Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Leo's playgroup

Leo and I went to Playgroup. I drove. We got lost on the way, but still arrived before some of the others. Leo blended in well with the other children in his woolen jersey and funky ‘sock-hat’. I was the only one there who wore a beard. We left our boots in the foyer and went into the play-room where children and their mothers were acclimatising and chatting. Gulliver recognised me, “Robert’s here! Robert’s here!” Leo and I sat down at the musical instruments table and rattled a few things while we took in the scene.  There was a lot of wool and felt and expressionless young faces. The mum’s were kindly and unhurried. There were a lot of natural materials to play with; pine cones, shells, hanks of wool, sticks. There were sweet songs about stars and porridge and so on and I sang along quietly. Leo rode a pony to a pony-song and I was it. The children sat at a big, low table and Josie sprinkled flour in front of them, then gave them a ball of dough, which they formed into a bun, adding sunflower seeds. These were collected and put into the oven while apple slices were served. When they were cooked, each bun found its maker and was eaten. Leo wasn’t in a hurry to eat his bun, so I talked with Liam’s mum about her curled-toe felt slippers and other things. We all decided to go outside and play in the sand-pit, though the air was cold. We wrapped up, re-booted and took spades and buckets outside. I over-saw the excavation of a hole, into which children poured water and threw leaves. Leo filled a plastic bucket with sand and patiently patted it down, over and over. In time, we packed up and went to the car, buckled-up and drove back to town, chatting about what we’d done.  It was a great morning.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

An attack on democracy - today's meeting with MPI

Proposed national guidelines for forestry would strip councils of democratic rights, an Environment Southland councillor says.

The Ministry for Primary Industries held a public meeting on Tuesday, to address the proposed introduction of a National Environmental Standard for Plantation Forestry.

About 30 people attended the meeting at the Invercargill Workingmen's Club.

Environment Southland councillor Robert Guyton was concerned the proposal seemingly slipped in the permitted planting of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), without public consultation.

The proposed NES would replace regional and district councils' existing district and regional plan rules for managing plantation forestry, creating a nationally consistent approach.

However, Guyton was concerned it would take away the power from elected councillors.

"The democratically elected representatives will have no say."

The proposal would have lasting effects for Southland. Allowing genetically modified plantations, including sterile trees, would limit environmental risk management, pest management and the ability to market New Zealand goods overseas, he said.

It would mean New Zealand would lose its GE Free status and would not be able to reclaim it, creating a "serious economic threat" to Southland, he said.

"Once it's in, it's in."

Under the proposed NES, local council authorities would lose the ability to make decisions on planting genetically modified trees, he said.

While Guyton opposed the use of GMO, Steve Chandler, a Southland/Otago forest manager, said he supported the NES proposal because it would allow the use of some GMOs.

"One of the things that we really like is the ability to implement sterile trees."

However, MPI forestry and land management directionate analyst Stuart Miller said the Environmental Protection Agency was yet to approve any use of genetically modified trees.

"It is an issue that has been raised across New Zealand and we'll be giving some serious thought to the issue of GMOs and GE as a public interest."

Wider public consultation would be considered, he said.

Proposals for the improvement of the Permanent Forest Sink Initiative were also discussed at the meeting. It enables landowners to receive carbon units through the creation of permanent forests.

The initiative, part of New Zealand's climate change response, is under review to increase the area of permanent forests, increase economic benefits for participants and improve administration.

MPI is asking for submissions on the NES and on the Permanent Forest Sink Initiative, both submission periods close in August.

- The Southland Times Brittany Pickett

Monday, July 27, 2015

Ludmann's "word of the day"

 July 27, 2015
"Allegiant – loyal, faithful; loyalty or the obligation of loyalty; duty that was owed by a vassal to his feudal lord; the obligation of support and loyalty to one’s ruler, government, or country; a faithful follower; adherent."

She forgot "toady" and "flunky", "apologist" and "craven suck-up". "Adherent" is the best one - I see remora stuck to the bloated belly of an oily whale.

GE crop ban not science fantasy -- letter, Southland Times

Federated Farmers have used their invitation to speak at the recent Local Government conference to attack the Northland council that voted "no" to genetically-engineered crops in its region.

Good on that council, I say, and shame on Federated Farmers' president Dr William Rolleston for accusing it of "scientific fantasy" in making its decision.

Voting to keep farming safe, sensible and in the hands of farmers, rather than genetic engineers is not "scientific fantasy", Dr Rolleston, it's a considered and sensible action taken to protect the farmers of Northland and the environment they work in.

My hope is the councils in Southland will make the same considered and sensible decision here.

Robert Guyton


Saturday, July 25, 2015


The Archdruid and I are thinking the same thinks.

"With this in mind, let’s return to the distinction discussed in last week’s post. I noted there that a city is a human settlement from which the direct, unmediated presence of nature has been removed as completely as the available technology permits. What replaces natural phenomena in an urban setting, though, is as important as what isn’t allowed there. Nearly everything that surrounds you in a city was put there deliberately by human beings; it is the product of conscious human thinking, and it follows the habits of human thought just outlined. Compare a walk down a city street to a walk through a forest or a shortgrass prairie: in the city street, much more of what you see is simple, neat, linear, and logical. A city is an environment reshaped to reflect the habits and preferences of the human mind.

I suspect there may be a straightforwardly neurological factor in all this. The human brain, so much larger compared to body weight than the brains of most of our primate relatives, evolved because having a larger brain provided some survival advantage to those hominins who had it, in competition with those who didn’t. It’s probably a safe assumption that processing information inputs from the natural world played a very large role in these advantages, and this would imply, in turn, that the human brain is primarily adapted for perceiving things in natural environments—not, say, for building cities, creating technologies, and making the other common products of civilization.

Thus some significant part of the brain has to be redirected away from the things that it’s adapted to do, in order to make civilizations possible. I’d like to propose that the simplified, rationalized, radically information-poor environment of the city plays a crucial role in this. (Information-poor? Of course; the amount of information that comes cascading through the five keen senses of an alert hunter-gatherer standing in an African forest is vastly greater than what a city-dweller gets from the blank walls and the monotonous sounds and scents of an urban environment.) Children raised in an environment that lacks the constant cascade of information natural environments provide, and taught to redirect their mental powers toward such other activities as reading and mathematics, grow up with cognitive habits and, in all probability, neurological arrangements focused toward the activities of civilization and away from the things to which the human brain is adapted by evolution."


Friday, July 24, 2015

So true!

"Someone's got to know something, you don't just turn up at home with three big water dragons."

Saturday, July 18, 2015

People who like money too much ought to be kicked out of politics

People who like money too much ought to be kicked out of politics, Uruguayan President José Mujica told CNN en Español in an interview posted online Wednesday.

“We invented this thing called representative democracy, where we say the majority is who decides,” Mujica said in the interview. “So it seems to me that we [heads of state] should live like the majority and not like the minority.”

“I’m not against people who have money, who like money, who go crazy for money,” Mujica said. “But in politics we have to separate them. We have to run people who love money too much out of politics, they’re a danger in politics… People who love money should dedicate themselves to industry, to commerce, to multiply wealth. But politics is the struggle for the happiness of all.”

(hat-tip Weka  )

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Non-regulated biotechnologies, genomic selection and other spin


The Government announced today (July 14) that it will spend $7.3 million on researching and trialing pasture grasses, using "non-regulated biotechnologies, including genomic selection.".

That's just how the swedes that last year killed hundreds of Southland dairy cows were developed; using "non-regulated biotechnologies, including genomic selection".

They don't know when to stop, do they?

Such methods are just a sliver away from genetic engineering and are completely unnecessary, as well as being dangerous, as the recent cow-poisonings show.

We should learn from our mistakes, not repeat them under pressure from people who seek to make money from our gullibility.

Robert Guyton


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Cultivate the human

"The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings."
Masanobu Fukuoka

Monday, July 13, 2015

National's climate change pretence


New Zealand is far from doing its “fair share” of climate action, with its climate plans, submitted this week to the UN, and rated as “inadequate” by an independent international analysis: the Climate Action Tracker.


New Zealand’s “inadequate” rating indicates that its commitment is not in line with any interpretations of a “fair” approach to reach a 2°C pathway: if most other countries were to follow New Zealand’s approach, global warming would exceed 3–4°C, a world that would see oceans acidifying, coral reefs dissolving, sea levels rising rapidly, and more than 40% species extinction.

“New Zealand’s climate target shows it’s far from doing its ‘fair share,’ and is anything but ambitious,” said Bill Hare, CEO and Senior Scientist at Climate Analytics.

“While most other governments intend cutting emissions, New Zealand appears to be increasing emissions, and hiding this through creative accounting. It may not have to take any action at all to meet either its 2020 or 2030 targets.”
(Hat-tip NRT)

Lightning Boy

Grandma and Leo