Island Life by David Slack

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Island Life: The Prime Minister will see you now

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  • BenWilson,

    For you perhaps but for factory staff layoffs, buying bicycles, helmets and lycras wont be the first thing they spend there redundancy on.

    Perhaps not, but they may very well be using bicycles if they can't afford gas. Most people can get one pretty cheap compared to just about any other viable form of transport. The second hand market is totally saturated, and hand-me-downs happen all the time.

    I remember realizing that in Amsterdam. I had hired quite an expensive bike, and was still slightly unconvinced about the economic benefit of it over, say, a scooter. But at one point a girl whose bike had broken down pleaded with me to help her fix it. I was able to help, by showing her the way to the nearest bike shop, after diagnosing that the problem was that the wheel had come out of alignment, needed a very minor adjustment (I had no tools). As we walked to the shop, I gleaned that she was pretty much a totally impoverished student from France, and this bike was just about her only physical asset. It turned out the thing has cost her 10 euros. To her, it was a very valuable device.

    So don't go knocking bikes as toys for rich folk. As a child they opened the city up for me. They enabled me to earn money doing a paper round. They got me to places I would have needed money to go. They got me to school every day. And once, I was almost killed on one. This would not have happened had better infrastructure been in place. I was cycling on the footpath because the road seemed too dangerous.

    Many of the children in my neighborhood (which is still working class) ride bikes everywhere. Quite a large number of adults seem to use them for transport, and we're not talking about lycra clad executives. We're talking about people who ride to the factories along the street from me wearing the fluoro clothes that they work in.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    So don't go knocking bikes as toys for rich folk.

    I certainly wasn't suggesting that and if you thought that, my point wasn't made at all then.My only concern is that in this economic gloom, we are supposed to be in,a cycleway does not seem to me to be a brilliant idea.Anyway, the article I was looking for was this. It was someone else's idea

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    A failure to cut emissions could render half of the world uninhabitable.

    I find that hard to believe. People inhabit Spitzbergen, Darwin, Nevada and Invercargill, to name a few places with spectacularly unpleasant climates.

    I think humans can live anywhere there's an adequate amount of oxygen - maybe not in today's numbers, but still exist.

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

  • Sacha,

    The Harold has reservations about te bikepath, it seems:

    But we should not build a cycleway for the sake of doing so. Let's choose the parts of the country - most in hard-pressed provincial areas - that would be attractive to cycle through or across, and build cycleways there. A concrete path the length of the country is a daft idea.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • WH,

    there's only so many times you can warn people

    I can understand that people immersed in the culture that bought us SARS, killer bees and Y2K might be cautious and reluctant to engage. There are always so many plausible points of view and most of us aren't able to evaluate technical claims, expert opinion or scientific evidence ourselves, even if we wanted to.

    The whole topic veers dangerously into sandwich board dooomsayer territory, which makes it hard to discuss vividly and accurately without sounding like a crazy person. Smart money wouldn't ordinarily get too far out in front on something quite so dramatic.

    I do think it's interesting that leaders in their fields have begun to frame their projections in such strident terms, even if the persuasive power of dire warnings and frightening images has been worn down by our collective irritation with routine exaggeration and needless drama.

    Since Nov 2006 • 797 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    The Harold has reservations about te bikepath, it seems:

    The reservations seem to me to be refinements rather than opposition. They're not objecting to a cycleway, just the length of it.

    Which could end up being a straw man. As anyone who uses the ones in Auckland know, they aren't just one big concrete path. They commingle with existing pathways and roads constantly. That's actually the beauty of the idea, that it can be built bit by bit, in many places simultaneously, with the difference being supplied by simple painting on roads. The first cut of the cycleway can be built right now, with paint, signs and maps. But I objected earlier to the idea that that should be the end of the idea. A lot of the time, you need more than that to make the idea really fly. Sometimes, when building a particular piece of it, it could turn out that following the highway is the best idea, or even the only idea that could work, by virtue of geography. Passes through mountain ranges seem likely to fit this mold.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    The reservations are more about whether the reality can the promotion so far, to be fair.

    Getting fleets of ready-mix trucks up the top of the Rimutakas, never mind barrowing the grey sludge through the undergrowth to the boxing is a pricey undertaking.
    ...
    In the end, the cycleway is one of those ideas that sounds much better than it is.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    can match the promotion.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • dyan campbell,

    I can understand that people immersed in the culture that bought us SARS, killer bees and Y2K might be cautious and reluctant to engage.

    I don't know about y2k or killer bees, but SARS is pretty bloody scary. In Canada there were were 438 cases and 44 deaths. It could have been so much worse.

    The only reason it was so quickly and effectively contained with so few deaths is because Canada is a very wealthy country with state of the art pressure lock isolation wards and very, very strict quarantine laws that could not have been enforced in the USA. When the epidemic first hit everyone who found themselves in that hospital that day - cafeteria staff, couriers, visitors - remained in lockdown until the Ministry of Health said otherwise. There were threats - not made tongue in cheek - that people would be chained to beds should they violate their imposed quarantine.

    SARS is incredibly contagious, as opposed to merely communicable. It also has an astonishingly high death rate.

    My father-in-law here in Auckland died of Legionnaires’ disease at Auckland Hospital, just weeks before the SARS outbreak in Canada. I can well imagine the terror that would have ensued had he become sick after SARS was identified - the diseases resemble one another at the outset, and his doctors were unable to identify the easily treated but very rare LD until it was far too late.

    But as my father-in-law Frank lay dying in Auckland's then (2003) dilapidated, oppressively hot ICU, with no state of the art pressure-lock isolation wards, with a window propped open with a piece of busted plywood, flies worrying the IV site on his arm I was horrified and frightened by the state of Auckland's biggest hospital. I can remember around that time some of the senior ICU staff making a fuss to the media about the state of things up there and being promptly muzzled by their bosses.

    And a few months later a New Zealand clinician in Hong Kong I think it was - was the first to identify SARS and raise the alarm. For that piece of medical expertise and the world owes a lot, but I would not be complacent about any emerging pathogen.

    I hope Auckland's ICU is a bit more modern and less run down now than it was when poor old Frank died.

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 595 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Now that is interesting dyan. That was the same year my son was born and rushed the following night into NICU. I was struck by how modern, well-kept and professional that part of Auckland hospital was. My opinion of the medical profession in this country jumped enormously during the traumatic weeks spent there.

    I can't speak for other parts of the building, though.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Ben, was NICU in Starship?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Not as far as I could tell.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    I hope Auckland's ICU is a bit more modern and less run down now

    I was in ICU at the end of 2004 and it was in the new part of Ak Hospital. I suspect that it was much better than 2003 because it was still being finished downstairs at reception when I was transferred to the neuro ward.My last days in ICU revealed a lockdown system for an emergency and it wasn't an easy place to get into. Staff response seemed very efficient and timely when there was a patient who got into difficulty so I think it is better than it used to be.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • JackElder,

    Getting fleets of ready-mix trucks up the top of the Rimutakas, never mind barrowing the grey sludge through the undergrowth to the boxing is a pricey undertaking.

    Yeah. That's just kinda showing that the Herald doesn't know what it's talking about. If you're in, say, Featherston, and want to cycle to the Beehive, you've got a perfectly good existing cyclepath pretty much all the way. The route through the Rimutakas is already covered by the Rimutaka Rail Trail (on the route of the old Rimutaka Incline); you'll need a bike with fairly wide tyres and some decent lights for the tunnels. From there, you can ride along the Hutt River Trail to Petone, then the cyclepath along SH2.

    Plus: concrete? Who wants to cycle on concrete? Tarmac's much nicer, and safer in the wet.

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 709 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    But we shall see, if I'm wrong it would hardly be disastrous for the nation to have to cut back how much it eats.

    I think you'll find that less money doesn't mean less food - people still get hungry and want to fill their bellies. It'll mean less quality food. Cheaper meat, less fresh fruit and vegetables, and downgrading from the brands with less fat and more fibre, to 'basic' type brands which are lesser in quality. People will stretch their budgets while still putting as much food in their trolley.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    I think you'll find that less money doesn't mean less food - people still get hungry and want to fill their bellies. It'll mean less quality food.

    If people have less money it will be a consequence of less employment. Less employment could lead to more cooking instead of eating out and buying ready-made, pre-processed stuff. I keep saying this - the Mediterranean diet I was happily born into is dirt cheap to shop for and (if you believe the experts) pretty damn good for you. Ditto a number of Asian cuisines I am told.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Less employment could lead to more cooking instead of eating out and buying ready-made, pre-processed stuff. I keep saying this - the Mediterranean diet I was happily born into is dirt cheap to shop for and (if you believe the experts) pretty damn good for you. Ditto a number of Asian cuisines I am told.

    That's a lovely theory, and indeed I know a couple of people who follow that.

    But I think the NZ experience is that less money means a worse diet overall.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    But I think the NZ experience is that less money means a worse diet overall.

    It doesn't have to, is all I'm saying. Things could be done to change that.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    I should back that up with some links:

    The [[www.cpag.org.nz/resources/publications/res1123805616.pdf|Child Poverty Action Group 'Hard to Swallow:
    Foodbank use in New Zealand' (2005)

    The minimum amount required to feed the family a basic healthy diet for a week is $104. A moderate healthy diet will cost $134, and a liberal one $162. (pp 43 - 44)

    (see the table on page 44 for the same information across a range of people from a University of Otago study).

    The final paragraph from that section:

    Hence, it is not surprising that low-income people are at greater risk of obesity. When income is limited, hunger must be satisfied cheaply. High fat, high sugar foods provide immediate satisfaction. Tomorrow’s health problems are for tomorrow to worry about. For the 20% of households that can afford to eat properly only sometimes, cheap fatty foods will, in most cases be the standby. “If you haven't got enough money it's easy to make the wrong choices. When you go to the supermarket to buy the equivalent in calories in fresh food and fatty, starchy food, you have to spend a lot more money to get the fresh food…Why do you have to spend more money at McDonald's for a salad than a Big Mac?'' (McFadden, 2005).

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    It doesn't have to, is all I'm saying. Things could be done to change that.

    Yes. And there's a fair bit of effort going on to do that already.

    But I'm not sure pointing overseas and saying "look, it works over there" is the easy answer. Food is very cultural, and we're not all suddenly going to adopt Asian food culture just because we hit a recession. We need to adapt NZ food culture, and we also need to recognise that poverty has negative health consequences in all sorts of ways, including diet.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    (see the table on page 44 for the same information across a range of people from a University of Otago study).

    I've discussed this elsewhere (perhaps on Frugal Me - can't recall right now) but I can tell you my household spends way less than the Otago study suggests we should, and yet we eat very well, thank you very much, with lots of fresh ingredients and as varied a diet as you could wish for. I think the sinmple correlation of money with quality assumes that we all eat the same kind of diet. We don't. I can only speak for the Mediterranea diet, but fresh pasta, bread, gnocchi and pizza cost bugger all to make. Dry pasta and rice cost very little to buy. Adding fresh vegetables and limited quantites of meat to those staples is very easy indeed, and doesn't cost a lot of money. The only thing in our diet that costs more than it used to is fish. The problem is that dietary habits are difficult to change and at the moment it's a very middle class hobby it seems. But it doesn't have to be.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    Yeah, we did talk about this on Frugal Me.

    It's a sad paradox that people who are poor in money terms are often poor in time as well, because they are working long hours for very low wages. Our grocery bill is low by Otago study standards, but our standard of dining is high, because I take the time to cook things from scratch. (If I didn't buy wine at the supermarket, our grocery bill would be even lower.)

    Also, I believe the so-called "Mediterranean diet" treats meat and dairy as luxury rather than everyday foods, which would require considerable mental adjustment for many New Zealanders to adopt, even though it would make their food bill smaller.

    (I seem to remember reading something recently from a Greek author claiming that the Cretan diet which was the origin of the Mediterranean diet claims was in fact a consequence of post-was austerity, and not a normal diet by the long-term standards of the area. I must try and dig that up).

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward,

    1. Cycletrack - we have to realise that this is a national track coming from our Minister of Tourism. It won't be about being able to cycle to work or get around on a bike in your everyday. It will be a Central Otago Rail Trail en masse. That has a very different "social business case" to it.

    2. May be the wrong place to put it, but I'm looking for an article/register/discussion of which firms have signed up to the 9-day fortnight thing (well, which employees have signed up)?

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1727 posts Report Reply

  • andrew llewellyn,

    I can understand that people immersed in the culture that bought us SARS, killer bees and Y2K might be cautious and reluctant to engage.

    I don't get people who say the Y2K bug was a non event because nothing happened - where I worked in the late 90s, the Y2K bug didn't affect us because we'd spent two years identifying & fixing tha date related problems (our system calculated tenant tenure & debt & was somewhat exposed...) OK, the world wouldn't have ended, but there'd have been chaos with our clients' accounts.

    The software vendors for the sharebroker I worked for in the late 80s were working it even then.

    Since Nov 2006 • 2075 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    but there'd have been chaos with our clients' accounts.

    The thing about Y2K is that it doesn't seem to have affected anyone, regardless of the preparedness level. The counter-argument of course is that the people who were least rpepared might also have been the people (and countries, especially) that were less dependent on a digital infastructure, but still.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

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