Once More, with Feeling

Inside one of the Cinemas at The Lighthouse, Pauatahanui

Today is Friday September 9th, 2021. Kia ora.

Today there are 11 new cases of Covid 19, all based in Auckland. Last night I learnt that someone who presented at Middlemore Hospital’s ER has tested positive, thus arousing concern about anyone else she may have been in contact with.  She did not visit the hospital for Covid 19; she’s just turned out to have it. Consequently 34 police who came into contact with her before she tested positive are isolating, and patients in Middlemore Hospital who came into contact with her (presumably in the ER) have been isolated. There are 27 people in hospital, including four on ventilators in Intensive Care. Why did so many police come into contact with her, one wonders?

It’s odd, here, under level 2/delta. As is usually the case, some are very careful, while others seem to throw caution to the winds. Consequently some activities are cancelled, or run via zoom, while others are to go ahead.

My last session for Tai Chi will go ahead next Tuesday morning – apparently the council that owns the Hall where it’s held has said it can go ahead. I’d like to go – it will be not only the end of term 3, but the end of an era for me.  What’s more, I’ll get to spend some time in town afterwards, and pick up a reserved book from the library.  I’m also supposed to have a blood test – maybe I’ll do that at the lab on The Terrace. I really don’t like the one in Johnsonville, and I won’t go there again if I can help it.

I have also booked for us to go to the movies on Saturday. One hopes that, while socially distant, there won’t be any fierce coughs there.

On Sunday, I have a lot of zooming to do. I’ve been invited to attend a service in Newtown, as well as my usual local one. After that, there’s an AGM which I can also zoom in to: presumably we aren’t gathering at church in person again yet. My friend in Auckland is also going to deliver a part homily again, but I can watch that on Youtube. Herein some advantages of zoom – you can be at home, in the warm, in your pyjamas, drinking coffee, and take in more than one service.

In some ways it’s nice having things start up again slowly – one has time to adjust to being more active, and being in a different mode.

Meanwhile, Covid 19 rages in the US, and in Australia. There, Victoria records 334 cases and one death; ACT 24 cases; and NSW 1542 new cases and nine deaths. In an Aboriginal community, an elder (aged 60) has died, and 30% of the community is infected.  It’s still present in Auckland, but this outbreak is dying out.  While there are various criticisms of the government, there is virtually no criticism of the decision to lockdown, at various levels. There is frustration, certainly, but respect for the seriousness of this delta variant of the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, it’s anniversary time: the anniversary of the fall of the Twin Towers and other hijackings, and the subsequent events in the US, including dreadful wars against Iraq and Afghanistan. Some say too that it resulted in the election of Donald Trump. It was a shocking and fascinating event, holding us glued to our television screens, now known as 9/11, and rivalling the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour as an attack on America herself, and causing  the consequent rage and disgust. How could they?  Well, Osama bin Laden was the inspiration behind this, although there were plenty of warning (and some disagreement from his colleagues). But if you thought Dubya was an awful president, whose administration carried out some terrible deeds, including wide-scale spying on its own citizens, Trump was far scarier, and his impact on the American people and the Republican Party continues to be shocking and alarming. At least the twentieth anniversary of 9/11 is a distraction from Biden’s pulling US troops out of Afghanistan.

The dreadful abortion law in Texas, and the US Supreme Court’s refusal to declare it unconstitutional, also continue to dominate conversations.  Greg Abbott, Governor of Texas, has now declared rape to be a crime, and furthermore, he won’t allow it. What is it with this man? His wife and daughter must be so embarrassed. Did his accident render him impotent? I’m just asking. Such misogyny is quite unusual.  The effect is, of course, to totally isolate the woman, at a time when she maybe feeling terrible, sick all the time, and extremely tired, as well as trying to conceal her condition.  There’s a flood of hormonal changes too, and one can have very mixed emotions about having one’s body virtually taken over by this foetus. There’s not guarantee you’ll carry it to term, either. One wonders how anyone can be so callous about this.

I’ve also been reading my very interesting new LRB and learning heaps.

It’s now Saturday September 11.

There is a new case of covid 19 diagnosed in an MIQ worker at Auckland’s Holiday Inn (near Auckland Airport). As with a handful of other cases, there is concern as to how this person contracted the disease.  Worries about odd community cases popping up remains a big concern, as we try to get used to a new normality.

I guess I have very mixed emotions about the US 9/11. I was at home, in the kitchen, when JD rang me (he was away) to tell me to watch what was happening on TV. At first I was inclined to dismiss it, but then realised something very serious was happening. I later went to work, where everyone was transfixed around a television screen, where CNN was giving updates and showing photos of what was happening – the twin towers debacle, the plane that flew into the Pentagon, and United 93 – the fourth plane that was taken over by brave Americans, and crash landed in Pennsylvania, so that it too could not be flown into a building.  I have already listened to many podcasts, and watched a documentary – Turning Point.  There is no doubt that this was a terrible tragedy, killing many people, with many others being contaminated by the dust they inhaled.  Dubya was at an elementary school, and first looked bemused. When he was told about the first aeroplane hitting one of the towers.  Then he was whisked away to the safety of a bunker. I watched Fahrenheit 9/11. I’ve watched other documentaries too. All planes in the US were grounded for a time, and I remember there were some big problems as to where they should go, given that none were taking off.

Evidently there was much intelligence warning that something big was up. The US chose not to hear it – no one would attack them on their own soil, except there had been a bomb attack, at the World Trade Centre. Afterwards, they came together – in an almost united quest for revenge. ICE was set up, the TSA, and the NSA helped themselves to permission to surveille everyone’s communications, be they by landline, mobile phone, the internet, or social media. Extraordinary powers were granted to agencies like the CIA to undertake extreme forms of questioning, otherwise known as torture. The prison at Guantanamo Bay was set up. Most of its inmates are still seeking trial. Many evil things were done, in the name of keeping Americans safe – from what, exactly? As we know, it may well be safer to fly now, but acts of domestic terrorism have proliferated, quite apart from mass shootings. How safe does anyone feel there now?  I’ve also heard that Islam is not a peaceful religion – how many folk have told me that it is?

The American desire for revenge prompted the war in Afghanistan, and two years later, the war in Iraq.  The war in Afghanistan was called the war on terror, and Dubya famously said you are either with us, or with the terrorists. Of course, his instincts were assisted greatly by his Vice-president, Dick Cheney, and his Secretary of Defence, Donald Rumsfeld.  Members of NATO and other nations like Australia and New Zealand willingly formed part of the Coalition, to fight the war on terror. What was the objective? Afghanistan had provided safe haven for Al Qaeda; later, Bin Laden was later killed by the US in Pakistan. The US troops, and all others, I think, have left now, and the Taliban is in charge. Women aren’t allowed to play sport; the Taliban have formed an all-male interim government, and remaining journalists show evidence of brutality they’ve received when trying to cover protests.  Yes, it’s certain, 9/11 changed everything.

Today there are 23 new community cases in Auckland, including one in MIQ. The Deputy PM, Grant Robertson and Dr Bloomfield are fronting the 1 pm press conference, but there is evidently a mix up with the audio – Dr Bloomfield is announcing something quite different from what the newspapers are telling us.  23 is higher than it’s been recently; I’d be interested to know how many are in hospital.

 I watched Dr John Campbell’s update this morning.  Scotland is now having more cases of the coronavirus. The vaccine jabs are useful – one should definitely have them, but it will only give you partial protection against coronavirus. Some fully vaccinated people will still get “long Covid”. There is still so much we don’t know about it. We also don’t know why outbreaks prevail so much more seriously in some areas, for example Scotland, Auckland, or Sydney.  In Australia, there are 1599 new cases in NSW, 450 in Victoria, and a new cluster in Queensland.  They’re just going to sit it out, I guess.

Meanwhile, President Biden has done something remarkable: he’s said that folk should be vaccinated, or submit to weekly Covid tests. Wow!  This includes many workers, including workers at rest homes. The right-wing are seriously alarmed at the potential breach of their so-called freedoms, threatening to sue, in some cases. Note, this isn’t a vaccine mandate: nobody is forcing you to have a vaccine.  Many right-wing Covid sufferers are using their right to take ivermectin, the horse – de-wormer, but they won’t take the covid vaccine. They don’t care about others, either. Right to Life? What a joke. In Australia doctors are forbidden from prescribing ivermectin. Thank goodness for that. One wit suggested that unvaccinated covid patients shouldn’t be admitted to hospital – health care should be reserved for people who’ve had strokes or heart attacks, falls, or been in an accident.

Late this afternoon we went to see The Man in the Hat, from the French Film Festival.  It was nice at the movie theatre: there were few people there, all were masked, and we were seated well apart for the film. We enjoyed delicious ice-creams flavoured with rhubarb and raspberry – two of my favourites, now in ice-cream. Nobody coughed apart from me! I had a little, very discreet cough. Apart from the beautiful scenery, I found it a very odd film. JD is very suspicious of films I claim to be “well reviewed”. Last night we watched 6 Days on Maori television, and tonight a Japanese movie Like Father Like Son – both good and thought-provoking movies. I’d better stop now. Ngā mihi.

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