I am sorely tempted to decorate my loo in honour and imitation of the Sky commercial.
... anything was going to seem callously trivial after my last entry so I thought I'd make it really pointless.
... this needs intensive care.
"Across the region, AIDS has reduced life expectancy to levels not seen since the 1800's. In six sub-Saharan nations, the United Nations estimates, the average child born today will not live to 40.
Here in Swaziland, a kingdom about the size of New Jersey with one million people tucked into South Africa's northeast corner, two in five adults are infected with H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS. Life expectancy now averages 34.4 years, the fourth lowest on earth. Fifteen years ago, it stood at 55. By 2010, experts predict, it will be 30. " - from nytimes.com
This is absolutely appalling. Can you imagine explaining ignoring this to your children and grandchildren when they study this in school in 20 years?
"So when you knew people were dying in a holocaust plague, what did you do?"
This is like the potato famine, or the Jewish holocaust in WWII. It really can't be ignored. One in 10 children is an orphan in some places. Can they be rescued? Can NZ mount a refugee program for some of these kids? Can we in any sort of conscience just condemn them to death by turning our backs?
I'm sorry, but this is just an outrage. There must be something an individual can do to help, and I don't mean by digging a well so they can have clean water while they die of AIDS. I don't think this is a problem money can fix. The kids have to be saved, and I personally think the only way to do that is to physically remove them from the situation.
There has to be something I can do. I can't condemn these kids to a plague. The young and uninfected are the best hope, we can't leave them to die behind razor wire of poverty and chance. Jesus!
Two burglars broke ino the Verizon (equivalent of Telecom) Building in White Plains, New York to steal some high-tech computer circuits worth hundreds of thousands on the black market.
They managed to get inside the building and commence work without detection. The problem was that as they removed the curcuits, they were also knocking out the 911 system. 25,000 customers were affected and the police were immediately notified that there could be a problem at the White Plains building.
Suspecting something more akin to a power surge or an errant raccoon, the police cruised by... only to see the two burglars strolling out the front door with two boxes filled with the stolen curcuitry.
(from the nytimes.com website, as usual.)
Of course, it kind of alarmed the Homeland Security people that the 911 system could be taken down so very easily. And I'm sure all those incipent terrorists who read amusing news stories will be as interested in that as I was. The other day the paper mentioned that only about 3% of container traffic is screened. I guess this is common knowledge, but it's certainly making it more common.
At the same time as publishing this kind of info in its stories, a journalist from the paper is about to go to prison for contempt of court for not revealing his sources.
It just seems odd.
The popular Mongolian metal band, Hurd, today announced that its Chinese Inner Mongolia tour had been cancelled by the Chinese authorities. Apparently the authorities are alarmed at the rise in Mongolian Pride in the last two years. Since 2,000 people turned up to one of the cancelled concerts, you can kind of see why.
"Mongolian Pride"? Why was I not informed? Kids at the concerts shout "Ghengis!" but it's reportedly not political... they are not encouraged to shout slogans like "We are Mongolians all together" or "Mongolians stand up and shout!" though. Dressing-room decor includes a wolf pelt and a poster of EMINEM.
I was reading about this in the nytimes.com website. It's kind of cool to think of Hurd roaming from yurt to yurt, spreading metal and Mongolian pride.
*sigh* I wish I lived in a yurt.
I have achieved one of the major ambitions in life. Ever since I can remember I've wanted a dog... and now I have one! You know the little black+white Cocker Deb had? Well, she was looking for a new home because she just can't be used for breeding for another 2 or 3 years, and lovely though Deb is, it is just impractical to have a non-breeding bitch when you're a breeder.
So Lucy came to live with me. I've changed her name to Sock because it suits her much better (Lucy just always reminded me of that bitchy girl out of Peanuts) and she is so delightful :) She makes me smile even on bad days, I take her to therapy with me and leave her in the car. When I come back she licks my face and kisses me until I feel better.
She's eleven months old and smart as a Border Collie. She's housebroken and knows how to walk on a lead and she's had all her puppy shots, so she's much easier than starting from scratch with a baby pup. Plus, she knows me and loves me already because I helped to bring her up from day one. I even helped Deb pick her out of the litter.
So Hooray for Sock, named partly in honour of the original Sok and partly because she is obsessed with feet, socks and underwear. She is a lovely licky happy pup and she certainly lives up to my childhood dream of a dog to share my days with.
We go for walks and drives and play on the beach... it's ideal really, because I'm at home all day and realistically, I'm medically not expected to be able to work or do anything full-time for the next two years. It's just nice to have a living being there to hug and hold and play with and care for. She's so well-behaved she comes with me pretty much everywhere.
Socks tend to improves my life, with or without the "c". ;)
I took some pics this morning:
Britain has announced a proposal to bring in National Identity cards in 2008:
Invoking a global threat of terrorism, the British government announced plans on Tuesday to introduce national identity cards for the first time since the World War II era. An opposition legislator said the government wanted to create a "climate of fear" in advance of elections expected next year. - From the nytimes.com website.
I'm kind of confused about the helpfulness of ID cards in catching those without them. It's like when the police over here say that photo-drivers-licence is to help reduce the number of people driving without a licence. I'm not sure how they expect that to work. Surely, if you were willing to steal a car and drive it illegally before the photo ID card, you wouldn't stop and think: Oh, shit, that's right. The new law says I must have my photo ID licence with me at all times when driving. Better call a cab.
And when the cops pull you over and you don't have your card on you, all they do is use the comms to check you out - and they have to double-check with comms anyway, when you give them your licence. I really don't see that photo licences achieve anything except giving the government a digital image of both your face and your signature... and a whole lot of other information that can be used to steal your identity.
I really, really hope that the police database was created by a team of super-geniuses. I also hope it's not connected to the internet. Or any internal network that is ever connected to the internet.
I mean, the governments all over the world have a record of embarrassing themselves with sensitive records that should have been shredded or locked away turning up fluttering through city streets. Once you get it off paper and in to a digital format, it's even easier to compromise and copy. I don't want my personal identification turning up on some sell-list over in Moscow.
Someone needs to send Phil Goff back to school so he can learn what the word justice means, and possibly study a little history so he has some context other than the last 6 months of public opinion to work from.
Did you see on TV last night that he wants to change the law so that the police can seize your assets without actually convicting you of anything? And the burden of proof now falls upon the ACCUSED - prove you're innocent.
It'll be much easier for the police - instead of fabricating evidence to get a quick conviction, they'll just leave it up to you to prove you're innocent. Good luck.
If anyone sees the ghosts of Mao or Stalin hanging around parliament, direct them to Mr. Goff's chambers - he seems to be channelling criminal psychopaths at the moment.
The whole of our justice system and society relies on the fact that the accuser must prove his case. That is the basis of our society - it means that you can't be dobbed in by your enemies for a show trial, it means that if the police have it in for you there is a minute chance you might get an impartial trial. Once we lose that - Hello, Totalitarian Regime!
(Could you, really thinking about it, prove that you didn't do something if the cops got it into their heads that you had? Think of Arthur Allan Thomas. Then tell me how much power you want to give to "our friends" the cops, who framed Mr. Thomas and shot Steven Wallace in cold blood.)
You know, I really don't like those Telecom T3G ads. There's something to me quite disturbing about that poor little boy saying how fast he gets through life - isn't childhood the only time most people get to stop and explore the possibilities of roses?
I know it's kind of cute to see kids in grown-up clothes. I just think it's sad to see a 6 year old describing his frantic vision of being adult. Faster, faster, more and more, email on the run and even sleeping fast. Sounds like hell to me. Aren't all these wonderful inventions supposed to free us from the rat race?!
What on earth are we rushing toward?
(also, imagine how antiquated those phones will be by the time those kids are 21... "I can see the future... in BETA!")
Rich Stanton was walking down West 73rd Street toward the B train. Traffic was backed up behind a garbage truck that was making its rounds. A well-dressed man in a pricey car was first in line behind the truck. He got out of the car and asked calmly, "The only way I'll get moving is if this trash gets picked up faster?"
"That's right," replied the trash man.
With that, the guy from the car started picking up trash bags and loading them in the truck. The trash man just chuckled as they worked side by side.
From the nytimes.com website. I thought it was a very good example of doing something about traffic frustrations. So is this (from the same source):
As a New York City tourist guide giving a tour recently to a busload of marathon runners from France, I asked the motor-coach driver to turn into a side street without realizing that toward the end of the block was a construction container on one side of the street and two double-parked cars at each end of the container. This meant traffic had to snake around the obstacles, which couldn't be done with a coach.
My French marathoners stepped off the coach to study the situation. After a few moments they decided to move the second car - a full-size car at that - to the other side of the street to allow the coach to get through. No sooner had they voiced the idea than they started to bounce first one end of the car and then the other across the street.
With a few moments to rest, they managed to clear the street for us to pass, to the applause of bystanders who had gathered to watch.
A Siberian man turned up to a local gun amnesty program to turn in some plutonium. I figure as soon as he said the magic word, the cops' brains went into overdrive and didn't comprehend the next bit - it's industrial grade, not weapons grade.
So they went a bit nuts at the guy, who couldn't understand why he hadn't got his $17 yet (the going rate at the gun amnesty program). He put the isotopes in a lead sleeve and left it on his porch for them to collect. When tested the isotopes proved to be industrial grade, as the man had said - not radioactive enough for use in a dirty bomb, even.
Story over, right? Not according to the Russian media, who got leaked a hysterical semi-accurate story and gave the whole nation a scare - reports of a pound of weapons-grade plutonium stored in this guy's garage...
Anyway, the funniest thing is that according to the nytimes.com website, the guy is still waiting for his $17, and is still entirely convinced that the isotopes (he got them out of an old x-ray machine from his work in 1996) are really very similar to an old shotgun.
It hasn't been a good start to the week, I had EDS meeting yesterday and had put on weight - which is a good thing, ha ha, and don't you feel good you are on the right track towards health? Well, maybe the small logical part of me does, but the rest of me is disgusted and terrified. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaa! No weight! None! But I have to! No! Aaaaaaaaaaa!
My mind is such a comfy place to be at the moment...
On the bright side, Giffy's friend is going to come by this morning :)
Therapy and DHB in the arvo. I seem to accumulate appointments and acronyms like small dusty children. They pepper my week and make me sneeze productively.
The quote below I found so mind-blowing that it almost defies comment:
The Bush administration has significantly shifted policy away from three decades of federal efforts to reduce the nation's dependence on coal, which is significantly cleaner than it once was, but still dirtier than natural gas.
Now the administration is supporting the push for a new wave of coal-fueled energy, with the Energy Department investing $2 billion in ventures intended to make coal less polluting.
But until coal-fired plants become even cleaner, clashes over their impact on air quality are expected to multiply. Because of restrictions elsewhere, many coal-fired power plants will be put in places with pristine air quality and relatively relaxed pollution restrictions.
Would someone find me a brick wall, please? I'd like to do some head-banging.
It seems like everywhere I look nowadays, some politician or religious leader is claiming that a minor change in legislation threatens the family (and by extension, everything good from apple pies to spelling bees). I found this from the nytimes.com website:
Not long after Miss Saovapa won her crown, the Thai Constitutional Court ruled that married women had the option of keeping their own surnames, a change that led one legal expert, Preecha Suwannathat, to warn, "I see a crisis looming for families."
Poor families. I never realised they were so frail, or so easily led. "Wow, look, you can register a civil union now. Well, that's it; off to forsake my wife of 50 years and myriad offspring for a sex-change op and a bit of civil-union-tickle."
I wonder if MPs think that secretly, everyone is dying for their chance at a gay relationship, and it's only because of the solid bulwark of discriminatory legislation that they stay heterosexual, eying the political weathervane for their opportunity to scuttle off and have gay sex all willy-nilly.
Memo: All laws do is legitimise what the majority of the population cosiders reasonable. Laws do not change the people; the people change the laws. (Eventually. Curse the traditionalist-time-lag!)
Tonight, for some bizarre reason, I am going to a wine + cheese evening.
The bizarre reason is that Brilliant and Royalty are in town and so I'm going to catch up with them. Yay for both! They are worth braving a cheeseboard for... but I think I will lean heavily towards the wine side of the evening.
Particularly as, knowing Brilliant, he'll have wine that is beer, and, possibly, spirits.
Mmmmm, imitation classy.
I love the maturity of the English. There is an MP, a Conservative (right-wing) MP, who is also editor of a right-leaning magazine, and a columnist in the Daily Telegraph, called Boris Johnson.
Boris had an affair with a columnist at the magazine. His wife then (rather brilliantly) got herself a job as a columnist at a rival paper, and called her column "Diary of a Divorcee".
Can you imagine if this had happened in America? A congressman or senator having regular outside media jobs for one thing - a very public affair for another - removed from his portfolio... or in NZ, I don't think an MP doing that would last too long before becoming fairly well toasted. And yet in the comfortable maturity of England:
"Mr. Johnson once said of his political future, "'My chances of being prime minister are about as good as the chances of finding Elvis on Mars, or my being reincarnated as an olive." Now, it looks as if he is unlikely even to become the leader of the Conservative Party.
But he remains a popular figure.
"Boris is that rare creature," The Guardian said in its editorial, "a natural blond in show business; both clever and lively, with flair for publicity in a range of activities, some of them admirable.""
(quote from the nytimes.com website)
Aren't the Brits just so cool? They are like the well-travelled 60-year-old aunt and uncle that the kids in the whanau go to for wisdom of experience. America should shut its brash teenage mouth once in a while and listen to its elders...
As I was walking down the street today, a man with a camera came up to me and said he was from TV3, and what did I think about Canterbury water?
I said, um, what are the issues?
he said, well, there's been less rain than usual...
I interupted: so I might have to pay?
he said no, no, but you might have opinions on the farmers spraying their fields
I said, oh.
He said, or, you might think we have great water, and should get more from the bores...
At which point I said to him (as nicely as possible): it's obvious that I'm utterly ignorant of all the important facts, so my opinion is pretty worthless. And he smiled, said that it takes wisdom to know how little you know, and walked away.
Very zen, in some strange worholish way. Yet I still had a little residual impulse to say no! come back, stranger with a camera! i wanna be on tv! hi mom!
The problem is it would have ended up being one of those 'interviews' on the news that annoy me because they seem to have come from the terminally underinformed or chronically moronic:
"um... water is good... paying for water is bad. more water would be good. and, people, like, shouldn't waste water... i like water.... HI MOM!"
Did you see that the vast majority of the treasures thought lost from the Afghani national collection have turned up, carefully and secretively stored through nearly two decades of political and social turmoil... the foresight and wisdom of the brave and dedicated individuals on the museum staff should be recognised. A Nobel prize or something surely. Through fear of death, torture, pillory and imprisonment, these heroic people risked everything to keep the cultural history and treasure of the country safe.
One of the objects feared lost but now found safe and well is a 3rd century glass vase showing the Lighthouse at Alexandria. How magnificent that something so delicate and eclectic should have made its jouney through the years - it just gets to me, the amount of caring and almost reverent hands that this glass artwork must have travelled through.
I'm so glad that in the midst of so much misery and turnmoil, the Afghani people have a lone crocus that pokes through the prison-yard soil.
... and then there's the "other" type of professional. I got this from a nytimes.com article on a suspected new case of Mad Cow Disease (more properly, BSE):
"In 2003, the department tested only about 20,000 of the 36 million animals slaughtered that year.
Testing was voluntary, and concentrated on relatively few slaughterhouses. Many animals with signs of brain damage were missed, according to the government.
With the expansion, the department warned that other positive animals could be found.
But it reassured the public that the beef supply is safe, an assurance repeated today by Ms. Morgan."
Translation appears to be something along the lines of:
"We think there are animals out there with BSE, and there probably have been for several years, but since they're already in the foodchain and we can't do jack about it anyway, we'll keep telling you you're safe, since the lawsuits will take place years after I leave this stinkin' job."
Gosh, Ms. Morgan must go to bed at night with a warm, happy feeling of really helping people and making the world a better place to raise a family according to nice, American values of spin and weasel.
Yesterday I was puttering around New Brighton with the fuel gauge no lower than it has been many a time before. Cough cough die. Crap. I sat there for a while turning the key (which is probably really bad for the engine, rah rah rah, but I was hoping for miraculous fairy petrol, ok?) but it was pretty dead.
Thankfully NB is one of the few suburbs in Chch where I know anyone, and I happened to have spluttered to a stop only a block from their place. So it was all quite social really, I bowled on round to Dave and Jas's place and had a cuppa and a smoke and then we went on a mish to the local petrol station. If I had turned in the opposite direction at the last corner, I would have rolled to a stop pretty much at the pump. Oh well. Obviouly women's intuition doesn't cover petrol divining.
A merger of equals is not always a good thing. Sears and K-Mart are equals, in that they are equally screwed. K-Mart was in Chapter 11 (bunkrupty protection) in the States 2 years ago, and Sears has had declining sales for several quarters running. And now they're merging to create the third largest retailer in the USA.
K-Mart suffered from the Martha Stewart fallout too, 'cause they carried her name-brand lines exclusively.
I'm glad there is enough compassion in this country that we did not convict the Nelson father for murder. Go kiwis :)
I just got a letter from Pacific Retail Finance. Apparently, a loan of $2,000 to $100,000 is just a 10-minute phone call away! (Dare me to call and try to convince someone to lend me a hundred grand?) "No worries. And we promise to keep it simple. No confusing bank jargon and no hidden costs."
Nope. Just a nice, simple 14.9% interest rate, subject to change, minimum loan $2000.
They got my number from the LTSA database, which means at the very least, they should know that my car is almost 20 years old and in desperate need of repair! Even the most rudimentary credit check would have revealed that I have less money that a Saudi sand merchant.
So why, oh why, are they offering to lend me money and offer me "debt consolidation" on my household, day-to-day expenses?
My guess is that they think I'm stupid. And very bad at math.
(I'm going to call them and ask to be removed from their mailing list, for starters...)
You know an ad I should hate, but don't? The Jatz ad, with all the neighbours descending on the guy when his wife leaves him... to go buy some milk. It's the kind of ad that would usually provoke loud nostil sighs of irritation, but for some reason, I just find this ad innocuous, maybe even a little cute.
I went over to see Ollie's pups the other day, they are soooo sweet! 10 little puppies with their eyes just opening, clambering around of top of each other, making those little mewling motor noises that pass for growls and barks when they're only 3 weeks old... There is one very unusual pup in the litter - it's almost completely white, with only a few small black patches. That sort of colouring is very striking for a Cocker Spaniel. I'll take my camera next time I go over and take a pic. They'll be ready to find new homes just before Christmas... :)
Yesterday I started painting the bookshelf. Today I shall by more paint and finish the job. Those little Resene test-pots go a long way! I already painted the fireguard and had some left over.
This morning as I was filling my Zippo, I inadvertantly sprayed Zippo fluid on my hand, so the first time I flicked the lighter it lighted the gas on my hand. The flames look very cool, especially so in the semi-darkness. I was kind of torn between the panic of being on fire and thinking hey, neat.
The use of the word "only" has reached ridiculous proportions! The Warehouse ad on TV last night said: "There's only days to go! [til December 23rd]"
When did over a month get changed to only days? It must be terrible for parents of newborns: "Congratulations! Your son has only seconds to live! [until he's 85]" I'm surprised they survive the shock.
When I was down in Dunedin briefly, I found the following course on offer from the community continuing education service: "How to Climb a Well-Branched Tree". For some reason it reminds me strongly of Hans Moleman's class on "How to Eat an Orange". I strongly encouraged my grandmother to take the course, but for some reason she demurred.
This is my 100th entry. Just thought I'd slip that in there. I couldn't think of anything particularly meaningful to say about it.
Today is a day full of meetings that I don't really want to go to. I'm considering developing a midweek cold to reduce meeting load and length: "See, I'm all sniffy. If you make me stay here, you will also become sniffy."
I need to get motivated and do some stuff. Unfortunately only a small part of my brain is organised enough to realise that. The rest of my brain is either singing softly to itself about roosters or running around in circles going "whoo! whoo! whoo!"
I wish I lived in Amsterdam. Or Jamaica. Amsterdam for preference. Good art, good weed, good people; all I need.
This weekend I learnt why the great creative and political minds of history kept their diaries so assiduously. It's so that their friends can write in them, and thus they have a record of what they did during that blank-alcohol-induced-space in the weekend.
I had SO much fun *grin*
I still don't remember BK at all so either it is a grand conspiracy to confuse my tiny mind, or I'm blocking it out for some reason. If I really ate half E's burger then, well, I'm not surprised I'm supressing the trauma... lol
With much randomness among cocktails and stand-by flights, my weekend was both eventful and enormous fun :)
The Ivory Coast plunges into civil war... mainly over cocoa. See, apparently 40% of the world's cocoa is grown there, so it represents the main source of income for the country. So when a group of guerillas wanted to stage a coup d'etat, they seized control of the cocoa fields, not the capital.
The government decides to bomb the guerilla-held territory, and at the same time strengthened its hold on the populace by... bombing the French military bases. Why? Well, about 40 years ago the Ivory Coast achieved independence from French colonial rule. So despite the fact that most of its supporters have never lived under French rule, the history is still recent enough to exploit. The government accuses France of helping the guerilla forces, and massive public support swings the government's way.
Fiendishly clever, until you get to the bit where the French and all other foreign nationals are fleeing the country on specially provided flights. Now, I'm no fancy big-city lawyer, but it seems to me that this might be a poor move, economically speaking.
So anyway, now I'm in a dilemma about cocoa and chocolate. It seems like all the foods I enjoy (coffee, chocolate, chicken) begin with 'c' and move on to 'ruelty'.
I think a case could be made that ignorance played at least as big a role in the election's outcome as values. A recent survey by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland found that nearly 70 percent of President Bush's supporters believe the U.S. has come up with "clear evidence" that Saddam Hussein was working closely with Al Qaeda. A third of the president's supporters believe weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq. And more than a third believe that a substantial majority of world opinion supported the U.S.-led invasion.
This came from this article in the New York Times. Obviously it would be helpful to know some more details (like sample size) about the survey, but University of Maryland is pretty reputable.
It must make you despair, living in the Land of the Free but having to flip a coin between two over-paid, over-compromised, over-processed choices every 4 years. At least in a coalition government there is a chance the people might be heard through one of the smaller partners. At least there is a small but genuine distribution of power to allow balance. The USA seems to be largely smoke and mirrors between congress and senate and the government and even the justice system (new justices of the Supreme Court are appointed along partisan lines depending on which president is in).
The Land of the Free appears to be operated by the Law of Averages. It would be interesting to do a chimp experiment. Get a bunch of chimps, make them watch as much of the campaign coverage as possible, and then have them vote. I bet the results would be roughly 50/50. Either that, or the chimps would vote for Shakespeare and his promise of more typewriters.
(A third party candidate? Fools! Throw your vote away!)
Thanks to all you guys who commented over the diary thing... I'm glad it's not just me that finds the thought of it daunting. I am doing ok with it - making myself do it - but it leads to a high use of tissues.
The worst part about it is that the requirement goes up each session. So on Monday they said - ok, now along with that monitoring, we're going to require you to eat 5 meals at day, at around the same time each day, with nothing in between. Just writing that sentance down makes my hands feel shaky... it's all about control, I guess. They have such a long waiting list that they really don't screw around - if you don't work with it and put in the effort, you're outta there.
I have therapy in an hour. The thing about constantly having a diary with you to record all your food and actions and reactions is that you always have a place to write down those "hmmm, I should take that to therapy" things. And I found this really neat pen that retracts so that it is small enough for a jeans pocket but extends to full length for writing with. Yay pen. Small comforts, you know? :)
So I went to see the Eating Disorders service. They are quite tough. They require you to sign up to two sessions a week - if you miss two, you get booted from the programme - and they also make you carry a diary around with you and record everything you eat and drink, immediately, for 20 weeks. The thought of that just freaks me out like I can't explain.
I've been writing for the last few days. I came up with a little story about 10,000 words long - and very unusually for me, it actually has a beginning, middle and end. A proper story! Good discipline :)
Not much else to report, really. My meds have been changed which is quite nice - I've got tranquilisers and sleeping pills so I feel rested in the first time in ages. My ribs still hurt but they're getting there :)
Will try to get online again soon... sorry to be patchy on email and blogging at the mo; life is a bit topsy turvy.