It’s now Saturday August 6th. Kia ora!

The biggest things on my radar this morning are (Saint) President Joe’s (Biden, this time) climate legislation, which has many benefits; Alex Jones has been ordered to pay the parents of the Sandy Hook massacre; and China is retaliating against Nancy Pelosi’s brief visit to Taiwan. I listen to The Bulwark Podcast, where, now Charlie Sykes is singing Joe Biden’s praises. This makes a pleasant change. The podcast is now advertising a weight-loss (weight control?) product, after a wrinkle treatment cream, and cigars. Really, what’s next? I dread to think.

There are 4,790 new cases of Covid-19 in the community today. The seven-day rolling average of community case numbers today is 5608 – last Saturday, it was 7405. It comes as experts warn Covid-19 has joined forces with colds and flu to disrupt workforces across the country this winter. There are 648 people in hospital. Of those in hospital, 19 are in ICU.

As of today, 1638 deaths in New Zealand have been confirmed with Covid-19 being either the underlying cause or a contributing factor. The seven-day rolling average increase in total deaths attributable to Covid-19 is 14.

It’s now Sunday August 7th.

I had another difficult night last night; I went to sleep, and soon had a dream, which woke me up. Perhaps I had a dream on waking – who cares. Anyway, I thought I’d lost something, and was about to get up and look for it, and the decided to search in the morning. In the morning, I realised it had been a dream. Boy, I do have some realistic dreams.

It was predicted to be very cold this morning: we’re told a cold front is sweeping up the country, with warnings for snow, road closures, and a cold blast. Duly warned, I wore my fleece pyjamas, ones I keep for really cold nights.  Suffice to say I threw the bedclothes off, and by Sunday morning I was way too warm. It’s a balmy 14֠C at present – far from the 7֠C that was predicted this morning. Is the cold still coming? Well, it hasn’t come yet. Actually, it’s winter – cold is normal, but it’s quite mild today, and not raining. That’s another thing that annoys me; it’s rained consistently for weeks now, raining almost everyday, and heavily at nights, but evidently there’s a water shortage in Wellington. The Wellington Regional Council is responsible for the water here, but the Wellington City Council is responsible for sewage; perhaps with all the geysers we’ve had in Wellington, a lot of water has been wasted. I really can’t imagine that the reservoirs aren’t full.

This morning I zoomed into a church service. It was back in the church, where the sound is better, although not for the hymns.  The sermon was about faith, and about God being close to us, and the need to hear Him by doing his commandments and by praying.  This afternoon we are to go shopping.

Last night we watched a move Dan in Real Life, mainly because I didn’t want to watch Shadowlands again on Whakaata Maori, or Fame on Eden. I was reminded again how TV Three has the worst advertisements, in my opinion. It was a romantic story about a charming widower (played by Steve Carell) who ends up marrying the character played by Juliette Binoche (I’m a fan of hers). It was a feel-good story, once you got past the awful Americanisms. Being a few years old, it wasn’t quite as disgusting as more modern movies.

On Friday night we watched Billy Elliott on Bravo. That was another feel-good film, although one remembered the dreadful strife during Margaret Thatcher’s time as Prime Minister over the coal mines and coal miners’ union strikes.  Julie Walters plays a magnificent role as Billy’s dance teacher.  It’s quite a story, and well worth watching again.

My life revolves around watching the occasional film on television, and watching some rather good series on TV On Demand: This is Going to Hurt, Sherwood, and Passport to Freedom. I’ve written about Sherwood before; it also demonstrates the serious violence and policing during the miners’ strike, and the division caused between the union and “scabs” who decided, for whatever reason, to go back to work – deep down in the mine, dirty and dangerous work. It doesn’t parallel the dreadful fates meted out to Jewish people in Germany in the 1930’s and early 1940’s, but coalmining feels pretty bleak, nonetheless.

Passport to Freedom is set in Hamburg in the Second World War era, and centres on a woman working at the Brazilian Consulate and the Deputy Consul. Of course, they have a romance, but we get plenty of pictures of the desperation of the Jewish people, who, at first, cannot believe that the dreadful things that are happening to them are really happening, and then family members are sent to concentration camps, and some even die. One Jewish woman singer collaborates with a high-ranking member of the SS, thinking he will save her, but she’s under pressure from her family, and from the Jewish resistance; her Nazi boyfriend is under pressure too from a sadistic colleague who has been promoted. He’s also conflicted: when he was a baby, his mother was ill, and a Jewish woman fed him and saved his life. He has a debt to pay. It’s all ghastly, of course, and there’s much secrecy and ploys, but the beautiful Aracy is very brave indeed, and not only obtains visas for Jewish people who would escape to Brazil, but manages to save their jewellery too. Of course the consulate comes under enormous pressure not to assist Jews, and that’s a source of conflict too. This beautifully filmed series is based on true events. I am wowed by the beautiful old buildings of Hamburg, with their extraordinarily high ceilings; the apartments are large and spacious; the wide staircases seem to go on for ever.  In Hamburg, however, the Nazi takeover is very evident, with the sign of the swastika everywhere; uniforms everywhere; big black cars everywhere. It’s both sinister and impressive, at the same time, but the Nazi stain is everywhere. It’s as though Hamburg is a poster-child for Nazism: the Fuehrer comes to speak there, and then Goebbels and his wife visit. This series is well worth watching, in a kind of morbid way.

One of the things about absorbing films or series is that they take me out of myself, they distract me.  I still feel very weak from Covid; things were a struggle before; and recovery still seems some way off:  every week I assure my friends that next week I’ll be back – to visits, or singing, or shopping, but every week I think that perhaps the following week I’ll feel up to doing any of those things.  It’s ghastly kind of limbo. On the one hand, things could have been worse: I might have been hospitalised with Covid 19; on the other hand, I feel even worse than “usual”, fearing to go out, and fearing to get covid again.

Turning overseas now, in the US, Vice President Kamala Harris has used her casting vote in the Senate to pass Biden’s climate bill; it’s now being called the climate bill (before it was inflation busting);  evidently Krysten Sinema had accommodations made so that she could join Joe Manchin in supporting it; now it goes on a “vote a rama” to get it to the point where President Biden can sign it into law. It’s being done under an arcane term known as reconciliation (hence no filibuster), but it has to get past the Senate parliamentarian too. Oh dear, what a strange constitution, where it’s almost impossible to get anything done, and yet someone like Trump, as president, could wreak enormous havoc – without breaking laws. There’s debate currently going on as to whether he did break the law in the events around the January 6 insurrection; US lawyers are wrangling over that one too. It’s doubtful whether he’ll ever be prosecuted.

Former Vice President Disk Cheney has come out boldly to the effect that Trump was a coward, in not accepting that he had lost the presidential election; he called him the greatest threat to the republic.  While that advertisement is indeed impressive, broadcaster Mehdi Hasan has said that Cheney senior helped create the conditions that led to Trump being republican nominee and then president. Certainly I remember after the dreadful events of 9/11 and then the invasion of Iraq, many of us thought that US politics had reached rock bottom with Dubya Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld and their actions: “the end of the hegemony”, someone called it. Sadly, we were wrong: it could, and did, get so much worse.

In the UK, Boris Johnson and his wife Carrie had a wedding party, where she apparently wore a gold mini-dress. They have two children, and were married (during Covid restrictions) in the catholic Westminster Cathedral. Make of that hypocrisy what you will. There was also much hypocrisy in the party’s rural setting, with street food and no tables and chairs (to save on the carbon footprint), but also some distance away so much driving and some helicopter travel to get there. The party was held not at Chequers, but at the country estate of a major Tory donor. The guests could sit on hay bales, apparently.  It seems there was some confusion as to the purpose of the party, given that the hosts are already married (and Boris has been married twice before). It’s reported to have been “cringeworthy”.  Ah well, Trump has a lasting influence, and I guess Boris will too.

In Taiwan, China is still showing extreme anger over Nancy Pelosi’s brief visit. Methinks they’re over-reacting, but who knows what will happen there?

Today’s Covid 19 report was – encouraging; numbers of new cases continue to fall (although I’m very cynical about that), but people keep dying – 19 deaths were reported today. RNZ says 18. It’s thought that one in every six or seven deaths is due to Covid 19.  Officially there are 3,302 new community cases, and 606 people in hospital. 16 of them are in Intensive Care.

The 606 people in hospital are across Aotearoa: Northland 29, Waitematā 57, Counties Manukau 46, Auckland 75, Waikato 67, Bay of Plenty 28, Lakes 10, Hawke’s Bay 24, MidCentral 27, Whanganui 6, Taranaki 22, Tairāwhiti 3, Wairarapa 3, Capital & Coast 16, Hutt Valley 15, Nelson Marlborough 18, Canterbury 100, West Coast 6, South Canterbury 23, and Southern 31. The average age of those on hospital is 64.

The 18 people who have died from Covid-19 and are being reported today include one person in their 50s, two in their 60s, two in their 70s, nine in their 80s and four aged over 90. Eleven were women and seven were men. Eight were from Auckland region, one was from Lakes, one was from Tairawhiti, one was from Hawke’s Bay, one was from Taranaki, four were from Wellington region, one was from Canterbury, one was from South Canterbury.

The Al Blacks lost their first game to South Africa 26 10. That’s a decisive loss, but, hey, it’s only a game. After reading all the stories about concussion, I have to say I’m a bit relieved if the game of rugby loses its mystique.  The National Party has held its annual conference in Christchurch. Luxon (looking very like Rob Muldoon) goes in for a bit of dole-bludger/beneficiary bashing. So predictable. Prime Minister Ardern’s Labour is slightly up in the polls.  Actually before I thought Luxon looked like Todd Muller, but now I think he looks like Piggy Muldoon. 

That’s it for now. Slava Ukraini! Ngā mihi.

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