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Open mike 03/01/2022

Written By: - Date published: 7:26 am, January 3rd, 2022 - 101 comments
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101 comments on “Open mike 03/01/2022 ”

  1. lprent 1

    Carrying my reply to RL over as a starter and because I found it interesting to look at real numbers about an outbreak. Better and more disturbing than fatuous hyperbole about minor restrictions on ‘freedom’ related to a dumbarse virus that just treats such human conceits as a breeding opportunity.

    Still I've not advocated for rushing to open the border to Omicron either, but how long until you consider we might be certain? And are we going to set an impossible standard to achieve that certainty?

    Seeing what it does in Australia over the next 6-8 weeks would be sufficient to determine if poses a risk to our health systems to the point that it displaces normal loading to the point that people with other critical health issues die of lack of medical attention.

    So far that isn't looking good.

    The main operational issue is that medical staff with covid-19 (or any other infectious disease) can't attend vulnerable patients. That stresses the remaining staff

    NSW is a similar enough state with a more extensive health system. It is also open enough to view the full effects with limited public health measures to see what is likely to happen here.

    Looking at the timeline fro NSW
    It looks like omnicron really broke out of the initial community transfer about 2 weeks ago.

    What is noticeable at present is that the lines for PCR testing have gone ridiculous. Also the uncontrolled price of RAT kits with their unreported testing has now gone to directly to price gouging. Which suggests a large epidemic sweeping the state

    And that the number of reported cases from PCR testing have jumped from 3763 on Dec 22 to 18278 cases yesterday despite the various PCR testing blockages. It looks like it is still doubling the known community infection rate about every 4 days.


    The key measures however are the hospitalisation rate and the staff overload. That isn't looking good at what is still the early surge phase of a variant epidemic.

    Hospitalisations have risen to 1,066, up from 901 in the previous reporting period, with 83 patients in intensive care.

    There are five times as many people being treated for COVID-19 in the state’s hospitals as there were in mid-December, although the number of people in intensive care has increased at a slower rate.

    There isn't enough info to be sure in NSW, but it looks like about a 2 week period from to get from infection to hospitalisation based on the rates of increase. The number of hospitalisations for covid-19 in NSW has risen from 302 on Dec 22 to three times the number. They only had 166 on Dec 15 a week earlier. Can't be sure of the ICU

    And here is the important thing.

    HSU secretary Gerard Hayes said the increasing number of people being treated in hospital was "more concerning every day".

    "I think the key issue here is that while the current variant is not as bad as Delta it will be a larger lot of numbers and the ratio of those numbers to hospitalisations will be potentially the concern."

    Mr Hayes said the state's health system would likely reach a critical phase "anywhere within the next two or three months".

    Tired and overworked healthcare workers in NSW were left with no choice but to support reducing the isolation rules for asymptomatic staff deemed close contacts of COVID-19 cases.

    Under an exemption to the Public Health Order signed by Health Minister Brad Hazzard on Friday night, these staff can now be ordered back to work.

    Australian Salaried Medical Officers Federation (ASMOF) NSW president Tony Sara said hospitals were running out of staff and the pressure on the system was enormous.

    "We're loading our hospitals with COVID-positive patients who need to be in hospital," Dr Sara said.

    "We therefore had to reduce the ISO requirements, we don't agree with it but essentially if the health system is not to collapse then ourselves, the nurses and the HSU [Health Service Union] — we don't have a lot of choice but to agree."

    If the rate of hospitalisations keeps rising by 2+ times every week in a nearly fully vaccinated state, you can see why they're worried.

    It isn't an issue with how less damaging the omnicron outbreak is. That appears to be about 15-30% of the infection vs hospitalisation rate depending where you look world wide.

    It is an issue with the rapid rate of infections rapidly driving up the health system into the ground with larger numbers at a lower rate of infection.

    I don't think that vitamin D is going to do much in the short term even if it was efficacious. Not to mention that aussies in summer generate a lot of natural vitamin D along with their sunburn.

    • tsmithfield 1.1

      The evidence is mounting that Omicron causes less severe disease because it tends to multiply in the throat rather than the lungs. This also explains why it is more contagious. The other good news is that research suggests recovery from Omicron is much quicker.


      I agree with you that a major concern is that the rapid spread of the disease means the availability of essential workers such as medical staff is a major concern, and could have a major impact on our health services.

      On the positive side, Omicron does appear to peak very quickly with case numbers already dropping in London.


      From our perspective, we have to accept that Omicron is going to arrive here, sooner or later.

      I think we need to take this opportunity to plan how to mitigate the negative impact on our core services for the short time the virus is a problem. Perhaps steps such as ensuring all essential workers have booster jabs, and perhaps even putting medical staff on a preventative course of antivirals for the short time that Covid is a major issue when it arrives.

      • Sanctuary 1.1.1

        Omicron also appears to confer considerable protection against Delta so hopefully by some miracle humankind will be helped out its dreadful flailing incompetence by a chance mutation.

        • lprent

          I suspect that we have a lot more waves of covid-19 in our near (ie ~5 year) future.

          There is going to have to be some serious tradeoffs for the people dependent on overseas tourism, students, and cheap labour. As well as those expecting to fly anywhere anytime.

          Good thing really. We have been getting at least one significiant zoonotic disease emerging in human populations about every 5 years for the two to three decades. Well more than double the emergence rate in the 20th century.

          Sheer luck that the others didn't grow to pandemic levels.

          I would expect that trend to keep increasing in velocity until late this century. We are a useful vector for species hopper viruses.

          • tsmithfield

            I think you are being overly pessimistic.


            From the article:

            "Despite the less than optimal start to 2022, however, health experts both at home and abroad have suggested the new variant – and the next 12 months – could finally signal the end of the coronavirus pandemic's two-year reign."


            "Former deputy chief medical officer Dr Nick Coatsworth couldn't have put it more plainly today, writing in an op-ed for The Sydney Morning Herald that "in 2022, the Covid-19 pandemic will end….. Covid-19, he added, "is now the most treatable respiratory virus known to man", and despite its transmissibility, Omicron will likely have a lower case-to-fatality ratio than the flu, "and not a particularly bad flu at that".

            So, I think the signs are very positive for us escaping this pandemic and again enjoying the freedoms we once had prior to the pandemic.

            • Graeme

              In tourism we've had a couple of years of 'journalism' grasping onto the slightest positive event and presenting it as the end of the pandemic restrictions and return to open trade. Aussie bubble was supposed to be tens of thousands chafing at the bit to come to NZ for a holiday asap. Reality turned out to be virtually empty planes and what passengers there were, were visiting family. The breathless pronouncements of impending good times for business were closely followed by an intense campaign from the same media outlets trying to sell advertising.

              They are selling hope as fact, and we're very willing marks.

              I'm sceptical, and will wait and see what happens.

              • woodart

                very good post graeme. the last one of these bullshit news(?) items was a couple of weeks ago when auckland was opened and two days later we had sobstories in msm about how dead queenstown was, and how scared aucklanders were to travel. its not news, its advertising dressed up with very small snippetts of clickbait in between.

          • Graeme

            Is there and immutable law of biology that says this virus will always mutate to a less severe form? Or that the less severe form will always become dominant?

            We've had several 'chance' mutations in this variant that have made it more transmissible, and less severe. I'd presume the increased transmissibility would make it more dominant, but would also increase the probability of further mutation by enabling vastly more infections.

            So what's the probability of an equally, or more transmissible, but more severe variant emerging?

            • tsmithfield

              The answer is often but not always:


              There are examples of viruses that have become more deadly.

              However, in the case of Covid, humans have the advantage of cumulative knowledge and the ability to adjust our responses so we can allow the spread of benign versions, and use strong countermeasures to limit the spread of the harmful ones.

              In that way, we can facilitate the spread and dominance of the mild versions so that the world develops herd immunity to future mutations of Covid, and it eventually becomes background noise, similar to the common cold or flu.

              • weka

                However, in the case of Covid, humans have the advantage of cumulative knowledge and the ability to adjust our responses so we can allow the spread of benign versions, and use strong countermeasures to limit the spread of the harmful ones.

                Theoretically. In reality, the large countries that didn't limit spread initially has meant more opportunity for variants to develop.

            • Drowsy M. Kram

              So what's the probability of an equally, or more transmissible, but more severe variant emerging?

              With more than 30 million active cases globally it is a possibility, but I doubt anyone credible would be prepared to put a (probability) number on it.

              If/when such a variant does emerge, then (as with Delta and Omicron) NZ will likely have a window of a few months to prepare.

              Hope for the best, plan for the worst, imho – the state of Oregon (4.2 million) has done relatively well compared to other US states, with 'only' 0.13% of its people dead with COVID (cf. 0.001% in NZ). Let's be careful out there.

            • RedLogix

              It's my understanding that while a super transmissible and lethal bug is always possible – they are very rare for at least three evolutionary reasons:

              Both features require high degrees of specialisation that involve different aspects of the viral structure. The odds getting both in the one variant are even more astronomically rare – assuming natural only evolution.

              There seems to be a molecular trade-off between transmissibility and lethality. As a virus loads more resource into one, it has less available to put into the other. There is no hard and fast rule on this – it's an observed heuristic.

              And finally simple evolution always favours the variant that is the least likely to kill its host. Again this doesn't preclude a lot of death before a steady state is reached – but in the long run the logic of this will always prevail.

              • tsmithfield

                I would agree. The likely course of Covid is towards a more benign bug.

                The common cold was probably once a deadly virus at some point in time.

                As the article I linked to above pointed out, Omicron has evolved to be more transmissible by mutiplying in the throat rather than the lungs. But this change has resulted in a reduction in severity due to not multiplying so quickly in the lungs.

              • coge

                The best thing we could see in NZ, is for all the Covid measures in place to be immediately dropped. It's summer, the best time to deal with Omicron.

                There are growing number of folks becoming non compliant, and that trend is only going to continue. For many it's a conscience thing, and if you remove people freedoms, soon they will feel they have nothing to lose. Segregation has no place in our society. And neither does heavy handed state coercion.

                • RedLogix

                  My comment above was in answer to a question about the general principles of viral evolution.

                  Even though I tend to agree with much of your sentiments on compliance and segregation, the specific case of Omicron and NZ needs to be dealt with on it's own merits. And while the data clearly shows it's less lethal – I still think there is good reason for us to be a 'slow follower' on opening up.

                  As weka put's it, there will be no stuffing this genie back into the bottle.

            • bwaghorn

              I recall a virologist on the tv when this virus first popped up saying that these viruses often follow a 2 year pattern of very dangerous to begin with and then mutating in to a less severe form then going away, .

              Looking like he was right, fingers crossed,

              (Far to long ago to find a link)

      • Matiri 1.1.2

        Those promising Guardian studies are on mice and hamsters ie in the very early stages of clinical trials.

        It's ironic that the Covid vaccine research studies are so much further advanced ie multiple RCT trials in humans, followed by rollout to millions and millions, ongoing safety and efficacy monitoring yet some (wrongly) still say it's experimental.

      • lprent 1.1.3

        We could do all of that. But I suspect that a red listing, especially in the very medically understaffed and under vaccinated provincial areas is in our future. Only realistic way to drop the the rate of spread to a muted roar rather tsunami.

      • Julian Richards 1.1.4

        Maybe a good idea to reinstall all the medical personnel fired under mandates…. As the vax clearly does not stop the new variant.

        Isn't karma a b*@ch.

    • Shanreagh 1.2

      Good points lprent. In the UK there have been other spinoffs from the Omicron outbreak and that is the sheer numbers being infected and needing to isolate. Then other industries, particularly mass transit falls over and those who are ell enough to work cannot get to work. So a different set of impacts. May need a different set of mitigations with differing timings as the disease progresses. One of the benefits of the traffic light system allows for flexibility in switching while enabling as many businesses to keep open as sensible.

      As far as VitD is concerned my Dr is not keen on supplementation and urged me to get at least 20mins of sun on my forehead ie without hat or sunscreen and for me earlyish in the morning every day. The same advice is good for combatting jet lag, to get outside in your destination in that mid morning time helps the body to switch time zones.

      • Molly 1.2.1

        Shanreagh, I am outside quite a lot everyday, and when tested for Vitamin D levels after last summer (spent in the garden), I was in the severely deficient range. Three women friends of menopausal age, who have all been tested – and had results indicating severe deficiency in Vitamin. Two of them keen cyclists, one of whom cycles 30 – 50 km daily.

        Apparently, women often lose the ability to metabolise Vitamin D from sunlight as they get older. The current recommendation from doctors to ensure you get a minimum of 20 minutes a day works if your metabolism is still functioning to convert that exposure to Vitamin D. For many, this is no longer the case, and you won't know if you are one of those for whom this is true.

        You can consider this anecdotal, and of no importance, but Vitamin D does have a protective role to play in many aspects of good health. Ensuring you have a good level in the blood is a fairly inexpensive way of stacking your odds.

        • Matiri

          This is the simplest explanation I've seen on the amount of skin to expose to sunlight to get adequate vitamin D metabolised in the blood stream. Shanreagh, having just your forehead exposed is nowhere near enough but it's better than nothing.


          • Shanreagh

            I think this was a balancing between my family's sun sensitivity and the amount needed for good health. From an early age as children we were not allowed to go out into the sun without protection between 10-2.00pm.

            My Dr thought being out in the sun without a hat/sunscreen around morning teatime 10-11am would do me fine……face, hands, sometimes arms exposed. He would have had a fit if I had been out in a swimsuit doing this let alone a bikini like the model in Matiri's reference.

            One place I worked a fair skinned Goth colleague was the only other person doing this all year long except for when it was pelting down. He had been told the same thing and had the same fair type of skin.

            Food has VitD.

            Fatty fish, like tuna, mackerel, and salmon
            Foods fortified with vitamin D, like some dairy products, orange juice, soy milk, and cereals
            Beef liver
            Egg yolks

            • Stephen Doyle

              All well and good.

              My blood pressure medication says to avoid too much direct sunlight.

              Let common sense prevail.

        • Shanreagh

          Yes that is true. All of our abilities to do many simple functions diminishes over time, sigh, and some times develop into comorbidities…another sigh.wink

          I am very keen on discussing Vit D but don't get as evangelic about it as i do about the benfits of drinking water!

          • RedLogix

            VitD photosynthesis is only created by UVB – not UVA. It is completely blocked by

            • sun lower than 45deg
            • any air pollution
            • any sun screen
            • glass
            • clothing

            The simple rule is 'your shadow must be sharp and shorter than you are tall' in order for the sunshine route to be useful.

            The other element that is hard to achieve is full body exposure. It takes on average 30 min of full body exposure in ideal conditions to achieve between 10 – 20,000 IU of VitD. In our pre-industrial state we typically fat stored somewhere between 1 – 2,000,000 IU of VitD over summer that we drew down on over winter. Most of us are going to find it hard to emulate that in our modern lives – unless naturism is your thing.

            Modernity has brought many good things, but we're also starting to learn some of the downsides that we overlooked on the way – and social clothing norms and indoor living inadvertently broke that evolved cycle. Hence for most moderns supplementation is necessary to achieve something near to the 60 – 90 ng/ml levels required for good health. All the information you need is out there, but suffice to say it's critical to understand not just the role of VitD but it's partner VitK2 and the role co-factors such as magnesium, zinc and boron play.

            All this is relatively new information many GP's will not have had the time nor inclination to discover – but some have. We're lucky to have stumbled across one here in Brisbane, and if you seek out the Functional Medicine types they're typically all over this.

            Since my work trip to the Canadian Arctic in 2017 I've been gradually becoming more informed on the VitD story – it's been a fascinating and for both of us an increasingly rewarding journey in all sorts of unexpected ways. I hope you have as much fun with this as we have yes

            • Shanreagh

              Yes Potassium is important and often overlooked. Bananas are high sources of potassium. (And the skins are good cut up and placed around rose bushes!).

              All of the elements/vitamins/s exercise/sunshine work together and reinforce the need for exercise and good eating habits. Incidentally my Dr is also a sports medicine Dr and has a large practice of post menopausal women and he is also not keen on OTT eating regimes that strip the body of fat.

              Having been tested a couple of years ago and then having a period of time on IV feeding in hospital I know that my Potassium levels are prone to dipping. As I am on on High cholesterol drugs for Familial hypercholesterolemia ('a genetic disorder caused by a defect on chromosome 19. The defect makes the body unable to remove low density lipoprotein (LDL, or bad) cholesterol from the blood. This results in a high level of LDL in the blood') I also have to supplement with VitB as the drugs strip out VitB.

              It is fascinating …how our bodies have so many perfectly balanced and intricate systems and processes. smiley

              • RedLogix

                Thanks – I'll checkout the potassium aspect. Any good links?

                I've tried to steer a middlish path through the COVID controversies, but if it brings a wider awareness of what real 'public health' might mean – it will turn out a silver lining to what's been a very dark cloud.

            • weka
              • sun lower than 45deg

              Do you know what the evidence base for this is? I've seen it said a fair bit, but it's unclear to me. Presumable there's a curve of decline as the sun lowers in the sky (each day and over the year) rather than a sharp cut off at 45deg.

              One of the implications is that the Vit D people at lower latitudes make during the summer and autumn has to get them through the winter and early spring.

              • RedLogix

                Like all things on the internet there are plenty of rabbit-holes to dive down on this, but 45deg is a rule of thumb not an hard cut-off. I probably should have qualified my statement above more carefully.

                At the latitude of say Otago which is below this doesn't mean there will be zero UV-B – it's just the level is relatively low and the amount of time necessary for full exposure and a decent summer accumulation is not going to be achievable or comfortable for most modern people.

                • Poission

                  Otago at present ( mid summer) gets more solar insolation then Auckland.


                  • weka

                    the problem is that around the equinoxes the sun is so low in the sky on the south that there may not be much Vit D production. I'm not convinced by the 45deg thing (I've been sunburned in early spring), but obviously there is an issue for those in the south.

                • weka

                  Here's a critique of the latitude hypothesis (read this ages ago)


                  And the main research it relies on? (haven't read this)

                  Location and vitamin D synthesis: is the hypothesis validated by geophysical data?


                  • RedLogix

                    One of aforementioned rabbit holes I think.

                  • RedLogix

                    Two recent pro-VitD references that are worth offering. The first is Prof Robert Scragg from the UoA School of Medicine giving an overview of research in NZ.

                    Robert’s vitamin D expertise sees him called on to peer-review research and he says it can be frustrating when poorly constructed studies are amplified through the media.

                    “For example, there have been observational studies published that show people with Covid-19 have low vitamin D levels,” says Robert.

                    “But they don’t go into the factors as to why they have low levels. Having dark skin contributes to lower vitamin D, for example.

                    “As well, being overweight or poor can contribute to low levels.

                    “There was a big international trial I was asked to review that had major methodological flaws in it. This is an example of where you can do a study, and call it a trial, but you may have introduced biases into it. Next thing you know, it’s being quoted as gospel.”

                    The second link is from Gruff Davies a UK data scientist with a physics background who offers a paper on the VitD/COVID relationship using Causal Inference methodology.

                    Causal Inference

                    The COVID-19 pandemic spread globally providing observational data with statistical power many orders of magnitude greater than a devised RCT or observational trial that could be conducted even at national level. Striking patterns emerge directly from this statistical power that are so large they are evident without the need for sophisticated regression analyses. Global location data for 239 locations offers a vast data set that includes homogeneous and heterogeneous populations and subpopulations where latitude, weather conditions, skin colour, age, pregnancy and morbidity states are – in effect – randomly assigned by nature.

                    A lot of very readable material in this paper and has an Appendix explaining why the so called 'gold standard' RCT's are usually nowhere near as useful as the lay public have been led to think they are.

        • RedLogix

          Totally agree. Another factor that has been completely overlooked is that the normal ability of the skin to synthesise VitD decreases with age. (Just as the risks of COVID increase with age).

          The main reason why most medics are cautious about VitD supplementation is that there has been conflicting and paradoxical studies on it's impact.

          For a long time the results of just VitD and Calcium supplementation in preventing osteoporosis were disappointing. In essence the VitD certainly enabled the absorbtion of the extra calcium, but instead of improving bone density all it did was raise the risk of calcification in places like the heart, arteries and kidneys. It was called the 'calcium paradox' – too little and you got all the issues of falls and fractures, yet any attempt at improving this immediately raised the risk of heart and circulation conditions. There didn't seem to be any sweet spot.

          The missing piece of the puzzle turns out to be VitK2 which is essential to get the calcium from the bloodstream and into the bones where you want it.

          Again plenty of good info out there if you look – my comments here are not intended as medical advice.

      • Bill 1.2.2

        earlyish in the morning every day.

        If the sun is at less than 45 degrees, then you're not producing any Vit D- Apparently. Something to do with the angle of the sun and the blocking capacity of ozone. Also. In places with air pollution (mbe not so much of an issue for most locations in NZ), we can't produce VitD.

        • lprent

          Sure. In most parts of the continental world that is the case. Too much dust even at the coast. Doesn't apply that much for a country that is never more the 100kms from the ocean and has a negligible atmospheric dust load.

          It doesn't really apply that much to places like Auckland in summer. Dunedin I can understand – it seems to be designed to be a place to get really pale. I came home to Auckland from Dunedin and was startled at

          Of course there is always fatty fish and most other marine products, egg yolks, mushrooms even before you get to fortified foods and supplements.

          Personally I eat all three and even my sun avoiding geekness doesn't have vitD issues, (If I am going to have to have a blood test every quarter, may as well check everything).

          • RedLogix

            Of course there is always fatty fish and most other marine products, egg yolks, mushrooms even before you get to fortified foods and supplements.

            I only recently discovered that these 'food routes' are typically 'indirect sunshine'.

            For example the hairy mammals like cats and dogs all secrete oil into their fur, where UVB in sunshine then converts it to one of the VitD forms. Then grooming causes the animal to ingest the VitD they need.

            Similarly with most marine sources – they're getting it from the photoplankton they eat and if they're an oily species it's well stored.

            Mushrooms the same – but only when they're wild and have been exposed to sunlight.

            Unless you're eating a very traditional, pre-industrial diet that's almost exclusively from these wild sources – for most of us pale, geeky moderns it's more effective to supplement.

    • RedLogix 1.3

      I've no particular quibble with most of this. The very high R value of Omicron ensures hospitalisation will rise very rapidly and this is an operational concern for all the reasons you describe.

      And as I mentioned to weka earlier, I'm willing to accept that just because Omicron presents mostly as a less lethal acute disease, there are good reasons to remain cautious on it's long term chronic effects. Especially given it's rather opaque origin and peculiar genetics.

      Not to mention that aussies in summer generate a lot of natural vitamin D along with their sunburn.

      This was something I would have said myself up to quite recently until I discovered that VitD photosynthesis from sunshine only happens in some rather specific conditions. And while much of Australia is indeed ideal sunshine territory, the people have been trained for several decades now to not to expose themselves to it.

      • weka 1.3.1

        one of the things that we (the public) will learn from omicron, hopefully, is the complex nature of the crisis. It's not a simple matter of pulling out some stats. There are a lot of different and interacting factors, and the the difference between what looks good on paper (stats on initial omicron severity) and what happens on the ground (hospital impact) is stark.

        I took your point the other day about confounding factors, just thought it was more a generality rather than looking into the detail.

        • Macro

          It's not a simple matter of pulling out some stats. There are a lot of different and interacting factors, and the the difference between what looks good on paper (stats on initial omicron severity) and what happens on the ground (hospital impact) is stark.


          A very interesting opinion piece on this very topic was published today in the Guardian by two prominent UK Statisticians.

          Can you capture the complex reality of the pandemic with numbers? Well, we tried…


          We had to agree our purpose, as a particular challenge is to fend off the voracious media appetite for blame, speculation and controversy, naturally fed by the broad spectrum of opinion among experts. One camp has supported viral suppression and even elimination, while others have expressed scepticism about the measures taken; it’s become a cliche that their extreme followers can be identified by the phrase “I’ve done my own research”.

          • Macro

            One particularly relevant paragraph from the link above:

            We tried this strategy back in June 2021 when Public Health England first published data showing that, among older people who had recently died with Covid-19, most had been vaccinated. We wrote an article pointing out that this did not mean the vaccine was ineffective – just that it was imperfect – and that the great majority of people had been vaccinated: in essence, a small proportion of a large number can be bigger than a larger proportion of a small number. Another useful analogy is with seatbelts: most people who die in car accidents are wearing seatbelts, but this does not mean that seatbelts are not effective – it’s just that nearly everyone wears one and they are not perfect.

            my bold

    • weka 1.4

      Tired and overworked healthcare workers in NSW were left with no choice but to support reducing the isolation rules for asymptomatic staff deemed close contacts of COVID-19 cases.

      That's alarming. It's a kind of desperation for public health to allow potential infection of staff in order to manage increasing infection in the general population.

      Under an exemption to the Public Health Order signed by Health Minister Brad Hazzard on Friday night, these staff can now be ordered back to work.

      I'm curious what the people who object to other restrictions make of that.

    • lprent 2.1

      Knocked you off your morning perch this morning 🙂


      Whoever has been cloning the Open Mike obviously got caught in my maintenance yesterday.

      • Gezza 2.1.1

        🙂 Yes, I noticed the late start to Open Mike.

        Usually someone sets it up a little after 6am. If I’m up early I usually have a look & then sometimes race to try & beat Dennis. 😀

      • Incognito 2.1.2

        I sent you an e-mail late last night, but my access seems to have been miraculously restored overnight. Will be BAU from now on.

        • RedLogix

          Welcome back

          • Incognito

            Thanks, but I never really left. Stayed in the furthest corners of TS to schedule OM and DR every day smiley

        • lprent

          I made a mistake and the root directory overflowed. To be precise I did

          zpool create archive list_of_drives

          And forgot to

          zpool set mountpoint=/mnt archive

          Then proceeded to

          rsync holddir /mnt/archive

          Cries of dismay from those who delve into and are literate in linux as I hang my head in shame.

          Wound up with no space on / and you and everyone else was locked out from logging in or writing comments because there was nowhere to write scratch files.

          • Shanreagh

            And I thought I was pretty good figuring out how to delete the photographs on my Olympus camera that were filling up my card…….took me about half a morning but not having to spend $99.00 to get anew card was a good driver. My camera works better with my Mac when taking photographs for TM and Freecycle.

            • lprent

              You can usually get into most devices either naturally (eg Mac + iphone) or using a fuse file system or simply popping the card into the card reader on a laptop or desktop. On most things of that type linux or the linux that is OSX find and/or rsync – is your friend.

              For instance clearing up old TS database backups (updating that script at present)

              find $BACKUPDIR/TheStandardDB_.$TAREXT -mtime +2 -delete

              Find all files matching my backup drive directory with the name of TheStandardDB_.tar.xz that have a modified date of more than 2 days and delete them.

              rsync is also pretty good at doing moves. I usually clean phone directories using rsync to push the data into my workstations dropbox folder with a -delete parameter.

              • Shanreagh

                Yes I looked for the card reader on this 2nd hand laptop, not the Mac, but thought that as the previous owner had said the CD drive yes I know!!!!), had been removed it wouldn't have a card reader…….doh.

                Just now found the card reader on the other side of the laptop.

                Used to have a printer that you could put a card in it. Haven't looked on this one. Finally found a set of instructions online and following them brought home to me how important the editing of tech instructions for non tech people is. My cousin used to do this specialised editing.

                My prob with the online instructions was that they had left out a couple of steps that would have been easy for a techy but not for a novice to complete. I thought/think even though PCs are great I lost ways of personalising processes that I had when I worked on a mainframe. I had little sets of coding to do tasks. You seem to have some – do these work off Linux?

                If those who had written the instructions I followed this morning had to wrap some coding around them to automate them they would have come to a complete stop! smiley

        • lprent

          My primary geek nz email is down for the same reason. Turns out virtual box likes wiping its vbox files when it doesn't have disk space. It will be back later today after I dig out what format it wants.

          You could try my gmail address. first.second@gmail.com or even thestandardnz gmail

        • gsays

          G'day Incognito, Compliments of the Season to ya.

    • mary_a 2.2

      A milestone for Pickles Pookyes What a clever boy. Thanks Gezza (2).

  2. Molly 3

    for those interested, a thread about legislative changes in Norway and how they were achieved:

    • Sabine 3.1

      did you see this?


      21 days for 'misgendering' a trans identified male. Lol. Well for what its worth, it finally has arrived the stage where men (human adult males) are starting to get a whiff of this new movement and they better learn to bend the knee and bow down deep to the god of trans lest they end up in prison and / or are having to pay fines.

      • lprent 3.1.1

        Ignoring the trans part of that conversation, it sounds like the convicted was a complete fuckwit obsessed by gender issues, and who shouldn't have been allowed on any adult public forum. Too juvenile and childish…

        Wouldn't you agree?

        • Molly

          If that was the criteria for being able to use social media – or any other 'adult public forum' then half those participating would be excluded.

          In this case, however, that engagement resulted in a 21 day jail sentence. Whereas, other more direct threats on social media, have resulted in no consequence.

          Although, you may consider – as I do – the level of this person's contribution to discussion to be less than nil, that is not a reason to incarcerate someone.

          • lprent

            Could easily do that here as well under multiple acts, including the HDCA. All it would require is for the perp to not show contrition and to try to argue that the court has no right try it – which appears to be what this idiot fuckwit did.

            You should really look at the actual legal provisions of NZ before you start to criticise those of other countries.

            • Molly

              Of course I am concerned about the similar legislative changes proposed here in NZ, noting the conflation once again of biological sex and gender identity.

              (Noting also the shoehorning in of trans as a unspecified protected category that will be defined at a later stage.)

              If you can't see the benefit of avoiding unintended consequences by improving legislation before it's passed, that's your perspective. Mine differs.

              • Molly

                As a case for discussion, the 2020 conviction of an autistic teen who asked "Is it a boy or a girl?" and was found guilty of a hate crime in Wales.

                'Declan Armstrong, 19, was convicted of using abusive or insulting words to cause harassment. According to Judge Roger Lowe, the public order offence was uplifted to medium-level due to its transphobic nature.

                He was put under night-time curfew and ordered to pay £590, including £200 compensation to Police Community Support Officer Connor Freel, 25, who was born female but identifies as male. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) called the incident a ‘hate crime’. Edward Marsh of the CPS said: “Comments deliberately targeting a person in this way have no place in modern society.”

                Now two disability support groups – AXIA-ASD and Action for Asperger’s – have condemned the prosecution and called for the courts to think again when dealing with people with disorders such as Autism and Asperger’s. Elaine Nicholson, CEO of Action for Asperger’s said: “This young man is being punished for his condition; having a communication disorder is what Asperger’s is all about.”

                There is also the high number of incidents of a number of people utilising this interpretation of the law to harass and harm people they disagree with.

        • Sabine

          This particular case has a Trans – stake because it is based on 'trans-rights'. So far it is not that common that we lock up people for being insulting tits, if we had done that previously we could not keep up building prisons and staffing them.

          But then, i hear that the for profit prison industry is a good market to invest in to, what do you think?

          • lprent

            So far it is not that common that we lock up people for being insulting tits,

            As I explained in The actual offence was almost certainly that of being a idiot fuckwit obsessed by gender issues who challenged the court by saying that they had no legal basis to try him. It did by an act of the legislature, and he now has an opportunity to try the judge's duty to enforce the laws of the land in a court of appeal. I suspect that he and his idiot lawyer will be stupid enough to do that.

            It may eventually make it to their equivalent of our supreme court which will look at if the legislature worded the legislation so that the judge was correct in their interpretation or not.

            In our case the judgement would be that freedom of expression in BORA is a limited right. It does not include the right to gratuitously insult others for their gender, race, looks, religion, or simply because a offensive fuckwit wants to get their ego off public.

            We have a small prison population who have made the same legal mistake. Some are on remand, some on bail, some are still awaiting trial.

            As a professional geek, I don’t go around overtly rubbing people up the wrong way simply because they weren’t endowed with the curiosity and drive that is greater than a hamster. If I can keep that strong urge to use my fingers to do that – then so should this idiot gender obsessed fuckwit.

            Regardless of you like it or not, freedom of expression does not extend to being a gormless bigot in public to other individuals. And if you feel forced to be one, then it pays to be a a smart one who actually understands some basic legal principles and can avoid forcing a judge to sentence you for simple stupidity.

            • lprent

              Incidentally I naturally carefully wrote that last comment so it was lawful and insulting. There is a fundamental legal and societal principle embedded in the comment as to why this would be legal under almost all reasonable legal systems, one that gender obsessed idiotic legal fuckwit did not follow.

              I'd be interested if the people above who have a problem with the sentence can understand why? They don't seem to understand it as far as I can see.

              • Sabine

                I have no idea if or why the dude insulted the other. That is actually not mentioned anywhere. Neither is a picture of either one of them involved that would allow any one to form their own opinion of what was said. We also don't know what let to that altercation, only that it ended with that conversation that what reported to the police as 'hate crime' (or what ever the Norwegian laws to that extend are), and that it lead to a fine and a 21 day sentence.

                Now what was said might have been insulting, or it might have been a statement to the fact, who knows we are not giving more information as that. Should that alone be grounds to lock someone up for 21 days? That should be discussed. What else can we not say or if we say it we should expect 21 days in the slammer for wrong speak?

                That was my only point for posting this link.

              • Anker

                I don't believe the law should be able to send someone to prison for what they say unless it incites violence.

                If you take the example JK Rowling who regularly gets death and rape threats, nail bomb threats and doxing, I have to wonder why no action has been taken about the perpetrators of these threats.

                • lprent

                  I don’t believe the law should be able to send someone to prison for what they say unless it incites violence.

                  Ah a person who believes in waiting at the bottom of the cliff with an ambulance. Good approach for a ghoul – you get more bodies maimed or dead that way.

                  As far as I am aware so far, the only interesting part of about this case was that the the idiot said that the written law didn’t apply to them because of a higher law. The judge took them at their word, sentenced them, so if they chose to they could appeal to the people who actually balance those higher laws against other laws. They get the chance to argue it in court possibly before and maybe after serving their sentence.

                  BTW: Have you ever read any analysis of how lynching, pogroms, riots, and every other destructive practice of humans operates. It is almost from people thinking that they can get away with acting like an arsehole to others and having others cheer them on with their non-violent offensive behaviour against other people. They start to think that it is their ‘right’ to do so. That any laws put in place are just there to stifle them. And you find that they end up burning people in their houses or whatever violence happens to be fashionable.

                  Judges and indeed most lawyers I know tend to be very aware of this. After all any reading of any case law bangs the stupidity of such attitudes home over and over again along with the inevitability of cause and effect about problems between those who think that they have an absolute right to be obnoxious. I had to deal with my old partners law and being a fast reader I spent some time reviewing it. Prefer programming, but laws have inherent logic that is worth looking at when you have questions about why this or that happens.

                  Basically every bigot idiot, lynch mob, and pogrom starts because anti-social idiots think that they have a ‘right’ to be offensive to ‘others’. Many laws are put in place simply to make sure that idiots find that out before they manage kill or maim others. Doesn’t always work, but the legal balance between ‘rights’ like being a loudmouth bigot and not getting killed or maimed by one is largely there to catch problems at the top of the cliff – not the bottom.

                  I have to wonder why no action has been taken about the perpetrators of these threats.

                  That brings me to the other side. Responsibilities….

                  I do some support work with computers, where the first question is always the same on any kind of computer failures. Is it plugged in or something equivalent? The second is have you rebooted it? In a good fifth of the cases one of those is the problem.

                  Hell – I fixed a VoIP issue for someone tonight by powering off and on their router. The router had been running for at least 4 months.

                  There is an equivalent question that you will find people who have to deals with non-computer social issues always ask, including threats. That is “has XYZ laid a complaint?” Or requested action?

                  Because in my experience that is usually a small fraction. No force or organisation can take action unless a formal complaint is laid. You also can’t take them to task if they haven’t taken any useful action because none was requested.

                  Many people go and say that it’d be of no use anyway, or it is too much effort, or it is cheaper to beef up your own security/insurance or whatever. Maybe so. But you can’t know unless it is tried. Also shouldn’t moan and whine about it unless that has happened and failed.

                  I have also noticed that the people who complain the loudest that something should be done, are also usually those who haven’t lifted a finger in any useful way to help an investigation. Because the first thing that anyone like the police will do is point out that to have a trial it has to be fair and based on evidence – not hearsay. Being a loudmouth moaner doesn’t help. Getting a conviction or substantive action depends on making sure that any subsequent trial or hearing is not contaminated by loudmouths contaminating juries or judges. It is the reason why we have suppression orders.

                  I have no idea if JK Rowling (vaguely remember her as a fantasy author) has laid complaint about threats or not. But I’d prefer to see an explicit statement that a formal complaint has been laid, and that the authorities are still working on it. If police or whoever drop it, then I’d want to see a copy of the complaint and some idea about evidence before I start getting wound up about that.

                  Basically hearsay is cheap, usually spun for effect, and most often wrong. So far that is all that I have heard. To me it is meaningless irresponsibility. I might have an opinion based on what I dig out myself and even express my understanding of it. But I tend to treat everything dished up as just being propaganda.

                  Incidentally, as much as I hit on police for their lackadaisical Luddite behaviour at times, go and ask any mature police officer what they find the most irritating. They will tell you that it is the people who don’t lay charges or who won’t give evidence to enable charges to be laid.

                  Which is where the other side of a having a right comes into play – acting responsibly.

                  Incidentally the same principles of balance apply to politics. For that matter for anyone with social duties. Soldiers, nursing staff, police, ambulance staff, wardens, etc. And of course to me.

              • Molly

                "Regardless of you like it or not, freedom of expression does not extend to being a gormless bigot in public to other individuals. And if you feel forced to be one, then it pays to be a a smart one who actually understands some basic legal principles and can avoid forcing a judge to sentence you for simple stupidity."

                And it appears you missed the point that women on here have been trying to make for many months. There are legislative changes that have the potential to make statements regarding biological sex fall into hate speech by being categorised as transphobic.

                Overseas examples are being used, because we have followed the same pattern of changes to legislation, by asking for changes to hate speech, self-id for gender recognition, and conversion therapy. The safeguards requested by submitters that have kept track on how those laws have worked in practical terms have been ignored.

                • lprent

                  There are legislative changes that have the potential to make statements regarding biological sex fall into hate speech by being categorised as transphobic.

                  They are already in legislation. Read BORA – legislation since 1990 and the HRA legislation from 1993 that was written with BORA in mind.

                  That is how they have been treated in the courts for a very long time. Trying to prevent discrimination of this particular facet would be more than 30 years too late.

                  The former requires that the principles are applied to new and updated legislation. The latter is quite explicit that sexual orientation legally has little to do with biological sex or genetics. It also shows a strong orientation that biological sex is related mostly to child bearing.

                  What you're looking at in current bills is the routine legislative tidy up that is a requirement of the BORA and less explicitly for the HRA for updated and amended legislation.

                  Moreover, if you look through our legislation you won't find much that is still in current usage that is explicit about biological sex apart from sections that are explicitly about pregnancy and birth. That is because legislators learnt a long time ago that to make highly explicit legislation based on social circumstances is to provide legal loopholes as society changes under a lagging legal framework.

                  If you want to see what I mean, just look back to the legislation of 1890s and try to imagine that to be in effect today. Much of it was obsolete withing a few decades after it was made.

                  As far as I can tell the anti argument is based mostly around customary usage – ie a common law style of legal basis. However in NZ customary usage and common law apply as guiding principle only where not explicitly overridden by legislation.

                  Essentially what is being proposed by you and others as opposition to updated legislation is not to protect existing law and current established legal interpretation.

                  It is trying to establish a new legal principle to disadvantage another part of society. It is a new legal principle that its proponents cannot apparently manage to explain (at least to me) the reasons for changing existing law.

                  Which is why I keep asking for an explanation on why it is important to change the principles of current legislative law.

                  I'm sure that lawyers amongst us could state that more clearly. However that would be legal advice, be risky, and would probably require an arm or leg to obtain. We all know lawyers are cannibals by customary practice 😈

                  • Molly

                    "Essentially what is being proposed by you and others as opposition to updated legislation is not to protect existing law and current established legal interpretation."

                    You make this claim but are wrong. It is only recently that sex has been conflated to include gender identity

                    I suggest once again you make efforts to inform yourself. It's far too hot for me to bother, and I have a reasonable expectation any evidence provided will be casually dismissed.

                    • lprent

                      Recent as in 30 years old in NZ?

                      As I have pointed out numerous times, I have been asking for an explanation.

                      1. I’m not interested in one that involves sports
                      2. I’m not interested in ones that say someone said something offensive about someone else. We have existing legislation that covers that
                      3. I am interested in a social or legal problem that requires legislative powers to control. You know – behaviour that could result in a prison sentence. Like falsely accusing someone of being a pedophile
                      4. I’m not interested in explanation that implicitly say I don’t like being around X. That is a common human fragility. I am interested in systematic behavioural issues that need societal correction

                      Basically everything else is just simple hearsay. But really the drivel I just excluded as being of little interest to me is all the explanation I can see at present.

                    • Molly


                      Apologies for the delay, I was AFK for a while.

                      I don't comment in line with your priorities or reckons, that's apparent. Your lack of insight or knowledge on this topic is also apparent.

                      Basically everything else is just simple hearsay. But really the drivel I just excluded as being of little interest to me is all the explanation I can see at present.

                      You are making some fairly wide assumptions sans evidence.

                      I’m not interested in explanation that implicitly say I don’t like being around X. That is a common human fragility. I am interested in systematic behavioural issues that need societal correction

                      Not listening or thinking before masterfully summing up seems to be a common response.

    • Anker 3.2
      • Frightening how gender ideology has infiltrated……”2 year old girls being taught girls can have a penis”…..

      And Sabines piece about the Norwegian man being sent to prison. Watch this happen with our hate speech laws

      • Sabine 3.2.1

        potential Cis girls need to know their place, and one can not start teaching them their place early enough. Penis is as Penis does does not matter if it hangs of a transwomen or a male.

  3. Robert Guyton 4

    "“For a minute I thought, ‘Well, there’s no point in putting compost on. I nearly turned around and drove home. But then I thought, for the boys, I have to look forward. So I went in.

    “And last time I went in, we planted seeds. I told them that when you are planting seeds, you’ve got something to look forward to. I wanted them to know there is always hope.”"

    Seeds of change: Prison garden tutor named Gardener of the Year


    • Gezza 4.1

      Good on Bronwyn. And Ryman Health Care, for sponsoring the award. Nice to see a volunteer horticulturalist having such a positive effect on young prisoners & getting some of them interested in gardening & horticulture as a career.

    • Molly 4.2

      Great story, and a deserved win.

    • mac1 4.3

      That is such a good story. "I told them that when you are planting seeds, you’ve got something to look forward to. I wanted them to know there is always hope.”

      I've just been planting seeds this morning before the heat. Read this story with the coffee break. It resonated with me because I planted some old seed amongst all of it, so the idea of hope was certainly there. Sowing seed is to do with life stability, hope, connection to a place. I really respect those working in prisons with such motivation- staff and volunteers.

  4. joe90 5

    Nearly 90,000 official fatalities in November alone.

    Fknows what the rest of their winter will bring.


    • lprent 5.1

      The excess death measurements over long term norms have been the most useful at looking at the actual mortality levels across nations and regions.

      It certainly has been useful for identifying countries whose governments routinely lie to themselves. Really hard to trust Russian government proclaimations at any time during my lifetime – but it is really starting to look like the primary state of dickwaver farces at present.

  5. What a complete surprise. Not.

    Marjorie Taylor Greene (US Rep Congresswowman from Georgia and Covid misinformation spreader) has (finally) been permanently banned from Twitter.


    She joins other Covid persona non grata using Telegram.

  6. McFlock 7

    Souxsie Wiles and Shaun Hendy have both made complaints that the University of Auckland isn't doing enough to protect them (as employees) from dangerous, jerks.

    This is a big issue, and not just because our covid fringe is becoming dangerously extreme.

    The education act says that universities, amongst other things, have to "accept a role as critic and conscience of society". That is commonly understood by most academic staff I know to involve publicly speaking out about their areas of expertise.

    For a university to essentially state that the risks of speaking out should be minimised by not speaking out – that seems to be a fundamental shift in the resposibilities of academics and universities, and in my opinion most definitely deserves some manner of judicial examination.

    • Gezza 7.1

      Agree that seems a very inappropriate response from a university. Suggesting they comment less in public.

      I wonder exactly what they wanted the university to do to protect them from threats, though? We don’t have a lot of info in the article on that.

      E.g. I wonder if Hendy wanted Campus Security at his office door, seeing some bloke came to his office & threatened him?

      And I wonder where the Police come into this – they’d seem the most appropriate organiation to be following up threats online or in person, perhaps by viewing campus CCTV footage.

      • McFlock 7.1.1

        Universities have loads of ways of protecting staff and equipment and students.

        Most would have centrally-operated door locks on facilities, just to avoid big pouches of keys. These could easily be set to swipe-only access until the heat dies down. Prompt trespass orders. Removing office locations from websites. Then more individually-tailored solutions like panic buttons or relocating carparks, and arranging regular security escorts between offices and vehicles. Many of these are already routinely done for people involved with sensitive research. Many are also trivial amounts of $$$ compared with the free advertising 'community interest' academics in the news produce for an institution – a card lock is like $1200 to bung on a door, last time my work checked. Also, uni IT could be proactive in shutting down threatening emails and social media – just as they would if someone on facebook spoke crap about Auckland Uni.

        But the specifics aren't the problem, the problem is the suggestion of shutting academics up rather than working with them to figure out what to do.

    • lprent 7.2

      Sounds like they laid the initial queries and complaints April 2020. From what I understood on twitter (some really crass stupidity on that forum today), the decision made in August was released yesterday or today. The interesting fact is that they appear to have acted quite responsibly in this – there hasn’t been a peep in any media that I know of about this.

      Makes me more inclined to look at it.

      I’d expect that both have made complaints with the police and possibly Netsafe under the HDCA (the police will send them there would be my bet). Probably with the social media as well (there were some whispers about people being blocked in 2020).

      and in my opinion most definitely deserves some manner of judicial examination.

      Yes. If the universities don’t wish to lose what little integrity they have left, then they either need to get the legislation amended and become mere technical colleges and I have some ideas about how they could do that better). Or they need to be able to make sure that their academic staff have the ability to spread knowledge, specialist understanding and ideas outside of the cloisters – because otherwise they’re a useless burden that should be stripped down to just doing a teaching role.

  7. Puckish Rogue 8

    Cricket, cricket, cricket!

    What a fantastic effort by Bangladesh, a couple of days of out playing the Black Caps and putting themselves in a potentially game winning position

    Can the Black Caps come back themselves or are they playing for a draw

    For the next test will the selectors swop Ravindra for Mitchell, drop a bowler for Patel or drop a bowler for a Mitchell

    South Africa will certainly be following this test with interest

  8. joe90 9

    .Captain Samuel Vimes boots theory of socioeconomic unfairness strikes.

    Mac Liman estimates she has fixed 14,000 bicycles over the last 18 years. But increasingly, the bikes coming through her Colorado shop are unfixable — and the manufacturers made them that way on purpose.

    The influx of these essentially disposable bicycles has Mac raising the alarm about this trend in planned obsolescence. As we’ve covered in earlier editions of Junked By Design, our society is rife with unfixable products, which creates a mounting ecological problem.


    Signs of an unfixable bike

    Because Bikes Together works with donated, used bicycles, Mac has to train staff and volunteers how to process incoming bikes. Increasingly, that means teaching people to identify the bikes it’s not worth bothering to fix.

    “The job used to be explaining to people how to fix things. Now, it’s explaining why they cannot,” Mac said. “The job used to be fixing; now, it’s stripping them down and scrapping them.”

    Bikes Together has a checklist for spotting bikes made too poorly to fix for donation or resale. If you spot three or more of the following characteristics, the bike should be recycled:

    • sloppy welding on the frame (holes, pits, bubbles, etc.)
    • a flimsy, narrow rear dropout (made from stamped steel)
    • inappropriate plastic components (such as the derailleur or brake lever)
    • steel crank arms
    • the bike is extra heavy
    • chainrings are riveted on and non-replaceable
    • thin brake calipers
    • non-adjustable shocks
    • rust on nuts, bolts and joints


    • Koff 9.1

      My partner and I bought 2 bikes in Walmart in 2013 in Salt Lake City and cycled 2,000 km with them across the U.S. When we arrived in San Francisco, a few months later, the bikes were still quite rideable, but when we contacted charities about taking them for free, they told us they weren't interested as they would be too costly to fix up (they only cost about US$80 each in Walmart). Gave them away to a homeless co-op eventually after thinking we might just leave them leant up against a wall. Yes, they were crap Chinese made bikes manufactured for short term use. The spare parts could almost to amount the same cost as the whole bikes!

  9. pat 10

    When debt meets inflation.

    "Sri Lanka is facing a deepening financial and humanitarian crisis with fears it could go bankrupt in 2022 as inflation rises to record levels, food prices rocket and its coffers run dry."


    The list of countries on the brink grows by the day…..dominoes.

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