A good reason to vote yes


The comments in yesterday’s post about the referendum provide several good reasons to vote and vote yes in the referendum.

The best of which was from Poneke:

November 26, 2013 at 2:31 pm


Already voted. Yes. Anything the Greens oppose must be good.

Shining light on human achievement


Let the luddites light their candles for Earth Hour.

The aim of treading lightly on the earth is a worthy one but I’d rather shine a light on human achievement.

I won’t go as far as Lucia Maria at NZ Conservative  who calls it turn on all the lights night.

I’d rather follow Motella in celebrating human achievement  . Although like Poneke, who reminds us that North Korea has “Earth Hour” all night every night, I will neither be using more or less power than I normally do.

I’ll simply be grateful for the many leaps of science and imagination which bring light and other improvements to our world.

Without them I wouldn’t have been able to read Will Type for Food where Tim T writes he isn’t submitting this poem  to the Earth Hour poems’ page:

The light is off I cannot see
The thingo where I write my verse
The whatsit I just stumbled on
That made me curse. . . 

Tim has more poems for earth hour, the first of which starts: And the second which beings

I think that I shall never see
After that tragic and avoidable incident during during Earth Hour . . .  

What’s up with RSS feeds?


Using Bloglines or something similar is the easiest way to keep up with several blogs and other websites which update regularly without having to check them individually.

But I’ve noticed recently that Bloglines doesn’t work for some blogs, eg Kiwiblog and Macdoctor, although they update regularly in my side bar.

Then there are others like Beattie’s Book Blog which just shows array  in the side bar but updates normally with Bloglines.

Is it something I’m doing – or not doing – or is it a universal problem?

While on the subject of RSS feeds, some blogs display only an introductory paragraph.

I suspect it’s to draw more visitors to their blog because you have to visit it to read the whole post. But unless I’ve got lots of time to spare or the intro is really, really fascinating I usually pass right on to the next blog and forget about them.

NZ a square peg in round ETS hole


New Zealand’s problem is that we’re different.

Primary production and industries based on it are our bigeest export earners; almost all our forestry is from exotic species; we have relatively little heavy industry and the bulk of our power is already from renewable sources.

The Kyoto Protocol wasn’t designed for countries like us.

The heavy reliance on primary production is much more common in developing countries. But around half our emissions come from animals and there is little, short of reducing stock numbers, we can do to reduce them immediately. Research is being undertaken to reduce emissions from livestock but practical, affordable solutions may be years away.

The rules requiring new trees to be replanted where old ones were felled was aimed at protecting rain forests and indigenous species. It seems no-one considered that a clause aimed at protecting indigenous trees shouldn’t apply to exotic timber species in a country where they grow as well as they do here.

Our private vehicle ownership is high by world standards but that reflects our relatively small, widespread population which means that public transport is neither practical nor affordable in many places.

New Zealand is a square peg and we were ill served by the negotiators who tried to fit us into the round ETS hole.

I have a lot of confidence in Tim Groser who will be working on our behalf at the Copenhagen summit.

But I thought the whole thing was a dog’s breakfast from the start and my concerns are even greater now that there are questions over manipulation of climate change data.

Over at Sciblogs Aimee Witcroft raises the possibility the leaked emails have been doctored and points to a Guardian story  on the issue. It quotes Prof Bob Watson, the chief scientific advisor at Britain’s Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs who said,

“Evidence for climate change is irrefutable. The world’s leading scientists overwhelmingly agree what we’re experiencing is not down to natural variation.”

 Also at Sciblogs Gareth Renowden isn’t convinced by the leaked material.

For a contrary view see:  Ian Wishart,  Adolf at No Minister,  Roarprawn, Whaleoil,  Not PC, Poneke,  Mr Tips at NZ Conservative, Thoughts from 40 South, and Something Should Go Here  who says: 

I’ll say it a thousand times, climate change activism is about politics, not science.

Relatively better isn’t the same as good


New Zealand tops Transparency International’s 2009 corruption perception index.

The others in the top 10 are: Denmark, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, Finland, Netherlands and Australia, Canada and Iceland which are 8th equal.

The countries at the bottom are: Chad, Iraq, Sudan, Myanmar, Afghanistan and Somalia.

Corruption is a form of oppression and this map shows how widespread it is:

While it’s good to be relatively good, what really matters is not how good we are perceived to be relative to anyone else but how good we are fullstop.

A score of 9.4 does mean we’re perceived to be pretty good.

That makes it more likely that other countries and other people will trust us and our institutions.

But we need to be vigilant to ensure that reality matches the perception.

Hat tip: Poneke.

There’s a pinch of truth in all good satire


The secret of good satire is to blur the lines between what’s true and what might be so the reader is never quite sure what’s what and what’s not:

Take this for example:

The blogs. News editors in the dailies and on TV believe everything they read on the blogs. And they get all table-bangy at their staff and demand follow-ups. Which is why their staff also spend so much time monitoring the blogs.

So you want to get news coverage these days, leak your story to one of the high profile blogs. Kiwblog, Whaleoil, Roarprwan, even Poneke, when he comes out of retirement again.

Boris Hampton must have been writing his Diary of a Wellington Insider with his tongue in his cheek, but like any good satirist he’s mixed more than a grain of it-could-be-so in his story.

The death of the mainstream media is greatly exaggerated, but the best blogs do break stories and/or find fresh angles on those already broken.

Journalists who spent their days deep in blogs wouldn’t have much to publish, but ignoring the better ones altogether would be like a radio reporter neglecting to read a newspaper.

Blogger on blogs on radio again


Denis Welch is discussing blogs on Nine to Noon  again.

He started discussing the Tumeke rankings and mentioned some of the top 10, but sadly Dim Post who wasn’t mentioned last week, wasn’t mentioned this week either.

Welch reckoned No Right Turn is the best blog and also paid tribute to Poneke.

They panicked


Does the average voter understand or care about party lists?

I suspect not.

So why isn’t Phil Twyford seeking the candidacy for Mount Albert?

It’s not because David Farrar explained on Kiwiblog that if he did Judith Tizard would go back into parliament as a list member, although as Poneke points out he did that very well.

It is because the Labour leadership paniced  panicked and as Matt McCarten says:

What is disheartening is that Labour’s action wasn’t from a place of principled strategy but the result of hysteria generated by their political opponents.

Because of that, what should have been a clean succession of the obvious successor to Helen Clark has turned into a contest for the candidacy from which their can only be one winner and that immediately creates the possiblity for problems amongst the losers and their followers.

It has allowed people to contemplate the thought that what ought to be a safe Labour seat might be marginal. It has prompted the Greens to stand a strong candidate who will split the vote; and that in turn has led to speculation that National could make this a close race and even, with a strong tail wind and the planets in the right place, win the seat.

National can’t lose from this. There is a slight possibility they could win the seat and there will be no shame at all for the party or its candidate if s/he doesn’t.

The Greens will get the publicity they desperately need.

And Labour has already lost, even if they do hold the seat, because they panicked and Phil Goff failed his first real test of leadership.

Fear of freedom leads to storm in lunchbox


The Greens still haven’t learned to pick their fights:

Greens health spokeswoman Sue Kedgley yesterday started a petition to persuade the Government to yield to public pressure.

In effect, it asks for the re-introduction of the ban on regular sales of unhealthy food and drink in schools.

What is it about freedom which frightens some people? Is it that with freedom to choose goes the responsibility to exercise that choice wisely? 

If there is sufficient public pressure for re-introducing the ban then surely there is no need for one because the public will not allow their children to eat the food they object to and will have worked with the schools their children go to to ensure that ban or no ban only “healthy” food is available in their canteens.

Or does the pressure for prohibition mean the public doesn’t have the courage of their convictions and have been unable to persuade their children and their schools to do what they think best and so want the government to use compulsion?

This is all just a storm in a lunch box because lifting the ban doesn’t compel schools to change what they’re providing. They still have a responsibility to provide “healthy” options and teach children about good nutrition.

A couple of what Poneke calls celebthorities have joined the campaign and one, Rob Hamill, shows he’s better at rowing than logic with this comment:

“If it’s about freedom of choice, why can’t we sell cigarettes in schools? … We know it’s wrong.

“If we are putting crap food in the diets of kids, not only are they going to underperform, it’s going to set a habit for life.”

The difference between cigarettes and food is that even one cigarette causes harm but while nutritional value varies, there is no junk food only junk diets. If the children are eating a balanced diet the odd suasage roll, pie or cream bun isn’t going to hold them back.

The real problem isn’t about what’s offered in school canteens it’s what the children eat most of the time and those concerned about children’s development would achieve more by working to provide breakfast for children who arrive at school hungry than they will by calling for a ban. 

Hat Tip: Kiwiblog who thanks the Greens for reminding us about the growth of nanny state under Labour.

Don’t panic


 The creation of non-jobs and anything which hints at protectionism  are to be avoided at all costs, Don Nicolson says in Federated Farmers ‘ submission to the job summit.

New Zealand is the poster country for being an open dynamic economy. If any company or organisation proposes protectionist measures, we farmers will tell them to go and read some history books.

(Anyone sqwaking about Sawzi losing the Defence Department contract  please take note and if you don’t understand why, read what Macdoctor  and Poneke have to say about the issue.)
More good advice from Feds:
 “A key part of what Federated Farmers recommends is not to panic.

“We are still selling goods overseas and are now seeing some price stabilisation. We’re actually pretty upbeat about New Zealand’s economic prospects as there’s no direct protein in a silicon chip. Everyone needs food.

 Yet again the importance of agriculture in our economy should be a good thing. People still have to eat and we are very good at producing more food than we need ourselves. People in the overseas markets we sell to might have to give up luxuries but they will still have to eat. 

“Some gentle steps rather than a series of knockout schemes must be the starting point. This is an argument for treading gently and not thinking big.

If there is one good thing about the deficits we’re facing as a country it’s that we can’t afford to think big.

Feds’ submission made four main points:

1. Don’t trip up the economy and cost more jobs by including agriculture in the Emisisons Trading Scheme.

Agriculture should never have been included in our Kyoto commitment and including it in our ETS would cripple the economy while doing nothing for the environment.

2. Include water storeage in the infrastructure package.

For each 1000ha irrigated, the Ministry of Economic Development’s study of the Opuha Dam near Fairlie in South Canterbury, confirmed that some $7.7 million is injected into the local community, 30 jobs were created and household incomes boosted by $1.2 million.

We have seen similar gains from irrigation in North Otago with economic, social and environmental gains.

Feds includes tree planting on marginal land and rural broadband under infrastructure.

It would be difficult to argue against planting trees and I second  PM of NZ  and Farmgirl with their complaints abour rural internet service.

3. Improving skills and getting people into agriculture.

One of the eye openers about dairying is the poor literacy and numeracy of so many job applicants.

4. Concentrate R&D funding on agriculture.

When money is scarce it should be directed at areas of natural advantage and our biggest one is agriculture.

If nothing more than these points are acted on as a result of today’s job summit it will have been very worthwhile.

Minding your hs and ks


To h or not to h when spelling W(h)anganui is the question.

I’ll leave the answer to Poneke and move off on a tangent because the discussion reminds me of many a one I had with my father.

He was from Scotland and was forever telling me to differentiate between which and witch  when I spoke. When he said the former you could hear the h, when I said it often as not you couldn’t.

I take it from discussion on W(h)anganui that Maori from that area pronounce wh  with a breathy h as  Dad did, as distinct from those further north who pronounce it more like an f.

That in turn reminds me of a discussion brought up in a celebrity debate about the difference between Maori in the north who use ng  and those in the south who use k so down here it’s Aoraki  but across the strait  it’s Aorangi.

The debater (Jim Hopkins or Garrick Tremain, I think)  then applied this to English with a convoluted sentence in which strong  became strok, wrong became wrok and dong changed to dok before concluding that sometimes it was better to use the northern pronunciation because you could express your ire without causing offence by telling those annoying you to get funged.

Passive maintenance threatens high country



Whether this  is iconic New Zealand landscape which should be in public ownership and under public control is a matter of opinion.

The previous government thought so and took an aggressive approach to retiring much of the South Island high country from pastoral farming and putting it under the care – and I use that term loosely – of DOC.

This property is privately owned by people who graze it and undertake extensive weed and pest control. A lot of the neighbouring property was surrendered during the tenure review process and instead of being actively managed by pastoral lessees it’s being passively managed by DOC.

That means pest control is largely left to hunters who are given licences to shoot given areas. Their aim is sport not the good of the land, so many selectively cull to ensure enough pigs, deer and other animals will survive to breed so they have something to kill next time rather than aiming to eradicate them.

Weed control doesn’t seem to be happening at all as the land is left to revert back to its natural state.

But natural now isn’t the same as natural before people arrived so introduced species like gorse, broom and hyracium are winning the battle with tussock and other native plants and also increasing the risk of fire.

The photo above was taken in North Canterbury last Wednesday and it was very dry but grazing and weed control have kept the growth down. The growth on the neighbouring land has gone unchecked and it’s a significant fire hazard.

Misguided regulations on tree planting and conservation are thought to be party responsbile for the dreadful loss of life and property from the Australian bushfires.

There are fewer people and animals in the South Island high country, but they, the buildings and the land are also at risk  because of policies based on emotion and politics not science.

P.S. In related posts on the Australian fires  Not PC  found a house that was saved when the law was ignored and one which was lost because it was obeyed; Poneke says green lobby demands were partly to blame for the fires and Solo asks can we get angry now?

Multi-stop cheaper than return fare for same flights


I can’t remember the last time I had bad service from Air New Zealand and recent experiences with staff on the ground and in the air have been very good.

However, I haven’t had such luck with cheap, last minute fares as Poneke,  although that could well be because I’m not always flying between main centres.

I usally book on-line and have discovered that using the multi-stop option can be cheaper than a straight return fare to and from the same destination.

I just tried the website Air NZ website  for a flight to Auckland tomorrow and back on Thursday and found it would be $908 return.

2:30 PM Wed 14th


4:30 PM Wed 14th


3:15 PM Wed 14th


5:50 PM Wed 14th


Adult $663*  
11:00 AM Thu 15th


1:25 PM Thu 15th


12:20 PM Thu 15th


2:10 PM Thu 15th


  3h 10m  
Adult $245*  

All flights from Oamaru go to and from Christchurch but there were no choices given for connecting flights so I then tried Oamaru – Christchurch – Auckland – Christchurch – Oamaru and found I could do the trip for $630. 

2:30 PM Wed 14th


3:15 PM Wed 14th


Adult $99*  


4:15 PM Wed 14th


5:30 PM Wed 14th


5:00 PM Wed 14th


6:30 PM Wed 14th


Adult $311*  




10:25 AM Thu 15th


11:45 AM Thu 15th


  1h 20m  
Adult $104*  
1:25 PM Thu 15th


2:10 PM Thu 15th


Adult $116*  


That means a short stopover in Wellington on the way up and a flight 35 minutes earlier from Auckland coming home.

But curiouser and curiouser, if I pick the same Christchurch-Auckland-Christchurch flights as given on the return option – it’s still cheaper at $843 than the return fare of $908.

4:30 PM Wed 14th


5:50 PM Wed 14th


Adult $475*  
11:00 AM Thu 15th


12:20 PM Thu 15th


  1h 20m  
Adult $153*  

I’m not sure if I believe my own calculations so I’ve checked twice and still get the same result – unless I’ve read this incorrectly I could spend a little more time on the computer to make a multi-stop booking and add a little more to the travelling  time to save $229 or choose the same flights offered for the return booking and still save $65.

There’s only one flight in and out of Oamaru a day but why aren’t alternative times and prices offered for connecting flights?

I don’t want to go to Auckland tomorrow, but next time I do I’ll be comparing the return fares with the multi-stop options before I book.

Happy birthdays


Poneke and Artandmylife have both turned one.

Posts on both are more about quality than quantity.

Poneke has entertained, informed, sometimes provoked but never bored me – even though he’s definitely told me more than I ever thought I’d need to know about buses 🙂

Artandmy life has, not surprisingly given its name, increased my knowledge and appreciation of art.

Tumeke! rankings for October


In response to a comment on the Tumeke! blogosphere rankings Tim Selwyn admits he counts the number of posts and comments manually.

That’s a huge task so it’s no wonder it takes two or three weeks for him to do it.

The results of his work show one new entrant in the top 20 – New Zeal moves up 7 to 16 which puts Homepaddock back one to 17.

Kiwiblog retained its first placing and was also first for the average number of comments.

Homepaddock was third for the number of posts – a place I don’t expect to maintain because I’ve been writing fewer posts since the election.

The biggest gain in the top 20 was No Minister which went up 6 places to 4th.

Among my other regular reads Roarprawn gained 2 to 11; Dimpost  dropped 1 to 13; Inquiring Mind  was steady on 15; Poneke  went down 1 to 18 but was 5th for the highest average number of comments (and second in that category for blogs done by individuals rather than a number of contributers.) If I was judging the quality of comments, Ponke would rate highly – he manages to attract mainly intelligent and often witty comments with few which confuse personal invective and debate.

Keeping Stock dropped just 1 to 19 in spite of a decline in the number of posts while cruising for a couple of weeks; and the Visibile Hand in Economics also dropped 1 to 20.

 The Hand Mirror was steady on 22, NZ Conservative was up 1 to 23 and also did well with the average number of comments, due in part to their popular Friday night free for all; Big News leapt 16 to 26;  Anti Dismal gained 8 places to 29 and Something Should Go here gained a couple to 34.

In a Strange Land was down 3 to 52; Monkeywith typewriter gained 1 to 56; exexpat dropped 6 to  59;  goNZo Freakpower  gained 9 places to 87, Cicero made a first appearance at 65 and Macdoctor debuted at 71.

I couldn’t find John Ansell on the list, I’m not sure if that’s because I didn’t look properly or his blog is too new to register.

In Flanders Fields


It’s Armistice Day and the 90th anniversary of the end of World War 1.

In Flanders Fields

by John McCrae, May 1915

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep,
though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Keeping Stock ,  PM of NZ and Oswald Bastable  also remember.

UPDATE: Lou Taylor at No Minister  and Barnsley Bill  mark the date too.

My grandfather fought in Egypt where he looked after the horses and, thankfully, was not sent to Gallipoli.

He didn’t like talking about the war and Mum remembered him burying his medals in the garden, never to be seen again.

UPDATE 2: Poneke  posts on the sons who lie in Flanders fields.

NZ 7th in world for press freedom


New Zealand has moved up from 15th to 7th place in an international ranking of media freedom  by Reporters without Borders.

It’s hard to say exactly what that means because while being better than the absolutely awful doesn’t make you good, nor does being worse than the absolutely perfect make you bad.

However, by and large the media is pretty free in New Zealand which is something to be grateful for, and also something we should guard jealously.

Parliament’s move to stop TV filming anyone who was not speaking is hardly worth mentioning in the same breath as imprisonment of journalists who fall foul of the powers that be, but it’s still a restriction of media freedom.

The Electoral Finance Act largely left reporting and comment in the media alone, but Newstalk ZB may have breached the Act because of something said on a talkback. Again this is minor in comparison with restrictions in some other countries, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t justified in being concerned about it.

So while we can take some pride in our ranking, we should see it as an achieved or perhaps even a merit but there’s still work to be done if we want to get an excellent.

Update: Poneke reckons the ranking makes us a bastion of free press.

Tumeke! rankings


Tim Selwyn at Tumeke! has updated the New Zealand blogosphere’s rankings with the top 20 for September.

Kiwiblog retains its well deserved first place.

Policy Blog (up 7 to 7th), Dim Post  (up 4 to 12th) Roarprawn  up an impressive 21 to 13th and Cactus Kate (up 1 to 14th) have overtaken Inquiring Mind  (down 4 at 13th) and Homepaddock which has dropped 4 to 16th.

Among my other regular reads, The Hive  is up 4 to 4th, Not PC  has gone up 2 to 7, No Minister  has dropped 4 to 10th,  Poneke  is down a couple to 17th, Keeping Stock has dropped a place to 18th and the Visible Hand in Economics is up 3 to 19th.

33 more sleeps . . .


. . . until election day and if you want an easy vote  you have to be enrolled by Wednesday.

Hat Tip Poneke

Darker dawn doesn’t do it for me


This Sunday the clocks go forward an hour, far too early for postponing sunset by an hour in the evening to make up for losing an hour of light in the morning.


The trade off between lighter dawns and longer dusks has escaped the people who pressed for daylight saving to be extended, as has the knowledge that early spring and late autumn weather, down here in North Otago at least, is rarely warm enough to enjoy outdoor activities in the evenings.


People further north don’t benefit from the long twilights we get in the south and there is sense in postponing sunset to enable everyone to enjoy lighter mid-summer evenings. But I strongly oppose the plan to start daylight saving a week earlier and finish it a fortnight later.


One argument for extending daylight savings is that other countries have longer with the clocks forward than we do, but that doesn’t take into account longitude and latitude, which affect when the sun rises and sets, and temperature. Australia is further north than us so has fewer hours of daylight in summer and more in winter than we do. It is also a continent so heats up more quickly than our islands and it is closer to the equator which also makes it warmer than us.


When our hotter neighbour doesn’t introduce daylight saving until November why would we rush into it at the end of September? Last year when the clocks went back as early as they ever had because October 1 happened to be a Sunday, it was very cold and not just in the south. There was snow in Hawkes Bay and temperatures further north were more akin to winter than spring.


All the arguments for extending daylight saving are about leisure, which is important. But so too is work and farmers find it difficult to do what has to be done early in the morning when it is still dark. By the end of September the sun rises here at about 6 15, then the clocks go back and it is dark until after 7.00.


There is a similar problem in autumn. It is pitch black at 6am from the middle of February, the sun is not rising until after 7.00 by early March and extending daylight saving until the end of March the sun doesn’t rise until about 7.30 in North Otago, nearly 8.00 in Dunedin and later still further south. That’s much the same as it is in mid winter.


It is not just farmers but their children who have problems with dawn that late because many will be going to catch school buses in the dark.


That’s a high price to pay for an extra hour of daylight in the evenings, when for the first and last few weeks it coincides with the dinner hour for most people anyway.


I accept the benefits of daylight saving which allows more evening light in mid summer so we can play but in spring and autumn we need more early morning light so we can work.


Sunrise and sunset times for the main centres are here (with standard time) and here  (adjusted for daylight saving).


Poneke puts the case for the negative here.


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