Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I'm not a racist, but . . .

I love statements that start like that.

Nowadays it's a mortal sin to suggest in any way that Maori are anything but perfect citizens (the crime statistics notwithstanding). But it's come to the point that in everything there is not only a pro-Maori agenda, but there is a subtle anti-everything else undertone.

Case in point, and remember, it's only very subtle. These pics were taken recently at Te Papa. I read them, and stood for a while contemplating my reaction to it. If it were possible to offend me, I might have felt a little offended. Perhaps I'm being a little sensitive, but I don't think so.

According to the first set of numbers, Maori reduced the native forest cover by 45%. According to the second set of numbers Pakeha reduced the native forest cover from 55% to 25%, which if my maths is correct, is a reduction of 30%.

So if Maori reduced it by 45%, and Pakeha by 30%, how come the Pakeha reduction is labelled as "intensive forest clearance"?

To me, "intensive forest clearance" sounds very negative, as if Pakeha cam here and started ripping down forest like there was no tomorrow. But their ("our") efforts have been significantly less than the early Maori. And how much of the 30% ascribed to Pakeha actually includes the continuation of the Maori operations? It's fair to say Pakeha played no part in the pre-European 45%, but it's also fair to assume that some of the 30% post-European reduction can be attributed to Maori.

So why, in our national museum, does the Pakeha come off looking like they're the ones who have decimated the native forest in new Zealand?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Transient synovitis

Irritable hip. Now, I'll have to bite my tongue. I've had a very stressful day. I'm sympathetic to the shortcomings of the New Zealand health system, and by and large the people involved are good people under a lot of pressure.

However, that can't stop me from being very critical of it at a number of levels.

Our GP said Josh's sore leg was very likely "irritable hip." Irritable hip? Yes. Very common among three and four year olds. What? Common?

I've heard of whooping cough. Measles. Chicken pox. Croup. Hand, foot and mouth. Mumps. These things I've heard of and recognise as "common". Cold, flu, asthma. These are "common" things kids get. Irritable hip? What the hell is that?

Apparently it may be precipitated by a viral infection, but not necessarily (that's according to Wikipedia). It was confirmed today that the cause really is unknown.

How come, though, I've never heard of it. Has anyone?

And here's where I get really annoyed. Seven hours we were at the hospital. The first thing they decided was that it was necessary to put a line in the back of Josh's hand. Yeah, right. Like that was going to happen.

With him straddling me and his arms around my neck, and with FIVE ED staff working on him screaming and struggling for what must have been ten to fifteen minutes, they finally got the line in his hand and got it strapped up. So they could take blood, and if they needed to use it later. In an emergency maybe? Who knows? So with the trauma of that event still raw in all our minds, they thought it would be good to do an xray. Well, Josh definitely wasn't having that, so we flagged that idea. After an hour or so, he relented and as so often happens, actually enjoyed it. He thought the lead vests mummy and daddy had to wear were a hoot. Generally they do a good job of making the kids feel happy about being in a terribly frightening situation. Josh has never been near a hospital, never even been really sick, or hurt.

Three nurses and doctors, same set of questions, same answers. More waiting. Blood results are good. Nothing out of the ordinary - no infection. If he can walk on it, even a little, he can go home. Come back tomorrow to see the consultant.

By now, Josh has forgotten about his hip. The paracetemol and ibuprofen are wearing off and his main concern is the contraption in his hand. Leave it in just a little longer. One more blood test result to come back. Another thirty minutes, and if Josh can walk on his leg they can take the line out and we can go home. Josh is ready to run a marathon if it means getting that line out. He hobbles to the toilet, and along the corridor back to the room. Now can you take this thing out of my hand?

Did they use it? No. So what was the point of having it in there? With all the stress and trauma of putting it in, surely it would have been better to leave it. What sort of emergency is going to happen with a sore hip?

Anyway. While the x-ray was finally fun for him, and there seems to be no long term damage, except a dark bruise on the back of his hand, I'm reminded of something Doctor McCoy said on Star Trek. He commented on how barbaric the medical profession was in the 20th Century.

I agree.

I such situations I tend along the philosophical. After millions of years of evolution, the human body is still so frail (actually I think evolution is a bit of a crock)? After hundreds of years of research in medicine and practise, the best we can do is needles in hands and x-rays? Cutting people open? Incurable diseases? In the 21st Century? Good grief.

Another day at the hospital tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Let the let downs begin

I was going to write something this morning at 6 as Obama was giving his inauguration speech. Now, twelve hours later anything I say will unfortunately just be parroting a lot of what has been said today.

The speech was highly anticipated, and completely under-delivered. There was no discernable thread running through it and holding it together, no central idea. There were only one or two memorable lines but because they were mixed in with so many cliches and long sentences replete with meaningless redundancies they were totally lost.

What happened to "Yes, we can." That was memorable. That had meaning. That was a hook that kept us in the speech. There were no such hooks today. I suspect most of the audience had glazed eyes after the first three minutes. They walked away with nothing. They were cheated.

I like Obama, but it will take more than his good oratory skills to save the world. First he needs to dump the 27 year old speech writer. He blew it today. Of course, Obama would have had a heavy hand in it so to some degree he blew it too.

Chief Justice Roberts should be considering his career options. Stumbling in the first sentence of the oath made for a bad start indeed. Even the smooth operator Obama took a while to recover.

I hate all the hype about Obama being black. He asked to be treated on his merit, not his skin colour. Yeah, right. Like that was going to happen.

His skin is black, but he's white through and through. He's not "African American". He was raised by his white mother and her white parents. A privileged upbringing. What does he know of the projects or discrimination? I don't think they had segregated drinking fountains at Harvard.

I think the winner fo the day was Rev. Joseph Lowery. He had the most memorable lines, and perhaps the greatest right to stand before that crowd and talk about change.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Is fashion the most pointless exercise in human endeavour?

It's so easy to be cynical about so many things, and so often I just bite my tongue. But every now and then there comes a time when something so ridiculous screams out for criticism you just have to oblige.

The fashion industry is, as we know, not without its detractors. I hate the way hugely overweight designers look down their noses at any woman over 43 kilos or anyone wearing an item of clothing more than six hours old. Anybody who's seen The Devil Wears Prada can't help but hate the pretentious-cum-snooty-arrogance that underpins the whole business and despise anyone remotely involved with it. Who hasn't sniggered at the latest offerings from the catwalks and sweatshops of Paris et Milan?

So how can you not ROFL when, under the headline Cardigan Comeback, Vivienne Westwood would encourage a whole new generation of blokes to wear this little number?

It's a joke, right? Is she kidding? Cardigan? Can you imagine Colin Meads slipping that thing on to head out and milk the cows? Now that's something I'd like to see.