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Musings from the shed.

Rob Elshire



So today is the day that I am eligble to apply for New Zealand citizenship. Done. Now we wait.

Rob Elshire

Citations Needed: Episode 110: The Shiny-Object Psychology of American Capitalist “Innovation”

I've been working on pulling together a call for review and renewal of our science system here in Aotearoa. A huge part of the problem with the system is a mistaken understanding of the role of fundamental reasearch, what innovation is, and the effects of venture capital based capitalism. This podcast and the transcript breaks it down.

Also the transcript.

Rob Elshire

Fields of courgettes go to waste because grower can't get workers - NZ Herald

We've seen a series of news articles filled with woe-is-me "employers" in the primary industries (fishing, strawberries, asparagus, etc.) of late. The story is always the same. They cannot get their harvests in because the evil government is keeping them from importing workers and they cannot get the skilled and cheap labor they need locally because kiwis are lazy and unqualified.

With their focus on the short work period, the RSE staff worked the two-to-three month picking season with seven-day working weeks and working days that begin at dawn and finish on dark.

Hiring local staff meant juggling domestic and lifestyle responsibilities, and often social issues stemming from areas where regular work hadn't existed for decades. The working days were shorter which meant fewer courgettes got picked.

Heap said the productivity differences between RSE workers and local workers was enormous. He needed at least two New Zealanders to do the work of one RSE worker, and the churn of local workers was huge.

"My labour costs are through the roof. I believe if I'm in business I have the right to do the best that I can. I'm not allowed to do that at the moment."

Turns out that you can't make as much money when you are not allowed to exploit your workers. Clearly, this is not unique to Aotearoa New Zealand. We see this in these kinds of industries all over the world. As the saying goes, just because it is common does not make it right. Having the arrogance to dog whistle about social issues is downright disgusting.

Somehow, he seems to think that we should trust a cheapskate to properly quarantine his employees. Yeah, nah.

In the article linked below, Mr. Heap claims that:

The thing that's hard to handle for me is the dishonesty from Government and the lack of effort.

In actual fact, the government was very clear with Mr. Heap back in May. Just how much effort did Mr. Heap put in to finding an alternate solution during a time of pandemic? We're all making sacrifices. Is there some reason that he's special? Maybe he is. He was one who made good use of the RSE scheme in the early days -- transforming the industry from using illegal workers to legal workers. Unfortunately, the article does not describe how he improved working conditions for those workers.

Maybe Mr. Heap (and others like him) will do us all a favour and go out of business. That would open up opportunities for other people that could perhaps employ their neighbors and help uplift the communty they live in.

See further this and this.

Oh, and this just in.

Just a coincidental resemblance.


Rob Elshire

Rob Elshire

Home | Vote NZ

So it is an election year in both of the countries where I am elegible to vote: Aotearoa New Zealand and the United States of America. 

Here, in Aotearoa, the government wants you to vote. They make it easy for you to be informed about the processs. They make it easy to be registered (actually, it for anyone elegible to vote, registration is compulsory but voting is not). They provide weeks of polls being open so that everyone has an opportunity to vote.

This stands in stark contrast to the United (sic) States of America. There, the republican led federal government has been making it really hard for people they don't like to vote. This includes political decisions damaging the postal service's ability to do what it is supposed to do: deliver mail. At the state level, poll placement, hours, numbers of voting boths, purging of voter rolls, etc. make it difficult to vote. Not to mention, that election day is on a Tuesday. WTF America?

Yesterday I cast my votes in Aotearoa. One for the local parlamentary candidate, one for a political party, and one each on two referendums. Easy, peasy. With contact tracing, hand sanitizer, and social distancing. All very safe and sensible -- even when we have not had any new community cases of COVID-19 for over a week.

This morning, I got an email from Tompkins County New York. It let me know that my absentee ballot had been received and would be counted in the Federal election.  It could be that the safest place to cast your ballot for US president is in New Zealand...

I've written previously about my vote for US president. What I had not thought about at the time was that I would have a vote for the vice president as well. I chose AOC.

The outcome of the federal elections will still leave the wealthy running the country, regardless of which party prevails. It is not a matter of if most people will be screwed, just a question of by whom and how badly. Time will tell.

Rob Elshire

The sound you’re hearing is “accepted socio-economic ideas” being shredded… yes, again. – exhALANt

Via The Standard.

The upshot is that in the 40 years since we were first told about trickle-down-economics we have yet to see it work as described. Anywhere, ever. They are still peddling this clearly false idea for their own benefit. They have had 40 years. Time to pull together and push for a better way.


Rob Elshire

2020 has frankly been terrible.

1 min read

Just a wee reminder of how fortunate we are in Aotearoa.

Rob Elshire

Covid-19 has made our cold, damp housing problem even more serious | The Spinoff

The poor housing stock in Aotearoa is an ongoing issue for many, many people. Part of the issue are incorrect ingrained beliefs about what to do about the problems.

From the article, James Powers of building science company Oculus responds.

While opening windows and using dehumidifiers is the conventional approach, there is typically little evidence to support their effectiveness. Opening windows can sometimes make indoor humidity worse. According to Oculus, the best thing people can do is leave the heat on, leave any extractor fans in the kitchens and bathrooms on so that old air is pulled out, circulate air around the room with a fan, and seal all windows to prevent drafts.

Rob Elshire

Rob Elshire

From ‘brain fog’ to heart damage, COVID-19’s lingering problems alarm scientists | Science | AAAS

Worrying descriptions of post infection affects of COVID-19 have been trickling in over the last month. This is not a get sick, get better, and go on with life situation. Long term effects to individuals and societies are yet to be understood.

As individuals, please do all that you can to avoid getting it in the first place and do everything possible to reduce the chance of spread.

More here in Aotearoa: