90% of plastic from 10 rivers

August 14, 2018

As debate on the wisdom of banning so-called single-use plastic bags goes on, it’s interesting to note that 90% of the plastic in the sea comes from just 10 rivers.

A shocking study has revealed 90 per cent of the world’s plastic waste comes from just 10 rivers in Asia and Africa.

As governments around the world rush to address the global problem of plastic pollution in the oceans, researchers have now pinpointed the river systems that carry the majority of it out to sea. 

About five trillion pounds is floating in the sea, and targeting the major sources – such as the Yangtze and the Ganges – could almost halve it, scientists claim. . .

 

This provides proof for Dr Patrick Moore’s view (via Not PC) that the problem isn’t plastic, it’s litter.

It’s not how many times a bag is used, but how it is disposed of once it’s no longer useful that causes pollution.


Rural round-up

May 8, 2018

The problem is not dirty dairying, it’s still dirty government – Not PC:

Environment Minister David Parker is all set to tell dairy farmers how many cows he’s going to be let them have on their own farms.  This is, he claims, to fix “dirty dairying.”

But turns out you neither need nor want central planning to fix the alleged problem. What you do need is property rights — and common law.

Here’s a repost from 2008 that’s sadly topical again, explaining what that means… . . 

Give farmers who are having a free ride on the Feds a rev up, says Manawatu leader – Jill Galloway:

Freeloading farmers are getting a free ride when Federated Farmers goes to bat for them on rural issues, says a Manawatū leader.

Manawatū/Rangitīkei Federated Farmers president Richard Morrison said the value of Federated Farmers was often queried and everyone was after a tangible return for every dollar they spent.

“I can see why they want to know how the money is spent … however consider the wins we at the federation have had. There has been a benefit for farmers and rural communities.”

He said some farmers who were not members were getting an easy free ride on others. “Talk to those people and see if they will join up,” he told about 50 members at the region’s Federated Farmers annual meeting. . . 

Farmers have stake in caring for water: Waikato mayor – Craig Rowley:

At the heart of the Waimate district is the rural sector – farming that contributes to both the local and national economies.

Farmers have and continue to work hard to reduce any negative impacts on the environment. The establishment of water zone committees is one example of this.

The Lower Waitaki South Coastal Canterbury Water Zone committee is made up of local people, including farmers, who have a wide range of interests in water – the source, the use and the benefits that come with good water management practices. . . 

Commodity prices good but problems possible – Simon Hartley:

Commodity prices in many of the country’s agriculture sectors are in a “sweet spot” at present, but Brexit, US-China relations and global trade talks could yet create headwinds.

The waning strength of the New Zealand dollar has been in the headlines for the past week.The kiwi has been down 5% against its United States counterpart in recent weeks and at one point fell below US70c, boosting commodity prices in New Zealand dollar terms.

Westpac senior economist Anne Boniface said, from a revenue perspective, the country’s agricultural sector was “in a bit of a sweet spot”,  although there was  the odd exception. . .

Emma Lewin wins Tararua Shepherd of the Year :

Four candidates — two men and two women competed for the title of Tararua Shepherd of the Year 2018.

At the Greenhill Station Field Day on Friday April 27 Emma Lewin was declared the winner.

According to judge Damian Reynolds of Totaranui Angus each was put through their paces in a rigorous two-hour assessment on the properties where they currently work.

This involved both practical skills such as stock handling and shearing as well as knowledge of the industry and operation of the farm they work on. . . 

Not an easy fit for agricultural drones in broadacre – Sharon O’Keefe:

THEY take pretty pictures and if you choreograph your headers correctly, your drone video may even trend on social media. 

However, precision agriculture specialists and researchers are questioning the utility of drones for broadacre agriculture. 

McGregor Gourlay, national digital agriculture manager, Brooke Sauer said while her company was a drone stockist, she felt as a general rule, drones were more useful for purposes other than broadacre precision agriculture.  . . 

Cumbrian farmer tracks down stolen pregnant sheep:

FOURTEEN stolen pregnant ewes have been safely returned to their Cumbrian farm thanks to a high-tech marking system.

Pip Simpson, whose farm is at Troutbeck near Windermere, has been a victim of previous livestock thefts.

He turned to a tracing system to help protect his flock from criminals targeting isolated farms across the county.

TecTracer, a forensic sheep tracing system developed by John Minary, a former senior police detective, and a Swedish ballistics expert ingrains coded markers into a sheep’s fleece,“marking” them with a unique identifying code which makes it easy to trace which farm the sheep originated from. . . 


365 days of gratitude

April 22, 2018

It’s 10 years today since I started blogging.

My introduction to blogs came through reading Kiwiblog which introduced me to other blogs, including No Minister, Lindsay MitchellNot PC, Whale Oil, and the sadly gone but not forgotten Cactus Kate and Keeping Stock.

Reading led to commenting and that led to the thought I could start my own blog. I happened to mention that thought to a friend who is much more computer savvy than I am, she said it would be easy and thanks to WordPress, it was.

Once I started blogging I found other blogs and different news sites which, for a while supplanted books.

A trip to Argentina for a couple of weddings when I had no internet access for several days at a time persuaded me that less blogging would be more healthy and I cut back on computer time.

Every now and then I contemplate giving up altogether and perhaps I will one day.

But not yet.

I still enjoy the writing and, whether or not I agree with them, the contribution from those who leave comments.

Without them this would be a very one-sided conversation. With them there’s variety and for that, and the people who provide it, I’m grateful.

 

 

 


Word of the day

October 17, 2017

Pusillanimous – lacking courage, determination and resolution; marked by contemptible timidity;  showing ignoble cowardice; faint-hearted; timid.

Hat tip: Not PC


Linguistic facism

August 3, 2016

Saatchi and Saatchi chair, Kevin Roberts, has been put on leave after saying in an interview that gender bias in advertising business doesn’t exist.

The interview was in Business Review:

Roberts said: “Edward de Bono [the physician, psychologist, and author] once told me there is no point in being brilliant at the wrong thing — the fucking debate is all over. This is a diverse world, we are in a world where we need, like we’ve never needed before, integration, collaboration, connectivity, and creativity … this will be reflected in the way the Groupe is.”

Publicis Groupe has around a 50/50 gender split amongst all its staff, while around 65% of Saatchi’s staff are female as the agency wants to reflect the buyers of the types of products it is advertising, Roberts added.  . . 

Roberts said he doesn’t spend “any time” on supposed gender issues at his agencies at all — saying the issue is “way worse” in sectors like financial services, where there are “problems left, right, and center.”

Where this is a gender-related challenge at Saatchi, he said, is elevating female creatives into top roles.

“We have a bunch of talented, creative females, but they reach a certain point in their careers … 10 years of experience, when we are ready to make them a creative director of a big piece of business, and I think we fail in two out of three of those choices because the executive involved said: ‘I don’t want to manage a piece of business and people, I want to keep doing the work’,” Roberts said.

Historically, advertising companies have looked at this kind of scenario as a failure — but Roberts, who earlier in our conversation suggests it’s an area that his company “can’t figure out,” later suggests that perhaps agencies would do well to look at the issue through a different lens.

“If you think about those Darwinian urges of wealth, power, and fame — they are not terribly effective in today’s world for a millennial because they want connectivity and collaboration. They feel like they can get that without managing and leading, so maybe we have got the definition wrong,” Roberts said.

Women are saying: “We are not judging ourselves by those standards that you idiotic dinosaur-like men impose”

Rather than holding ambitions to progress into the higher echelons of the c-suite, many women — and men — simply want to be happy and do great work, which management can often overlook, Roberts said.

He added: “So we are trying to impose our antiquated shit on them, and they are going: ‘Actually guys, you’re missing the point, you don’t understand: I’m way happier than you.’ Their ambition is not a vertical ambition, it’s this intrinsic, circular ambition to be happy. So they say: ‘We are not judging ourselves by those standards that you idiotic dinosaur-like men judge yourself by’. I don’t think [the lack of women in leadership roles] is a problem. I’m just not worried about it because they are very happy, they’re very successful, and doing great work. I can’t talk about sexual discrimination because we’ve never had that problem, thank goodness.” . . .

Below the interview is the statement from Publicis saying Roberts has been placed on leave immediately:

Following the comments made by Saatchi & Saatchi Executive Chairman and Publicis Groupe Head Coach, Kevin Roberts, in a recent interview with Business Insider, Publicis Groupe Chairman & CEO, Maurice Lévy addressed a statement internally to all Publicis Groupe employees to reiterate the Groupe’s no-tolerance policy towards behaviour or commentary counter to the spirit of Publicis Groupe and its celebration of difference as captured in the motto Viva la Difference!

It is for the gravity of these statements that Kevin Roberts has been asked to take a leave of absence from Publicis Groupe effective immediately. As a member of The Directoire, it will ultimately be the Publicis Groupe Supervisory Board’s duty to further evaluate his standing.

Diversity & inclusion are business imperatives on which Publicis Groupe will not negotiate. While fostering a work environment that is inclusive of all talent is a collective responsibility, it is leadership’s job to nurture the career aspirations and goals of all our talent.

Promoting gender equality starts at the top and the Groupe will not tolerate anyone speaking for our organisation who does not value the importance of inclusion. Publicis Groupe works very hard to champion diversity and will continue to insist that each agency’s leadership be champions of both diversity and inclusion.

Not PC says Roberts has been suspended for honesty:

NZer Kevin Roberts was “suspended” from his job as head of the Saatchi advertising empire for saying companies should be judged by how happy they make their female employees happy, not by how many with female parts occupy the boardroom. The feminazis rose up in droves.  “People like Kevin Roberts no longer belong in ad agencies,” thundered the politest of the commentariat.We’re supposed to back his sacking say Twitterati, because this is apparently offensive to all right-thinking social-justice warriors. Get with their programme, Kev!

But what did he say that was so wrong, wonders Elena Shalneva? What’s wrong with being honest about “gender diversity”?

Not only is he well-informed on the subject, but he approaches the complex issue of gender diversity in a more intelligent and nuanced way than most…
From what I have read, there is absolutely nothing wrong with what Roberts said. On the contrary, he dared to approach an issue as sensitive as gender diversity in an honest and humane way, rather than resort to the one-sided ideological statements more customary to this subject.

Karl du Fresne  echoes that:

. . . The irony is that Roberts may not have been downplaying women’s legitimate career ambitions at all, but instead was wondering aloud whether there were better options for women than relentlessly pursuing advancement as men do. That was the interpretation placed on his remarks in a discussion (between women, as it happened) that I heard on the BBC.

Not that it matters. Men are not permitted to discuss such things. . . .

Whether or not Roberts is right is a matter of opinion.

I didn’t read anything in his comments that showed any criticism of diversity and inclusion.

On the contrary, like Not PC and du Fresne I read  a suggestion of another way of looking at work and success, that Roberts points out applies to some men too.

Whether or not he’s right, the reaction of the business is concerning. They put up no argument to refute Roberts, they simply stood him down.

That looks very like the linguistic fascism P.D. James criticises in today’s quote above.


Still hope for TPPA

September 30, 2015

Trade Minister Tim Groser is going to Atlanta for negotiations which could conclude the conclude the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).

Groser had been playing hard to get for the meeting, indicating a willingness to attend only if there was an improvement on the “wholly inadequate” offers of dairy market access from the heavily protected agricultural sectors in the US, Canada and Japan. . . 

Groser said last week that New Zealand negotiators could “see a very good deal for New Zealand in everything except dairy and I don’t know to characterise the deal there because it’s not a deal we could accept.”

Since then, there’s been a flurry of reports in US and Canadian media suggesting that the US is pressuring Canada to accept more dairy products from the US as part of a deal that would begin to prise open the US dairy market for New Zealand and Australian dairy products. . . 

Dairy market access is especially politically sensitive in Canada because the country faces a federal election on Oct. 19 and the country’s dairy sector is highly protected, using a system of supply management intended to match local dairy production volumes with domestic demand.

However, it appears the Harper government’s political calculus is that a dairy deal would hurt its electoral chances most in Quebec, where it is already comparatively unpopular, and that there would be political damage in being seen to walk away from a new Asia-Pacific deal and some kudos in being able to demonstrate trade opportunities for Canadian firms. . . 

This means there is still hope for the TPPA in spite of strong opposition from protected industries and those whose politics blind them to the benefits of free trade and the costs of protection.

Dairy interests must be very powerful in Canada because everyone else pays dearly for its trade barriers which increase prices and reduce choice.

Eric Crampton has a suggestion to change that with this speech he’d like to have heard from a party leader:

“Right now, Canadian dairy prices are much higher than they need to be. Mothers pay too much for infant formula; families pay too much for cheese. And the system as a whole doesn’t even benefit dairy farmers any longer: getting into the industry is expensive because buying quota eats up whatever benefits the system provides to farmers. But there is a better way.”

“We are committed to protecting the quality of dairy products on store shelves – as we are with every food product sold in Canada. But we don’t protect food quality with 300% tariffs for vegetables, fruit, or thousands of other products that cross our borders each and every day. For that, we use food inspections. The dairy quota system isn’t necessary for protecting food quality.”

“Today, we are buying back all of the dairy quota and opening the borders. Farmers should not see their retirement savings wiped out by a policy decision from Ottawa. We are able to afford to do this because dairy prices, in a competitive world market, are low enough that we can fund the buyback with a levy on all dairy products sold in Canada while still keeping prices lower than they are now. And those levies will disappear when the bill is paid in full. Canadians will have better access to the world’s products, and Canadian agricultural producers will have better access to world markets.” . . 

The economics are simple, the politics are not but Not PC shows how difficult life would be without trade in a post on the $1,500 sandwich.

. . . What would life be like without exchange or trade? Recently, a man decided to make a sandwich from scratch. He grew the vegetables, gathered salt from seawater, milked a cow, turned the milk into cheese, pickled a cucumber in a jar, ground his own flour from wheat to make the bread, collected his own honey, and personally killed a chicken for its meat. This month, he published the results of his endeavour in an enlightening video: making a sandwich entirely by himself cost him 6 months of his life and set him back $1,500. . . 

Few but the strongest anti-trade people would suggest we go back to that sort of subsistence existence.

But here in one of the freest economies in the world some people still don’t understand how much we’ve gained from free trade. The transition from the highly protected economy we had wasn’t without casualties but the gains were worth the pain.

The TPPA will bring more gains and since our borders are already so open we have little to lose.


Rural round-up

September 3, 2015

The great job-creating machine – Not PC:

. . .  In 1980, almost a quarter of the world’s employment was still in agriculture. Now, only around 15% of the world’s workers are engaged in agricultural labour. Yet we are feeding more people, undernourishment is at an all-time low, and food is becoming less expensive.

Technological advances liberated humanity from toiling in fields by mechanizing many processes and boosting productivity, allowing more food to be produced per hectare of land, and freeing hundreds of millions of people to pursue less gruelling work. 

The elimination of so many unsafe jobs in manufacturing and agriculture means fewer worker deaths. According to data from the International Labour Organization, from 2003 to 2013, the number of work fatalities in the world decreased by 61% (i.e., over 20,500 fewer deaths). This occurred even as the world population grew by over 700 million over the same time period. . . 

Update on recovery in storm-affected regions:

Civil Defence Minister Nikki Kaye says recovery from the severe storm in June is going well, but latest estimates show its economic impact could be around $270 million. Areas hardest hit by the storm included parts of Taranaki, Whanganui and Manawatu. “Much of the cost of the storm will be met by private insurance, but the Government will also contribute significant support. “We do this in several ways. We make support available to individuals through things like contributions to local relief funds.  . . 

Extra $2.6m support for storm-affected regions:

Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy and Civil Defence Minister Nikki Kaye have announced an extra $2.6 million of Government support for communities worst affected by the severe storm in June.

“Today’s announcement extends the support we can usually draw on to help communities recover from an emergency such as this,” says Ms Kaye.

“This was an unusual event because certain areas were hit a lot harder than others.

“The new support package includes one-off initiatives that take into account the severity of localised damage that occurred in parts of Taranaki, Whanganui and Manawatu.”

Today’s announcement adds to previous Government funding and welfare support, and includes: . . .

What’s happening in China – and what does it mean for New Zealand’s agri-food? – Keith Woodford:

In recent weeks I have been traveling in Western China. It is just over a year since I was last there, and as with every visit the changes are visible: more fast railways, more four lane highways, and lots more apartment buildings.

This visual perspective contrasts with what we are reading in the media about China’s declining economic growth. Which is correct? Well, both perspectives are valid.

There are many ‘Chinas’ but for simplicity I will divide China into two. There is the eastern seaboard comprising Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Tianjin, Zhejiang, Shenzhen and other big seaboard cities. And there is another China west of the seaboard, including Chengdu, Chongqing, Xian, Wuhan, Kunming, and Xining. . . 

New judging coordinator appointed for Canterbury sustainable farming awards:

Farming journalist Sandra Taylor has recently been appointed Judging Coordinator for the Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The award application period is open and Sandra is encouraging farmers to show how important environmental management and enhancement is to the industry.

“Farmers take great pride in their farm environments and the Ballance Farm Environment Awards provides a fantastic opportunity to both benchmark and showcase all the great work that is being done on farms throughout the Canterbury region.” . . .

Ballance holds pricing to help farmers through spring:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients has today announced it is holding nitrogen prices to help shelter customers from the significant drop in the dollar and support production on farm this spring.

“We know this is a crucial period for pastoral farmers, and with nitrogen a key feed source in farm budgets we are doing our best to help out where we can and support our customers to plan their feed requirements for spring,” said Ballance CEO Mark Wynne.

Ballance Science Manager Aaron Stafford advised farmers to focus on the nutrient inputs that drive production in the current season or year when planning budgets. . . .

Job Done Wins Idea Pitch at Fonterra Activate to Bring Tech Innovation to Dairy Farms:

Fonterra is pushing on with a business relationship with digital innovation start-up company Job Done after they won an idea pitch yesterday at GridAKL, in Auckland’s innovation precinct.

Seven teams representing Icehouse, Spark Ventures and BBDO spent a month developing prototypes at their own cost with a view to securing future services with the Co-operative to help farmers save time and money.

The seven ideas were pitched to a judging panel made up of Fonterra farmers and staff.

Pitch winner Job Done was mentored by Icehouse and founded by Manawatu farmer Nigel Taylor. . . 

Simcro Limited acquires ISL Animal Health and NJ Phillips PTY

Simcro Limited, a leader in the global animal pharmaceutical delivery device industry, has acquired ISL Animal Health (Hamilton, NZ) and NJ Phillips PTY (Gosford, NSW, Australia) from Forlong & Maisey and the Maisey family of Hamilton, New Zealand.

The agreement is effective from 1 September 2015.

Simcro Executive Chairman, Will Rouse, said, “After the Riverside Company became our majority shareholder in 2013, we began looking for opportunities to exponentially grow Simcro’s international market strength. We’ve been in discussions with ISL Animal Health and NJ Phillips for quite some time.

“Internationally, animal health companies are amalgamating at a rapid pace. These industry changes are creating opportunities for companies like ours. These opportunities, however, create the requirement to meet ever-increasing quality and compliance thresholds for our global customers. . . 


Quote of the day

September 1, 2015

I have been increasingly conscious, for the last 10 years or so, of deaths among my contemporaries. My generation is on the way out, and each death I have felt as an abruption, a tearing away of part of myself. There will be no one like us when we are gone, but then there is no one like anyone else, ever. When people die, they cannot be replaced. They leave holes that cannot be filled, for it is the fate — the genetic and neural fate — of every human being to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death.

I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers.

Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.Oliver Sacks

Hat tip: Not PC


There’s hope for young

June 27, 2014

There’s hope for the young – the left has lost Generation Y:

BBC Radio 4 recently broadcast a programme entitled Is this generation right?. It was based on a 2013 study by Ipsos Mori which examined the generational differences in attitudes towards the UK benefits system. According to the study, ‘Generation Y [18- to 30-year-olds] is more likely… to believe the role of the state should be more focused on providing opportunities and less on managing the risks individuals face. This suggests that Generation Y is a more individualist generation than the others, more concerned with personal independence and opportunity.’

Putting aside the rather trite conclusion that views on welfare alone mark the difference between left and right, the findings of this survey do raise an important issue: the inability of the modern left to engage with Generation Y. While, in times past, being left-wing was bound up with ideas of opportunity and social mobility, the left’s present incarnations have patronised and alienated ambitious young people. Policies implying that young people are incapable of self sufficiency, and are in need of constant guidance, vigilance and support have suffocated a generation. . .

The cotton-woolling and we-know-best might work when people don’t think for themselves.

But once they start thinking independently and working to achieve their ambitions they realise that isn’t helping them up but holding them back.

Young people who are doing it for themselves don’t want the government to get in their way as those on the left inevitably do.

Hat Tip: Not PC


Rural round-up

June 18, 2014

N. Otago couple sell Angus bull for $55,000:

A joint record of $55,000 in this season’s bull sales has been achieved by North Otago Angus breeders Neil and Rose Sanderson.

Fossil Creek Hero H006 was purchased by Tangihau Station, near Gisborne, at the Sandersons’ recent on-farm sale at Ngapara.

Earlier this month, a Hereford bull from David and Rosemary Morrow’s Okawa stud, near Mt Somers, also sold for $55,000 to the Kokonga stud at Tuakau. . .

The world now produces more farmed fish than beef – Not PC:

You know, years ago when this blog first started, we had a discussion about property rights in fish, large and small, and talked about property rights as a way both to save the oceans, and to de-politicise them.

The solution to the imminent and watery Tragedy of the Commons represented by whale-harvesting and out of control fishing is similar to the problem solved by nineteenth century cattlemen by the imperfect means of branding, and eventually by the invention of barbed wire. It is one of recognising and legally protecting the property right in these animals.
    And no, it’s not easy to protect property rights in big fish, but then there was a time when it wasn’t easy to protect property rights in cattle either, particularly on America’s great plains.  But that was before barbed wire.
    Branding and barbed wire were inventions that allowed the cattlemen to identify “their cattle” and to ask the law for its protection for them. The solution for those who wish to protect “their whales” is essentially the same  — a technological advance that allows them to identify to themselves and others which whales are theirs, and which therefore have the full protection of law. . .

Awards recognise pride in property:

Taranaki sheep and beef farmers Robin and Jacqueline Blackwell have always taken pride in their property. That pride was publically recognised at this year’s Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The couple took home four awards: the Beef + Lamb New Zealand livestock award, Hill Laboratories harvest award, Donaghys stewardship award and the Taranaki Regional Council sustainability award.

Blackwells farm Mangaotea, a 658ha mainly flat to rolling sheep and beef property at Tariki, north east of Stratford. It sits at 200-300m above sea level and averages 1800mm of rain annually. Mangaotea is about 20 minutes drive from the base of Mt Taranaki and includes some steeper ridges. It winters 11,300 stock units, with a cattle to sheep ratio of 90:10. The main focus is producing bulls for an annual September sale on the property and grazing young dairy stock for long-term clients. . .

Success for Plant & Food Research’s Seafood Team:

Plant & Food Research’s Alistair Jerrett and the team involved in the Precision Seafood Harvesting (PSH) programme had several reasons to celebrate at last night’s second annual KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards. Mr Jerrett’s 30-year career as an innovator and entrepreneur within the New Zealand seafood industry saw him collect the coveted Researcher Entrepreneur Award, before he and his team also collected the People’s Choice Award and runner up in the BNZ Supreme Award category.

The awards, held at Auckland’s Viaduct Event Centre last night was attended by around 250 people from throughout the research, business and investment sectors, including politicians Hon. Steven Joyce, Nikki Kaye and Grant Robertson, and New Zealander of the year Sir Ray Avery. The annual awards aim to bring together the people and technologies changing the research commercialisation landscape in New Zealand.  . .

Long shelf life for new type of pear:

Crown Research Institute, Plant and Food Research has bred a new variety of pear which will be grown in Australia.

The fruit has been released by Prevar, a joint venture between Pipfruit New Zealand, Apple and Pear Australia and Plant and Food.

A Prevar spokesperson said the new cultivar combined characteristics from European, Japanese and Chinese pears, which gave it a crisp, juicy texture. . . .

US visit focuses on duty-free access to TPP markets:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand CEO, Dr Scott Champion pressed home the need for comprehensive tariff elimination in the Trans Pacific partnership during a visit to the United States last week.

Dr Champion met with the leadership of several major US trade and farming associations, including Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s US counterparts, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the American Sheep Industry Association, as well as state and federal government agencies, members of the US Congress, and US and New Zealand businesses. . .

Comvita lifts cash component of $12.3 mln NZ Honey purchase:

(BusinessDesk) – Comvita, which makes health-care products and supplements based on honey, has lifted the cash component of its takeover offer for New Zealand Honey, the Timaru-based honey produce owned by the New Zealand Honey Producers Cooperative that operates the Hollands Honey, 3 Bees and Sweet Meadow brands.

The purchase price will now comprise $10.3 million in cash and $2 million Comvita shares issued at $3.50 apiece, Comvita said in a statement. The deal had originally been for $7.3 million of cash and $5 million of shares. The NZX-listed company last traded at $3.80. . . .


How liberal are you?

January 8, 2014

I’ve added a new word to my vocabulary today – minarchist.

That’s what I am according to this quiz which asks what kind of libertarian you are.

You Scored as Minarchist

Minarchists are libertarians who advocate a strictly limited government and usually a more decentralized form of it. Minarchists may vary in the degree to which they think that government should be limited, although the bare bones position is essentially nothing more than police, courts and the military. Minarchists tend to think that some minimum level of government is a necessary evil, or at least an inevitability. The contemporary libertarian movement in America is dominantly minarchist, although it has had a long history of dialogue and debate between minarchist and anarchist libertarians.

lib

The reliability of that answer – if such quizzes can be called reliable anyway – is compromised because I chose the middle option for several questions when I didn’t know enough about the people or issues to make a reasoned response.

Hat tip: Not PC

 

 


Muddle East mess

September 3, 2013

The Middle East is really the west from our point of view.

But which ever direction you look at it from, it’s not easy to understand.

What could more accurately be called the Muddle East is still a mess, and sadly too often literally a bloody one at that.

The politics are difficult to understand but the result is not – it’s  human misery, death and destruction of lives, businesses, homes, communities and eocnomies.

The scene and players change but the plot remains the same and it’s always a tragedy.

The Washington Post has nine questions about Syria you were too embarrassed to ask  and a map that shows why it’s so complicated.

That’s just one country, others in the area are equally complex.

Who supports or hates whom and why is not easy to explain, but this idiots guide from blogger Big Pharaoh might help:

bigpharaohchart

Hat tip: Not PC.


Rebalancing

June 18, 2013

Jami-Lee Ross’s Bill allowing employers to take on other staff to replace striking workers has been greeted with howls of outrage.

But as Not PC asks, do you own your job?

. . . Strike action by unionised employees is certainly their right.  But the unionised employees have no right to forcibly exclude non-union labour from taking the jobs from which they have voluntarily walked away.

They will disagree with me. They would place pickets and law in the way of employers hiring new folk to replace those who’ve walked out. They will argue, essentially, that they own these jobs and have a right to exclude others from taking them—to exclude them by force, if necessary.

But they don’t own those jobs, and the mistaken idea that they do is what gives unions their power to destroy. . . .

The destruction isn’t only of their employers and his/her business, the damage goes much further than that to all the other people whose lives and businesses are affected.

After the prolonged Ports of Auckland strike a friend was buying jandals and was offered two for the price of one.

The shop keeper said the footwear had been delayed by the strike. By the time he got the shipment it was too late in summer for most people so he was offering two for one to get rid of them.

The right to strike will remain if the Bill succeeds but it will rebalance the power which at the moment is tilted in the favour of unions by allowing employers to keep their businesses running while staff are striking.

It will also reduce the damage done to other businesses not involved in the dispute but which are also affected by a strike.


Progress best prescription for people plague

January 23, 2013

Gareth Morgan has got the fur flying and alienated all cat owners with his cats to go campaign which declares the felines animalia non-grata.

David Attenborough has gone further by declaring that people are a plague on earth.

The television presenter said that humans are threatening their own existence and that of other species by using up the world’s resources.

He said the only way to save the planet from famine and species extinction is to limit human population growth.

“We are a plague on the Earth. It’s coming home to roost over the next 50 years or so. It’s not just climate change; it’s sheer space, places to grow food for this enormous horde. Either we limit our population growth or the natural world will do it for us, and the natural world is doing it for us right now,” he told the Radio Times.

I won’t go as far as Not PC who says you first David  because as Tim Worstall points out there is a far better way than death to manage population growth:

. . . we do in fact know how to manage this process of curtailing growth in the number of humans.

Get rich.

Everywhere it has happened, everywhere this species of ours has gone from rural and Malthusian destitution to a bourgeois urban middle classness, the population growth rate has fallen like a stone. Indeed, so much so that it becomes the population contraction rate. It doesn’t actually need you and Jonny Porritt demanding full body condoms for all. It only requires that people know they can eat three times a day, have a roof over their heads and that there’s a decent chance that all the children they do have will survive into adulthood. Absent immigration there just isn’t any population growth in the rich world. Far from it, there’s contraction (to be absolutely accurate you have to adjust for it taking until the second generation of immigrants to reduce childbirth down to the rate of the indigenes). . .

Yes, those of the deep, dark, anti-progress, anti-people persuasion might not like it but the best prescription for the people population plague is progress of the economic kind.

I’m not sure what affect it will have on the cat population though.


Affordable housing requries culture change

October 30, 2012

Affordability of housing isn’t a simple matter.

Someone wanting to sell, or with a large mortgage wanting more equity in their property will be happy with higher prices.

However, there are more people finding it more difficult to buy and in responding to the Productivity Commission’s report on housing affordability, Finance Minister Bill English spells out why it matters:

“High house prices matter because many New Zealanders spend a large portion of their incomes on housing and that has helped fuel household debt and contribute to damaging imbalances in the economy,” Mr English says.

“In particular, high housing debt diverts money from more productive investments, contributes to New Zealand’s significant overall level of indebtedness and exposes taxpayers to growing demands for State assistance with housing costs. 

“Those factors make it vital that housing becomes more affordable. In addition, projections suggest that many more homes will be required in coming years than are being built.”

There are no quick fixes and improving affordability isn’t just the government’s responsibility but it has a programme with four key aims:

  • Increasing land supply – this will include more greenfields and brownfields developments and allow further densification of cities, where appropriate.
  • Reducing delays and costs of RMA processes associated with housing – this includes introducing a six-month time limit on council processing of medium-sized consents.
  • Improving the timely provision of infrastructure to support new housing – this will include considering new ways to co-ordinate and manage infrastructure for subdivisions.
  • Improving productivity in the construction sector – this includes an evaluation of the Productivity Partnership’s progress in achieving a 20 per cent increase in productivity by 2020.

Decisions made by local councils not only affect their local communities, but have wider effects on the economy and the Government’s books. 

“Many of the changes that will make a difference lie with councils and the Government expects them to share the commitment to improving housing affordability,” Mr English says. . .

These measures will help, but a culture change is also needed.

My generation and older were brought up with the idea of a single story house on a quarter acre section as the norm.

That is still possible in some places but in cities, notably Auckland, where demand for housing is so high and land supply inadequate it is no longer realistic.

People who want to live in those places need to accept that their sections will have to be smaller and houses higher. Terraced housing and apartments are normal in most other parts of the world where a lot more people are packed into cities which cover far smaller areas than ours.

Not PC discusses some options and shows some examples.

Denser housing will affect communities too – if people no longer have big sections round their homes, there will be a need for more public green spaces and play areas.

Those not willing to accept the change will have to move to smaller cities and towns where there’s less pressure on land and prices which could be good for both the city they leave and the place where they settle.

The full report is here.


Economic freedom helps prosperity

September 20, 2012

The link between economic freedom and prosperity is shown on the Fraser Institute’s World Index of Economic Freedom.

Nations that are economically free out-perform non-free nations in indicators of well-being
• Nations in the top quartile of economic freedom had an average per-capita GDP of
$37,691 in 2010, compared to $5,188 for bottom quartile nations in 2010 current
international dollars (Exhibit 1.7).
• In the top quartile, the average income of the poorest 10% was $11,382, compared to $1,209 in the bottom in 2010 current international dollars (Exhibit 1.10).
Interestingly, the average income of the poorest 10% in the most economically free nations is more than twice the overall average income in the least free nations.
• Life expectancy is 79.5 years in the top quartile compared to 61.6 years in the
bottom quartile (Exhibit 1.11).
• Political and civil liberties are considerably higher in economically free nations than in unfree nations (Exhibit 1.12).

Calls for government regulation and protection are getting stronger but this shows that it’s more economic freedom not less that we need.

The index measures the degree to which the policies and institutions of countries are supportive of economic freedom.

It is based on the cornerstones of economic freedom:  personal choice, voluntary exchange, freedom to compete, and security of privately owned property.

Forty-two variables are used to construct a summary index and to measure the degree of economic freedom in five broad areas:
1 Size of Government;
2 Legal System and Property Rights;
3 Sound Money;
4 Freedom to Trade Internationally;
5 Regulation

The top 10 countries are:

In this year’s index, Hong Kong retains the highest rating for economic freedom,
8.90 out of 10. The other top 10 nations are: Singapore, 8.69; New Zealand, 8.36;
Switzerland, 8.24; Australia, 7.97; Canada, 7.97; Bahrain, 7.94; Mauritius, 7.90;
Finland, 7.88; and Chile, 7.84.

• The rankings (and scores) of other large economies in this year’s index are the United Kingdom, 12th (7.75); the United States, 18th (7.69); Japan, 20th (7.64); Germany, 31st (7.52); France, 47th (7.32); Italy, 83rd (6.77); Mexico, 91st, (6.66); Russia, 95th (6.56); Brazil, 105th (6.37); China, 107th (6.35); and India, 111th (6.26).

• The scores of the bottom ten nations in this year’s index are: Venezuela, 4.07;
Myanmar, 4.29; Zimbabwe, 4.35; Republic of the Congo, 4.86; Angola, 5.12;
Democratic Republic of the Congo, 5.18; Guinea-Bissau, 5.23; Algeria, 5.34; Chad, 5.41; and, tied for 10th worst, Mozambique and Burundi, 5.45.

 Not Pc notes:
. . . Curious to note that around half of the top ten places are those in which the British came, saw and then buggered off, leaving behind them rule of law and the British legal and common law system. Thank Galt for the Brits, eh. . . 

 


One thing led to another

May 11, 2012

The Telegraph published a feature on beautiful British bridges which was noticed by Not PC  who posted soem photos which were noticed by Hamish who posted some more photos including the one of the Tay Bridge in Dundee.

That led me to reminisce about a painting of the bridge my father had and to suggest no list of British bridges would be complete without the one in the Hundred Acre Wood on which Pooh used to play Pooh Sticks. That inspired Hamish to give the link to  All about Pooh Sticks.

At the bottom of the page was a link which invited me to play virtual Pooh Sticks but when I clicked on it I got a page-can’t-be-found message.

Bother, as Pooh was wont to say. I’ll have to be content with memories of playing on the real bridge and one which is almost as good –  the St David’s Street bridge in Dunedin.


Did you see the one about . . .

January 23, 2012

Go back at RivettingKate Taylor – bad word, clever cartoon.

Building a cheese press at The Road to Raelands – latest post on a new (to me) blog – other posts have recipes including yoghurt and quark and buttermilk pot cheese and  biscuits.

Red flags of quackery – Sci-ence.og’s guide to spotting quacks. Hat tip: Sciblogs

Mere desire vs burning ambition – Not PC has a clip explaining the difference.

Every presentation ever – Whaleoil has a clip of where we’ve all been.

Calligrams – Visual Poetry and The Power of Visual Poetry – Destiny –  Look Up at the Sky makes wonderful word pictures.


In memory of Steve Jobs

October 8, 2011

You dont’ have to be an Apple user to appreciate the contribution Steve Jobs made to the company, communication, technology and business.

You will find better tributes than I could write in Celebrating Crazy  by  Roarprawn, Steve Jobs 1955-2011  by  Not PC and Steve Jobs – he lived by Liberty Scott.

I’ll stick to borrowing someone else’s pictures:


Quake communication by social media and memoirs

March 1, 2011

Discussion of on-line matters with Jim Mora on Critical Mass started with how on-line media complemented the MSM in coverage of the Christchurch earthquake.

Facebook, Twitter and blogs helped people connect with family and friends and also mobilise volunteers and equipment to help with recovery effort.

Among the many blog posts was one in which Brian Edwards and  Judy Callingham wrote of how Twitter brought us news that our family in Christchurch was safe.

Another which caught my eye was Not PC, who wrote of the tragedy and included descriptions of what happened to the buildings.

Many bloggers in Christchurch didn’t have power or internet connections at first but started posting when they could and their accounts provide a powerful human record of the quake and its aftermath.

It might be just as well they didn’t read the problem with memoirs first. In this column Neil Genzlinger, a staff editor at the New York Times writes disparagingly on memoirs written by people with nothing much to say.

One of those whose memoir he disparages, Sean Manning, responded in the Daily Beast.


%d bloggers like this: