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Open mike 09/05/2020

Written By: - Date published: 6:00 am, May 9th, 2020 - 151 comments
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Open mike is your post.

For announcements, general discussion, whatever you choose.

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Step up to the mike …

151 comments on “Open mike 09/05/2020 ”

  1. Dennis Frank 1

    Spinoff yesterday: "3.50pm: Big government document dump"… "The government released thousands of pages of documents relating to their decision-making around Covid-19". Scooping Scoop, who didn't announce it till 4.41pm. https://thespinoff.co.nz/politics/08-05-2020/covid-19-live-updates-may-8-china-taiwan-and-nz/

    Television journo speed-readers would've been thrilled, given two hours to digest the package. Say there were four thousand pages, that's getting through a thousand in 30 minutes, around 333 pages per minute, about 5 pages per second.

    Jacinda probably felt that Tova O'Brien needed a bit of a rev-up as she's been so zealous in pointing out deficiencies of govt performance in recent days.

    "Newshub, meanwhile, reports that a leaked internal memo told government ministers not to talk to reporters about the documents, and that any written statements were to be signed off on by the prime minister."

    That's because of this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loose_lips_sink_ships . The ship of state must cruise smoothly this year so people get the idea that a Labour-led govt can be taken seriously & voted for. Of course this sets the bar way too high for some Labour ministers: "Aw, why can't we just be typical Labour ministers?" Jacinda: because I say so! You must demonstrate competence!"

    I'm on her side of this divide. She's been walking her talk, along with some of her colleagues. Others, not so much. Then there's David Clark – in a category of his own having pushed Twyford off the dunce's stool, jammed the pointy cap firmly on his head and fixed his steely gaze on the join between the two walls in front of him, before writing the first of his thousand lines of "I am not really above everyone else."

    • McFlock 1.1

      heh – a docdump with no spin? Payback for stupid questions asked five times.

      Wouldn't it be a laugh if there were no real needles in that haystack. Hour after hour of stale bureaucratese just to find some memo that suggests David Clark probably wasn't wise to go to a bike trail. Scoop of the month, award time!

      • observer 1.1.1

        As somebody pointed out on Twitter, in a so-called "document dump" by officials, all the material is helpfully categorised by subject, date and number.

        Journos using the term "dump" conjure up an image of paper scattered randomly on the floor and our heroes having to hunt for the hidden treasure of truth. In reality, it is handed to them on a plate.

        • gsays

          I was surprised by the tone taken by RNZ journos talking about this last night.

          'Dump', Friday afternoon, the amount of data released. There was an adversarial attitude in the reaction to the release of information.

          Almost as if the journos are afraid to take a different angle to the rest of the press corp.

          • Sacha

            Sadly the insular Welli bubble means media people develop more loyalty to one another's viewpoints than to the public or audiences they supposedly serve.

          • Gabby

            They could like take the weekend to read it properly and prepare something intelligent to say on Monday. Are they also crying because there were no ready to use headlines?

        • Incognito

          OMG! It is more than 280 characters to read!!

    • Sacha 1.2

      The proposed rules for Level 2 give the Health Minister a more prominent role. Joy.

    • I Feel Love 1.3

      Even the word "leak" is loaded, journos claiming there's a document leak that Adern has told all mps to get statements signed off by her. Under Key this was called discipline, the Nats were cheered for it. I still find it funny they used to hassle Adern for being too week, now she's too bossy.

      • Sacha 1.3.1

        James Shaw on tv3's Nation even made it sound more like instruction to comms officials in Ministers' offices and departments, which makes perfect sense. Too many agendas muddying the waters otherwise.

        • Incognito

          I assume we won’t have another Budgetgate this year. The Government is tightly controlling the communication and narrative, which is understandable with such a big week coming up. Scrutiny and accountability can wait a week or three days at least.

          I like how they sneaked in the word “dismiss” in the so-called leaked memo; could be a dog whistle to ill-disciplined and loose-lipped Ministers.

    • Sacha 2.1

      'But the economy!' Opposition not happy that govt went against advice in released document proposing a month in Level 2 before going to L3 and L4. Imagine the carnage. https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/political/416216/covid-19-government-need-to-explain-response-after-documents-released-national

      In a 20 March document, top health officials recommended New Zealand move to alert level 2, and remain there for up to 30 days. But just three days later, the government moved to level 3, and in another two days went to level 4.

      National Party health spokesperson Michael Woodhouse said the government lacked confidence. "There are clear contradictions between what the government saw about their response and what they were telling the New Zealand public," he said.

      "They need to explain why because the costs of that lockdown, both from an economic perspective and also from the number of people with health issues that aren't related to [Covid-19] is growing by the day."

      • dv 2.1.1

        Re the suggestion to be at L2 for the first month

        Level 2 allows travel thru NZ.

        Thus would allow the infection to travel more 'freely' for a month

        The number of infections would have been much larger,

        AND then much more difficult to contain after the mth at L2

        On balance the quick movement was appropriate and justified.

    • observer 2.2

      The wage subsidy debate, in summary:

      1) Initial cap of $150,000.

      2) Officials – and later, opposition – point out that this is too low, and will leave many without help.

      3) Cap abolished. Subsidy available to all.

      4) Complaints in media and from opposition that subsidy is going to those who don't need it, various examples cited. Because … er, it's available to all!

      More generally … that one issue illustrates the entire Covid-19 saga in NZ. On everything from border closures to lockdowns there have been demands from opposition and (some) media for "Action Now! No time to worry about the consequences! Take Charge! Just Do It!".

      Then there are consequences.

  2. McFlock 3

    To restrict the freedom of white Americans, just because nonwhite Americans are dying, is an egregious violation of the racial contract.

    Atlantic article "COVID-19 Was an Emergency Until Trump Found Out Who Was Dying". Definitely a full-on piece.

    • Cinny 3.1

      Gutsy impressive article, thanks for posting. It's an honest and disturbing read.

    • Heather Grimwood 3.2

      to McFlock at 3: that Atlantic article makes me mourn once again about man's inhumanity to man….so blatant ……so callous. I admire that brave publication.

  3. Alice Tectonite 4

    Praise for POTH from oil industry & assorted climate denial outfits:

    Fossil Fuel-Backed Climate Deniers Rush to Promote Michael Moore Documentary 'Planet of The Humans'

    Certainly popular with the folks over at Breitbart & the Heartland Institute…

    • Andre 4.1

      Seems to be giving anarcho-primitivists little woodies, too. But apparently utterly devoid of anything useful pointing to a way forward.

      • Alice Tectonite 4.1.1

        The whole may as well just keep burning fossil fuels cause renewables are worse message is pointing the way forward for the oil industry…

        It's been interesting seeing who has uncritically swallowed it, bizarrely seems to have found appeal across the political spectrum.

      • RedLogix 4.1.2

        But apparently utterly devoid of anything useful pointing to a way forward.

        Yeah that was my primary reaction as I watched it. The left is at it's best when it's exploring new paths and proposing ways to test them out, this doco didn't even try.

        • Gabby

          Whaddya mean the left? Is this just more patronising damn with faint praise bullshit from you? Who isn't at his/her best doing those things?

          • RedLogix

            Feel free to provide a shining example.

            • Gabby

              Well you, obviously. Who could doubt it.

              [I’m getting tired of people disagreeing with RedLogix and thinking this gives them a licence for personal attacks without debating his comments. Do you want to be the first to be furloughed? – Incognito]

    • bill 4.2

      So what? You're suggesting (the DeSmog piece is) that because pro-fossil actors are putting a spin on a documentary that had the following simple message –

      global warming + green tech =/= we're saved.

      that the documentary is pro-fossil? And anyone who understands the basic premise of the documentary is also pro-fossil?

      No serious person (scientist or otherwise) believes we can build our way out of this predicament we're created for ourselves. Even ignoring the resources required for any such project – ie, imagining various sustainable or green sources of energy can be made from thin air – the numbers are simple and the numbers don't stack up.

      We have 'x' amount of time to have all of our energy needs come from zero carbon sources if we are to avoid devastating levels of climate change. And it's simply not within the realms of physical possibility to roll out the required amount of energy generation in time 'x'.

      It differs across different countries, but without a sustained yearly drop in carbon related energy of between 15 and 20%, we sail through the 2 degrees guardrail at speed.

      • RedLogix 4.2.1

        No serious person (scientist or otherwise) believes we can build our way out of this predicament we're created for ourselves.

        Any proof of that assertion?

        I have repeatedly outlined a path that would enable us to build our way out of this, yet it's largely ignored. It essentially involves hyper-energisation and closed loop resource industrialisation. Both concepts have obvious challenges, but neither are unreasonable goals.

        You on the other hand loudly insist that there is no hope, that collapse and mass die-off is inevitable.

        Spot the difference.

        • bill

          You on the other hand loudly insist that there is no hope, that collapse and mass die-off is inevitable.

          Erm. You keep missing the bit about slashing energy consumption and how that might result in us dodging catastrophe?

          It seems to me you're not facing reality Red. Your ideas about hyper-energisation and closed loop resource industrialisation (whatever those things may mean or look like in reality) would take how long to develop and roll out on a global scale? We have a mere handful of years before even the longest shot of avoiding two degrees of warming is gone.

          As for wanting proof of an opinion that stems from an understanding of simple logistics…k – a person who is otherwise quite seriously minded, obviously isn't being serious (is deluded) if they believe that building global infrastructure can happen in a jiffy.

          • RedLogix

            You keep missing the bit about slashing energy consumption and how that might result in us dodging catastrophe?

            It doesn't avoid catastrophe, it ensures one. The reasoning is quite simple; lets assume there are, or soon will be, around 8b people, of whom 1b in the developed world are consuming energy at 5 times the rate the other 7b are. (Crude assumptions for the purpose of argument.)

            If we reduce that top 1b back to the same average level of the other 7b, this at most reduces total human energy consumption by about two thirds. Nowhere near enough to stop climate change.

            Worse still it means we can no longer support the complex industrial systems that enable cities to work at modern scale. Of that 8b roughly 4b are now urbanised and depend on energy to provide food and services. That means roughly half the world's population would need to reverse 200 yrs of urbanisation and return to subsistence farming as prior to the industrial revolution.

            Solar and wind renewables do not exist in isolation, they require all of the complex industrial networks of materials and processes for their manufacture, install and operation. We are nowhere near the point where we could bootstrap sufficient industrialisation off the back of existing renewables to sustain their future growth. Or even keep the existing base going for long.

            Strict decarbonising implies we return almost completely to the photosynthesis only civilisations prior to 1700AD. I accept this is a simplification, we may sustain some skills and artifacts of the industrial era, and the decay may be fast or slow, but the end point would be inevitably much the same. Except for one thing; having already consumed so many of the easily accessible metal resources, and with climate change impacting the biological ones, we'd be very much on the back foot.

            After roughly 10,000 yrs of progress, our human ancestors (who I must emphasise were every bit as smart as us, and in many ways much tougher) never managed to get the total human population much over several hundred million. With the tech available to them the human carrying capacity of the planet was certainly less than 1b.

            And that is the best population we could expect to survive if we 'slashed energy consumption' to the extent we could avoid irreversible climate change. It is a strategy that might work, but in the long run it would almost certainly come at the cost of around 7b lives … at least. Kind of like 'herd immunity', a blunt tool that knowingly front loads the death of millions.

            And you accuse me of not facing reality.

            • bill

              Well, for a start you might want to look at the estimates of who consumes what. It's 10% of us consume 50% of energy. That 10% are (generally speaking) the richest of us.

              I can't quite remember the exact formulation (came from Kevin Anderson) – it was something along the lines of bringing the richest US citizens down to energy consumption levels that are the European average and we get a 30% reduction in global energy use off the bat. (Note – that's assigning energy consumption to end user, and not on a national basis)

              In terms of total energy consumption, my understanding is that Puerto Rico sits in a "goldilocks" zone, whereby they have achieved the maximum human well being to energy consumption ratio. Beyond Puerto Rico's levels of consumption, the improvements to human welfare that come from energy use tail off.

              So. Rather than pull people up to "our" level of energy consumption, or dash back to some Hobbesian idea of the medieval that you appear to imagine, if we aimed for a level around what a citizen of Puerto Rico would consume, then we lose nothing very much in human well being and extend the time before our two degrees carbon budget is well and truly shot to pieces.

              Would that give us time to possibly lay in reasonable amounts of sensible infrastructure? I dunno.

              Regardless, it seems we've set our course for a fossil future of ever increasing energy use and a world beyond two degrees.

              • roblogic

                If we can get off the carbon hobby horse for a moment, there are multiple crises and extinction events caused by human activity unfolding right now.

                Pollution, overpopulation and environmental destruction haven't gone away. CC has had the best marketing, but multiple ecosystem collapses and crop failures are just as likely to destroy civilisation as we know it. Or we can speed it up even further with war.

                Perhaps a prepper mentality and Fortress Aotearoa are the way forward.

                • RedLogix

                  If we can get off the carbon hobby horse for a moment, there are multiple crises and extinction events caused by human activity unfolding right now.

                  Indeed. I agree that for the purposes of argument we tend to use energy as a proxy for all of them.

                  One of my very broad presuppositions is that if we solve the energy crisis we will also go a long way down the road toward solving all the others. I accept that is open to challenge.

                  One of the core ideas I am using to justify this is the observation that humans save nature when we stop using it. For example we nearly hunted whales to extinction for their oil, until ironically enough petrochemical oil came along to replace it. Now their populations are quietly (if patchily) recovering.

                  But yes I'd acknowledge this is a complex discussion in it's own right and we aren't doing it justice here.

              • RedLogix

                It's 10% of us consume 50% of energy.

                There isn't of course a hard boundary between the top 10% and the other 90%.

                But lets use that number you give. To keep the argument simple, imagine the top 10% vanish from the face of the earth. Total consumption is now exactly 50% of what it was before. Now lets be generous and allow that top 10% to live, but consuming now at the same rate as everyone else. That adds on another 10% to the 50% and brings up the total consumption to about 55% of what it was before we started on our experiment.

                Not enough reduction to make the difference needed in the necessary time frame. Worse still … as you acknowledge …. all this does is delay the inevitable plunge off the cliff of energy extinction anyhow. Whether we get there fast or slow is something I'll leave for you to decide.

                Small nations like Puerto Rico (and Cuba was another example I recall being used) do not exist in isolation. Critical components of their standard of living, are still imported and dependent on a wider global world. As such they make interesting studies, but a weak proof of concept.

                • bill

                  There isn't of course a hard boundary between the top 10% and the other 90%.

                  True. 10% consume 50% of energy and the top 20% consume 70% of energy.

                  In your comment with its rough and ready calculation, we get to double the timescale before us. Given that 20/70 split, (I'm shite with calculations) I guess the time frame is quite a bit more than the doubling you suggest.

                  That's no little thing, given it's the time frame we have to lay in the zero carbon infrastructure for energy and clatter land use emissions (I think in theory land use emissions can be slightly negative with changed farming practices, diet changes, and regeneration of land etc).

                  edit – avoiding two degrees isn’t about delaying the inevitable plunge off the cliff of energy extinction anyhow btw

                  • RedLogix

                    OK so we slash energy and decarbonise even harder back to the level of the bottom 70% (which is a big drop), again the same rough calculation says we are now consuming at around 36% of current. So we've more or less tripled the time frame.

                    Now we could start to quibble exactly what that time frame might be, and if as a base case assuming we did nothing we have maybe a decade, then tripling it to three decades doesn’t feel like a big win.

                    Conserving a fixed resource base is a plausible strategy if you're on a life boat and there is a reasonable expectation that if you just hold out long enough that eventually rescue will arrive or you'll bump into some land. That's not the case for human existence on this planet, there are no aliens coming to rescue us and no other planet full of untouched resources for us to bump into.

                    The only strategy that fits is for us to innovate and build our way out of this mess, we have to take the tools and resources we have and drive them to the next level. The sad part is that we already have most of the plans needed, but too many people seem fearful of the attempt.

                  • RedLogix

                    Just to put some flesh on all this theory, here is an example of what can be done:

                    The project proposes to use renewable electricity produced from solar PV to convert water into hydrogen using an anion exchange membrane (AEM) electrolyser. The hydrogen would then be converted into methane through a process that combines the hydrogen with carbon dioxide drawn from the atmosphere.

                    The methane output would have similar characteristics to that of conventional natural gas.

                    “Renewable methane is in effect indistinguishable from the methane that currently fills our natural gas pipelines. The gas network is expected to play a key role in supporting the decarbonisation of Australia’s energy system,” ARENA CEO Darren Miller said.

                    “This project will demonstrate the viability of producing renewable methane from solar power. Through a new and innovative approach, the project will capture moisture in the air to produce renewable hydrogen as a precursor to renewable methane.”

                    Essentially it's using solar PV and atmospheric CO2 and H2O to produce methane which is standard fuel and petrochemical feedstock. As long as your pipe network doesn't leak too much it's a really cool decarbonisation scheme.

                    Works especially well in Australia where there is stacks of land ideal for solar. The nice thing is that because quite a lot of gas is stored in the pipeline, it solves the solar intermittency issue.

                    • KJT

                      Then there are Nuclear reactor designs, like the ones using molten salt, which fail into a safer mode and new designs which burn nuclear waste.

                      But also your scepticism, and that in Moore's film, about solar and wind is not justified. Already there are many places which they work better than fossil fuel plants, for less real costs. Reducing greenhouse gases by orders of magnitude over their life cycle, compared with fossil fuelled, plants. PO

                      But. Technology cannot solve the issues on it’s own. More efficient use of energy, and maintaining carbon sinks such as forests and oceans, are also part of the many faceted solutions, required.

                    • RedLogix

                      I've been very careful to be quite clear what my position is on solar and wind. They are useful, essential in the short-term, but have some fundamental physics limits that mean we should not be relying on them to take us into a fully developed, fully sustainable future.

                      And while both Australia and New Zealand are fortunate that we both have excellent solar and/or wind potential, the same is not true for most of the world. We just need far more energy than they can provide in the long run.

                    • KJT

                      Not correct. In reality solar is practically limitless, within the requirements of humans. But we need to use energy more efficiently, rather than just generating more. A lot of that technology is already in existence, also.

                      While some countries, central Europe, for one, are not exactly well endowed with either, that is changing with more efficient generation.

                      However, I expect they will continue to develop nuclear power.

                    • RedLogix

                      Not correct. In reality solar is practically limitless, within the requirements of humans.

                      The limitation is not the amount of solar irradiation, but how much land is required to capture it. This is a fundamental constraint that technology will not have a workaround for. David MacKay's very level headed first principles analysis explains this very well.


                      And yes there is absolutely no objection to being more efficient and less wasteful. This is a tech driven trend that has been progressing for decades already.

                    • KJT

                      Price limitations are already broken.


                      Space limitations have been overstated.

                      And are getting better. The solar panels I use now, are a tenth the size for the same output, of the first ones I owned.

                      As for wind power…

                      But. Why do we have to replace current energy use. It is not just power sources, that are getting more efficient.

                    • RedLogix

                      Price is not the problem, we could make PV panels absolutely free, but if we had to cover 25% of the country to get just to meet our present needs, I doubt this is an ideal outcome.

                      The solar panels I use now, are a tenth the size for the same output, of the first ones I owned.

                      Indeed the first generations of panels were barely 5 – 8% efficient. This is the number that determines panel size for a given output. Most current silicon based panels are now running 20 – 22% efficient, which means they are indeed 4 – 5 times smaller than the first generations.

                      But there is an upper theoretical limit to how far we can push this with the present technology. It's called the Shockely-Queisser limit and it's understood to be around 32%. That means at best we might push our current cells to be maybe two thirds their current size.

                      There are some methods being worked on to get past this limit, but at best even these don't go past 45%. All up there isn't all that much potential to go much further than we already do with solar PV.

                      Again David MacKay's presentation covers this off quite well. Even if we got to double present efficiencies, it really doesn't change his overall conclusions all that much.

                    • KJT

                      We don't have to.

                      Already have enough hydro generation for present stationary power needs.

                      For transport needs. Much is already used at Tiwai point.

                      The remainder can be done with wind, solar and other sources.

                      Many countries are similar.

                      Assuming all or nothing, may seem superficially plausible, but gives a false result.

                    • RedLogix

                      I've been very careful to repeatedly point out that both Australia and New Zealand are among a relatively fortunate few countries that can probably make the carbon transition on renewables only.

                      I just don't see a nuclear power plant in New Zealand in any foreseeable future. (As much as I would enjoy being wrong on that point.)

                      But there are not a lot of 'similar countries'. In most highly populated regions the solar and/or wind potential is nowhere near as good as we like to think. Places like Germany get around this by overbuilding installed renewables, but this does come not come for free. Not only does this double or triple the land area covered, but also pushes up the costs for all the grid infrastructure to handle the variability.

                      However you cut it, a number of voices have been saying that renewables have real limits, and we need to be clear eyed about the constraints these will imply. If we want to get to a hyper-energised society that can do closed loop resource recycling, and move to high tech materials replacing carbon lousy concrete and steel, we will inevitably need to go well beyond our current per capita energy consumption … for the whole of humanity.

                    • Drowsy M. Kram

                      RL, if NZ is, as you say @7:23 pm, "among a relatively fortunate few countries that can probably make the carbon transition on renewables only", why on Earth would you enjoy being wrong about not seeing "a nuclear power plant in New Zealand in any foreseeable future"?

                      Surely your vision of a hyper-energised global society has enough nuclear power plants to keep you happy without pushing one on NZ.

                      Are you’re concerned that NZ not signing up to nuclear power generation could be interpreted a ‘virtue signalling‘?

                    • RedLogix


                      The techie in me would take pleasure in seeing NZ get a nuke plant in my lifetime, but I'm quite realistic enough to know that on our current trajectory we are unlikely to need one. On the other hand the future is hard to predict, and I can imagine scenarios where nuclear may become necessary in NZ.

                      And I'm not entirely disrespectful of the 'popularity' problem that nuclear power has. It would be counterproductive and arrogant to charge into installing one in NZ without doing the work necessary to win the majority of people over to the idea.

                    • roblogic

                      Millennials and younger think driving a gas guzzler is gross. The demand for alternatives like electric or hydrogen fuel cells continues to grow, and there are some promising developments in battery technology and fusion reactors.

                      (If we survive to implement these alternatives.)

                    • The limitation is not the amount of solar irradiation, but how much land is required to capture it. This is a fundamental constraint that technology will not have a workaround for.

                      Perhaps with ever-increasing solar panel efficiency ⁠— with innovations like a multi-junction cell that can push efficiency as high as 47% — land constraints would not affect much.

                    • Drowsy M. Kram

                      Thanks RL (@8:42 pm)

        • Throwaway123

          Hi Redlogix, could you recommend some books (or other resources) about hyper-energisation and closed loop industrialisation. That sounds quite interesting.


          • RedLogix

            The core idea was formalised under the name eco-modernism about five or six years back.

            Michael Shellenberger is a good spokesperson.

            Also these guys Breakthrough Institute produce earnest if sometimes waffly material on a regular basis.

            On Molten Salt Reactors you have to start with Gordon McDowell's YT channel a young guy who has just made it his mission to capture any material he can find on the topic.

            As an idea I fully acknowledge it is a bold, maybe even extreme idea. There is absolutely no assurance it will work, although the basic ideas all seem reasonable and achievable within the scope of technologies we already know about.

            I'm aware that as an idea it has it's informed critics. Still on the whole I see it as the only non-depressing option we have. It fundamentally entails us taking a long shot between the constraining walls of CO2 and environmental limits on one side of the path, and the cliff of energy extinction on the other.

            It's not even obvious there is a safe route between them; each year we waste narrows the chances.

            • Throwaway123

              Much appreciated, will dig into these resources over the next few weeks.

    • Cinny 5.1

      There is a silver lining, because under this government those newly unemployed youths, who left school and went straight into work, now have the option of free tertiary education.

      • Sacha 5.1.1

        And the direction that the training is focused on is crucial. What industries and jobs will be needed?

      • Sabine 5.1.2

        there are so many for whom that scenario does not apply. And the next wave of unemployed will be older.

        I hope that the government has a plan in place for the many whom will have no job for a long time to go back to, specially for the women.

  4. gsays 6

    I have just heard on RNZ, Florian Scheider, founding member of Kraftwerk, passed away.

    Man Machine was the first piece of vinyl as a young teen that I bought. Those sounds, so simple, so high tech. Many hours spent hunched over the album sleeve, headphones on, lost in the music.

    A profoundly influential band, who's music travelled way beyond their Dusseldorf studio.


    This is an obituary from Rolling Stone.


  5. Sacha 7

    Brilliant interactive graphing of NZ's response over time: https://interactives.stuff.co.nz/2020/05/coronavirus-covid-19-data-new-zealand/

    • Cinny 7.1

      That's so cool, how the graph moves to match the text examples as you scroll to read. Those who put it together have done a fantastic job. Awesome.

      • Sacha 7.1.1

        Impressive, eh. Though they have left out Vietnam as an example of a great response.

        • aj

          It's interesting that some nations very close to China (geographically) have handled this the best. And this doesn't reflect well on the much wealthier nations that have grossly mishandled the pandemic.

          Interesting article on Vietnam's experience – Vietnam’s low-cost Covid-19 strategy

          • Andre

            … As a result, Vietnamese generally haven’t viewed Covid-19 as just another seasonal flu, but as a serious illness as menacing as the 2003 SARS outbreak. The public’s experience with SARS, as well as with the swine and avian flus, has helped to shape perceptions of Covid-19 and likely influenced people’s readiness to respond.

            That's a key point from the article. Nations in the southeast asia region have been on the front-line of dealing with emerging diseases for decades now. They have already had the learning experience and had systems in place. Plus the confidence in experts and in the public to respond early and quickly with the systems they had ready to go.

            • KJT

              The Washington post, a few weeks ago, rabbiting on about how a "free" society, Taiwan dealt with the pandemic, so much better than China.

              Is farcical in the light of the subsequent US, failure.

              • Andre

                Given that the chinese response included welding people into their apartments, plus the ongoing doubt about the reliability of chinese numbers, makes me uninterested in trying to play a comparison game that includes the chinese response as one of the comparison points. But there's no doubt the situation in the US has been made much worse by the Dotard of Doltistan and his nepotistic kakistocracy.

                Personally I'm just very relieved to be in the data segment that will be used to illustrate how something as serious as COVID can in fact be contained and eliminated by a capable state working together with a population that is willing to accept the need to change behaviour for a while and just do it. Without needing to resort to draconian enforcement of removing reasonable civil rights. Along with Taiwan, Vietnam, Australia and South Korea as other examples.

                • KJT

                  Just pointing out the irony.

                  And self delusion of the US, media.

                  Though, it seems ours isn’t much better.

                  • aj

                    The response from Vietnam (and some others) makes it clear that the Chinese were open enough about the issue to allow them to make rational decisions on tackling the virus with success. All countries had access to the same data, so it begs the question why some didn't. Donald McNeil goes to the crux of the difficulty of assessing the characteristics of Covid-19 early on in this 20 minute interview

                    8am this morning, RNZ

                    "In early March fellow journalists were bemused by Donald McNeil's glove wearing and surface-sanitising ways.The New York Times' health and science reporter saw the pandemic coming and took personal action early.

                    He's now looking towards to the next big challenge for the US – how the country will navigate its way out of the lockdown.His reporting's building up a picture of a dark and somewhat dystopian future, with economic opportunities for the immune leading to people deliberately exposing themselves to the virus"

                    • lprent

                      It was pretty obvious to me in mid January that this was a likely to be a epidemic and possiblee pandemic disease – and I was looking at the WHO bulletins from the 5th of Jan. I was bloody glad that I got back from UK before xmas.

                      Just looking at the reported level of lock down that the Chinese put into Wuhan and 5 other provincial towns at the 23rd Jan made it completely clear that the novel corona virus was spreading to Vietnam and Singapore – both of which started to do suppression and containment at the same time.

                      Anyone with more than half a brain, something that obviously isn’t the case with Trump, should have been watching what the WHO was saying. Some of the white house staff were. But getting https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/07/donald-trump-coronavirus-memos-warning-peter-navarroast the monumental ego to th peanut that Trump uses for a brain was evidently too hard.

                      It was much the same world wide. Some countries acted responsibly, and reduced the problem like NZ did. Some like the Italy, UK and the US has dysfunctional governance and got the outcomes consist with being unthinking fuckwits.

                      What was interesting to me was how closely NZ was following it – for instance with the Wuhan mercy flight on the 29th of Jan.

                    • roblogic

                      Part of the difference is crappy governance, but also NZ culture in general is outward looking, we like to know what's happening in the world. Brexit Britain and Border wall USA prefer game shows and propaganda to keep inconvenient facts out of the news cycle.

                • aj

                  Without needing to resort to draconian enforcement of removing reasonable civil rights.

                  Some people in New Zealand view level 3 and 4 as removing reasonable rights. (I wasn't one of them)

    • ianmac 7.2

      Wow! Haven't the technology moved far since a simple bar graph. Amazing!

  6. aj 8

    The National Party, ACT and many in business still are preaching the mantra that Australia was much less restrictive in flattening it's curve.

    But in the last two days the Morrison Govt has introduced a 3-step plan to re-open their economy.

    From that article, Step one of three, I've highlighted some points that show many states have had restrictions close to us, perhaps not with our strongly communicated movement restrictions under Level 4 – the well articulated advice to 'stay local'

    Step one will see us connecting with more friends and family, and see businesses, educational campuses and sporting facilities start to reopen.

    Restrictions on gatherings will be relaxed, allowing for:

    • Non-work gatherings of up to 10 people in public
    • Up to five visitors to your home
    • Up to 10 guests at a wedding, in addition to the couple and the celebrant
    • Up to 20 mourners allowed at a funeral if indoors, and 30 if outdoors
    • Religious gatherings with up to 10 attendees

    Employees should continue to work from home if it is suitable for them and their employer, though all businesses should develop a Covid-safe plan to prepare for staff returning to the workplace.

    Step one will see a number of businesses reopen their doors.

    Retail stores will reopen, and auctions and open homes proceed with up to 10 people. Cafes and restaurants will be allowed to seat 10 patrons at a time, as long as they follow the four square metres per person rule. Hairdressers and barber shops can also open, but must record customers’ contact details, presumably enable contact tracing if necessary.

    Food courts will stay closed for any seated patrons. Also to remain closed: gyms, indoor movie theatres, stadiums, galleries, museums, zoos, pubs, clubs, gaming venues, strip clubs and brothels, as well as beauty therapy and massage therapy venues, saunas and tattoo parlours.

    Step one will also see children back in classrooms and in playgrounds in their communities, and universities and technical colleges increasing face-to-face teaching where possible.

    Some sporting facilities will be made available once again. Indoor gyms will stay closed, but up to 10 people at a time will be able to:

    • Use community centres, outdoor gyms, playgrounds, and skate parks
    • Take part in outdoor organised sport, like golf and boot camps.

    While interstate borders will most likely remain closed to tourists, intrastate travel to regional areas for recreation should start back up. Hostels and hotels will be open for accommodation, but caravan parks and camping grounds could remain closed to tourists in some states and territories.

    Queensland has announced it will move to stage 1 on 15 May, and Tasmania will do so on 18 May, subject to public health advice. Other states have yet to specify the date.

    Finally, when you look at the unemployment and government assistance stats it's clear that they too have suffered a massive hit on their economy.

  7. Morrissey 9

    Kim Hill is interviewing someone decent this morning

    RNZ National, Saturday 9 May 2020

    A welcome change from guests like Jonathan Freedland, Luke Harding, A.A. Gill and Alex Gibney….

    09:05 Chesa Boudin – progressive DA and 'de-carceration' advocate

    San Francisco's recently elected district attorney Chesa Boudin has a unique perspective on the legal system: his 75-year-old father David Gilbert (a former member of the radical left wing group the Weather Underground) is in prison serving a life sentence for murder.

    Boudin is a lawyer, writer, and lecturer specializing in the U.S. criminal justice system and Latin American policy.

    His mission is to reform the American criminal justice system and reduce incarceration rates. His policies include challenging California's controversial 'three strikes' law.

    He's also concerned about the impact of Covid-19 on prisoners.


    • Dennis Frank 9.1

      Ah, sentenced when life actually meant life, eh? I wonder if some journo has interviewed him – would be interesting (if he hasn't lost his marbles).

      "Newly released FBI documents show that in the spring of 1969, Washington ordered its civilian informants in Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) to support the “National Office” faction (that is, Weatherman) against other factions in the organization. At that time, the FBI believed—wrongly—that Weatherman, because it was countercultural and anarchic, was the least dangerous group in SDS. When the 600-strong Weatherman faction walked out at the SDS national convention in June 1969 and formed the “true” SDS, among those 600 people were dozens of FBI civilian informants." https://time.com/4549409/the-weather-underground-bad-moon-rising/

      "Yet the fact is that FBI never permanently caught a single major Weatherman figure." Which implies that the DA's father was a minor figure! So on what basis did he get life? Murder?

      And "the Weatherman bombing policy had not won support even on the extreme Left. Even the Berkeley Tribe, the most radical underground newspaper in the country, publicly warned that lethal bombings would discredit Weatherman". I was watching this all go down in black & white tv pics from our state broadcaster thinking `goddam leftists – what part of non-violence don't they get??'

      • Gabby 9.1.1

        I was thinking, goddam Generalissimo, what part of extremist doesn't the knuckfuckle get?

  8. Pat 10

    "And of course, the jobless numbers don't count those who have had their pay cut, their working hours cut (or both), or are in the casual, gig economy (survey data for these workers is difficult). All up it is an epic economic disaster and one that will probably be repeated in May, despite the desperate attempt there to restart their economy. You just cannot take the purchasing power of that many people out of the giant American economy and not have long-term global economic implications. The hurt will spread to New Zealand and our export markets."


    • Sacha 10.1

      Under-employment has a been a big part of the story for people under 30 in our economy for some time and it will only get worse. What does it matter that you have a 'job' if you still can't afford to live?

      • Pat 10.1.1

        I'm guessing you didnt read the link

        • Sacha

          Aren't I agreeing with it?

          And of course, the jobless numbers don't count those who have had their pay cut, their working hours cut (or both), or are in the casual, gig economy (survey data for these workers is difficult).

          NZ has its own version of that already, regardless of other impacts on our economy from outside.

          • Pat

            You are highlighting the previous existence of one of the lesser points in the article so I suppose in a roundabout way that could be so.

    • Craig H 10.2

      Underutilisation measures that to an extent.

      • Pat 10.2.1

        and so it continues

        • Sacha

          We are not all going to focus on the point you wanted.

          • Pat

            which was?

            • Sacha

              Something else, apparently 🙂

              • Pat

                Call me strange but the met service has just outlined the barometer plunging, a massive storm system forming on a scale not seen in living memory and the discussion point from the forecast is we should double peg our washing on the line…..wtf?

            • Incognito

              When you only quote a paragraph with a link, it may seem self-explanatory to you but without any guiding commentary from you, that assumption might be challenged 😉

              In any case, this is a debating chamber rather than an echo chamber. So, make your point(s), and make them well, and expect counter-points, some of which better than others.

              • Pat

                "In any case, this is a debating chamber rather than an echo chamber."

                Or neither of those things.

                I could 'tell' someone what (i think) that collection of facts may mean…

                I could dismiss some or all of those facts….

                I could make an outrageous claim attached to those facts….

                Or I could present the information as of relevance and importance to provoke some thought and discussion about how it may impact our lives.

                I chose the last option

                • Incognito

                  It is designed to function as a debating chamber but when you remove all the furniture on the right, there can be a slight echo depending on where you stand and what kind of noise you make.

                  I find it helps to initiate and catalyse “some thought and discussion”.

                  You are most welcome to choose whatever option you fancy or you think best, of course.

      • Craig H 10.2.2

        If your point is that the economic shock is huge and unavoidable, well yes, that's clear and obvious. There's limited mitigation available of this, and while tourism is going to be a lot smaller, we are lucky that major export $ comes from primary industries which will continue on.

    • bill 10.3

      My thinking is along the lines of a sack of bastards thrown into deep water who are all clamouring at one another thinking that if they hang on to the right person they won't go down. They're all going down.

      It seems NZ is aligning itself with the US (some shit about suggesting Taiwan be allowed into the WHO and a trading bloc that includes the US?). It doesn't make much sense to me, given that it's likely China and other Asian countries that are going to be on their feet first – however briefly.

      Then there's that huge power grab going on in the US – the $US 4+ Trillion that's being gifted to US corporations alongside nothing being done for workers or small businesses.

      I'm guessing the idea is to force workers back into the workforce and pandemic be damned. (The UK is also looking at ending its wage subsidy scheme) I wonder if they've thought through the possibility of workers tooling up (how many guns in the US?) but not to go to work?

      If I liked popcorn more than I did….

      • Pat 10.3.1

        and Trump encouraging those 'tooled up' to 'liberate' all….hes making China look like a better option every day (when we are forced to choose and surely we must sometime soon)

        World goes mad (again)

      • Gabby 10.3.2

        With Bitch McTurtle wanting to ensure that employers aren't liable for any resulting deaths, of course.

    • roblogic 10.4

      Further from the Interest.co.nz article (h/t Pat):

      22.5 mln extra people jobless in just one month. We want to try and put that into perspective.. That is like saying everyone in the workforce in New Zealand (2.8 mln), Australia (13.0 mln), Singapore (3.8 mln), and Hong Kong (3.9 mln) all lost their jobs in one four week period.

      But it is worse than that. The US data is based on a survey taken on April 12, and things got substantially worse after that.

      "USA: Richest nation in history", only if you ignore half the population and the victims of its sordid past.

      • Pat 10.4.1


        It has only just begun and given the US is by some measures quarter of world economic output we can cry out for 'restarting' our economy and 'saving ' our businesses because 'shutdown' you know but the damage is not to any great extent controlled by our actions…especially in a globalised economy.

        Even our Reserve Banks actions are largely determined by what the major players do.

        Autonomy of act and outcome are an illusion being grasped like drowning men clutching at straws

      • I Feel Love 10.4.2

        "Richest nation" etc, yet only a few percent own more than half of all wealth? Amazing how many Americans think they live in the "bestest country in the world".

  9. observer 11

    Stuart Smith (a National MP nobody has heard of) reminds us why Simon Bridges is still their leader. Not learning from mistakes is not the exception in that caucus – it's the rule:


    He claims not to have read the full tweet. Thus disqualifying himself from ever being in government. I mean, some of those papers Ministers have to read are pages long. With no pictures!

    • Morrissey 11.1

      I look forward to the National Party's bloodletting after this year's election. Should be most entertaining.

  10. Sacha 12

    Can even Star Wars save them?


    SATIRE: The National Party has announced that it will approach Taika Waititi​ to write and direct its response to the next global crisis.

    The move comes as National’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic opened to mixed-to-negative reviews and was lambasted by many die-hard fans.

    National fans fondly recall what many consider to be the highwater mark of the franchise – 2008’s A New Hopeful, in which a simple but likeable Merrill Lynch​ funds trader frees a thankful nation from the tyrannical grip of Helen Clark’s energy-efficient-lightbulb-wielding regime.

  11. dv 13


    This is an excellent read. It shows how they are able to track the covid movement by analysis of the genome. The detail is well! detailed!!!

    'That same process of analysing genomic data, however, can tell us more than just where the virus came from. It can tell us where the virus has been, too.

    Then, finally, a mistake slipped through the cracks. Some time between December 22 and January 12, the guanine nucleotide 11,083 letters into the RNA code swapped to a uracil. The G changed to a U.

    • Sacha 13.1

      Fascinating stuff. By the way, anything from a '?' onwards in a link can be cut off before pasting it here: https://www.newsroom.co.nz/2020/05/08/1158204/the-new-zealand-strains-how-the-coronavirus-got-here

    • mauī 13.2

      Although this kind of stuff is semi interesting.. much more important is finding out exactly where this virus came from. I get the feeling a lot of effort is being put into defending where it didn't come from – science, and basically glossing over the origin. hmm….

      • Incognito 13.2.1

        Ok then, let me help you by highlighting a few salient points that also a layperson should be able to appreciate.

        Why does this matter? It's a crucial tool in tracing how the virus moves and where it may be coming from.

        In China, for example, new cases that bear the hallmarks of European or American strains can be classified as linked to overseas travel and not indicative of undetected spread. [emphasis added]

        New Zealand could also benefit.

        "When new cases are being announced, often it says they are still under investigation. Often that means that people are still being interviewed and that they are still trying to establish links to known clusters," …

        But in some cases, it's just difficult to make that link, either because it's some time ago that the person had the symptoms or just because the virus can spread so easily that you might not always make the connection. In some of those cases, we can use the genome of the virus to identify a cluster that it is associated to."

        This has happened on at least one occasion, de Ligt said.

        "In comparison to other RNA viruses, it's a little bit more stable because it has a way of correcting some of the errors that it makes while it replicates," Geoghegan said.

        "The stability is actually a good thing. It doesn't necessarily mutate as quickly as some other viruses do and it's quite encouraging news, for example, for the hope of creating a long-lasting vaccine."

        While the mutations may not make the virus more deadly or more transmissible, understanding where in the virus these mutations occur could help with efforts to create an antiviral medication.

        The parts with few mutations are more brittle. Mutations in those parts may destroy the coronavirus by causing catastrophic changes to its proteins. Those essential regions may be especially good targets for attacking the virus with antiviral drugs," the New York Times reported in April.

        That's part of why New Zealand scientists are seeking to sequence the genome of all 1138 of our confirmed cases. This could help with vaccine research and the quest for an effective antiviral.

        In addition to all of this, it is likely that more uses for genome mapping will be produced in the coming months, alongside more revelations about how the virus mutates and spreads.

  12. Morrissey 14

    This moronic coup organizer reminds me of a certain NZ politician….

    At the 43:10 mark, we learn that the ex-Green Beret Jordan Goudreau was investigated in 2013 for allegedly defrauding the army of housing stipends.

  13. Mat Simpson 15

    Ignorance of the law or saying NO too make it it as draconian as possible so you can't access support ?


  14. Dennis Frank 16

    For those interested in compulsory acquisitions of real estate by local councils, here's a saga from the Herald reporter based in Hamilton. https://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=12325537

    "The 2.4 ha property they bought in 2009 is an escape from their busy jobs at Waikato Hospital. Robinson, an anaesthetist and Chang, a respiratory specialist at Waikato Hospital, are on the frontline of Waikato District Health Board's response to the Covid-19 pandemic."

    "Robinson and Chang have been offered $1 by the council for a portion of their land big enough to be a lifestyle block on its own and, despite the land's potential worth of half a million dollars on the open market. The case is so unusual that Sage has instructed officials to review the law that applies to compulsory acquisition next time the Public Works Act is renewed."

    Eugenie Sage seems to have been advised that the council is legally able to perform the rort via coercion. "Council strategic development manager Andrew Parsons says the council has worked with expert planners and lawyers to ensure the Public Works Act, 1981 has been followed. The Act provides for the payment of compensation for losses arising from the acquisition of land by the Crown and its authorities."

    From his grave, Muldoon's got a long reach, huh? An "independent valuation has determined the owners will receive an increase in their asset value of $282,500 due to the works done by the council, regardless of what they choose to do in the future. It is this value that has been used to assess betterment."

    So the council doesn't have to pay current market value for land taken for subdivisions. It can pay market value in some hypothetical future chosen by their pet valuer. Public policy based on one individual's personal hallucination, I reckon!

  15. SDCLFC 17

    Wow – for my sins just tuned into Kiwiblog to read his opinion on the Waikato river restriction. Won't repeat it because it's flat-out racist, in the most repugnant of manners.
    I'm not experienced in such stuff but I believe he needs to be called out for this publicly if those who mod this site felt as such.

    • roblogic 17.1

      Kiwiblog doesn't need the airtime. But, as an open sewer, it's a useful barometer of how one eyed Nactoids are feeling, and they've had a shitty time lately.

      • SDCLFC 17.1.1

        Thanks for helping me climb down.

        Yes, you're right.

        I check it out to see how off the wall they are and what's behind their thinking

        Wouldn't mind him having to justify these comments in the open public though.

        But I would know it would never happen.

        The racism is strong in that one and ultimately the mainstream media too, who just wouldn't care for it

    • Incognito 17.2

      What can I do about offensive comments made online?


      If you come across racism on The Standard, you should flag this, ideally to the Moderators of this site. The Moderators cannot be everywhere all the time and sometimes there is a delay between the posting of the offence and appropriate educational and/or corrective action, e.g. a Moderator note or warning, a deletion or part-deletion of the offending text/material, and in some cases an instant ban, sometimes a permanent one, depending on the severity of the offence and the (history of the) perpetrator. Luckily, the commentariat of this site is generally very good at spotting dodgy comments that may need the attention from Moderators. Everybody who posts here must read and adhere to this site’s Policy (https://thestandard.org.nz/policy/) as well as the About section (https://thestandard.org.nz/about/); the policy is clear and the rules are lenient. When in doubt, please ask first or risk being moderated, which is usually a kind explanation and instruction, but not always! Ignorance is not an excuse.

      FYI, the Moderators of The Standard have absolutely no responsibility whatsoever, moral or otherwise, for what happens elsewhere and on other blog sites. Their job is to keep this place, i.e. The Standard, clean and tidy and enable fair and robust debate on this site only. It is an offence and a breach of this site’s Policy and rules to tell Authors and Moderators what to do or not to do here, let alone somewhere else; it goes against the spirit of the Policy to suggest even such a thing, IMO. I assume you meant well, but I felt it necessary to give you my thoughts on the matter to avoid these suggestions from happening again in future.

      NB This comment is not personal but directed at all commenters here, as a reminder.

      • SDCLFC 17.2.1

        All good – am sure you understood this, but just to reaffirm that it was about what I read on Kiwiblog not here, – and interested if it deserved comment on the standard.


  16. Observer Tokoroa 18

    Ii would be a pity,

    It the Nats go hell for leather as they are, encouraging everybody of their weird persuasion to do whatever they want whenever they want – While Covid -19 keeps rolling on.

    Truthfully, Simon and Paula are seriously mad

  17. Ad 19

    China appears to have completely eradicated an entire desert.

    It took 60 years of focused and organised effort. Just shows the good people can do for the planet when they put their mind to it:


  18. SPC 20

    Pandemic Timeline

    1. Jan 30 WHO declares a World Alert

    2. Feb 3 WHO tells off those who closed their borders to travellers from China – calling for evidence based policy (China had already locked down Wuhan from the rest of China and thus they were to contain their outbreak and save many lives) and calling for the continuance of travel and trade.

    3. May 8 WHO supports the continuance of live animal markets as an important part of the economy and says the risk will just have to be managed.

    4. Only a swine flu epidemic ended Chinese pig meat exports – farmed by giving them anti-biotics – enabling the development of anti-biotic resistant bacteria.

    • weka 20.1

      He said reducing the risk of disease transmission from animals to humans in these often overcrowded markets could be addressed in many cases by improving hygiene and food safety standards, including separating live animals from humans.

      He added that it is still unclear whether the market in Wuhan linked to the first several dozens of coronavirus cases in China was the actual source of the virus or merely played a role in spreading the disease further.


      • SPC 20.1.1

        Yup – he supports them continuing to operate. You could quote the part where he says the risk of future outbreaks from live markets is something that will just have to be managed – like the spread of a virus by those who travel …

  19. Pat 21

    "The number of infections could grow as health workers are scrambling to trace contacts of club goers. Park said health workers have been attempting to contact some 1,940 people who were listed as visitors to the three Itaewon clubs and other venues nearby, but they have so far been able to reach only 637 of them."


    3 days ago South Korea was touted as one of the covid success stories and had barely a week ago relaxed restrictions.

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