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Open mike 26/12/2021

Written By: - Date published: 6:00 am, December 26th, 2021 - 22 comments
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22 comments on “Open mike 26/12/2021 ”

  1. Molly 1

    Belated Merry Christmas all.

    Hope your day was as relaxed and enjoyable as mine, and here's hoping the coming year brings better times for us all.

  2. Patricia Bremner 2

    Counting blessings,…we found skyping allowed us to talk with Scottish rellies in Inverness, son on the Gold Coast brother in NSW (where omicron is surging) and brother-in-law in Auckland. No carbon footprint to speak of. Happy restful holidays all.

  3. Whispering Kate 3

    The mighty genus the Tree came into its own yesterday. On a flawless cloudless day we had a picnic Christmas get together under a mighty tree in a public park area. While we lazed the afternoon away I, in my usual way, had lots of fun musing on the comings and goings of surrounding families all doing their thing like we were.

    There was obviously a two bubble family quite near to us, chairs all arranged in a wide circle, the matriarch was frail, elderly and obviously well loved. There must have been three generations of people and all were having a lively noisy time. An elderly couple to our right had their beach chairs facing the sea, a pigeon pair, neatly set out chilly bags beside them. No family with them so maybe absent children overseas which resonated with me as we only had half of our family with us. The other half has been overseas now for 23 years apart from regular trips home before the pandemic It was such a great scene.

    On our way to our destination I noticed every single tree had families sitting under the shade of these mighty specimens. Its times like these we bless mother nature for providing such splendid beautiful trees which provide shelter for us mere mortals.

    • Robert Guyton 3.1

      Wonderful that you noticed the sheltering trees, Whispering Kate. I wonder too, how many other-than-human beings are likewise finding sanctuary from the heat, under, in and on those trees we've deigned to spare 🙂

      • Whispering Kate 3.1.1

        Thank you Robert. Remember a while back I told you about Pegleg our resident gammy legged cock blackbird. Well Lordy me he is still going strong. Has the odd white feather in his plumage now and looks a bit worse for wear and talks all day to us out in the garden. Tame too and will come very close for food casting his beady eyes on us and cocking his wee head. Plus, hardly believable he has bred another clutch of fledglings this year with a much younger sleeker hen bird. How canny is that!! We roughly guess he must be at least 8/9 years old so his prodigy will be roaming this garden for sometime.

    • weka 3.2

      cool story and observations Kate. If anyone is feeling powerless in the face of it all, planting trees might just be one of the things that will always do good.

      • Hunter Thompson II 3.2.1

        Nice idea to plant a tree (preferably a NZ native).

        It will likely be around long after we are gone and will help the planet.

  4. Dennis Frank 4

    Herald reported early last month that distinguished ex-criminal "liquidator and columnist Damien Grant has won a court battle to have his insolvency licence reconsidered after it was rejected because of his criminal history."


    Grant served prison time for fraud and credit card offences, the last of which he was convicted of in 1994. He has 34 convictions for dishonesty offences, the first involved offending for which he was sentenced in December 1987 and February 1988, at which point he was 22 years old.

    A second tranche of offending occurred about six years later and has been described as "share theft frauds". It involved more serious offending with the total value of the frauds in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and resulted in convictions for theft, forgery, personification by fraud, altering a document, conspiracy and other related charges.

    God loves a trier. The ethos of rehabilitating criminals includes the prospect of putting their past behind them. He is currently attempting to do so by discrediting neoliberalism in the public mind. His thesis: it's a conjuring trick.

    Higher revenue does not equal higher prosperity if costs are also increasing. The economy does, it is true, gain a temporary boost. After all, you now have a pool and the increased investment has resulted in new real economic activity. However, business owners quickly build inflation into their calculations.

    In this country, we have seen the rate of price increases jump from less than two percent to five percent in a year. Unless you are in hospitality or tourism, things seem pretty good, and even in those sectors the state has been pumping in billions to keep these operations alive. Insolvencies this year are at record lows. The economy is booming. Grant Robertson is crowing… Robertson and Orr are working hard to convince us inflation is transitory. This is rational. For them.

    But if you think inflation is caused by shipping snafus and a one-off hit from Quantitative Easing, you can be fooled by inflation and the virtuous circle outlined above will be engaged… If you can fool most of the people a lot of the time you can generate a short-term economic stimulus and win re-election and reappointment as a reserve bank governor.


    Does it really matter when our economy booms due to financial trickery? If social reality is co-created, then a popular delusion will achieve sufficient leverage on the public mind to create a general perception of prosperity. Labour expects to win via this mechanism. Inasmuch as political strategies using the mechanism have a track record of success, it's understandable.

  5. Dennis Frank 5

    Interesting view of Trump's vulnerability & prospects: https://edition.cnn.com/2021/12/24/opinions/state-of-trump-influence-fading-dantonio/index.html

    Trump has two apparent goals: he wants to perpetuate false claims of election fraud and rewrite history with the lie that the attack was merely an "unarmed protest" in response to the "rigged election," as his press release states. By making these false claims, he also wants to tighten his grip on the GOP by excoriating those who refuse to go along with his alternate version of reality.

    On both counts, Trump's stunt suggests a man operating not from a place of confidence and strength, but of anxiety and confusion.

    Trump's attempts to wield his power over the GOP have been spotty. State-level attempts to overturn the 2020 election results have all failed, and when the former president pushed the governor of Texas to advance election audit legislation, it went nowhere. Meanwhile, his hand-picked candidate for the US Senate seat in Pennsylvania suspended his campaign amid allegations of domestic abuse. And in Alabama, his support for Senate candidate Mo Brooks appears to be having little effect (you may recall that Trump's weakness showed in Alabama in 2017 when his picks for US Senate lost both in the primary and general election.)

    Other Trump setbacks include the failure of his endorsed candidate in a special Congressional election in Texas. And those who are waging primary battles against incumbent Republicans who voted to impeach Trump after the January 6 insurrection are struggling with fundraising.

    In the most glaring example, January 6 committee member Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming — a Republican who may top the list of Trump's enemies — has 10 times more campaign cash than her Trump-endorsed challenger, according to the most recent Federal Election Commission filings from October.

    In Washington, DC, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the most powerful Republican in office, seems to be distancing himself from Trump… Trump and his TV allies have for months barraged McConnell with criticism. And despite the former president recently declaring McConnell "a disaster" who should be replaced, Republican senators seem to have no appetite for doing so, according to Politico… To understand the state of Trumpism nearly one year after January 6, we can also look to his recent speaking events. Trump teamed up with former Fox News host Bill O'Reilly to launch a "History Tour," but they failed to sell enough tickets to fill a few of the venues.

    Looks like Trump's advantage now lies in the lack of viable competitors within Republican ranks. I've been expecting a moderate Republican to lead a resurgence of moderates. Lack of notable contenders suggests that extremism has polarised everyone too much for now – perhaps the mid-terms will change that.

  6. Matiri 6

    Kerre McIvor wins the Mediawatch award for performative outrage in 2021.


    She certainly made a less than positive impression on our local cafe – ordered everything on the menu and didn't eat any of it, while complaining very loudly that the wine list was too cheap and not up to her usual standards!

  7. Dennis Frank 7

    Origin of today:

    In Britain, it was a custom for tradesmen to collect "Christmas boxes" of money or presents on the first weekday after Christmas as thanks for good service throughout the year. This is mentioned in Samuel Pepys' diary entry for 19 December 1663.

    This custom is linked to an older British tradition where the servants of the wealthy were allowed the next day to visit their families since they would have had to serve their masters on Christmas Day. The employers would give each servant a box to take home containing gifts, bonuses, and sometimes leftover food.


  8. Joe90 9

    A cheery wee read.

    <em>I’m going to paraphrase. He said: “Your public officials don’t get it yet. They don’t understand the danger. Covid’s sister viruses? SARS has a mortality rate of 10%. MERS has a mortality rate of 40%. What we should be worried about is a strain of Covid that recombines with those.”</em>


    • Drowsy M. Kram 9.1

      Thanks – more inconvenient truth for the "it's over" brigade, and a very sobering read.

      There are over four times as many people on spaceship Earth as there were during the 'Spanish' influenza pandemic, and COVID-19 will ‘relish’ the opportunities provided by our love affair with on-demand international travel.

    • McFlock 9.2

      The real problem is the combination of mortality rate, infectiousness, and incubation period.

      The classic zombie apocalypse/rage virus scenario in movies is actually incredibly easy to stop, despite a ~100% mortality rate. Incubation is seconds or hours. All you have to do there is cordon and clear, wearing your ppe. There are lots of variables to whether a disease creates worldwide devastation or just misery.

      As for if it gets worse, then hopefully we'll never experience that because the vaccine distribution scene ends up being efficient, comprehensive, and global. Like with the flu shot.

      Or it could all turn to custard.

      Ah well, at the start of this I wasn't one of the chicken littles, and even so my timeframe was pessimistic. Just because there is a worst-case scenario, that doesn't mean there's any data on how likely or unlikely that scenario is.

      • weka 9.2.1

        All you have to do there is cordon and clear

        what does that mean?

        Umair is certainly going off on one. He's spot on about the grow up stuff. But it's making some hefty claims that probably aren't as certain as he suggests. Wikipedia hedging its bets,

        In addition, it is believed that one of these many mutations, comprising a 9-nucleotide sequence, may have been acquired from another type of virus (known as HCoV-229E), responsible for the common cold.[36]


        His assertion that we could shut down the world and vaccinate and boost everyone in a month seems wildly implausible.

        As for if it gets worse, then hopefully we'll never experience that because the vaccine distribution scene ends up being efficient, comprehensive, and global. Like with the flu shot.

        How so? We get new flu variants every year.

        Would have been good to see some analysis in the piece about the likelihood of combining with MERS/SARS, and how that might happen.

        • weka

          (remember that year that CV went off on one about how the latest outbreak of SARS, or whatever it was, was going to become a global pandemic?)

          • McFlock

            He wasn't the only one.

            Part of it is the math: folks see exponential growth in the first few weeks an outbreak hits the headlines and panic because "if these trends continue".

            If predictions were that easy, we wouldn't need specialists. The thing is that human behaviour changes according to the immediacy of the threat. Sure, merchants will demand their textiles come out of quarantine regardless of the threat of plague, but a lot of people will change their habits to minimise their perceived risk. And that limits spread. Additionally, network theory is often applicable in the extent and speed of disease spread.

            We have a decent globe-threatening outbreak every few years, these days. Off the top of my head we have had 2 SARS, an ebola, and a MERS before covid, all since 2000.

            Covid's the biggest by far, partly because Italy fucked up, but mostly because several major powers decided to half-arse it for reasons of their own. Stupidity, dogma, hubris, internal security, who knows. They've become pools for new variants.

          • Sabine

            This is from the daily fail, so reader be ware :), but every now and then you find some good information in it.


            From brain fog to fatigue, many people with Covid-19 suffer from debilitating side effects for months after their infection, in a condition collectively referred to as long Covid.

            While the reason for these symptoms has remained unclear until now, a new study could help to solve the mystery.

            Researchers from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) claim that the virus can spread to the heart and brain within days, and survive in organs for months.

            In their study, which is under review for publication in Nature, the researchers studied tissues taken during autopsies of 44 patients who had died after contracting coronavirus.

            They found evidence that the virus had spread well beyond the respiratory tract, and was present in several other organs, including the heart and brain, as much as 230 days after infection.

            This really is the story about this virus. What we are still discussing as the number one issue is the immediate collateral damage, everyone who dies of the virus after catching. Meanwhile, long term Covid is going to be a real health concern within the next year, and we are still not prepared. I am not worried about the virus itself, it can be avoided to some extend – and we know how that works, but i am worried about the damage it will / has done to a lot of people, and it will it seems infect hundreds of millions more this winter before it runs itself out.

            It is going to be a rough ride next year, everybody, buckle up.

            CV had a good brain, but he also had a tendency to kill people in the name of purity, and that makes one a solitary fighter in the end.

        • McFlock

          Cordon and clear: define a perimeter, isolate ingress and egress, then clear each building – in this case, of rage zombies. But in the case of a real disease with a super-quick incubation, they'd go from building to building triaging people. Also, it's more likely to burn itself out.

          With vaccines, my biochemistry and immunology are nonexistent but my understanding is that the current round were tailored to match with a specific protein on the virus surface, like a key for a lock. Like keys and locks, there's a certain amount of wriggle room. That's where the differing efficacies come from, why a vaccine might be more effective against one strain than another – it means the other takes more wiggling to turn the latch.

          But there's no reason we can't tweak the vaccines to target the newer, more threatening variants more freely. Different format to the flu shots, but the principle of maybe having boosters against different variants is similar. We get new flu shots every year, but that doesn't mean a shot effective against one variant will be completely ineffective against another. It's just that a different vaccine would be more effective than that one. And it's all based on the predictions of which strains will be dominant for NZ in the coming year.

          Sure, we could shut down the world in theory. But it won't happen. UK surrendered long ago. Even NZ probably wouldn't – between the conspiracists and the business sector, enforcability is an issue.

          Covid is an issue with its week or so average asymptomatic period – lots of time to jump on planes, visit malls, all that. SARS1 had a pretty quick incubation period, while ISTR ebola usually averages only a few days. Lethality is one guage on the dashboard. Highly infectious, long incubation, high lethality is the worst scenario.

        • RedLogix

          His assertion that we could shut down the world and vaccinate and boost everyone in a month seems wildly implausible.

          We had that chance last year before the numerous variants started appearing. In my view Umair is partly correct – in that a single coherent global effort over the period of about six weeks would be necessary. Doable if the effort has a fixed end date.

          But the tools needed may be a lot simpler than mass vaccination, especially now that new variants are appearing faster than we can make effective vaccines for them.

          We know at least four things that can be combined:

          1. We know it rarely transmits in outdoor or well ventilated settings, therefore for the period involved people should be either indoors in a fixed bubble or only mix outdoors, and/or masked and distanced. All travel outside of life and death emergency must be minimised.
          2. We know that asymptomatic transmission is rare, therefore if anyone with symptoms is immediately isolated and treated most transmission can be stopped.
          3. We now have a range of anti-viral treatments that can be used as clinicians determine most useful to treat people at home or in special temporary COVID wards where necessary.
          4. And Omicron as the rapidly dominating, low lethality variant gives us an ideal window of opportunity to end the pandemic before any new variants arise.

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