Too late, too soft, too slow

March 26, 2020

Parliament featured a rare show of unity yesterday after the government declared a state of emergency.

This gives it extraordinary powers which are deemed an acceptable response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The cross party support doesn’t mean the government is above criticism.

The rapidly increasing number of people with the disease, following the trend of other countries which were ahead of us and with which we are fast catching up,  gives credence to the view that the government’s escalation of alerts came too late.

A six-day delay in results of tests for the disease means testing is too slow. The only way to shorten the period of lockdown is more tracing.

And the tougher border controls are still too soft.

. . . Ardern said the Government would further tighten its already stringent border restrictions, including mandatory screening for the limited numbers of people who are legally still allowed to enter.

Anybody who displayed symptoms of Covid-19, could not demonstrate a clear plan for self-isolation, or could not travel to their usual residence while maintaining physical distancing, would be put into “approved facilities” for a period of quarantine. . .

This is a definite improvement on what has been happening, but it is still not going hard enough.

Everyone who comes into the country must be quarantined.

That is the only way to be as sure as we can be that  no-one coming here could spread the disease to others.

The country-wide lock down is unprecedented.

It gives the government and its agencies sweeping and draconian powers that severely curtail our ability to work, move, socialise, and travel.

It will come at a huge economic and social cost.

Jobs have already been lost, more will be. Businesses will fail. Charities will be over-stretched and some of them will fail too. Education is being disrupted. Liberty has been curtailed.

Domestic violence will increase. Children who depend on school for food will go hungry.

The only justification for this is that the disease chain is broken and dies out in the shortest possible time.

Four weeks lockdown will be hard. Any extension because links in the disease chain are still connected will be harder still.

The only way to be sure all links are cut is to be strict about the lockdown that has been imposed and just as strict at the border to ensure that everyone who could have, or be carrying, the disease, is quarantined.


Planting seeds

March 4, 2020

Film showing Inspiring the Future ‘What’s my Line’ made by the New Zealand Tertiary Education Commission/Te Amorangi Mātauranga Matua, the Government’s Crown Agency which provides career services from education to employment across NZ.


What are the parents doing?

February 21, 2020

A scheme that will eventually provide lunches in 120 low decile schools has been launched.

School principal Robyn Isaacson said the programme, only recently introduced in Flaxmere, had helped the key aim of raising student achievement.

Isaacson said the programme meant children were able “to open a lunch box, to never actually complain about what’s in it, to know that it is nutritious and is able to fill their pukus so they can learn in the afternoon”. . . 

In his autobiography, *The Good Doctor, Lance O’Sullivan said if children were fed and had any health problems treated at school the chances of them learning and breaking the cycle of poverty were greatly increased.

I can’t argue with that but it begs the question: what are the children’s parents or caregivers doing?

Some will be doing all they can to provide for their children but finding that despite their best efforts the money coming into the household falls short of the costs of providing for their families.

Some will be trying to manage but lack the skills to do so.

And some won’t even be trying.

There is no easy answer to dealing with this but the National-led government was making headway with its social investment initiative. That took some of the money that would be spent on the long term costs for people on benefits and was spending it up front in equipping beneficiaries for life and work.

Not all the people who can’t, or won’t, feed their children will be beneficiaries but they are the ones who get public money to provide for their families. If they can’t, or won’t, look after their children, they ought to be getting whatever is needed to ensure they do.

And if they still don’t or won’t? There’s no easy answer to that question but we must find one, and it must be one that doesn’t put the children at risk.

*The Good Doctor by Lance O’Sullivan, published by Penguin.


Producing pliant political clones

January 31, 2020

Barry Brill asks why is the government brainwashing our children?:

The exploitation of children for political ends is perhaps the worst recent example of how ‘noble cause corruption’ can work.

Every right-thinking person abhors the very idea of state-generated propaganda being employed to manipulate and fashion immature minds, so as to produce a cadre of pliant political clones.

Such malign techniques are firmly associated in our minds with the evil dictatorships of the 20th century, such as the Leninist Komsomol and Hitler Youth. We were nauseated when the details of those depraved processes became known – and swore we would never let them happen again.  

But modern political campaigners have revived an older code : the end can justify the means. The cause is so sacred and so urgent that even child abuse can be tolerated. We must be prepared to censor our collective conscience and stifle our scruples for the ultimate good of the planet! . . 

Even if the prescription they promote is not based on science, would have high social and financial costs, and do little environmental good at best.

In denouncing the claim that agriculture accounts for 48.1% of New Zealand’s emissions, Robin Grieve sees this curriculum as “lying to children”. There is no mention of the now-accepted science that reducing methane emissions will make no difference to peak global temperatures.

While the material also avoids mention of scientific unknowns, it puts forward countless spurious predictions for the future as if they were known facts.

I personally began a list of these factoids for the purpose of comparing them with the official  projections set out in the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It was all a futile exercise. Almost every future ‘scientific fact’ in this material is either flat-out wrong or highly tendentious.

The entire document is couched in the language of climate campaigners rather than that of scientists. It is a trashy and hopelessly unbalanced catechism of all the fashionable pseudoscience. It is pure propaganda, in the very best Goebbels tradition. . .

The authors of the teaching resource acknowledge it might endanger children’s mental health.

The Education Ministry has accordingly  issued an accompanying 15-page “wellbeing guide” for teachers of the new material. This truly brutal document cold-bloodedly predicts that:

“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. Children may need help with understanding, communicating, and coping with, the difficult feelings that arise in relation to the material…”

There would be far, far less risk of mental ill-health if the resource was designed to help teach not preach, if it was based on science not emotion and if it encouraged children to look for practical solutions through technology and innovation rather than inciting them to activism.

 


Preaching damnation without salvation

January 20, 2020

Beef + Lamb NZ has responded to the emotion and misinformation in the teaching resource on climate change with facts and reason:

. . . Fiona Windle, Head of Nutrition at Beef + Lamb New Zealand said: “We support providing our children with information on climate change. The basis of this resource is founded on good intention and constructive discussion; however, we are concerned about the simplistic approach that has been taken and sweeping recommendations provided without context. While ‘reduce meat and dairy’ is a popular soundbite to roll out, the implications on our youngest and most impressionable in society could be far reaching and detrimental.”

“The recommendation to reduce meat and dairy consumption comes with no framework as to what represents a healthy diet. We ask the Ministry of Education; what should our children reduce their meat consumption to and what is the actual impact of doing so? There is no reference to the Ministry of Health eating guidelines which recommends consumption of both meat and dairy and no caveat as to the nutritional benefits animal-based foods offer. We know that a third of young girls here in Aotearoa – whose nutrient needs change during puberty – don’t achieve their daily iron intake requirements, a mineral vital for learning and cognition, yet there is a blanket statement suggesting they should just ‘reduce’ their meat consumption.”

It’s putting the health of the planet before health of people without even knowing how much meat and dairy children are eating and how much they need for good health.

Another puzzling recommendation in Climate Change: Prepare Today, Live Well Tomorrow is to go to ohmyveggies.com for meat-free recipe ideas. Beef + Lamb New Zealand fully supports increasing fruit and vegetable consumption, but questions why children are directed to a USA-based vegetarian website rather than using Kiwi organisations like 5+ A Day or vegetables.co.nz that could provide local, seasonal advice to New Zealanders.

Fiona Windle added: “It was very difficult to determine ohmyveggies.com’s nutrition credentials. The only ‘Tip & Hint’ listed on their website is to encourage people to drink apple cider vinegar for weight loss! This would never be recommended by a registered nutritionist or dietitian as an suitable method to manage weight loss and it’s not appropriate for school-aged children to be directed to this unvetted information.”

Jeremy Baker, Chief Insights Officer for Beef + Lamb New Zealand added: “The sector would welcome an opportunity to discuss the carbon footprint considerations lying behind the advice to reduce meat consumption. Absolute greenhouse gas emissions from sheep and beef have reduced by 30 percent since 1990. It is one of the only sectors to have met the country’s Paris Commitments. Given methane is a short-lived gas, the magnitude of this kind of reduction means our sector has not been contributing to additional warming for a number of decades and significantly alters our carbon footprint profile.

The exhortation to reduce dairy and meat consumption is based on the misguided comparisons of emissions as if they are all equal when they are not. If nutritional value was taken into the equation dairy and meat would be far better than many alternative food sources, for example almond juice.

He continued: “In addition, there is 1.4 million hectares of native forest on sheep and beef farms which is offsetting much of the remaining warming. We all need to be taking steps to address climate change. What we are seeking is better context and understanding provided so that the right decisions can be made about the changes that people can make.”

The teaching resource is a disgrace.

Any scientific merit in the contents is more than cancelled out by the simplistic approach it takes to a very complex subject. Some of the content, as Beef + Lamb explains is wrong, some is encouraging activsim rather than educating and some of it is preaching not teaching.

Worse still, like the worst hell-fire evangelists it is preaching damnation without any hope of salvation because it totally ignores innovation and technology.

Federated Farmers has launched a petition seeking to have the resource withdrawn until it has been reviewed and amended to ensure completeness, accuracy, and relevance to the NZ context.

You can sign the petition here 


Living in the temple of knowledge

January 19, 2020

Ronald Clark’s father was custodian of a branch of the New York Public Library at a time when caretakers, along with their families, lived in the buildings. With his daughter, Jamilah, Ronald remembers literally growing up in a library, creeping down to the stacks in the middle of the night when curiosity gripped him. A story for anyone who’s ever dreamt of having unrestricted access to books.


Sowell says

January 18, 2020


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