365 days of gratitude

September 18, 2018

A toot came from behind.

I was giving way as I ought to have been and was thinking dark thoughts about the impatience of the driver.

Then I realised I hadn’t turned the car lights on. The toot wasn’t a get-a-move-on one, it was a turn-your-lights-on-one.

Tonight I’m grateful for a friendly toot.


Word of the day

September 18, 2018

Fettle – state or condition of health, fitness, wholeness, spirit, or form; to trim or clean the rough edges of a metal casting or a piece of pottery before firing; to tidy; mend.


Rural round-up

September 18, 2018

Old values and new practices – Glenys Christian:

Richard Cookson and his wife Louise Cullen studied at Lincoln University but then went overseas for work at scientists rather than heading for the farm. However, 12 years ago they answered a call to return home and now run a cow and goat dairy unit.

They not only enjoy it but are proud of what they are doing and want all New Zealanders to be proud of farmers as the keepers of Kiwi values. They are leading by example, not just on the farm but also by giving back to the sector and community and setting environmental standards. . .

Lamb prices pushing the limit – Annette Scott:

Lamb prices are not aligned with global market fundamentals, prompting a warning of a looming correction.

Procurement prices as high as $8.70 a kilogram are out of whack from a global perspective but reflect the limited number of lambs in the market, Alliance livestock and shareholder services general manager Heather Stacy said.

While the weaker New Zealand dollar is playing a key role in keeping lamb prices up, a push-back is imminent. . .

Better understanding of nutrient movement – Pam Tipa:

We need a better understanding of nutrient transport across catchments, says Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (PCE), Simon Upton.

And he says we also need better understanding of what nutrient models can and can’t do to assist in building a picture and better communication of what is happening to water quality. . .

Young Farmers’ Next 50 message: move with he times or wither – Simon Edwards:

There were some blunt words on glyphosate, fake meat burgers and farmers who won’t embrace change at the Wellington Young Farmers Club’s 2018 Industry Function.

During a panel discussion The Next 50: Future of Farming the conversation roved from 3D conferencing and holograms to Maori business models, and from disruptive technologies to milking sheep.

Dr Linda Sissons, of the Primary ITO, agreed with other speakers that increasing numbers of people will need to re-train every 10 or 15 years, if not more frequently.  Her organisation was introducing a suite of ‘Micro-credentials’ – short and sharp courses that farmers and others in the primary sectors could study in between other commitments. . .

German investment company to sell central North Island farms in Taihape and Waikaha – Sam Kilmister:

German company is offloading two central North Island farms, totalling about 1150 hectares.

Aquilla Capital, an asset management and investment company, bought the two sheep and beef blocks in 2012, but the Taihape and Waikaha properties are being offered for sale within the next month. 

The European company bought the farms on a fixed-term investment, requiring them to be sold by a specific date.

MyFarm, a Feilding-based investment service, oversaw on-farm operations. Its sheep and beef director Tom Duncan said the two properties were much better than when they were bought six years ago. . .

Cricketers’ company spins NZ lamb onto airlines’ menus:

Premium airline travellers departing India are now being served Pure South lamb from New Zealand.

Lamb is on the menu for first-class and business class passengers flying Air Canada, British Airways, Singapore Airlines, United Airlines and Air France after QualityNZ, Alliance Meat Co-op’s India partner, signed an agreement with two airline catering companies in India.

QualityNZ, whose shareholders include cricketing legends Sir Richard Hadlee, Stephen Fleming, Daniel Vettori and Brendon McCullum, is also celebrating success in the foodservice sector with Pure South lamb now available at more than 300 five-star hotels in India. . .

 

 


Ratepayers’ report released

September 18, 2018

The Taxpayers’ Union and the Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance have released this year’s Ratepayers’ Report, online government league table:

With these league tables, New Zealanders can easily compare their local council performance and financial position against similarly sized councils and types.

By setting out more than two thousand data points, Ratepayers’ Report provides transparency, so no-one can credibly claim cherry-picking or a political agenda. The league tables set out metrics such as Council debt, assets, spending and staff costs, all on a per-ratepayer basis.

Some councils do very well in the league tables, some not so much. Every council has checked its own numbers and approved it for accuracy.

Across the country council borrowing continues to skyrocket. On average, councils have increased the share of debt for each of their ratepayers by $244 – a 5.3 percent increase in borrowing in just a year!

The data shows why Auckland Ratepayers, in particular, have cause for real concern, with Council liabilities now $19,537 per ratepayer, up more than $600 since last year. This is second only to Christchurch, and almost four times the national average of $4,876.

Every dollar spent by a Council was earned by a hard working ratepayer. Ratepayers’ Report allows ratepayers to see how their money is being spent.

Notable Findings:

  • Christchurch City Council has more debt on a per ratepayer basis than any other council in the country ($21,137). Auckland Council is the second most indebted authority, with debt per ratepayer of $19,537.
  • The average debt per ratepayer of all councils is $4,876.
  • Auckland Council pays 2,250 of its staff salaries in excess of $100,000. Auckland Council also employs more staff per ratepayer than any other unitary authority (17 staff per 1,000 ratepayers). Marlborough District Council, another unitary authority, employs 10 staff per 1,000 ratepayers.
  • The highest average residential rates in New Zealand are in Western Bay of Plenty ($3,234 per year).
  • The lowest average residential rates in New Zealand are in the Mackenzie District ($1,637 per year)

The report is here.

This is a valuable resource for ratepayers to check on their councils’ performance.

All councils should take it seriously and those that perform badly should learn from those who do better and regard it as an incentive to improve.

Rates are a considerable cost for most property owners and councils which take them have a responsibility to spend them wisely and ensure they give ratepayers value for money.


Fake news grows when gatekeepers go

September 18, 2018

Mainstream news outlets have gatekeepers.

They’re the people who decide what is real news and what is not.

They’re human and so not perfect.

They can let their bias colour decisions and, not knowing what they don’t know, let the wrong story through without at least some balance from the right one.

But they are still there to draft off deliberate and dangerous fake news.

Social media doesn’t have gatekeepers and without them fake news grows and spreads.

Lies, defamatory comments and accusations and false statements not only get published they go viral, infecting the world with untruths and fiction purporting to be facts.

In when anti-1080 activism grew  noisy and got uglyHayden Donnell  shows how it’s done:

. . .What caused the sudden escalation? Part of the answer can perhaps be traced back to October last year, when anti-1080 leaders held a think-tank near Nelson. There the lawyer Sue Grey gave a presentation on how to mainstream the movement. Grey has been a leading spokesperson in the medicinal cannabis movement, which has gained political traction and overwhelming public support in recent months, and she drew on her experience with that cause to outline a new anti-1080 strategy. Activists couldn’t rely on getting mainstream media coverage, she said. She proposed taking a different tack – co-opting stories about issues completely unrelated to 1080 to spread the anti-1080 message.

“You don’t have to wait for a story about 1080 to put a comment about 1080,” she said. “You know – here’s [a story on the fact] the prime minister’s in Vietnam – well put a comment ‘what’s the prime minister telling them about putting 1080 in our food?’. And you can actually sort of divert the whole story.

“There’s all sorts of things you can do to pick up on momentum and people are going ‘hang on, where’s all this 1080 stuff coming from’.” . . 

This sort of thread-jack happens on blogs too. An activist sees a post on x and uses it as an opportunity to write a comment that sides tracks with but what about y.

The tactics she outlined almost perfectly match a sea change in how anti-1080 activism is practised online, and particularly on Facebook.

I had my first encounter with the online anti-1080 movement last month after watching a live news video where Phil Twyford and Kris Faafoi glumly announced new rules governing wheel clamping. When I looked at the video’s comments section, almost no-one was interested in clamping. Nearly every comment was the same message, repeated over and over: Ban 1080.

I found out the comments had their roots in a single Facebook page: Operation Ban 1080. The 60,000-member group  was encouraging members to take advantage of Facebook’s easily evaded moderation tools to get their message heard on unrelated videos.

It was like Grey said in her seminar: they weren’t waiting for stories about 1080 to post a comment on 1080. They were diverting news stories on unrelated topics. They were being more noisy, and creating more trouble. . .

The dark side to that is familiar to anyone who’s watched fringe groups flourish on social media in recent years. Where Operation Ban 1080 would previously have had to go through gatekeepers to get their message heard – opening themselves up to scrutiny and countering opinion – on Facebook they were allowed to run wild. Emotive posts accusing 1080 of wholesale environmental destruction were actually rewarded by Facebook’s algorithm due to their high engagement. False posts or doctored photos showing native birds or deer “poisoned by 1080” went semi-viral. Lies could be posted without counterargument, and any objections were confined to other parts of the site.

“You get this snowballing crescendo of hysteria and conspiracy and science denial and hyperbole where, in order to keep on getting the likes on Facebook, each statement has to be more fantastical, more hyperbolic than the last,” said Dave Hansford, the author of Protecting Paradise: 1080 and the Fight to Save New Zealand’s Wildlife. “This is the whole fake news phenomenon. They used to be happy with simply misrepresenting studies or cherry-picking research or just denigrating scientists … but more recently that clown car has just like careered off this on-ramp to crazy town. People are no longer concerned with keeping even one fingertip still on a fact anymore. Now they’re happy to just make shit up.” . .

That nails it and deserves repeating:

This is the whole fake news phenomenon. They used to be happy with simply misrepresenting studies or cherry-picking research or just denigrating scientists … but more recently that clown car has just like careered off this on-ramp to crazy town. People are no longer concerned with keeping even one fingertip still on a fact anymore. . . 

In crazy town, facts don’t matter, conspiracy theories grow and emotion trumps science.

Facebook and Twitter are particularly good seed-beds for growing fake news making it too, too easy for its proponents to spill their venom from their echo chambers to infect a wide network.

They go too far on-line which encourages followers to go too far in real life, as the anti-1080 protesters did last week.

But what happened next showed the downside of that increasing radicalisation. Fake 1080 pellets were thrown onto the steps of parliament, prompting a debate between environment minister David Parker and anti-1080 protesters. Then dead birds were laid outside parliament. Though protesters originally claimed the animals were killed by 1080, tests later showed they appeared to have died from blunt force trauma. A police complaint was laid. Public tolerance for the anti-1080 protests quickly waned.

To Hansford, that shows how the same forces behind the rise of the anti-1080 movement also contain the DNA for its demise. While the increasingly radical online activism has won supporters to the cause, it also increases the chance of someone taking the violent online rhetoric literally and doing something so harmful it ensures the anti-1080 movement is booted out of the limelight and back into the fringe conspiracy dustbin, he said. “It could end in tragedy and if it keeps going there’s a good chance it’s going to. And on that day, public support for the anti-1080 movement evaporates.”

They have already gone too far:

Department of Conservation staff are facing a torrent of online threats and abuse following a recent spike in anti-1080 protests. . .

Last year they went even further, loosening wheel nuts on DoC cars and making threats to staff safety.

But still the lies travel further and faster than the truth without the gatekeepers to stop the infection.

In the face of that we have to vaccinate ourselves against the fake news virus with sceptisism and science, and follow Edgar Allan Poe’s advice to believe nothing you hear, and only one half that you see.

 


Quote of the day

September 18, 2018

Kindness is in our power even when fondness is notSamuel Johnson who was born n this day in 1709.


September 18 in history

September 18, 2018

96  Nerva was proclaimed Roman Emperor after Domitian was assassinated.

324 Constantine the Great decisively defeated Licinius in the Battle of Chrysopolis, establishing Constantine’s sole control over the Roman Empire.

1180  Philip Augustus became king of France.

1454  In the Battle of Chojnice, the Polish army was defeated by the Teutonic army during the Thirteen Years’ War.

1709 Samuel Johnson, English writer and lexicographer, was born (d. 1784).

1739  The Treaty of Belgrade was signed, ceding Belgrade to the Ottoman Empire.

1793  The first cornerstone of the Capitol building was laid by George Washington.

1809 The Royal Opera House in London opened.

1810  First Government Junta in Chile.

1812  The 1812 Fire of Moscow died down after destroying more than three quarters of the city. Napoleon returned from the Petrovsky Palace to the Moscow Kremlin, which was spared from the fire.

1837  Tiffany and Co. (first named Tiffany & Young) was founded by Charles Lewis Tiffany and Teddy Young in New York City.

1838 The Anti-Corn Law League was established by Richard Cobden.

1850  The U.S. Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850.

1851  First publication of The New-York Daily Times, which later becameThe New York Times.

1858 – Kate Booth, English Salvation Army, officer was born (d. 1955).

1863  American Civil War: Battle of Chickamauga.

1870  Old Faithful Geyser was observed and named by Henry D. Washburnduring the Washburn-Langford-Doane Expedition to Yellowstone.

1872 King Oscar II acceded to the throne of Sweden-Norway.

1873  The Panic of 1873 began.

1876 James Scullin, 9th Prime Minister of Australia, was born (d. 1953).

1879 The Blackpool Illuminations were switched on for the first time.

1882 The Pacific Stock Exchange opened.

1888 – Grey Owl, English-Canadian environmentalist and author was born (d. 1938).

1889  Doris Blackburn, Australian politician, was born (d. 1970).

1895  Booker T. Washington delivered the “Atlanta Compromise” address.

1895  Daniel David Palmer gave the first chiropractic adjustment.

1895 John Diefenbaker, 13th Prime Minister of Canada, was born (d. 1979).

1898  Fashoda Incident – Lord Kitchener’s ships reached Fashoda, Sudan.

1900 Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, 1st Prime Minister of Mauritius, was born (d. 1985).

1905  Agnes de Mille, American choreographer, was born (d. 1993).

1905  Greta Garbo, Swedish actress, was born(d. 1990) .

1906 A typhoon on with tsunami killed an estimated 10,000 people in Hong Kong.

1910  In Amsterdam, 25,000 demonstrated for general suffrage.

1911  Russian Premier Peter Stolypin was shot at the Kiev Opera House.

1914 The Irish Home Rule Act became law, but was delayed until after World War I.

1919 The Netherlands gave women the right to vote.

1919 – Fritz Pollard became the first African-American to play professional football for a major team, the Akron Pros.

1923 Queen Anne of Romania was born.

1928  Juan de la Cierva made the first autogyro crossing of the English Channel.

1931 The Mukden Incident gave Japan the pretext to invade and occupy Manchuria.

1937 David and Mary McGregor moved in to New Zealand’s first state house.

First state house opened in Miramar

1939 Jorge Sampaio, President of Portugal, was born.

1939 World War II: Polish government of Ignacy Mościcki fled to Romania.

1939   William Joyce made his first Nazi propaganda broadcast.

1940  World War II: Italian troops conquered Sidi Barrani.

1942  The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation was authorized.

1943  World War II: The Jews of Minsk were massacred at Sobibór.

1943 – World ar II: Adolf Hitler ordered the deportation of Danish Jews.

1944  World War II: The British submarine HMS TradewindtorpedoedJunyō Maru, 5,600 killed.

1948  Communist Madiun uprising in Dutch Indies.

1948 –Margaret Chase Smith of Maine became the first woman elected to the US Senate without completing another senator’s term, when she defeated Democratic opponent Adrian Scolten.

1948 – The Donald Bradman-led Australian cricket team completed the unprecedented feat of going through an English summer without defeat.

1952 Dee Dee Ramone, American bassist (The Ramones), was born (d. 2002).

1959 Vanguard 3 was launched into Earth orbit.

1961  U.N. Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld died in a plane crash while attempting to negotiate peace in the war-torn Katanga region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

1964  Constantine II of Greece married Danish princess Anne-Marie.

1971 Lance Armstrong, American cyclist, was born.

1972  First Ugandans expelled by Idi Amin arrived in the United Kingdom.

1974 Hurricane Fifi struck Honduras with 110 mph winds, killing 5,000 people.

1975 Patty Hearst was arrested after a year on the FBI Most Wanted List.

1976 Mao Zedong‘s funeral in Beijing.

1976  – Ronaldo, Brazilian footballer was born.

1980 Soyuz 38 carried 2 cosmonauts (including 1 Cuban) to Salyut 6 space station.

1981 Assemblée Nationale voted to abolish capital punishment in France.

1982  – Christian militia began killing six-hundred Palestinians in Lebanon.

1984  Joe Kittinger completed the first solo balloon crossing of the Atlantic.

1988 End of pro-democracy uprisings in Myanmar after a bloody military coup by the State Law and Order Restoration Council.

1991 – Yugoslavia began a naval blockade of seven Adriatic port cities.

1992  An explosion rocked Giant Mine at the height of a labour dispute, killing 9 replacement workers.

1997  United States media magnate Ted Turner donated $US1 billion to the United Nations.

1997 – Voters in Wales voted yes (50.3%) on a referendum on Welsh autonomy.

1998  ICANN was formed.

2001  First mailing of anthrax letters from Trenton, New Jersey in the2001 anthrax attacks.

2006 Right wing protesters riot the building of the Hungarian Television in Budapest.

2007 Pervez Musharraf announced he would step down as army chief and restore civilian rule to Pakistan, but only after he was re-elected president.

2007 Buddhist monks joined anti-government protesters in Myanmar, starting the Saffron Revolution.

2009 The 72 year run of the soap opera The Guiding Light ended as its final episode is broadcast.

2011 – 2011 Sikkim earthquake was felt across northeastern India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and southern Tibet.

2013  – Cygnus Orb-D1 was launched into space.

2014  – Scotland voted against independence from the United Kingdom.

2015 – Two security personnel, 17 worshippers in a mosque, and 13 militants were killed following a Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan attack on a Pakistan Air Force base on the outskirts of Peshawar.

2016 – 17 Indian Army security personnel were killed in the Indian Administrated Kashmir by anti-government militants.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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