Word of the day

April 29, 2019

Inanition – exhaustion caused by lack of nourishment;  starvation; the quality or state of being empty; the exhausted condition that results from lack of food and water; the absence or loss of social, moral, or intellectual enthusiasm, vitality or vigour.


Sowell says

April 29, 2019


Rural round-up

April 29, 2019

Leading women fill many roles – Annette Scott:

Women on farms are not just farmers’ wives and that is highlighted by the four finalists in the 2019 Dairy Woman of the Year award.

“They all juggle multiple roles from being a vet and mechanic to a financial planner and strategic thinker,” Dairy Women’s Network trustee and awards judge Alison Gibb said.

“There’s no doubt the role women play in dairy farming now completely breaks the old-fashioned mould of public perception about what a farmer’s wife is.

“They’re all farming partners, farming in their own right, playing a major role in running a million-dollar business,” Gibb said. . .

Too many farmers are hurting – Annette Scott:

Mycoplasma bovis hotspot farmers are angry at news an unprecedented number of farms will go under movement control before winter.

The Ministry for Primary Industries said last week the M bovis response programme will ramp up over the next six weeks.

M bovis programme director Geoff Gwyn said it will give farmers as much certainty as possible heading into winter.

“Well, what sort of certainty is that,” Mid Canterbury dairy farmer Frank Peters said. . .

Primary sector facing staff shortages – Yvonne O’Hara:

Many industries within the primary sector are facing staffing issues.

Alliance Group general manager people and safety Chris Selbie said the company employed more than 2500 people in Southland during the peak processing season and continued to face ongoing shortages of people for its Mataura and Lorneville plants.

”Alliance runs regular recruitment programmes to attract local people to take up roles with the co-operative and we work closely with Work and Income, the Ministry of Social Development and local development agencies on solutions to address the shortages,” he said. . .

Kiwi-born shepherd shatters world shearing record:

A New Zealander has broken the world record for the most merino ewes shorn in eight hours at a farm in Western Australia.

The 497 sheep shorn by New Zealand born shearer Lou Brown was 31 more than the record of 466 set by his coach and mentor, fellow-Kiwi Cartwright Terry.

Few jobs rival the physical demands of shearing, and Mr Brown’s gruelling effort is attributable to years of practice and months of physical training and meditation. . .

Tougher times lead to better food waste behaviour – John Ellicott:

The average Australian household wasted about $890 worth of food last year, an improved figure on previous years, but still a staggering degree of wastage.

The 2019 Rabobank food waste report found we are doing better as potential wasters but there is till a huge way to go, and awareness is the key. Men and women are both equal in food wastage.

It found farmers are wising up to food wastage and becoming increasingly more innovative in making sure their products were used properly throughout the food chain. It also found regional Australians were less wasteful than city consumers, mainly because they appreciated the value of food more. . .

New Zealand cashing in on boutique foods:

New Zealand has been better than Australia at capitalising on the market for boutique foods, according to a top Australian scientist.

Dr Stefan Hajkowicz told the Rabobank Farm2Fork seminar, in Sydney, this was being done through the High Value Nutrition Programme – a joint government-industry initiative.

The CSIRO senior principal scientist – strategy and foresight, was giving a perspective on the next 20 years of food production. . . 


Retreat from reason

April 29, 2019

Professor Elizabeth Rata warns about the retreat from reason:

‘Critical times as a species’. These are extreme words, made more powerful recently by their author, Sir Peter Gluckman. Such language is usually, and rightly, used for climate matters so given the strength of his words we need to ask what on earth is going on with our social world.

A surge in an ongoing spat with academic colleagues provides a perfect example of the subversion of knowledge and its replacement by the ideological isms that Gluckman spoke of. These are the ideologies that strengthen in-groups, that draw on the culture of folk knowledges to justify their claims to truth.

Modern society had found another way to understand what it is to be human. We have, in only a few hundred years, developed a new language of reason, one replacing in-group beliefs, one enabling us to communicate across historical and cultural differences, one which has made democracy possible.

Reasoned communication is the way across the divide of difference. It requires leaving the past and its animosities behind. But this is very difficult. The past gives us a sense of security and belonging. The institutions of modern society which unite us don’t have the same pulling power as the rallying cries of the isms. No wonder ethnic nationalisms, nativisms, and populisms with their ‘us not you’ and ‘our culture not yours’ are winning out. Unexamined belief is more satisfying than reason – and its easier.

Those isms might unite people who fit the label, but they divide groups from the whole by focusing on differences rather than our common humanity.

But back to the spat. The names aren’t important although I must confess to being one of the parties. It’s a spat that would be of no interest whatsoever if it didn’t neatly capture the anti-knowledge movement of our times. What’s more, it shows how the ‘isms’ are now in the university, the very institution that should give us trust in knowledge. So what’s going on? In May, the Waikato Journal of Education will publish a superb example of anti-knowledge. It’s not very kind to me but that’s OK. I happily accepted the invitation to respond to the article using it as an opportunity to write about what has happened to knowledge. Surely this is the conversation that Gluckman wants – using reason as the conduit for engagement across difference. Unfortunately the conversation can’t happen. Why not?

For reasoned conversation to occur there needs to be agreement about reason itself. The premise informing all modern knowledge is that there is a reality which exists independently of us, the ‘knowers’. What’s more, we can know this reality.

Our intellectual activity is how we seek the truth of the natural and social worlds. Belief isn’t enough. But what happens when the premise of objective knowledge is rejected, when we say that the world is not independent of the person who knows it, and that we can’t use reason to understand it? This is the case with the article in the Waikato journal. For the authors there is an unbreakable knower-knowledge tie. They insist that there is no independent knowledge for us to share universally, that how we know something is always tied to who we are, and who we are comes from our culture. But without the idea of universal knowledge which is beyond culture we are doomed to talk past each other.

This sort of thinking – or should that be feeling? – takes us back centuries to when beliefs rather than facts held sway.

The knowledge spat used to surface in university circles (think the late Professor Peter Munz’s critique of Linda Smith’s book about indigenous methodologies), though less so now that cultural ‘ways of knowing’ are accepted, even by such august bodies as the New Zealand Royal Society. The Society should know better of course but the belief that knowledge belongs to the knower is a premise of the new dominant ideologies; of ethnic nationalisms, nativisms and populism, and the Society has succumbed.

We no longer trust in reasoned knowledge. Gluckman says: ideas are not contested civilly, people are attacked, falsehoods multiply. He’s right. The current era of enlightened reason may well be over unless we recognise what is happening. Reasoned conversation is needed more than ever, but when knowledge is tied to the knowing group, universal reason no longer allows us to converse across groups. By abandoning reason we are endangering our future as a species. We are certainly abandoning what makes democracy possible. Given that the knowledge-knower belief now underpins New Zealand’s localised curriculum our retreat from the idea of universal knowledge will be accelerated. Our educational institutions are the first to fall. Others will follow.

This is alarming.

Educational institutions, universities in particular, should be places where ideas can be debated, questioned and tested; where arguments should be well thought out, be using and settled by, reason and facts.

They should be active in advancing knowledge based on research and science, not belief.

If they are not they are no better than the sad places on social media where arguments degenerate into personal abuse, where feelings matter more than facts and emotion is a substitute for reason.


Quote of the day

April 29, 2019

I’ve been going a long time now
along the way I’ve learned some things.

You have to make the good times yourself
take the little times and make them into big times
and save the times that are all right
for the ones that aren’t so good.  ― Rod McKuen, who celebrates his 86th birthday today.( from Listen to the Warm)


April 29 in history

April 29, 2019

711  Islamic conquest of Hispania: Moorish troops led by Tariq ibn-Ziyadlanded at Gibraltar to begin their invasion of the Iberian Peninsula (Al-Andalus).

1429 Joan of Arc arrived to relieve the Siege of Orleans.

1483 Gran Canaria, the main of the Canary Islands was conquered by theKingdom of Castile, an important step in the expansion of Spain.

1624 Cardinal Richelieu became Prime Minister of Louis XIII.

1672 Franco-Dutch War: Louis XIV of France invaded the Netherlands.

1707  Scotland and England unified in United Kingdom of Great Britain.

1770 James Cook arrived at and named Botany Bay, Australia.

1832 Évariste Galois released from prison.

1861 American Civil War: Maryland’s House of Delegates voted not to secede from the Union.

1863 William Randolph Hearst, American publisher, was born (d. 1951).

1864 – The British attacked the Ngāi Te Rangi stronghold of Pukehinahina (Gate Pā) with the heaviest artillery bombardment and one of the largest forces used in the New Zealand Wars.

1864 The Theta Xi fraternity was founded at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York.

1869 – The assault on Gate Pa started.

Assault on Gate Pā

1881 – The steamer Tararua, en route from Port Chalmers to Melbourne, struck a reef at Waipapa Point, Southland. Of the 151 passengers and crew on board, 131 were lost including 12 women and 14 children.

131 perish in worst civilian shipwreck in New Zealand waters

1882  The “Elektromote” – forerunner of the trolleybus – was tested byErnst Werner von Siemens in Berlin.

1899 Duke Ellington, American jazz pianist and bandleader, was born (d. 1974).

1901 Hirohito, Emperor of Japan, was born (d. 1989).

1903 A 30 million cubic-metre landslide killed 70 in Frank, Alberta.

1915 Donald Mills, American singer (Mills Brothers), was born (d. 1999).

1916 World War I: The British 6th Indian Division surrendered to Ottoman Forces at Siege of Kut in one of the largest surrenders of British forces up to that point.

1916 Easter Rebellion: Martial law in Ireland was lifted and the rebellion was officially over with the surrender of Irish nationalists to British authorities in Dublin.

1933 Rod McKuen, American poet and composer, was born.

1934 Otis Rush, American musician, was born.

1938 Bernard Madoff, American convict, who was a financier and Chairman of the NASDAQ stock exchange, was born.

1945 World War II: The German Army in Italy unconditionally surrendered to the Allies.

1945 World War II: Start of Operation Manna.

1945 World War II – Fuehrerbunker: Adolf Hitler married his long-time partner Eva Braun in a Berlin bunker and designated Admiral Karl Dönitzas his successor.

1945 – The Dachau concentration camp was liberated by United States troops.

1945 – The Italian commune of Fornovo di Taro was liberated from German forces by Brazilian forces.

1946  Former Prime Minister of Japan Hideki Tojo and 28 former Japanese leaders were indicted for war crimes.

1952 Anzus came into force.

ANZUS comes into force

1953 The first U.S. experimental 3D-TV broadcast showed an episode ofSpace Patrol on Los Angeles ABC affiliate KECA-TV.

1954 Jerry Seinfeld, American comedian, was born.

1957 – Daniel Day-Lewis, British-Irish actor, was born.

1958 Michelle Pfeiffer, American actress, was born.

1958 Eve Plumb, American actress, was born.

1965 Pakistan’s Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission(SUPARCO) successfully launched its seventh rocket in its Rehber series.

1967 After refusing induction into the United States Army the day before (citing religious reasons), Muhammad Ali was stripped of his boxing title.

1968  The controversial musical Hair opened on Broadway.

1970 Andre Agassi, American tennis player, was born.

1970 Vietnam War: United States and South Vietnamese forces invaded Cambodia to hunt Viet Cong.

1974 President Richard Nixon announced the release of edited transcripts of White House tape recordings related to the Watergate  scandal.

1975 Vietnam War: Operation Frequent Wind: The U.S. began to evacuate U.S. citizens from Saigon prior to an expected North Vietnamese takeover. U.S. involvement in the war ended.

1979  Jo O’Meara, British singer (S Club), was born.

1980 Corazones Unidos Siempre Chi Upsilon Sigma National Latin Sorority Inc. was founded.

1980 Kian Egan, Irish singer (Westlife), was born.

1986 Roger Clemens then of the Boston Red Sox set a major league baseball record with 20 strikeouts in nine innings against the Seattle Mariners.

1986 A fire at the Central library of the City of Los Angeles Public Librarydamaged or destroyed 400,000 books and other items.

1991 A cyclone struck the Chittagong district of southeastern Bangladesh with winds of around 155 mph, killing at least 138,000 people and leaving as many as 10 million homeless.

1992  Riots in Los Angeles  following the acquittal of police officers charged with excessive force in the beating of Rodney King. Over the next three days 53 people were killed and hundreds of buildings were destroyed.

1997 The Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993 enters into force, outlawing the production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons by its signatories.

1999 The Avala TV Tower near Belgrade was destroyed in the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia.

2002 The United States was re-elected to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, one year after losing the seat that it had held for 50 years.

2004 Dick Cheney and George W. Bush testified before the 9/11 Commission in a closed, unrecorded hearing in the Oval Office.

2004  Oldsmobile built its final car ending 107 years of production.

2005 Syria completed withdrawal from Lebanon, ending 29 years of occupation.

2005 – New Zealand’s first civil union took place.

2011 – Wedding of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Kate Middleton.

2013 – A powerful explosion occurred in an office building in PragueCzech Republic, believed to have been caused by natural gas, injures 43 people.

2015 – A baseball game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Chicago White Sox set the all-time low attendance mark for Major League Baseball. Zero fans were in attendance for the game, as the stadium was officially closed to the public due to the 2015 Baltimore protests.

Sourced from NZ History Online and Wikipedia.


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