365 days of gratitude

January 8, 2018

We’re still dog-sitting a chocolate Labrador.

She needs a lot of exercise which means I’m walking more than twice as far as I might usually go.

Both the dog and I are enjoying the walks. I’m not sure if she’s feeling the benefit of them but I am and I’m grateful for that.


Word of the day

January 8, 2018

Feculent – of or containing dregs, dirt, sediment, or waste matter; foul with impurities; filthy; scummy; turbid; muddy.


Never seen anyone crash well

January 8, 2018

THe New Zealand Transport Agency has launched a new video aimed at speeding drivers:

Enforcement has more to do with reducing harm than it does with issuing tickets and fines. This campaign reminds people that the role of Police is to protect those who use the road.

A big challenge in the area of speed is to stop speeding drivers from continuing to defend their perceived right to speed.

A significant proportion of the driving population still likes to travel at speeds that are too fast for the conditions (both on the open road and around town), posing a risk to themselves and to others who share the roads with them. Every week, 11 people are seriously injured or killed in a speed-related crash, but a substantial portion of our society still doesn’t see the connection between speed and crashes.

Speed is not often the only contributing factor in a crash, but it is a crucial factor in the severity of a crash. Whether involuntary or deliberate, road crashes occur from a range of mistakes but the outcome will be vastly different at different speeds.

The target audience

The new campaign targets competent male drivers aged between 35-60 years, who regularly drive a bit fast and are not keen on being asked to slow down.

They routinely drive at speeds above the limit and travel faster than the traffic around them. They’re confident in their driving ability and the fact that nothing untoward is likely to happen. They recognise that speed can affect the outcome of a crash but don’t see this as an issue they need to concern themselves with.

They want to see less harm on our roads – they’re happy that Police enforce our roads but they believe Police aren’t focusing on the right things; ‘speed isn’t the issue‘. They’re convinced that they themselves are very good drivers; they want Police to stop picking on them and focus on ’the bad drivers who cause crashes’.

Our approach

Recent advertising has aimed to shift speeding drivers’ and the wider public’s attitudes about speed, taking the safe system approach with messages about human fragility and the inevitability of mistakes.

The campaign has a role too in reminding people that reducing violations is also a part of the safe system, and that enforcement may be needed to encourage compliance and ultimately reduce harm.

So, this new campaign aims to get the audience to accept the role of speed enforcement – to understand that the role of the Police is to protect those who use the road by dealing with anything that might cause harm.

It aims to get the audience to see that enforcement has more to do with reducing harm than it does with tickets and fines.

It’s simple physics – the faster the speed, the bigger the mess.

As the officer in the video says, “Everyone thinks they drive well, I’ve never seen anyone crash well.”


Rural round-up

January 8, 2018

They need to be able to have a life’: Mother’s plea after farmer son’s death – Kelly Dennett:

Last month Gail Harris spent a night with her sons watching movies, cooking dinner, and listening to them play video games while she dozed on the couch.

As her youngest, Colby Harris, left the Hamilton home for the Huntly farm he worked on, she said a sleepy goodbye. Opening her eyes shortly afterward she realised Colby was still there, watching her.

“I said, ‘Are you okay, Son?’ And he said, ‘Yup’.”

It was the last conversation they had. The only inkling of something amiss. . . 

Westland Milk – closing the gap on dairy’s big brother – Jamie Gray:

Hokitika-based Westland Milk fell behind its far larger competitor, Fonterra, in 2016. Under new chief executive Toni Brendish, the co-op is closing the gap.
Extreme volatility in world dairy markets has taken its toll on companies around the world, and Westland Milk has been no exception.

The co-op turned in a $17 million loss over 2016/17 and its payout — at $5.18 per kg of milksolids — was the lowest of all the Kiwi dairy companies. . . 

Farming for the next generation – Michael Grove:

The age of acceleration
For anyone wondering what the focus of this year’s Oxford Farming Conference might be, it was The Archers provided an answer just before Christmas.

Brian Aldridge asked his step-son, Adam, whether he might be attending the conference. Adam replied wearily. ‘I think I’ll give it a miss this year. It’s probably going to be all about Brexit. I get enough of that at home.’

I know how he feels.

I suspect everyone in this room knows how he feels.

And, of course, I’ll say something in a moment about the specific opportunities and challenges for agriculture on leaving the European Union. . .

Yes we have no bananas but monoculture wasn’t so easy to avoid – Steven Savage:

In 1923, Frank Silver and Irving Cohn published a song that became a major hit for the Billy Jones Orchestra, with the signature line “Yes, we have no bananas; we have no bananas today.” It turned out to be sadly prophetic as, in the 1950s, the banana trees that supplied the entire global banana export business were wiped out by a soil-borne fungal disease known as “Panama Wilt.”

The industry at that time was almost entirely based on a single banana cultivar called “Gros Michel” (meaning “Big Mike”), and it was susceptible to infection by a strain of fungus called Fusarium. Once the soil of a given plantation was contaminated with that strain, any Gros Michel tree grown there would soon die.

By good fortune, a different banana cultivar that was being grown in the South Seas was able to substitute for Gros Michel as a commercial line, and this new “Cavendish” cultivar became the new banana of international commerce, as it remains to this day. . .

Speech to the Oxford Farming Conference – Mark Lynas:

Five years ago, almost to this very day, I stood before you and offered an apology for my earlier anti-GMO activism. Today I want to do something different.

Whereas my 2013 speech was something of a declaration of war against my former colleagues in the anti-GMO scene, today I want to offer an olive branch, to map out the contours of a potential peace treaty.

For me it’s been a very intense five years. The 2013 speech really did change my life in ways I had never anticipated. I was accused of having been the global founder of the anti-GMO movement, and my stance was compared with being a rapist by one well known activist.

I don’t like to run away from a fight, so since then I’ve devoted myself pretty much full time to the GMO issue. I’ve been to numerous countries in Africa and Asia and met farmers, scientists, activists and others on both sides of this very contentious debate. . . 


Lag effect means no quick fix

January 8, 2018

A Fish and Game poll shows New Zealanders want more action on water quality:

Pollution of our rivers and lakes is one of New Zealanders’ top two concerns, according to public opinion poll results.
The findings are contained in a Colmar Brunton poll of a thousand people conducted for Fish & Game New Zealand.

The survey asked people how concerned they were about a range of issues, including the cost of living, health system, child poverty and water pollution.

Three quarters – 75 percent – of those surveyed said they were extremely or very concerned about pollution of lakes and rivers. Only five percent said they were not that concerned.

The only issue people were more worried about was the cost of living, with 77 percent saying they were extremely or very concerned. . . 

Fish & Game New Zealand chief executive Martin Taylor says the Colmar Brunton findings show how worried the public is about water pollution.

“These results are consistent with what we saw in the election and show the depth of feeling kiwis have about the loss of what they considered their birth right – clean rivers, lakes and streams,” Martin Taylor says.

“It highlights the urgency with which the government needs to make substantial changes to address the problem,” Mr Taylor says.

“People are fed up by pollution – particular by intensive corporate dairying – which has robbed them of their ability to swim in their favourite rivers and lakes. . .

My favourite lake is Wanaka where there have been no problems for swimmers this summer.

My favourite rivers are the Kakanui and Waitaki, both of which are in dairying areas. There have been no problems in the Waitaki and the high E. coli in a stretch of the Kakanui is caused by seagulls.

Fonterra and Dairy NZ should take note of these results. They show the tens of millions of dollars they’ve spent on slick PR to try and change people’s minds isn’t working,” he says.

Martin Taylor says the state of our polluted waterways is hurting New Zealand’s international image.

Does he not see the irony of saying this in a media release high on emotion and selective in its facts?

“Our clean, green reputation gives us a valuable international marketing advantage, but we have been squandering it.

“Losing our clean, green image means less tourism earnings and lower prices for our sheep and beef exports and other agriculture products. Why should all New Zealand farmers miss out on good returns because of dirty dairying?” he says.

Why should a whole industry be pilloried because of mistakes made in the past? This statement ignores all the work and the money which are being put into remedying those mistakes and ensuring current practices protect and enhance waterways.

Martin Taylor says fixing the problem is not going to be easy.

“This is a major challenge to put right. It’s going to take a lot of hard work and hundreds of millions of dollars to reverse corporate dairy farming’s environmental impact,” he says. . . 

Once again Fish & Game picks on dairying without mentioning the fouling of waterways by water fowl,  didymo which was introduced to New Zealand by fishers, pollution caused by tourists and trampers who urinate and defecate in or near waterways; and the problem of urban water pollution.

There is no dairying near Christchurch’s Avon River which is very polluted nor is there any near Takapuna Beach which was closed to swimmers last week.

The media release also ignores the lag effect which is examined in ‘Lag-effect’ politics and the politicisation of New Zealand farmers: Where to from here?, by Ronlyn Duncan of Lincoln University:

. . In terms of nitrates, the present state of water quality reflects what has occurred in the past and depending on biophysical, geological and management factors, movement into waterways can take decades. Often referred to as the ‘lag-effect’, this means it can take some time before the effects of land use intensification make their way through the groundwater system (Howard-Williams et al., 2010; LAWF, 2010, 2012; PCE, 2012; Sanford and Pope, 2013). Importantly, the same delay applies to improvements in water quality due to better farm practices and the implementation of stricter rules and regulations. Hence, the issue of concern in this paper is that the lag-effect can have potentially unforeseen social and political consequences. . . 

Those social and political consequences include the pillorying of farmers and farming by groups like Fish & Game using selective facts and lots of emotion.

The degradation of water quality is complex.

A lot of the practices doing the damage in urban waterways is still occurring. This could be fixed very quickly if there was the political will to spend the money necessary to deal with waste water and sewerage.

Most of the degradation of rural waterways occurred over a long period of time and in spite of considerable improvements in current farming practices, millions of dollars spent and a lot of on-going work, will take a long time to reverse.


Quote of the day

January 8, 2018

A third ideal that has made its way in the modern world is reliance on reason, especially reason disciplined and enriched by modern science. An eternal basis of human intercommunication is reason. – Emily Greene Balch who was born on this day in 1867.


January 8 in history

January 8, 2018

307 – Jin Huidi, Chinese Emperor of the Jin Dynasty, was poisoned and succeeded by his son Jin Huaidi.

871 – Alfred the Great led a West Saxon army to repel an invasion by Danelaw Vikings.

1297 – François Grimaldi, disguised as a monk, led his men to capture the fortress protecting the Rock of Monaco, establishing his family as the rulers of Monaco.

1455 – The Romanus Pontifex was written.

1499 – Louis XII of France married Anne of Brittany.

1697 – Last execution for blasphemy in Britain; of Thomas Aikenhead, student, at Edinburgh.

1734  Premiere of George Frideric Handel’s Ariodante at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

1746 Second Jacobite Rising: Bonnie Prince Charlie occupied Stirling.

1790 George Washington delivered the first State of the Union Address in New York City.

1835  The United States national debt was 0 for the only time.

1838 – Alfred Vail demonstrated a telegraph system using dots and dashes ( the forerunner of Morse code).

1862 Frank Nelson Doubleday, American publisher, was born  (d. 1934).

1863 Geologist Julius von Haast led an exploratory expedition in search of a route from the east to the west coasts of the South Island.

Haast begins West Coast expedition

1867 African American men were granted the right to vote in Washington, D.C.

1867  Emily Greene Balch, American writer and pacifist, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, was born  (d. 1961).

1877 – Crazy Horse and his warriors fought their last battle with the United States Cavalry at Wolf Mountain (Montana Territory).

1900  Dame Merlyn Myer, Australian philanthropist, was born  (d. 1982).

1908 – William Hartnell, British actor, was born(d. 1975)

1911  – Gypsy Rose Lee, American actress and entertainer, was born (d. 1970).

1912 The African National Congress was founded.

1926  Abdul-Aziz ibn Saud became the King of Hejaz and renamed it Saudi Arabia.

1926 Soupy Sales, American comedian, was born(d. 2009).

1935  Elvis Presley, American singer, was born (d. 1977).v>1937  Dame Shirley Bassey, Welsh singer, was born.

1937 – Dame Shirley Bassey, Welsh singer, was born.

1940  Britain introduced food rationing.

1941  Graham Chapman, British comedian, was born  (d. 1989).

1946  Robby Krieger, American musician (The Doors), was born.

1947  David Bowie, English musician, was born.

1959 – Fidel Castro‘s Cuban Revolution was completed with the take over of Santiago de Cuba.

1959 Paul Hester, Australian drummer (Crowded House), was born (d. 2005).

1962 – The Harmelen train disaster killed 93 people in The Netherlands.

1964 President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a “War on Poverty” in the United States.

1973 – Soviet space mission Luna 21 was launched.

1973 – Watergate scandal: The trial of seven men accused of illegal entry into Democratic Party headquarters at Watergate begins.

1975 Ella Grasso became Governor of Connecticut, becoming the first woman to serve as a Governor in the United States other than by succeeding her husband .

1994  Russian cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov on Soyuz TM-18 left for the space station  Mir. He stayed on the space station until March 22, 1995, for a record 437 days in space.

2004 The RMS Queen Mary 2, the largest passenger ship ever built, was christened by her namesake’s granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth II.

2005 – The nuclear sub USS San Francisco collided at full speed with an undersea mountain south of Guam. One man was killed, but the sub surfaces and was repaired.

2010 – Gunmen from an offshoot the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda attacked the bus carrying the Togo national football team on its way to the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations, killing three.

2011 – An attempted assassination of Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and subsequent shooting in Casas Adobes, Arizona at a Safeway grocery store killed 6 people and wounded 13, including Giffords.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.


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