365 days of gratitude

August 6, 2018

Today is Farm Worker Appreciation Day.

We’re blessed with a team of top people whose dedication, enthusiasm and skills are essential elements in the success of our business.

Today and every day I appreciate them and am grateful for them.

 


Word of the day

August 6, 2018

Dharolyuo – a joyous veil of rain that bridges sky and earth.

From Forty Names for Clouds.


Rural round-up

August 6, 2018

Top official knows the human cost of bovis – Sally Rae:

July 22, 2017, will go down as a significant date in New Zealand’s agricultural history. On that day, bacterial cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis was confirmed as being in the country, triggering New Zealand’s largest and most expensive biosecurity response. Sally Rae, who has covered the outbreak since the beginning, reflects on the past year and also talks to the man charged with heading the national response.

Geoff Gwyn admits hearing from farmers hit by Mycoplasma bovis is the toughest part of his job.

“These stories are intensely personal. Being under regulatory control or, worst case scenario, having a herd built up over decades culled is a really tough time for people.

“It has a large impact on their psyche, their mental health, the financial viability of their business. All these are hard conversations to have.” . .

US company buys NZ wool for insulation – Gerard Hutching:

New Zealand wool producers have landed a large contract to supply a United States company with fibre for home insulation.

They also claim wool is a healthier product than fibreglass which is the dominant insulating material on the market, a claim that has been disputed by fibreglass manufacturers.

The deal, brokered by NZ Merino (NZM), will see 200 tonnes of Landcorp coarse wool supplied to US insulation company Havelock Wool. This represents about 10 per cent of Landcorp’s supply to NZM. . . 

New Zealand’s beef cattle herd continues to grow:

New Zealand’s beef cattle herd increased by 1.9 per cent over the past year while the decline in the sheep flock was slowed by a lift in hoggets as farmers responded positively to strong prices and good grass growth leading into winter, according to Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ).

The annual stock number survey conducted by B+LNZ’s Economic Service, shows 3.7 million beef cattle with beef production continuing to grow.

The largest contributor to the increase in the number of beef cattle was a lift in weaner cattle in Marlborough-Canterbury, which was driven by younger cattle being retained by beef breeders. . . 

No big rise in calf kill expected – Hugh Stringleman:

Dairy farmers should get a little more money for their bobby calves this season but meat companies don’t expect a big increase in slaughter tallies.

Higher prices overseas for skins and the lower value of the New Zealand dollar have enabled some meat companies to add up to 20c/kg to their bobby calf schedules.

Others said they are paying the same as last winter and will be competitive with prevailing prices.

The range for medium calves, 13.5kg to 18kg carcaseweight, where most weights fall, is reportedly $1.85/kg to $2/kg. . . 

Storage ponds a ‘ludicrous’ alternative to dam:

Claims about storage ponds being a viable alternative to the Waimea Community Dam are ludicrous, says Waimea Irrigators Limited (WIL) Chair Murray King.

“There are many reasons storage ponds won’t solve the region’s water problem, including insufficient capacity, ponds not addressing the minimum flow requirements on the Waimea River, and the lack of funding available for them.

“The idea is utterly ludicrous. A combined storage volume of 6 million cubic metres of water won’t meet the minimum flow requirements set out in the Tasman Resource Management Plan (TRMP) and provide adequate water for water users in dry periods. The minimum flows were established through an Environment Court process so the Council can give effect to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management. . . 

Collaboration critical to capture red meat sector opportunities:

The opportunities and challenges facing New Zealand’s red meat sector were highlighted at the annual Red Meat Sector conference held in Napier this week.

The one-day conference, which attracted around 250 red meat industry stakeholders, featured a range of speakers who set the scene for the sector, identified the challenges and highlighted the many opportunities for red meat in a dynamic global market.

One of the over-riding themes was the need to work collaboratively to ensure the red meat sector is well positioned to capture premiums for its product on the world stage.

In setting the scene, former Zespri CEO and chair of the Primary Sector Council Lain Jager said he is convinced there will always be a market for ruminant protein because the world needs more protein. . . 

The dairy season in New Zealand kicks off with a reasonable seasonal weather outlook:

Even with El Nino talk intensifying the weather looks good for the start of the dairy season

Dairy cows around the country tend to freshen in the month of August and grass growth becomes important as production ramps up with warmer weather. It was only last December when large parts of the country were shocked by the dry and exceptionally warm weather. This year, in contrast, looks to be headed in a slightly different direction. The latest and updated every ten-day seasonal rainfall and temperature outlook is for benign conditions through October.

The slightly drier monthly forecasts for Northland through the Waikato and Bay of Plenty, Taranaki and the Manawatu and down the west coast of the South Island and into Southland might be welcomed. . . 

Cedenco Foods is Hawke’s Bay Exporter of the Year:

An impressive commitment to product development and innovation has seen fruit and vegetable manufacturer Cedenco Foods New Zealand named as ExportNZ Hawke’s Bay ASB Exporter of the Year.

The Gisborne-based business was presented with the award by the Head of Trade Finance at ASB Bank, Mike Atkins, at the sold-out awards dinner last night at the Napier Conference Centre. Earlier in the evening, Cedenco had won the inaugural T&G Global Best Medium to Large ExporterAward.

The judges said Cedenco impressed them with their investment in market research, customer relationships, and R&D to get their product right for the customer. . . 

Kiwi ingenuity a stand-out at  this year’s Pork Awards – winners announced at NZPork’s annual gala dinner:

New Zealand’s creative culinary ingenuity shone bright at The Orange in Auckland last night, where a mix of local farmers, butchers, retailers and industry leaders gathered to celebrate the winners of the eleventh annual Pork, Bacon and Ham Awards.

The competition, which took place in July, provided more than 40 pork retailers from across the country with the chance to showcase their best and most innovative New Zealand born and raised pork products. . . 


Let some knowledge flourish?

August 6, 2018

Then-vice chancellor of Massey Chris Kelly provoked outrage after making comments about women vets:

Kelly told Rural News that 75 to 85 per cent of vet students were women and in the first year when there was a high ‘cull’, it was the female students who continued because the work was largely academic.

“That’s because women mature earlier than men, work hard and pass,” he told Rural News. “Whereas men find out about booze and all sorts of crazy things during their first year.” . . 

When I went through vet school, many years ago, it was dominated by men; today it’s dominated by women. That’s fine, but the problem is one woman graduate is equivalent to two-fifths of a fulltime equivalent vet throughout her life because she gets married and has a family, which is normal. So, though we’re graduating a lot of vets, we’re getting a high fallout rate later on.” . . 

Shortly after the outrage, he stepped down.

He apologised yesterday and said the information he gave in the article was incorrect.

He told the university today that he intended to step down from his position, effective immediately.

In a statement, Mr Kelly said his decision followed media coverage of his comments.

“Having had time to carefully consider the views of many staff, students and stakeholders, I believe that it is in the interests of the university that I step aside,” he said. . .

Martin van Beynen wrote at the time that the chancellor’s point was lost in the silly vet sexism fracas:

 . . But there is a wider problem with jumping from a great height on a man like Kelly.

Kelly spoke his mind giving a view which was not hateful or disrespectful. Essentially he was saying the taxpayer gets more bang for their buck by training male vets because of the nature of the job and the fact women, due to an unfortunate quirk of biology, have babies and want to spend some time with them.

It sounds like a defendable view which should prompt some debate. There might actually be a problem brewing away in vet education due to the dominance of female graduates. That won’t be talked about now because no-one will be brave enough to raise it.

The danger is that due to the sensitivity of the issue and possible ramifications of expressing a view, the wrong decisions will be made, not because people don’t know the facts or what to do, but just because to raise the difficult matters is a career wrecker.

The last and important point is that it’s quite healthy for people to shoot their mouths off now and again. It’s much better to know what people think than to have their views massaged by public relations or communications staff into nothingness. People censoring themselves is far more dangerous than saying what they really think.

Exactly. It is far better to know what people think than to have their views and opinions, whether they be right or wrong, silenced.

The importance of free speech is not something the current Massey vice chancellor Jan Thomas appears to believe in:

The right to speak freely is a bedrock principle of democratic society. This includes the right to hold opinions and express one’s views without fear and the ability to freely communicate one’s ideas.

History is littered with examples of tyrants who have sought to stymie this freedom of expression and, conversely, reveals the tragedy of those whose voices have been silenced under such oppression.

So far so good but then she writes:

Freedom of expression is one thing, but hate speech is another. As a concept that has now entered common parlance, hate speech refers to attacks based on race, ethnicity, religion, and increasingly, on sexual orientation or preference. . .

But not all religions are equal when it comes to criticism. I’ve yet to read or hear anyone attacking Christianity accused of hate speech.

Let me be clear, hate speech is not free speech. . .

She’s right that hate speech, however, it’s defined, isn’t free speech.

But the point that free speech would permit people to indulge in hate speech appears to have escaped her.

. . . Academics have a responsibility to engage with the communities we serve, to correct error and prejudice and to offer expert views, informed by evidence, reason and well-informed argument.

Given the current dominance of wall-to-wall social media and the echo chambers of fake news, universities are in many ways obliged to make positive societal interventions.

Universities support our staff and students to push boundaries, test the evidence that is put to them and challenge societal norms, including examining controversial and unpopular ideas.

This also obliges our institutions to support staff if and when they are attacked for engaging in such debates.

In this regard, I am guided by the University of California’s former President Clark Kerr’s oft-cited maxim that “the role of universities is not to make ideas safe for students, but to make students safe for ideas”.

And as I regularly remind our graduates, with rights come responsibilities.

Public universities have an obligation to uphold our civic leadership role in society and our first responsibility, I would argue, is to do no harm.

Universities are characterised by the academic values of tolerance, civility, and respect for human dignity.

All of that is reasonable.

And that is why it is important to identify and call out any shift from free speech towards hate speech. The challenge we face is to clarify when that shift occurs and to counter it with reason and compassion.

While I have concerns about what exactly hate speech is, I can’t argue against countering it with reason and compassion.

But then she concludes:

Hate speech has no place at a university. My university values our commitment to ideas and scholarship and free expression. . .

Spot the contradiction: a commitment to free expression and the exlusion of hate speech.

A university of all places ought to be able to counter the misguided, misinformed and mistaken by reasoned and reasonable debate, not by shutting them up and shutting down their right to express their views, however wrong or revolting those views are.

Karl du Fresne writes we should be very suspicious about claims of “hate speech”:

. . . My first concern is that much of what is emotively described as hate speech isn’t hateful at all. Too often it simply means opinions and ideas that some people find distasteful or offensive. But merely being offended is no justification for stifling expressions of opinion in a liberal, open democracy that depends on the contest of ideas. 

More worryingly, accusations of “hate speech” can be used to intimidate people into silence and put discussion of certain issues and ideas off-limits. In fact I believe that’s the over-arching aim.

Anyway, who defines hate speech? The term is bandied around as if there’s some agreed definition. But there’s not, and freedom of expression is too precious to leave it to an aggrieved minority or an academic elite to define it and therefore determine what the rest of us may say.

It’s also an infinitely elastic term. In Britain, where police have the power to prosecute for hate speech, there have been some frightening cases of overkill and heavy-handedness. 

Better to set the legal bar high to allow plenty of space for free speech, as the courts have tended to do in New Zealand. By all means, draw the line at harmful acts, direct threats to people’s safety or incitements to violence against minorities. But the law already allows for criminal prosecution in such cases.

We have far more to fear from people who want to suppress speech than we do from those who say things that others find objectionable. The real issue here is language control – because if you can control the language people are allowed to use in political discourse, you can control the range of ideas people are permitted to articulate and explore. . .

No, language is the latest battleground in what is known as the culture wars. The mounting clamour for tougher laws against so-called hate speech is an outgrowth of identity politics, in which minority groups are encouraged to see themselves as oppressed or disadvantaged because of their colour, ethnicity, gender, religious belief or sexual orientation. 

Hate speech makes some colours, ethnicities, genders, religions and sexual orientations more equal than others.

This has generated a demand for protection from comments that might be seen as critical or belittling – hence the frequency with which we hear people being accused of xenophobia, racism, Islamophobia, homophobia and misogyny.

No one likes to have these labels pinned on them, so people keep their heads down. Accusing someone of hate speech has the same effect. It’s a quick way to shut down debate. . .

It’s so much easier to accuse someone of hate speech than it is to debate and counter what they say with facts and reason.

Journalists, of all people, should be ardent advocates of free speech because they have the most to fear if it’s abolished. In totalitarian regimes, journalists are often the first people to be imprisoned (as in Turkey) and even risk being murdered (as in Putin’s Russia).

But the most illiberal pronouncement I have read on the supposed dangers of free speech came from a university vice-chancellor who clearly thought that ordinary New Zealanders can’t be trusted to form their own sensible conclusions about contentious issues.

This pompous academic thought we needed guidance to keep us on the right path. And where from? Why, from universities.

We can infer from this that universities see themselves as having taken over the Churches’ role as moral arbiters. God help us all.

That the academic is vice chancellor of the same university the former-chancellor resigned from for saying something which got the crowd baying intrigues and concerns me.

Kelly wasn’t criticised for saying young men mature later and drink too much. He didn’t say that women don’t make good vets. He did say women work shorter hours than men.

He got his numbers wrong – saying women vets worked two-fifths of the time men did when younger vets work similar hours and after 30 women vets work an average of 37 hours a week and men an average of 45.

He might also be accused of not wording what he said better.

But over-egging the numbers and wording what he said somewhat clumsily ought to be a minor transgression.

A vice chancellor of a university, which is supposed to be a bastion of free speech, declaring that hers won’t  be ought to be a major one.

Kelly’s comments provoked an outrage, lots of media coverage and led to his resignation. All I’ve come across in response to Thomas’s declaration that Massey won’t uphold free speech are a very few well reasoned opinion pieces arguing against her.

Liam Hehir didn’t refer to Thomas’s remarks but he highlights the value of free speech and the danger in silencing it:

. . . New Zealand has developed a similar free-speech culture.

And the value of that culture isn’t that it protects racists and crackpots. It’s that it protects the humane and decent, who will not always hold the reins of power. The re-emergence of authoritarianism in continental Europe, where free-speech rights are less embedded, may well provide a warning here.

So should we accord liberal free speech rights to those with deplorable views? Yes. But it’s not to protect them from us. It’s to protect us from them.

Kelly stood down as chancellor for speaking freely, if what turned out to be unwisely in these politically-correct times. Vice chancellor Thomas declared Massey a free speech-free university and hardly raised an eye brow.

The uiniversity’s motto is floreat scientia – let knowledge flourish.

It isn’t qualified as some knowledge but if free speech can’t flourish there, can all knowledge?


Quote of the day

August 6, 2018

One sometimes finds what one is not looking for. Alexander Fleming – who was born on this day in 1881.


August 6 in history

August 6, 2018

1284 Pisa was defeated in Battle of Meloria by Genoa, ruining its naval power.

1538  Bogotá, was founded by Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada.

1661 The Treaty of The Hague was signed by Portugal and the Dutch Republic.

1787 Sixty proof sheets of the Constitution of the United States were delivered to the Constitutional Convention.

1806 Francis II, the last Holy Roman Emperor, abdicated ending the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation.

1809 Alfred Lord Tennyson, English poet, was born (d. 1892).

1819  Norwich University was founded in Vermont as the first private military school in the United States.

1825  Bolivia gained independence from Spain.

1845 The Russian Geographical Society was founded in Saint Petersburg.

1861 Edith Roosevelt, First Lady of the United States, was born (d. 1948).

1861 The United Kingdom annexed  Lagos, Nigeria.

1862  American Civil War: the Confederate ironclad CSS Arkansas was scuttled on the Mississippi River after suffering damage in a battle with USS Essex.

1870  Franco-Prussian War: Battle of Wörth is fought, resulting in a decisive Prussian victory.

1881 Alexander Fleming, Scottish scientist, Nobel laureate, was born  (d. 1955).

1890 At Auburn Prison in New York murderer William Kemmler became the first person to be executed by electric chair.

1901  Kiowa land in Oklahoma was opened for white settlement, effectively dissolving the contiguous reservation.

1909  Alice Ramsey and three friends became the first women to complete a transcontinental auto trip.

1911 Lucille Ball, American actress, was born (d. 1989).

1912  The Bull Moose Party met at the Chicago Coliseum.

1914 First Battle of the Atlantic – ten German  U-boats left their base in Helgoland to attack Royal Navy warships in the North Sea.

1914 – World War I: Serbia declared war on Germany; Austria declared war on Russia.

1915  Battle of Sari Bair – the Allies mounted a diversionary attack timed to coincide with a major Allied landing of reinforcements at Suvla Bay.

1917  Battle of Mărăşeşti between the Romanian and German armies began.

1917 Robert Mitchum, American actor, was born  (d. 1997).

1922 Sir Freddie Laker, English entrepreneur, was born  (d. 2006).

1926  Gertrude Ederle became first woman to swim across the English Channel.

1926  Warner Brothers’ Vitaphone system premiered with the movie Don Juan starring John Barrymore.

1926   Harry Houdini performed his greatest feat, spending 91 minutes underwater in a sealed tank before escaping.

1928 Robert Mitchum, American artist, was born  (d. 1987).

1934 Chris Bonington, British mountaineer, was born.

1936 Jack Lovelock won New Zealand’s first Olympic athletics gold medalwhen he ran the 1500-metres in a world record time of 3:47.8.at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Lovelock wins 1500-m gold at Berlin

1937 Barbara Windsor, English actress, was born.

1942 Queen Wilhelmina became the first reigning queen to address a joint session of the United States Congress.

1945 The atomic bomb “Little Boy” was dropped on Hiroshima by the United States B-29 Enola Gay. Around 70,000 people were killed instantly, and tens of thousands died in subsequent years from burns and radiation poisoning.

1952 Vinnie Vincent, American musician (Kiss), was born.

1960  Cuban Revolution: in response to a United States embargo, Cuba nationalised American and foreign-owned property in the nation.

1962 Jamaica became independent.

1964 Prometheus, a bristlecone pine and the world’s oldest tree, was cut down.

1965 US President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965into law.

1966 Braniff Airlines Flight 250 crashed in Falls City, NE killing all 42 on board.

1969 Simon Doull, New Zealand cricketer, was born.

1972 Geri Halliwell, British singer (Spice Girls), was born.

1976 Zulfikar Ali Bhutto laid the foundation stone of Port Qasim, Karachi.

1986  A low-pressure system that redeveloped off the New South Wales coast dumped a record 328 millimeters (13 inches) of rain in a day on Sydney.

1990  The United Nations Security Council ordered a global trade embargo against Iraq in response to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.

1991  Tim Berners-Lee released files describing his idea for the World Wide Web. WWW debuted  as a publicly available service on the Internet.

1991  Doi Takako, chair of the Social Democratic Party became Japan’s first female speaker of the House of Representatives.

1993 Heavy rains and debris killed  72 in the Kagoshima and Aira areas, of Kyūshū, Japan.

1996  NASA announced that the ALH 84001 meteorite, thought to originate from Mars, contained evidence of primitive life-forms.

1997 Korean Air Flight 801, a Boeing 747-300, crashed into the jungle on Guam on approach to airport, killing 228.

2008 A military junta led by Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz staged a coup d’état in Mauritania, overthrowing president Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi.

2011 – A helicopter containing members of Navy SEAL 6 was shot down in Afghanistan killing 38.

2012 – NASA’s Curiosity rover landed on the surface of Mars.

2015 – A suicide bomb attack killed at least 15 people at a mosque in the south-western Saudi city of Abha.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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