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Open mike 07/01/2022

Written By: - Date published: 6:00 am, January 7th, 2022 - 122 comments
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122 comments on “Open mike 07/01/2022 ”

  1. Dennis Frank 1

    Inventive tech works just like magic: it transforms reality. Green thinkers get uneasy about this, of course, since it's unnatural. Well, this ethical conundrum seems likely to feature in our trend towards a resilient global economy:

    Kiwi scientists have helped discover a new gene described as a potential game-changer for cloning in global agriculture. The gene allows natural reproduction by cloning in plants, enabling highly desirable traits to be carried through to the next generation rather than lost when the plants reproduce through pollination. Named PAR, the new gene has been found to control parthenogenesis, a process whereby plant egg cells spontaneously grow into embryos without fertilisation.

    For subsistence farmers in particular this would be revolutionary. Instead of always having to buy seed they would now be able to save their own and use it to grow plants with the same elite characteristics year on year without losing quality.


    Normally, the PAR gene is triggered by fertilisation, but in plants that reproduce by apomixis – which does not require fertilisation – the PAR gene switches on spontaneously, so the egg cells are triggered to start dividing into a new embryo.

    Framing to be deployed here is obvious: transcend the natural/unnatural binary. Both/and logic produces a third alternative between the binary. The third, novel, category is catalytic intervention.

    Scientists in New Zealand have been working with scientists in the Netherlands – at research company KeyGene and Wageningen University & Research (WUR) – and Japan, at breeding company Takii, to identify ways to produce plant seeds that are genetically identical to the parent plant.

    Plant of Food Research scientist Dr Ross Bicknell puts it like this…

    "Now imagine being able to produce a whole crop made up of just those elite individuals. Cloning is not an unusual idea, we already use it for things like fruit trees, grapes and strawberries, but this will bring the advantages of cloning to the crops that support humanity".

    Plants that naturally reproduce by apomixis were found to have a transposon – a small piece of DNA that can jump around the plant DNA – in the promoter of the PAR gene. The promoter regulates that gene's activity… The new findings have been published in the prestigious journal Nature Genetics.

    • Blade 1.1

      The EU and Monsanto will not like this.

    • Robert Guyton 1.2

      "For subsistence farmers in particular this would be revolutionary. Instead of always having to buy seed they would now be able to save their own …"

      Why do subsistence farmers have to buy seed?

      Why can't they save their own already?

      Blade hints at the answer.

      How on earth did horticulturalists manage pre-corporation??? *sarc/question

      • Cricklewood 1.2.1

        Seems a very risky thing to tinker with, could end up stuck in a monoculture type situation eventually. That has disastrous consequences.

  2. Dennis Frank 2

    Great feature story on media spreading resilience lifestyles globally: https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/459148/happen-films-how-a-couple-are-making-documentaries-to-change-the-world

    Also including a cameo…

    the couple recently visited Robert and Robyn Guyton, who live in Riverton, Southland. After a Happen Films documentary on the Guytons' permaculture food forest five years ago, people flew across the world to visit the property

    • Gezza 2.1

      Watched the embedded 2016 video of Robyn's & Robert's Forest Garden. Very interesting.

      Your place looks amazing, Robert. Beautiful creek too. Must be tremendously satisfying to see the place so well-developed after your years of hard yakker (that probably never felt like hard work) careful tending and experimentation.

      I bet wild horses couldn't drag either of you away from such a wonderful, wild world home & self-sustaining environment.

      What have you added to the property or forest garden since then?

      • Robert Guyton 2.1.1

        Thanks Gazza; you are right, it'd take a meteor (don't look up!) to scoop me out of this comfy burrow!

        We have expanded our boundary somewhat since that film was made; added a very large tunnel house for heat-loving plants (bananas, guava etc.) and extended the fruit-forest and shelter across the top of the rise. Mostly though, my planting "work" has happened off-site, on common-ground where I've quietly planted road, creek and estuary-sides with native trees, as well as groves of nut and fruit trees here and there. Also planted (with help) 14 apple orchards around the region, plus a few other regenerative projects. I've plans for several more in the near future. Oh, and planted a 100 metre "holloway" in the late winter – that's an exciting one for me – I've long wanted to create one of those 🙂 . There's the 6-hectare wetland also, Te Way Karori. That's 16 years old now. Plus the Community Forest Garden. I'm still adding fruit trees to that, though it's as jungly as our own home garden 🙂

        • Robert Guyton

          Spellcheck made "Gezza" into "Gazza", sorry, and "Te Wai Korai" into "Way". For some reason, "edit" wouldn't work.

          • Gezza

            No worries, Robert. I just thought it was a chance slip of the keys. No apology needed.

    • Robert Guyton 2.2

      Thanks, Dennis – I hadn't seen that article – Jordan & Antoinette are delightful people; we spent much of our time talking excitedly about the future 🙂

  3. Blade 4

    The Pope is calling people who choose not to have children selfish. I wonder if he's really more concerned about protecting his faith and Western civilisation from the far superior birth rate of Islam?

    Interesting question about having children. I know people who hit middle age and wish they had had children. I know others who tell me if they had their life over again the last thing they'd want is children.


    • Gezza 4.1

      Stuff covered this yesterday too:


      I had to grin about these quotes from Stuff's article on it:

      Predicting that Francis’s criticism would upset a lot of people, one man joked: “Hey guys, check out the Vatican’s new atheism ad,” while another commented: “Childless virgin admonishes happy couples for their life choices.”

      • Blade 4.1.1

        Crikey, I need to read more. The office of Pope certainly has had a few jibes thrown its way over the years. My favourite is the one about the Pope wearing his undies in the bath.

    • dv 4.2

      So where does that place the celibate church???

      • Gezza 4.2.1

        Pope Francis is obviously totally blinkered to the contradiction in his preaching on this subject while not being prepared to do away with the requirement that Catholic nuns and priests must be celibate.

        The first Pope that has the gonads to abandon this ages-long dogmatic rule that seems to have no Biblical basis will probably be the one most worth listening to.

        • bwaghorn

          The 1st Pope that says , hay why cant woman be popes might be worthy of listening to. Till then fuckimm.

    • bwaghorn 4.3

      Its far better that people who aren't 100% keen on having kids ,dont have kids, nothings more damaging than being having parents that cant really be bothered with the long haul that parenting is.

    • mikesh 4.4

      Perhaps it is not the fact that they don't want children that makes them “selfish” (but “unselfish” in other respects), but that the fact that they are “selfish” makes them want to avoid the responsibility of parenting.

      • Sabine 4.4.1

        Maybe if they – the church, the politicians, and the pundits – who pontificate about the humans that don't want to have children, would advocate a regular payment – living wage for example – for people to have children, they would learn quickfast that 'selfish' is literally just short for 'can't afford'.

  4. pat 5

    "CONCLUSION It is a shame that those who are most vocal about their loss of freedom almost invariably blame the loss on alleged conspiracies of persons in government. Our loss of freedoms are probably not the result of actions of evil people who are plotting the demise of democracy, but rather are due to negligent people in government (and it's nearly all of them) who willfully ignore the problem of overpopulation and the destructive consequences of this negligence. When people are denied their rights to participate in the decisions that affect their lives, they are predictably unpredictable, and history is full of examples of violence that has been precipitated by those who feel they have been disenfranchised. Such are some of the costs of overpopulation. Thus, several lines of evidence point to population growth as being a major causal factor in the decline of democracy in the United States, yet, as Garrett Hardin observes: (Hardin 1993) "No one ever blames it on overpopulation."


    6 pages of pertinent observation…..democracy is certainly in peril.

  5. KJT 6

    A counterpoint to the wishful thinking nonsence, some including on TS, are indulging in.

    Omicron is spreading at an alarming rate, and there’s no solid evidence it’s ‘milder’ | William Hanage | The Guardian

    "The growth rate of Omicron is such that even if it is milder in most cases, cases can still rapidly add up and threaten the NHS. The UK has a healthcare system already struggling with decades of underinvestment and which was teetering on the brink after months of Delta. People seem to forget that nearly 20,000 people have already died from Covid in the UK since “freedom day” in July. The virus has been much more manageable, but that attrition has not been without consequence."

  6. Gezza 7

    Kazakhstan's undergoing violent protests – but Russian paratroopers have been sent in as part of a 6-nation (former USSR country) peacekeeping force.

    Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev had appealed for the intervention of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), a military alliance of Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, blaming foreign-trained "terrorist" gangs for the violent protests.

    Earlier, Kazakh police said forces had "eliminated" tens of rioters in the largest city of Almaty…

    The unrest began as protests against the rising price of liquefied petroleum gas, a fuel used by the poor to power their cars, but has since turned into anti-government riots feeding off deep-seated resentment over three decades of rule by former president Nursultan Nazarbayev and his hand-picked successor.

    Nazarbayev, 81, stepped down in 2019 but remains a political force and his family is believed to control much of the economy, the largest in Central Asia. He has not been seen or heard from since the protests began.

    Nazarbayev's successor Tokayev said gangs were seizing buildings, infrastructure and weapons.


    News clip from Al Jazeera:

  7. Stephen Doyle 9

    Simon B, just as bad as Paul G as finance spokesman?

    via Gerald Otto via NZ Herald.

    Luxon's biggest mistake – Simon the economic dunce

    Ha ha ha ha at last a well informed opinion shoots down Simon Bridges about inflation in the NZ Herald. Somebody pinned this to my door …

    G 🙂

    NZ Herald
    By Craig Renny

    Simon Bridges has done well over the past year. He has survived a brazen attack from his leader, and emerged as the latest National Party finance spokesman.

    What he's clearly not done over this time is any economic study. That's what we can take away from his current attack on government investment.

    Bridges believes government is the key driver of the current increasing inflation. "The more cash from government, the higher inflation will be," he states unequivocally.

    But there's one small problem with Bridges' blunt-spoken truth. There's little real-world evidence to support that claim in a developed economy like New Zealand.

    Evidence from an exhaustive study examining the relationship between fiscal policy and inflation found little relationship across 44 countries and 60 years of data.

    This was particularly true of countries with a Reserve Bank like New Zealand. 2016 evidence from the US Federal Reserve Bank of St.Louis states that "across the board, we found almost no effect of government spending on inflation".

    In recent economic history, the evidence supporting Bridges gets even thinner. Within the last decade in response to the Global Financial Crisis trillions of dollars were provided to financial institutions to keep them solvent.

    The result – inflation fell during the five years after the crisis. Is this money somehow different to the money that is being spent now? Perhaps money only causes inflation if it goes to the wrong sort of person in National's view?

    So what is actually going on?

    Economists like to think about inflation in two flavours. The first of these, "demand-pull" occurs when demand for goods and services rises more quickly than the ability to produce them.

    Prices rise as demand outstrips supply. The second, "cost-push" occurs when increasing costs (like oil, energy, or transport) drive increased product prices.

    Right now we've got a bit of both, but mostly the latter. Reducing government spending in New Zealand doesn't stop the ANZ Commodity Price Index being at a record high.

    Reducing government investment won't undo the 50 per cent increase in the global oil price last year. Or the 850 per cent increase in global shipping prices since the start of the pandemic.

    These increases, along with higher rental costs and building materials is what's driving current inflation. It's not government spending. In fact, well-targeted government spending – such as support for coastal shipping to buffer transport costs, or underwriting of affordable housing at scale, or building essential public transport can actually reduce future inflation.

    Reducing government investment won't undo the 50 per cent increase in the global oil price last year. Photo / Duncan Brown.

    National's economic analysis is wrong. In order to restore some economic and fiscal credibility, National should be explicit about exactly what it intends to cut when they use terms like "rein it in a bit" or "pull it back a tad".

    Using throwaway terms like these suggests that either they don't know what to cut or don't want the public to know. Either of these should worry New Zealanders. Treasury has identified an infrastructure deficit of $75 billion. What is National's plan to deal with that? Make it bigger?

    We have had successive governments try to cut their way to prosperity – Labour in '84, National in '91 and 2008. All it has done is create bigger and more expensive problems for our people and for our economy.

    Let's be clear here, Bridges would need to cut billions of dollars of investment to slow the economy down to achieve his inflation goal. That means fewer health workers. Fewer teachers. Fewer police officers. Fewer state houses.

    At the end of his recent article, Bridge's used US President Reagan's famous quote "are you better off than you were four years ago?".

    Compared to four years ago in New Zealand unemployment is lower, wages are higher in real terms, and fewer children are living in poverty. We have a government that is tackling the backlog of underinvestment in essential public services. So in comparison to when Bridges was last in government, yes the country is in many ways truly better off.

    The New Zealand economy is by no means perfect. There's plenty more the government should be doing. From tackling housing to embedding a productive, sustainable, and inclusive future there is lots for an effective opposition to get stuck into.

    But to criticise what the government has done to date is to ignore that we have had one of the best economic and public health responses to Covid-19 on the planet.

    Under President Reagan, spending by the US government rose by an average of 9 per cent each year. Next year total government expenses in New Zealand will fall by 6 per cent. Fair enough, I suppose – Bridges' celebration of a Big Government spender in an essay about cutting government spending makes about as much sense as the rest of his arguments.

    The positive New Zealand economic forecasts mean that now is the time to set out a long term vision of how we emerge from the shadow of Covid-19. That needs to be transparent about what National intends to cut, and what evidence it has that it will make any difference to prices today.

    • Craig Renny is an economist and director of policy for the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions

    • alwyn 9.1

      A pity you did not put that last little note up at the beginning?

      "Craig Renny is an economist and director of policy for the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions". By the way there is a second "e" in his name.

      You don't think that Mr Renney may be just a tiny bit biased by any chance? I can think of a lot of economists that really don't think as highly of the Government performance as he does.

      • Stephen D 9.1.1

        No more or less they way some commentators lap up anything written by Kirk Hope, Don Brash or Oliver Hartwich.

    • JO 9.2

      yes Thank you Stephen Doyle for making the text available to readers who reject the Herald's paywall. This is so good I am sending it to some relations who still believe 'The Economy' needs National.

      Simon and his platoon seem driven to use the same tactic every time they try to breach the castle walls, by hurling busy volleys of weak arguments against the strongest, best defended corners of the fort. It's so splendidly Monty Pythonesque.

  8. Sanctuary 10

    Very interesting to hear the F-35A Lightning II is now the cheapest available new buy Western fighter, coming in now at US$77.9 million each – that price including a complete EW suite that comes built in with the aircraft. It is now a cheaper fly-away price than the Hornet, Gripen, late build F-16s or the F-15EX and way, way cheaper than the Rafale or Typhoon and all six of those competitors also require expensive external pods to aid targetting and give them any hope of survivng a modern air defense environment. And of course, the F-35A is the only fifth generation fully stealth capable jet in service anywhere by a long shot.

    On top of that the cost of operating the jet is dropping – to around US $25,000 per hour.

    Combined with the "Loyal Wingman" – the new fully AI unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) being developed by Boeing Australia in collaboration with the Royal Australian Air Force specifically for use with the F-35 which will only cost around US$4-6 million each and suddenly you've got a a really cost effective package. For example, one F-35A could use it's loyal wingmen to engage 4th generation fighters fully autonomously, where the stealthy UAV could either easily shoot them down at long range or completely out dogfight manned platforms, or use the UAVs to destroy anti-aircraft missile systrms while staying undetected, once again using completely autonomous AI to do so, before the F-35A even comes under any sort of threat.

    That might all sound huge amounts, and they are, but it puts the aircraft into the price range of a country like NZ should we chose to recreate a strike wing given the rising tensions with China under Xi and actually represents a gigantic leap in capability for the cash. We are already spending 2.3 billion NZ Dollars on the P-8 purchase with little or no public opposition. That sort of money would get us 18-20 F-35s plus two UAVs each. In fact, the main cost would be the ongoing operating costs of the jets of around NZ 200 million per annum.

    Sounds a lot?

    As Janes Defence points out, we are already increasing defense spending pretty much on the quiet – up 11% in just one year to 5.19 billion NZ for 2021-22 so paying for, say, 20 F-35As and forty UAVs over fifteen to twenty years would not require a huge increase in the defense budget in percentage terms per annum…

    I am not saying we ought to buy F-35s but whether it is one thing or another, we are going to be spending a lot more on defense over the next 20-25 years so we should start to getting used to the numbers involved.

    • RedLogix 10.1

      Interesting comment. Despite all the haters, the F-35 program has evolved to being a very good aircraft and now well liked by anyone who actually flies it.

      Also missed in much of the Omicron noise is that Australia and Japan have just inked a full on Defense Treaty aimed at full interoperability and exchange between the two nations armed services. (How much the world changes eh!) And of course both Australia and Japan already fly F-35's.

      Also included is an agreement to share technology in a number of non-military areas, which in the long term could be the most significant outcome. Strategically this Treaty is a big win for both countries.

      • Dennis Frank 10.1.1

        Perhaps Aotearoa could get one on hire purchase & pay it off slowly? We could use it on search & destroy missions against foreign fishing boats invading our zone.

        • RedLogix

          Well if your idea is to rename New Zealand to something else in order to confuse people – I think you'll find the PLAN will see through the ruse after a while.

          • Dennis Frank

            smiley As long as it fools some of the people all the time & all of the people some of the time, no problem.

            You can imagine the Chinese ambassador: "Madame PM, we are concerned that some of our pirate fishing boats have inexplicably not returned home. Not that they were actually fishing in your zone, of course! But just outside of the boundary. Does your tracking system explain this phenomenon?"

            PM: "I had our people research this issue when you sent your official request for this meeting, with specification of the topic. It turns out that one of our aircraft was actually in the vicinity at the time of one such disappearance. The eyewitness reported that the sea just seemed to open up & swallow the boat. Scientists report these belches of methane bubble up from the sea floor every now & then. Bit of a worry, eh?"

    • McFlock 10.2

      It's been a money sink for years, at least it's beginning to mature – even if it's expensive to operate.

      The problem is that to justify the development costs and delays, they kept promising more capabilities – not to mention rabbit holes like ALIS.

      The sensors+stealth concept is incredibly useful, and the loyal wingman / flying arsenal options to work with it massively add to its capabilities.

      But its legs are too short for a lot of jobs, it's still too fragile and expensive to get down and dirty where A10s like to play, and the operating costs will hit an already limited budget for pilots to keep their training hours up.

  9. Blade 11

    Matthew Hooten is getting talkback going with his article in the Herald titled:

    ''Matthew Hooton: NZ Covid defences no more ready for Omicron than we were for Delta''

    Unfortunately a paywall is stopping us being privy to this excellent commentary from the Right.

    • Dennis Frank 11.1

      Desperation strikes deep! With the current score running at Oz 60,000 vs NZ 17 he ought to take my advice from yesterday & promote it as a cricket score. Dumb aussies would get delirious at being so far ahead.

      Failing that inspirational move, Hoots will have been racking his tiny wee brains trying spin something out of nothing. Hope someone will entertain us with the result…

    • Sabine 11.2

      here let me lend you a helping hand.

      from Matthew Hooton on smugness (which we have had quite a bit here on the Standard before Delta arrived)

      We're at risk of doing our smug hermit kingdom thing again.

      As New South Wales in particular and Australia generally struggle against Omicron, we're celebrating dodging a DJ Dimension outbreak and having fewer than 250 new Delta cases in the community over the last week. The way we're going, we could soon be Delta-free.

      But we've been here before in late 2020 and the first half of 2021, after beating the original strain. We then spent too much time gloating rather than getting ready for the next phase. The Government's Delta plan never advanced beyond confirming there would be an immediate level 4 lockdown after one case………….

      on PCR testing

      Even earlier, in September 2020, Heather Simpson and Brian Roche formally advised Covid Minister Chris Hipkins that "all efforts should be made to introduce saliva [PCR] testing as soon as possible", alongside nasal PCR testing.

      They lamented that "on current plans, widespread introduction is still more than 2 months off, even though in other jurisdictions saliva testing, involving large numbers of tests per day, has been well established for several months".

      Yet, another fifteen months later, saliva PCR tests still remain limited to some workers at the Auckland-Northland and international borders, in MIQ hotels and in Auckland health-care facilities.

      Similarly, business leaders and the Opposition lobbied through 2021 for rapid antigen tests (RATs) to become available, both nasal and saliva.

      Only in November did the Government finally bow to pressure and lift its inexplicable ban on technology widely used in the rest of the world.

      While much less accurate than PCR tests, RATs give faster results. They're useful to more quickly detect community spread and for people who want a daily test.

      the sense of lack of urgency

      This lack of urgency has the feel of last winter. We look hubristically across the Tasman as Omicron rips through NSW and Victoria and feel superior to the dim-witted Aussies. Yet everyone knows Omicron is coming.

      closing borders / lockdown policies

      Completely closing the border is off the Government's agenda. It says it remains committed to its "Reconnecting New Zealanders to the World" programme, albeit on a slower timeline than originally announced – causing further fury among the hundreds of thousands of Kiwis trapped abroad for nearly two years without DJ Dimension's triple MIQ-lottery success.

      Also off the agenda are lockdowns. Hipkins specifically said before Christmas that the Government's response to Omicron would be the red traffic light, with anything else an absolute last resort.

      shit happening in OZ, or what it would look like here

      It is clear from NSW, with 93 per cent of people aged 12 or over now fully vaccinated, that vaccination doesn't stop spread. Yesterday, from a population of 8.2 million, it reported 34,994 new cases and 207,667 active cases, with 1609 in hospital, 131 in ICU, 38 on ventilators and six more deaths.

      The equivalent New Zealand numbers would be 130,000 active cases, 1000 in hospital, 80 in ICU, 24 on ventilators and four deaths. Around 22,000 new positive tests would have been reported


      This is not Armageddon. In the scheme of things, very few of us will be hospitalised or die. But Omicron will change the political and economic context of Covid, just as it has everywhere else. In the short-term, all other health care except for immediately life-threatening conditions will need to be suspended.

      We'll all know lots of people who are sick. We really will need to be kind to one another. Let's start by not being too smug towards our cousins in Australia and our other friends beyond.

      left out are the bits of how many tests we can do now, how many more we can do in the future according to Minstry of Health, and such.

      As far as I am concerned, a broken watch is correct twice a day, and this is one of those times.

      • Blade 11.2.1

        Thanks Sabine. Seems reasonable commentary to me. What, apart from all of it, do you really really disagree with?

        For me, it's this little innocuous paragraph:

        ''Only in November did the Government finally bow to pressure and lift its inexplicable ban on technology widely used in the rest of the world.''

        I have mused over this for ages and it just stumps me. The only rational answer I can come up with is Pfizer has us by the balls in some regard.

        I, at one stage, thought Labour wanted full control over what Kiwis could and couldn't do regarding Covid – what I call the ''The Hive Mentality.' But I doubt even that explains things.

        If someone can answer this question, all else about how this government operates regarding Covid will fall into place.

        • Sabine

          i don't disagree, as i said twice a day…..

          you said :

          Unfortunately a paywall is stopping us being privy to this excellent commentary from the Right.

          so i helped. Over and out.

        • Dennis Frank

          So he didn't actually end up getting to any point after all that beating around the bush. Bit of a fizzer, eh?

          We really will need to be kind to one another.

          Hoots is attempting one-upmanship on the PM. Notice how he carefully refrains from crediting her for her moral guidance. Instead he presents his endorsement as if it were a brilliant idea of his own. Not exactly plagiarism though. He's been careful to arrange the words articulating the sentiment differently.

          • Sabine

            No i don't think he is up-manning or anything the PM. He is however re-inforcing the idea that even a 'mild' omicron outbreak will break our health care sector and cause huge amounts of misery, and non of that will be offset by being jabbed once, twice, or even thrice.

            And that maybe right now is the time to be nice, and courteous, not only as a slogan to shut others up, but as an active thing.

            I went to see an emergency doctor today. call the clinic, all details over the phone, wait in car until called in, 30 second drive by appointment, script for stuff. Everyone stressed, fearful and apprehensive, so yeah, be kind to the people that are waiting for the shit to hit the fan, and maybe be less smug about the shit that we actually did not achieve, like keeping us covid free, returning our stranded citizens from overseas, building the houses we need for our homeless, feeding our hungry (thanks to volunteers and their foodbanks) and so on and so for.

            but yeah, he surely must think what you think about him, because right, he is Matthew Hooton and thus he is on the right, and can only be kind and ask for kindness to upstage our dear Leader. Never mind, the health care sector that is underfunded, understaffed, under resourced, still, in fact is literally where it was when we first went into lockdown l4.

            good grief. Seriously. Maybe the left needs to rediscover kindness and apply it generally and not only to those that it approves of. Who knows the doctor that is going to help you in the future might be someone from the right.

            • Dennis Frank

              I've seen no evidence that boosters fail to work against omicron infection, Sabine, so dunno why you seem to believe that and if Hoots believes that too, he out to refer to evidence in what he writes.

              While much less accurate than PCR tests, RATs give faster results. They're useful to more quickly detect community spread

              If the govt didn't act on this basis, I presume Health dept advice disagreed with Hoots. I'm inclined to regard them as more credible than him. So he fails to score a point on that issue. Again, he offers no evidence.

              • Sabine
                1. People the world over are getting infected with Omicron, unjabbed, or double / triple jabbed. That is not to undermine the efficiancy of the jabs, i too am jabbed, this is a fact. So having a 90% vaccination rate will still have people get sick, will still see people in hospital. they will however not die or are likely not die. And that is what he is pointing out. Namely that the places in OZ that are currently suffering through and Omicron outbreak have high levels of vaccination.




                1. We don't have the testing ability and the lab capacity to test everyone who would like to get tested – already. People at jobs that are high risk can not get as many tests as they like for that reason. We also dont' have the ability to self test in any shape or form due to lack of access to self tests. We can’t buy them, because we don't have them here in the country, yet they are used the world over. But i guess we are different to humans from the rest of the world so we need something more special, uniquely more suited to us Kiwis.
                2. If you have tens of thousands of people get sick in no time all hitting the medical sector for tests, shit will hit the fan.
                3. If you have tens of thousands of people getting sick in no time all hitting the hospitals shit will hit the fan.
                4. If your hospitals are overflowing with people who have been jabbed but still got sick, and they are clogging your hallways, you better not think of dying of a heart attack.

                But then, you can of course ignore what he says, and pretend it is a barely disguised hit job on our dear Leader, or you can have a look what is happening elsewhere and wonder if that too is just a hit job on their dear Leaders. See UK, See US, See France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Russia, US and so on and so forth. And of course we can blame all that on the people who are Jab hesistant. Or we can simply get comfortable with the idea that our current government does the best it can, and maybe let others decide if they want to buy a self test or not. I personally would invest in self tests, my partner and I go regular to testing as my partner is a high risk essential worker. We would both love being able to buy self tests before i get in a queue several hours long.

                • Dennis Frank

                  Okay, thanks, there's some evidence that vaccination doesn't prevent omicron infecting some people. Wasn't evident to me that he had a point to make about public health policy from that though.

                  Political commentary to ought to acknowledge the usual basis for govt decision-making (advice from departmental heads &/or other experts). Rightists struggle to grasp this elementary point for some reason. Since I normally criticise leftists, nice to be able to switch targets… angel

                  • Sabine

                    Honestly i am not sure what you are reading and such, but if you did not know that Omicron is not stopped by the jabs, i suggest that you look over your reading materials as this has been touted absolutly everywhere. This here is from a month ago. https://www.wsj.com/articles/omicron-expected-to-be-dominant-strain-in-parts-of-europe-within-weeks-11638889781

                    Again, the jabs simply will keep you alive at best, and maybe (a big maybe) protect you from long term covid.

                    so mask up

                    keep physically distance


                    don't go out in crowds,

                    and also, have your will done if you have need for one as people who have done all of the above and have been jabbed also die.

                    I don't care about the political affiliations of anyone to be honest, as i consider all of our beige suits to be the same irrespective of pretend believes and creeds and that includes our current lot, and fwiw, i also don't need any of the current lot to prechew the information they think I should consume. But then, i don't consider myself on the right or the left.

                  • Blade

                    Yes, we have the same situations with local councils. It's time pollies started using their owns brains when necessary and remember bureaucrats have as a general rule lost touch with reality and are only interested in protecting their fiefdom.

                    • Dennis Frank

                      Usually me that criticises bureaucrats so I'd better flip to balance that! The gist that I get from what you & Sabine have written is that there's a lag between the science around omicron & public health policy. Since it normally takes a while for replication to confirm scientific discoveries, no surprise.

                      The other dimension is that some folks are more vulnerable than others (for various reasons) so the public health norm of one policy fits all is questionable.

                      Could be that Labour is stuck in 2020 modus operandi. I mean, they are probably aware that each wave of the pandemic has different biochemistry as its basis, but they can only act on Health Dept advice (with some variation thrown in if academic experts dissent from that). So policy gets stuck in limbo.

                      I guess the numbers hospitalised by omicron will be the determinant and we aren't there yet with that info…

                    • Sabine

                      @ Dennis Frank

                      the gist that I took from the article is that we should not get smug again, and i agree with that point.

                      A mild virus that hospitalizes thousands in a few day is never the less a health crisis, albeit it a less deadly one. And we should treat it at that, all of us.

          • Blade

            People never let the facts get in the way of their ideology, Dennis. Sabine has just given me a lesson in this dark art of multifaceted language manipulation.

            To be fair, Hoots has also given his own side many good serves. He basically called Sir John corrupt, and called for an inquiry into the PMs office. I do believe there may have been some politics behind that outburst.

            • Sabine

              What have i done?

              I grew up with right and left commentary at the end of the daily news in Germany. Every day. A commentator to the left and the right gave their opinion on the events of the day.

              Maybe we really need to go back to such a thing, and maybe we need to start to listening to what is said, and maybe we need to consider that not everything comes from a point of partisan political membership, but rather from a point of 'personal opinion', and then we as readers can decide what makes sense for us and what not. And chances are we understand that everyone can be right or wrong on any given issue, be they on the left, the right or un-affiliated.

              But yeah, please Blade, can you elaborate on my dark art of multifaceted language manipulation.

          • Anne

            Dennis Frank @
            He operated the same way when he was on RNZ's Monday morning political forum. He would start off appearing to extol the virtues of the government (or the PM/Cabinet Minister) and after about 30secs would move on to a rousing diatribe – the decibel level increasing with every word – on how bad they are and how we're all going to go to hell in a handbasket.

        • Pete

          Pfizer has us by the balls in some regard? Surely you can find someone to tell you it's because Bill Gates came to New Zealand last year and did a deal with Jacinda Ardern. As part of the deal she gets $5 for every vaccine shot.*

          That had her worth recently move from $25 million* in one week to $36 million the next.

          Pfizer's squeeze is nowhere near as significant as whatever it is that has people in the country who are ready to believe bullshit and spread it with religious fervour.

          When the sort of bizarre notions mentioned are put out by someone who then gets in their tractor and drives to town to protest about 'freedom'? When they are prisoner to such fucked-in-the-head beliefs?

          *A farmer to me in our kitchen..

          • Blade

            Absolute nonsense, Pete. Billy Gates, fresh from the UN's World Food Systems Summit, is cornering world food supply. He's buying up farmland; controls McDonalds potato supply farms; owns 23billion in Monsanto shares and is a major player in Gingko Bioworks.

            He has his hands full -on one hand trying to help third world nations with their farming initiatives and health…while on the other hand introducing companies that will do away with third world nations culture and introduce his corporate model.

            I doubt he knows where Aotearoa is…or cares. He may make a fleeting visit when he controls our means of survival.

            Crikey, Fair Trade will be shaking in their boots,eh?

          • Patricia Bremner

            Manure is still spread by such voices, but their hands are always out for subsidies or help with disasters. ” personne and moi” really separated.

    • Steve 11.3

      If your local libraries offers access to Pressreader, the NZ Herald print edition is available there. Have found that much of what goes up online opinion-wise is either from that day or the next's print edition.

  10. Sanctuary 12

    This is an interesting story for two reasons. One, it puts number on the total number of jobs lost in hospo in the pandemic –

    "…The Restaurant Association said late last year that an estimated 13,000 jobs in the sector had gone after about 1000 businesses shut…"

    But it also tells us that despite 13,000 hospo staff now apparently unemployed "…The staffing shortage was also unprecedented…"

    Which, when taken alongside the extremely low unemployment rate at the moment, tells us that if given a choice in a tight labour market people will prefer to work almost anywhere else than in shitty, low paid hospo jobs with the long, unsociable hours that sort of work entails.

    • Sabine 12.1

      i know it is really hard to understand for some,

      but cooks, waitresses, bar tenders, and the likes are actually skilled jobs anywhere on this planet but here in NZ. And it would even be harder to understand for some that not all of these jobs were badly paid, and not all of these jobs went to slave labour via slave masters.

      Case in Point, dear Labour Doodah Tamati Coffey owns two hospitality venues in Rotorua, both a living wage employments, both have suffered/is suffering the same fate as many others in town. And this is repeated up and down the country,.

      But yeah, that might be an inconvenient truth, as is the idea that people actually like working in the hospitality industry. But nevermind, just don't point out that especially in Auckland, lockdowns would have had way more to do with closures and people losing their jobs rather then people resigning to go be something else.

      Last, no, not everyone can cook a good curry, or even just some proper Spaetzle, Knoedel und Schweinebraten. But i hear that a tin of spags on toast is a true NZ delicatessen, and you can make it for 2.50 NZD

    • Graeme 12.2

      Hospo is getting strangled from both sides of the balance sheet at present, and for the same reason on both sides.

      No one wants to work there because what punters that are left can be difficult and you're a sitting duck for infection. The show's likely to be locked down at moments notice too, so not the most secure right now. So staff have found something else to do and are finding the better earnings, regular hours and not having to be public facing a much better life.

      And the profitable customers aren't that keen on being in close contact with other people, so there's less turnover. Observing establishments near us they are much quieter and the customers are much quieter. People sitting on a beer and chips all afternoon. Even half price cocktails on a Saturday afternoon didn't liven the lace up, just got the same barflies more plastered quicker. Don't think they made much out of that exercise, but some spectacular wobbly boots late afternoon….All quiet and subdued however.

      A lot of management of small / mid sized outfits are having to fill in, watched the owner next door waiting tables the other day and realise just how hard it is to do well, he totally fucked the orders up and had to get some pointers off his staff how to do it.

      Some outfits are turning their businesses around and learning how to run with a different staffing model and work with what customers there are, others have packed it in.

      And a lot aren't able to change and need a return to pre covid trade to survive.

      Hospitality New Zealand Central Otago branch president Carl Amos said opening borders and fast-tracking certain visas would be key to improving staffing for hospitality operators in Queenstown.

      "To get a visa at the moment, it’s incredibly tough, having to meet all the strict criteria," Mr Amos said.

      "A border with Australia — it would be a fantastic start."

      That, plus fast-tracking any potential visas that would bring workers into the region, would help.

      "That’s working holiday, that’s the low essentials, you know, all those ones that can have people in tomorrow, picking up the slack that’s definitely needed."

      Carl, having all the staff in the world isn't going to help you if you've got three times as many tables as punters, you're just going to lose money three times as fast.

      Unfortunately the best thing that can happen for hospo profitability is to get the number of tables down to matching the number of punters that are out there, because punters aren't coming back until they feel safe. Which may not be in the foreseeable.

      We're going to see a lot of hospo, entertainment / activity and discretionary retail business depart the scene this year. Just like their staff and customers.

      • Sabine 12.2.1

        We're going to see a lot of hospo, entertainment / activity and discretionary retail business depart the scene this year. Just like their staff and customers.

        And chances are there will not be enough jobs to take up all these people – not everyone lives in Auckland, and chances are that Non Males will be the most affected. What i see here in Rotorua is a hunkering down mode by those that want to get through this, and a getting out quick for those that either are already down under or simply don't want to continue. Which is the right thing to do. But one of the most important things that i see is that those that would like to exit are still locked in leases that they can't break lest they loose even more money. And sadly we still have got nothing really there – legally speaking – for those that truly would want to get out.

        Edit: If anyone thought that the fruit picking season was fucked beyond believe last year, hell, its gonna be a right shitshow when we are all more or less sick with Omicron. lol

  11. weka 13

    Nice wee thread on a suffragette. Perspective on climate action. Harder to hide out or be on the run these days.

    • Sabine 13.1

      Who needs rights when you can just declare yourself a male and be done being that other thing that everyone can be?

  12. Stephen D 14

    I haven’t had time to have a deep think about this yet.
    What happens in Chile and Latin America is a fascinating insight to the way other parts of the world are rejecting the economic policies of the last 40 years.


    • Dennis Frank 14.1

      It's a very good insightful political analysis. Plenty of nuances to consider! My take is that this new leader, aged only 35, will succeed only if he has both vision & a coterie of competent establishment advisors. By vision I mean an overview of Chilean politics plus perception of a viable path into the future that can attract consensus.

  13. alwyn 15

    One thing seems to be improving in the last few days.

    Radio NZ appear to have stopped using their made up names for the main centres when doing the weather forecast on National Radio. They have gone back to Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin instead of the multi-syllable monstrosities they were using.

    Come on, a simple test. How many of you can tell us, without asking google, what the made up Maori names were? And had anyone ever heard of any of them before they were stuck into the weather forecast.

    • Stephen Doyle 15.1

      Can’t hold two ideas in your head at the same time. Says it all really.

    • Robert Guyton 15.2

      The previous names (Maori) were for regions weren't they, rather than cities (there not being any, back in the day). I imagine some of those names were conferred by local Maori very early on in the piece, so I don't see why they aren't appropriate for use now and they sound great, to the un-jaundiced ear 🙂

    • Matiri 15.3

      Kirikiriroa for Hamilton – lived there twenty years ago and would see the name around the city

    • weka 15.4

      Tāmaki Makaurau





      Had to check the macrons, got the mostly right by ear.

      "And had anyone ever heard of any of them before they were stuck into the weather forecast."

      Good grief man, does your anyone include Māori? Pākehā who've been paying attention? Anyone that's learned a smattering of te reo?

      • McFlock 15.4.1

        Not to mention how many places have their Māori names alongside (or usually – er – under , because symbolism can be subtle, and not so subtle) the English names on signage etc. .

      • arkie 15.4.2

        Pōneke is a transliteration of Port Nicholson, on RNZ I think they use Te Whanganui-a-Tara for Wellington.

        There's some resistance to the name of Ōtautahi as it is named for an ancestor. Puāri was the name of another settlement on the Ōtākaro which is another good alternative


      • alwyn 15.4.3

        Well they certainly don't use Poneke.

        If you listen to the National program you will have heard all the names innumerable times but only 3 seem to have stuck. You don't seem to be a Pakeha who has been paying attention on that record, although I am sure you would be far ahead of most people.

        I really don't believe that Maori had any names for the areas covered by the cities. Bits of them perhaps but nothing at all for the whole region. I have enquired whether people I know know what the names are. I don't find that anyone knew the names used for areas outside their own city.

        Anyway, I hope RNZ continue with their recent practice and dump these made up names for good.

        • arkie

          I really don't believe that Maori had any names for the areas covered by the cities. Bits of them perhaps but nothing at all for the whole region.

          Good thing reality isn't based on your disbeliefs.

          Ngāi Tahu have a very interesting atlas, Kā Huru Manu, where you can browse the original names for over 1,000 places in their rohe. Have a look and you might learn something:


          • alwyn

            I have, and it is very interesting. looking at the map of Christchurch all the items noted seem to be small features. There was nothing that covered the whole of Christchurch City however and most of the featured places in the area are around the harbour rather than in the city itself.

            There was nothing that showed up on that map that is a fair representation of the whole city is there?

            • weka

              It's almost like Māori had their own reasons for how they named places that didn't included cities that didn't even exist.

              Lol 'made up names'. What do you think Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin are?

            • arkie

              Correct, but if you were aware of even the European history of this land you would know many of the cities developed from multiple different settlements that later became joined, perhaps you've heard of suburb names, that's most often their origin.

        • Stephen Doyle

          As an old, white, male, Pakeha, I’d be happy to have Aotearoa as our country name. Also use all Māori names where appropriate. (Everywhere)

          • Anne

            As an old, white female, I'm happy that Maori names be used for place names. Just so long as old white people are not denigrated by others if they choose to stick with the English version because they're too old to change habits and find it all a bit confusing into anyway. smiley

        • Robert Guyton

          "Auckland" isn't a "made up name"?

          Let's dump it, if it turns out to be!

          • weka

            and when that's been done, we need the weather forecast to start with te taitonga and work its way up ngā motu. It makes sense.

            • Shanreagh

              I think whichever order you do it you'd find yourself having missed the forecast for your area and be on to Wharekauri by the time you tune in/wake-up when you are waiting for an early morning forecast (4am or 5am) that lets you know if you can go round Te Taonui-a-Kupe (Kupe's big spear) while yachting. wink

          • Dennis Frank

            English made it up via mispronunciation:

            The name Auckland first arose amongst the Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain. It is derived from their having lived in or near a prominent grove of oak trees. The name Auckland literally means oak-land.


        • weka

          You don't seem to be a Pakeha who has been paying attention on that record,

          I don't listen to RNZ news very often 😇

      • Macro 15.4.4

        Hamilton – Kirikiriroa

        Tauranga – Tauranga

        Rotorua – Rotorua

        Whanganui – Whanganui

        Hastings – Heretaunga

        to name a few

  14. swordfish 16


    Just a quick thanks to everyone for their kind wishes regarding the cancer [A few Random Predictions Jan 1 post] … really appreciate the moral support.

    Apologies for my late reply … Chemo unfortunately sometimes puts patients under what the oncology brigade colloquially call a "Chemo Fog" … essentially significant mental fatigue that lasts for a week or so … or sometimes on a more sporadic basis … a bit like being very absent-minded & having to summon all your mental energy just to think through otherwise very simple things … I've generally managed to avoid all that over the first 4 cycles, been in a surprisingly fit state … but definitely suffered from it since my last infusion on 31 Dec.

    Just coming right over last few days … so apologies for delay.

    • Dennis Frank 16.1

      I wish you all the best with your situation. Had a friend back in the '90s doing that (prednizone) & he got manic compulsively – when we visited it was like a different person. Dunno if natural options can help in such grim circumstances. Rosemary does clear brain fog normally though.

      Do you know about herb Robert? I have plenty in my garden & render the leaves into tiny bits with a whizzer blade, keep them in a plastic bag in the freezer for food & green tea additive. Folks online testify to being healed from cancer by that.

    • Ad 16.2

      You hang in there and keep commenting here Swordfish you're a good unit.

    • bwaghorn 16.3

      Goodluck hope you knock the bugger off.

  15. McFlock 17

    ANZ senior economist tweets chart showing that current Melbourne & Sydney consumer spending is down to lockdown levels even though they've opened up and surrendered.

    Opening up does not make things better, it makes things worse.

  16. Sabine 18

    Humans, the dumbest, most violent, idiotic, self destructive thing this planet created. We really don't deserve anything nice.


    A Upper Harbour Local Board member has slammed the decision to remove 13,700 trees planted by the community in a North Shore reserve because of concerns they would obscure views.

    Since 2018, local volunteers have contributed 3450 hours of their time, which equates to more than 443 days planting the trees at Sanders Reserve. The plants cost the council $16,813 and a sizeable number were provided by the Mayors Million Trees, Rotary, and Trees for Survival.

    But following a local board decision, all 13,700 native trees planted on the upper and mid sections of the slope below the kiosk at the reserve were removed over the weekend by mowing.

    The majority of the approximately 13,700 plants below the kiosk were planted in the 2019 and 2021 planting seasons.

    The removal of the plants via mowing was done at a cost of $14,000.

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