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Musings from the shed.

Rob Elshire

'Very worst of the pandemic' ahead in US with no apparent strategy, experts say | World news | The Guardian

Between the calling of the election and the installation of a the new president, it looks like there will be no plan for dealing with the pandemic from the Trump administration. Not that this is new or anything. It is cold and flu season in the US and there are the Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years holidays on top. Those holidays typically involve travelling around the country, gathering in large groups, and sharing meals. There are a lot of people acting as if it is over. Ugh.

Reddit discussion.

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

Donald Trump vs. Democracy

2 min read

My old friend Trent Shepard from Urbana Illinois / Stephen's Bay NZ spent a few days with us this week. We watched much of the PBS coverage of the election yesterday. Too much really. We took a pause to bbq and have a really nice dinner sitting outside on our deck. When we finished, Trent, Robyn, and I went back out to the shed where the TV is a few minutes before Trump took the stage to speak. It was 2:30 AM Eastern time, but 8:30 PM here.

It was the most surreal thing I have ever seen. The president of the United (sic) States claimed that his voters were being disenfranchised by counting other peoples' votes. He declared that as far as he was concerned he already won the election and the voting must stop. He said he would take it to the supreme court.

We were in shock. The PBS commentators where in shock. Even though we had been warned about this scenario by Bernie Sanders a few weeks ago. Now the count goes on as does the dumpster fire that is 2020.

For me, the biggest take home lesson from this election, is that there are millions of selfish, bigotted Americans who agree enough with Donald J Trump to vote for him. Like nearly half of the people who voted. At the same time, the Democrats put forth an old, centrist, neo-liberal as the alternative. This makes me so, so sad.

The COVID-19 pandemic will rage on in America due to these selfish, bigotted people. Regardless of the outcome of the presidential election, Ya'll Queda, under the leadership of Donald Trump, are racing headlong to Pyrrhic victory -- "Give me liberty and give me death". This is not fun to watch.

Rob Elshire

Lies & Half-Truths on Escaping Poverty | [Radical Responsibility] - YouTube

Blaming poor people for being poor makes it easy for the better off to feel good about themselves. The problem is that it is not really the fault of the poor. This video debunks some of the bullshit floating around out there.

It is critically important for people to understand these issues as societies around the world are affected by the pandemic. More and more people will find themselves falling into poverty. When people are poor (or become poor) they should not be made to feel bad about themselves. That does not help anyone (except maybe the super-wealthy who might really be the ones to blame).

Rob Elshire

An Archive of a Different Type - Internet Archive Blogs

I just love the Internet Archive. So much great stuff there. It has been a huge source of books and educational materials during the pandemic. It is also has very useful tools. I make frequent use of the wayback machine on this site so that articles I link to will be around in the future.

It seems that Jason Scott got his dream job. The linked article is a huge treasure trove of materials that will be accessable to everyone instead of disappearing. Check out the article and the archive.

The Internet Archive is one of the outcomes of the Free Software and Free Culture movements in the 1990's. Others include Wikipedia, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Creative Commons. All of these were put down by the big corporates at the time as unworkable, inferior, etc. In 2020, these organisations underpin much of the global knowledge sharing infrastructure -- and they do it with neither cost nor advertising to the user.

Rob Elshire

We Still Don't Know All the Long-Term Consequences of 'Mild' COVID-19

These stories keep coming out. Just today, I read that the UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, may step down from his role due to ongoing health issues from his COVID-19 infection. There are also studies coming out that indicate that it is possible to become infected more than once. That adds concern about even the possibility of a vaccine.

A thought experiment: What would it look like 5 years from now if there is no vaccine and no erradication of COVID-19 in countries that did not bother with an elimination strategy? What about those that had a good elimination strategy? In which case would there be a healthier population, less drag on health care systems? What about economies? Consumerism?


Rob Elshire

VAUGHN DAVIS: Bearing Barnett’s burden: why businesses have plenty to be proud about | BusinessDesk

We are small business owners too. The pandemic caused a massive slowdown in work this year. The people who are whining about the effects on business (as if it were monolithic), are dismissive of those businesses who are nimble and pivot, and those who plan for contingencies with sufficient rainy day funds.

Clearly, there will be businesses that fail. Some of them rely on paying and treating their workers poorly (i.e. exploitation). I have no sympathy for those businesses or their owners. Others will  succumb to changes in the market, which will inevitably happen. Others still, will adjust and come out okay. New business will also emerge.

This article speaks about those who are making it work. Great to see this for a change.

Rob Elshire

How Covid-19 Signals the End of the American Era - Rolling Stone

This has been coming for a long time. The myth of american exceptionalism has been foisted on the public by politicians, K street, and Madison Avenue on behalf of the ruling class. It blames the poor for being poor, the sick for being sick, and does not allow a look at the core problems.

The COVID-19 pandemic is pulling back the curtain. What comes next will not be  pretty.

Rob Elshire

A new epoch: How the pandemic is messing with our sense of time | The Spinoff

So this seems like a real thing. Lots of people have commented on how time seems different this year. I'm feeling it too.

See also Slashdot comments on a Financial Times article.

Rob Elshire

Covid-19 vs 1918 influenza -- The Standard

This is a pretty good article on the comparison of the current COVID-19 Pandemic and the influenza pandemic of 1918. We can see from this that COVID-19 is a different beast entirely. It is not just another flu. Would that those who are writing opinion pieces or blasting opinions on the airwaves would take this information in.

It is not helpful to make shit up regarding the need to open up borders, not have lockdowns, etc. to save the economy. Doing that gives a false impression to the public. Some of whom then ignore the lockdown rules and endanger our health and our economy. Fucksake am I tired of these bloviating asshats.