Word of the day

January 14, 2020

Precariat – people whose employment and income are insecure, especially when considered as a class; the class of people who lack a reliable long-term source of income.


Thatcher thinks

January 14, 2020


Rural round-up

January 14, 2020

Is New Zealand armed for future bio security threats? – Louisa Steyl:

A decade of significant biosecurity breaches have cost the New Zealand economy millions. Reporter LOUISA STEYL finds out if our security borders can withstand modern pressures or are we even more at risk?

“It was scary. I couldn’t work out what was going on.”

Waikaia farmer Rodney Williamson wasn’t sure what the implications would be when the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) found two velvetleaf plants on his Southland farm. 

That was in 2016. . .

Avocado growers prepared in case of summer drought

Avocado growers are confident they will be able to cope in the event of a summer drought.

Forecasters from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research said the soil in the top three-quarters of the country had become dry in the past week, with no immediate reprieve in sight.

Avocado industry group Avoco spokesperson Steve Trickett said there was a reasonable crop load at the moment and growers were fairly relaxed. . . 

Shear-a-thon part of fundraiser for young Tapanui family – Jamie Seattle:

The farming industry is uniting to help Shaun Bradley and his family through one of their biggest challenges. 

Bradley, 28, is a Tapanui farm manager battling cancer. He has stage four B cell non hodgkin’s lymphoma.

West Otago communities have rallied around Bradley, his wife Olivia and their 8 1/2-month-old daughter Charlotte. The couple recently celebrated their second wedding anniversary. 

His employers, Nelson and Fiona Hancox, and PGG Wrightson wool buyer Jared Manihera are arranging a 24-hour shear-a-thon as a fundraiser for the Bradley family. . .

‘Like sending bees to war’: the deadly truth behind your almond-milk obsession – Annette McGivney:

Dennis Arp was feeling optimistic last summer, which is unusual for a beekeeper these days.

Thanks to a record wet spring, his hundreds of hives, scattered across the central Arizona desert, produced a bounty of honey. Arp would have plenty to sell in stores, but more importantly, the bumper harvest would strengthen his bees for their biggest task of the coming year.

Like most commercial beekeepers in the US, at least half of Arp’s revenue now comes from pollinating almonds. Selling honey is far less lucrative then renting out his colonies to mega-farms in California’s fertile Central Valley, home to 80% of the world’s almond supply. . . 

Why are limes so freakishly expensive in New Zealand? – Alex Braae:

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that limes get expensive while out of season. But they’re very, very, very expensive right now. Is there something more worrying going on? Alex Braae reports.

There’s nothing like a squeeze of lime juice to make the flavours of a guacamole sing, not to mention to make a mojito possible at all. Unfortunately, picking up a few limes for the purpose right now will probably break the bank.

Prices for the small green citrus fruit have shot up this summer to extreme new highs, with reports of a single kilogram costing as much as $80. That’s many times higher than prices at the peak of the growing season, in which a kilogram can often be bought for a single digit. . . 

A cheese themed hotel is opening in London this January – Alex Landon:

It’s the Hilton of Halloumi, the Radisson of Raclette – yes, it’s a cheese hotel right here in London! If, like me, you’re desperately trying to claw your way back to some healthy eating habits after a season of indulgence, then you might want to look away now.

For the world’s first cheese hotel is opening in the heart of Camden on January 29th, offering cheese fiends the chance to spend a night in the hotel of their dreams (dreams which will be extremely vivid if you scoff all that cheese, of course).

Much like a strong-smelling Stilton, the cheese hotel doesn’t exactly do subtle. The room is an eye-catching shade of yellow, which encompasses cheese-themed wallpaper, bedding, cushions, artwork, and giant cheese installations. There’s even more cheesiness beyond the decor, with cheese boardgames (it’ll be an absolute travesty if they don’t have Mousetrap) and cheese soap, which I’m frankly not sold on. . . 


Delivery failed

January 14, 2020


Old religion opt in, new one compulsory

January 14, 2020

The government is planning to make religious instruction in schools opt-in:

Parents will be required to give explicit permission in writing for their children to receive religious instruction at state schools under a planned law change.

It may be the beginning of the end of primary schools offering religious instruction.

Education Minister Chris Hikpkins told the Herald he believes in secular education and does not believe schools should be offering religious instruction.

“But we need a bit more of a national conversation about that before we get into that,” he said. . . 

Although the religion isn’t specified, in most schools it’s Christian, the one which has shaped our laws and ethics.

Meanwhile, the new religion will be part of the compulsory curriculum:

The Government’s new climate change educational material for year 7 and 8 students skirts close to taxpayer-funded propaganda, says the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union.

Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke says, “The new taxpayer-funded curriculum promotes the campaigns of Greta Thunberg, School Strike for Climate, and even Greenpeace. Students are encouraged to reduce their feelings of climate guilt by participating in this kind of political activism.”
 
“Left-wing campaign groups would be spewing if the national curriculum ever promoted the Taxpayers’ Union vision of a prosperous low-tax New Zealand. The national curriculum should not be used to promote particular political groups or agendas.”
 
“A sensible climate change policy would focus on the science and policy options. But even on these points, the course is weak: it promotes a tax on carbon while failing to mention that we already have an Emissions Trading Scheme.”
 
“A major portion of the material is fluffy, condescending rubbish. Students will have to sit through five different sessions focused on their feelings about climate change, with activities including a ‘feelings splash’ and a ‘feelings thermometer’.”

The teacher resources even include a 15-page ‘wellbeing guide’ for teachers and parents, which warns: Children may respond to the climate change scientific material in a number of ways. They may experience a whole host of difficult emotions, including fear, helplessness, frustration, anger, guilt, grief, and confusion. When discussing the material, teachers may encounter students who cope through avoidance, denial, diversionary tactics, wishful thinking and a range of other coping mechanisms.
 
“This isn’t teaching kids how to think – it’s telling them how to feel.”

I don’t have strong feelings on the change to opt-in for religious instruction although there is a place for teaching ethics and also the knowledge of Christianity, and other religions, that is required to understand our culture, history and literature.

I do have strong feelings about this evangelical approach to climate change which has a lot less to do with science and reason and more to do with indoctrination and belief.

Schools should be teaching not preaching. Any instruction on climate change should be about science, not religious fervour and emotion.


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