Another Spectrum

Personal ramblings and rants of a somewhat twisted mind


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Update Aoteraroa 22nd May 2019

As selection of Aotearoa New Zealand news items I found interesting…

Member of Parliament is provided with security escort

Sigh. Even in our relatively liberal multicultural society and perhaps because of the Christchurch massacre, white extremists seem to be more confident about expressing themselves more openly, while still hiding behind the cloak of anonymity.

Green MP (Member of Parliament) Golriz Ghahraman is being provided with a security escort any time she leave Parliament due to the nature of of online comments about her. Comments go so far as to discuss lynching. I don’t know what security is provided to legislators in other countries, but here the only other polititian to have a security escort is the Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern.

Read more (Reuters)…

Surge in Australians pondering move to New Zealand after election

There has been a spike in interest among Australians in moving to New Zealand since the Australian elections.

Immigration New Zealand says four times the usual number of Australians visited its website and information site New Zealand Now on Sunday, the day after the Liberal coalition’s surprise win.

Expressions of interest in moving to New Zealand were 25 times higher than the week before.

But as the video on the linked article suggests, there may be other reasons why Aussies want to move here 🙂

Read more (Stuff)…

What if NZ movies and TV actually included all New Zealanders?

Migration plays an important role in shaping Aotearoa New Zealand society. New Zealand’s biggest city, Auckland, is now “more diverse than London“, and one in four New Zealanders have come from elsewhere.

[The above link to Statistics NZ is broken at time of publication. Instead, refer to this news release]

The large number of arrivals from across the Pacific region has given Auckland the largest Pacific Islander population of any city in the world. Almost one-quarter of Auckland’s population is now classified as Asian. This itself is a catch-all term for a wide range of peoples and cultures covering half of humanity.

But while diversity in New Zealand is greater than ever, there is a gap between the society we see around us and what is reflected on screen.

Read more (NZ Herald)…

New Zealand-led research could change the way doctors treat asthma

New Zealand-led research on asthma treatment is being called a “game changer” for stopping mild asthmatics from having severe attacks, an author of the study says.

The four-country study conducted by the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. It involved 675 people who had been taking medication to relieve their symptoms, and divided them into three groups: one just using a reliever inhaler when they had symptom, one using preventer and reliever inhalers and one using a combined preventer-reliever inhaler only when they had symptoms.

Study co-author Richard Beasley said the third group had half the risk of a severe attack compared to using the reliever inhaler alone.

Read more (TVNZ News)…

 

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I am definitely getting old(er)

I guess the sentiment expressed in the title of this post is self-evident – at least for now, as I don’t believe anyone has been able to reverse time. I turned 70 nearly a week ago, but that is not what reminded me that I’m getting old(er).  It was something much more mundane that made me realise the truth in the title.

I’m one of those people who embrace wild weather. It’s more than a simple adrenaline rush, although that’s certainly a part of it. The wilder the weather, the more I feel an integral part of it; the more I feel alive. It’s wonderful. But not yesterday.

Yesterday was one of those days my wife detests. It was around 7°C (13°F) cooler than the day before, there was on and off rain ranging from showers to downpours, and the wind was approaching gale force at times – some of our trees gave the impression they were bowing to Tāwhirimātea (the god of weather).

I thought it would be a good opportunity to get reunited with the elements and went outside with the expectation of experiencing the euphoria that usually arrives within moments of feeling the forces of nature. Nothing happened.

I stood there bracing myself in the wind and all I felt was damp moisture-laden air blowing into every opening in my clothing. It was unpleasant.

I waited. Then waited some more, all the time getting more cold by the minute. Finally I decided that getting cold without the usual perks was somewhat senseless, and returned to the warmth of inside.

I accept that earthquakes seldom live up to their potential and I’m unlikely to experience a roller coaster style ride more than once or twice a decade, so I don’t sense disappointment when 99% of them go out with a whimper instead of a bang. But the weather is different. Inclement weather always give me a lift proportional to its ferocity. Until yesterday.

I don’t know when anticipation has been followed by such a let down. For me it doesn’t happen very often, but never before has weather such as we experienced yesterday been a catalyst. I can only put it down to the effects of ageing.

The last occasion of such disappointment was a number of years ago on a cruise ship. The cruise line has a reputation for the high quality of its cuisine, so when I saw that one of the deserts on the evening menu was pavlova, I didn’t hesitate in ordering it. Two Aussies who shared the table with us commented that I was brave, or foolish in about equal measure, but I replied that based on the reputation of the cruise line I should be in for a treat.

For those who don’t know, pavlova is our national dessert and we’ll whisk one up for any every occasion. Australia has taken such a liking to our dessert, that they now claim it as their own, although every Kiwi knows the Aussies are mistaken. They, too, know a real pavlova when they see one. The other passengers at the table didn’t have a clue what a pavlova was. Neither did the chef.

The moment the dish was placed in front of me, one of the Aussies quipped “I warned ya!”, and it was very obvious that I should have heeded their earlier caution. What lay in front of me was obviously a meringue – a very large one, about 15cm (6 inches) in diameter and around 4cm (1.5 inches) high at its highest point – and just as obvious, it most certainly was not a pavlova.

I can tell you right now, smothering a meringue with a thick layer of whipped cream and  topping it with a few strawberries and a slice of kiwifruit does not a pavlova make. I think the disappointment on my face was obvious as all the dinners at the table, apart from the two Aussies and the wife, wanted to know what was wrong.

The similarity between a meringue and a pavlova is only skin deep. Literally. A meringue is typically crisp and crunchy throughout, or sometimes hollow in the centre, and I would describe a meringue as being dry. In contrast, a pavlova has a thin crisp and crunchy outer shell, but the inside is soft, moist , fluffy and slightly marshmallow-like. The density is almost like fine foam and should be just firm enough to support the weight of a spoon, but can be cut by the spoon with the merest application of pressure. In the mouth, the centre melts with light tongue pressure. The outer shell is thin and fragile and it’s rare to find a pavlova that doesn’t appear to be broken to some extent. A perfectly intact shell is a good indication that it is too thick.

I didn’t have the heart to tell the waiter what I thought of the dessert, as my wife had returned three fish dishes during the meal due to them being overcooked. Two days later, my wife had words with the head chef with regards to overcooked fish, but that’s perhaps a story for another day.

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons Creative Commons

 


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Don’t expect an easy definition of Quakerism…

Taken directly from the Quakers in Leeds Website (the emphasis in bold is mine):

Quaker thought and practice has always refused to be contained in credal formulas or systems of belief. We don’t offer neat creeds or doctrine. Instead, we try to help each other work out how we should live. All people are welcome and accepted at a Quaker meeting.

Quakers seek religious truth in inner experience and everyday life, rather than authority, ritual and ceremony.

Quakerism is not itself a religion nor is it, any longer, entirely accurate to describe it as a Christian denomination because many of our followers find no purpose in affirming or denying traditional Christian beliefs about God or Christ.

The Quakers are probably best described by their official title; we are a “Religious Society of Friends”.

I was led to this site by a post on Raking Sand, Leeds Trinity University staff and students raking over religion and philosophy titled Considerations of the insider/outsider problem in a Quaker meeting.


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In this post, the author offers an alternative to the pro-life vs pro-abortion argument or killing unborn children vs women’s rights argument into one of pro-life vs pro-death. But before you jump to any conclusion of which side is which, read the article. I’m not supporting or opposing his reasoning. I find it an interesting alternative point of view that is worth considering.

As an advocate for life, I am an undying supporter of access to safe, legal abortions everywhere.

via We Need to Talk about Abortion. — Quiet Michael Talks A Lot


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I stand in the parking lot with other autistic people. We have our own festival. We sing, play guitar, dance. We blow bubbles that sparkle and rainbow in the sunlight. Our festival is small but our collective voices are loud and only getting louder. We are not unloved. We are not unloving. We are not alone.

The above quote is the last paragraph contained in the post below, but I believe worthy of being the lead here. The post is the first in a series of three. Links to parts two and three are contained within the post, but are included here for convenience.
PART II: The Critique
PART III: The Secrets to the Success of One Neurodiverse Couple

Yet another article taking an eraser to the autistic experience, removing it from existence entirely.

via PART I: Advocacy and April — TheChandChronicles


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Wow! I’m not into poetry, but very occasionally something speaks to my condition (to use a Quaker term). I am quite familiar with the experience described below. Bombardment of the senses, especially in social settings, is something many on the autism experience.

The hourglass is set, sand fills the corners of my eyes. Dust particles react to the sounds like fairies grouping around a newborn. Swarming, the buzz can sometimes be unbearable and all I want to do is wake up. But no matter how hard I pinch or how sharp a pin I prick myself with […]

via Overcrowded — Treeshallow Musings


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Like perhaps the majority of Quakers in the liberal tradition, I am a non-theist, yet the term God has significant meaning me. Whether or not we believe that God is a deity, we share a belief in values and a philosophy of life which we can ascribe to being attributes of God. It is what we share, rather than what each of us specifically believes that unites us, not only to those within the Religious Society of Friends, nor only those who hold similar values, but with all of humanity and beyond.

In the post linked to below, Peter Turner has selected some quotations that illustrate how Liberal Quakers understand God.

I have much been influenced by Quaker thoughts and ways. Their horizontal power structures in their church organisations, their intelligent, practical good works, the sheer good will that you can feel at any meeting of the Friends – I don’t know why I didn’t become a member years ago! (Well, actually, I do; but that’s […]

via 896: QUAKER VIEWS OF GOD by PETER TURNER — zingcreed


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Moving and beautiful

Early this evening, I, accompanied by my three grandchildren and their mother, went to the town square, where with 1500 to 2000 fellow residents we took part in a service for those affected by the tragedy of the hate filled attack on the Christchurch mosques. The service has just the right level of respect, mourning and hope. Considering the town has a population of around 14000, it was a good turnout. The service was a little too Christian in character for my taste, but considering Christians make up slightly more than half the population of this town, perhaps that’s understandable.

Being late summer Monday, holding the service between 5:30 and 6:15 was a sensible choice, and of course, as most businesses close at 5:30, the closure of the square to vehicular traffic was only a minor inconvenience. There’s not a lot to say about the service except that it was simple, moving and beautiful.

There is something about tragedy that brings people together, and I felt that today. While the loss of 50 lives is terrible, loss of this magnitude is really felt by everyone. To put it in context, New Zealand has a population of 4.7 million and the loss of 50 lives is the equivalent of America losing 3400 lives. I’ve seen similar levels of grieving after the Wahine disaster in 1968 when 51 people lost their lies, and the Erebus disaster in 1979 with the loss of 257 lives. I also have a very vague recollection of the sombre mood of the nation after the Tangiwai disaster on Christmas Eve 1953 which took 151 lives, although I was too young to fully understand it. But none of those were caused by a deliberate and intentional act that can only be described as inhuman. 

The number of Muslims in Aotearoa new Zealand, is small (a little under 1% of the population), and when you consider that 1 in every 500 Kiwi Muslims died in Friday’s atrocity it’s easy to understand their grief and fear. Grief is a natural emotion following loss, and most of us will learn to manage that. But fear is another matter altogether, and we all need to work together, to help all those affected overcome it. Fear, whether justified or not, has the potential to develop into a powerful and dangerous force if allowed to simmer. In fact, in all probability, the terror act carried out on Friday was in part motivated by an irrational and unfounded fear of those who the perpetrator perceives as invaders. I really do not want to see his actions cause the radicalisation of anyone else.


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Aging sucks

“I didn’t mind getting old when I was young. It’s the being old now that’s getting to me.” – John Scalzi Old Man’s War, 2005

I agree with Scalzi. Well, in the mornings anyway. Once upon a time I could spring out of bed, but these days it’s a monumental effort to do anything but breathe, and even that takes some effort. My head pounds as though I had a great time imbibing to excess the night before, and when I finally get to my feet, the best I can do is shuffle, dragging my feet a few centimetres at a time across the floor. Every joint hurts when it is moved. I really do look like a very old man – much older than my actual chronological age.

No doubt this is due the the effect of aging, combined with being on the autism spectrum, suffering from chronic migraine, and the co-morbidity of these two conditions of numerous other ailments, ranging from Raynaud syndrome and restless legs syndrome to Neuroinflammation and other immune disorders. In the developed world, the life expectancy of people on the autism spectrum is around 20 years less than for neurotypicals, so I’m grateful to have exceeded that by around 10 years.

Some time late morning these symptoms start to disappear, most by themselves, and some, such as the migraine headache, by medication. And by early afternoon I feel as fit as I did at fifty. By early evening, I feel like a twenty year old (well, as best as I can recall being twenty), and come midnight, I find the world as amazing as I did as a child, although at that time of night, there’s no one to share it with.

That “reverse aging” during the day (along with and abnormal circadian rhythm) probably goes a long way to explain why I’m reluctant to go to bed at night, especially with the knowledge that when I do wake up, it will be as an old man again.

However as some unknown authors once quipped, “Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many”, and “Growing old isn’t so bad when you consider the alternative”, I’ll suffer the mornings so long as I can enjoy the rest of the day.

If, what Gayla Reid wrote in All the Seas of the World is true –  “Old folks live on memory, young folk live on hope” – then I am still very young! It’s time to go and explore what’s left of 2018.