Disdain for democracy

27/11/2022

Three Waters was bad, Five Waters is worse and a sneaky addition has made it worse still:

The Government has been caught sneaking a rarely-used legal provision into the proposed Three Waters legislation which will make it harder for Parliament to overturn, National Justice Spokesperson Paul Goldsmith and Local Government spokesperson Simon Watts say.

This week, while Parliament sat under urgency pushing legislation through, Labour and the Greens added a provision that means once Three Waters becomes law, it would take 60 per cent of MPs to overturn it, instead of a simple majority which applies to almost every law passed, except for a few constitutional matters.

That is a very high threshold.

Applying it to non-constitutional matters sets a very dangerous precedent that any future government could follow.

“Entrenched provisions are used rarely in New Zealand for good reason and until now they have been reserved for core constitutional issues like parts of the Electoral Act,” Mr Goldsmith says.

“Labour and the Greens have now colluded to entrench in law a contentious policy position, without any real debate and while the House was sitting under urgency.

“Entrenched provisions in law should be reserved for matters largely above politics, and when used they should be subject to careful scrutiny and debate. The exact opposite has happened in this case.

“As constitutional lawyer Dr Dean Knight has said, “this is unusual and doesn’t sit well with our current constitutional traditions… it’s regrettable this significant constitutional development only came to light in committee of the whole stage and was not subject to scrutiny and public submission”.

“The passing of this SOP sets a very dangerous precedent. If a National Government had passed a provision like this over, say, for example, the three strikes sentencing regime, Labour and the Greens would be outraged,” Mr Goldsmith says.

Local Government spokesperson Simon Watts said Labour has used the veil of urgency to ram through an unconstitutional clause to block future changes to a broken bill, which National will repeal and replace.

“Labour and the Greens need to immediately walk this move back. When the House resumes in December, National will move to recommit the Water Services Entities Bill back to the committee of the Whole House Stage to excise this unconstitutional and undemocratic clause. We urge the government to vote for it and for cool heads to prevail.”

The headline to this media release calls it skulduggery.

It is also constitutionally dodgy.

It’s a very dangerous game that could be played by future governments.

Three Five Waters has steamrolled over democracy and democratic conventions from the start.

From the lies in the advertisements, through reversing the promise that councils wouldn’t be compelled to be part of the scheme and not even looking at  tens of thousands of submissions to this.

Labour has the numbers to push the legislation through and given its disregard for even the most reasonable attempts to dilute the damage it’s inflicting with this legislation, it will.

The only way to undo the damage and get a government with far higher regard for democracy is to vote this lot out next year.


Keep it 18

22/11/2022

The government plans to draft legislation to lower the voting age to 16.

. . . It follows the Supreme Court declaration on Monday morning that the current voting age of 18 is inconsistent with the right found in the New Zealand Bill of Rights to be free of discrimination on the basis of age.

But given the voting age is entrenched – meaning it requires a supermajority in the House to change – any adjustment would require the support of the National Party, which has already expressed opposition. . . .

National has other, far more important priorities:

National does not support any lowering of the voting age, National’s Justice spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.

“Decisions around the voting age, like other electoral laws, are decisions for a democratically accountable Parliament to make.

“Many aspects of our electoral law are decided by referendum or a super-majority of the Parliament because of their constitutional importance.

“National’s priorities in justice are reducing violent, youth and gang crime, as well as clearing Court backlogs.

“With violent crime up by 21 per cent, a 50 per cent increase in gang membership and a 500 per cent increase in ram-raids, these are pressing matters the Labour Government are failing to get under control.

“That is why National announced its plan to crack down on serious repeat youth offenders like ram-raiders to turn their lives around and to protect the public.

“Many other countries have a voting age of 18, and National has seen no compelling case to lower the age.”

Act also opposes lowering the voting age.

Constitutional matters like this requires the support of 75% of MPs, with National and Act against the move, why is the government proceeding with legislation?

It’s a waste of MPs’ and parliament staff time and taxpayer money.

It’s also more look-over-there politics when there are so many other  issues the government ought to be focusing on.

Issues such as   high inflation and an impending increase in interest rates because of that, a decrease in the prison population but an increase in violent crime, multiple crises in health that are being met with more meetings but no action, workforce shortages, high truancy and low achievement in education, attempts to reduce the road toll with discredited strategies, workforce shortages in just about every sector  . . .

The argument that younger teens wouldn’t be sufficiently informed to vote intelligently could apply to a lot of older people, but that isn’t a good argument for lowering the age.

Having more young people engaged with politics would be good for democracy but that doesn’t require the right to vote at 16.

Having more people eligible to vote won’t by itself increase the percentage voting. If the government is concerned about the number of people voting, it should address the causes rather than lowering the age.

People can drive at 16, have sex, leave school and home without permission but can’t be fully bound by any contract , such as a tenancy agreement or consumer credit contract until they’re 18. Those decisions, and the consequences of them, are personal ones that wouldn’t impact many, if any, other people.

Voting outcomes impact everyone. They change governments, policies and the country’s direction.

People have to be 18 before they can serve on a jury, the results of which affect only one person. Voting affects everyone.

Police can take under-18 year-olds home or to a youth residence or shelter if they think they’re at risk but can’t question them without a parent or guardian present.

If they are still treated as children under the law, why should they be treated as adults when it comes to voting?

No-one is allowed to marry or enter a civil union without parental permission or change their name until they’re 18 and can’t gamble until they’re 20.

Why then would they be permitted to gamble with the future of the country or change the government at 16?

Polls continually show the majority of people are opposed to a change in the voting age, the government won’t get the supermajority required to pass legislation.

It will be another expensive delivery failure but unlike all the others this failure will be popular.


Katie Nimon Nat candidate for Napier

21/11/2022

National has selected Katie Nimon as its candidate for the Napier electorate:

. . .“It’s an honour to be selected as National’s candidate in Napier and I’ll hit the ground running to earn the right to represent the area I love as part of Chris Luxon’s National team,” says Ms Nimon.

“I’m passionate about Napier and I’ve dedicated my career to delivering for our city and Hawke’s Bay. Now I’m fighting for the opportunity to keep delivering for Napier as its next local MP.

“It’s clear Labour’s approach isn’t working. Families in Napier are drowning in higher mortgage repayments and the average rent in Napier has skyrocketed by $180 per week, or more than $9,000 a year under Labour. People in Napier are confronted by the reality of Labour’s economic mismanagement every time they fill up the trolley or the gas tank. We need a change of government.

“National has a plan to address the big issues people in Napier face every day. Our plan to tackle inflation will restore discipline to government spending and fix the problems holding our businesses back.

“People in Napier also want to be listened to on issues like Three Waters. These reforms strip us of local control over our water assets and hand it to unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats. National is listening, we’ll repeal and replace Three Waters.

“National offers an alternative to the soft-on-crime approach that’s left people across Napier feeling unsafe in their own communities. Gang membership in the Eastern Police District has increased by over 60 per cent under Labour and you can see the effects of that across Napier. National’s plan would back our police with the tools they need to tackle gangs and the misery they create.

“I’m really aspirational for our city and if I earn the right to be Napier’s new MP, I’ll be accessible, hardworking and laser-focused on the issues that matter to Napier.”

Biographical notes:

Katie Nimon, 32, started her career in advertising, before taking up a marketing role with the family business Nimon & Sons. She then worked for three years as the company’s general manager and has worked as the transport manager for the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council since 2021.

Katie was born and raised in Hawke’s Bay, attending Iona College before gaining a Bachelor of Design (Honours) and later an Executive MBA from Massey University.

In her spare time, Katie volunteers as a mentor for young women through the Shine Programme, and previously served on the advisory panel for EIT’s School of Hospitality and Tourism.

Katie lives in Napier with her partner Jeremy. They are getting married in December.


Life Out Loud – Young Greens’ attempt to end debate

19/11/2022

Chris Bishop asks if this is a parody account:

Image

Alas, it isn’t a parody and The Free Speech Union’s Life Out Loud Podcast discusses the issues it raises:

In today’s episode of our LOL series, Free Speech Union spokespeople Dane Giraud and Dr. David Cumin discuss the Young Greens of UoA (University Of Auckland) decision to boycott the “Baby Back Benches” debate until a set of specific demands are met. Dane and David pull apart the 7 demands that – while reading like self-parody – cloak a sinister attitude towards both freedom of expression and the very minority groups the Greens claim that their demands protect. 

 


Word of the day

15/11/2022

Anomic – a state or condition of individuals or society characterised by a breakdown or absence of social norms and values; socially unstable as a result of erosion of standards and values; socially disorganised, disoriented or alienated.


Dan Bidois Nat for Northcote

09/11/2022

The National Party has selected Dan Bidois as its candidate for Northcote :

Dan Bidois (Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāpuhi) has been selected by local party members as National’s candidate in Northcote for the 2023 General Election.

“I’m excited to be selected as National’s candidate for Northcote and grateful for the support of our local party members,” Mr Bidois says.

“Northcote is my home and I’m incredibly passionate about seeing this beautiful part of Auckland become the best place to live, work and raise a family.

“Here in Northcote, we’ve had a front row seat to Labour’s complete inability to deliver. The Government has spent up large on a cycle bridge we didn’t want – wasting $51 million on consultants and fees before scrapping it anyway.

“Labour’s wasteful spending is fuelling inflation and making everything more expensive. Christopher Luxon and our National team have a plan to restore discipline to government spending and responsibly manage the economy to address the cost-of-living crisis and help Kiwis get ahead.

“Despite the skyrocketing spending, outcomes are getting worse in core areas like education, health and public safety. I know the value of a good education – it was my ticket to a better life. I was shocked to see nearly two-thirds of students fail the writing standard in a recent NCEA literacy pilot.

“In our area, over 96 per cent of emergency department patients were seen within six hours under National. Under Labour, that number has plunged by almost 13 per cent. Northcote simply can’t afford another three years of Labour.

Mr Bidois says people in Northcote want an aspirational government that can deliver for them.

“National is laser-focused on responsible economic management to address the cost-of-living crisis and ensure we’re investing in better results across core services to improve the lives of all New Zealanders.

“I’m getting to work straight away campaigning hard for Northcote’s support so I can earn the right to advocate for our area as part of a Christopher Luxon-led National team. . . 

Dan Bidois, 39, is currently an engagement manager for global management consultancy Partners in Performance. He was also the MP for Northcote from 2018 to 2020. After leaving Parliament, Dan ran his own consultancy. His earlier career saw him work as a senior executive for Foodstuffs and in economist roles for the OECD in Paris, several economic think-tanks and Deloitte.

After dropping out of Howick College at 15, Dan completed a butchery apprenticeship with Woolworths. He went on to graduate from the University of Auckland with a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Commerce before being awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to attend Harvard University, where he gained a Master of Public Policy in Economics.

In addition to his day job, Dan is a member of the executive of Northcote’s Chelsea Estate Heritage Park and sits on the board of trustees for the Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Trust.

Dan is getting married to Courtney in two weeks. They live in Northcote with their dog Mylo.

His maiden speech, delivered in 2018, is here.


Suze Redmayne Nat candidate for Rangitikei

06/11/2022

National has selected Suze Redmayne as its candidate for Rangitikei:

Suze Redmayne has been selected by local party members as National’s Rangitīkei candidate for the 2023 General Election.

Ms Redmayne owns and operates award-winning lamb brand Coastal Lamb with her husband Richard from their farm ‘Tunnel Hill’ in Turakina. She has also served as a trustee of the Whanganui Community Foundation and is currently a trustee of Sport Whanganui.

“It’s an honour to be selected as National’s Rangitīkei candidate. I’m getting to work straight away,” Ms Redmayne says.

“Rangitīkei is one of the biggest general electorates in the country. I’ve been farming at Turakina for 26 years and I’ll be working incredibly hard to meet as many people as I can from Taumarunui in the north to Shannon in the south so I can earn the right to advocate for them on the issues that matter.

“Labour’s spending is skyrocketing – $1 billion more every week than under National – but outcomes are getting worse. This rampant wasteful spending is fueling inflation and making everything more expensive for families across the country. National will restore discipline to government spending, address the cost-of-living crisis and take New Zealand forward.

“As a farmer and business owner, I’m passionate about our rural communities and the issues that affect us. What we’ve seen from Labour lately is a government that doesn’t respect our farmers and the towns that rely on them. People in Rangitīkei tell me they’re sick of Labour’s Wellington-knows-best approach when it comes to centralising our water assets, polytechs and health services.

Ms Redmayne says what Kiwis rightly want is a government focused on addressing these issues and delivering for them.

“Christopher Luxon delivers and his National Government will do exactly that. My priority now is to meet as many people across Rangitīkei as I can so I can earn the right to advocate for them as their strong local MP in an energised National team.

“I’d like to thank Ian McKelvie for his many years of service to our region and wish him and Sue all the best for what comes next.”

This is a good selection for the party, and the country.

Both will benefit from her farming knowledge and business and community experience.

With the current government so anti-farming and farmers, it will be a relief to have another MP who will be an advocate for farming and rural communities.

Ian disproved the truism that mayors don’t make good MPs and has earned his retirement.


Dirge Without Music

30/10/2022

DIRGE WITHOUT MUSIC
by Edna St. Vincent Millay

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.

Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains, — but the best is lost.

The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love,—
They are gone. They are gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve.
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned. 

Hat tip: The Marginalian


Word of the day

29/10/2022

Winkle – a small herbivorous shore-dwelling mollusc with a spiral shell; an small sea snail that is edible; to extract, obtain or remove someone or something with difficulty or effort; to use a lot of effort to get (information) from a person.


Rural round-up

28/10/2022

Spot the culprit – Barry Brill :

Our politicians continue to parrot the fallacy that livestock emissions contribute “nearly half” of the global warming that New Zealand supposedly causes each and every year.

This estimate is, of course, based on several erroneous assumptions – one of which is that each herd of cattle keeps adding more methane to the atmosphere every year.

The reality is that a ‘steady-state’ herd produces steady state methane. For every new molecule it emits an older molecule expires, and there is no increase at all.

Even if the national herd was growing, the changes are trivial compared to the exponential increase in emissions in, for example, the transport sector.  In the United Kingdom, the actual figures have been taken out by Cartington Farm as follows: . . 

Green dream pushes farmers into the red – Jill Herron :

A multi-award-winning Southland couple share their harrowing experience of regenerative land practices as a warning of what can go wrong down on a green farm

Linzi and Jeff Keen were fencing off waterways and planting natives well before it was fashionable.

In what is a fairly traditional farming landscape near Lumsden in Northern Southland, the innovative couple continue to be the greenies of the hood.

Rolling hills lead the way to their 870ha Tomogalak Gorge farm, which backs onto the tussock country of the Mataura Range. . .

 

Farmers taxed to buy Audis, BMWs and a Porsche :

Teslas aren’t the only flash cars farmers and tradies are being made to subsidise, with people buying luxury brands like Audi, BMW and even a Porsche Cayenne receiving handouts, National’s Transport spokesperson Simeon Brown says.

“Data from NZTA shows the Government has spent at least $7 million helping to get some 1400 lucky Kiwis behind the wheel of a range of high-end sports cars.

“Included in the list of vehicles the Government has sent taxpayer money to are 325 BMWs, 114 Audis, 64 Mercedes-Benz, and even one Jaguar and one Porsche.

“That’s on top of the $40.9 million that Transport Minister Michael Wood today confirmed has been paid out to buyers of Teslas. . .

Blueberry crops in Waikato wiped out in severe frost :

Losses from a severe frost that wiped out entire blueberry orchards in Waikato this month could reach $25 million, Waikato grower Dan Peach estimates

Most Waikato growers lost 90 percent of their blueberry production while a few lost half their crop.

Other producers in the region were also hit by the cold snap this month, which froze crop of one of the country’s largest asparagus growers, Boyds Asparagus, and decimated strawberry crops on the outskirts of Hamilton.

Peach said some in the sector were figuring out how to make up for the loss . .

Independent report finds Northland’s Extension 350 farming programme a success:

An independent report has found agri-extension and development programme Extension 350 (E350) has been a success in helping Northland farmers reach their goals.

The farmer-learning-from-farmer programme was launched in 2016 with the aim of helping the region’s farmers to achieve their goals and objectives including profitability, environmental sustainability, and wellbeing.

An independent evaluation by Scarlatti Limited has found the programme’s investment of $4.1 million generated financial returns of $48.6 million against measurable financial outcomes. The result reflects an almost 12:1 return on investment, with environmental and wellbeing outcomes additional to this figure.

Extension 350 Chair, Ken Hames, says the report highlights the positive traction the programme has created with famers across the region. . . 

 

 

New Zealand’s first organic lactose free milk powder range wins gold at artisan awards :

Organic Dairy Hub®’s (ODH) consumer brand, Ours Truly™, was awarded two gold awards in last week’s Inspire+ NZ Artisan Awards for its pair of organic, lactose free milk powders (whole and skim).

The range is the first of its kind in New Zealand, meeting a need for more lactose free options from within the dairy industry.

Hayley Denney, ODH’s Business Development Manager, said the company is thrilled with the award win which reflects a growing market for the products – both nationally and overseas.

“New Zealand-produced dairy products have always been held in high regard offshore, and we have noticed increasing demand for lactose free dairy products globally in the last few years. We decided to meet that demand with our organic milk powders, and it has really been an incredible team effort to get the range off the ground and into consumers’ hands,” explains Denney. . . 


Rural round-up

27/10/2022

Labour plans an act of ‘mega stupidity’ – Muriel Newman :

It seems inconceivable that at a time of hyper-inflation and global unrest, any government would deliberately destabilise the agricultural sector by introducing policies that would increase costs to primary producers, reduce production, and fuel price increases. Yet that’s what Jacinda Ardern’s Labour Government is planning to do.

And how are they justifying these radical changes?

Our Prime Minister, the poster child of modern-day socialism, wants to once again boast on the world stage that she’s taking the lead in climate policy – this time by introducing a price on agricultural emissions of greenhouse gases.

No doubt next month’s climate change COP27 talkfest, where tens of thousands of climate activists from all over the world will fly to Egypt to talk about cutting emissions and saving the planet, will provide just such an opportunity. . . 

Rural women flag concerns about community wellbeing – Jessica Marshall :

Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) says they have major concerns for the wellbeing of rural communities after the release of the Government’s emissions pricing plan.

The proposed plan, announced earlier this month, will see farm emissions priced at the farm-level, but deviates from the industry recommendations in key aspects. It is currently up for consultation.

While Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern describes the pricing plan as a ‘pragmatic’ approach, RWNZ national president Gill Naylor says her organisation is concerned by the adverse impacts it may have on primary producers, particularly if they aren’t supported while they adapt their practices.

“We are also concerned about the flow-on effects on small towns and regional centres that depend on our primary producers to remain viable and vibrant communities and… the health and wellbeing of our farmers and their families is a concern where they are worrying about the viability of their businesses, and where the place that they call home might be on the line,” Naylor told Rural News. . . 

Cherry growers hopeful for harvest but freight demand, cooler start to spring pose challenges – Tess Brunton :

Central Otago orchards say the upcoming harvest is looking promising but there are more challenges ahead.

The Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme recently received a cap boost with up to 19,000 places available for the 2022-23 year.

Driving through Central Otago, the cherry blossoms are slowly giving way to fruit after a colder start to spring.

45 South employs upwards of 500 people during the cherry harvest. . . 

Shipping reduces agribusiness-emissions :

New Zealand’s newest addition to the coastal shipping fleet, the MV Rangitata, made her maiden voyage in October, carrying product for Ravensdown.

The trip by ship reduced CO emissions by an estimated 39 tonne when compared to moving the same volume of product by road.

She is the newest vessel for Coastal Bulk Shipping Ltd, one of four preferred suppliers in a $30-million Government investment for coastal shipping funding through the National Land Transport Programme (NLTP) to improve domestic shipping services, reduce emissions, improve efficiency, and upgrade maritime infrastructure.

Coastal shipping is forming a key part of Ravensdown’s national emission reduction strategy, says Sustainability Manager Allanah Kidd. . . 

Red meat leaders of the future wanted :

The Meat Industry Association (MIA) is inviting applications for its prestigious scholarship programme from students interested in a career in the red meat processing and exporting sector following a major re-vamp of the initiative.

The popular scholarship programme, now in its sixth year, is focused on supporting highly skilled young people who have the potential to become future leaders in New Zealand’s largest manufacturing industry.

A maximum of three new undergraduate or post-graduate scholars will be selected for the 2023 programme. The selection criteria has been enhanced to focus on a smaller group of high calibre students preparing to pursue a career in the sector.

The undergraduate scholarships will provide $5,000 for each year of study for up to three years. The post-graduate awards are for $10,000 a year for up to two years. The 2023 intake will join the existing 10 scholars in the programme. . . 

Rockit makes a move, heads to South Island :

Pioneering apple company, Rockit Global Limited, is planning for its biggest planting year yet, targeting a further 200ha of trees in the ground in 2023. And it’s taking its global success story south, identifying suitable land and growers in Canterbury and Nelson as well as seeking new partners in Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne, where fruit is currently grown.

Despite sharing many of the same challenges as many other New Zealand fruit varieties this year, Rockit’s forecast orchard gate return has progressively lifted across the year and the company is on track to deliver a record market price. This year more than 76 million New Zealand Rockit™ apples will be shipped, with up to 160 million apples expected in 2023.

Rockit’s General Manager Commercial, Tom Lane, says with international demand for the snack size apples booming and new markets opening up every year, the innovative apple brand is tasked with finding fresh ways to keep up with the hordes of hungry consumers buying Rockit across more than 30 countries including China, India, Vietnam, the USA and UAE. Currently, Rockit grows apples in the northern hemisphere (the USA, UK and Europe) as well as throughout New Zealand’s east coast to ensure year-round global supply. . . 


Sowell says

26/10/2022


Word of the day

22/10/2022

Flump – fall or sit down heavily; flop; the action or sound of a heavy fall; an onomatopoeic word used to describe a dull , thudding sound produced by flumping.


2022 Ig Nobel prizes

22/10/2022

The 2022 Ig Nobel prize winners were announced last month:

The prizes are awarded for doing something that makes people laugh then think.

This year’s winners are here and include:

APPLIED CARDIOLOGY PRIZE [CZECH REPUBLIC, THE NETHERLANDS, UK, SWEDEN, ARUBA]
Eliska Prochazkova, Elio Sjak-Shie, Friederike Behrens, Daniel Lindh, and Mariska Kret, for seeking and finding evidence that when new romantic partners meet for the first time, and feel attracted to each other, their heart rates synchronize. . . 

LITERATURE PRIZE [CANADA, USA, UK, AUSTRALIA]
Eric Martínez, Francis Mollica, and Edward Gibson, for analyzing what makes legal documents unnecessarily difficult to understand. . . 

BIOLOGY PRIZE [BRAZIL, COLOMBIA]
Solimary García-Hernández and Glauco Machado, for studying whether and how constipation affects the mating prospects of scorpions. . . 

MEDICINE PRIZE [POLAND]
Marcin Jasiński, Martyna Maciejewska, Anna Brodziak, Michał Górka, Kamila Skwierawska, Wiesław Jędrzejczak, Agnieszka Tomaszewska, Grzegorz Basak, and Emilian Snarski, for showing that when patients undergo some forms of toxic chemotherapy, they suffer fewer harmful side effects when ice cream replaces one traditional component of the procedure. . . 

ENGINEERING PRIZE [JAPAN]
Gen Matsuzaki, Kazuo Ohuchi, Masaru Uehara, Yoshiyuki Ueno, and Goro Imura, for trying to discover the most efficient way for people to use their fingers when turning a knob. . .

ART HISTORY PRIZE [THE NETHERLANDS, GUATAMALA, USA, AUSTRIA]
Peter de Smet and Nicholas Hellmuth, for their study “A Multidisciplinary Approach to Ritual Enema Scenes on Ancient Maya Pottery.” . . 

PHYSICS PRIZE [CHINA, UK, TURKEY, USA] [AWARDED JOINTLY TO TWO GROUPS]
Frank Fish, Zhi-Ming Yuan, Minglu Chen, Laibing Jia, Chunyan Ji, and Atilla Incecik, for trying to understand how ducklings manage to swim in formation. . . 

PEACE PRIZE [CHINA, HUNGARY, CANADA, THE NETHERLANDS, UK, ITALY, AUSTRALIA, SWITZERLAND, USA]
Junhui Wu, Szabolcs Számadó, Pat Barclay, Bianca Beersma, Terence Dores Cruz, Sergio Lo Iacono, Annika Nieper, Kim Peters, Wojtek Przepiorka, Leo Tiokhin and Paul Van Lange, for developing an algorithm to help gossipers decide when to tell the truth and when to lie. . . 

ECONOMICS PRIZE [ITALY]
Alessandro Pluchino, Alessio Emanuele Biondo, and Andrea Rapisarda, for explaining, mathematically, why success most often goes not to the most talented people, but instead to the luckiest. . . 

SAFETY ENGINEERING PRIZE [SWEDEN]
Magnus Gens, for developing a moose crash-test dummy. . . 


Word of the day

18/10/2022

Flenching –  clenching and flexing simultaneously; promising an improvement that never quite materialises.


Word of the day

09/10/2022

Exergasia – a figure of speech which exclusively consists in the repetition of the same thought, or idea in different words so as to emphasise a pressing idea; repetition of the same idea, changing either its words, its delivery, or the general treatment it is given; a form of parallelism where an idea is repeated and the way it is expressed changes.


Is NZ moving right?

08/10/2022

Wayne Brown has won the Auckland mayoralty.

Tania Tapsell in Rotorua’s new mayor.

Christchurch has voted in Phil Mauger as mayor.

Jules Radich has taken the mayor’s seat in Dunedin.

Four new mayors who are more right than left is not enough to confidently say the country is moving right.

But at least in these cities people have voted for leaders who are more likely to respect ratepayers money and be less likely to put green carts before economic, social, science and technology horses.


Word of the day

07/10/2022

Novation – substitution of a new contract or obligation in place of an existing one; the replacement of one of the parties in an agreement between two parties, with the consent of all three parties involved.


No social licence for slow speeds

03/10/2022

A large pothole on a main road has damaged tyres on multiple vehicles:

New Zealand’s bad road conditions have struck again after a massive pothole in the Bay of Plenty caused carnage for drivers.

The pothole has taken out several tyres on State Highway 29 over the Kaimai Range.

Social media users issued a warning to other drivers, posting a video showing over a dozen vehicles pulled over with possible wrecked tyres.

Another person said over 30 cars hit the pothole and were piled up on the side of the road. . . 

Are there no orange cones to spare for this pothole? If so is it because scores of them are  lining roads where there is no sign of damage or work being done?

It comes after what has been dubbed a ‘pothole crisis’ with drivers, road safety campaigners and AA calling for the roads to be fixed.

AA road safety spokesperson Dylan Thomsen told Newshub an analysis from 2020 estimated the Government needed to spend $900 million more over the next three years to catch up on the work needed. 

“Our roads are in the worst condition that many people have ever seen.

Instead of fixing the roads, Waka Kotahi is wasting millions of dollars on propaganda advertising that is no more than bureaucratic back-patting in an attempt to convince us of their wonderfulness and that their aim to get to a zero road toll is a good idea.

One of their strategies is to lower speed limits which is unlikely to reduce serious accidents:

A proposal to dramatically lower the speed limit on most of the nation’s highways is unlikely to significantly lower the road toll, says the car review website dogandlemon.com.

Editor Clive Matthew-Wilson, who is an outspoken road safety campaigner. says:

“Few drivers have a problem with a lower speed limit in high risk areas. But this proposal is aimed at lowering the speed limit from 100kp/h to 80kp/h, even on long, straight, relatively safe highways. This is madness and is likely to produce a major backlash from all sectors of society.”

Matthew-Wilson adds that the police consistently use doubtful science to justify impractical speed enforcement.

“Despite what the police claim, speed is the primary cause of just 15% of fatal crashes, according to Ministry of Transport research.”

“Another inconvenient truth is that the police are targeting the wrong drivers. As a matter of scientific fact, few ordinary motorists cause speed-related fatalities. Instead, almost all speed-related fatalities are caused by a small group of yobbos and reckless motorcyclists, and they’re often blotto when they crash. Yobbos and blotto drivers don’t read speed signs, rarely think of consequences and are effectively immune to road safety messages.”

Matthew-Wilson’s claims are supported by a 2009 AA summary of 300 fatal accidents, which concluded:

“. . . government advertising suggests you should be grateful to receive a speeding ticket because it will save your life. In fact, exceeding speed limits isn’t a major issue…[Nor is it] true that middle-New Zealand drivers creeping a few kilometres over the limit on long, empty [roads were a major factor in] the road toll…”

The AA report confirmed that a high percentage of speed-related fatalities were:

“caused by people who don’t care about any kind of rules. These are men who speed, drink, don’t wear safety belts, have no valid license or WoF – who are basically renegades. They usually end up wrapped around a tree, but they can also overtake across a yellow line and take out other motorists as well.”

Matthew-Wilson gave the example of Jeremy Thompson, 28, who caused a head-on crash near Waverly that killed seven people in 2018. Thompson had been smoking synthetic cannabis and was driving erratically before the crash.

“Perhaps the police could explain how lowering the speed limit would have prevented this crash?”

“The cops also tell us we need to reduce average speeds. But the average speed isn’t the speed that the average driver travels at; the average speed rises and falls with the number of crazy drivers travelling at crazy speeds. Clearly, the police should be targeting the crazy drivers, not the families driving home from holiday.”

“The police say that 90% of the country’s roads are unsafe. Unsafe compared to what? That’s a convenient made-up figure designed to hide that reality that a decade of heavy speed enforcement has utterly failed to significantly reduce speed-related road deaths.”

The condition of far too many roads is sub-standard as the drivers whose tyres were damaged can attest.

But the solution to that isn’t blanket speed reductions, it’s fixing pot holes and doing other work to improve the roads.

“ I’m a big fan of fixing unsafe roads, but the fact that the government has been incredibly slack about sorting out our roading system isn’t an excuse to lower the speed limit. It’s a wakeup call for the government to stop mucking about and instead sort out the safety of our roads. Done properly, we can quickly make our old highways safe for a fraction of the cost of building new highways ”

Matthew-Wilson adds that this proposal to lower the speed limit originally came from the Greens and is primarily intended to make life more difficult for car owners.

Yet another stupid Green policy based on ideology rather than data.

“The Greens approached me to support this strategy. I have been a lifetime supporter of green causes, but I said no. It’s hypercritical to make life more difficult for people who genuinely need vehicles, unless the government first provides these drivers with realistic alternatives to driving

Matthew-Wilson is also frustrated that both the police and the government ignore simple, affordable and effective ways of substantially reducing the road toll.

Cars with Daytime Running Lights on are up to 25% less likely to end up in fatal daytime collisions, yet this simple lifesaving technology isn’t even on the government’s agenda. What’s gone wrong with our government?”

There’s plenty wrong with our government, including the wasting money on advertising and attempts to slow traffic instead of improving roads.

The Taxpayers’ Union reckons that speed limits would have to be reduced to 10 kph to achieve zero road deaths.

The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union is urging the Government to divert all of the marketing and communications budget for its Road To Zero campaign to projects that make New Zealand’s roads physically more safe. The campaign is costing $197 million including $85 million on advertising.

“The Government’s Road To Zero campaign is sadly an expensive exercise in wishful thinking which ultimately sets itself up for failure,” Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director Jordan Williams says.

“Now that fancy TV ads and Michael-Wood-sized red zeroes haven’t reduced the road toll, the Government is looking to reduce maximum speed limits all over the country to 80km/h. It seems the Government is willing to do practically anything except fix the actual roads.”

“With this current approach, the Government will need to reduce the maximum speed limit to about 10km/h in order to get the road toll down to zero. Although increased road rage could hamper that.”

It wouldn’t just be road rage that would sabotage zero road toll efforts.

Inattention through boredom would also be a problem.

Besides driving slowly can kill people too as driveway deaths show.

“In an ideal world there would be no road deaths and we should be mitigating risks where possible. However, our taxes should be spent strategically in ways that make a material difference, like fixing dangerous roads, not on big budget campaigns promoting unattainable goals.

The government has overlooked a critical component in its campaign to reduce speed limits – social licence.

There is none for slower speeds.

Last year the speed limit in most of Wanaka was reduced to 40 kph.

If the Queenstown Lakes District Council, which imposed the 10 kph reduction, had data to back up its decision to do this, it hasn’t been widely publicised and from my experience it hasn’t had a marked impact on the speed people drive.

It will have increased fines for speeding but it hasn’t noticeably reduced speeds.

When I drive at the regulated 40 kph, cars following me catch up and the distance between me and those in front increases which shows I’m the only one obeying the limit.

Several stretches in the Lewis Pass and the entire road between Nelson and Blenheim have 80 kph limits.

I drove those last year with a passenger who is prone to car sickness which gave me an incentive to travel at less than 100 kph.

There were places where that would be sensible even without worrying about potential nausea, but there were others where it wasn’t necessary and the vehicles that passed me obviously knew that.

There is no social licence for slower speeds on most roads. All it will achieve is disgruntled drivers, more congestion and longer travelling times which will add costs to businesses and that will add fuel to inflation.

It will also divert police from more important work, including targeting the really dangerous drivers driving dangerously.


Beautifying the blogosphere

01/10/2022


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