Word of the day

May 20, 2015

Amplitude  – in navigation, the arc of the horizon between east and a body when it is rising, and west and a body when it is setting; the angular distance of a celestial object from the true east or west point of the horizon at rising or setting; the maximum extent of a vibration or oscillation, measured from the position of equilibrium; one half the full extent of a vibration, oscillation, or wave.



1951 Wellington-Lyttelton yacht race TV1 tonight

May 20, 2015

The Peninsula Cruising Club’s Canterbury centennial race from Wellington to Lyttelton is the subject of Descent from Disaster, on TV1 at 8:30 this evening.

Only one of the 20 starters finished the race and two yachts, Argo and Husky, were lost with all their crew.

Another race entrant, Astral, was dismasted. A trawler, Tawera, took the yacht in tow but as the weather worsened the tow rope chafed through.

My father was one of the crew on the Caplin. A newspaper report in his journal records the account of the trawler skipper, George Brasell:

A newspaper report in Dad’s journal records the account of the trawler skipper, George Brasell:

“Astral was carrying a light and all we could do was to stand by alongside her and keep her in view. This was a tremendous task as it was blowing a full gale and a light was only visible when she topped the seas. My crew were tried to their utmost that night and did a wonderful job i n trying to keep the Astral in sight. Visibility was very bad. We only picked up land once after leaving Lyttelton.

“About midnight on Friday the crew of the Astral signalled us to put oil on the water. We did as requested until daylight when we started to take the crew off by means of a line dragging each member through the water. Luckily the rescue was carried out successfully. I felt proud of my crew. The rescue was carried out at the height of the gale. . . “

 I posted on the race on its anniversary. Several people with memories of it or connections to it left comments.

Rural round-up

May 20, 2015

Better returns trump loyalty – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra must put more effort into understanding why it is losing market share and therefore its shareholder capital is being diluted, major supplier Trevor Hamilton says.

Family-owned TH Enterprises (THE), which has 10 big dairy farms in the North and South Islands, has “driven a bus through Trading Among Farmers (TAF)”.

Founder and chief executive Hamilton said THE directors, including two independents, had exposed the weaknesses of TAF by making perfectly reasonable and sound business decisions over the past 30 months to cash in shares, to buy more farms and divert half of the milk supply to other processors. . .

TAF delivers what it promised – Hugh Stringleman:

Trading Among Farmers (TAF) has delivered what farmer-shareholders wanted in the way of more flexibility as well as capital security for Fonterra, equity analysts have said.

The 2012 restructure created a new generation of hybrid co-operative in which farmers were able to sell the economic rights of supply shares into the Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund (FSF) but retain co-operative control and voting rights.

The fund had grown to $713 million at the interim balance date January 31 with the economic rights of just under 122m shares. . .

 Sheep numbers down but productivity up – Jamie Mackay:

News last week our national sheep flock had dropped below 30 million for the first time since 1943 probably surprised no one but, regardless, it’s a damning and telling statistic for a once all-conquering industry.

When I was a kid growing up on a Southland sheep farm, two things stuck in my head from my final year of primary schooling in 1972. . .

 Apple harvest appears positive – Alan Williams:

Scales Corporation subsidiary Mr Apple is busy packing this season’s apple crop and isn’t expecting a dramatic impact on yields from hail in Hawke’s Bay earlier this year.

The harvest was due to finish about now but packing operations would continue through to the end of June, Scales managing director Andy Borland said.

The incidence of hail damage would be revealed during the packing process. Borland estimated a “bit of an impact” but many of the orchards avoided the hail altogether, a benefit of the group strategy to spread the orchard across the fruit-growing region. . . .

New Zealand Young Farmers educating Tasman teens at Stock Skills Day:

New Zealand Young Farmers is providing an educational day for Canterbury teens wanting to learn more about stock judging and handling on Sunday 24 May at the Canterbury Agricultural Park.

Members of New Zealand Young Farmers High School Clubs, commonly known as TeenAg Clubs, in the Tasman region have been invited to take part in a hands-on, interactive one day program which aims to introduce students to a different aspect of the agriculture industry.

Students will participate in groups of twelve and move through modules as they would through a typical day of competition at an A & P Show; from prepping and handling through to judging and prize giving. Prizes will be awarded to the most engaged students. There will also be a clipping and shearing demonstration. . .

RailBike adventures begin pedalling into the Forgotten World:

The visitor industry in the central north Island is set to surge once again with the introduction of the country’s first tandem RailBike experience.
Operating along what is arguably known as New Zealand’s most scenic decommissioned railway; Forgotten World Adventures has added the RailBike product to its already impressive list of seasonal rail based adventures using converted golf carts, also known as RailCarts.

Waikato Farmer and Forgotten World Adventures founder and Managing Director Ian Balme believes the introduction of the RailBike is a timely step for a business that has seen exponential growth since it was launched in 2012.

“This season we’ve provided over 6,000 clients with an outstanding experience through the historic Forgotten World and I am thrilled that we’re now in a position to build on our existing range of tours by introducing what will undoubtedly become a must-do kiwi adventure for groups of up to ten people” says Mr Balme. . .

10 reasons we don’t need organic food:

1. Organic crops do not increase yield.

GMOs have increased yields by 22% with even greater success in developing nations.

2. Organic crops increase pesticide use.

GMOs have decreased pesticide use by 37% with even greater success in developing nations.

Organic herbicides only kill the plant tissue that it touches, requiring more to be sprayed, and more repeated spraying. Glyphosate, on the other hand, attacks a specific enzyme that is only found in plants. Farmers using glyphosate don’t need to cover all of the weed to kill it, and they don’t need to spray as often. . .

New Horizons for regional South Island:

A new fund has been announced this morning to help regional South Island tourism operators capture the tsunami of opportunities from the growing China market.

The ‘New Horizons Fund’ is a regional economic development programme initiated by Christchurch Airport, as part of the “South” initiative, which sees all 15 South Island regional tourism organisations working collaboratively in tourist markets.

The programme kicks off with a budget of $100,000 and aims to support a minimum of two South Island tourism operators into the China market each year. . .

Flag of the day

May 20, 2015

The Flag Consideration Panel is inviting people to upload designs for a new flag.

There’s more than 1000 in the gallery already.

I plan to feature one most days.

Today’s is Land Between Waves by Lukas van de Wiel:






Apropos of the flag change, David Squire writes the issue is cultural not political:

. . . I’m disappointed that so many people seem to view the current referendum as a political smokescreen.

They’re not wrong in saying that this government needs to do more to address the gap between rich and poor, or that $26 million is a huge amount of money. However, the flag debate is only political in a peripheral sense.

It is primarily a cultural issue, and I sincerely hope the New Zealand public can look past the way the process is being managed, and vote for a flag that truly represents our modern, mature, multicultural nation.

I am proud of my British heritage (as well as my Irish and American heritage), but I don’t believe that the Union Jack has any place on our flag. India, Canada, Jamaica, Samoa, Malaysia, Singapore, Papua New Guinea and a whole host of other Commonwealth countries have already come to this conclusion – now it’s our turn. . .

My worry is that the naysayers are dissing the concept of a flag change for all the wrong reasons, be it that they don’t like the personalities involved (someone has to drive the change – it may as well be the government that has the power to do something about it); the political agendas (I don’t like the TPPA either, but this is a completely separate issue); the erroneous idea that our forefathers fought and died for our flag (most of them rest under headstones with silver ferns); or misinformation about how it will affect our status as a Commonwealth country or constitutional monarchy (we will still be both). . .

I’m pretty sure that most New Zealanders feel a strong connection to the land, not too dissimilar to the way that the tangata whenua have for centuries. We have an ideal opportunity to create a symbol of our country that will stand out as distinctly New Zealand, something our oft-confused current flag does not do.

For this reason, I like versions that keep elements of the current flag, mixed with natural symbols of our homeland, such as Kyle Lockwood’s version (the current southern cross with the silver fern, but red and blue rather than black) or Dick Frizzell’s version(combining the southern cross and Hundertwasser’s koru, which could also be interpreted as a wave or mountain).

Both are not too busy, look attractive and distinctive when flying (an essential characteristic of a good flag), are not easily confused with other flags, embrace all the people of our land, and represent our independent South Pacific nation to the world in a fresh and vibrant manner.

The big difference between our flag change process and the one that took place in Canada is that the Canadian people were not given the final choice of flag: after much bitter debate, it was selected in parliament by closure.

It would be a real shame if, due to the more democratic nature of our process, change was stymied because of apathy, falsehoods or red herrings.

If the majority of the population really does believe that our quaint, colonial, dominion flag represents a modern Aotearoa New Zealand, then I shall reluctantly abide by that decision. But people should be able to look at the possibility of change without some of the ridiculous scaremongering and rhetoric that seems to be filling the headlines.


Nature has a reason for men

May 20, 2015

Ever wondered why we need men?

Nature has a reason:

 . . .Biologists have always puzzled over why males have survived given that their only contribution to reproduction is sperm.

It makes far more sense in evolutionary terms to have an all-female asexual population which creates daughters who can reproduce rather than sons who cannot, such as the Mexican whiptail lizard.

But new research suggests that sexual competition for mates keeps populations healthy, free of disease and genetically diverse. . .

It wouldn’t be hard to think of some other reasons, would it?

Hat tip: Tim Worstall

WTO rules aainst USA CoOL on meat

May 20, 2015

The World Trade Organisation has ruled that labels on red meat in the United States that say where the animals were born, raised and slaughtered will have to be dropped or revised.

The office of the U.S. Trade Representative said the WTO has rejected a final U.S. appeal, deciding that the U.S. “country of origin” labels put Canadian and Mexican livestock at a disadvantage.

The Obama administration had previously revised labels to try to comply with WTO obligations. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has said that if the WTO ruled against the final U.S. appeal, Congress will have to weigh in to avoid retaliation – such as extra tariffs – from the two neighbour countries. . .

Though the ruling went against the U.S., it’s a victory for the U.S. meat industry, which has said the labels are burdensome. Meat processors quickly called for repeal of the labelling laws after the WTO decision.

Canada and Mexico issued a joint statement calling on the United States to repeal the labelling rules and saying they will seek authorization from the WTO to take retaliatory measures against U.S. exports.

The joint statement of Canadian and Mexican agriculture and trade officials said the rules cause Canadian and Mexican livestock and meat to be segregated from those of U.S. origin. The labeling is “damaging to North America’s supply chain and is harmful to producers and processors in all three countries,” the officials said. . .

I don’t support compulsory Country of Origin Labelling (CoOL) but I don’t understand why labels which give consumers information on which they might want to base their purchases has been disallowed.

GDT down again

May 20, 2015

The GlobalDairyTrade price index dropped 2.2% in this morning’s auction.

That’s the fifth consecutive drop.




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