I'm an over-the-hill marine engineer.
I have five great-grandchildren and counting. I fear for their future. That's why I spend time picking at the world's scabs when I'd rather be camping in the bush.
On the one hand, the overwhelming majority of qualified medical folk and scientists tell us that homeopathy treatments are diluted to the equivalent of a molecule of medicine in a volume the size of the planet Jupiter, and it’s the biggest con job since the Ponzi scheme.
On the other hand, homeopathy’s supporters regale us with stories of major success and minor miracles.
The good guys at Kurzgesagt have done their homework.
Their conclusion? Sorry to weasel out on you, but it depends:
Are both sides right?
An interesting video, with a well-reasoned conclusion:
War does not determine who is right – only who is left.
At the time of the 1967 Six Day War, I was one of many with little real understanding of the complex Middle East history who were cheering for the Israelis; the perennial underdog fighting overwhelming odds.
The complex situation in Israel has been confounding us all ever since. Then I watched Nina Paley‘s brief video (see below) and realised that it’s really quite simple.
I’ve also been around long enough to realise that many things I thought I knew were wrong. The corporate-controlled news media bear a lot of the blame for my ignorance.
In the midst of the 6 Day War reportage, for instance, there was scant reference to the culpability of the West, particularly the British, who’d made promises to the Palestinians earlier in the 20th Century, and then stabbed them in the back.
No wonder the Palestinians were, and still are, mightily pissed off.
Lies, damned lies, and statistics
If any question why we died, tell them that our fathers lied
Along came Viet Nam
In my naïvety and ignorance, I swallowed the Domino Theory peddled by the politicians and the media. If we let the evil commies get away with taking over Vietnam, they’ll take over the world. I was in the Navy then, and fully prepared if called upon to charge off to South East Asia and deal to those evildoers in North Vietnam.
Years later I learned that there was another version of the truth.
We caused the mess in the first place.
We’ve got your back Uncle Ho
During World War II we swore to Ho Chi Minh that if he helped us boot the Japanese out of South East Asia, we’d protect his people from French domination when the war was over.
The Vietnamese communists did their bit, and when it was over their reward was to be dropped right back into the hands of Charles de Gaulle and the Foreign Legion.
Not surprisingly, they too were a little annoyed.
And on it goes…
We’ve been at it ever since: Iraq, Iran, Latin American countries by the iron fistful, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria… and on, and on, and on…
Mixed Member Proportional Representation (MMP) is a vast improvement over our old First Past the Post voting system. Sections of the community who were marginalised under First Past the Post now have a voice. That’s certainly true of Maori, the Greens, and Winston First’s indefatigable blue rinse brigade.
To a degree it’s a good thing.
How long before it becomes an anchor around the legislative neck and makes government impossible?
Where will it all end?
I’d like a Gray Power Party to boost my New Zealand Superannuation. What about a Kate Sheppard Ladies’ Party with a persondate to banish manholes to Personchuria. Can we do without a Jockstrap Party to declare the Rugby World Cup ours as of right? There’s definitely a need for a Petrolheads’ Party for the promotion of phallic exhaust pipes for the under-endowed, and a Wouldn’t Work in an Iron Lung Party for the equitable redistribution of filthy capitalistic gains.
In the UK a couple of elections back, the website Vote For Polices showed that when asked to chose their preferred policies without knowing which party’s policies they were, voters preferred the Green Party. The Conservatives fared badly.
For whom did they vote in the real world? Yep; the Conservatives, who should have been fourth choice.
Now it’s your turn
Here are two websites where you can check your actual preferences for the imminent New Zealand election. I think “I Side With” is the most realistic:
Please check them out. You will be surprised. For me, I Side With produced a more credible result than Vote Compass; they allow users more sensible fine-tuning of the alternatives. Even so, I was surprised to find that New Zealand First came high on my list.
That led me to check New Zealand First’s policies, and another surprise – despite Winston Peters’ devious, opportunistic, and waka-jumping ways – his party’s policies are, mostly, surprisingly sensible.
Not enough to encourage me to vote for him though.
Here is my result from “I Side With”
Some of my old friends will be horrified, but my swing to the left has been on-going since waking up to the total failure of neo-liberal policies.
Here are my results from “Vote Compass”
Mana’s position was a surprise too, but despite Hone Harawera’s radical activist past, his policies too are generally sensible. I’d like to see him make his peace with the Maori Party and avoid splitting their vote.
I welcome feedback on this review. If you have anything important to add, or if I’ve got something wrong please let me know in the comments, or on FaceBook.
After a couple of days of research into the available electric bikes in New Zealand, I concluded that the best bang for the buck is the range of 3 different e-bikes from Volto in Tauranga. A 10 minute test drive on one of Pete Wilcox’s bikes at Rockgas Wanganui‘s e-bike agency left me smitten.
The Volto bikes are manufactured in China, but supposedly designed by New Zealanders for our conditions.
Contrary to expectation, I feel safer on the e-bike in city traffic than I do on my conventional bike. The extra acceleration available, especially from a standstill, makes it easier to keep up with the flow in busy city traffic; you’re not being shunted to the side of the road and made vulnerable to negligent car drivers who’re dying to open their doors in your face, or to suddenly back out of an angled parking space because they didn’t see you coming. Or maybe because they did. :o)
At stop signs and traffic lights the same applies; I’m less vulnerable because I can accelerate as easily as a car, again, avoiding being shunted to the side of the road.
The Volto (mine’s a Falcon) has 3 power levels; I haven’t found it necessary to go beyond level 2, even on steepish hills. My perception: hills are flattened by a factor of about five; head winds are forever vanquished.
I expected the considerable extra weight to be a handling issue, but it isn’t so; the weight distribution is perfect, and handling is a no-brainer even after 76 years of serious abuse to muscles and joints.
I needed an hour or two to get accustomed to the available power; your mileage may differ. Don’t switch on the controller until you’re in the seat, with the support stand raised, a brake applied, and power level set; otherwise it’s too easy to inadvertently nudge the twist grip and have the bike take off on you. An applied brake cuts power from the motor until it’s released.
I’ve noticed that there’s much less irritating vibration from rough chip road verges than on my normal bike. A factor of tyre size? Dunno.
Choosing an e-bike
Here are my criteria and the brownie points for the Volto:
Battery voltage and capacity: 36V, 16 Ah (576 Wh); in line with other brands. You can upgrade if you wish, but I’ve found it more than adequate for town use.
Battery placement is in the centre of the bike which is preferable. Some have them above the rear carrier which is bad for handling because it raise the centre of gravity.
The motor output, at 300W, is plenty powerful enough.
The rear wheel hub motor is a no-brainer. Front hub motors are vulnerable to traction and handling problems; crank motors put too much load on the bike’s chain.
There is a 12V/24V battery charger available here for we caravan nuts.
3 power levels, combined with 6 conventional gears meet my needs and then some. I rarely get out of the top two gears.
The bike has a solid rear carrier and a good kickstand.
Excellent brakes in the hubs: front – disc, rear – roller, both brake handles incorporate a motor cut-out.
The aluminium alloy frame helps to keep the weight down.
So far, none at all.
The front light has a flasher mode, but the rear light doesn’t. I’ll probably swap with my other bike’s light.
It’s not easy to locate the power controller buttons in the dark.
I’d prefer a slightly higher top gear ratio. Even with power level 1, the motor often seems to overtake my pedaling.
As far as I can tell, removing the rear wheel is a major mission. So if you have a puncture, you’re in trouble. I’ll be investigating the puncture-resistant tires that come with some more expensive machines.
The optional extra front basket needs extra support.
If you have random data scattered around your computer, a digital scrapbook of clippings, recipes, scanned receipts, reference data, web clippings… stuff that you squirrel away because maybe you’ll need it one day then Evernote is your friend.
I’ve been testing a number of other similar programs but, bang for buck, Evernote is still my #1 choice.
It’s come into a bit of flack recently because the company have changed the rules for the free version, and changed the pricing structure. We’ll cover that later in this post.
Evernote makes filing and quickly retrieving your data easy. Your notes, files and images are saved to your computers’ hard drives and simultaneously to Evernote’s own servers. Its main raison d’etre is quick and easy location of those data. You have the advantages of online storage, instant powerful search capability, and automatic synchronization between your computers, tablets, and smartphones and between them and the cloud. Continue reading “Evernote”→