The rain, it raineth (almost) Every Day

A slip on Wellington’s The Terrace, causing evacuation of 8 houses

It’s now Monday August 8th. Kia ora!

Last night there was rough weather, and it’s continued throughout the day. It has got very cold, as forecast. I am happy to be nice and warm tucked up inside. The predicted snow and cold temperatures have come.

Early this morning I listened to a podcast with the American podcaster (Hardcore History) having a conversation with Dominic Sandbrook and Tom Holland. They ranged across a range of subjects, but the one which really caught my attention was their discussion about the use of nuclear weapons, and the threat by Putin of their use in the conflict in Ukraine.  Dan seemed to me more terrified of their use than the two British historians, and I am inclined to side with him; I remember well the CND marches in Wellington; the French nuclear weapons tests in the Pacific Ocean (and the Rainbow Warrior’s efforts to stop them); the Labour Government’s intention of making New Zealand “nuclear free”, thus sparking an international incident when they said that a US  nuclear-powered submarine would not be welcomed here; the near-misses; and then the disaster at Chernobyl.  The ANZUS treaty between the US, New Zealand and Australia, became ANUS. The area surrounding Chernobyl is still very dangerous, and the sarcophagus covering Reactor number 4 causes fraught discussions about its effectiveness and need for replacement.  This part of the podcast brought to mind the Raymond Briggs animated book called When the Wind Blows.  Nuclear was our huge fear, before climate change and its threats started to loom even larger in our terrors.

Once again, I am stunned by Toms Holland’s immense and awe-inspiring knowledge.  With some of his podcasts, I have to admit I have trouble following them, his knowledge is so vast.  Even when I know something about his topic, I feel I have to do  some revision first to bring myself up to date. Spoiler alert: many historical figures did not actually exist, in his opinion.

Today The Rest is History podcast is about the Empress Theodora. As usual, it is very interesting, and Tom Holland’s knowledge again astounds. How can one person know so much?  He seems to be an expert on everything.

Today’s Covid 19 report is almost encouraging.  There are 4,006 new community cases, and there have been 13 deaths, including a child under ten. There are 654 people in hospital, and 16 in Intensive Care.

Five of these people were from Auckland, two were from Waikato, one was from Bay of Plenty, two were from Hawke’s Bay, one was from Taranaki, one was from Canterbury and one person was from the Southern region.

One of these people was aged less than 10 years old. One person was aged in their 60s, three were in their 70s, two were in their 80s and six were aged over 90. Six were female and seven were male.

Today’s 654 people in hospital are being treated at Northland: 36; Waitematā: 61; Counties Manukau: 51; Auckland: 75; Waikato: 60; Bay of Plenty: 30; Lakes: 17; Hawke’s Bay: 32; MidCentral: 21; Whanganui: 13; Taranaki: 22; Tairāwhiti: 2; Wairarapa: 5; Capital, Coast: 23; Hutt: 13; Nelson Marlborough: 20; Canterbury: 107; West Coast: 4; South Canterbury: 27; Southern: 35. The average age of current Covid hospitalisations is 63.

It’s now Tuesday August 9th.

It was very cold last night, and pretty wild. I was glad of my warm pyjamas. Today things have quietened down, with respect to the weather, but it’s still cold and rainy.

In the US, the FBI have raided Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Florida club and home. He reports being “under siege” but did not specify what was taken. Actually he was in New York at the time, and the FBI notified the secret service, who facilitated access to Trump’s Florida home, although they did not take part in the search. A new book discloses that Trump wanted his generals to be more like Nazi generals; in particular, to be loyal to him, rather than being apolitical. Actually, some Nazi generals hatched a plot to assassinate Hitler, and they didn’t do so well after some early military successes.  Hitler’s orders were baffling at times (and not always obeyed). Ultimately, the Germans lost the Second World War – does Trump not know this? It’s also disclosed that he tried to flush documents down the toilets – at the White House and overseas. I saw some photos on CNN. The use Trump’s black sharpie pen is evident on a document that blocked a White House toilet.

Here in New Zealand the Nats poster child for its Tauranga seat (recently vacated by former leader Simon Bridges), a guy called Sam Uffindel, is now in a spot of bother, having physically assaulted a thirteen year old at Kings College, when he was sixteen. He was asked to leave the private school after this incident. Apparently he disclosed this a year ago, and apologised – a year ago.  While most if not all of us did some things in our teen years that we later regret, physically assaulting a much younger student has to be way out there in terms of things one shouldn’t have done. Nonetheless, he’s still being supported by the National Party’s leader, Chris Luxon.  It seems he wasn’t captain of the First Fifteen, or in any leadership role.

Today’s Covid 19 report isn’t so bad; there are 13 new deaths, strangely that’s a good low now; there are 5,939 new community cases, and 634 cases in hospital, including 15 in Intensive Care.  New Zealand is to remain at the Orange setting, which, I think, limits the numbers of people you can have at gatherings. There were also 203 Covid-19 cases at the border.

An ”expert”, a computer science lecturer (make of that what you will), said the following: unlike the eradication of the earlier Covid-19 variants in 2020 and 2021, Omicron would stay in the community until it was superseded by a new strain. That meant it would probably fall to around 3000 new cases a day until the next wave arrived, he said.  Advice to be taken – or discarded, perhaps. Note this prediction wasn’t made by an epidemiologist, or an infectious disease specialist.

It’s reported that so far, Māori and Pacific people have accounted for more than a third of hospitalisations with Covid-19 – and nearly two in 10 deaths where the virus was the underlying cause. Another clear risk factor in hospitalisation and deaths remained age. All but 46 of those who’d died from the virus were older than 60 – and two-thirds of deaths were recorded among people older than 80. Professor Michael Baker, an epidemiologist, made these pronouncements. Again, we’re not told whether, or to what extent, these people were vaccinated, or how many of them had underlying medical conditions that may have affected their immunity. 

It’s reported that today’s cases in hospital were in Northland: 34; Waitematā: 65; Counties Manukau: 49; Auckland: 80; Waikato: 54; Bay of Plenty: 26; Lakes: 15; Hawke’s Bay: 37; MidCentral: 20; Whanganui: 15; Taranaki: 22; Tairāwhiti: 2; Wairarapa: 7; Capital, Coast: 18; Hutt: 17; Nelson Marlborough: 15; Canterbury: 97; West Coast: 5; South Canterbury: 25; Southern: 31.

The FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago has sparked intense reaction from republicans, and a threat from Kevin McCarthy, advising Attorney General Merrick Garland to preserve his documents and keep his diary free. Republicans are incensed that the law may be catching up with Trump, although he and General Michael Flynn repeatedly called for Hillary Clinton to be locked up when she was the Democratic candidate for president in 2016. 

Tonight we watched a three part documentary on Netflix called Trainwreck Woodstock, about the Woodstock music festival held in Rome, New York state, in 1999. It was held in a now-closed air base, so there was plenty of room, but lots of concrete. What a disaster this was! The organiser, Michael Lang, who had been at the original Woodstock festival in 1969. He claimed afterwards that a few “bad apples” had caused any trouble that occurred.  It seems that it was a chaotic occasion; the music seemed to be mostly heavy metal, if you can call it music; personally, I have never wanted to go to a music festival of any description, I much prefer classical orchestral music, and sometimes opera. 

While the original Woodstock festival was about “peace and love”, they did have many great artists there; I don’t doubt that there were sex, drugs and some nudity, but perhaps young people were different back then? 

This was really badly organised. The organisers had outsourced the catering, and no one was allowed to take water into the venue (I think entry cost $150 US, and there were 200,000 or 400,000 people there, depending on whose figures you believe), so a lot of price gouging went on. I wondered just where people kept their money, or their eft-pos card, given the nudity and how revved up people were.  The bands just stirred the crowd up more, rather than calming them down; security was totally inadequate; the port-a-loos were disgusting; there was mess everywhere. On the third day several fires were lit, and anything dismantled that could be dismantled. Some people had already left, disgusted by the mess, but not enough to make a difference. It was really, really hot. What a shambles. Photos of Michael Lang suggest that he didn’t do badly out of this. He died in 2022.

Afterwards we watched a Youtube clip of Trevor Noah’s The Daily Show, which showed, among other things, some film of the CPAC conference in Texas. This featured a clip of a prison cell with an actor inside, pretending to be one of those imprisoned as a result of the January 6 insurrection (this guy had dobbed in others in order to stay out of jail himself). So while he was pretending to cry, Marjorie Taylor Greene entered his cell to pray (with the actor), and people threw money into the cell. Really.

It’s been nice to hear so many people now praising President Joe Biden for the great things he’s done, and he’s had covid 19, and recovered, and now tested negative. Along the way he managed to take out the head of Al Qaeda.  He has achieved so much.

I’ll stop now, because there’s so much to say, and it really applies to Wednesday’s blog. Slava Ukraini! Ngā mihi.

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