Letters 3 November 2012

by Listener Archive / 03 November, 2012
E-books; climate change; and Frankfurt Book Fair.


For someone who has self-published e-books, one issue was missing from the article “Rewriting the book” (October 27): discoverability. Unless you can get people talking, as with EL James and the catchy “mummy porn” label, your e-books have to rise up the lists for anyone to find them. No reviews and no sales, and it is at the bottom of the list. A catchy title helps, so that people searching by title can at least find it. I made the mistake of calling one Troubles. The Amazon search engine does not worry about the “s” and lists 1697 e-books that have trouble in the title. There is also a cultural problem. Americans will support their friends with five-star reviews. New Zealanders seemingly leave reviews to official reviewers, so a New Zealand author has real trouble generating momentum. Authors are not their own best friends either. A software developer offered to develop a site listing independent authors with a search mechanism capable of finding what the reader might want. As far as I know, only two authors have so far been co-operative (and I am one of them). If you think you will be found, remember your book is one of about 30 million and nobody will buy what they cannot find. If anyone knows how to get around this problem, feel free to let me know.
Ian Miller
(Belmont, Lower Hutt)


The Listener Editorial “Don’t Panic!” (October 20) was wrong. It is a major problem that we are running an annual current account deficit of 5% of GDP, or $10 billion, one of the highest in the world. There are only two ways to pay for a current account deficit: borrow more from overseas, and sell more assets overseas. After 30 years of failed neo-liberal economic policy, our net debt position is that we owe the world $150 billion and we have already sold great swathes of our economy offshore (think banking, telecommunications, next land and power companies). Our monetary policy needs to focus on these external imbalances alongside inflation. An e-book in a haystack That’s what successful economies like Switzerland are doing – intervening to protect their export sector by putting a lid on the value of their currency by quantitative easing.
The Listener, the National Party and NZIER may well defend neo-liberal policies, but the evidence is that they have failed.
Russel Norman
Green Party Co-leader

My heart sank when I learnt the Green Party is in favour of printing money to help us out of our financial problems. Obviously this has killed the idea dead. The party should have pretended to be against it. How could National be seen to be taking advice from the Greens? Mind you, if we did print money, I doubt it would be used to develop our exports of manufactured goods, which
is the only way to reverse our financial deficit and raise the standard of living. You could be fairly certain most of it would fall into the pockets of people who are already filthy rich.
Stuart Bridgman
(Brooklyn, Wellington)


From the safety of Meadowbank, Auckland, Kawther Hamdi is free to tell us he doesn’t like The Satanic Verses. He is also free to tell us that he doesn’t much like the author Salman Rushdie. We know these things because Hamdi was free to write, and to have published, a letter to the Listener (October 27). What’s missing from his letter is the slightest acknowledgement of the yawning gulf between those simple freedoms and what happened to Salman Rushdie and his associates when they asserted the same rights.
Bruce Morley
(Grafton, Auckland)


In the recent article on New Zealand at the Frankfurt Book Fair ( “Germany awakens to Neuseeland”, October 27), the design of the pavilion is attributed to architect Andrew Patterson. It was, however, a joint collaboration between his firm, Pattersons, and Inside Out Productions that married architecture with a multimedia experience. Inside Out introduced key elements such as the water, stars, rain, moon and the live actor. Inside Out’s Mike Mizrahi and Marie Adams wrote and directed the multimedia experience after intensive consultation on the texts with us. Ironically, Inside Out secured rights to and acknowledged hundreds of images and texts that were projected on the 12 screens. Credit is due to Mizrahi and Adams that they successfully projected, managed and produced an event in Germany that has received such stunning and deserved acclaim.
Paula Green, Witi Ihimaera and Emily Perkins


Oh, come on! How can you say the play The Middlemarch Singles Ball didn’t work outside of Middlemarch (“Desperate It packed Dunedin’s Globe Theatre for the entire Otago Arts Festival, with most of those who came being walk-ins. Somehow, on closing night, 78 people crammed into the 72-seat theatre and others were turned away. These people hadn’t come because of the lovely poster or the name of the play but because of word of mouth. And if people outside of Middlemarch don’t get jokes about tupping and rats in hall kitchens, then what does that say about us? Are our urban societies that disenfranchised from their rural neighbours?
Ella West
Playwright, The Middlemarch Singles Ball


Why do some people continue to ignore the evidence and peer-reviewed papers that have been supported in Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports by the great majority of scientist in their specialist fields? Obfuscation by our media of this worldwide scientific evidence is not going to help to redirect our economies or save this world’s climate from disaster. Please do not print stuff from deniers of the reality that global average temperatures are rising, sea levels are showing an increasing rate of rise and that storms/extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and severe as the above IPCC experts have warned. I prefer to face the reality that seven billion plus humans are putting an unsustainable demand on earth’s finite resources and that our carbon footprints are getting bigger, not smaller. It is my grandchildren that will face a very tough future, not the deniers of today.
Michael Dymond
(Snells Beach)

Bryan Leyland has again demonstrated his inability to get his facts straight, so it’s remarkable you printed his error-riddled letter (October 20). To set things straight: The world has warmed in the past 16 years, the warmest year on record is 2010, and the 2000s are the warmest decade on record. Sea-level rise has accelerated to over 3mm per year in the past 20 years, and shows every sign of continuing to increase over the next century. Arctic sea ice extent has been reconstructed for the past 2000 years, and at no time has it been as low as the record low this year. Leyland mentions a Canadian ship traversing the Northwest Passage, but fails to mention that this was a massively strengthened icebreaker that took many months to make the passage, often being frozen in. Compare this with the Russian yacht Peter I, which two years ago sailed both the Northwest and Northeast passages in a few weeks. Leyland then gets the date of the US Dust Bowl wrong – this happened in the 1930s, not the 50s, and in fact last year’s drought was at least as bad if not worse than the Dust Bowl. In short, Leyland did not get a single thing right.
Colin Sharples
(Karori, Wellington)


For bees on Chatham Island, distance has been, in one respect, an advantage ( “Tyranny of distance”, October 27). It has kept at bay the Varroa mite, which is the greatest threat for bees on the mainland. But until the efforts four years ago of two energetic and devoted beekeepers, bees were a neglected and insignificant part of the island’s ecosystem. Michele Andersen and Mana Cracknell have established an apiary of about 100 hives at Kaingaroa, a tiny settlement in the island’s northern corner. Honey is a side production, their main objectives being pasture improvement, from increased nitrogen as the bees pollinate clover, and the raising of queens. Improved pasture will make beef production viable. At the moment, cattle roam over unfenced peat land in search of grass and are often shot by hunters for sport. Andersen and Cracknell see the raising of queens as providing a Noah’s ark for the future. On the mainland, Varroa is showing resistance to treatment and has eliminated feral colonies in the North Island and much of the South. The survival of bees now depends on the availability of healthy queens in managed hives. It takes talent and persistence to raise bees on this bleak island where sunshine hours are about half those on the mainland and January’s average temperature is 14°C. Then there’s the difficulty of getting queens mated, which needs no wind and a warm day. Astronomical transport costs mean Andersen and Cracknell build their own equipment. But they can’t make equipment for the next stage in developing their ark. To avoid inbreeding and the mating problem, they need to artificially inseminate imported queens with semen from their own drones. It’s a tricky procedure requiring special needles and magnification and a steady hand. A little help from the mainland could go a long way.
Pat Baskett
(Okura, Auckland)


I agree with David Cohen (Letters, October 13) when he highlights the present Government’s lack of cohesive environmental thinking. We are highly dependent on imported oil to maintain our transport fleet, and we spend millions of dollars on new roads and motorways, which are also highly fossil-fuel dependent. A responsible Government should be making every effort to wean us off our over-dependence on such a highly volatile commodity. This could begin with the promotion of smaller, more fuel-efficient cars and the removal of road-user charges on small efficient diesels; I have often thought it ludicrous that the more efficient a diesel vehicle is, the more the owner is punished by having to pay more road-user charges for every kilometre travelled on a single litre. As an island nation, New Zealand is extremely vulnerable to any changes in global temperature, especially regarding potential sea-level rise. We must be seen to be making logical, sustainable policies when it comes to our use of carbon-emitting fuels. Should a future climatic disaster happen to us, can we really ask the international community to come to our aid when we haven’t really made much of an effort?
Gianluca Watson


When was the last time you looked forward to the musical theme of a TV series knowing what is to follow will be absolutely absorbing entertainment? Perhaps it was the wonderful percussive first notes of The Avengers, the whistleable Dr Findlay’s Casebook or the tongue in cheek syncopation of Steptoe and Son. Well now there’s another: Prime TV’s absorbing Downton Abbey. As they say, it’s a long time between drinks!
Christopher Bourn
(Richmond, Nelson)

CORRECTION: The student identified as Tili Leilua in last week’s story on the new School for Social Entrepreneurs was fellow student Michele Judy Zackey. We apologise for the error.
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