Another Memorable Birthday

A Minecraft Birthday Cake

Today is Tuesday August 24, 2021. Kia ora, kia kaha.

This morning I learnt that a lecturer at Victoria University of Wellington has tested positive for the coronavirus, but is not thought to have been infectious while at the university. I was prepared to be very sceptical about this, till I read that she had tested positive last Friday (August 20), and so had been in isolation (technically, since we had been under a level 4 lockdown since Wednesday last week).  She had been in contact with another Wellington case. I read that the university is now a location of interest, but it doesn’t appear on the list. I fear that before she was tested she may have mingled with other family members, and gone shopping. Such is life.  Green Bay High School is now a location of interest, as is the St Therese Catholic Church Mangere East.

Today is our eldest grandson’s birthday. We both spoke to him, and wished him Happy Birthday. I asked if he has plans for the day – he hopes to go for a run. His mother has made and decorated a Minecraft cake – it’s truly amazing. She is very clever, I take my hat off to her. I hope we will see them again soon. Yesterday I connected in some way with all my sons. This morning’s paper has some extra puzzles, and a very funny spoof by Dave Armstrong about our latest lockdown. Last year my granddaughter turned 5 while the schools were still closed. She had wanted to have a pool party, instead she made do with us.

In Australia, Victoria has 50 new cases of Covid 19, and NSW aren’t saying yet (apparently its 753 new cases, fewer than the previous two days).

This morning I joined a Bible Study group from my local church on zoom. There were only a few of us, most of whom I knew. It was nice. We looked at the first chapter of James’ Epistle.

This morning I listened to Tom Nichols being interviewed on several podcasts. He’s just released a new book, called Our Own Worst Enemy. He’s an academic, and was a republican, and a Jeopardy winner, but I found him very interesting to listen to. One point he made was that we would not have had (Athenian) Democracy unless the Greeks had defeated the Persians; on the other hand, it didn’t last long, and Pericles, a great statesman, who lived during the “golden age” of Athens, died of a plague that swept Athens (Thucydides wrote about it), and Athens was defeated by authoritarian Sparta in the Peloponnesian Wars. I heard this on a Lawfare podcast, where David Priess (whom I’ve a lot of time for) was interviewing Tom Nichols.  I knew these facts, of course, but I hadn’t connected them in this way.  One tends to study The Classics in a rather disparate fashion, reading extracts here and there, sometimes in their original Greek or Latin, but you tend not to get the overall picture.

In other US news, Trump held a rally in Alabama, a state very badly affected by Covid 19/Delta version.  At this rally, Mo Brooks and Trump were both booed: Brooks for saying that people needed to move on from the 2020 election outcome, and Trump for saying people should get vaccinated.  On the one hand, I think it’s good that they’ve been booed (which was obviously unexpected); on the other hand, it’s really upsetting that crowds believe the big lie about the election outcome, and they believe misinformation about vaccines, some preferring to take medication for animals instead. Some hospitals in the south of America are in desperate straits, and the Federal government is sending them support and extra ventilators. You can’t get hospital care or even ambulance care at present. Of course, there’s no criticism of Joe Biden’s government for sending such aid – normal people feel real sadness and sympathy for those suffering. In Florida this morning some doctors walked off the job, it was reported on Morning Joe.

At 1:25 pm I learn that there are 41 new cases today. Of these, three are in Wellington, the rest in Auckland. The Wellington cases are linked to known cases; the rest are still being investigated and I guess information will be released as it comes to hand. It now seems an Assembly of God Church in Mangere is the basis of a growing cluster (not the Church of Christ in Freeman’s Bay). These parishioners are largely Pasifika, and have been very cooperative in assisting with contact tracing. The early Wellington cases travelled north to attend a convention in Mangere.  Rosmini College, a Catholic school on Auckland’s North Shore, held a Filipino cultural evening on Friday August 13th; it is now a location of interest. Evidently a baby less than one year old has tested positive.  At this stage no Maori have tested positive, but 9 AUT students have; half of the current cases are under 30 years old. A Middlemore Hospital ED staffer has tested positive.  At this stage, it is still less than a  full week since the whole of NZ went into a level 4 lockdown (at midnight last Tuesday night). Now we are embroiled in a crisis, with the feeling that in Auckland, things are probably going to get worse before they get better.  The total cluster of cases in New Zealand is now 148. About half of these are Pacific Island people.

Somehow it’s been a really boring day today, despite the zoom session this morning, and the Listener magazine arriving in today’s mail.  It’s been really hard to get through the day, for some reason. There hasn’t been much news, although that’s probably a good thing.  There are still no diagnosed cases of Covid 19 apart from the majority in Auckland, and a handful in Wellington. So far there are none in Coromandel.  That is amazing, perhaps like Wellington’s recent scare, when a visitor came from Sydney for a weekend, went everywhere, and was diagnosed positive on his return (as was his partner). Yet in Wellington somehow no one caught the virus. What a strange thing it is, and although we know a great deal more about it than we did eighteen months ago, there is still a great deal we simply don’t know about this unseen, silent menace. That’s all for now. Ngā mihi.

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