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Open mike 17/04/2022

Written By: - Date published: 6:00 am, April 17th, 2022 - 68 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 …

68 comments on “Open mike 17/04/2022 ”

  1. Dennis Frank 1

    Just in case of grandchildren asking where did it come from…


    As a folklorist, I'm aware of the origins of the long and interesting journey this mythical figure has taken from European prehistory to today.

    In European traditions, the Easter Bunny is known as the Easter Hare. The symbolism of the hare has had many tantalizing ritual and religious roles down through the years.

    Hares were given ritual burials alongside humans during the Neolithic age in Europe. Archaeologists have interpreted this as a religious ritual, with hares representing rebirth.

    Over a thousand years later, during the Iron Age, ritual burials for hares were common, and in 51 B.C., Julius Caesar mentions that in Britain, hares were not eaten, due to their religious significance.

    Caesar would likely have known that in the Classical Greek tradition, hares were sacred to Aphrodite, the goddess of love. Meanwhile, Aphrodite's son Eros was often depicted carrying a hare, as a symbol of unquenchable desire.

    From the Greek world through the Renaissance, hares often appear as symbols of sexuality in literature and art. For example, the Virgin Mary is often shown with a white hare or rabbit, symbolizing that she overcame sexual temptation. But it is in the folk traditions of England and Germany that the figure of the hare is specifically connected to Easter. Accounts from the 1600s in Germany describe children hunting for Easter eggs hidden by the Easter Hare… One tradition, known as the "Hare Pie Scramble," was held at Hallaton, a village in Leicestershire, England, which involved eating a pie made with hare meat and people "scrambling" for a slice. In 1790, the local parson tried to stop the custom due to its pagan associations, but he was unsuccessful, and the custom continues in that village until this day.

    In 1835, the folklorist Jacob Grimm, one of the famous team of the fairy tale "Brothers Grimm," argued that the Easter Hare was connected with… the Anglo-Saxon goddess Eostre, that Bede, an Anglo-Saxon monk considered to be the father of English history, mentioned in 731. Bede noted that in eighth-century England the month of April was called Eosturmonath, or Eostre Month, named after the goddess Eostre. He wrote that a pagan festival of spring in the name of the goddess had become assimilated into the Christian celebration of the resurrection of Christ.

    • Sabine 1.1

      In spring, hares are about the first little critters that poor people in Europe were allowed to hunt. All other animals were regulated to royals and their quislings. Rabbits, hares, and other rodents, pigeons and such were good food for the poor and landless.

      Also, hens finally started laying eggs again, so you have meat and you have eggs. No worries about dying of starvation anymore, and it is getting warmer.

      Spring time, fertility festivals galore, have the babies by end of summer, nicely fattened up to be able to survive the coming cold month of the year.

      • Dennis Frank 1.1.1

        That makes me wonder if the British religious aversion to eating hares that Caesar wrote about was pre-Celtic, pre-Bronze Age. Indigenous.

        But yeah, I take the point about economic resilience. Survival skills.

  2. tsmithfield 2

    Here is an interesting video discussing three new rules of modern warfare that the Ukrainians are applying very effectively against the Russian army at the moment, and rules that the Russian army seems not to have learned.

    The assumption that the Russians appear to have made in this conflict is that they would be confronting the Ukranians in conventional warfare, and that their overwhelming material superiority would quickly defeat the Ukranians.

    However, as the video points out, independent analysis of photographic evidence of material losses indicates, in terms of tank losses alone, that the Russians have lost 507 tanks compared to the Ukranians 112 tanks.

    More than that, the Russian losses have included 201 tanks that the Ukranians have captured from the Russians. Hence, the Ukranians have substantially increased their own armoured strength courtesy of the Russians.

    Note, that, as the video points out, these figures are likely to be underestimates as they are based on what has actually been visually authenticated.

    The video then discusses three new rules for warfare that the Ukranians are applying.

    The first rule is that small can defeat big.

    What is meant by that is small groups of soldiers armed with modern effective weapons can defeat much larger forces by using ambushes and the like to attack in unexpected ways.

    The second rule is that finding beats flanking.

    So, rather than try and out-manoeuvre, flanking and encircling opponents as a larger army would traditionally do, the emphasis is on accurately finding the position of enemy forces so they can be targeted effectively. As the video points out, this not only includes detailed intelligence provided by the west in this conflict, but also drones, and civilians in various areas who can use their cellphones to report back to Ukrainian headquarters the position, size, and movement of Russian forces in various areas.

    The third rule is that swarming is better than surging.

    Surging refers to the conventional strategy of both sides massing forces and coming together in head-on conflict. But swarming refers to identifying enemy weak points and focusing resources on attacking those weak points rather than attempting to confront a larger enemy head-on. The example given in the video is to take out the lead and end vehicles in a convoy, effectively paralysing the convoy and leaving the whole convoy vulnerable to attack, as has happened quite a few times in this conflict.

    So, it seems to me that the Russians, to date, anyway, have made some really bad assumptions, and are just not up with the times so far as modern warfare goes. They have now tried to direct their war into topography that suits their style of combat, so it will be interesting to see how the Ukrainians adapt to that. The weather gods aren't helping the Russians at the moment as the weather is terrible in that area of Ukraine turning ground in to mud making it difficult to move their armour off the roads onto open ground as they would prefer to do.

    • Rewriting history, Russian style:

    • Whispering Kate 2.2

      Sounds a bit like the Battle of Agincourt when the French knights on horseback got bogged down in the mud and the English archers won the day. History says the night before the battle Henry V asked one of his close associates what the day would be like and the associate said trust me it will be wet my knee is telling me so. Lovely story of old.

      • Matiri 2.2.1

        As Shakespeare wrote in Henry V (who led the English at Agincourt

        "That's a valiant flea that dare eat his breakfast on the lip of a lion."

    • Barfly 2.3

      "The example given in the video is to take out the lead and end vehicles in a convoy, effectively paralysing the convoy and leaving the whole convoy vulnerable to attack, as has happened quite a few times in this conflict………..

      The weather gods aren't helping the Russians at the moment as the weather is terrible in that area of Ukraine turning ground in to mud making it difficult to move their armour off the roads onto open ground as they would prefer to do."

      Those are WW2 lessons loldevil

      • tsmithfield 2.3.1

        This whole conflict has got a bit of a "WW2" feel to it. Or even WW1, or medieval city sieges.

        Quite bizarre really. Despite the technological advances the Russians have supposedly made, this war is being largely fought with old Soviet era equipment.

        While this conflict is a proxy war by Nato against Russia, it is like the might of the Russian military being fought against the might of Nato's little finger as the weapon systems supplied to Ukraine that have wreaked havoc on the Russians have been basic, person-mobile equipment such as anti-tank weapons.

        Hence, the reason the Russian military would be absolutely and quickly annihilated were they to come up against NATO, in a conventional war anyway.

        • GreenBus

          Absolute rubbish tsmithfield. Military experts know that the Russian war with Ukraine is already decided. American experts no less. When Russia attacks in the east the Ukraine will be toast, burnt toast. Zelenski is desperate for weapons, food and everything else to wage war, they have run out and cannot be re supplied.

          So far the Ukraine army has only fought the "soft" version of Russian war and have been shutdown, almost unable to wage war. The stage is being setup in the east for an all out assault by Russia and I fear they will bring a lot more force to this offensive. If Zelenski has a care for his people he will cease fire and walk out.

          • In Vino

            It seems to me also that we have been fed a stinking pile of anti-Russian propaganda. I don't like Putin, but I distrust equally that 'angelic' Ukrainian leader with the strange surname. Our general news media are not informing us well about this war. Lots of reports of Russian atrocities, but no mention of even USA intelligence people later questioning the truth of them. Just more anti-Russian dross.

      • Stuart Munro 2.3.2

        It was unfair of Ukraine, hosting this war going into summer, negating Russia's only reliable move – "Retreat until the winter snows come".

        • In Vino

          May I remind you it was Russia that determined when this war would start, not the Ukraine?

          Or maybe you just wanted to add to the russophobe avalanche with a weak joke?

          • Stuart Munro

            It's a curious construction, your 'Russophobia'.

            Here you have a corrupt despotic authoritarian regime with no redeeming features whatsoever, who have invaded their inoffensive neighbour, and are committing multiple atrocities there, and your primary concern seems to be that press coverage may not be evenhanded!

            It oughtn't to need to be mentioned that, even were Ukrainian forces as ill-disciplined in terms of atrocities as their neighbours (and there is nothing to support that supposition) the opportunities for invaders to get up to mischief are much greater than they are for defenders. So that you should expect that to be reflected in media reports, and not leap (at least in the absence of evidence) to the presumption that the forces the Russians themselves refer to as Orcs, are misunderstood innocents impugned by a Machiavellian foreign press.

    • mikesh 2.4

      But swarming refers to identifying enemy weak points and focusing resources on attacking those weak points rather than attempting to confront a larger enemy head-on.

      I think the Russians have just discovered a Ukranian weak point. Apparently they have shot down a Ukranian plane that was bringing in new weapons. Perhaps the fourth lesson, which the Ukranians may soon learn, is that you can't win a war without weapons.

  3. Dennis Frank 3

    So the Productivity Commission is calling for a full review of GM technology regulations – the first since 2001.

    Currently, GM is found only in medicines and some ingredients in imported food, like the Impossible Burger. The plant-based patty from California contains a genetically-modified ingredient, soy leghemoglobin, which makes the patty taste and even bleed like the real thing.

    If it bleeds, eat it. Become so macho even the Nats will look like wimps!

    “Nature must be protected from this very powerful technology, people must be protected,” said Jon Carapiet, spokesperson for GE Free NZ.

    He said the tight controls on GM have served New Zealand well. “We’ve actually had a very good reputation for safe food and that’s more important than ever before,” said Carapiet.

    Farmers say GM would bring big gains for them and the environment. They’re keen to enter into the debate which they say has been sidelined since the 2005 general election. “We’re at risk of missing out if we sort of refuse to partake in what the rest of the world is doing quite frankly,” said Andrew Hoggard from Federated Farmers.

    Great to see the rest of the world doing something quite frankly, long may the trend continue. Should farmers sort of refuse to participate? Fudging often works as a deceit strategy, so it could be a better strategy than definitely refusing. A bob each way, as it were. Sort of agreeing as well, just to spice up the mix. Labour & National have long been adept at this so farmers ought to be able to get leverage with it.

    In response to the Productivity Commission, the Government said it’s “timely to start informed conversations around New Zealand’s use of GM technologies”. But now the Environment Minister David Parker says the debate will be restricted to just medicines, saying there is still a suspicion around genetically-modified food. “It’s actually something that I share….we’ve got to be very careful in that space so we are not contemplating anything there,” Parker said.

    There's a real danger of someone pointing out to him that we swallow medicines same as we swallow food, eh? No worries. Parker, with his rocket-scientist razor-sharp intellect, is sure to be able to explain the critical difference.


    • Barfly 3.1

      "There's a real danger of someone pointing out to him that we swallow medicines same as we swallow food, eh?"

      How's this for a danger? There's several orders of magnitude different in the volume involved eh?

      You know one part per hundred versus one part per million et cetera.

      • Dennis Frank 3.1.1

        Yeah, good point. Parker may think of it. Would only work for pragmatists though. Purists would freak out about tiny threats (as they normally do). I presume the Health Dept would specify a ballpark safety level even if (presumably) the WHO doesn't have one yet. Or the devil in the detail may prevail in the arm-wrestle…

  4. Dennis Frank 4

    Already got enough.

    "This is not a way to make money," Musk told TED chief Chris Anderson. "My strong intuitive sense is that having a public platform that is maximally trusted and broadly inclusive is extremely important to the future of civilization."

    The Tesla and SpaceX CEO railed against what he saw as a lack of free speech on Twitter, and said Twitter should open-source its algorithm to increase transparency in the company's content moderation decisions.

    "The code should be on Github so people can look through it and say, 'I see a problem here,' 'I don't agree with this,' they can highlight issues, suggest changes," said Musk.

    Asked how he would change Twitter's content moderation, Musk explained that his test for whether a platform adheres to free speech principles is simple: "Is someone you don't like allowed to say something you don't like? And if that is the case, then we have free speech."


    Cynics will doubt him of course, but there's a point in his favour suggesting it could be realistic to take his altruism at face value. Not born a yank. In fact, when it comes to citizenship, Musk wields a triad! An internationalist in outlook is the result.

    Elon has 3 citizenships – South Africa, Canada, and the USA.

    Elon Musk’s father Errol Musk was a South African citizen, and his mother Maye Musk was a Canadian citizen. In 1971, Maye Musk gave birth to her first child Elon Musk in Pretoria, South Africa. Therefore by birth, Elon is a South African citizen.

    Elon got Canadian citizenship through his mother. Then he came to the US as a student from Canada. After completing a bachelor’s degree and deferring the Ph.D. for six months, Elon started an internet company – Zip2. When investors in Zip2 realized Elon does not have a green card, they helped Elon to get an EB-5 investor green card in 1997. In 2002, Elon became a US citizen through the naturalization process.


  5. joe90 5

    Turkey says they plucked 54 out of the briny but hey, let's take Moscow's word because it's not like they lie about absolutely every fucking thing.

    Russia has said all of the 500 crew were rescued after the blast late on Wednesday.


    • tsmithfield 5.1

      I think Ukraine is definitely winning the cost-benefit analysis of the war.

      The sinking of the Moskva was probably the ultimate expression of that. It was a pretty good investment of a couple of cheap missiles to sink one of their best warships possibly valued at over a billion dollars, given that it has had quite a number of upgrades in its history despite being quite an old ship.

  6. mac1 6

    Dennis Frank, you don't mean this, do you? "Great to see the rest of the world doing something quite frankly, long may the trend continue." Very good!

    • Dennis Frank 6.1

      The ole double-entendre (deployed with non-risqué intent) to be frank. But thanks to the farmer rep for providing the basis. smiley

  7. Stephen D 7

    Something else to be factored into our new health management paradigm.


  8. Dennis Frank 8

    Macron goes Green:

    President Emmanuel Macron promised on Saturday to make France the "first great nation" to stop using oil, coal and gas as energy sources

    Ahead of the April 24 runoff, the presidential race is being fought on the left, with both contenders seeking to attract voters who chose Melenchon in the first round last Sunday.

    Macron said he would put his next prime minister directly in charge of what he called "green planning", appealing to left-wing voters' nostalgia for post-war Communist-inspired central planning while tapping into 21st century worries about climate change.


    Framing that integrates past governance methods with future planning, anchoring the synthesis in a transitional present, is sophisticated politics. I suspect this triad macron is wielding will suffice to defeat his far-right opponent.

    • alwyn 8.1

      Macron can afford to take France down the Green path. About 70% of its electricity comes from Nuclear plants. He also had the sense to stop, or at least put back by many years, the program of closing the nuclear power plants down.

      I'll bet the German Government are wishing that they had done the same instead of committing to closing all their nuclear stations down by the end of this year. What a shame that Angela Merkel will be remembered for that foolish path she chose to take, rather than increase the use of nuclear power in the country and be able to tell Putin where he could stick the Russian gas and oil production they send to Germany.

      • Dennis Frank 8.1.1

        Perhaps, but a careful examination of the pros & cons suggests it isn't really a clear-cut choice: https://www.greenpeace.org/international/story/52758/reasons-why-nuclear-energy-not-way-green-and-peaceful-world/

        I'm agnostic. I reported here the pro-nuke stand of Green avatar Stewart Brand from his book some years back. Got some incoherent responses from Green fundies. However there's merit & quotable experts on both sides.


        • RedLogix

          Sadly that article recycles the usual pack of talking point cards the fossil funding anti-nuclear crowd have been using for decades.

          1. It uses out of date GenIII designs as the basis for all of its projections into the future – assuming that no progress in terms of cost and safety can ever be made.
          2. It completely ignores that all new designs are explicitly required to take into account things such terrorist attack and cybersecurity into account. And that even if breached GenIV designs will fail safe and very local.
          3. It falsely claims that nuclear power generates vast amounts on unmanageable radioactive waste – when the truth is that the actual volume is tiny compared to any other energy source and the current inventory is an ideal fuel for many next gen designs. Current solid fuel reactors consume barely more than 97% of the energy available and do not run to a full burn up. There are several Gen IV reactor types that can burn up almost all of this, reducing an already tiny volume of waste by a factor of 20 or more and reducing the dangerous half-life down to a few hundred years. This is readily managed by putting it down a suitable hole in the ground as the Finnish are about to do.
          4. And finally it deliberately conflates 'next generation nuclear' with what are actually conventional PWR GenIII Plus designs like for example the APC1000. These come with no innate engineering advantages and are layered with even greater safety costs that are guaranteed to add huge cost. The article selectively picks a couple of 'first of a kind' projects as examples of cost overruns – ignoring that other nations are building similar repeat machines on budget and on-time.
          5. And finally no mention of the rapid development already happening in the GenIV space. There are too many different types to mention here, but all of them are oriented around passive 'walk away safety', low cost factory built fabrication and a LCOE lower than coal, available on demand with no hidden requirement for massive storage and grid complexity.

          This is just another weird, easily unpicked hit-piece which are a dime a dozen out there. It reminds me of the old adage that people who insist that something cannot be done, should keep out of the way of those who are doing it.

          • Dennis Frank

            Thanks for that – it rings true. The problem with expert appraisals lies in flawed reasoning that isn't evident to anyone except the small group who have investigated to a deeper level.

            When we last discussed the situation (a year ago?) I felt Gen IV was insufficiently developed. Perhaps that situation has changed in the interim.

            Re your point about waste volume, I felt an internal query when I read the assertion from the Greenpeace analyst. I suspect differences on the topic depend on the framing used (total waste produced thus far vs amount produced by current optimal tech designs).

            • RedLogix

              I felt Gen IV was insufficiently developed. Perhaps that situation has changed in the interim.

              GenIV is progressing. The inside word I have is that we could run up a Molten Salt Reactor in less than a year if we wanted to. After all they got one running in the 1960's in less than three years as non-urgent experiment.

              The big concern everyone has is that any tiny flaw or unexpected behaviour, regardless of whether it has any real safety impact, will be exploited ruthlessly by the anti-nuke lobby. For this reason the programs are progressing very cautiously. Whether you think this is a good thing or not depends on your perspective. Clearly the anti-nuke crowd may say one thing about CO2, but their actions demonstrate something different.

              The German Greens being a prime example – they insist that Germany must close all of its perfectly functional nuclear reactors this year, while at the same time digging up even more coal and funding Putin's war machine with gas imports. Their words claim one thing, their actions another.

              The other good news is that in just the past 18 months here has been a significant change within both the US DOE and NRC leadership with at least two very capable pro GenIV engineers – and both women to boot – appointed to senior roles. The old guard is passing.

              • Dennis Frank

                Green political dreams vs the real world:

                Germany’s addiction to cheap Russian gas continues to be the first source of finance for the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine. By conservative accounts, Germany is paying Moscow €50 billion a year for its energy, mostly gas.

                Germany’s Green party is probably experiencing an episode of extreme cognitive dissonance right now. When the party was founded in the eighties, the Green ideology was rooted in the anti-nuclear and anti-war movement that followed World War II and the Cold War period.

                Now, the Greens are finding themselves in a rather unpleasant position: Their anti-nuclear ideology is directly financing war crimes in a neighbouring country.

                Green vice-chancellor Robert Habeck was seen bowing before the Emir of Qatar – a country the Germans have long decried for its human right violations – all for the sake of getting a few cargoes of climate-wrecking LNG to replace Russian gas. But the best is yet to come. Today, Habeck, who leads a super ministry combining the economy, climate and energy portfolios, will officially oversee a resurgence of coal in Germany. Yes, you heard this right.

                On Wednesday (23 March), Habeck is expected to announce an agreement with Germany’s coal-producing states to mandate higher outputs of lignite – the worst-polluting form of coal – to compensate for an expected shortage of Russian gas in the coming months.


                Ah, the cruelty of fate…

            • RedLogix

              And worth linking to Thorcon again. This page gives a quick and easily understood overview of the basic ideas of Gen IV reactors in a practical form.

              While Thorcon are likely to be one of the first cabs off the rank within 2 -3 years, they are not the only ones in the game. All the designs optimise for some specific set of attributes, and collectively will push the envelop forward.

              How fast will depend mainly on how much funding they get.

              • Dennis Frank

                Well the first thing I scanned for was waste disposal and I couldn't find anything. Did I miss it??

                I mean from a pr pov it ought to be on the front page to engage the attention of sceptics. But when I checked this page I couldn't find it there either.


                Anyone would think the website was designed by engineers to impress capitalists! Lots of focus on tech. No evident comprehension of how to change the minds of concerned citizens.

                • RedLogix

                  Been busy all day – only just got around to seeing this. A highly pertinent question.

                  As I said each developer is optimising for some specific attributes – in the case of Thorcon it is speed to market and low cost. For this reason their physics is a virtual copy of the 1960's ORNL MSRE reactor – in other words nothing fancy.

                  Their approach is for each station to have two reactor cans only one of which is in use. These are not pressure or containment vessels, and while manufactured to a high standard are not super expensive. The intent is that after something like 4 years they deem both the steel vessel and carbon moderator to have accumulated enough neutron damage to need replacing. (This is of course well before any serious weakening occurs.)

                  At that point the hot molten salt and fuel mix is simply pumped into the spare can and the old one allowed to sit for four years to allow all residual radiation to decay. At that point a specialised can ship arrives, removes the old can and drops in a new fueled one, and the process can repeat. The molten salt itself can be reused indefinitely.

                  The old can and moderator is returned to a dedicated reprocessing location to be recycled.

                  In the longer run there is a need to remove fission products from the salt, and these can be separated and returned along with the old cans. For the foreseeable future Thorcon plan to store this very small volume of material until such time as fast spectrum waste burners are available to reduce it to an absolute minimum.

                  Gen IV will not be just one design, it will be an eco-system of differing types. The community is generally cooperative and have annual conferences where a lot of data and progress reports are exchanged. Watching them in action is quite inspiring.

                  • Dennis Frank

                    Sounds like a well thought out design. They just need to do a bit more on presentation of the recycling side of things to reassure the public & I expect it could satisfy non-involved experts, relevant govt officials, & consequently politicians.

                    Then there would have to be a sophisticated marketing campaign to steer the sheeple through the gate of progress.

      • Bearded Git 8.1.2

        Talking rubbish again Alwyn. You should know that if Boris supports something it can't be any good.

        Energy Cost (and this is 3 years ago so solar will be much cheaper now):

        Solar $36-44 mw/h

        Onshore Wind $29-56 (but with high landscape wrecking costs)

        Nuclear power $112-189 mw/h

        “The report estimates that since 2009 the average construction time for reactors worldwide was just under 10 years, well above the estimate given by industry body the World Nuclear Association (WNA) of between 5 and 8.5 years.'

        Over the past decade, the WNISR estimates levelized costs – which compare the total lifetime cost of building and running a plant to lifetime output – for utility-scale solar have dropped by 88% and for wind by 69%.

        For nuclear, they have increased by 23%, it said.

        Capital flows reflect that trend. In 2018, China invested $91 billion in renewables but just $6.5 billion in nuclear.”


        • Poission

          There is a significant difference with France and Germany in terms of Carbon intensity in electricity alone.

        • alwyn

          I am not really sure that I should base my opinion of the benefits or otherwise of nuclear power based on what someone named Boris might have said. Still it is certainly no worse than assuming that anything Grant says about inflation's causes are total rubbish. The evidence would seem to justify that is a very good predictor so perhaps assuming that the world is also the opposite of what Boris says may not be any less accurate.

          I also have my doubts about something so pretentiously named as "the annual World Nuclear Industry Status Report' when I find that it is the personal views of an anti-nuclear power drum-beater rather than a genuine industry wide report which is what the name would seem to imply.

          To each his own though.

          • Bearded Git

            Rubbish on top of rubbish today Alwyn…..you are excelling yourself.

            The World Nuclear Industry Status Report is written by:

            "Seven interdisciplinary experts from Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Lebanon/U.S. and the U.K., from top think tanks like Chatham House in London and prestigious universities like Harvard in Cambridge, Meiji in Tokyo and Technical University in Berlin, have contributed to the report, along with a data engineer, numerous proofreaders and two artistic designers. The foreword was provided by Frank von Hippel, Professor Emeritus of Princeton University, and Jungmin Kang, former head of the safety authority in South Korea."


            I do accept that there is a wider debate here.

            But in my opinion the world would be far better off investing the hundreds of billions that will need to be spent on (very expensive and potentially dangerous) nuclear power instead on things like solar power (especially), better power/battery storage technology (especially), offshore windfarms, enhanced building techniques, building insulation, dedicated cycleways/tracks, EV's and so on.

            The nuclear industry told us the first wave of nuclear power stations would sort out the world's power problems…look how that turned out.

  9. tsmithfield 9

    And another one bites the dust.

    Major General Vladimir Frolov just announced as being killed in Ukraine this week.

    This conflict must be some sort of world record for generals killed in a war. Up to eight now.

    • Stalin purged the Russian military just before WW2, which helps explain why they did so badly against the German onslaught.

      Maybe Putin is getting the Ukrainians to do his purging for him?

      • tsmithfield 9.1.1

        Given the top-down nature of the Russian military, purging the military leaders is not a recipe for success.

    • Graeme 9.2

      Add to the KIAs the ones that have been relieved of their command / arrested / purged.

      Admiral Igor Ossipov, commander of the Black Sea Fleet was arrested by the FSB in last couple of days.

  10. pat 10

    An outsider casts an eye over Labours proposed unemployment insurance scheme….and is unimpressed.


    "So who are the people receiving the bulk of the payments in these circumstances? Those with assets. Those with a working partner, who would not be eligible for support in the current system. Those who were previously receiving high incomes. And those who are able to rearrange their affairs with their employer in order to claim the payment – as a between work holiday or early retirement.

    Now, the discussion document tries to tip-toe around these facts by acting as if the scheme is not really related to the safety net. This is patently absurd."

    • Belladonna 10.1

      Final paragraph really lays out the risks of a 2 tier unemployment scheme (no matter what language you choose to use about it).

      " If this gets passed, and in 10 years there is a loss of social licence for the benefit system – leading to lower unemployment benefits and greater hardship for the truly vulnerable in society – then this would be a real tangible cost."

      If the working middle class perceive that the benefit system is no longer a safety net (even if a holey and uncomfortable one) for them and their children – and that, instead, they are protected by this new unemployment insurance; then what incentive is there for them to continue to fund the base level benefit – let alone support increases?

      It makes it very easy to demonize those on benefits as those who 'won't work'.

      While I can see the merits of an unemployment insurance scheme (not personally – I have a guaranteed job in my industry until I'm tottering on the edge of the grave) – I'm less than convinced that this is the one I could support.

      • pat 10.1.1

        That is indeed a risk…..and I see no merit in the proposal whatsoever and am confounded how a supposed workers party could come up with such a scheme.

        • Poission

          Outsourcing is hardwired into the neoliberal pysche

        • arkie

          Seemingly the only conclusion has to be they are no longer a workers party, they are a party of the PMC. This sarcastic rationale from the article rings true:

          A 80% replacement rate, with someone on around $131,000 p.a. the largest recipient, with no test based on your partner's income, and no asset test, doesn’t really sound like a safety net – it sounds like an insurance mechanism to support public servants concerned about facing job loss following a change in government.

      • SPC 10.1.2

        I see it as GR's "Kiwi Saver" legacy. He's designed something the middle class would accept so the National Party will leave it in place.

        There will be those calling for different amount settings to reduce cost and therefore contribution levels and it may be trimmed back a bit …

        Yes the risk is National Party will keep it, but bring in term limits and outsourced management of the lives of those on benefits (not just a lower payment regime). A workhouse and charity regime, involving second tier status of citizenship to the individual not self-reliant, working for capitalist profit or government (service/community sector).

        • Belladonna

          I think the 'leave it in place' is a bit optimistic in the current climate. Bearing in mind that Robertson was planning for this in a less stressed financial environment.

          Even middle-class families are struggling with price increases – yes, they have more opportunity to cut back expenditure, but they're feeling the pain right now. Many lower income workers have zilch in the way of disposable income – this levy will come out of what they can spend of food, housing, power, etc.

          Of course, if Labour do secure another term – the economic climate may well be very different in 4 years – and therefore less at risk of legislative change.

          But, if Labour lose the next election, then I wouldn't be at all surprised if it was dis-established.

      • Craig H 10.1.3

        The benefit as the main form of social security made sense in an era of one-income households where full employment was heavily prioritised, but NZ has moved on from that, and now a lot of households are double income households that would be outside benefit entitlement if they lost one income. Since they are outside the scheme as it currently stands, the current safety net risks being outside social license now. Arguably, the attacks on social welfare and beneficiaries themselves of the past 30 years is an example of the serious reduction in license compared to the 1960s.

    • SPC 10.2

      It's a bit like when parental leave was introduced, working women got money when they had children and at home mothers got nothing – later came WFF tax credits and then support for new mothers.

      As it requires two incomes to meet rent or mortgage payments, it makes sense to provide for a non working partner between jobs (and it would have to be at a higher rate than benefits to get "middle class" contributions).

      But when UI comes in, for reasons of equity, there should be the introduction of benefit payment support to existing non working partners of the employed – some of whom have sickness and disability issues not covered by ACC. Where these are at home mothers, the amount received would reduce access to tax credits received based on income and number of children.

      • pat 10.2.1

        As we have created the absurd situation where property prices are more than 10 times median income AND we deem it appropriate to protect that position then there are far more effective and equitable methods other than this proposal which fails to perform any of its listed objectives as well canvassed by Matt Nolan

        To address these issues, the Forum has identified three objectives:

        1. minimise the immediate financial impact of losing income and work for workers and their families

        2. support workers back to good jobs

        3. support the economy to adjust more rapidly to shocks or downturns.

  11. Anker 11


    An excellent article written by transgender science teacher Debbie Hayton from the UK.

    it’s in response to the Scottish Green Parties stance on standing transgender candidate in local elections

    • weka 11.1

      As a trans person involved in politics, I do not need to be infantilised and nor do other trans people. We certainly must not be excused from normal safeguarding procedures. As has been explained many times, transwomen are male and we need to be subjected to the same checks as every other male. Otherwise the trans community risks becoming a magnet to men who want to avoid those checks.

      Hayton is spot on there. This is good too,

      The truth is that there are three vulnerable groups impacted by this debate. It’s not just about trans people – women have found themselves having to defend sex-based rights they thought were secure. Meanwhile some children who have been told that they can be the sex they want to be have have believed this, with profound consequences on their development. That is why we must keep the spotlight on the trans debate.

  12. Stephen D 12

    For those of us fascinated by how societies evolved.


    Not sure I go along entirely with their elite appropriation theory. But interesting nevertheless.

    • Dennis Frank 12.1

      Made sense to me. However we need to wait & see if other experts can find a flaw. It would hinge on the notion that cereals produced hierarchy. Evidence for & against. The writer seems to feel the researchers have compliled sufficient evidence for.

      Scepticism would be more likely to get traction on their inclusion of trade into the theory. Seems intuitively obvious that trade in items of mutual value would have operated independently. Inclusion would therefore depend on a separate ramping-up effect for viability…

  13. JO 13

    Read this for a powerful sense of history happening since time began while we're not paying attention:

    Tolstoy’s path to pacifism
    No writer captures warfare in Russia more poignantly than Tolstoy, a former soldier turned Russia’s most famous pacifist. In his last work, “Hadji Murat,” which scrutinizes Russia’s colonial exploits in North Caucasus, Tolstoy showed how senseless Russian violence toward a Chechen village caused instant hatred of Russians.

    Tolstoy’s greatest work about Russian warfare, “War and Peace,” is a novel that Russians have traditionally read during great wars, including World War II. In “War and Peace,” Tolstoy contends that the morale of the Russian military is the key to victory. The battles most likely to succeed are defensive ones, in which soldiers understand why they are fighting and what they are fighting to protect: their home.
    In one of his most famous pacifist writings, 1900’s “Thou Shalt Not Kill,” Tolstoy presciently diagnosed the problem of today’s Russia.

    “The misery of nations is caused not by particular persons, but by the particular order of Society under which the people are so bound up together that they find themselves all in the power of a few men, or more often in the power of one single man: a man so perverted by his unnatural position as arbiter of the fate and lives of millions, that he is always in an unhealthy state, and always suffers more or less from a mania of self-aggrandizement.”


  14. Mike the Lefty 14

    Russian war mentality.

    "If you don't defend yourselves we will slaughter you.

    If you defend yourselves we will slaughter you because you pissed us off.."

    Has a similarity to the creed of a certain Teutonic war monger of the 1930s.

    • joe90 14.1

      Russian war mentality.

      google translation

  15. RedLogix 15

    Latest Caspian Report, The Siloviki – the Men who own Russia. Remarkably pertinent to the comments above:

  16. Jester 16

    Well this is one less for Kelvin's prisons which helps the statistics.

    If he was " sentence in November last year of two years, six months in prison on charges including burglary, police chases, failing to stop, escaping custody and theft."

    How the hell was he able to be out driving around?

    Fatal police shooting in New Plymouth: Victim Kaoss Price has been described as 'one-man crime wave' – NZ Herald

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