenced based solutions, but is this science of politics?

Health advocates are drawing battle lines against “Big Food”, claiming drastic intervention is needed to stave off a diabetes crisis in New Zealand.

As adult obesity nears a third of the population, individual responsibility for diet and exercise is clearly not enough, said Dr Gabrielle Jenkin, an Otago University of Wellington health academic who is co-ordinating a seminar today in Wellington.

Government policymakers were reluctant to legislate against “Big Food” – industry powers such as Fonterra, Coca-Cola, Heinz Wattie’s, fast food chains and Foodstuffs and Progressive supermarkets, she said. Many so-called nutrition research bodies were sponsored by Big Food, she said. Dietitians New Zealand, for instance, stated on its website that it is backed by Unilever and Nestle.

Jenkin said “tainted” research was presented at select committees as unbiased fact. “They’re corrupting science.”

She claimed Big Food was more powerful than Big Tobacco, and likely to be more aggressive if policy turned against it.

The industry put the onus on individuals to fight obesity, so governments tended to promote diet and exercise rather than legislating against unhealthy food, she said. . .

Big Food is a statement based on emotion and politics not science.

The theory of weight gain or loss is simple – just get the balance between energy in and energy out correct.

The practice as anyone who has tried to gain or lose weight will attest, is far more difficult.

Food is different from other substances like alcohol or tobacco, we need it to survive and any particular food isn’t good or bad in itself.

Some is more nutritious and some has little if any nutritional value.

But anything in moderation isn’t going to cause weight gain and legislation elsewhere hasn’t worked:

 . . . Jordan Williams, Executive Director of the Taxpayers’ Union says:

“Denmark’s tax on saturated fat, introduced in 2011, was an economic disaster. The Danish tax was abandoned 15 months later and did little, if anything, to reduce harmful consumption. Worse, it was estimated to have cost 1,300 jobs. Why would New Zealand want to repeat this mistake?”

“Taxing the Kiwi tradition of a warm pie and can of coke won’t reduce obesity. The overseas experience is that fat taxes merely lead to compensatory purchasing and brand switching.” . .

Obesity is a serious problem and it needs serious, evidence0based solutions not emotion and politics.

 

 

 


How green is your policy?

February 17, 2014

If you want to be green you should recycle, right?

Not necessarily.

Recycling does reduce the amount of waste going to landfills. But that is only one measure of environmental impact.

If recycling uses more energy and/or causes more pollution dumping could be the greener option.

Alternative forms of energy might look greener but as Andrei and Gravedodger pointed out yesterday appearances can be not just deceptive but dirty.

They were commenting on the Green Party policy to provide cheap loans for the installation of solar panels.

When we altered our house 12 years ago we looked into installing solar panels but were advised it would cost too much for too little power.

We investigated solar panels again before undertaking further  alterations a couple of years ago and were told the technology still wasn’t good enough to be worth it this far south.

There might be a better ratio between the cost and benefits further north but that still doesn’t counter the criticism about the environmental cost of making and disposing of solar panels and batteries.

Then there’s the Green’s mistaken assertion that there are no government subsidies involved.

The Green Party’s belief in their ability to make money magically appear seems to have no limits says Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges.

“The Greens’ solar power policy creates low interest loans that make expensive solar power suddenly a cheaper option for kiwi families, with ‘apparently’ no government subsidy involved.

“I have news for the Greens — if it’s a lower interest rate than normal, it must involve a government subsidy. And if it makes the cost of solar power cheaper for families than existing power options it also must involve a subsidy.

“Everyone wants something cheaper but someone has to pay. Solar is about three times more expensive than grid-scale generation from wind, hydro or geothermal power stations. If solar power was to be made more affordable other taxpayers and power users would have to pay for it.

“There is certainly a place for solar in New Zealand, but given the abundance of lower cost renewable alternatives, it can’t be a priority to subsidise solar power or change the rules to suit a specific technology.

“We’ve seen that with expensive solar subsidies in other parts of the world, including Germany and Spain. The irony is that New Zealand already generates 75 per cent of our electricity from renewable sources and the percentage is moving higher without any need for government subsidies.

“No matter how you dress it up the Greens’ grab bag of power ideas, which also includes nationalising power purchasing and a more expensive ETS, will heap higher prices on Kiwi households.

“If the Greens are serious about their policies, they need to front up and explain who pays for all of this, or whether they would roll out Russell Norman’s printing press again.”

David Cunliffe made a mess of his party’s big baby bribe announcement by saying one thing and meaning another.

Norman’s assertion that there are no government subsidies involved is not just misleading, it’s wrong.

If the environmental impact of the materials, manufacture and disposal of everything involved in solar energy is taken into account the claim that this policy is clean and green is also wrong.

 

 

 

 


February 17 in history

February 17, 2014

1500 The Battle of Hemmingstedt.

1600 The philosopher Giordano Bruno was burned alive at Campo de’ Fiori in Rome for heresy.

1801 An electoral tie between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr was resolved when Jefferson was elected President of the United States and Burr Vice President by the United States House of Representatives.

1809 Miami University was chartered by the State of Ohio.

1814 The Battle of Mormans.

1819 The United States House of Representatives passed the Missouri Compromise.

1848 Louisa Lawson, Australian suffragist and writer, was born  (d. 1920).

1854 The United Kingdom recognised the independence of the Orange Free State.

1864  Banjo Paterson, Australian poet, was born  (d. 1941).

1864 The H. L. Hunley became the first submarine to engage and sink a warship, the USS Housatonic.

1867 The first ship passed through the Suez Canal.

1873 The editor of the Daily Southern Cross, David Luckie, published a hoax report of a Russian invasion of Auckland by the cruiser Kaskowiski (cask of whisky).

'The Russians are coming!'

1877  Isabelle Eberhardt, Swiss explorer and writer, was born  (d. 1904).

1904 Madama Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini received its premiere at La Scala in Milan.

1913 The Armory Show opened in New York City, displaying works of artists who are to become some of the most influential painters of the early 20th century.

1917 Guillermo González Camarena, Mexican inventor (colour television), was born  (d. 1965).

1924  Johnny Weissmuller set a new world record in the 100-yard freestyle swimming competition with a time of 52-2/5 seconds.

1924 Margaret Truman, American novelist, was born (d. 2008).

1925 Harold Ross and Jane Grant founded The New Yorker magazine.

1925 Ron Goodwin, English composer and conductor, was born  (d. 2003).

1929 Patricia Routledge, English actress, was born.

1930 Ruth Rendell, English writer, was born.

1933 Newsweek magazine was published for the first time.

1933 – The Blaine Act ended Prohibition in the United States.

1934 Barry Humphries, Australian actor and comedian, was born.

1940  Gene Pitney, American singer, was born (d. 2006).

1945 Brenda Fricker, Irish actress, was born.

1947 The Voice of America began to transmit radio broadcasts to the Soviet Union.

1958 Pope Pius XII declared Saint Clare of Assisi (1193~1253) the patron saint of television.

1959 Vanguard 2 – The first weather satellite was launched to measure cloud-cover distribution.

1962 A storm killed more than 300 people in Hamburg.

1963 Michael Jordan, American basketball player, was born.

1964 Gabonese president Leon M’ba was toppled by a coup and his archrival, Jean-Hilaire Aubame, was installed in his place.

1965  The Ranger 8 probe launched on its mission to photograph the Mare Tranquillitatis region of the Moon in preparation for the manned Apollo missions.

1972 Sales of the Volkswagen Beetle model exceeded those of Ford Model-T.

1978 A Provisional IRA incendiary bomb was detonated at the La Mon restaurant, near Belfast, killing 12 and seriously injuring 30.

1979 The Sino-Vietnamese War started.

1995 – The Cenepa War between Peru and Ecuador ends on a cease-fire brokered by the UN.

1996 World champion Garry Kasparov beat the Deep Blue supercomputer in a chess match.

1996 – NASA’s Discovery Programme started as the NEAR Shoemaker spacecraft lifted off on the first mission ever to orbit and land upon an asteroid, 433 Eros.

2003 The London Congestion Charge scheme began.

2006 A massive mudslide occurred in Southern Leyte, Philippines; the official death toll was 1,126.

2008 Kosovo declared independence.

2011 – Libyan protests began. In Bahrain, security forces launched a deadly Pre-dawn raid on protesters in Pearl Roundabout in Manama, on what is known as Bloody Thursday.

2012 – February 17th became national Juggalo Day

Sourced from NZ History Online and Wikipedia


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