Unscientific science

06/07/2021

A concerning thread from Michael Reddell:

Perhaps the people who are campaigning to get religious teaching out of school could extend their efforts to this.

Science is defined as: the observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of phenomena; the state of knowing : knowledge as distinguished from ignorance or misunderstanding; a branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths systematically arranged and showing the operation of general laws.

There is no place for myths in any of those definitions nor should there be a place for myths in the science curriculum.

They might fit in literature, social studies and perhaps in history, but including them in science is anything but scientific.

 


Word of the day

03/07/2021

Textovert – someone who is expressive and funny in texts but shy in person; one who is braver when texting than speaking.


Paula Bennett in her own words

10/06/2021

Matangireia: Māori Political Legacies explores the careers of former Māori Members of Parliament, one of these is Paula Bennett:

 

This extract focuses mostly on the end of her parliamentary career which does her a disservice.

There’s so much more to be learnt from this interview – about politics, about leadership, about life.

One of those is that caring isn’t the preserve of only the left end of the political spectrum.


Rural round-up

31/05/2021

Stringing bells in glasshouses – Hugh Stringleman:

A business that began in a field in Matakana has grown into a global operation with a sophisticated glasshouse enterprise producing seven million capsicums a year. Hugh Stringleman found out how they do it.

Southern Paprika (SPL) of Warkworth is the largest single-site glasshouse grower of capsicums in New Zealand, with nearly one million plants at any one time under 26ha of cover.

Each bell pepper plant produces 40 fruit per season, as the plants grow up strings to 4m in height.

It’s called Southern Paprika because it is in the Southern Hemisphere and paprika is the Northern Hemisphere word for capsicum. . .

Bootcamps and mental health events target Young Farmers:

A new initiative is being funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to help improve the wellbeing of young people in rural communities.

NZ Young Farmers has been allocated $40,000 to organise events in seven regional areas featuring guest speakers, activities, and skill-building sessions.

“It’s important we continue our efforts to give people the skills to look after their wellbeing, manage stress and to recognise and openly talk about mental health,” says MPI’s director of Rural Communities and Farming Support Nick Story.

NZ Young Farmers has a network of 70 clubs, which provide an opportunity for young people to make friends, network, upskill and socialise. . . 

Farming flavour: chocolate and chilies – Country Life:

Feeding the farm crew at docking time, even as a child, was no problem for Johnty Tatham.

Things culinary have been the 24-year-old’s passion for a while.

Now he’s handcrafting chocolate from a cottage on the family farm and his sleekly packaged Lucid Chocolatier products can be found at top-notch Wellington restaurants and artisan chocolate shops.

Johnty and his brother Paddy are back on the Tatham’s sheep and beef farm in coastal Wairarapa forging new paths in the food industry. . .

Study suggests sheep milk farms produce 50pc less nitrogen water pollution :

Sheep milk farms could produce up to 50 percent less nitrogen loss to water compared to regular dairy farms new research shows.

Carried out by AgResearch, the study was done to better understand the environmental impacts of sheep dairy farms.

Although still comparably small to the regular dairy industry, the dairy sheep industry is quickly growing.

There are 17,000 dairy sheep in New Zealand with another 8000 being introduced next season. . .

 

New technology shown to improve pasture growth without harming the environment:

Many of us are just beginning to understand how soils [and soil fertility] truly work. The dominant model, developed 150 years ago by chemists in Germany has been popularised, used very widely and successfully. This model says: “You have a soil that is deficient in nutrients. You are growing a plant that needs the nutrients to achieve full production. Nutrients or fertilisers are applied to correct the imbalance. If you have multiple deficiencies, then you may apply a cocktail of nutrients and fertilisers to address the balance”. Note that in this model the microbiological elements are ignored. More nutrients and chemicals are applied. The soil biology gets hammered. More maintenance nutrients are required – and so the costly circle continues.

The problem with this model is that it is deficient. It misses the critical component of soil microbiology. This has been substantially invisible until recently, when we have had a new tool, DNA to aid study. When you start to look at the interaction of soil microbiology, it has been a largely invisible third party in agriculture. In forestry it has long been known that nutrient deficiencies in plants can be solved by micro biology. Pine trees need mycorrhizal fungi. Without the fungi, the Pine tree doesn’t grow. . .

Packaging-free milk flowing at shared workspace:

An innovative milk processing system developed by Christchurch startup, Happy Cow Milk, is delivering packaging-free Saltworks co-working space.

Happy Cow Milk raised $400k in an equity crowdfund in 2019 to develop its revolutionary “milk factory in a box”. This system allows any farmer to be a fully compliant milk producer and any cafe, workplace or even school to be a retailer.

Founder Glen Herud says the dairy industry needs disruption. “The current system rewards large-scale farming over small, family farms. Happy Cow wants to replace the complicated milk supply chain system to allow farmers to connect and sell milk to their local communities – because we know that sustainable milk is local milk.” . . 

Wairarapa’s Olive Black wins gold at prestigious New York competition:

Award-winning olive oil producer Olive Black is elated New Zealand olive oils are being noticed globally, as the company wins gold at the New York International Olive Competition.

Hot on the heels of winning Best in Show at the New Zealand Olive Oil Awards 2020, for its extra virgin olive oil, Wairarapa olive grower, Olive Black, now also has a gold medal from one of the most prestigious competitions in the world.

This year, there was a record 1100 entries from 28 countries in the New York competition and Olive Black manager Mark Bunny says he is absolutely fizzing. . . 


B.J. Thomas 7.8.42 – 29.5.21

30/05/2021

Singer B.J. (Billy Joe) Thomas has died.

Five-time Grammy award winner and Grammy Hall of Fame inductee, B.J. Thomas, died today at home in Arlington, Texas at the age of 78 from complications due to stage four lung cancer.

Few artists have left a more indelible mark on America’s musical landscape than B.J. Thomas. With his smooth, rich voice and unerring song sense, Thomas’s expansive career crossed multiple genres, including country, pop, and gospel, earning him CMA, Dove, and Grammy awards and nominations since his emergence in the 1960s.

Thomas’ career was anchored by numerous enduring hits, among them his million-selling cover of Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” the Grammy-winning “(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song” and the iconic “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head,” which won the Academy Award for best original song. A five-time Grammy award winner and Grammy Hall of Fame inductee, Thomas has sold over 70 million albums worldwide, scoring eight No. 1 hits and 26 Top 10 singles over his 50+ years in the music industry. His lengthy chart history led to him being named one of Billboard’s Top 50 Most Played Artists Over The Past 50 Years. Such memorable hits as “I Just Can’t Help Believing, “Don’t Worry Baby,” “Whatever Happened To Old Fashioned Love,” “New Looks From An Old Lover” and “Hooked on a Feeling” have made him a staple on multiple radio formats over the years. . . 


Sowell says

25/05/2021


Yes Sir Humphrey

24/05/2021


Rural round-up

24/05/2021

Budget ‘missed opportunity’ for farmers :

Farming groups say while there are a few positives in Budget 2021 for the primary sector, overall it is disappointing.

The Government has allocated more than $50 million towards lowering agricultural emissions and developing a national farm planning system.

Funding included $37m towards national integrated farm planning system for farmers and growers, $24m towards agricultural greenhouse gas mitigation research and development; and $900,000 to collect vital statistics on agricultural production, such as greenhouse gas emissions. . . 

Support for drought affected farmers – Ashley Smyth;

Steps are being put in place to help North Otago farmers struggling with the challenges of drought, heading into winter.

Otago Rural Support Trust co-ordinator Lindsay Purvis said winter crops had failed in places, but some parts of the district were worse than others.

A Zoom meeting was being held this week involving farmers “dotted strategically throughout Otago” to gather information for a drought monitor group, he said.

“The idea of having all these farmers together is to get a little report from them, as to what’s happening in their area.” . . .

$25,000 paid for Teviot Valley bull – Shawn McAvinue:

A Teviot Valley bull fetched the top price at a national seed stock sale last week.

Limehills Stardom brought $25,000 for vendors Limehills Herefords owners Gray and Robyn Pannett, of Millers Flat.

Mr Pannett said the sale price of the 20-month Hereford bull was because of his strong pedigree and high intramuscular fat.

Limehills Stardom was bought by North Island businesses Charwell Herefords and BeefGen. . . 

Deerstalkers’ hut given green light – Ruby Heyward;

The New Zealand Deerstalkers Association North Otago branch is building for the future.

At the beginning of the year, the North Otago branch submitted an application to the Department of Conservation (Doc) to build a public hut on the Waianakarua Scenic Reserve, south of Oamaru.

After a few months of finger crossing, the members have got the go ahead.

For hut project co-ordinator Barry Wilson, it was a huge relief. . . 

Forestry worker becomes small business owner in Southland – Uma Ahmend:

Former forestry worker Cameron Moir has taken on the Fordes Petfood business near South Hillend.

Moir, broke two vertebras and his pelvis in a car crash in February 2020, and during recuperation he decided it was time for a change.​

Even though Moir does not officially start working at the processing plant until July 5, he has been regularly going to the plant to observe and has started on transitional plans.

“At the moment we have a lot of dairy cows, and we’re still going to do that, but we’re hoping to get access to more sheep meat, bovine meat.” . . 

Clarkson’s new farming series hits TV screens on 11 June:

Clarkson’s Farm, an eight part series following Jeremy Clarkson as he attempts to run his very own 1000-acre farm, will hit screens on 11 June, Amazon has confirmed.

The series will observe the highs and lows of what the former Top Gear presenter hopes will be a rural idyll, but could just as easily become a rustic nightmare.

Clarkson, a self-confessed “inept townie” with zero agricultural knowledge will, along with some help, try to set up a viable working farm in modern day rural Britain.

Beginning in autumn 2019 and filmed over the course of one farming year, Amazon has officially confirmed that the series will be aired on Friday 11 June. . . 


Rural round-up

22/05/2021

Feds slam Govt’s immigration plans –  Gerald Piddock:

Federated Farmers are urging farmers with staffing shortages to write to the Government to outline the effect it was having on their businesses.

The move comes after two announcements from the Government over the past few weeks concerning immigration.

It firstly denied an application by Federated Farmers and DairyNZ to bring in 500 skilled migrants to work on dairy farms.

Instead, it approved 125 agricultural machinery operators, below the 400 that is needed. . . 

Treasury to review forestry policy – Neal Wallace:

The Government has approved the sale of 32,644ha of farmland to foreign buyers since 2018 for conversion to forestry under its special policy that encourages overseas investment into the sector.

Information provided by the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) reveals it approved through the forestry test the purchase by foreign investors of 30 livestock farms for conversion to forestry, and a further 35 existing forestry blocks covering 111,517ha.

The special forestry test was introduced in 2018 as part of the Labour-NZ First coalition agreement, which effectively streamlines the OIO process for foreign entities wanting to invest in forestry.

The policy is about to be reviewed by the Treasury, says an OIO spokesperson. . . 

South coping with the long dry – Sally Blundell :

The parched paddocks of farms on Canterbury’s Banks Peninsula have run out of moisture – nothing is growing. Farmers fear climate change has arrived and have begun adapting the way they work the land.

Tim Davie, director of science at Environment Canterbury, pauses in a stony gulley, a narrow trough between banks of browning grass. It was not what he expected to see.

“I was hoping to show you some water on the Port Hills of Banks Peninsula,” he tells Frank Film. “But there’s nothing here. Normally this pond would be full of water, up to my waist. On the western flank of Pigeon Bay, Edward Aitken of Craigforth farm walks across the parched ground of his sheep and cattle farm. The scenery is dramatic, the hills a uniform brown against a relentlessly blue sky. “These paddocks would normally have new grass and established greenfield crops. They’ve been fallow now since last November. There is absolutely no moisture in the sub-soil.” . .

Budget 2021: Federated Farmers welcome funding, Dairy NZ says it missed the mark:

Biosecurity, agricultural emissions research and farm planning were areas that received a funding boost in yesterday’s Budget.

On the agricultural emissions front, $24 million was committed to research and mitigation technology development, which could include things like methane inhibitors and the breeding of low emission animals.

Meanwhile, $37m would go towards a national farm planning system for farmers and growers, in line with the government’s plan for all farms to have written plans to measure and manage emissions by the end of 2024.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said in order to meet its climate and environmental goals, there needed to be a single, easy to use framework. . . 

Women in seed forum :

A recent turn out of women engaged in employment within the Seed Industry shows the future of diversity within the sector is looking good.

The second NZGSTA Women in Seed Forum was held at Riccarton Park Function Centre on the 19th of May and attended by 108 women from the Seed Industry. The roles of these women varied from agronomists, lab technicians, logistics roles, administrative roles, account managers, research technicians, grain traders, farmers and those passionate about the grain and seed industries.

Developed and hosted by the New Zealand Grain and Seed Trade Association, Executive Councillor Charlotte Connoley said “the purpose of the forum was to provide more opportunities for networking amongst women within the industry in addition to providing a platform for further discussion and collaboration around key challenges and opportunities that face the grain and seed industries.” . . 

Here Come The Girls: Cork students clinch 2021 Certified Irish Angus Schools Competition title

Five teenage girls at St Aloysius College, Carrigtwohill – who come from non-farming backgrounds – have just been crowned overall winners of the 2021 Certified Irish Angus Schools Competition.

Emily O’Donovan, Kelsey Hourigan, Helen Savage, Leah Buckley, and Rachel O’Gorman explored the topic ‘Communicating with the Consumer & Producer’ throughout the course of their 18-month project for the competition.

And, in an effort to educate consumers on the beef process, they created an App called ‘Angus Adventures’ which is available to download from Google Play.

The App focuses on the daily tasks of a farmer in an effort to inform consumers of the work and dedication required to produce Certified Irish Angus beef from farm to fork. . . 


Rural round-up

19/05/2021

ORC to seek controls over carbon forestry – Rebecca Ryan:

Otago regional councillors have voted to lobby central government for national changes to standards for carbon forestry.

Following concerns raised by the public and a visit to the site of October’s Livingstone fire, councillors and iwi representatives on the council’s strategy and planning committee discussed tree planting for carbon sequestration (carbon forests) during a meeting last week.

“Unlike plantation forestry, carbon forests are planted and left in perpetuity,” Cr Kevin Malcolm said.

“As forestry for carbon sequestration is currently a permitted activity in the Otago region, there’s not the same level of maintenance and hazard management expected for forests planted for harvest. This can lead to pest problems, depleted river flow in water-short catchments, and increased fuel loads for bush fires.” . . 

Farmers let down by government MIQ restrictions – Sudesh Kissun:

Farmers will continue to apply pressure on the Government and hope for a change of heart on the need for skilled overseas workers.

Earlier this month, the Government declined an application by the dairy sector for 500 skilled workers from overseas.

Federated Farmers immigration spokesman Chris Lewis says the Government is set to deliver its budget this week, aiming to grow the pie and reduce debt. “For that they would need the economy to grow, but how can you with your biggest export sector facing a worker shortage,” Lewis told Rural News. . .

We’re not a push over – Peter Burke:

Beef+Lamb NZ chair Andrew Morrison has fended off criticism that his organisation is too cosy with government and won’t speak out against it.

In recent weeks, there have been growing calls for the industry good organisations – Beef+Lamb NZ and DairyNZ – to be more vocal against some of the government reforms that are affecting farmers. But Morrison says people should judge them on the outcomes, not the outbursts.

He says right now an entity of 15 farming groups are working together to have a mature conversation with government around what is the best way to achieve some of these reforms so that they don’t impact negatively on the primary sector.

“None of the sectors are selling each other out to get a result. This is about an aligned agreement about what is the best way to construct policy, and throwing rocks doesn’t work – it just gets people offside,” Morrison told Rural News. “You can have heated, mature debates, but you still have to be respectful.” . . 

Awards finalist living her best life – Sally Rae:

Maniototo vet and farmer Becks Smith was a finalist for the recent Zanda McDonald Award for young professionals in the agricultural sector. She talks to rural editor Sally Rae about her passion for the industry.

Becks Smith genuinely has the best of both worlds.

A finalist for the recent Zanda McDonald Award, Mrs Smith works part-time as a vet at VetEnt in Ranfurly, while farming at Gimmerburn with her husband, Jason, and their young family.

As she looked out the window on a blue-sky Maniototo day, which started with a minus-seven degree frost, she reflected on how lucky she was to have that as her office. . . 

AgResearch collects top award for meat imaging technology – RIchard Rennie:

Sheep facial recognition, portable dairy processing, “green” batteries and meat quality tech were all winners at this year’s Food, Fibre and Agritech – Supernode Challenge. Richard Rennie reports.

The Food, Fibre and Agritech challenge, sponsored by ChristchurchNZ, KiwiNet and the Canterbury Mayor’s Welfare Fund aims to capture a range of disruptive technologies that can be commercialised to help address some of agriculture’s major challenges.

This year’s supreme overall winner was the AgResearch team headed up by Cameron Craigie for Clarospec. The team developed a machine to help deliver more consistent and objective lamb meat grading quality using hyperspectral imaging technology. 

The unit that is now operating in a commercial plant providing objective, precise information on lamb meat quality. . .

Red meat under attack – Shan Goodwin:

AMID the plethora of technical seminars and market analysis at Beef Australia this year, it seems a presentation from a Tasmanian orthopedic surgeon with no commercial ties to the red meat game has become the most talked about event.

Dr Gary Fettke’s address at a forum hosted by Agforce touched on everything from religion to diabetes and the breakfast cereal business to the origins of veganism but the overarching message was clear.

The beef industry needs to know where the anti-meat rhetoric started and plan a defence because it is under attack.

The demonisation of red meat has nothing to do with science, Dr Fettke said. . .


Yes Sir Humphrey

12/05/2021


If proportionality is so important . . .

23/04/2021

The waka jumping law was one of the dead rats that New Zealand First forced Labour and the Green Party to swallow in the previous government.

It’s a rat for which Labour has now developed a taste:

Labour will vote against a proposed repeal of the Waka Jumping law, killing off any chances of removing the controversial law.

The Waka Jumping or ‘party hopping’ law allows parliamentary parties to remove their own MPs from Parliament in some circumstances, meaning party leaders and caucuses have the power not just to expel MPs from their own party, but from Parliament itself.

It was passed with much controversy last term after NZ First won agreement for it in the party’s coalition agreement with Labour. The Green Party, who have long opposed such laws, swallowed the “dead rat” and voted for the law – as the party believed it was bound to honour Labour’s obligation to NZ First. . . 

The Green Party’s disquiet with the law remained, and in the final months before last year’s election it backed a National Party members’ bill by Nick Smith which sought to repeal the law.

At that point before the election National and the Greens had enough votes together to pass bills, so the bill passed the first of the three readings it would need to become law.

But at the election Labour won an outright majority, meaning no bill can pass if Labour votes against them.

Labour had voted against repeal at the first reading, but openly mulled a change in position following the election.

However a report from the Justice Select Committee which considered the bill makes clear that Labour’s opposition to repeal remains – with the Labour-majority committee voting to recommend the bill not be passed.

Labour MP and Justice Select Committee chair Ginny Andersen said the committee members heard no compelling new case to repeal the law.

She said the “proportionality” of Parliament – basically the fact that the number of MPs in Parliament roughly corresponds to the number of party votes they received – was important.

“The proportionality of Parliament is important, that’s why we have MMP, maintaining that is important.”

“The Labour members on the committee all agreed that this is an important principle – the idea of proportionality. It helps maintain public confidence.” . . 

If proportionality was really the issue then Labour would be addressing the way a by-election can upset it if it’s won by a candidate from a different party than the one that held the seat before the election.

That’s what happened in Northland when National’s Mike Sabin resigned and Winston Peters won the by-election.

To maintain proportionality, National ought to have got another list MP. Instead another NZ First list MP came into parliament completely upsetting proportionality by leaving National with one MP fewer and the opposition with one more.

Labour didn’t make a murmur then and raising proportionality to oppose repeal of the waka jumping legislation is a feeble excuse not a valid reason.

It does however, beg a question – what makes Labour so unsure about the loyalty of its caucus that it isn’t prepared to bury the dead rat this term when it  swallowed it so reluctantly last term?


Yes Sir Humphrey

19/04/2021


Word of the day

02/04/2021

Cross –  a mark, object, or figure formed by two short intersecting lines or pieces; a figure or mark formed by two intersecting lines crossing at their midpoints;  such a mark used as a signature; an upright post with a transverse bar, as used in antiquity for crucifixion, used as a symbol of Christianity; a cruciform sign made to invoke the blessing of Christ especially by touching the forehead, breast, and shoulders; a cross-shaped decoration awarded for personal valour or indicating rank in some orders of knighthood; an affliction that tries one’s virtue, steadfastness, or patience; s omething unavoidable that has to be endured; a mixture of two different things, types, or qualities; a mixture of two different things that have been combined to produce something new; a crossbred individual or kind; to cause (an animal or plant) to interbreed with one of a different kind ; a fraudulent or dishonest contest; dishonest or illegal practices; a movement from one part of a theater stage to another; a movement from one part of a theater stage to another; an attacking pass in soccer played across the field from one side to the other or to the middle; a security transaction in which a broker acts for both buyer and seller (as in the placing of a large lot of common stock); go or extend across or to the other side of (an area, stretch of water, etc.); pass in an opposite or different direction; intersect; to lie or be situated across; to cancel by marking a cross on or drawing a line through; strike out; to run counter to; to deny the validity of; to confront in a troublesome manner; to spoil completely; to turn against, betray; to lie or be athwart each other; to occur to; to reach, attain; to turn the eyes inward toward the nose; lying across or athwart; annoyed;  marked by typically transitory bad temper;


Milne muses

28/03/2021


Sunday soapbox

21/03/2021

Sunday’s soapbox is yours to use as you will – within the bounds of decency and absence of defamation. You’re welcome to look back or forward, discuss issues of the moment, to pontificate, ponder or point us to something of interest, to educate, elucidate or entertain, amuse, bemuse or simply muse, but not abuse.

Where a reputation for intolerance is more feared than a reputation for vice itself, all manner of evil may be expected to flourish. – Theodore Dalrymple


Yes Sir Humphrey

15/03/2021


Christopher Plummer 13.12.29 – 5.2.21

06/02/2021

The man who played the hero in The Sound of Music, Christopher Plummer, has died:

Christopher Plummer, who was among the greatest Canadian actors ever to grace stage and screen, has died.

Plummer died Friday morning at his home in Connecticut with his wife, Elaine Taylor, by his side, said Lou Pitt, his longtime friend and manager.

“Chris was an extraordinary man who deeply loved and respected his profession with great old fashion manners, self-deprecating humour and the music of words,” Pitt said in a statement to CBC News. “He was a national treasure who deeply relished his Canadian roots.

“Through his art and humanity, he touched all of our hearts and his legendary life will endure for all generations to come. He will forever be with us.”

In a career that spanned over six decades, Plummer was nominated for best supporting actor at the Academy Awards three times and won once at 82 for Beginners, a film about a widower who begins to live life as a gay man while dying of cancer.

He also captured two Tony Awards among seven nominations, and took home two Emmys. He earned a reputation as one of the great classical actors of modern times — without attending a prestigious theatre school. . . 

Born Arthur Christopher Orme Plummer on Dec. 13, 1929 in Toronto, he was a descendant of John Abbott, Canada’s third prime minister. 

Plummer’s parents split up not long after his birth, and he was raised in relative privilege in Montreal by his mother and her extended family. He saw his father on only one other occasion years later.

A love for acting onstage was cemented by playing Mr. Darcy in a Montreal High School production of Pride and Prejudice. He would further develop his stagecraft at the Ottawa Repertory Theatre, and learned how to harness his baritone voice in CBC Radio plays.  . . 

I doubt there’s anyone of my generation who didn’t know Plummer as Captain Von Trapp, am I the only one who didn’t know he was Canadian?


Yes Sir Humphrey

05/02/2021


Yes Sir Humphrey

28/01/2021


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