Posts by Bart Janssen

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  • Hard News: An open thread while I'm down…, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    You need an econometrician

    Yeah someone must have a spreadsheet that calculates that. Which is why I was hoping Keith might know.

    It's also more complex than just Oil. CPI also includes imported consumer goods (I think). So they should respond directly to changes in the dollar but how much of an effect that has on CPI I don't know, again there must be a spreadsheet or ten lurking somewhere.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3676 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Science: it's complicated, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    So why, in this instance, has the perceived risk outweighed the cost?

    My guess is the political cost of having someone lose their life in the central area would be enormous. When balanced against the loss of livelyhood for say a couple of hundred people there was no politician willing to take that risk.

    A slightly more serious answer is that where risk can actually be controlled, say by restricting access to a potentially dangerous site then there is a strong psychological drive to eliminate that risk. The balancing harm to the lives of peoples who really really need access is very difficult to compare fairly with a potential loss of life or even injury.

    The much harder case to deal with is where harm occurs in both cases and in both cases the harm is difficult to quantify and also difficult to emotionally grasp. Harm from loss of life is easy to emotionally grasp, harm from loss of income is harder, harm from change in climate even harder, harm from statistics hardest of all.

    That's one reason people often resort to metaphors (often very bad ones).

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3676 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: An open thread while I'm down…, in reply to Sacha,

    So if the NZ dollar drops to say 75 US cents what will happen to our fuel prices? And what will be the flow on costs to the CPI?

    I know in rough terms we'll be f'd but I was wondering if anyone has a spreadsheet that could estimate that - Keith????

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3676 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: An open thread while I'm down…,

    So my random memory of the Eden Park protest. I was a student living in a flat across the gully from Eden Park. On weekends I would walk across Bond St to the bakery and buy doughnuts to bring back to the flat for breakfast. At the time I was aware there was a test match on and was planning to watch it on TV. I wasn't opposed to the tour and firmly believed stopping the sport would have no effect on the politics (I was of course wrong). But I also wasn't terribly caught up in the anger of the debate, oh I'd happily argue but I couldn't feel the anger that brought people do violence with each other.

    I vividly remember being more than a little confused as to why, having got up and dressed and somewhat bleary-eyed walked over the bridge, I could not get to my favourite bakery. Some plonker had parked shipping containers across the road??? I'm not sure what the police thought of me as they turned me away, apparently I needed to show them tickets to the game in order to go to the bakery?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3676 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Science: it's complicated, in reply to Carol Stewart,

    A great mystery to me is why cherry tomatoes are so expensive to buy when they are so easy and prolific to grow

    I don't know. But my guess is yield. They cost the same to grow as any other tomato plant, my guess is the fruit have to be hand harvested, which is common for eating tomatoes that are greenhouse grown, but I'd also guess they yield maybe 20% of the weight of fruit that bigger tomatoes yield.

    Or it could be marketing.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3676 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Science: it's complicated, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    If you pick it once the faintest blush of colour shows there’s no detectable difference between leaving the fruit to fully ripen on the vine. It seems to be true, and I’m kind of curious as to why.

    We don't know ... yet. Well we sort of know.

    A lot of fruit undergo what is called a "climacteric" as they mature. It is a point when the fruit has pretty much finished all cell division and most of the cell expansion. We call that stage "mature green". It's really attractive for growers to harvest at mature green because the fruit are a bit firmer and don't get damaged in transport so easily.

    Then at some point the fruit suddenly starts respiring very rapidly (breathing if you like, actually using oxygen and expelling CO2). At that time there is also a burst of ethylene, a gas that is produced by the plant and used as a signal by the plant. Once that ethylene production starts it is self amplifying.

    It is the ethylene signal that starts up all the enzyme pathways that produce sugars from starches and also all the flavour and aroma compounds. Essentially it is the signal that the plant uses when the seeds are mature and the fruit is ready to be distributed and spread the seed with it. All the flavour and sugars and colour changes are there to attract whatever it is that spreads the seed around. In the case of apples it's bears!

    Because the ethylene production is self amplifying if you pick the fruit after it has started it tends to continue by itself.

    If you pick the fruit just after it is mature but before ethylene production has started then you can hold the fruit in an ethylene free environment and then give the fruit a burst of ethylene and ripening with continue as normal.

    BUT

    It's really hard to tell the difference between mature green and immature green. It's even harder for fruit that don't undergo any colour change on the tree eg avocado or kiwifruit. If you get it wrong by a lot no amount of ethylene will produce ripening. If you get it wrong by a little some of the ripening pathways will work eg colour development. But other pathways won't eg flavour. That's why you often see paler tasteless tomatoes in the supermarket. They were picked too early and will never ever ripen.

    The really big question is what defines "mature green"? And we don't really know for sure. If we knew then maybe we could create some kind of test for it so growers knew when it was ok to harvest.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3676 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Science: it's complicated, in reply to Emma Hart,

    And then they will remember that one shouldn’t ask questions one doesn’t want to know the answer to.

    I can't be knowin' that!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3676 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Science: it's complicated, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    Does leaving the tomato on a bit of disembodied vine help in the process of ripening?

    Maybe. But the biggest thing is that the stalk has lots and lots of the compounds that smell of tomato. So for marketing purposes since they smell like tomatoes people will think they taste of tomatoes.

    That said, some of the companies that sell tomatoes on the truss also vine ripen them.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3676 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Science: it's complicated, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    In this respect the consumer contributes by being bloody stupid

    Not entirely fair. The real problem is marketing. What happens is the producers ask a marketing firm to do a survey to find out which tomato the public prefer. Marketing company has lunch ... at Cibo. Then comes up with a survey consisting of a picture of two tomatoes and asks 100 people at the supermarket which picture of a tomato they prefer, then they have dinner ... at Clooney. Marketing company then writes a 29 page report on their survey, with pictures and a powerpoint presentation and has lunch ... at Euro. Marketing company then charges the producers $127ooo plus expenses. The producer having paid a shit load for the market report plant bright red round tomatoes. The supermarkets having also paid the marketing company for the same report will only stock the bright red round tomato.

    Consumers when they complain they can't get nice tasting tomatoes are told that they are outliers and most of the public prefer the tasteless tomatoes ... and they did an expensive market survey to prove that.

    Marketing executives stop at Sabato on the way home to pick up vine ripe tomatoes for dinner.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3676 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Science: it's complicated, in reply to Emma Hart,

    drink nutrasweet

    Ack phtooey!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3676 posts Report Reply

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