Open mike 03/05/2010

Written By: - Date published: 6:00 am, May 3rd, 2010 - 39 comments
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39 comments on “Open mike 03/05/2010”

  1. mach1 1

    Cameron being advised by a crank and a potential MP who heads a Conservative think tank and founded an evangelical church that uses prayer sessions to ‘cure’ gay people. And we think we’re fckd.

    • Jim Nald 1.1

      Now that would be an innovative solution for John Key to adopt to close the gap with Oz and build the cycleway.

  2. Bored 2

    If ever you needed proof that the media (both TV and papers) dont carry news that goes against the status quo this weekends protest coverage takes the cake. Couple of minutes on the 6 oclock news, featuring a gent calling Key a dick (he is right but we did not need that to get priority for obvious reasons). Nothing much in the weekend papers, just small stories spliced into the normal shock horror trash features. It all adds up to the need for a strong independent public broadcast media at arms length from political control and a break up of media oligarchies.

  3. Bored 3

    Well done to all of those who turned out to protest in favour of protecting the environment from mining on Saturday. In the background another example of environmental damage was spiralling out of control off the Lousiana coast. There an oil slick is going to kill off what life is left.

    What makes this tragic is that it is all so predictable, give extractive industry an inch and you can pretty much gaurantee some wildlife will die, often to the point of extinction. Here in NZ we make a huge fuss about saving takahe, kiwis and tuatara. Heaven forbid however if you are not a headline grabbing species such as a snail, eel, mudfish or river bird of many descriptions. If you are under the radar living on West coast rivers such as the Mokihinui, or on Canterbury riverbeds you might as well just die out.

    Thanks again to all the protesters, but a plea aswell. keep the heat on for the sake of all of our species.

  4. vto 4

    I can’t seem to find a farming blog. Somewhere the current water / irrigation questions can be put to them in the hope of a well thought answer (haven’t seen this yet – their usual approach is find out what the person questioning does for a living then follow that up with myriad generalisation attack one-liners, meantime refusing to answer the issues).

    Anyone know? ta

  5. Sanctuary 5

    I was left profoundly depressed by the typically cartoonish nature of the economic discussion on RNZ this morning. While Sean Plunkett rabble roused about tax cuts, Stephen Joyce displayed for the entire world to see the utter, dead end defeatism of neo-liberalism. When interviewed about building railway carriages in NZ for Auckland’s rail network Joyce peremptorily dismissed this option with an airy comment that we are good at exporting diary products and are no good at heavy industry. No one asked Joyce why we are no good at this. No one pondered if we could be good at this.

    No one joined the dots between a desperate race to the bottom on tax cuts for the corporate sector on one hand and the whether or not that sector could create a competitive heavy manufacturing industry for rail cars (or anything else) if the right investment environment was put in place.

    That New Zealanders cannot build a competitive heavy manufacturing base was just accepted as a fait accompli. We are useless, we are helpless, and we must accept our fate. Utter, despairing defeatism.

    • RedLogix 5.1

      Exactly. When compulsory superannuation contributions are included in the comparison NZ already has the third lowest total income tax in the OECD, only slightly higher than South Korea and Mexico. If low taxes were the route to prosperity NZ would already be one of the wealthiest nations on earth….

    • Jim Nald 5.2

      That’s true. If those comments reflect the wider Cabinet thinking, then we have a very stupid lot running the country. Even some basic reading in economics will show that the recent economic successes of countries have been led by Governments using a mixture of policies and investing in supporting sectors they have singled out to be developed. Joyce may have been tossing out some economic jargon in soundbytes but the thinking this morning revealed more that he has only, at best, read snippets from economics textbooks and would barely pass first year university Economics 101. It is a crying shame we don’t have more economically literate and fluent interviewers in the media.

      • Bill 5.2.1

        A manufacturing base in this country is less profitable for the companies involved than if they develop heavy industries in (say) India and export finished product back to NZ.

        So, not so good for profit margins in an environment where the profit margin is the first and last thing taken into consideration, means ‘no good’. End.

        What was wrong with what Joyce said again? It’s word perfect to the dominant ideological script.

    • r0b 5.3

      Brilliant Sanctuary. There’s a post on this coming up at 12:35 – you should repeat the comment there…

  6. Alexandra 6

    The inteview with Stephen Joyce was a stark example of just how aspirational and abititious for NZ the tories are. So much for our number 8 wire innovation. It seems its limited to dairy and little else.

  7. ianmac 7

    I wonder how prepared Smith is for the ECan. The outgoing Chair says that they worked a full week where now the Commissioners will work 2 days a week.
    Is this an excuse for the Minister to directly control the irrigation programme?
    “Government officials will have a hand in running Environment Canterbury (ECan) alongside the seven appointed commissioners.

    Cabinet papers reveal that Environment Minister Nick Smith has concerns the Government appointees may not be able to manage their workload.

    As a result, Cabinet has approved the use of Ministry for the Environment officials from Wellington and Christchurch to help them. The cost of this support will be about $200,000 a year until ECan elections are held, probably late in 2013. ”

  8. Name 8

    Heavy industry is difficult to do if you don’t have a substantial infrastructure of steel production, rolling mills etc. However the UK, which is much better placed to do heavy industry that NZ, abandoned it years ago to concentrate on what the politicians (including 13-years of a Labour Govt.) thought it could do well to bring in the bucks – finance, encouraged by ‘light’ regulation. And we can all see now what that lead to.

    Joyce’s comments were asinine. Yes, NZ can’t do heavy industry to compete with the Chinese but we’re talking about a few railway carriages – hardly shipbuilding. The NZ company Windflow is building NZ designed and assembled 500mW wind turbines entirely in NZ, using boat-building techniques in which we lead the world to make 33m turbine blades, assembling the generators and gear-boxes (NZ designed) in Christchurch and 100m tall steel towers.

    Oh, and John Key thinks we should become the finance center for Asia!

    • uke 8.1

      The idea that NZ should widen its productive base to at least “light” heavy industry has long been around. I think Bill Sutch, who saw that Britain was going to cut the apron strings back in the early 1960s, suggested this as a path to economic self-sufficiency. Guess who kiboshed such suggestions: Holyoake’s farmer-dominated government.

      Unfortunately, Muldoon’s ill-thought out “Think Big” schemes (such as the ridiculous methanol plant – one of the most inefficient ways to use natural gas) provided excellent evidence to the contrary for the Douglas generation of economic rationalists.

      A level of industry somewhere in-between still seems a good economic insurance policy, though.

  9. ianmac 9

    A few months ago I read of the capability to build engines I thought in Otago? Anyone?

  10. prism 10

    Oh how funny Matthew Hooton is. He has just said that Nick Smith isn’t a National Party Minister. He isn’t really one because he is just about left of Labour or something!

    What a hoot-on. He is so offensive in his views about what our policies in NZ should be – they should be based on what the government’s main supporters will accept and continue to support the Party on. Doesn’t matter what the country needs, what’s right. I am sick of these politics that’s all about self-centredness and maneouvring public relations.

    • WillieMaley 10.1

      prism, Hooten was comedy gold this morning. His rant about the anti mining march was priceless, lets hope his political masters have the same blinkered view of the New Zealand public.
      BTW who is Robyn MacDonald? :))))

      • prism 10.1.1

        wm I must get myself up to speed with icons – they are like exclamation marks only better.
        Hoot-on mentioned Lucy Lawless along with Robyn MacDonald. I think RM is the star of Outrageous Fortune on TV and both of those ladies are stars and bright buttons. Unlike Matthew Hoot-on – no wise old owl there.

        • Bored

          Talking of lack of wisdom and blithering idiocy where is TSmithfield? Defending the indefensible seems his stiock in trade, not to mention outlasting through prodigious production of excremental opinion.

          • Pascal's bookie

            Got himself banned for stupidity*

            *Putting words in Irishbill’s mouth.

            • Bored

              Oh dear, proof of lack of wisdom…..could not have happened to a more deserving twerp..

            • lprent

              Yeah, it is pretty irritating doing that normally with people commenting. It is bloody fatal doing it to IrishBill who (how can we put this diplomatically) sometimes has a shortish fuse.

              The deliberate re-framing of my arguments to substantially change the intent irritates the hell out of me. I will usually get deeply sarcastic and outright abusive at a personal level when that happens. That is because I think that it educates the recipient more permanently across the net.

              Irish just exercises the ban option because he thinks it is the most educational experience. In this case, I think that TS got off lightly with a mere month.

              For some reason some people, especially on the right, seem to think that this is a valid way of debating. I just view it as a flame starter and act accordingly.

              We know we’re going to disagree. Scoring cheap points with juvie debating tricks is pointless and wastes valuable writing time.

              • Pascal's bookie

                For some reason some people, especially on the right, seem to think that this is a valid way of debating. I just view it as a flame starter and act accordingly.

                i) They seem to think that there is some vast pool of swinging voters out there who read blog comment sections looking for reasons to vote one way or the other.

                ii) They thus aim their arguments at these non-existent lurkers in the deluded belief that they themselves are thus players.


                iii) They don’t care if their arguments make sense, are consistent from day to day, or are otherwise what would normally be called, something like honest. Coz that’s not the point.

                iv) The point is, they are acting. It’s just basic wish fulfillment. They think they are politicians in a vote gathering exercise so act like they think smart politicians act.

                v) Hence all the stupid

                vi) eg. Tim Ellis.

    • ianmac 10.2

      Funny thing is that Matthew sounds quite reasonable about some things then goes berserk! Maybe he is suffering withdrawl from his 60 cig a day?
      As for Nick Smith being non-National, this would be a bit strange for a bloke who was briefly Deputy Prime Minister fot the Nats.

      • Bright Red 10.2.1

        Deputy Leader*

        Yeah, for two weeks, most of which was on stress leave.

  11. NickS 11

    And now I’m a bit more with it, I’ll finally get around to summarising that research article I posted that r0b asked if I could do a bit more of breakdown…

    Being a bear of little brain (long words bother me) can I break that down one more step? They’ve found a missing link in the description of the evolution of life. Very simple chemicals (related to our DNA) can facilitate the creation of proteins. (“RNA World’ hypothesis supported). Right?

    It’s not really a missing link, more of a proof of concept that small RNA molecules can catalyse reactions without metal ions. Basically, quite a few enzymes rely on metal ions for normal activity, mainly to provide a source of electrons or to hold substrates in place, so they’re close enough for the reaction an enzyme catalyses to take place. In the case of RNA enzymes (ribozymes), to date metal ions are typically needed to get rates of reactions that aren’t glacial, or to even get ribozymal activity out of the RNA sequences.

    And what the author’s bury in the end of the discussion is the really neat bit, namely that given we see this sort of catalytic activity in such a small RNA polymer, if we then crunch a few probability estimates out, in only a few attograms of RNA tetramers (a RNA polymer of 4 RNAs) to have just about every possible RNA sequence, and thus quite few possible ribozymes. Which means that if we search this library of sequences, we’ll likely find ribozymes with the ability to catalyse the reactions that form RNA polymers, and other polymers such as peptides, plus a hole range of basic organic reactions, in the oxygen free soup of the Earth’s ancient oceans.

    Well, that’s putting it simply, but it’s been awhile since I last did biochemistry so I’m a bit rusty, and understanding the range of reactions is little on “need 2 year uni biochem/organic chem level knowledge side”…

    Also, I’m a bit perplexed by the authors statements about bio-availability of metal ions, since the ones that aren’t easily obtained in earth’s current state are typically those that form oxides, where as in the earth’s oxygen free (anoxic) oceans they’d be easily available. It was only until the evolution and rise of photosynthetic prokaryotes that oxygen levels rose in the Great Oxygen Event that many otherwise solvent metal ions were precipitated out of the oceans. Which is why there’s this giant band of rust in rock strata from around 2.4 billion years ago. Though I might need to read the paper a bi more closely once my blood sugar goes up to see why they say this…


    Oh yeah, last year I think there was a paper published that links into this, in which the authors basically stripped back the ribosomal 23s subunit by analysing it’s structure, and then via modelling worked out that the amide bond formation it catalyses (forming amino acid polymers, aka proteins :P) can be done with 110 nucleotide RNA polymer. All the rest of it basically speeds up the reaction and provides substrate specificity and binding sites for the other parts of the ribosome, and small proteins. Which in relation to the other paper, a little bit of organic co-ordination chemistry, and some stuff on early chemical environment the earth’s oceans and warm seeps makes for some neat speculations about the evolution of early life in terms of the emergence of ribozymes and enyzmes from much more messy beginnings. 😀

    And a correction to my original post, what the authors show here is that this small ribozyme can catalyse the second part of tRNA aminoacylation reaction. Which covalently bonds an amino acid onto a tRNA molecule, a rather vital reaction, as without it, building a specific protein (aka a poly-peptide) is a little on impossible side.

    • prism 11.1

      Nick S Wow. Think I’ll read it again and then wait for the film. Peptides I’ve heard about. Is there anything in there that would help clean up the oil spill?
      Or convert to use as energy?

      • NickS 11.1.1

        It’s mostly abiogenesis stuff, though in organisms, ribozymes are seen as potential drug targets for a new class anti-biotics. And from the depths of my memory, I think there were some rumblings about using ribozymes as drugs or for drug applications.

        Oh yeah, speaking of energy stuff:

        Basically, as the abstract says, it works out more energetically efficient to use crops for food, rather than for biofuel production. Also, there was some stuff last year I think that found that it’s more energy efficient to generate electricity and use that to power cars, than it is to use fuel-cells with the current mainstream methods for producing hydrogen.

        As for the oil spill, there’s been research over the years to do with find and using oil-eating bacteria to deal with oil in beaches and tidal mud, but nothing to contain it and I’m unsure about sea-born applications 🙁

    • r0b 11.2

      Nope, gone beyond me – but your enthusiasm is refreshing!

      • NickS 11.2.1


        Yeah, I’ve still got some distance to got till I can communicate seemingly complex science stuff down to laymans levels…

        And thanks!

  12. gobsmacked 12

    Shock Horror Exclusive: PM embroiled in -gate scandal!

    OK, that’s a bit unfair. It is for charity, after all.

    Hang on, didn’t another PM sign something else … for charity?

  13. prism 13

    It would interest me if there was a continuing thread on new, innovative ventures in NZ that we reported on in brief as we got details. It would be great to know what things are going on beside seaside resort developments.

    Talking about developments, then thinking about housing, it was interesting to hear about the building supply firm that supplied trusses to builders using lower grade timber than specified. And it was competition that drove him to do this, trying to be cheaper than his competitors. Golly who would have thought that there could be a downside to Competition.

  14. Quoth the Raven 14

    A couple reactions to a joke Obama made at the White House correspondents dinner. The Joke:

    The Jonas Brothers are here; they’re out there somewhere. Sasha and Malia are huge fans; but boys, don’t get any ideas. Two words for you: predator drones. You will never see it coming. You think I’m joking?

    Roderick Long:

    I think jokes about murder would be in better taste if they weren’t coming from an actual murderer. But hey, if Pakistani children are fair game for Obama’s predator drones, why not the Jonas Brothers?
    This is the same kind of moral imbecility that our previous president displayed when he mugged for cameras while pretending to search for WMDs in the Oval Office, thus making light of his fraudulent pretext for a war in which thousands of Iraqis and Americans have pointlessly died.
    Well, I guess you can call that continuity of government

    Charles Davis:

    Since taking office Obama has ordered the CIA to carry out more drone strikes in Pakistan than his predecessor did in his entire eight years in office, killing more than 500 people since 2009, roughly a third civilians. And, “under the legal theories adopted by our government in prosecuting Guantánamo detainees, these CIA officers as well as any higher-level government officials who have authorized or directed their attacks are committing war crimes,” notes Loyola Law School professor David Glazier.
    In other words: funny!

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