Another Spectrum

Personal ramblings and rants of a somewhat twisted mind


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Lessons from the Disunited States — Bill Peddie’s website

This thoughtful post by a Christian and fellow Kiwi reflect, I believe, the thinking of most reasonable people, not only in Aotearoa New Zealand but throughout much of the world.

The excruciating four year unfolding circus on the US political scene makes the New Zealand political scene seem very tame in comparison. Unfortunately, for good or ill, we are bound to the leading Western powers by historical ties of trade and defence. The mixed blessing of Vietnam and Iraq should still be relatively fresh in […]

Lessons from the Disunited States by Bill Peddie — Bill Peddie’s website


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The wife and Trump

At 2 PM today, local time, the wife sat down in front of her computer, put on her headphones and watched the live streaming of the Trump/Biden debate. Meanwhile I attempted to perform a variety of tasks on my computer – some business, some leisure.

I got little done.

What the wife lacks in stature, she makes up in volume. She may only be 147 cm (4’10”) tall but there’s no crowd on earth that can drown her out – even the roar of 50,000 Rugby fans at Eden Park witnessing the All Blacks scoring a winning try.

Every few seconds, the air would be disturbed (literally) by “AH, SHUT UP!“, “” “STUPID!“, “LIAR!“, “バカ!“, “YEAH YEAH!“, “THAT’S RIGHT!“, “嘘つき!” and quite a few unrepeatable phrases.

My gentle suggestion that she watch the debate on the TV at the other end of the house so that I would be less affected by her outbursts resulted in a few of the aforementioned phrases being directed at myself. I resigned to having an unproductive afternoon.

I suppose I could have mowed the lawns instead, but somehow being outside and knowing that what I hear above the lawnmower can also be heard by the neighbours is more uncomfortable than sharing the same space with her. Perhaps it’s that when I’m inside, whether or not the neighbours can hear her is hypothetical, whereas when I’m outside, it’s bloody obvious.

Four years ago, the wife’s relationship with Trump was one of disinterest. But over the intervening period, it’s grown in intensity. You could almost say she’s obsessed by him. She’ll spend an hour or more every day on Youtube watching clips of Trump or about Trump.

So what does the wife like about Trump? Absolutely nothing. She loathes the guy with passion. As to why, I can only say that having known her for fifty years, she never does anything by halves. It’s 120% effort or nothing. Trump qualifies for the former and then more.

Personally, I hope Trump loses the election and fades into oblivion – for my sanity as much as for the sanity of America. But I have a nagging fear that whether or not Trump loses the election, we will not have seen the last of him.


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Done it!

The wife and I visited a nearby voting place to cast our votes in the General election and referendum. In and out in less than five minutes. I really feel for those in other jurisdictions (and America immediately comes to mind at this time) where the ability to vote is frustrated by gerrymandering, partisanship and regulations making the voting process difficult for those who are not of the “correct” political persuasion.

Advance voting is available in the fortnight before Election Day. However, at previous elections the wife and I have always left it to Election Day to cast our votes (by law it must be on a Saturday). Even though the nation is in COVID-19 alert level one (no restrictions domestically, but international borders closed to non-residents), we decided it was prudent to visit a voting place mid-week when there’s likely to be no or minimal queueing.

When we arrived, there was just one other person in the “queue”, and as it turned out, he wasn’t on the electoral roll. It took about a minute to determine he was eligible to enroll and was directed to the appropriate desk to register. As the wife and I had remembered to bring our EasyVote cards with us, it was a 15 second procedure to confirm we were on the roll and we were handed our voting papers.

This evening, three major TV networks carried an article on the difficulty that voters in Texas, USA were experiencing. Apparently there’s only one voting drop-off facility per county for absentee voting, which seems totally ridiculous. The county referred to in the news item has a population of 4.7 million – almost the entire population of Aotearoa New Zealand. I assume an absentee vote is similar to what we refer to as a special vote, which can be done at every voting place.

During the early voting period there’s around one voting place per 2,500 eligible voters, while on Election Day there’s one per 1,300 eligible voters. The result is zero or minimal queues, unlike those regularly depicted in news items of American voters queuing for hours. I wonder what the ratio of voting places to electors is in the various US states?

I don’t know how common it is to have to wait in line for five or more hours, but the frequency at which it’s depicted on our TV screens would indicate it’s not uncommon. What does seem alarming is that this seems more common in states and counties where Republicans are in control. Has partisanship in the US caused the democratic process to sink to this level?

If America was ever a model of democracy worthy of emulation (which I seriously doubt), it most certainly no longer is. It does help explain why Aotearoa New Zealand is listed in the Democracy Index as one of only twenty-two nations having full democracy, while the United States is listed as one of fifty-three nations having a flawed democracy.

It’s understandable that the American elections take up almost as much news time as our own elections due the the influence America has on world affairs. But I wonder whether the fact that this nation is ranked first on the Corruption Perceptions Index while the US is ranked twenty-third (behind Uruguay and the United Arab Emirates) affects the slant given to American politics and politicians by our news services.

It’s almost a given that humorous scorn pertaining to Trump will find its way into the evening news most days of the week, and while we can laugh at the situation knowing it couldn’t happen here as our system doesn’t give so much power to one person, I wonder how many of us cringe knowing conspiracists and science deniers have a growing number of followers even in Aotearoa New Zealand.


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It’s over for New Zealand: News from President Trump

Three campaign rallies and three times President Trump calls out the abject failure of the country of New Zealand in fighting the pandemic. It’s time Kiwis kissed their elderly and sick goodbye, throw away masks and hand sanitiser and await their fate. It’s no use fighting it, for as the PONTUS knows, it’s over for New Zealand. Everything’s gone.

So America, and the rest of the world, take a lesson from the dumb ass Kiwis – don’t try to emulate them. Celebrate the great job being done by Donald Trump. You only need to look at the US mortality rates to know how well they’re doing, and as the president has said, other countries would know just how well you’re doing if only fewer of you were tested.

If you think I’m jesting about the wisdom the President Trump, then I highly recommend you listen to the three video clips below. Not only will you be greatly informed, you will also be greatly inspired.

Donald Trump scoffs at NZ, calling latest Covid-19 cluster a ‘big surge’ – The US President added New Zealand to his campaign rhetoric in Minnesota.

Donald Trump mentions New Zealand in Covid-19 briefing for second time
The US president said during a White House press conference that Aotearoa “had a big outbreak”.

‘It’s over for New Zealand’ – Trump slams Aotearoa’s Covid-19 outbreak response yet again. President Trump made reference to a “massive breakout” here.

Now I realise the President was a short on details. Well it was a political rally after all. So I have prepared some charts. I’ve used charts because I know how well the President is able to explain them. You saw how he slayed that interviewer when he challenged the President: The President used charts to really sock it to that guy.

Just in case you find charts a little more difficult to read than the President, I have included a brief explanation below each one.

You can see that America is doing very good in new cases. There was a time in June where Sweden was winning, but they’ve since gone down and America up. But look at New Zealand – it’s over.
This one charts deaths. As you can see, there’s no comparison between New Zealand and the other three countries. It’s over New Zealand, beautiful. America does more testing than Sweden and England so that is why America’s score is not as big.
This is charting the number of tests done each day. America is winning big time. Look at New Zealand. Loosers. They should test like America does. That’s why it’s all over for them.
This chart is more difficult to understand as there’s some maths going on. You need to be a genius like President trump to grasp its complexity. See how good America’s percentages are – they are higher than the other country. England tried to beat America in April, but they couldn’t keep it up. Losers just like New Zealand. But America is doing just great.

As you can see, America is higher on every chart (except one, and that’s because America tests too much). If you want to keep America high in the charts, then don’t forget to vote for Donald Trump in November. If you vote for that other guy, America might end up like New Zealand.


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The wisdom of Donald Trump

Lots of places they were using to hold up, they are having a big surge, they are… And I don’t want that, I don’t want that. But they were holding up names of countries and now they are saying whoops! Even New Zealand. You see what’s going on in New Zealand. They beat it. They beat it. It was like front page. They beat it because they wanted to show me something. The problem is big surge in New Zealand. It’s terrible. We don’t want that.

Donald Trump, 17 August 2020

Of course, the surge is terrible in New Zealand. While we might want to see the Trump administration emulate us, it’s out of spite. We know that Donald will never allow that to happen to the USA.

MAGA

Here’s the evidence in the form of a chart of daily infections per million:

I know that President Trump says we can’t use per capita measurements because it it makes US testing rates look bad, so here’s a chart showing new infections in absolute numbers:

As you can see, New Zealand is flatlining. That’s terrible. Not many people know this, but when a brain scan or heart monitor flatlines, it means you’re dead, very dead. That’s terrible for New Zealand. I have every confidence that the President of the United States will not let that happen to America.


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101 days and counting

We all know that it can’t last forever.

But we hope that it will and live like it will.

In case you are wondering what I’m on about, yesterday marked the one hundredth day that this nation of Aotearoa New Zealand has been free of any COVID-19 transmission. Any Internet search of this country along with a term such as COVID-19 or coronavirus brings a multitude of news items and opinion pieces about our apparent success in controlling the pandemic.

Of course a search originating in NZ will produce a result that includes many kiwi websites, and as might be expected a good many of them report on news reports and opinion pieces from overseas publication. We Kiwis have a strange affliction – we don’t like to blow our own trumpet, but we have an almost unhealthy interest in how people and the media in other nations perceive us. I confess that at times, I too am also afflicted. We like others to blow our trumpet for us.

Face masks

Most of the news items were relatively accurate, but one glaring mistake frequently made was that there was a requirement to wear face masks as part of the containment measures. In fact health officials here advised against the wearing of masks as it was believed that they gave a false sense of security, needed to be properly fitted to be effective, and that people unfamiliar with wearing masks have a tendency to adjust or touch is frequently, negating much of its effectiveness.

Only in the last few days has that advice been replaced with a recommendation that we obtain reusable masks for each household member just in case there is an outbreak, and to store them with other survival gear in our earthquake kits. In fact there’s suggestions that we should introduce “mask practice days” so that we can get used to wearing masks should the need ever arise.

Elimination versus suppression

In many news items and opinion pieces, this country is compared to other nations that have also been successful in controlling the initial wave of COVID-19, but have since seen new waves just as severe or, in come cases, more severe than the first. The conclusion is that New Zealand will suffer the same fate.

What seems to be overlooked is that the strategy taken by the New Zealand authorities differed markedly from countries it’s compared with. Other nations sought to suppress the virus – bring community transmision down to a very low level. Right from the beginning, the strategy here has been to eliminate the virus – stop all community transmission.

And this has been clearly stated from the moment we learnt that the country was going into lockdown. I believe it was because the elimination strategy was so clearly communicated throughout the entire pandemic crisis that the result was indeed a “team of five million” that cooperated with a common goal in mind.

Complacency – I’m guilty

At the back of our minds I think we are all aware that at some time in the future – next week, next year, who knows when – an infected person will escape detection at the borders and infect one or more unfortunate Kiwis. Although we are repeatedly reminded that we must stay vigilant, I must admit that after 100 days it’s very easy to become complacent. I don’t think there’s any doubt that complacency is our greatest threat.

NZ could lose Covid-19 gains ‘very quickly’ if complacency sets in, experts warn

Trump’s alternate reality

According to Trump and the US Department of State, New Zealand is very dangerous to visit New Zealand and it’s necessary to take extra precautions while travelling here.

The reason? There’s 23 active cases in this country. Apparently that makes us more dangerous the the USA according to the President. What Trump, the US Department of State, and even the commentator on the video clip below, fail to understand is that those 23 cases are people who have just arrived in the country and are in mandatory managed isolation.

Effectively, new arrivals have not entered the country until they leave quarantine. All arrivals must go into isolation at a managed isolation facility for 14 days, and to have had two negative COVID-19 tests before being permitted to join the the rest of the non-masked, non-socially distanced Kiwis and attend sports events with 40,000 other fans and dance the evening away with hundreds of others in bars and nightclubs.

For the time being, you have about as much chance of being infected with COVID-19 as you have of being bitten by a snake in New Zealand. As there is no evidence of snakes ever living here, and the only ones permitted into the country are in the form of shoes or handbags, I think the odds are extremely slim.

If When the worst happens

New Zealand went into lockdown when there were only 100 known cases and no deaths. We we able to achieve elimination due to widespread testing followed by thorough track and tracing (although it was somewhat inadequate for the first few weeks). In general Kiwis have understood the necessity of the measures taken to squash the virus, and with a very clear message from the top, working as a team of five million has been relatively painless.

So long as a high level of testing is maintained (and we’ve dropped significantly over recent weeks – more complacency), any new outbreak should hopefully be contained before it gains a foothold as it has in the Australian state of Victoria.


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The bleach “cure”

Kia ora

It was inevitable that questions around Trump’s suggested bleach treatment of COVID-19 would be asked here. Dr Ashley Bloomfield, the Director General of Health has been a regular presenter, along with the Prime Minister at the daily COVID-19 briefings, and in late April a reporter did ask Dr Bloomfield to comment on the POTUS’s suggestion.

It takes a lot to faze the good doctor, but this has been perhaps the only question to have left him speechless:

Transcript

Reporter: Dr. Bloomfield, what do you make of suggestions by some leaders overseas that people should be injecting themselves with bleach to kill COVID-19?
Dr A: [silence]
[laughter]
Dr A: I don’t think I need to comment on that, Prime Minister?
PM: No. I think we’ll let your silence speak for itself.
Reporter: It is worth asking about though, isn’t it, because…
PM: Is it?
Reporter: after the president raised it, there were cases in New York where people needed to go to medical facilities because they had actually ingested disinfectant. I know you don’t want to dignify the response, but can you maybe just send a clear message to people that obviously this not the thing to do?
Dr. A: Indeed. Under no circumstances should they even think about doing that.
PM: I don’t think we’ve had any suggestion of any reported cases in New Zealand of that occurring, and so that suggests to me that no New Zealander has listened to or given any credence to that suggestion.
Reporter: Will you make a statement that the president said that at all?
PM: Obviously here in New Zealand we haven’t seen it picked up, responded to, [or] acted on in any way, and that’s what we are, of course, here to do to look after the New Zealand population.

Perhaps it’s what Jacinda didn’t say but is implied by “we’ll let your silence speak for itself” and “that’s what we’re here to do – look after the New Zealand population” that actually speaks volumes.

kia haumaru, kia kaha
Keep safe, Keep strong.


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A Trump milestone

Yes folks, Donald Trump passed an amazing milestone on the 12th of April this year, and almost nobody noticed.

It’s an outstanding achievement, one that probably no one else has achieved, and might be a very long time, if ever, before anyone else can ever hope to match him. He’s not resting on his laurels either as he has increased his efforts over the past month. Surely it deserves shouting from the rooftops.

The milestone?

Drumroll please…

His 2000th tweet attacking the press.


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Contrasting styles

The leaders of Aotearoa New Zealand and the United States of America have radically different styles and perspectives. I’m quite confident that a majority of Kiwis hold similar values to those expressed by our Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Can the same be said of Americans regarding the values expressed by Donald Trump?

Below is a clip taken from parts of the UN speeches of the two leaders. For those who find the Kiwi Accent difficult, I have included a transcription below the video clip.

JA: If I could distill it down into one concept that we are pursuing in New Zealand, it is simple and it is this: kindness.

DT: America is governed by Americans. We reject the ideology of globalism and we embrace the doctrine of patriotism.

JA: In the face of isolationism, protectionism, racism, the simple concept of looking outwardly and beyond ourselves, of kindness and collectivism might just be as good a starting point as any. So let’s start here with the institutions that have served us well in times of need and will do so again.

DT: We withdrew from the human rights council and we will not return until real reform is enacted. For similar reasons, the United States will provide no support and recognition to the International Criminal Court. As far as America is concerned, the ICC has no jurisdiction, no legitimacy and no authority.

JA: New Zealand remains committed to continue to do our part to building and sustaining international peace and security, to promoting and defending an open, inclusive and rules-based international order based on universal values, to being pragmatic, empathetic, strong and kind.

DT: The United States is the world’s largest giver in the world, by far, of foreign aid but few give anything to us.

JA: Tēnā koutou. Tēnā koutou. Tēnā koutou katoa.
[Salutations to you all.]

DT: Thank you. God bless you, and God bless the nations of the world. Thank you very much.