Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Piled in bins like summer fruit

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  • BenWilson,

    Tom, I agree on the aversion to conflict, but consensual decision making remains to be shown. Corridor meetings and sullen inertia are hardly signals of preference for collective decision making. Nor is being brash or a go-getter a signal of flying in the face of it. Having lived and worked in Ozzie for about 5 years I realized that just because they mouth off a lot doesn't mean they don't listen. They just have a different style. They seemed to me to be ever so slightly less individualistic - the mouthing off seemed to me to be their way of seeking support from the group. Ozzies are great team players, as the sports fields clearly show.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Ashby,

    Thanks for the update Tom. New Scientist did an article on it a few months back. Apparently there is a coal fired power plant in the US (Arizona??) that is piping its CO2 output through water to fertilise algae growth. The idea being that you capture the CO2, though this would be temporary until the biofuel is burnt of course, but you would at least get some extra bang from that fossil CO2. So they are not the only company/setup out there doing biofuel from algae. Their specific thing is doing it on sewerage. Which is a bit like the above power station, only with our food since it will be the leftover carbon etc from that which will be put to use.

    I really like the idea, I just don't know how much, potentially you can get out of a typical city's sewerage system. With oil prices going the way they are, if I was in charge of sewerage disposal somewhere I would be looking at this. Get your treatment problems helped and make money out of it. Where is the downside?

    Dundee, Scotland • Since May 2007 • 425 posts Report Reply

  • samuel walker,

    on a total tangent, i like the TVNZ banner ads. Jenny's got a P habit!

    they are pretty cool, i have seen a couple of different permutations of the advert in various media and find myself actually watching to find out what the twist is. and its relevant to the product in a way that makes me actually remember what its advertising, which so many 'good' adverts fail dismally at.

    would any of you model for an advert showing you to be a closet P user? or wife beater.....maybe they use overseas stock pics?

    Since Nov 2006 • 203 posts Report Reply

  • Mikaere Curtis,

    But I really wish that Russel Norman of the Greens would stop speaking as if every Chinese factory is staffed by 12 year-old slaves.

    Russell, can you back this up with a quote from a press release ?

    Is it this one from Russel Norman's press release yesterday ?

    This trade deal does not eliminate non-tariff barriers to fair trade - things like forced prison labour, child labour, sweatshop conditions, a ban on independent unions and poor environmental protections.

    If so, then I'd wish you would stop speaking as if the Greens are scaremongering on the FTA. What's wrong with advocating for fair trade, and being realistic about the more undesirable drivers of China's competitive advantage ?

    My view is that Algae fuel technology is the ONLY realistic fuel technology being developed that can replace our current liquid consumption without all sorts of unpleasant Malthusian consequences for the world's hungry.

    What about the biofuel from trees ? Trees can grow in places that are unsuitable for food production (i.e. steep hillsides), so won't compete with food production.

    Tamaki Makaurau • Since Nov 2006 • 528 posts Report Reply

  • Jason Dykes,

    People in China have a right to better themselves, to escape rural poverty and to earn themselves more choices

    On a slightly related issue, I think the motivations behind the recent London and Paris protests around the Olympic torch relay deserve a deeper analysis. The comments I'm hearing in news media from overseas sports people and administrators that politics (human rights) should not be mixed with sport (the Olympics) sound spookily like those used in the 1981 Springbok tour era in NZ. I thought the whole debate about being able to separate sport and politics was done and dusted. Apparently not.

    I don't think we've yet had the discussion about how bad abuses have to be before we question the appropriateness of various sporting or economic contacts. The timing of the free trade deal is unfortunate in this context.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 76 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    would any of you model for an advert showing you to be a closet P user?

    How's that different from being an actor and playing a despicable character - some do little else?

    (Not to mention that I dispute the premise that a drug problem makes you an unfit parent per se).

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison,

    Working collectively is a very poorly defined concept.

    and often romanticised.

    I[t] might be the most...

    you keep on spoiling my jokes.

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • samuel walker,

    (Not to mention that I dispute the premise that a drug problem makes you an unfit parent per se).

    agree.....living with a dealer though?.....and P is particularly more destructive than others too.

    How's that different from being an actor and playing a despicable character - some do little else?

    Every one knows that Guy, for example, on shortland street is a character, not real, that its a fiction. however the popularity or 'real life adverts' featuring actual people and their stories, mental health, abusive spouse, etc....especially when the point of the advert is that these people LOOK innocent at first glance....and that its adverting info/news etc....

    not saying its bad, just that I wouldnt do it.....

    Since Nov 2006 • 203 posts Report Reply

  • cindy baxter,

    speaking of weird weather...

    The BBC reported last month that in a good year, Australia's wheat yield is around 25 million tonnes. But they've been hit by drought, and the 2006 yield, for the world's second largest exporter of wheat, was just 9.8 million tonnes.

    And this drought has been put down to climate change.

    auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 99 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Speaking of biofuels, anyone know how the trials of the algae grown on seweraged derived biofuels went? that was all over a while back but nothing since.

    They did a show on National Radio - I think it was in the changing world show, 3, maybe 4 weeks ago. It doesn't seem to be online, but from the bits I caught they were optimistic about moving it onto something that could be commercialised as part of the solution.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    If so, then I'd wish you would stop speaking as if the Greens are scaremongering on the FTA. What's wrong with advocating for fair trade, and being realistic about the more undesirable drivers of China's competitive advantage ?

    I don't have time right now to go back through the audio, but I did listen to Russel on Checkpoint yesterday and he seemed unwilling to acknowledge that Chinese manufactured goods could be legitimately produced. I think he used the phrase "slave labour".

    Slave labour does exist in China, usually as a function of corrupt local government and outright greed, but it seems only fair to observe that the national government has been busting a lot of these enterprises in the past year.

    The way the illegal mines and kilns in northern China were busted last year is quite instructive -- parents of young people who'd been abducted and forced to work got together and campaigned for action on the internet. Wen Jiabao promised a crackdown and sent in 45,000 cops to break up these businesses.

    Among those arrested and charged as a consequence was the son of a local party official. Bricks from the kilns were banned and 13 labour agencies were shut down. And a Hong Kong-based labour rights organisation expressed optimism about the moves.

    The Chinese national government has very many shortcomings, but I don't think it's true to say that it's giving a free pass to slavery and child labour.

    The other point to note is that these particular abusive labour practices involved production for the local market. I've been in a Chinese electronics factory. It wasn't the kind of place where poor country kids were kidnapped and forced to work.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22825 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Austin,

    I spent a lot of time in E/N/C Otago/S Canterbury while home in February and the irrigation work that has gone on there in the last 5 years, let alone the last 30 is quite impressive. It is possible to now drive from Oamaru to Wanaka and see heavily irrigated land for almost the entire trip (mainly barring parts of the Lindis). Kind of a shock to see such swathes of vivid green amongst the burnt brown hills. Of course they, unlike much of Southland/Waikato have a long history of regular, horrid drought/random nasty floods combos. In fact the two things I can remember most vividly about the 1980s are the long droughts and the three big floods that hit us with regular succession

    So, let us not generalise too much about farmers not organising to match possible climate variations with long term investment. Where it counts, they have.

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 1022 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    So, let us not generalise too much about farmers not organising to match possible climate variations with long term investment. Where it counts, they have.

    Yes, farmer bashing is just as easy here as non-farmer bashing is on Kiwiblog, but that doesn't make either of them right. Farmers pay their taxes too, all of which goes into the collective pot. I think it's more a matter of national mythology than fact about who it is that plans and works collectively in NZ.

    I work collectively with my colleagues, but couldn't give a flying crap about the rest of the IT industry in NZ, any more than I care about the farmers. There is next to no collective investment in the infrastructure that makes my business work. I don't know anyone else who works collectively either, except in so far as they pay their taxes or work for the government.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    the irrigation work that has gone on there in the last 5 years, let alone the last 30 is quite impressive.

    Indeed it is. What is depressing is the amount of wastage of water this is leading to. Driving around in January I observed that most irrigation schemes were pumping out water during the hottest, windiest times of day. Crazy stuff that even the least skilled garner knows is wasteful.

    Regarding diary prices here...it is worth noting the monopoly of raw supply and the duopoly that is the market place of the main food sellers. I am sure this has as much to do with NZ's overinflated prices as international commodity prices.

    We are willing to beat up on Telecom on this sort of issue, why not some investigation into Fonterra, Foodstuff's and the other guys whose name I have forgotten :-)

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    I thought the whole debate about being able to separate sport and politics was done and dusted. Apparently not.

    I just find it interesting how state murder and torture becomes "politics" when it conflicts with people's desire to play games.

    Would it be "politics" if one of the javelin throwers was a psychopath who'd impaled a rival sportsman when last released from jail to compete?

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • InternationalObserver,

    Working collectively is a very poorly defined concept.

    Working is a very poorly defined concept.

    people in rural China live in a totalitarian state where the ability to move from rural areas to urban areas in search of new opporunities is subject to central government planning controls on internal migration.

    Hmmm, maybe that's something we can implement here as part of the new FTA. I propose that anyone who's ever said a bad word about Auckland be refused entry into our great city. That should slow growth and make housing more affordable.
    We could also solve the employment problem in the provinces (a.k.a. anywhere not Auckland) by employing people as spies to rat out anyone badmouthing Auckland.

    One went shopping with my mother-in-law and noted that butter and cheese prices for the same New Zealand branded products were substantially higher here than in Singapore. "Meeting the international market" my arse.

    Don't blame the farmer (as you go on to do) for local diary prices. Fonterra have set up a multi tiered platform to sell their products. They've created (I think it's called) Fonterra Brands who sell the Fonterra products to supermarkets etc, at a mark-up. 'Brands' have to pay Fonterra a price reflective of the global commodity price, and then on sell to the supermarket.
    But overseas markets don't buy these same products from 'Brands' they buy direct from Fonterra for substantially less. That's how NZ dairy products end up on overseas shelves far away for the same or less than in NZ. It's a rort by Fonterra on local consumers.

    Would it be "politics" if one of the javelin throwers was a psychopath who'd impaled a rival sportsman when last released from jail to compete?

    Ah, so it's you who writes those TVNZ7 banner ads?

    Since Jun 2007 • 909 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Farmers pay their taxes too

    Dammit they don't! The tax rort (and it's not just farmers, they're just the obvious ones) where cars and their house are written off as an expense grates against me enormously. The barn is a farming expense, the milking shed is a farming expense, the tractor is a farming expense. The bedroom where your kid sleeps? The lounge where you watch your TV? Your on-the-road-only sedan car? Not so much.

    (And farmers all over the country curse me).

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    On biofuels and foodstuffs--there is a giant cheese toastie still simmering in Tamahere, on the outskirts of Hamilton. My daughter is complaining that everything she eats tastes of burnt cheese!

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2557 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Thomas,

    giant cheese toastie

    oh, dude. too soon

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 317 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Sounds great. Pity people in rural China live in a totalitarian state where the ability to move from rural areas to urban areas in search of new opporunities is subject to central government planning controls on internal migration.

    There's a reason for that. Until the economic reforms of the 1970s, there simply wasn't enough food to feed people in cities. There has been huge internal migration since then, but you're talking about hundreds of millions of people seeking better lives and jobs in the cities. It's a simply incredible problem, and not trying to control migration flows wouldn't work out well. It's no accident that the people captured and forced into labour are often young people trying to migrate outside the system.

    Your excitement seems to be making you reality-blind.

    No, I'm quite well aware of the regime's less appealing features. But we're trading with them already, we're not going to stop, and doing so as part of a rules-based system seems the right thing to do. And I actually do think the lives and rights of many millions of Chinese have improved as a result of the economic activity of the past two decades.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22825 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Would it be "politics" if one of the javelin throwers was a psychopath who'd impaled a rival sportsman when last released from jail to compete?

    Please insert bad Mark Todd joke here -- what a difference eight years makes. :(

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    The bedroom where your kid sleeps?

    Gotta house the workers.

    The lounge where you watch your TV?<quote>

    Meeting room?

    <quote>Your on-the-road-only sedan car?

    Gotta make trips to town for work sometimes...

    None of it sounds much different to my expense claims. Well, the kids bedroom, but I have to say that one sounds like bs.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Damn, what a difference a slash makes. Doh.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Withers,

    Peter: If we don't curb the growth of human population, the future Lovelock foretells won't be crazy at all. It will be inevitable. There will be "Rwandas" happening all over the place as people take drastic , short term steps to free up resources....temporarily.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 312 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Withers,

    Kyle: Ok, I see how the carbon sink element would work as opposed to oil. Using that idea, trees that take a generation to grow before being used for fuel would make more sense than corn. Corn would reach its maximum level of carbon sequestration in only a few months and retain it for for merely days or weeks. On an annual basis the net effect would be close to nil as the fuel thus produced was released while the next crop grew. Unless plantings expanded on an exponential basis, ther would be little net benefit over time. Never mind the land management issues and consequencs for food supply.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 312 posts Report Reply

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