Envirologue by Dave Hansford

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Envirologue: What has Neoliberalism Done for You Lately?

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  • tussock,

    Mark, your skills list is terribly out of date.

    Cars are made by robots, designed by multi-national consortia to spread the immense costs. Houses come in large pieces which are snapped together on site, the wood being cut by machines directed by computer programs which juggle the cuts in every log for minimal waste, while industrial builds are all tilt-slabs and cranes. Meals come in packets with instructions on them that young children can follow to make something you have to have years training as a chef to beat. Furniture and clothing is made by people earning $2/day and all the local producers are gone. Electricians are fitting circuit boards into boxes and figuring out why your copper line connection can't see them by cycling through the tests on a line-testing machine, while trying to fix your own $10 toaster takes hours and risks invalidating your insurance as it burns your house down.

    Many of those jobs require registration. You can't just build a house, not because it's difficult to put tab A in slot B, but because you're not allowed to by law. People who get into it on TV report that takes fucking years and costs 2-3x what a company can deliver one on a truck for in a week, plus the income you lost during that time. It's not the 1950's any more.

    Since Nov 2006 • 610 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to mark taslov,

    If you start one of those pledge/ donation accounts I'd be happy to donate a bit for you to get the treatment you need. Not that I can afford much, but I know from experience how much of a distraction and frustration teeth can be and would be more than happy to help.

    Thanks for the offer, but I managed to secure a subsidised treatment plan via the DHB system, albeit only after jumping through a lot of hoops.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5441 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to tussock,

    Cars are made by robots, designed by multi-national consortia to spread the immense costs. Houses come in large pieces which are snapped together on site, the wood being cut by machines directed by computer programs which juggle the cuts in every log for minimal waste, while industrial builds are all tilt-slabs and cranes. Meals come in packets with instructions on them that young children can follow to make something you have to have years training as a chef to beat. Furniture and clothing is made by people earning $2/day and all the local producers are gone. Electricians are fitting circuit boards into boxes and figuring out why your copper line connection can't see them by cycling through the tests on a line-testing machine, while trying to fix your own $10 toaster takes hours and risks invalidating your insurance as it burns your house down.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5441 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    I managed to secure a subsidised treatment plan via the DHB system

    I'm glad to hear that. I hope it gets sorted in a timely manner.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to tussock,

    Mark, your skills list is terribly out of date...It’s not the 1950’s any more.

    You got me there :)

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to tussock,

    trust in Allah, but tie up your camel...

    Mark, your skills list is terribly out of date

    That's not out-of-date, thats called a back up.
    While I don't dispute all the clever things you list that we can now do, they create a chain of complexity and inevitability.
    It always bothers me that all these new technologies and proprietary methods are allowed to almost totally supplant that which has gone before...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7950 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Telfar Barnard, in reply to ,

    I’d like to see “tiny house” design and fabrication pushed at secondary school level.

    Sorry, derail ahead:

    Giving people skills to build? Great. Tiny houses? Well, they have their place, but their ability to solve New Zealand’s housing problems is extremely limited, for the following reasons (and possibly other reasons too, but this is what I’ve got for now):

    First, tiny houses are suitable for one, maybe two people, pre- or post- or not child-rearing. A larger one might just fit a baby and all their paraphenalia, but as soon as your first child is of an age to know what they’re hearing, they stop being suitable, because take it from me, your children do not want to have to listen to you bonking.

    Second, related to the first, tiny houses are not going to work well for cultures who like multi-generational/extended family households. People from such cultures are over-represented amongst people currently suffering inadequate housing and overcrowding. Tiny houses will not solve their housing situations.

    Third, related to the second, while I endorse placing value on making the best possible use of space per person, households that have more than one person (or two people in a physical relationship, since they’re already sharing all their germs anyway), need sufficient space to reduce the likelihood of transmitting infectious disease.

    Derail complete, as you were, return to track!

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 585 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    Tiny houses will not solve their housing situations.

    They might help though. Part of the reason the extended family might all be in one house is because grandparents and young adults can't find anywhere small and affordable. Not that I'm a fan. I'd suggest apartment blocks for maximum efficiency for such dwellings.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Telfar Barnard, in reply to BenWilson,

    Part of the reason the extended family might all be in one house is because grandparents and young adults can’t find anywhere small and affordable.

    Except that research has found that some cultural groups prefer to live with extended family: they describe their housing problem as a lack of houses large enough/designed for extended family living, rather than a lack of small affordable dwellings for grandparents or young adults.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 585 posts Report Reply

  • John Farrell,

    Oh dear..at first glance some of the above posts looked like they were about "tinny houses".

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 499 posts Report Reply

  • tussock,

    Guys, no. Just no.

    The modern world cannot function without massive dependancy chains. It is literally impossible for a human being to understand how to make an ipod, let alone an iphone. There's simply more than a century of advanced education behind the components once you add them all up. One person cannot possibly learn to even really understand them all in one lifetime, let alone design them all.

    If you're imagining the world will collapse into a pre-modern existence at some point, that's insane. There's worst-case scenarios involving cycling to work for the week on grass-filled tyres, in the hope the electricity will be on enough to get something done, but you don't make that better by trying to feed enough horses to pull everyone's home-made carts to work in the Auckland hinterlands, because that is starkly less efficient than putting biodiesel in the tractors and trucks we already own, and burning some more for some mid-day electricity.

    Really.

    @Stephen, home 3D printers are not replacing fab plants dollar for dollar for a very long time yet, certainly not to cut timber (and where the hell are people getting the logs? The primeval forest?). It's the materials, eh, not everything is a primitive sliding tube made of ludicrously expensive easy-melt alloys, and some things are extremely large or even made of materials that react with each other at high temperatures.

    No one is ever going to 3D-print a lithium-ion battery, for instance, with the highly explosive nature of the components, which you can't even buy. If we move onto Sodium-Sulphur, that's going to get worse (and also better and cheaper from actual fab plants with experts working at them).

    Since Nov 2006 • 610 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Attachment

    certainly not to cut timber

    If you can automate a car (and off-road self-driving cars have been a thing for a while, and you can have industrial robots capable of a wide range of quite delicate manipulations, then it isn't too hard to imagine a fully automated harvester (and a fully automated log truck is even more straightforward).

    The reason we don't make rapid progress in this direction is that it's cheaper to pay minimum wage (plus all the weed you can smoke) to humans to do the job. But eventually (and much more quickly if we didn't have a short term cost minimisation thing going on) we'll have fully automated timber harvesting.

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

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to ,

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7950 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    Except that research has found that some cultural groups prefer to live with extended family

    Of course. My neighbor on both sides are like that, and it's not because they're poor. They renovated to massively extend the dwellings, and the whole range from little babies through to grandparents are all there. It's a great set up. The parents work full and part time, the grandparents do a lot of child-minding and generally keep the gardens and house in good order, and the teens/twenty somethings are mostly in education, but also have their own garage lair with a pool table and stereo. The presence of family prevents them getting carried away with their parties. Everybody is busy, there's always someone around for company and security (my own house feels a lot safer with all the people around - particularly the teens who hang around out on the street at night).

    But some people don't prefer it, too, but have little choice. Young adults, particularly. Not everyone within a cultural group has the same opinion, and you might get a very different answer from a young man or woman about how much they like living with their mum and dad at the age of 22 if getting a small place of their own were within their means, if the question is asked when the parents aren't there. Having every human you associate with, particularly your sexual partners, vetted by the (p|m)atriach is something many would gladly drop.

    Incidentally, my own dad was also brought up that way, so I don't know how much it's about cultural groups. He was just a working class 3rd generation white NZer. He has plenty of fond memories from his childhood with the ever-present extended family and their raucous gatherings, but he also said he was royally sick of it as a young man, felt spied on, tied down, overly controlled. Fortunately, he lived in a time when he could buy a small house for $5000, after renting a whole bunch of similar setups. He could do it up himself, got paid generous penal rates for weekend work so he could put himself through university whilst raising a young family and paying off a mortgage. There is very little of this kind of thing going on now.

    I'm not saying that we should rewind to this, though, because it's not possible. Those little houses in St Mary's Bay are worth millions now. But very small dwellings are not something we couldn't do with more of. I think apartments would be better, they can be centrally located and reasonably priced compared to houses, whose land value makes them completely uneconomical. Or perhaps terraced houses with very small land sizes and a lot of house.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    tiny house design

    Ye've only to believe in the little people.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming,

    If you consider tiny houses as modules, it's quite thinkable to start with one on a property and add more as you require them, with a central hub connecting them.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2935 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Telfar Barnard, in reply to BenWilson,

    I don’t know how much it’s about cultural groups.

    Yeah, it's the usual thing: something might be more common in one group than another, but that doesn't mean it's true for everyone in that group, nor untrue for anyone in the other group.

    Back in the day, there was the idea of the "starter family home", which was a small 2-bdrm, the idea being that it would be added on to as the family grew. The problem of course is that once it's been added onto it stays a larger family home, so it's not available for some other family starting out once it's got too big for the first family. I sort of imagine tiny houses having a similar problem: I'd expect that a big part of the love someone has for a tiny house comes from having built it themselves. What do they do with it when they have outgrown it? Would tiny house oficionados want to buy and live in a house someone else had built, or would it feel like it was built for someone else's needs and tastes and not their own?

    But maybe there are also nice ways to add on to tiny houses in due course.

    It's quite possible we need more single/two-person dwellings. The question of how well our housing stock matches our housing needs is something I hope to be working on in the next year or so, though it will still have to be based on some assumptions about people's preferences around living arrangements.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 585 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    Would tiny house oficionados want to buy and live in a house someone else had built, or would it feel like it was built for someone else’s needs and tastes and not their own?

    Sort of like boy racers and their cars? Practically every modification is at a loss... :-)

    I don't know. I'm not a big fan of the idea. What tussock said. I've no problem with people wanting to get back to doing things like housebuilding themselves, but I don't think it's a long term solution for housing shortages in NZ on its own (although it could play a part). Housing is a massive problem, with many contributing variables.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to mark taslov,

    I'd like to see a country where everyone is equipped to build a house, via primary and secondary education, to build, to pave, to wire, connect, power and plumb, to regulation standards.

    Here....http://www.branz.co.nz/cms_display.php?sn=41&st=1&pg=14034

    I still have a much used and abused copy of of the first edition...circa 1993...

    By far the best $24.95 I ever spent.


    And, back then, the local council building inspector not only sat down to discuss my hand drawn plans and profiles but (for no fee) made a couple of time and cost saving suggestions.

    The fee for the building permit did not require a third mortgage and most importantly this DIYer female was treated with utter respect by both bureaucrats and building supply companies.

    Being able and capable of constructing a shelter with your bare hands is an empowering feeling.

    If needs must, I'd do it again.

    But I bet they wouldn't let me.

    Timely discussion by the way....

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1346 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    Back in the day, there was the idea of the "starter family home", which was a small 2-bdrm, the idea being that it would be added on to as the family grew.

    Here....http://www.breezepod.com/

    Well worth a look if you're driving past.

    Very tidy, very clever, very versitile....and too clever for NZ.

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1346 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to Rosemary McDonald,

    Some features on the plans may have been too clever by half -- e.g. bungalow living room with no windows?

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1941 posts Report Reply

  • st ephen, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    I believe the NZ Forest Research Institute is working on solutions to non-human logging ("all the weed you can smoke" is currently zero given the extent of drug testing in the industry). And if we flood forests to create more hydro power, there are already unmanned loggng submarines ready to go.

    dunedin • Since Jul 2008 • 254 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to ,

    I’ve seen those polyurethane houses on the side of the road. They freak me out. I would prefer to live in a concreat water tank, if I only had the two options. But my asthetic sense might be affected by years of living in boats.

    Me too.
    I was sent to check them out a few months ago by someone who is also working on alternatives to the 'norm' when it comes to building and materials.

    I (who had the idea they would be plastic smelling opaque fishtanks) was impressed.

    Not smelly, not hot, and yes....they do have windows.

    Most importantly they were designed for regions prone to high winds, heavy rain, flooding and earthquakes.

    They are quick and easy to fabricate, cheap and easy to transport, able to be rapidly assembled on site and they are weatherproof.

    The modular construction means they can be transported in sectons to difficult to access sites.

    They would have made excellent emergency housing for post quake Christchurch.

    P.S. The same company also makes boats.

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1346 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    no mad idea...
    re the breezepod houses, they put me in mind of yurts* and there even seems to be a Nissen hut in their vision as well.

    *and this article as well:
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/news/9616663/Yurt-now-a-realistic-alternative

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7950 posts Report Reply

  • andin, in reply to Sacha,

    Alister Barry’s doco about the history.

    I reminded myself, a litany of double speak and corrupt ideas.
    I want to know when they were infected, what books they read. Did they go on little getaways :))

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1890 posts Report Reply

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